Our View: Vision for the Valley: It's time to roll up our sleeves and start working

OUR VIEW VISION FOR THE VALLEY

March 22, 2009 

At every stage of the Vision for the Valley editorial project, people have exceeded our expectations.

More than three dozen people volunteered to help our editorial board craft a vision and a 10-point action plan.

More than 2,400 people logged onto an online survey to review the vision and set priorities.

Now, more than 70 people will take it from here and work on results.

The success of Vision for the Valley - an editorial project designed to position our area for prosperity - depends on caring, committed volunteers.

We call them working groups for a reason. Their job is to work on one of the 10 action plans - anything from jobs to schools to neighborhoods. We're counting on results, some in the short term, others in the longer term.

We're realistic, as are the working group members. We can't expect a citizens' group to fix transportation issues that have built up over years. Those solutions will require a consensus of elected and business leaders - and a lot of money, as well.

A working group can change the dialogue. The transportation working group has offered a good short-term idea: an Internet site where Valley residents can share their commuting stories and tips - and catch up on all the voluminous data about transportation proposals. The Internet won't build a new interchange or a bike lane, but it can build awareness and build momentum behind new solutions.

The working groups are composed of volunteers who reached out to us. Considering that, it shouldn't come as a surprise that these volunteers want to reach out to the community.

The group working on "creative culture," fostering the Valley's artistic and entrepreneurial spirit, has an exciting idea. The group wants to pursue an arts and business council to encourage these two communities to work together and encourage "crossover" volunteers.

This idea recognizes the synergy between a strong arts community and the so-called "creative class" of highly mobile and well-educated professionals. It also recognizes a fact illustrated by the Vision for the Valley survey, conducted by the Boise polling firm POPULUS: The economy is the top concern of Valley residents, regardless of where they live or how much they earn.

With the launch of Vision for the Valley in August, we started a conversation. We now look forward to watching these groups carry out the process. We don't want the vision to be the product of a handful of people. A vision takes collective energy and collective will, which we're seeing from the working groups.

We will chronicle the work done on the vision; that's something a newspaper is uniquely qualified to do. So we will be there every two weeks for meetings of the vision steering committee, which includes people from each of the 10 working groups.

What we've heard so far is impressive. Steering committee member Rich Raimondi, a retired Hewlett-Packard executive, puts it well. "I am inspired by the commitment, creativity and passion," he said. "All of these people have day jobs and commitments and are not getting any reimbursement for the time and talents they are giving to this effort to make the Treasure Valley 'the most innovative, prosperous and healthy community of our size' in the country."

To our volunteers, thank you. And to all of the rest of you, there's always room for another volunteer. Drop us a line at vision@idahostatesman.com.

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