22 July, 2010

Are You The Leader St. Albans WV Is Waiting For?

I plan to transfer ownership of my St. Albans WV Linkedin group to any group member who convinces me that he or she has a vision for St. Albans WV – both the city and the Linkedin group.

So far I’ve had no takers.

Let me tell you a little about why I started this group that I’m now trying to give it away.

When, after a 20-year absence, I returned to St. Albans I noticed that the average St. Albans resident is pretty disengaged. The average St. Albans resident doesn’t know what’s going on at City Hall, doesn’t know what The St. Albans Partnership is, doesn’t know The Partnership’s constituent members, doesn’t know what any of those member orgs do and doesn’t care.

I also noticed that the handful of engaged citizens who might like to actually know what’s going on in town don’t have a single, central place they can go to get information. The “official” city of St. Albans website isn’t managed very well and isn’t updated often enough.

The St. Albans Partnership which, ostensibly, sees itself as the org that will become that central source of information and citizen engagement but, frankly, I’ve been very disappointed in their efforts. They haven’t tweeted since January and they have only 12 followers.

One of St. Albans’ council members agrees with me that St. Albans needs a single source of info – a website – where citizens can go to stay informed but disagrees with me on why we don’t already have it. The city council member blames it on citizen apathy.

I blame it on poor leadership. I blame St. Albans’ citizens’ apathy on decades of learned disengagement. Our quasi- and para-government orgs don’t do what they said they were going to do. Our city council members and mayors haven’t replaced the do-nothing volunteers with new volunteers who might actually do things, might actually have vision and new ideas.

Our titular leaders haven’t reached out to the one demographic that actually has a stake in the future of the town: our young people.

If our titular – “legitimate” - leaders were serious about making St. Albans a city that attracts and retains young minds there would be some young minds on the do-nothing committees that have been preventing real progress and real change for decades.

I always intended to transfer ownership of the St. Albans WV Linkedin group to someone with a better chance of uniting and informing the town than me. I was hoping that the mayor and city council members and other would-be movers and shakers would join the St. Albans WV Linkedin group and use it to inform, challenge and inspire the town to see itself as something besides an aging, declining bedroom community of Charleston whose best days are behind it and whose primary industry these days seems to be the illegal and dangerous manufacture of methamphetamine.

By the way, why is it that all the neighbors of the meth houses seem to know where the meth house are but the police don’t seem to know? I’ve been asked that question a hundred times since returning to St. Albans.

In other words, I was hoping that some elected officials – people with what management theory books call “legitimate power” – would join the group and start St. Albans talking about its future in a new way.

That hasn’t happened.

I was also hoping that internet-savvy young people would join the group and use it to tell their elected leaders what St. Albans has to do to attract and retain the creative class – and a different class of entrepreneurs than the meth cookers. 

That hasn’t happened, either.

Right now, the only thing St. Albans is positioned to attract is more meth dealers and, perhaps, a mention on the hit AMC network TV show, Breaking Bad, a show about a high school science teacher who becomes a huge meth cooker.

So I’m going to transfer ownership of the St. Albans WV Linkedin group to someone who has a convincing plan to inform St. Albans.

I’m also going to take this opportunity to ask would-be leaders to read some things. I want them to read the Spaces For People blog.

I want them to read the books of Richard Florida and other books about the creative class and why some towns attract them and why others repel them. I want would-be leaders to read Seth Godin’s wonderful little book on leadership, Tribes.

I was just telling my conservative correspondent that I might print up some bumper stickers and buttons that say, “Are you the leader St. Albans is waiting for?”

Higginbotham At Large publishes dissenting opinions but
Higginbotham At Large will publish no comments from “anonymous”, from company names, from organization names or from aliases (like screen names and CB handles). If you want to comment here you must be accountable for what you write as I am accountable for what I write.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Only identified commentators will be published. No pseudonymous or anonymous comments will be published. "Handles" and "screen names" are pseudonyms. If you wish to comment, you need to identify yourself or your comment will not be published.