Cambridge, Mass. – May 5, 2015 – The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, recognized Clear Vision Eau Claire today as one of four finalists for the Roy and Lila Ash Innovations in Public Engagement in Government Award. These initiatives represent the committed efforts of city, state and federal governments to engage with the communities and citizens they represent and were selected by a cohort of policy experts, researchers and practitioners. A full list of the Top 10 and finalist programs is available at http://ash.harvard.edu/press-releases. The presentations will be streamed live starting at 1:30 p.m. EDT (12:30 p.m. CDT) on Wednesday, May 20 at http://www.hks.harvard.edu/live
In 2007, the greater Eau Claire area confronted major fiscal and public-service decisions about funding for over $400 million in community facilities needs for schools, performing arts facilities, libraries, courthouse expansions, sewer plants, parks and downtown revitalization. In an effort to address these needs, local government officials convened an ad hoc group of government, business, education and nonprofit leaders in March of that year to discuss how the community could work together more effectively. Partnering with the National Civic League, the group embarked on an inclusive, citizen-centered community visioning and strategic planning process. Over 500 diverse stakeholders were invited to participate in the kickoff to the Clear Vision Eau Claire process whose mission statement was “to engage our community for the common good.” Working also with the Center for Democracy and Citizenship at Augsburg College, Clear Vision created a model for civic engagement and public problem-solving that brings together everyday people and public leaders in collaborative work. The results in Eau Claire include a community homeless shelter, neighborhood community gardens, youth environmental action teams and, most recently, approval of a $70 million, public-private joint venture performing arts center and downtown revitalization project and future plans for a major events and recreation complex.