We can focus on meeting serious local and global challenges through a
rational, practical and affordable process to develop a sustainable
future called "relocalization." Relocalization strengthens and supports
local businesses and individual efforts that contribute in positive ways
to the long-term viability of our communities and the natural
environments they depend upon. The vibrant, healthy, and sustainable
local economies that result from relocalization then make a significant
contribution to the larger vision of a sustainable future—in our towns
and cities, and at the county, state and national levels. The concept
provides underlying support for anyone wishing to contribute to a just,
equitable, and peaceful world.
The underlying philosophy that supports this way of looking at our role
in the world builds on natural systems principles and holds that
sustainable human societies are those that focus their energy on the
qualities and values, such as compassion, cooperation, and nurturing,
that work with and support life. Sustainable societies will embody
peace, are ecologically wise, socially just, economically equitable, and
will be democratic regardless of the economic structure they decide on.
In their daily workings, relocalized communities produce their food,
energy, services, and appropriate technologies close to where they are
used and consumed. This model not only keeps jobs and money in the
community, but it avoids the environmental destruction that accompanies
the senseless transportation of goods for thousands of miles and the
creation of material goods that serve no other purpose but economic
growth. This is where we begin getting into the very important
difference between standard of living and quality of life.
Why is the need for relocalization so urgent? Because "business as
usual" (BAU) is not an adequate response to the rapidly converging
crisis of energy depletion, global warming, economic collapse, and the
loss of our democracy—indeed, our very sovereignty—to elite special
interests that hide behind the fiction of corporate personhood. In fact,
BAU is what brought us to this point. It is useless to expect solutions
from the same global corporate and financial interests whose way of
being and very existance have created the problem. As they say, when you
find yourself at the bottom of a hole, the first rule is to stop
digging. Don't believe the story that we should sacrifice in order to
return to the normal that has brought us to the edge of so many tipping
Relocalization can be effectively applied to many realms, including jobs
and other economic problems, water, education, and even border issues.
What is meant by the term relocalization, and beginning steps
Relocalization is a rational, practical and affordable process to create
a sustainable future based on ecological wisdom, social justice,
economic equity, and participatory democracy. It is both ecologically
sound and legally defensible, especially from the perspective of an
Earth jurisprudence. It entails moving the production of food, energy,
and essential goods closer to the point of consumption, and removing the
need for materialism and consumption to serve as substitutes for
psychological and spiritual health and well-being.
Relocalization includes the concepts that we must rebuild our local
economies; recapture our sense of place; reclaim our sovereignty; and
restore our communities. It doesn't fit well with growth, corporate
globalization, manifest destiny, or individualism. In fact, it is their
antidote. The actual benefits of relocalization leads to the inescapable
conclusion that the American Dream as presented by Wall Street, Madison
Avenue, Hollywood, and the rest of corporate media really is a dream
because one must be asleep—firmly ensconced in the consensus trance—to
Relocalization uses steady-state economics to create vibrant and
resilient local living economies that provide an alternative to growth
and centralized control hierarchies, and enables local autonomy within
bioregional networks of mutual support. It also requires accepting local
responsibility for food and energy security and evaluating all
decisions on whether they improve conditions for both people and planet.
Relocalization is a whole-systems approach to creating an alternative
public infrastructure that exists within a bioregion's carrying
capacity. It is not dependent on infinite growth to deliver human
progress and prosperity, but on creating qualitative improvement in
cooperative, dynamic economic sectors. Better, not bigger.
As a response to global warming, Peak Oil and corporatism (the Triumvirate of Collapse),
relocalization provides more than just a band-aid for these symptoms as
it addresses and provides viable alternatives to the environmental,
social, political, and economic drivers and ramifications at the root of
these rapidly converging crises.
As a concrete strategy, relocalization moves production of food, goods
and energy closer to the point of consumption, increases food and energy
security, and empowers local decisions in the development of currency,
culture, and governance. While protecting local economies from the slow
drain of an export economy, relocalization goes a step further than
localization with a commitment to reduce consumption, waste, and to
improve environmental and social conditions.
The long-term goal of relocalization is for human societies to become as
healthy, vibrant, and resilient as a climax ecosystem through adherence
to the natural systems principles that support the self-organizing
tendency of living organisms to create mutually supportive
relationships. These principles and relationships have been successfully
evolving for billions of years, and as such are a perfectly natural
aspect of humanity that must be nurtured and enhanced.
Where are we now?
A global growth economy based on cheap and abundant fossil fuels to both
grow and transport our food thousands of miles, and to supply the raw
materials for the cheap plastic throwaway goods we've come to rely on,
is quickly drawing to a close. We are not going to see an economic
recovery, because we are not in a recession. We are approaching the end of an
historic period in human civilization. This period is drawing to a close
as the logical consequence of abusing and misusing our planet as both
an endless supply of resources and a bottomless pit for waste.
Our future now depends on becoming locally self-reliant for our basic
necessities to the greatest extent possible. Fossil fuels are no longer
cheap, they're becoming less abundant, and they are the major
contributor to human aggravated global warming. Plus, we now have the
Gusher in the Gulf and what it may do to the foundation of the ocean's
food web to add to our growing list of concerns.
Relocalizing means building community networks of mutual support. It
means more family farms (many, many more) and making sure they're not
forced to sell out to developers. It means living wage jobs in clean,
zero-waste industries that use renewable energy; that focus on
rebuilding our local economic base, recapturing the skills and
craftsmanship we're lost to overseas off-shoring, outsourcing and the
model of industrial efficiency that puts quantity above quality. As an
added bonus, living wage jobs also directly address the issues of
affordable housing and poverty.
Relocalization means making our cities human friendly and less reliant
on cars. Less asphalt and more trees means less urban heat island effect
and more natural carbon uptake. Plus, rebuilding, renovating, and
remodeling for low-impact, energy efficient homes, businesses and
infrastructure will keep local construction industries plenty busy for
decades to come.
Rather than trying to be competitive in a global economy that's heading
south—figuratively and literally—we have the opportunity to become global
leaders in sustainable, steady-state local living economies.
Any community that takes the initial steps of creating the necessary
coalitions to build a sustainable model, and demonstrate the many ways
this improves quality of life, will further benefit from the economic
prosperity will come from teaching other communities how to be
If we don't have a vision for where we want to go, we will end up
somewhere else. Plus we're going to discover the truth in the phrase,
"you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone."