City of Yachats
The 2020 Vision Project
An Active Vision to Create Community
722 S.W. Second Avenue, Suite 400
Portland, OR 97204
The Vision of the Yachats
Community in 2020
YACHATS STRATEGIC PLAN
We shall not cease from exploration; And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started; And know the place for the first time. T. S. Elliot
Yachats is an exciting and beautiful place!
The community is filled with creative, articulate and capable people who care passionately for the other persons and the natural character of the area. But Yachats faces serious challenges. The area is growing rapidly and existing services are no longer adequate to meet the expanding needs. New people have moved into the city and nearby area. Very often there has been tension and hostility between community members and projects that are needed and should have gone forward have not been able to do so, or did proceed only with substantial difficulty.
The Yachats City Council recognized that in order for the community to prosper the human and physical resources to the area needed to be brought together in an effective manner. Further, that Yachats needed to be viewed as more than the people and land inside the city limits. With the help of the U. S. Forest Service and the Oregon Department of Land Conversation and Development they obtained funding for this project. Their first action was to hire a consultant to assist the staff in preparing a strategic plan.
The Strategic Plan envisioned by the City was to contain a summary of existing conditions and a description of local priorities, as well as a series of strategies for achieving identified community goals. As the project proceeded it became apparent that Yachats needed more than a strategic plan if it was to achieve the overall goals of an effective community decision making process, improved local service delivery, preservation of the local landscape and fostering of the areas quality of life. Working with Task Force appointed by the City Council the project consulting team and City staff recognized that there was not sufficient consensus in the community about what was to be achieved in order to prepare a plan to achieve it. Nor was there adequate trust to allow people to work together and obtain agreement about that final outcome. As a result, early in the process the project changed. To address the issue of insufficient clarity about the desired future, extra effort and time was allocated to developing a Community Vision Statement based upon the values and priorities of the local residents. The Vision of the Yachats Community in 2020 had always been planned as a part of the process but to provide the needed focus for later activities more resources to achieve the consensus were provided. The Vision was based upon discussions that occurred at several focused workshops and two community workshops where a broad representation from the community provided input into the final Vision Statement. The initial effort to create the Vision was based upon the Community Values Statement. That basic document was then supplemented with the information and priorities developed at the workshops. The Task Force played a key a role in this work by refining and guiding the structure of the document and its contents.
But having an image of the future is not enough. It is also important that the community have an effective process for working together. To achieve that result a Community Covenant was created that outlined an effective process for empowering the involvement of all local citizens. That Covenant recognized, that to succeed, everyone had to have access to the process and the information used in making decisions. Further, that people had a right to be treated with respect, whether they are testifying or on the official body hearing their comments. The Covenant is a first step in creating the environment that will allow effective decisions to be made, as well establishing the trust and commitment needed to carry out the many local projects needing community involvement and resources. The Principles document contained in the Covenant Section summarizes the basic approach that is needed to obtain a long-term solution to Yachats needs.
The YACHATS STRATEGIC PLAN section contains strategies for achieving the six highest priorities identified by the Task Force and City Council. The focus on six elements allows for a more efficient use if resources and, therefore, improves the probability for success. Also within this section is the list of Action Items identified during the process. This listing is a tremendous resource for the community. It outlines a great number of beneficial activities that could and should be undertaken. Persons interested in any of these tasks should be encouraged to take them on and succeed. Given the history of insufficient trust and uncooperative behavior the best strategy for the near term may be to simply spend time getting things done together. Once a history of success and mutual respect has been achieved more complex tasks can be undertaken.
Yachats is a truly beautiful place, with people who are the real riches of the community. But if they are to be a true community then the people must be brought into the process and all made to feel they will be valued for the commitment they make and the ideas they contribute.
Yachats 20/20 Community Values Statement (Final Draft) 5/21/96
SENSE OF PLACE.
WE value our sense of place and the distinct perspective it gives us as a community. We view this sense of place as a common bond and a bridge of understanding between our differences.
NATURAL ENVIRONMENT. WE value the natural environment and beauty of our surroundings- the ocean, forests, rivers, hills, and beaches. We strive to protect and restore our physical environment and the natural and human habitat it provides.
SMALL TOWN ATMOSPHERE. WE value our small town atmosphere and the friendly, slower-paced quality of life it offers. We see our community as a coastal village and seek to maintain and enhance its village character and scale.
WELCOMING SPIRIT. WE value our welcoming spirit. We openly invite visitors to share in our communitys natural beauty and attractions, while encouraging them to respect the character and values that distinguish us from other places.
