It all started with a bicycle ride. Former CSU President Dr. Larry Penley and Fort Collins City Manager Darin Atteberry, enjoying a leisurely ride through downtown, talking about creating better connections between the City and the University. Within months, this conversation had sparked the creation of UniverCity Connections, a collaboration convened by the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado, and driven by the City of Fort Collins, Colorado State University, the Downtown Development Authority, and over 100 Fort Collins citizens. Peter Kenney of Civic Results and Martin Carcasson of CSU’s Center for Public Deliberation provided facilitation as UniverCity Connections challenged the community to come together, imagine a great future and make that future a reality.
At the beginning of the process, the stakeholders identified the elements of a vision for the future of the study area. These elements became the Vision Statement for UniverCity Connections. All of the work that followed was guided by this vision of the desired future and the products of this work are intended to bring that vision closer to reality. The Co-Chairs and Coordinating Committee of UniverCity Connections led this effort beginning in August of 2006. They identified stakeholders, refined the process and schedule, identified the study area, chose the name and logo, and planned the kickoff party. The process followed by the stakeholders was a step by step effort beginning with the development of a vision of the desired future. The stakeholders, working together identified the elements of their vision and assigned a committee to write the vision statement. Stakeholders assessed the current reality in the area, including identifying the strengths to build on, weaknesses to overcome, opportunities to capture, and threats to avoid. This preparatory work enabled the stakeholders to identify a manageable number of specific topics to focus on, and to form task groups for each topic. The remainder of the process was carried out by these task groups, mostly working alone, but occasionally coming together to share progress and address overlapping issues. With the planning work of the task groups finished, the stakeholders brought this phase of their effort to an end, and moved on to implementation of these initiatives. The Report from the Stakeholders includes some history, the vision statement, task group descriptions and initiatives, and a list of stakeholders. Highlights of the task groups and some of the completed initiatives are on the Community Impact page.
The Executive Team determined that after 5 years it was time to build on the success of the initial UniverCity Connections and re-engage the community. Under the leadership of Executive Directors Jim Reidhead and Doug Johnson, the UniverCity Connections organization had supported the launch of Homeward 2020 and FortZED, brought the community together for the Poudre Runs Through It forums, and continued to foster relationships between CSU, the City, and citizens. The Community Foundation of Northern Colorado stepped off the Executive Team of funders, while continuing to support UniverCity Connections accounts. Trebuchet Group was engaged to provide facilitation and logistical support of the renewal phase.
The first activity in renewing UniverCity Connections was to invite 24 community leaders to do some pre-thinking and preparation with the goal of accelerating the larger community process.
The larger community portion of Renewing UniverCity Connections started with a celebration event in September 2012. More than 200 new and returning stakeholders were encouraged by current CSU President Tony Frank and City Manager Darin Atteberry to continue building connections and making positive change.
Community members came together around areas of interest, forming task groups to identify goals and create action plans. The task groups met separately and also came together with the bigger stakeholders group in October and November to get feedback and check for areas of overlap or synergy. The task group plans were collected and community members provided feedback at a January stakeholder meeting. The 2012 Action Plan Report was published in March; it includes a list of task group participants in addition to the action plans.
Task Group process steps
Highlights of the task groups and some of the completed initiatives are on the Community Impact page.
Process steps for this implementation phase: