Change gonna come. That much is for sure. The big wheels are turning and the burning question is what that change is going to look like. In truth, it’s up to all of us to create the future we want, which is a constant though-line at Bioneers.
Although the National Bioneers Conference is a big tent and a forum that presents diverse viewpoints, we hold progressive values that include social and racial justice, democracy, equity and freedom. Those values and voices infuse the program this year with some of the most visionary and practical approaches on the horizon – and in the trenches right now.
And be forewarned: Although some of our speakers are well-known, our stock-in-trade is “the greatest people you’ve never heard of.” So be prepared for happy surprises and discoveries.
Danny Glover will inspire us with a keynote call to action to reclaim our citizenship and make the world we want. Danny is best known as a world-renowned actor and director, yet he ought to be equally famous for his lifelong progressive activism. Over the decades, Danny has been at the visionary forefront of the progressive struggles for social and racial justice, unions and worker rights, farm worker rights, the anti-Apartheid movement, and resistance against the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Danny will also join the Mother Jones panel on Media Mojo for Social Change, with filmmakers Katie Galloway and Gay Dillingham.
Our old friend and exceptional youth leader Billy Parish will deliver an electrifying keynote about his work with Solar Mosaic, one of the breakthrough companies disrupting the energy sector. It’s promoting “100% Clean Energy For and By The People” with a model of distributed energy AND distributed ownership for small investors – like $25! This leading young change-maker-turned-entrepreneur is showing how, in this generation, we can shift from fossil fuels to a world 100% powered by clean energy in ways that make all of us richer, healthier and happier. Billy will participate on a top-flight panel about Disruptive Financing Innovations for Distributed Energy and Sustainability with Rabobank Vice-President and renewables financing master Marco Krapels, and Angelina Galiteva who is at the forefront of the rapidly spreading 100% Renewables movement.
The Indigenous Environmental Network Executive Director Tom Goldtooth’s keynote on Stopping the Privatization of Nature and Commodification of Mother Earth will raise the voices of indigenous peoples who are asking the world to reevaluate our relationship to Mother Earth, turn away from destroying, privatizing and commodifying nature, and tturn instead to indigenous wisdom with "indigenuity." Tom will highlight the Idle No More movement sweeping Canada and helping stop the Mordor of Tar Sands. Tom will participate in other sessions in the Indigenous Forum, which he helps organize (see the Indigenous Forum program).
Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, the exceptional leader of Green For All and its national work creating green jobs for underserved communities, will dive deep into Motherhood and Leadership: how the experience of becoming a mother has created a deepened personal sense of urgency in her work to create a healthier and more just planet. Phaedra will join the panel on Building the Movement for a New Economy featuring Bob Massie of the brand-new national New Economy Coalition of 40 groups, and David Levine of the American Sustainable Business Council, which is emerging as a countervailing force of small and medium-sized businesses to Beltway Big Business lobbies. It may blow your mind to learn how fast and far this movement is growing.
The lifelong change-maker, Buddhist scholar and peace, justice and ecology activist Joanna Macy will share the essence of her wisdom about what it takes to be fully present in holding both the light and the dark of these cathartic times. We will present Joanna, now 84 years old, with a Lifetime Contribution Award.
And that’s just some of the morning keynotes. Each afternoon you can choose from multiple diverse breakouts, and every year we get anguished complaints from participants who can’t decide which amazing session(s) to attend. We take that as a compliment, but it is a dilemma. You’re on your own.
We have several first-rate sessions on Eco-Nomics and the burst of creative responses building Capitalism 2.0. “Redesigning the Corporation and Its Supply Chain for Social and Environmental Values” will present a provocative dialogue about the Rainforest Alliance’s work with major corporations, in this instance Chiquita and Unilever, to “mainstream” sustainability. New York Times dot.earth blog editor Andy Revkin will host this inside view of the fundamental shift in big companies toward true ecological sustainability.
“Entrepreneurship: Mission-Driven Companies” features some of the most exciting smaller companies founded by visionary innovators, including the founders of Café Gratitude, Nutiva and Mary’s Gone Crackers (a Bioneers sponsor) who will tell the truth about what it takes to align money and mission. Which is, it ain’t easy but it’s worth it.
