for our project is like a Do-It-Yourself Project.  Yesterday I got a chance to go over a past proposal for developing an existing structure into a Senior Center.  It reminded me very much of other professional  “planners” ideas, I’ve seen. It really brought into focus for me what the real change of thinking we are asking, and helped me understand how to explain it.

When you hire an architect to design a project that you will contract out, you are presented with the finished plan that the architected dreamed up, based upon his aesthetics and your wish list. The more dramatic the vision, the more he can charge, and people agree, or not. Usually each owner makes some changes so that they feel they have made a contribution, but the price is usually pretty grand. That makes the architect happy, the engineers and contractors happy, and the client sits back and waits for a finished project.

But in a do-it-yourself (DIY)  project, the owner assesses their needs, looks at their abilities, designs the solution and gets to work. Ideally that project takes a little bit of time, not forever, and perhaps some contractors are brought in to do the electrical or plumbing work.  The cost is lower. The project is completed, and the problem is resolved and the price is lower. Personally I believe the sense of satisfaction is even greater than that of a “contracted project.”

This fundraiser and this project might have gone smoother if we’d hired an advertising team, or a professional fundraiser to do slick presentations.  You’d be seeing a pretty girl or a ruggedly handsome man discussing the project, instead of a middle aged woman with a laptop.  It would have been glitzy and appealing, but it would have taken money away from the real reason for the project – to raise money for a regional sustainability hub.

Instead this fundraiser has been done by a “DIY’er,” using whatever technology and skills at hand. The message is out and the cost has been minimal. The success of it depends upon those who see it. But that idea continues, rather than spend a lot of money on demolitions and restructuring our goal is to address the needs, we will work with what we have. That’s a lot, but by doing so we can bring the opportunities to people as soon as possible.

North Country Sustainability Center is a DIY project for a region, empowering its users to do it themselves. It’s not a new idea; it’s an old one.  But the sense of accomplishment that will happen will build the level of satisfaction and involvement in area residents and we show that “We Can Do It.” That will mean hiring some contractors, and giving them a showcase for their work, but it will mean people working together to give each other a  “leg up.” We all benefit from the work, whether it’s access to fresh food, increased customer traffic or a greater quality of life. But it’s now up to you to “Do It Yourself.”

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