Forming a City Vision Step by Step

The Step by Step Process of a City Vision by the People

Vision & Common Denominator:  A city is strong when it’s citizens are always aware of what they agree with, instead of disagree. A common ground that is part of civic pride. To capture this spirit the following process can only work, if its focus can be kept outside of lifestyle, special interest, agenda or political affiliation. It is similar to deciding on our water system, we all need clean water and we all need a healthy City to live and play.

The Guidelines: In order to facilitate creating a vision, it is best that citizens and stakeholders express their desires by suggesting preferred future directions first before asking the City Council working on the overall vision. To keep initial visioning simple, capture its authenticity of participants and provide clear guidelines, step 1-4 of this process excludes city staff, experts and studies. This is essential to allow free thinking without an overload of ideas and projects that have nothing to do with an overall vision.

www.michaellart.com1. Understand The Power of a City Vision by the People. To truly capture the power and balance that an overall City vision provides, it is important to start a discourse to deepen our understanding to hone a common ground. click here for more details (

2. Remind & List all the Things We Love About this City Today to Preserve it for Tomorrow. Sadly, it is not enough that we agree that we all love Laguna, the depth comes from why, and this is essential to double check an overall future vision. Examples of why: Laguna is a very diverse community that is connected by its love for the City. Laguna feels like people take care of each other. Laguna has a real appreciation of the crafts, more than the Arts. Laguna offers the convenience of eighty galleries, a museum, three theaters, three art festivals and great restaurants within a 1.2 mile radius. Concerts and happenings in the parks and Laguna Canyon and its surfing culture, recreational enjoyments and a good school system complete this City. It is a quiet sleepy town that awakes on weekends and during summer season, to go right back to its very tangible hippie-vibe existence. A prime location only 90 min from LA and San Diego. Always fair weather and almost no bugs. If an overall vision would not include the unique things we love then an overall vision would make no sense.

Finding What Differentiates Laguna Beach From Other Cities. Unrelated of their own agendas, have citizens agree on working together to establish Laguna’s uniqueness. Why? If we keep ignoring our uniqueness and become just another beach or art-focused city, we will be run primarily by economics instead of our quality of life. Competition costs money and the loss of quality of life. Laguna’s uniqueness supports the City’s attraction through its oneness instead of getting caught in comparison of who is bigger and better. Uniqueness will serve as a keystone to be included in an overall future vision for the City.

3. What is the City Now?  Being honest and truthful with each other is mandatory to recognize our current situation of how and what we want to experience in a Laguna Beach of the future. Too often we get stuck focusing on what we don’t want not realizing that we slowly losing what we love. Our focus needs to be first on what we want and consequently create solutions to get there with all stakeholders, residents and city staff.

4. What are the Possible Futures for the City? Supplying examples of possible directions for a Future Laguna Beach, will streamline and accelerate the whole process for the City Council to create a future vision that resonates with the people.
For Examples of Laguna’s Futures click here

5. Compare What is the City Now and Possible Futures?  Set a foundation of what we what we currently love want to preserve and the future we expect to achieve and experience in 10-15 years.  The result will give City Council and leaders a pretty clear guideline in which area to look for a bright future that gets the town passionate to move toward.

6. City Council Presents its Overall Vision (s)  While the people respond the selected vision can be refined.

7. With a Final Vision Create a Mission That Gets Us There. Now and not a moment before you have that overall vision/direction, stakeholders can start building strategies to getting us there. The vision will make solutions easier to find and implement, because everyone works on marked territory of a common sense of understanding the why.

Austin, Texas had a cultural vision to become the World’s Live Music Capital. They did not know how to, but they did, because people could align and be passionate with such a vision and today Austin is culturally relevant. The public could align behind John F. Kennedy’s vision of sending a man to the moon. It worked better than expected because the right vision is an emotional motivator that combines us above all our idiosyncrasies to move in a bright future. To see what I mean watch JFK’s going to the moon speech again. 

Michaell Magrutsche is an Austrian-Californian multimedia artist, creative consultant, art educator and former City Arts Commissioner currently living in Laguna Beach.