New Growth Out of the Old

Several folks have sent on this Paul Hawken article that appeared in AlterNet, out of Orion Magazine (both of which are rich sources of information, always.) I’m not so sure I share his wide-eyed wonder at the phenomenon he describes — the appearance in the last few decades of hundreds of thousands of small, almost nameless, groups of people devoting themselves to curative and restoration work among people, on natural environments, for social justice, against power and greed.

A Global Democratic Movement Is About to Pop

By Paul Hawken, Orion Magazine. Posted May 1, 2007.

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

His sense that something “organic” is happening seems right to me, and from the growth of voices formerly silent I find some hope, as Hawken does, but not as exuberantly. Something in Hawken’s tone sets off the tinkle of bells that alarm me. I am reminded of the loosey-goosey granola types I have known through the years whose exclamations of “it’s the energy, man!” were a standard excuse to shuffle off the hard work of organizing, of showing up, of doing day in and day out whatever the chosen set of tasks were.

I don’t think, from what I know of some of the groups Hawken mentions, that this is true of them. I would have preferred though to read about the actual work, and how real change has come about, than the Wow! I get from the article.

There is a widely spreading and hope-giving culture of change in many parts of the world, perhaps a sea-change in the thought-engines that have brought us this particular modernity. It
s way too early for curmudgeons like myself to get goosebumps over it. There are also widely spreading ideas of regression, suppression, dominance and rule. The inchoate and excitable base will have to produce formed and shaped and enduring insitututions if we are to have half a hope.

I found the Michael Luo piece in the Sunday NY Times on anti-war lobbying in Washington very interesting. There are certainly many local small groups and demonstrations, personal positions taken on campuses, in books stores and in grocery lines. But it is coalitions of coalitions working together, as the corporations and their trade groups have for years, to keep the Congress informed and motivated. We need the small but we need the large as well.

I’m glad to see so much life in the tiny zones I inhabit. I’m also glad to know there are groups of groups of groups. When Hawken’s rolledex of cards is half that of the K-Street Greedogarchs we will be on the verge of significant change.

Read the piece and tell us what you think…

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