Huge thanks to our friends at Worldwatch Institute (State of the World masters) for putting together an exceptional concept and group for “Moving from Sustainababble to True Sustainability (or Getting Ready for the Collapse If We Can’t).” We need to go beyond “sustainability” and put our thumb on the scale to tip it to radical restoration. Joining Worldwatch’s illustrious Robert Engelman and Erik Assadourian will be Oberlin’s powerhouse David W. Orr and media innovator and “Story of Stuff” producer Annie Leonard.
The role of women in this great transformation is also center stage each afternoon. “Women as Democracy Builders: Reclaiming Our Commons from Corporate Power” will illustrate why and how women are so often at the center of democracy movements, with esteemed participants Anna Lappé, Lynne Twist, Leila Salazar-Lopez and Kelle Louaillier.
We’ll have hot-off-the-presses report from the front lines of the brand-new movement around “Mobilizing Women for Climate Solutions,” whose September 2013 founding meeting you can learn about first at Bioneers – and engage with right then and there. Presented by Women's Earth and Climate Caucus and International Women's Earth and Climate Initiative, key leaders recently returned from the Women's Earth and Climate Summit will share how you can get involved in the growing global women's movement for sane climate and sustainability policies.
The iconic leader Betsy Taylor will address “A Hero's Quest: Tapping Our Courage and Unleashing Our Ingenuity to Meet the Climate Threat,” sharing cutting-edge knowledge on developing a shared story and effective narrative for talking to sympathetic but un-engaged citizens about joining the struggle for a bright, clean energy future?
Racial justice is front and center in multiple programs related to “Beloved Community” and equity. Organized and hosted by our esteemed colleague Connie Cagampang Heller who collaborates with john powell and UC Berkley’s Hass Center for a Fair and Inclusive Society. “Beloved Community: An Invitation” will be an emergent conversation including john powell about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s powerful vision of “Beloved Community,” in which all people share in the wealth of the Earth, and where love and trust triumph over fear and hatred. “Giving Power: Exploring “Situatedness” and Power” probes what makes it difficult for us to embrace our own power and build collective power.
We’re deeply honored to present work you never otherwise hear about to restore Detroit, with huge props to our Beaming Bioneers community partner Gloria Rivera who helped put it together. “Resist, Restore, Re-imagine: Greening Detroit with Resilience” features Three leading Detroit grassroots activists show how Detroit is being revitalized by local action that integrates social justice with environmental restoration. Then “Building Community Resilience from Detroit to Japan” widens the frame with compelling visions for creating community resilience and social healing, including in post-Fukishima Japan. The seasoned organizers include Caroline Stayton of Transition US, Desa Van Laarhoven of Bioneers By the Bay in New Bedford, and Bob Stilger who works in Japan.
We’re also deeply honored to present “Fukishima: A Blueprint for Action” with key players seeking to catalyze an international response and new approaches to this cartastrophe-in-progress. Huge thanks to our old friend and the world-renowned artist Mayumi Oda for sharing this potentially game-changing emergent strategy to cut through the corruption, denial and inertia to catalyze an international emergency response and changing the terms of engagement.
And HOW will this Great Transformation come about?? We’re thrilled to have Joanna Macy and Richard Tarnas take on that question with the idea of “The Role of ‘Heroic’ Learning Communities in the Postmodern Era.” In a time of such critical and rapid historical change, what is the role and cultural significance of "heroic" learning communities, like Bioneers, consciously oriented toward a framework of values, or a vision of the good, which in some manner fundamentally challenges that of the larger mainstream society?
Good luck choosing… and be forewarned: If you want to be sure of getting into the afternoon sessions, get there early — or at least on time! They fill up fast and space is limited. No kidding.
by Cara Romero – Program Director, Indigenous Knowledge
What is Bioneers Indigenous forum?
The Indigenous Forum is a sovereign space dedicated to indigenous programming at the annual Bioneers Conference in San Rafael, California. Native leaders are invited to the Indigenous Forum to offer the world uniquely valuable indigenous perspectives promoting biocultural diversity conservation, the protection of Native lands, indigenous human rights and the leadership of indigenous peoples. It is designed to include in-depth discussions on the most pressing issues facing indigenous communities locally and globally, and includes exchanges concerning policy, reform and best practices in native arts, environmental issues, and cultural preservation by leaders from diverse Native backgrounds.
