Give Yourself a Gift, and Your Neighbor!

Hard to believe with the summer just coming on, but if you are like me, it’s time to starting making Christmas presents.  Why not give yourself a gift, and your neighbor, and someone who doesn’t even know you yet – The NCSC Hearth, a place to learn more about caring for the planet, our families and our community.   We are working to create a place for people to teach and learn simple skills from cooking to carpentry, sewing clothes to sowing seeds.  We need a place for our rural residents to connect with each other in their shared interests, from 4H to environmental education, storytelling to board games. In the past there wasn’t a need for such an organized place. Friends and family, along with Cooperative Extension, taught these skills and made these opportunities happen. But that’s not the case now, just at the time more  people are recognizing what they don’t know, but there’s no easy to way to find others to learn with. Sometimes a computer just doesn’t do the trick!   

We have just 9 days before Change Day! So how much change have you collected?  What is Change Day anyway?  It’s the beginning of a new movement to motivate and empower individuals to celebrate their communities.  Our first event is July 5, 2014 in Ashburnham, MA. Starting at 10:00 a.m. we’ll be collecting whatever change people bring to us, to be used to create the NCSC Hearth, and pay our past debts. We encourage people to bring their own puppet, or they can make a sock puppet on site, and join our Inaugural Puppet Parade.

 We can control our fates. We make our own decisions and those choices are supposed to guide our elected officials.  The Change Day Puppet Parade is our way of showing that message.  I hope that people will pick up the Change Day Movement in their neighborhoods and raise money and connect communities to make their neighborhoods better.  To help grow the NCSC Hearth into a place where people can gather to learn, NCSC is asking $10 for use of the Change Day logo if the event will support an individual, $25 to support an organization. 

I know that this is late notice for 2014, but next year Change Day is on July 4th!  What a great way to celebrate the founders of our country who were creating significant Change in their lives.  Start growing the Change Day movement in your town by obtaining a license now.  We’ll post your events on our website,   

If this country is going to grow strong and proud across the country, we need to revitalize the small businesses, close communities and self-reliance of our individuals.  That’s what Change Day is all about. Please join the Cause and let’s Make Change for a stronger future, and a stronger planet.

Help your community by joining the Change Day Movement and help our community by making it possible to set up the Hearth. That way my neighbors can make their own gifts in time for the Holidays, and we can all give each the gifts from connections and community. Thank you.

Changes Need to Come, Help them Along!


This was on Change Day, but it applies here too! Let’s take our Change and Make a Change in our Community.

Originally posted on Change Day:

The news is full of “economic rebound,” for big business and the stock exchange.  Inflation is “not of concern” to the Federal Reserve because it only looks at how it effects the business economy. But businesses don’t buy groceries for their families.  They don’t have to put clothes on their children’s backs.   If life gets too tough for them, and they can’t make ends meet, they can declare bankruptcy, have their debts forgiven, or pay pennies on the dollar, or maybe they’ll come out with their company being swallowed up, and they get a pay day.  Does that happen for families? 

At the same time we have corporations fracking under farmland, destroying water supplies, and raking in the dollars while families suffer with the after effects.  Other companies have environmental spills, leave the property or settle for a small sum, and then leave, with the pollution left behind.  Our elected…

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Amplify Your Actions

We need to clean up the planet, if we’re going to survive as a species.  Most would agree with that. Which part do we start with?  Should we address the oceans? Yup, that will do it. The rest of the planet will wait while we clean up the Gyre, decrease the water temperature, adjust the pH, restock the fisheries, and rebuild the coral reefs.

What? It won’t work.  You mean that we can’t just dump ice in the ocean without affecting the salination level? The coral reefs will grow back as soon as we raise the pH, right?  Maybe we’d better work on another issue all together. Perhaps the oceans are too big to tackle right now.  Let’s focus on the poles.

