local is our future


(2019) by Helena Norberg-Hodge


Pete Fillery (@petefillery) tweeted at 5:27 AM – 20 Dec 2019 :
“If you join the #local #food movement, you’ll be helping to #restore, not only #wildlife, you’ll #help to #renew #water sources, you’ll be helping to #reduce the need for #energy” ~ @HelenaNHodge & @DrDCWahl
@EconofHappiness @Team4Nature @IncEdNetwork
https://t.co/gaAZW1EnVi (http://twitter.com/petefillery/status/1208000983265153025?s=17

helena and daniel on local (notes here) is our future – 1:24 video (about her new book.. local is our future)

1 min – h: if we don’t help people to focus on the necessity of econ change.. i think we’re doomed

4 min – d: we’re getting distracted if we look at all the outcomes.. symptoms of underlying disease.. dysfunctioning econ system.. convo is much more mainstream than 5-20 yrs ago

6 min – h: more leaders in all realms recognizing we need change.. higher up power ladder see world thru grid of numbers.. very little info reaching them that points out need for localization..  i’ve seen enormous shift in the language.. but in actual fact.. i see continuing and a commitment to continuing (the old growth mindset)..t

9 min – h: (i see) nothing you could talk about as genuine improvement..

11 min – d: on quantity vs quality

h: there would be quantifiable aspects one could look at.. ie: degree of pollution in air/water; how much green around them; health; .. that we should mention and insist on .. and don’t forget that everything runs on a system that commercializes life.. an insanity that any of us are allowing gdp to continue as a measure

13 min – d: so why .. so many people working on this.. why aren’t we shifting

14 min – h: free trade treaties have actually been about de regulating global..  so treaties that look beneficial to public are extremely destructive.. give more corps more freedom.. convincing govt to give more money to global and reg/tax national/local more

20 min – (d: leverage points?) h: trade treaties – re reg at global level – banks/corps; national/local de reg; lack of control in media;

27 min – h: on teachers/dr’s less time.. because of bureaucracy and centralized system.. management of more people at distance

32 min – d: on building alt system.. where do you see hope

33 min – h: for me.. so many benes from stronger local econs.. but rather difficult task.. so encouraging people to reconnect

39 min – h: it’s about changing the i to a we..

h: we need civic society at the table.. build up movement that demands that.. to recapture democracy 1\ awareness in movements – move away from single issue focus

deeper – maté basic needs

2 convers as infra.. via tech as it could be.. (rather than more at the table.. every voice heard.. every day.. and use that as data to augment our interconnectedness

43 min – h: i am trying to urge people to do both.. rather than local and then global

50 min – d: when we understand it is about creating many diff cultural diversities in place.. we begin to re treasure our diversity

51 min – h: very few westerners understand that.. the plural, the diversity, the deep connection between people and natural place.. and that’s why localization is so fundamental.. and why latest tech systems need to be questioned because they promote the global.. it’s all so much about awareness of this bigger picture.. a wake up that can be helped when people like us put out this perspective of the bigger picture.. but even listen to body.. a way humankind could come back.. to a deep/joyous life/wisdom.. we just need to help try to speed up the process.. we should not wait for that system to collapse

not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake..  a nother way

54 min – d: on the danger in recent years.. in the convo at local level.. initially agree.. then suddenly other little bits of discourse come in and realize talking to right wing.. against.. ie: right wing nazis supporting local..

55 min – h: what i’ve come across more is people on left assuming that localization look like that.. i’m trying to remember if there are any truly localizing.. ie: self reliant.. i don’t think i’ve met right wing on localization.. might like addition of market.. and for left.. i think there’s fear.. need to talk about tourism (and even immigration) on threatening local communities.. and ability to look out for self

1:06 – d: when we look at building alliances.. issues.. ed/media have brainwashed a large part of humanity into believing this growth/progress/competitive story..when you get to point.. we all should have more of a say and hear everybody’s voice.. the voices you hear are feeding back the results of bad media/ed work of 30-40 years.. so collabs hearing a lot of mis info in room.. very often demagogues have got into power because of that..

