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Something Organic

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  • Mike helsher
    On the front page for this here list, RS is quoted as saying, If humanity does not accept what is now being offered, it will have to wait for another hundred
    Message 1 of 1 , May 5, 2007
      On the front page for this here list, RS is quoted as saying, "If
      humanity does not accept what is now being offered, it will have to
      wait for another hundred years". Well, it's 100 years later and I
      think that this article really points to a bigger picture of organic
      thinking that isn't infested with "isms" or ideologicaly bent,
      intellectually pin headed fanaticism, as may be the case with some to
      the smaller parts of the whole. This speaks to the spirit of
      anthroposophy I think, and you don't have to be an anthro of a
      waldorf teacher to be a part of it.

      "It crossed my mind that
      perhaps I was seeing something organic, if not

      A Global Democratic Movement Is About to Pop
      By Paul Hawken
      Orion Magazine

      Tuesday 01 May 2007

      Something earth-changing is afoot among civil
      society - a significant social movement is
      eluding the radar of mainstream culture.

      I have given nearly one thousand talks about
      the environment in the past fifteen years, and
      after every speech a smaller crowd gathered to
      talk, ask questions, and exchange business cards.
      The people offering their cards were working on
      the most salient issues of our day: climate
      change, poverty, deforestation, peace, water,
      hunger, conservation, human rights, and more.
      They were from the nonprofit and nongovernmental
      world, also known as civil society. They looked
      after rivers and bays, educated consumers about
      sustainable agriculture, retrofitted houses with
      solar panels, lobbied state legislatures about
      pollution, fought against corporate-weighted
      trade policies, worked to green inner cities, or
      taught children about the environment. Quite
      simply, they were trying to safeguard nature and
      ensure justice.

      After being on the road for a week or two, I
      would return with a couple hundred cards stuffed
      into various pockets. I would lay them out on the
      table in my kitchen, read the names, look at the
      logos, envisage the missions, and marvel at what
      groups do on behalf of others. Later, I would put
      them into drawers or paper bags, keepsakes of the
      journey. I couldn't throw them away.

      Over the years the cards mounted into the
      thousands, and whenever I glanced at the bags in
      my closet, I kept coming back to one question:
      did anyone know how many groups there were? At
      first, this was a matter of curiosity, but it
      slowly grew into a hunch that something larger
      was afoot, a significant social movement that was
      eluding the radar of mainstream culture.

      I began to count. I looked at government
      records for different countries and, using
      various methods to approximate the number of
      environmental and social justice groups from tax
      census data, I initially estimated that there
      were thirty thousand environmental organizations
      strung around the globe; when I added social
      justice and indigenous organizations, the number
      exceeded one hundred thousand. I then researched
      past social movements to see if there were any
      equal in scale and scope, but I couldn't find

      The more I probed, the more I unearthed, and
      the numbers continued to climb. In trying to pick
      up a stone, I found the exposed tip of a
      geological formation. I discovered lists,
      indexes, and small databases specific to certain
      sectors or geographic areas, but no set of data
      came close to describing the movement's breadth.
      Extrapolating from the records being accessed, I
      realized that the initial estimate of a hundred
      thousand organizations was off by at least a
      factor of ten. I now believe there are over one
      million organizations working toward ecological
      sustainability and social justice. Maybe two.

      By conventional definition, this is not a
      movement. Movements have leaders and ideologies.
      You join movements, study tracts, and identify
      yourself with a group. You read the biography of
      the founder(s) or listen to them perorate on tape
      or in person. Movements have followers, but this
      movement doesn't work that way. It is dispersed,
      inchoate, and fiercely independent. There is no
      manifesto or doctrine, no authority to check with.

      I sought a name for it, but there isn't one.

      Historically, social movements have arisen
      primarily because of injustice, inequalities, and
      corruption. Those woes remain legion, but a new
      condition exists that has no precedent: the
      planet has a life-threatening disease that is
      marked by massive ecological degradation and
      rapid climate change. It crossed my mind that
      perhaps I was seeing something organic, if not
      biologic. Rather than a movement in the
      conventional sense, is it a collective response
      to threat? Is it splintered for reasons that are
      innate to its purpose? Or is it simply
      disorganized? More questions followed. How does
      it function? How fast is it growing? How is it
      connected? Why is it largely ignored?

      After spending years researching this
      phenomenon, including creating with my colleagues
      a global database of these organizations, I have
      come to these conclusions: this is the largest
      social movement in all of history, no one knows
      its scope, and how it functions is more
      mysterious than what meets the eye.

      What does meet the eye is compelling: tens of
      millions of ordinary and not-so-ordinary people
      willing to confront despair, power, and
      incalculable odds in order to restore some
      semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this

      Clayton Thomas-Muller speaks to a community
      gathering of the Cree nation about waste sites on
      their native land in Northern Alberta, toxic
      lakes so big you can see them from outer space.
      Shi Lihong, founder of Wild China Films, makes
      documentaries with her husband on migrants
      displaced by construction of large dams. Rosalina
      Tuyuc Velásquez, a member of the Maya-Kaqchikel
      people, fights for full accountability for tens
      of thousands of people killed by death squads in
      Guatemala. Rodrigo Baggio retrieves discarded
      computers from New York, London, and Toronto and
      installs them in the favelas of Brazil, where he
      and his staff teach computer skills to poor
      children. Biologist Janine Benyus speaks to
      twelve hundred executives at a business forum in
      Queensland about biologically inspired industrial
      development. Paul Sykes, a volunteer for the
      National Audubon Society, completes his
      fifty-second Christmas Bird Count in Little
      Creek, Virginia, joining fifty thousand other
      people who tally 70 million birds on one day.

