Tomorrow is full of excitement and fear. While there are many things we cannot control, there are things that we can prepare for. The more knowledge we have for that preparation, the better.
We know that the climate will be warmer, but does that mean more or less water? The answer is very dependent upon where you live. But we do know that there will be a shortage of fresh water, due in part to population changes, and also because of water quality issues. Having approaches that allow the capture of rain water, reuse of grey water, and the preservation of the water we have are just some of the simple steps that we can take to make the future more tolerable.
Teachers tell us that the upcoming caretakers of our towns, today’s children, have issues with distraction, and autism. Finding ways to teach these children the roles that they will need to hold for the future needs to be paramount in preparing for our nation’s tomorrows.
While these children face unique challenges, we also have a larger set of struggles. Since the end of World War II more and more children are cut off from their food supply, their environment and their civic responsibilities. In our efforts to teach them literature, history and politics, in addition to science and mathematics, the critical topics of civics, empathy and cooperation have been lost to the idea that people’s immediate gratification is more important finding ways to build community, care for those who need our help, and delegating the responsibility of civil service to other people. Without young people stepping up to learn how to run our communities we leave ourselves open to losing the freedoms that we have come to value.
Much of this information was taught by grandparents and elders in our communities, but we have separated families and age groups so thoroughly that is difficult for this vital information to be shared that way. I grew up in a wonderful neighborhood where children were free to play in each other’s yards and the neighbors watched out for each other. Now, in many parts of our country, people so mistrust strangers that they no longer build those bonds.
If our country is to survive and flourish, we have to re-establish some of these practices. This country did not reach its current status in the world by keeping its wealth to itself, or by isolating one region from another. While it is wise to value what we have, that includes caring for it, and not putting it aside for the latest “upgrade.” Learning to make thing for ourselves, repair what we have, “make do,” with things that we already possess may create some hardships for those who are in the habit of making cheap replacements, but in the long run the nation will be stronger as people seek to make better items, so that their products are those that are chosen.
This is a great cultural shift, but one that we can prepare for now. The work that is being done at North Country Sustainability Center is a step in that direction. Allowing different interests to share facilities, and creating conferences between these user groups allows people to learn how their choices affect someone else. This doesn’t take a university degree, or a governmental intervention, except possibly to help launch it. We are simply restarting the idea of a self-sustaining village, and connecting with similar efforts within our region.
The exact ways that all this fit together is part of the adventure of the future, but I strongly believe that by working together, we can overcome those challenges with a new set of tools. What those are, we haven’t found yet, but NCSC is going to help us develop them.

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