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 24 2013: Everywhere is local to someone, somewhere. Typical 'Local' places are ones that develop over time and result in their own characteristics, customs, expectations and perceptions .

    I believe that although some places currently remain reasonably uninfluenced they will eventually evolve to some degree from the external world. But its a question how this happens, a local community/area should 'play to its strengths' and core values, no person nor place can have everything. By letting diversity grow and global forces supporting them in the correct way is essential.

    'Local' in a sense could therefore be a closed system with the end-user in mind, the indigenous people. Exploration and travel therefore needs become something of a respected experience. Major cities/towns on the most part could be anywhere and provide a reasonably 'tame' experience or taster, typically a 'tourist' view. A 'balance' can be achieved when businesses and governments know when not to make 'local' areas too vulnerable to external influences and to listen to the people, are they prepared to accept visitors and share their 'local' life.
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      Feb 27 2013: Thanks for your comment Robbie. So do you have any ideas for strategies for approaches that different interest groups can use to broker such a balance?
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        Mar 3 2013: To begin with, it would have to be accepted that people living in different sized settlements have expectations on the way life there; probably why they wanted to live there in the first place.

        Trying to tackle the most major issue of large scale tourism encroaching on local, untouched areas is tricky. The exploitation comes from businesses with an interest in exploiting a profit making opportunity which governments are unlikely to turn down in the current economical environment.

        Lets take a hotel chain as an example. A reasonably untouched area is found and the company wish to build a hotel, visitors expect the area to adapt to them i.e. ATM's, Wireless e.t.c. This is where the balancing trick comes in, a hotel needs to change its identity to becoming a Cultural Gateway; offering modern services but local knowledge.
        Money spent around the local area acts as investment to local businesses and people for their own organic growth and improvement rather than allowing larger companies and chains to invest directly, otherwise profits are sent off to headquarters in a large city and probably sent off-shore. This strategy would restrict exploitation as long as governments are prepared for an exclusive local tax system. I've always believed in the phrase 'think local, act global'. Perhaps an approach of registration? If you can't prove you live within the area then a certain extra percentage is can be charged on a product/service.

        I'd love to articulate my ideas better, but its difficult over an open internet discussion. Please ask anymore specific questions you like

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