Bioneers 2016: Biomimicry Food Systems & Gender Equity

Biomimicry shows up in many aspects of modern life. Nature has over 3.8 billion years of proven designs to mimic! Image credit: Treehugger. Photo of train via wikipedia; photo of kingfisher via Len Blumin

For the Bioneers 2016 National Conference, we’re thrilled to announce two special programs around Biomimicry Food Systems and Gender Equity & Reconciliation.

2016 Biomimicry Global Design Challenge

We’re deeply honored to partner with the Biomimicry Institute and Ray C. Anderson Foundation to host the final presentation of the inaugural $100,000 Ray of Hope Prize for the winner of the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge focused on Food Systems! The challenge? Design teams from around the planet are working on projects that “show how modeling nature can provide viable solutions to reduce hunger and address industry challenges, while creating conditions conducive to all life.”

As the Biomimicry Institute explains:

“Healthy ecosystems are models of abundance, resilience, and fertility. Nature’s gardens feed hundreds of billions of organisms across the globe every day, without the need for miles of irrigation pipe, pesticide applicator licenses, refrigerated trucks, and imported fertilizers. Nature processes waste on site, and uses that waste to fuel fertility. Instead of harming or limiting biodiversity, nature’s food production techniques support conditions that enhance biodiversity. And even as they produce an abundance of food, most ecosystems sequester carbon rather than contribute to our global atmospheric carbon load as most conventional agricultural techniques do. Nature has an abundance of lessons to offer us with regard to our food system.”

Now there’s a model to emulate!

Join us at the 2016 Bioneers Conference to meet the brilliant innovators who are finalists for this competition. Find out which of the amazing eight global teams, including one high-school team, will garner the $100,000 prize.

We can’t wait to see what happens when the Bioneers community engages with all the finalists and their projects!

Biomimicry a Core Concept for Bioneers

For us, this event has extra-special meaning. Biomimicry was a core inspiration for founding Bioneers in 1990. Then in 1997, Janine Benyus, the brilliant naturalist and writer who coined the term “biomimicry,” wrote to Bioneers with a conference speaking proposal just when her landmark book was coming out.* Even though the program was already fully booked, we couldn’t say no!

The rest is history, and perhaps no single individual has been more primary to the practical spreading and scaling of Biomimicry. Janine and her organization, the Biomimicry Institute, have spent nearly two decades working with scientists, business leaders, designers, architects and citizens of all stripes to push biomimetic solutions into the mainstream. It has been our great honor to partner with Janine and the Institute for nearly 20 years, leading to this breakthrough event in 2016! Thank you!

Stay tuned here for updates, stories and information about the Biomimicry and Food Systems program throughout 2016.

Gender Equity & Reconciliation: A Game-Changing Breakthrough

We’re also wildly excited about the major program on Gender Equity & Reconciliation with Gender Reconciliation International’s Will Keepin and Cynthia Brix. I referenced their stunning work in my 2015 opening talk at Bioneers because I believe it’s one of the truly game-changing breakthroughs afoot today.

Cynthia Brix and Will Keepin of Gender Equity

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury and death for women worldwide between the ages of 15 and 44, a third of all women. As the authors of the remarkable book Sex and World Peace document, “The physical security of women is strongly associated with the peacefulness of the state.”

States with higher levels of gender equality are less likely to rely on military force to settle international disputes – to threaten, display or use force – or go to war once engaged in an intrastate dispute. They’re also less likely to experience domestic conflict.

As the authors show, “States that have improved the status of women are as a rule healthier, wealthier, less corrupt, more democratic, and more powerful on the world stage in the early 21st century.”

The authors conclude: “The primary challenge of the 21st century is to eliminate violence against women and remove the barriers to the development of their strength and creativity and voice. Establishing gender equality in interpersonal relationships, in homes, in the workplace, and in decision-making bodies at all levels will change states and their behaviors, and in turn will bring prosperity and peace to the world.”

Connecting Racial & Gender Reconciliation in South Africa

To address this profound gender wound, Will Keepin and Cynthia Brix developed a process called Gender Equity & Reconciliation. It applies the principles of “truth and reconciliation” from South Africa’s post-Apartheid era to gender relations. They create a unique forum for women and men to come together safely to speak truth to their experience and seek healing. Gender Equity work originated within the environmental movement, recognizing a direct parallel between exploitation of the feminine and exploitation of the Earth.

South Africa has the world’s worst rate of violence against women and girls. Will and Cynthia were invited there by the deputy minister of health to work with members of Parliament and senior government and NGO leaders. Their methodology has been endorsed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his daughter Mpho Tutu, who says that “racial reconciliation will never be completed without gender reconciliation.”

At the end of the workshop, the men made this statement:
[quote] “The bonds of humanity have been broken. We acknowledge that we have shared in the unfair and unjust advantage that has upset the Creator’s intended balance of human relationships for love, companionship, and cooperation. We further acknowledge that we have been complicit in breaking the intended dream of equality. So now we come forward to you to say we are sorry. We affirm that we want to start anew, and we ask you to accept our offer to take responsibility as we commit ourselves to live out and challenge and support all men everywhere to live and work for gender equality, and thereby seek reconciliation.”
[/quote] “The women were profoundly moved,” recalls Cynthia. “Most women report a greater trust of men, and deep gratitude to discover true male collaborators in fostering gender equity.”

Will adds that, “What men discover is that the greatest male privilege is to participate in the deconstruction of the patriarchy.”

Cynthia Brix dancing SA

Take Action: Special 2016 Opportunities

Will and Cynthia will share a joint keynote and produce a one-day post-conference intensive that’s a deep dive into the work, which is profound and profoundly transformational.

And here’s a special call to action. Will and Cynthia are expanding the work by launching a special “train the trainers” training beginning in April at Ghost Ranch Center in New Mexico. Their remarkable multi-cultural training team includes leading South African trainers. If you are a facilitator or coach, or if you are inspired professionally to learn and spread the practices of Gender Equity, please contact Cynthia and Will at to learn more and sign up. Some scholarships are available.

And by the way, we’re designing multiple other exciting 2016 Bioneers Conference programs closely related to Biomimicry and Gender Equity – plus lots more. Stay tuned for updates in 2016…

Be sure to sign up for the 2016 conference, and at this winter solstice time of reflection and kindness, be sure to support our Youth Scholarships to bring even more inspired youth in 2016. Can you imagine the influence these programs will have on young people? Wow, I wish I had been exposed to this genius and these breakthroughs when I was young!

With love and gratitude –

Kenny Ausubel

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