Central Coast Bioneers — Breakthrough Solutions for People and Planet

Central Coast Bioneers LogoI read about the Central Coast Bioneers conference in the Sierra Club Santa Lucia Chapter newspaper. It sounded interesting so I checked out the Central Coast Bioneers website and then bought tickets for us to attend the October 2012 conference. It was a fun, educational, and inspiring weekend, and we look forward to attending the 4th annual Central Coast Bioneers next year.

Central Coast Bioneers Conference

The main Bioneers conference was held in northern California. Those of us attending the Central Coast Bioneers conference, otherwise known as Beaming Bioneers, were able to see and listen to the plenary speakers and performers via a satellite feed. Local activities in the afternoons included workshops, field trips, a seed exchange, green marketplace, local food, silent auction, green car show, films, and entertainment by local musicians.

Green Marketplace

The green marketplace consisted of product and service vendors, as well as booths for nonprofit organizations. A local bookstore, Volumes of Pleasure Bookshoppe, set up an impromptu bookstore on the premises and offered a selection of books written by plenary speakers and related topics. I purchased several books, including a pop-up version of one of my favorites, The Lorax, by Dr. Suess.

Silent Auction

Generous sponsors donated a wide variety of goods and services for the silent auction. We scored a native plant consultation and kayak tour.

Extreme Green Car Show

Across the street we had an opportunity to check out green cars that already meet or exceed the recently set Federal fuel efficiency rules for auto makers of 54.5 MPG or equivalent by 2025. Unfortunately, we did not get to test drive the Tesla sports car.

Organic Farm Field Trip

We opted for the organic farm field trip one afternoon and visited two organic farms, one raising animals, oranges, and avocados; and the other organic produce.

Old Creek Ranch Hass Avocado OrchardAt Old Creek Ranch, we were greeted by Bob Blanchard, two dogs, and a goat named Stuey. Bob and Terri Blanchard are the second generation to run this ranch which raises 100% grass-fed beef, goat, and lamb meat; pasture raised pork, eggs, and organic oranges and avocados. Bob imparted a wealth of information in a humble and often humorous manner. We learned about how the ranch has migrated over the years to their current philosophy of, “organically grown in harmony with nature”.

It is my understanding from listening to Bob that Terri Blanchard is the brains behind the ranch’s marketing program. She was busy getting ready for a weekend trip to sell the ranch’s products up north, but graciously stopped what she was doing to allow us to purchase delicious fresh squeezed orange juice and avocados right off the tree.

Los Osos Valley Organic Farm StrawberriesWhen we arrived at Los Osos Valley Organic Farm, Jim Terrick welcomed us with a big smile and enthusiastically showed us around his organic produce farm and shared his vision. He was a fount of information about everything from soil to seeds. Jim talked about some of the challenges associated with organic farming. I didn’t realize critters can be more of a problem than insects.

He showed us the insulated bags that were being prepared for their weekly Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Members receive a weekly selection of fresh seasonal organic produce picked fresh from the farm. That sounded fun and delicious. Later in the week we signed up for the winter season.

Green Home Tour

The next day we had the opportunity to visit four green homes from a tiny studio apartment to a multi-family property.

The first home was a renovated apartment chock full of energy saving devices and “green” building materials.

The next property contained several buildings that were different yet created a unified whole. The owner claimed he was not “green” he just like reusing old stuff. There was a story behind most of the materials and a surprise around every corner.

The third home was a craftsman style bungalow that had been expanded and remodeled by a local architect who designs green educational facilities. The photovoltaic system on the roof produces the home’s electricity and recharges the family’s electric car.

The last home was a newer home that had been designed and built incorporating “green” features such as high levels of insulation, overhangs that help maintain comfortable temperatures, and bamboo flooring.

Central Coast Bioneers ConferenceWe are thankful to Stacey Hunt, Michael Jencks, and Celia Zaentz for creating the first Central Coast Bioneers conference in 2010 and continuing to put on this wonderful event year after year.

