the globalization of the local

November 23, 2009

Yesterday while driving home from class I heard a story on NPR all about polar bears, who are apparently quite doomed.  The expert was talking about how the melting of the ice caps was unrepairable at this point and that it was only a matter of time before all the polar bears starved to death.  Kind of a depressing thought, you have to admit, but what it really made me think about is how I am, in my Midwestern little cocoon, upset by this idea.  How much time do I spend thinking about polar bears on a daily basis?  Not a lot.  How much does it actually effect me, who has never seen a polar bear and am unlikely to do so, if polar bears cease to exist?  Not a lot.*  But because I was sitting in my car, listening to NPR, I know about this and it makes me sad.

It is pretty easy to go on and on about the ways that the globalization of information is radically changed our perception of the world over the past 100 or even 50 years ago.  For instance, this weekend I spent around 6 hours researching a very old book.  I found journal articles, read biographies, examined old maps, all through the wireless connection of my laptop.  In other words I did research that would have required numerous letters, trips to libraries, and possibly even travel to do only 100 years ago.  But in the end, it was the part of the research where I held the book in my hand and looked at its strange, but very cool, illustrations that really connected me to story of one book and the many hands that helped produce it.

Friday night I had rather bizarre experience when I ended up entertaining both a young homeless woman with mental issues and a volunteer recruiting for ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).  The young woman, Mary, is a known person to the neighborhood.  She used to come around more frequently, but this is only the second time I have interacted with her since moving into Cana.  There is something about sitting there drinking tea with a young woman who spends nights on the streets and a man explaining the difficult work of helping animals after natural disasters and bringing down dog-fighting rings to make one think a little more seriously about issues.  Normally would I think to offer tea to the homeless or sign up to give money to help pet animals? Probably not, but when someone comes to your home, or to the radio in your car, it makes those big national/global issues seem more important to my tiny little life.

*It should be noted that I understand the huge issue of global warming and how that will indeed effect me, but this one small part of it probably really won’t effect me at all.


  1. not even sure what to say other than thanks. 🙂

    We’re just one tiny fraction of a part of this place, and it’s hard to know how to help or what to care about (because honestly it’d be insane and unhealthy to try to take on everything)… But inevitably it all connects to us.

  2. The polar bear thing makes me so sad. I wish there was something that could be done about it.

  3. […] thought.  However it did inspire me to do things like finally take a picture of a work outfit, actually write a post that came to me while listening to NPR (95% of those ideas never see the light of day), purchase my own domain, write up a baking […]

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