Blessed Unrest
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Blessed Unrest tells the story of a worldwide movement that is largely unseen by politicians or the media. Hawken, an environmentalist and author, has spent more than a decade researching organizations dedicated to restoring the environment and fostering social justice. From billion-dollar nonprofits to single-person causes, these organizations collectively comprise the largest movement on earth. This is a movement that has no name, leader, or location, but is in every city, town, and culture. It is organizing from the bottom up and is emerging as an extraordinary and creative expression of people's needs worldwide. Blessed Unrest explores the diversity of this movement, its brilliant ideas, innovative strategies, and centuries-old history. The culmination of Hawken's many years of leadership in these fields, it will inspire, surprise, and delight anyone who is worried about the direction the modern world is headed. Blessed Unrest is a description of humanity's collective genius and the unstoppable movement to re-imagine our relationship to the environment and one another. Like Hawken's previous books, Blessed Unrest will become a classic in its field, a touchstone for anyone concerned about our future.

Customer Reviews:

  • Blessed Unrest

    The book arrived in a very timely fashion and in very good condition. Thanks!...more info
  • An eye-opener, but not religion.
    When I first read about this title, I didn't exactly knew what to think of it. Running a business in my daily life, would I have enough time to read about this subject and act accordingly on its writings?

    Until now, actions have not flourished yet, but there is a change of mindset. This book addresses the rise of environmental organizations and the facts that are show to us about it by the media. Although this is ofcourse a one-sided story, it does not feel like one. And that's when you know someone is right.

    Unfortunately, some parts of the book are boring when you wonder where he is going with his story. I found this book worth just four stars, but it could have easily been three as well. The content is good, and it addresses some important issues every person should confront himself with. But to say this book calls for action, I would like to disagree with that....more info
  • A Clarion Call of Hope
    In language as fecund, gorgeous and vital as any living thing, Paul Hawken traces the origins of what he calls the Movement: an increasingly global convergence of thousands upon thousands of local groups that each in their own way are working to preserve and strengthen indigenous rights, establish social justice, and/or rescue the environment. Hawken explores the roots of American environmentalism and social justice movements as well as the rise of the peculiarly resource-hungry entity known as the corporation. He suggests that both the unprecedented crises of our time and any potential hope for a sustainable future can only be understood in terms of humankind's changing relationship to nature.

    In our our historical pursuit of the abstract logic of a consumerist political economy, we have strayed from the one inescapable fact: we are nature. We subvert the wisdom and ways, the laws, principles, tempos, and processes of our organic foundation at our peril. The homogenizing forces of the globalized market economy are leading to the elimination of diversity and the rapid deflowering of our organic foundation, all in the name of .... what? We must return to the wisdom of biology, Hawken suggests, and the movement itself in form and vision is and should be as organic, unified, and diverse as the earth which gives us life.

    The appendix of Blessed Unrest, which comprises a good portion of the book, consists of an extensive taxonomy of the groups and organizations throughout the world that together form the Movement. It organizes and catalogs the multitude of issues that they are addressing. All of this information is drawn from the online database and integrating social network located at, where you also can find your own place within the largest collective movement of civil society the world has ever seen....more info
  • Towards a movement of concerned citizens
    All big transformations start with some crazy people having even crazier ideas. One of the most important examples the author gives is of a dozen people meeting in a small print shop in London to abolish slave trade. "They were reviled and dismissed by businessmen and politicians. It was argued that their crackpot ideas would bring down the English economy, eliminate growth and jobs, cost too much money, and lower the standard of living." Sounds pretty familiar, doesn't it ?

