Karen may well be the only person in the country who has focussed so long and so closely on localisation.
Long before the word localism was being used by the Liberal Democrats and David Cameron, she met Colin Hines, author of the definitive LOCALIZATION: A GLOBAL MANIFESTO – slogan: Protect the Local, Globally, brilliantly reviewed by a ‘critical friend’.
As Hines writes: “This policy is neither anti-trade nor pro total self-sufficiency. Its goal is maximum local trade, within diversified sustainable local economies, and minimum long-distance trade.” He and Pat Conaty founded Localise West Midlands and Karen became the prime mover and co-ordinator.
Its Mission Statement:
“Localise West Midlands is a not-for-profit organisation which exists to promote the environmental, social and economic benefits of:
- Local trading, using local businesses, materials and supply chains
- Linking local needs to local resources
- Development of community and local capacity
- Decentralisation of appropriate democratic and economic power
- Provision of services tailored to meet local needs.
“This localisation approach makes economic development and government systems more sensitive to local autonomy, culture, wellbeing and the responsible use of finite resources, and is growing in popularity with people and organisations all over the world.
Karen has played a leading role in Extending Localisation, an ongoing project identifying ways of extending economic localisation good practice in the energy, food, retailing, finance and manufacturing sectors around and beyond the West Midlands region. By analysing good localisation practice around the region and the roadblocks to turning excellent pilots into a regional norm, the project aims to identify the policy changes and local support mechanisms required to ensure this happens. The Extending Localisation project includes recommendations for local, regional and national government, support agencies, businesses, communities and NGOs.
Karen has been closely involved in Localise West Midlands’ partnership with Accord Housing Association, Birmingham Friends of the Earth and Birmingham Co-operative Housing Services who have been planning to set up a Community Land Trust – a small ‘demonstration’ sustainable development incorporating mutual home ownership principles.