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

Net Impact Book Club: Blessed Unrest, Part II

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

With July just around the corner, we close our exploration of Paul Hawken’s Blessed Unrest. As described in our look at Part I of the book, Blessed Unrest turns our attention towards “a movement of movements,” 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. Hawken illustrates that what we consider to be the modern environmental movement is the greatest social campaign in human history and represents not only our planetary needs but our deepest needs as people. 

Here, we look at three important themes and topics that appear in the second half of the book: 


No inconsequential acts, only consequential inaction

In the second half of Blessed Unrest, Hawken digs deeper into the interconnectedness between the environmental and social justice movements. He writes that a mutual interdependence exists between human society and the environment. This belief was first acknowledged, cultivated, and lived out by Indigenous peoples and was further realized in western culture by transcendentalists in the 19th century, generating the understanding that how we treat nature depicts how we treat one another. Thus, Hakwen determines that any act, either by commerce or government, that is taken without examining the effects on nature and all society (not just a selected portion of society) will result in the erosion of both over time. As Hawken notes, we, as a people, can try to determine the future or we can try to generate the conditions and atmosphere for a healthy future. The former is unrealistic as it requires one to presume they know the future. The latter is a thorough, tangible call to action, as it resolves to invest in social outcomes that make people feel secure and valued and ultimately less likely to live beyond planetary boundaries. 



A crucial theme in Blessed Unrest is understanding the necessary diversity in all ecosystems. Essentially, ecosystems cannot survive without the interchange between different groups, and this is true for both society and nature. Hawken writes that what makes a civilization adaptive and resilient is the same as our natural ecosystems.  Ultimately, Hawken uses this lens to view how the economic ideology of the west that predominantly focuses on growth as its sole goal, leaves out most of what society and the environment need to survive. There is a call to build economic systems that incorporate diversity and complexity instead of distinguishing it.


Diversity of the movement

What makes the movement for environmental justice significant is its diversity and the many ways people are involved: large non-profits, small organizations, groups and individuals work as a network on behalf of the environment and humanity. Hawken writes throughout the book that this movement is one that works from the bottom up and its goals and motives are based on observation of humanity’s interaction with nature and with itself and less on ideologies or theories. 

The movement doesn’t attempt to disprove capitalism but instead tries to make sense of what is seen taking place in forests, farms, and cities and adapt economic systems to uplift all ecosystems. The social and environmental justice movement is essentially an antidote to the fixation on power and leverages a multitude of different organizations to create change. Here is a sample of the main types of organizations that work on behalf of social and environmental justice that you can become involved with: 

  • Keeper groups, such as Riverkeeper, are considered advocacy groups that leverage science, the law and policy research, and public relations to create impact.
  • Watch groups typically monitor corporations and their activities and raise awareness within communities.
  • Friends organizations, such as Friends of the Coyote Creek Watershed/South Bay Clean Creeks Coalition, typically work directly in the field and improve, clean up, and support local communities and natural resources. 

Additional organization types that also contribute to the movement to protect the environment include: Coalitions, Alliances, Incubators, and Networks


Learn More 

Stay tuned for the announcement of the Net Impact Book Club’s reading for July. If you want to learn more about how individuals and business can support and champion regenerative systems, check out our upcoming series, The Regenerative Economy: Reimagined Capitalism for People and Planet.