1:07 – d: not ideologically but idealistically.. i would love for all of us to sit in a circle and make decisions that hear everybody’s voice.. and every time i’ve done it w a diverse group.. i very quickly got frustrated w the amount of ignorance in the room based on bad ed/manipulation of telling the wrong story.. how do  you see that working out..t

perhaps we have this all backwards.. every voice heard.. spot on.. and everyday.. but curiosity way over decision making

1:08 – h: thru very sophisticated think tanks using bn’s of dollars.. we’re being told to be the perfect democracy inside a system that is fundamentally hierarchical..  and every day exerting more pressure.. manipulated into a supposed perfect demo structure.. which in my experience has never existed ever..t..  ie: ladakh.. very clear didn’t all have same voice..

yeah.. that’s a backwards vision.. the equity is in listening to every voice.. no judgment.. using that as data to augment our interconnectedness


1:09 – h: very lucky (ladakh) to be in a structure where most things had been tested/tried.. so for most things.. wasn’t even a need for a discussion .. and when there was there were people who were clearly looked up to.. so let’s be careful here.. and realize we can’t create the change we need to see by trying to be this completely level consensus making structure.. to me .. does not make sense.. t

perhaps because whole/alive life is not about consensus..

h: having said that.. of course want to move in a more democratic direction as we’re trying to create these new models.. ways of living

1::11 – (wrapping up w talking about book) h: only diff.. wendell berry hasn’t been involved globally like i have.. he’s one of the pioneers of localization movement..

1:16 – h: i believe we long to come home to deep connection w world.. and that journey back home is about rebuilding these invisible connections.. t

holmgren indigenous law

ai humanity needs.. augmenting interconnectedness

1:17 – h: not so much about econ of happiness.. but about understanding this man made artificial system.. the econ of deep unhappiness.. deep ill health.. so really talking about econ of unhappiness vs cultures of happiness.. might sound romantic.. but i see it on a daily basis.. t


from book – (2019) local is our future – steps to an econ of happiness

– by Helena Norberg-Hodge


bill mckibben: ‘there is no more important task than re localizing our economies – it will help to cure everything from climate change to human sadness.. and this book will tell you how it’s done


david korten: ‘.. vast majority of world’s people find it nearly impossible to make a decent living.. what we the people can do about it.. a must read book for our time


david suzuki: ‘if ever going to solve today’s enormous/escalating problems,.. need to radically rethink the econ.. presented in this fine book.. can no longer ignore’

charles eisenstein: ‘globalization is often seen as an aspiration or an inevitability. this book suggests otherwise..


joanna macy: ‘hnh provides a wonderfully positive vision of the future.. by bringing the econ closer to home.. ‘


douglas rushkoff: ‘terrific overview of the problems embedded in a globalized econ.. and the way s real people in real places can begin the journey back to prosperity’


michael h shuman: ‘don’t be fooled by the slimness of this volume: the wisdom contained.. has power to pull earth back from the brink..’

iain mcgilchrist: ‘localisation – only hope for the future..


1 – reclaiming the future


there is a growing awareness – that the real econ is the natural world, on which we ultimately depend for all our needs..

garden enough ness

only when we embrace a structural shift in the current econ – away from dependence on a corporate run global marketplace, towards diversified local system – will we be able to live in a way that reflects this understanding

let’s try/code money (any form of measuring/accounting) as the planned obsolescence

ie: ubi as temp placebo..

2 convers as infrastructure


this path of progress thru tech.. succeeded in robbing us of our time..leaving people more stressed.. tremendous toll on our connection to others/natural0world/selves..

but instead of question ing the role of the econ system in severing these connections, people tend to blame themselves for not managing their lives well enough.. for not spending enough time w family/friends..


in last 40 yrs world has undergone a process that has been more momentous than the industrial revolution.. yet most of us have been only dimly aware of it.. economic globalization.. built largely thru ‘free trade’ treaties that free up or dereg global banks and businesses, it has exponentially increase the exploitation of both human/natural resources.. w impacts that no techno fix can hope to alleviate

well.. if we used tech for humanity.. ie: augmenting interconnectedness it could.. because what the world needs most is the energy of 8b alive people

mufleh humanity lawwe have seen advances in every aspect of our lives except our humanity– Luma Mufleh

our collective ignorance has led many to blame human nature or overpopulation, rather than the economy, for all the destruction we see in our world.. i hear people ask, ‘wha tis wrong w humans – why are we so greedy/selfish?’ they often conclude ‘the human race has become a cancer.. maybe we don’t deserve to survive’..

as the global econ system has grown bigger and bigger, it has become extremely difficult for us to see wha tis actually happening.. many of our basic needs have criss crossed the planet several times before we purchase them: how can we know whether they were produced under fair/humane labor conditions, or what impact their production had on the environ?


even w/in academia, knowledge has become so specialized that ‘expert’ know little beyond the narrow focus of their single discipline..

