During the thirty four years of my existence I have been living in six cities in two different countries. In all those cities I met people with whom, luckily, I am still in touch and who allowed me to build my own personality with their points of view and actions. All these natural comes and goes in a young adult life could be considered as a utopia for my parents and much more for my grandparents.
The possibility of this kind of life, so individual and so far away from that static groups of people who influenced us during our whole life, is not casual. Fortunately, nowadays we have facebook, twitter, linkedin, skype, mobile phones, e-mail, low-cost transport and all the tools that are to come and that, for the first time in history, allow us to connect our relations in real time and not to lose them in our memory.
This entire new real world that is emerging in the last years, as François Ascher explains in his book “Les Nouveaux Compromis urbains”, is pushing us to rethink about the nature of what local means. Nowadays, we have several transport technologies that have blurred distances between goods and people and, we also have, the information technologies that allow us to share knowledge around the world. Therefore, in my point of view, the meaning of local, which historically was focused in territorial aspects, has to go forward to be focused in the relational aspects.
It is a fact that the territorial aspect was, is and is going to be a key factor on the generation of links and relations between people, but, nowadays, that is not the only place for relations. An example of this is that people swap things and have personal or professional relations with other people who have never seen. Therefore, this new way for relations has to have its consequences in territorial organizations and in the possibility of letting people participate in local policies.
At this point come up new possibilities that have to be studied, developed and could be incorporated in our democracies to improve their own acceptance. As examples I can add, in the first place, the possibility of a territorial weighting of votes depending on the implication of people with different territories (eg. for people who live in two cities simultaneously) or, in the second place, the possibility of participation on particular issues for people who have a relation with the place of the issue although it is not a residence place.
On the other hand, it seems that tools as the local census or as the vote in fixed districts according with the residence place are becoming a bit restricted in this global word of relations that we are creating. As one friend of mine said: “globalization beyond economy: citizenship and public spirit are key concepts”.
If somebody asks me, I will say that home is the place where people that value me are, but, just now, I do not know where they are.