Can we change our society for the future by making conventional choices?  I don’t think so.  It’s sort of like living life on a railroad track. When I was a kid I used to love to drive the Model T’s at the carnival; the ones that were literally on a track. I could turn the steering wheel, but I could not derail it. It gave me a sense of control, but not really as I was not truly in control.

As we face a future where our government is controlled by money, where corporations have votes but are not required to have a heart, and where people have relieved themselves of the responsibility for voting, or making significant changes, how do we change that by following the same path?  I don’t think we can.  But the changes can’t be so far out that they seem to “scold” people, or so counter culture that they just get discounted as ideas of those people.  Progress to a sustainable life can’t be foreign, or even forced through legislation.  To make lasting change people have to understand the consequences of their actions, and be rewarded for making those changes in tangible ways, more than just a sense of satisfaction.

In my mind, and I don’t think I’m alone, the successful, sustainable future is one based upon shared community, mutual assistance between neighbors, and a connection that surpasses money.  The media shows us this in science fiction (dystopian) images.  Why is that night around a campfire is fun on a camping trip, but it’s so onerous on a family night at home?  Somehow we have decided that living in isolation, with a well trimmed lawn, traveling alone with electronic voices, and eating food handled by strangers is somehow more preferable to a family based experience, with conversation, shared work and wonderful food, with or without the manicured lawn.

If we are going to shift our way of life away from being so carbon based, electronic based energy focused, we need to develop a positive alternative.  Why is that people are so busy they can’t get involved in their community, but they have time to go the gym to work out? Why can’t shared work improving our community, which is more productive and less expensive, be a better way to develop a healthy society.  Our common practice of “acquiring stuff,” is not good for our planet, our pocket books, or our society. It is healthier for our economy, but so much of the money rising to the top of the economy is staying there, and not weaving back into the community.

Our project at North Country Sustainability Center is a different way of looking at the future.  Many people are having trouble understanding it, because it is new, and progressive. It’s odd though, because in the way that it’s progressive are based on “old fashioned concepts,” shared facilities, community shared knowledge, connection between food and consumer and building its “economy,” based upon the special skills and needs of our projected users.  Teachers gain friends and funds by teaching what they know. Students learn new skills, new friends, and new options for their time and trouble.  The business plan works, not because NCSC will get rich, but because our users will have richer lives, and together we’ll keep the operation working.

Is this too idealistic? I hope not, and I don’t think so.  I believe it is the way humans built successful civilizations, before we got overexposed to “coveting thy neighbor’s everything.”  No one at NCSC is trying to stop anyone from making money, in fact, we want people to.  But we also want people to understand that sharing that wealth, and their wisdom, makes everyone around them, more pleasant to live among.

We need help from others who share the point of view that taking a step back gives a better perspective on moving forward.  Nothing says that progress needs to always been forward.  Sometimes stepping around an object is necessary to get on a more progressive path. That’s what we’re trying to do with NCSC.  We’re taking a step back, looking at what got us here to our blessings and to our problems, and see what we can nurture to make a better future.

To this end we are asking others who share this believe to wear their belief on their sleeves, backpacks, or whatever you  think is appropriate.  Visit and find out what areas we’re focusing on.  We’ve ordered some pins with our “Sustainability Knot,”  on it to hold these links.  Find those who share our concerns, and those who share your particular issues.  Send us $1.00 per link, $1.50 if you want a pin, and where we should send it.  Let’s truly show this movement for all the world to see, and connect those with like minded  concerns, and  unite that passion for a more sustainable future.