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Inside the mission of ‘relocalization’

AUTHORS’ NOTE: The Pioneer Valley Relocalization Project was launched by environmental activists in October 2007, following an all-day workshop in Northampton that examined ways to address environmental degradation and climate change via the transformation of a region, called relocalization.

Relocalization calls for conserving energy and open space and for lowering living costs and carbon emissions by “reining in sprawl” (living in close proximity), enhancing how towns coordinate with other towns (“regionalization”), weatherizing, eliminating wasteful consumerism, altering how we transport ourselves and changing how we produce energy, food and manufactured products to the extent possible.

Ernst Schumacher’s 1973 book “Small Is Beautiful” described how the zeal for bigness, the basis of footloose, corporate globalization, had created environmental devastation and social dysfunction by prioritizing global market success over local ecological and social sustainability — everywhere in the world.

He suggested “decentralization” as cure. In 2003, the Post Carbon Institute changed “decentralization” to “relocalization” and planned 200 relocalization groups in the United States, our group becoming one. Relocalization inspired planners, who speak of “walkable village centers” and “the new urbanism.”

Relocalization has many facets, so for three years we’ve been writing on them in monthly Amherst Bulletin columns, which appear the fourth Friday of the month. We’re now happy to have them reach a wider audience by their publication in the Gazette as well.

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AMHERST — In 1643, finding its judicial duties intruding upon legislative responsibilities, the General Court of Massachusetts Bay Co. organized the towns under its control into four enormous counties: Essex, Middlesex, Suffolk and the “Old” Norfolk County. Hampshire County was formed in 1662 out of Middlesex County, from which parts of Worcester County would also be created in 1731. There … 1

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