Who the h-e-double-l is Paul Hawken?

9 Aug

Here on RR, we’ve been talking recently about what “green” is.

Specifically, we’ve been talking about Ipe wood, a iron-tough wood used for decks and exterior surfaces mostly, that requires very little in the finish department, and then… lasts almost unaided, for decades. It’s a homeowners best friend in that regard.

Unfortunately, you have to seek it out in places where “forests helps the whole planet breathe”. And as you can imagine, that causes some  controversy.

I’m getting “hate mail” from people who believe that I’m “preaching global deforestation”.

But clearly, it’s from people who aren’t regular readers of the blog, because I do tend to go on and on about “sustainability” and “cause and effect.”

I don’t want to see forests gutted. Hardly. Um… most of my families live IN THE WOODS.

I don’t want to see the Rain Forest go the way of the dinosaurs, either. I just honestly believe that there are compromises that we each make, to find that place that “works for us.”

I believe that woods like Ipe have a special place in construction practices. And, because of their nature, they tend to lend themselves to very durable, long-lasting, low-maintenance structural components, that make them viable.

The debate currently waged on RR is just a “non-issue” for most, as most of us can’t afford $3 (or more) a foot for Ipe, to begin with.

But, it does shed light on HOW we make the decisions we make, when drawing up material lists. There’s a lot to consider. GREEN used to be “just a color.” Now, it’s a war-zone.

But, what IS Green?

  • Is it virgin timber, harvested and milled by carbon belching monsters that in turn were created by carbon belching plants and factories?
  • Is it recycled paper insulation, that is fueled by carbon converting processes all the way to it’s end, as it is blown into your framing?
  • Is it plastic lumber that isn’t REALLY green after all, once you determine that it’s made predominantly from virgin OIL products, processed and manufactured by more carbon belching manufacturing infernos?

Paul Hawken is an entrepreneur who has written a ton of books. He’s one of the benchmark  “go-to-guys” for people who need good information, about a lot of things.

Starting at age 20, he dedicated his life to sustainability and changing the relationship between business and the environment. His practice has included starting and running ecological businesses, writing and teaching about the impact of commerce on living systems, and consulting with governments and corporations on economic development, industrial ecology, and environmental policy.” (Taken direct from http://www.paulhawken.com)

As a result, he was asked to give the commencement address at one of my favorite places, the University of Portland, in May of 2009.

Here’s a hunk of the wisdom that he passed on to those fresh young minds…


This planet came with a set of instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them.

Important rules like don’t poison the water, soil, or air, don’t let the earth get overcrowded, and don’t touch the thermostat have been broken. Buckminster Fuller said that spaceship earth was so ingeniously designed that no one has a clue that we are on one, flying through the universe at a million miles per hour, with no need for seatbelts, lots of room in coach, and really good food—but all that is changing.

There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn’t bring lemon juice to decode it, Ican tell you what it says:

You are Brilliant, and the Earth is Hiring. The earth couldn’t afford to send recruiters or limos to your school. It sent you rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint. And here’s the deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required.

Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done.

[end quote]

Here’s the link to the entire speech:

Unforgettable Commencement Addresses – Paul Hawken

And if that link looks overwhelming (mouse over it to see what I’m talking about), here’s a Tiny URL:

Paul Hawken

YOU CAN change things for the better. It does require that you think things through, and make careful choices. You just need to figure out what you believe, and where you draw the line.

None of us wants to kill this rock that we live on. I mean, that’d be kind of stupid now, wouldn’t it?

But each of us chooses his/her compromises, to find that “place” were WE can each live comfortably and responsibly.

Want to know more about Paul Hawken?

Wikipedia is always a good starting point:

Wiki says – Paul Hawken

And I told you that he writes books. Here’s some interesting stuff about his book; “Blessed Unrest”.

Blessed Unrest

Stay Tuned.