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 13 2013: I personally believe there is a tidal wave of change altering the palimpsest of society. It is rewriting our concepts of what is local, and dramatically transforming our understanding of relationship. It is true that there are fewer eclectic shops, and the ones that remain are in predominantly tourist districts. As a society our values have shifted and there appears to be less and less of an emphasis of connectedness with other people. I believe this has made it that much easier to think inwardly and forget that our financial decisions once used to be about more than the attainment of possession.

    In the past, consumerism was also tied in with an attachment to human beings and the geographical area you called home. Going to the supermarket meant engaging with the shop owners in an authentic manner. One would not simply buy an item, they’d be part of society, they would engage with the person on the other side of the counter. At some point we forgot that these local stores supported our friends and family, and got more concerned with mass consumption of “stuff” and shopped base on price, not community. Today’s Walmart’s are devoid of any authentic relationship, they are merely about the exchange of commerce’s.

    While maintaining local is important I believe a bigger question is a stake, and it pertains to our abilities to create and maintain meaningful relationships. Does having a couple hundred friends on facebook truly enhance our lives, or make us more human? Has twitter really done anything to move us forward as a race? What is our gauge of success? There is a fundamental change in our children, they are not being raised in an environment like you and I. They have not been taught authentic community; it is quickly being eroded from our society. It is this new mindset that will continue the push for ‘bigger’ and ‘better’ stores that will meld a global community that is detached from the human experience.

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