A conversation with Helena Norberg-Hodge on Ladakh, relocalization, and our dysfunctional economic system (Part 1)
Daniel C. Wahl interviews Helena Norberg-Hodge, Thailand, 2007
I first met Helena Norberg-Hodge while I was a student on the MSc. IN Holistic Science at Schumacher College in 2001. At the time she was running her organization — then called the International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC) and now Local Futures — living down the lane from the college.
We have met in various contexts since through both her and my involvement in the Global Ecovillage Network and Gaia Education — both organization Helena participated in co-founding. In 2002, I had the pleasure of facilitating a course with her, Frances Moore-Lappé and the late Richard Douthwaite at Schumacher College and much more recently I have helped to organize a number of meetings and public talks for her when she visited Mallorca.
These short interview sections were filmed by me in 2007 during a meeting of Gaia Education at the activist training centre Wongsanith Ashram near Bangkok, Thailand. At that meeting I also filmed a series of other inteviews that ended up in Helena’s award-winning documentary ‘The Economics of Happiness’ — my debu as a camera man.
The first section has Helena telling the story of her experience in Ladakh that lead her to write the acclaimed book ‘Ancient Futures’. While she first went there as part of a BBC film team, she decided to stay and actually wrote the first Ladakhi — English dictionary. While she lived in that culture she saw the degenerative impact of economic globalization on a previously virtually conflict-less and poverty-less culture.
In the second clip Helena speaks about how ISEC helped to pioneer and promote the Farmers Market and Local Food System movements in various places in the UK, USA, Australia and beyond.
Helena also highlights the need for eating food that has been grown closer to home if we want to adequately respond to climate change. “Bringing the local food economy home is fundamental to restoring the land.” She highlights that there are important social, ecological and economic reasons to relocalize food systems.
Here Helena highlights the degenerative impact that deregulating global finance and economic globalization have had on social and ecological systems, as well as, healthy regional economies.
“It is not a question of demonizing anyone. It is a problem of scale.” Helena stresses that we need to bring economic activity under the umbrella of social and ecological concern.
“A local economy — by definition — is an economy where the communication between producers and consumers increases as the distance shortens.”
There will be a part II of this series once I had time to upload more of the clips on my youtube channel.