Being able to take care of a family should be an entitlement – not necessarily having the government do it for us.  People need to have access to the skills, the tools, and the right to earn a chance to make a living. That doesn’t mean sitting back and waiting on your laurels.  It means making sure that people have the information available to them to be able to find food, grow food, make or fix clothes, obtain a residence and maintain it, and that is missing.

In the wave of “cost cutting,” and “encouraging business,” past government choices have created a nation of dependent citizens.  They are not dependent on the government, but on external money sources.  Commercials taught people that it was “cool” to save time with a microwave, so we could have more quality time having “fun.”  But if the electricity goes out, or the microwave dies, what do you do?

We’ve been convinced that we need to “shop for the season,” rather make wise choices that will last. Our clothes are made overseas, for the most part, and they are made of such poor quality fabric and workmanship that they are easy to throw away when they rip.  But if a person makes their own clothes, they know how to make them last, how to repair them, and they are more careful with those clothes because they are invested in their creation.

As a part of growing our culture, school systems have cut home economics and shop classes, relegating those skills to those who enter a vocational school, and they used that money to increase sports offerings.  Somehow in the wave of “gender equality,” we went from “girls and boys only,” to “bachelor kitchen and powder puff shop,” to “no one gets to so we can have three soccer teams.”  I am all for sports and health, but they shouldn’t be at the cost of basic skills that provide ways to feed, clothe and maintain the homes of our families.  That shouldn’t ever have been “gender specific,” but they shouldn’t have disappeared either.

When politicians talk about the percentage of people who aren’t taking care of themselves, they need to look at why that is so?   I don’t think it’s because they are lazy, as some assert.  I think it is because they don’t know how to do it.

North Country Sustainability Center, and other programs like it, can create that truly “sustainable society.” Not just financially, but in terms of learning self-reliance, respect, listening, and understanding our world and community works.  Having cooking classes, woodworking classes, sewing classes, not only gives people the tools to build a better life for themselves, but in our case, it also empowers senior citizens and those who work from home, to be able to use those skills to create more income for their families AND make community connections stronger.

We have already seen people gravitate to locally raised food, gifts made by neighbors, or by the giver, and the desire of people to learn the skills that allow them to take care of their families.  We will also see healthier communities, families and eventually the economy, if people make their choices with wisdom, information and experience, rather than relying on a commercial or looking at the bottom line alone.

We have the sewing machines, the kitchenware, the teachers, but we are losing our work space.  We have others looking to donate woodworking equipment, but we need the place to set it up.  We have found the site, but we need to purchase it. If all those people who want to learn, or want to teach, would donate $25 we would be well on our way.

People ask how the dogs fit into our program.  The easiest answer is “the human animal bond,” which is true. But it’s also true that people will exercise more if their dogs can come along.  It’s true that blood pressure lowers and cholesterol drops, if exercise happens and stress is relieved. It’s also true that people will pay for that chance to learn from a trainer, or show off their beloved pet, why not let that payment help people eat? grow? or support the arts?

Sustainability is a win/win situation for everyone. NCSC is the same way. Helping us make  it happen builds the possibilities for other groups to grow their programs. Yes, we are in the country, and we are in “liberal Massachusetts,”  but we are like other rural and small city areas throughout the nation, and if it’s good for our people, it’s probably good for others too.

Spread the word about this blog, about www.northcountrysustain.org, about our videos on YouTube at the hamesfarmer channel. We are a group of 75 people so far. We are making progress, but the “business plan,” relies on those buildings. Help us show those who doubt that people want to learn, to do things for themselves, and they Americans do care about our country.  Thank you very much.

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