The Movement With No Name

Entrepreneur and social activist Paul Hawken on how a nameless worldwide network of organizations has arisen to address today's global crises. Photographs by Terrence McCarthy

Paul Hawken

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Paul Hawken is an environmentalist, entrepreneur, and the author of such influential books as The Next Economy (1983), The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability (1993), and Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution (1999). The founder of socially and environmentally responsible businesses such as Erewhon and Smith & Hawken, he heads the Natural Capital Institute, a research organization that has created a hub for global civil society (WiserEarth.org), providing an open-source networking platform that links NGOs (non-governmental organizations), funders, business, government, social entrepreneurs, students, organizers, academics, activists, scientists, and citizens. In March of this year, Tricycle contributing editor Clark Strand interviewed Hawken about his latest book, Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming (Viking, 2007). In that book, Hawken documents the emergence of "the movement": a worldwide network of organizations—"from billiondollar nonprofits to single-person dot.causes"—that has arisen spontaneously in response to global crises that threaten the survival of our ecosystems and of humanity itself. To quote the anthropologist Gregory Bateson, Hawken has seen past conventional views of social change and identified "the pattern which connects" at least a million groups, many millions of individuals, and countless causes in a coherent and synergistic whole. Because it has no overriding ideology, is not based on government or institutional power, and has no real leaders, the movement he describes has until now remained, as it were, hidden in plain sight. Drawing on a vast range of sources—including his longtime study of Zen Buddhism—Hawken fashions a lucid, erudite, and convincing argument.

—Clark Strand


Could you explain what you mean by the "movement" and why, as you put it, "nobody saw it coming"? "Movement" is simply a placeholder for the one to two million organizations in the world today that address issues of the environment and social justice. No one saw this massing of organizations coming because it didn't start as a top-down, ideological movement with charismatic leaders and a manifesto.

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