Ican’t put my finger on when it started, but it seems that every menu now lists the provenance of its cheeses and meats. Boutique shops and large stores alike host events that invite customers to meet the artists and designers behind the wares they sell. Farmers’ market
stands are piled with produce grown locally as well as driven in from
hundreds of miles away. The Nextdoor app and online network has supplanted bulletin boards at the local library. And “glocalization”—selling
local goods internationally, and adapting global goods for local markets—
has become a buzzword. So exactly what does it mean these days to
support one’s community? What exactly is my community?
These days, I think the definition of community morphs, depending on the
topic. For example, when specifying
materials, LEED has taught us
to favor manufacturers located
within 500 miles of the project.
By doing so, not only do we
lower the carbon footprint of
transporting those materials to
the site, but we are also then
supporting our local or regional
firms: a win-win.
To lower construction costs,
we’ve been taught to use methods that
the local labor force is familiar with so we
don’t have to hire expensive talent from far away. We’re also then
providing employment for those who live nearest to us and helping
the local economy.
My firm, Steinberg, works with many developers, some with a
global presence while others are more regionally focused. They hire us
to design multifamily projects that are thoughtfully distinct from those
of their competitors, and often this means imbuing a local vibe to the
spaces. One project, for example, consists of live-work lofts in Los
Angeles’ Arts District, a vibrant, eclectic area where former factories
and warehouses have given way to the hippest of bars and galleries.
So, we’re hiring local muralists to create wall art, and we’re incorporating
light fixtures that a local artist creates from bike chains she gets from
downtown bike shops.
But the definition of community goes beyond geographic boundaries
when we’re talking about communities of people with common interests.
The Internet has made it possible for anyone with wi-fi (or a modem) to find
kindred spirits in even the most arcane subjects. And websites such as
By Charrisse Johnston, ASID, LEED AP BD+C, Associate AIA
Circle 156 on the reader service card or visit interiorsandsources.com/freeinfo 76
Acting within communities now reaches far beyond
what is local geographically.