A Localist Revolution

These are times of VUCA -  volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. We will continue to experience sharp pendulum swings. There will be moments when good people who care for justice and the planet will be able to pass national policies that may have an impact on our collective destiny. But any and all hope for long-term survival is to be found locally, in relationship to each other, learning and experimenting together. Depending on one another.

Collapse is a seductive spectacle keeping us distracted from doing the real work of building authentic relationship in close proximity to each other.

Our democracy is coming apart. And 2018 is shaping up to be the fourth-hottest year on record. The only years hotter were the three previous ones.

It’s real now. And it’s only about to get more real.

We can put our heads in the sand. We can run around like chickens without ahead. Or we can take a brief pause, look around, and turn towards one another.

Right now my newsfeed is full of calls to register to vote. Voting is important, especially in our current political climate, but don’t be tricked into thinking that that is the only power you have to enact change.

Localism has been in the news lately. David Brooks wrote a column titled “The Localist Revolution.”

Localism is the belief that power should be wielded as much as possible at the neighborhood, city and state levels. It is thriving because while national politics takes place through the filter of the media circus, local politics by and large does not. It is thriving because we’re in an era of low social trust. People really have faith only in the relationships right around them, the change agents who are right on the ground.

Brooks highlights the TEDx talk of my friend, author Deborah Frieze, who is a huge influence on my thinking.

There is a different division of labor for making change. Change is led by Walk Outs. These are people who leave the legacy system and pioneer new alternatives. Then there are Illuminators. These are people who analyze and bring attention to the change that is now available.

Name. Connect. Nourish. Illuminate.

This is the work I get to do with BALLE, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. Also in the New York Times last month. “While Democrats and Republicans tussle over how we address the fact that the top 1 percent of Americans now have more than twice as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent, one organization has been forwarding an unapologetically small, surprisingly radical idea: localism.”

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The fellowship program that I help facilitate is “focused on bringing the ‘unofficial mayors of their towns’ together to share best practices on building local, more equitable economies.” This is the place for our energy and attention. It is not enough to wait anxiously for 2020. We need to look around, notice who is in need of care and be generous with our care.

Let’s keep our attention here.