NYTimes opinion writer David Brooks in today’s column advises Americans at large to think about creativity vs competitiveness in our economic life—and wonders out loud if the standard call to compete at all costs may not be the most productive course of action. Read his thoughts here, and get the NYT if you want more.
His analysis could apply to what happened collectively in Lowell in the 1970s. Residents, spurred on by persuasive leaders backed up by activists on the ground, moved towards a new paradigm for community development. Rather than spending all their efforts and energy on luring new employers to set up shop in the city, Lowellians began to reframe the value of the city’s intrinsic worth as an important American place whose architecture and heritage were special. This was done so effectively that Lowell became a model for preservation-driven revitalization among smaller cities. In effect, Lowell created its own niche in the way Brooks praises. Lowell people dared to be different, and it has pretty much worked for 30-plus years as a distinguishing asset.