Paul Hawken: a night of change

We went to see a presentation by Paul Hawken on Friday, at the Peninsula Community Theatre. For those who don’t know, Paul Hawken is a socially-aware environmentalist and author of many books. We went not knowing anything about Paul – all we knew was that he was going to talk about sustainability, the economy and business.

Wow. It was hugely different to the media release, but was an amazing presentation. It was strange in the fact that many people from Melbourne travelled down to Mornington for his presentation, so there were very few familiar local faces around. If anything, it was more of a spiritual discussion than a lecture.

Around sustainability, he feels there needs to be change from within each person, not change from outside sources. You can bring in processes and products, but if the people won’t change, then all these plans of improving the world fall to the wayside.

We can’t solve problems by changing things, we can only solve problems by changing [ourselves].
– Paul Hawken

For us, sustainability is a strange word – it’s become somewhat fashionable and its real meaning has lost strength. Think about all the “green” or “sustainable” businesses you see each day – how many of those are really wanting to change our mindset, or just wanting to make a dollar at the end of the day because there’s a demand to be “green”?

To have a sustainable world is going to be hard – everyone is used to having resources literally on-tap, which makes it hard to change. We know we’ve even got a long way to go to really make a change – both in business and personally – but starting is better than sitting and watching the world go by.