Orton Family Foundation Presentation at CommunityMatters Workshop in Newport Vermont


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  • Agenda for our workshopProvide insights into Heart & Soul Community Planning and provide a sampler of techniques you would apply in a community setting that demonstrates how Newport could identify community values and apply them to a decision making process. Share stories from other communities who have used this approachHighlight the importance of diverse engagement to be successfulDiscuss how this material can be applied to your City
  • We answer this question by using an approach called Heart & Soul Community Planning.  
  • Heart & Soul is grounded in three fundamental tenets – place, people and action.
  • Place – We believe that every community has its own heart and soul –a set of characteristics, customs and places that make it unique. Both tangible and intangible. We believe that strong communities are those that make decisions and take actions in a way that protects and enhances these community values. So, we put these values – what we call heart and soul, at the center of our planning process.
  • People – We believe that locals know their community best and that local wisdom can improve a planning and decision making process.
  • Action – H&Splanning efforts must translate to action on the ground. Those actions could be big or small, regulatory or non-regulatory, short term or long term. There’s no silver bullet, which is why it’s essential to really understand what makes your community tick and what it will take for people to support enduring solutions.
  • So Why Heart & Soul?
  • It offers a better approach to making decisions.And helps make decisions stick.
  • Many communities have a legacy, a tradition, of muddling through decisions. Sometimes decisions are easy, sometimes they are divisive. Here’s what not-so-great planning is like:A battle of wills, personalities, emotionsA quagmire of specialized language and disorganized informationA value-less desert of hard facts (think about planning a street based on traffic speed not pedestrian experience)A leap of faith / shot in the dark / a guess
  • H&S planning helps you frame the issues in a way that matters to people – Find out what matters mostSolutions connected to what mattersInformation explains how ideas impacts what matters.Allows you to consider hard facts AND values
  • H&S helps make decisions stick and inspires people to follow through, because:People will care.Community benefits are clearly spelled outMeaningful engagement builds support, ownership, momentum, and resilience.People collaboratively made the decisions, which is empowering and can inspire people to action. The relationships and understandings that were forged thru the process can give people more faith in civic processes, even after a tough decision (Little Equinox in Manchester – strong feelings both sides but positive experience, didn’t leave scars).
  • Let’s talk about what we mean when we say community valuesHere are examples of common core values from the communities that have worked with us.Some of these might look familiar to what you said (point to flip chart)We could do a whole workshop on how you arrive at these core values. The Foundation uses personal story to understand through people’s experiences the values that connect them to their community. We do this through interviews and story circles and collecting and sharing back recorded stories. We also use community conversations through small group discussions and neighborhood events. Once we identify the values, we go back to the community to confirm, using surveys or public forums.
  • When Communities go through the process of identifying values Itis not just a single step. It requires digging deeper to understand the context, how are they are expressed in the community. Do we all have a common understanding of what it means?. We use three steps:Identifying core values. (animation) These short phrases capture a particular characteristic of a community that many people feel is of value.  Defining those values. (animation) By adding specific details that describe the core values you can understand how they manifest in your community Creating value statements. (animation) These actionable statements describe the value so that it can inform decision making and allow you to evaluate change.PAUSE for First Exercise We are going to practice taking the values you identified and understanding them better in Newport
  • So You’ve been out on the streets, talking to guys like this, discovering your community’s Heart & Soul.And everyone is asking: What’s the point of all this? (ask for answers from the group)I might say: “I’m worried that our Heart & Soul could be lost someday and that we can take actions to protect our Heart & Soul and make it even stronger. Our next step is to figure out how to decide what those actions are
  • Here’s a graphic of how values can inform decisions. Let’s say you’ve held a community forum where people brainstormed a bunch of possible actions that they believe will protect or enhance community values (listed in the blue boxes on the slide). You’re probably wondering how you can prioritize which actions to pursue. You’ll likely look at the level of resources and time necessary but what about the level of impact on values? The scale for setting priorities could be qualitative– asking people how they think different actions will affect values – or quantitative – creating values-based indicators
  • I have four stories here about how different communities are using their values in four different contexts of decision making
  • The first is community designRockland is a small coastal city in Maine with a population about 7,000. It has a vibrant and growing arts community, a strong working waterfront, a healthy, active Main Street program and reinvestment in downtown buildings. In the last 10 years, the downtown has transitioned from ship building and seafood processing to a hip, service center with upscale shops and restaurants and a fairly strong local economy of mixed incomes and lifestyles. Its tag line is “salty sophistication”.  Rockland also has massive commercial strip on both ends of town, stretching a mile or more in each direction. city leadership were concerned about the future of the strip and adjoining neighborhoods, in light of the relocation and expansion of Wal-Mart to a neighboring community.  So the City’s Economic Development Committeeinitiated a project to explore alternatives to the current strip development. They areusing community values to developdesign principles and update policy and regulation so the city can attract the kind of development the community wants to see.Quote on slide –- As a lead up to the design work, Rockland has been having a series of educational workshops, one of which was a walkability audit where participants reflected on how they could reimagine pedestrian access based on the community values.
