mfioretti: collaborative economy*

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  1. 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?

    Any production that is not hyperlocal ie. from materials sourced within a very short supply chain, has to find its way to the consumer somehow. With respect to environmental concern, the ‘last mile’ is a question of the existing production paradigm finding the most efficient and low carbon way to achieve its objective. I’m not sure that the last mile debate concerning the most carbon-efficient delivery by a globalised supply system can be compared to local production. Local production will have ‘last miles’ (and more energy used in transportation, depending on where the materials were sourced for the production), but in general, I’d be less worried about lots of last miles from local production, than many more tens of thousands of miles of transportation required with ‘remote’ production.

    It’s also worth noting that shipping is responsible for 17% of global emissions, but neither shipping and aviation are accounted for in international climate change negotiations due to the difficulty in allocating emissions ie. do they belong to the producing or consuming country? In general, local has many benefits, but it’s simplistic to assume local always equals ‘good’. It depends on so many things, for example, is the activity occurring in a water-scarce environment? How intensive is the production? Is the power source for the products generated from renewable energy?

    Life-cycle analysis (LCA) is one way of assessing the ecological cost-benefit of different methods of production, but it can get quite complicated. Descriptions can offer a sense of the impacts, however, measuring these and making the trade-offs is less clear and requires not only a lot of data but a lot of consideration and interpretation.


    Before even considering ecological footprints of production, one of the first things cities could do is look into ‘boomerang trade’ – the new economics foundation produced a report on this activity in the UK, where similar goods are being traded and transported across continents, or across the globe. There are also ridiculous examples, such as what I have dubbed ‘frequent flyer prawns’ – shrimp being flown to Thailand from Scotland, and then back because the labour needed to shell them is cheaper in Thailand.

    Trade used to be about genuine comparative advantage. If economics is supposed to be about the efficient allocation of resources, and this is what our systems of economics are incentivising, then we need new economics.


    Cosmo localism, or ‘design global, manufacture local’, certainly has some overlap with ‘glocalisation’, or the adaptation of globally marketed products to local culture, in that a shared global design can be replicated (or adapted then produced) locally. But by whom, and how?

    Glocalisation is about the top-down marketing of consumer products designed remotely, in a centralised way and then tweaked for local culture. Cosmolocalism, or Design Global Manufacture Local (DG-ML) is based on a different production logic, as explained by Jose Ramos and Chris Giotitsas in ‘A New Model of Production for a New Economy’:

    Traditionally corporate enterprises have solely owned the intellectual property (IP) they employ in the production of goods. They source the materials for the goods through national or global supply chains. They manufacture those goods using economies of scale in a set number of manufacturing centres, whereupon those finished goods are delivered nationally or globally.

    DG-ML is an inversion of this production logic. First of all, the IP is open, whether open source or creative commons or copy fair, so it can be used by anyone. Secondly, manufacturing and production can be done independently of the IP, by any community or enterprise around the world that wants to.
    http://magazine.ouishare.net/2017/11/...ducing-locally-really-save-our-planet
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  2. Practically, since time immemorial, cities have been the hubs of social innovation because their high population density and diversity provide the friction that impels creativity and experimentation.

    The new demographic findings make clear that proponents of a more solidaristic economy will need to shift their gaze from relatively familiar urban contexts to the suburbs that sprawl out into metropolitan hinterlands. This will not be a trivial exercise and scaling out vestiges of the new economy beyond urban neighborhoods will surely be challenging. The large property parcels and privatized spaces that characterize most suburbs will be difficult obstacles to overcome. The lack of public transportation imposes multifold complications.

    However, other suburban features may offer interesting opportunities. The outsized proportions of homes in many outlying communities, coupled with the inordinate costs associated with their upkeep, suggests that these residences could be architecturally reorganized as multi-family dwellings (not unlike how expansive and opulent urban townhouses of the nineteenth century came to be subdivided for more modest apartment-style living). Indeed, there are already documented cases of this process taking hold in some locales. Another latent resource may be the large number of vacant shopping malls that are becoming ubiquitous features of the suburban landscape (for a discerning glimpse see the website deadmalls.com). Reminiscent of the conversion of industrial lofts during an earlier era, these disused facilities offer the prospect of inexpensive space amenable to repurposing for new uses.

    To be sure, this will be a difficult lift, but to turn our back on the suburbs is to ignore the fact that a majority of Americans live in these communities (an estimated 53 percent of the total population and now once again increasing). To be sure, few were built with equity and sustainability as cornerstones of their design plans (and in many cases such considerations were actively resisted), but to airbrush them away is to tacitly — and improbably — suggest that only urbane centers are ready to participate in the new economy.
    https://www.shareable.net/blog/building-the-new-economy-the-suburban-phase
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  3. Like an extended smashing of atoms, the 9-to-5 job market has shattered and splintered over the past 25 years in ways that have both liberated and trapped millions of workers.

    Uber drivers, ditch-digging day laborers, adjunct professors, freelance software designers, temp attorneys, domestic workers, and often woefully underpaid “task rabbits” hired online at a moment’s notice, wouldn’t appear to have much in common. Their pay and working conditions vary wildly, and some push paper while others handle steering wheels, mops, diapers, or sledge hammers — but what unites them is a gig economy marked by flexibility, instability, innovation, and legal and financial uncertainty.

    As the gig economy proliferates, growing numbers are breaking away and creating their own work communities, based on a mix of autonomy and interdependence. Combating precarious economics and social isolation, freelancers are using new open-source technology and old-fashioned shoe leather organizing to create new ways to work and to work together.

    Enspiral, for instance, uses a mix of physical meeting spaces, open-source technology, and digital organizing to help workers build creative and economic independence as well as community. The collective is just one piece of a burgeoning global freelancers’ movement that is helping independent workers to reposition power and ownership in a platform-driven age.
    http://www.shareable.net/blog/how-fre...rk-through-new-collective-enterprises
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