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Community stories hold key to region’s future

Knoxville, Tennessee – When Plan East Tennessee (PlanET) begins a series of community-oriented conversations this fall to help define a shared vision for the region’s future, the project will take an innovative approach combining new technology and old-fashioned storytelling. To showcase how the process will work, PlanET is hosting an “open house” kick-off event at the East Tennessee History Center in downtown Knoxville, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 11.

“We are looking for ideas about protecting our valuable resources and addressing our challenges regarding jobs, housing, transportation, a clean environment and community health,” said Oak Ridge Mayor Tom Beehan, chair of the PlanET Board of Mayors. “Our goal is to create long-term solutions for investments in our region and to define the next chapter in our rich history, leaving a legacy of optimism and opportunity for future generations.”

Visitors to the kick-off event will also have an opportunity to interact with the technology the project will use, including websites, online/instant polling software, public surveys and social media tools. Members of the project’s community leadership team will also be on hand to answer questions and discuss the project and its timeline.

“We want people to have a chance to see what the community input process will look like and to meet some of the people who will be working with them in the community over course of the planning project,” said Maryville Mayor Tom Taylor, a member of the PlanET Board of Mayors. “The open house will allow participants to hear stories from their neighbors and learn how they can be a part of adding their stories to the process.”

Guest speakers at the kick-off event include a Union County retiree, a Knox County community leader and an Oak Ridge High School senior, and will illustrate the range of stories, experiences and dreams the project hopes to record in five counties participating in the project: Anderson, Blount, Knox, Loudon and Union.

“While visioning processes are not new to our area, the PlanET project’s strength is its focus on very specific topics and concerns that affect our ability to improve the quality of life for everyone in the five counties,” said Mayor Beehan. “The PlanET project will remain focused solely on topics that help us improve economic and workforce development, air and water quality, affordable housing, healthy living and transportation. By spotlighting these topic areas, we will be able to concentrate the community’s efforts to take advantage of how and where these topics interconnect with one another.”

The project will begin collecting input in November when the first series of community forums will be held in each of the five counties.

For additional information about PlanET and its activities, visit the organization’s website at www.planeasttn.org.

PlanET is a regional partnership of local governments, economic development agencies and non-profit organizations working towards a shared vision for East Tennessee’s future. The project is funded through a mix of federal dollars and local support.


Media contact:
Jeff Hooper
(865) 584-0550

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