Bioneers Mast Head

News from Bioneers | March 20, 2012

In this Issue!
Preview of 2012 Bioneers Conference: "Emergence"
Big Wow Responses to Bioneers Media
Blessed Unrest or Blessed Unraveling? The NGO Blues
Cultivating Women's Leadership Intensives, June and August 2012

donate now

Help Bioneers change the mindscape through our innovative educational materials and media rooted in Ecological Literacy Education, Place-based Restoration and Communities of Leadership. We invite you to inspire a revolution from the heart of Nature and the human heart by investing in Bioneers with a gift today. Future generations are counting on us.



Micro Docs


23rd Annual Bioneers Conference

Friday - Sunday

October 19-21, 2012

Marin Center

San Rafael, California



Snail-Inspired Design Wins Biomimicry Student Design Challenge    


What can a desert snail teach us about reducing greenhouse gas emissions? Team BioArch from the Art Institute of Isfahan in Iran knows. They took the top honor in Biomimicry 3.8 Institute's third annual Biomimicry Student Design Challenge for designing a building that utilizes self-shading, surface reflection, and insulation to create a livable habitat rather than relying on air conditioning. The team will receive $5,000 for their first place design.   


"It has been a wonderful experience to see these young minds, informed and inspired by nature's multi-billion year-old textbook, bring their innate intelligence, creativity, and exuberance to this competition," said Peter Boyer, artist and design challenge judge.   


Click here for a slideshow of the top three designs, the 12 finalists, and all 50 proposals.



Bioneers is joining other major environmental organizations in partnering in the largest sustainability education/ engagement initiative ever -- the Spring of Sustainability, a project of Sustainable World Coalition and Shift Network.
Beginning March 26, 2012, the Spring of Sustainability will feature 100 leaders of sustainability -- from Jane Goodall to Bill McKibben to Van Jones to our very own Nina Simons and Kenny Ausubel --
in free interactive teleseminars throughout the spring. Live events will also be held in cities across the globe.
When you register for the Spring of Sustainability -- there is no charge -- a percentage of any products you decide to purchase from the series (such as downloads, transcripts and workbooks) is donated back to Bioneers. So it's a win-win-win: a win for the planet, for you, and for Bioneers.  
Kenny Ausubel will be featured in the teleseminar Breakdown to Breakthrough on Friday, April 6 from 12 noon to 12:30 pm Pacific Time. Nina Simons will be the guest in the teleseminar Full Spectrum Leadership on Friday, April 13 from 12 noon to 12:30 pm Pacific Time. 
Register for the Spring of Sustainability now!  All it takes is a first name and email address. And over the next three months, you can be on the phone with the biggest names in sustainability.


Social Venture Network is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, beginning with its 2012 Annual Member Gathering, April 19-22, 2012 just outside Portland, Oregon. Bioneers co-founders Nina Simons and Kenny Ausubel will be among the speakers. Other presenters include Jorge Calderon, Springworks; Chip Conley, Joie de Vivre; Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, Green for All; Laura Flanders, The Laura Flanders Show; and Amy Hartzler, Free Range Studios.


SVN is a community of the world's leading social entrepreneurs working together to create transformational innovation, growth and impact. Through its annual gathering this year, SVN seeks to bring together an influential and diverse network from around the world to explore, inspire and create ways to build a just and sustainable economy for the next 25 years.


As a thank you to Bioneers, SVN is offering a $200 discount to anyone who meets their membership guidelines and would like to attend their first SVN conference. Please use the code PARTNER-200 during check-out to receive this special offer. Click here for more information and to register.

Bioneers is seeking  

a new Marketing Manager  

to join our team!


Click here to find out more about the opportunity.


Registration for Beaming Bioneers is Now Open!


Do you want to bring Bioneers home to your organization, neighborhood, or university? Our Beaming Bioneers Program gives you the opportunity to screen the 2012 Bioneers keynote speakers publicly, either live, on delay, or at a later date. The program easily customizes to your specific ideal circumstance. Our goal is to support you in gathering the leaders within your community to share strategies and solutions. Head to our website to learn more about all of the Partner Benefits, including 'Best Practices' on outreach, community organizing, programming local speakers, and special discounts for educational institutions.

Bioneers is deeply grateful to the following sponsors.














