Category Archives: Helena Norberg-Hodge
Earth, Culture, Economy – The Power of Local, UK
Monday, July 24th to Friday, July 28th, 2017
The Old Postern, Dartington Totnes, TQ9 6EA, Devon, UK
Helena Norberg Hodge
What would the world look like if humans lived harmoniously with nature rather than creating environmental mayhem? An important pathway for achieving this is to create an economic system which enhances both human and ecological wellbeing.
Drawing inspiration from Gandhi, Schumacher and the fundamental laws of Gaia, this course will explore urgently needed alternatives to business-as-usual economics. Our focus will be on the power of economic localization, a solution multiplier which restores the fabric of community, while simultaneously reducing CO2 emissions, unemployment and the gap between rich and poor.
You will join an in-depth exploration of the steps involved in moving toward integrated, human-scale economic structures in which deeply personal, heartfelt relationships matter most of all. Envisioning a shift from global to local entails grappling with a number of difficult questions: Just how localised should we strive to be? What strategies can be employed to overcome the entrenched power of big business, big banks, and big government? What is the role of technology in a localised economy? How do we start from where we are? We’ll discuss these topics and more.
Together, we’ll address the shifts needed at both policy and grassroots levels. We’ll honour the wisdom and practical knowledge of indigenous cultures and envision a society based on the proven principles of connection and community. We’ll learn from the kaleidoscope of people-powered movements around the world—a source of real hope for the future which has been almost completely ignored by the mainstream media.
Our approach will be very broad and holistic and we will consider a range of themes from perspectives of both the global North and South, including:
- How to measure real progress
- Putting food and farming at the center of the local economy
- Reducing energy use while creating meaningful jobs
- Tackling climate change through localization trade
- The balance between urban and rural
- The spiritual and psychological benefits of connecting to nature and community
- Healthcare in a life-based economy
- Resolving the roots of racial, ethnic and religious conflict
- Restoring democracy through localization
This course will give you a global perspective on localization and equip you with practical strategies for fostering and supporting genuine social, ecological, and economic renewal, wherever you may be.
Fee: £ 795.00 Course fees include all meals, field trips, materials and all teaching sessions. The programme will run from Monday to Friday afternoon, and includes four nights private accommodation and all vegetarian meals from the first lunchtime you arrive through until the lunchtime before your departure.
To register: Login/ Register Schumacher College. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear friends, Donald Trump’s candidacy – with its simplistic policy positions and its undercurrent of racism and sexism – left most of us believing he couldn’t possibly win. Now his victory is a visceral shock from which many have still not recovered. To better understand what happened – and why – we need to broaden our horizons. If we zoom out a bit, it becomes clear that Trump is not an isolated phenomenon; the forces that put him in the White House have been growing throughout the Western world for some time. Earlier this year, the Brexit vote in the UK was also based on fear and narrow-minded nationalism, not on a sophisticated critique of EU economic policy.
Right-wing extremism is on the rise in many other parts of Europe; even in my native country of Sweden, where racism was all but absent during my younger years. If we zoom out even further, a broader pattern emerges. Almost everywhere in the world, unemployment is increasing, the gap between rich and poor is widening, environmental devastation is worsening, and a spiritual crisis – revealed in substance abuse, domestic assaults, and teenage suicide – is deepening.
By looking from a global perspective it becomes apparent that these many crises – including the rise of right-wing sentiments – share a common root cause: an increasingly corporatized and globalized economic system that is devastating not only planetary ecosystems, but the lives of hundreds of millions of people.
Over the last three decades, governments have unquestioningly embraced “free trade” treaties that have enriched global corporations while impoverishing their own citizens. By allowing corporations to move unfettered around the globe in search of the lowest wages, these treaties have put workers throughout the industrialized world in competition with workers in the global South who will accept a fraction of a dollar per hour. This is not a contest that workers in the North can win. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) resulted in a net loss of 680,000 American jobs, and the Permanent Normal Trade Relations deal with China led to a net loss of another 2.7 million jobs. These job losses are a direct result of increasing global competition through corporate deregulation.
At the same time, the infiltration of big business throughout the global South – most often with the support of national governments and backed by international financial institutions – has eliminated many of the livelihoods that local economies in those countries once provided. With locally-adapted ways of life systematically undermined by economic policies geared towards the big and the global, millions of desperate people in the South find themselves with just two options: to accept minimal wages and appalling working conditions in industrial metropolises, or to migrate. It is estimated that, as a direct result of heavily subsidized corn flooding the Mexican market under NAFTA, 2.4 million small farmers were displaced, and subsequently funneled into crowded urban centers or across the border to the US.
So the loss of jobs in the US and the migrant crisis in the South are two sides of the same coin. But instead of looking at the flawed rules of the global economy that are behind both problems, people have been encouraged to point the finger at the cultural “other”. As worldwide competition for increasingly scarce jobs has increased, so have divisiveness, fundamentalism and racism.
