Localize it - Page 4

Local action: a new initiative aims to deglobalize the Bay Area's economy

Despite the overall support that Schwind and others say already exists in the Bay Area for localization, they admit there are challenges to mobilizing citizens.

"It's well documented that people tend not to act unless there is a crisis," Shaffer said. But he also said that "giving people Armageddon scenarios" will not work because such stories are depressing and, more importantly, "people are too busy to think comprehensively about that sort of thing."

Instead, Shaffer and Schwind said the coalition plans on putting out a "positive, hopeful" message focusing on the benefits that will accrue to individuals and communities if they adopt localization.

Beyond getting the public involved, the coalition is encouraging local, state, and federal government organizations to conduct studies assessing the challenges and true costs of relying so heavily on global markets. Talberth acknowledged that:

"Getting [those] assessments done is a big challenge."

Ultimately, the coalition would like the Bay Area to serve as a model of localization for other areas in the United States. Shaffer said the group is "not looking to put a formulaic stamp on other regions" but hopes instead that such places will be influenced to adopt localization measures in light of the Bay Area's success.

Shaffer said the food and energy sectors, along with retail, are already understood well by consumers, at least intuitively. So he predicts the coalition could achieve significant results in those sectors within five years. Spreading those advances to other parts of the economy could take another 10 years after that.

Shaffer, Talberth, and Schwind all said that change is coming whether people want it or not, mostly due to global warming. So they argue for the Bay Area to embrace change now and begin to make the needed changes gradually, before they are painfully thrust upon us. We can localize our world or simply accept whatever the global economy dishes out. *

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