Portfolio 21 

What People Are Saying

About Bioneers: 



Bioneers has reconnected me with a lost family member, the natural world. It's easy to inspire someone for a short time, but Bioneers has empowered me to make change wherever I go... I sincerely give my deepest appreciation to those who have contributed to this great awakening.   


Marc Thompson

Butte Community College, CA  



The training (Cultivating Women's Leadership) created a space where I, as a woman of color, felt valued and wanted to value others different than myself. This eco-equity vision is essential for the work of the environmental movement to become a universal reality.


Recent CWL Alumna 



Bioneers gave us a blueprint of what community can look like. We have been able to concretize and localize so much of what we have learned from Bioneers, such as Envision Spokane.


Jim Sheehan, Attorney

Founder, Center for Justice

Spokane, WA 


Our Fiscal Year
Ends March 31st.

Join the Bioneers
Support Community!

donate now

It's All Alive
It's All Connected
It's All Intelligent
It's All Relatives

Bioneers Swirl  


Preview of the 2012 Bioneers Conference: "Emergence"

We're in the thick of programming the 2012 conference, and over the next two months we will continue to announce some of the confirmed speakers and programs. Again, and ongoing with the conference, we're taking an action orientation with dynamic opportunities for you to get involved directly in initiatives, campaigns and other action steps.


Within the larger frame of "Breakdown to Breakthrough: Reimagining Civilization in the Age of Nature," this year's theme is "Emergence." The "movement of movements" that Bioneers reflects and embodies is indeed emerging in the world and in many cases entering the mainstream. Now we need to put our shoulders to the wheel to change the mindscape on ever-broader scales, and engage many more millions of people to begin creating the next world on the ground, while we also resist the escalating forces of destruction.


Our first six confirmed plenary speakers for 2012 are:


Mike Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, will describe how one of the biggest, oldest and most influential grassroots environmental groups in the nation is working to end coal in the U.S. within a decade, without question the most successful such work in the country. As the country's leading climatologist Dr. James Hansen has pointed out, stopping coal is a climate imperative, now. Powered by a recent $50 million grant from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Mike Brune is leading the Sierra Club's national campaign, which has already produced impressive results. There will also be a Campaign Connection on how you personally can help stop coal.


Bill McKibben, the renowned journalist, activist and author who co-founded
with a handful of student activists and helped make it the most exciting and effective global citizen movement to address climate change yet seen, will describe the group's campaigns, including stopping the Keystone XL pipeline for the most climate-wrecking "dirty" oil from Canada's Tar Sands. Against all odds, McKibben and halted what seemed like a sure thing -- at least for now. Bill's reporting helped expose the faulty review process by the State Department and the crony capitalism behind it. will also participate in a Campaign Connection to help you make a decisive difference.


Janine Benyus, the godmother of biomimicry, will return with the latest and greatest in this game-changing design science revolution of "innovation inspired by nature." Biomimicry is starting to have a significant impact on the design of more and more technologies and industrial processes at the highest levels, including very large companies and national governments. Janine has spoken at Bioneers since 1997 when her landmark book came out, and she remains the most eloquent voice carrying the vision and practical reality of how biomimicry can truly revolutionize the way we live, while conserving the genius and grandeur of the web of life.


Gabor Mat�, a celebrated Canadian doctor who specializes in the study and treatment of addiction and Attention Deficit Disorder, will draw crucial connections among the health of the mind, body and human communities. His landmark book In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts explores how our childhood experiences can program neurological and psychological mechanisms that can lead to addiction, abuse, ADHD and other disorders. Addressing them, he says, requires us to change our society so that it offers far better support to children and families. A pathfinder in mind-body medicine, Dr. Mat describes how "adverse childhood experiences" (ACEs) can be reversed and healed.


Ethan Nadelmann, the founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, is the leading figure in the U.S. and world to end the "War on Drugs." As the world comes to recognize that the Drug War is a bust, Ethan is at the forefront of developing and securing a sane drug policy that will address the injustices that disproportionately impact people of color and low-income communities, while saving huge amounts of money, redirecting law enforcement toward greater priorities, and curtailing environmental harms. A spellbinding speaker, he will present an overview of the emerging paradigm shift on drug policy across the political spectrum that has most recently gained the support of several Latin American national leaders and even the Christian evangelist Pat Robertson.


