A group of approximately 200 people turned out Monday night to “Dream Duncan’s Destiny.”

The first of a series of five community meetings, the opening session was designed to bring together those who want to make Duncan a better place to live, work and play.

As a partnership with the Oklahoma Community Institute, the goal is for the public to craft a vision of what the community would like the town to be and then implement that plan.

Monday night focused on determining a shared vision based on a set of community values as facilitator Ken King led those in attendance through a series of table discussions.

Steering Committee Co-chairman Don Gooch opened by telling those in attendance that “it’s important to have everyone’s input” in making Duncan a better community.

“We all come at it from a different angle.”

“Creativity is expected,” announced King, who then began to lead the table groups that included a cross section of Duncan, spanning all ages and occupations, from longtime residents to relative newcomers.

As the first in a three-part strategic planning process, groups crafted a consensus “preferred future” — what they would like to see Duncan become in five to 10 years — and a set of values, or “how we do our business,” said King.

In the second part of the process, which will begin at the next meeting, groups will construct a “situational analysis” — the reality of where Duncan is today that will include data collected from research efforts and some 255 surveys that were completed by local residents.

The third part will pull together the goals and objectives into an action plan or “how we’re going to do what we want to do, with some timelines,” said King.

The research process actually began with a survey of 70 high school students taken last school year.

The teens were asked what they liked about the community, what was needed to create the kind of community they wanted, who could make the community better, what kind of community they wanted to live in and why, and then how that perfect community differed from today’s reality, based on their perceptions.

The teens rated the community well for its size and friendliness, wanted a safe, friendly community, and were concerned about drug abuse.

One member of the audience said he believed the survey results weren’t all that different from how his generation felt 30 years ago.

With King urging those in attendance not to forget their own vision for the community, while keeping in mind the teens’ viewpoints, each table put together what would be the group’s priorities.

The list included city government and services, economic development, education, facilities, social values, safety, health, housing and tourism.

Those nine categories were culled from the individual tables’ shared vision of what those in attendance wanted their town to look like in the future.

That vision included:

“A safe, drug-free community.”

“A well-planned community known for its city officials working in a customer- and business-friendly manner.”

“A community with activities that are no longer divided by ethnic or economic boundaries.”

“An entertaining community offering culturally diverse attractions, restaurants and facilities.”

“A clean, beautiful, friendly city.”

“A city composed of citizens, who, regardless of their economic background, take pride in their surroundings and it shows.”

“A state-of-the art health system.”

“A school system that boasts state-of-the art technology in its classrooms.”

“A community emphasis on local business and industry that has created a vibrant community where locals have little excuse to leave; offering a small-town life with a big-town feel. Duncan has become the choice city in Oklahoma.”

“Tell those who aren’t here that we need their ideas to make Duncan a better community,” he said as he encouraged everyone to attend the next session at 6 p.m. Sept. 25 in the Simmons Center.

“We can start right now,” Baldwin continued.

“We heard it in the high school survey. Our young people want a nice, friendly community.

We have 200 people in this room. If we follow the biblical principle of ‘love your neighbor’ we can start making that part of our vision for Duncan come true. You can do that by smiling and waving at your friends and neighbors.

You can show that we have an awesome community.”

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