Choices for Bristol
When it comes to making a city a better place in which to live, learn, work, and enjoy life, there is no better source for solutions than the citizens themselves.
From 1994 to 1996, I founded and coordinated Choices for Bristol, a community visioning project for Bristol, England, Britain’s tenth largest city. Inspired by similar efforts in Chattanooga and New Haven, Choices for Bristol asked citizens to come up with ideas for making Bristol the best city it could be, and then helped them organize those ideas into a comprehensive vision and action plan for change. Choices for Bristol was backed by city leaders throughout the public, private and community sectors.
Over 2000 ideas for a better Bristol were submitted by about 450 groups and individuals. At public meetings in 1996, over 300 people grouped the ideas into themes before developing shared vision statements and forming action groups. A 1999 follow-up report described progress towards the Choices for Bristol vision in many areas, including government accountability, community participation, social services, and local economies.
Hailed as the largest public consultation exercise ever carried out in a British city, the initiative received a Building a Better Bristol award from the Bristol Chamber of Commerce in 1997. The initiative was discontinued in 1999 for lack of funding.
"The Choices method is a way of releasing
the combined knowledge and initiative of the community to describe and
collectively implement an improved future."
--The New Internationalist magazine on the Choices for Bristol initiative