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April 25, 2012 / Green America

Strategy #4 Localism and Improved Communications

The booklet “Saving the Titanic” was originally published by Paul Freundlich, founder of Green America (formerly Co-op America).   It contains a dozen green strategies for our society to avoid the “icebergs” of climate change, nuclear catastrophe, economic collapse, and other ills.  Today, we excerpt Solution #4, and over the coming days, we’ll share the rest of Paul’s solutions:

Routinely shipping products thousands of miles, plus ordinary personal and business travel require vast expenditures of energy and natural resources. Rising costs are treated as an insult to our freedom, but they only represent belated recognition of a changing reality. Local production and working and recreating close to home are viewed by the market economy as quaint, yet they signal a shift in practice that significantly reduces consumption. Reducing the scale of agribusiness and reliance on pesticides while moving to organics are all positive steps.

How: The internet and home access to entertainment have improved the quality of communications and diversion. Promoting video conferencing and other communications marvels; ex-tolling nearby attractions; valuing the freshness of local produce through farmer‘s markets and fairs, the recirculation of currency within communities all help make close to home attractive. Paris has kept its neighborhoods viable by preventing food chains from encroaching on the local groceries and cafes that establish much of the city‘s character. In New Britain, CT, two square blocks have been transformed via irrigation and greenhouses into a productive urban garden feeding neighborhoods and servicing regional restaurants. Farmers markets and community gardens restate an urban reconnection to the earth in the most practical terms of self-reliance. Living and producing within our means includes the leveraging capacity of technology, but not without accounting for the long-term costs. From Davis, California to Summerville, Massachusetts, to Curitiba in Brazil, to pedestrian thoroughfares in Europe, the pre-eminence of motor transport has been challenged and redirected. Pedestrian and bicycle traffic suit both environmental and human scale functionality.

Result: A cultural shift to localism and reduced drain on resources.

Probability: Easier at the top where people have greater awareness and flexibility and at the bottom where folks make fewer assumptions about mobility. In the middle expect massive pushback on travel, but communications is a winner all around.

In the days that follow, we’ll post the rest of Paul’s 12 strategies for righting the ship.

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