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Vision Planning: A Multi-faceted Community Planning Tool

The CCDR has facilitated the creation of Vision Plans with a number of communities in central and northern New York State. Through vision planning, community members come together to describe a desired future and strategies they can use to achieve that future. The community vision is not pulled from thin air nor is it unrealistic “pie in the sky” dreaming; it is realistic and attainable because it is strongly grounded in values, resources, opportunities and issues identified and confirmed through open and respectful dialogue and deliberation.

Vision planning is appropriate for community planning at a variety of scales and contexts. It is a flexible process that should be adapted to meet local circumstances. We have worked in upstate cities, suburban towns, rural towns, and villages creating vision plans that range in scale from urban neighborhoods to Main Street revitalization to community park master plans. Regardless of the community type or project, the completed vision plan provides a framework upon which multiple decisions and plans can be evaluated and made. For an individual community or for multiple communities working together, vision planning can help identify important resources, such as water courses, habitat areas, historic features, parks and open space, that can act as catalyst sites or systems of collaborative projects around which goals and actions to achieve them can be developed.

Vision planning as practiced by the CCDR can be characterized as follows:

  • It is open and inclusive
  • It is conducted in public meetings, workshops and planning sessions
  • Local leadership encourages active community participation and ensures outreach and communication
  • Ground rules and facilitators guide the process
  • It employs methods of communication and documentation that are accessible to community members
  • It explores a range of alternatives by which the vision could be accomplished

The general sequence and description of a vision planning process is documented in a diagram titled Visioning Process. It describes the three interrelated stages of a vision planning process which can tailored to suit the conditions of specific communities and sites. For examples of CCDR vision planning projects, connect to our Community Projects page.


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