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Tillamook County Futures Council
Japan takes note of Tillamook County Strategic Vision
Professor Toshiyuki Kako, Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Kobe University,
visits with members of the Tillamook County Futures Council
Members of the Tillamook County Futures Council met with Mr. Toshiyuki Kako of Kobe University, Japan, for lunch at the Blue Heron French Cheese Company on March 14, 2008. Directed to the work of the Futures Council by the Oregon Progress Board, Professor Kako was visiting Tillamook County to develop a better understanding of the Futures Council’s citizen-based strategic visioning process.
Present (from left to right): Shawn Reiersgaard, Toshiyuki
Kako, Professor, Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Kobe University, Jennifer Purcell, Leila Salmon, Shirley
Kalkhoven, Jim Webb, and Commissioner Mark Labhart.
|Professor Kako serves on a thirty member, government appointed Council charged with establishing a vision, benchmarks, and targets for performance. The Council publishes an annual Achievement Report which details performance measurements for over forty items. While the Council holds much authority, they receive little citizen support for the process. Mr. Kako was enthusiastic about developing a better understanding of the Futures Council’s approach and methodology.
Commissioner Labhart shared with Mr. Kako that as an elected official he rarely has the general population as a regular audience. While he is able to talk to people individually, or in small groups, the Futures Council data allow him to have a broad snapshot of what the citizens consider important. “This document helps me to look long-term and take time away from the day to day,” stated Commissioner Labhart. Labhart shared that the Vision is especially useful when making difficult decisions during the county budgeting process. “This is what citizens say is important and I should be paying attention,” Labhart reflected.
Professor Kako explained that in the Japanese strategic planning process, the Kobe Council develops a draft plan and submits it to Congress for approval. Unlike the process used by the Tillamook County Futures Council, citizen involvement is limited. This is due in part to a much larger population, nearly 5.5 million. Mr. Kako indicated that the large population and Japanese culture are not conducive to a citizen input model.
Mr. Kako shared that the Kobe process places information on a website and asks for public comment. Unfortunately, citizen participation has been limited. The Japanese Council is seeking to contract with a smaller city (population 50,000) which Mr. Kako hopes will create the opportunity for more public involvement. Professor Kako is interested in using the Tillamook County Futures Council’s approach and methodology as a model for this new effort, and plans to conduct community workshops to support developing a citizen-based Vision.
Shirley Kalkhoven, Futures Council Chair, shared some of the history of the Tillamook County Futures Council. Ms. Kalkhoven indicated the Council was appointed by the Board of County Commissioners in 1997 to establish a Strategic Vision for Tillamook County based on what the citizens believed to be important. The process at that time included several community forums and a household survey, all aimed at identifying the citizens’ concerns and priorities for the county in the coming years. Since establishing the Strategic Vision, the Council has been operating as stewards of the information.
Ms. Kalkhoven emphasized that the power of the Futures Council’s process is that it reflects the people’s will rather than priorities being dictated by a governmental authority. However, in contrast to the Kobe model, the Tillamook County Futures Council holds no authority to implement the plan; rather, the focus of the Council is to facilitate the achievement of the Strategic Vision.
Attendees enjoyed an enlightened conversation regarding the differences in governmental structure between the United States and Japan. Other topics of comparison included community structure and local government, import/export relations, agricultural concerns, modes of transportation, and second generation energy production.
At the conclusion of the lunch, Professor Kako was presented with a copy of the Tillamook County Strategic Vision full reporting and executive summary. “My most prized souvenir,” Mr. Kako exclaimed, “homework!”
The Tillamook County Futures Council was established in 1997 by the County Commissioners for the purpose of facilitating a citizen-based, long-range Strategic Vision for Tillamook County. As a non-political citizen advisory council to the Commissioners, the Futures Council serves as a steward of the County Vision. For more information, please visit our website at
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