w giant corps and media congloms gaining so much wealth/power, they have been able to shape not only govt and academic policy, but also public opinion and intellectual discourse..  targeted corp funding has even influenced the environ movement..  toward market solutions like green consumerism, ethical investment and carbon trading – pseudo solutions that ensure corp power remains unchallenged..

in the era of fully fledged globalization, what is ‘economic’ has become absurd. fish from europe are flown to asia to be deboned, then flown back to europe to be sold.. hundreds of thousands of tons of hay grown on irrigated land in drought stricken southern california are shipped to china.. england and austrailia recently exchanged 20 tons of bottled water, just with each other.. these ie’s of insane trade are no longer outliers: they are now typical of how the global economy operates..

and yet very few people are aware of this.. from netflix to ted talks, from dc to sv, the cliche of a high tech, totally global – even interplanetary – society continues to be trumpeted as the singular destiny of our species..

ie: kurzweil: good will come from ‘ai controlled vertical buildings’ and include ‘in vitro cloned meat’..; musk: building a city on mars is ‘the critical thing for max ing the life of humanity’ while ’30 layers of tunnels’ will relieve congestion in earth’s high density cities.. ; goldman sachs: digitization of everyday objects will ‘establish networks between machines/humans/internet, leading to creating of new ecosystem that enable higher productivity, better energy efficiency and higher profitability’


these ideas are lauded as visionary and bold, but what they promise is simply the escalation of dominant trends – new colonial expansion, urbanization and commodification – turbo charged w fancy gadgets.. what they don’t tell us is that, at every level, the system is dumping the most abundant natural resource of all – human energy and labor – on the waste heap

the energy of 8b alive people

at the same time our taxes are subsidizing a dramatic increase in the use of energy and scarce natural resources we have a system that is simultaneously creating mass unemployment, poverty and pollution

this system is not the expression of the will of the majority: on the contrary, we have been actively excluded from having a say.. but i do not believe that a ‘good guys vs bad guys’ narrative is accurate either..  even they (10 000 ish pushing corp monoculture) are so mesmerized by abstract econ models and indicators that they are often blind to the real world effects of their decisions..

us/them ness.. has to be everyone.. everyone in sync

in a sense.. the (econ) system has trapped us all.. so it is the system itself that must be called to account and changed – not the interchangeable individuals who wield power w/in it

let’s try/code money (any form of measuring/accounting) as the planned obsolescence

ie: ubi as temp placebo..

mufleh humanity lawwe have seen advances in every aspect of our lives except our humanity– Luma Mufleh

people around the globe are yearning for the deep bonds of community and connection to nature that we evolved w for most o four existence.. and from the bottom up they are pushing for  a fundamental shift in direction.. theres is not a vision build upon a few billionaires’ fetish for high tech gimmicks and knack for money accumulation: instead it emerges from a deep experience of wha tit means to be human

thurman interconnectedness lawwhen you understand interconnectedness it makes you more afraid of hating than of dying – Robert Thurman (@BobThurman)


at the grassroots on every continent, people in their diverse cultures are coming together to reweave the social fabric and to reconnect w the earth and her ecosystems.. they are building prosperous local economies and intergenerational communities that provide more meaningful, productive work, from community gardens to farmers markets, from alt learning spaces to local business alliances and co ops – what all these have in common is a renewal of place based relationships that reflect an enduring and innately human desire for love and connection

true.. and *local is where it will happen.. but it’s because of the **means we have now that we will be able to leave (leap from) the system/cancer we’re living in .. i don’t think ***incremental will get us there.. because then we keep missing the much needed sync of the ****dance .. and i don’t think going softer on money .. or any form of measuring/accounting (ie: co ops et al) will get us there.. because even if it different than now.. it’s still holding onto that inhumane poison

*2 convers as infra

**tech as it could be.. to listen to 8b voices everyday.. and use that as data to augment our interconnectedness

***not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake

****dance of an undisturbed ecosystem.. ‘in undisturbed ecosystems ..the average individual, species, or population, left to its own devices, behaves in ways that serve and stabilize the whole..’ –Dana Meadows


the emphasis here is on real needs, not the artificial wants created by marketers and advertisers..

yeah..  i think this is where we need to go deeper (am assuming you’re seeing real needs as food, water, shelter).. to ie: maté basic needs.. i think we first need to get back to the mind/heart set of enough ness.. otherwise we’ll just circle back around to ie: storage et al

localization means getting out of the highly unstable and exploitative bubbles of speculation and debt, and back to the real econ – our *interface w other people and the natural world

yeah.. let’s do that.. but i think it has to be sans money (any form of measuring/accounting)

