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Charting the Future of Our Community

Posted: March 29, 2011

As communities face change, there is a tool that local citizens can use to build consensus for planning their community's future.

Change is inevitable in life.  Penn State Extension’s “Charting the Future of Our Community” program is a strategic visioning process to help communities respond to changes in their area, and to plan for and take control of the future.  Community leaders and committed citizens work together to discover a unified vision and a plan of action to achieve it.

One major change Tioga County PA faced was natural gas exploration in the area.  With the support of local sponsors, Penn State Extension piloted this program in Tioga County due to these changes facing the community.  The Charting process involves five sessions in which citizens and community leaders create a workable plan of action for enhancing the quality of life in their community.  A pre-charting meeting was held to introduce the program to all interested community members and to answer any questions.  The first session focused on community assessments and gaps by answering questions such as:

• What are your thoughts about your vision for improving the quality of life in Tioga County?

• What do you like best about Tioga County today?

• In what ways does your community already provide a positive environment for families, children, businesses and others?

• What trends do you believe will strongly influence Tioga County’s capacity for improving peoples’ lives?

• What key improvement(s) do you believe would help fill in the gap between “what is” and “what out to be”?

Other sessions focus on where the community is, (statistical information and community resources), where the community wants to be (goals and visions of the community), and how to keep the community moving forward (action plans and organization)

By including all interested community members and leaders, the Charting program provides the community with a new perspective on local issues, a common vision, a consensus on community goals, a workable action plan owned by the community, and a positive attitude on having a better community for one’s children.

If you are interested in learning more about the Charting the Future of Our Community program, please contact Bill Shuffstall at 814-865-5665 or at shuffy@psu.edu