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UFPPC (www.ufppc.

org) Digging Deeper Xl @ Mandolin Café (Tacoma, WA)
February 4, 2008, 7:00 p.m.
Paul Hawken, Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came
into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming (New York: Viking, 2007).

Title: From a remark by Martha Graham circa 1942, as ahead is choosing a measure of “the most salient
reported by Agnes de Mille; refers to the life force, a “divine evidence of progress” (22). A process is underway
dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and
makes us more alive” (9).
of “reconstituting the notion of what it means to be
a human being” (23). “[H]ow each person comes to
Thesis: A vast world-changing “movement with no name” is realize his responsibility to a greater whole is a
now forming; Hawken believes it will prevail (189-90). This unique experience” (24). But all the organizations
passage, introducing the appendix on the WiserEarth project
(which is not mentioned in the book itself), gives an idea of his
can be traced back to a dozen people who in 1787
conception of the movement: “It is axiomatic that we are at a “began meeting in a small print shop in London to
threshold in human existence, a fundamental change in abolish the lucrative slave trade” (citing Adam
understanding about our relationship to nature and each Hochschild’s Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels
other. We are moving from a world created by privilege to a in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves [2005]) (24).
world created by community. The current thrust of history is
“[P]revention of irreversible losses of planetary
too supple to be labeled, but global themes are emerging in
response to cascading ecological crises and human suffering. capacity to support life” is an “exponentially more
These ideas include the need for radical social change, the difficult” task (24). The Feb. 15, 2003, worldwide
reinvention of market-based economics, the empowerment of demonstrations against the Iraq war demonstrated
women, activism on all levels, and the need for localized the “superpower” of “world public opinion,” in
economic control. There are insistent calls for autonomy, Patrick Tyler’s phrase (24). “Evolution arises from
appeals for a new resource ethic based on the tradition of the
commons, demands for the reinstatement of cultural primacy the bottom up―so, too, does hope” (25). “This
over corporate hegemony, and a rising demand for radical movement is a new form of community and a new
transparency in politics and corporate decision making. It has form of story” (26).
been said that environmentalism failed as a movement, or
worse yet, died. It is the other way around. Everyone on [Ch. 3] The Long Green. Epigraphs from John
earth will be an environmentalist in the not too distant future, Muir and Jerry Martien (27). Environmentalism has
driven there by necessity and experience” (194). been unaware of its own history (29). It emerged as
[Ch. 1] The Beginning. Over the years, Hawken biology became a science (30-32). Evolution
has come to the realization that there are 1-2 destroyed the concept of a Divine Authority (32).
million organizations working toward ecological Evolution occurs constantly; Peter and Rosemary
sustainability and social justice, forming a new kind Grant’s study of Daphne Major (birds) on one island
of social movement (1-3). “[T]his is the largest revealed that evolution is occurring constantly and
social movement in all of human history” (4). This is more rapidly than thought (32-33). Habitat: “we
the story of “what is going right” (4-5). Description have the same impact in five minutes that our
of book’s structure (5-8). ancestors [in 5000 BCE] did in a year” (33).
“Environmental historian Donald Wormser [Nature’s
[Ch. 2] Blessed Unrest. Epigraphs from Martha Economy, the Roots of Ecology (1977)] suggests
Graham, Barry Lopez, and Walt Whitman (9). that the nineteenth century may come to be called
Envisioning a worldwide movement with “three the Age of Ecology, for the science and philosophies
basic roots: environmental activism, social justice of that era are the foundation for today’s
initiatives, and indigenous cultures’ resistance to environmental movement” (34). Ralph Waldo
globalization” (12; 11-12). Social justice defined as Emerson’s “belief in reason wedded to nature and
“the implementation and realization of human rights self-reliance” (36; 34-36). Thoreau (36-37).
