Last month Paul Hawken published a stunning book, Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming. In one of Stewart Brand’s SALT Seminars, Hawken gave a talk last Friday to a packed house in San Francisco. Hawken started Erewhon Trading Company in the ’60s, supplying organic products from sustainable farming (boy, how long did it take for that principle to sink in?), and in the late ’70s, Smith and Hawken, purveyors of high-quality English gardening tools. He’s written a number of books, been consultant to numerous companies and groups, and been on a lecture circuit non-stop. Wikepedia on Hawken
He says people from environmental and “green” groups started coming up to him after lectures and giving him cards, and after 1000 lectures he had so many cards (7000) he started assembling a data base. What struck him, and what will strike you, was the sheer number of organizations around the world now dedicated to healing and restoring the earth.
“I have come to these conclusions: this is the largest social movement in all of human history. No one knows its scope, and how it functions is more mysterious than what meets the eye.”
It is under the collective radar, he says, because although it’s a movement, there is no leader. And it’s not so much a movement gaining power as it is a movement permeating society — from the ground up. He has 105,000 organizations listed and estimates there are over a million such organizations worldwide.
What hit me so strongly about this is how many of the principles that were espoused and embraced in the cultural revolution 40 years ago are now manifesting in these organizations that are springing up organically in response to the current threats to life as we know it on this planet.
In a poetic touch, Hawken likens the proliferation of these groups in response to today’s earth-threatening realities to the body’s immune system when it mobilizes to fight off life-threatening disease. Wow!