In a year or so, I am considering moving to this area of the state. Right now I live in the north shore and I feel pretty empty and alone in my mission for resilience. I’m 24 years old with a profound knowledge of ecological workings and landscape/habitat uses and design. A couple years ago I gave up on any sort of a career as I think many of us young folks have with any understanding of the challenges in front of us.
I’m currently certified as level 3 in track and sign by Cybertracker International (http://trackercertification.com/tracker-certifications/track-and-sign-certifications/) and enjoy sharing my tracking skills with interested folks. There are only a couple hundred of us level 3s and specialists in North America, but I know there are quite a few trackers in this part of the state. Maybe there are some on peak prosperity?
I consider myself a naturalist and with interests in economics, agriculture, and sustainable living. I currently work in a kitchen at a small, but busy health food store and I am a great focused worker and am usually happier working in a fast paced environment, but I would enjoy getting back into environmental work. It’s been a couple years since I stopped doing invasive species control and conservation work for money as I recognized how ineffective the government is at such things and could not comfortably make a living off the taxpayer’s dime.
Can anybody weigh in on their efforts in the pioneer valley, job opportunities, housing, etc? Are conservation commissions and environmental groups talking about the things we discuss on peak prosperity?
I've lived in the Happy Valley for as long as I've lived anywhere in my adult life. As you probably know, it's got a good mix of natural and cultural attractions. Some impressions:
The 800-lb. economic gorilla is UMass, Amherst. Many of the jobs here are linked to UMass directly, or indirectly, as service jobs for people employed by UMass or the other four of the "five colleges." Service jobs include restaurants & agriculture, landscaping, painting, etc.. There are quite a few small non-profits, but competition is tight. Local governments are significant employers, too. There is a significant number of self-employed artisan-types of all stripes– woodworking, glassblowing, painting, herbalism, etc. There's room for creative twists on conventional things. For example, I once met someone with a landscaping business based on a small herd of goats– excellent invasive plant control!
There is an active Transition Town community here, and a lot of support for growing and eating local food. There are so many CSA farms here that the area has probably maxed out on vegetable CSA's– a nice problem to have! Politics are largely knee-jerk liberal. Some of the most aware folks that I've met have been interns on local organic farms. There are quite a few farms with internship programs, some are very competitive. Other farm internships let you stick your toe in to test the water and try it out. PM me if you'd like any specifics.
Housing is certainly cheaper than in Boston, but demand is high thanks to the five colleges. Generally cheaper the more rural you're willing to live. I'd suggest you look on the UMass room finder website and/or Western Mass. Craigslist for a sense of typical costs. There might be a possibility of sharing housing with like-minded people– for instance, UMass has a sustainable agriculture program that is getting off the ground.
Competition for jobs is pretty fierce. Pay not so hot. It's still in the middle of the Great Recession, after all, and it's nice here behind the "Tofu Curtain.". That's what I can come up with as a start. Good luck, and glad you'll be coming out this way!
Chris and I have lived here for 10 years and we absolutely love the region. We have lived all over the country (Oregon, CT, Colorado, North Carolina, New York) and this is the first place where I have found an abundance of people to connect with in meaningful ways. Resilience is part of the common language, not a fringe idea.
The community is fantastic, especially for wilderness/tracking/primitive skills/permaculture types. Many of the people in my local community are involved in nature connection work and there are lots of high-level trackers here (the Montague sand-plains are a real draw- folks come from all over to track in my backyard!). Lots of people, including myself, are involved with the Art of Mentoring community, facilitated in the region by the Vermont Wilderness School. Look it up! You'll find many kindred spirits.
Feel free to contact me via e mail- i'm not online very much so e mail is the best way.
I'm glad you're happy Becca. But about Massachusetts, I just have one word: taxes, nanny state, and gun control. Wait. How many words was that?
I am really excited and hopeful to head out here. Sounds like a great place to start a life and build resilience.
Becca- the sand plains and soils around the power lines were one of the first things I noticed when I looked on google maps over Montague. Looking forward to exploring those areas.