as defined by the Universal Declaration of Human Discovery (by August T. Dowd in the spring of
Rights ratified by the General Assembly of the 1852), cutting, and exhibition of giant sequoias led
United Nations in 1948, with the addition of the right to Horace Greeley’s 1859 call for protection,
to a productive, safe, and clean environment; the Carleton Watkins’s 1861 photographs, and Lincoln’s
right to security from political tyranny; and the right 1864 Yosemite Land Grant (37-41). Hawken 1994
to live and express one’s own culture” (12). The visit to “the Kitlope, North America’s largest uncut
movement is a response to dramatically changing temperate rain forest” (41). Thoreau’s debate with
circumstances: population growth and globalization Greeley over “spontaneous generation” (42). The
(13-14). The movement is not seen more because it 19th century created a two-strand environmental
is hard to visualize and because “it is not an movement, divided between “the idea of man and
outgrowth of any particular ideology . . . what unites nature as one” and “the conviction that man is
it is ideas, not ideologies” (15-16). Varieties of necessarily superior,” the latter view rooted in
“pseudo-populism” distract government and media George Perkins Marsh’s Man and Nature (1864) (43;
(17-18). The new movement is “nonideological” 42-45). In the 20th century, mainstream
and “engages citizens’ localized needs” (18). The establishment environmentalism can be
movement’s fragmentedness is a source of distinguished from grassroots confrontational
weakness (18-20). Yet the organizations share environmentalism (45-47).
broad principles and values (21). A crucial issue
[Ch. 4] The Rights of Business. Epigraphs from denominator prevails, and that denominator is
a letter to the New Yorker and Rashida Bee (49). money” (129). The World Bank dominates the flow
The controversy over Silent Spring (1962) of money to the developing world (129-32). WTO
“established a basic dynamic between policies must take into account the time frames of
environmentalists and industry,” each using fear culture, governance, and nature, as well as of
and threats (54; 51-56). Rachel Carson’s battle with commerce (132-35). The plight of the impoverished
cancer (56-58). Silent Spring birthed a larger and (135-38).
more vocal environmental movement (58-59).
Underlying it is “a long struggle between human [Ch. 8] Immunity. Epigraphs from Gerald Callahan
and commercial rights” (59-62). Bhopal (62-64). and Kenny Ausubel (139). The developing
Exxon’s campaign against climate science (64-67). movement proceeds not by ideology but by
Antithetical corporate leader: Ray Anderson, CEO of identifying what is and is not humane, like an
Interface (67-68). immune system (141-46). There are various kinds
of organizations: keeper groups devoted to
[Ch. 5] Emerson’s Savants. Epigraphs from preservation, watch organizations devoted to
Emerson, Martin Luther King Jr., and Sri Krishna in monitoring, friends organizations devoted to
the Bhagavad Gita (69). “[W]e are nature, literally, upkeep, defender groups devoted to resistance,
in every molecule and neuron” (71; cf. 171). coalitions, alliances, incubator NGOs supporting
Emerson’s epiphany in the Paris Jardin des Plantes other groups, networks, worker’s rights
in July 1833 (72-74). Thoreau’s refusal to pay the organizations, street theater groups devoted to
poll tax to protest the Mexican-American War satire, culture jammers subverting corporatism, real
expressed a belief in “human interdependency” (74- billionaires (Soros, Gates, Buffet, Moore, and the
76). Thoreau’s “Resistance to Civil Government” Clinton Global Initiative) (146-51). ‘Social
(1849; delivered as lecture entitled “The Rights and entrepreneur’ is a term promoted by Bill Drayton of
Duties of the Individual in Relation to the Ashoka (151-52). Business, philanthropy,
Government” in 1848 and republished technology, and nonprofit activity are hybridizing
posthumously with a title of uncertain provenance: (152-53). Examples: in architecture (153), in
Civil Disobedience) (76-78). Gandhi read Thoreau in Stewart Brand’s “slow” movement (153-55), in food
1906 or 1907 (78-79). Rosa Parks’s refusal to (156-57), Wikipedia, itself an exemplar of “a
change her seat on Dec. 1, 1955, was informed by a bottom-up world” (157-58). Annual reports of three
summer course at the Highlander School, founded radically different “movement organizations”: the
by Myles Horton, an admirer of Gandhi, in the 1930s Audubon Society, Friends of the Earth, and the India
(79-81). Martin Luther King Jr., chosen to head the Resource Center (158-61). The movement needs to
Montgomery Improvement Asso-ciation, develop more cooperation and synergies, though
“schooled . . . in the Gandhian revolution” by Bayard how this develops will had a complexity analogous
Rustin and Glenn Smiley in late Feb. 1956 (81-84). to that of the immune system, the body’s more
“What distinguishes one life from another is complex system (162-64). “The hundreds of
intention, the one thing we can control” (85; cf. thousands of organizations that make up the
186). “Individuals start where they stand and, in movement are social antibodies attaching
Antonio Machado’s poetic dictum, make the road by themselves to the pathologies of power” (164).
