#9 – Governance and Collaboration

The Vision and Values Governance and Collaboration Focus Group met virtually on September 18, with 24 participants attending the session. Future iQ introduced the format of discussion for the evening, the purpose being to explore the three questions below as they related to the topic of governance and collaboration.

Participants were randomly assigned to breakout groups of 5-8 and asked to report back to the large group. The following paper synthesizes participant notes and live discussion of these questions; it concludes with some initial insights on the role governance and collaboration may play in planning for the future of Falmouth.

1. What are the key things we are learning about this topic - from the surveys, background information, future trends, and Discussion Board comments?

  • Survey input highlights the need to arrive at right balance between community involvement and Town decision-making. There is strong support for resident involvement in decision-making for the Town, and to find more ways to bridge the perceived communication gap between the community and council. The Town has increased efforts in this area and this is appreciated.
  • Falmouth has the potential to be a role model for the region.
  • The identity of the Town is important, as well as the social fabric.
  • There is a fear by some community members of ‘paralysis by analysis’ and the need for allowing the voices of the community to be heard while still allowing the Town Council to be decisive.

2. What are the one or two important potential future-splitting decisions or issues facing Falmouth, related to this topic; and, what are the implications and trade-offs of these different future directions?

 *(Definition of a future-splitting decision or issue: Something that represents a fork in the road, where future outcomes are significantly shaped by the decision or direction)

  • Future-splitting: The relationship between the Council and residents and the relationship between Falmouth and area agencies such as GPCOG. There needs to be more communication in both directions.
  • Future-splitting themes: Representational Government vs. Town Meeting; Consensus Driven (purely democratic) vs. Majority Rule (w/opposition minority)
  • The direction of collaboration is most important; are there other ways to have more resident representation in Council matters? Perhaps through more committees and organizations.
  • Future-splitting challenges: Between community involvement and governing decisions; finding the right balance in collaboration with other communities; finding the right balance between the different regions of Town (giving equal voice to different sections of Town).
  • To get away from a cookie-cutter approach to government, it is important to allow for differences and neighborhoods to be represented.
  • There is a tension around how involved Falmouth should become with other communities. Change will happen no matter what, so we should find ways to collaborate.

3. With regards to this focus group topic, where is the future ‘sweet spot’ for Falmouth?

*(Definition of a sweet spot: An optimal point or combination of factors or qualities)

  • The sweet spot is for the Town (Council, staff, residents) to develop new ways to engage and communicate. Communication needs to be robust and multifaceted. It was noted that zoom has opened communications by allowing increased participation, and that surveys have been successful in Falmouth.
  • On collaboration with Portland and GPCOG, sweet spot is to resolve mutual problems and to recognize that we are an independent community that cannot solve all of Portland’s problems.
  • Key sweet spot is inclusivity and allowing voices to be heard. It was suggested that educational materials on how government works/how residents can get involved would be helpful.

Consultant’s Insights:

  • In governance and collaboration, there is a fine balance to find between effective community participation and the Council’s ability to act.
  • The comprehensive planning process will be an opportunity for consensus building around a set of strategic decisions for the Town looking ahead over the next 10-20 years. The Comprehensive Plan will be guided by the vision created during this Vision and Values process.


For more information about the Town of Falmouth Vision and Values project, please contact:

David Beurle, CEO
Future iQ
Phone: (612) 757-9190