Localism 101

Localism is about building communities that are more healthy and sustainable – backed by local economies that are stronger and more resilient. It means we use regional resources to meet our needs – reconnecting eaters with farmers, investors with entrepreneurs, and business owners with the communities and natural places on which they depend. It recognizes that not one of us can do it alone and that we’re all better off, when we’re all better off.

Localism is about building the New Economy, right where we live. It starts with expanding and diversifying local ownership, import substitution, and business cooperation in a particular place, and results in more wealth and jobs per capita, and in greater personal accountability for the health of the natural and human communities of which we are a part. The goal is real prosperity - for all.

Changing a local economic system starts by changing its most basic industries: agriculture, energy, manufacturing, retail, building and transportation and capital. When these sectors are transformed into localized, sustainable, green- and community-focused industries, the entire economy is transformed.

In addition, Localists recognize the necessity of looking at the systemic relationship between these sectors. With a focus on the whole economy, we don’t prioritize or isolate the importance of energy efficiency from investing in local energy production, or ‘green’ buildings from the health of their occupants, or the viability of local farms from the prosperity of the grocers to whom they sell.

Localists also recognize that while our focus is primarily on our own communities, our vision is global. Each of us is crafting a piece of a larger mosaic – a global network of cooperatively interlinked local economies.

Finally, here is a list of our values, and if you find yourself nodding - you're a Localist too! 



With local ownership comes local accountability; when you live in the community where your business decisions are felt, you have the understanding to make better decisions. Having a larger density of locally owned businesses results in higher per capita income, more jobs, and greater resiliency in the local economy. Plus more people living in their true vocation, with meaning and purpose, is good for all of us.



Supply chain decisions based on choosing local resources — vegetables, energy, timber, finance, and other locally made goods and services — engender a natural respect for the environmental and human resources in a place. Also, preserving the diversity of our food and different cultures, is not only smart, but so much more fulfilling!



We’re all better off when we’re all better off. With inequality, we miss out on good ideas and relationships, unhappiness increases, and eventually systems collapse. Rather than “everyman-for-himself,” we understand that real security comes from community. We need to rebuild the middle, engage in fair trade, and decentralize power and business ownership.



All wealth comes from nature. Without respecting natural boundaries and renewal rates for the animals, plants, soil and water on which we depend, we will not have wealth or health for our own species going forward. Part of the joy of being awake and alive is also to be in awe of the mysterious beauty of the inter-connected natural world.



It's time to start defining our contributions and success by what really matters. Our businesses need to be profitable, but we are motivated by knowledge, creativity, health, happiness, meaningful work, and the ability to provide opportunity to others.



Only through cooperation will we be able to rebuild local food distribution or make renewable local energy affordable. We must re-connect eaters with farmers, investors with entrepreneurs, and business owners with the communities and natural places on which they depend. No one can do it alone. (And why would we want to anyway?)



Watch this video to see BALLE’s executive director, Michelle Long, explain the localist values.