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Ground Zero: The New Rules Project

February 24, 2011

Half of world’s population could face climate-driven food crisis in second half of the century – Science study warns: “Ignoring climate projections at this stage will only result in the worst form of triage.

The sooner we can find ways to be self-reliant and self-sustaining, the better. Although I will not be alive after 2050, I believe in supporting localization efforts. I choose me over the corporations. I choose preservation of the environment over willful destruction by businesses. I choose my community over foreign interests. I choose community banking over too-big-to-fail banks. I support green technology, biofuels, and solar (not wind as it is a scar upon the land and kills birds. It also is being infested by the same big oil corporations that monopolize our energy and are our greatest polluters). I support local farming and farmer’s markets. I am a member of a credit union. I want to pioneer my own destiny through personal commitment to developing localization.

My goals:
1. setup a rainwater catchment system at my home this year to offset dependence on local water authorities – monopolies;
2. lease solar panels for my roof to offset dependence on my local energy provider – Sempra Energy, a monopoly
3. plant multiple gardens for different veggies and berries to insure better quality food, reliable food source,and offset costs;
4. plan to purchase a hybrid or electric car in 3 years as a commitment to reduce my carbon footprint.
5. promote localization indirectly and directly through writing and community involvement;

I will report back on my progress.

My goals are consistent with the New Rules Project:

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) proposes a set of new rules that builds community by supporting humanly scaled politics and economics.

Why New Rules?

Because the old ones don’t work any longer. They undermine local economies, subvert democracy, weaken our sense of community, and ignore the costs of our decisions on the next generation.

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) proposes a set of new rules that builds community by supporting humanly scaled politics and economics. The rules call for:

* Decisions made by those who will feel the impact of those decisions.
* Communities accepting responsibility for the welfare of their members and for the next generation.
* Households and communities possessing or owning sufficient productive capacity to generate real wealth.

These are the principles of “new localism.” They call upon us to begin viewing our communities and our regions not only as places of residence, recreation and retail but as places that nurture active and informed citizens with the skills and productive capacity to generate real wealth and the authority to govern their own lives.

All human societies are governed by rules. We make the rules and the rules make us. Thus, the heart of this web site is a growing storehouse of community and local economy-building rules – laws, regulations, and ordinances – because these are the concrete expression of our values. They channel entrepreneurial energy and investment capital and scientific genius. The New Rules Project identifies rules that honor a sense of place and prize rootedness, continuity and stability as well as innovation and enterprise.

Questions and Answers

Isn’t it unrealistic to expect communities to be self-sufficient?
Yes, it is. Localism does not mean self-sufficiency. Nations are not self-sufficient, and neither are communities. But nations that are self-conscious and self-determining are stronger because of it. The same holds true for communities.

But aren’t there economies of scale?
Yes, but empirical evidence has shown us that in many important areas–education, health, manufacturing, farming, the generation of power, for instance–it is not globalism and bigness, but localism and smallness that are more cost-effective, more profitable, more environmentally benign, more democratic, more enduring. The only thing that smallness lacks is power, the power to make the rules.

Doesn’t localism pose a threat to those who are not in the majority?Doesn’t it allow those with means, or power, to secede from responsibility for the whole, leaving the powerless behind?
If localism were absolute, yes, it would do that. But it is not. Localism is an approach that allows us to sort out which roles are appropriate for which levels of government. Guarantees of basic rights must come from the federal level. Higher levels of government appropriately should set floors–e.g., a minimum wage or a minimum level of environmental compliance or minimum guarantees of political rights– but not ceilings. They should not pre-empt lower levels of government from exceeding those minimums (as international trade agreements do, for instance.)

Why would localism guarantee efficient, environmentally benign development?
It doesn’t. There are no guarantees in a true democracy, because power rests with the citizens. But it does create the possibility. And without localism, we are guaranteed the opposite: rootless corporations with no allegiance to place, other than to the place with the lowest wages and least environmental restrictions; long lines of transportation, which are inherently polluting; and out-of-scale development that wrecks neighborhoods and destroys habitat. By its very nature, localism would shorten transportation lines, encourage rooted businesses, demand an active citizenry. Localism is a development concept that would enable humanly-scaled, environmentally healthy, politically active, economically robust communities.

Isn’t localism simply nostalgia for a simpler time?
No. Just as globalism is mistaken for progress, localism is often confused with a desire to reverse technology, or turn back the clock. There is nothing inherently progressive about globalization, and there is nothing inherently backwards-looking about localism. Localism has to do with (1) where decisions are made, and (2) the principles guiding those decisions. Those are issues that will and should remain central to society throughout time.

Is localism anti-technology?
The new localism relies on some of the most sophisticated technologies (e.g. integrated pest management, flexible manufacturing, solar cells.) At the end of the 19th century, as we switched from wood to steel, from water wheels to fossil fueled central power plants, and from craft shops to mass production, technology seemed to demand larger scale production systems and economies. At the end of the 20th century, as we switch from minerals to vegetables, from fossil fuels to solar energy, and from mass production to batch production, technological progress encourages decentralized, localized economies.

For more information visit New Rules Project, click here

Related: Federal Policy Threaten Local Banks, click here

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