Shane Takes Over

Growing Future is going away as is NCSC. However, you can keep up with the conversation and join in at this blog with Shane Surewould.


Lab for the Future

Help me in being a lab rat! Not the kind that gets stabbed with injections, but the kind that demonstrates that experimental animals are smarter than they expected to be.  With the recent release of a very ominous United Nations Environmental Report and the even more recent Republican wins in the national elections, we need to educate people that Environment vs. Economy doesn’t work.  In fact It’s more of a case of (Environment + Economy) X Change = Life. 

Many people are trying dedicated single approaches to problems. There are organizations dedicated to toxic pollution abatement; others are dedicated to child abuse.  But what if an approach using farms, education and community together were to be developed?  One that could be replicated in areas around the country? What would that look like? We have a plan to do just that. We have a “holiday,” called Change Day, which is about putting pennies and people together to create a better future. Officially July 4, 2015 is the next Change Day, but we can’t wait until then to do something. We need to start now.

So join us in building the “Laboratory for the Future,” the NCSC Hearth. Some things will work, some won’t; that’s the nature of experiments.  But there will be a place where people can come to learn about dedicated resources and integrated ones.  A place where people can share their differences to create a shared future. It’s not rocket science. It’s not “Political.”  It’s grass roots, important and needed.

If you can join us on Monday, November 17, at 6:30 p.m. at the Stevens Memorial Library in Ashburnham, MA, please do. Regardless of whether you can attend or not, please “Like” us on Facebook at North Country Sustainability Center, or on Twitter at Revivor. While we are working on a regional scale to create our “hearth,” it’s an experiment of national importance. Be a part of it!  Thank you.

Food, Flush and Fair

Do you know what “flush” means in carpentry?

It’s not the same thing as in plumbing, that’s for sure. It means that two surfaces are in line; that a board placed against those boards would be perpendicular, not slanted.  It is important in construction that corners actually be flush, plumb and square.  Don’t know what those terms mean either? You’re not alone.  That’s part of NCSC’s Hearth wants to do, help people become familiar with these terms and how to use them.

BTW, plumb means perpendicular to the ground and square means all angles are 90 degrees. This is vital to the strength of any construction. Geometry in action. See the value of this type of instruction?  Please support  us at http://www. so that we can get our Hearth built, square and plumb!

A Good Hearth – A New Launch


While we try to inspire people to be able more earth-minded, we need to continue to find a place to call home. Not just for us, but because people in general need to know that there is  a place where the future is being planned for. A future where people participate in a community, through being informed, sharing information, celebrating successes and lifting spirits of those who could use the help. Sound like utopia? It’s not because nothing ever is. But in this time of cynicism, a feeling of helplessness, a sense of loneliness, we need to build lightposts that illuminate a saner way to live.

Please, support us in anyway you can, through a dollar, or a referral, or a share.  Please don’t limit your support to just a “like” or little fire will never be more than a cinder. We recognize that the % isn’t going to care about us. We’re just little folks in a bunch of small towns.  But there are more little people in small towns than there are 1%’ers.  Our plans can be duplicated all over the country, but we’ve got a head start for a change.  Please help spread the positivity, send what you can, tell others about “The Hearth,” and let’s set a spread that will feed the hopes of everyone!

Introducing Earth-mindedness

Green, sustainable, ecosystem, organic; ever notice how every term that is used to describe a philosophy of living with an environmental awareness, gets co-opted toward economic success? We can’t afford that any more. We also can’t afford to get bogged down in complaining and screaming that things need to change. We have to have focus our energies in the positive direction of actually making those changes, not waiting for others to do that for us.

Just using words doesn’t make something more environmental, but it’s a start. Those terms, ie. Green, sustainable, organic, have strayed from their original intention of “being beneficial to the planet,” and are now used as marketing tools to increase profits for people, not the Earth.

So what do we do? We need to focus our choices on a wider set of “profits.” Not just what we can put in our wallets, but we need to focus on what we put into our air, our water, and how we live together with other humans and other members of our planetary kindred. So I would like to propose a new term – “Earth- mindedness.”

Earth-mindedness recognizes that we are a part of a greater population – the Earth-kindred. We can no longer continue to think ourselves as apart from our biological neighbor. Just as a good neighborhood with a rock band has to find appropriate times for raucous rehearsals and times for quiet ballads, we need to make way for all members of the kindred to survive.  Humans affect the whole environment, and we need to remember that our actions will disrupt the lives of plants and animals, and their reaction is not always predictable.

I don’t believe, as a Christian, that God created all these delightful derivations on life so that we, as humans, could exploit and destroy them. To me they are just as much my family as my second cousins or ancient ancestors. I know many of my current Earthkin neighbors better than I know members of my own extended human family.

To launch this concept off, I’m dedicating my blog “Earthling Almanac,” to the expression of Earthkin, the Spirit of the Earth from all ages. Feel free to expound on the idea of Earth mindedness here. We also want to demonstrate Earth-mindedness through our NCSC Hearth, and any help there would be tremendous. We want to do more than tell others what to do. We want to help them do it, and develop more Earth-minded humans. Together we can all contribute to Making the Changes, not just demanding them.

