The term “global village” was coined in the 1960s to describe how modern technology has contracted the world into a single entity—a so-called village. This paradigm seems to apply even more so today as our lives are increasingly affected by events that occur outside our immediate communities. For example, just recently we saw how the United Kingdom’s decision to withdraw from the European Union had ripple effects that reached as far as Japan, whose major stock market index experienced its steepest decline in sixteen years as a result.
Because developments in one area of the globe can have wide-reaching consequences that transcend traditional geographic and national borders, it can be easy to focus on large-scale, macro trends at the expense of local ones. However, rather than view the world with broad brush strokes, we must acknowledge that individual communities still exist and are integral as the ultimate building blocks of society.
These communities can be as fundamental as family units, cities, or neighborhoods. For the average person, local activities can have a more direct impact than what is happening on the national and international levels. For example, although my life will be affected by the outcome of this year’s presidential election, many of those effects will be indirect and slow compared to the effects of my neighborhood implementing a curfew, my city enacting new zoning laws, or my state legalizing marijuana. The HPR recognizes this fact and therefore devoted this past summer to exploring various local communities around the world.
Summer recess provides an ideal time to embark on such a project. During the school year the entire HPR staff is based in Cambridge, Mass. Yet once summer begins, our staff members disperse across the globe as they engage in internships, research, and study abroad opportunities.. In this issue, readers can join Ayush Midha as he follows a local organization that began in Western Kenya to empower people affected by HIV. Russell Reed explores how ethnic segregation still exists in Cape Town, South Africa, more than two decades after apartheid was dismantled. Sarah Wu invites readers to her own neighborhood of Kensington Market, which is currently witnessing a wave of gentrification. Kevin O’Donnell travels to Columbus, Ohio, where the People’s Justice Project is mobilizing voters to fight mass incarceration. And finally, Lizzy Schick sheds light on the work the Office of Neighborhood Safety has done to bring the number of firearm homicides in Richmond, California to its lowest level in decades.
We may very well be living in a global village. However, it is important to realize that this global village consists of multiple underlying layers consisting of communities and neighborhoods just like the ones featured in this magazine.