Paul Hawken Regeneration

We are pleased to announce Paul Hawken as our second Real Organic Book Club speaker. He will be discussing Regeneration, at 6 pm EDT on Thursday, May 5. Dave Chapman’s letter this week talks about this book and some takeaways.

A photo of Earth from space. Text alongside reads "Our economic systems, investments, and policies can bring about the degeneration of the world or its regeneration. We are either stealing the future or healing the future."

Hi Friend,

Paul Hawken has been a good friend to the Real Organic Project. Paul has a long history in the organic movement. As the founder of Erewhon Trading Company, he was a pioneer in making organic food available to thousands of people in the early days. He is better known now for his work on climate.

Paul’s most recent book is called Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis In One Generation.

In one of my conversations with Paul, he talked about the process of writing Regeneration. After his earlier book, Drawdown, he laughingly shared that his partner said she was going to leave him unless his next book told her what she could do to reverse climate change.

This book is Paul’s answer to that question.

On the left is a photo of Paul Hawken with a serious look on his face. On the right text reads: "We have created an astonishing moment of truth. The climate crisis is not a science problem. It is a human problem. The ultimate power to change the world does not reside in technologies. It relies on reverence, respect, and compassion—for ourselves, for all people, and for all life. This is regeneration. "

This book challenges our understanding of climate and change.

It MUST be a challenging book if we hope to use it as a vehicle for seeing the world with fresh eyes. As Einstein said, “You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created the problem.” So to solve OUR “problem” we must develop a new mind. This is not easy. Paul has accepted the challenge.

To judge if he has succeeded, you must pay the blood price of admission. Your:

  • Attention.
  • Time.
  • Mind.

What does it take to change our minds? 

A blue box with an image of a large field of wheat being harvested by three combines. Text underneath reads "Every industry is a system, and every industrial system is extractive, whether it be energy, food, agriculture, pharma, transport, clothing, or healthcare, among others. Extraction takes resources from the living world, which causes harm. The result is less life. Extraction is thus degenerative. Every industrial system is a direct cause of global warming, not only because of greenhouse gas emissions but because of damage to soil, water, oceans, forests, air, biodiversity, people, children, workers, and cultures. Harm is not the intention of companies, but in order to become regenerative, a company must first recognize that it is innately degenerative. This is not an accusation; it is a biological fact, and represents a huge opportunity.       -From Regeneration"

Paul has written a beautiful book. The pictures are truly gorgeous, and they are an important part of the book. My nephew said he would get the book on Audible, and I thought, “Well, maybe not.” This book begs to be seen. It would grace any coffee table or bookshelf.

But don’t be misled. As with medicine, it is only useful if actually taken.

Putting a bottle of pills on an alter will not heal us. We have to take the medicine for it to work. Leafing through this beautiful book will not help either. Together, we must read it, taste it deeply, consider it. And then act.

Regeneration might well have been called Transformation.

In the case of Regeneration, it must be read for the transformation to occur. In my case, this was a slow process. Sometimes I didn’t WANT to read a chapter. Sometimes a chapter was so engaging that it took hours to read a few pages, as I was constantly diverted by Googling people and events I knew nothing about. And taking notes. Lots of notes. 

And most of all, it must be acted on.

Actions are imagined, suggested, invited. This book would work well with a group.

A blue box with an image of a close up of a honeybee in flight. Text below reads "When honeybee scouts find a bounty of blooms and nectar, they return to the hive, where they do a symbolic waggle dance at the entrance of the hive. The dance signals the precise direction and distance to the flowering plants or trees. The more vigorous the waggle, the richer the source of nectar. Once worker bees have seen the dance, they have the necessary information and fly straight to the source. It is time for humanity to create waggle dances unique to their knowledge, place, and determination. Another way to look at this time in history is this: we are being homeschooled by the planet, our teacher. This book is an attempt to reflect those teachings.  —From Regeneration "

Regeneration weaves a tapestry, revealing new connections that were unsuspected. It shares a new way of seeing.

New eyes.

Suddenly the problems are different. Suddenly EVERYTHING is connected. He is not discarding science but is rather seeing our lives from a larger perspective, from the perspective of the whole. 

I have wondered how to describe this book in this letter, but I cannot.

There are too many different perspectives, too many voices tied together. It would be like describing the taste of a banana to someone who hasn’t tasted a banana. By the time I was done describing, I would have written another book. I considered just reprinting the entire chapter on Big Food. The chapter is so strong and clear. That is an area where I share a great interest with Paul, and he gives a stunning description of the complicated system that feeds us, and that feeds on us. Get the book and read it for yourself.

The best I can do is to encourage you to read Regeneration.

If you try, at the very least you will have a beautiful book for your coffee table. Or you might change your mind, or even the world.


A blue text box with white text that reads "The climate crisis is similar. It is an extremely complex system, and there is no one who fully understands it. That can tend to make us believe only experts can solve the crisis. We unintentionally give our power over to technocrats, international leaders, or scientists, and hope they do something and get it right. Inspired by what he found in the building and construction industry, Gawande discovered a direct way to create a more effective system: You push the power of decision-making out to the periphery and away from the center. You give people the room to adapt, based on their experience and expertise. All you ask is that [people] talk to one another and take responsibility. That is what works. We are what works. Few of us are experts, but that does not prevent us from understanding what to do and how to do it.         -from Regeneration"


We are pleased to announce Paul Hawken as our second Real Organic Book Club speaker.

He will be discussing Regeneration, at 6 pm EDT on Thursday, May 5.

The session is open to all members of the Real Friends. If you would like to join this engaging community of eaters and activists, farmers and authors, chefs and students, scientists and adventurers, please click here.

A screenshot of a youtube playlist with an image on the left of Dave Chapman wearing a "Protect Organic" shirt and on the right an image of Paul Hawken smiling at the camera while wearing a blue shirt and blue baseball cap. Text on the image reads "Dave Chapman Interviews Paul Hawken"We have 4 interviews with Paul that appear as podcasts. Click here to access all of them.