Decentralization of Needs

by Austin Donofrio

This piece was originally published in Cascadia Spoke, a community publication dedicated to raising awareness of the Cascadia movement and bioregionalism.

Recently, in a niche corner of Twitter, there were several threads and response threads directed towards various political streaming personalities, such as Demonmama, in regards to their takes on large-scale supply chains. there are many who believe that large, centralized organization of supplies, typically through state actors, is important. For a lot of needs this might be the case. However, in the goal of building more resilient and environmentally-conscious communities, as well as pushing towards greater levels of social justice, decentralizing the production of most needs whenever possible should be a point of interest.

A bit on the nose with the world’s current situation is how the production, storage, and distribution of medicine/vaccines/etc. is a complex element of modern life. Long-distance, road-based ground transportation of any necessity or commodity from warehouses to distribution centers causes various issues that impact any car-dependent society heavily. It increases traffic, and compounds to create further environmental damage on top of the benchmark rate of CO2 emission. Long-term increases to exposure of emissions from traffic leads to damages to long-term health, and ultimately a higher mortality rate. On top of that, there are side effects of long-term stressors, like Bill’s 16-wheeler in front of you moving about a foot in the past thirty minutes on your commute. While medicine has been getting progressively better, we are nevertheless dying younger, in part because of the way we transport most of our goods, medicine included.

On top of this, a lot of necessities like insulin could actually soon be easily produced and stored locally. This piece of news has now become famous, and as described in 2021 by Freethink, “The Biohackers Making Insulin 98% Cheaper Just Might Work,” projects like Open Insulin started with a similar goal of communal production in mind. From here, our human ingenuity will lead us to doing the impossible, to the miraculous idea that with cheap insulin, easily available to some of us now, we are on the path of producing even more of what we need within our communities, and without reliance on foreign countries.

Decentralization is also a key component to social justice. By ensuring that communities have equal access to their needs, by allowing communities to organize the production of the solutions to their needs locally, and by limiting small communities’ dependence on larger cities, we can create a more equitable country wherein communities are more resilient. In the case of medical care, neighboring systems can compensate in the case of local system failures in vaccine production or other systems.

Decentralization can be further expanded to other areas of our society, following our principles of expanding direct democracy. Breaking down the norms established by colonial control needs to start with ending not only centralized power, but also by ending standards established by the old capitalist society. giving communities the tools to establish, for example, indigenous language schools, and empowering local educators and indigenous people to overcome the damage done to them, will be a method of long-term, meaningful reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous people, which should be one of the major goals of whatever societies replace the current status quo.

So, to allow culture to develop organically within the Cascadian bioregion in order to make the Cascadia of the future a more economically, linguistically, and culturally vibrant region, it all starts with grassroots organizing for the distribution of funding and resources, rather than focusing solely on federal, centralized institutions to meet these needs.

Austin Donofrio is an author, writer and Cascadian abroad, currently living in Japan.

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