Community Visioning Workshop
3-5 August 2004

Prepared by Palau Conservation Society and Gillian Cambers


A National Refresher Workshop was held August 3-5 in Koror. The Workshop built upon a past Community Visioning Exercise conducted in 2001. During the earlier workshop, the concepts of Community Visioning, land use planning and Master Development Planning were introduced. However, after the workshop outside commitments forced Community Visioning into the background. The current-day nearing completion of the Compact Road has again brought Community Visioning to the forefront as all states are aware of the need to begin land use planning in order to sustainably manage their resources in the face of growing development pressures.


Palau Conservation Society (PCS) contracted Ms. Stacy Crivello, a planner from Molokai, Hawaii, to facilitate the workshop. The island of Molokai has successfully implemented Community Visioning through the creation of a vision statement and associated plans, as well as through implementation of specific projects from those plans.

The workshop was held in the abai of a local women's group. Through conversations with community members, PCS selected specific state representatives to attend the workshop, and thus letters of invitation were went to each Governor to ask for those specific people's participation in all three days of the workshop. Twelve of Palau's 16 states sent representatives. In addition, several people who had participated in the 2001 workshop and a number of PCS staff were included. The following list illustrates the attendance:
Type of participant Number of participants
Community Visioning State Representative (CVSR) 19
2001 Workshop participants


PCS Staff 8
Facilitator 1
Observers 3
TOTAL participants 35

Workshop opening

The workshop was opened by Mr. Bena Sakuma, Director of Palau Conservation Society (PCS). He emphasised that the process of community visioning was not really new to Palau, although the name itself was new. Following this, there was a session for introductions. Everybody was given 5 minutes to get to know their neighbour, his/her name, where they were from, and one thing that they wished for the future of Palau's communities. They then introduced their neighbour to the entire group. This proved to be a very good icebreaker. A short description of Small Islands Voice concluded the introductory session.

Photo caption: Mr. Bena Sakuma (standing, right) opens the workshop

Workshop objectives

The objectives of the workshop were defined as follows:

  1. Reintroduce the concept of community visioning in Palau
  2. Clarify what community visioning is and how it can be used
  3. Decide whether community visioning can be used in Palau and whether there is interest from the communities in continuing the community visioning process

What is community visioning?

Ms. Stacy Crivello from Moloka'i discussed the visioning process in detail. Basically the community creates a vision of what they want their community to be like in the future (XX years); prepares a strategic plan that lays out the activities to make the vision happen; and then implements the plan. Thus there are essentially three phases: a) Visioning and strategic plan, b) implementation, and c) evaluation. The steps for the vision statement and strategic plan are as follows:

  1. Develop a vision statement: this will be based on the answers to two questions: what values will guide the community activities, and what kind of community do we want to become in XX years? The vision statement becomes a roadmap or guide for the future.
  2. Assess the community: Prepare a profile of the community that describes its economy, environment and people
  3. Analyse the resources: this would include people, organizations, money, facilities, equipment
  4. Rank problems and opportunities
  5. Determine long term goals
  6. Select strategies

Once the plan is prepared, the hard work of implementation and evaluation follows. A handout with this methodology was distributed to the participants.

Photo caption: Ms. Stacy Crivello explaining some points in the strategic plan to participants

A rope exercise was used to demonstrate to the participants the importance of working together and selecting a leader. Participants divided into two groups and were all blindfolded. Each group was given a length of rope with which they had to lay out on the floor the outline of a simple house.

Photo caption: Participants construct a rope house while blindfolded

The first day finished with a description of Moloka'i's visioning process.

Community visioning process in Moloka'i

Moloka'i is an island in the Hawaiian chain, it has 165,000 acres, is approximately 38 miles by 10 miles, and has three volcanoes. The population is 7,000, mainly Hawaiians with some Filipinos and Caucasians. Most of the land is privately owned and there are some large scale foreign land owners. The island has a history for activism and for having taken hard stands in the past. It also has a reputation for not wanting to grow. Subsistence is important and commercialisation is frowned upon.

Community visioning, an initiative of the USDA Rural Development, started in Moleka'i in May1998, when the Federal Government offered a grant of US$ 40 million to the urban or rural community that came up with the best strategic plan for the future development of their community. The vision statement was prepared in one month and the strategic plan was completed in four months, by September 1998. Over 300 meetings were held involving people from all walks of life. The work was done for the most part by volunteers. A series of small sub-committees were established to get the work done and report back to the larger group. Professionals were contracted and paid to compile and write the plan, which stretched to four volumes.

