Think Global

May 23, 2005

Last Week Minnesota Public Radio, along with many other public radios stations, produced a series called Think Global, featuring a number of insightful pieces. The highlight of the week was Thomas Friedman's talk based on his book The World is Flat (1.5 hours, as I recall). There are several more pieces of audio I highly recommend. They are particularly good for while you're doing boring work that only requires a small amount of brainpower.

There are probably a ton of stories I've missed from other radio stations. It seems that most of the stories I heard were Minnesota specific, but non-Minnesotans will learn just as much from this. Part of the brilliance of this series has been that it understands that globalizations is a multi-faceted creature, bringing growth and deepening poverty at the same time (depending on where you are).

Particular recommendations:

  • One world, two companies
    The prospect of U.S. and Minnesota employers expanding into foreign countries is nothing new. One Fortune 500 manufacturer, Maplewood-based 3M, has run overseas operations for more than 80 years. But the recent opening of the world's biggest workforces in India and China has made foreign outsourcing common practice in many industries. Today, the phrase "Think Global" makes many industrial workers cringe — even as business leaders salivate at the widening opportunities. We found both reactions along the same stretch of Twin Cities highway.
  • Small Twin Cities businesses unite in 'buy local' movement
    In the face of big-box retail stores owned by multi-national corporations, some Twin Cities area small business owners are banding together to promote shopping at local, independently-owned stores. Supporters of the "buy local" movement say there are many good reasons shoppers should avoid national chains like Target, Wal-Mart and Starbucks Coffee.
  • Common Hope counters globalization's corrosive effects
    Broccoli reveals a lot about what's good and bad about globalization. Guatemalan farmers are turning to raising the crop for grocery stores in North America. Globalization advocates say the move away from subsistence farming will lift the Guatemalan farmers and their families out of poverty. Critics, however, say the move is causing some farmers to fall deeper into poverty. Common Hope, a St. Paul-based nonprofit, is helping Guatemala's poorest weather the transition.
  • Selling wood to the world
    The next time you pick up lumber for a remodeling project, you might be holding a 2x4 from New Zealand, or Brazil. It may be surprising that a bulky thing like lumber could travel halfway around the world and show up on the rack at the same price as lumber cut locally. One family-owned lumber business in northern Minnesota thinks it's figured out how to compete in this fast-changing, complicated market.

There were some good stories on religion in a global world. I haven't listened to this one yet, but I'm sure it will be intriguing: Globalization and the Rise of Religion. Talk of the Nation's Religious Perspectives on Globalization was mildly interesting, but focused a little more than I would prefer on theological questions. Still, these theological debates shape how religious people approach the world and thus how they interact with people near and far away.

Oh, and I should note that many of these are available as Podcasts (a fancy name for mp3 "radio" files you can download and save onto your iPod or other portable media players, or just play on your computer).