INDEPENDENCE. WE value independence of thought, mind and creativity. We cherish our privacy, individuality and rights as individuals, but balance them with respect for the rights of others and a sense of responsibility to the community as a whole.
COOPERATION. WE value our communitys spirit of cooperation. We believe in lending a hand to neighbors in need, volunteering our time and energy for the betterment of our community, and working together for the common good.
UNIQUENESS. WE value our uniqueness as a community. We honor the diverse backgrounds and talents of those who live here, the unique values and perspectives we share, and our ability to develop creative solutions to the challenges that face us.
YACHATS COMMUNITY COVENANT
CREATING A PROCESS FOR BINDING TOGETHER THE PEOPLE OF THE YACHATS COMMUNITY
To every community there comes a time when it must be become more than it has been in the past.
Sometimes change is thrust upon the residents by outside forces that are beyond local control. At other times incremental adjustments take place over time without a rational and comprehensive review of the impacts and alternatives. In the best circumstance the people of a community recognize the reality of the changes they face, from whatever source, and move together to address the adjustments needed. That is what should be happening in Yachats, but is not, yet. It can happen, if people agree that they need to agree, and develop a covenant for working together.
The first part of the process has happened. People have recognized that there is a need to work together, and that is why the community visioning process has gone forward. However, it is clear that while the vision will contain the ideas required for the communitys success, there will be no progress unless the people who make Yachats a community can agree about how they can work together.
A first step in that process is to determine if success is actually what the community wants. While supposedly we all want to succeed, the reality is that success is normally the penultimate goal, while happiness is the real outcome desired. If success can be defined as getting what you want, and there are a lot of yous to be satisfied, the likelihood of success is small because only one, or at most a few, will ever achieve it. If, as some say, happiness can be defined as wanting what you get, then perhaps there is hope. If our expectation is that it is our attitude that can make the difference, then maybe we can find agreement about how we treat each other, how will reach agreement, and how we will enjoy our community. That agreement may ultimately be more important than the specific actions we want to achieve.
It is clear that if Yachats is to move forward it needs the involvement that comes from the commitment of its people to one another. Commitment requires trust. Trust occurs when there is respect and predictability. Respect is based upon courtesy, caring and good (clear, honest and mutual) communication. Predictability happens when there is involvement and commitment.
So where do we intervene in this cycle to the communitys best advantage? The solution is to create an environment for discussion and decision-making that provides the basic ingredients of courtesy, caring, good communication, effective involvement opportunities and a commitment to working together. The environment can be created by the city and other governmental agencies, but it is all the people that will have to make it work.
THE CREATION OF THIS COMMUNITY COVENANT REQUIRES AGREEMENT BY A MAJORITY OF THE COMMUNITY THAT THEY WILL ABIDE BY THE PROVISIONS OF THE MUTUAL PROMISES MADE IN THIS CONTRACT. INVOLVEMENT AND COMMITMENT
IT IS THE PEOPLE that make Yachats, and all other small communities work. The thousands of hours of free time committed each year to serving on boards, committees, service clubs and other local activities (whether on projects, ad hoc committees or as part of on-going groups) is what makes the community work. Equal opportunity in recruitment, courtesy to those who are serving (whether you individually agree with them or not), and recognition that each persons involvement makes the decision process better all help. Also, an understanding that productive involvement has a condition, it requires the participation be done in a respectful and responsible manner. Responsible involvement also requires that persons who join a committee or group must recognize that it is part of their duty to conduct themselves openly and honestly with an attitude that their job is best done when everyone has access to the facts and reasoning that is being used to make decisions. Non-committee members should accept the decisions made openly and in a caring manner, moving on once a decision has been reached, to deal with other issues and problems that need to be resolved; not dwelling on the past, personalities or personal differences.
It is important to celebrate the contributions of the many volunteers, appointed and elected, that make the community work. That recognition should be in terms that reflect the individuals character and perspective. Some will want a public celebration with speeches and a party, while others will be satisfied with a handshake and a certificate in a quiet meeting of their peers. Some will deserve (particularly those that serve on unpopular boards or in controversial posts) special privileges or awards (e.g., pictures on walls, facilities named after them, ride on a fire truck for themselves or a relative or friend, etc.). Each token of appreciation should be fitted to the character of the recipient.
