When I look at how best NCSC can serve the community, I start to get tugged into several different directions. While I have my favorite aspects of the work at NCSC, I try to remember that it is the “whole” that will make it work. The trick is to get other people to see that interdependence.
                Each person has their passions, and that usually is what becomes the focus of their energies. We, as a country, need that dedication, and so does NCSC.  Though each passion is worthy of that “stick-to-it-iveness,” many of them are not able to stand on their own over the long run.  If a direction doesn’t have a funding source, or someone to attend to is maintenance, it can only continue to be successful as long as people are generous enough, and able to continue to support that effort.
                At present NCSC has an Art Gallery and a Craft Store, a few classes and a bit of a Farmer’s Porch, but the people who will make that work, those who not only staff the desk, but also do the marketing, promotion and networking, need to come from within that population. That is what our guilds are meant to do.  Right now we are reaching the point where the same people have been holding things together through the winter, but spring and summer bring new markets, new opportunities to promote, new needs and new challenges. Those people who have been working so hard on “the status quo,” cannot meet these necessary new challenges AND also hold the line on the existing status. 
                If NCSC is to grow into the national model that we all want it to be, we need to each of us participate in the “little aspects,” that we are passionate about, so that those who need to do “the big picture work,” are free to do that.  This is not a complaint, but a statement of reality.  NCSC has the potential to assist in the creation of a regional food hub, a regional dog sports hub, a sustainability hub, an arts center and a local hub for economic growth through all of these projects.  But if that is going to happen our staff has to be able to see each aspect of the project interweave with other aspects. It is very difficult to promote a program that rests totally on the shoulder of a handful of people.
                When NCSC was created, and promoted, it was on the basis that people of like interests and shared dedications would work to further their area of interests. Having a very diverse set of interests allows us a very broad base of financial support, workforce and inspiration. If one area of interest wanes a bit, the entire organization doesn’t collapse because we have that strong base of operation.  But if the Guilds don’t have participation, and leadership, the premise falls apart. 
                We could focus on the arts alone, but where would the local food come from?  We can have local food, but what do we do during the non-growing season? We can celebrate history and crafts, but how does that build our local healthy food supply, or our long term economy? The interplay of these issues, and others, will build a strong diversified economy for the future.
                I grew up in Michigan where the focus was, and is, on the auto industry.  When that collapsed, so did the economy.   I saw what happened in a “one horse town.” It is the way our nation grew when we moved from an agricultural to an industrial base.  But as in any biological ecosystem, economies are strongest when they are integrated, and they interweave.  In the words of the “three sister’s gardens“ of the Native Americans:  Corn provides shelter and support for the squash and the beans. Beans build the soils with their nitrogen-fixing abilities and squash provides the shelter to the roots to keep moisture available for all the plants. Each plant can grow independently, but they take up less space, provide more product and are healthier if they are put together in a space to grow together.
                NCSC is like that “three sisters garden.”  By combining the arts, food, crafts, dogs, and economy together in one space we grow a healthier economy for our entire region.  Each group can work independently, but they will use more energy, more travel time, more money and more effort, if they do so.  We are all more sustainable if we all work together.  But we all need to do that work for those areas that we love. NCSC can grow our “sustainability garden,” if we are to succeed.  It’s not a case of either “big” or “little.” Each aspect is important if the whole project is going to work, and we become the model that will bring others to Central New England to see how it works.

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