*augmenting interconnectedness via 2 convers as infra

rather than demanding countless tons of perfectly straight carrots and discarding the ones that do not fit the bill (as supermarket chains do) local markets require a diversity of products, and therefore create incentives for more diversified and ecological production..

see.. i’m thinking that focus on needs like food.. has us distracted from a deeper focus.. that would make incentives/markets.. et al .. irrelevant..

i believe today we have the means to get us back to that most natural/enough-ness state (holmgren indigenous law et al).. where we wouldn’t even be wasting time/energy thinking about carrots/food/et-al.. we’d just be living everyday life.. and trusting we’d all have enough (i don’t think it’s going to work for all of us .. till we get there – and again.. today we have the means to leap there)

this means more food w far less machinery/chemicals.. more hands on the land and therefore more meaningful employment

see.. to me that’s too dangerous/cancerous.. employment ness is a huge part of the problem.. in fact.. it sure seems like the premise of this book.. employment is a huge piece of the econ systems trap (earn a living ness et al)

it means reducing co2 emissions.. more biodiversity.. more circulation of wealth.. more face to face convos between producers and consumers and more flourishing culture founded on genuine interdependence

yeah.. i don’t see producers/consumers (econ trap embed) as part of genuine interdependence..


this is what i call the ‘solution multiplier’ effect of localization, and the pattern extends beyond our food systems..

today we have the means to go so much deeper ie: beyond money (any form of measuring/accounting)..

perhaps we haven’t gotten to global equity yet because we haven’t let go enough for the dance to be about all of us.. ie: undisturbed ecosystem

it may sound utopian, but as we withdraw dependence on highly centralized, automated system in fields like healthcare and education, we can rebalance the ratios between dr and patient between teacher and student, and thereby make space for individual needs and capabilities..

yeah.. perhaps not utopian enough.. those binaries we need to let go of .. and instead just focus on .. listen for.. 8b daily curiosities .. and use that to connect us locally .. everyday.. ie: cure ios city.. would help us realize/live with less needs and more capabilities than we can currently imagine

it is entirely reasonable to envisage a world w/o unemployment

let’s go even deeper helena – a world w/o employment

when we strengthen the human scale econ, decision making itself is transformed

deeper .. we need to let go of decision making (or transform it beyond what we’re currently imagining.. ie: curiosity over decision making) .. otherwise we miss fittingness.. and keep perpetuating the broken feedback loop of whales in sea world.. et al

not only do we create system that are small enough for us to *influence, but we also embed ourselves w/in a web of relationships that **informs our actions and perspectives at a deep level

yeah.. i don’t think we’re meant to *influence others.. i think that messes with fittingness.. which then messes with the dance of an undisturbed ecosystem.. ‘in undisturbed ecosystems ..the average individual, species, or population, left to its own devices, behaves in ways that serve and stabilize the whole..’ –Dana Meadows

i think the *info we need to hear most is already w/in each one of us.. if we listen to something else first.. we end up messing up the natural/deep sync of us


localization lends us the intimacy and pace required to feel tis fullness, and to feel the joy of being an *integral part of a living web of relationships

indeed.. but i think we need to trust *that more.. and manufacture/help/incentivize it less

my direct experience of a localize way of life.. when to ladakh in 1975 – they were among the freest, most peaceful and joyous people i had ever met.. what’s more, their happiness translated into a remarkable tolerance – an acceptance of difference and of adversity


pearson unconditional law et al

i came to see how the modern econ system centralize power and creates intense competition for *artificially scarce ed opportunities and jobs, while at the same time reaching deep into the psyches of young children, perverting a universal need for love and acceptance int0 a need to consume..

*perhaps it’s more that we think we have to manufacture them in the first place.. ie: supposed to’s.. of school/work stripping the young psyches of their not yet scrambled ness


there are two diametrically opposing paths before us.. one is leading us relentlessly towards fast pace, large scale, monocultural, techno development.. it’s a path that separates us from each other and the natural world, and accelerates our downward social and ecological decline. the other path is about slowing down, scaling back and fostering deep connection in order to restore the social and econ structure essential for meeting our material and deeper human needs in ways  that nurture the only planet we have

yeah.. i see a third.. today we have the means to try eagle and condor style.. combining the best of both of your described paths – old and new.. fast and slow (ie: hasten the connections in order to slow the day) .. global and local

