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Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came Into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming [Hardcover]

Paul Hawken
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 15 2007
David Orr, author of Design on the Edge and The Last Refuge On one side the four horsemen of the apocalypse; on the other a vast and nameless uprising of peoples and organizations fighting for justice, places, communities, diversity, and health--the planetary immune system. Paul Hawken's Blessed Unrest is not just a good book, it is a necessary book, wise, eloquent, perceptive, sober, and timely but above all, hopeful. A landmark!

Barry Lopez, author of Resistance and Arctic Dreams If you have lost a sense of direction in your life, if despair dogs your every step, pick up a pencil and pick up this book. Paul Hawken, without a trace of self-importance, impales a very dark room on the beam of a very bright light here. In his hands, the civil society movement reveals itself as the action that has replaced the talk.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Hawken (Natural Capitalism) traces the formation of the environmental and social justice movement from the beginnings of natural science across years and continents in this rousing and "inadvertently optimistic" call to action. Though it's argued that globalization; extinction of species, languages and cultures; and economic policies advantageous to the rich have degraded quality of life worldwide and engendered large scale feelings of fear, resentment and powerlessness, Hawken remains surprisingly hopeful. Strength, he contends, lies in the many thousands (if not millions) of nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to environmental protection and social justice that collectively form a worldwide movement geared toward humanity's betterment. A combination of history, current events, motivation and vision for the future, Hawken's book does a lot of work in its relatively few pages, though his perspective comes across in some passages as naïve (the thousands of protestors at the 1999 Seattle World Trade Organization meeting merely wanted to "hold WTO accountable"). The book isn't likely to convert members of the World Bank, but readers already sympathetic to Hawken's position will find much here to chew on.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* The profusion of good causes and the nonprofit groups that advance them can seem laughably overwhelming, but without altruistic grass-roots efforts, the world would be a far less merciful place. Environmentalist Hawken believes that we are in the midst of a world-changing rise of activist groups, all "working toward ecological sustainability and social justice." Rather than an ideological or centralized movement, this coalescence is a spontaneous and organic response to the recognition that environmental problems are social-justice problems. Writing with zest, clarity, and a touch of wonder, Hawken compares this gathering of forces to the human immune system. Just as antibodies rally when the body is under threat, people are joining together to defend life on Earth. Hawken offers a fascinating history of our perception of nature and human rights and assesses the role indigenous cultures are playing in the quest for ecological responsibility and economic fairness. Hawken also presents an unprecedented map to this new "social landscape" that includes a classification system defining astonishingly diverse concerns, ranging from farming to child welfare, ocean preservation, and beyond. Fresh and informative, Hawken's inspired overview charts much that is right in the world. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By Brian Griffith TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Audio Cassette
As a speaker on environmental issues, Hawken always found it difficult to balance honesty about bleak realities with a need to inspire hope. But after each speech, he kept meeting groups of dedicated activists, till he had a small mountain of their business cards. Slowly it dawned on him that these organizations represented something enormous -- maybe greatest movement of hope in world history. And perhaps this mushrooming movement was gonna be the greatest story of his life. Though the well over 1,000,000 activist groups he found were focused on many different issues, there were some things tying them together:

"Just as ecology is the study of relationship between living beings and their environment, human ecology examines the relationship between human systems and their envoronmrnt. Concerns about worker health, living wages, equity, education and basic human rights are inseperable from concerns about water, climate, soil and biodiversity. The cri de coeur of environmentalists in {Rachael} Carson's time was the same as that of the Lancashire weavers, the same as in the time of Emerson, the same as in the time of Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathi of Kenya. It can be summed up in a single word: life. Life is the most fundamental human right, and all of the movements within the movement are dedicated to creating the conditions for life, conditions that include livelihood, food, security, peace, a stable environmet, and freedom from external tyranny. Whenever and wherever that right is violated, human beings rise up.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Audio Cassette
Blessed Unrest contains so many powerful new perspectives that it's all but impossible to identify even the most important ones in a review. Telling about this book is complicated by the fact that what is a powerful new perspective depends in part on what you know already. The key point is that being concerned about the environment cannot be logically separated from being concerned about exploited people: The time has come to reflect and act on all of perspectives of where improvement is needed.

Here is the briefest possible overview:

Organizing to improve conditions for others is a relatively new phenomenon, dating back only to the anti-slavery movement. But despite that recent beginning, self-organized efforts are growing exponentially to improve conditions for the poor, indigenous people, and endangered people and species. These activities are likened to the massive, redundant, and intelligent responses involved in the human immune system. The concepts behind these efforts link back to Emerson and Thoreau, Darwin, John Muir, Rachel Carson, Sir James Lovelock, and most recently Jared Diamond. The current exponents of those concepts are people who are scientifically and emotionally concerned by lasting damage that's occurring . . . and are well educated, responsible citizen advocates.

Contrast is drawn by describing the implications of the current momentum behind global free markets, reduced regulation of major companies, and the rapid extinction of common resources we all need. You'll find out about appalling examples of harm being created.

Paul Hawken has an impressive way of selecting his examples and drawing his points out of them. My favorite story involves running a workshop at a chemical company where Mr.
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Was this review helpful to you?
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Blessed Unrest contains so many powerful new perspectives that it's all but impossible to identify even the most important ones in a review. Telling about this book is complicated by the fact that what is a powerful new perspective depends in part on what you know already. The key point is that being concerned about the environment cannot be logically separated from being concerned about exploited people: The time has come to reflect and act on all of perspectives of where improvement is needed.

Here is the briefest possible overview:

Organizing to improve conditions for others is a relatively new phenomenon, dating back only to the anti-slavery movement. But despite that recent beginning, self-organized efforts are growing exponentially to improve conditions for the poor, indigenous people, and endangered people and species. These activities are likened to the massive, redundant, and intelligent responses involved in the human immune system. The concepts behind these efforts link back to Emerson and Thoreau, Darwin, John Muir, Rachel Carson, Sir James Lovelock, and most recently Jared Diamond. The current exponents of those concepts are people who are scientifically and emotionally concerned by lasting damage that's occurring . . . and are well educated, responsible citizen advocates.

Contrast is drawn by describing the implications of the current momentum behind global free markets, reduced regulation of major companies, and the rapid extinction of common resources we all need. You'll find out about appalling examples of harm being created.

Paul Hawken has an impressive way of selecting his examples and drawing his points out of them. My favorite story involves running a workshop at a chemical company where Mr.
Read more ›
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