Paul Hawken in Portland

Paul Hawken spoke here a couple of nights ago about the ideas in his book Blessed Unrest – which is about the hundreds of thousands of social and environmental justice groups he found around the world who are each in their own way trying to make the world a better place. His latest project/organization, Wiser Earth, catalogs them with aim of helping groups find each other.

He was joined at this event by the writers Barry Lopez and Rebecca Solnit.

Solnit made the point that perhaps we should thank George Bush for totally breaking the system – he’s wrecked the economy, the military, our reputation, our environmental controls, our constitution…. For starters.

“It’s time for the grownups to take over,” she said. People who care about each other and the world are waking up and starting to do positive things to fill the void. Unfortunately we (in the little groups) suffer from low self-esteem and don’t recognize our power and potential.

She has a broad definition of what constitutes an activist. A kindergarten teacher, a person who brings soup to a sick neighbor. The most interesting politics is not happening at the federal level, she says, but in the cities and towns and states who are taking issues into their own hands. The more functional a government (like Sweden) the less people are inclined to pay attention to the outside world.

Lopez said we’re in deep water (I’d have called it deep shit), living in a world of bandaids, a world where we’ve sacrificed community for avaricious gain. How can we rebuild community when we live in 4000 sq ft homes with fitness and entertainment centers built in? How can you create relationships if you never leave home?

Hawken said the planet is a giant organism with a life of its own, like our bodies. Just because there’s no big boss in charge of these groups doesn’t mean they’re not doing good work. “Do we have to tell our lungs to breathe? Our blood to flow? Our lymphocytes to attack a bacteria?”

Final Points: Commerce is not a bad thing; trading is a human enterprise since the dawn of time. Corporate immunity is the issue. There’s no such thing as “alternative” energy. All energy comes from the sun.

2 responses to “Paul Hawken in Portland

  1. Reminds me of Noam Chomsky’s prescient talk on the future of the human race. Great video of it on youtube. Short but sweet.

  2. Thanks for this clip. Totally on point. And in just over two minutes!