Originally published with the subtitle Learning From Ladakh, the book Ancient Futures is about the cultural and socioeconomic reality of the Ladakh region in Northern India before and during industrialization. Helena Norberg-Hodge, a visitor to the region, describes Ladakhi culture and how the traditionally cooperative and matriarchal society begins to change through its development. This book gives insight into the problems that modernization can cause.


The Publisher’s Description:

“The swiftly evolving socioeconomic life of Ladakh, whose people struggle to balance growth and technology with cultural values, offers crucial lessons in sustainable development. This gripping portrait of the western Himalayan land known as “Little Tibet” moves from the author’s first visit to idyllic, nonindustrial Ladakh in 1974 to [1991], tracking profound changes as the region was opened to foreign tourists, Western goods and technologies, and pressures for economic growth. These changes in turn brought generational conflict, unemployment, inflation, environmental damage, and threats to the traditional way of life.

Appalled by these negative impacts, the author helped establish the Ladakh Project (later renamed the International Society for Ecology and Culture) to seek sustainable solutions that preserve cultural integrity and environmental health, while addressing the Ladakhis’ hunger for modernization. This model undertaking effectively combines educational programs for all social levels with the design, demonstration, and promotion of appropriate technologies such as solar heating and small-scale hydro power.

Examining how modernization changes the way people live and think, Norberg-Hodge challenges us to redefine our concepts of “development” and “progress.” Above all, Ancient Futures stresses the need to carry traditional wisdom into the future—our urgent task as a global community.”


Documentary Film

The book was later turned into a 60-minute documentary by the same name as an effort of Local Futures.  Local Futures is a non-profit organization founded by Helena Norberg-Hodge “dedicated to renewing ecological and social wellbeing by strengthening communities and local economies worldwide.” 

You can watch the full documentary below.

More about Helena Norberg-Hodge

Since she wrote Ancient Futures, Helena Norberg-Hodge founded Local Futures. She has written several articles, contributed to and co-authored multiple books, and given lectures, primarily on the topic of Localization. Just two years ago (2019), her latest book, Local is Our Future, was published. 

Last year, Norberg-Hodge recorded several conversations about localization with guest speakers including Noam Chomsky, Vandana Shiva, and Eve Ensler. These were recorded for World Localization Day 2020.


World Localization Day

World Localization Day is a “celebration of the emerging worldwide localization movement which aims to restore the community fabric and human-scale, ecological economies, with a central focus on local food systems.”

This year’s World Localization Day takes place this weekend, on June 20th, 2021. The online summit is already well underway. Tickets are still available on a sliding scale basis, beginning at $0. Check out the full program, which features contributions from Naomi Klein, Satish Kumar, and Charles Eisenstein.


Ending Exploitation, War, and Poverty

You can read more thoughts about the book Ancient Futures in Ravi Logan’s article, “Ending Exploitation, War, and Poverty,” right here on Ananda Seva’s blog.


This article was contributed by Sophie Stockum. 

Thank you for reading Art for Service & Blessedness. Please contribute your thoughts to the conversation by commenting below.


On Supra Aesthetic Science

On Supra Aesthetic Science

Before the pandemic so disrupted routines in our lives, many in this community used to go twice a year to the Oregon Coast for a sort of spiritual vacation.  And on one of those occasions, I took the opportunity to drive up a little north of Yachats, which is the...



The following poem was written by Martha Postlethwaite about finding clarity through surrender. The author also wrote Addiction and Recovery: A Spiritual Pilgrimage.   Clearing Do not try to savethe whole worldor do anything grandiose.Instead, createa clearingin...

Emergent Strategy

Emergent Strategy

If you are looking for an alternative to hierarchical organization and wish to understand the characteristics of that approach, this book will be of great interest.  Brown is a creative, witty, insightful, spiritual activist. You can order Emergent Strategy from AK...

Share This