When David Mallet wrote “The Garden Song,” I doubt he thought it was meant to describe growing a
business incubator, but it does. Growing the North Country Sustainability Center is much like building a new garden.  You have to dig the rocks out and build the bed, cultivate the interest, plant the seeds of dreams, water regularly with encouragement and recognition and watch the blooms of smiles and pride start to come across the faces.

That’s a great simple vision to have in mind, but it’s hard to build a garden on hardpan dirt. Our “soil” has been tamped down by defeat for decades.  Like the mustard seeds in the parable, a seed landing here has hard work. Not from competition, but from penetrating negativity and the egos that want to be “the person” to make the change.  People want some else to make the change happen, and that’s not going to happen.  Others want to make a name for themselves with such a project, and while notoriety is nice, the success comes from the success of the community, not one sector in particular.

This project works much like an ecosystem. In nature there are “primary succession plants,” that start to bring life to barren to ground, building the soil for later plants. Over a long period of time the plants shift from grasses to shrubs, from fast growing pines to steady, slow growing oaks. That is how NCSC will work. The artists can benefit from our space, because their work is done off site.  Our teachers are the seniors and others who have honed their skills independently, and now want to share that knowledge with others, making a few dollars along the way.  Eventually the big hall will be filled with yapping dogs, baaing goats, or children running unfettered, away from traffic.  Our kitchen and our creamery will be full of farmers and bakers rolling out product to food hubs, markets, coops and more.  It was never intended to happen all at once, but unit by unit.

That’s what we’re doing now. Growing from our first steps into the next phase, which will make the greatest impact.  If the economy were “the old economy” we could seek a benefactor who might write a big check with their name on a building. But we’re not in that economy anymore, and just as the strength of NCSC is in the individuals building a community, we hope that the buildings and programs will be bought and developed with the small donations of a large number of people.  We don’t expect large amounts from people, but giving us the money from one day’s coffee purchases can help us a lot. If we each give a dollar or two and ask our friends to do the same thing, we will, together, have built a symbol of hope in a sad time.

In turn, we want to share what we’ve learned, through advice, example and other ways. But before we can do that, we need to get NCSC up and running most of the way.  We’ll never be “done,” but we have a plan for sustainability that is not based upon constant donations, but by individual businesses providing funding through their rent, sales, and advertising of our concept.

If you can spare a dollar or two, please donate to “Ingredients for a New Economy” at Indiegogo.com. We’ll find a way to make sure that everyone is recognized for their donation. What about a wildflower garden with a seed for each donor?  Will you help us plant that flower bed? Seed by seed equals brick by brick. Thanks.