Why is Bioneers indigenous forum unique?
The Indigenous Forum (by design) promotes indigenous leaders from diverse backgrounds and campaigns by creating a cultural bridge and public education outlet. These exchanges among tribal elders and distinguished tribal speakers bring critical awareness to First Peoples' issues while giving depth and acknowledgement to the tribes that make up California and indigenous communities from around the globe. The Forum offers a Native-led sanctuary for networking and self representation of indigenous peoples amidst a multi-cultural and multi-generational audience. The educational outreach between cultures is Native advised and honors the intellectual property and cultural privacy of Native Peoples while creating an invitational format to bridge indigenous knowledge and First People's leaders and global allies.
What does the Indigenous forum offer youth?
This year, we’ve raised enough funds to transport and give all-inclusive registration passes to over 50 Native youth mainly from California. We would like to generously thank our partners in funding, The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and Southern California Edison.
We are trying to foster new leaders by creating opportunities for Native Youth to participate in, network at, and be empowered by attending the annual Bioneers Conference. We work with inner city tribal organizations and the school district's Indian Ed. Dept. to bring Native youth grades 6-12 (and beyond) to the conference that would otherwise not be able to attend. We also work with university Native Studies programs and tribal colleges and universities.
The Bioneers Conference and Indigenous Forum is a unique and inspirational educational opportunity for indigenous youth. It is my philosophy that by pairing indigenous youth with cultural mentors, they will be inspired to stay in school and become cultural, environmental and social justice leaders in Indian Country. I echo Gloria Steinem on women’s leadership–, "if you can't see it, you can't be it”. The Indigenous Forum is a place where our youth can "see", meet and network with powerful and engaging Native leaders. This year, we’ve got three different workshops and panels geared for the youth:
- Sunday, October 20th 1:30-2:30 p.m. (bring your lunch and listen…)Indigenous Forum. Technology to Transform: Building a Youth Driven Climate Justice Movement: Antwi Akom, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Environmental Sociology, Public Health, and STEM Education at San Francisco State University and is CoFounder and Executive Director of the Institute for Sustainable Economic, Educational, and Environmental Design (I-SEEED)discusses what the modern world can learn from the indigenous world to combat climate change through the use of technology. The emergence of new technologies is changing society, the way we live, the way we work, the way we play, the way we communicate and do business—and the way we learn. Professor Akom discusses his work building a youth-driven climate justice movement and applying youth-driven technological innovations at the grassroots level as a way to overcoming some of the world’s most pressing social problems. He specifically works to integrate technology in a way that will deepen cohesion between diverse environmental, educational, and workforce development groups by equipping leaders with proven tools for cultivating community, healing divisions and developing joint movement building strategies. Overall Professor Akom strives to build an ecosystem of “solutionists”. He believes that through innovative economic, educational, environmental design, and cutting edge technology, we can create just and sustainable communities for all.
- Saturday, October 19th 4:30pm-6:00pm. Indigenous Forum. Guardians of the Water: Native Youth Speak Out on Arts, Media, and Cultural Health. With: Nicola Wagenberg (Colombian), Vice-President and Youth Director for the Guardians of the Waters Youth program of The Cultural Conservancy (TCC); Valarie Ordoñez Perez (Salvadorian/Mexican), artist, activist, and Youth Coordinator for the Guardians of the Waters Youth program at TCC; Mateo Hinojosa (Bolivian-American), documentary filmmaker and educator, media director and teacher at TCC. Through a Cultural Conservancy Summer Internship funded by the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation and others, a group of indigenous youth has made canoe paddles and a tule boat, learned about local water systems, and engaged in other creative activities and dialogue around health, identity, and canoe traditions. Native youth will discuss their experiences and see the media they created.
- Sunday, October 20th 4:30-6:00 p.m. Indigenous Forum. Youth and Indigenous Leader Talking Circle. Hosted by Cara Romero (Chemehuevi), Director of Bioneers Indigeneity Program.
California Indian educators have expressed that it is very important for indigenous youth (especially K-12) to be able to attend the Indigenous Forum because it is rare that they are able to see leaders in the world that they can closely identify with. Together we are creating exposure to educational experiences that are native focused and hope they may help to keep native youth engaged and inspired in continuing their education.
