In trying to explain what we are doing here at North Country Sustainability Center I have struggled for the right words. It’s not living history. It’s not agricultural education. It’s not just cultural awareness. Then I found the term “reskilling,” being used in the Transition movement. While I am of two minds about this term, it seems to be well accepted elsewhere, so I give in.
What is “reskilling?” It’s learning the information, and skills, that were once commonplace in our towns and farms around the nation, until after World War II. These are part of what we call “sustainability,” because they are truly “what we need to live here,” but they are only part of it.
For the last few generations people have become very dependent upon hiring others to assist with their home maintenance, landscaping, food growing, clothing and purchasing “short cuts” for cleaning. These were either actual people who would clean the house, or chemical products with “anti-biotic” properties. What does that mean? Quite literally – “against life.” While we may think that is limited to bad germs, it is not, and renders our environment hostile to a great many forms of life, including our own.
This type of “safety net,” where people could buy what they needed, or hire it, left people depending upon available money for that contracting help. That is something that is not available for a lot of people now. Yet houses still need fixing. Clothes still wear out , are outgrown, or just need mending, and though we can buy inexpensive replacement clothing, we do so at a very high environmental cost, as well as the price of our own self-reliance. There is a pride in construction, planning, and cooperation. Remember “Show and Tell?” Was it more fun to bring in something that you bought, or something you made? For me, it was something I made, though I’m afraid consumerism has replaced that sense of pride.
So NCSC is a growing arts center, a food hub, and a reskilling center, if that helps people understand us better. If you are looking for a place to teach a skill? or learn one? please let us know at Pat@northcountrysustain.org or call the center at 978-252-5021. We look forward to hearing from you.