Thursday, July 7, 2011

An even better Manitou?

Posted By on Thu, Jul 7, 2011 at 4:05 PM

Looking over Manitou Springs.
  • Looking over Manitou Springs.

Oh, Manitou. So progressive. So community-based. So forward-thinking. So economically gifted.

It must be difficult for poor, old, stick-in-the-mud Colorado Springs to have to look over the fence and see all that green grass all the time. And if Manitoids have their way, the picture will only be getting rosier.

Manitou is currently in a process called "Manitou Springs Forward," which aims to get community input on what Manitou ought to do next. What's important? What isn't? In Manitou, the citizens will help make the decisions that will drive the quaint little tourist town further into this century.

You have to wonder if Colorado Springs will sit up and take notice.

Manitou Springs Forward: connecting people and ideas;
creating community in a unique and inclusive way to effect change

MANITOU SPRINGS, CO, July 5, 2011 - Manitou SpringsForward continues to move, well, yes, forward after its successful first public meeting which included a great lunch and a very transparent and rich conversation among attendees.

The gathering of nearly 100 individuals at Manitou Springs’ City Hall on Sunday, June 26, was a great example of citizen participation and a community fighting apathy and embracing effort. “Even if people disagreed on what they thought was important, it was a safe environment to express our views,” said attendee Laura Ettinger. “There were a lot of different kinds of people in the room, and they were all interested in being a part of Manitou’s best future.”

The all-volunteer steering committee worked through the spring to launch a successful “conversation” which was organized using a system called Appreciative Inquiry-a process for guiding a conversation in a positive and productive way, allowing participants to share the strengths of a given topic, celebrate accomplishments, and push forward into action.

The resulting potluck and community visioning event, utilizing the appreciative inquiry method, drew a diverse and representative slice of Manitou Springs. Both quantitative and qualitative data were extrapolated and will be used to continue shaping the process.

The next step in the process will be focus groups and interviews, which will be leveraged to gain more
community input. Construction of a mail-in survey is also in progress to capture those opinions of people
who don’t normally participate in the more public forums.

“The goal is to leave no stone unturned when it comes to gathering this important data,” said steering
committee member David Chorpenning. “The vision expressed in the Manitou Springs Forward plan
will be used by City Council and other Manitou Springs decision makers as a guide for allocating city

“What we are doing here is unique and it’s important. Manitou is a special place and its people are equally
as special. People here are involved and passionate about the place they live. When we come together as
a community and have these conversations, we discover what is possible and really break out of the box
and plan some amazing things,” said Chorpenning.

Though the next community forum is not scheduled until Sunday, Nov. 13, there are plenty of
opportunities to be involved and to be heard. Read up on the opportunities at
manitouspringsforward. Also listen to what people are saying about Manitou at

Manitou Springs Forward is an all-volunteer, citizen-led initiative which hopes to provide the tools and the data to help Manitou Springs articulate and achieve its best future.

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