World Localisation Day – June 21, 2022

World Localisation Day – June 21, 2022
Jacqui van Heerden

There is a quiet revolution emerging. Many grassroots groups, individuals and non-government, not-for-profit, voluntary entities are coming together to forge a more hopeful path towards healthy communities grounded in strong local economies.

To celebrate this movement, World Localisation Day was launched on June 21, 2020.  The day aims to celebrate, galvanise and create awareness of localisation as a force for systemic change.

I know I don’t need to reel off the reasons why we need systemic change – a quick reminder – the degraded state of our planet, inequality, greediness of elites, homelessness, mental health and suicide levels, health issues, violence and abuse against women and children rising, levels of incarceration rising, cruelty against animals, grief of First Nations people, trauma, etc.

Localisation is believed to occur where a country, region, community or town own and source their essential life requirements such as water, food, energy and housing materials from renewable resources locally, therefore minimising imported resource dependence and prioritising social and environmental health, local ownership and governance participation.

According to organisers, localisation is about bringing the economy home – back to a human scale. It is the process of building economic structures that allow the goods and services a community needs to be produced locally and regionally whenever possible.

It is not about isolationism or putting an end to international trade. It is simply about rebuilding human-scale economic structures by producing what we need closer to home.

Localising economies can strengthen community cohesion and lead to greater human health and material wellbeing, while reducing pollution and the degradation of the natural world.

The 2022 World Localisation Day is a month-long program of online and face-to-face regional and local events across six continents, and includes local food feasts, a localisation guide and more. For more information visit worldlocalizationday.org

Localisation is not just about your food – yet food and water are critical in our daily lives.

Countries are routinely importing and exporting the same products. The USA imports 1.4 million tonnes of beef per year and exports 1.4 million tonnes of beef per year.  The UK exports 270 million litres of milk and imports 170 million litres of milk.

In 2007 Australia and Britain exchanged 20 tons of bottled water. Argentinean pears are packed in Thailand and sold in the USA.

The travel miles and intelligence of this food system and resulting CO2 are ridiculous – yet why does it continue – because industrialised agriculture means big profits for corporate giants. This chemical, industrialised food is artificially cheap because of government subsidies.

Community democracy initiatives and alternate education institutions are also a big part of the movement. So are local business alliances and finance schemes that keep wealth circulating locally, rather than allowing it to be siphoned off to distant corporate headquarters.

For example, farmers take home 80 per cent of profits from local farmers’ markets versus 10 per cent of the price we pay for food in the corporate supermarkets.

Recent events (pandemics, extreme weather conditions, war) have highlighted the need for greater regional self-reliance. It has become clear that depending on global supply chains is risky particularly when it comes to basic needs.

Especially since COVID, community mutual support groups have spontaneously arisen in almost every country. In many cases these community groups are proving to be much more responsive and nimbler than centralised agencies in dealing with crises. They also encourage the best human qualities like compassion and altruism, community solidarity, and lift people’s spirits in ways that cannot be achieved by large-scale organisations.

In Kensington/Flemington we saw how local groups activated quickly and responsively when the state government shut down the Flemington high-rise towers without any notice – they were able to rouse local resources because of their existing relationships within the community.

Local community gardens in Kensington started a surplus food program working in conjunction with local organisations that weekly distributed fresh food grown chemically free to more than 90 families.

I offer the recent Lismore floods as another example where in the absence of government action many locals took on the role of sharing their food, time, homes and resources to those in crisis. Local Lismore residents went so far as to organise crowd funding for helicopters for supply drops.

What is considered local? In Victoria we could use the recent example of when the Premier decided you could not move outside five kilometres of your home.

The thing about localisation is that we will need to start thinking about how to live within the constraints of our local ecosystem.

Mmm, I start to think – I will need to capture my own drinkable water and water for washing, a local energy grid will need to be set up, how will I keep myself warm, cook – how will I deal with my wastes?

Wherever you look, things are happening at the local level that testifies to the goodwill at the core of human nature and to our intelligence and initiative. The book Retrosuburbia based on permaculture ethics and principles provides a wealth of practical information on how we can localise plus there is the great work by Local Futures and the Transition Towns network.

They prove that there are other, kinder ways forward for our future •

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