As Charture began discussing its findings, it found that, while PEAS residents were interested in knowing what was happening to their community, simply knowing was not enough: What could they do about it? From this desire for action was borne Sustaining Jackson Hole.
Any community wishing to sustain its essential qualities for future generations faces a fundamental problem: operating in a complex, rapidly-changing environment, how can a community harness its efforts toward a common goal?
For a model, Charture turned to Toyota’s production system. Toyota views car manufacturing as a process involving coordinating thousands of variables while operating in a complex, rapidly-changing environment. In response to this view, it developed the Toyota Production System, a system for coordinating those variables and guiding them all toward a common “Ideal.” As a result of this system’s success, Toyota has grown steadily, and in the last couple of years become the world’s largest, most profitable auto manufacturer.
Charture’s action component is called Sustaining Jackson Hole, and is a process which attempts to apply the principles of the Toyota Production System to community sustainability. Begun in 2004 and conducted annually, the effort involves setting up a “Working Group” for each of Jackson Hole’s basic “Areas of Interest”: Agriculture to Transportation; the Arts to Recreation and Religion.
Each Working Group is asked to answer three basic questions: “Where am I?” (i.e. what do we really know about our Area of Interest?”); “Where do we want to be?” (i.e. what is our State of Ideal, the essential qualities we want to sustain for future generations?”); and “How do we get there?” (i.e. what steps can we take to move closer to our Ideal?”) The data each group gathers in the course of answering these questions not only provides the foundation for judging progress toward Ideal, but provides the core of the Sustaining Jackson Hole “State of Our Community” Almanac.
Over time, most Working Groups choose to hold “mini-Summits,” day-long gatherings in which they discuss issues of importance to their Area of Interest. Similar in spirit to a professional conference, attendees usually find the mini-Summits to be of great value, as they offer an opportunity for people working in the same field in the same community to learn about and from one another in a relaxed, non-pressured environment.
To date, Sustaining Jackson Hole’s achievements include the “State of Our Community” almanac, the Teton Area 10×10 project, significant contributions to the revision of the local land use plan, and the creation of two websites: TetonInfo.org and TetonArts.org.