In the 1980s, urban re-imaging and place marketing were vital elements in the strategies of post-industrial cities aiming to redefine their role, make themselves more competitive and attract global investment and tourists. By the early 1990s, the questionable effects of trickle-down economics on deprived housing estates and the rediscovery of the 'community' as a social partner shifted both the substance and process of vision exercises. This paper examines the experience of building an input into a city vision that aimed to address social and ethno-religious segregation in Derry/Londonderry. Designing a consensus statement for a city that cannot agree its name, was wrecked by bloody violence and has its hinterland fractured by a contested international border, is a difficult and delicate process. The city had a population of 105 800 people in 1998, but is divided by the river Foyle between the mainly Catholic Cityside (to the north and west) and the mainly Protestant Waterside (to the south and east). The analysis connects with the literature on urban policy that emphasises the importance of argumentation and democratic debate in strategic planning and local regeneration (Forester, 1989; Healey, 1996). The paper concludes by arguing that strategies for 'listening' would help to shape a vision that could mobilise community interests around some common urban regional issues and help to promote social and ethno-religious polarisation as mainstream policy concerns.