A livable world is a world in which sustainability and prosperity go together. This means that we need to produce locally and sustainably and everyone in the world ought to have the opportunity to purchase these products. In today’s globalized world where production systems are based on global long chains, driven by multinationals and managed by efficiency and profit maximization, a large part of the world’s population is not even able to sustain the most basic livelihood. That must and can be done differently!
Top-down activities of governments and multilateral organizations have shown that they are incapable of achieve this. The only way to realize a livable world in which sustainability and prosperity go hand in hand is to start yourself — bottom-up! That commences simply with local and sustainable production and consumption and support for the least fortunate. Such a world provides Sustainable Livelihood Security:
- social: connection between producers and consumers; close proximity;
- economic: producers receive a fair income; prosperous regions;
- ecological: restoration of natural cycles; biodiversity;
- sovereignty: local decision-making power; adequate living for everyone;
- security; short chains are transparent; resistance building for safety and health.
Eastern thinking can help us. The Book of Changes, Yi-Jing 易經, provides insight and advice on change processes. These processes are the result of the interaction between Yin and Yang, under the influence of energy/force qi and pattern/image li. The qualities of these polarities can be recognized in the symbolism of the eight trigrams. The images (forces) are known as: Heaven (inspiration), Wind (observation), Fire (thinking), Mountain (body), Lake (feelings), Water (soul), Thunder (spirit) and Earth (receptivity). This has resulted in eight perspectives for looking at processes in the world. These perspectives for local and sustainable purchasing are as follows.
In this way, local supply and local demand for fair, safe and healthy products are linked and important themes such as sustainability, connectedness, ability, health, honesty and solidarity are stimulated. The 2local® platform is well advanced in facilitating this development. Companies wishing to participate are requested to register as a Connected Company on the 2local website (2local.io/) and consumers can acquire the local and sustainable products at these companies using L2L-tokens as a means of payment. To make the products accessible to everyone, consumers are paid a monthly cashback. The L2L-tokens can be purchased by anyone via the 2local app.
The trigram Heaven evokes associations with creativity and inspiration as a force. Man/woman here is inwardly oriented towards nature and prepares intrinsically competitively for things to come. We also see this reflected in local shops, which sell local and often special products. These local shops provide surprises, differences, new discoveries and even the everyday life in the local area can be a great source of inspiration. For example, purchasing local food grown in the rural areas preserves healthy agricultural land, biodiversity and greenery. This way of working and living is close to nature. People feel part of nature, recognize its importance for their own health and that of the environment. Buying locally already inspires by going to the local store, which sometimes leads along or through nature. Meeting other people is always inspiring. When shopping, it is the stories of the shopkeeper, the conversations with the customers and the customers among themselves and the humor during the conversations that inspire. Many new inventions are created locally that can easily be put into practice in the local shop. What also inspires are the products with emotion, or the smells that can be sniffed in the store. Children are welcome, which make unexpected comments or ask questions that open up a world. The atmosphere in local stores is completely different from large retail chains or supermarkets. A study by the agency Ivox shows that 66% of Belgians are willing to pay more for fresh and local products, but not yet to take the step away from local products. The study shows that a large audience already has intrinsic intentions to make the local switch.
2. Supports communities!
The Wind trigram calls associations with penetrating and observational powers. Here, people are inwardly focused on connectedness through a culture of intrinsic preservation. By buying locally people directly help local entrepreneurs and indirectly they help themselves, the neighborhood and the community where they live. Local purchases ensure that the money stays nearby. As a result, the prosperity for the people in the region is slowly but surely increasing and there is more room for sports and other cultural activities. In general, local shops take more time to get to know customers, in contrast to the large (international) players where impersonal contacts reign. Moreover, the money of these purchases flows out of the regional economy to the profits of multinationals and the environment does not benefit either. Local shops, on the other hand, offer personal contact, atmosphere, conviviality, service and extras. Local businesses, citizens and consumers are locally involved with each other, form communities as economic and social units, where tradition, commitment to each other and solidarity are paramount. They provide solid living units that keep the local community alive and where a special culture can build and develop. They also contribute to the preservation of the know-how and the reinforcement of the traditional (regional) products of a region.
3. Better for you!
The Fire trigram raises associations with clarity and visibility, with thinking as strength. Man is focused here on his existence, his existentiality, in an ego-competitive way. Local production and consumption are of great significance in the lives of many producers, citizens and consumers. They value a thriving local society and feel responsible for it. Producers, citizens and consumers will benefit. It motivates entrepreneurship, gives citizens impulses to contribute to a sustainable society and makes consumers enjoy fresh, tasty and healthy products. In local shops, the customer is still really king. He/she receives better services than in anonymous chain stores. Shopping takes less time and provides more convenience. The local retailer can also be approached directly if there are complaints. There is no need for endless fumbling with forms and e-mails, often waiting for an answer. Moreover, local entrepreneurs have a great deal of knowledge of the products and therefore they can furnish good advice. This provides clarity for the customer.
4. Healthy and safe!
The Berg trigram gives rise to associations with rest and stability, and, like the body, has a certain fixed shape. Here, people are focused on norms and rules (normality) with a view to preserving the culture together. Local activities also exude tranquility, in contrast to the hectic busy shopping streets with many international retail chains. The fewer steps there are between, for example, the source of your food and your table, the less chance of contamination. If you know where your food comes from and who grows it, and prepares it when you go out for dinner, you know a lot more about your food. Local food is especially good for yourself, nature and the environment because no chemicals are used and you save a lot of food kilometers. In short, it means supporting the producers in your region, reducing pollution from freight transport, creating social cohesion through seasonal food and healthier eating. And no complicated procedures are required for maintaining quality and safety, such as expensive HACCP systems. Local producers are paid fairly and have more resources to diversify their products and create jobs.
