By Kelsey Timmerman
September 7, 2011
I was eating a doughnut the exact moment I realized I was a glocal. I sat in a small doughnut shop in Anderson, Indiana. Brothers Ben and Tim had emailed me hoping to meet after reading a piece I had written in RELEVANT about spending the night in the slums of Nairobi.
Ben sat on my right. As a young father and a youth minister trying to engage his congregation in community involvement, Ben often forgoes working at his office to work at the local library so he can interact with the homeless. Ben doesn’t know how anyone can focus on global poverty when there’s so much poverty right here in Indiana.
Tim sat on my left. I was surprised he wasn’t upset about what Ben said. Tim works with a Christian organization that sends missionaries all over the world to combat extreme poverty. Tim and I compared notes from slums and garbage dumps across the developing world, and he can’t see why someone would focus on poverty in Indiana when poverty in Africa is so much worse.
Bridging the divide between Ben, a concerned local citizen, and Tim, a concerned global citizen, I sat in the middle.
For the past decade I’ve reported from 60-some countries. I’ve spent the night in Castle Dracula in Romania, gone undercover as an underwear buyer in Bangladesh, played PlayStation in Kosovo, taught an island village to play baseball in Honduras, and in another life, worked as a SCUBA instructor in Key West, Fla. Often I was a citizen of everywhere and of nowhere.
I was a global citizen.
But after becoming a dad, all of that started to change. I still travel and report from forgotten places; it’s just that now I’m seeking a balance between my global-self and my local-self.
I’m going glocal.
What’s a Glocal?
Glocalization is a reaction to globalization. While globalization is a seemingly uncontrollable force that influences the lives of every person on the planet, for better or worse, glocalization empowers individuals to take control of their own impact. Those who go glocal understand that their actions in the marketplace, their beliefs, fears, guilty pleasures, generosity, mistakes, compassion and successes in their own lives are felt both locally and globally by others. A glocal recognizes each of us has a responsibility to make our impact a positive one and seeks actions to do so. A glocal gives smarter and holds charities accountable. A glocal stays current with local and global events and is better equipped to understand the actions of our world leaders and affect those actions. A glocal examines his or her own abilities, gifts and knowledge and puts them to use for the good of all.
A glocal knows what happens in our community happens to the rest of the world. And what happens to the rest of the world happens to us. The global is local. The local is global.
How do we balance our responsibilities as local citizens and global citizens? Heck, what are our responsibilities? The Glocal Project will be our journey to answer these questions.
The first Wednesday of each month I’ll post a Glocal Challenge. You’ll have two weeks to participate and/or live the challenge. The third week of the month I’ll report back on my experiences and I hope you’ll share yours in the comments.
Go two weeks without watching or reading news from any American media outlet. That’s right, no Fox, CNN, CNBC, CBS, NBC, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, etc.
I’m not saying go without news. This isn’t an excuse to watch more Jersey Shore! It's just that you are going to have to get your news from international news outlets. Find three or more outlets, each from a different part of the world and read/watch/listen to them daily.
The last time I tried this challenge, bin Laden was killed. It was a big news cycle. Big news makes this challenge … well … more challenging. It also makes it more enlightening. The next two weeks will be filled with “9/11: A decade later” reports. I think it will be really interesting to see how and how much international media covers the biggest story of our lifetime.
Be sure to share your favorite outlets in the comments. I’ll drop a resource of suggested outlets in the comments next Wednesday just in case you are struggling.
Good luck, glocals!
Kelsey Timmerman is a sought-after speaker and the author of Where Am I Wearing? A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People That Make Our Clothes. He’s a relapsed touron, a dad, a Big with Big Brothers & Big Sisters, and he claims to be one of the top 10 living underwear journalists in Indiana. He can be reached at his blog KelseyTimmerman.com, on Twitter @kelseytimmerman, and by email Kelsey@kelseytimmerman.com.
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