TED Conversations

Closing Statement from Daniel Raven-Ellison

Thank you TED community for taking the time to join our conversation. I have been fascinated by the diverse range of contributions that have been made. The stories that have been shared are particularly powerful, with examples of how globalisation is impacting on the communities that we live in, visit and influence.

What is clear is that many of us are working from very different definitions of what 'local' means. Ronald Estrada describes local as "minimal, ecological, and symbiotic" while Iain Ellwood says it is more of "a state of mind not a geographic destination". This idea links well to Dustin Smith's suggestion that technology "changes who we spend time with, and allows us to choose "our own local".

The diversity of definitions of 'local' goes a long way to explain why we have so many different predictions about the future. Steve Knight had the most radical prediction, suggesting that personal air travel "will allow people to re-populate currently remote and unpopulated areas of the world". Pabitra Mukhopadhyay, Dorian Knus and many others share our concern that global forces are damaging local places and raise valid concerns for the future. These worries are met by many points that express the advantages of globalisation, including one by David Rogers who asks "Is the advantage of globalisation the ability to start a conversation anywhere in the world around common experiences?"

There have been a number of engaging solutions, including ways for tourists, travel companies and host communities to act more responsibly and sustainably. The common areas here appear to be high quality research, learning, education, empowerment and participation. Scan through to find some real gems.

Finally, thank you to InterContinental Hotels & Resorts for sponsoring this conversation. This specific discussion is closed, but you can follow the "Future of Local" project via Twitter on #FutureOfLocal. And we'll begin a new conversation on TED.com in the coming weeks.

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  • Feb 22 2013: I'm always interested in this type of debate because the missing voices seem to be those that are living in the poorest parts of the world. I wonder if they would give up the chance of development (as in better education, income, healthcare, human rights) for the chance to keep their local identity. For want of a better phrase, is worrying about the lack of local a '1st world problem?'

    In my own life, I live somewhere completely different from where I grew up. I was born on St David's Day (the Patron Saint of Wales); in a miners hospital, the son of a coal miner, in the Welsh coal mining valleys and lived there only until I was 10. I then moved to the agricultural rolling fields of South West Wales. However, I consider myself 'local' to Wales even though I haven't lived there for 26 years. Local to me is the language, the customs ans the mannerisms of the Welsh.
    In my current West Sussex coastal village, I'm surrounded by global brands and yet there is a thriving local community driven by the South Downs, activities such as running and cycling and around schools.
    I can relate the the film as during my wide travels, I've been able to purchase Coke in a remote Pacific island (where clean water wasn't available) and the top of 4000m mountains. Is this a bad thing? I'm not so sure as advances in technology and the ability to connect and share allow me to do my job, stay connected with family and enjoy leisure time. But then, I don;t have to worry where the food on my plate in coming from.

    Is the advantage of globalisation the ability to start a conversation anywhere in the world around common experiences? When sharing tea in a remote Berber hut in the High Atlas, the benefits of global brands were evident in making life a little easier, but those people were still essentially without any basic level of luxury.
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      Feb 22 2013: That's a very good point about the missing voices often being those from the developing world, but I feel like it's a stretch to view the essence of "local" as including every single possible characteristic of a place. I don't know if anyone would categorize the inability to access clean water, for example, as part of their local culture, but perhaps some of the ways that people react to and accomodate that are part of the local experience, and are something one might want to preserve even if water became more readily available.

      In other words, I don't think development HAS to come at the cost of the local, although depending who's doing the development, it often does.
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        Feb 23 2013: So what does 'local' mean to you? We've had a few different ideas of what local means in this conversation. Here are a couple:

        "Local means to me minimal, ecological, and symbiotic. Local implies to me that we are considerate of our surroundings." Ronald Estrada

        "Local infers an awareness so implicit that a level of comfort is felt by just knowing what is around you." Robert Isbell

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