2017 First Impressions Exchange
What is the First Impressions Exchange?
First Impressions Exchange is a program for community assessment and improvement developed by James Schneider and Andrew Lewis in 1990. The University of Wisconsin-Extension often helps communities assess community development opportunities and develop strategies for community improvement. The First Impressions program helps communities learn about existing strengths and weaknesses through the eyes of the first-time visitor and provides a structured opportunity to learn about strengths and weaknesses of similar communities. The results from a First Impressions visit can serve as the basis for community action and as a way to document changes in the community over time.
All communities have difficulties viewing their surroundings through the eyes of customers, visitors, potential residents, and potential businesses. Our views are skewed by over-familiarization, a lack of differing perspectives, expectations, and a reluctance to be completely honest with our neighbors when dealing with difficult issues, such as the appearance of buildings, customer service, and the maintenance of public facilities.
How does it work?
- Volunteers from two somewhat similar communities in terms of size, location, and county seat, etc., agree to do unannounced visits and then report on their findings.
- Participants become “secret shoppers” for the day to discover what they can about a similar community or neighborhood.
- Participants follow procedures and document their visit using a participant guide or an online version of the guide to upload photos and comments. The guide, which ensures that evaluations and reports are thorough and uniform, requires minimal training.
First Impressions print materials and additional training and marketing resources are available on the UW-Extension Learning Store at learningstore.uwex.edu. For more information contact your County Community Development Educator or the Center for Community & Economic Development (CCED); 608-265-8136; TTY: 1-800-947-3529.
Read the First Impressions of Fennimore Report from our Neillsville visitors during July 2017.