Once again, the 3-day Bioneers mother-ship has landed and departed, and a thousand pods of social and environmental change have dispersed across the globe, refreshed and re-energized. Or to use the less technological metaphor by Janine Benyus, founder of the Biomimicry Institute,
“This is kind of a seasonal migration ceremony, Bioneers. If we were migrating birds, this would be our staging ground, where we come and talk about what we have hatched this year and what breeding was like.”
The Bioneers Conference, hosted in San Rafael, CA on what is the ancestral lands of the Coast Miwok, is a leading-edge forum presenting breakthrough solutions for people and planet. Over its twenty-one years Bioneers has become a global community of some of the most dedicated, passionate, and creative thinkers and leaders facilitating a wiser way forward for the earth community.
Farmers, students, social justice workers, scientists, artists, musicians, writers, entrepreneurs, indigenous leaders, environmental activists, peacemakers, and a motley assortment of engaged citizens come together to learn, network, and re-energize their efforts in creating a just and resilient world. The topics discussed range from organic farming, green chemistry, and women in the media to cross-cultural education, traditional indigenous knowledge, and local democracy.
The experience is as intellectually stimulating as it is personally transformational. Over the next few days I will be discussing some of the most visionary and exciting projects, ideas, and people at Bioneers, including the Million Kid March, the new shift in environmental and community protection using a rights-of-nature framework that is taking root across the world, the Dreaming New Mexico local foodshed & fair trade work, the One World Youth Project that is creating a new paradigm for cross-cultural education, new models of clean energy, the transformation of urban landscapes and the work of Andy Lipkus and the TreePeople, Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots programs in 120 countries, the heroic ethnographic work of Elizabeth Kapu’uwailani Lindsey, the first female fellow of the National Geographic Society, and the move to amend the constitution to limit corporate person-hood and restore free speech for people alone.
Here I want to highlight what I take to be some of its core themes and messages and hopefully in the process capture some of the spirit of Bioneers.
1) Urgency of Action: All the signals from the biosphere and indicators from our body and economy are in: the time is past due for massive shifts in how we do things.
“This moment beckons us all to think big,” said Bioneers co-founder Nina Simons. “To match all we are each capable of with the needs of a planet” in peril.
Another panelist, Ami Marcus from Mt. Shasta, whose community is fighting corporate raiding of their water and manipulation of their weather, said, “It is not enough to feel it here,” she said, pointing to her heart, “we must codify it in our structures on the ground.”
And that takes the hard work of speaking out, organizing, speaking face to face with our neighbors about the issues, of challenging the status quo, saying yes to things not yet born but are in our imaginations, not accepting no, and of not waiting on leaders to come. It means scaling up the work we are doing already. It means moving beyond bumper sticker activism and clicktivism.
Bioneers co-founder Kenny Ausubel invoked Winston Churchill: “It’s no use saying, ‘We are doing our best.’ You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.”
The Four Years. Go campaign was presented, a global effort to awaken the best of our collective awareness and action. It is based on the premise that what we do or don’t do in the very short term will effect generations to come and that we have the solutions at hand, but we need all hands on deck. The mission is to empower “individuals and organizations to set and reach goals that will cause a positive global tipping point by 2014, setting humanity on a new path toward a socially just, environmentally sustainable, and spiritually fulfilling future.” As the video suggests, it is not a new organization, it represents goals for every organization.
Connect with Four Years. Go on Facebook and on Twitter.
We are urged to plug-in, co-create, and act with fierce determination. We are the leaders. As one speaker urged, “Whatever you do, wherever you are, find a way to be ever more involved.”
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