Envision Polson! A Strategy for Community-Centered Development
Summary: Polson is a breathtaking town set alongside Flathead Lake at the base of the Mission Mountain Range on the Flathead Indian Reservation. The largest freshwater body in the West, Flathead Lake draws thousands of tourists every summer, doubling the town’s population to approximately 10,000.
Economic disparities are a reality for year-round residents, where the household income is about $20K lower than the national median. Believing that they could change this statistic, residents, business owners, tribal leaders and city officials came together through Envision Polson! —a grassroots movement of neighbors striving to engage the entire community in building a successful future for a more economically viable Polson. This case study shows how the simple use of online platforms, such as Facebook, can help launch, self-organize and sustaining a citizen-driven movement.
The community has been working to “get in front of development” by building a culture of collaboration, being proactive and planning based on citizens’ values and aspirations. It is being supported by the Orton Family Foundation’s Heart & Soul community planning program, an approach that engages citizens in land use planning as a pathway to vibrant, enduring communities. The projects aims to build successful community collaboration and diverse citizen involvement, apply the community’s core values to planning decisions and local government processes, resolve major infrastructure issues, guide land use and development code updates, and foster citizen and youth leadership.