Highlights from Bioneers

Bioneers logoThe Bioneers conference is such an honor and inspiration to attend. The entire conference is steeped in the awareness that we are on an heroic quest to evolve human existence into ecological balance.

Refreshingly, the topic areas include such important, but often marginalized parts of the team: youth, elders, indigenous groups, artists, inmates, and inner city dwellers.  The conference also seeks to elevate women’s leadership and of course the wisdom and rights of Mother Earth to the forefront of our attention.

I was completely fired up by Bill McKibben.  I had never seen him in person before, and was taken aback by the sweetness apparent in his message and delivery.  Take a look at this short video from his presentation…

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For being such an outspoken author and warrior activist, he sure leads with heart, soul and a clear love for humanity.  The pictures he showed us of a world waking up to the intensity of our climate situation were beautiful, inspiring, and of course startling.  The 350.org movement has done tremendous work so far, and we are all called to join in the next phase of activism which kicks off at the beginning of November.  Please look for local actions near you.

I attended two panels on the built environment, one on Living Buildings and the other on Housing in the Post Carbon Future.

The Living Buildings panel was led by the amazingly witty Eric Corey Freed, whose humor is an awesome lubricant to facing the poor design choices that plague our homes, cities and neighborhoods.  I was certainly moved by the architectural wonders created by Paul Kephart and Marsha Maytum.  They have made major strides in partnering with nature to create new forms of architecture that are bio-compatible with both people and the Earth.  However these are all *new* buildings, and the panel did not address the design challenge of what to do with all the privately owned homes that were built before the energy code, and built during the era of design that was dominated by what Eric Corey Freed (@ericcoreyfreed) refers to as the Dodo Sapiens.

As we all know, it is these homes that many of us live in that are responsible for the majority of our carbon use.

Perhaps this will be a panel for next year’s brave Bioneers!

The panel on Housing in the Post Carbon future was diverse.  What stirred me the most was considering both urban homesteading and cohousing in the same conversation about the future of housing.  Both of these solutions solve different dimensions of our place based issues.  Rachel Kaplan was the panelist focused on Urban Homesteading, and through her we see the amazing vitality possible to reconnect with nature and food production even on small urban lots, whether you are a renter or an owner.  Cohousing architects and advocates Chuck Durrett and Katie MacCamant offer solutions for the people part of our dilemma.  Cohousing decreasing the footprint of the individual home in exchange for a very developed commons, where the opportunity for community brings health, joy, and satisfaction to our lives.

The post carbon future will certainly require us to deepen both our relationship to the earth and the people where we live, and it is a great idea to take inspiration from both of these movements and see what we can apply to our circumstances at home.