January 24, 2012

Creating a better economic future for all: The Economics of Happiness conference.

Upcoming event uncovers the interconnectedness of widespread “problems” and turns the focus to sustainability.




The Economics of Happiness conference

March 23 – 25, 2012

David Brower Center, Berkeley, California

“Economic localization is the key to sustaining biological and cultural diversity – to sustaining life itself.  The sooner we shift towards the local, the sooner we will begin healing our planet, our communities and ourselves.” – Helena Norberg-Hodge, director and producer of The Economics of Happiness film.

The Economics of Happiness conference will bring together some of the most respected thinkers and activists in the worldwide localization movement.  This ground-breaking three-day event will be held March 23 to 25 at the David Brower Center in Berkeley, California.

Speakers include Vandana Shiva, Bill McKibben, Annie Leonard, Sulak Sivaraksa, Richard Heinberg, Anuradha Mittal, Michael Shuman, Stacy Mitchell, Megan Quinn Bachman, Judy Wicks, Gustavo Esteva, Manish Jain, Helena Norberg-Hodge and more.  The event will also feature performances by local celebrities Jennifer Berezan, Nina Wise and Wes “Scoop” Nisker.

Around the world, the realization is dawning that the problems we face are linked — from unemployment and poverty to Wall Street corruption, from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to the burning forests of Indonesia, from hydro-fracking to the rise of fundamentalism. As these crises intensify, a chorus of citizen voices is rising up in response. People are demanding an end to the exploitation of the many for the profit of the few.

Increasingly, we know what we’re against. It’s now 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 for change — 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 inequality towards an economics of happiness.

Hosted by the International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC), the conference seeks to provide clarity on the way forward — towards more truly sustainable ways of living. It will cover a range of interconnected topics, including public policy choices; local initiatives in food, energy, education, business and banking; the need to bridge the North-South divide; and the influence of the economy on our psychological well-being.

Helena Norberg-Hodge and other conference speakers are available for interviews.

Contact: Kristen Steele


[email protected]


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Mark Ledbetter Feb 10, 2012 7:04am

Rereading, I'm not sure that my point is clear.

Carworld destroys farmlands and wildlands, downtown and Main Street, families and communities, by requiring all destinations to be located miles apart. You burn a quart of gas to buy a quart of milk. Rather than regulating an end ot Carworld with a police state, why not do the opposite? Dismantle all state support for Carworld. Without "free" infrastructure and wars for petroleum, economic incentives for local, community, largely carless solutions to the problems of living would automatically move people in the direction you want them to go without laws, taxes, or jails.

That's a very short explanation of a very big issue. I fear the point may still not be clear! Oh well.

Mark Ledbetter Feb 10, 2012 6:53am

As long as you stick to advocacy and not force, I support you entirely. If, despite my expectations, a significant portion of the world joins you, fantastic. Just so long as I don’t have to be a farmer!

You’ll probably agree with me that Carworld is destructive of the ideals you aim for. Since your movement is not highly aware of Classical Liberalism or Libertarianism, it’s natural that you may have missed how it was that a supremely inefficient means of transportation came to dominate and actually redesign our world. A couple of hints can be found in my comments here on Ele under these two articles.

Mark Ledbetter Feb 10, 2012 6:53am

Hey, James. Glad I looked in again. I also suspect we’re more alike than not. And of course I like your preference for local solutions. But my suspicions of authoritarianism on your part remain. I personally am very attracted to much of what you say. But what if most people are not? For example, you suggest we return to a more agrarian society. That means farming, right? I am sympathetic. But I don’t wanna be a farmer. I’m pretty sure I’m the norm in that regard.

You have a choice. Make your societal transformation voluntary and have a small number of people get deeply into it while a large number of people are affected in a small way. Or, realizing you’ll never transform society on a grand scale without force, call on the raw power of the state, ie guns and jails, to make people “do the right thing.”

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Jill Barth

Jill Barth, elephant journal green team leader, lives in Illinois with her husband and kids. She reminds you to breathe.

Jill’s writing can be found on her blog, Small Things Honored.