Developing North Country Sustainability Center has been quite an adventure.  Something that seems so common sense and exciting to me is met by so many bland looks and “That’s nice,” comments.  Those who “get” the vision see only  the large amounts of money we need and see that it is insurmountable.  But really, in the grand scheme of the problems today, our $500,000 or so that we need is a drop in the bucket.  In the government’s way of thinking, it’s “chump change.”

                It’s not change to me, in the way of coinage.  It is change in terms of how we see our future.
Imagine families that need healthy food, but don’t have a kitchen, learning how to find and prepare that food.  It might be in a “Community Cooking Night,” where meals are made ahead of time and frozen, or dried, or it might mean finding a source of affordable food that’s close to home that wasn’t legal without an approved community food preparation center.   What if there were neighborhood cooking classes, taught by seniors who learned how to cook when they were young, but have no local family to pass that on to?

                With all the talk about the cost of “prom” now, what if we taught people to sew their own clothes? grow their own corsage? recycle a gown from someone else and still make it fresh and personalized for the new user?  Same with men’s clothes.  How many people know how to polish shoes anymore? How many pairs could be brought back to life with simple maintenance?

                It is these simple ideas that give people a sense of personal power.  Being the person to share the information, teach a skill, gives other people a sense of contribution and worth.  Maybe they even earn a few dollars.  Helping children learn to grow their own food, make their own meals, build their own furniture, and teach them the value of community will give a sense of power to future generations. Who knows what the future holds? 

                These are just some of the issues that we are addressing at North Country Sustainability Center, if we can just get these buildings in our control and start the kitchen development.  Giving five or ten dollars helps us pay the bills on our current facility while we develop the plans for the kitchen, creamery, stage, gardens ….    Every little bit allows us to meet our current needs and put more energy toward the whole vision.  That power of giving makes it possible for us to continue our work, as no one in the administration of this project has yet gotten a single dollar in payment.  Those who are teaching classes are getting paid, if they want it, but they are also starting the “power sharing,” now.  For our farmers, bakers, crafters and artists, our store makes it possible for them to earn a little money, and for our town, our payments alleviate the expense of keeping the building open. 

                Donations, large and small, are sharing the power of generosity AND giving power to those who attend the classes, are building their businesses, and showing others that communities can rebuild themselves by valuing the skills and wisdom of their citizens. That’s a lot of Power, in a lot of different ways.  Our region is a large one, stretching from New Hampshire to Rhode Island, Greater Boston to the Pioneer Valley.  Our plan is also a model for the nation, so that’s a lot of people served. If anyone who can spare a dollar or two would send it to us, we could give this project a “kick,” and move it forward in a BIG way.

                For many people Power means electricity, fuel and energy.  NCSC is working toward that kind of power too.  While our air quality diminishes and our children struggle with breathing issues, the work that we’ll do with alternative energy, planting gardens, and hopefully rebuilding a useful water power plant, we also show others that they can improve their energy and health situation by looking at local power and solutions, and not waiting for “The Utilities,” to solve the problem. They are getting paid already.  NCSC is about making sure we all get “paid” in the future, with energy, personal power and a stronger community and economy.  Will you help us by “Giving Power,” to make this project grow?