A moving portrait of tradition and change in Ladakh, or “Little Tibet,” Ancient Futures is also a scathing critique of the global economy and a rallying call for economic localization.
When Helena Norberg-Hodge first visited Ladakh in 1975, she found a pristine environment, a self-reliant economy and a people who exhibited a remarkable joie de vivre. But then came a tidal wave of economic growth and development. Over the last four decades, this remote Himalayan land has been transformed by outside markets and Western notions of “progress.” As a direct result, a whole range of problems—from polluted air and water to unemployment, religious conflict, eating disorders and youth suicide—have appeared for the first time.
Yet this is far from a story of despair. Social and environmental breakdown, Norberg-Hodge argues, are neither inevitable nor evolutionary, but the products of political and economic decisions—and those decisions can be changed. In a new Preface, she presents a kaleidoscope of projects around the world that are pointing the way for both human and ecological well-being. These initiatives are the manifestation of a rapidly growing localization movement, which works to rebuild place-based cultures—strengthening community and our connection with nature.
Ancient Futures challenges us to redefine what a healthy economy means, and to find ways to carry centuries-old wisdom into our future. The book and a related film by the same title have, between them, been translated into more than 40 languages.