In Japan, they have an old saying: “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” Right now in Greater Johnstown, there is an exciting movement that aims to combine perception with planning in order to turn our community’s dreams into reality – it’s called Vision 2025.
Roughly two years ago, a group of local leaders began meeting with city officials to discuss ways in which they could work together more effectively. As a result, in early 2015 Carnegie Mellon University’s Remaking Cities Institute was commissioned to conduct an intensive study of Johnstown. The study was supported by the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, Concurrent Technologies Corporation and the city.
To date, the project team has gathered information and input from a number of sources, including a community priority survey conducted through the The Tribune-Democrat in September 2014, community planning documents, interviews with over two dozen community leaders, two facilitated listening sessions with over 100 additional community members, and a public meeting that drew over 120 people.
In October, the Remaking Cities Institute revealed its Johnstown Strategic Vision summary to a standing room only crowd at the Cambria County War Memorial. Designed to provide a framework to support community engagement and collaboration, Vision 2025 is focused on three areas of emphasis – a vibrant and open local economy, life-sustaining landscapes and a strong sense of community – all overseen by good governance.
“Johnstown is historically a city of survival. Vision 2025 is about transforming recovery into resilience – a city that doesn’t just survive, but thrives through whatever hard times may be ahead,” says Stefani Danes, lead researcher on the project. “Most importantly, it means creating a culture of cooperation – transparency, accountability and inclusiveness—because that’s what makes it all possible.”
All community members are invited to contribute ideas for projects they’d like to see put into place to help create a better Johnstown. Once those ideas are brought to the table and prioritized, Vision 2025 provides a framework that will create capture teams to accomplish each project’s goals by providing training, organization and support in the forms of facilitation, communication, even funding – a whole toolbox to ensure that these great ideas don’t simply fade away, but instead become real, concrete achievements.
One of the greatest forms of support can be found in two newly hired community development professionals, Wally Burlack and Ryan Kieta. Housed at JARI and funded by the Community Foundation and others, Burlack and Kieta will work with and evaluate the capture teams to make sure goals are met and that projects stay on track. They will also hold quarterly meetings to keep the public informed on the status of current projects and to keep soliciting new ideas. The next meeting will be held January.
“Everyone who wants a better future for Johnstown, city and region together, has a part to play, says Danes. “This is an exciting time to be in Johnstown!”