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Power Of 32 Seeks Public Input Today

By Staff | Jul 28, 2010

A Community Conversation conducted by the Power of 32-the regional visioning initiative that includes 32 counties in the Maryland panhandle, eastern Ohio, southwestern Pennsylvania, and West Virginia’s mid-central and panhandle-will be held today, 5 p.m., at West Virginia Northern Community College. Food and refreshments at the event will be provided.

It is part of the public input phase of the project, creating forums for all residents to voice their vision for the region’s future.

“The Power of 32 is about full inclusion for the people of our region,” explains Selena Schmidt, Power of 32 executive director.”This initiative is unique because we are striving to build a better future by leveraging the collaborative strengths we share as a larger region based on ideas, concerns, and input of the residents of this region.It is an unprecedented opportunity to empower the people of the region to bring their voices and insights to creating a better future for us all.”

Trained facilitators lead the discussion at the Community Conversation events. Participants, working in groups, consider four discussion questions:

-What does a thriving region look like?

-What key challenges must be address for our region to thrive, and what key strengths can we build on?

-What one or two possibilities must be pursued to ensure the region thrives? Why?

-It is 2025. What makes us most proud of our region, and what was key to getting us here?

The format was designed by AmericaSpeaks, a national leader in civic engagement efforts.

Tens of thousands of people will be engaged at Community Conversations through September 2010 and every comment will be captured.Beginning in Fall 2010, the most prevalent challenges identified during the Community Conversations will be developed and vetted into policy options that build on assets and opportunities.In 2011, thousands of residents will attend the Regional Town Meeting-in multiple locations linked by technology-to prioritize the options into a Regional Agenda, formed and endorsed by the citizens and leadership of the 32 counties, to achieve a thriving region by 2025. The Regional Agenda will be rooted in the community’s values and defined by the economic, social, environmental, cultural, and other interests most important to the region’s residents and stakeholders.

“Through Power of 32, we can think differently about our region’s challenges, our role in the global economy, our quality of life, and our opportunities, and we can act in ways that set a new direction for the future,” said Jason Henry, local coordinator. “It’s a way to have a say in the region’s best future. The work we accomplish now-in a spirit of collaboration-will have an impact on generations to come, along with the sense of community we can all share after realizing the power we have if we work together as 32 counties in one unified region competing in a global economy.”

“The Power of 32 is the largest regional visioning initiative of its kind, and it’s happening in our own backyard,” explains Michael Bernarding, chair of the Power of 32 Steering Committee, which has representatives from the public, private, and non-profit sectors from throughout the region.”Power of 32 is not just about the power of 32 counties.It’s about the power of 4.2 million people.”

To find and register for a Community Conversation near you or for more information about Power of 32, visit www.powerof32.org.