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In October of 2011, more than 200 people attended a three-day Vision San Benito County (VSBC) summit to answer a simple question: “What would you like San Benito County to be in 10 years?”  The summit marked the culmination of a year-long visioning process of community listening sessions, surveys, and public forums involving more than 800 people representing the various socio-economic and cultural groups in our county. Members of VSBC have been involved in several projects to fulfill that mission as the outreach arm of our local Community Foundation for San Benito County. 

VSBC’s mission is to encourage & facilitate participation of all residents in decisions that improve our community’s quality of life. 

In response to what we learned in the visioning process, Over the past two years, we have;

  • launched an 18-month visioning process, culminating with a 3-day summit involving more than 800 residents;
  • served on advisory boards for our Parks & Recreation Committee;
  • participated in San Benito High School’s Facilities Committee;
  • facilitated meetings with Bolado Park volunteers to renovate our fairgrounds;
  • hosted community forums on creating spaces for public art downtown, the Affordable Health Care Act, and the future of our library;
  • coordinated a countywide collaborative, the Healthy San Benito Initiative, exploring ways to improve community health; 
  • and developed, designed and launched, a “hyperlocal” website dedicated to informing and engaging residents on news, events and issues relevant to San Benito County.    

Visioning processes take patience and determination if they are to succeed. Just look at A,T&T Park in San Francisco, or the new library up the road in Gilroy – both decades in the making. 

BenitoLink is VSBC’s most ambitious project and addresses a common need expressed by virtually every group we interviewed during the visioning process: the need for a reliable and local source of information in the absence of a daily newspaper and no free daily news source in our county. We sought to create a place where residents could find accurate and reliable, current information about the community where they live. 

With generous funding from the Community Foundation for San Benito County and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, we launched earlier this year.

BenitoLink is an interactive experience of news, events, photos and commentary for, and by, San Benito County residents. A dedicated team of passionate volunteers, including BenitoLink Content Director Bob Reid, Development Consultant Carla Thorning, Paul Levy, Lois Locci, Mark Paxton, Leslie David, Kathy Bisbee, Colleen Johnson, Martin Prisco and myself have worked to develop a user-friendly site that reflects the diverse and interesting people of San Benito County. is working to develop a sustainable business model that generates revenue with sponsorships, grants and individual donations. In the spirit of View ’22, we want to keep it free to users so that all residents can participate and benefit from it. Check it out daily, contribute your articles, events, comments and photos (and/or money), and let us know how we are doing.

The VSBC Advisory Committee and BenitoLink teams have been working together closely to ensure that the mission of VSBC is being carried out by the site. We see the website as an extension and logical “next step” of the visioning process. 

 To see a brief video of the project, click here. A one-page summary outlining residents’ work, titled View ’22, can be downloaded here, and for those interested in the full report, click here.