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A new chapter for Rowan County

Salisbury-Rowan — book lovers’ paradise?

Salisbury has long been home to countless book clubs and a thriving library. With three colleges and a theological seminary in town, that’s not too surprising.

Lately, though, books and the ideas they convey have come to mean even more to the community as leaders turn their focus to building a better future for Rowan County. Exploring what has happened in other areas or what possibilities lie ahead for Rowan County, they come across books that confirm their own instincts and share exciting ideas. 

It started with Greg Edds, the new chairman of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners. Edds’ playbook comes at least in part from “Grassroots Leaders For a New Economy,” what some call a seminal work on how civic entrepreneurs can prepare their communities for the future.

More recently, Dr. Lynn Moody has been recommending “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success: How We Can Learn to Fulfill Our Potential,” which encourages readers to adopt a growth mindset and to stretch their abilities. Forget “can’t” and think “not yet.” As the superintendent of Rowan-Salisbury Schools, Moody sees a lot of value in that concept.

And then there’s the camaraderie of just enjoying good books and fascinating authors together.

March is bringing a bibliophile’s bonanza in that regard: John Hart’s appearance March 19 at the Brady Author’s Symposium at Catawba, and 15 authors at the Rowan Reading Rendezvous on March 21 at Rowan Public Library.

Even if you don’t have time to read these books, hearing people talk about them could stimulate new ideas and insights.

The “new” economy described in the book Edds embraces is not the post-recession economy. In fact, it was published before the recession, in 1997. Instead, the book talks about a global economy in which strong local leadership has all but disappeared. The book’s authors, Douglas Henton, John Melville and Kimberly Walesh, show how other communities have dealt with the shift, with civic entrepreneurs leading the charge.

Perhaps you see yourself in some of these civic entrepreneur attributes:

• See opportunity in the new economy.

• Have an entrepreneurial personality.

• Provide collaborative leadership to connect the economy and the community.

• Are motivated by broad, enlightened, long-term interests.

• Work in teams, playing complementary roles.

Edds has assembled several teams to focus on different areas of the county’s economy, and he has exhibited a collaborative style so far. We’ll see if Rowan County can become a textbook case of growing from the grassroots up.

The book that’s on Moody’s mind may dovetail with “Grassroots Leaders.” In both cases, the authors are urging people to recognize potential and be persistent.

The author of “Mindset,” Dr. Carol S. Dweck, says your potential is not determined only by talent and abilities, but also by your mindset. As Moody summarizes it in an email, “A fixed mindset is always about judgment and validation. A growth mindset is always about human potential, growth development, and passion.”

Dweck says everyone is born with an intense drive to learn, but it doesn’t always last. “As soon as children become able to evaluate themselves, some of them become afraid of challenges. They become afraid of not being smart,” she writes. She found great wisdom in these words from a seventh-grader: “I think intelligence is something you have to work for … it isn’t just given to you.”

Community improvement can also come about by reading for enjoyment — modeling this behavior for children while widening your own horizons. If you also get to meet the people who write the books, that’s the icing on the cake.

Hart, who grew up in Salisbury and now lives in Virginia, gave up his day job as a lawyer to write dark, thrilling tales like “The King of Lies,” set in Salisbury. He’s had three New York Times bestsellers and won an impressive array of awards. During his March 19 visit here, it will be interesting to hear what he’s working on now and find out if the protagonist of “Iron House” has a new adventure.

If, like many of us, you missed the inaugural Rowan Reading Rendezvous last year, you regretted missing an opportunity to hobnob with authors and talk about books. It was a hit.

So more people should be taking advantage of the RRR, as some call it, the second time around on March 21.

The Friends of the Rowan Public Library puts on this event as a fundraiser, but it’s really a community service. More than a dozen authors will be available to chat with throughout the day. Several also are giving talks; the first starts at 10:30 a.m. and the last at 3 p.m.

The authors include Salisbury’s own Jennifer Hubbard, Bob Inman of long-ago WBTV news fame, Jason Mott who is back for a second visit and many more.

Admission is free. Don’t worry if you haven’t read the authors’ work; they’ll be selling and autographing books at the event. (That’s where the fundraising comes in.)

Here’s hoping the Rowan Reading Rendezvous grows in numbers and visibility each year. It’s a grassroots movement with a growth mindset — perfect for the new Rowan County.

Elizabeth Cook is editor of the Salisbury Post.

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