Giving Thanks as the Tide Turns
It has been quite a dizzying two-step between the magic of the 2018 Bioneers conference at a nail-biting cusp of political uncertainty and the stunning turnaround of the blue wave election a few weeks later. On behalf of all of us here at Bioneers, I give thanks that the tide is turning and for all we’re doing as a community to help create that wave.
Yet at the same time, the cataclysmic California fires ravaging communities and landscapes just weeks after the conference underscore the state of permanent emergency that will now be our work for the rest of our lives. What we’re doing together could not be more important.
The conference once again affirmed that Bioneers is medicine. At a traumatic and precarious pre-election moment, I sure felt a whole lot better after Bioneers than I did coming into it. The overwhelming sense I got was how radically the work has matured and scaled. Yes, a new world really is emerging and it’s unstoppable
At nowhere but Bioneers do we get to see it all under one roof, to see the interconnections, to experience the blazing brilliance of vision in action. It has been our charge to make the impossible inevitable, and we may get there.
So we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being part of all this. Many of our speakers say they give the best talks of their lives at Bioneers. The reason is you. You make that magic possible.
This is the time to change the systems, to flip the paradigms, and to make these changes lasting and real. The election was a profound affirmation that this movement of movements that Bioneers embodies also reflects the values and intentions of the large majority of the country. Unprecedented numbers of people are rising up to reclaim our citizenship, which is exactly what it’s going to take.
As Bioneers rolls into our 30th Anniversary (who knew?!), we’re gearing up to double down on what we’re doing and do a whole lot more. This is the time. We’re in the vortex of massive change. What we do now — and what we don’t do — will set the course for decades to come.
Because of your generous support, we’re actually going to be able to move forward with some strategic new projects that we believe are going to be game-changers. So, thank you, thank you!!! We deeply encourage your ongoing support with the financial mojo to power the mother ship of Bioneers.
COMMUNICATE — CONNECT — CATALYZE
In the early days of Bioneers, we used this meme: Communicate — Connect — Catalyze. After all these years, that sums it up pretty well.
Rebecca Moore, Founder Google Earth Outreach
Changing the World by Changing the Story
Erica Persons has given me the honor of letting me present her personal map. Erica is Coastal Miwok and Blackfoot. She has been participating for several months in a project through the Bioneers Indigeneity Program, working with my Google Earth Outreach team to teach mapping skills to the Native youth. They decided they wanted to come up with a map of gentrification for Oakland.
A typical map is government data produced by people who don’t live in the area, and it’s based on the sale and pricing of housing and so on. It’s impersonal. What Erica led the group in doing is making what I would call a personal map from the inside of the experience of a person affected by gentrification — whose home was taken away, who became homeless and had to learn how to find resources in Oakland if you need food, if you need a shower, if you need a phone to reach people because you don’t have a phone anymore. How can you find these resources in your community, and how can you tell the story of what it feels like to go through that?
This map that Erica and her peers made is proactive. If you’re in this situation, here are resources that could help you. She also told the story of her own home. I’m going to try not to cry. After the neighborhood was gentrified, they were evicted.
This is where the heart and soul of mapping can come in, when we can empower, in this case the next generation, to tell these important stories, hold those in power accountable, and stop this kind of thing from keeping happening. So thank you, Erica, and thank you, Bioneers.
Communication is foundational, and most people today get their “environmental education” through media. Once people realize that real solutions exist, it radically leverages the pressure for change. So we’re ramping up our media production and outreach to spread breakthrough solutions much more widely.
At this historic turning point, there’s unprecedented receptivity for the kinds of breakthrough solutions Bioneers brings. We remain unique in advancing diverse solutions across virtually all arenas with a holistic “solve-the-whole-problem” approach that recognizes that it’s all connected and we’re all connected. Help us keep changing the story to change the world.
Bioneers Connected Me
This is my fourth or fifth time on this stage (since 2001), and one of the reasons I’m here is to express my gratitude to Kenny and Nina for all that this community has contributed to my work. It was through Kenny I met Joel Salatin, the farmer who’s at the center of The Omnivore’s Dilemma. It was through Bioneers that I was first exposed to Paul Stamets, the visionary mycologist who’s very much a part of my new book How to Change Your Mind. Heritage Seeds was an idea that Kenny introduced me to when he was working on Seeds of Change [in the early 1990s]. Time after time, there have been key moments, and I have this sense my next book is somebody out here. I just have to find them.
Making connections among both issues and people is in Bioneers’ DNA. After three decades of connecting issues and people, we’ve created a trellis on which a remarkable community of leadership has grown and flowered. Endless connections and cross-pollinations occur at Bioneers that lead to game-changing new work, fertile collaborations, funding, media exposure and countless other benefits that advance our collective work and elevate the community. By connecting so many seemingly disparate issues, as a community we’re developing authentic solutions that solve for pattern. Thank you for helping us weave this return to wholeness.
