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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  • Mar 6 2013: Susanna, as a UK resident you are likely more aware of Transition Town and its principles than many of the rest of us. Don't you think that a lot of the key points of T-Town style infrastructure do just that? I mean, beyond the obvious, like local currency and food production, isn't the concept of an engaged citizenry enough to not just develop, but preserve local flavor? Couple it with an enlarged sense of housepride as it were, and shouldn't that be enough?

    I agree that global needs to be, and should remain part of the mix, but if we all start to "think globally; act locally", sooner or later the latter begins to become the important part of the mix on a personal level. We need to quit selling our culture as a pinnacle of success (if it is so great, why do we travel at all?) as it crushes local culture underfoot. Look at nearly any pictures of Africa nowadays, you are are less likely to see native garb than you are to see the discarded t-shirts from last years SuperBowl loser... exporting our disfunctions worldwide has had ugly effect no matter where you look; the leading cause of death in Africa? Heart disease. Affluenza has hit the Dark Continent, and it could be the burgers, right?

    Starbucks in Paris is a symptom, but the disease is far worse than that... I agree that government COULD be helpful in maintaining culture, but it almost invariably leads to government "creating" and then exporting it, and those are both bad things (governments are not good at either, I think). A hotel chain can try to espouse local, but the best any international corporation can manage is chains of locally themed hotels, which isn't very cost effective as each hotel (to remain true to cause) must inevitably be different. Just swapping "skins" over the same set of bones will eventually come across as disingenuous, because it is... you will know local when you see it, and you will know fake local when you see it, I guarantee...
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      Mar 8 2013: Hi Scott. I have really enjoyed reading your comment. You have said a lot about what does not work, but I would I'm keen to hear some of your thoughts on what you think does work.

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