COMMUNITY VISIONING FOR RESILIENT FUTURES
Steven Ames ( MS, 76 )
Founding Principal, NXT Consulting Group & Principal, Steven Ames Planning
Dragging my SNR pals down to my Ohio rent-a-farm for a little rural R&R!
Find your passion and pursue it. Seek out mentors and ask them for their best tough-love advice. Embrace your failures and move on. Express your gratitude to those who have helped you along the way. Lift all boats wherever you can. Think of your work as something meant to outlast you – just like planting a tree.
Described as an “architect of public process,” Steven Ames is widely recognized for his work in community visioning and civic engagement.
As founding principal of NXT Consulting Group LLC and his own urban planning consultancy, Ames has advised the long-range planning efforts of more than 75 cities and regions in North America and overseas.
Ames is the author of the award-winning American Planning Association handbook, A Guide to Community Visioning, and innovator of its Oregon Model. The model is inspired in part by the concept of anticipatory democracy – integrating civic foresight with grassroots public participation and action.
“The Oregon Model is a ‘whole-of-community’ planning approach that links environmental sustainability with concerns such as growth management, livability, social equity, and more recently, resiliency,” he said. “One aspect of this approach is incorporation of futures research to better understand how societal trends are driving change; another is monitoring and measuring planned change over time in order to amplify its impact. While the tools are constantly changing, my focus continues to be engaging people in building communities that endure and thrive.”
Ames has applied this approach to help his clients achieve signature outcomes over the years, including Arizona’s first-ever urban growth boundary in Flagstaff; one of the nation’s first LEED-certified city halls in Hillsboro, Oregon; new efforts to protect Idaho’s Lake Coeur d’Alene; implementation of a community-based vision plan for all of Queensland, Australia; and a regional research and innovation district for Washington’s Wenatchee Valley, leveraging its agriculture, natural resource and renewable energy economy.
Ames credits SEAS Professor Emeritus Donald Michael with powering his career in long-range community planning.
“Don had the most profound influence on my way of thinking about the world. His courses and insights into long-term societal change were foundational to my perspectives and career development.”