If you ask someone what the values are in Normal, the answer would probably include family, education, safety, and environmental responsibility. But one way to find evidence of what the values really are in Normal is to look at what resources and events the town provides that are above and beyond the basic necessities (such as education and safety). For example, I think it’s very clear that Normal highly values the arts, as evidenced by the Connie Link Amphitheatre and the events that take place there, the Sugar Creek Arts Festival, the Normal Theater, and the Harmon Arts Grants. The Constitution Trail, Ironwood Golf Course, many of the Parks and Recreation programs, and the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan show that physical activity is also a Normal value. A third Normal value is environmental responsibility, which underlies the creation of the Green Team, LEED certification for Uptown (and other) buildings, plans for the “green” house next to Underwood Park, and the recycling stations around town.
A close examination of Normal’s budget would probably reveal other values. As to how certain values get translated into dollars spent by the town, it is probably a combination of the influence of people (elected officials, town staff members, citizens), availability of resources, and community support for the resulting projects. And community support probably changes over time, so there may have been projects in Normal’s past that declined in popularity over time so the town stopped funding them.
So, if you are planning to move to a new town and want to know what the real values are in that town, examine the budget and the town-sponsored resources and events.