The less of the polar ice caps is something we can surely address.  What would happen if we just stretched a bunch of plastic over the existing glaciers and bergs, and put  some big refrigeration units in the water?  Can we simulate the reflective white surface by floating Styrofoam? The polar bears can just float on those, can’t they?

It’s important that each of the aspects of our environment, our community and our nation have people pay attention to them, but we need to change the ways we live on the planet. I’m not judging anyone. I’m just saying…..  If we shop for our food from our neighborhood farms, guess what impact we can have:  we cut down on carbon input by minimizing how much we drive.  We promote carbon sequestration by paying the farmer to turn his carbon/methane contributions into soil and plant production. Supporting sustainable/organic farmers gives a lesson to the giant agri-businesses that people understand the way farms should be run.  Economically, for every $10 you spend at a local farmer’s market, an average of $7.80 stays in the local economy (American Farmland Trust, 2014.) Farmland also saves tax dollars as there is much less needed to utilize that land, as compared to having a house or business on that space.

The simple act of preserving your own food allows you choices in what type of food you eat, what additives you allow into your diet. It also lowers the overall impact on the planet by cutting down on the amount of water, transportation costs, the availability of food year round, if you are willing to learn to do this yourself.

It is important that we learn more about all the problems that our planet and our culture, faces.  But it’s much less overwhelming if you learn in the context of how you can make the situation better.  If you know you are not alone in that effort, it’s much easier to learn more, as that knowledge is combined with fun. Self-reliance gives people choices that they don’t currently have. From my experience the more people learn about how they can make things better, the more they try to do so.

These skills, from canning to sewing, debating to darning, building a shed to burying a root cellar, were once common knowledge.  People worked more in their day, but at the same time they “worked out.” Our ancestors would probably laugh at us for the amount of time we spend at gyms, at salons, or on the road, just trying to be relaxed and healthy.

But the places that allow this to happen are hard to find. Thankfully there is a growing number of community farms and gardens, but places that teach practical skills, civil discourse, citizen engagement, have mainly disappeared.  If a young person wants to dedicate their lives to culinary arts, fashion or politics, they have schools and studios to study from.  But for the everyday citizen who wants to be comfortable and involved in a wide variety of self-reliance and community skills, they are on their own.

That is what we’re trying to do; to provide that “go to” place for people to come learn, and to teach and share their knowledge. Our neighbors want a place to learn more about current issues, to see documentaries and discuss important topics. We as a culture need a place where people feel safe to disagree, because they  will be respected, even if the conversation comes from two opposite ends of the issue.

But for nearly 5 years we’ve struggled to make this happen. Repeatedly we’ve been told to “narrow our focus,” but like with the environment, which aspect of “living here,” do you concentrate on? How do you nurture integration of learning and action, if you don’t integrate in the education?  Please join us making this new/old approach come to life.  Give a few dollars, if you can. Spread the word and ask your friends to give.  If you are someone who watched your grand parents or parents “put things up for the winter,” build what needed to be built, make what needed to be made, you know how important it is to have that option.  Visit and see what giving form works best for you.

We are also kicking off “¢hange Day,” a national movement to engage people in their communities to make the necessary changes to have a more sustainable future. For us it’s a collection of change from the participants, and a Puppet Parade, to illustrate that we are not someone else’s puppets; we can control our own lives.  Host a Change Day event in  your area. Give to the project in your area. If you’ll send $10 for an individual or $25 for an organization, we’ll send you a copy of the logo and list your activity on our website  This year is a dress rehearsal because next year it falls on July 4, 2015.  Change Day is the first Saturday of July, so this year it’s July 5, 2014. Why? Because it was with skills like the ones we encourage that built this country. We need to take the sense of a United group to turn our country back to the level of sustainability that it once enjoyed.  Please spread the word and help us build the “¢hange Movement,”  and the NCSC Hearth.  Thank you.

Things have gotta Change!

