A few years ago, while working with our local Agricultural Commission, the idea of starting a sustainability center came up; a place where people could make saleable goods without having to pay for all the needed inspections and tests that go along with rural living and urban rule making.  When the group asked me where I would put it I said “In a dream world, I would put it in that old riding stable, but we can’t afford that.”
It turns out that the riding stable was in foreclosure, and the price was more reasonable than we thought, but still out of our range.  But as we looked at it we discovered more things that made it “meant to happen.”  It was on town water and sewer, so no need for  septic and well tests.  It was situated ideally for solar power, with long sloping roofs to the south.  It sits adjacent to the old mill pond that could be rebuilt for micro-hydro, and because it was a pre-existing use we weren’t inhibited by Conservation Commission regulations.  We checked out for endangered species with the US Fish and Wildlife and the State of MA Fish and Game Dept, and there were none.  We looked at flood plains, no problem.  Surely there must be a problem.
Well, there was the case of the price, but it was dropped from $450,000 to $425,000, which made it more appealing to competitors. We had to keep looking for a way.  We were told over and over that the soils were contaminated, so we looked into it, and sure enough there were two sets of soil tests done in the past 10 years, and they passed both with mild restrictions we could work around.
The buildings are in disrepair, and there is a problem with an access bridge, but the bridge is sound, only the railings are rickety.  A building inspection was in order, so we found an inspector who was well respected ; and the result was, there are some issues, primarily the roof on the antique building, but the the frame and the bricks are in remarkable shape.  Utilities need upgrading and there is a STRONG need for landscaping and aesthetic work, but the space would work for what we’re proposing. If we could afford it.
We’ve been working to raise the funds for nearly two years. We discovered that there is an emergency grant that would match up to $100,000, if we could raise it. And if we could get the credit union down to $200,000in asking price. We took on a lease for an empty school building, to have a temporary space to prove ourselves out, and though some people are happy there, the true needs of the kitchen and sustainability programs cannot happen there. As relationships were starting to fray with the town and the staff, we got word yesterday that the price has now been dropped again. This is the fourth time, at least since the price was dropped, and it is now down to below $200,000!  This is destined to happen.
So why should you care?  Because our project is really a national model.   It’s about people identifying a need, finding a solution, working to educate about that problem, and addressing it from within our region.  There is no corporate godfather. The government can help, but we have to show that we can do this.  Our business plan indicates that we can, with people from all over the region using, and learning from us. Buy serving a diverse group of interests, from cooks to artists, dog trainers to families with autism, consumers to producers, old to young, we can do it, and help a lot of people at the same time!
We want to show people that it is possible.  We can create a sustainable local economy, healthier community and enhance our environment and quality of life, with just people power.  Please, visit see how you “Fit In,” at our Indiegogo campaign, www.indiegogo.com/NCSCJigsaw. There are links to our website, Youtube videos, and other information about us.  We are 501(c)(3), so donations are tax deductible. We’re not asking for a large amount from people. We’re asking for small amounts from a lot of people.  Please check it out, spread the word, and help us make this project come to reality. Its fated to be. Who can argue with that?  Thanks