Gretchen Daily, Bing Professor of Environmental Science in the Department of Biology at Stanford and co-director of the Natural Capital Project (among many other affiliations), has devoted her illustrious career to aligning economic forces with conservation. An ecologist by training, she works globally with leaders to advance practical approaches to environmental challenges. Among her most important contributions is groundbreaking work on quantifying the production and value of ecosystem services across landscapes, and on new policy and finance mechanisms for integrating the values of natural capital into major decisions. Just as market forces power much of the biosphere's destruction, she shows how they can be transformed to produce virtuous cycles of restoration and jobs.


Stay tuned in the coming months as we highlight more exciting speakers and programs.


Big Wow Responses to Bioneers Media  


Since we released the "Dreaming Planet Earth Methods" booklet detailing how our Dreaming New Mexico project has mapped how to transform food and energy systems at the state level, we've received an overwhelming response and many comments such as "thrilling" and "amazing." In a matter of less than a week, you downloaded it over 2,000 times and visited the site well over 5,000 times! And it hasn't stopped. If you missed it the first time around, here's the link. We really want to know what you think. Please tell us at the Dreaming Planet Earth Facebook fan page, a place to connect, share your stories and provide feedback.


In another medium, our 2012 one-hour radio special, "Natural Magic: The Earth Hospitality Enterprise," has hit a record number of stations, over 130 and climbing. Among the most recent stations to pick it up is the gold-standard NPR affiliate KQED in San Francisco, with an estimated weekly cumulative listenership of 745,000. The show is about the "bio" in "Bioneers" and features an all-star cast including Paul Hawken, Janine Benyus, Amory Lovins, David Suzuki, Paul Stamets and others, including Bioneers founders Kenny Ausubel and Nina Simons. Please be our guests and listen to a free download of "Natural Magic: The Earth Hospitality Enterprise." 


The regular annual 13-part radio series, "Bioneers: Revolution From the Heart of Nature" keeps growing too, now on over 440 stations in the U.S. and in 12 other nations. The new series is in production now, and we'll share the exciting program later this spring.

Blessed Unrest or Blessed Unraveling? The NGO Blues

An Op-Ed by Kenny Ausubel  

I've got the NGO Blues.


In his landmark book "Blessed Unrest," Paul Hawken documented the global civil society "movement of movements" that he portrays as the biggest movement in the history of the world. Today the WiserEarth online community Paul founded has identified two million such civil society NGOs worldwide. For the past few decades, these kinds of groups have acted as the planet's primary engine of transformational social change, with government, business and academia still trailing far behind.


Over the past few years, an enormous number of nonprofit groups have gone out of business. Gone. The number continues to rise precipitously on almost a daily basis. Many foundations have cut their giving while government funds become even scarcer.


The next five or six years will be the most important in the history of human civilization -- perhaps our last real window to move from breakdown to breakthrough before runaway climate change takes hold along with countless other escalating ecological and social tipping points. The urgent quest is to redesign global civilization in accord with natural principles and justice for all peoples and the web of life.


In that light, it's nothing short of a tragedy to disinvest from the decisive power of civil society at this make-it-or-break-it moment. Civil society is a crucial force in shifting business, government and educational systems, which need to catch up very quickly. The stakes could hardly be higher.


Because Bioneers is at the hub of countless nonprofits and the movement of movements of "Blessed Unrest," we know first-hand that the reality on the ground is that, even before the Great Recession of 2008, most groups were running at their limits. Often they manage to survive and deliver the goods only because of the unstoppable dedication and commitment of a handful of impassioned activists or founders, who work endless hours and somehow manage to do whatever it takes to keep delivering the goods.


However, there really are limits. It's one thing to "do more with less" as some donors these days advise -- most nonprofits that we know live that way in the first place. It's another to do anything meaningful with not enough, or when you're running on fumes. There's a point of diminishing returns that lurches into a vicious cycle. The less you have, the less you can deliver. The less you deliver, the less funding you attract. The less funding, the more the pressure to operate like a sweatshop. When you're running on fumes -- well, extinction is clawing on your shoulder.


