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What we can do to truly localize



From our colleagues at LocalFutures

What You Can Do To Localize Right Now

Our flawed global economy is a systemic issue and localization is a systemic solution. For too long, we have been trapped into seeing ourselves as isolated units, only able to solve global crises by changing individual habits. Being an ethical consumer isn’t enough to “save the planet”. We need collective action – both in resisting the drivers of social and environmental destruction, and renewing local cultures, communities, and economies – to create systemic change.

However, changing our own practices, combined with developing a deeper understanding of the system, lays the groundwork for effective collective action. Lasting change starts with our own individual actions and radiates out from there. Small wins help to build the motivation and momentum for bigger community projects.

So let’s get started! Here is a list of some ideas for action:

The Food System

Strengthen your local food system.

1. Join a Community Supported Agriculture program, or another initiative strengthening local, small-scale, ecological farming and food in your area.

2. Shift five of your regular food purchases to a local farm or producer.

3. Start a bulk buying club, and order from locally-owned food cooperatives or directly from farmers.

4. Take it a step further and start a homemade food business or a worker-owned cooperative. Here’s an overview of legal considerations and guide to starting a coop (both US-based).

Grow food on the land.

5. If you have a lawn, turn it into an organic foodgarden. Check out Food Not LawnsLawn to FoodYard Farmers, and Fleet Farming for inspiration.

6. If you have land but don’t want to start a garden (or farm), offer the use of your land to a local farmer or community gardening or food justice organization. Here are some resources about yard exchanges and connecting with young farmers needing access to land.

7. If you want to garden but don’t have land, ask friends, your neighborhood association or local government about options for accessing land to grow food. Connect with local community gardening or similar organizations, or start one if none are yet present in your area! For guidance, check out Agrarian Trust’s resource page on accessing land.

8. Get involved in transforming a vacant lot into a food garden in your town or city.

Gather free local food.

9. Harvest fruit from urban parks and homeowners (with permission, and check for pesticide use!). Invite others to join you and organize a group harvest. Visit Falling Fruit for a global map of fruit that’s free for everyone.

10. Learn how to responsibly harvest, prepare, and use wild foods and herbs, whether from wild places or urban neighborhoods. You can start by connecting with a local herbalist, many of whom lead group plant walks!

11. Join a local food gleaning group if there’s one in your area, or start one if there isn’t. Here are lists of groups in the USAUK, and Canada; elsewhere, check out Falling Fruit.

Share the harvest.

12. Share some of your harvest – whether gathered or gardened – with a local food bank or soup kitchen.

13. Set up a mini community food pantry; look to Community Fridges and repurposed Little Free Libraries for inspiration.

14. Start a seed library – catalog your seeds and offer them to others.

Local Businesses & Finance

15. Shift some of your purchasing this week to local businesses, and encourage your friends and family to do the same. Shift more next week, and so on!

16. Buy gift cards for three local businesses, and read this article for other ways to support local businesses through COVID-19.

17. Shift your bank account to a small, locally-owned bank or credit union that has policies and practices better aligned with sustainability and justice. Read about the top 5 reasons to do so.

18. Brainstorm three local businesses or farms that you could invest in and investigate the options. Slow MoneyLocavesting, and Regenerative Finance can all help get you started.

19. Spread the word on local investing by starting a local “move your money” campaign.

20. Start a Totally Locally initiative in your area, to foster support for local independent businesses, services and production. Get inspiration, tools and help from other Totally Locally communities in action.


21. Purchase power from a community-owned renewable energy project, and better yet, become a member of or start a project. Read Energy Democracy and Community Energy to learn more.

22. Push for changes in your town or city to discourage private automobiles and encourage cycling, walking, and public transit.

23. Figure out three ways that you can drastically reduce household electricity use, and do them! (Learn about ‘phantom energy’, and turn off and unplug.)

The Sharing and Repairing Economy

24. Teach yourself a new homesteading skill – baking, fermenting, growing food, basic carpentry, bicycle repair, or making cleaning products, for example!

25. Share one of your homesteading skills with others.

26. Set up a Little Free Library to share books.

27. Start planning a repair cafe event.

Ecological Restoration

28. Join local conservation groups working to protect local natural areas and farmland from development, possibly including biodiversity mapping.

29. Plant a tree. Better yet, plant ten different species of trees.

30. Grow plants that attract and support pollinators, other insects and wild birds.

31. Build a wild bee hotel.

Celebrate Life and Cultivate Happiness

32. Make a date to spend a few hours in a park or wild place this week.

33. Invite friends over for a celebration of seasonal food (whenever it’s safe to do so in your area).

34. Host or join a community yoga, tai chi, meditation or exercise class – ideally outdoors if possible.

35. Host or join a community singing or dancing group.

36. Start a practice of reminding yourself, every day, of three things in your nearby ecosystems and communities for which you are grateful.

