Lewiston Auburn is on the edge of something great. After years of decline from its manufacturing heyday, one can see the bright spots breaking through. It can be seen in the new shops and restaurants, the self-organization of entrepreneurs and artisans to promote our downtowns, the return of the real estate market, and the young leaders stepping up to helm organizations and businesses.
This change is being ushered in by a new group of leaders. These young professionals simultaneously embrace the rich heritage and history of their communities, and rebel against the often touted reasoning of “because that is the way we always have done it”. While these leaders might be some of the people cheering mostly loudly for Lewiston and Auburn’s renaissance, they aren’t the cheerleaders. They know that standing on the sidelines and talking about the future and touting our growth metrics isn’t enough. These people are change leaders, they know that to really grab ahold of a bright future, we must act.
For every one of our leaders getting recognized, there are another two working silently, all of whom are pushing Lewiston Auburn towards a new future. And they all have something in common- they challenge the status quo. Instinctively, they know something about our current state is a barrier to the future. They can see and feel where change in our communities is occurring faster than the structures, policies and governance will support. They know things aren’t working the way they are, and without pause, they take action.
They are stepping into their leadership potential.
Each of these leaders have different approaches. When you talk to them, they might focus on different aspects of our future. Some will speak of the importance of education, while others will talk of the need to increase the number of employers and jobs. Some will talk about the need to change our physical environment- improving cityscapes and welcoming new demographics who live, work and play downtown. Still others will talk about the need to expand transportation offerings and connect to other employment centers, capturing the opportunity of Portland’s fast growth rate and restricted real estate market.
All of these approaches challenge the status quo, require change, and embrace new ways of thinking about old problems. While some of these methods compete with each other, we know that competition spurs innovation. Innovation is needed to overcome our collective community challenges. Within our differences, there is a commonality. Each leader is working towards a universal vision with a singular belief- Lewiston and Auburn’s promising future is within our reach.
We need these change leaders to forge ahead on their march to a brighter future. More importantly, they need us to get off the sidelines, and join them in the pursuit. Lewiston Auburn needs change leaders, not cheer leaders.