Do you see what I see?
By ALEGRA JENNINGS
Without a quick dictionary reference, my definition of vision or sight is the ability to see; accordingly, visioning is the act of seeing. It is the act of taking imageswhether physical or metaphoricaland focusing them so as to make sense to the viewer. From a community perspective, visioning is the ongoing, collective images in the lens of a community, a town, a village. It encompasses the core elements of a thriving communityeducational institutions, health care facilities, local economic activities, adequate housing, and political, cultural and recreational components.
The closer I look at the concept of visioning, the more words, phrases and questions I see. For example, when I envision education, I see words like competency, educational benchmarks, state standards, assessments, core curriculum, educational outcomes and so on. With health care and housing, I see words like affordable and accessible. I also see questions such as how do these words inter-lock and support each other?
The questions I see demand no simple responses, but well-pondered, integrated solutions that would successfully address todays needs as well as future needs. With development, I see questions like: What will future public transportation in Sullivan County look like? How will concerns like air pollution, noise pollution, high density/low density, gated community, affordable housing, cost of living wages, an educated workforce, scenic value, State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR), DEC, people being priced out of the housing market and so forth be addressed without creating divisions and contention among us?
If the issues we face are unconnected, unnumbered dots placed on a page, how do we connect the dots? Where would lines drawn between the dots intersect? And what would be the ramifications of the intersecting points? If we were each charged with connecting the dots, how would we complete the task? Collectively in one big group? In subgroups, then reconvene and work out differences?
Sullivan Countys 2020 Comprehensive Plans Tool Box identified five main areas of development: Open Space and Natural Resource Management; Land Use Planning and Zoning; Infrastructure; Community Development and Housing; and Economic Development and Facilities Planning. I applaud the ongoing efforts of local government, as well as those of private agencies and institutions in the county, toward addressing these critical areas. Also, I have witnessed a groundswell on the part of concerned citizens both newcomers and long-term residents who are engaged and passionate about the communities in which they live. These efforts all suggest to me that others have questions, too, and are seeking and creating solutions to their questions.
As a county resident, I am figuring out how the words, phrases and questions come together to create a unified or shared vision where we coexist while we move forward in unison. What do you see?
(Alegra Jennings is a concerned citizen who has lived in Sullivan County for over seven years and now resides in Liberty, NY. )