Nor is this a value judgment on the work of the countless groups going out of business or living on the edge. To the contrary, it means crucial work is not going to get done, and many will suffer from the loss. Often -- and unfairly -- it comes down to an existential "survival of the best fundraisers," not survival of great and vitally important work.


The domain of philanthropy is complex and, like everything else, undergoing basic structural changes today including many worthwhile innovations. But the current system exposes an underlying truth that in many ways philanthropy is expected to plug the gaps created by a diminishing public sector and the notable lack of societal reciprocity by the business sector. The hard-right "conservative" war against the public sector -- to "shrink the government till it's the size you can drown it in the bathtub" in Grover Norquist's immortal image -- is dismembering and privatizing the commons, while radically diminishing fundamental public goods such as a clean and healthy environment, social justice, economic opportunity, public health and the most basic elements of a social safety net. Meanwhile business takes far more than it gives back to society and the public good.


As a result, the demand on nonprofits and NGOs is escalating dramatically at the same time their funds are drying up. And ironically, in part because of the weak job market, many super-talented and well-trained people coming out of college and business schools would prefer to dedicate their talents to nonprofits -- who now can't afford to hire them.


Although fundamental structural changes in society are clearly necessary, in the immediate moment something's gotta give. Or someone!


In fact, the vast majority of U.S. philanthropy comes not from foundations or government, but from private individuals. About 94 percent of giving is by people like you and me -- the 99 percent.


We've got to arrest the downslide of funding for crucial nonprofit groups and work. It's going to take a diversity of approaches, but there's no question that you as an individual can make a critical difference. Support your favorite, most effective nonprofits to the absolute maximum you can.


People sometimes think their donations are too small to make a difference. It's not true, and there's power in numbers. Lots of small gifts can add up to a big difference.


Committing to give for multi-years also makes a big difference. It allows groups to plan for the future and keep delivering the goods with less stress and uncertainty.


Donate_red button Enlist all your friends and relatives and everyone you can to get involved. Tell them about the great groups you support and why you support them -- including, we hope, Bioneers!


By supporting Bioneers, you support an entire community of leadership. You bring direct and indirect benefits to thousands of leading change-makers -- from crucial knowledge, heightened funding and media exposure, to powerful collaborations and groundbreaking new initiatives.


While writing Blessed Unrest, Paul Hawken (who has been active in Bioneers since the early '90s) road-tested the material in two landmark plenaries at Bioneers that rocked the house. After all, Bioneers is the epitome of the global civil society movement of movements he was chronicling.


For over two decades, we've served as a fertile network of networks and movements and a richly diverse collective knowledge platform. We provide an amplifier for cutting-edge leaders, a hatchery for emerging leaders, and a crucial connection point for citizens to get engaged. Our media now reach millions with vital voices, many of whom would not be widely heard otherwise, including leaders from indigenous communities and communities of color, women and youth.


You have the power to keep Blessed Unrest from becoming a freefall of Blessed Unraveling. You can do it with joy, knowing you're investing in a future environment of hope that's truly within our grasp.


Paradoxically, in these hard times, this is precisely the moment to double down. Future generations are counting on us.


As Edward Lindsay said, "We think of a philanthropist as someone who donates big sums of money, yet the word literally means 'love of humankind.' All of us are capable of being philanthropists."


Connect, Learn, Strengthen Yourself


Cultivating Women's Leadership Intensives assemble women of diverse cultures, ages, perspectives and backgrounds to learn from and with each other. These 6-day residential retreats offer each woman an opportunity to:   

  • Clarify her unique assignment or sense of purpose
  • Connect deeply with other women across differences that often divide us
  • Investigate challenges with self-limiting stories and internalized oppression
  • Appreciate her own unique leadership gifts and talents amidst a remarkable community of peers


Testimonial from a participant:"You have made it possible for me to find the strength and courage, the tools and support to continue my work in and for the world. This has been a life-altering experience on the deepest level."


2012 Applications now being accepted

  • Sonoma, California, June 10-15, 2012, Westerbeke Ranch. Application Deadline Monday, April 23rd, 2012
  • Northern New Mexico, August 24-29, 2012, Ocamora Retreat Center. Application Deadline Friday, July 6th, 2012      

 Learn more about the intensives here. 


Register online or contact us at or 505-986-0366 ext.129 for more information.