Bioneers Part I

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bioners_sidebarTompkins Weekly – September 27, 2010

By Hilary Lambert, Nick Vaczek and Danielle Klock

There is nothing like the curative of seeking knowledge and taking actions ourselves. Rugged independence is an American tradition, after all. But when the empowerment of independent knowledge and action is shared, the image of the lone pioneer in the harsh wilderness can be replaced by a community of change agents. These people are Bioneers, and collectively they are changing the world.

Last year’s inaugural Finger Lakes Bioneers We Make Our Future Conference emulated the format of the national Bioneers Conference, held each year in San Rafael, Ca., with plenary speakers and concurrent sessions featuring more than 60 presenters covering a myriad of topics at Ithaca College. This year’s conference, taking place October 22-24, will feature three afternoon interactive community activities that will engage and empower local participants of many ages to take on climate change, sustainable municipal planning and the authentic expression of each person as a change agent, ready to take action.

While our local offerings to the Bioneers movement may look different from last year, each day of the 2010 We Make Our Future Conference will begin with presentation screenings from this year’s national Bioneers Conference.

From 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. each day of the conference, enjoy Breakfast with the Bioneers at Cinemapolis. Free bagels and beverages will welcome you to a morning screening of the national Bioneers Conference first-day plenary speakers. From San Rafael, Ca., James Hansen will present on moral, political and legal dimensions of human-made climate change. John Francis, the “Planetwalker,” will continue his journey linking environmental solutions across nations and cultures. Jessy Tolkan will speak about developing the links between justice and ecology in forging our evolved energy futures and Mallika Dutt will share how the media, arts and culture can be the locus of positive explorations and innovative solutions for sustainability. Gary Hirshberg rounds out the morning’s speakers with business models that restore natural order and resilience and support human options and dignity. There is a $5 entrance fee for the screenings.

After Breakfast with the Bioneers on Friday, enjoy lunch on your own before heading to the Women’s Community Building at 1:30 p.m. to join our sponsor, Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative, in welcoming Medard Gabel, long-time colleague of R. Buckminster Fuller, to play the Climate Change Game to explore the interdependent systems and policies that affect climate change on planet Earth.

In alignment with this year’s conference theme of personal and civic responsibility, discover what you would do if they put you in charge of slowing or stopping global warming. Is it really that difficult to get things done? Come find out – be a player in the Climate Change Game.

The Climate Change Game is a half-day event for all ages high school and older. It is a lively, fast-paced and fun multi-generational learning experience. In half-hour rounds, this role playing game may pit grandparents, parents and children against each other, as energy industry executives and global government representatives who try to make alliances for climate controls that would lead to greenhouse gas reductions within a few years.

Over the course of this role-playing game, many struggles are fought, won and lost. Can climate change come out the winner? With up to 150 playing this game together, the thrill is in creating alliances and moving forward toward greenhouse gas reductions – or holding the line to protect long-established government and business interests. Within each group the Status Quos must obey the game’s rules to resist arguments supporting greenhouse gas reductions, while the Change-Makers struggle to convince them, via deals and alliances, that change is in their best bottom-line interest. Who will prevail? Can reductions be negotiated? The clock is ticking! Come play! (Entrance fee is $10.)

Then, building on the excitement of the Climate Change Game, Friday evening’s events will move to Wildfire Lounge. From 5:30-7:30 the Sustainable Enterprise and Entrepreneur Network (SEEN) with Scott Hamilton will host a reception followed by a presentation by Ravi Walsh on the Paradigm Shift Behind the Triple Bottom Line. Learn how mindfulness and self-inquiry can lead us toward action in support of social, ecological, and financial success for our business and family, community and planet. ($5/SEEN members, $10/non-members)

After the SEEN event, stay for Friday’s salon, “Re-Imagining Water: An Evening of Water Wisdom and Art.” As the audience arrives they will hear selections of Lang Elliott’s latest natural soundscapes. Then, Mara Alper, award-winning media artist and Ithaca College professor, will present films, animations and interviews that are poetic and profound, with insights that can help us re-imagine our relationship with this essential resource. As part of the evening, Helena Cooper will screen her riveting close-up photographs of water. Each is a tribute to the colors and modes of water here in Ithaca- with unprocessed, natural images. Local musicians will also be on hand to lend ambient appreciation to the proceedings as the first evening of the 2009 We Make Our Future Conference winds down.

In next week’s Signs of Sustainability series, learn about Saturday and Sunday at the 2010 We Make Our Future Conference. For additional information about this year’s conference visit

Hilary Lambert, Nick Vaczek and Danielle Klock serve on the steering committee for the Finger Lakes Bioneers. Hilary Lambert as Watershed Stewardthe Cayuga Lake Watershed Network.

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