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Evaluation of "Visioning" as Used in Community Planning
and Comparing it to "Visioning" for a Sustainable Future.

(the very start of a draft)

"Visioning" is being used quite widely by cities and communities to help them to define their future, to become a good place to live at least for those who participate in creating of the "vision". In this article the focus is on the use of "visioning" by the Sonoran Institute for the creation of a "Master Plan" for the Planning Commission of Crestone-Baca area (Colorado), and comparing it to what "visioning" could really be.

So far I have not been able to find out when the term "visioning" (in the sense it is being used in planning of communities future) started being used, but a truly meaningful definition of the term started, with all certainty, with Donella Meadows in the Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update (Meadows 2004). Donella Meadows Institute--"Tools for the Transition to Sustainability" has chapter 8 from Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update in which Donella Meadows explains "visioning":

Visioning means imagining, at first generally and then with increasing specificity, what you really want. That is, what you really want, not what someone has taught you to want, and not what you have learned to be willing to settle for. Visioning means taking off the constraints of "feasibility," of disbelief and past disappointments, and letting your mind dwell upon its most noble, uplifting, treasured dreams.

In Donella Meadows' use of the term, "visioning" exists in the context of achieving nothing less than a sustainable future for the Earth. A goal that ought to be known and approved of by everyone. The urgency of this is known to some, but not to enough many yet. Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update (Meadows 2004), especially Chapter 8, puts across the importance of the world becoming sustainable clearly.

The article, "Donella Meadows' 'Visioning': Global Citizens Designing a Sustainable World Together", has more information on what Donella Meadows' "visioning" is, and about the origins of the concept (as understood by Donella Meadows).

Donella Meadows' "visioning" is an instrument for creating of a sustainable future, whereas "visioning", as used by the various communities for planning of their future (at least the ones I came across, please alert me if there are any noble exceptions), might only superficially mention "sustainability" here and there (without acknowledging the urgency of the whole Earth to become truly sustainable), present but a ghost of Donella Meadows' "visioning" at best; The Sonoran Institute's furnished "visioning", used by Baca-Crestone Planning Commission to create a liveable future for the Baca-Crestone area, is no different from the other ones whose results, in most cases, represent short-sightedly mere cosmetic improvements over the current reality (in comparison with visioning that generates a vision of a truly sustainable world).

One of the reasons that "visioning" is not used in a way that would lead to true sustainability is that Donella Meadows died prematurely and there was no one left to develop the concept to where it would become a useable tool (there still is nothing in evidence, to date).

For "visioning" to be of a true use in planning of any social entity (in size from a local community to the whole of humanity), a "vision" produced by the visioning process should in fact be the "Master Plan" for any geo-political entity what-so-ever, one that would be being updated, evolved continuously; In this way people who had nothing to contribute to the "vision" at one time, could do so whenever they would feel that they have anything to contribute later on--the "vision", the "Master Plan" would be open to meaningful improvements always.

Bibliography and recommended reading:

Fritz, Robert
        1984 The Path of Least Resistance.   Salem, MA: DMA Inc., ISBN: 0-930641-00-0. 

Global Footprint Network
        2009 "September 25 2009 Earth Overshoot Day".
        (accessed June 21, 2011).
Global Footprint Network shows probably most clearly how serious our eco-social situation is--" ... In 2007, the most recent year for which data are available, humanity used the equivalent of 1.5 planets to support its activities. ... " - .

Our complacency is deadly.

Hearthstone, Jan
        2010 "Donella Meadows' 'Visioning': Global Citizens Designing a Sustainable World Together"

Meadows, Donella H. , Jørgen Randers, and Dennis Meadows
        1972 The Limits to Growth.
        New York: Universe Books

Meadows, Donella H., Dennis L. Meadows, and Jørgen Randers
        1992 Beyond the Limits: Confronting Global Collapse, Envisioning a Sustainable Future.
        White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing Company

Meadows, Donella H.
        1996 "Envisioning a Sustainable World." written for the Third Biennial Meeting of the
        International Society for Ecological Economics, October 24-28, 1994, San Jose, Costa Rica
        In Getting Down to Earth, 1996 Practical Applications of Ecological Economics
        editors Robert Costanza, Olman Segura and Juan Martinez-Alier Washington DC:
        Island Press

Meadows, Donella H. "Envisioning a Sustainable World." is online:
<> (accessed 10/06/2009)
It is a must read document; it explains best what Donella Meadows' "visioning" is. 

Meadows, Donella H., Jørgen Randers and Dennis Meadows
        2004 Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update.
        White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing Company

A synopsis of Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update. Online at the Sustainability Institute (founded by Donella Meadows): <> (accessed 10/06/2009)

Donella Meadows Institute--"Moving Toward a Sustainable Future." has chapter 8 from Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update <> (accessed 10/06/2009)

More on designing of a sustainable Earth at ModelEarth.Org

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