Let’s Think Local

We are told that there is no alternative to the way the economy works, yet the current approach is exceeding the earth’s natural limits, destroying its biodiversity and is fuelling global warming.

It feels daunting but what can we do about it? Part of the solution is to start “Thinking Local”.

What’s the issue?

In February 2023 we started our Green Drinks Socials with a film Ancient Futures which explored a ‘saner’ way of life. Exactly a year later we showed the short version of the sequel The Economics of Happiness which focusses on how economies and supply chains might be relocalised. A quick trailer for the film is below and it is a good starting point if you are short of time.

Both films give us a very different perspective on things, so please check them out too. You may not agree with everything the films say or the language used – but they do make you think and reflect!

SinCH agrees that relocalisation is vital and we encourage you to make up your own mind and to make choices which make sense to you. We are not proposing a return to a mythical golden bygone age but things can be done differently and more sustainably in the future.

We only know one way of doing things and it has become natural to us. We are told that it’s the only way, but the current economic and social model has very serious negative effects on people, society and the planet. Whilst this is said to be “progress” (and let’s recognise that a lot of progress has been acheived!) let’s consider the drawbacks to get a balanced picture.

The Economics of Happiness film starts by showing how, in Ladakh, the old sustainable and co-operative ways of doing things were undermined and ultimately destroyed. People there have moved from a challenging but sustainable existence to one which has taken away their control and made them dependent. It has depleted their knowledge and skills, fragmented or destroyed their social bonds so they are in competition. Previously the impact of decisions on neighbours was immediately obvious, now the impact on others is hidden.

Instead of having an economy which meets their needs they are now exposed to insecurity, and their physical and mental health have been impoverished. Local farmers have been put out of business due to cheap, subsidised food imports. Without their own sources of food, and eating a western style diet, the people are now at the mercy of global forces – prices rise and the unavailability of key foodstuffs.

Sounds familiar?

The film also explores the negative impact of the globalisation of the economy and argues that:

  • It is an extractive model, not a sustainable one.
  • Globalisation has turbocharged the pursuit of economic growth at all costs.
  • In turn, this is driving the twin threats of global warming and ecological destruction.
  • It is also concentrating economic power and money in very few hands and increasing inequality.
  • Governments should invest more to support local communities.
  • Communities need to take their future into their own hands.

It argues that a key way we can improve the situation is to re-localise our economy.

It is interesting that young Ladakhis are beginning to throw off the consumer values of globalisation and return to life rebuilding local community and sustainability, mutual care and wellbeing. It’s easier for them – they still have the cultural memory of their past from 50 years ago, whereas for us the task of finding a sustainable way forward needs a lot more thinking about. But it is happening and we can play our part.

So what can we do?

Is there an alternative? Yes there is.

We we will always need trade and some of this must be international, it always has been. But what we need is a more human-centred and ecological approach. Is this just utopian nonsense? No it’s not.

As Local Futures argues, we need to build the local economy to allow the goods and services we need to be produced locally or regionally. This will strengthen our community, lead to better health and well-being, all while reducing pollution and the degradation of the natural world.

Local Councils, businesses, communities and individuals all have a role to play. Good work is already going on so don’t forget that your choices do count and can influence businesses, so please put your money where it will do the most good.

We have captured some practical ideas to support the local economy on our Living more Sustainably page, including the Stafford, Lichfield and Uttoxeter repair cafes which are operating regularly so check their websites for the details.

What else is going on locally just now?

Our local Green Directory
A while back SinCH produced a Green Directory which lists local businesses which take sustainability seriously. This can be downloaded here.

Your help please! The Directory needs updating and putting into a better format. If you know anyone who has graphic design skills and would be willing to help please let us know at info@sinch.earth. It would perhaps make a good project for a student, or you may fancy having a go yourself?

SinCH Green Drinks events
Our 5th March Green Drinks will be featuring a local business making sustainable soaps. Details to follow and all welcome.

The Staffordshire Celebration of the Possible (COP)
Our friends at the Globe Foundation in Uttoxeter are working to bring together communities, organisations, councils, academia and civil society to create a shared vision for a happier healthier future and charting a pathway to get there over the next 10 years.

This work is based on another way of reshaping economies using Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics approach which considers the “social foundation, to ensure that no one is left falling short on life’s essentials, and an ecological ceiling, to ensure that humanity does not collectively overshoot the planetary boundaries that protect Earth’s life-supporting systems.

Between these two sets of boundaries lies a doughnut-shaped space that is both ecologically safe and socially just: a space in which humanity can thrive.”

There have been local events to help develop this idea and road maps for the future. The next step is a conference in Stoke on 15 March 2024 to start to bring this thinking together. Everyone is welcome to attend by booking here.

Rethinking Food

Some further good news on re-localisation is that a group of over 80 people from across the food chain in Staffordshire – farmers, producers, community groups and consumers are now working to map out how we can Rethink Local Food.

At our 2nd April Green Drinks evening we will be getting an update on this work from Diana, one of the key people involved, so please watch out for further details and pop along.

We can also support our local businesses such as the Canalside Farm shop which does work hard to support local suppliers and there are still Farmers’ Markets locally. In Stafford Roots Larder provides sustainable products and food items and they attend our Coffee Mornings, bringing your orders with them. See our regular emails for more details on how to order.

It is important that as many of us as possible support these businesses, despite the premium cost often (but not always!) involved. Better quality does cost but also the product tends to be fresher, better nutritionally and go a lot further than the cheaper option.

  • If you’d like to help us plan and organise events, support our work in other ways or to get involved in our work please contact us at info@sinch.earth or use our contact form.
  • Keep an eye out for our email updates and on Facebook.

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