Paul Hawken

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Paul Hawken, author, environmentalist and business entrepreneur, was an early visitor to Fairview. He was in Salem to speak at Willamette. At that time, 2001, “sustainable development” was not part of the national conversation like it is now. Hawken, though, had been talking about it for years. He wrote The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability in 1993 and co-wrote the seminal work, Natural Capitalism, which spelled out the benefits of considering the economic value of environmental perspectives, in 1999.

In his brand new book, Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came Into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming, Hawken “reveals a worldwide grassroots movement of hope and humanity.” Here is an Orion Magazine essay by Hawken, adapted from his new book. This subject, the huge number of people and organizations working on changing the world, reminds me of something Hawken said at Willamette: “People tell me I’m preaching to the choir. I tell them, ‘but the choir keeps getting bigger.'”

Here, from a Metropolis Magazine interview, is Hawken on the importance of urban design as technological innovation:

Q: In the book you write that green, safe, livable cities are at the fingertips of architects and designers. What do you mean by that?

PH:In the last fifteen years, architects and designers and planners have come up with an array of design technologies. They have started to put them together in ways that drastically reduce the footprint of the city, making it safer and much more livable. The reason you’re not seeing it sooner is simply the way that cities evolve. They’re not clean slates. You don’t just erase a city and put a new one where it was. The rate of change is not as fast as the rate of technical and design innovation. Design is a technology, but you can’t just fix things with technology. You need people who see the world in a different way and then put it together in new ways.

Hawken will be doing a Powell’s Books reading on Thursday, May 17, at 7 p.m., at the Bagdad Theater, 3702 SE Hawthorne Blvd. Tickets, $5, are available at the Bagdad Theater box office and all Ticketmaster outlets.