Vision for the Valley: It will take all walks of life to build a Vision

OUR VIEW VISION FOR THE VALLEY Citizen groups will work to make the Vision come to life - with advice and direction from you

February 1, 2009 

More than 65 people came together Wednesday afternoon to talk about making the Valley an even better place to live.

The Statesman editorial board was happy to host the meeting - and even happier that the meeting wasn't our idea. After the editorial board convened 39 community leaders to craft a Vision for the Valley, the group gravitated toward one question.

What's next?

The short answer: What's next is the hard work of taking a Vision and making it come to life.

Wednesday's meeting was the first step. We're just getting started, again. And, once again, we're looking for your help.

The people who attended Wednesday - an eclectic mix of leaders and concerned citizens, CEOs and independent business owners - divvied themselves into 10 groups. Each working group will focus on one of the 10 items in the Vision for the Valley action plan.

It will be up to these volunteer groups to drill down from a broad goal to specific actions. We've encouraged the groups to identify some steps that can be taken quickly, real successes we can see right away. Considering the energy in the room during Wednesday's meeting, we're confident that this will happen.

The 10 working groups are still taking shape. Ultimately, they will work with a steering committee - with a representative from each working group - which will oversee the efforts. And ultimately, all the committees will get their advice from you.

On the Feb. 8 Insight page, we will unveil a unique e-mail poll that will be conducted by POPULUS, a Boise research firm. This survey will allow readers to comment on the Vision and the action plan, set priorities and suggest changes - and in a scientific poll that will be balanced against demographic data.

Working groups, a steering committee and a poll were all more than the Statesman had in mind in August, with the launch of the Vision for the Valley editorial project. We hoped to start a dialogue about making good decisions and setting solid priorities, during a downturn, to help the Valley prosper when the national economy stabilizes.

The fact that so many dedicated, talented people want to help reflects the urgency of the times. It also illustrates the abiding love that so many of us have for this Valley. Considering this, it shouldn't be any surprise that dozens of people want to give up their time to make things happen.

This is going to take work, and working across traditional lines. And Wednesday's meeting showed plenty of promising signs.

For instance, the healthy neighborhoods working group attracted several local elected officials - including Boise Mayor Dave Bieter and Star Mayor Nathan Mitchell, a pair of strong-minded city leaders who have disagreed publicly at times. This working group will be headed not by one of the elected officials, but by someone who brings a professional background to the discussion: Anna Canning, Meridian's planning director.

There's a lesson here. Elected officials and experienced professionals will need to cooperate in the Valley's best interest. But it's also going to take engaged, committed people - from all walks of life - who want to seize on the moment and help chart the future.

"Our View" is the editorial position of the Idaho Statesman. It is an unsigned opinion expressing the consensus of the Statesman's editorial board.

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