tools directory

Community Visioning

Community Visioning

What situations is this tool used in?

Community visioning encompasses a range of approaches that enable members of a community to generate ideas for improving or enhancing the place where they live, and to develop a shared vision and action plan for change as a result.

Who is this tool aimed at?

Community visioning is a collaborative process between citizens and other stakeholders, which could include government, industry or civil society organisations. The vision and action plan is developed through the process, and thus the responsibility for seeing it through is shared by all parties involved.

How Is the Tool Used?

The need to tackle major air pollution in Chattanooga, Tennessee in the late 1960s led to the earliest known example of a community visioning exercise, and saw tangible improvements in air quality over the couple of decades that followed. Since then, Chattanooga has developed a large number of visioning projects and programs, and a variety of community visioning models are now used elsewhere in the world.


A basic process might involve:

  • The formation of a coordinating group.
  • A community visioning workshop to develop an overarching vision.
  • Formation of key area groups or task forces.
  • Goal and strategy development.
  • Development of action plans by task forces.
  • Implementation of action plan.
  • Monitoring, evaluation and revision.

More complex exercises may involve, for example, further iterations of the community workshop, and a more in-depth data gathering and review process.

Who has used the tool?

The Waste No Time project in Northern Ireland, led by Corrymeela used Community Visioning amongst other tools to engage the public in debate and discussion about their newly constituted council district - see the case studies section.


Choices for Bristol was a community visioning exercise carried out between 1994 and 1996. Supported by a partnership of public, private and community sector leaders, the process enabled groups and individuals to submit ideas for a better Bristol. The 2,000+ ideas were grouped by theme and fed into the development of vision statements and action groups at subsequent public meetings. A follow up to the process in 1999 reported progress towards the overall vision in areas such as government accountability, community participation, social service and local economies.


Summary of Choices for Bristol

Where to find out more

A guide to community visioning 

National Civic League community visioning and strategic planning handbook 

Video summary of Chattanooga Stand community visioning process

Northern Ireland Case Study