An English Shepherd Approach to Sustainability

Of all the breeds of dogs in the world, I have become attached to a fairly rare one – the English Shepherd.  These were dogs that came over with the immigrants to help with herding, guarding, babysitting, hunting, pest control and to be that companion that a person could lean on when they’re tired.  But their jobs were farmed out to Border Collies, Spaniels, Retrievers, Poodles, Terriers and other “specialist” breeds.  I love that all these traits are bound up in one creature, and I’ve had the distinct pleasure of being owned by three of them. Another one is probably come down the pike next year.  But for that to happen, I’ve got to find the right direction.

“What am I supposed to be doing?” has been rampaging through my head for the last year or two.  Almost 5 years ago I, along with a few others, started a non-profit to help people become more sustainable in our rural area of Massachusetts. We had the perfect site in mind, for sale, and people were pretty excited, but we weren’t able to raise enough money to make it work.  So we tried again, and again and again.  Nearly five years later we still don’t have a home, we have debts to pay off, but I still have the call to help people become more sustainable. And there’s still no money

My family and I farm on ten acres, with one of us working off farm to make ends meet, barely.  But now hay and grain prices are rising.   A main component in one of my soap recipes has been altered so that I won’t use it anymore, so I have to figure out how to survive with higher costs, while still trying to keep things affordable for my neighbors and customers. My farm is now faced with a natural gas pipeline coming underground, destroying my well, my forest neighbors, and continuing the stupidity of relying on fossil fuels.  So now I have to educate people about the difference between paid propaganda and true information, and empower people to stop this pipeline. Building self-reliance, not disaster preparation, is a much better way to prepare for the future, instead of continuing the sense of fear, selfishness and anger that pervades so many souls these days.

  I’ve been on the planet a little over a half a century and I’ve seen more that distresses me in the last five years than I’ve seen in all my previous life.  When people ask me what sustainability is, answer “Whatever it takes to keep living here.”  Why? Because it takes more than fresh air, food, water and money.  It takes community, a working government, a populace that remembers to use their heart as well as their brain when dealing with other people.  They also have to reminded of the values that can’t be found in their wallet.

If a person listens to the news these days they are missing some crucial information.  Rather than focus on the problems associated with planetary abuse, you’ll hear about air flights that might be disrupted because of a volcano in Iceland.  Instead of discussing blasts, fires and contamination from natural gas, oil and tar sands transport, we hear how we need “clean energy,” and commercials for more conventional furnaces.  Hundreds of wells around the nation are contaminated by fracking water, and we hear from the press about NIMBY-ism and energy needs.  The horrors in Ferguson were attributed to racism alone, when it’s as much as class as it is about race.  Answers aren’t always simple, but neither are the American people.  They will “get it,” if they are presented with whole story.

Our media tells us the economy is getting better, but that’s with more and more people working multiple jobs, and the money being earned going to the bosses, not the workers.  Who’s economy is getting better? Not mine. Probably not yours.  So what am I supposed to do?

I have thought about giving up on the sustainability center many times. It would make life easier for myself, my family and the board members. But it won’t make the problems go away.  Can I stand to see people buying inferior food for higher prices, because they don’t know where the fresh food is?  I actually heard a commentator on a major television show state that a processed product was more affordable than fresh lemon. Really? Have we gotten so far away from reality that we’ll pay $1.79 for a bottle of lemon juice rather than 50 cents for a lemon because squeeze for squeeze it’s cheaper!?  That juice can’t make lemon zest, be used to wipe down a greasy surface, or feed the soil in the compost.

My neighbors need  a place to learn about the real costs of their decisions. They need a location to find fresh food and the farmers who raise it.  They need a place to learn how to mend and create new clothes, find used ones, and maybe start a new income stream with their creativity.  We, as a body politic, have to learn how to listen to each other again, how to work together, and what we can expect from our government.  Many of these lessons in “sustainability” have gotten lost in translation. 

There are so many things that we, as Americans, have forgotten, ignored, or never learned, over the last few decades.  We need places like our Sustainability Hearth, where people can find the information they need.  They have in the Internet, true, but it isn’t three dimensional. It has little sense of humor, and it doesn’t build connections between people like a real human to human exchange.

There are few places like I’ve just described in our nation.  There are some who teach job skills; some who teach farming; some who teach sewing, but not in the holistic context  that we’re attempting to do.   But we can’t do it by ourselves. 

It’s been very hard to keep up any sense of optimism amidst the rancor, ISIS, racial conflicts, and climate change.  But when I think about what I should be doing I keep thinking I need to make this Hearth happen.  I will always want to help people make informed choices. People will always need this information, so it just makes sense to keep working on this project.

Since much of what we want to do takes away reliance on corporations, we can’t rely on those donations.  Grantors want a more specific ‘mission’ than “sustainability,” or they want it narrowed down to agriculture, economics or environmental activism.  But it’s just that specialization that got us into trouble.  We need to look at integrating many different aspects of life if we’re going to help rebuild the abilities, and the situation for America.  Please give to the NCSC Hearth, any amount will do, and spread the word about our project.  You’ll need one too, someday, and with your help, we’ll be there to help your neighborhood start theirs.