Original Date: 04/22/1996
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Chattanooga Venture/Community Vision
Chattanooga Venture was a not-for-profit organization that provided the means for citizen participation in establishing the agenda for the City's future. This organization also helped address strategic issues for the community's vitality, as well as served as a catalyst for change. Formed in 1984, Chattanooga Venture was founded on the premise that as with other communities facing the same difficulties as Chattanooga success is based on a comprehensive process that incorporates ideas from the community, and is supported by decisive citizens who form coalitions to implement the changes.
Vision 2000 marked the Venture's first effort -- a public, goal-setting process that was contributed to by more than 1,700 people over a 20-week period. It resulted in more than 40 goals for the City, many of which supported the citizens' emphasis on the quality of life. Non-profit organizations such as Partners for Academic Excellence, the Tennessee Aquarium Task Force, Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise (CNE), and RiverCity Company were supported at Chattanooga Venture before moving out into the community. Neighborhoods were linked by a city- wide network that urged residents to share responsibility for where and how they lived. Projects highlighted by the Vision 2000 effort prompted immediate response through the formation of task forces to address the goals. For example, the Family Violence Shelter was one of the first projects completed, and more than $500K was raised by a citizens task force to start the shelter. The community raised enough funds after six months to open the center and support it for five years. Another coalition of local residents raised funds needed for renovation of the historic Tivoli Theatre and construction of the River Walk and the Ross’s Landing Park and Plaza.
Vision 2000 resulted in more than 200 projects and programs, created 1,381 jobs, 7,300 temporary construction jobs, served over 1.5 million people, and precipitated a total financial investment of $793,303,813.
Building on Vision 2000's success and planning for the future, ReVision 2000 was initiated in 1993 where nine meetings drew 2,600 participants and resulted in 3,000 ideas, which in turn produced 27 goals and 122 recommendations.
Chattanooga Venture has been successful because of community involvement and support. This successful effort has helped break down barriers of race, history, and geography, and fostered the conviction that individual citizens' ideas and participation in the process is critical to the program's success. Although Chattanooga Venture is no longer operating, it established among Chattanooga’s citizens an expectation that the very public work of community revitalization should and would take place through public participation. This expectation is met by public participation processes like Futurescape (1996), which involved over 2,500 City and County residents in a “visual preference survey” about how the community should develop; IMAGINEEastgate (1998), in which over 300 people participated in a “design charrette” for the neighborhood surrounding a failing mall; and “Recreate 2008" (1998), a visioning process in which hundreds of people created a plan for revitalizing the City’s parks system.
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