“Celebrating life on the banks of the Brazos, we engage our community to enhance economic opportunities with rich recreational and cultural experiences for all.”
At the end of 2004, Waco Mayor Mae Jackson convened a group of leaders from throughout the area to develop a new vision for the community. Waco's previous vision document was ten years old, and the time had come to develop a new one. Dr. Jackson wanted the new plan to serve the entire community. In 2005 the new committee designed and implemented a process to gain widespread citizen input. They called their effort the Community Visioning Project and adopted the motto "Many Voices. One Vision."
The committee spread the word during the summer. Generous businesses made possible print ads, public service announcements, billboards, and a website. To ensure that meetings ran smoothly and everyone's input was captured, volunteers were trained to facilitate and record public town hall meetings.
During the month of September 2005, eleven town hall meetings were held throughout the area, from Bellmead to McGregor, from China Spring to Robinson. The gatherings were hosted by municipalities, churches, schools, and Chambers of Commerce. They were attended by black, white, brown, young, old, liberal, conservative, wealthy, and far from rich. In short, attendees reflected the diversity of the community. At each meeting, participants shared their ideas, and there were lots of good ones, but usually, when it came time to pick the most important ones, similar issues came out on top.
For persons who could not or did not want to attend a meeting, there was an on-line survey. In addition, many residents received a copy of the survey as an insert in a water bill.
The committee learned residents have a great deal to offer, and they appreciated having their voices heard. No matter where they live, people see the metropolitan area as one community. Also, there was amazing consensus regarding priorities for the future.
By late fall, the committee could begin work on identifying priorities for the community. In early 2006, the priorities were released. The Vision is organized in five categories:
- Strengthen the Heart of the Community
- Increase Economic Opportunities
- Engage Leaders
- Enhance Life outside the Workplace
- Develop Our Distinct Advantage