  • Biddeford, ME had been on the decline for decades, with the last textile company closing in 2009. Facing stagnant population growth and limited job opportunities, along with 4 million s.f. of empty mill space, the city hadbeen working to reinvent itself. In recent years a mix of newcomers and longer-term residents began to realize the potential of Biddeford as an economic and cultural center again. Artists and other entrepreneurs were opening shops, restaurants and studios downtown and in some of the mills, where more than one million square feet of space was being redeveloped for mixed use. But in the years of decline the City had taken whatever opportunities it could to bring money back into the community. The 1987 construction of a waste- to-energy facility right on the riverfront downtown is the example that comes to mind for many people. In 2008, the City and their downtown program partnered with Orton on a Downtown Master Plan project. Through the project the community developed a set of core values that guided an action planning process, which has already catalyzed major changes to the downtown. Take for instance the waste to energy facility – last year the City Councilvotedto buy and shut it down to open up 8.5 acres to new development. Beyond specific actions what’s more powerful is a renewed sense of hope and can do attitude that has long been absent in the city. Report snapshot – shows section of Master Plan implementation plan and how specific actions supported community values.
  • Damariscotta, Maine is a small town of only 2,000, but it is the retail and service center for about 9,000 in Midcoast Maine. The Town has an award-winning library, restaurants, farmers’ market, community theater, locally owned Bookshop and department store. Over the decades the town grew beyond the historic village with most new commercial development landing along a commercial strip outside downtown. A divisive battle over a Walmart development revealed both how ill-equipped the Town was to manage new development pressures and the need to pro-actively engage more people in planning and development decisions. So, the town formed a planning advisory committee to lead a community-driven visioning process.The visioning process first identified shared community values through a series of story circles, interviews and community conversations. A design charrette than developed various options for shaping new development consistent with community values. Consultants used CViz, a GIS based decision support tool, to analyze different development scenarios. Cviz gave the community a quantifiable way to understand the impacts of different development scenarios both in terms of indicators like new housing and infrastructure costs as well as community values like proximity to culture and nature. This information was critical in framing recommendations, which the Town is still acting on.Screen shot – Cviz screen showing the difference in build out for current zoning vs. a more mixed use alternative. Bar chart hows how values based indicators compared (with mixed use indicators being more favorable for three of four values). Some detail on why FBC code went down (from case study) – among a variety of reasons why this happened was that the timeframe was too short to properly vet the code and understand its impacts, particularly as it related to the town’s values. More time would have allowed for a better evaluation of the proposed code including the possibility of revisiting the values-based indicators developed during the charrette or having a community conversation about how the proposed code achieves the vision put forth in the Charrette Report. The tight schedule also diminished transparency overall.