    Paul Hawken goes on exploring the history of civil disobedience, and shows how NGOs have proliferated in our time. Here he expects possibilities producing transformations in societies, which could have more power when acting in a coordinated way. The author didn't stop just thinking this. He originated a new website, "wiserearth", which is a platform offered to all NGO's and concerned citizens, at a global scale, to debate and to coordinate their actions, following the principle : "Think globally and act locally". At this moment in history, this is very important, since never before humanity faced a global threat so huge like global warming. What makes things even worse is that in the world we're living in today we have very little left of democracy (read Bagdikian's "The New Media Monopoly" if you're in doubt). Governments are corporate owned, and will never push for the real changes we need. At best, they will make some minor readjustments without real impact, while we should fully head for sustainable production and consumption. Now, when a movement of committed NGO's and concerned citizens, people like you and me, who are aware of the consequences of our actions, act together, in coordination, then maybe, we could recuperate our governments, so that they will put the people and their future in the first place again, like it was supposed to be, instead of the profits of the big corporations. Therefore, we should change our individual consumption, so that the "market" - the only thing governments and corporations really believe in - will be obliged to adjust.

    We can do a lot to reduce our individual dependence on fossil fuels in order to have some future left for our children. We can heat our house through intelligent design, following the principles of the passive solar house. We can boycott all gasoline-driven cars on the market today, including hybrid ones, and purchase only electric vehicles, which will be launched to the market next year (2010), with the best proposal so far Fiat's Phylla, which has solar panels incorporated in the car's roof. We should fly less, and we should eat less meat or no meat at all. We should buy organics. Those are all little things we can already do. At home. Don't wait till tomorrow. Do it now. It's the only way to guarantee a future for the next generations. And let's be serious : this will not "bring down American economy, eliminate growth and jobs, cost too much money, and lower the standard of living". What it will obtain is transforming the economy, supporting the most creative manufacturers, and supporting local organic farmers, which will generate new jobs. Transforming your home into a solar house represents a somewhat bigger initial investment than a "normal" house, but you will benefit in the long run from lower (or no) operational costs for heating your house. The same applies for electric vehicles, which don't need gasoline and are cheaper in maintenance. There will be no lowering of the standard of living, just a structural change towards an economy without oil. That's why the current big corporations - with Big Oil as their leader - will never accept those ideas, since they prefer making profits, even if this means we're all heading for collapse.
    ...more info
  • An Inspirational and Hopeful Account of the Global Environmental/Social Justice Movement
    At this point I am sure that I am preaching to the choir, and likely echoing the sentiments already written here, but regardless this is certainly an excellent book. Highly polished and seamlessly flowing in its tracing of the origins of the Environmental movement to the oft unreported actions of millions of activists in thousands of groups worldwide, Hawken makes his best points I feel with regards to the struggle of humanity to know itself, and how those who have truly recognized themselves form a natural immune system protecting the planet from destruction and abuse....more info
  • Inspiring rhetoric, disappointing analysis
    Some of my friends found this book really inspiring. I tend to look for things like detailed and balanced analysis of issues, in-depth descriptions of the work of political groups, and sophisticated understanding of the way in which voluntary organizations interact with elite politics and economic factors. This book is weak on all of those - but it DOES have a lot of inspirational rhetoric....more info
  • Much Needed ReCentering
    This is a book about the growing number of organizations and people who are restless with the current options in regards to the environment, human rights, justice, sustainability, etc, etc. It's more or less a history of how these organizations and groups have been moving under the radar for the last couple of decades, moving independently of each other, with no "mission statement" or organizing agenda, culminating in the growing changing tide for change in how view and operate in the world. Paul Hawken then spends time discussing the "blessed" roots of much of the groups and organizations. How their unrest is deeply rooted in their values, faith, and vision for the world. He doesn't come right out and say "kingdom of God" but it's pretty much the heart of the book. And is the historical and applicable counterpart to Brian McLaren and other's theological foundation laying in their recent works. Well worth the time....more info
  • blessed optimism
    A book anybody who cares about living creatures and our universe should read. It shows how an amazing number of people in both small and large groups are getting together to try and make a difference. Inspiring and filled with hope which in these often dark days is uplifting. As good and important a book as will ever be written....more info
  • The premise is great but the writing is not
    The underlying motivation, premise and theme of this book is fantasti. A book on the subtitle "how the largest social movement in history is restoring grace, justice and beauty to the world" is needed. Unfortunately, this book does not adequately fulfill this need. After completing it, I can't say that I learned much about the ecological organizations or anything new about how the movements can better succeed. This is due to two reasons. First the content of the book is not squarely focused on what the subtitle suggests. Hawking brings in a lot of philosophical and scientific references that crowds out discussion of the social movement and organizations. Second, teh writing is very disorganized and choppy. It was a hard to follow book and I found myself skimming major parts just because it was too unbearable to read it word by word. The philosophical and scientific references made were not well integrated into the narrative; overall the writing lacks good transition sentences among paragraphs and chapters. It was very frustrating because the theme has so much potential. I would NOT recommend this book. Instead, Fritjof Capra's The Hidden Connections contains a much clearer and productive discussion of the science and philosophy underlying ecological thinking and he applies that to a critique of globalization, consumerism and other issues. ...more info
  • A Prodigious Work...
    Really a three minus... I have a good vocabulary but still found I required a dictionary close at hand to make it through this book. Although there is much good information here, it can be read in a number of other books that are more accessible and deliver the data in a more concise manner. I love exact words and have no problem with learning more, but when used more to impress than elucidate, as it seems here, I am underwhelmed.

