Pursuing a vision of Sisters


Last updated 3/7/2023 at Noon

Four years after the adoption of the Sisters Country Vision and Action Plan by the City Council and other key partner agencies, the Vision Implementation Team (VIT) is still collaborating on Vision progress, identifying and dissolving barriers, identifying funding for project implementation. The team annually updates the Vision Action Plan to reflect progress, changes, or new information based on the needs of the growing community, and on community feedback. They provide progress reports on those action items underway, and identify upcoming projects for the next year.

In 2018, with a growing population, new business opportunities, more development, and increasing visitors and traffic, City leaders chose to take a proactive approach in planning for the future. In partnership with Deschutes County and Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council (COIC), the City hired NXT Consultants to lead a community conversation about the future of Sisters.

Community engagement began in March 2018 and ran through September 2018, focusing on the creation of a vision for our community. Many hundreds of participants weighed in via stakeholder interviews, community meetings and forums, and community surveys. In late summer 2018, a citizen-based Vision Action Team (VAT) with 31 members was formed to guide development of the Vision Action Plan, which was adopted in January 2019.

The Vision Implementation Team (VIT) was formed in July 2019 to serve as a collaborative team of lead partners and community members who can guide implementation of the Vision Action Plan.

According to their charter, “The mission of the VIT is to implement the Vision Action Plan and prioritize projects through a transparent, balanced, and inclusive process.”

Team members serve a renewable, one-year term, and meetings are held quarterly, more often if needed. The organizations represented on the VIT are listed as lead partners on three or more action items in the Vision Action Plan, plus select community members such as youth/young adult representatives, arts and culture representative, and two community members at-large.

The VIT follows a model of “lead partners take the lead.” Therefore, the VIT exists to support and guide the success of lead partners in successfully implementing the strategies outlined in the Vision Action Plan by local government, public agencies, businesses, nonprofits, and other partners over the next five to 10 years.

Citizens4Community (C4C) serves as the Vision Coordinator, providing staff support to the VIT by providing meeting facilitation and team communications, website updates and maintenance for the Sisters Country Vision online presence, collaboration with VIT on media communications, outreach and events, management of new-member applications and onboarding, and coordination of the administration of the VIT Community Small Grants Fund.

The Vision Action Plan is a compendium of possibilities for the future, with 20 key strategies to implement the plan, which informs future decisions and helps Sisters to move in the direction of the Vision. There are four main pillars to the Vision and each pillar is supported by five strategies which, when implemented, include action steps with suggested lead partners.

Prosperous Sisters: This focus area is about creating a Sisters Country that is prosperous for all its residents. It covers such topics as jobs, small business, economic development, and entrepreneurial activities that generate livelihoods and income for Sisters Country residents.

Livable Sisters: Creating a Sisters Country that is livable for all its residents. It covers such topics as growth and planning, housing, transportation, parks and recreation, environmental quality, biking and walking, and other factors that combine to make Sisters Country a great place to live.

Resilient Sisters: Creating a Sisters Country that is resilient and responsive for all its residents. It covers such topics as public safety, health and wellness, social services, fire safety and disaster preparedness, and other initiatives that will help our community to be prepared for unanticipated events or an uncertain future.

Connected Sisters: Creating a Sisters Country that is more connected, making all its residents feel welcome and involved. It covers such topics as governance and leadership, education and learning, civic engagement and dialog, volunteerism, and other things that bind us together as a community.

The challenge now is to synchronize the Vision, the Comprehensive Plan, and the Development Code.

For a full copy of the Vision Action Plan visit: www.ci.sisters.or.us — Documents, Vision Action Plan.

Current members of the VIT:

City of Sisters, elected — Jennifer Letz, City Council; City of Sisters, staff — Scott Woodford, Community Development Director; Deschutes County, elected — Patti Adair, County Commissioner; Deschutes County, staff — Peter Gutowsky, Community Development Director and Nicole Mardell, Senior Long Range Planner; Sisters Park & Recreation District — Jennifer Holland, Executive Director; US Forest Service — Ian Reid, District Ranger; Sisters Area Chamber of Commerce — Judy Trego, Executive Director; EDCO Sisters — Eric Strobel, Associate Director; COIC — Tammy Baney, Executive Director; Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District – Roger Johnson, Fire Chief; Citizens4Community — Jane Paxson, Board President; Sisters School District — Curtiss Scholl, Superintendent; Youth/Young Adult Seats (2) TBD; Arts and Culture Seat — Dennis Schmidling, Sisters Arts Association; Community Members At-Large — Steve Swisher and Elizabeth Kirby.


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