In the Pioneer Valley, it's impossible to ignore the impact of seasons on the land and our own habits. Woodpiles have been growing since September; it takes extra time to gear up for going outside; and the true shape of our hillsides is revealed, then slowly covered in snow.
We tend to stay home more often, grateful for a place where we find some comfort and even inspiration. We look for winter birds and the occasional hungry coyote. We think about the future & what we might accomplish next year.
FLT has been thinking about the future as well. When Hurricane Irene struck, we were flooded out of rental offices in downtown Shelburne Falls. We had a few hours to move furniture, files and computers before the building was condemned. We found temporary space at Palmeri Electric on the Mohawk Trail in Shelburne. But as we worked in openings among the piles of packing boxes, we wondered whether FLT, entrusted with the care of beloved lands in perpetuity, could find a permanent home for itself.
For 26 years, we have moved from one rental to another. As we grew in response to increasing demand for our services, our space diminished in functionality and comfort. Irene forced us to recognize that our permanent responsibility to this region requires a permanent home, one with privacy for our clients and sufficient space to conduct our land conservation work forever.
Along came 5 Mechanic Street. It wasn't the only building we considered while searching for a home, but something about it resonated. It was appealing to remain in Shelburne Falls, to bring new life to a 1940's auto repair garage, and to gain more than 3,000 square feet of functional office space that allows for some growth but not too much: the building fills the lot it sits on. Or maybe it was the beautiful and massive interior stone walls that so strikingly represent permanence.
We jumped at an offer from long-term FLT friend and building owners Michael Cohen & Chia Collins to enter into a one-year option to purchase at a generous bargain sale price. Then we began a capital campaign to raise funds for a home of our own.
We are now proud owners of 5 Mechanic Street, and essential renovations are finally complete. We were able to move in by mid-December but we remain about $300,000 short of our capital campaign goal of $1 million. Half that sum is to fund the building; half is to increase our endowment, a critical element in the permanence of every non-profit organization.
We invite you to celebrate our new home with us anytime: DIRECTIONS
If you haven't given to the capital campaign, we hope you will do so. We need and greatly appreciate your ongoing support, which allows us to conserve land in this beautiful region that is your home and ours.
Richard K. Hubbard