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Editorial: The future's all about dreaming big dreams in a small town

It's easy to get discouraged in the current economic climate. On Tuesday this week, the federal government "officially" pronounced that the United States has been in an economic recession for the past year, with no real end in sight.

It's easy to get discouraged in the current economic climate. On Tuesday this week, the federal government "officially" pronounced that the United States has been in an economic recession for the past year, with no real end in sight.

Some normally optimistic market analysts began admitting that stocks may not be the best investment right now, one of them even going so far as to advise that good, old-fashioned certificates of deposit may well be the best method of protecting savings until things start to turn around.

Kind of makes you want to crawl in a hole and stay there for the next couple of years, right?

Well, there are some among us who believe this is precisely the right time to take the proverbial "bit in your teeth" and do something about it.

Deb and Bud McClure of Cloquet Natural Foods are a good case in point. Recently, they began a ground-breaking effort to install solar panels in their local health foods business to make it more self-sustainable and do their own small part in making their world more environmentally responsible.

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In fact, with the completion of their project, it will reportedly become the largest of its kind in either Carlton or St. Louis county.

Granted, it would have been easier just to turn down the thermostat a couple of notches, throw on a heavier sweater and learn to live with it. But the McClures chose to subscribe to the same philosophy that their natural foods business embraces on a daily basis - sustaining ourselves, to the extent we can, on the things that the earth itself provides.

It's not exactly rocket science, but a philosophy that attracts its fair share of naysayers who feel the solutions to today's crises have to be rooted in far more sophisticated and complicated solutions.

Thankfully, our government and energy industries have seen fit to agree with what the McClures are discovering on their own. Incentives to convert to at least partial solar power abound on virtually all levels of government, especially for businesses. As early as next year, hopefully residential home owners will enjoy many of the same incentives, helping to offset the considerable cost of installing solar panels.

The McClures are to be congratulated on their forward-thinking attitude toward energy efficiency. While they will hopefully grow to reap considerable economic benefits from their investment in the future, they have proven one thing already - that dreaming big dreams in a small town is not so wild a dream after all.

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