Gregory Devereaux, A Shared Vision
San Bernardino County’s diverse communities now all share a common vision of where they want to go. County CEO Gregory Devereaux talked about how to change the metric and engage divergent community interests to work together as part of the continuing Randall Lewis Seminar Series presented by the UC Riverside School of Public Policy’s Center for Sustainable Suburban Development
California CEO, It was easy to see why San Bernardino County was mired in dysfunction five years ago when Gregory Devereaux started his tenure as the county’s chief executive officer. The county was missing a vision. It didn’t have clear goals and objectives.
“It’s real hard to get someplace if you don’t know where you want to go,” he said.
Devereaux talked about how to change the parochial metric and engage divergent community interests to work together as part of the continuing Randall Lewis Seminar Series presented by the UC Riverside School of Public Policy’s Center for Sustainable Suburban Development.
He explained to Ron Loveridge, the director of the CSSD and former Riverside Mayor, the county needed to go through a process to learn the future wanted by San Bernardino residents, businesses and stakeholders. There was no plan that dealt with the entirety of the county.
“You can’t tell anyone what their vision is. You have to go out and you have to engage the community to find out what their vision is,” Devereaux said. “That’s the only way you will get true buy-in and it really will be a shared vision.”
He enlisted the help of the San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG) to hold more than two dozen community meetings across what is the largest geographic county in the U.S., and arguably — among the most diverse.
More meetings were held with groups of local experts or stakeholders on topics such as housing, transportation, education, and health care.
Another 6,000 residents also responded to an online vision survey.
“We heard a lot of things that ended up in the vision. There were some common themes. The people of the county, despite a lot of the challenges, felt a real sense of community in their community,” Devereaux said. “All of those people, almost to a person, remarked on valuing the diversity in their community.”
The effort culminated in a five sentence vision statement. Each sentence starts with, “We envision…”
The result, he said, has been transformative. The shared vision statement has not only been adopted by virtually all of the county’s 24 cities, but also by school boards, special districts and some nonprofits. It has helped them prioritize resources and investments for the good of the community as a whole.
“The people in businesses and nonprofits and labor organizations across the county are involved in working together and collaborating at levels that many people said are historic. It’s because we’ve decided on what we should be working on together.”
At the county government level, he said, the vision has helped to break down the parochial silos of supervisorial districts and separately elected constitutional offices.
Now, eight groups have been formed to help fulfill each element of the shared vision statement.
As a result, they’ve learned all the elements are not only interrelated, but they are interdependent.
“Any time you can get policy makers and program providers to have serious discussions about what they’re trying to do, then it changes what they do and how they do it,” Devereaux said.
BYLINE: KJ Thomas
Altek Media Group