Expanding Regional Opportunity: New River Valley Livability Initiative

Virginia Case Study
Expanding opportunity across an entire geographic region means gathering input and evaluating priorities from dozens of communities, more than 3,500 participants and thousands of data points. This creative visioning process used art, storytelling, technology and deep dialogues to ensure a meaningful and analytical approach to crafting a livable future.

Virginia’s New River Valley (NRV) is a sprawling and diverse region with remote Appalachian towns and bustling cities. In 2011, a large coalition of partners launched a comprehensive regional conversation about a vision for the future and ways to improve opportunity across the board—from health to housing, energy to economy. The process emphasized deep community dialogues and creative activities that allowed residents to understand different perspectives and find common ground. It also highlighted the connections and tradeoffs between elements of opportunity (health, environment, economy) and specific policies or strategies.

The process combined that dialogue with extensive data analysis, mapping and scenario development, prioritization and action planning. But it did not end there: The Livability in Action initiative is now rapidly moving projects forward through strategic partnerships and collaborations among agencies, towns, funders and local organizations.

Produced for Opportunity360 by PlaceMatters, with support from Enterprise Community Partners and The National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education at the University of Maryland.

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