This column is the first in a series of three articles submitted by the town of Waldoboro planning and development director regarding the ReThink, ReImagine, ReVitalize Waldoboro project.

As the new guy in town, the last thing I want to do is force my ideas upon Waldoboro. Over the past year and a half, I have grown quite fond of Waldoboro. As I have made connections, I feel I have grown to be a part of the community. However, at the end of the day, I work for the people of the town of Waldoboro. Though I bring professional experience to the table, my job is not to create policy. The people of the town of Waldoboro, through town meeting, are the legislators. Unfortunately, without a vision and a defined set of principles and priorities, controversy can dominate rather than the shared values of the community.

A member of the Economic Development Committee brought up a good metaphor in our discussion about visioning: When people want to build something, they generally think in one of two ways. Some think, “What do I want to build?” Then they attempt to acquire the tools to build it. The other half thinks, “What tools do I have at my disposal?” Then they determine what they can build with these tools. Building a better community is no different. The community needs to keep in mind both perspectives and approaches. In building a better community, Waldoboro is using the visioning project as a way to answer the “What do I want to build?” question. In order to be successful with visioning, there needs to be a certain suspension of disbelief about the challenges around achieving the vision — but not to the point of being naive. The idea is to not get bogged down in the details, but rather to create a consensus for priorities and opportunities. The community can then begin to focus on the available tools.

There is no point to visioning if there is not a direct link to action. The current town leadership is committed to prioritizing policies and initiatives to align with the desires of the community. The purpose is not to have town government do more — the purpose is to make sure the activities of town government are prioritized correctly. The other purpose of creating a consensus vision is that no community can be vibrant without committed volunteers and private risk takers. By creating a consensus vision, committed citizens and stakeholders are able to work together and connect on like efforts and interests. However, these folks must first come to the table. Next week’s article will discuss your role as a citizen, your opportunities to participate in the visioning process and what will follow.

Patrick Wright is planning and development director for the town of Waldoboro.