Wichita is under construction — and not just the orange cone kind.
Newman University is excited to be a part of Project Wichita, a collaborative 10-year vision and action plan designed to help shape a brighter and better future for the city. Newman is among many businesses, nonprofits and organizations who are partnering to make the vision a reality.
Thanks to focus groups filled with Wichitans who will be collecting and reporting feedback, thoughts, ideas and opinions from its city dwellers, the Wichita community will have an important and real role in shaping the future of their city. Feedback will be gathered and delivered from a variety of sources including community events, online surveys and social media engagement.
The first focus groups, which launched in April, are part of the first phase of a three-step process, "Listen, Focus, Share." and will provide the engagement opportunities promised for Wichita community members, making it easy for anyone to get involved.
During the second phase, the "focus phase," which will take place during the summer, data will be collected and analyzed for patterns and trends. All of the results will be discussed amongst work teams — groups tasked with reviewing the feedback along with helping to build an action plan.
Lastly, during the "share phase," which will take place during the fall, final results and recommendations will be shared with the community. The goal is to produce an action plan that focuses on the next decade.
Evan Rosell, vice president of projects at the Greater Wichita Partnership, said, "At its core, Project Wichita is a process led by the community, for the community. Local organizations and businesses have been key to providing support for this community engagement process. They are helping to ensure that all voices are heard."
Rosell said it's important the community speak up during this opportunity in order to keep the project highly collaborative.
"We’re excited to hear what issues our community identifies as their big dreams for the future," said Rosell. "Project Wichita will work to turn those dreams into an action plan later this year so that we can all partner together to see these dreams become a reality. This has been an exciting collaborative effort from the start, so we look forward to continuing to partner and work with the community and its leadership to see these dreams become reality."
Newman University President Noreen M. Carrocci, Ph.D., said she is happy Newman is involved in the process.
"I think it's essential, as part of the Wichita region, that we participate," said Carrocci. "We are players (in this community) and we have to get involved in activities like this."
Recently, Newman sent a survey to all its faculty, staff and students, which included questions specifically geared toward the project. The questions asked responders to talk about what they love about Wichita now, what would make them want to live in Wichita in 10 years and what are their biggest dreams for their city in the next decade.
“This process is designed ... based on our goals of extensive listening. We’re especially excited about the multiple ways we plan to go deep into groups within our communities,” said Juston White, co-chair of Project Wichita and executive director at Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Kansas.
Carrocci said, "We haven't had a vision plan for Wichita in a while. We have all this momentum in the city right now and the time just feels right. I'm excited to see what comes of it all."