Sunday, May 24, 2009

The LiveLocal challenge

DSCN1989-web.JPG In todays world Globalization and Free Markets are said to be a savior offering an economic bounty to everyone. Of course the flip side of Globalization is the global economic crisis currently underway, with the global financial system behaving like a house of cards. Remove one card like Goldman Sachs or Lehman Brothers and the whole game tumbles into dust. Other problems with Globalization are increased environmental problems like global warming (because globalization means global shipping meaning more fuel being burned), and loss of cultures and unique civilizations across the world as the globalized culture imposes Coca Cola or Pepsi or Kentucky Fried Chicken and similar brands across the globe.

DSCN2413-web.JPGThere are several forms of relocalization being promoted that one can think of as an anti-globalization effort. I like this reaffirming the value of local cultures, and the value each culture. I dislike the spreading of American culture across the globe. For example when I was in Glasgow Scotland I wanted to find a restaurant which would serve me a Scottish meal but despite walking all around downtown Glasgow all I could find was TGI Fridays and other American restaurant brands. And the bookstore? Borders Books. Uh, the Scottish people have thousands of years of history as I repeatedly saw throughout that trip, and all the people of Glasgow can think of for eating establishments in their fine city are American restaurant brands?

Surely there is are better ways to live? Surely wherever you live there is local cuisine, music, games, art, etc, that reflects the real history and uniqueness of the place you live?

In looking to Hollywood for cultural values we as a global society are losing the unique attributes of each of our local places. If everywhere is like everywhere else we will have lost a lot of cultural diversity and be the poorer for it.

live local is a website where people of all walks of life can post their stories, using words, pictures, and videos of how they improve and enjoy their communities. The "experiments", as they're called on the site, are as simple as riding your bike to work or mapping the location of publicly accessible fruit trees in a region – and as complex as creating a lush backyard garden or developing a bartering system.

It's based in Australia so it's a little curious for me (living in Silicon Valley) to think about using an Australian website to ponder how to live locally. But hey on the Internet everything is local, sort of. Put another way, everybody on the Internet is local to somewhere and we are all facing the same problem of globalization erasing our local life. Perhaps then it's good for a global network of people to jointly explore how to live locally?

In any case the site houses a community of people sharing resources and ideas to living locally.