Foresight is 20/20

Clear Vision project reveals future plans for community

Jared Glovsky, photos by Mary Mihajlov |

There’s an old saying: people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan. There’s something to be said for this. Without planning, we’re more susceptible to the waywardness of our thoughts each passing moment.

Planning gives us focus.

When whole communities do it, when they attempt to form a course of action spanning not just an afternoon, but a decade or more, it’s a job for not just one but many. It takes time and commitment, but the result can be better opportunity and quality of life for a great many people.

That’s the goal of Clear Vision, a report addressing the challenges the Greater Eau Claire area faces from a uniquely grassroots perspective.

For the past year, a variety of local citizens, ‘community stakeholders’, have worked diligently to encapsulate our region’s future in a plan they’d hoped would a) provide focus and goals in difficult times; b) speak for as many people as possible; and c) provide not only a vision of the community’s future, but tangible steps for making the vision a reality.

The end result of their hard work was the Clear Vision Final Report, the collective thoughts of close to 200 individuals that maps out the future in several areas considered key to our region’s prosperity. This final report was presented July 30 at a community-wide celebration in Carson Park.

As co-chairs of the Clear Vision committee, Vicki Hoehn and Terry Sheridan, write in their Page 1 letter, “Some communities allow the future to happen to them; others create it.”

Hoehn, who came on board as part of Clear Vision’s initiation committee, says diversity was of paramount importance in selecting those who would be involved in the process.

“We posed the question, ‘How do you make this work?’ The answer was diversity. Not only business people, or those already civically engaged, but people working more than one job to make ends meet, or church members or single moms, just all types of people from around Eau Claire County.”

Eau Claire has enjoyed a fairly steady growth economically and socially over the last several decades, but there have been speed bumps. The state’s reduction of shared-revenue a few years back hit a lot of Wisconsin municipalities hard, Eau Claire among them. According to Eau Claire City Manager Mike Huggins, this has resulted in diminished services and maintenance, and diminished support for, he writes, “the civic and cultural facilities so essential for our quality of life.”

Hoehn says one of the underlying precipitators of Clear Vision was a need to create a collaborative spirit.

“Of course the city has its needs, the county has its needs, the YMCA has its needs, and the university. ... Everyone’s going out in search of funding and donations to meet their needs, and that’s fine, but one of the goals of Clear Vision is finding ways for these entities, for everyone, to work together.”

Hoehn says overall response has been positive.

“I think the greatness of Clear Vision lies in the fact that it’s not just questions, but answers,” she explains. “Various people came together to determine not only what our challenges are, but also say here are some recommendations, some possible solutions. It’s very grassroots oriented. ‘What do the citizens want?’, it says. What do I see Eau Claire County being in 2020?”

    Learn more about the project at