      Sumita Dasgupta leads students, engineers,
      journalists, farmers, and Adivasis (tribal
      people) on a ten-day trek through Gujarat
      exploring the rebirth of ancient rainwater
      harvesting and catchment systems that bring life
      back to drought-prone areas of India. Silas
      Kpanan'Ayoung Siakor, who exposed links between
      the genocidal policies of former president
      Charles Taylor and illegal logging in Liberia,
      now creates certified, sustainable timber

      These eight, who may never meet and know one
      another, are part of a coalescence comprising
      hundreds of thousands of organizations with no
      center, codified beliefs, or charismatic leader.
      The movement grows and spreads in every city and
      country. Virtually every tribe, culture,
      language, and religion is part of it, from
      Mongolians to Uzbeks to Tamils. It is comprised
      of families in India, students in Australia,
      farmers in France, the landless in Brazil, the
      bananeras of Honduras, the "poors" of Durban,
      villagers in Irian Jaya, indigenous tribes of
      Bolivia, and housewives in Japan. Its leaders are
      farmers, zoologists, shoemakers, and poets.

      The movement can't be divided because it is
      atomized - small pieces loosely joined. It forms,
      gathers, and dissipates quickly. Many inside and
      out dismiss it as powerless, but it has been
      known to bring down governments, companies, and
      leaders through witnessing, informing, and

      The movement has three basic roots: the
      environmental and social justice movements, and
      indigenous cultures' resistance to globalization
      - all of which are intertwining. It arises
      spontaneously from different economic sectors,
      cultures, regions, and cohorts, resulting in a
      global, classless, diverse, and embedded
      movement, spreading worldwide without exception.
      In a world grown too complex for constrictive
      ideologies, the very word movement may be too
      small, for it is the largest coming together of
      citizens in history.

      There are research institutes, community
      development agencies, village- and citizen-based
      organizations, corporations, networks,
      faith-based groups, trusts, and foundations. They
      defend against corrupt politics and climate
      change, corporate predation and the death of the
      oceans, governmental indifference and pandemic
      poverty, industrial forestry and farming,
      depletion of soil and water.

      Describing the breadth of the movement is
      like trying to hold the ocean in your hand. It is
      that large. When a part rises above the
      waterline, the iceberg beneath usually remains
      unseen. When Wangari Maathai won the Nobel Peace
      Prize, the wire service stories didn't mention
      the network of six thousand different women's
      groups in Africa planting trees. When we hear
      about a chemical spill in a river, it is never
      mentioned that more than four thousand
      organizations in North America have adopted a
      river, creek, or stream. We read that organic
      agriculture is the fastest-growing sector of
      farming in America, Japan, Mexico, and Europe,
      but no connection is made to the more than three
      thousand organizations that educate farmers,
      customers, and legislators about sustainable

      This is the first time in history that a
      large social movement is not bound together by an
      "ism." What binds it together is ideas, not
      ideologies. This unnamed movement's big
      contribution is the absence of one big idea; in
      its stead it offers thousands of practical and
      useful ideas. In place of isms are processes,
      concerns, and compassion. The movement
      demonstrates a pliable, resonant, and generous
      side of humanity.

      And it is impossible to pin down.
      Generalities are largely inaccurate. It is
      nonviolent, and grassroots; it has no bombs,
      armies, or helicopters. A charismatic male
      vertebrate is not in charge. The movement does
      not agree on everything nor will it ever, because
      that would be an ideology. But it shares a basic
      set of fundamental understandings about the
      Earth, how it functions, and the necessity of
      fairness and equity for all people partaking of
      the planet's life-giving systems.

      The promise of this unnamed movement is to
      offer solutions to what appear to be insoluble
      dilemmas: poverty, global climate change,
      terrorism, ecological degradation, polarization
      of income, loss of culture. It is not burdened
      with a syndrome of trying to save the world; it
      is trying to remake the world.

      There is fierceness here. There is no other
      explanation for the raw courage and heart seen
      over and again in the people who march, speak,
      create, resist, and build. It is the fierceness
      of what it means to know we are human and want to

      This movement is relentless and unafraid. It
      cannot be mollified, pacified, or suppressed.
      There can be no Berlin Wall moment, no
      treaty-signing, no morning to awaken when the
      superpowers agree to stand down. The movement
      will continue to take myriad forms. It will not
      rest. There will be no Marx, Alexander, or
      Kennedy. No book can explain it, no person can
      represent it, no words can encompass it, because
      the movement is the breathing, sentient testament
      of the living world.

      And I believe it will prevail. I don't mean
      defeat, conquer, or cause harm to someone else.
      And I don't tender the claim in an oracular
      sense. I mean the thinking that informs the
      movement's goal - to create a just society
      conducive to life on Earth - will reign. It will
      soon suffuse and permeate most institutions. But
      before then, it will change a sufficient number
      of people so as to begin the reversal of
      centuries of frenzied self-destruction.

      Inspiration is not garnered from litanies of
      what is flawed; it resides in humanity's
      willingness to restore, redress, reform, recover,
      reimagine, and reconsider. Healing the wounds of
      the Earth and its people does not require
      saintliness or a political party. It is not a
      liberal or conservative activity. It is a sacred

      Reprint Notice: This article appears in the
      May/June 2007 issue of Orion magazine, 187 Main
      Street, Great Barrington, MA 01230, 888/909-6568,
      ($35/year for 6 issues). Subscriptions are
      available online: www.orionmagazine. org.

      Paul Hawken is an entrepreneur and social
      activist living in California. His article in
      this issue is adapted from "Blessed Unrest," to
      be published by Viking Press and used by

      Posted by Mike
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