Required Reading

An introduction to Paul Hawken's 'The Ecology of Commerce'.
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"I don't know what you'll think of it," Paul Hawken said by way of introduction to the audiocassette he was sending me. The cassette contained a recording of a speech he had given recently. "It's a plea, really, for all of us to reconsider the kind of capitalism we practice -- to move from a form of capitalism that is predatory to one that is restorative. I don't want to say any more. I'd just ask that you listen to it."

So I did, late one night on the drive home from Boston.

I listened to it as I passed Wollaston Beach in Quincy, where I used to fish for blues on my way to work in the morning. These days the beach is often closed during the summer months because of pollution from Boston Harbor. As I drove by, Paul was talking about what some naturalists call the "final loss -- a point in the not-too-distant future when environmental degradation will no longer require our active participation."

I came to the colonial burial ground of Old Ship Church, a natural amphitheater where local Indian tribes would meet to settle disputes. On the tape Paul was asking whether "we can imagine businesses that act like Mohawk Indians, that look seven generations ahead to measure the impact their actions will have upon the land. . . ."

I pulled into the driveway of my home, built in 1790 by a man whose family farmed the land for generations. I sat there a moment as Paul discussed how "the economics of restoration is the opposite of industrialization because industrial economics separated production from the land, land from people, and ultimately, personal values from economic values. Restorative economics is slow. It's a patient reconstruction and repairing of social and environmental wounds."

Like Paul, I don't know what you'll think of "The Ecology of Commerce" -- I just ask that you read it. It begins on page 93 ( [Article link], April 1991).

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Last updated: Apr 1, 1992




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