02ChangeMahatma Gandhi is credited with saying, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Eldridge Cleaver is known for a rougher version of the same idea: “There is no more neutrality in the world. You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem.”

There is no shortage of changes to make or problems to solve. Let’s look at the people and organizations being the change they want to see, the ones who are committed to being part of the solution — and there are many. Up & Coming Weekly readers recently recognized many of the people, business and organizations that foster positive change every single day in this community. Four hundred people came to the party to celebrate these change-makers with us.

The thing about change is that it sometimes happens slowly and is based on small acts like consistently amazing customer service, high-quality products and experiences and acts of kindness and generosity repeated day in and day out over a long period. This is often the story of our Best of Fayetteville winners.

Other times, change is swift and farreaching. Four years ago, Cross Creek Mall was 46,000 square feet smaller and sans Loft, White House/Black Market, Lane Bryant and Men’s Wearhouse — businesses we used to drive to Raleigh to frequent. Just three years ago, there was no Fresh Market, H&M, Jos. A. Bank, Vans, Lumber Liquidators, McAlister’s Deli, Mission BBQ, Freddy’s Frozen Custard or Steakburger in Fayetteville. Add local businesses like Rogue American, Pierro’s, Little Italy, Grapes & Hops, Scrub Oaks, Zorba’s, 316 Oyster Bar, Bit of Carolina, High Cotton Consignment, Carolina Pet Care and Ben Stout Construction, and the potential for employment- and economic growth-fueled change is impressive.

Projects like the baseball stadium and the Prince Charles Hotel renovation are bringing big changes, too: financial changes, quality-of-life changes, cultural changes.

The City of Fayetteville’s 2016 Parks & Rec Bond has projects in the works and coming to fruition that will bring change for many in the community: splash pads, skateboard parks, a tennis center, a senior center and more.

Cultural organizations like the newlynamed Cool Spring Downtown District, the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra, Cape Fear Studios, the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County, Cape Fear Regional Theatre, Gilbert Theater, Community Concerts, the Airborne & Special Operations Museum, the Dogwood Festival, Cape Fear Botanical Garden and the Fayetteville Marksmen hockey team, among many others, positively impact the community as well, bringing a different kind of change. Organizations like these are vital to improving the community’s quality of life and fostering a sense of well-being.

Nonprofit organizations like the Care Clinic, the Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County, Better Health, Guardian ad Litem, KidsPeace, Friends of the Cancer Center – Cape Fear Valley Health, the Dream Center and more improve lives every day in countless ways.

This is just a small sampling of the change-makers among us. We are moving forward. Is it fast enough and far enough? Maybe not. Is there still work to do? Oh, yes. Plenty. Are there still problems to solve? In spades. Big ones.

But if the Chinese proverb is true and a journey of a thousand miles really does begin with one step, we are well on our way.

At the time of this writing, there is no shortage of local candidates vying to serve their fellow citizens. Oct. 19, one-stop voting begins for the Municipal Election. Voting ends Nov. 7.

What we need now is good leadership to continue to push our community forward; to tackle the difficult and ugly obstacles we still face; to see projects and development opportunities through; to lead us in solving the tough problems within our community.

If ever there was a time to be heard and to be a part of the change this community needs, it is now. Participate. Show up. Vote.

Be the change you want to see right here, right where you live. Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

 

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