SIDE STREETS EXTRA: Injured mule deer buck draws a crowd

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Often, neighborhood groups only focus on things like dealing with the rogue homeowner who is annoying everyone with his half-built, illegal shed.

Now, civic leaders want neighborhood groups to broaden their focus and dream about the entire region. It's part of a community-building project called "Dream City Vision 2020" designed to imagine how Colorado Springs should look in 2020.

The process involves conversations and brainstorming about the Springs' identity in 2020 and how to reach those goals.

The Old North End Neighborhood is hosting one of the first neighborhood sessions Tuesday, March 17. The Council of Neighbors & Organizations plans to host one in April. And organizers would like to see similar sessions spread citywide.

They'll provide trained facilitators to lead discussions and collect ideas. All you need to bring is your imagination.

"We're trying to get people involved in conversations about the future of our community," said Becci Ruder of Leadership Pikes Peak, which is one of four primary partners in the Dream City initiative. The others are the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region (COPPeR), the Pikes Peak Library District and The Gazette.

"We want it to be a grassroots effort, open to everyone," Ruder said. "We're trying to tell everyone: ‘Your ideas are welcome.' If we succeed in the community outreach, the entire initiative will be richer."

Here's how a typical brainstorming session begins.

"We start by saying: ‘In the year 2020, TIME magazine is coming to interview us to find out what's great about the Pikes Peak region,' " Ruder said. "What would we want them to see? What would we want them to say? What do we want our identity to be? What do we want to preserve? What would we like to add?"

At earlier brainstorming sessions with business and civic groups, some suggested building a light rail system to unite the Front Range communities, for example.

In the next phase, groups will be asked to focus on specific suggestions gathered at these early talks.

Dave Munger, president of the Old North End and CONO, said those groups were sponsoring sessions because members see the value of thinking large and trying to steer the Springs in the right direction.

"For us it's simple," Munger said. "We see it as a good opportunity for people in the neighborhood to think about what sort of city we want Colorado Springs to be in the future.

"We see it as a chance to sit down and do some dreaming."

And that would be a pleasant departure from the daily grind of enforcing covenants, collecting dues and the other minutia most neighborhood leaders typically are immersed in.

"It would be a good thing," Munger said, "for the entire community to be a part of this discussion."-Read my blog updates at gazette.com/blogs/sidestreets

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