May Boeve, Executive Director 350.org
The Bioneers Launch Pad
I realized that the main milestones of my life as a climate activist coincide with Bioneers. In 2004, while at Middlebury College in Vermont, I joined a veggie-oil road trip around the US called Project Bio-bus, giving presentations about climate change. Project Bio-bus made a stop at one of the Bioneers satellite conferences in Fairfield, Iowa. Everyone thought it was cool. But I was awe-struck. Here were my people. It planted the seed of 350.org, and that has been my life’s work ever since.
350.org launched here at Bioneers in many ways. In 2009, we set out to organize a global day of climate action. Bioneers helped inspire our recruitment strategy. I remember getting goose-bumps sitting in this very room when Paul Hawken’s slide show scrolled the thousands and thousands of names of social movement organizations worldwide through his Wiser Earth Project. We emailed every single one of them to recruit for 350’s first global day of action. Organizers held 5,200 events in 182 countries. A few years later, we were back at Bioneers, recruiting for another day of action, and next October, we will celebrate 10 years.
Just as Bioneers, through the leadership of people of color and Indigenous People, has centered people of color, women, and indigeneity, 350.org is attempting to learn this too. The climate movement is as well. Thank you for so many here who are and have already been centering equity. You have shown the way forward, and you have been generous with your wisdom.
We need massive movements, movements that win, and we must move with grace and patience with each other to build lasting relationships that truly build power. Thank you to every young person here for demanding we figure this out faster. Thank you to every movement elder who has been in this work and continues to show up and teach us. Thank you for those of you who are making sure that resources make it to the frontlines. And thank you to those of you who see the whole interconnected web of movement work, and help us build relationships with one another.
Through it all, I remain a very proud Bioneer, which I define as solutions-oriented, creative, and ever evolving. This room contains multitudes, and we’re all here because we are all Bioneers. May our gratitude for each other be the fuel that keeps us rising faster towards solutions.
The edges where ecosystems meet are the greatest sources of fertility, innovation, and evolutionary novelty. By bringing these fertile edges together, Bioneers has catalyzed countless breakthrough projects.
Many of the Bioneers community’s models are ready to scale, and we’re committed to making that happen by helping advance projects with high leverage, high impact and the potential to spread widely and quickly. Over the past several years, we’ve been partnering directly on several catalytic initiatives that that we believe are game-changers: our Rights of Nature law and governance initiative in Indian Country with the Colorado Plateau Intertribal Conversations Group, and our partnerships with Bren Smith’s 3-D Ocean Farming breakthrough as well as the Biomimicry Institute’s visionary venture to incorporate Biomimicry into California’s mandate of K-12 environmental literacy education. Thank you yet again for helping us make these kinds of proactive systemic changes possible.
So, as dire as the state of the world is today, and in spite of the trauma and suffering, we do not have the luxury of despair, which is also self-fulfilling. In this “fierce urgency of now,” we need to act ever more boldly and quickly. After 30 years of Bioneers, I am so unspeakably grateful we’ve been patiently doing the work together all these years. I cannot imagine where we’d be without this visionary community of leadership, but I can imagine the force we can be going forward at this epic step change in human evolution.
We love you and we give thanks to each and every one of you. As Sarah Crowell of Destiny Arts has said at Bioneers: “The way we’ll hold it together is to hold it — together.”
Patrisse Cullors, Co-Founder Black Lives Matter
I am grateful to be here, to be present for this moment, for this community, to be in a community that is creating a world where we can imagine all of us thriving and living, not just surviving.
Part of our work, all of us in this room, is not just about tearing things down. We know that. But what are we building, and what are we building towards?
I want to ask the audience to humor me. Close your eyes and take a moment to imagine that we are living in a different time, to imagine we are living in a moment where all of our needs are met. Every single human being that we interact with is not suffering. Instead we are led with joy.
Take it a step further, imagine what you would want your community to look like, what it would sound like? Listen to those sounds. Honor them. And take it a step further and imagine what would be built around your community. Imagine that every single jail and prison no longer has a place there. Instead there are homes for everyone, community for everyone. Good, healthy food for everyone.
Take it a step further, and imagine that healthcare is no longer a big business. That we have now entered a world where we get our physical and emotional and spiritual needs met, that we, yes, can go to professionals, but we also have access to the parts of us that know how to heal ourselves.
And take it a step further, where women no longer have to fight for autonomy of our bodies, where folks who are trans survive past 35.
And just hold that right now, in this moment. Hold that feeling. Hold how special that vision is. As you slowly open your eyes, take the time, every single day, to remember that vision, to remember why we fight so hard. We’re not fighting so hard because we want to fight so hard. We’re fighting so hard because we have a vision. We have a vision for what we deserve, for what every single human being, animal being, plant being deserves.
When you think about Black Lives Matter, remember that our movement is about imagining, imagining a world where black folks are actually free. Imagining a world where the word poverty is a past tense, imagining a world where we don’t need handcuffs or shackles any longer, imagining a world that we all deserve to live in. Thank you so much, Bioneers.