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The #FutureOfLocal – What should the relationship between global businesses and local communities look like in the future?

Future of Local

I have posted before on this blog about The Future of Local, a project by InterContinental that is asking important questions about the relationship between ‘global’ businesses and ‘local’ communities. Mostly taking place on a TED forum, it’s a brave approach for a large international company to take and I have been pleased to help facilitate much of the conversation so far.

The first phase of the conversation questioned how travel might change local places in the future. After 20 days the conversation came to an end and I posted the following brief closing remark.

“I have been fascinated by the diverse range of contributions that have been made. The stories that have been shared are particularly powerful, with examples of how globalisation is impacting on the communities that we live in, visit and influence.

What is clear is that many of us are working from very different definitions of what ‘local’ means. Ronald Estrada describes local as “minimal, ecological, and symbiotic” while Iain Ellwood says it is more of “a state of mind not a geographic destination”. This idea links well to Dustin Smith’s suggestion that technology “changes who we spend time with, and allows us to choose “our own local”.

The diversity of definitions of ‘local’ goes a long way to explain why we have so many different predictions about the future. Steve Knight had the most radical prediction, suggesting that personal air travel “will allow people to re-populate currently remote and unpopulated areas of the world”. Pabitra Mukhopadhyay, Dorian Knus and many others share our concern that global forces are damaging local places and raise valid concerns for the future. These worries are met by many points that express the advantages of globalisation, including one by David Rogers who asks “Is the advantage of globalisation the ability to start a conversation anywhere in the world around common experiences?”

There have been a number of engaging solutions, including ways for tourists, travel companies and host communities to act more responsibly and sustainably. The common areas here appear to be high quality research, learning, education, empowerment and participation. Scan through to find some real gems.”

A good range of people contributed and I was personally excited to read comments by students and teachers who had some deep and insightful thinking on the topic.

AmsterdamMost recently I visited Amsterdam with the project to be part of a panel. Together we engaged in a dialogue to investigate how business, travel, art, technology and attitudes are changing and what can be done to negotiate the relationship between local places and global forces. The conversation was filmed and you can watch an edited version of it here.

The current conversation on TED asks “How can a global business create a fulfilling relationship with a local community?”. One of the most recent replies by Mitchell Harmatz quite rightly simply responds that maybe the question should be “How does a community create a fulfilling relationship with a global business?”. The significant differences in these two questions may well bring about very different answers, but it is the opportunities that come out of this conflict that the Future of Local project is exploring.

We all have opinions on the relationship between large brands and how they influence our everyday lives. Please do join the conversation and share your thoughts and ideas on TED or by tweeting using #FutureOfLocal.

 

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