The way Heidi Sawyer sees it, if both sides are mad at you, you must be doing something right. 

Sawyer is the founder of Lewiston Rocks, a social media group that just keeps growing. The group has nearly 700 members at present and they take on everything from local political movements to matters of more global importance.

It’s not always pretty. Where politics are discussed, tempers tend to flare and for Heidi, it’s an up-close view of the ugly side of human nature. It’s all good, though. While both liberals and conservatives get riled from time to time, she moderates her way through the ruckus and the end result is typically a coherent discussion of the issues that effect us all.

What is Lewiston Rocks? Lewiston Rocks is a Facebook group for people across Lewiston to come together, meet their neighbors, build relationships (with neighbors and candidates for local office) all while discussing issues impacting our city. Naturally you might ask, why with so many other platforms out there was a new one needed? For me, the answer is simple . . . a commitment to kindness.

I know that sounds trite and over-the-top idealistic, but to me it is important. I am raising a son and I want him to be able to live in a community filled with people of diverse backgrounds working together. I want him to see that people can talk politics without resorting to tired old name calling, personal attacks and baiting comments.

What started as a platform for people to really connect and learn about local candidates has morphed into a platform where they could be informed about a variety of things happening in our city.

What motivated you to create the group? Well, it was kind of an epiphany. I realized that I actually had friends (at least people I interacted with regularly on Facebook) that were either serving in office or running for office. I thought if I, an average Jane voter, a relatively no one special, could build relationships with so many cool and diverse people, then anyone could. I also have a diverse group of friends across all spectrum’s and I have always valued their thoughts and opinions, but most of them are silent because they were so worried about being publicly attacked, called names or made to look like a fool publicly if someone disagreed. I wanted to build a space where they could have adult conversation without dealing with juvenile behavior.

What’s the funnest part about the group? Hands down meeting so many interesting people. Hearing from people that they have never felt so informed about what is happening in our community. Hearing that they were excited to vote because they felt like they had all angles of an issue to form an educated opinion.

What’s the toughest part? Honestly, the toughest part has been trying to make the judgment call between unproductive, mean-spirited comments and antagonistic behavior and just people explaining their perception and trying to describe and explain why they have such strong feelings on a subject. Sometimes I get it wrong. The first few months was awful. It was in the heat of a real contentious election and emotions were high. I made some tough and unpopular calls — was criticized for censorship, was told repeatedly that I showed favoritism to liberals and repeatedly told I showed favoritism to the conservatives. Only thing that gave me any peace was knowing if they were both mad at me I must be being fair and that, ultimately, people who you don’t typically hear from in social blogs were participating in conversation.

What do you do when you’re not rocking the Facebook group? I am the market engagement manager for a statewide company. I am a mom and a wife, I am an amateur photographer and a bit of a social butterfly.

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