Bioneers 2013 Conference – Turning Vision into Action

Have you ever been to a business conference where presenters not only cried on stage but weren’t ashamed of crying? Bioneers is an annual conference unlike any you have ever attended.

Bioneers is not a business conference per se, at least not in the traditional sense. Attendees won’t hear speakers talk about how to increase sales or improve employee engagement. There are no workshops on how to effectively use Internet ads or find hidden profit dollars.

The Bioneers conference brings together people across the spectrum of humanity to work on the business of restoring and sustaining the planet we live on. Presenters do tear up and so do attendees.

What is Bioneers?

Bioneers is a nonprofit organization founded by Kenny Ausubel and Nina Simons in 1990. Kenny coined the term Bioneers.

2013 Bioneers National Program National Cover - The Inquiry of Gaia ©Jo Whaley“Bioneers are social and scientific innovators from all walks of life and disciplines who have peered deep into the heart of living systems to understand how nature operates, and to mimic ‘nature’s operating instructions’ to serve human ends without harming the web of life. Nature’s principles—kinship, cooperation, diversity, symbiosis and cycles of continuous creation absent of waste—can also serve as metaphoric guideposts for organizing an equitable, compassionate and democratic society.”

I like to interpret the definition in its broadest sense. We can all be Bioneers.

A major Bioneers activity is an annual conference held in northern California. Beaming Bioneers organizations around the country host local conferences where attendees see and listen to the national speakers and performers via video and attend local workshops.

Central Coast Bioneers – Beaming Bioneers

2013 Central Coast Bioneers Program Cover - Beth AlexanderWe attended our first Central Coast Bioneers conference in October 2012. I read about the conference in the Sierra Club Santa Lucia Chapter newspaper and bought tickets for my spouse and me. We came away from the 3-day conference enlightened, inspired, and spurred to action. We actually did things we’d been thinking about. For instance, we bought a community supported agriculture share from the Los Osos Valley Organic Farm we had visited, and engaged A.M. Sun Solar to install solar panels on our roof.

Bioneers 2013 Conference – Turning Vision into Action

I bought our tickets for the 2013 Central Coast Bioneers conference almost as soon as the email announcement landed in my inbox. I started laughing when I saw the conference title Turning Vision into Action. We are still working on our list from last year, so I wondered what actions we would add to it after this year’s conference.

National Keynote Speakers and Performers

The keynote speakers and artists we watched via video were as diverse as their topics and performances. I was spellbound. A few of the many highlights included:

  • Janine Benyus describing biomimicry with such joyful enthusiasm I wanted to run outside and study a tree.
  • Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins talking about motherhood and leadership with tears running down her face. I felt a connection and understanding even though our worlds are far apart.
  • Alixa and Naima, the Climbing PoeTree duo, performing their spoken-word poetry and movement were beautiful and powerful, amazing.
Local Conference

Nina Simons - Bioneers Co-FounderWe were fortunate to have Nina Simons attend our local conference to share some stories in person. She is a gifted storyteller; she radiates warmth, joy, and genuineness. Nina talked about how humans are hard-wired for story. Information and facts do not change people’s minds. A more compelling story might. What she said resonated with me and is perhaps the most important thing I heard at the conference. I believe improving my storytelling ability will help me in my own work.

We attended workshops about co-ops, divesting investment portfolios of fossil fuels, electric car adoption, social and environmental implications of nanotechnology, and the flow of thinking in our minds. We bought several books, enjoyed music by local artists, and checked out the iFixit repair café.

It was another uplifting and thought provoking weekend.

We are thankful to Celia Mingus-Zaentz, Stacey Hunt, Michael Jencks, Amanda Smith, and all the volunteers for staging the Central Coast Bioneers conference. We are looking forward to attending again next year.

If you have not been to a Bioneers conference, mark your calendar for next October and check out the Bioneers website to find a Beaming Bioneers group in your area.

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Author: Linda Poppenheimer

Linda researches and writes about environmental topics to share information, spark conversation, and convince people to take action to keep earth habitable for all. She believes our individual actions do matter—it all adds up.

3 thoughts on “Bioneers 2013 Conference – Turning Vision into Action”

  1. I could sense your enthusiasm in your enlightening “story” about your recent Bioneers Weekend. Seeing and listening to real people is, for me, so much easier than reading about a subject. Glad you had access to such inspiring and diverse personalities. Did you add to your list?

    1. I’m going to try traveling by train to Houston instead of flying. The difference is staggering… 1.8 tons of carbon vs. 0.06 tons. Making the trip by air just ten times spews as much carbon as the average American produces total in an entire year! *groan*

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