Ancient futures

Author/filmmaker Helena Norberg Hodge (born 1946) is the founder and director of the International Society for Ecology and Culture, a non-profit organisation concerned with the protection of both biological and cultural diversity, and education for action: moving beyond single issues to look at the more fundamental influences that shape our lives. ISEC runs programs on four continents aimed at strengthening ecological diversity and community, with a particular emphasis on local food and farming. Helena is a co-founder of the International Forum on Globalization (, an alliance of sixty leading activists, scholars, economists, researchers and writers formed to stimulate new thinking, joint activity and public education in response to economic globalisation. She is also involved with the Global Ecovillage Network and directs the Ladakh Project, renowned for its groundbreaking work in sustainable development on the Tibetan plateau. She is a recipient of the Right Livelihood Award or Alternative Nobel Prize. Helena is a leading analyst of the impact of the global economy on cultures around the world. A linguist by training, she was educated in Sweden, Germany, England and the United States, and speaks seven languages. She has lectured and taught extensively around the world from the Smithsonian Institution to Harvard and Oxford universities. She is the author of numerous works, including the inspirational classic, Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh, which together with an award-winning film of the same title has been translated into more than 30 languages. Her latest book is Bringing the Food Economy Home: Local Alternatives to Global Agribusiness (Zed Books, UK, 2002) The film Learning from Ladakh explores the interconnections of how state-forced development can lead to unsustainable outcomes by destroying local forms of economy--and destroying local forms of happiness and self-sufficiency despite expanded material plenty. The next generation is entirely 'lost' and unconnected to anywhere, leading to huge alienation socially as well as ecologically. The connection here is that when the social fabric and happiness of a locality is removed, the ecological fabric decays as well. The subtle film explores this very succinctly in memorable images. The film was produced in 1991.