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Old Tools, New Vision. Where Is the Fit?

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Building a new economy using conventional tools is not very useful. See what we're running into, and learn what we're doing.

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How do we build a new future if we only use past patterns? When our ancestors came to a new land they brought with them the knowledge of how to grow food, prepare it, store it, and a sense of the seasons. If they didn't know how to do it themselves, they soon found someone to hire that could. There was a drawing in old almanacs depicting the "Farmer Goode," vs. "Farmer Lazy." The difference was that Farmer Goode made things to last and Farmer Lazy fixed things for the moment. It is that latter approach of fix it and forget it, that has gotten our culture into trouble.

If a cataclysm happened that left you cut off from your supermarket, an apparel store, and the Internet, what would you do? How long would you last? What would be your first inclination? To grow something? steal something? feel sorry for yourself? or hunt for a solution? Having the basic information of how to do things, where food comes from, how to prepare it, how to find it, you at least have three options in that list. Yes, you could steal something, but then our society falls into complete disarray. Is that a sustainable future? Do you want to be a part of a "Mad Max" culture? I don't.

In order to make a lasting future for tomorrow we have to remember the lessons from the past, but apply them with a modern twist. We have technology that allows people to place orders, but someone still has to make or grow that item. The product has to be produced safely, transported safely and made available easily, or the technology doesn't work. We can place orders all we want, but if there's no one to bring that product from the source to the destination, all of it is useless.

Current business plans seek a bottom line based upon a single line of development. New companies start with one product line, gain a foot hold, grow and then diversify. But what if the "bottom line," is not a single bottom line, but multiple ones? What if the goal is not to make a huge profit, but to use available resources as wisely and widely as possible? How does that work?

That s what we're struggling with. Rather than look at how we can build our non-profit's bottom line to its fullest, we've developed a plan that looks at the available resources and seeks to provide income to a variety of people/businesses, who in turn provide income for NCSC. It's not all that different than settling a village center. We are developing a "center" that will make these skills, and more, available to those who seek it. Some of our teachers are senior citizens who learned these skills from their parents. Others are young people who want to build a community. And still others are farmers, artists and specialists who have knowledge to share, but need a facility to teach, or create from. By working together we not only strengthen our community, but we also protect the non-profit from collapse in one area, that may be saturated, or undiscovered. By building diversity of interests and skills into the business plan, we make things stronger moving forward.

Technology will allow us to help others develop similar projects in their communities. By starting with one facility, we build a base for expansion in developing a backbone of sustainability for all of Central New England and a model for other parts of the country. But looking for sponsorship we keep running into the conventional mindset, "Growing One Business," instead of a more sustainable model "Growing a Community, Together."

We have made an offer on the buildings, but not been treated with enough respect to be taken seriously. They haven't even taken the time to talk with us. There must be somewhere out in the "Internet world," that can see the vision, and give us a base to start. We have a line on a funding source, but need to come up with a down payment. We can still make an offer on the buildings, but we need to move quickly. Please pass this on to everyone you know. Help us build that "new model" that combines tradition with innovation. We won't be able to thank you enough, but we'll sure try.
Want to know more about what we're talking about? Visit www.northcountrysustain.org and see for yourself.

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www.hamesaxle.com

I am a farmer, farm educator, wife and mom, raising goats and ag awareness in Massachusetts. Reconnecting people with the Earth has been a way of life for me since I can remember, but food didn't come to the fore, until college at Michigan State (more...)
 
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