We all know that the world has a lot of problems, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned through my own soul-searching and research, it’s that within a problem itself, there usually lies a solution.
With all of the problems, potential solutions, and related ideas circulating around the world, it can be overwhelming trying to be aware of them all, much less find the relationships between them. I believe, with a little inspired dialogue, it can be done. This is one of the ideas behind the Bioneers Conference, an annual gathering of inspired researchers, activists, scientists and general good-idea spreaders.
The conference, taking place this weekend in San Rafael, CA., has been on my radar for a while now. I was a sophomore in the Environmental Studies department at Naropa University in Boulder, when I had just begun to scratch the surface of sustainable innovations, environmental justice and the idea of a carbon footprint. I was able to watch the webcasts of the main speakers from that year at the University of Colorado Boulder campus alongside hundreds of other students and residents. Some of the talks that I witnessed covered topics that have a much wider audience today, such as the environmental implications of factory farming and micro-loaning for sustainability. Every year, Bioneers presenters and workshop leaders continue to innovate on an incredibly diverse range of topics that never fail to impress.
This year’s conference titled, “From Breakdown to Breakthrough: Reimagining Civilization in the Age of Nature,” is an appropriate reference to the social, economic, and environmental crises occurring throughout the world.
Hundreds of speakers and workshop leaders are presenting on 13 different themes, such as Indigenous Knowledge, Ecological Design and Youth Leadership, all of which are easily connected by the threads of sustainable principles and practices, social awareness and interdependence.
Of the many speakers, it will naturally be a difficult task to see all of the inspiring talks and programs offered. Plus, every year a myriad of different musicians and performers have a chance to share the stage, bringing in the complements of arts appreciation, song and laughter; all significant within the mission of the conference founders, Kenny Ausubel and Nina Simons.
I’m thrilled to be able to see Paul Stamets, whose study of mycology and mushroom cultivation has been groundbreaking in the field of health and “mycoremediation.” This method uses a variety of mushroom species to regenerate heavily damaged eco-systems by growing mushrooms in areas affected by oil spills and toxic pollution. A few other speakers include, Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute in Colorado, “Loveologist” Wendy Strgarbut (previously featured in Elephant Journal) and Jeanne Rizzo, the president and CEO of the Breast Cancer Fund.
Even if you’re not attending the conference or you’re unable to attend the webcast session, “Beaming Bioneers” (offered in 15 states), Bioneers is much more than just a conference. Well known “visionaries” and past presenters from many different fields of study are involved in the Bioneers cause and its many related campaigns, including Jane Goodall, Dr. Andrew Weil, Joanna Macy, and author Michael Pollan. To know these names and take a little time to see what they’re doing can be an inspiring experience on its own without the travel and cost of attending the conference. The website is a great resource to check out no matter what your interests.
It’s a privilege to attend a conference like Bioneers, but its occurrence benefits us all by hosting speakers from many backgrounds in order to encourage social dialogue and foster knowledge and communication between all of Earth’s citizens.