Why Listen to the Local Guy?

policymaking during comanagement in Mongolia, rcinet.ca

Two of Ostrom’s (1990) institutional design principles emphasize the role of the local –rules must be adapted to local conditions and resource users must participate in the rulemaking process. These principles were determined empirically through cross-site analysis, but a large body of research from science studies supports these finding theoretically as well. The most clear example of including the community in management is through comanagement, which works at the collective level to shift how and where rules are made (Jentoft, McCay et al. 1998). The comanagement process also highlights the importance of different types of knowledge to the policy process by providing a more complete base of information on which to make decisions.

The supporting theory reaches back to early studies in game theory that determined the fairness of a rule was one of the critical factors in determining if cooperation would emerge (Axelrod 1984). Fairness does not necessarily mean that every citizen benefits equally, but instead that people are punished according to their transgressions and benefit according to their contributions. However, the perception of fairness matters more than actual fairness when people evaluate a policy. That perception depends on transparency of the policymaking process. Gusterson goes so far as to say “instead of seeking a definitive technical judgment, then, we should ask about the processes by which judgments come to be considered definitive and their authors authoritative” (Nader 1996). People are more likely to consider a policy fair if they consider the process fair. One way, arguably the best way, to make the process transparent and therefore fair is to involve citizens in that process. Read More

Spanning the Bordeaux Belt – what does local mean in a global economy

A small news article from Science has been taped above my desk for the last few years. I don’t remember who originally gave it to me, or why I even hung it up, but there it is, nestled between a couple XKCD cartoons. The article is titled “The Wine Divide” and it raises many questions about sustainability, inherent biases in conventional wisdom, and what the term “local” means in a global economy. And it’s about wine.

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Grok my Flock

The Nicholas School of the Environment is hosting the Flat Grok Video Contest.

We are on an unsustainable course. While world populations and consumption grow, resources diminish and global warming threatens our way of life.  In his blog The Green GrokDr. Bill Chameides, dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, elucidates causes of and potential remedies for environmental change and identifies pathways towards a more sustainable future.  And he wants to know what YOU are doing to create a sustainable future.

Dr. Bill can’t be in all places, so he wants you to videotape his representative, The Flat Grok, on the scene of your sustainable adventure.  Are you conserving water? Buying or growing local produce?  Changing out all of your lightbulbs to compact fluorescents? Biking to work?

You can check out the contest rules here.

Below is Bluegrass Blue Crab and my entry on raising backyard chickens.