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Only Local Toolkit

What It Is

This “Only Local” Toolkit is designed as a resource for children’s museum professionals who are interested in working more sustainably and collaboratively with their local communities. The Toolkit is an outgrowth of Madison Children’s Museum’s longstanding commitments to sustainability, community collaboration, and place-based pedagogy. Our recent Only Local Initiative was a logical outgrowth of these commitments, and our attempt to capture these ideas as a major thread of our work as we expanded into a new building.

Only Local Toolkit was generously funded by MetLife Foundation in partnership with the Association of Children’s Museums as part of the Promising Practice Replication Award presented to Madison Children’s Museum in 2011.

MetLife Foundation


Defining “Local”

There is no one definition of what “local” means or should mean for a community aside from belonging to a specific place, region or community, and having strong characteristics of that place. In ecology, “local” is associated with watersheds, bioregions and the biodiversity of flora, fauna, ecosystems and climate that define a place. In the local food and buy local movements, “local” means shortening the distance between consumers and producers, and collaboratively creating a more self-reliant economy that enhances the economic, environmental and social health of a community.

In the museum field, “local” can be defined as working with people, products and processes of that place in any or all aspects of the museum’s operations, and equally importantly, looking to the culture and environment of the place itself for content and meaning.