Hopefully more Beaming Bioneers groups will form around the country so more people can experience this fantastic organization.

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October is National Energy Action Month

President Obama Calls on Congress to Invest in Clean Energy May 24, 2012On October 1, 2012, President Obama proclaimed October 2012 as National Energy Action Month, further promoting his administration’s “all-of-the-above” energy strategy. As of this writing, President Obama has issued 12 Presidential Proclamations in October 2012.

Proclamation Sidebar

What is a presidential proclamation? It was surprisingly difficult to find a specific answer. The most comprehensive information I located came from a 1999 Congressional Report prepared by John Contrubis entitled Executive Orders and Proclamations.

There is no specific provision in the Constitution authorizing the President to issue executive orders and proclamations. However, it is generally accepted that the President derives his authority to act from Article II of the Constitution.

To summarize: Proclamations are directives or actions by the President. Proclamations usually affect primarily the activities of private individuals. The President has no power or authority over individual citizens and their rights except where he is granted such power and authority by a provision in the Constitution or by statute. The President’s proclamations are not legally binding and are at best hortatory (urging some course of conduct or action; exhorting; encouraging) unless based on such grants of authority.

National Energy Action Month Presidential Proclamation

The National Energy Action Month proclamation refers to President Obama’s “all-of-the-above” energy strategy which covers everything from nuclear power to biofuels. Accomplishments in renewable energy, higher auto fuel efficiency standards and domestic oil and gas production increases are highlighted. Greenhouse gas emission reduction is mentioned. Job creation is touched upon.

The creativity, drive and entrepreneurial spirit of the American people are said to be our greatest natural resource and we are called to action by the President.

“I call upon the citizens of the United States to recognize this month by working together to achieve greater energy security, a more robust economy, and a healthier environment for our children.”

What action we are to take or how we are to accomplish it is left up to us.

After reading the proclamation, I pondered what action to take for National Energy Action Month. I decided to focus my first action on learning, specifically learning about the Obama Administration’s “all-of-the-above” energy strategy. That led me to the Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future document published March 30, 2011.

Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future

Blueprint for a Secure Energy FutureThe 44-page Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future describes the “all-of-the-above” energy strategy. After the introduction and executive summary, there are 3 main sections, each one broken into The Challenge, Progress to Date, and Moving Forward.

  1. Develop and Secure America’s Energy Supplies
  2. Provide Consumers with Choices to Reduce Costs and Save Energy
  3. Innovate Our Way to a Clean Energy Future
Develop and Secure America’s Energy Supplies

This section covers opening public lands and federal waters for expansion of safe and responsible oil and gas production. New safety reforms and regulations, some as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, are discussed. Shorter lease terms and rewarding rapid development are identified as potential means of encouraging companies to develop resources on public lands or step aside. Natural gas “fracking” is identified as an area for review. A global perspective is provided on subjects such as securing energy supplies, electric vehicles, clean energy technologies, nuclear energy, and energy efficiency…

Provide Consumers with Choices to Reduce Costs and Save Energy

Fuel Economy Standards in the Year 2025Emphasis is placed on increasing car and truck fuel efficiency. Other topics include advancing electric vehicle battery performance, public transportation, and alternative transportation. Another aspect is building energy reduction. Programs for cutting energy usage are coupled with rebates and other incentives to encourage homeowners and business owners to make energy-saving investments.

Innovate Our Way to a Clean Energy Future

The President’s Clean Energy Standard (CES) is described. Ideas include eliminating fossil fuel subsidies and using the funds to support clean energy innovation and deploying smart grid technologies. An Executive Order has directed federal agencies to lead by example through implementing energy efficiency measures in over 500,000 federal buildings and more than 600,000 vehicles in the federal fleet.

A one-year progress report summarizes accomplishments to March 2012.

I don’t agree with every aspect of the energy blueprint. I do appreciate the opportunity to take action to Action Clapboard - Call to Actionlearn about what the federal government plans to do, has done, and is doing to implement the “all-of-the-above” energy strategy.

What action are you going to take during National Energy Action Month?