Here we offer a process for involving others in developing a shared vision of your local economy. It’s a plan for running a 4-hour workshop, with two options for exploring and sharing visions. You can adapt it to suit your specific circumstances.
This plan is based on pilot workshops that were run with some of the Transition Initiatives (TI’s) taking part in the REconomy Project. We are continuing to learn, and we invite you to give feedback on this approach and let us know what worked for you or didn’t work, and any adaptations you would recommend.
It can help to start with the end in mind, so for some examples of local economy visions see here. If you don’t have people with facilitation skills to run the workshop, then it might be worth finding someone who does, as they can really make a difference to how satisfying the experience is for your attendees. Someone from the REconomy team might be able to come and help you, please contact us to explore this futher.
Purpose of workshop
To involve stakeholders (people with responsibility for/interest in the local economy) in developing a vision for their local economy, through a collective visioning process. This can be written up or expressed in other creative ways, and used as a basis for an action plan for moving forward. A Local Economy Vision is a long-term goal for an economy, specific and appropriate to a particular location. While the specifics of each vision are unique, it is likely that the narrative of the vision would describe some of the following:
1) What the local economy does – its purpose
2) What it includes
3) What it looks like
4) How it works
5) How far into the future it is situated
6) What’s its geographical boundaries
1) To provide opportunities for people to develop their own ideas/visions about what their local economy would be like, if it was more resilient and sustainable, and the pathways to get there.
2) To identify which of these ideas are shared in the group and which ones are not shared, and to explore what this means.
3) To weave together the shared ideas into a shared vision that can be written up as a ‘Vision for our Local Economy’.
4) To agree ways of taking it forward, e.g. with developing an action plan.
Each TI is different, and some may have spent more time thinking and discussing issues relating to their local economy with stakeholders, than others. You may find that a 4-hour workshop is not enough time to write up a vision statement or even to reach agreement about a shared vision. It may be that for your TI, this is just the beginning of a longer conversation with your partners. Important outcomes of this workshop may be building relationships, trust, shared understanding, and identifying other actions that need to happen in order for a vision to be successfully developed.
Preparing the workshop
1) Who to invite: e.g. members of your Business & Livelihoods group, members of your TI’s core group, project partners, other local organisations and groups, local council officers, business associations etc. – this depends on who you have connections with, or are already talking to about economy related issues. Some local organisations may already have similar work underway.
Ideally the organisations you have identified for your Leadership Group all attend. However, some TIs choose to create a draft vision just with members of their Business & Livelihoods group, then use this as a starting point for discussion with other stakeholders. Others include a broad range of stakeholders in a visioning process, not to specifically create a shared vision, but as a way to start a conversation about the future.
2) Find a suitable location, arrange times with participants etc.
3) Plan how you will help participants unfamiliar with Transition to be briefed and able to fully participate.
4) In Suggested features of a new economy and What’s a Transition Enterprise we propose several key features we think are important. You may want to circulate some of these before the workshop to provide some food for thought. This is a work in progress and will continue to be adapted as we discuss it further, and receive feedback on how it works in practice.
5) Manage expectations by including Purpose and Objectives of Workshop in the invitation, noting that a finalised vision statement may not be achievable in one session.
Here is a more detailed plan for Running a New Local Economy Visioning Workshop which includes a guide and script for the visioning activity.
Turning your vision into reality
Once you have created your collective vision, you then need to think about how you will turn it into reality by creating a plan. The timescale for this is up to you, we think that 1-3 years is most practical. This planning process might include a technique called backcasting where you identify all the things that need to happen to make the vision reality, working backwards from when the vision is achieved.
The process of producing the plan is as useful as the resulting written document itself, because it requires you and your colleagues to realistically consider your strategic priorities, and allocation of available resources (especially people, time and skills). By the end of the process, you will know if there is sufficient energy and commitment for doing this work effectively.
Having an action plan also enables you to monitor and evaluate your progress. By gathering information about what is and isn’t working well, you can make adjustments and improve the work to build a sustainable local economy. Your lessons are also valuable knowledge to share with others, so they can learn from your experience.
Together, the vision and plan are useful documents for explaining to potential partners, funders and other organisations what you are planning to do, why you want to do it, and how you intend to go about it. As we find out more about how communities are building their new local economies, we will share their strategies and plans so you can learn what works in other places, and adapt if useful.