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

Via Jill Barth
on Jan 24, 2012
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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]


About 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.


7 Responses to “Creating a better economic future for all: The Economics of Happiness conference.”

  1. Mark Ledbetter says:

    There’s a lot to like in this article, but there are also the typical liberal prejudices.

    As a result of “the exploitation of the many for the profit of the few,” (that’s what you say when you don’t like free market economics), 500 million people have risen out of poverty over the last 20 years, ie during the period when world trade became the freest in history. The resulting surge in worldwide prosperity could well be called the greatest human accomplishment ever. Those same “exploiters” are gearing up to serve the 2 billion they predict will rise out of poverty over the next two decades.

    There’s lots wrong with globalization. A good list of the wrong, and even some solutions, are in this article. What it’s missing is sympathy for the hopes and aspirations of the downtrodden of the world who finally have a way out, a REAL way out, not one that satisfies the political views of well-fed Westerners.

  2. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Love your last line. Really. That’s what I’m all about, too. I’m not really into consumerist societies and grieve for the loss of traditional societies.

    But in fact, most members of traditional societies seem to want what crass consumerists want, not what us intellectuals tell them they should want.

    You ask about this “real” way out. It’s happening all over the world right before our very eyes. Free trade. 500 million rising out of poverty in the last two decades, 2 billion more predicted for the next two decades.

    As for your list of all the terrible things that result from globalization, it’s a bit too mild because you are mostly limiting yourself to recent history. I know I could come up with a much more terrible list.

    As a general principle, if you look at the negative side of the ledger, globalization (which, the way I teach it, started roughly 10,000 years ago and began really accelerating a couple of hundred years ago) begets the Terrible Four: War, Slavery, Disease, and Environmental Destruction. If you look ONLY at the negative side of the ledger (standard practice for intellectuals) what could be worse?

  3. Mark Ledbetter says:

    James, I like a lot of what you say. As far as it goes, I’d probably endorse it almost 100 per cent. The reason I don’t, is this. I suspect there is an authoritarian agenda lying behind it. I suspect the program advocated here is not to freely help people who freely choose these ideals, but rather to employ the raw power of the state to mandate a vision. Given that the state is not run by God or His Angels (despite the belief of intellectuals that it can be), giving power to the state will only solidify the dominance of war and oppression.

    Disabuse me of my suspicions! Show me you’re not an authoritarian and I’ll jump on board!

  4. Mark Ledbetter says:

    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.”

  5. Mark Ledbetter says:

    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.

  6. Mark Ledbetter says:

    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.

  7. Mark Ledbetter says:

    PS, it's my bedtime, but I promise to check out "the economics of happiness" tomorrow. G' night!