Drawn by the striking landscapes and open space, people are flocking to Victor, whose population since 2000 has swelled by 73%. Residents are now using Heart & Soul Community Planning to build bridges and hold on to the town’s unique character.
Victor today is still the quirky, unassuming community it was at the time of its founding, but citizens are struggling to forge a distinct identity and manage growth in a rapidly changing region. While economic development and tourist dollars are welcome, growth pressures from Jackson are changing Victor faster than most residents would like, threatening to swallow up the City’s rural lands and unique character.
Many citizens of Victor have traditionally viewed planning as just another state mandate, but now recognize that they no longer have the option of sitting back and letting change happen. Victor residents are enthusiastic about the City’s new Envision Victor initiative, which will build on earlier planning efforts and experiment with new tools. The Orton Family Foundation selected Victor for its Heart & Soul Community Planning process in 2008 and worked with the City, Teton Valley Trails and Pathways (TVTAP) and Valley Advocates for Responsible Development (VARD) to build local capacity, strengthen the planning process and help citizens take control of their future.
Envision Victor partners undertook a dynamic public outreach program and engaged a wide cross-section of the community, including citizens, organizations and formal and informal social networks. The engagement process explored Victor’s “heart and soul”—the core values, unique features, resources, special places and characteristics that, if lost, would fundamentally diminish the quality of community and sense of place. Project partners listened carefully to all those who live, work and play in the community, especially those who are traditionally not involved in planning processes—among them seniors, youth, minorities, lower income families, recent arrivals and local business owners.
Envision Victor used innovative outreach methods to discover community values and to assist the community in prioritizing actions. The project began with storytelling, which, in its broadest sense, brings to life residents’ experiences and their values including their shared heritage, sense of place, motivations and goals. The City used the themes and attributes that emerged from stories and discussions to inform a shared community vision, which in turn was used to manage growth and navigate change. The project partners identified and developed alternative planning and growth scenarios that reflect the community’s vision and values. They then used input from residents, community groups and local businesses to evaluate development alternatives and aid in designing a specific plans, with the help of innovative tools like CommunityViz.
The project partners expect implementation steps to occur over several years, and they have already seen noticeable successes since the project's start.