Fablabs, makerspaces, emerging global knowledge commons… These are but some of the outcomes of a growing movement that champions globally-sourced designs for local economic activity. Its core idea is simple: local ownership of the means to produce basic manufactures and services can change our economic paradigm, making our cities self-sufficient and help the planet.
Sharon Ede, urbanist and activist based in Australia has recently launched AUDAcities, a catalyst for relocalising production in cities. She shared her insights on the opportunities of making cities regenerative and more sustainable as well as the limits of cosmo-localization.
TECHNOLOGY, AS WE ALL KNOW, IS NOT NEUTRAL. MAKING THE TRANSITION TO SELF-SUFFICIENT CITIES NEEDS A CULTURAL SHIFT, NOT JUST A TECHNOLOGICAL ONE. SO, HOW DO WE DESIGN OPEN-SOURCE TOOLS THAT FOSTER A CHANGE IN BEHAVIOURS AND ARE INCLUSIVE?
Technology will go where cultural, social and economic values direct it. A cultural shift will include open source tools, and the kinds of processes we need to create those – but a cultural shift will require much more.
Governments can and do play a significant role in shaping culture through policy and regulation, and contrary to popular belief about where innovation originates, the state is not only a key entrepreneurial actor but also has a huge opportunity to reinvent itself as the ‘partner state’ – where government responds to the contributory democracy we are seeing emerge as a force that does with, not for or to, the communities it serves.The technology, and who owns it, is just a manifestation of what we value.
THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF DEBATE ABOUT THE REAL BENEFITS OF LOCAL PRODUCTION, ESPECIALLY THAT LAST-MILE DELIVERY IS MORE HARMFUL TO THE ENVIRONMENT THAN THE BENEFITS IT BRINGS. IN YOUR EXPERIENCE, WHAT IS THE ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT OF A PRODUCT THAT HAS BEEN GLOBALLY DESIGNED AND LOCALLY MANUFACTURED?
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