Are you like me? When you hear about ice sheets melting, elections being manipulated, pipelines leaking their way through water and precious resources, you decide “I’ve got to make things better?”  Or do you say “Someone has to do something about this?”  I think we’ve been patient long enough, and people seem to have gotten more apathetic and less involved in making things better.

“But I don’t have the money.” “If only I could win the lottery?”  These are the responses I hear all the time, along with the famous “That’s a great idea, let me know when you’re ready for me to use it.” Guess what? we’re not ready, because it’s not going to work for one person to do something for everyone else. We need to work together  to make things better. If we leave things to politicians, they’ll keep listening to the people who pay for their votes, because after all, no one votes anyway.  Why should China or India stop burning coal if we don’t?  If we have healthier air, cleaner water, and lower health bills, isn’t that an incentive for them to follow?  After all, parents are parents all over the world.  Who would willingly give up the health of their child so that they could own a fancy car?  But if we turned up to vote, expressed our informed concern, worked together to make things more equal, what would the country look like?

Things have got to change.  That’s why we’re creating ¢hange Day, so that everyone who can cash in a recycled bottle, or pick up a penny on the street, can participate in creating a better world.  Our Change Day will happen this year on July 5, 2014 at a small part of the Ashburnham State Forest. But you can have a Change Day in your area, too.  We’re having a Puppet Parade, a story walk, and a Change Board, so people can express in writing what they want to see changed.  We’re also going to collect all the coins, or change, that people give us, to go toward paying off our past bills and setting up the NCSC Hearth, a Skills Hub that can help people find the resources they need to improve their own lives.

If you want to join the Change Day movement, please send us $10 if you’re an individual or $25 if you’re working with an organization.  We’ll send you a copy of our copyrighted logo for your use, and we’ll list your activities on our blog,  If you want to help us create the Hearth Skills Hub, we’d love that too, but ¢hange Day is about a better world, not just a better North Central New England Region.    You can send your Paypal payments to or to NCSC, PO Box 914, Ashburnham, MA 01430. Your donations are tax-deductible, and we can send you a receipt if you’d like.  This is just the Kick Off event. Next year ¢hange Day falls on July 4, 2015.  What will your world look like by then? Have voice – ¢hange it for the better!

What is a Skills Hub?  You may be familiar with  Food Hubs, but a Skills Hub is more than just food. It will provide a place for people to find fresh food, connect with the farmers, AND learn how to prepare it. The Skills Hub will provide education in environmental, food and community issues, so people can find the information, as well as the tools, to make informed decisions and craft a better community.  Sewing materials, machines, woodworking, agricultural tools and knowledge will all be available, taught by the citizens in our community who have the skills to teach.  Making a better future requires an integrated approach, and that’s what we’re trying to do at the NCSC Hearth. Are you like me and want to make this happen, or are you someone who things Change is someone’s job?  I think I know the answer.  Please help.  

Personal Power Day!

Imagine you had in your power the ability to help any non-profit organization, or kind person you know, all at one time.   What do you do with all your coins and change?  Do you spend it, put in a jar, lose it in your couch, or just ignore it? What if all the “99%ers” pooled their change to give to a good cause that each person believed in?

What if there was a Day of Change, say the 1st Saturday of every July, when that change could be collected and given to those people who are actively trying to make your life, your neighbor’s life, the stray dog down the road’s life, better?  Wow! There is such a day!

Change Day is July 5, 2014 this year. Next year it falls on Independence Day!  What a great celebration fo the independent spirit of our ancestors by pooling our individual funds to improve each other’s lots in life.  But how is it possible to give to more than one organization at one time?!  That takes a little cooperation, just like any government structure requires.

