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Go Local

Go Local

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Published by steezwadstrom
Sustainable Technology - Food Security
Sustainable Technology - Food Security

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Published by: steezwadstrom on Apr 28, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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This is a report on the two day, May 2008
Go Local
conference,held in Brisbane.The report does not attempt to be comprehensive because itwas not possible to participate in all of the Open Space andother workshops on offer. Those attended, which inform thisreport, were chosen on the basis of their relevance to theemerging Transition Town or Transition Initiative methodologyof social change that is starting to attract attention in Australia.
First, a little background
New and existing terms were used at the conference to describethe types of initiatives people are undertaking around thecountry and the roles involved in them. Understanding thesewill make clearer the main learnings coming from theconference. A 
social entrepreneur
is an individual who makes use of thebusiness model for goals other than profit. Although profitmaking can be part of social entrepreneurship, other goals areparamount, such as the social or environmental. Judy Wicks, aUS restranteur who addressed the conference, is abusinesswoman and social entrepreneur who uses some of herprofits to support social enterprises that have been developedfrom her food business. A 
social enterprise
is an initiative, based on the businessmodel of operation or that of the NGO (non-governmentorganization), not-for-profit or community group structure thathas social goals to its operation.
New ideas forsustainability
Transition Towns, localisation andthe role of the social entrepreneurare concepts now familiar to morepeople following the May 2008
conference in Brisbane.Probably the first large conferencein Australia called to discusslocalisation and Transition Towns,Go Local raises the profile of theTransition Initiative idea among Australia’s change agents.
 About the author
Russ Grayson is an editor and journalist presently working incommunity garden policydevelopment for local governmentand in international developmentwith the TerraCircle group,www.terracircle.org.au.More on localization andsustainability at:www,pacific-edge.info
 An occasional publication from www.pacific-edge.info
Towards localisation
 A report on the 2008
Go Local
PacificEdge Paper 2June 2008
Written by Russ Grayson
PacificEdge Paper 2 | June 2008
Presentations and dialogue at the Go Localconference included the role of social enterpriseand social entrepreneurship in the emerging
transition town
transition initiative
 model of social change. Both of these ideas stemfrom the pioneering work of UK sustainabilityeducator, Rob Hopkins, first in Kinsdale,Ireland, and presently in Totnes in the UK (Transition Town Totneshttp://totnes.transitionnetwork.org).Transition town refers to a community-basedstrategy of preparation for the anticipatedimpacts of global warming and the peaking of the global oil supply, after which the price of anything making use of oil (such as our foodsystem) is expected to continually rise asdemand for oil outstrips supply. An output of atransition town strategy might include a reportsuch as an ‘energy decent strategy’ thatproposes measures for adapting to a situation of higher prices and reduced supply of fuel andgoods.In his manual on setting up and managingtransition town initiatives,
The TransitionHandbook
(2008, Hopkins R;
The TransitionHandbook
; Green Books, Totnes UK. ISBN 9781 900322 18 8), Hopkins proposes ‘transitioninitiative’ as a more accurate description asinitiatives are taking place in locations otherthan towns. That term has been adopted in thisreport.One of the tactics for adapting to a future withmore expensive fuel and products is that of sourcing as many needs as possible from theregion. The process is called ‘
’,sometimes ‘
’, however opinionsuggests localization as the more accurate termbecause relocalisation implies return to localsourcing that may not have been present in thepast. Sometimes, the word ‘regional’ is used inplace of ‘local’ in regard to localization. There isno overall definition of what makes up ‘local’. Itwould mean different scales for different places.Localisation is not unlike the idea of bioregionalism, originally a US concept, thatwas popularised during the 1990s by thepermaculture design movement.Food and water supply, energy and apreference for locally owned business andservices are some of the social infrastructurethat may be capable of localisation. An aim isto improve the viability of the local economyand create livelihoods based on, as far as ispractical, the servicing of local needs.Improved local economic self-reliancestrengthens communities and provides adegree of buffering against changes occurringin the global economy as well as those likelyto come from global warming, peak oil andtheir potential impact on regions, cities andtowns.The desired outcome of localization andtransition initiatives is increased communityresilience in the face of change, whether thatchange stems from political or economicfactors or from broader environmentalchange.The transition initiative strategy issometimes described in terms of building
resilient communities
as this is regardedas an easily understood concept.
The conference
The Go Local conference was organized bythe Ethos Foundation, a sustainability-directed organization employing the socialenterprise/social entrepreneurship model.The estimated 250 attendees came fromalong the East Coast, from Townsville toMelbourne. They included a diversity of people from community organisations — some already engaged in transitionactivities, such as those from the SunshineCoast — as well as people from localgovernment, the community financial sector,permaculture associations, schooleducational garden projects, small businessand consultancies as well as the otherwiseinterested.The conference was held at the Riversideconference centre at New Farm, on the banksof the Brisbane River. Although it was thefirst called specifically on localization, it canalso be regarded as the second localisationconference in Australia, the first being thefood-themed Feeding Our Future conferencein Lismore in March 2008.
PacificEdge Paper 2 | June 2008 | www.pacific-edge.info
 A personal aside — 
discovering Ethos
My journey to the Riverside conference centre started a couplemonths earlier and a couple hundred kilometres to the south,when Lismore City Council and Southern Cross Universityinvited me to make a presentation on the social, environmentaland economic value of local food systems to the
Feeding OurFuture
conference in Lismore. That, probably, was Australia’sfirst major conference to address localisation. A few days after receiving the invitation, I was contacted byKali Wendorf, editor of the parenting magazine
(whichhas a substantial sustainability focus — www.kindredmedia.com.au). Kali wanted an article oncommunity food gardens for the upcoming edition and invitedme to join a panel at a Byron Bay seminar to discuss Cuba’sexperience of post-peak oil adaptation (which occurred after thecollapse of the Soviet Union) and food production with visitingCuban urban agriculturist, Roberto Perez.On the panel with me were a local organic farmer and RobertPekin from Brisbane’s innovative local food system, FoodConnect CSA (www.foodconnect.com.au CSA meansCommunity Supported Agriculture, essentially a subscriptionfarming set-up linking city eaters directly to farmers in theregion). Robert and my paths would cross a number of timesover coming months.The Byron Bay seminar was organised by the publisher of Kindred, TROPPO (a local organic farming agency) and theEthos Foundation. And that is how I met Ken McLeod, fromEthos.It was the following morning that we met at the Riverside Caféin Brunswick Heads, on the banks of the curving, shallow river,twenty minutes up the highway from Byron Bay. Theproprietors of the Riverside try to cook with as much locallygrown and processed food as they can obtain. That isn’t alwayseasy, however, and others were later to echo their comment.Our meeting was scheduled as a morning tea but extended toover four hours to encompass lunch and beyond.There was much to discuss — the idea of US restauranteur,Judy Wicks, speaking at UNSW for Randwick City Council’ssustainability program and a proposed conference in Brisbaneto be called Go Local.That conference sounded promising. At last, it seemed, the ideaof localisation and transition initiatives was about to gonational.
Food Connect’s Robert Pekin.Food Connect is Australia’s largestCSA (Community Supported Agriculture) enterprise.Local food production is an important part of the localisation process.Indonesian guavas from Doug Bailey’surban food forest in Sydney.

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