Last Friday night at Green Meadow Waldorf School, we screened The Economics of Happiness. A project of the International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC), this 65-minute film looks at the effects of globalization through the lens of a region called Ladakh in the Indian state of Kashmir, and then examines the localization movements around the world that have taken such strong root in recent years.
The film’s title comes from its analysis that globalization (despite its promises of a rising tide for all) actually increases unemployment and overall quality of life for most, and makes us less happy. The film posits that relationships and connectedness are among the things that increase our well-being the most, and proposes that quality of life be measured by a Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) rather than Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The first part of the film tells the story of life in Ladakh before and after globalization arrived, defines globalization, and lays out “8 Inconvenient Truths about Globalization”. The second half of the film provides not only inspiration, but also offers practical solutions to the problems we face as individuals and nations. Spelling out the policy changes needed to enable local businesses to survive and prosper, the film features “community initiatives that are moving the localization agenda forward”, including urban gardens in Detroit and the Transition Town movement in the UK. We hear about local food, local money, and more, from the people leading these diverse movements.
As I have been thinking and writing about unplugging (for Screen-Free Week) these past few months, I have also been reminded of the importance of local. We are so lucky to be well-connected and well-informed, thanks to technology, but it is clear that we have paid dearly for our global citizenship. Many of us have outsourced our lives, and many feel powerless: we don’t like what’s happening in politics, but feel that we can’t make a difference; we don’t agree with the policies of our banks, but we don’t move our money; we want to connect but don’t have time for face-to-face relationships. The Economics of Happiness reminds us that we can control our lives, and inspires us to do so.
The Economics of Happiness features perspectives from six continents, including Vandana Shiva, Bill McKibben, David Korten, Michael Shuman, Juliet Schor, Richard Heinberg, Rob Hopkins, Andrew Simms, Zac Goldsmith, Samdhong Rinpoche, Clive Hamilton, Mohau Pheko, Keibo Oiwa and more. Read more about the film, watch the trailer, or sign up to host a screening at theeconomicsofhappiness.org.