2 – globalization – creating a lose-lose world


(defn) econ globalization: dereg of trade/finance in order to trade globally


globalization is essentially a continuation of the conquest and colonial exploitation that began 500 yrs ago – a process that relied upon genocide, slavery, and the destruction of local economies and cultures


much of this trade, esp in food, is redundant. in a typical year, the us exports millions of tons of beef, potatoes, and other foods, while importing nearly identical amounts of each..  this patter .. has been documented in man other countries as well.. in some cases, it si literally the same product..


most people remain unaware that almost all the money in circulation today is backed by nothin g but debt.. despite increased awareness of this madness after 2008 meltdown, all major economies today have higher levels of borrowing relative to gdp than they did in 2007

3 – counting the costs


(after bit on job loss ie: amazon destroyed 150 000 more jobs than it has created).. any discussion about what’s happening to livelihoods is incomplete unless we also ask wha a ‘job’ is in the modern world.. for ie, the most importan activity for human survival and well being – parenting – has been systematically marginalized over many generations now, turning it into a type of shadow work that is rated at ‘zero’ in the national accounts.. .. much the same ha happened to food production

yeah.. perhaps thinking of even parenting and food production as ‘jobs’ quotes or no quotes.. would still be messing with us (our fittingness).. much like from p 15.. focus on food (carrots) .. we need to let go and trust what’s already in us to take care of what needs to be taken care of without saying we need to take care of it.. ie: if we say something is most important activity for human survival .. that we should be doing it.. and/or getting paid for it (10 day care centers ness).. then we’ve already sabotaged it..


(listing all the declines: health, democracy, climate, equity, peace, et al) overall, approximately 75% of the world’s agri diversity was lost in the last century.. puts food security at risk everywhere.. 800 m people undernourished even though more than enough food is produced to adequately feed everyone on planet

only 800 m?

4 – the rise of extremism


as someone who lived there and spoke ladakhi fluently, i had a unique perspective as both an outside and insider, and it was obvious to me that there was a connection between the econ changes wrought by development and the sudden appearance of violent conflict.. most around food – imports sold half price – local farmers wonder if there was a future for them.. also ed.. new schools taught almost nothing about ladakhi way of life.. instead children were implicitly taught to look down on the traditional culture..  et al.. ladakhis were becoming dependent ton far of manufacturers and centralized bureaucracies instead of each other..  lost confidence in self and culture..


to reverse this trend, neither a politics of identity, nor of conventional left vs right is sufficient.. we need to *fundamentally change the structural econ forces a t the root of the problem.. those forces are the engines of globalization and reversing that process is our best hope for peace and stability

perhaps *fundamentally.. needs to go beyond globalization vs localization as well..

ie: change structural forces via 2 convers as infra..  a nother way


(on what globalization led to) job insecurity; political (voting for candidates who promise et al) insecurity; ..

thinking those are not things our security (if we even want that) should hinge on.. ie: we need to let go of earning a living ness.. and other people rep-ing us ness..

let’s try this safety net: gershenfeld something else law

5 – localization – getting from here to there


(defn) localization: remove supports that favor giant transnational corps and banks .. reduce dependence on export/trade

if globalization is at the root of so many problems, it stands to reason that localization – a shift away from the global and towards the local – offers a systemic solution

perhaps globalization isn’t root enough.. so.. perhaps localization isn’t systemic enough

localization means shortening the distance between producers and consumers..healthier balance between local/global markets..

1\ in today’s words.. producer/consumer is cancerous .. let go  2\ if using clean defn of who makes food and who eats it.. then yeah.. let’s make that distance ongoingly close to zero.. everyone a farmer.. but not for trade..


but in order for initiatives like these (local ie’s happening already) to spread more widely localization also requires ‘top down’ policy change to reverse the structural forces that now promote the large and global.. the aim of those policy shifts – and the goal of my org – is to promote ‘small scale on a large scale’.. what follows are the policy shifts needed to make that vision real:

perhpas let’s go larger and smaller than this.. ie: ginormous small..

let’s just facil daily curiosity  ie: cure ios city . .via 2 convers as infra

1\ policy shifts: trade treaties (dereg of global.. less on profit and more on surplus production)

testart storage law et al

2\ financial policies (re reg bankings.. free local funding)

rather.. let’s try/code money (any form of measuring/accounting) as the planned obsolescence ie: ubi as temp placebo..

