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Nature revolution 

An upcoming Bioneers conference brings inspiration and innovation to the community

click to enlarge LOOKING FORWARD :  California Valley’s Stacey Hunt is the local organizer for the upcoming Bioneers conference. - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • LOOKING FORWARD : California Valley’s Stacey Hunt is the local organizer for the upcoming Bioneers conference.
“Revolution from the heart of nature” is the slogan of Bioneers, a nonprofit that Kenny Ausubel founded in the ’90s to describe the culture of emerging social and scientific innovators. Providing a social hub for education about environmental solutions, the Bioneers hold numerous annual conferences, one of which will be in San Luis Obispo this year—at Cal Poly Oct. 15 through 17.

An opportunity to meet people doing progressive, unique, and radical work for a healthier world, the conference is a confluence of lectures, music, local food, events, and workshops.

A pre-conference field trip on Friday afternoon includes a visit to the Botanical Gardens. A tour of Oak Glen Pavilion, led by designers Ken Haggard and Polly Cooper, will include details of the design and construction of this green, passive solar building.

Stacey Hunt, CEO of local nonprofit Ecologistics, which contracted with Bioneers to create the SLO site, emphasized, “We are trying to create a balance by showcasing both the work people are doing locally and outside work.”

There will be 18 workshops over the course of the weekend. Among some of the local speakers is Tynes Viar. His lecture, “Sustainable Vocations: Greening a New Generation for Job Opportunities and Meaningful Change,” focuses on the importance of training youth for green jobs. Other locals include Kim Pasciuto, executive director of the Central Coast Ag Network; and Cal Poly physics professor Pete Schwartz.

Visionaries and activists from all over the country are presenting. One highlight is Eric Gordon, a professor at Emerson College in Boston, who tries to increase peoples’ democratic participation through the use of virtual games like Second Life. North Carolina farmer Tim Will discusses the decentralization of the food system and a turn toward small farms in order to transform the rural economy. Lorene Wapotich, founder of an empowering nonprofit to connect girls with nature—called Her Feet on the Earth—and Mary Sweeney will present on “Girls, Nature, and Rites of Passage.”

A moving image festival on Saturday night will showcase a number of movies. Bike Happening is a short film that includes police interviews and documents this “organized coincidence” of a monthly ride with excellent footage of costumed people on their bikes. The touching story of Sven Husby’s investigation into the world’s oceans, A Sea Change, focuses on rising acidity levels in oceans and impacts on fish. Director Barbara Ettinger and Husby will remain for a Q&A after the showing.

“Some people feel such hopelessness about our world,” Hunt said. “They throw up their hands and expect the government and corporations to do something. The conference is about what we can do about it and what we want to bring to this community. It’s a chance to meet people who are active, give us hope, and inspire us to make personal changes.”There are free events, too, over the course of the weekend. Laughter Yoga with Bob Banner is bright and early on Sunday morning. The class combines laughter and yoga exercises and exploits the fact that your body can’t differentiate between fake and real laughter. Dance the night away to the Central Coast-based instrumental surf/rock/blues dance band, the Dentures.

For a full list of speakers, events, and workshops, and to register for this collaboration of positive minds, visit Separate Friday, Saturday, and Sunday tickets are available, as are full conference passes.

Fast Facts

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. According to the Department of Justice, approximately 4.8 million intimate partner rapes and physical assaults against American women occur every year. The North County Women’s Shelter intends to share these stories during the month and promote public awareness and education on domestic violence. A fundraiser dinner at McPhee’s Grill on Sunday, Oct. 24, features a four-course meal by Chef Ian McPhee and local wines. Cost is $65 per person. For more information, call 461-1338.

Support the care, feeding, and adoption efforts of the Homeless Animal Rescue Team. The fundraiser takes place on Oct. 9 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Taste wines from Harmony Cellars, enjoy delicious appetizers, and participate in a local business raffle. Cost is $15 a ticket. Come to HART, 1500 Main St., in Cambria. Call 927-7377 for more info.

San Luis Obispo-area Rite Aid stores can now vaccinate against whooping cough. Pertussis is a very contagious bacterial infection that can cause sickness and death. The California Public Department of Health suggests that all patients 7 years and older who lack full immunity should be vaccinated. Shots are available at Rite Aid by appointment or walk-in. For more information, visit

Intern Alycia Kiley can be reached via Executive Editor Ryan Miller at

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