Bioneers 2016 Highlights
Art has been called the bridge between existing culture and the culture evolving. This because the arts allow a window, absent of judgment, to the darkest and lightest aspects of the collective psyche. Performance pieces that invite audience participation, as with works of Eve Ensler and Afia Walking Tree, and documentary films like ʻĀINA: That Which Feeds Us' equally invite the observer to question everything. And questions beg answers.
The arts presence at Bioneers Conference includes documentary films, poetry, music, sculpture, and painting, through to expressions more clearly considered for healing purposes, such as council circle, yoga asana practice, and grief ritual.
Bioneers 2016 on stage performances included Eve Ensler's new piece Coconut: A Mystical Journey into a Woman's Body and Alixa Garcia and Naima Penniman's (Climbing PoeTree) poetry. And Deb Lane and Afia Walking Tree opened each day with drumming.
Outside and throughout the event, Toni Mikulka shared her Giant Puppets, including Kirtland's Warbler (below) and Day Schildkret shared his Morning Altars (above). And Louis Masai, renowned British artist and eco/social activist brought his cross-country painting tour, The Art of Beeing, for hands-on workshop highlighting the importance of all bees.
Bioneers 2016 kicked off with a free screening of Before the Flood, Leonardo DiCaprio's latest effort to communicate that global climate change and mass species extinction are real, really related to human activity, and that now is the time to act. The film is the product of a three-year exploration on Leonardo's part. If you missed the global broadcast at National Geographic, please see the screening schedule a Before the Flood.
At 36:05 Leonardo says "We have to practice what we preach". For this, Leo has received judgment given his chosen lifestyle, one applauded and aspired to by those raised in the "American Dream". Leo is a shining example of one who lives the peak of this Dream while no doubt desperately wanting the associated nightmare to end. It’s complicated. I've flown more in 2016 than in the decade before that. My 2016 air travel included the quick round trip to attend Bioneers Conference.
intersectionality and peacemaking
"How can we care if we don’t grieve?"
- Jeremy Hance, Frog goes extinct, media yawns / The Guardian
Bioneers Conference 2016 was woven with intersectional justice and peacemaking dialogue, as is in keeping with the nature of the organization and its visionaries, Nina Simons and Kenny Ausubel. These dialogues included a presentation by Ericka Huggins', former Black Panther and political prisoner, on The Role of Spiritual Practice in Social Work, and a panel hosted by Jessica Sweidan (co-founder Synchronicity Earth) on Making Peace with Earth by Protecting Biodiversity (pictured at top) with Mark Plotkin (Amazon Conservation Team), Kate Horner (International Rivers), Chris LaFranchi (One Reef), and Robin Moore (author of In Search of Lost Frogs).
A compassionate standard of Bioneers Conference is audience participation in recognition of the weight carried by those in service to community within a system that encourages competition among individuals rather than collaboration in the interest of communal thriving. Ericka Huggin's presentation included guided meditation, which served to calm and center the mind otherwise at risk of being overwhelmed to the point of shutdown in response to absolute tragedies like the murders recorded at #SayHerName.
Of all the peacemaking practices offered during the biodiversity panel, I was thankful to hear Robin Moore note the greater impact of sharing individual life stories versus the sharing of numbers lost and surviving. Robin's point, exemplified in the overwhelming response to Cecil's killing, is sadly unnoticeable in response to Toughie's death.
Will Keepin and Ilarion Merculieff, spoke of the need to integrate the feminine and masculine aspects within individuals and society at large. Both emphasized the ultimate failure and hazards of present-day technologies and social norms. When the feminine aspect is fully integrated, individuals are sensitized to hazards and will refuse, as much as is possible, to participate in that which is unnecessarily expensive for, and thus harmful to, individuals as the collective.
collaboration and synchronicity
"Earth is (already) great."
- a joint message from Biomimicry Institute and Biomimicry 3.8
Another among the keynotes at Bioneers 2016 was Janine Benyus' update on Biomimicry. I am in love with Janine Benyus' brilliant vision and outlook, and the genius she and her team bring through at Biomimicry Institute and Biomimicry 3.8. Please spend time exploring and engaging as you will with this promising work.
Bioneers Conference is like stepping into the kitchen of synchronicity that is a touch harder to recognize in the grand room. Among the synchronicity this year for me was meeting up with Jennifer Leigh Smith of Community Carbon Trees - Costa Rica.
Jennifer spoke of her work with women planting trees in Costa Rica, emphasizing the importance of paying these women reasonably for their labor. Through ensuring living wage for the women in her community, Jennifer has seen mothers go from appearing diminished to appearing sure of themselves and their worth. Planting trees, if they are to grow to maturity and thrive in community, is about much more than the number of trees planted in a year. As much as ever, trees are vulnerable to human needs and desires. For trees to remain standing, humans need to be standing strong and sure in community.