3\ indicators of econ health (ie: rather than gdp.. genuine progress indicator (gpi) and gross national happiness (gnh))

4\ taxation (reversing tax bias.. ie: more on rich and energy sucks)

5\ decentralized renewable energy

what we need most: he energy of 8b alive people

6\ food and agri (healthy.. local)

7\ health and safety regs

gershenfeld something else law

8\ land use regs (community based ways of living)

9\ infra spending (creating\improving spaces for pubic meetings – from town halls to village square – would encourage face to face exchanges between decision makers and the public to enliven communities and to strengthen participatory democracy)

let’s just try the whole city.. as the hole day.. via 2 convers as infra

decision making, reps et al.. not what we’re about .. let’s try curiosity over decision making.. no rep ness needed

10 \ global media  11\ education (diverse forms of place based learning)  12\ healthcare


taking the initiative: fair tax town – their goal is not to avoid paying taxes, but to put fair tax town in a stronger negotiating position w uk tax collectors..

6 – grassroots inspiration


ie’s of steps being taken today: local finance (community banks, local currencies, time banks); local business; loca energy; local food/farming (farmer’s market, permaculture); community media; place based ed (waldorf/montessori, homeschooling, unschooling, forest schools, shikshantar – swaraj uni); healthcare; community building (ecovillages, transition towns); resistance and renewal: tosepan (network of co ops building up parallel solidarity econ in mexico)

7 – local food for our future


everyone needs food everyday.. makes food system one of most importan places to begin shifting direction.. when it comes to ecologically sound ways of producing food, the world is full of good news.. these inspiring methods have two things in common: they involve smaller scale farms adapted to local conditions and they depend more on human attention and care than on energy and tech.. in other words.. opposite of industrial monocultures.. huge farms that grow just one crop


existing sustainable farming systems are being steadily dismantled in favor o export oriented monoculture… this is happening despite the fact that peasant farmers provide food to more than 70% of the global population, using less than 25% of the land, water, and energy resources..


among hideous effects of industrial monoculture is way animals are treated.. meat, milk, and eggs produced by this system are prone to contamination..


more than half world food varieties have been lost over the past century.. in us.. loss is more than 90%

benes of local: reduce travel distance; less need for packaging; support diversity;..  more jobs .. improve econ..

ugh to last ones


no matter how many studies demo the virtues of alt ways of producing/distributing food, the destructive global food system is unlikely to change unless there is heavy pressure form the grassroots to change the entire system

let’s go deeper than food system

many models proving local eons on food can provide better than global/corp econ can: pine island farm (vermont – xmas trees to farm goats.. links new americans to broader community – unite diverse people); mouans artoux farm to school program (se france – by 2015 producing 85% of organic vegetable used in local school meals); pun pun center for self reliance (thailand – chaing mai city)

8 – countering the objections


most common concerns: globalization reduce poverty?; localization lead to isolation?.. a form of social engineering?; too many people to live off land?; cities more efficient?; fair trade? (any export sucks energies);..

9 – globalization revisited


drivers of globalization and its structural impacts.. destructive: trade dereg; expo growth in global trade (supposed goal is efficiency .. result is highly inefficient/wasteful.. just not apparent because external); direct/indirect subsidies (because of these.. price of goods transported halfway around world can seem artificially cheap compared to goods produce next door.. ); dereg big banks and fin institutions; debt, structural adjustment and austerity; corporate rule;..

10 – rethinking the past


in the logs of christopher columbus and in other reports of first encounters w indigenous societies native peoples are commonly described as ‘healthy, kind, generous, happy’.. today, however, anyone portraying traditional cultures in such a positive light is likely to be accused of ‘romanticizing the past’.. pre modern life i snot generally describe in terms of deprivation, hardship, insecure subsistence, constant drudgery and early death. but this depiction of the past is even more misleading than supposedly idealized portrayals..

in describing the past, the dominant narrative tends to start w the horror of dickensian london. there is almost no mention of life before the enclosures and the industrial revolution, which tore apart the social fabric that supported land based ways of life.. life in london by that time was indeed brutal, w horrific exploitation of people and nature. this is what we tend to think of when we say that life today is a vast improvement over ‘the past’.. t

but a few pockets of indigenous land based ways of life have persisted into the modern era, and those provide a more accurate window on the features of a localized culture and econ..  i had the privilege of getting to know one such culture.. ladakh.. when largely unaffected by global econ.. when its traditional values and structure were still intact..  this experience provided me w an almost unique perspective on place based cultures that i believe is profoundly relevant to the search for healthier and more sustainable ways of life


i feel the same about our experiments/experiences/findings


protected by high mtn passes.. ladakh had been spared the impacts of colonialism and until recently.. development.. when i arrived in 1975.. ladakh’s traditional community based culture and econ still functioned well

it did not take me long to realize that in this harsh and barren high alt environ, the ladakh’s were actually prospering.. they had little money, but there was no hunger/poverty/unemployment/homelessness.. most people in fact, lived in spacious homes on their own land..