    And who said "no one saw it coming?" I find that underwhelming hyperbole - maybe Paul failed to see it coming, and maybe he is in the majority, but it is preposterous to slam those who toil in these fields with that broad brush. Some activists have worked consciously to support and even create the blessed unrest that Paul purport's to announce to us as invisible. This problem continues through the length of the book: what Paul describes as a hidden phenomena and unabashedly rips away the veil for us, the supposed blind, might be HIS epiphany, but it is not universal. Paul has discovered a true thing of beauty, it's just several years after the fact. (Do not misread me: This IS a beauteous and wonderful thing and it IS exciting and we DO need to acknowledge we are on the very lip of an abyss that needs our attention NOW. I do not quarrel with this.)

    I review books for Touch the Soil magazine ( and so I wade through a number of books in this general genre monthly. Blessed Unrest is the kind of work that belongs on reference shelves everywhere because the catalog of organizations he has compiled is a marvelous snapshot in time. But it is not 'required reading.' Nor did I find it compelling reading.

    The web of connections made in this book IS lovely. He does have some points to make; it is not a worthless book, nor do I believe the author consciously misleads. I believe however that you can find the same information in other books (which are authored by writers who presumably saw 'it' coming) and are a much better read.

    If you want vocabulary, however...

    david...more info
  • We must work together if life on this planet is going to survive
    Paul Hawken has a wonderful gift of pattern recognition that enables him to draw from diverse sources and sew together a patchwork of information that is compelling in its message: We must work together if life on this planet as we know it today is going to survive the threats of devaluation of individual life, depleted resources, pollution and global heating. (Heating is my term. I feel that `warming' is an unacceptable euphemism!)What is most appealing to me after the excellent summary of facts and issues is Hawken's positive spin on the situation.

    When asked at colleges if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science that describes what is happening on earth today and aren't pessimistic, you don't have the correct data. If you meet the people in this unnamed movement and aren't optimistic, you haven't got a heart. What I see are ordinary and some not-so-ordinary individuals willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in an attempt to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world. (p. 4)

    Healing the wounds of the earth and its people does not require saintliness or a political party, only gumption and persistence. It is not a liberal or conservative activity; it is a sacred act. (p. 5)

    In total, the book is inadvertently optimistic, an odd thing in these bleak times. I didn't intend it; optimism discovered me. (p. 8)

    Hawken points out that the roots of our problems lie in our concepts and attitudes about our world. For instance, production and acquisition of material goods has become the primary focus and goal of the modern world, to the point that they are more important than people. This has shaped our mentality in self-destructive ways. Mass production and distribution of products become more economical and profitable through uniformity. Living systems thrive best on diversity, which provides a gene pool that can adapt to external challenges. However, in the name of enhancing efficiency of food production, distribution and sales, our diversity has been sacrificed and the biological pool of genetic resources has been systematically whittled down to the cheapest and most marketable varieties of edibles. This mind-set is core to the struggles of our modern world between the interests of business and industry and the interests of people and the environment.

