Paul Hawken, “The New Great Transformation”, Long Now Foundation, 2007/06/08

Paul Hawken in deeply involved with the Long Now Foundation. In this talk, he discusses some of his personal thinking.

His new book, BLESSED UNREST, was inspired by the countless business cards that earnest environmentalists would hand him after his lectures all over the world. After a while he had 7,000, and he wondered, “How many environmental groups are there in the world?” He began actively building a now-public database, WiserEarth.org, which includes social justice and indigenous rights organizations because he found they indivisibly overlap in their values and activities.

…. Extrapolating from carefully inventoried regions to those yet to be tallied, he estimates there are over 1,000,000 such organizations in the world, adding up to the largest and fastest growing Movement in history.

The phenomenon has been overlooked because it lacks the customary hallmarks of a movement— no charismatic leaders, no grand theory or ideology, no “ism,” no defining events. The new activist groups are about dispersing power rather than aggregating power. Their focus is on ideas rather than ideology— ideologies are clung to, but ideas can be tried and tossed or improved. The point is to solve problems, usually from the bottom up. The movement can never be divided because it is already atomized.

What’s going on? Hawken wondered if humanity might have some collective intelligence that we don’t yet understand. The metaphor he finds most useful is the immune system, which is the most complex system in our body— more complex than the entire Internet— massive, distributed, subtle, ingenious, and effective. The opposite of a hierarchical army, its power is in the density of its network. It deals with problems not through frontal attack but complex negotiation and rapprochement.

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David Ing blogs at coevolving.com , photoblogs at daviding.com , and microblogs at http://ingbrief.wordpress.com . See .

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