  • Golden is on the outskirts of the Denver metro area. The Golden Vision 2030 Plan resulted from a community-wide effort that distilled hundreds of residents’ stories into two guiding principles and ten core community values. These principles and values were formally adopted by the City to inform all of Golden’s future policy and strategic plans as well as operational and investment decisions. More than 2,000 individuals, organizations and businesses participated in the process. The Values are now used to develop annual investment plans: their capital improvements budget and department budgetsA Citizen Blue Ribbon Panel relied on the values in proposing recommended budget reductions The Values were also given to the developer designing a new mixed use project. The Info was a clear plan for what the community wanted. Very Different than a controversial development that same developer worked on in the past that cost him with all kinds of delays and controversies.Screen shot – This chart shows the decisionmaking guidelines for the City. You can see how they require decisions to uphold the values and consider them alongside some of the safety and infrastructure considerations.
  • I want to end with a slight twist on a quote from Ed McMahon, one of our Board members: Do you want change to shape the character of your community, or your community’s character to shape change? How can those who live and work in Newport steer the change?
  • IF you do want the character of Newport to shape change, rather than the other way around, then you’ll want to heed the words of Meg Wheatley, “there is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”Hopefully we’ve given you some ideas for starting with shared community values, a process which changes the conversation, bases decisions on what matters most, but requires broad participation to succeedWe’ve saved the last part of the workshop for a general discussion around how any of these examples or information resonates with Newport. And for Q and ALots more information and case studies on our website
  • Orton Family Foundation Presentation at CommunityMatters Workshop in Newport Vermont

    1. 1. whatmattersmost:using communityvalues indecision-making
    2. 2. how do we keepsomewhere from becominganywhere?
    3. 3. so what’s
    4. 4. so why
    5. 5. better better
    6. 6. not-so-great Decision MakingNot-So-Greatdecision-making• A battle of wills• A quagmire of information• A desert of facts• A leap of faith
    7. 7. heart & soul decision-making • find out what matters most • solve for that • explain impacts • balance facts AND values
    8. 8. decision stickiness Decision Stickiness 1. people will care 1. clear benefits 1. meaningful engagement builds momentum
    9. 9. ? ? small town feel ? ? open, responsive government ? rural character ?familyfriendliness ? involved community ? ? education ? history,arts and culture ? ? ? ? ? living andstrong local working sense of economy locally community
    10. 10. articulating a value Small Town Character Slow People Defined Locally Walkable growing wave to neighbor- owned downtown population each other hoods businesses We value our small town character where the rate of population change, pattern of new development and new business growth occurs in a way that encourages people to get to know each other.
    11. 11. Now that youknow my Heart& Soul, what areyou going to do with it?
    12. 12. let’s buy a car. Explore Your Car Choose Your Car Future What How does that show up in a matters? car? COST $ $13,000 $10,000 $12,000 $11,000 Crashworthiness 5 STAR safety 2 5 5 5 SAFETY Technology ratings Airbags -Leg room Low Moderate Low High - 2.5ft leg room - 3ft leg room - 2.5ft leg room - 3.5ft leg room COMFORT -Head room - 5.5ft head room - 6ft head room - 5.5ft head room - 6ft head room -seats - hard seats - hard seats - hard seats - hard seats
    13. 13. let’s compare possible actions. VALUE POSSIBLE ACTIONS STATEMENTS A B C SMALL TOWN SmallCHARACTER town character Close to nature Family friendly AFFORDABLEto live Affordable TO LIVE Safe streets Positive Impact Neutral Negative Impact
    14. 14. values in decision-making Community Public Design Investment Action Evaluating Planning Alternatives
    15. 15. Rockland, MEreinventing acommercial corridor“This is the best view from any car wash inAmerica.” Think about how we honor themost important places in our town and ourcommunity value of access to the water. - Walkability Audit Report
    16. 16. Biddeford, MErevitalizing mainstreet
    17. 17. Damariscotta, MEevaluating futuregrowth
    18. 18. Golden, COvalues-centeredpublicinvestment
    19. 19. “do you want change to shape thecharacter of your community, or your community’scharacter to shape change?”
    20. 20. "There is no power forBetsy RosenbluthOrton Family Foundationbrosenbluth@orton.org change greater than a802-388-6336www.orton.org community discovering what it cares about.” -Margaret Wheatley