Dekila Chungyalpa is the Program Director for the World Wildlife Fund’s Sacred Earth Program. Recognizing that many of the world’s most important conservation areas are also sacred sites, the program works with religious leaders and faith communities to protect local natural resources. She is also the ecological advisor to His Holiness the 17th Karmapa. Recently Dekila joined fellow BioCon presenter and Alaskan Native elder Ilarion Merculieff to discuss growing up in a culture that revered Mother Earth, bringing the sacred into modern environmentalism and what it means to be a real human being.
Dekila: I'm honestly really happy to be speaking with you. There are very few leaders I know, especially male leaders, who are talking about feminine energy being powerful, and who actually prize it as oppose to devaluing it. So I 'm very happy to speak with you.
Illarion: Me too. Why don’t you tell me a bit about your background?
Dekila: I grew up in the Himalayas, and I came to the US when I was about 15, and I've off and on stayed in the US, studied here, worked here, but tried my best to keep my connections to my home region.
Ilarion: I'm from St. Paul Island in the middle of the Bering Sea off of Alaska. My people have been out in the Bering Sea for about 10,000 years. When I was a child, I had a traditional upbringing where I learned about being a real human being, as we call it. And a real human being is a person who is connected to the infinite present moment and is also able to suspend thought and be in the heart. So, I had a very good, privileged upbringing that way.
Dekila: I think one of the biggest difficulties for me coming here was the emphasis on individualism. On one hand it was incredibly empowering, but it was also at the same time very isolating, and it's something I've really struggled with for a long time. Over the years as I was getting more involved in managing programs, I started to realize that the isolation is so much bigger than the personal. Actually we're experiencing it at a societal level.
Illarion: I still deal with that issue of individualism compared to a group orientation, but I retain that baseline of a group orientation. I believe that many indigenous groups around the world have that same thing, which is care and consideration of the whole group, and its relationship to each other and Mother Earth.
Dekila: I've been starting to delve into the academic field of eco-psychology, and part of it is very obvious because it's so embedded, I think, in indigenous knowledge and cultures, and also in a lot of religions, which is this idea that our concept of self is actually much larger than our body. It's not contained in our body, and it encompasses nature and it encompasses the earth and the universe.
One of the things I'm trying to figure out is how do we bring this kind of thinking into our work while we are trying to save the planet, because we do emphasize the science so much. It means that we end up being disconnected ourselves to a certain extent, because it is difficult to talk about things like sacred energy, or to talk about things like sacred places.
Ilarion: Well, yes. Even the science that we depend on is disconnected, and the elders here, they say that when we disconnect from our hearts, it's easy then to disconnect from other people and all of creation.
What we need to do according to our elders is get to the root causes of the situation we find ourselves in, which is pushing the life support systems of Mother Earth right to the edge. And we're dealing with a consciousness that works with the symptoms and not the root cause, which I think is separation from the heart that is in connection with all-that-is. And so, the elders here would say we've reversed everything, we've reversed the laws for living. We used to teach how to live, and now we teach how to make a living. And we used to contemplate the mystery of death, and now we contemplate the mystery of life. It's all these reversals. The person from our culture who retains the original teachings is called a real human being, and a real human being is informed about how to act in a way that is in harmony with all-that-is.
Dekila: I did conservation in what I think of as the more traditional way. I worked on all these projects for communities, and all these projects on sustainability and large-scale sustainable development, all of these things, and just gradually I started to get quite discouraged and started to get extremely angry and feel helpless.
When we started this work with His Holiness the Karmapa, he called me and said he wanted his monks and nuns- over 200 monasteries have him as their leader- to be trained in some sort of environmental management. And I went into it very much thinking this was a personal project, that this was something I was doing as a Buddhist. It never occurred to me that this was actually the biggest part of the environmental work I could be doing. And by the time we finished developing environmental guidelines for all the monasteries, I was so transformed. I had hope and it had been such a long time since I had had hope. I felt this reconnection. I could stop pretending that I wasn't connected to the world, and I could stop pretending that what was happening to the world wasn't deeply affecting me. Because I entered it through the spiritual lens, it allowed me to be connected, to feel compassion, to feel gratitude, and all of these positive things that somehow I just bundled away in my professional world.
