By Hilary Smith, Sustainability Resource Center
It is estimated that by 2050, Utah’s population will nearly double in size. It’s the sort of growth that will impact all areas of life—from air quality to transportation, the need for more schools to the availability of fresh water. How to respond to population growth of that magnitude is a challenge that has been on the table for some time, and new conversations are brewing.
In 1997, the nonprofit organization Envision Utah was formed to tackle these questions, using the tool of civic engagement. The group aims to gather community voices and facilitate shared stakeholder conversations about directions for Utah’s future growth. More than 200 workshops were held between 1997 and 1999 to gather public opinion on the relative importance of issues like air quality, education, community safety, walkable neighborhoods and the like, and the result was a Quality Growth Strategy—a voluntary set of smart-growth guidelines that has since guided development across the state.
Now, Envision Utah is using its web site to again seek community input surrounding growth-related issues. A new initiative called “Your Utah, Your Future” aims to incorporate the opinions of 50,000 Utahns, via a participatory online project that will culminate in a half-hour survey. For now, the group is just seeking participants—anyone interested can sign up on the Envision Utah web site. The site also offers a Build Your 2050 Utah game—a chance to see what different futures could look like in terms of air quality, public transportation, education, agriculture, water availability, economics, recreational opportunities, housing, disaster resilience, public lands, and energy, based on decisions the player makes about potential policy and behavioral changes in each of these fields.
On Tuesday, Robert Grow, CEO of Envision Utah, will speak about the “Your Utah Your Future” project as part of the next installment of the Global Change and Sustainability Center fall seminar series. Grow’s talk will take place from 4 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 4 in 295 FASB (Sutton Bldg.)