by Craig H. McFarland, Mayor, City of Casa Grande
“Creating Vibrant Communities” is aspirational and actionable. We build consensus and develop ideas for creating vibrant communities, geographic and communities of interest, from Arizona voices reflecting the broad spectrums and diversity of our state.
Why does creating a vibrant community matter? Enormous transformation is at our doorstep. Are we prepared? What are the implications of this wave of accelerated change? What will life be like five, 10, 20 years from now?
Longtime residents will recall the impact of Arizona’s traditional five Cs to our backyard:
Cotton, copper, climate, cattle and citrus and the boom and bust nature of the local economy that came with it.
Now we find ourselves at the hub of emerging high-tech industries, growing population, and intensifying needs and wants. The recent pandemic exacerbated and shed light on areas already on the radar for our attention including homelessness and educational and health barriers and inequities including technology needs, job loss and stresses on small businesses.
At the same time, we saw incredible support from local governments, nonprofits, education, faith-based organizations, businesses and individuals stepping in.
This is how creating vibrant communities becomes actionable. The Vitalyst Health Foundation’s Elements of a Healthy Community captures the related pieces of community life.
These slices are not independent of one another. We can’t have safe communities, parks and recreation, and transportation options without economic opportunity and the revenues created to sustain public systems. We can’t have economic opportunities without educational opportunities.
The interdependence is the over-arching theme in this Elements of a Healthy Community.
- Making affordable high-speed internet available to everyone, with particular focus in rural, low-income and tribal communities.
- Prioritizing sustained funding for child care and public education; addressing funding inequities between wealthy and low-income communities.
- Improving communication between government entities and the public.
- Breaking down silos between organizations.
- Optimizing funding and improving services by partnering and collaborating across all sectors.
- Promoting collaboration and establishing and maintaining a statewide consortium of partners sharing information and resources.
- Learning about the communities we serve, communicating in ways to reach those communities and actively centering their voices.
No matter how long someone has lived here, the invitation is always open to get involved and stay active in shaping what our community becomes.
Take the challenge and help create our vibrant community.