Support for Imagine Fox Cities has been provided by grants from the Bright Idea Fund and David L. and Rita E. Nelson Family Fund, both within the Community Foundation, as well as major contributions from Bank of Kaukauna, Boldt, Community First Credit Union,Galloway, SECURA, ThedaCare, and Thrivent. Additional support came from Kimberly-Clark, Miller Electric, NAI Pfefferle and United Way.
How do you define well-being in a community? More than 3,000 Fox Cities residents have weighed in via surveys and community discussions, and the just-released results are eye opening.
That community feedback was revealed yesterday to more than 300 people attending a first ever summit for Imagine Fox Cities, an inclusive community-wide initiative created to be more intentional about shaping the future of the Fox Cities when it comes to well-being.
The day-long summit included the public release of key themes that came directly from community members’ input through surveys and community conversations. Nearly 3,000 community members completed surveys with 81 facilitated community conversations held throughout the Fox Cities.
Imagine Fox Cities was created last year in an effort to shape a living vision that guides actions and decisions to advance the well-being of all who call the Fox Cities home today and for generations to come.
The Imagine Fox Cities coordinating committee is comprised of a diverse group of 32 members, including several from the Community Foundation. Well-being reflects how people think, feel, and function—at a personal and a social level—as well as how they evaluate their lives overall.
Here are the key themes from those surveys and conversations:
- We have a strong sense of community but not all are feeling it: A common sentiment was the desire to live in a community where people feel as if they belong and are supported.
- We prize our cultural and natural assets: While we have an abundance of cultural and natural physical assets, we need to ensure these cultural venues and outdoor opportunities meet the needs of an increasingly diverse community.
- We are looking for ways to ensure meaningful employment and livable wages: Community members see the current employment environment as an asset but acknowledge that it is important to continuously provide diverse employment opportunities and strengthen wages.
- Education is a critical bridge to our shared future: Our many educational institutions are some of our community’s greatest strengths.
- Mental health is on everyone’s mind: We have a concern about mental health across the nation and our region. There is worry about stigma,but we realize varying levels of mental health, just like physical health, are part of being human and we can be proactive about boosting mental well-being.
- The future will require new ways of thinking, learning and working together: Many consider the Fox Cities to be collaborative but new challenges and opportunities will demand even deeper forms of collaboration.
The summit concluded with the release of a draft version of a living vision of our well-being and commitment to this aspiration:
The overall aim of Imagine Fox Cities is to advance the well-being of our place and the well-being of our people. To create the conditions for everyone who calls this place home the opportunity to reach their full potential. We dare to imagine, and endeavor to realize, a shared future that leads to greater flourishing—for this generation and the next.
We commit: To sustain what makes this place special, to foster innovation, to be inclusive, to measure what matters, to build on and align efforts, to offer gracious space and to act with the next generations in mind.
What people are saying
“This is an exciting step forward for the Fox Cities. What we learned from community members is the foundation of what we all value and provides a way to move forward with a focus on well-being, now and for future generations,” says Beth Flaherty, Imagine Fox Cities co-chair.
“Not many communities take the time or put in the effort to gather input to develop a driving visioning statement to agree on,” Mike Weller, Imagine Fox Cities co-chair says. “But the Fox Cities is doing just that.”
“The best part of the Imagine Fox Cities summit was experiencing all avenues and all channels of people working together, and having leaders listen to those who would benefit to make the most impact in our community,” says Becca Merklein, executive director of St. Vincent de Paul, Appleton.
“I love how people are hearing that you absolutely have to have more a diverse group of people around the table for these discussions as well as our nonprofit and business partners. I’m very excited about that,” says Annette Look, program manager, Nonprofit Leadership Initiative (NPLI).
“This is the community’s project. We all get out of it what we put into it. We look forward to reflecting on what we heard during the Summit, continuing to communicate with participants and others in the community and developing a strategy going forward to bring the Vision to life,” says Walt Rugland, whose father, Walter L, Rugland, started the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region in 1986.
Community members are encouraged to visit imaginefoxcities.com for future updates and learn about opportunities to get involved.