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 find that the world is entering a new dark age. Historically speaking, we are between the points where the beauty of knowledge and arts (as left from the classical roman and greek periods) are at their greatest, but greatly threatened by a powerful beast. Back then, it was religion. Now it is branding and advertising.

    Much of my personality is derived from the sheer amount of times I have altered the location and cultural surroundings of my "home". I lived in Portugal, in what felt like a small, close community, with somewhat hard to approach peoples. Then to Brazil, where consumerism was cherished – but people were extremely approachable and friendly. Now, I live in London, where some would say is one of the "centers" of the world for culture and trade. I find London to be a perfect example of the world as we see it; on my first few explorations, I hit the main routes, undergone by tourists, and saw nothing of interest. There were shops, cell-phones and busy people who would not stop to look you in the eye if you said hello to them as they passed by. It seemed depressing and overrun by capitalism. I felt that this was what travel was degrading towards.

    But then I took to less known routes, and found another beast entirely! Gypsy markets, where people of all cultures shared their cultures and hand-crafted goods; musicians playing on street corners, connecting with crowds...

    What I derived from these experiences is: the world is getting smaller, but it isn't interconnected yet. There is a dominant power, be it the western apple stores and McDonalds, or the fast-food chinese restaurants. Airlines make it easy to travel to other areas, but the experiences are still factory-line tourist attractions. In a truly interconnected world, the airlines take you there, but you would not go to see the Eiffel Tower; you would go to the exotic streets, where you could embrace local customs and local culture. Being able to connect to locals is what traveling should be about.
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      Mar 13 2013: In my opinion it is the other way around. Everything and everyone is interconnected, but the world is not getting smaller. Geographers, place makers and architects often use the idea of a 'sense of place' to describe how people think and feel about places. Some people have a 'sense' of the world shrinking, but in reality this is just technology speeding up how quickly some people can travel and communicate.

      Like many other comments here, your story shows again how important it is to consider the nature of the connection. Just being in a place is not enough, we need to think about what kind of relationship we want to have with it. Am I close to what you are getting at?

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