Take-aways from the day's programming filled the Arizona night as revitalize attendees gathered under the stars for one final dinner. An afternoon of panels and presentations focused on every aspect of wellness—from the future of women's health to the depression rate among teens—left plenty to talk about.
The feverish chatter slowed to a stop once mindbodygreen founder and CEO Jason Wachob appeared alongside Frank Lipman, M.D., a functional medicine pioneer and the recipient of last year's inaugural mbg Lifetime Achievement Award. The time had come to pass the coveted prize (a golden avocado, of course) on to the next honoree, but with all the incredible people in the audience, it was impossible to guess who would take it home.
In the end, the most influential person in wellness this year wasn't a doctor or nutritionist, yogi or pro athlete. It was Paul Hawken: the spirited environmentalist who just published the most comprehensive plan for combating climate change to date. Hawken's presentation earlier that day was consistently noted as a fan favorite for its ability to present climate data in an approachable, dynamic way, and he rose to the stage to wild applause. After thanking Wachob and Lipman, Hawken seized the opportunity to address the revitalize crowd one last time, discussing why the way we approach global warming needs to change and why the wellness community can be at the forefront of the shift.
"The climate establishment for the past four years has gone into the back door of humanity, which is locked shut. What's happening is that to 99.99 percent of people, 2 degrees Celsius has no meaning whatsoever. Think about all the people in the Caribbean right now. Think of all the people there before Hurricane Irma came, think of all of them who will come after. No matter where you are in the world, it has no meaning at all. And yet we wonder why people aren't responding," he said of our tendency to approach climate change as a doomsday scenario that can only be solved if we keep global warming below 2 degrees.
"The front door of humanity is wide open," he continues. "What human beings have always needed is meaningful, living wage jobs that give them a sense of respect and purpose in their lives and that actually connect them to the living world they inhabit. We are the only species on Earth that doesn't have full employment. Never has there ever been so much fantastic work to be done on Earth than there is right now. If we want to reverse climate change, my motto is, let there be jobs. Jobs that don't steal the future like they do right now but jobs that heal the future. We can do either one: We can steal it or heal it."
Hawken closed by commending audience members for the work that they're doing to heal, not steal: "We have companies that steal our children's futures by feeding them sugar, wheat, and obesity-causing foods. And we have people here who heal the future. I just want to say thank you for giving me the opportunity to be with you tonight."
When we caught up with Hawken after his speech, he expanded on this idea that framing reducing global warming as an uphill battle will never work. What the climate movement needs is a bit of optimism, humor, and fun—three qualities that this thought leader exemplifies.
We are hopeful that his message of hope and unity around environmental issues will drive the wellness conversation this year, as health has never been, and never will be, a singular mission. It's something we need to achieve together, with respect to our surrounding communities
"Paul Hawken is a true visionary in wellness," Wachob says of his reasoning behind granting him the award. "His blend of pragmatism, optimism, and inspiration is contagious. As we at mindbodygreen continue to shift the conversation toward the collective message of 'You. We. All,' Paul is the perfect person to help us lead the charge."
We're already excited to see Hawken pass the award on to the next winner come revitalize 2018, hopefully in a world that is better off than it is right now.