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2012 La Veta community visioning summit

by Reed White
LA VETA — La Veta’s Visioning Summit took place at the Community Center on June 2 from 9 am to 5 pm. Trustee Ken Saydak, designated liaison from the town board, kicked off the event with inspirational words. Over a dozen interested individuals, including Trustee Nancy Dick, participated in the eight-hour process.
The goal of the workshop was to enable residents from the La Veta area to identify a community vision to span from a few weeks to twenty years. Dr. Matthew Heim, who has professionally guided communities through similar paths, led participants through the proven process toward this goal. Dr. Heim and his wife Kristina kindly donated their time and expertise to this session.
This process actually began in 2011 when Tracy Webb, a previous trustee, polled La Veta area residents. Several weeks ago the raw data was entered into computers and tabulated. Heloise Lynn summarized the results at the workshop. The complete binder of results is available at the La Veta Public Library.
Dr. Heim began the process by asking participants to close their eyes and visualize a future La Veta while he asked a series of questions: “Why do visitors like coming here?” “What is the source of economic prosperity?” And so on. This enabled participants to get past the noisy logical conversations in their minds, and to tap into their unconscious thoughts. They were then asked to write their thoughts on paper as they listened.
The next step was to translate the rough thoughts into action items that were written on sticky-notes. For example, one sticky note read: “Local meat is sold directly to La Veta residents.” The notes were collected, randomly stuck on the wall, and then organized into groups like local food, youth, water, housing, etc.
Members were then asked to identify high-priority groups. Following that, workshop participants began the lengthy process of categorizing each item as per “Impact on Community” and “Level of Effort to Achieve.” Along with the survey overview, these detailed results will enable community volunteers and the town board to see what sparks community interest.
The Heims volunteered to transfer the results to a written report that will be delivered to the board and will be available for public viewing in the library. Workshop members expressed their commitment to advance the process. They signed up for groups and expressed their desires to make the visions become a reality.
After earning a number of diverse pre-doctorate degrees, Dr. Heim was granted a joint Ph.D. in Organizational Development from the University of Southern California and from Fielding Graduate University. He has practiced this organizational process with towns, corporations, and couples for over a dozen years. He and Kristina have recently made La Veta their permanent home.