It’s so exciting to see what’s happening at NCSC. In just five months we’ve gone from a well intentioned board of directors with no home base, to a growing center for sustainability.  We’re a LONG way from done, but it’s easy to get caught up in the work ahead and not notice the work being done directly in front of us.

By leasing the old elementary school, six artisans who were selling at occasional craft fairs, and online, have now got a “storefront,” of their own, in our old gymnasium.  That eight has grown to eleven. 
Citizens who used to hunt to find a unique gift can now find it, made locally, right in their own home region.

While there is a growing interest in sustainability, finding the community to share it has been left to happenstance and the web.  Now we have had a class with 12 participants learning about goatkeeping and that is turning into a statewide cooperative to facilitate goat raising in New England.  While this is a small population, with divergent interests, the members are finding common ground and discussing ways to help each other and save money while growing their own family milk supply or their farm based business.

Having a “Center” has allowed us to bring various consumers and producers together so that farmers have a year round market; consumers can change their meal planning because they can find local food year round, and a local business is ramping up its auxilliary business by meeting the needs of these hungry buyers.

Before renting this building, those who wanted to learn to sew had to travel 25 minutes to a major chain store for lessons, or try to learn from the Internet. Meanwhile we had women like A. who was willing to teach people, but no one could find her. She came to NCSC, started teaching one on one classes, and now we’ve  G coming on to teach her classes, too.  Three students have been introduced to sewing, one even making her own Easter outfit, because the space, the tools and the teacher were all available. 
G not only has offered to teach classes, she’s donated an industrial sewing machine to our organization so that people can work on more difficult fabrics, and move product much more professionally and quickly than a home machine can do.

But still waiting in the wings are J. who’s got a long list of people who want to buy her nearly allergen free goat milk ice cream, but she can’t afford the space or the proper machines to be certified by the government to make a saleable product.  We’ve got mothers like J2 who’s looking for alternative foods and activities for her autistic children, and is isolated by her own circumstances dealing with her challenges with little support. 

There are still hundreds of 4H kids watching their fairs disappear, struggling to find leaders and teachers, so that they can be tomorrow’s sustainable farmers.  We have states making laws based upon “dangerous dogs,” when a real problem is the lack of public education about the reality of dogs and animals.  Animals are individuals and while people used to learn how to be around a strange dog, now everyone assumes that all dogs are either sweet or dangerous.  Having a place where people can affordably train their dogs, and others can learn how to “read” dog behavior and learn to understand animal behavior, would help alleviate many trips to the hospital, the animal shelter or worse.

Last week and earlier this week I was so excited to talk with people who are building a new sustainable economy, with many different approaches. It is thrilling to have people from all over the region, even the nation, following what we’re doing.  It’s not growing fast enough for my taste, but it’s growing.

We’re just starting to “harvest” the goods of the NCSC.  Our artists have a new gallery to exhibit their works, and a controlling interest in how the gallery operates. Our farmers have expanded markets and opportunities as we plan “Sustainable School Picnic” day and a “Local Taco Festival.”  People often follow their stomachs, so we’ll invite them to see what we’re doing by enticing their tastebuds.   Now we just need to get the other buildings, pay our staff and reach out to the rest of the region that North Country Sustainability Center has a great deal to offer in building a stronger future for Central New England.

Please help us build the next harvest by supporting NCSC through Indiegogo  or ChipIn. Join us if you’re local, or just really excited.  We’re only getting started,  so watch what else grows in our “sustainable garden,” known as NCSC.