Ilarion: That's what we call the real human being. A person who is connected in that way is a real human being.
Dekila: I think I became a real human being maybe five years ago.
Ilarion: There are many aspects to the real human being, but I think it's something that everyone is, it's just covered up a lot and we don't know it. Einstein said that we can't solve the problems in the world with the same consciousness that created the problems. And when we look at the solutions that are being brought to bear on things like climate change and other environmental issues, we're using that old consciousness of separation, and that's why I think things are not improving, they're getting worse.
Dekila: The two things I often hear that I really struggle with a response to is, one, okay, so the earth is getting much worse, but the earth will survive. We may not survive, and this is part of evolution, so why should I care; why should I do anything because part of evolution is that we will either evolve or we will die off. It's such a passive-aggressive response, really, but I hear this quite often. And, of course, the other part is that simply what's happening to the earth is irrelevant because there's money to be made. Both of them are such different challenges. And really it comes down to a lot of fear.
Ilarion: From our perspective, we think about the beginning of time. When time began was when we slipped out of the present moment because of guilt and shame, remorse or anger, rage. That puts us in the past, or fear puts us in the future, but never here in the present moment where the point of power is.
I learned this when I was 6 years old. I used to go under the cliffs to watch the migratory sea birds because I was so fascinated with them. And then one day, in my child's mind I looked at them and was awed by the fact that not a single bird—there would be thousands of birds there in front of the cliffs flying around in every direction, in apparent chaos, and I would notice that the birds never even clipped a wing. They wouldn't even hit each other. And I wondered how they did that. I decided that birds don't think; they are just present in the moment. That's when I said I wanna be like a bird. I just want to be like a bird. And it came naturally as a child.
The hunters would take me up hunting, starting at 5 years old. We would hunt by sunrise at the edge of the island. The men would be soft spoken; they wouldn't talk that much. They were always totally present watching for the sea lions to come by. And then somebody might holler out “sea lion coming,” and without him pointing or anything, instantly the men would look at one spot in the water. And it's like 180 degrees of water around the island there where we were hunting, and they would look at one spot. And so I'd look at that spot and there would be no sea lion, but they still would watch that spot. And then about a few minutes later, the sea lion would pop up, and I thought, Wow, that's magical, just magical.
I made a connection between the sea birds and these hunters, and when I started getting good at being a bird, I used it with going out hunting. And by 6 years old, I could feel the sea lion before it came. And I used that for subsistence fishing where we'd fish for halibut, and I could sense the halibut before it hit the line.
The best hunters were people who had this connection, which is considered in a negative way as feminine, but absolutely the best hunters would have these feminine qualities of receptivity, of relationship, being connected to each other and all of creation.
Dekila: What you described sounds so similar to meditation, too, the state you're in where you're one with everything. One of the experiences I had that was really quite influential was I met a Christian scholar whose name is Sallie McFague, and she was talking about how in the Medieval times and during the Renaissance period, there were all these thinkers who talked about how the essence of experiencing God was to give up the self. This is a theme that's very strong in Buddhism, and it's something that my mother and grandmother both would make me do all the time—make me sit down and then say, "Okay, now give up yourself." And I would be struggling with sitting down and very annoyed I'm not out there playing.
My mother used to say all the time to me, "Move yourself out of the way, just put it on the side." It's been one of the most beautiful experiences in my life actually, when I've been lucky enough to be able to do that because then what's happened is I've suddenly found the pattern. You actually have to actively make that decision to say, “I'm parking my ego; I'm parking my identity; I'm parking all the things I want, I think, I have, all of that on one side." And then the world that really opens up for me is the world of patterns, and it's been the larger patterns about where we are as a species, where we are with the world, where our thinking is, whether our thinking has evolved or not. And the patterns that dominate the world, those are actually the least sustaining patterns. Those are patterns that have actually cut our relationships with each other, cut our relationships with the earth, all the things that actually give us resilience.
And finding community and trying to build community around the world, I think, is really why I learned about Bioneers, why I'm at Bioneers now. It seems to me that that's the only hope, really, is that we find people who are learning or looking at the patterns and protecting the patterns.
Ilarion: I believe, too, that that's true. And we need to find and be part of the thing that we know as community. I mean, I grew up in real community where the entire village raised me. I couldn't go out the door without encountering adults.
