What is Visioning?
Visions are planning and policy exercises that engage community stakeholders in building long-term, consensus frameworks for future decision-making. The purpose of visioning is to create a shared base of understanding and generate policy direction for the future of a community. These processes commonly extend beyond conventional transportation planning horizons and are intended to address the confluence of social, economic, educational, environmental, development and transportation issues. Visioning processes enable participants to reach a series of consensus decisions on a community’s present conditions and future trends, to agree upon a desired future or futures, and to develop a clear strategy for how to reach that desired future. The distinguishing characteristics of this approach are considered to be:
- Collaborative approaches to interdisciplinary topics;
- Proactive, innovative, and interactive outreach techniques;
- Focus on community context, livability, and values;
- Emphasis on technical scenario development and analysis; and
- Expanding ownership in a process and implementation responsibility.
Approaches to visioning often blend traditional strategic and scenario planning with best practices from technical, visual, and interactive community-engagement techniques to maximize public participation. Visions commonly produce a general statement of future direction, often for 20- to 50-year horizons, a set of goals and objectives, and implementation strategies. Example outcomes may include: high-level decision-making principles, general long-term goals and objectives, conceptual future development maps, or small-scale detailed streetscape designs.
Visioning processes are intended to address four central questions:
- Where are we now?
- Where are we going?
- Where do we want to be?
- How will we get there?
These central questions form the basis of the Vision Guide – an interactive blueprint to enable practitioners to engage in visioning in support of transportation planning. The complexity, timeframe, breadth, and depth of these processes vary considerably. However, any general visioning process consists of three phases of activity:
- Creating; and
Each Phase is made up of a set of Activity Areas which summarize the critical activities, organize key components, and communicate actions which occur within each phase.
Additionally, the Vision Guide includes four Components, or specific elements of a successful vision process. They are linked to relevant activity areas and thus provide a lens through which to view the vision process. The four components of a vision process include:
- Forming partnerships;
- Reaching stakeholders;
- Considering communities; and
- Tracking commitments.
Detail on each of these phases, components, and the activities within those areas is available through the interactive Vision Guide, and is included in Chapter 4 of the Technical Report.