Radical Relocalization

These kickstart actions can engage folks in your local community!

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Here are some "kickstart" actions that get you out in the open and get things moving. None of them are one-offs so much as ongoing practices. They get things started, and that's the easy part.

The actions themselves are less important than the spirit they're offered in. It's great if each event can have the "energy" of what you're wanting to end up with. In other words, fun, collaborative, connecting, with room for dissent, willing to work with what people come in with. Truth be told, this makes it more fun for you, because you don't have to control things. That never worked very well anyway. 

Collaborate with others as soon as you can. Relocalization can't be done alone. I don't do this as well as I need to myself.

Hold a monthly potluck

This simplest of actions can be the stimulus for many developments. It gives people's yearning for change a place to go, and to come out when ready. Consider giving it a local name and putting it on a repeating schedule.

Build an Open Source Relocalizing Group in your community.

The groups purpose is a) to support your personal and emotional needs (and that of others doing relocalizing work) and b) to support the completion of your work and vision. Check it out!

Start a conversation meeting

The most important thing about whatever you do is that you can't do it all on your own. (Did I say that yet?) You'll be out of step with the time. For us, everything started lurching into action with getting a few people together, and taking success there as encouragement to keep on initiating. The group will need a project at some point if it's not to run out of steam.The groups purpose is a) to support your personal and emotional needs (and that of others doing relocalizing work) and b) to support the completion of your work and vision. 

In our case it was a bit of a shot in he dark, inviting members of  a local "gardening plus" group I hardly knew to an evening discussing the future.

To meet others interested in community building for relocalization you could check out Green Drinks Environmental Network, a movement for finding like-minded "green" people in your area.

A lot of relocalizing comes down to invitation. Click here for some great tips on invitation from Peter Block.

Start a skills exchange column in your local community paper

In your area are many people who are practicing some of the skills needed for relocalization, though they don't call it that: they simply have a craft or art they do well. The idea is to approach the editor of the local community paper (including the neighborhood paper if there is one) with the idea of interviewing these people for a regular column or occasional article. Relocalization messages inevitably get into your article, without you having to be heavy handed about it.

I did this locally for a number of months and stopped after a personal separation. In our sparsely populated rural area I'd met many of the locals willing to be interviewed.

Start a "non-contiguous community garden," an Abundance Plot

What if local gardeners agreed to grow a small extra plot to share with others who were doing the same? Call it an Abundance Plot! It's a way to create a community of gardeners, or strengthen one, create local buzz, grow more stuff, teach and share preservation techniques, meet neighbors, and put your relocalization efforts on the map.

(Love what these "kiwis" are doing with their OOOOBY food distribution!)

Build your Neighborhood Foodshed

A reader sent me a link to this dynamite idea they're doing in Santa Barbara, and I think Wisconsin too. It almost makes me wish I didn't live out in the country so I could put it into place. It makes practical neighborhood food sufficiency possible, and has lots of neighborly spin-offs. 

Start a Speaker Series

Every couple of months ask someone to come and speak in your area about some aspect of relocalization. You'll quickly find, if you don't know already, that there are people in your general area who have valuable things to share. But how will you publicize them? Start a blog and talk about relocalizing stuff where you live.

Start a local website that puts your community on the relocalization map

Put your relocalizing efforts in a blog. Share what you're doing and also your personal story there. Let others see the human side of relocalizing (not that there's really any other! Put lots of ways for others to become involved. Every part of this work proceeds by invitation. Essentially you invite people to become involved, making both what you're inviting them too and what is expected of them, crystal clear. Blogs or sites can be free. I use www.yola.com for this site and find it to be excellent, including for folks who have no knowledge of websites or html (the most common code that sites use).

Speaking of yola.com, my friend Lynn, who was computer savvy but had never built anything, built a great site on simple, inexpensive and delicious eating with it and was getting real action within a month or so (I know numbers are unlikely to be your goal for a local site, at least for a while).

Starting a local website might be a good thing to do early on. It provides you with a history and a narrative of what you're doing and it makes you feel like you're "out" with it.

And if you do start a site putting your community's relocalization on the map consider putting a sign on the main highway(s) into your area, identifying it for other relocalizers. We relocalizers won't always be so on the move but we're going to be everywhere. Help make it so!

Start a movie night

Watch and talk about movies that celebrate some aspect of going local: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil, Dirt!, What a Way to Go, Garbage Warrior, Transition 1.0, Food Inc., and more. It lets other people into your group too.

Start an e- mailing list

You, or someone in your area, will want an email mailing list so you can post updates and put relocalization and downsizing efforts before people. Start with a few friends.
Participants who show up for skills exchange events can give their emails. Use a service so that people can sign up, or unsubscribe, without having to contact you. An inexpensive way to do this is by using www.verticalresponse.com. You only pay for the actual emails you send and there's no monthly fees. I use it and I hope you'll sign up for a monthly nudge from me. See the top of any page.

Of course you can start a yahoo group as well, but there's a bit of a barrier for some people doing that; they need a yahoo account etc.

And if you're thinking of taking any of these actions, please sign up for the Radical Relocalization monthly newsletter . You'll receive and can contribute new ideas and encouragement, to and from others, hear interviews (coming very soon), and I hope share more interactivity. It's a way to get started.

Speaking of which - getting started at getting started

Sometimes it's as simple as calling one person and talking it over with them. We each have our own timing, so no need to add guilt onto inaction if we're not doing anything.

AND action is a great cure if you're feeling stuck, just getting something done! "Feel the fear and do it anyway" as the book says.

Or see some thoughts on what work you might do in the relocalized world.

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