Net Impact Book Club: Blessed Unrest, Part I | Net Impact

Net Impact Book Club: Blessed Unrest, Part I

Net Impact Book Club: Blessed Unrest, Part I | Net Impact

Welcome to the Net Impact Book Club, a curated selection of social and environmental must-reads to keep you feeling inspired during the summer months. From now until August, we’ll be featuring works by informative, influential writers and leaders across different fields and industries and providing you with key questions and takeaways to consider from each book.


Blessed Unrest

For the month of June we are taking a look at Blessed Unrest (2006) by Paul Hawken, renowned environmentalist, activist, entrepreneur, and author of Drawdown, Natural Capitalism, The Next Economy, and more. For nearly forty years, Hawken has been both a chronicler of the global environmental crisis and an advocate and innovator in the movement to quell it. Central to his work is the idea that we, as human beings, must evolve business’s relationship to nature in order to protect all living systems. Blessed Unrest draws attention to the collective effort of thousands of organizations, from large non-profits to small group efforts, to reimagine humanity's relationship to nature and, ultimately, to itself. 


In this blog, we will be exploring different themes that appear in the first half of the book. Here are the three things you can expect to learn so far from Paul Hawken’s book: 


A Movement of Movements

Hawken argues that the movement to protect the environment, as we recognize it today, is one that has existed in front of us for centuries without us truly understanding its vastness, complexity, and the role we play in it. It is a movement without a real name, leader, or a location and is unified not by ideology but by ideas, meaning that there are thousands of diverse groups and organizations focused on different aspects and priorities, but all with the objective of protecting nature and humanity. Hawken notes that there are no missionaries to council messaging or courses in how to truly become a campaigner for environmental and human rights. Thus, the movement has been and continues to be built by the sheer will, passion, and innovation of people dedicated to undoing the crisis at hand. It is a movement of movements, and has been built from the bottom up. Hawken states that the environmental movement is the greatest social campaign in human history and represents not only our planetary needs but our deepest needs as people.  


The Interconnectedness of Social Justice and Environmental Justice

There are three primary roots of the movement, Hawken writes -  environmental activism, social justice, and the resistance efforts of indigenous peoples against globalization. Inequities in the world have only grown over the past century, and man’s domineering attitude towards the environment have only exacerbated those problems, leaving many, especially Indigenous peoples and people of color, vulnerable and without access to essential needs. Hawken notes that what has grown the movement to protect the environment is the insistence that social justice is inherently intertwined with environmental justice. The environmental crisis we face is a human-created problem that requires us, as human beings, to find solutions that not only rebalance our relationship with nature but reconstitute what it means to be a human being and how we treat one another and protect the diversity of our planet and species. 


Human Health Cannot Be Extracted From Environmental Health

In addition to connecting social justice and environmental justice, another evolution that brought more people into the fold of the environmental movement is the recognition that human health cannot be extracted from environmental health. For years, Indigneous voices have advocated on this topic as well as the interconnectedness of environmental and social justice, but have largely gone unrecognized and unacknowledged for their work. And while there has been some progress made, there continues to be a disconnect between the planet’s wellbeing and that of our own. 


A significant event, Hawken argues, that brought the connection between human and environmental health to the forefront of popular culture was the serial publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in The New Yorker in 1962. For the first time, particularly in the United States, conversations about the connections of human and environmental health were elevated into a widely-read publication and brought into people’s homes. Silent Spring helped many people recognize that toxicity has the ability to affect everyone, especially underserved and under-resourced populations. Hawken concludes that this particular moment further galvanized many people in understanding that in order to protect the environment, society had to confront the power of commerce and reject the notion of human dominance over nature.  


Learn More 

Stay tuned for Part II of our feature on Blessed Unrest. If you want to learn more about how business can and must be a force for good and champion regenerative systems, check out our upcoming series, The Regenerative Economy: Reimagined Capitalism for People and Planet.