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The first two chapters of the book Blessed Unrest by Paul Hawken, introduces the environmental movement he explores in the book. The book is about the many non-profit groups and community organizations, dedicated to many different causes, which Hawken calls the “environmental and social justice movement.” The environmental movement described in the book is a diverse movement with no charismatic leader. The movement is not recognized by politicians, the public and the media and follows no unifying ideology. But, this movement has the potential to benefit the planet.
Hawken believes that this movement is the last, best hope for humankind, describing its promise as “a network of organizations that offer solutions to disentangle what appear to be insoluble dilemmas: poverty, global climate change, terrorism, cological degradation, polarization of income, loss of culture, and many more. Even thought the origins and purposes of the various organizations working under this movement aare diverse, their principles, mission statements, or values do not conflict.
Communication technologies like internet have revolutionized what is possible for small groups to accomplish and are accordingly changing the loci of power. For this reviewer, the “high point of the book is Hawken’s excellent critique of the chemical industry’s attack on Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962”, at a time when she was fighting cancer. Hawken also tells the stories of other people who have endured hardship and difficulty as they stood up to large corporations.
The last third of the book is a long appendix from the www.wiserearth.org website describing and categorizing the mind-boggling area of focus that the myriad of environmental and social justice groups are addressing. I think Hawken had hope and faith in this movement and he believes it will prevail. He also believes that the success of this largest unseen movement will be defined by “how rapidly it becomes a part of all other sectors of society.” If it remains singular and isolated, it will fail. If it is absorbed and integrated into religion, education, business and government, there is a chance that humans can reverse the trends the beset the earth.”
Bessed Unrest, and Hawken’s related efforts are important contributions to furthering the movement. Perhaps he was wise not to examine too deeply the differences and divisions within the movement, or the real-world political challenges of how to reclaim democracy and to build power at the grassroots, taking it away it from the corporate elite, the ultimate challenge. Congratulations to Paul Hawken for creating a place where the movement can better see itself, meet up and collaborate online. Whether the website he calls “Wiser” will succeed, and to what degree, will depend on how it benefits and is used by the movement. In any case, Hawken has taken his best shot and broken new ground trying to help the movement forward.
The New York Times bestseller argues that the ‘movement with no leader’ has the potential to benefit the planet despite not being recognized by politicians, media or the public. From the internet sources I came to know that the author has spent a decade researching organizations dedicated to restoring the environment and fostering social justice, from billion-dollar non-profits to single person causes. The book explores the diversity of the movement, innovative strategies, brilliant ideas, and hidden history. It contains different perspectives and offers readers a new way of looking at the world and organizations. The analogy of examples and stories the author describes to illustrate the points often draws parallels between now and historic events. The book reveals the twin heart of the environmental and social justice movements.
The book beautifully describes the humanity’s collective genius, and the unstoppable movement to reimagine our relationship to the environment and one another. Paul Hawken states eloquently that I believe so passionately to be true – that there is inherent goodness at the heart of our community. This book makes invisible visible through impeccably researched tales. This is a work of enormous love and consequence. Every compassion driven soul who reads it will be stunned by the scope and Paul Hawken chronicles and testifies on behalf of this movement “movement with no name” with his charismatic intelligence and insight.
In the broad sweep of a history of diffuse and seemingly unconnected events and people, he has found emergent pattern. That pattern, amazing simultaneously in its intricacy and simplicity, gives clarity to the direction humankind is moving in its struggle for survival.
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