Blessed Unrest

3 01 2008

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Continuing on the theme of optimism (better do it now while the New Year is still fresh!), I want to recommend Blessed Unrest by Paul Hawkin, subtitled How the Largest Movement In the World Came Into Being and Why No One Saw it Coming.

When I started the research on green products, sustainable practices and environmental problems in need of green solutions that would become the basis of our “How to Green your Home” seminars last summer, I started getting really depressed. It felt like conventional building methods were condemning the world into an apocalyptic cave from which we would never emerge. Then a friend recommended Blessed Unrest.

It is an incredibly inspiring book. Paul Hawken, who gave the plenary address at the 2007 Greenbuild, writes about how this is the first time in human history that so many disparate groups of people have joined together to help others. He charts the history of civil disobedience from the latter part of the 19th century and attests to the the power of individuals against political leaders and corporations. He is so hopeful that the millions of people involved in hundreds of thousands of large and small non-profits throughout the world will truly manage to save the day.

At the end of the book is a 110-page appendix listing an unbelievable number of non-profits who work on issues as far ranging as children’s rights, forests, cultural diversity, democracy, human rights and of course…sustainable building and design. You can see the up-to-date list of organizations at WiserEarth.

So I’m reading the book and I get to page 153 where he talks about how the USGBC, in it’s short life,

“may have had a greater impact than any other single organization in the world on materials saved, toxins eliminated, greenhouse gases avoided, and human health enhanced”

This was right around the time I was starting to volunteer as the LEED for Homes Advocate for the NY Chapter of the USGBC and I have to say, it helped me clear a path through the brush of skepticism and helped me clarify my focus.

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