Local Futures in Ladakh
In 1978, Local Futures’ founder Helena Norberg-Hodge went to Ladakh, in the Indian Himalayas. She was profoundly influenced by the happiness and community solidarity she encountered, rooted in a place-based agrarian economy.
Bearing witness to this thriving culture, and the social and ecological devastation that followed as Ladakh was opened up to modern ‘development’ and the global economy, inspired her to start Local Futures. Ever since then, we have continued our work in this region.
Our Ladakhi team is focusing on relocalizing food systems and documenting traditional practices. Our current work – in collaboration with other organizations and the local government – centers on hosting workshops and dialogues on regenerative agriculture, formulating sustainable tourism guidelines, and producing short films on traditional culture.
Young Farmers in Ladakh – highlights the importance of local knowledge and traditional skills for young farmers. The team also hosted an in-person film screening and discussion in Leh, with environmentalist and author Ashish Kothari as a guest speaker.
Our work is not about putting a wall around cultures. On the contrary, it is about establishing closer contact between the most and least industrialized 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
founder & director of Local Futures ~
Workshops, screenings and more
In recent years, prior to the pandemic, our work focused on hosting interactive workshops with Ladakhi-led organizations on topics such as media literacy and economic localization.
With the local group Flowering Dharma, we have been running a recurring Mindful Futures workshop for young Ladakhi change-makers, collectively exploring environmental and social problems and finding locally-based sustainable solutions.
During the summer months, we have hosted daily screenings of our films Ancient Futures and The Economics of Happiness, and organized Help with the Harvest programs. In 2019, we hosted our 21st International Economics of Happiness Conference in Leh.
Mindful Travel & Tourist Education Program
Since Ladakh was thrown open to ‘development’ in the 1970s, tourism has been increasing exponentially. This has had enormous ecological and social impacts: the explosion of plastic waste and pollution, rampant conversion of farmland to hotels, traffic jams, as well as precarious levels of economic dependence on the sector for livelihoods.