so.. still already part of enclosure et al ie: money; jobs; ownership

children and elderly were valued contributors to society, and women had remarkably high status. despite having only animal power and simple tools – and a very short growing season in which to produce all their own food – the ladakhis still enjoyed more leisure time than most people in the west

most importantly.. the ladakhis exhibited an incredible, active joie de vivre.. they simply didn’t suffer form our neuroses.. they were truly at ease and happy

but.. ladakh was dramatically changed by the global econ in less than a generation.. development effectively dismantled the local econ: subsidized, chemically produced food from the indian plains flooded the market, making the local organic agri that had sustained people for hundreds of years suddenly seem uneconomical..

streams/air became polluted.. decision making power shifted away form household and village – where women were highly respected – to male dominated bureaucracies in distant urban centers.. advertising/media.. implicitly informed .. that urban life is glamorous, exciting and easy.. and the life of a farmer is backward and dull


loss of self esteem.. increase in pettiness and small minded gossip.. and unprecedented levels of divisiveness and friction.. intense competition for jobs and political power.. led to violent conflict between buddhists and muslims.. groups that had lived peacefully side by side in ladakh for centuries..

if we look closely we can see that the same transformation i observed in ladakh has unfolded in cultures and communities around the world..

it can be difficult for those who live at the far end of these trends – who have grown up in a modern, urbanized, english speaking society – to comprehend what is being lost..  this is esp true because most of their experience of smaller towns and rural communities is limited to places that were sapped of vitality long ago..


the vitally important need to adapt to diversity has been buried and hidden during 500 yrs of conquest, colonialism, and econ devel.. a log process of globalization that has imposed monocultural ideas and practices around the world

same to land (grow only this food here) as to people (be this way – ie: supposed to’s.. of school/work)..

schooling the world et al

but there is of course no one single formula for life: the need for diversity extends down to very blade of grass.. earthworm.. songbird.. individuals.. erasing diversity is simply incompatible w life..t for that reason, globalization.. which systematically replaces diversity w monoculture – is also incompatible w life..

this does not mean we should idealize life in the past. in ladakh for ie infant mortality rates were higher in the traditional culture, and people were less comfortable than modern people in the west, esp in winter.. but if we look at what’s most important, the old culture really worked: it proved itself sustainable over may hndreds of years, and people were really happy..


a long time ago i coined the term’ counter development’ to describe our work in ladakh


there is a great need for activities that deconstruct the myths in the dominant narrative and inform people about thee realities on the ground in both north and south. i now call this type of work ‘big picture activism’

11 – big picture activism


people are aware that something is fundamentally wrong, and that *minor tinkering w the current system is not the solution. that’s needed now is a critical mass w a **clear understanding of the root cause of the crises we face, and solutions that are meaningful.. t.. helping to create that critical mass is the goal of what i call ‘big picture activism’

agreed..* not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake.. there’s a nother way

have to go **deeper with the root cause.. and more specific/simple.. ie: maté basic needs.. next experiment

we need *info campaigns that spell out the basics of how globalization is being pushed and wha tits real world consequences are.. greater ‘eco *literacy‘.. both econ/and ecological literacy is also needed.. in order to make clear how localization is the key to both human prosperity and a healthy planet

*red flag we’re doing it wrong.. if we need to train/prep.. if we go deep enough.. then the *’info’ is already on each heart.. which means.. 8b people could leap if given the chance..


this kind of awareness raising is a vital form of action and is a necessary stage in the building of successful movements.. before organic food was available on the market, for ie, proponents of organic agri had to invest many years in ed campaigns to inform people ow what ‘organic’ meant and about the costs of chem agri to both health/environ

we need to go deeper than movements.. again.. if we think we have to teach/train/aware it.. that’s a sign we’re not going deep enough.. (to where our humanity is enough.. we all are already enough.. the root resonates w 8b enough et al)


once people wake up to the fact that the same econ policies are the underlying driver of everything from job insecurity and poverty to climate chaos and the rise of extremism.. we can transcend isolated single issue campaigns and build movements that are big and resilient enough to recapture democratic power from global monopolies..

once people wake up to what’s already in their gut.. that econ policies are baked into the man made myths of thinking we need to have jobs.. and that we need to have some power/voice of decision making called democracy.. we have to let go of all of that.. go deeper..


