Planning NEXT is committed to working with communities to develop plans that inspire action, turning recommendations into reality. Over the past three years, implementation of the ValpoNEXT Vision Plan, which was adopted in 2014, has moved forward in a number of exciting ways. Following from the visioning process, the City created a 501c(3) organization dedicated to helping the Valparaiso community realize the vision. In November 2017, a Valpo NEXT Coordinator was appointed to oversee implementation. Highlights include the following.
Community Board Meetings. Focusing on ValpoNEXT initiatives, the community hosts meetings to discuss specific topics related to the Vision Plan. Meetings have been hosted on “Nurturing Our Young People and Imbedding Civic Education and Engagement in Schools,” “Facilitating Downtown Housing, Managing Fiber Network Development and Preparing a Downtown Amenities/Attraction Strategy;” “Strengthening Our Sense of Place and Protecting Our Natural Resources;” and “Engaging Our Citizens and Embracing Our Diversity.” These meetings are open to the public, dates and locations are posted on ValpoNEXT’s Facebook page.
Podcast. ValpoNEXT continues to keep the community in-the-know is with their podcast—now featuring 6 episodes. The ValpoNEXT Team reports they hope to add more episodes from community members to give the public an opportunity to share their stories of how they are engaged and helping to make the Vision Plan a reality.
Creative District Plan. Because of ValpoNEXT the community was well-positioned to compete in the America’s Best Communities competition, and as a result the Creative District Plan was created. The document, developed by Planning NEXT, included 34 specific actions and illustrated physical changes that could be made to a portion of downtown selected as the core creative district.
Creative Council. Through the above process, led by Planning NEXT, a group of local leaders were chosen to advance the growth and development of the creative arts community. This resulted in the creation of a 14-member Valparaiso Creative Council—established to be a resource for all the Valparaiso community, its members and arts organizations.
Community Summit. This May, the City will host a summit to report the initiative’s progress, share opportunities for citizens to get involved and provide time for participants to form new connections. The summit is intended to be an opportunity to convene, communicate and celebrate the ways the community is living up to its goals.