Integrate celebration as part of the localization process;
infuse fun, joy, and gratitude into each localization action,
no matter how big or small!

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Local food sourcing saves people and climate



World traffic in food by massive corporations harms environment, jobs, and health; yields no net change in food availability; and harms jobs and food security everywhere. Swedish linguist Helena Norberg-Hodge, founder of International Society for Ecology and Culture (now Local Futures), tells Helen Lobato of Women on the Line how prioritizing local food production and distribution will build back local economies and roll back corporate oil-dependent hegemony.

Source: WINGS: Womens International News Gathering Service


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Can Covid-19 be the Opportunity to Shine the light on the need for Localization?



Prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was believed that globalisation would lead to development and prosperity. However, the whole scenario has changed now with almost every part of the world under some form of lockdown, which has posed a major challenge to the fulfillment of the demand for various goods and services. This is has shifted focus to the importance of the ‘local’.

The situation was no different in Ladakh when restrictions were placed on the transportation of various supply chains during the crucial period (summer months). I am describing summer months as a ‘crucial period’ for Ladakh as it is the only period when we are open for economic activities. These are difficult in the winter months when the roads to the outside world remain closed. Ladakhis stockpile all basic commodities in the summer to last them for the rest of the year.

During the lockdown, vegetables and fruits were nowhere to be seen in Ladakh, and there was a shortage of other food items too. This was primarily due to travel and transport restrictions at a time when these commodities are usually brought to Ladakh. Such a situation calls for a return to the days of the past, when Ladakh was a self-sustaining and self-reliant kingdom and dependent on the outside world for very few commodities. However, with gradual improvement in connectivity and the increased impact of globalisation, we became dependent on the outside world for all of our basic necessities, and for economic development.

The arrival of tourists from 1974 onwards revolutionised Ladakh’s economy, with many preferring to invest in tourism-based businesses instead of traditional agriculture and animal-based livelihoods. In time, the occupational shift became so prominent that people in Ladakh are now completely dependent on the transportation of basic commodities such as vegetables, fruits, and oils from the outside world.

I am not saying that we should all move back to traditional agriculture and animal farming. However, I am trying to highlight the unsustainable dependence we have nurtured to meet even our basic needs, which we can easily produce in Ladakh. For instance, a wide variety of vegetables and basic goods like oil, butter, flour, etc. can be produced in Ladakh, and imports can be reduced as we scale-up local production. Once we have enough production in Ladakh, there will be no need to transport them from outside. At the same time, there would be more employment and people would not need to migrate outside for job opportunities.

Localisation doesn’t necessarily mean to become completely self-reliant. Instead, it refers to a reduction in the distance between producers and consumers and consequent need for unnecessary transportation. This idea of being local has been emphasised by German economist E. F. Schumacher, author of Small is Beautiful (1973), and by Helena Norberg-Hodge, director of Local Futures and co-founder of the Ladakh Ecological Development Group and the Women’s Alliance of Ladakh.

Ladakh has the potential to be a self-reliant and self-sufficient Union Territory wherein we will not need to unnecessarily transport basic goods from outside as they can be grown and produced in the region. This includes vegetables and fruits as well as education facilities and job opportunities. There are many advantages to being local and consuming locally-produced goods. It ensures a quality assurance for products as one can trace their origins easily. Perishable vegetables and fruits will be safer to consume with less chemical content and preservatives, which in turn will help boost our ability to withstand various infections.

Localisation also has a number of positive environmental impacts. The reduction in unnecessary transportation will lead to a major reduction in the carbon footprint of each commodity, help conserve natural resources, reduce environmental pollution, ensure food security and mitigate climate change. In addition, it will create new job opportunities, reduce economic conflicts and increase contentment amongst local communities.

We already have numerous goods being produced locally, with several entrepreneurs making new innovations. For instance, the increased demand for facemasks and hand-sanitisers has led to many volunteers producing these locally in Ladakh. These are small acts of being local.

In my opinion, we must consider the COVID-19 pandemic as a wake-up call from nature. It signifies that it is time for us to give back to nature what we have been taking from it till now. It is not the last pandemic and global disaster that we will have to overcome. Hence, it is essential that we learn our lessons so that we are able to meet these challenges when we face them again. I feel it is the right time to reboot the system, build local capacity, and promote local production to create a more resilient society with a localised economy.


This essay originally appeared in the Ladakhi news magazine Stawa.

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Free to Download Fight the Fire: Green New Deals and Global Climate Jobs



Fight the Fire

Fight The Fire Book Cover


“The most compelling and concise guide to averting climate breakdown.” – Brendan Montague, editor, The Ecologist.

Download Jonathan Neale’s Fight the Fire from The Ecologist for free now.

The Ecologist has published Fight the Fire for free so that it is accessible to all.

We would like to thank our readers for donating £1,000 to cover some of the costs of publishing and promoting this book.

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