Imagine Salem Progress Report

A year after it launched, the Imagine Salem community visioning initiative released a progress report outlining the key findings and themes from a year’s worth of public workshops, surveys, focus groups, and more. 

I encourage all Salem residents to check out the progress report with details about the findings and ideas on how we can bring to life the suggestions from the report.
— Mayor Kim Driscoll

Executive Summary

The initial phase of Imagine Salem has been a process to establish a vision for Salem’s future. Setting its sights on 2026, the 400th anniversary of the city’s founding, the process engaged the people of Salem to assess what they love and how they would improve their city. Ultimately, Imagine Salem aims to serve as a guide for future decisions.

In order for this vision to reflect the city’s many communities, the City of Salem convened a working group, held various on-the-ground activities across the city and had a strong online presence. The process also included a data-driven analysis of existing conditions in Salem, and it considered policies and programs already undertaken by the City to assess if the City’s efforts are in line with the community’s vision. To focus the analysis, the community was informed about the existing conditions of the following core categories: population, housing, employment, and transportation, and the interplay between these categories. The analysis of the categories was framed around two provisional values that served as the cornerstones for Imagine Salem: equity and inclusivity. After providing the people of Salem an overview of the data-driven analysis, they were asked to reflect on their own lives and experiences.

Throughout the Imagine Salem conversation, numerous community members brought up the importance of K-12 public education. The Imagine Salem conversation purposefully directed comments regarding education to the Salem Public School district (SPS) because the district was in the midst of a community-engaged strategic planning process to build a world-class school district for all Salem students. Nevertheless, given the importance of this critical topic, the guiding principles set forth in Imagine Salem include an overview of the SPS community-developed vision. Based on the collective input from the community, Imagine Salem proposes the following vision for the future:

In 2026 we are a sustainable and livable city where we celebrate our diverse histories and where people of all backgrounds and means participate and thrive.