5. Tastes, feels better!
The Lake trigram musters associations with expression, with feelings as strength. Man is focused here on rationality through ego-renewing methods. We see these characteristics reflected in local products. Local produce is fresher, feels or tastes better than products that have been manufactured and shipped or flown in from thousands of miles away. Locally designed and manufactured furniture has its own character. In-season local fruits and vegetables are generally richer in nutrients than products that have traveled around the world, been frozen, and industrially made preservable and ‘tasty’ with a variety of additives. In addition to a better taste, fresher food also lasts longer. Seasonal locally grown tomatoes, packed with flavor, give a completely different taste experience than tomatoes that have been artificially ripened with gas. Strawberries fresh from the field make the ones shipped from elsewhere hardly worthwhile in the winter. The product varieties are more diverse, rich in micronutrients and offer new taste sensations. This compensates for the fact that seasonal products are sometimes unavailable for a longer period of time. Producing in season is also less expensive than in general. Producing and shopping locally can experience the experience of smelling, feeling, fitting and receiving advice on scent, color or style. That is what Slow Food’s 2,400 food communities are doing worldwide. Slow Food wants to ensure that everyone has access to good, clean and fair food, wants to take an interest in the food that people eat. The focus is on vulnerable fruits and vegetables, grains, animal breeds, drinks, cheeses and meats, etc., which are specific to the culture, history of tradition of a region. Through our food choices, we can have a common impact on the way food is grown, produced and distributed, changing the world, as Slow Food puts it. The local entrepreneurs and their employees, who often spend years on the shop floor, have a load of knowledge, which is used to constantly renew products. Small-scale entrepreneurs naturally tend to create a wider variety of products. This has almost completely disappeared due to the emphasis on economies of scale, specialization and efficiency.
6. Connects people!
The Trigram Water concerns the liquid, the soul’s connections between people. Here people are focused on sociality through cooperation with each other. Passion for the product and knowing where the products come from connects consumers with the people who produce or grow it. Instead of having impersonal contacts in chain stores and large supermarkets, people start meeting again in smaller groups. Suddenly contacts arise with sellers, owners of the local shops, bakers and butchers, employees at the local cooperatives. This stimulates local cooperation. People who know each other will spontaneously help each other. Buying local products means meeting producers and rediscovering the value of local products such as food. It’s about the image and the story behind the products we consume. There are many forms of local cooperation, the number increases and new forms are being developed, like Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA), farmers’ markets, Slow Food communities, short chains, etc. New social media can help people connect with each other. For a long time, the large chain stores set the stone with their online web shops. However, most local stores are currently also digitally active. They actually all have a website and also a webshop. Local stores are active on the social media, WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook. Facetime is also used, and don’t forget the phone! Local clothing stores organize online fashion shows and clothing packages are delivered at home and what does not fit is picked up again. The local shopkeepers deliver at home. You can also easily order books from your own bookstore, have them delivered to your home or pick them up yourself. This also applies to gifts, flowers, wine, toys, drugstore products, etc. Online shopping with local entrepreneurs increases local purchases and creates more employment. Money spent in local businesses stays longer in the local community, which thrives as a whole. Buying locally not only helps to preserve existing jobs, but also to create new ones. Buying sustainable and local food products not only supports local producers, but also the development of a healthy agricultural sector.
7. Creates synergy!
Thunder is the trigram with characteristics such as intense action, with plenty of spirit power. Here, people are positively focused on diversity and differences by being open and innovative. Many perspectives are united in sustainable and local production and consumption. In addition to social and economic aspects, these are mainly environmental and energy affairs. In general, local businesses use minimal transportation and shipping chains. That means less pollution in several areas. Not only do they consume less energy and fuel, but they also buy locally, which in turn has a positive effect on other local entrepreneurs. Not infrequently, this leads to the practice of new concepts, new ideas and new forms of production and consumption. Buying locally and sustainably promotes sustainable cultivation methods, sustainable production of wind and solar energy, sustainable energy consumption and minimal environmental impact. The closer producer and consumer are to each other, the less polluting the transport will be. Due to the short distances, pollution from trucks, boats and aircraft is limited or even completely eliminated.
8. Build bridges
The Earth trigram represents compassion, devotion with receptivity as strength. Here, people are focused on humanity through open cooperation. Money spent on local stores works to build the local economy instead of going via global corporations to shareholders in another city, state or country. This local involvement has several benefits for the local development of new businesses, making connections and ensuring cross-fertilization. As already indicated, the links between producers and consumers are strengthened. Contacts between urban and rural areas are promoted. That is truly a two-way traffic. The products developed and manufactured in rural areas will reach city residents and, conversely, urban residents will gain a better knowledge of the surrounding countryside through sustainable tourism. This strengthens the bond between the city and the countryside. Digital capabilities are evolving rapidly in the network economy. More and more space is also being created for this in the countryside. As a result, the fusion of the digital and real economy takes place not only in the urban areas, but also in the rural areas. Supporting local and sustainable producers to make a natural supply available for consumers is the core business of 2local®. 2local® is worldwide platform that also build bridges between people in rich countries and in developing countries. Sustainable, responsibly sourced and collected products are better for the local community, the planet and all of us.
April 1, 2021