Until recently, corporate-funded media and think tanks have steered both grassroots activism and high-level policy-making away from consideration of the economic root cause of our social and ecological problems. The global economy was treated as “evolutionary” or inevitable, and the policies promoting it went unquestioned; the crises escalated, and the only ‘solution’ offered was to double down on more of the same: more economic growth, more development, more deregulation. As people’s lives and the natural world deteriorated, it’s no surprise that disenchantment with the political process became widespread.
Nonetheless, the trade treaties – notably the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – were a hot topic during the recent American elections. First and foremost, this represents an important victory for the people – for the grassroots – whose voice is finally being heard. While the mainstream media has propped up Donald Trump as the figurehead of opposition to the trade treaties, we need to keep in mind that the first cross-sector demonstration against the TPP in the United States was in June 2010 — five years before Trump announced his candidacy. Resistance to the trade treaties has come from diverse people’s movements from around the world, and is growing stronger day by day.
Corporate rule is not only impoverishing people worldwide, it is fuelling climate change, destroying diverse ecosystems and cultures, undermining community and accelerating the spread of consumerism. These are undoubtedly scary times. Yet the very fact that the seemingly distinct crises we face are linked can be the source of genuine empowerment. Once we understand the systemic nature of our problems, the path towards solving them – together, rather than one by one – becomes clear. And that’s why the anti- trade treaty movement has been dubbed “the movement of movements”. By targeting the trade treaties and campaigning for the re-regulation of global businesses and banks, we not only resist the increasing corporatization of our planet, but actively begin to reverse the negative effects of economic globalization in our own communities. We can start to bring the economy home – to localize – by reweaving the social and economic fabric at the local level.
In many areas of the world, from the USA to India, from China to Australia, people are beginning to do just that: they are forming local business alliances, starting local finance initiatives, exploring locally-based education and energy schemes, and, most centrally, building a local food movement. All of these efforts are based on the principle of connection and the celebration of diversity.
In communities around the world, the profound environmental, economic, social and even spiritual benefits of reconnecting locally are becoming clear for all to see. As the scale and pace of economic activity are reduced, anonymity gives way to face-to-face relationships, and to a closer connection to Nature. The bonds of local interdependence are strengthened, and a more secure sense of personal and cultural identity begins to flourish. People feel connected to others, rather than in competition with them.
At the same time, localized economies are good for the environment: they increase the number of jobs not by increasing consumption, but by relying more on human labor and creativity and less on energy-intensive technological systems – thereby reducing resource use and pollution. And shifting from global to local promotes “re-wilding” and the restoration of biodiversity.
By spreading economic and political power among millions of individuals and small businesses – rather than in a handful of corporate monopolies – localization also has the potential to revitalize the democratic process. Political power is no longer some distant impersonal force, but is instead rooted in community.
Localization is sometimes painted as elitist – another plum for the already privileged peoples of the global North, but offering little for the less prosperous South. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it is only by weaning themselves from dependence on an exploitative global market while increasing national and regional self-reliance that countries in the global South will be able to find lasting prosperity.
Moving towards the local requires more than simply working on the ground within our own communities: we also need to do the hard work of pushing for change at the national and global levels. Treaties need to be re-written, regulations amended, taxes and subsidies reassigned, environmental and human rights strengthened. Unlike the narrow isolationism sought by Donald Trump, opposition to globalization requires cross-border cooperation, while revitalizing local economies demands collaboration and a willingness to learn from others.
The American people have made it perfectly clear that they want fundamental change. Trump may offer the illusion of such change, but little more. Our task now is to show that there is a genuinely different way: a path towards wholeness and sanity. The rapidly-growing localization movement is an unstoppable force. It is still in its early days, but it is already providing hope and sustenance to millions of people around the world. Together, we will keep that hope alive.
New Economy Convergence
This one-day meeting in London will provide an opportunity to take part in the rising global-to-local movement and to discuss the strategies required to move away from a corporate-led growth economy towards diverse local economies in service of people and planet.
There will be news of inspiring initiatives worldwide aimed at resisting global trade treaties and reclaiming our communities, cultures and natural environment. Meet others who care about democracy, social justice, fulfilling and dignified livelihoods, nutritious fresh food, meaningful education and about passing on a healthy and diverse environment to our children.
Speakers include Helena Norberg-Hodge, James Skinner, Molly Scott Cato, and Rupert Read (read more about the speakers here). The short version of The Economics of Happiness will be screened, and the event will include world café brainstorming sessions.
Saturday, September 17th, 2016 9.00 am to 5.00 pm
Friends House 173-177 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BJ (use Garden entrance)
Tickets: £20 for a standard ticket; £15 for concessions. Full scholarships also available upon application; please email email@example.com.