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The Continuity of the Local

Three Communities and Change


The articles I've linked to here all address larger scaled changes that I see happening. These are people worth your time to read and consider their thinking.

Clay Shirky's blog post Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable

Tim O'Reilly on Clay Shirky's Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable

Jeff Jarvis on The Great Restructuring and The Great Restructuring II: the new ism.

Umair Haque's The Smart Growth Manifesto

Here's what I'm seeing.

How the business and governmental institutions of our world as currently organized are incapable of adapting to the rapid changes that have been happening in global society. I would add to this list - traditional social, educational and religious institutions as well.

Each is attempting to survive in a time of chaos. Each is attempting to find some sort of continuity from day to day, from one crisis to the next.

Many of these institutions, since the end of the Second World War, have lived in an era of expansion of their programs and complexity of their organizational structures. As they have grown, operating efficiencies have provided these institutions financial capital to expand their reach.  All that is now ending as global economic contraction happens.

The X-factor in this once every 500-1000 year shift is the internet. Just like the rise of the Roman Republic and Empire entered in a millennium long era of global continuity, and Gutenberg's moveable type press was the first step toward universal literacy and self-development, so now the internet provides the means to link all people everywhere in ways that are personally meaningful and socially fulfilling. In this sense, the internet transcends the social and institutional boundaries that define society.

We are witnessing the beginning of an era where the institutional structures that we've depended upon for maintaining progress and continuity in our world are now declining into powerlessness or extinction.

I'm convinced that what national and global commentators are missing is the significance of local communities. There is a great emphasis on the power of virtual communities, but that is a different thing.

From now on we are all members of three distinct communities.

The global community through institutions of business and government.

The virtual community through the tools of social media and the internet.

The local community through the place where we live.

These communities are not mutually exclusive. They touch, blend, cross-over and impact each other. They contribute and support one another. As with all things, we are connected, interwoven and forever interdependent upon one another.

It is the local community that is being ignored in the response to this crisis. This is where I believe positive, sustainable change begins.

Ask yourself,

"How can I strengthen the ability of my local community to create jobs and care for people in need."

Just those two ideas.

Think about it. Share your thoughts if you want. I welcome it.

I continue this conversation in my next post - The Continuity of the Local.

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