Keep it local, keep it real!



As society becomes increasingly cynical about the benefits of economic globalisation, seeing it as a get-rich scheme for a tiny amount at the top of the tree at the expense of the masses, many are turning towards traditional ideas of community and localism. There’s particularly been a shift in mentality amongst the younger generation, as I have touched on before.

Well, as it becomes more and more apparent that this recession is not simply a minor blip that will simply solve itself if we all get out there and start spending some of our hard earned cash on various superfluous items, some UK cities are focusing on keeping it local rather than putting their cash into the pockets of faceless, tax-avoiding international companies (hello! We all know who you are!)

So Bristol, which for all those who don’t know is a large city in the south-west of England, decided to take things a step further and introduce their own currency:

This currency cannot be used outside of the city, hence keeping trade local, creating jobs, services and loyal customers. We’ve yet to see the real results of this experiment, but it’s an important step to localising economies and creating a strong, binding sense of community.

In fact, let’s take it a step further and imagine that ‘money’ as a currency is replaced by something tangible, a skill, a favour for example (a la pre-industrial societies.) For example, I exchange my language skills for my neighbour’s hairdressing skills – no coins exchanging hands, a simple swapping of talents to help each other out.

That’s just one way of doing things – of course money for now doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere (for a while, at least!) The idea is that the power, the sustainability of communities is put back into our hands. Self-actualisation, on a mass scale. I’ve heard figures that suggest that when we buy local for example, up to two thirds of all money spent stays within the community, helping neighbourhoods grow.

And we’re all probably halfway there already. Think about it – your local restaurant – you may recommend your friends to go there. Or perhaps you helped out a neighbour by distributing her leaflets for her own small business amongst your friends and family? Maybe you shared a car with a neighbour to get your children to school? Perhaps someone in your community found you a place to stay when you were new to the area? Have a think – there are probably many examples.

The point is that the little things we do, mindlessly every day, have a bigger power, a bigger potential. It’s simply a case of realising this and building the ties that bind us to each other to create tight-knit communities which support each other in the tough times, so storms such as this current global hurricane can be weathered more easily.