|Abstract or Summary
- Community visioning processes offer communities the platform to identify common goals, indicate actions and measures of progress, and envision what they would like their political, economic, and social landscape to look like for years to come. Rural communities often face unique obstacles in terms of isolation, lack of resources and capacity, shifting economics, among other problematic issues. Tillamook and Wallowa counties, both rural and resource dependent, are compelling case studies for how rural counties embark on strategic visioning processes, choose and use different measures, and include different community members’ voices. Benton County is also an interesting case study that serves as a microcosm for what is going on at the national level with many noting the existence of a rural/urban divide. Employing the literature surrounding community visioning and collaborative governance, this study aims to explore what conditions are present in the counties that collaborative governance models deem necessary for successful collaborations, how stakeholders perceive successes and challenges, and if there is evidence of a rural consciousness that may influence the collaborative governance process. These communities were explored using a mixed-methods qualitative approach employing both secondary content analyses of county websites and documents, as well as primary source interviews with community stakeholders and county officials. Using purposive sampling, critical informants were contacted in order to best understand these processes. This research has the potential to produce a “best practices” guide for other rural counties and communities looking to engage its citizenry and initiate grassroots, bottom-up change.