What are Bioneers? If you’ve never heard the term, then you haven’t been introduced to this group of social and scientific innovators founded by Kenny Ausubel and Nina Simon in New Mexico in 1990. At that time, the name and the non-profit organization it described were focused on providing a way for people from all geographic locations and walks of life to connect and collaborate to work on solving some of the world’s most complex social and environmental issues. It started with the yearly Conference, which at the time was focused on work in the areas of natural medicine, biomimicry, and both biological and cultural diversity. The conference and the organization expanded through the years, and today the Bioneers organization holds conferences locally, nationally, and internationally, and also produces a radio series, book series, media projects, and more. Today, Bioneers work and connect all over the globe through online and face-to-face opportunities to find innovative and pioneering ways to change the world for the better.
The Bioneers yearly conference is the organization’s way of bringing people together to share information and learn about the breakthroughs that are being made in the areas of environmental and social change. Bioneers founders Kenny and Nina originally started the organization in coexistence with Kenny’s company, a biodiversity organic seed company called Seeds of Change. The company was sold and the couple focused their energy on growing the Bioneers conference and organization, finding that as people became more aware of the need for focused and workable environmental and social solutions, the conference grew in popularity, from a small group of 250 people in 1990 to more than 12,000 people at the main conference in recent years. Bioneers can attend both the main conference, held in California, and satellite conferences held across the United States.
The organization has grown in the almost 25 years it has been in existence and so has the breadth of focus. At its founding, the organization was closely tied with Seeds of Change and focused mainly on ecological food sources, diversity, and green medicine. Today, the organization’s expansion has led to a focus on six programs working in different areas of social and environmental change:
· - Changing the Mindscape, which focuses on public education through conferences and various media.
· - Education for Action, which provides educational materials to schools and colleges.
· - Resilience from the Ground Up, which provides a toolkit for systems change for communities.
· - Every Woman's Leadership Initiatives, which provides education to help women become leaders.
· - Becoming Native to Place, which educates people about indigenous knowledge and practices.
· - Bioneers Global, which connects innovative thinkers to foster collaboration.
This year’s conference, to be held on October 17-19, 2014 at the Marin Center in San Rafael, CA, will be a celebration of 25 years of Bioneers. Global citizens, activists, and cause professionals are invited to attend to hear presentations from speakers including Professor Amanda Ravenhill of Presidio Graduate School, Reverend Cecil Williams, David Levine of the American Sustainable Business Council, Deborah Moore of the Green Schools Initiative, Tony Award winning playwright Eve Ensler, writer Terry Tempest Williams, and many, many more.
Other ways to connect with and become involved in Bioneers abound. The award winning Bioneers radio series airs for free across the country and around the world in 13 half hour programs yearly. There’s a monthly Bioneers newsletter, the Bioneers Youth Program, and the Bioneers Dreaming New Mexico program (a 2009 international Buckminster Fuller Challenge Award second place finisher that asked all New Mexico residents what their vision for a better future was, and now works to bring that collective vision to life). Much more information about the Bioneers organization and the upcoming conference can be found online at www.bioneers.org.
Anyone who shares the vision and the belief that together, we can create a world of innovative and lasting social and environmental change is a Bioneer . . . and can join together with Bioneers across the country and around the globe to bring those visions to reality.