“There is absolutely no inevitability as long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening.”
— Marshall McLuhan, The Medium is the Massage

The relationship between technology and narrative is long-standing. Indeed, some have argued that it is at the heart of human civilization.

It was once fashionable to characterize human beings as tool-using animals (although this turns out not to be the best way of getting at whatever might be distinctly human). It has also been suggested that we understand human beings as story-telling animals. Technology theorist N. …


Like us, most young people in Ladakh have been trained in English and business and computer sciences, and we do not have the full set of skills our grandparents had — like growing food, making clothes, building houses, and living in community. Our modern “education” presupposes the availability of plentiful employment opportunities in the modern business sector, dependable imports of food from the Indian plains and beyond, and the plausibility of ongoing urbanisation and conversion of land from agriculture to buildings and infrastructure. …


The documentary Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh (John Page, Chris Breemen, Helena Norberg-Hodge & Eric Walton, 1993) provides an excellent introduction to the local, human scale traditions in Ladakh, and how local communities have been affected by the industrialised notion of “progress”.

The observation that consumer culture as portrayed in advertisements and Western media appeals primarily to insecure teenagers is apt. I am tempted to qualify the observation from my autistic perspective: consumer culture is designed to target neuronormative teenagers, i.e. those for whom fitting in with their peer group comes naturally. If teenage boys were the first adopters of…


Corporations are, without a doubt, the number one obstacle to meaningful action on the climate crisis. These almighty actors have spent the past two decades undermining scientific consensus, blocking meaningful legislation and greenwashing their own responsibility. Even the last ditch Paris Agreement, with its lame voluntary commitment to keep the world to a still disastrous 1.5 degrees of warming, has done nothing to stop corporate greed from taking the planet to the brink.

It was easier for corporations to get away with doing nothing when the climate crisis was not so physically evident as it is today. They also now…


There’s one skill that Big Food and Big Ag corporations have in abundance: taking control of every situation and corrupting it into an opportunity for profit.

For example, as consumer interest in the terms “natural” and “sustainable” increased, industrial agribusiness began to use these unsubstantiated terms to market greenwashed products. These products were, in fact, just the opposite — made with pesticide-laden, factory farmed, and/or genetically engineered ingredients. Even the powerful Organic movement, which actually is based on specific certifiable practices and inputs, has required constant safeguarding against corporate attempts to dilute its meaning.

Now, we will also diligently have…


When I was a child, my Dad and I had regular arguments about whose turn it was to have the “top of the milk” — that thick yellow head of cream on the daily pint that we both coveted for our breakfast cereal. More often than not, someone would go out to the doorstep only to find that the blue tits had got there first, pecking through the foil lid to the sustaining food beneath.

This childhood ritual came back to me recently when our neighbouring dairy farm installed a milk vending machine. We had been buying milk from dispensers…


Reading Dante’s Divine Comedy poses any number of challenges to modern readers. This should not, I’ll quickly add, deter modern readers from the attempt, which, in my view anyway, will more than repay the effort. In any case, one of these challenges may be the curious astronomical dimensions of Dante’s poem. You may know, for example, that each of the three cantiche that make up the poem — Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso — ends on the same Italian word, stelle, or, in English, stars. Moreover, the final portion of Dante’s journey, related in Paradiso, is literally a journey through what…


The chickens have come home to roost for Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. Kenney bet around $1.5 billion of public money on a very risky prospect — the highly controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

U.S. President Joe Biden, to the surprise of no one but Kenney, followed through on an election promise and cancelled a key permit for the pipeline on the first day of his administration. Now the premier is scrambling for a way to recoup some of Alberta’s losses, and he sees a trade agreement as offering some hope.

The former North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) contained a chapter…


The booming call of the Pheasant Coucal is soft and rhythmic on a calm, springtime afternoon.

I first noticed it in 2004, when I was eight years old. From the window of our old weatherboard house, I spotted the bird splayed out on top of the wire fence, calling out into the bushland: He has a streaked black head with a robust, downcurved beak, and he’s fanning his broad, intricately patterned wings and tail. He’s big — so big, I take him to be some kind of hawk or eagle. Is he stuck in the wire? Is he injured? …


As the world has urbanized rapidly since 1950, per capita carbon footprint has declined, and so has carbon intensity in economic output, defined as the amount of energy used to produce a unit of economic growth. But gross material throughputs and greenhouse gas production during this same period skyrocketed. Global natural capital — fisheries, topsoil, freshwater supply, etc. — has plummeted. This is because, as we pack into cities, we are consuming more materials as measured by absolute volume. The totality of the chopping up of mother earth into little bloody pieces has become more intense, not less.

These facts…

Local Futures

Local Futures works to renew ecological, social and spiritual well-being by promoting a systemic shift towards economic localization.

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