Sneak Peek of October 6th – vision and themes

Things have been churning since we last met and tomorrow evening, between 7 and 9 pm, the East Chapel Hill High auditorium is your destination to check in and let us know how well you think the facilitators and staff have captured your input from the 27th.

We collected what you said, we’ve written it down, we’ve sorted and sifted and our facilitators have studied and suggested to come up with these drafts.

We hope you’ll join us tomorrow to give us your reactions, but if you can’t, never fear.  We’ll have more opportunities to hear from you here, through a survey (coming soon), or maybe you want to come to the community open house on October 22nd at University Mall, by the new library location, and talk to us then!

So, here’s some food for thought to get you going.  What do you think?

1. Draft Vision Statements

 A: “Chapel Hill will be a vibrant, connected community, a town that is accessible, affordable, sustainable, and strong. Citizens of Chapel Hill will treasure their downtown, their diversity, and their university; they will enjoy the benefits of balanced development, a quality transportation system, green housing, and healthy neighborhoods.”

B: “Chapel Hill will be a destination location. Balancing growth, density, and the environment, it will feature collaboration between the university, the town, developers and the community. It will encourage integration of students into community, and build bridges between cultures, and neighborhoods through art. Chapel Hill will be a town that is truly green.”

C: “Chapel Hill will be a bright, dynamic community that celebrates diverse populations. It will accumulate and retain intellectual, entrepreneurial, and artistic capital. Valuing its heritage while building regional partnerships, Chapel Hill will be a compact, accessible, mixed-use place of opportunity with a high quality of life.”

D: “Chapel Hill will be the best college town in America. We will integrate the aspirations of the University and its students into our community life. We will build social and physical bridges among cultures and neighborhoods. Through wise and collaborative use of resources, we will strive for an affordable and sustainable community life. We will safeguard our heritage while building a diverse tax base and regional partnerships for a prosperous future. We will be safe for all, connected, economically sound, and innovative.”

2. Draft Themes

Good places and new spaces: Downtown & Development (special places, downtown district, housing, development, protecting existing assets, neighborhoods)

Town & Gown: Learning and innovation (a center of medicine and health care, life-long learning, using intellectual/financial capital, re-thinking the status quo)

Getting Around: Transportation (transportation of all forms)

Community prosperity and engagement: Fiscal Sustainability (affordability, economic development, neighborhoods, services delivery)

Cultural & Artistic Vibrancy (arts, creativity, tourism, celebrations, special events, inclusion)

Nurturing our community: environmental sustainability (our natural environment, open spaces, solid waste, recycling, parks, greenways, rural buffer)

A place for everyone: public safety & diversity (youth, teens, safe places, a welcoming community) Our Dynamic Region: (regional assets, partnerships, potential for shared success)

3. The Principles Each work group should address how their plan supports

  • Protecting and celebrating our natural assets
  • Creating opportunities for social exchange and community capital
  • Strengthening our physical infrastructure
  • Encouraging sustainable practices and a diversified tax base
  • Supporting safe and healthy lifestyles

4. The practical framework Each work group would also frame their work around these two guiding questions:

  • How will our input inform policy decisions by elected officials?
  • How will our input inform planning and implementation by the city manager and staff?

13 thoughts on “Sneak Peek of October 6th – vision and themes

  1. Geoffrey Daniel says:

    I’m siding toward Draft Vision “D”, but would like to add that I thought the language “…while building a diverse tax base…” sounded a bit stiff and technical-something one wouldn’t find in a town’s vision statement, that is, a discussion of a tax case. It seemed almost as if it were inserted as PR proposal, perhaps seen as a euphemism for what, I’m uncertain though I have an idea.

    Just a suggestion, but how about something like “…building a diverse economy or diverse commercial base…”?

    Regards and thank you,

    Geoffrey Daniel

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  3. Great job last night. I was extremely impressed with the range of thinking. Two themes I thought were missing were:

    1-Our public school system: while I realize this is not in the town’s jurisdiction, it does affect our home values and the overall esteem of the community.

