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Finding Forest Groves personality

For nearly a year now, a group of dedicated Forest Grove residents has met to discuss the city's future.

These volunteers stepped forward when they received one of the 7,000 letters the city sent out inviting participation in the Vision Update Project.

The project has two goals: to recreate the city's existing vision statement and devise an action plan that will help realize the vision.

In June, the volunteers completed a draft of a new vision statement for the City of Forest Grove.

First, the volunteers participated in a 'Vision Institute' where, in a series of three meetings, they learned about the 1994 Vision Statement, the city's organization and state, Metro and local planning goals.

Next, the volunteers decided to divide into five working groups that met weekly. In often-lively discussions, they shred their ideas for the city's future.

Finally, a self-selected group of volunteers pulled together all the input from each working group. These 'word-smiths' created the draft vision statement.

This timeless statement describes the 'personality' of Forest Grove, illustrating what the volunteers value about the city's past and present and the elements that they hope will be improved upon and promoted in the future.

Much like describing a friend's personality, the draft vision statement emphasizes the best characteristics of the city.

The first section captures how and what Forest Grove is as a destination - a place to be. It also describes things, which while already happening to some extent, can be cultivated and improved. The ideas in bold letters highlight an ideal outcome.

The next section honors the interactive nature of the community.

The final section focuses on what makes Forest Grove home. It goes from specific to generalities in what makes this 'home' to so many.

When the writing team presented its draft to the larger group of vision volunteers, reactions varied. Most people applauded the work, calling it 'dynamic,' 'strong' and 'gorgeous.'

Other volunteers wanted the vision to give more space to youth, economic development and suggested word changes.

The writing team made some of the recommend changes, then presented the draft vision statement to City Council at a work session.

Mayor Richard Kidd said he liked the one-page format and that the vision statement would be useful to him especially during Council retreats and goal-setting sessions.

Councilor Tom Johnston said he looked at the statement and couldn't find any group or activity missing from it. No revisions were recommended.

The vision volunteers are now working on the action plan, devising concrete steps to improve Forest Grove.

Mayor Kidd emphasized that he wants the action plan to include 'tools to measure progress.'

You are offered two opportunities to supply feedback - there will be a survey in the next Forest Grove utility bill and a community summit meeting will be held on Thursday, Sept. 21 to review and share ideas for the city's future.

Kerstin Cathcart is the senior planner for the City of Forest Grove.