07 August 2008

The Neighborhood Effect

What do Chipotle Mexican Grill and Tesla Motors have in common? Killer shipping costs that are making them establish regional suppliers (for lettuce and other produce) and in-country manufacturing plants (for cars intended for the American market). Fuel costs are driving the neighborhood effect, whereby we all look for ways to cut costs and find them in shrinking our world.

Cost drove globalization decisions, too. Cost of labor, cost of fuel—it's the total cost of an operation that dictates location, of course, but sometimes we humans have difficulty tracking the parts of the big picture. So, we focus on one aspect (labor or fuel, most famously) and forget that we're watching what is only a trend. Over time, there will be shifts.

Ecological levels: Baby boomers have witnessed the expansion of our "levels of interaction" in larger spheres of society and globe. Many of us grew up knowing a relatively small neighborhood. By adulthood, we were part of a mobile society that not only changed neighborhoods but also redefined what we considered community. But the basic processes of these ecological levels—interaction and dependence—make it possible to retreat from globalization, or at least shift to "lower" levels for some functions. The local food movement, which you may or may not consciously be a part of, is example. Chipotle and Tesla represent the corporate version.

On a personal note: I'm not one to bemoan the de-personalization of our immediate neighborhoods. While social commentary often goes in that direction (people don't know their neighbors anymore!), I look to the reason. When your neighbor was your main social contact because you didn't drive out of the neighborhood much, you knew your neighbor. Quite possibly, you depended on that neighbor for economic purpose as well as social contact. Today, most people juggle dozens or hundreds of personalities through their work or social sphere. Visiting with that neighbor down the street robs precious retreat time, the alone time that many of us need to recharge our batteries before we go back into our local society. ~ Lida

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

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