Decatur Next

Decatur Diary | March 29, 2010

Keeping Decatur on Track:
It’s Up to You, Plus One

Here’s what we like to hear from Decatur residents: In the latest citizens’ survey, taken in 2008, 97 percent of respondents checked the “excellent” or “good” categories when rating Decatur as a place to live, and 93 percent said their town was an “excellent” or “good” place to raise children.

When it came to ranking perceptions of government, 88 percent rated Decatur’s as “excellent” or “good,” compared to only 37 percent of respondents who applied the same ratings to the U.S. government and only 33 percent who said the same about state government.

That would seem to indicate we’re on the right track, right?

File Photo: Decatur's first Round Table process, in 1998, laid the foundation for the 2000 Strategic Plan now being updated.

Our ability to understand citizen wishes and to act in accordance with them is due in no small part to the way the City and its citizens interact. The strong relationship goes back for decades but got even closer during the very public process that led to the 2000 Strategic Plan.

Now that it’s time to update that plan, we’re sticking with what works: You speak. We listen.

When we produced our 2000 Strategic Plan, we enjoyed the participation of some 500 residents in the Round Table discussions that helped set our priorities. We’d like to involve even more folks this time around. One reason: We also discovered in our 2008 survey that half the respondents had lived in Decatur five years or less. So we have a whole new set of folks to introduce to Decatur-style public involvement. Ironically, that becomes a bit tougher in light of the overall satisfaction level of our citizens. If things are going so well, why take the time away from family and other demands in order to go to a series of meetings?

We all know the answer to that: The best way to keep the mutual respect and trust going – and growing – is to keep talking and to keep producing results in line with the community conversations.

So far, 340 residents have signed up for our Round Tables. That’s a solid number, and we’re hoping to double it (or more). To do so, we’re asking everyone who’s signed up so far and everyone who’ll sign up in the remaining couple weeks to think about who their “plus-one” might be.

We all know someone with a keen take on Decatur issues. If that person’s not already participating, we’re hoping you’ll make them your “plus one” and help convince them to do so.

At the very least, we’d love for those of you who join us for the Round Tables to keep an absent plus-one neighbor in the loop. So even if they’re not in the meetings, they’re still part of the process. Like you, they’ll be helping folks in their extended networks understand what’s going on. And through you, they can still convey questions and concerns back to the Round Tables.

It’s a network of networks, pretty much the same way most of us get and pass on information in the rest of our lives.

So don’t miss this chance for you – and your plus-one – to be part of this process. Sign up and watch these pages for regular updates.

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