Stories

Engaging the Community to Strengthen San Antonio’s Shared Vision

By SA2020 | Aug 19 2020

In January of this year, (which is either 402 years ago or yesterday depending on your vantage point), SA2020 launched a community engagement process to reaffirm and strengthen San Antonio’s shared Community Vision for the next decade. We knew that the more people—representative of our community by race, gender, age, and geography—we could engage, the stronger San Antonio’s Community Vision, and the ways we would track that vision, would be. 

Through a comprehensive engagement strategy, including monthly events, small and large gatherings, newsletters, surveys, social media, news media, and more, we set off to reach 162,850 people. The goal, while lofty, was informed by SA2020’s current reach with the support of 160 multi-sector Partner organizations and nearly 70 Ambassadors. The goal represented a dramatic increase in the number of people who could inform San Antonio’s progress for the next ten years.

Then…COVID-19 happened.

The crisis not only changed our engagement strategy, it restricted our efforts to being fully remote in a city that struggles to provide all San Antonians with online access. Every day, students, parents, and families are now working hard to balance their everyday responsibilities and health, and essential workers are risking their safety to provide the community with critical services. Across every effort to engage virtually, SA2020 has found a shared desire for meaningful social connection. What, at first, felt novel—engaging in dialogue online and quickly learning how to navigate Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and WebEx—became screen overload.

And yet…the small, but mighty team at SA2020 remains committed to reaffirming and strengthening the shared vision, setting the precedent that every ten years San Antonians will envision the future together (even during a pandemic). And, it appears, you are also committed.

Since January, more than 10,000 people have offered their feedback on priorities, shared their greatest concerns, wordsmithed desired results, and brainstormed strategies for how we might address San Antonio’s most persistent complex community challenges. This is 45% growth over the number of people who participated in the original visioning process.

SA2020 has spent the last several years researching San Antonio’s progress and challenges, assessing multi-sector efforts to affect change, and complementing this study with further analysis of national trends. All of this work has helped inform how the shared Community Vision can be strengthened to reflect the needs of the San Antonio community. 

Below, you can see more about the responses to both of this year’s community surveys and who we heard from. SA2020 has used these responses to draft an updated Community Vision, revised Community Results, and potential Community Indicators that could measure progress toward those results. More than 100 of San Antonio’s content experts—people with professional and lived experiences related to each Community Result—are currently reviewing all of these to ensure the Community Vision reflects San Antonio’s needs, and the Indicators by which we will measure progress are practical, reliable, and comprehensive. Then, the Results & Indicators come to you for a final look.

To imagine San Antonio’s future is to also imagine the efforts to get there. And to imagine how we get there is to imagine our spheres of influence to affect change.

On September 25th, the ten-year anniversary of San Antonio’s initial community visioning process, SA2020 will release the updated Vision, Results, and Indicators and ask you, again, to help co-create the future and celebrate San Antonio’s progress. As the community works through COVID-19 relief and recovery, celebrating the last decade of progress offers lessons on how we have worked together to achieve community results and where we can double down and focus efforts. 

This is the significance of a shared community vision, not just for what it says, but for what it pushes us to accomplish together and be held accountable to.

SA2020’s 1st Community Survey

Administered January 22nd – April 30th, in English and Spanish, online and in person. Completed by 3,591 people who live/work in Bexar County. Of these responses 34.1% were filled out on cards, in-person.

This survey revisited the original questions of San Antonio’s first community visioning process in 2010:

1) Thinking ahead in the next ten years, what is one thing you hope is preserved or maintained in San Antonio?
2) Thinking ahead in the next ten years, what is one thing you hope is improved or changed in San Antonio?

Because folks were not given a list of responses to choose from, it’s important to note that the top three responses—which cross race, gender, age, and geography—were written in, showing a clear alignment around the need to preserve and maintain San Antonio’s culture and improve San Antonio’s transportation system. Additionally, “culture” and “mobility” were identified both pre-COVID-19 and after the pandemic hit.

Nearly 40% of respondents were between the ages of 25 and 44, and almost 12% were between the ages of 13 and 17. Respondents were primarily people of color (55%) and were overwhelmingly women or girls (62.8%). Residents from across the city shared their priorities with us, though Districts 1, 9, and 10 were most represented. 14% of respondents live in municipalities outside City limits, including Universal City, Alamo Heights, and Shavano Park.

For more information on respondents and what they prioritized in the first community survey, visit our Community Engagement page.

SA2020’s 2nd Community Survey

Administered June 5th – August 12th, in English and Spanish, online only. Completed by 1,136 people who live/work in Bexar County. More than half, 52.3% (594) of these respondents reported that this was the first SA2020 survey they had responded to this year.

This survey asked San Antonians 1) which Community Results they would prioritize for the next ten years, 2) what personal needs they’re facing amid COVID-19, and 3) what they hope we, as a community, learn from this crisis.

This shows an overwhelming majority of respondents are concerned about health, physical and mental. And education, which has consistently risen as a top priority anytime SA2020 asks the community at large which result is most important to them, was again identified by the most respondents.

As in the first survey, folks aged 25-44 completed the survey at the highest rate (41%). Responses from people of color fell a bit, to 48.6%. Women and girls made up nearly 72% of responses this time around. And responses were a bit more evenly divided between geographic areas, with representation growing in Districts 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, and 10, and outside City limits.

For more information on respondents and what they prioritized in the second community survey, visit our Community Engagement page.

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