Moleka'i did not win the $40 million, but the visioning process wove them into a strong community such that they are now into their sixth year of the visioning process and stronger for it. They feel that by uniting they can do anything and there is a spiritual benefit in coming together.

The plan was completed in four months, and since then they have been implementing the plan. The plan was initially designed for 10 years, but in reality it appears that it is a 30 year plan.

Moloka'i's visioning statement is as follows:

Moloka'i is the last Hawaiian island. We who live here choose not to be strangers in our own land. The values of aloha 'aina and malama 'aina (love and care for the land) guide our stewardship of Moloka'i's natural resources, which nourish our families both physically and spiritually. We live by our kupuna's (elders) historic legacy of pule o'o (powerful prayer). We honour our island's Hawaiian cultural heritage, no matter what our ethnicity, and that culture is practised in our everyday lives. Our true wealth is measured by the extent of our generosity.

  • We envision strong 'ohana (families) who steadfastly preserve, protect and perpetuate these core Hawaiian values.
  • We are a wise and caring community that takes pride in its resourcefulness, self sufficiency and resiliency, and is firmly in charge of Moloka'i's resources and destiny
  • We envision a Moloka'i that leaves for its children a visible legacy: an island momoa (abundant) with natural and cultural resources, people who kokua (help) and look after one another. And a community that strives to build an even better future on the pa'a (firm) foundation left to us by those whose iwi (bones) guard our land.

Some of the results of their visioning include:

  • Moleka'i recognises the need for development, but maintains that it has to be done the 'community' way, compatibility is the key word
  • During a conflict with the largest landowner, families and the communities became divided; now the community is working on a land use plan with the landowner, based on their vision statement
  • Moleka'i succeeded in preventing cruise ships from coming and docking on the island, instead the passengers are brought via tenders from neighbouring Oahu
  • The State Government were rather dismissive of the community strategic plan at the beginning, however, now in the sixth year the situation is reversing and policy makers are asking how they can be part of the community plan
  • Diabetes is a serious problem, especially for older Hawaiians, and the community visioning process resulted in a dialysis centre being established on Moleka'i so that people can receive treatment while living at home with their families
  • Fish ponds are being restored
  • Taro patches are returning to Moleka'i

Lessons learnt:

  • Critical to involve traditional leaders and elected leaders in the process (even if they are silent partners); it is also necessary to involve all stakeholders
  • A lead agency is necessary to continue and maintain the process (in Moleka'i this involved paying some salary and administrative costs)
  • A board of volunteers is needed to oversee and run the process
  • Training in facilitating is necessary

Other examples of Community Visioning

Other places where Community Visioning has worked: Oahu, Kabu (a rural area in Hawaii), Pohnpei. The latter case was interesting in that visioning and the preparation of a community plan was successful, but implementation became a stumbling block. It turned out that this was because government and traditional leaders did not buy into the process mainly because they had not been involved from the beginning.

Review of the first phase of the Visioning Process in Palau

The second day opened with a short review of the first day's activities, followed by a discussion about the earlier visioning exercise in Palau.

In 2001 the State Governors from Palau went to a meeting in Hawaii during which they were impressed by a presentation on community visioning in Moleka'i and Oahu. Following this, a workshop was held in Palau with more than 100 participants, during which the Moleka'i experience was presented. A core group was formed after this workshop chaired by Mr. Francis Matsutaro and PCS was designated as the secretariat to help with administration.

The visioning process did start in some of the states. In Airai a meeting was held with the state legislators and Planning Commission. The group discussed their core values and their vision. But there the process stopped, with the group recommending that someone outside of the state be brought in to facilitate.

In Sonsorol State visioning was linked to the development of a state land use plan. Consultants were hired to do the plan. Community visioning was to be the first step, and a vision statement was prepared:

Sonsorol State's vision statement Sonsorol State Islands and people are unique culturally, socially and environmentally to the rest of the Republic of Palau. By nature, our islands are tiny in size and located further away from neighbouring developed islands. In today's world of new and improved technology, the islands are even farther away due to lack of good communication technology and reliable transportation. Nevertheless, we love our islands and its cultures. We honour our ancestors who fist settled in the islands and called them our home.

