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Byron Shire
October 23, 2021

Now’s the time to get localised

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It’s not every day you get a letter of support from the Dalai Lama. But recently, Helena Norberg-Hodge, founder of Local Futures, received a special endorsement for their World Localisation Day on June 21.

His Holiness said, ‘The coronavirus pandemic has shown us, beyond all doubt, how all the countries of the world depend on one another for their well-being… It is ironic that the increase in our material progress and technology has somehow not been sufficient in bringing about peace and happiness.

‘The lesson we can learn from the past is to act locally, even while thinking globally’.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a global call to wake up to the need for a strong localised economy.

The fragility of the global supply chain is clear for all to see. The conversation around localisation is the conversation of our time – it’s what will make us resilient to the unpredictable impacts of a pandemic.

Annie Lennox. Photo supplied.

That’s why Local Futures are hosting their first World Localisation Day on Sunday June 21. Talks and presentations will be streamed online and include international hard-hitters Noam Chomsky, Charles Eisenstein, Damon Gameau, Jane Goodall, Johann Hari and celebrities such as Russell Brand, Annie Lennox and Brian Eno.

For Helena, this is about seeing a life’s work start to find traction in the mainstream.

‘Part of what COVID-19 has shown is this very clear dramatic fork in the road’, she said. ‘If we follow the path of business-as-usual, we are going to be more dependent on an unstable and unreliable global economy.’

Brian Eno. Photo supplied.

Food economy

One of the key foundations of building a resilient local economy, Helena says, is the ‘fundamental importance of shifting the food economy.

‘The trend is moving to supporting more diversified, smaller farms, who produce for their regions. There is growing awareness around buying from your own country and moving away from importing.

‘Multinationals wouldn’t make money if we ate food from our own country.

‘Today, something like 70 per cent of food consumed around the world comes from small peasant farms that are light years away from mono-cultures, but they provide quite enjoyable livelihoods. And that is starting to happen in the local food movement’, says Helena.

World Localisation Day has attracted high profile people to spread the message. One such person is Annie Lennox, who Helena says became engaged in the movement through her ex-husband.

‘She is a person with a profile who is prepared to use her reach to spread the message of localisation’, says Helena.

So is Jane Goodall – best known for her work with chimpanzees.

‘She is a passionate campaigning environmentalist who hates travelling as much as I do, but she travels the world endlessly to create a movement to protect the Earth. She is a leading figure in the world – Jane will be presenting a short message on world localisation day.’

Similarly, Russell Brand is a fierce advocate of localisation, and a fan of Helena’s work, having quoted her extensively in his book, Revolution.

‘What we love about Russell is that he covers the entire gamut, from the neoliberal system, to having the deep knowledge of the spiritual healing of the connection to nature’, says Helena.

The localisation movement also highlights our connection and disconnection from nature and local communities. It all impacts our mental health. Writer Johann Hari articulates this in his powerful book, Lost Connections. He will also be presenting as part of World Localisation Day.

And of course, there’s the endorsement from, and the long alliance Helena has had with, the Dalai Lama.

She says, ‘I have had personal meetings with him over many years, and he was a great supporter of our work in Ladakh. He wrote a preface to my book Ancient Futures, and this pandemic has made him value local even more’.

Anyone can log on to the conference – it’s free, with a suggested donation if you can afford it. It starts at 6pm on June 21 (our time). For more info, visit www.worldlocalizationday.org.

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