Localism: Eat, Work, Pray, Love Edition

"Think globally, act locally" used to be the mantra of the modern business person. Every individual, group, division, unit, organization, and community willing and able to do that was "glocal" with pride.

People shifted easily from their point of origin to attractive city-hubs like Paris, London, and New York.

Being cosmopolitan was "in".

Localism: eat, work, pray, love edition

We had it coming. It didn't happen overnight. With the further explosion of commerce and opportunity in those big centers, soon entire strips developed to support the influx.

The megalopolis, a term coined by Oswald Spengler in 1918 and used by Lewis Mumford to describe the first stage in urban overdevelopment and social decline became a reality. 

Thanks to the accelerated adoption of technology in business, we're now seeing an eddy taking us in the opposite direction: local.

Saturday four

The four stories that caught my eye this week are:


1When scientists set out to discover if there are fundamental laws of cooking, they found that once they strayed from North American and Western Europe cuisines, the ingredient pairing argument didn't hold water:

Yong-Yeol Ahn and his colleagues, in a recent paper titled Flavor network and the principles of food pairing, explored the components of cooking ingredients in different regional cuisines. In doing so, they were able to rigorously examine a recent claim: the food pairing hypothesis. […] the idea that foods that go best together contain similar molecular components. […]

Using recipes from such websites as Epicurious, the researchers examined more than 50,000 recipes.

Who knew that shrimp and Parmesan were connected? It sounds like food is more art than science, more local than global, after all.


2The problem with trend tracking, says Grant McCracken, is that it's become a very promiscuous word used to describe all kinds of observations, some of which are not a good match to the definition:

A trend, for anthropological purposes, has to be a change in how culture defines how we see and act in the world. Novelties come and go. To qualify as a trend, something must represent an emerging consensus. It must act like an eddy that runs through us, changing, in this case, the thing called a "house" and the activity called "construction."

[…] Localism is now so well established as a trend, it is hard to remember a time when it was a source of embarrassment, even shame.

Is it architects who are extremely well informed about the work of other architects, or is there something more going on? Like listening to national and international communities of taste and practice now being locally responsive.


3When you think of meditation, you don't imagine high powered entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in the Valley, said Jonathan Fields in his book Uncertainty, you conjure up the image of a poet, or a writer. The role of meditation in mental health goes beyond spirituality. Jonathan Krygler as part of his Ph.D. dissertation study:

The causes and effects of emotional experience exist throughout the body and the brain, and as such they are deeply linked to physical and psychological stress.

Meditation enhances positive emotions and mood, and appears to make people less vulnerable to the stresses and upsets of daily life. Research shows that meditators are better at regulating immediate responses to negative stimuli and have reduced activity in the amygdala – a region implicated in response to threat. These findings reflect greater emotional resilience among meditators as well as less psychological distress and anxiety.

Research has shown that meditation improves our moods and helps clear the mind.


4US teenagers are sharing passwords as a sign of affection. Young, in love, and sharing everything, including a password says the New York Times:

They say they know such digital entanglements are risky, because a souring relationship can lead to people using online secrets against each other. But that, they say, is part of what makes the symbolism of the shared password so powerful.

“It’s a sign of trust” […]

In a 2011 telephone survey, the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that 30 percent of teenagers who were regularly online had shared a password with a friend, boyfriend or girlfriend. The survey, of 770 teenagers aged 12 to 17, found that girls were almost twice as likely as boys to share.

It doesn't always end well. The War of the Roses comes to mind.


Mutual assured destruction or not, we live in physical communities. Even when we work remotely, we need a third place where to meet and be productive with people.

Along with the rise of co-working, and rent by the day desks in many cities for business consultants and geeks, service organizations are starting to integrate physical spaces in their social networking.

For example, State Farm just launched a community cafe' in Chicago, Next Door, where you can go and get financial coaching with your latte.

Many companies are shrinking their permanent office space once the lease is up in favor of letting tenured employees and those who travel a lot for work share desks or log in remotely.

Once the sole purview of companies like The Hub, Steelcase, a global leader in the office furniture industry is going local by rising to meet a new need for a temporary, high-tech, high-end office space.

Aerial-workspringSteelcase is piloting a new Third Place, complete with amenities and all you can eat, pay what you use space in Chicago.

Workspring combines the comfort of the company's renown ergonomic seating and surfaces with the high tech features we've come to depend on and expect in a space designed to help focus conversation.     

It sure sounds like the future of work has already started, and it starts in the windy city.


Localism to me points to our desire to take control again of our lives with the aid of technology.

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