Our work is not about putting a wall around cultures. On the contrary, it is about establishing closer contact between the most and least industrial parts of the world. We have found that this contact is genuinely empowering, and can help to strengthen communities in both North and South.
~ Helena Norberg-Hodge ~
Ladakh, also known as ‘Little Tibet‘, is a beautiful desert land in the Western Himalayas, with few natural resources and an extreme climate. Yet, it has been home to a thriving culture in tune with nature for over a thousand years. Traditions of frugality and cooperation, coupled with detailed location specific knowledge, enabled the Ladakhis to prosper.
When Ladakh was opened up to ‘modern development’, the forces of the global growth economy and centuries of ecological balance and social harmony came under threat. Ladakh now faces many of the problems associated with industrialized countries, such as a rural to urban migration, unemployment, pollution and conflicts. However, Ladakhi civil society is responding to these issues with a growing number of positive initiatives that is helping Ladakh find its own path, rather than blindly emulating Western-style development.
Local Futures (and its predecessors) has been part of this process for a long time. Our work in Ladakh is based on over 40 years working in the region.
Our current activities include:
- Learning from Ladakh:
If you are considering a trip to Ladakh this summer, you may be interested in joining our program, which draws on the experience that we have gained over four decades. Learning from Ladakh takes an international perspective, but draws heavily on the lessons to be learned from Ladakh’s traditional culture, values and way of life, as well as the understanding to be gained from the changes that Ladakh is undergoing. The program includes analytical, reflective, communal and hands-on experiences.
- Help with the Harvest:
During the harvest season, between late August and mid September, Local Futures organizes volunteers to help Ladakhi farmers with harvesting. For the farmers, this offers much needed labor; for the volunteers, an opportunity to pick apricots or cut alfalfa and barley with a sickle. Volunteers stay with Ladakhi families on traditional farms in villages near Leh and, in the process, gain a better understanding of Ladakhi rural life and the change it is undergoing.
Please note: These farm stays cannot be arranged in advance due to the unpredictability of the exact time of the harvest from year to year and village to village. Also know that you will need to pay the farmers for your board. If you would like to join, please go to the Women’s Alliance in Leh and contact Local Futures staff there.
- Mindful Travel:
Every year, from mid-June through early September, we run a Mindful Travel/Tourist Education program that helps visitors to Ladakh minimize their impact on the local environment and adopt culturally sensitive practices. Read more and watch our film.