A Vision by the People, for the People

It’s time.

After so much talk and so many plans, VISION 2030 is ready to dream ­ and now it’s your turn to get involved. Now is your time to dream big.

I recently heard a statistic that more than half of newcomers moving into a community are the children of families already living there. If this is true ­ and I have no reason to doubt it since I am among those who came back home ­ then it becomes even more imperative that every one of us becomes involved in the upcoming VISION 2030 project that begins this month.

If you’re a high school student, you have the unique opportunity to help shape this community where you may be living 25 years from now. If you’re on the other side of 80 and don’t think you’ll make it to the future, then you still can make a difference for the cherished family who will follow you. And, if you¹re anywhere in between, you may someday live what you can only imagine today.

VISION 2030 is an open altar call to all residents, from all corners of Hall County and our municipalities, from all backgrounds and cultural origins, from all points of view and opinions.

How important is this project? Tom Oliver, Hall County Commission Chairman, says it could change the entire way that our government operates. Otis White, whose Atlanta-based firm (Civic Strategies) will facilitate our meetings, speculates VISION 2030 may not only reshape the face of Gainesville-Hall County but could also set the precedent for how we come together to make community decisions.

VISION 2030 is not another comprehensive land plan. It’s not a study of government efficiency. It’s much bigger. We plan to discuss and brainstorm ideas about virtually everything that touches our lives ­ accessing healthcare, protecting the lake, boosting tourism, improving transportation, embracing diversity… whatever is on your mind.

Here’s the most exciting part ­ or the scariest, depending on your comfort level for the unknown ­ There is no hidden agenda, no preconceived outcome. Who knows what big idea will surface? Civic Strategies consultants tell us that the general public typically is more willing to take chances than our leaders. VISION 2030 could point the way.

Much different than a typical public meeting

In coming weeks, you are invited to attend at least one vision meeting or as many as all 10. Our goal ­ with the help of community recruiters and a network of phone banks ­ is to host at least 100 folks at each of these meetings.

When you arrive, you¹ll find a much different set-up than your typical public meeting. There will be no head table. No endless rows of chairs. Instead, participants will sit together in small groups, allowing for greater participation and interchange of ideas. A team of facilitators will lead the process, but it will be up to you and me to fill in the blanks.

The first phase of meetings, through December, will involve pure visioning. All ideas, no matter how big or bold, will be on the table. A summary, or common vision, will then be compiled on paper.

The second phase begins after the New Year, when various local committees of experts will come together to plan real-world tactics to help the dreams of VISION 2030 come true.

Let’s dream big

So, would you like to have a say in our community¹s future? Do you have an idea that could change the course of this region? Or would you simply want to be part of something magic? If so, then it¹s time.