In Yachats part of the decision about involvement must also concern the definition of community. Is community limited to those people that live with in the geographical boundary created by the city limits. Or is community the people who may not live in the city limits, but contribute to the economic, social and spiritual activities that take place in the area? In this instance the broader perspective seems most appropriate. It is those linkages to one another that are the real boundaries of the community, not the geographical definition. Mechanisms to obtain funds for services provided to those who live outside the incorporated boundary can be found (e.g., special districts, fees, fund-raising events, etc.). Participatory methods can also be found, such as County Citizen Participation Organizations, Area of Influence designations for participation, modifications to city committees to add a certain number of non-city-resident members, etc. The important issue is the recognition that everyone has a useful role to play in the life of Yachats. Further, recognition of an individuals contribution to the community not only helps the individual but also everyone else in the Yachats Community.
It is also important to remember a number of the federal, state and local agencies function within the Yachats Community. The involvement of staff from these agencies can be an important source of information, support and funding. Agencies, such as the U. S. Forest Service, can and do (as this project demonstrates) bring together important resources, create effective decision making environments and foster true community participation. Also, State Legislators, County Commissioners and others who are effective sources of resources needed by the community should also be regularly informed and involved with local activities and meetings.
GOOD COMMUNICATION Good communication contains several elements. First, communication must be clear. Clarity in communication requires that people make an effort to express themselves in a manner that reflects thoughtful consideration of the issues, impacts and implications. This would be made easier if the community sponsored annual or semi-annual town hall meeting(s) designed and facilitated to identify and discuss local topics of interest. This discussion would be in terms of listing and fact-finding, rather than final decisions, which would come after a more formal review and completion of both involvement activities and legal processes. But a process to define concerns and identify important aspects of the debate would come after a more informed and less emotional consideration of the issues. The result leading to a more positive community-wide discussion. This annual meeting would be a good time to review the progress of the Vision and the Action Plan. While the Vision is unlikely to change very much, it is quite likely the Action Plan would be regularly adjusted and improvements made as appropriate.
Often it will be the board or commission members that will have to help those participating from the audience for the first time, since they are not likely to know the procedures and options, in addition to being nervous about making a public presentation. Efforts to make people feel at ease and that their comments are appreciated will do much to assure the communication is less clouded by unnecessary emotions. Common courtesy is all too often uncommon, but does much to make public discourse possible and productive. Efforts to assure everyone feels treated the same will help maintain the credibility of the process. To keep people involved, new and creative ways to reach out to them will continually have to be found. Different people will be attracted by different methods; some will like electronic bulletin boards, others will want a newsletter, some may require the personal effort of a telephone call by a community phone tree, and some may respond only to personal visits to obtain their comments or suggestions. Each community issue will need to have a specific involvement strategy determined when the project is proposed to assure that effective involvement and useful communication is part of the process.
For issues where there is substantive disagreement clarity may require the meetings be facilitated by persons with special training. Meeting facilitation skills can be taught, and it would be useful to create a cadre of trained facilitators who would be on-call for meetings within the Yachats District, in addition to having outside facilitators for times when non- community member is required. Mediation abilities may also be needed ( Oregon provides such resources through the Department of Land and Conversation and Development and Oregon Dispute Resolution Commission).
It is possible that the annual town hall meeting could also be the right time for an annual Leadership Training Program for interested citizens. Those persons could learn about meeting facilitation, effective public decision-making, local governmental finance law, leadership skills and practical project management.
A regular monthly work party, round table discussion or potluck might be useful means to foster communication, improve understanding and generally foster better dialogue between local residents. Choosing a variety of methods, rather than repeating the same activity each time is more likely to maintain a better level of interest over the long term than conducting what would become a repetitive process. A system of straw polls conducted by objective community volunteers is another method to check on community perceptions and priorities. This tool should not be seen as voting on an issue, but is simply a method to sample local ideas and/or the popularity of various options.
For communication to be truly effective it must be honest. In this instance honest communication means that opinions are courteously, but candidly, expressed. Decisions are made in public, although some discussion of options and facts may occasionally be necessary between members (not a quorum) without the emotional intensity of public debate.
When a determination is made the facts and reasoning are listed with the decision so that people can understand why decisions were made the way they were. People may not agree but least they know the reasoning.
All people in the process must be treated with respect and the decisions adhered to without constant after-the-fact revisiting of the initial determination, unless new facts are available. Second-guessing and reliving the debate on past issues may feel good, but it does little to promote progress and healthy discussion of current concerns. It is the issues, not the personalities, that are important and in need of resolution. This concern will be most effectively addressed with a commitment to consensus decision making that focuses on agreement, with involvement by all interested parties.
