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UtneCast 25: Paul Hawken on Building the World's Largest Movement

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Paul HawkenFeature Interview: In episode 25, my guest is Paul Hawken — activist, green businessman, eco-philosopher, and author of two of the seminal works on the green economy: The Ecology of Commerce and Natural Capitalism. His latest book is just out, titled Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came Into Being; And Why No One Saw it Coming. Hawken makes the case that the disparate movements for ecological restoration and social justice are merging into one massive global movement. In the book, he attempts to count and classify both the number of organizations in this movement (he estimates about 1.5 million) and the diversity of issues they work on (at least 400).

To help build the connective tissue that ties this movement together, Hawken’s nonprofit Natural Capital Institute has just launched a related project called WISER Earth (WISER = World Index of Social and Environmental Responsibility), which aims to build an interactive directory of all 1.5 million groups in this global movement. The institute’s staff has seeded the database with profiles of over 140,000 organizations. But realizing they couldn’t possibly do all the research or legwork needed to grow the database to include all the groups they believe are out there, NCI has opened up the system so that, like Wikipedia, anyone can create or edit an organization’s profile. And they have added tools that make it easy for organizations to use the database for their own purposes. After WISER Earth gets up and running, NCI plans to launch WISER Business and WISER Government, as clearinghouses for information about best practices in sustainability for businesspeople and policymakers.

Eleni MandellMusic Review: Joe Hart joins us again with a review of the new album by his newest drug of choice: Los Angeles-based crooner Eleni Mandell.

Housekeeping Note: Starting today, we’re posting new episodes on Wednesdays, a day earlier than before, to coordinate the schedule with our weekly online publication, the Utne Web Watch, which also goes out on Wednesdays.

Episode sponsor: Mother Earth Coffee & Tea