Once Upon a time there was a castle.  For a long time it had been a very busy place, but it now sits empty with cars driving by and spiders moving in.  But the dreams of the castle lived on, renewed by
the times around it.

What if the castle was filled with people who wanted to make their community more pleasant?  What if they taught visitors about the power of the individual and of cooperation?  What if people could have meetings there about local issues, learn more about climate change or how to make their money stretch further?  What if it’s name really wanted to be “Castle Hope,” instead of “empty mill.?”

There is such a castle, or mill, with brick walls. It is not alone in its hopes. Like many of the people in the countryside it feels useless, defeated and frustrated.  It has much to offer, but it will take a lot of energy and money to bring its dreams to life.

That Castle Hope is a sustainability center, where people can start new businesses using shared kitchen, creamery and studio space.  It can hold the arts, and food, and animals, and the dreams of a whole region, if it’s allowed to. 

There are those who believe that such goals are too lofty.  The project is too big to be feasible, but my answer, and the Castle’s, is that it’s time for bold, lofty ideas.  Yes, there will be “trips” along the way, but a focus on one or two areas, such as the arts, or the kitchen/creamery, or 4H/dog shows, leaves it more susceptible to economic downturns. We need the diversity of programs, just as diversity makes our culture stronger. Sustainability is a great hope that we can once again discover we can share resources, build communities and lower our environmental impact and economic dependence.  By creating affordable opportunities, and keeping minds open in the planning stage, we “become recession resistant.”  People will always need to eat, and education and access gives them more tools to do that healthfully.  Communities need to learn to work together to make decisions with forethought, not short term, and agriculture teaches patience and rewards people with fresh food, lower stress and new friend and tools.

Castle Hope may be already identified, or may be it isn’t.  Either way, we’ll find it – a place where diverse interests with sustainability as the center of the “venn diagram,” can promote that goal through various ways, and the castle will overflow with hope for others.  It will become a destination for others to participate and learn, either in reality or virtually.

This “once upon a time,” is now.  The dreams of that building, and countless others who believe that there is a successful future, can come to fruition. We need to work together to lower our carbon footprint, assist people in learning wise decision-making, celebrate the joys in each other’s lives, and keep our communities and economies strong, despite changes in climate, energy use and regulations. 

Every castle needs people to protect it, rebuild it, maintain it. This old castle needs people to dare to dream with it.  Are you that “Possible Dreamer?”  If so, visit http://www.indiegogo.com/NCSCTools?a=521984 , give, and tell others about us and our castle. We’re building a toolkit to bring those dreams to life.  Which instrument of hope are you?