Dekila: The big danger I see is anger among my peers, among my friends, all of us who are actually working on protecting the earth. It's so easy to become negative and to be discouraged or to really feel the sense of rage on behalf of the earth or of the species you care about or of the river that you're working on. I find it very difficult to talk about climate change calmly. So there has to be a way we sustain our own selves while we're in this fight.
I think that's one of the reasons why indigenous knowledge is so important, and why native cultures are so important, because the anger that we have often isolates us even further from the people who we think of as the perpetrators, or who we think of as sort of the bad people, the people who are doing all the bad things, and we stop being able to see them as just part of our family [even though] we have to figure out how to knock some sense into them.
Ilarion: I think anger is just one of the factors of separation. They are frustrated because they don't know what to do.
The elders here say, "What are you choosing to focus on? Are you choosing to focus on that which you're trying to move away from? Or are you choosing to focus on what you're trying to move towards?" Because if you focus on what you're trying to move away from, that becomes the reality.
Dekila: Also what occurs to me after what you just said is, everything is so instant. The process of making a deliberate choice is very rare. And one of the things I asked when we created this program at WWF was, what is it that we deliberately want to contribute to the world? And when we sat down very clearly the strongest message was that we want everybody to recognize how sacred the earth is and just how amazing all of the ecological processes are, how giving the earth is, how everything that happens is happening on this earth. We act like we're actually completely existing on a different planet and the earth just happens to be there.
It took us almost three years before we decided we would launch a program at WWF. I was allowed to take that much time to figure out what this should look like and how honorable that should be. It really gave respect, I think, to the thought leaders as well who were involved in the program.
Ilarion: We always say when spirit and intent are in alignment, followed by vision, the rest is taken care of. It sounds like WWF, through hiring you, is engaged in the right direction.
Dekila: You know, where I come from in Sikkim, our mountain, the Kanchenjunga, it's actually a living deity. Growing up, we understood that actually the mountain is real and has a spirit, and that is our protective deity and our protective spirit.
When I moved away and started studying in the Western system, and I was really studying a lot of science at one point, I had this thought that, 'Oh, I see, that was a cultural belief. 'The disconnect was instant. It was instant disconnect, and I think I stopped being able to hear nature, and I stopped being able to see the patterns of all of the interconnectedness.
So many people have said that they thought the place that they were hiking in or where they grew up was sacred and was spiritually really healing and important. But somehow it's something that we bury, and we're, I think, ashamed of.
Ilarion: As soon as we slip into thought as the primary driving force, we separate. And when we go to school, we are trained to read books and listen to the teacher, but never given the room to experience thinking for yourself, and that's, I think, a key to that.
Dekila: When I was young we spent a lot of time in forest areas. And my grandmother, if I got very upset, she would send me to the nearby meadow and then say come back in a little while. Or go pick pumpkins, go look for chestnuts or something like that. Of course, I left extremely sulky and upset, thinking that this is a chore that I have to do, but what actually she did was train my mind. I learned that when you're upset, you find your peace in nature and you give yourself up. You observe your part in nature. And it really gives you perspective about whatever it is you're upset about, and then you can let that go without there also having to be a big process of: "I'm so sorry I did this," or "I was angry, now I'm not angry." None of that. You just let it go very naturally and it slips away, and then you come back, and it's as though it never was.
Ilarion: We always say that in order to tune into the environment or creation, we have to be at the pace of creation; that is, slow down. And we take little time to slow down in this society. We're just rapidly going faster and faster, and our technologies are faster, when the opposite paradigm needs to apply. I think when you slow down and you pay attention to your surroundings you start to settle into yourself and be closer to your heart, and then you just watch and listen and learn. Because creation is constantly teaching us about what we are. And we're the only species that doesn't know its niche, its natural place. We're the only species.
Dekila: It's true. We're so full of ourselves.
Ilarion: I think about when we slipped out of present moment. The pendulum had swung from feminine imbalance to masculine imbalance and back, and the last shift was 4,000 to 6,000 years ago when it slipped into the masculine imbalance. The world's spiritual leaders knew that this time was coming, and so they decided to hide the teachings, which are born of the feminine, because they knew that goddess cultures, women healers, women themselves, and Mother Earth-based cultures, and Mother Earth were going to be smashed, and we're still in that swing of the pendulum.
