Siuslaw Vision History

Once upon a time, in a region not so far away …

History on blackboard

In April of 2014, a group of leaders, volunteers, and engaged community members who had participated in The Ford Family Foundation’s leadership programs in the past reunited for a Ford Institute Alumni Celebration  in Florence. From the gathering, a strong consensus evolved:  it was time for a shared vision to bring together a rural community on the verge of transformation. A volunteer group emerged from that evening’s activities with a charge to help develop that vision and identify the region it would serve.

How did we get to the community vision process?

The Siuslaw community, stretching from Dunes City through Glenada, Florence, Mapleton, Swisshome, and Deadwood started the visioning process in response to participating in The Ford Family Foundation’s Pathways to Community Vitality. Together with the Ford Institute for Community Building and the guidance of Community Systems, this resulted in community-bridging conversations and actions to ensure our region will be vital, vibrant, and healthy for years to come.

Pathways survey

In October, 2014, more than 700 residents of the Siuslaw community participated in the first step on the path—the Pathways to Community Vitality Inventory survey. With the results of the Inventory in hand, our next step was to engage in a Community Vitality Forum. In November, 2014, the Forum brought together over 70 participants from throughout the Siuslaw—leaders, business owners, volunteers, family members, and interested citizens ready to move our region forward. Participants learned the results of the Inventory and met in small groups centered around each of the five dimensions revealed as highest need through the Inventory:

  • Shared Direction & Action
  • Community Communication
  • Community Engagement
  • Economy & Business
  • Education & Youth

Moving to action

Each small group identified the most pressing area of focus for each dimension. New groups that recombined participants were formed to discuss the results from each of the original dimensions and determine the most pressing current need for the Siuslaw community. Each of these final groupings recommended that the Siuslaw region needed to complete a strategic planning process—we needed a shared direction to move forward in all of these dimensions. As a result of that consensus, the Siuslaw community took the next step on Pathways with a Moving to Action session in January, 2015. It was this session that resulted in the decision to move forward with a regional planning project and the formation of the Vision Action Team.

Vision Action Team

The Siuslaw Vision Action Team formed in January to continue the visioning process. This 18-member group of dedicated community volunteers included residents from throughout the region:  business owners, elected officials, retirees, full-time employees, young parents, artists, educators and more. Jane Barth served as facilitator, and Mary Ward and Theresa Hart provided Community Systems support. The Vision Action Team met regularly, designing the project scope and approach to craft a vision statement. A successful grant proposal allowed the group to contract with Liz Vollmer-Buhl, who served as the group’s coordinator.

Community led, with support from Vision Team and Vision staff

The Siuslaw Vision was born! Currently, the Vision is being implemented by hundreds of community members and organizations who are working on making the Siuslaw region a better place to live, work, and play one project at a time. The Vision Team, and three grant-funded employees work to support the community’s work toward making our community Vision reality.

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