The recognition includes an award of $35,000 from Frontier Communications to WCCED for use in the development of a Community Revitalization Plan. WCCED is facilitating the development of Webster’s plan to compete against the remaining 49 communities for position as one of eight finalists taking home $100,000 to help kick-start plan implementation. Frontier Communications will then award grand prizes of up to $3 million to the communities that create and implement the most successful revitalization strategies.
Last month, we facilitated several planning exercises with area high school students, and our job today was to solicit ideas for the Community Revitalization Plan from members of the Webster Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber provided a full breakfast, and Matt kicked off the meeting with an overview of the contest.
Matt and I designed a one-hour agenda around a facilitation method called World Cafe. World Cafe is a structured conversational process intended to facilitate open and intimate discussion, and link ideas within a larger group to access the collective intelligence in the room. Participants move between a series of tables where they continue the discussion in response to a set of questions.
Our questions were:
- What is Webster’s competitive advantage in relation to its peers?
- What do you think government should be doing to improve Webster’s competitive advantage?
- What do you think small business should be doing to improve Webster’s competitive advantage?
- How should Webster best invest the $3 million prize from America’s Best Communities to support our small businesses?
We warmed up with the first question as a large group, and spent about ten minutes brainstorming a list of things that provide a competitive advantage for Webster, such as access to parks and the lake, a strong transportation network, and quality schools.
Did I mention that the entire Highland Planning staff attended this meeting? All three of us. That was actually unprecedented. We had never facilitated a meeting together. Here is a photo of Jen providing an overview of the ideas generated around question #4.
The next step is to type up all the input for Matt to incorporate in his planning process.... and plan the next meeting! This process has been so fun and we are feeling very positive about the engagement process and Webster's chances of making it to the next round of the competition.
We'll keep you posted as we attend more events this summer.