Heart and Soul

Cortez Heart & Soul

In January of 2012 the City of Cortez was awarded a Heart & Soul Community Planning Grant from the Orton Family Foundation. The grant application was created by a collaboration of community members, organizations, and the City of Cortez.

The purpose of this project is to reach out to Cortez community members in new and innovative ways to identify the Heart & Soul of Cortez. The City will use the identified values and ideals as the guiding force in updating its Comprehensive Plan and Land Use Code, so that future decisions and planning efforts are made in harmony with the character of the community.

Heart & Soul Cortez is guided by a Community Advisory Team of volunteers dedicated to enriching our community by creating opportunities for broad-based citizen engagement in planning Cortez’ future. The Community Advisory Team is open to any individual with an interest in and commitment to stewarding a vibrant and inclusive community.

With your help we aim to:

ENGAGE residents in conversations about what makes us unique and what we value most about this place.

Work toward a SHARED VISION for our community based on what people say is important to them.

TAKE ACTION together to make the vision real.

Mission, Vision & Goals


Identify and articulate the Heart & Soul of Cortez in order to drive community-based decision-making.


Create a vibrant and thriving community.


1.  Partner with diverse community members to bring new voices into new conversations

  • Build new framework for participation and collaboration
  • Meet people where they are

2.  Create Community Action Plan

  • Align with existing Comprehensive Plan
  • Implementation
  • Special Projects – Yes as identified and appropriate

3.  Engage Youth

  • Provide leadership opportunities

4.  Strengthen the capacity of local organizations to better serve community needs

  • Foster collaboration and leadership
  • Bring local organizations into process to share knowledge and experience

5.  Create new Land Use Code that reflects the community values

  • Builds on first four goals
  • Neighborhood focused

Frequently Asked Questions

1.  WHO are you?

We are a group of local residents and volunteers who want to learn what YOU—and all our neighbors—think matters most about Cortez, about where it’s headed, and what you would like it to be.

2.  WHY Heart & Soul?  What does that mean?

“Heart and Soul” is shorthand for the unique cultures, landscapes, people, traditions and values that residents cherish. Once a community widely recognizes its Heart & Soul, people come together and take action together to sustain and enhance the places they love.

3.  WHAT is Heart & Soul Project of Cortez?

It is a two-year initiative designed to find out what YOU, the residents of Cortez, value most about living here. Our mission is to identify the Heart and Soul of Cortez and use that to drive decisions that shape the future for all of us.

4.  HOW are you going to do that?

Cortez Heart & Soul Project aims to do things differently; to help make planning for the future truly planning for OUR future, because if we don’t figure out what we want to be, somebody else may decide for us. We want to work with more than the same handful of folks who show up to “official” meetings.

5.  WHAT are you going to do?

Over the next two years community members, the City of Cortez, and local and regional partners will collect community values from as many citizens as possible. We will then ask the community to turn those values into action items for City planners. We want the community to chart a course toward community and economic revitalization in Cortez.

With everyone’s help, we aim to:

  • ENGAGE residents in conversations about what makes us unique and what we value most about this place.
  • Work toward a SHARED VISION for our community based on what people say is important to them.
  • TAKE ACTION together to make the vision real.

6.  WHAT will result from the project?

Through those efforts we will:

  • Increase public involvement and support for citizen led initiatives and results.
  • Identify a set of values that lead to a shared vision that will drive decisions and actions in our community.
  • Use the community values to create a Community Action Plan that implements the Comprehensive Plan, and guides the creation of a new Land Use Code.

7.  HOW is this different from past planning projects?

The two big differences between this project and prior planning projects in Cortez are the concerted effort to include voices that are usually not heard, and to align policies and practices with community values.

8.  WHY now?

Cortez—along with four other rural communities across the country—won a two-year Heart & Soul Community Planning grant from the Orton Family Foundation. The award includes $100,000 and technical assistance to help carry out a resident-driven process.

Cortez Heart & Soul Project is committed to all of us planning for our community’s future by developing a shared vision of what it can be. That vision will then fuel planning and other government decisions. The human and financial resources from the Orton Family Foundation will enhance and accelerate this community work.

9.  WHY would I want to participate?

Your participation in this project is the most effective way to help shape the future of the community, and we want to hear from you. Waiting until a developer or the City proposes some significant change in the community can cause uncertainty and concern about the future.

10.  HOW can I help?

Cortez Heart & Soul Project asks you and your friends and neighbors to join us and spread the word about this enterprise. For more information contact Nina Williams, Project Coordinator, at heartandsoulcortez@gmail.com, 564-4079. Stay tuned for opportunities to participate!


Heart & Soul Overview    (English)    (Spanish)

Heart & Soul Frequently Asked Questions    (English)    (Spanish)

Mission, Vision, and Goals   (English)    (Spanish)

Cortez Heart & Soul  |  110 W. Progress Circle, Cortez, CO 81321  |  heartandsoulcortez@gmail.com  |  970-564-4079