Participants at Kodiak Strong Planning Day vote on which goals they want to see move onto the next stage. Kayla Desroches/KMXT
Wednesday, around 30 community members gathered together for Kodiak Strong Planning Day. The meeting’s purpose was to decide on two goals that the city of Kodiak can achieve in the next year, and it was sponsored by Healthy Tomorrows, a group which promotes wellness in Kodiak.
Facilitator Doug Osborne leads a room of people in the first stages of brainstorming.
He’s a professional in the role by now. He’s already spent nine years involved with Sitka’s planning day, which has been so successful in helping join the community together behind its goals that Healthy Tomorrows decided to bring both the process and Osborne to Kodiak.
The meeting works by organizing community members into pairs and groups for discussion, and then narrowing the resulting pool of ideas down through voting.
Participants write their goals on pages in huge print and categorize them on a wall according to whether they’re broad or specific. They then have the option to explain those goals before everyone votes.
But the day isn’t all work. There are door prizes, and Java Flats caters.
During lunch, I get the chance to speak to some of the participants.
Ron Bryant is Director of School and Student Services for the Kodiak Island Borough School District and says, so far, the meeting has fulfilled his expectations.
“I think the facilitator’s doing a good job of leading this in a direction that we would go… and taking a large task and narrowing it down to some decision-making that I think is gonna lead to some results.”
He says he didn’t come in with a particular area of improvement in mind, although two other attendees have some idea of what they’d work on.
Kodiak high school students Ryan Guevarra and Zhanelle Tuquib say a Healthy Tomorrows representative visited one of their Family Career and Community Leaders of America meetings and invited them.
“Some people have taken drugs and they have no way out, and these people have created solutions where we can help these people that are stuck in this loophole, and we can help them come back into society,” says Ryan.
“Yeah, I agree with Ryan with drug abuse,” says Zhanelle. “It became a big thing on this island since we were small and that ruined a lot of people’s lives, and I believe that creating a drug court would actually help us with treatment and getting things filed and helping people get over the problem.”
After lunch, Mayor Pat Branson is scheduled to announce which goals received the most votes.
Branson is running a little late and so Osborne together with Healthy Tomorrows Coordinator, Merissa Koller-Williams, unveil the winning goals.
“Now we had some exciting news and that was this,” says Osbrone. “There was a tie for first place and Healthy [Tomorrows] said, you know what, we can support another goal. What do these goal get? 2,000 big ones in start-up funds, the technical assistance of Merissa… So we do gotta drum roll on this one.”
The first two winning goals are “housing first, [a] permanent supportive housing for [the] homeless including [a] coordinator” and “strengthen downtown through business incubation, cultural events, and arts making.” And Branson arrives just in time to read the final goal.
"So the third one is, and sorry, I hope I’m not too late here, food co-op with local focus supported by community gardens, local seafood, celebrated with an annual festival.”
The community has 365 days to complete the three goals and Koller-Williams says Healthy Tomorrows will arrange meetings and support the community in achieving that.