Imagine Greater Tucson launched on Thursday with a kickoff celebration at Hi Corbett Field during the Oktoberfest festivities.
What is Imagine Greater Tucson? It is a community-based effort bringing together citizens, businesses, organizations and regional leaders to share values and work together to create a common vision and action plan for the future of the Tucson region.
A diverse group of approximately 200 people attended the kickoff event and filled out cards to share what they valued about the greater Tucson region. Some of those values included:
• Outdoor recreational opportunities
• Cultural diversity
This fall, beginning with a booth at Tucson Meet Yourself, Friday through Sunday, we will participate in various community events and festivals to learn what you value. Collecting your values is our first step. We will further validate your values at community conversations and find out what you would like to see different or improved in the greater Tucson area that one day could impact the quality of life of future generations.
We will then build a baseline future scenario to show us what our region will look like if we continue to make decisions as we are today. Using your values, we will build alternative future scenarios and build a vision to help shape our future after you help select a preferred scenario to implement.
We invite you to visit our website at imaginegreatertucson.org to take an online survey or learn more about the events where we will have a table or booth and how you can help. Also, stay tuned to learn more about the upcoming community conversations in your neighborhoods throughout the region.
What's different about this process is its grassroots nature, involving citizens, businesses, nonprofits, government and any other organization that wants to participate. In other words, it's an open-ended process and we want you to be at the table.
The success of Imagine Greater Tucson over this 18-24 month process will solely be dependent on your voice to provide us with direction.
We believe that the outcome of Imagine Greater Tucson will lead to better decision-making with everyone coming to a better understanding of how we want to shape our future.
Our initial efforts are supported through public and private funding sources, both cash and in-kind. Pima Association of Governments provided seed funding of $500,000 through a federal planning grant, which can only be used for the planning/research process and does not take away from any designated road project work or transit services. The PAG grant requires a 20 percent match from the community through private funds.
In addition to many small and in-kind contributions, the Brown Foundation has provided us with $25,000 and Tucson Young Professionals provided a $20,000 challenge to encourage others to match their funding level.
As strategies are identified, they may be implemented as part of existing planning activities or we expect champions will arise through this process to support specific items identified in the preferred future scenario.
Other regions across the country have been engaged in such efforts for more than a decade. These regions have witnessed great success with improvements in sustainable living, new infrastructure and preservation of key environmental areas. Other funding sources they have used include grants and legislative appropriations.
By establishing a vision and action plan, we will put ourselves in a better position to leverage grants or legislative appropriations as well as to help local leaders prioritize use of money based on our shared vision.
This is your opportunity to help shape our future. We hope to see you soon.
Eileen Fagan is director of Imagine Greater Tucson. She may be contacted at Eileen@imaginegreatertucson.org