walking” (86). “[T]he defense of the world can truly be
accomplished only by cooperation and
[Ch. 6] Indigene. Epigraphs from Paul Keating, compassion. . . . According to immunologist Gerald
Mrs. Felicia Itsero, Wade Davis, and White Feather Callahan, faith and love are literally buried in our
(87-88). Bigotry in the encounter with the Fuegians genes and lymphocytes, and what it takes to arrest
of Tierra del Fuego (89-93). Endangered languages our descent into chaos is one person after another
(93-95). Deeply rooted patronizing tendencies of remembering who and where they really are” (165).
Western cultures (95-97). Achievements of
Amerindian cultures (97-99). The importance of [Ch. 9] Restoration. Epigraphs from Julia Whitty,
indigenous cultures (100-02). Globalization and the Richard Fortey, and François Jacob (167). “We have
struggle of corporations for the lands and resources always been a work in progress, a cumulative
of indigenous cultures (102-12). President Evo animal, a chimeric fusion of different organisms”
Morales of Bolivia (112-13). Paradoxically, (169). The evolution of prokaryotes (e.g. bacteria)
globalization is fostering our appreciation of and eukaryotes (animals, plants, fungi, protists)
diversity (113-14). (170-71). “Complex, multitrillion-celled replicating
organisms called Homo sapiens can argue with one
[Ch. 7] We Interrupt This Empire. Epigraphs another about the environment and how serious
from John Kenneth Galbraith and U. Utah Phillips climate change is. But we cannot sit down with a
(115). Praise for the WTO protests in Seattle in cell and discuss our personal aspirations or the
1999, which belled the cat of globalization, an flaws of free-market capitalism. Life is life, and
inegalitarian project embodied in a regimented nothing politicians have said or voted for can
structure of world trade dominated by the rights of influence primary biological principles” (171). Life is
business (117-23). The fruits of globalization are resilient (171-72). “Sustainability is about
clear and justify global resistance (123-26). The stabilizing the currently disruptive
Seattle ministerial broke down inside its conference relationship between earth’s two most
rooms (127-28). “In all WTO rulings one common
complex systems―human culture and the Rights and Social Justice (256-60), Indigenous People and
living world” (172). In 2005, the Millenium Rights (260-61), Inland Water Ecosystems (261-63), Law,
Policy and Property Rights (263-67), Media (267-69), Mining
Ecosystem Assessment indicated that “[w]e are on (269-71), Peace, War, and Security (271-73), Plants (274-75),
the brink of disaster” (173). In 2006 the Economist Pollution (275-78), Population (278-79), Poverty Eradication
reversed course and addressed climate change (279-81), Religion, Ecology, and Sustainability (281-83),
(173-74). Since faith in the system seems Seniors (283), Sustainable Cities and Design (283-88),
misplaced, “the way to change the world is to Sustainable Development (288-90), Technology (290-91),
Terrestrial Ecosystems (292-94), Water (294-97), Women
change one’s own practices, including one’s own
(297-300), Work (300-02).
home, source of energy, method of agriculture, diet,
transport patterns, and communities” (174). The Acknowledgments. Isabel Stirling of UC Berkeley library.
movement will have a life-like development (175- Kent Bicknell, Thoreau collector. William Kovarik, historian of
the social justice and environmental movements. Readers.