many have completely given up on the idea of fundamentally changing the system.. people think it’s too hard.. but it’s vital to keep in mind that the road we’re currently on is supported by our laws and funded by our taxes.. unless we let our voices be heard in active support of another direction, we are acquiescing to the continued highjacking of our social institutions in the interest of further centralization and profit extraction

deeper than that… beyond taxes/laws/institutions.. beyond any form of measuring/accounting)


the potential for people to really be heard will grow exponentially when they move beyond a fragmented perspective to focus on the common thread that run thru all their concerns.. a ‘new econ’ movement – on that is clear about what we are for, not just what we are against – has far greater potential to succeed than almost any single issue campaign

deeper dear.. wish we could talk.. there’s a much deeper thread.. that doesn’t need to be voiced.. because it’s already in each one of us..

and there’s a means as well.. for every voice to be heard.. everyday.. (tech as it could be).. let’s go that deep..

not about for or against.. that has us focusing on issues.. rather .. about daily curiosity  ie: cure ios city.. that has us focusing on our gut.. it’s a story about people grokking what matters..

and we can ground all that needed chaos/entropy by using 2 conversations as infrastructure

an emphasis on inner transformation can be another stumbling block. the new age movement has done tremendous good in encouraging millions of people to listen to their hearts and to the wisdom of ancient indigenous cultures. this deeper consciousness creates a yearning to turn away from the competitions and consumerism of the global econ and to build more loving relationships w others on the earth.. this emphasis led many people to focus almost exclusively on the ‘inner’ dimension, on ‘thinking positively’ and personal change. and many among them tended to look down on activist who seemed fixated on the ‘outer’ world of social and environmental activism

what we need most – the energy of 8b alive people..and that means we need both – inner and outer.. everyday.. we just need to start each day with inner.. (otherwise we keep on being whales in sea world).. which is what 2 conversations as infrastructure allows for .. every day..  something we haven’t yet tried..

another red flag.. if we say we’re listening to our hearts.. and that doesn’t also include outer.. what we found.. is that once a person felt truly free to experience fittingness all they wanted to do was find their people.. share..

if we let go enough.. we won’t need to label anything activism


in the activist community, meanwhile, many have ignored their personal inner needs, while emphasizing ‘outer’ practical and political change. even though they work is usually born of altruism, ignoring the inner dimension has often hampered their efforts. neglecting peace of mind and inner reflection and focusing on the negative can lead so self righteousness and helpless anger and eventually to burnout, conflict and alienation..

inner is less about peace of mind.. and positives.. and more about fittingness (which again.. doesn’t truly happen with out outer ness – simultaneous)

everyone in sync et al.. eudaimoniative surplus.. an undisturbed ecosystem ‘in undisturbed ecosystems ..the average individual, species, or population, left to its own devices, behaves in ways that serve and stabilize the whole..’ –Dana Meadows

big picture activism makes clear that our problems have both an inner and an outer dimension and that solving them require working on both levels..

which is what 2 conversations as infrastructure allows for .. every day..  something we haven’t yet tried..

as i argued at the outset, our destructive econ system continues to expand primarily because of ignorance..

yeah.. not about knowledge/intelligence/ignorance.. the destruction is from not listening deep enough

even concerned citizens, including activist, can find it difficult to see the many hidden ways that both their consumer choices and taxes end up supporting an energy intensive, job and soul destroying econ

that’s not the deep issue.. (consumer choices, taxes, jobs, ..) go deeper..

this awareness takes us beyond a politics of id, beyond blaming individual people, and crucially – beyond self blame.. we can focus instead on changing the i to a we coming together at the community level as well as the political level.. the way forward lies not in anger and confrontation, but in actively encouraging peaceful, broad based , system change

rather.. in just setting people free first.. and trusting that

let’s do this firstfree art-ists.

for (blank)’s sake

a nother way

many have begun to embrace a holistic approach that moves beyond single issues.. a movement w the potential to become the largest that the world has ever seen

today we can go ginormously smaller than that

12 – economics of happiness

coda – a convo w wendell berry


h: it’s also important to realize that the real problem is not human nature, but what i think of as an inhuman system..t

whales in sea worldhari rat park law


Henry Stewart (@happyhenry) tweeted at 5:38 AM – 3 Jan 2020 :
Iceland is creating – with New Zealand, Scotland – a new economic model, centred on well-being rather than consumption.
“developing wellbeing indicators has the potential to transform fiscal policies,
putting people and the planet first.” Iceland PM
https://t.co/CoOmtuULfa https://t.co/GL11pZR4eM (http://twitter.com/happyhenry/status/1213077057464414208?s=17)



local is our future

local futures

local food shift


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