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SCIP a start, the real work yet to be done

November 19, 2011

The hallmarks of a thriving community are often measured by things that cannot be seen. In a thriving community, there are fewer numbers of poor, uneducated, homeless, sick, unfit, illiterate and unemployed.

History judges societies by how they treated their most defenseless members, and it is this foundation of caring that supports the walls that allow communities to soar.

With this in mind, the United Way and Community Foundation of Washington County spearheaded the creation of a Strategic Community Impact Plan (SCIP) that seeks solutions for issues as wide-ranging as obesity, financial illiteracy and lack of exposure to the arts.

The resulting document is the product of 200 volunteers working for more than a year, developing goals and strategies for a more vibrant community.

“The idea was for us to become more proactive in identifying the issues and being intentional about trying to do something about that, instead of being reactive and just treating symptoms,” said Bradley N. Sell, the Community Foundation’s executive director.

Certainly there have been idealistic blueprints for Washington County before, but SCIP feels a bit different. It seems to be less committee-oriented, and more dependent on the one-on-one networking that has always been a more successful approach to targeting specific problems.

Earlier this month, an open house sought to introduce more members of the community to the program, and appeared to generate considerable excitement.

SCIP recognizes that, in baseball terms, a community must master the fundamentals in order to field a winning team. Without a floor of support for the majority of our community, individuals might succeed here and there, but there will be no elevation of the whole to greater heights.

And lest we seem too starry-eyed, we would remind one and all that a majority community of educated, healthy and productive people is simply good for business. They will shop, dine out, buy cars and read newspapers.

To the organizations and volunteers who helped formulate this plan we extend our thanks, while recognizing that now the hard part starts. Enacting the plan will depend not just on those who are involved now, but some who might not as yet have even heard of SCIP.

It will take many hands, but it is a worthy goal. We know that initial excitement can wear off, and certainly Washington County shelves are littered with reports that didn’t go far beyond the writing.

We hope this isn’t the case with SCIP. Its targets are too important, for one thing. We hope it becomes a reference work that all community leaders and volunteers can keep close at hand as we work to make this community the best it can be.

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