Envision Golden Valley
The strength of a community is based on how well it reflects the goals and aspirations of its people. Envision Golden Valley inspired citizens to contemplate the meaning of community, then come together with ideas for the future of Golden Valley to develop a community vision.
Hundreds of Golden Valley residents spoke in depth about their hopes for the community through surveys, focus groups, and brainstorming sessions. What emerged were themes that express the American Dream and call for renewal of the suburban ideal. A vision intended to inspire citizens and empower creative participation. The results are outlined in "A Shared Vision For Golden Valley's Future," published in 2004.
Over the years, City officials have used these results to guide decision-making and planning in six overlapping categories: development, transportation, community engagement, environment, recreation, and government. Envision results also influenced the goals, policies, and objectives outlined in the 2008 decennial update of the City's Comprehensive Plan.
Envision Connection Project
To help residents, businesses, and institutions come together to make their visions for the community a reality, the City Council created the Envision Connection Project, which oversees community engagement efforts in the city and encourages Bridge Builder initiatives to improve the city and connect the community.
In 2009, the Connection Project Board of Directors initiated the Envision Award to recognize citizens who exemplify the Envision qualities and work to make the community a better place.
More About The Envision Process
Background & Phases
Golden Valley’s community visioning process began in 1997. At the City’s request, Decision Resources, Ltd (DRL) prepared a detailed three-phase plan for a Community Visioning process that would include neighborhood focus groups, a community-wide survey, and a town meeting wrap-up event. In 1999, the City conducted a community-wide citizen survey survey to provide comparisons with a 1995 citizen survey and to set benchmarks for future visioning.
Phase One - Neighborhood Focus Groups
Phase One (conducted late summer/fall 2001) began with a series of neighborhood focus groups designed to solicit input from randomly selected citizens on pre-selected topics as well as other topics that came up during the sessions. Council and staff provided ideas for the pre-selected topics based on the frequency of issues that arose over the years in public meetings and contact with citizens. DRL helped the City designate populations for the random selection process, prepare a discussion guide, and facilitate the focus groups. DRL then provided a detailed analysis of each group.
Phase Two - Telephone Survey
Phase Two (conducted December 2001) was a random sample, statistically valid survey of the community to test the issues raised in the focus groups and provide benchmark measurements of the state of the city. The survey included 400 randomly selected households and 129 questions.
Phase Three - Community Visioning
For Phase Three, DLR proposed a town meeting event in which the entire community would be invited to participate in discussion and brainstorming activities regarding the topics raised in the focus groups and validated in the community survey. This was cut from the budget in February 2002 but reinstated in 2003 under a revised format in partnership with the Golden Valley Rotary.
The new format included a significant citizen participation component and a variety of ways to gather ideas. More than 70 trained Envision volunteers asked their fellow citizens about their hopes and ideas for their city's future in six overlapping categories determined by volunteers (development, transportation, community engagement, environment, recreation, and government). When challenged to think about Golden Valley's future, more than 600 people responded.
- Community Engagement
- How many people will live here? Where will they live? What types of homes will be built? How will the density change?
- Where will residents work? How long will commutes be? What other trends will affect our priorities?
- How will business and jobs grow? How will that be encouraged?
- How tall will buildings be? Will we have shopping or entertainment districts?
- What transportation options are available in Golden Valley?
- What new technologies will impact transportation?
- How does Golden Valley prepare for new transportation options?
- How will residents contribute to a healthier environment? Businesses? City government?
- What new controls and technologies are going to have an impact on our environment?
- How do we reduce noise, air, or water pollution?
- What environmental areas are you most interested in improving?
- What other ideas do you have for improving Golden Valley’s environment.
- What recreation options will be in demand or available?
- What options will be available for children or teens? Young adults or families? Empty nesters or retirees?
- Will new recreation come from the city or the private market?
- What new forms of entertainment will be available?
- Where will people gather to have fun?
- What form of government will be in place? How will citizens be represented? How will voting take place?
- How will residents and businesses be more engaged in City affairs and government? How will they communicate with City Hall?
- What technologies will be used to improve public safety, prevent fires, and avoid code violations?
- How will Golden Valley work with other communities? What services will be shared?
- How do we encourage people to be more active in community events? How should organizations like libraries, places of worship, and community agencies encourage community engagement?
- How can businesses improve their relationship with citizens?
- What will encourage local-business loyalty and patronage?
- What role should schools play in community engagement? In what other areas can community members find unity and common cause?
Since Envision is about the future of Golden Valley, it was planned and implemented by citizens.
Through community groups and the City newsletter, organizers recruited volunteers with ideas and time to plan the Envision process. Mayor Linda Loomis and Golden Valley Rotary representative Don Anderson funneled the talents of more than 45 respondents into a 19-person steering committee and eight subcommittees. Within months, more than 60 citizens were involved in planning Envision events. These energetic, creative, and dedicated volunteers were the driving force behind Envision Golden Valley.
Community visioning is a way for all community members to set objectives and share their ideas and views about the future of the place where they live, work, and play. Envision Golden Valley involved three phases:
- gathering ideas in six categories
- grouping, connecting, and prioritizing those ideas
- presenting a summary of grouped ideas to the community
Using an inspirational scenario, the idea gathering phase incorporated three types of Envision events available to participants—the small-group Envision-In-A-Box meetings, the Internet-based Envision Online, and the large-scale Envision Summit.
