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 12 2013: Climates, physical geography, cultures, and as a result, people, cuisines, society... I feel that thanks to travel and technology, yes, my world has gotten that tiny smidge smaller.
    I remember as a teenager how excited everyone got when my hometown of Carlisle opened its first branch of Kentucky Fried Chicken. It was the new hangout and the only alternative to McDonald’s (which is, like so primary school). So we all flocked to KFC and swapped our McNuggets for Hot Wings. To my teenage self, KFC represented the big city, America and bright lights and big brands – right there, all on my doorstep on a Saturday afternoon.
    My point? Well really it’s a point my brother made first when he was the tender age of nine and I was 12 – “Don’t you think the McDonald’s here in Hong Kong tastes better than the McDonalds back home Cindy?” The things that matter, the details, the flavours which make up our universe, they’re all still unique.
    To my brother, a Big Mac in Hong Kong was a rare treat, something he could have every day (and he did) for two weeks every year and a half we visited our family. The Big Macs from the McDonald’s Drive Thru back in Carlisle? They didn’t cut the mustard (I couldn’t resist). More to the point, Denny’s Hong Kong Big Mac was a symbol of the exotic, of our childhood, of summers running through our grandma’s village. It was part of the bigger picture, it wasn’t the only picture.
    The inherent fear is that the Coca Cola’s of this world can take over local culture now that our world has become so much smaller – but how could this ever affect something so intangible? To do so we’d have to carefully define what is and isn’t an affectation of culture – and who are we to say what a culture is and isn’t?
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      Mar 13 2013: So, are you thinking that we need to be better at seeing the diversity within what at first appears to be similar?
      • Mar 13 2013: In a nutshell, yes. But there are so many other human factors which make the blurring of the lines between what people perceive as 'culture' and 'globalisation' easy. The fact that no two people can walk the exact same path even if they were to travel to the same destinations and taste the same foods should be evidence enough of the subtleties in diversity.

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