Identifying Community Development Opportunities Through New Eyes
The University of Wisconsin-Extension helps communities assess community development opportunities and develop strategies for community improvement. The First Impressions program helps communities learn about existing strengths and weaknesses of similar communities. The results from a First Impressions visit can serve as the basis for community action and as a way to document changes in the community over time.
All communities have difficulties viewing their surroundings as others-customers, visitors, potential residents, and potential businesses–see them. Our views are skewed by over-familiarization, a lack of differing perspectives, expectations, and a reluctance to be completely honest with our neighbors when dealing with difficult issues, such as the appearance of buildings, customer service, and the maintenance of public facilities.
How Does it Work?
Volunteers from two somewhat similar communities in terms of size, location, and county seat, etc., agree to do unannounced visits and then report on their findings. Participants become “secret shoppers” for the day to discover what they can about a similar community or neighborhood. Participants follow procedures and document their visit using a participant guide or an online version of the guide to upload photos and comments. The guide, which ensures evaluations and reports are thorough and uniform, requires minimal training.
For More Information
Please see the Center for Community and Economic Development website.
To Bring First Impressions to Your Community…
Contact Victoria Solomon, Green County UW-Extension Community Resource Development Educator, at 608-328-9440 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Completed First Impressions Reports
- First Impressions – 1995 (12 pages, 6210 KB)
- First Impressions – 2009 (13 pages, 846 KB)
- First Impressions – 1995 (20 pages, 15038 KB)
Green County UW-Extension
Community Resource Development Educator