I’m been mulling over a problem with clarifying our mission statement for people. I’ve long struggled with how to explain it, but it came to a focus when we were denied a grant because we were “agricultural,” not cultural.  This has caused me to really ponder how to get people to see that there is a “culture” associated with growing things.  It’s one of tradition, hard work, celebration, community and practicality. 

I spoke with my son the scholar about this issue this morning. When people study archaeology and anthropology, they are seeking to learn about a culture of a society. That culture is identified through the items that were used, maintained and how populations adapted their environments to make their lives possible.  Though the fine arts celebrate the individual talents of people, there is a beauty to how people learned to live with the land they had access to, how they created beauty and life out of the raw materials that were there, the ways they celebrated and taught those skills to subsequent generations.  My son explained that when thinks of agriculture, he thinks of science, and he grew up on a farm. I told him that in my opinion many of the advances that farmers have seen over the centuries are based upon oral tradition, basic observation, happy accidents and later were explained by scientific examination. Farming is a combination of art and science, but the ways we appreciate that practice is through food, celebration, song, dance and sharing.  Given the challenges we face as a people in the future, we need to nurture both the soil and science, and the people and practices that define agri-culture.

In looking at a home for The NCSC Hearth, we’ve been looking at factories and large facilities, but I’m thinking that we need to change that to look at something more natural for us – a homestead.  A place where people can celebrate, learn, share and teach each other how to make life  more pleasant for us and for our planet.  This is truly a cultural center, not for one population, or another. But for everyone who wants to learn how to take care of their families, stretch a dollar, better their lives or find others who share those goals.  We still need to raise funds, but perhaps with this “cultural thing” defined, we’ll have better luck. If it makes sense to you, please tell a friend, and send a donation to North Country Sustainability Center, Inc. and help celebrate the culture of a planet-conscious community.