    2-Technology, particularly how it is used in a variety of areas –education, transportation, economic development.

    Thank you.

  4. Del Snow says:

    It would great if all the sub-committees could get eductated about the demographics of CH, as well as having OWASA presentations, and Public School information at the beginning. Our schools are an imporatant part of what makes CH so beckoning to families.

  5. I know there were college and alumni represented at last meeting but I don’t remember any students sitting at the tables being involved in the discussions. They’re the people who will be just graduating or starting graduate programs and most likely will return home soon after schooling.

    I could be wrong as I was quite myopic during the meeting with so many there but we do need some youthful voices.

  6. I’d like to see a theme called “Innovation and the Future”. It would be a open theme that would allow us to be citizen futurist. In a sense that’s what we’re doing now. Trying to prognosticate 11 years down the road. But if we fill our plan full of what we’re talking about NOW there is no room for the unexpected.

    For example in 2000 I doubt many of us could have imagined Sept 11, or that the US would be in several global wars, and our economy would crash in 2008. But we must allow ourselves, and our leaders, space to imagine. To dream not just about the challenges ahead but of our Town’s progress in the future..

    When President Obama says small business innovation will lead us into the new economy he is betting on young people. I see young technology business people innovating and creating new revenue streams every day. They are inherently dreamers who have a lot to look forward to. Young folks also have the advantage of not being biased by the challenges of life. The are not jaded yet. This allows the young at heart to create the future. They show us how to walk through walls!

    So please… don’t stack our future with the themes of the past. Allow unknown themes a chance to live in 2020.


  7. Barbara Crockett says:

    Would it be possible to put the “word clouds” into a form where they all could be read via computer screen? At the moment, the only one that is legible is the largest cloud in the center, but I would be interested in reading all of them. I think that’s an innovative way to present a huge amount of miscellaneous data, whether bits of it finds their way into the final vision statement or not. Bravo to those who thought of it and who took the time to create these right-brain charts.

    • George Cianciolo says:


      If you click on PDF Download, which is just above (top left corner) the word cloud diagram, you can open the PDF file. Once open, you can enlarge the PDF as you see fit so that you can look at each individual table’s word cloud.

  8. Suzanne Haff says:

    James, You are absolutely right. The schools draw families with children – do we want that to continue? What will we offer for these families in the future?

  9. I am so pleased that the town has been able to digest and post this information before meeting. I find it very useful to be able to look these ideas over and ruminate without the time and social pressure of one intense meeting with hundreds of people. So glad to see you making good use of the blog.

    My initial reaction to the Vision statements is: meh. None of them sound very different from Chapel Hill today, and I don’t get a sense of what the Town would do differently to accomplish the visions. I guess I’m looking for something more specific, but I also wonder if such a thing is possible now at he beginning of this process. I actually would have thought that the vision would be determined more toward the end of the process when we have had a better chance to express our priorities and better understand those of other participants.

    The draft themes give us a sense of where the “meat” will be, and they’re a good step. Some of the best ideas I heard in my small group last week were about creating an effective network for people to get around without cars (between neighborhoods and downtown, and within the region); and redevelopment, density, and the potential of Carolina North. I don’t really see these reflected, and I think they’re pretty critical to figuring out how to be successful in the FUTURE. I’m also wondering how we’ll deal with the many areas of overlap and interconnection between the themes.

    This list of themes feels more like important values for right now ie: policies our Town Council candidates might be debating. Like it or not, our town will not be the same 10 or 20 years from now, just as it is quite different today than it was in 1990 (not to mention 1970). I hope tomorrow, we can put on our thinking caps and really envision a DIFFERENT Chapel Hill that we will love as much or even more than the one we live in (and around) today.

    (This comment also posted at

  10. I’m surprised the vision makes no reference to our public school system. There’s a significant portion of our property values which are the direct result of the quality of our K-12 schools, and maintaining that, while not in the town purview, should be part of our vision for all who live here. There are certainly things the the town can do to help or harm this important part of what defines CH today (and should in the future as well).

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