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bioneer days

October 20, 2011

bioneers conference

When Scott and I first started going to these Bioneers conferences, they were amazing. They are still amazing! Always a positive outlook, while being totally realistic, Bioneers manages to gather together innovators who are on the front lines of change, thinking and working hard to better our world.

Innovation is not mainstream at first though, and takes a bit of time to catch on. In 2000, no one really cared about or knew what sustainability was, but the Bioneers were all about it. Now it’s become mainstream with mayors in chinese cities trying to outgreen each other.

Years ago a young guy named Paul Stamets spoke at Bioneers. He started talking about how oyster mushrooms detoxify piles of dirt contaminated with diesel fuel and produce edible mushrooms while they are doing it! Fast forward a bunch of years and that guy, who was given a grant by Bioneers to persue this groundbreaking work, now has an entire company called Fungi Perfecti which offers all kinds of mushrooms for health, home and garden, along with a selection of books, art and cultivation tools. His work with mycoremedition continues, with experiments cleaning up oil spills and ecoli contamination with oyster mushrooms, cancer research with turkey tail mushrooms, and nontoxic pest control, attracting termites, carpenter ants and other troublesome insects with mycelium. He told a moving story during this year’s conference, of his own mother, diagnosed with a terrible case of breast cancer, who participated in the turkey tail mushroom trial and is now cancer free. Let’s hope these trials continue.

He is also very excited these days about the LifeBox. It is a cardboard box, used for shipping, that has tree seeds and companion fungi embedded into it. When planted, the fungi pair with the seeds, enabling them to grow effectively. The seeds create a mixed forest of alder, birch and pines, and will grow anywhere isn the USA without becoming invasive. This is not just for fun but a decentralized solution to the CO2 problem. Planting these trees will enable more forests to grow, canceling out emissions that are causing climate change. You can even enter the location of your trees into a heritage tree database online so future generations can track your trees.

I’m a big fan of decentralization. If we decentralize tree planting, there will be plenty of trees. If we decentralize power production (like a few solar panels on every roof), we’ll have plenty. The internet is the perfect example of how well decentralization works. These are the kinds of thoughts that become stimulated at Bioneers. Everyone is innovating and tossing out their latest ideas and you just start thinking about solutions. And you start gaining in hope because so many people are leading the way, through activism, music, art, education, unions, nonprofits, businesses, inventions, ideas and more ideas!

This is really just a smidgen of the offerings at Bioneers. It’s a three day conference with hundreds of presenters. Like I said in the previous post, you can find something that relates to your current interests, be they water issues, union issues, education, art and design, media, biology, architecture, indigenous ways, food, farming, you name it. Even the attendees are really innovative people and are fun to talk with. And let’s not forget the youth program, and the indigenous peoples’ program, which adds so much to the conference.

If you can even go to one day (as I did this year) you will receive so much back that will carry you through the year with optimism and enthusiasm for your work with your own community. Make a note and connect with this magnificent group of people next year! I’ll see you there!

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