Good communication also requires that the commitment be to a process where communication is a mutual activity conducted in a caring manner. In villages the people who are todays decision makers are tomorrows testifiers, and vice versa. There is no nameless, faceless, bottomless well of community participants. Everyone knows those involved and there is a need to remember that the relationship must be an on-going one, not just dictated by the concerns of the present issue. That means people will need to be brought into the process because they have a history being interested in a people will need to be brought into the process because they have a history of being interested in a particular topic or area, as well as those who have legal rights to notice and are notified for that reason. Further, once involved they will need to be listened-to in an active manner that demonstrates they are being heard. That is not to say their views will prevail, only that they will be involved. It also requires the citizens to responsible. They must provide courteous, issues-oriented, factually-based testimony, with an attitude of working together to find mutually acceptable results. We all must recognize that there are times when the individual must step aside to allow the communitys need to be preeminent.
ROLE OF THE VISION
The Community Vision will play a key role in the creation of a more effective and efficient community. Much of that benefit will result from the identification of specific images and goals to be achieved by the community members in the future. Those images provide a powerful focus and the means to sort local priorities from the many options that are proposed in every community each year. This predictability is a key element in establishing an increased comfort level within the community about growth, change and the resulting impacts on individuals lives. People like to know what the future holds, recognizing that no one and no process will ever make the future completely predictable. Giving the people of Yachats a clear image of what is envisioned will make the desired result much more likely and increase the communitys comfort with the discussion about that future.
Some improvement will also result from the increased political and social consensus that will exist in the Yachats Community for a period following the completion of the Action Plan. However, that agreement will not stay in place for long unless there is an on-going commitment to the maintenance and revitalization of the Yachats Vision on a regular basis. There must also be a means for reporting and celebrating the successes fostered by the vision and plan so that people will see their efforts are producing results. To assure that the progress continues will require a dialogue that continues to keep the document a living and useful tool.
There are no simple answers in community issues. Groups of humans always contain great opportunity and great potential for problems. It is the people that can agree to work together with trust and a caring attitude that makes the difference. That commitment will occur if: People have a vision for their common future they know they will be treated with respect and courtesy there is an on-going commitment to good communication. The following summary of the basic principles contained within this covenant provide a simple and concise list of the important elements within this document, and is an effective means by which to communicate those elements to others.
The Vision of the Yachats Community in 2020
YACHATS COMMUNITY COVENANT
PRINCIPLES FOR FOSTERING COMMUNITY
IT IS THE PEOPLE: The first and foremost principle that guides the activities of the Yachats Community is that a community is created by and for all the people. COMMUNITY IS CREATED BY THE COMMITMENT OF ITS PEOPLE TO THE VALUES AND NEEDS OF THAT COMMUNITY. The creation of this community covenant requires agreement by the majority of the community that they will abide by the provisions of the mutual promises made by this contract. THE YACHATS COMMUNITY IS DEFINED AS THAT AREA WHERE PEOPLE REGULARLY CONTRIBUTE TO THE ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND SPIRITUAL ACTIVITIES OF THE AREA. Generally this is the area from Big Creek at the north to 10 Mile Creek on the south, and as far inland from the Pacific Ocean and the coastal plains as full-time residents regularly live in the local creek and river valleys. The community shall honor the following PRINCIPLES: COMMUNITY COMMITMENT requires TRUST, which occurs when there is RESPECT AND PREDICTABILITY, that is based upon COURTESY, CARING AND GOOD COMMUNICATION; EQUAL OPPORTUNITY for all community members to be involved; RESPONSIBLE INVOLVEMENT and COURTESY is treating others as you would like to be treated; SUSTAINING A CONNECTION TO THE BROADER COMMUNITY includes involvement with federal, state and local agencies as needed for the conduct of each activity; GOOD COMMUNICATION requires a thoughtful consideration of issues, impacts and implications and REGULATE COMMUNITY DISCUSSION FORUMS; MEDIATION SKILLS are available and used when needed; HONEST COMMUNICATION requires courteous and candid opinions be expressed in a caring manner and decisions are always accompanied by the facts and conclusions upon which they are based; A REGULAR SYSTEM OF POLLING COMMUNITY ATTITUDES exists to help to elected and appointed decision makers understand public views; COMMUNITY GOALS AND A COMMITMENT TO PLANNING AHEAD help to effectively guide growth and change, while helping to assure efficient use of local resources; THE COMMUNITY VISION AND ACTION PLAN is updated annually and the results distributed to all members of the Yachats community; RECOGNITION is given to all those who participate local activities and CELEBRATING COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES AND THOSE WHO PARTICIPATE is a regular community activity and is done in a way that reflects each persons need for recognition.
YACHATS STRATEGIC PLAN
City of Yachats