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.
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About the Author
A pioneer of the 'new economy' movement, Helena Norberg-Hodge has been promoting an economics of personal, social and ecological well-being for four decades. She is the Director of the non-profit Local Futures, producer and co-director of the award-winning documentary "The Economics of Happiness," and the author of the inspirational classic, Ancient Futures. She was honored with the Right Livelihood Award (or 'Alternative Nobel Prize') for her groundbreaking work in Ladakh, India, and received the 2012 Goi Peace Prize for contributing to "the revitalization of cultural and biological diversity, and the strengthening of local communities and economies worldwide."
"Some books provide insights into our problems, others offer guidelines for a different future. Ancient Futures does both, brilliantly. A true classic."--Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy and The End of Nature
"What the noble and intrepid Helena Norberg-Hodge beheld in Ladakh becomes a lesson for all the world. Lucid and poignant, Ancient Futures ranks with Mutual Aidas a classic of human ecology and unyielding hope."--Stephanie Mills, author of In Service of the Wild
"Though full of stories and photographs of the Ladakhi way of life, [Ancient Futures] is much more than a travelogue; it is... an ecologue.... The Western industrial 'monoculture' that has infected and endangers the rich ancient culture of Ladakh is the one that is endangering us, its progenitors, as well. A book that must be heeded."--Kirkpatrick Sale, The Nation
"When I first read Ancient Futures in 1992, it changed my life, and it has colored my thinking in all the years since. Today, after nearly a quarter of a century of globalization -- and the expansion of economic inequality and the decline of ecosystems that come with it -- this book's insights are more current, and more needed, than ever."--Richard Heinberg, author of The End of Growth
"Now more than ever we need to read and heed the lessons Helena Norberg Hodge offered us 25 years ago. We can wish we had changed course since Ancient Futures was first published, but now is the time to turn regret into strong determination to be change-makers, each one of us, in our spheres of influence."--Vicki Robin, co-author of Your Money or Your Life
"This passionate book is a gift to us all... an experience-based manifesto for change."--Alice Waters, founder of Chez Panisse
"Ancient Futures shows us a world that once was, that might inform the world to be. Its grief is tempered with hope, its radicalism with compassion. It was a formative influence on my worldview. That it is still so relevant today, 25 years later, shows how far ahead of its time it was."--Charles Eisenstein, author of Sacred Economics
"Helena Norberg-Hodge's telling of the story of Ladakh carries insights that will be increasingly vital for us all."--Wes Jackson, founder of the Land Institute
"A sensitive, thought-provoking account."--New York Review of Books
"Everyone who cares about the future of this planet, about their children's future, and about the deterioration in the quality of life in our own society, should read this book."--The Guardian (England)
"Masterfully, Helena Norberg-Hodge conveys that when we engage in the artisan world of 'local' and 'less' we have more time and more meaningful lives. At this point in history, we have little choice but to move quickly in that direction. Ancient Futures lights the path to those important next steps!"--Randy Hayes, Founder of Rainforest Action Network
"In this outstanding book, the story of Ladakh is told by Helena Norberg-Hodge with passion and compassion. Ancient Futures has proven to be a wonderful guide and companion providing a positive vision of an economy that respects traditional values and brings wellbeing to people. I recommend the book wholeheartedly to business leaders, policy makers, academics and those who are concerned with the future of our planet."--Satish Kumar, founder of Schumacher College
"Ancient Futures seems all the more relevant today because of the widespread contemporary efforts to build up local economies, to reweave the social fabric of relationships (so necessary to health and well-being), and to cultivate ecological wisdom in living on this Earth. The very real possibilities so beautifully and insightfully conveyed by Helena Norberg-Hodge are inspiring and timely. This book is a gem."--Charlene Spretnak, author of The Resurgence of the Real
"Ancient Futures was a critical early warning about the enormous social, spiritual and ecological costs of exporting "Western" lifestyles to every corner of the globe."--Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything
"Twenty-five years ago, Helena Norberg-Hodge published Ancient Futures chronicling the mostly depressing changes to the lives of the Ladakhi people as Western civilization disrupted their traditional existence. This new edition reminds us of the fragility with which we all coexist on this planet, and helps us to see that industrialization exacts a price."--Lester R. Brown, author of The Great Transition
"Ancient Futreus is a classic. An inspiring story of a grounded way of living, it was one of the first books to highlight the values of happiness and sufficiency as indicators of genuine progress. Today, this message is more important than ever."--Mary Evelyn Tucker, Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale University
"A classic when it appeared 25 years ago and even more so today . . . a story that offers authentic hope that we can create a humane, joyful, and life-centered future."--David W. Orr, Counselor to the President, Oberlin College, and Minter Fellow, Cleveland Foundation
"For decades Helena Norberg-Hodge has been a thinker ahead of her time. Her reflections on the pressures exerted on Ladakh's traditional culture in the name of 'modernisation' come not from the ivory towers of academia but from in-depth, on-the-ground experience. Ancient Futures is a profoundly important book that can help us to redefine the whole notion of 'progress'."--Doug Tompkins, founder of the Foundation for Deep Ecology
"Ancient Futures is one of the most important books of our time. As corporate powers threaten to destroy diverse cultures all over the world, Norberg-Hodge portrays an ancient way of life practiced by a people who live in greater harmony with each other and nature. Indeed in these pages one encounters a living example of a future that could save us all."--Susan Griffin, author of Woman and Nature and A Chorus of Stones
"Ancient Futures is a magnificent book that has had a huge impact on the course of my life's work. Its central message is wonderfully empowering. As Helena Norberg-Hodge shows us, so many of the problems we face in the modern world are not the product of "human nature", and therefore out of our control, but of clearly-defined political and economic decisions. Another, better world is possible!"--Francis Moore Lappé, author of Diet for a Small Planet and EcoMind