Frisco asks residents: What’s important?
Summit Daily News
At the first of six community forums, Frisco town officials and residents gathered Wednesday night to discuss what it means to be part of a community. Results from the forums – which include discussions about why residents moved to Frisco, and what they’d like to see for the town’s future – will help shape the Frisco Community Plan, which is updated every five years as mandated by town code.
Frisco Mayor Bill Pelham said the forums are important because they give some guidance to council and staff as to what’s important to citizens. Five years ago, topics emphasized included activities at the Peninsula Recreation Area, an updated Main Street, economic development, and financial responsibility.
“It helps provide the community vision for where the Town of Frisco ought to go,” Pelham said.
“I am here because this is my home, and I want to make sure Frisco maintains the historical significance it has,” said Teri Booth, a Frisco resident since 1969. “I feel I have a voice to try and guide it.”
Jocelyn Mills, interim community development director for the town, said the six forums start off as big picture discussions – like Wednesday’s conversation about community – and then trickle down to more detailed town plans.
The highlight of Wednesday night’s event was speaker Christopher Gates, a leader in the field of democratic theory, practice, and political and civic engagement. He currently serves as the executive director of Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement, and has worked with other communities to revise master plans.
Gates told the crowd “great communities don’t just happen.”
“The key to a great community is the concept of intentionality,” he said.
Gates said the three things that tend to hinder the creation of a flawless society are distrust, diversity and technology. He said the notion of distrust has permeated America, which makes it difficult to get things accomplished.
“In America, we confuse cynicism with sophistication,” he said.
Gates said another hindrance to successful community is the refusal to admit to a diverse population – both racially and economically. Technology is also a deterrent, he said, because many people haven’t realized how it’s changed the relationships between fellow citizens, and citizens and community leaders.
Gates told attendees there are four aspects important to the model of community: a shared public agenda; social capital (networks and relationships between citizens that represent trust and reciprocity); shared value solutions; and how communities work together to solve their problems. He said the community needs to participate in public agenda issues, be willing to respect each other despite differences in opinion; and focus on shared values, which help unite citizens.
“When you ask people what it means to be American, everyone has different answers,” he said. “It’s finding a sort of middle ground.”
“I think it was very provocative for us,” said attendee and Frisco resident Judy Sawyer. “We might have all these different groups, but all these groups have things in common.”
Mills told the crowd the discussion sets the stage for the next five sessions: “Why is Frisco”; “Am I a Local”; “What’s the future”; “Connect.Sustain.Create”; and “Celebrate Frisco.”
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