Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Column 73 - Place-Based Planning

The next phase of the Pathway 2007 Place-Based Planning process has begun, but not without its share of controversy.

Any planning process that hopes to be effective starts with a poorly understood process called “visioning.” In visioning, stakeholders in the process come together to address the question of what the group hopes to be for the near- to intermediate-term future. This is by it nature a process that begins with art, and is never intended to reach to the level of science. It is intended to create the design parameters for the planning that is to follow, and that planning is to flow from and be informed by the vision. One of the less understood aspects of vision is that, once formulated, it is not intended to be fixed in stone, or even in Jell-O. The vision of the United States, which we could encapsulate as “the land of the free,” has morphed continually as times and thinking changed and that had not previously been included in "the free" came to be part of the vision. After vision comes planning, beginning with sorting out all the ways the vision might be fulfilled lo find the most feasible and valuable and in the end, there must be changes in policy and even law to reflect the new vision and its values.

We in IV/CB started early and have been ahead of the curve entering into the Place-Based Planning efforts and whether by following our example or just because it's the right way to go, the PBP Process is doing with other constituencies what we have already done. The problem is, they seem to want us to follow their, plan. In Incline Vision Chair Bea Epstein's words, "to go forward by going back;" this we should not do.

A case in point is the request from PBP for us to form a committee to sit with similar committees from around the Lake to ensure that all the PBP efforts are consistent. Now I'm all for consistency, and this is a reasonable request right up until they start to tell us how to constitute the committee. I guess it's appropriate for the consultants to have guidelines, and I understand that some communities around the Lake have needed them. What  worries me, though, is the a appearance that the consultants seem to plan to take a cookie-cutter approach to the process. I warned early on of the danger of any approach that could appear to ay to Incline Vision "That's nice stuff you've done, and now were here to show you the right way.” I'm not saying they're doing that - what concerns me is that even the perception that they are might be sufficient to kill the momentum that  Incline Vision has built up.

For this reason, I think that Incline Vision is doing the right thing by, on the one hand setting up a committee to take place in this phase of this process and on the other hand setting up that committee according to its own view of who from IV/CB should participate. The work of Incline Vision and its subcommittees thus far must be preserved and built upon, and the level of participation by community members in Incline Vision is critically important to the future of our village. Equally importantly, Incline Vision, by dint of its early start and the effectiveness of its work should take a leadership role in the PBP process and the overall visioning process around the Lake, and this is clearly the path being pursued by Ms Epstein, Mr. Brockman, and the others on the Incline Vision Organizing Committee. They should continue to do so.

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