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Lessons from Our First Year in Business at the Center of Harmony

A few things I have learned over the first year in business at The Center of Harmony.

Jan. 14 marks the official grand opening date of the Center of Harmony.

At this time last year, we were rushing to put the final touches on Wunderbar and Darn Yarn Needles and Thread. Pearlette was already in and getting situated. It has been a great year.

Here are a few lessons we have learned and a few things we are looking forward too.

Lesson 1:

There is a lot of junk around. As much junk as is out there, there are just as many concerned individuals. Here are a few statics from some local efforts to clean things up.

The Center has collected 14,434 pounds of electronic waste since April. As of Jan. 1, Pennsylvania has a new landfill ban on all electronics. We expect to collect and recycle quite a bit more in 2013.

Christina Handley, of The Allegheny Aquatic Alliance, put together an effort to clean up the Connoquenessing Creek. In a period six hours, 54,873 pounds of garbage was pulled out the creek. That included 578 tires and 16,613 pounds of recyclable scrap metal.

It is amazing what a few motivated people can get accomplished. Dana and I are proud of being involved with both of these efforts.

Lesson 2:

Fortune favors the bold. Dedication, passion and action often trumps excessive planning. The Center, and each one of the small businesses housed there, all took a big leap of faith. Investing so much of our resources and hearts into a community of less than 1,000 people may seem ludicrous to some people.

How could a small, rural town support all of these ventures?

Well, we all believed in the mission and wanted to make a difference. That message seems to have resonated with a lot of people. The town and Borough council have been fantastically supportive. The message is getting out and we are all still here.

So, if you have an opportunity to make a change, do it! Don’t wait, remember “Fortune favors the bold”.

Lesson 3:

Get Centered, change your priorities and get out of the rat race, now!

There is more to life than the next paycheck and latest gadget or toy. The past year has been one of personal growth, shifting paradigms and reassessed priorities.

Even before the Center was in existence, Dana and I made a conscious decision to “downsize” our lifestyle. We sold the big farm (and expensive to maintain farm!) and bought a nice house in Zelienople.

That was a huge reduction in expense and time requirements. We sold that home and downsized again to a small investment property I owned in Zelienople. No bills other than utilities. We cut out cable and limited spending in other areas. We did do some traveling, as we prioritized expanding our experiences and travel. But overall, it has been very rewarding to stop chasing the material things and start focusing on quality of life.

It has lifted the pressure and stress of having to worry about getting a better job (or one at all! We have both been actively trying not to ever have to get a “real job” again!) and make more money to pay more bills.

As the next extension to that, we are looking to build a small, environmentally friendly and sustainable home in Harmony. So, take stock of where you are, the stuff you have amassed, and what really matters in life.

It is liberating to step out of the rat race and start charting your own course. It’s not always easy, but the rewards far outweigh the risks! I am sure there are many more lessons, but those come to the forefront of my mind.

As for 2013, there is quite a bit to be excited about. The Harmony Business Association (HBA), local businesses and the town council have a lot of great events planned for 2013.

The Earth Day Celebration, Herb and Garden Fair, Bluegrass festival, Weinachtsmarkt, Sylvester, Summer Concert Series, Farmer’s market and many others are in the works.

This is an outstanding town and has something to offer to everyone. So, get out, do good, enjoy life, smile and live the life you’ve dreamed. This is a great time to restart yourself, especially since the world didn’t end on 12/21/12!

Thank you for all of your support. Dana and I wish you health, happiness and prosperity in 2013.

Josh Meeder & Dana Lowers, Co-founders of the Center of Harmony. www.thecenterofharmony.com or www.facebook.com/thecenterofharmony

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

maria kovalenko leysens January 07, 2013 at 01:34 PM
Josh, Congratulations on on so many levels! Your vision and presence in Harmony is such an inspiration and gift to the community. Maria Leysens
Noreen McGinnis Campbell January 07, 2013 at 07:06 PM
Always an inspiration! Thank you for making our small town a closer community, connected in a mission that makes a great deal of sense and actually harkens back to the original founders dreams. Continued success to all of you and thank you for leading the way!
Erin Conners January 09, 2013 at 07:30 PM
I would love to see the small grocery store reopened and selling only local food from Harmony and the surrounding area (eggs, meat, preserves, produce, canned goods, etc...). I know that I am tired of going to so many locations (at a great expense) for "real" food.

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