--Promoting Locally Based Alternatives to the Global Consumer Culture--
The International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the revitalization of cultural and biological diversity, and the strengthening of local communities and economies worldwide. Our emphasis is on education for action: moving beyond single issues to look at the more fundamental influences that shape our lives.
ISEC’s mission is to protect and renew ecological and social well being by promoting a systemic shift away from economic globalization towards localization. Through its ‘education for action’ programs, ISEC develops innovative models and tools to catalyze collaboration for strategic change at the community and international level.
ISEC’s work began as The Ladakh Project more than thirty years ago in the Himalayan region of Ladakh. The organization initially focused on supporting Ladakh’s indigenous culture by bringing information to balance the idealized images of the consumer culture flooding into the region through tourism and development. In 1986, ISEC’s director Helena Norberg-Hodge won the Right Livelihood Award for groundbreaking sustainability work in the region.
Over the years, the organisation’s focus has expanded to address more global concerns and in 1991 changed its name to the International Society for Ecology and Culture to reflect that shift. We have made advocating for localization the main priority of our work. ISEC is almost unique in promoting localization from an international perspective – showing the benefits for the Third World as well as for the First World, and promoting the local, globally.
Our most recent project has been a feature documentary film titled "The Economics of Happiness". The Economics of Happiness describes a world moving simultaneously in two opposing directions. On the one hand, an unholy alliance of governments and big business continues to promote globalization and the consolidation of corporate power. At the same time, people all over the world are resisting those policies, demanding a re-regulation of trade and finance—and, far from the old institutions of power, they’re starting to forge a very different future. Communities are coming together to re-build more human scale, ecological economies based on a new paradigm – an economics of localization.
The film has won several awards including Best in Show at the Cinema Verde Environmental Film Festival 2011 in Gainesville Florida. The film is in translation into over ten languages, and has been shown by over 500 community groups and organizations in twenty countries.
Rob Hopkins, co-founder of the Transition Network and Transition Town Totnes says, "this passionate film presents a clear and articulate vision of what a shift in the scale at which we do things would look like...Very timely and powerful."
"A powerful new film that cuts deeply to the heart of the global crisis. Magnificent!" says David Suzuki, television presenter and environmentalist.
Joanna Macy, author of "World as Lover, World as Self", says, "It is good news indeed to find so persuasive an explanation of our ailing world as The Economics of Happiness. This film connects the dots between climate chaos, economic meltdown, and our own personal suffering--stress, loneliness, and depression. It presents the localization movement as a systemic alternative to corporate globalization, as well as a strategy that brings community and meaning to our lives."
The film can be purchased at www.theeconomicsofhappiness.org
Building off the momentum generated by "The Economics of Happiness" film, ISEC will host The Economics of Happiness conference in Berkeley, California, March 23-25. Speakers from across the world including Annie Leonard, Richard Heinberg, Andrew Simms, Anuradha Mittal, and many more, will help to develop an agenda for change.
The realization is dawning that the problems we face are linked--unemployment and poverty, Wall Street corruption, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the burning forests of Indonesia, hydro-fracking, and the rise of fundamentalism. People are demanding an end to the exploitation of the many for the profit of the few.
We know what we're against. It's time to decide what we're for, and how to get from here to there. The Economics of Happiness conference will focus on an agenda away from jobless growth towards sustainable livelihoods; from large-scale sweatshops towards scaled-down business; from self-recrimination and guilt towards empowerment and collaboration; from a globalized system of exploitation and inequity towards and economics of happiness.
More information about the conference is available at:
Wendell Berry, Frijof Capra, Peter Matthiessen, Diana Rose, Jonathan Rose, Vandana Shiva, David Suzuki, Alice Waters