I am a uniquely determined, entrepreneurial young man with a steadfast passion for sustainability. As a New Hampshire native, the dense New England forest and abundant fresh water lakes and rivers have been my playground ever since I was a child. At a young age, this experience instilled in me a sense of stewardship toward the natural landscape, something that carried over into my career and defines my role as a sustainable community building organizer today.
But backing up a bit. As a sophomore at Wheaton College in Norton, M.A. I designed an independent major in “Global Sustainability.” My goal was to create a multi-disciplinary curriculum that explored what relationships between society, economy, and ecology bring forth sustainable outcomes and why.
Shortly after college I became a youth delegation leader with a group called SustainUS where I worked on policy and lobbying efforts at conferences of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). During this same time I was also working with Clean Vibes, an outdoor event recycling and environmental education company providing services at some of the largest music festivals in the United States including Bonnaroo in Manchester, TN that draws a crowd of over 100,000. I was leading quite the colorful and transient life at this point in time.
Eventually, I had to decide - do I remain a wandering eco-activist, or do I settle down and establish some roots that lead to real lasting change. I chose the latter and soon moved back to my hometown of Wolfeboro, NH where I started to plant the seeds for a nonprofit - Global Awareness Local Action (G.A.L.A.). That was five years ago. Today, G.A.L.A. engages a diverse network of people in study circles, sustainable home & yard makeovers, homesteading workshops, and other events including an annual curbside cleanup day, farm to table feast, contra dances and more. I am employed nearly full time with G.A.L.A. and work closely with an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer. My intention is to create a sustainable community building model that can be replicated throughout New England.
And then came the Ossipee Mt. Grange Hall. I purchased the Grange Hall in 2008 with the intention of revitalizing the space as a community center for arts, education, and advocacy - much like what the Grange Halls that still speckle the countryside were originally used for over 100 years ago. My goal is that G.A.L.A. will eventually be in a financial position to buy and restore the building. Until then, I am paying the mortgage and living in the space. I use the hall to host concerts, movie nights, canning parties, and singing circles. You can learn about upcoming activities on the Grange Hall's Facebook Page. Last year the building was listed on the NH State Registry of Historic Place.
Revitalizing the Ossipee Mt. Grange Hall is the focus of my Wild Gift project proposal. My experience in the Sawtooth Wilderness with such inspirational peers and mentors provided me with great feedback and perspective on this this long term plan.
My current mission is to revitalize the Ossipee Mt. Grange Hall in NH as a transformative model that demonstrates how rural America can collaborate to meet their social and economic needs, while restoring a strong sense of community and environmental integrity.
I intend to tackle this long term plan in three phases:
Phase 1: Complete site plan and renovations to meet code requirements sufficient for public/commercial use of the Ossipee Mt. Grange Hall by the Fall of 2014.
Phase 2: Open the New Garden Coop on the first floor and G.A.L.A. Community Center on the second floor of the Ossipee Mt. Grange Hall by the Spring of 2015.
Phase 3: Open the Green Jobs Incubator on the third floor of the Ossipee Mt. Grange Hall by the Spring of 2016. By 2017 revenue from Grange Hall ventures are paying for operating costs and beginning to turn a profit.
The premise of this project is as follows:
History shows that people thrive most when living in strong, healthy community. Today, however, with excessive consumerism, specialization, and ease of transport, we have become an individualistic and transient society. This lifestyle is unfulfilling and unsustainable.
Designating local spaces for people to gather and meet their social and economic needs will move us toward a more sustainable society. Grange Halls filled this niche in the late 1800’s, specifically for the agricultural population. Though the Grange is much less active today their buildings are still standing, and the resurgence of a “local food” movement presents great opportunity to reclaim these historic buildings as once again hubs for community building.
Once complete, the Ossipee Mt. Grange Hall will serve as an exceptional model of a sustainable community building hub for all of the Wild Gift Network to come visit. This destination is located just south of the White Mountains, which will be a great place for the Wild Gift Network to explore before or after their visit to the Grange Hall.
Anyone interested in reading the complete detailed proposal that breaks down each year into specific goals and objectives may contact me by calling 603-539-6460, or email [email protected].
Keep it wild.