Karl Douglass: The Vision thing

July 28, 2013 

My daughter just finished her first overnight camp. One of her camp projects was creating a Vision Board. For the uninitiated, like me, Vision Boards are tools people use to create and maintain focus on a specific goal. The idea is that in a world full of distractions, a Vision Board helps one remember what is truly important by keeping those images front and center every day.

Columbus needs a Vision Board.

Not a vision statement. Our civic landscape is littered with those. A Vision Board, a graphical representation that expresses our community's priorities in pictures and keeps the important images front and center every day.

Arthur Brisbane said, "Use a picture. It's worth a thousand words." How would the City Council and School Board conversations about the budget change if the story was presented in pictures not words? How much more would citizens engage if the Mayor presented a Vision Board along with her State of the City address?

I am convinced that a lot of the back and forth that we hear in the civic debate is caused by the fact that the decision makers do not enjoy a common vision that can be articulated in a picture. Further, I am convinced that if we asked each of our community leaders to develop Vision Boards for the city in isolation, the pictures selected would vary greatly.

What we need is a mash up of all these various visions that yields a Vision Board for Columbus. Words fade. Citizens find it difficult to connect the effect of cuts in one area of the city budget on subsidies in another. Reading words that explain why class sizes need to change have half the effect on citizens that showing them a picture of a school built with new class sizes considered.

Columbus needs a Vision Board. Perhaps one of our convening non-profits or leadership groups will lead the charge to develop one. Proverbs 29:18 says, "Where there is no vision, the people perish". I have always found the vision most compelling when there are compelling visuals. Words can be much too distracting.

Karl Douglass, Columbus native and resident, is a frequent commenter on local, state and federal politics. Follow him on Twitter@KarlDouglass or facebook.com/karldouglass.

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