Why Us? Why Here? why now?

Graffiti stating, 'believe in yourself' found along the canal rail trial in Turner's Falls, MA.

“This curious world in which we inhabit is more wonderful than convenient; more beautiful than it is useful; it is more to be admired and enjoyed than used.” -Henry David Thoreau 

There is a disease infecting thousands of cities and towns in the United States, effecting the lives of millions of our citizens. This article brings to light this phenomenon and what one small organization, our organization is doing to combat this infection and answer the question, ‘What Comes Next’? 

 De-Industrialization came late to our little city of Gardner, MA, the smallest chartered city in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. A process that for some began more than a century ago began for most of us within living memory of a significant portion of our adult population. For the rest of our younger population, the effects of economic deprivation have profoundly effected their lives in a myriad number of ways.

No characteristic of this recent deprivation is felt more by MORE of us in this community than the psychological one. Entrepreneurs and other change makers know what I refer to.

So in this article I want to answer the question Why here, why us, why now? Why Gardner and what makes you think something new will work here?


There has never been a time in recent memory when localized change is more important and more possible. Many of our most important institutions are repeatedly letting our population down. Corporatization of major systems like energy, food and transportation have placed significant pressure on independent, diversified and employee-centric business. While it would be easy to despair, may we consider that this environment presents an opportunity and a responsibility.

A responsibility we have to each other to enact great change. This is necessary as the stakes to our environment and ourselves is so great.

An opportunity due to the lack of attention being given us by governmental and industrial concerns. It is necessary for us to dive headlong into new economic opportunities. These opportunities should embrace the idea that predatory business models need not apply; that degradation of our environment, our land, our people in the name of profit is not a winning model; that the de-centralization of major energy, food and industrial systems that creates wide opportunity to entrepreneurs presents a worthwhile effort.

This explanation settles the question of why us and why now? Now we get to why here?

This requires a simple explanation. We must believe first that we deserve as a community and as individuals success in our lives together. That the core of such success must come from a place of deep meaning and of love and pleasure. Specifically, I refer to the kind of pleasure and love derived from the satisfaction of taking part in a dynamic and consciously lead effort which values humanity. Farmers instinctively understand this.

Henry David Thoreau said it better than me in addressing his graduating class at Harvard in 1837, “This curious world in which we inhabit is more wonderful than convenient; more beautiful than it is useful; it is more to be admired and enjoyed than used.”

So why here? Because we’re here. You and I are here. This place has been inhabited for centuries by hard working people. Because they deserve a legacy. Because we deserve success.

 The effort made every day by the great folks of our cities and towns exemplify these ideas. We’re proud of this place. We can work together to make it better. 

Scott M. Graves

Scott M. Graves is founder of SMGraves Associates and host of SMG’s ‘Are We Here Yet?’ Podcast which is a part of M the Media Project, a solution providing robust local journalism.

The SMG team develops unique and powerful economic development tools to support business incubation, business management services and real estate development.