Frequently Asked Questions

Interested in learning more about Gretna Heart and Soul? Below are the questions we hear most frequently to get you started.

What is Gretna Heart and Soul?

It is a community outreach project modeled on a proven process called Community Heart and Soul which was created by the Orton Family Foundation. A group of Gretna community leaders and volunteers have undertaken this project to ensure that the way of life that Gretna residents have come to expect is preserved in the future.

Who is included in the Gretna community?

For purposes of this project, we are defining the Gretna community as anyone who lives within the Gretna Public Schools district. This area reaches far beyond the Gretna city limits to include some people who may not have identified as a part of this community in the past. 

Our community is growing rapidly and that is likely to continue. One of the core values of this process is inclusion. All who live within the community have a stake in it and should also have a voice in its development for the future. A goal of this process is not only to hear those voices, but also to invite those in all parts of the Gretna School District to think of themselves as a part of the community.

What is involved in this project?

The Heart and Soul process is fundamentally about hearing the voices of those who live in this community to create a sort of roadmap for the future that serves the interests and desires of those who call Gretna home. 

Our process began with a community survey designed to invite the community into this process. The survey is helping to identify high level trends and interests. The survey data is a first step to understanding what is important to community members. 

The next and more critical step in the process is to go out into the community to talk with people, individually and in groups, to hear their stories about living in Gretna. The process is designed to invite residents to share their stories about why they chose Gretna, what they love about living here, and what they want our community to look and feel like in the future. 

The gathering and recording of these stories is the core of this process. It is in the sharing and collecting of stories that the true “Heart and Soul” of the community is revealed. In these stories, we connect together through our common values and aspirations.  

From the survey and story data, a set of Heart and Soul Statements will be written to articulate the shared values and aspirations of the community. These statements will then be used to create an action plan to be published and shared with community leadership to help guide their decisions. The action plan will equip city leaders, school leaders, business leaders and developers with clarity about what the people of the Gretna community care most deeply about. This will equip them to shape community growth to preserve and amplify what the community wants and needs.

What is the outcome of the project and how long will it take?

While the length of the project will depend primarily on how long it takes to conduct story gathering, the expectation is that it should be completed in 12-18 months.

There will be several outcomes of this project.

  1. Gretna Community Heart and Soul Statements. A summary of the community’s values and aspirations. 
  2. Gretna Community Heart and Soul Action Plan. A recommended set of actions based on the Heart and Soul Statements and informed by story data. This could range from recommendations for community events to suggestions regarding public policy or development investment.  
  3. Community Development. This process will invite many people to be a part of the Gretna Community who likely have never felt that way in the past. This will yield energy, interest, and a feeling of ownership of the community that hasn’t existed this broadly in the past.  

If I want to get involved, what does that look like?

There are many ways to get involved. Regardless of whether you have a little or a lot of time to volunteer, there’s an opportunity to help. 

The story gathering process will require many people to help ask questions, listen and capture stories. There’s also opportunities for those who are good at managing projects, coordinating events, or creating marketing and communications. 

If you want to help, there’s an opportunity for you to do so. Simply send an email to expressing your interest and we’ll get you involved.  

Who started the Gretna Heart and Soul project?

This project has been a volunteer collaboration from the beginning. The people who have been instrumental in leading the project thus far represent city, school, and community leadership including Rich Beran, Kelly Brandon, Natalie Gregory, Angie Lauritsen, Jason Lauritsen, Travis Lightle, Jamie McGuire, Ryan Nickell, Brad Stauffer, Jim Warren, and Tom Whiteing.

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