Looking Ahead 2019 - A Clear Vision for the Future

Tom Giffey

What do the Pablo Center at the Confluence, the Sculpture Tour Eau Claire, the Safe Routes Bicycle Map, and local community gardens have in common? If you answered that they’ve all improved the quality of life in the Chippewa Valley, you’re only partly correct.

The full answer is that all of these undertakings and accomplishments of the past decade were inspired by Clear Vision, a grassroots community planning process involving hundreds of Eau Claire County residents that began in 2007 and produced a community priority plan in 2008.

That action plan included six key performance areas –  civic engagement, economic development, education, health, transportation, and quality of life – and 125 action steps. And rather than gathering dust on the shelf, the plan inspired real-world collaboration and change in the Chippewa Valley. Now, Clear Vision is ready to “Renew the Vision” and carry Eau Claire County forward to 2030 under the banner of its mission statement: “To engage our community for the common good.”

While representatives of local units of government, businesses, and community agencies are involved, Clear Vision is meant to be an public-directed, bottom-up effort rather than a top-down process whose outcome is predetermined. “the group itself doesn’t do the work,” said Lance Gurney, president of Clear Vision’s executive committee. “We empower citizens to do it.” Everyday people are encouraged to speak up with their ideas and take part in action groups to meet their goals. “If there’s an idea that you have or a problem you see in the community, this is your chance to bring that to the forefront,” Gurney said. “There’s no idea too small or too big.”

In November, Clear Vision launched a short online survey to gather input on how the community is faring in everything from providing cultural and recreation opportunities to addressing poverty. (You can still take the survey through mid-January at clearvisioneauclaire.org.) The results will be used to inform the discussion at four upcoming “visioning sessions,” which all community members are invited to attend.

The sessions will be held at the Pablo Center on four Thursdays: Jan. 31, Feb. 21, March 14, and April 4. Ideally, these sessions will inspire new plans of action – and teams to implement those plans – to make the community even more vibrant over the coming decade.  “It’s an opportunity for everyday citizens to become leaders or active community participants,” Gurney added.

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