The steps of collective visioning: Part 2

Carrying out the collective visioning process in your community.

Article one of this two-part series gave a brief overview of collective visioning as a process for positive social change, along with resources for additional information. This second article in the series provides greater detail on the seven steps for facilitating a collective visioning in your community, coined by Linda Stout, expert and executive director of Spirit in Action.

Steps one through three, outlined in Part 1 of the series, include:

  1. Purposefully include all the members of your community and create a safe space
  2. Guided Visualization
  3. Sharing visions together
  4. Discussion. After completing some form of collective picture, have members of the group discuss their individual contributions, as well as identify some commonalities or themes throughout the entire picture. Asking critical questions can make for richer conversation. Examples could be “Where, if any, are there conflicting ideas,” and “How could you describe our collective vision to someone who wasn’t a part of the process?”
  5. Creating a roadmap. This is the planning phase of collective visioning, where you work together to identify personal strengths to move the vision forward individually and as a group, potential partnering institutions or organizations, and what is the next immediate action. Starting with achievable, “low hanging fruit” is important when working on long-term plans such as this as it will help participants feel the achievement of moving forward. It is also important for all the members of your group to exchange contact information to stay in touch throughout this process. An additional effort would be to create some platform for mutual community support, such as a group on a social networking site or an updates/kudos newsletter, to provide words of encouragement, ask questions and have continued conversations.
  6. Sharing your vision with others. Disseminating your vision throughout your community can inspire others who were previously disengaged to action. Having your vision and plan displayed in a public space, place or platform can help you raise awareness of your efforts and create an additional sense of legitimacy when working with people in power (e.g. decision makers, public servants, community leaders, etc.).
  7. Reflection and conclusion. This is a process that takes a lot of hard work, so taking the time to acknowledge your accomplishments as a group is vital. Reflect on the process, your efforts and the roadmap to action you’ve created. Go around the room, stating appreciations to one another. It is because of everyone’s equal voice and mutual respect that you’ve developed a deeper sense of trust and community. This is a great time to use another creative art to process and remind individuals of their next steps. Have each participant contribute a line to a collective poem that captures their take-away and read the poem aloud after everyone has contributed their line.

After concluding your collective visioning session, your group will be charged with carrying out their vision. It is important to remember that while creativity and innovation are important to this process, your collective vision should be grounded in reality. Working toward an idyllic, yet unattainable vision will only result in disappointment and disengagement from the community. That being said, the 4-H motto, “To make the best better,” encourages us to never settle for just good enough. We have the capacity to think outside of the box, to move from focusing on problems to developing innovative solutions. We have the power to make a difference and collective visioning can help us get there.

For more information on bringing all stakeholders to the table, processes for empowering historically unheard voices and youth-adult partnerships, contact Michigan State University Extension also has many resourceful tools, experts and articles to help you engage in your community.

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