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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Bioneers — Revolution from the Heart of Nature

The first time I ran across the word Bioneers, I was intrigued. It sounded like a cross between biology and pioneer. I pulled out my dictionary to review definitions.

  • biology – noun, 1. the science that deals with the origin, history, physical characteristics, life processes, habits, etc. of living organisms, as plants and animals, and of viruses: it includes botany, zoology, and microbiology; 2. animal and plant life, as of a given area; 3. biological history, principles, etc.
  • pioneer – noun, 1. a member of a military engineer unit trained to construct or demolish bridges, roads, trenches, etc., 2. a person who goes before, preparing the way for others, as an early settler or a scientist doing exploratory work, 3. a plant, animal, etc. that starts a new cycle of life in a barren area

As it turns out, I was on the right track.

What is Bioneers?

Bioneers LogoThe term Bioneers was coined by Kenny Ausubel when he and Nina Simons founded Bioneers in 1990.

“ 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.”

Bioneer Organization

Bioneers is a nonprofit organization. It began as a Bioneers conference in Santa Fe with 250 attendees. In 1993, the Bioneers conference expanded and moved to the California Bay Area while the organization remained in Santa Fe.

An excerpt from the Bioneers website “Our Mission” page explains its purpose:

“Bioneers is inspiring a shift to live on Earth in ways that honor the web of life, each other and future generations.”

Bioneers Conference 2011The Beaming Bioneers program was launched in 2002 to enhance collaboration and support regional Bioneers organizations that were forming across the country. During the annual Bioneers conference, plenary speakers and performers are beamed to local conferences via the wonders of technology and supplemented with local workshops, field trips, and other events.

Since its inception, Bioneers has expanded from an annual conference to include additional  programs and initiatives such as: Dreaming New Mexico, Restorative Food Systems, Education for Action, Indigenity, Women’s Leadership, and Youth Unity.

The Bioneers Radio Series, “Revolution from the Heat of Nature”, is heard via more than 450 communities worldwide in 13 nations, and has received numerous awards. Podcasts are available on the Bioneers website.

Visitors to the Bioneers website can learn about the annual conference and programs, sign up for a monthly newsletter, find volunteer opportunities, make a donation, read the blog, and purchase books, CDs, DVDs or a Bioneers t-shirt.

Are you a Bioneer or would you like to become one? The Bioneers website is a good place to start.

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