Community Agriculture Alliance: A Girl Scout’s perspective on globalization
May 5, 2016
Last month, Steamboat's local Girl Scout troops gathered for a World Thinking Day event. Celebrated since 1926, World Thinking Day is a time during which girls come together to learn about other countries, cultures, current events and especially, the ties which bond us.
This year's World Thinking Day theme was "Connect," with the intention of encouraging girls to connect with themselves, their friends, their local community and the world. Steamboat Troop 54595 chose to convey this theme through an Olympic-inspired afternoon of games from around the world.
The girls became aware of the importance of the Olympic Games and what it says about humanity's ability to come together on a grand scale, despite differences. They were asked to embody the theme by continuing to connect with different people, realizing how greatly these connections enhance their own life experiences and opportunities.
This is an important lesson, and one hopefully carried over through adulthood. Of course, as adults, systems become more complex; international connections are judged based on historical contexts, social implications, economic benefits and so forth. The word "connection" gives way to "globalization."
Globalization is a much debated topic. Some say, overall, it increases economic potential for poorer countries, raising standards of living through the opportunities a free market enables. Others say globalization predominately benefits multinational corporations and first-world governments, making it nearly impossible for — or even existing at the expense of — local enterprises, cultures and people. These advantages and disadvantages can be seen in many sectors, including agriculture.
When globalization was in its infancy, only the wealthy could try exotic dishes or eat a fresh salad during the winter. As demand rose, so did mass production and trade routes, eventually allowing similar food availability to people of all social classes. On the flipside, it gave advantages to large foreign operations over small local ones.
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Regardless of the standpoint, one thing is certain: Globalization is here to stay, so determining how to influence it for the community's welfare is imperative. An effort must be made to stay abreast of the policies affecting local agriculture and the environment, and action must be taken to support these efforts. Thinking on this scale can become convoluted and exasperating. Too often, the humanity seems to give way to figures and bureaucracy. This is where a Girl Scout's perspective is valuable.
Return to the simplified theme, "Connect." Remember that globalization is rooted in making connections and that systems are made up of people.
Steamboat has many people and organizations dedicated to local agriculture and the environment. While globalization is complex, simplify it by making person-to-person connections with these groups.
Go out with Yampatika and learn about the different plants in the county and how to protect them. Invite the Natural Resources Conservation Service to develop a conservation plan for a private property, ensuring its environmental health for subsequent generations. Discover the Community Agriculture Alliance's Market, dedicated to keeping money local, reducing environmental impacts and offering locally grown and made products.
In other words, when attempting to harness globalization for the good of the community, take it from a Girl Scout and "Connect."
Chayla Rowley is a civil/environmental engineer and CO American Indian/Alaska native SEPM.