published Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Stand community visioning campaign sets record

Audio clip

Sarah Lester

Chattanooga's Stand campaign broke the record for world's largest survey-based community visioning project over the weekend, leaders said, and they are preparing to put the survey results in the spotlight.

"We are hearing from a lot of people now," said Sarah Lester, Stand campaign coordinator. "People want to be engaged and involved. Pace is picking up and momentum is building, and we are going to reach our goal."

Stand, an initiative to collect opinions from Chattanooga area residents about the city's future, has collected 18,617 surveys. The previous world's largest survey-based community visioning project took place in Calgary, Alberta, in Canada, records show.

BY THE NUMBERS

* 18,617 -- Number of surveys collected by Stand

* 18,000 -- Number of surveys collected by the world's largest community visioning project in Calgary, Alberta, in Canada

* 25,000 -- Goal of surveys collected by Stand

Source: Stand

Stand officials said they are working to collect 25,000 surveys by mid-September.

After surveys are collected, responses will be coded and compiled by the Ochs Center for Metropolitan Studies and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Center for Applied Social Research. The results will be included in an executive report to be released in early 2010.

The report will be made available to the public, corporations, nonprofit groups and politicians, Ms. Lester said.

"There will be big information sharing on the other side," she said. "We will pull people together to talk about what to do from there."

Veronique Bergeron, who has volunteered with Stand for most of the summer, said community members she has met are very serious about having their input included in the campaign.

Stand volunteers are not allowed to discuss ideas listed on individual surveys, but Ms. Bergeron said most of the improvements people hope to see are specific to the neighborhoods and streets where they live.

"It is so exciting," she said. "It gives me chills sometimes to think about it."

On Wednesday, Stand campaign personnel plan to meet at Bluegrass Grill on Main Street in downtown Chattanooga at 5 p.m. to plan its last push for survey collection.

Stand officials also plan to speak at several local schools and retirement homes this week. Next week, the group will discuss how best to use the survey results to move the community forward.

"We are thrilled," Ms. Bergeron said. "We have heard from people all over the region and all ages."

about Joan Garrett McClane...

Joan Garrett McClane has been a staff writer for the Times Free Press since August 2007. Before becoming a general assignment writer for the paper, she wrote about business, higher education and the court systems. She grew up the oldest of five sisters near Birmingham, Ala., and graduated with a master's and bachelor's degrees in journalism from the University of Alabama. Before landing her first full-time job as a reporter at the Times Free Press, ...

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