Originally, the teachings around the world were based on a common template, reflected differently only because of culture and language and the ground from which you come. So, there have been elders from all over the world that have gathered, and have gathered for the last 10, 15 years—I don't know how long—sharing their piece of the teachings. Eventually, it is said, that the hoop will become whole again.
Dekila: That's fantastic. That's really moving because that gives us hope.
Ilarion: I think we need to have more faith. And that faith is unquestioned trust in ourselves, our hearts, our connection to all that is, and faith especially in all-that-is, the higher consciousness, or God, if you will. That is a kind of faith that in the Christian religion Jesus was talking about.
Dekila: I wonder if it is when our religious leaders and our thought leaders come together that we find that all along we've been speaking the same language, we've just not used the same words.
And that's really interesting to me also because what I see is that there is such a commonality right now among different religions and faith communities on the issue of environment and the responsibility they feel. This is something that people are coming together on. So, I completely understand the idea of a hoop being completed again because I think for a long time it's been all these different pieces, and all of a sudden what we see is that this is a pattern and it's emerged.
Ilarion: We often think about what should we do now, and what we should do now, I think, is probably two-fold. One is first focus on getting into your heart, being present in the moment. And then secondly, do what your heart tells you to do. But in the ultimate way of being, letting go of yourself and your ego.
Dekila: This is why conferences like Bioneers make so much sense to me because we formally have to create these spaces. I'm just so grateful that there is this dialogue, and so happy that the conservation community is finally in dialogue with state leaders, with thought leaders, and traditional elders.
Ilarion: It's happening everywhere, and I think it's a silent revolution. It's not hit the radar yet of the mainstream, which is probably good because if they did find out now that this is happening, then there would be the detractors who would try to take it apart.
Have faith and be positive, and think present.
Dekila: It's been really nice talking with you. I really look forward to meeting you in October.
Ilarion: Okay. I'll look forward to meeting you.
Moonrise seemed like such a good program name at first. It resonated with our anthology book, featuring inspiring stories from over 30 diverse women leaders. It referred to women’s leadership and the ‘feminine,’ but in a poetic way that didn’t carry all the baggage or single-issue pigeonholing often associated with the word ‘feminine.’ Over time however, I realized that our name was obscuring our work from public view, and defeating our own purposes: internet searches by people seeking women’s leadership weren’t finding us! So, now… announcing… ta daaa, our new program name: Full Spectrum & Everywoman’s Leadership.
Full Spectrum because we each have an array of aspects within us to draw from, including masculine and feminine, right brain and left, body – heart – mind and spirit; and today’s leadership calls us all to bring our fullest capacities to bear, regardless of our temporary gender assignment. Full Spectrum, because the collective movement to transform how we live on Earth and with each other will be led, I believe, by women (and men) of all colors, ages, disciplines, orientations and ethnicities. Full Spectrum because diversity is so much more than political correctness; it is essential to our work as progressive change-makers.
And Everywoman’s Leadership? I believe we’re all called to be leaders now, that we’re collectively reinventing leadership, and that leadership has as many different expressions as we are people.
Our program purpose is to connect and strengthen the leadership of women who are diverse in every way to effect progressive environmental, social and cultural change while reclaiming the value of the feminine within us at every level — individually, organizationally and culturally.
We’re still doing leading-edge work, with multiple approaches that include: transformative residential 6-day trainings for groups of women leaders, co-facilitated by terrific teams; media creation and distribution that spreads breakthrough ideas and models of women leading from the feminine across an array of disciplines, ethnicities and ages; public outreach through interviews, speaking engagements and our website; and networking that helps connect the dots across fields, places and approaches; and a small re-granting fund.
This year’s conference features a stunning array of Everywoman-related programming, which I am super jazzed about. These are subjects that I’m not seeing anyone else covering, which are utterly timely and relevant. While everyone from Sheryl Sandberg to the Harvard Business School is exploring how to narrow the gender gap and improve gender equity, few are exploring multi-cultural dimensions of re-envisioning gender, and how to heal the rifts within our selves as well as among each other. I’m psyched that Bioneers tackles these issues in positive, creative and enlivening ways. Check it out here, I hope we’ll see you there!