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Sustainability has become the “buzzword” for the modern world.  Googling it brings up quite the range of uses – “campus sustainability,”  “economic sustainability,” and the usual one “how biological systems endure and remain diverse and productive” (Wikipedia). But it is important to remember “What we need to keep living here,”  – fresh air, clean water, high quality food, exercise, community and expendable income.

While the income thing is more local to each individual, the sources of clean air, clean water, and high quality food are often found in rural areas.

These areas are now being utilized as dumping zones for toxins, routes for pipeline and high tension electrical wires and other areas of pollution, adding to the concept of “away,” as in thrown away, flushed away, etc.
But these regions are the place, particularly in the mountainous and hilly terrains where the snow falls, allowing a more gentle run off than a flash flood.  It is our trees, plants and open space that allows them to enjoy fresh air, brisk hikes and relaxation time away from urban stresses. It also our small farms that they treasure for having the freshest, local food.  But if these lands are disrupted by dangerous toxins, then they will suffer in their everyday life as well as we do.

Those of us in the country, while we are outnumbered by the city dwellers, still pay taxes, still maintain these natural filter systems, and we still need to retain our voice through votes.  It is assumed by the media that we are all “red states,” that will vote against the government, against the environment, and for a conservative agenda.  But environmental conservationists include not only environmental activists, and sustainable farmers, but also hunters, fishermen, gun owners, and those who have chosen to run away from society.  We also include many people with summer homes, and others who value the gifts of the land that we provide.  This group of voters needs to be revived – so that we can SUSTAIN our planet, as well as ourselves.

The ways that we come at sustainability vary, but our ultimate goals are the same. We want to be able to put safe food on our family’s tables, drink clean water and enjoy the bounty and the serenity of the natural world. Our work in rural America benefits the entire country.  The more people who are reminded of their connection to the natural world, the more sustainable our world will be.  They need to recognize that the convenience and affordability they seek now will affect their health and affordability in the future.

I propose that we remind people that we are a major part of a sustainable future.  We need to get active as citizens again, and makes sure that we maintain some say in the choices for the future. Whether it’s hydro-fracking, decisions regarding raw milk safety, or the development of our rural regions, the choices are not being made with the wisdom of those who live in these areas.  If we are going to have sustainability in the future, we need to protect the natural and human resources of these regions, encourage their safety and strengthen the level of interaction between urban and rural residents.

At the top of this blog is a picture of a pin that NCSC has created. It started as a fundraiser to carry our “Local Links,” but it can do that as well as serve as a “badge” for sustainability.  Whether you are a person who strives for sustainability, one who is actually living in the rural areas, or someone who benefits from the items that are made available through agriculture and sustainable living, this badge can show others how much you care.  Let’s form a visible movement of those who want to protect our community, our environment and our families for the long run, not just find a short term solution to delay looking at a foreseeable problem.

These buttons are available for $1.00 a piece, and $.50 for shipping and handling for each shipment.  The funds will be used for setting up our sustainability center for Central New England, a place where people can learn and share sustainability skills, build community and use our tools to serve the most people. Want to specifically support a particular area of interest? Look at the colors we have available and donate a dollar for each one you support. We’ll send you a link to put on your pin, or you can use it another way, but let us see how you display it.

Red:   Local Food
Green: Local Farms
Light Blue: Arts
Multi Colored: Autism 
Argyle: Veterans

Yellow:  Pets
Purple: 4H
Maroon: Citizenship
Black: Skills
Gold: Community
Midnight Blue: Planet

Like a military officer displays his/her awards, let us show our support for the planet, and each other, through this Sustainability Pin, and the Links that accompany it.  It will visibly remind people that the source of a healthy future is healthy food, water, air and space to enjoy.

To learn more about NCSC’s “Local Link” please visit www.northcountrysustain.org/LocalLinks.html.  Send any payment to NCSC, PO Box 914, AShburnham, MA 01430, or to Hearth@northcountrysustain.org.  This is really important to regain our position in future decision-making.

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