Following my experience on June 23, I might never use the terms “scenario” and “connect the dots” the same way again. Perhaps some other participants of the Town’s Visioning Initiative Think Tank may feel the same way!

What a full day it was, allowing approximately 150 contributors to wrestle with a variety of potential paths and outcomes. All were trying to understand just what our town’s multiplicity of ingredients could produce in the future.

Reflecting upon the Think Tank adventure gives a good indication of the quality of our Town’s Visioning Initiative. In this “scenario” where every islander contributes to our efforts, we may expect excellence.

The morning alone was exceptional. It began at 8 a.m. with an overview, an analysis of future trends and emergent issues and a review of the recent survey results. Then the bulk of the morning was spent working within a matrix of four plausible scenarios: Destination Community, Revitalization and Modernization, Inclusive Multi-Dimensional Community and Protect Traditional Strength.

The axes for this matrix were Cultural Character and Social Fabric and Development Trajectory. Intrigued? Everyone in the room seemed to be! Opinionated? That was evidenced, too.

And from that mix emerged a rich discussion of ideas. Islanders should expect that the balance of the Initiative will be no less exceptional.

The afternoon brought the morning’s work together and allowed everyone to discover what came forth from each scenario discussion. What followed was an exploration of the scenarios, including the shocks and opportunities that the exercise ferreted out. The next group exercise involved an analysis of the “Top Ten Attributes of Successful Communities,” prepared by David Beurle, Future iQ and adapted from numerous community indicators and workshop exercises.

Here’s where the dots came in. Each participant received eight of them, four red and four green, and they were used to measure the groups’ assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of Hilton Head Island’s attributes.

So, first everyone needed to select which ones they felt most strongly about, whether a strength or weakness, and use the dots to indicate their opinions. In working to explore our vision for the island, every Think Tanker surely discovered something they hadn’t previously considered.

Many lingered over the fellowship, which followed the full-day session and have since encouraged their friends and neighbors to participate in the Initiative. My whole-hearted thanks to them.

The mission of this missive is likewise. I hope you will be intrigued by the work of the Think Tank day presented here. Find out more about that day and the entire Initiative by visiting

While you are there, complete the community survey and sign up to receive the newsletter and notifications of future events. Commit to participating in the 20 to 30 upcoming public workshops that will take place during August and September. Your town needs you. With the benefit of strategic commitment and support, it is certainly true that whatever scenarios Islander’s envision are possible. This singular and significant Visioning Initiative will allow them to rise to the surface.

For more information, visit to sign up for the mayor’s newsletter or contact Emily Sparks, Project Lead at 843-341-4683 or

David Bennett is the mayor of the Town of Hilton Head Island. DavidB@hiltonhead