    In the pursuit of industrial and economic growth that has assumed the proportions of an ideology, natural resources have been over-exploited to the point that they are depleted. Our fish, trees, land and waters have been wantonly exploited, with little if any thought to the needs of tomorrow, much less to those of future generations. Similarly with people:

    Slaves, serfs, and the poor are the forests, soils, and oceans of society; each constitutes surplus value that has been exploited repeatedly by those in power, whether governments or multinational corporations. (p. 22)

    Trade is not the salient issue; the critical question is, Who sets the rules and who enforces them? There can be no sustainability when institutions whose primary purpose is to create money are dictating the standards. (p. 135)

    As a uniform trading system sweeps over the world, the monetary gains are called GDP, but the losses that are suffered, even in the industrialized West, much less in the Third World, are not tallied, as if one were recording sales at the cash register but ignoring thefts at the back of the warehouse. (p. 118)

    The World Trade Organization (WTO) seeks to establish commerce as the basis for governing the world. It is set up without checks and balances, as a dictatorial institution that can override local populations' wishes and needs.

    The purpose of the organization could not be simpler: the eliminations of constraints on the flow of trade, including how a product is made, by whom it is made, or what happens after it is made. By doing so, WTO removes individual countries; and regions; ability to set standards, to express values, or to determine what they do or do not support if those standards conflict with WTO rules. (p. 120)

    In all WTO rulings one common denominator prevails, and the denominator is money. (p. 129)

    The severity of the challenges has spawned both awareness and action groups. Hawken gives brief discursive summaries of several dozens of these, and many more as annotated references.

    The exponential assault on resources and the production of waste, coupled with the extirpation of cultures and the exploitation of workers, is a disease as surely as hepatitis or cancer. It is sponsored by a political-economic system of which we are all a part, and any finger-pointing is inevitably directed back to ourselves. There may be no particular they there, but the system is still a disease, even if we created and contracted it. Because a lot of people know we are sick and want to treat the cause, not just the symptoms, the environmental movement can be seen as humanity's response to contagious policies killing the earth, while the social justice movement addresses economic and legislated pathogens that destroy families, bodies, cultures, and communities. (p. 145)

    Action groups work at different levels to promote a saner, sustainable world:
    , Watch organizations - monitor governmental institutions, corporations and geographically sensitive areas
    , Keeper groups - advocate for the preservation of waters and all their users
    , Networks - combine the information, knowledge and action focus of like-minded groups

    For example:
    , The US Green Building Council (USGBC) promotes awareness of, use, and distribution of building materials that do not deplete or harm the environment.
    , "Slow Food (alimento lento) is the long overdue response to dead food, processed food, fast food, agribusiness..." (p. 155)
    , Microloans help to bring hardworking people out of poverty. brokers loans on line.

    Hawken points out that every one of us bears a responsibility to participate in addressing these problems. The two basic rules to guide us must be the Golden Rule and the Sacredness of All Life. We must aim for a `zero-waste society" or better, a restorative one.

    We will either come together as one, globalized people, or we will disappear as a civilization. To come together we must know our place in a biological and cultural sense, and reclaim our role as engaged agents of our continued existence. (p. 165)

    I cannot recommend this book highly enough - to anyone interested in contributing to healing our modern societal illnesses and insanities and saving our world....more info
  • Speedy delivery for what will be a gift
    Thanks for the excellent service; I'm sure the book will be appreciated by the person who will receive it....more info
  • not deep and logical enough, more like a summary of thoughts and ideas instead of providing a coherent view or framework
    First, the book promoted me to think about what the social change would have been in the past for different cultures if it was carried out in peace.

    To help you understand what I mean, let me elaborate a little. With technology breakthrough, the whole planet is becoming smaller and thus different cultures come closer to each other. A lot of collision happened when different cultures "discovered" each other. In reality, it had been a very bloody history. In the past, you won if you were better at killing people. The history of mankind was mostly driven by this force. Because this destructive force was so dominant, other peaceful forces (for example the force of knowledge or skills) cannot be fully functioning. That is why we don't need any war, and we should live by peace. Thus I try to imagine how the history would have been if people had dealt with each other peacefully when different cultures came closer to each other.

