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Bioneer Days

By Leilani Clark

It's hard to deny that the earth is functioning well over capacity. Like an overworked horse, it's simply a matter of time before the global organism collapses. But events like the Bioneers Conference, taking place in Marin from Oct. 14-16, might be just the thing the population needs to grow inspired toward meaningful, effective change—instead of running the horse into the ground.

Founded in 1990 by Kenny Ausubel and partner Nina Simons, the attendance at this large gathering of social and scientific innovators has grown from approximately 250 to over 2,000 over the past 21 years, a testament to the increasing demand for scientific and holistic solutions to the world's pressing environmental and social problems. This year, the conference's keynote speakers include feminist activist and icon Gloria Steinem on Friday, and "myco-technologist" Paul Stamets on Saturday. The rest of the weekend includes over a hundred speakers, ranging from indigenous elders to sustainable food system activists, speaking and facilitating panels on a range of subjects, all centered around the Bioneers' founding perspectives: natural medicine, nature's solutions and bicultural diversity. In a welcome addition, women's leadership in clean-energy futures and in resilient communities receives particular emphasis in 2011, rounding out the panels on bio-mimicry, ecosystem restoration and indigenous knowledge. The clincher here is power in numbers. "Once people realize there are viable solutions, that dramatically leverages the pressure for change," Ausebel told the Bohemian last year. The Bioneers Conference runs Friday–Sunday, Oct. 14–16, at the Marin Center. 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael.

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