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Scenario Planning Peer Workshop Report - Burlington, Vermont

V. Discussion

A. Breakout Session 1: Pair Discussions

Working in teams of two, participants took turns completing the sentence, "in 50 years, the CCMPO region will be a place where _________..."

Responses ranged from "West Palm Beach, due to global warming" to "where people feel safe". Common themes were the desire to increase affordable housing; dense, mixed-use development; the availability of transit; and sustainability of local industry, local agriculture, and development.

B. Breakout Session 2: Small Group Discussions

Participants met in small groups to discuss the questions, "where are we now, where are we going, where do we want to be, and how will we get there?" Following the discussions, each group reported out.
In general, participants spoke positively about Chittenden County and its natural and cultural resources. However, concerns about housing costs, decentralized development, and a lack of transportation choices were common. In order to implement change, more regional thinking and diverse public involvement were desired.

C. Peer Panel

To conclude the workshop, each of the peers answered questions from the group and provided final thoughts.

  1. Taking a very long term horizon, such as 50 years, helps to turn around negative thinking.
  2. The 50-year plan should not be created only by the 50 year-old residents. It is important to engage younger people with different perspectives, as it is their future being planned.
  3. Scenario planning is some of the most important work that you can do. You are working to build a better future for your children and grandchildren.
  4. Vermont already has a lot of good tools and has had a lot of good process already. Follow-up might be more about facilitation than about visioning. Use visualization tools to move forward.
  5. There are lots of publics. Decisions are the composite of thousands of individual personal behavior decisions.

When decision makers are concerned about raising public expectations that cannot be met, scenario planning is a useful tool. Instead of creating a plan of projects that cannot be delivered, scenario planning is about "painting pictures and getting input" to determine the direction where the community wants to go.

Updated: 10/17/2011
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