    In peace time, history is driven by the real essential human needs. And it is from grassroots level, instead of being dictated by a few people (who get the power by being better at killing people). Imagine how different cultures (the Native Americans, the Africans, the east, the west) might have communicated and learned from each other if all the changes are happening during peace time. (The Native Americans' agriculture society don't have t be totally destroyed.) It is too bad that we went through a very bloody period when different cultures encountered each other. I believe it is possible for different cultures to learn from each other and adapt for its own interest if people are empowered (instead of letting the direction of the history being dictated by a few people who are just better at killing other people).

    In this sense, Internet and web are helping making the peaceful force more powerful.

    How this implies for China's current social change? China is now going through a process of modernization. This process, for a large part, is also a process of westernization. Although you can say the process is mostly happening under peace (for example, there is no war), in reality non-peaceful force is still dominant in the society, thus preventing real peaceful forces from functioning. For example, let individuals decide what is best for themselves, what they want to learn. In this sense, it is not about eastern or western. It is about how to live better as a human being.

    Other than these thoughts this book provoked, here are some good things I noted down about the book when I was reading along.

    The book takes a more holistic view, treating the whole planet as an organism. This is very right. And I regard this as a self-reflection of the western culture.

    The book uses biology as its major inspiration and draws a lot of analogies between human society and biology. This certainly should be appreciated. When I was studying biology, I was always fascinated by the wonder of nature and its implication for human being's social life. For example, there are many kinds of cells in the body. What kind of cell a cell becomes is totally dependent on the environment it is in and all the stress and stretch that is applied to the cell.

    The book pointed out the PLAYING is what this is about. (page 187). "Play is infinite game. Competition is finite game." It is a weird way to put it, and really not very logical. But anyway.

    It also points out LOVE too, saying this should be what human life is about.

    I think he should add BEAUTY too. Playing, love, and beauty are the kind of forces that I referred above as the peaceful forces.

    In general, I don't feel this book is deep enough. It is kind of a mess in its logic. There are a lot of numbers, but not much making sense of the numbers. However, it would be useful to get to know some events that happened in each movement and some names of the people. The book is more like a summary of thoughts and ideas instead of providing something new, a coherent view or framework. I had expected more.

    For people who work in the same field, this book should provide a lot of info that you can look into to help build a complete picture. There are a lot of useful information in this book, and this book shouldnot be overlooked.

    I would give this book 3.5. But considering it touching such an important topic, I will give it 4 to encourage more people to read such kind of books....more info
  • No Issues
    I'm very happy with my recent purchase of Blessed Unrest. The book was in perfect condition....more info
  • Humans good, companies bad? Hawken locks in his treatise
    All that is good, all that is kind, all that brings about social progress: these are recounted in Paul Hawken's latest book. The stories of activists, alone, in groups, scattered over the world, are fascinating and well told. Who can argue with Hawken's view that "the world is a system, and it will soon be a very different world, driven by millions of communities who believe that democracy and restoration are grassroots movements that connect us to values we hold in common"? Hawken impressively lays out his case that "grace, justice and beauty" are advanced by humans who are, in the publc good, directly and indirectly attacking establishments. Especially impressive is his version of the Rachel Carson story, presented by the author as a morality tale--the intelligent, focused, painfully suffering, ultimately dying woman, a lone writer, a crusader, a quiet scientist who takes on the chemical industry to save wildlife and humans from pesticides. It's a moving story. My problem with the book is that the salient theme running through these stories is that economic enterprise (especially industrial enterprise) is the bane of human existence.
    At one point in this slim volume (half the book is an Appendix of terms and scattered thoughts), Hawken provides two lists. The "list of companies and agencies that legally or illegally impose their will on indigenous cultures" runs for four pages. A listing of "organizations promoting environmental and social justice" covers another couple of pages. Climate change, poverty, disease, and environmental degradation are cited as threats ignored by enterprise and "the secret intelligence community." Bad versus good. Cold cases rewarmed by Hawken, whose earlier works (Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution--done with the Lovins--or The Ecology of Commerce) were less morally pedantic, fresh and so much better than this book.
    ...more info