Change Day 2014 was created by North Country Sustainability Center, Inc. a 501(c)(3) organization to raise money for their NCSC Hearth.  A license to participate in Change Day 2014 as a national movement is only $10 for an individual, $25 for an organization.  That money will go toward our operating expenses and purchasing and renovating the building for our Hearth Sustainability Center.  The owner of that license can then collect funds for their non-profit, or their personal efforts, or the efforts that they want to support in their own community.  NCSC will hold a coin collection on July 5, 2014, asking our neighbors to bring their coins and contributions to a central location, where we will count them, and put that money toward our goal – helping North Central Massachusetts preserve and protect the farms, food, communities and traditions that built this region.  We will also hold a Puppet Parade for people of all ages to come and illustrate how we can control our future by working together, and create a better world for everyone.

Every licensee will be mentioned on our Change Day Blog,, and if they want, we will send them a copy of this year’s logo to show that they part of this movement. The New England Grassroots Environmental Fund has generously provided us with the funding to make these signs available.  Each licensee’s listing will indicate who will benefit from their collections, with contact information so people can “Network for Change,” more efficiently.  If they want their activity to be listed, they just have to tell us.

So join the Change Day Movement Now!  There’s less than 50 days to see how far we can get this year, and then we’ll be firmer footing for Change Day 2015!  Consider this an impromptu dress rehearsal.  Are you game to make the Change! Collect the Change and join the Movement!

For more information about Change Day 2014, please contact NCSC at or call them at 978-827-1305.

Adaptation Day!

ImageWith the President’s comments on the White House Climate Report suddenly there is a plethora of doomsday and panic.  How is this reality any different than the reality we had last week?  That the White House finally recognized it? President Obama said he believed in Global Warming during his first election. However, he hasn’t done a whole lot to stop it.  He hasn’t declined the Keystone XL Pipeline. He has encouraged the growth of natural gas in our land, and our water. Who’s gaining from the new stance?  I’m waiting to see.

I got a notice this morning from someone involved with sustainability with a dire warning; “Adaptation is here. Time to take care of your family.”  That’s true, but when was it not time to take care of family?  We have been dealing with adaptation for more than a decade. It’s too late to turn the world’s temperature back in our lifetime.  We need to focus on turning it around as soon as possible, and part of that is to minimize our impact every day.  Adaptation is the watch word now, but it’s not just “live in our current situation.”  It is also “adapt to not making it worse.” 

Humans are masters of adaptation. We make clothes. We build houses. We use fire.  But we haven’t done with the rest of the planet in mind, for the most part.  If our “adaptation” is to be worthwhile, we need to help adapt to living within our world, not just our cities or homes.  We need to change our way of how we live in our environmental communities, not just in our human ones. That is what we’re trying to do with North Country Sustainability Center’s Hearth.   We are trying to minimize how much energy we use to make food available, to increase self-reliance rather than increase importation.  We need to adapt to living with our “local means,” and share them when possible.

That is a big order – to change we look at how we impact our neighbors from birds, to humans, water to air.  It was a part of survival when we started this country because the work of obtaining those resources was hard.  Now it can be easier, but it is no less important. We need to make inconvenient to waste,and celebrate the innovations that make life easier and more local.

We have to Adapt, and we can’t afford to wait for accidental evolution. We have to choose to Change. Please support us in ¢hange Day 2014, and support the resources near you.  Ask them to support the movement by purchasing a license for our Logo, and together we can Adapt to the new  reality!  Thanks.

Join the Change Day Movement!

Please visit our Change Day blog and see your invitation. Thank you.

I’ve been trying to work on a local level for years. I’ll keep doing it, but I thought it would be better if people who share my concerns, passion, and have greater ideas than I do could all work together to make things better. No competition. No politics. Just cooperation, collaboration, and combined energies.  While non-profits keep looking to the 1% to decide which is the worthier idea, more and more energies get lost.  Instead of looking only to the 1%, with their generous hearts, but limited funds, what would happen if we looked toward the 99%?   

Though the original event will be in Central Massachusetts, it can be conducted simultaneously throughout the nation, Individuals can support the ideas that they believe in the most.  That’s democracy.  Hopefully this cooperation can lead to a general reviving of civic action, community spirit and together we can protect our planet by working as regions. 


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