A few weeks ago, I came back from a trip to Kenya to learn about and discuss global aid, specifically how colonization and imperialism and their legacy have created a system of global aid wrapped in patriarchy and white supremacy. It was my first time on the continent, and it was eye-opening seeing how foreign policies have affected local communities.

I am now back home in the US and continue to be horrified by the gen0cide that Israel continues committing against Palestinian civilians: bombing refugee camps, massacring children and civilians even as we sleep and go about our days.

“Why do you care what happens thousands of miles away?” several trolls have asked me online. Similar sentiments are expressed by people I know, including colleagues from our field, but sounding much more civil and reasonable: “I don’t have the time and energy to be up to date on all the global events. I’m trying to focus on what I can do in my own neighborhood.”

Over the past several decades, we have internalized a philosophy that local is good. Support local businesses. Buy local produce. Hire people who live in the neighborhood. Our sector has been a huge proponent of this philosophy, with most nonprofits tackling local issues, and foundations and donors choosing to invest their dollars in the geographic areas where they and their trustees live and work.

In general, I’m supportive of this approach. We should invest in our communities and avoid the environmental and other costs of spending resources outside it. However, like with anything else, the pendulum often swings too far to one end, creating negative consequences, and often worsening the problems we’re trying to solve and causing new ones that we may not even know about:

  • Maintaining the inequitable distribution of resources
  • Entrenching apathy toward other communities
  • Limiting the scope and effectiveness of our work
  • Stymying the building of political and other power
  • Perpetuating our complicity in global problems

Read the full article about hyper-localism by Vu Le at Nonprofit AF.