Switzer Fellows Lead at Bioneers and Beyond

Switzer Fellows Lead at Bioneers and Beyond

In October of this year I was fortunate to attend Bioneers in San Raphael, CA. While we know that Bioneers is a mecca for progressive leaders in sustainability, the sciences and design, I found the integration of practical solutions, the arts and a spiritual dimension to our connection with the natural world a very unusual convergence in a conference setting. Its popularity has led to lower carbon footprint opportunities to hear the many talks through streamed conference sites around the country, which also have their own programs and events, such as the Marion Institute in New Bedford, MA.

A special treat for me was connecting with several Fellows as presenters and participants. Healy Hamilton (1991) presented her work on biodiversity, climate change and wildlife corridors. This was an apt launch for Healy as she heads for DC to become the Chief Scientist at NatureServe.

Melissa Nelson (1996), Professor of American Indian Studies at San Francisco State University and President of the Cultural Conservancy is a board member of Bioneers and co-leader of the Indigenous Forum at Bioneers, which brings Native American issues and speakers to the event. She and Switzer Fellow Susannah McCandless (2004) of Global Diversity Foundation through a Switzer Network Innovation Grant, led an indigenous leaders workshop just prior to Bioneers, called the North American Community Environmental Leadership Exchange (NACELE). This workshop brought together 20 indigenous leaders from California, the southwest and Canada to share stories and strategies for restoring native lands and the cultural practices tied with those lands and communities. Each of the leaders told of their struggles and experiences trying to bridge cultures, political systems and economic systems to achieve restoration of the environment and for members of the human and non-human communities. Workshop participants then presented their observations and lessons learned from their own and shared experiences at the Indigenous Forum at Bioneers.

It was great to see so many friends, including Noa Lincoln (2012), Ray Costantino (2003), Elizabeth Soderstrom (1993), and family member and former trustee of the Foundation Mark Switzer.  It was also great to learn about such fascinating topics from Biomimicry to living buildings, and to hear our dear friend Annie Leonard talk about the Story of Solutions. We are indeed in an age when we need to tie our efforts together more harmoniously, to tap our creativity and strength and use our skills and hearts to make a better world. We are accomplishing much, but there is so much more to do.

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