The Economics of Happiness : ‘Going local’ is the way to repair our fractured world

Produced by Helena Norberg-Hodge for ISEC. 2011
Voices from six continents. Much filmed in Ladakh.
One screening only
Thursday 23 August at 11am
At Simon’s Town Museum
Book with museum on 021 786 3046
or email:
Ticket: R20
Running time: 68 minutes.

A delightful and inspiring challenge to restore a more human world.

The opening scenes reflect a picturesque mountain society, women and children with round red-apple cheeks, integrated communities, a deeply spiritual and happy way of living: Ladakh in the Himalayas – where Helena Norberg-Hodge has spent much of her time.
She is producer and co-director of The Economics of Happiness.

The film describes a world moving simultaneously in two opposing directions. On the one hand, government and big business continue to promote globalisation and the consolidation of corporate power. At the same time, all around the world people are resisting those policies, demanding a re-regulation of trade and finance—and, far from the old institutions of power, they’re starting to forge a very different future. Communities are coming together to re-build more human scale, ecological economies based on a new paradigm – an economics of localisation.

We hear from a chorus of voices from six continents, including Vandana Shiva, Bill McKibben, David Korten, Samdhong Rinpoche, Michael Shuman, Zac Goldsmith and Keibo Oiwa. They tell us that climate change and peak oil give us little choice: we need to localise, to bring the economy home. The good news is that as we move in this direction we will begin not only to heal the earth but also to restore our own sense of well-being.

The Economics of Happiness has been shown around in the world and been featured in more than twenty film festivals. It won Best in Show at the Cinema Verde Environmental Film and Arts Festival in Florida and Best Director Award at the EkoFilm Festival in the Czech Republic.

Please visit the film’s website for enriching information:

From the Directors
After five years of production we are pleased to announce the release of The Economics of Happiness. We have found the process of making this film incredibly inspiring. Simply to see the multitude of grassroots movements afoot has been heartening – a testimony to human goodwill and resilience. We hope that The Economics of Happiness will bring the same inspiration to viewers around the world. It provides insight, hope, reassurance and above all, motivation to join in the growing localisation movement. Bringing the economy closer to home can not only save us from environmental and economic catastrophe, it can help us to re-discover those essential relationships – both with the living world and with one another – that ultimately give our lives meaning and joy.

Background to Helena and the film (from Wikipedia)

Founder and president of ISEC (International Society for Ecology and Culture), Helena’s experiences in Ladakh were crucial in enabling her to understand the impact of conventional development and globalisation on people and the environment.

Ladakh, also known as Little Tibet, is a remote region on the Tibetan plateau. Although it is politically part of India, it has more in common culturally with Tibet. Helena first went to Ladakh in 1975 as part of a film crew. The Indian government had recently made a decision to open up region to development, yet the traditional culture was still very much intact. Previous to the 1970s, Ladakh had experienced little change from year to year, from generation to generation. Now, however, external forces began descending on the Ladakhis like an avalanche, causing massive and rapid disruption.

There were changes at every level—environmental, cultural, economic, social, psychological; conventional development leaves nothing unaltered. The profound changes in the way people thought and how they interacted with each other were reflected in the Ladakhi landscape. She describes these changes: “When I first arrived in Leh, the capital of 5,000 inhabitants, cows were the most likely cause of congestion and the air was crystal clear. Within five minutes’ walk in any direction from the town centre were barley fields, dotted with large farmhouses. For the next twenty years I watched Leh turn into an urban sprawl. The streets became choked with traffic, and the air tasted of diesel fumes. The once pristine streams became polluted, the water undrinkable. For the first time, there were homeless people. The increased economic pressures led to unemployment and competition. Within a few years, friction between different communities appeared. All of these things had not existed for the previous 500 years.”

Exploring Consciousness regularly screens new films on the last Sunday of every month at the Labia on Orange in Cape Town, and also at the Simon’s Town museum on some Thursday mornings at 11am.

Exploring Consciousness
Thought-provoking films featuring humanity’s spiritual search
from ancient wisdom traditions to the latest interfaith – scientific investigations.