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:
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.
The objectives of the workshop were defined as follows:
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:
Once the plan is prepared, the hard work of implementation and evaluation follows. A handout with this methodology was distributed to the 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.
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:
Some of the results of their visioning include:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
PCS would prepare a workshop on the workshop and distribute it to participants.
The workshop was closed and gifts were exchanged.