- Envision Online was an Internet-based opportunity for people to participate in Envision without physically attending meetings. Comprised of an idea gathering phase and an idea grouping, connecting, and prioritizing phase, Envision Online was available to participants via the City website. Results were integrated into the Envision Summit. A separate online survey was also developed for youth ages 12-18.
- Envision-In-A-Box featured small group meetings, at a location chosen by the group, guided by a facilitator. Interested parties could download planning materials, such as a host checklist and invitations, from the City's Envision website. They could then contact City Hall to book a facilitator and reserve a box containing all necessary meeting materials, including sign-in sheet and name tags, fact sheets, instructions, tablets, markers, and feedback/comment cards. Results were integrated into the Envision Summit.
Participants included neighborhood groups, schools, organizations, businesses, youth, and City employees and commissioners: Angelo Drive Neighborhood Group; Breck School; City of Golden Valley Employees (three meetings); Facilitators Training; City of Golden Valley Boards and Commissions Members; Golden Valley League of Women Voters; Golden Valley Historical Society; Golden Valley Mom's Club; Golden Valley Rotary Club; Golden Valley Seniors; Golden Valley Women's Club; Hidden Lakes Neighborhood Association; High School and College Youth Group; Idaho Avenue Neighborhood Group; Julianne Terrace Neighborhood Group; Kelly Avenue Neighborhood Group; Perpich Center for Arts Education; Ranstad Business Group (including other Town Square Businesses); Scott Avenue Neighborhood Watch Group; Thrivent Financial for Lutherans; TwinWest Golden Valley Business Council
- The Envision Summit, held February 23, 2004 at the Golden Valley Country Club, was a large-scale gathering where small groups of participants, guided by facilitators, shared and discussed their ideas for the future of the community and then grouped and prioritized them into broad vision statements. The vision statements were consolidated into a Vision Guide to be used by elected officials, City staff, and community groups to make decisions about the future of the community.
When the idea-gathering phase was completed, teams of citizen volunteers worked to consider all ideas submitted and categorize them as visionary in nature or current problems. After grouping similar ideas to help identify themes, the teams created vision statements for each category, with the goal of presenting a refined vision to the community that first voiced the ideas.
Volunteers worked with the City to create the Vision Guide, which reflects thousands of ideas, opinions, and statements from citizens who engaged in Envision Golden Valley. It unifies all this input into a shared community vision expressed as: "Creatively Connecting People and Places" and "Inspiring Care for Community."
Nearly 900 people participated in Envision Golden Valley, sharing their ideas and hopes for the future of the community. Of these, 112 volunteered their time, talents, and energy to develop and implement the process for their fellow citizens.
- Steering Committee--Coordinated and directed all planning related to Envision events and assured that subcommittee activities were integrated to cost-effectively meet Envision's goals. All subcommittees submitted recommendations to this group, which formulated an ultimate recommendation to present to City Council.
- Theme Subcommittee--Worked to inspire creative and forward thinking by Envision participants and developed materials to support the theme.
- Format Subcommittee--Worked to translate the format to other venues and bring the work of all groups together. Recruited and trained facilitators.
- Envision-In-A-Box Subcommittee--Translated the format for the Envision Summit so that off-site groups could readily use it, with clear directions on how to create a successful event.
- Envision Online Subcommittee--Translated the Envision Summit format to something that could be used on the Internet for audiences that would not attend any visioning event in person but may choose to participate online.
- Youth Involvement Subcommittee--Identified ways to involve youth in Envision.
- Communications Subcommittee--Worked to inform the community about Envision and ways to participate. Developed a communications plan and branded Envision to the community. Spearheaded invitation process for all events.
- Facilities and Recognition Subcommittee--Identified facilities in the community that could serve as venues for the Envision Summit and other Envision events. Organized Summit and arranged set-up on night of the event. Identified ways to recognize individuals, organizations, and businesses that made outstanding contributions to Envision.
- Refreshments Subcommittee--Coordinated with the Facilities Subcommittee to provide refreshments for the Envision Summit at a reasonable cost.
- Report Team--Activated upon completion of the Envision idea-gathering phase to analyze all ideas submitted and group/summarize them for distribution to the community. Separate teams reviewed the ideas in each category and labeled them as visionary ideas, current problems, or other issues (ideas not related to the specific category). Other ideas were forwarded tot he appropriate category team. Using an affinity analysis process, teams grouped related ideas for the purpose of identifying themes and vision statements. Each category team submitted its analysis to the Report Team to further distill the ideas into strong vision statements that incorporated the spirit of many ideas. The Writing Team then clarified the language and assisted City staff in preparing the Vision Guide for distribution.
Envision facilitators were community volunteers who led groups of people in imagining the Golden Valley of the future. Training was provided by experienced facilitators. Groups included a broad mix of residents, business people, educators, and civic leaders. During each Envision event, facilitators provided an overview of Envision Golden Valley, set ground rules for conduct, led the group through the visioning process, and then documented the group’s ideas and submitted them to Envision coordinators.