The Rise of Localism

Posted on August 3, 2018
By Liz Weaver

Place matters. The place where you live is becoming increasingly more important.  A recent article in Yes! Magazine explored the importance of localism, a growing trend in the US and Canada. 

Localism is an expression of small government where there is exchange and reciprocity.  It is about working together for the good of the community. 

Under the rules of localism, where you live has more to do with what kind of community you’ll have. Washington state, for example, has legalized recreational marijuana and is working toward a $15 minimum wage, but Michigan’s state government has been rather blasé about high levels of lead in the city of Flint’s drinking water. On many major issues, from civil rights to voting, the environment to business, who benefits from local policy varies from state to state. And it depends on who makes up your community, who votes in local elections, and who gets the power. 

The article calls for a strengthening of regional institutions to create more connected and more caring communities.   Richard Harwood, of The Harwood Institute, has, for many years called on communities and community leaders to turn outward.  Turning outward is about deeply engaging with your neighbours and your community.  It is about understanding the challenges that the community faces and then using your resources or those of your organization to work differently. 

The rise of localism provides an opportunity for individuals, organizations and networks to work differently together.  It enables them to work in the space of and for the local community.  Localism provides a frame of reference where citizens can have impact.  Localism also provides a space where we can connect across political divides, we all care about the place that we live, we just have to care about it together. 

Community Engagement, Liz Weaver, Community Building, Community Change

Liz Weaver

By Liz Weaver

Liz is passionate about the power and potential of communities getting to impact on complex issues. Liz is Tamarack’s Co-CEO and Director, Learning Centre. In this role she provides strategic direction to the organization and leads many of its key learning activities including collective impact capacity building services for the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Liz is one of Tamarack's highly regarded trainers and has developed and delivered curriculum on a variety of workshop topics including collaborative governance, leadership, collective impact, community innovation, influencing policy change and social media for impact and engagement.

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