I keep hearing about the “Innovation Economy,” in Massachusetts, and I just keep smiling and sighing at the same time.  While I realize that the term means using technology in creative ways, and finding new technological approaches, when I look at the problems of the planet, I keep think we really DO need to be innovative – but for our natural survival, not our economy.

I know that the government hasn’t found a way to raise taxes off of the environment, but it certainly can save money by improving it. Along with developing video games, why don’t we give accolades to those people who are looking to use innovative approaches to living on the Earth?  There is a great song called “The Kindergarten Wall,” by John McCutcheon, that teaches children.

Of all you learn here remember this the best:
Don’t hurt each other and clean up your mess
Take a nap everyday, wash before you eat
Hold hands, stick together, look before you cross the street
And remember the seed in the little paper cup:
First the root goes down and then the plant grows up!”

I think we need to hang that on the Congressional walls, on offices throughout Wall Street, and on the backs of every judicial door in the country. Wouldn’t that be innovative? What would our economy look like if used the “innovation” of consideration, forethought and fairness instead of greed, ambition and cut-throat competition? 

As my hometown, and many others, struggle with how to preserve the beauty around us, the safety of our water, and the values of our rural lives, I can’t help but wonder where this poem was in the lives of the Big Energy executives.  Where was it in Mr. Cheney’s life?  Innovation doesn’t always mean “new.” It often means “unique, creative, unorthodox.”  I think in this world where money means success, innovation means new and money equals votes, we have had enough of that orthodoxy.  I would like to revisit the old “innovation,” of the village market, neighborly neighbors, and a recognitionthat resources are in short supply, and need to be valued as such. 

In the West, resource control brought about many battles between ranchers and sod-busters, cities and farms, even between states. Riparian rights were the cause of many a lawsuit, feud and struggle because they saw control of the water as a means to increase their bank account. Shouldn’t we have learned from that? But we still have a concentration of control in the hands of people who don’t live in the areas where they have control.  We have a system where money can influence election more than votes can. We have a governing party who wants to ignore science rather than admit they had used bad judgment, and just made bad decision.   So what’s the “innovation,” than can remedy that?

To my way of thinking it is a nation that is informed about natural resources, personal responsibility, and recognizes that people can co-exist, even if they have different approaches to the same issue.
North Country Sustainability Center’s Hearth is an “innovation center,” in that it builds on the strength of the community, on the “knowledge of the crowd,” and teaches the skills needed to survive, with and without digital technology.  This type of innovation is not a threat to traditional “innovation.”

We need both, and NCSC needs help to make our “innovation center,” a reality. We need to local interests and individuals together.  Take a look at www.northcountrysustain.org/LocalLinks.html and
help truly create an “Innovation Economy.”Image