Doug Oplinger of "Your Voice Ohio" leads a community conversation Tuesday night at Idea Works.

MANSFIELD -- More often than not, meaningful and transformative change starts with a conversation. Great ideas are born when people who care come together to hash out their thoughts and discuss solutions.

A packed room of Richland County residents did just that Tuesday night at a conversation session entitled "What’s Your Future, Mansfield?"

The event was led by Doug Oplinger of Your Voice Ohio, a project that brings citizens and news organizations together and builds trust through engaging, authentic and solutions-driven conversations.

“I was encouraged by how engaged those in attendance were in presenting their ideas and hopes for our communities,” said Richland County Commissioner Marilyn John.

During a two-hour session at Idea Works, Oplinger asked groups of participants to mull over the following questions: What does a community look like where people are happy and live fulfilled lives? What would you change about your community to move in the direction of happy and fulfilled lives? What can area leaders, citizens and media do to move in that direction?

Numerous suggestions resulted from the session, and there was plenty of common ground.

Some of the most popular changes residents wanted to see included more jobs that pay a living wage, visionary and accountable leadership, a common vision for the community, investment in education (including trade education) and more affordable housing options.

Everyone was friendly and eager to share like next-door neighbors,” said Lee Tasseff, president of Destination Mansfield. “I was pleasantly surprised how many times someone presenting from another group said something one or more of those at my tables had brought up.”  

All the data collected during the session, including responses written by groups and individuals, will be compiled into a report authored by Your Voice Ohio and shared with participants.


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