Thinking local goes global
BYRON Bay localist Helena Norberg-Hodge has won a prestigious international award previously given to Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
The annual Goi Peace Award honours people and organisations that have made outstanding contributions toward a peaceful and harmonious world.
Ms Norberg-Hodge was acknowledged for her global work on raising awareness about the benefits of localism.
She will travel to Japan in November to accept the honour at a gala dinner.
The 63-year-old said the high-profile award was a sign her message about the negative social, environmental and economic impacts of globalisation she had been spreading for 30 years had now moved beyond the fringes.
"It's a sign that the mainstream is listening and that makes me very happy," she said.
Ms Norberg-Hodge is probably best known locally as the founder of the popular farmers markets at Byron Bay and elsewhere in Byron Shire.
It took four years for her and her supporters to get them off the ground.
They faced opposition from local shop owners who prob- ably won't be pleased to learn her long-term goal is for weather-proof markets to operate seven days a week in the town.
"But in other countries they have co-existed with other shops," Ms Norberg-Hodge counters.
She made the award-winning film The Economics of Happiness which argues that globalisation has caused stress, alienation and depression.
"My biggest dream is that people wake up to this and demand a shift in policy," she says.