Localism vs.The Big Bad Box

Localism as an idea  is that everything that is local and small is good.

For many people today, localism is a counterpoint to globalization.  Everything that is big and bad, is mass produced mass marketed is mass everything.  The counter to that is anything “Locally-sourced” produce, local food (particularly slow food), and local crafts undo the sameness that globalization relentlessly imposes everywhere.

Localism is a reaction to the loss of place, or a space with significance, a space in which meaning is created out of activity or historical activity.  Think of a market in a town square to which the same people go daily to sell or buy products.

The thought is that connections and relationships are formed, knowledge and education are received on a personal level which creates a value not given in the mass produced environment.

We live in an overly saturated world

Most spaces or environments are spaces of transit that we pass through, disconnected from others, and are rapidly disappearing.  Instead, we live in an overly saturated world, and non-places become not spaces of disconnect but rather spaces in which we connect with others.

Think of your local mall.  If you have children of a certain age is it not the hub of their social and (unfortunately for dad) economic activity?  Is this not where they meet and interact with others from all over their regional community?

What about the dreaded “Big Box” stores that dot most all of our cities and towns?  Stand in front of one of the doors on a Saturday morning if you dare.  You of course never frequent or shop.  There they sit in seven acre slabs of concrete, an island unto themselves.  Created by the big bad developers or, the demand for consumer goods?

Localism isn’t a return to place

Localism is a simulation of the local.  We make connections, we have intense but fleeting relationships with others, generally based around consumption (booze?), and an example would be a local place to eat.  Of course never at the “chain” restaurants we all despise. We form ties with (either with the staff at our favorite local restaurant or with the friends we go there with), but for most of us it’s temporary.  Quick connection and off we go.  The ties break, or at best, are held together by ironically the Net which is of course global.

Are these environments created for a sense of place or connection?  Defend your local farmers market or co –op to the death.  Hug those beautiful historical buildings and wander through the quaint local neighborhoods.  Despise the out of town “Big Box” developers.

Localism is comic; at best a temporary reconciliation that everyone knows is momentary.  Place or a sense of place is somewhat tragic, a great hope.

Protest, rant, blog, opine about the horrible ugly wretched real estate in your town.  Shop, live, frequent, and spend money there anyway.

Duke Long