“What’s our favorite documentary of all time? The one film we wish everyone could see? Hands down, this is it. It is truly one of the most important and useful films for inspiring change that has been made in a generation.”Films For Action
Despite being nearly 10 years old, there is good reason why The Economics of Happiness, made by Local Futures in 2011, is still considered the best documentary by the Films for Action team.
If you are not yet familiar with Films for Action, it is a constantly expanding library sharing articles and short to feature-length films on topics of social, economic and environmental change and action.
So why after nearly a decade are we still grappling with the concept of happiness as a key factor in economics? Undoubtedly because the need for a shift in the way we extract, buy, sell and use the planet’s resources is as urgent now as ever. The impact of the Covid pandemic alone has been widespread and multi-dimensional. Among other effects, it has massively heightened food insecurity, even in the wealthiest countries and widened the already gaping disparity between rich and poor.
The Economics of Happiness draws our awareness to the elevating crises brought about by global capitalism. While globalisation has been painted as a pinnacle of human, technological achievement, in our day-to-day lives, the main people benefitting from it are the shareholders of transnational corporations. For the 99%, regular people, like you and me, and especially those who live in poorer countries, the global economy and free trade, is draining our local communities of money, resources and wellbeing.
The remedy for this? A reconfiguration of the trade of goods and services, with an aim to revitalise and strengthen local economies so that bioregions can become resilient and able to sustain local populations, even in the face of challenging circumstances.
How would our lives be different if the mainstay of our daily nutrition was provided by flourishing local, organic farms rather than processed foods that have criss-crossed the globe to reach our plates; if we honoured and preserved local knowledge and culture rather than looking to big brand multinationals to shape our identities and aspirations; if we measured our progress, not on the scale of ongoing growth and the rise of GDP but on the health and wellbeing of each and every individual in our local and global communities?
To explore some of these questions and solutions, watch the Economics of Happiness and join the international movement for localisation. In our quest to become ever bigger and better, we have tipped life on Earth way out of balance. We are humans and we need to rediscover what it means to operate on a human scale.
You can watch the full Economics of Happiness for free on Films for Action.
There is also a 20 minute abridged version.
Helena Norberg Hodge is the founder of Local Futures. She has been pioneering the movement for localisation for over 40 years. We are grateful to have Helena as part of our Advisory Panel and we look forward to forging a collaborative relationship with this vital organisation.
Photo by bill wegener