76). “Because the movement is not an ideology,
Peter Coyote, editing. Rick Kot, Hawken’s editor.
there can be no concision of goals, no succinct
slogans representative of the whole. It is a body of Notes. 14 pp.
thought that coheres into a values system but not a Bibliography. 242 books.
belief system” (176). Humanity cannot be managed
by conventional means; what operates us “is not Index. 12 pp.
knowable” (177). The organizations of the [About the Author. Paul Hawken was born on Feb. 8, 1946.
movement do not need to dominate the world, they Had a Swedish grandmother and a Scottish grandfather with a
need, in Wendell Berry’s phrase, “to solve for farm (181). His father worked at UC Berkeley. As a teenager,
pattern” (178). Earth as spaceship (the metaphor he “roam[ed] the peaks of the Sierra Nevada, the dry eastern
was coined by Kenneth Boulding in 1965) (179-81). valleys that sprawl down to Mono Lake, and the White
Mountain area above Owens Valley” (41), and worked in the
The elimination of material and social waste (181- civil rights movement in the South. He has written six books,
83). Consideration of the present era as an including The Next Economy (1983), The Ecology of
extension the Axial Age, which saw religions arise Commerce (1993), Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next
that were also social movements (183-86). James Industrial Revolution (1999) (with Amory & Hunter Lovins),
Carse’s concept of “infinite games” invoked (186- which have been translated into 26 other languages. He has
founded a number of businesses (Erewhon Trading Co., Smith
88). Apology, reconciliation, and forgiveness are
& Hawken, Datafusion, Groxis), and directs the Natural Capital
needed to heal the past (188). The movement is Institute in Sausalito, CA, which is currently making a
“relentless and unafraid” because it is life itself documentary film based on Blessed Unrest. Hawken is
(188). “I believe this movement will prevail” (189). Stewart Brand’s neighbor; in 2002, Fortune called him “the
Environmentalism and social justice must join original hippie entrepreneur, the merchant of Marin County
together (190). who got turned on to business when others were still dropping
out,” writing: “Today Hawken occupies a unique niche in the
Appendix. WiserEarth (=World Index of Social and American landscape, combining bottom-line business
Environmental Responsibility) project (www.wiserearth.org) credentials [he regularly addresses corporate audiences] with
(191-94). Classes of organizations: Agriculture and Farming credibility among environmentalists and social critics. He once
(195-201), Animalia (201-08), Arts (208-09), Biodiversity (209- wrote, and stands by, the following sentence: ‘There is no
10), Business and Economics (210-14), Children and Youth polite way to say that business is destroying the world.’ Yet
(214-16), Civil Society Organizations―Nonprofits, he also believes, passionately, that business―with its restless
Philanthropy, and Social Entrepreneurs (216-19), Coastal and energy, imagination, and creativity―will one day get us out of
Marine Ecosystems (219-21), Community Development (221- the mess it has made. Says Hawken: ‘I believe business is on
23), Conservation (224-27), Cultural Heritage (227-28), the verge of . . . a change brought on by social and biological
Democracy and Voting (228-30), Ecology (230-32), Education forces that can no longer be ignored or put aside.’” Paul
(232-34), Energy (234-37), Fisheries (237-38), Food and Hawken was hired by Ben & Jerry’s to perform a social audit.]
Nourishment (238-40), Forestry (240-43), Global Climate
Change (243-44), Globalization (244-46), Governance (246-
48), Greening of Industry (248-51), Health (251-56), Human