(The following is an In My View op-ed sent to The Bulletin after the publication of an editorial regarding Bend 2030 on Nov. 18. Review The Bulletin editorial by clicking this link.)
To engage and empower the community to achieve our Vision.
This is the mission of Bend 2030.
It’s powerful. It’s effective. And it’s a responsibility unlike any other.
Ten years ago, thousands of Bend residents—in fact, one in seven—came together around whiteboards, conference tables, and giant sheets of butcher paper to do the work of hammering out a long-range strategic plan for Bend.
The product of their work, which was endorsed by a statistically validated survey of the entire community, was called the Bend 2030 Vision. A 50-page document outlining Bend residents’ expectations for economic development, planning and infrastructure, environmental quality, education and the arts, wellness, and the depth of our community ties such as those created by strong neighborhoods.
The project was funded by the City of Bend, whose City Council believed in the value of a road map for tracking whether city policy was in step with our community goals.
Today, every time the City Council enacts new policy, they must ask themselves—does this work achieve our community vision? If yes, a box called Bend 2030 Vision is checked. If not, this box on their worksheets is left blank and Councilors must pause to consider if there is better work to be done.
This method of being responsible to the public is powerful. It’s effective.
And so is the work of Bend 2030.
Recently, the Bulletin editorial board described Bend 2030 as an organization just like any other advocacy group.
That is incorrect.
Bend 2030 has been charged with maintaining and enhancing the livability of our town, with accomplishing our agreed-upon strategic plan, and with achieving the will of the people by engaging the people. No other organization has been vested with this responsibility on behalf of Bend’s collective future.
Here’s how we carry it out.
First we rely on funding and insight from our Leadership Alliance, representing an intentionally broad cross-section of business and civic leadership including Bend Broadband, Brooks Resources, Deschutes Brewery, Harcourts The Garner Group, Northwest Crossing, and Sunwest Builders; public agencies such as Bend Park and Recreation District, Central Oregon Community College, OSU-Cascades, St. Charles Health System, and the U.S. Forest Service; and yes, the City of Bend, which has contributed just $15,000 to the organization since it became a nonprofit in 2007.
Building upon the collective wisdom of community leaders from these companies and agencies, Bend 2030’s board of directors determines the greatest challenges standing in the way of achieving the Vision. Affordable housing, transportation and OSU-Cascades are currently at the top of our priority list.
Then we ask the public: “What do you think?,” to develop the most broadly supported solutions for solving these problems. We engage thousands of residents to find the answers.
The information we get back through questionnaires to stakeholders, forums, scientifically validated surveys, and online open-to-anyone surveys creates Bend 2030 policy recommendations. We offer these recommendations directly to decision-makers such as City Councilors through council presentations, one-on-one meetings, committee work, and reports.
It’s a model that works. For instance, all but one of our housing affordability recommendations from 2015 have been adopted, and the other is slated for approval next spring.
We are fortunate to have had city leadership that recognizes the value of a long-range plan and the need for an organization devoted to accomplishing it. At a time when we face daunting and difficult growth we have never needed a group like this more.
Bend 2030 is a nonprofit without a membership agenda, with nothing to gain for our board members, with no financial motivation of its own. It is an organization devoted to one mission alone: to engage and empower the public to achieve our Vision for this place.
We look forward to continuing our work with partners such as the City of Bend to execute it effectively.
By Erin Foote Marlowe
Bend 2030 Executive Director