  • We envision preservation of our cultural values and tradition of family respect and community of people who live in harmony with each other
  • We envision protection and preservation of our islands' environmental integrity and its limited natural resources that people on the islands will live self sufficiently and in harmony with the environment
  • We envision more people wanting to live on the islands with feeling of security in health care services and education for their children

However, again, a strategic plan was not prepared. Sonsorol, a state to the south of Koror consists of four inhabited islands with small communities. While they are used to facing difficulties, there is a sense of helplessness as the community does not believe it can chart the future of the state.

Visioning also started in Koror. A group was formed including the governor and legislators and a meeting was held with the state community offices and government offices. A vision statement was developed. A major issue was the type of development that would be encouraged in Koror. The plan was to take the vision statement and other outcomes to all the hamlets of Koror for discussion, but it was difficult to get people to come out for meetings.

In 2002 the visioning process was put on the 'back burner' and the core group stopped meeting.

Lessons learnt:

  • Important to involve the elders, state governors, and other state leaders, to gain their support and make them comfortable with the process
  • Important to involve all the stakeholders


  • There was little awareness of the process; getting everyone to become familiar and comfortable with the process was a challenge
  • Issues of resources and costs for meetings, equipment like flipcharts
  • Community members were obligated to other matters, especially the Pacific Arts Festival
  • Finding good facilitators to take communities through the process

Phase 2 of the Community Visioning process in Palau

With support from Small Islands Voice a second phase of Community Visioning has been embarked on. An awareness programme has been conducted and posters, pamphlets, a slogan and a logo have been prepared. Community meetings as well as house-to-house visits have been made; and the press and media have also been utilized. One of the first activities in the Community Visioning project was to have communities (Ngarchelong and Ngeremlengui States) take part in the creation of photo murals as a way of showing graphically the goals and challenges faced by communities. Disposable over/underwater cameras were purchased and distributed to select families. Distribution was done by PCS's two Community Conservation Officers, who are based in states in Babeldaob. The officers visited homes in each of two communities to explain the project individually. In addition, each Officer held a meeting with the Governor and State employees in order to formally introduce the project. Over 90 cameras were distributed to households in each state, reaching 70% of all available households. Community members were asked to take 15 pictures of things in their communities that they really liked or valued. They were then asked to reserve the last ten pictures on each camera for things in their communities that they would like to see changed. All cameras were numbered and tracked throughout distribution.

All cameras have been collected from Ngaremlengui State, and preparation of a photo mural is underway. Preparation of the photo mural is being done through partnership with PCS and the Community Visioning State Representatives, who were identified at the national workshop. The goal of the photo mural project is to find consensus between community members, in order to show what things the community as a whole likes or dislikes. For instance, running themes from all of the cameras received so far are a high value for taro patches and a dislike of trash along the shoreline. By putting all of the pictures taken by different households together, the photo mural project will illustrate common values and themes. Once completed, workshops will be conducted in each community to review the outcome of the photo murals, to discuss the issues raised through the mural project, and to begin drafting of a Vision Statement.




Photo caption: Examples of pictures showing things that the community likes


Workshop participants' group work

Next, the participants broke into two groups and went through steps 1-6 of the visioning and strategic planning process; this continued into the third day. After each step the groups met together to exchange their findings. The mission statement of one group read as follows:

'We envision a Palau deeply rooted in its own culture, identity and heritage in a clean environment with education in various trades and skills and ability to manage and develop resources in a responsible manner in pursuit of a better economy for our benefit and for the benefit of our children'.

On the final afternoon of the workshop, participants broke into groups along state lines and discussed whether they wanting to continue/restart the visioning process. The decision was unanimously in favour of continuing/restarting visioning for the nine states represented throughout the three days: Ngarchelong, Ngardmau, Ngiwal, Airai, Ngeremlengui, Ngatpang, Koror-Meyuni, Angaur, Sonsorol.

Next steps

There followed a discussion as to the next steps. There was considerable discussion as to the need for a secretariat. It was agreed that the workshop participants would meet again on 2nd September and the agenda for the meeting would consist of the following items:

  • Housing of a secretariat
  • Establish an organising committee
  • Plan the next steps and determine a vision as to how to proceed
  • Generate awareness about visioning
  • Develop capacity within the states, identify training needs

PCS would prepare a workshop on the workshop and distribute it to participants.

Photo caption: Workshop group session

The workshop was closed and gifts were exchanged.