Re-localizing Our Focus in a Collapsing World

David Trammel's picture

Thanks to a comment on this week's Ecosophia post, I came across this article

Which discusses the Fall of Rome and how so many historical writers get the aftermath of that collapse wrong. Yes, the central government of Rome went away but this didn't result in a age of darkness but a re-localization of political power and community action. The article also goes on to argue that the Fall of Rome directly lead to the golden age of the Renaissance because of this re-localization allowing many options to be tried.

But its this paragraph about modern day American politics that really grabbed me.

"At the national level, “policy work is increasingly being done by people with no training in it, and who don’t care about it, because they’re drawn into national politics purely as culture warriors,” I was told by Philip Zelikow, of the University of Virginia, who worked as a national-security official for both Presidents Bush. “There’s a fiction that mass politics is about policy.” The reality, he said, is that national-level politics has become an exercise in cultural signaling—“who you like, who you hate, which side you’re on”—rather than about actual governance. Meanwhile, the modern reserves of American practical-mindedness are mainly at the local level, “where people have no choice but to solve problems week by week.”

The US city preparing itself for the collapse of capitalism

From a festival that helps artists trade work for healthcare to a regional micro-currency, Kingston is trying to build an inclusive and self-sufficient local ecosystem.

"In October 2010, we launched our first weekend-long festival of street art, live music and health-related events. We called it O+, like the blood type. The general public attended by donation. Licensed health professionals volunteered to staff our on-site pop-up clinic. Over the years, thousands of participating artists, like Lucius, Spiritualized, and locals who played with the B-52’s and David Bowie, have received medical, dental and wellness services worth hundreds – and in some cases thousands – of dollars. Some artists say the care they received even saved them.

"Not long after the first O+, I left Kingston for a work opportunity. Now, I live in Savannah, Georgia. But O+ carried on. Its organizers have constantly expanded to connect the general public with more resources – Narcan kits, CPR training, health expos and year-round wellness classes. Local politicians and residents who take issue with the public art that earns participants dental work and medical appointments have thrown up various roadblocks, but the cause has always been fueled by a sense of rebellion, with the understanding that artists need healthcare, and that art has health benefits.

"'The way you change a system nationally is you do thousands of local things, and eventually the system evolves,' says O+ executive director Joe Concra, whose building I lived in when we first got O+ off the ground, and who volunteered full-time for years until grants and donors made it possible to pay modest salaries to three full-time and seven part-time employees. 'Every time I walk into the clinic, I think: "Oh yeah, it is possible to build a new system." I refuse to believe we can’t. So, we keep doing it.'”

David Trammel's picture

Looks like I forgot to include the link to the article. I'll see if i can find it.