On Jan. 4, it’s important that you join the chorus of Oro Valley voices who will help plan our future. We want to hear your voice to know your thoughts.

Imagine Greater Tucson, a regional grassroots effort, is interested in what you value and what you would like to see improved or different in the future … not only for us, but for future generations.

Estimates provided by Pima Association of Governments and the U.S. Census Bureau tell us that our region’s population is expected to double by 2050. Although the economy has slowed, economic history strongly suggests a return to growth and prosperity. It’s only a matter of time.

We now have the opportunity to plan for that future by sharing and comparing our ideas. Imagine Greater Tucson will absorb this valuable input and, next spring, will present scenarios of our region based on our current practices, and those ideas of yours about shaping our future.

Imagine Greater Tucson will blend those scenarios using our values, and will ask us to gather around the table again next spring to roll up our sleeves and help develop roadmaps for our region. In the end, we will agree to a single road map — our vision.

Imagine Greater Tucson, with your input, will develop strategies to incorporate aspects of the vision into local comprehensive plans and to identify and support special projects that reflect that vision.

We cannot afford to sit home and “let them do it.” This is our future and our grandchildren’s future. No one knows your values better than you. You cannot ensure that your values will be given the priority you expect unless you participate and continue to stay engaged, and meet some of your community neighbors in the meantime.

To learn more about the growing support for Imagine Greater Tucson, please visit http://www.imaginegreatertucon.org">www.imaginegreatertucon.org to view partners and contributors.

Our communities may thrive individually, but in concert we can create a strong regional network among neighborhoods, government, business, education, etc. You get the idea.

For example, a strong downtown Tucson, the core of our region, will benefit the entire region. How can we all help ensure that our largest community has a vibrant downtown? We may not want to be a Chicago or Denver, but everyone likes to visit those great cities for one reason or another, even the folks from suburbia.

One of our regional drivers might be the modern streetcar. When the streetcar service begins in late 2013 between the University of Arizona and western downtown Tucson, some of us will probably find a reason to hop on board at least once as we do business or attend a sporting event at the UA.

We may live in Oro Valley or Marana, but that may not mean we work here or play here all of the time. Or maybe someone in Vail wants to attend a rodeo or arts festival in one of our communities, or commutes to one of our employer sites.

Imagine Greater Tucson allows us a great opportunity to help shape our legacy by offering us the chance to imagine how rich and fulfilling our community’s future can be, and by sharing our ideas with community leaders, helping them understand your vision.

Remember what they say: one person can change the world.

I encourage you to attend the upcoming community conversation on Jan. 4, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., at the Oro Valley Public Library, 1304 N. Naranja Drive. Please visit the web site mentioned above to RSVP. If you cannot make this session, please request one for your group or neighborhood.

Your voice will make a difference. I hope you will speak up for our future. Ask your neighbor to join you.

Lou Waters serves on the Oro Valley Town Council. He can be reached at lwaters@orovalleyaz.gov.

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