Monday, December 6, 2010

Power of 32 Celebrates Community Conversations


CONTACT: Melissa Marullo


Power of 32 Concludes Its First Public Phase

More than 3,000 Residents Attended a Community Conversation

PITTSBURGH, PA (December 1, 2010) Power of 32—the regional visioning initiative for 32 counties in the Maryland panhandle, eastern Ohio, southwestern Pennsylvania, and West Virginia’s mid-central and panhandle—completed its Listening Phase with more than 150 public input sessions since June 2010, including Conversations in Downtown Pittsburgh, Homestead, Carnegie, Monroeville, Mt. Lebanon, Penn Hills, Wilkinsburg, McKeesport, South Park, Franklin Park, Allison Park, Dormont, Squirrel Hill, Natrona Heights, and Sharpsburg.

Community Conversations were the first of three public phases of Power of 32 and represent more than 7,000 hours of deliberative democracy. The number of events, as well as the number of participants, exceeded the initiative’s goal by more than 50%. Originally scheduled to conclude at the end of September, Community Conversations continued through mid-November to assure voices representing all of region’s demographic groups were included.

“Power of 32 is creating an ambitious agenda for our region’s future built on the ideas and concerns of the thousands of people who attended Community Conversations and actively participated in the process,” reports Selena Schmidt, Power of 32 executive director. “Church members, church groups, Rotarians, young professionals, students, teachers, CEOs, seniors, and teens made sure their input is a part of what we work on as a region for the next 15 years.”

More than 120 trained volunteer facilitators led the discussion at the Community Conversation events. Participants, working in groups, considered four discussion questions:

· What does a thriving region look like?

· What key challenges must be addressed for our region to thrive, and what key strengths can we build on?

· What one or two possibilities must be pursued to ensure the region thrives? Why?

· It is 2025. What makes us most proud of our region, and what was key to getting us here?

Thousands of sticky notes captured the responses of each Community Conversation participant. The first step in the second public phase—Framing Solutions—will be to analyze those comments to determine common themes. The common themes, which will be announced in early 2011, will be the focus of facilitated Stakeholder Summits during the first quarter of 2011. By May 2011, Theme Teams composed of topic authorities will develop policy and program options to address the challenges and opportunities of their assigned theme. These options will be prepared for presentation to regional residents for prioritization during the third public phase of Power of 32—Create Regional Agenda—by June 2011.

“Power of 32 is the largest regional visioning initiative of its kind and is supported by 50 sponsors and a Steering Committee of 70 members representing public, private, and nonprofit sectors from across the region,” explains Michael Bernarding, chair of the Power of 32 Steering Committee. “Power of 32 is not just about the power of 32 counties. It’s about the power of 4.2 million people. We’re very pleased with the public response during Community Conversations and expect to engage thousands more people in the process of creating a regional agenda.”

Public officials will play an important role in the implementation of the regional agenda resulting from the Power of 32 regional visioning initiative. As of mid-November, more than 50 elected officials, including Allegheny County Councilman Rich Fitzgerald, signed a pledge “to support the public conversations initiated by the Power of 32 regional visioning project, and to be part of developing a Regional Agenda that results from the process.”

To see a full list of Community Conversations, visit
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Melissa Marullo
Project Assistant
Judith Kelly + Associates, LLC
Investment Building
239 Fourth Avenue - Suite 1811
Pittsburgh, PA 15222-1716
412.281.0995 - phone
412.281.0996 - fax

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