A dozen Nederland residents sat down on May 9 to start planning how to craft a vision statement for their community that will empower residents to take action — Nederland’s Envision 2020. They know it can work; their open spaces, parks, playgrounds, tennis courts and ice-skating rink are just some of the tangible products of Nederland’s previous plan, Envision 2010.
“I think at the end of the  envisioning, it was a pretty… not open-ended, but a statement that was fairly general that people could take and then do fun and exciting things with,” says Annette Croughwell, who moved to Nederland in 1982. She participated in the Nederland Envision 2010 meeting and is helping to organize Envision 2020.
A survey asked residents to prioritize the vision statement and areas of interest from Envision 2010, and the 350 people who responded ranked open space trails, parks and recreation at the top.
“So we went after Great Outdoor Colorado funding to do a master plan for parks and rec and open space,” says Garry Sanfacon, a 20-year resident of Nederland and also a participant in Envision 2010. “It led to hundreds of thousands of dollars being raised for those types of things.”
It’s hard to say what the priorities will be at the Envision 2020 meeting.
“I think we really feel that there’s only one Nederland. We don’t want to be Everywhere, USA,” Sanfacon says. “But there’s things we want to accomplish. And the world’s changing, and we need to change with it, but not to lose ourselves in it.”
“We want amenities, but we want sustainability,” Croughwell says. “We want to be able to do things up here, but we want it to stay small and rustic.” They’re clear on one thing: no stop lights.
“Sustainability was not in our mindset when we did the 2010 vision statement,” Sanfacon says. But now they’re thinking about chickens in city limits, biomass plants, solar panels, community gardens, renewable energy and trying to get a farmer’s market started.
“But we haven’t articulated that. We haven’t come together as a community to talk about what that really means for Nederland,” Sanfacon says. “So how do we balance the triple bottom line, the environment, the economy and the social?” Envision 2020’s organizers expect about 100 people to attend this visioning session for the community, scheduled for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., June 7, at the Nederland Community Center. They’ll break into small groups, and engage in dialogues with one another on their views of how Nederland wants to be identified.
“We’re going to really try to focus the summit as much as possible on what you all have in common and what agreements you have,” says Caryn Capriccioso, principal partner at inter- Sector Partners, L3C, a Longmont firm facilitating the event. “Conflict, however, is where true change happens. Differences of opinion, different perspectives, different ideas, that’s where change bubbles up from.”
Organizers have said they hope to emerge from that meeting with a draft of the vision for 2020. Finalizing that document won’t be easy. Sanfacon said the 2010 vision statement group spent six months in follow-up meetings “wordsmithing” the final document.
Attendees of this pre-summit meeting said they’d like the town board of trustees to commit to using the Envision 2020 vision statements to make decisions based on what Nederland wants for Nederland. The Envision 2010 plan was not formally adopted by the town trustees.
James Wood, sustainability education and outreach coordinator for Boulder County, stopped by the meeting to listen in and work to match Boulder County’s programs to what its residents want.
“This is what a lot of communities are going through,” Wood says. “‘What is sustainability?’ is the question. Is it green? Is it corporate responsibility? Who can do it well?” But the people who get together to talk about it, he said, will be better positioned to move toward sustainable living.
What Nederland residents are doing and how they’re doing it might start to matter more for the whole county, because the county has just started to dialogue on revising its vision for sustainability.