People waited for the tellers to come to town. It was their break from their every day hard work of survival. Each family worked at their homelands, from a cubby hole in a cornerstone to a parcel with land and growing space.  Each family was filled with talents, but if the talented ones tried to turn a profit, easing the stress of meeting daily needs, they met “The Regs.” These were created by governing Brats. They lived and worked in the Forums, concentrated city spaces where museums, shops, eating places and people lived in the towers of compartments, each having all their needs met within a walking distance.    Museums filled with music, images, sculptures and performances appeal to those in their walking space, but the admins had long given up on keeping the exhibits fresh.  Finding new content was nearly impossible because there were no new discoveries to be made.  The outlayers had new ideas and dreams but they had no means to make those dreams evolve to reality. In order to find the tools to bring that creativity to life they needed to move to a Forum. To succeed both the artists and the museums had to follow the wishes of the proven supporters. Artists weren’t alone with “the Regs.” The same was true for those seeking to create food, clothing, technology or other saleable product. Practical skills could be used at home, but to bring that skill to the level of being insured, licensed, marketed or even to receive any sort of financial compensation, even barter, they needed to meet “the Regs,” which they could not afford. In the Forums this meant that people felt secure and educated, and simultaneously  were placated  by what the Brats had made accessible.  If Forum dwellers wanted to bring things in to their homes, they needed to purchase them from approved makers, usually marketed as “made locally.”  This added to their sense of superiority, and kept the voices of the outlayers  at bay.

Outlayers  gathered around to hear the tellers, where they could share their concerns, discover news from beyond the “outlets,”  and further their dreams of a better life.  Information constantly streamed  through their infosets, but it all was geared toward Forums and nearlayer  spaces. There was little about life in the rural areas, or the struggles and successes in the less organized regions.  If dreams were going to grow, it relied upon these “Teller Dreams,” built on a single idea – “The Answer.”  The Answer would make it possible for strugglers to make their lives easier. “If only,” there was a kitchen, a studio, a stage, a shop, a way to meet “the regs,” and not lose their independence.  The Answer was a dream where people worked on their plans, but cooperated to make it possible for many people to share one space, and the products that they produced could be marketable, saleable, even transported to the Forums.  “If only” became the mantra for a better life, and “The Answer” was the ladder for those goals.

This may sound like a scenario from a science fiction, but it’s not.  It’s not a different world than we already have.  Looking at the problems of the world as something that faces other people may raise awareness, but putting the world in the context of reality is much more motivational.  We do have two populations in the US, and they are not the “have and have nots,” that we hear about. That is a wholly different problem. It’s not the 1% vs. 99% or even the employed vs. the employed or the races.  It is the franchised and disenfranchised. Not just in the vote, but in those who make the rulings, who make the possibilities, and how dreams grow.

The government, or Brats (bureaucrats), are so concerned with keeping our economy growing, and staying in control, that they forget that things stagnate. Cultures need to grow and it’s not always the new idea that is worth supporting. Sometimes it’s that time tested practice, skill, knowledge or talent that meets that wall of rules and regulations.  Urban areas benefit from “enterprise zones,” but between those urban areas are scores of talented, inspired and uncultivated individuals who need that “if only” Answer.

In North Central MA we are creating that Answer.  We call it the NCSC Hearth, for North Country Sustainability Center’s Hearth, a place for safety, community, fresh food,  knowledge, talent, creativity and possibility.  It’s not on a island, or a planet far away, and it cannot stand alone.  It will stand near the three corners of NH/MA and VT, challenging us to deal with interstate commerce, the problem that has created so many problems for small food producers around the country.

 But human nature is also is divided into those who dream and act, and those who dream and wait.  We understand that it’s safer to travel proven ground, but there are many of us who believe that The Answer is this shared workspace where community is at the heart, and cooperation, creativity and facilities are the tools to our region’s problems.

If you are of the bolder ilk of human, join us in our work through financial support, attending our classes, offering ones of your own. If you are more of the “proven means” type of person, help us take those risks so you can reproduce this Answer in your own area.  Find out more at or follow us on this blog, or at Facebook at North Country Sustainability Center.  This is an area that as long been disenfranchised, but not without power. The internet helps us build that power structure so that we can help others, as well as ourselves.  Please be one of the Tellers who spread the word and the hope, but also share the work of building the road of answers in creating NCSC’s Hearth.  Cities need the rural areas. Society needs creativity. People need hope. The Hearth and its sister entities can build a much brighter future for us all. But we all need to work together to make that possible.  How will you?