Bioneers 2019 Day 1: Grief, Love, and the Power of Independent Media

Action Items: Turn Inspiration Into Real Change

The first day of the 2019 Bioneers Conference was immediately transformative. The morning’s powerful, emotional keynote addresses carried us into an afternoon filled with ideas and solutions that can guide us into the coming year.

“We are eroding together. We are evolving together,” said author Terry Tempest Williams in her keynote address. “This is the place we create from. With love, with courage, in grief, and with anger.”

Following are some of the ideas and takeaways Bioneers introduced.


Lessons and Takeaways:

Allow your grief to teach you: Nina Simons told us the story of her mother’s passing, saying, “The impermanence of life is much realer to me now. Death’s nearness makes living shinier, more crystalline, full moons are fuller, foxes more breathtaking, laughter and wildness and freedom more precious. Read the full text of Nina’s speech here.

Take a pass on the labels that polarize us: Professor of Environmental Studies & Politics at Oberlin College David Orr pointed out how the labels we adopt (democrat, republican) have a tendency to make us blind to collaborative opportunities.

Listen to the Earth: Writer Terry Tempest Williams told us how Utah’s Castletown Tower vibrates like a heartbeat. “How do we find the strength to not look away from all that is breaking our hearts? Hands on the Earth, we remember the source of where our power comes from.” (Find an excerpt from Terry’s latest book, Erosion, here.)

Acknowledge your sacredness and the sacredness of those around you: “Remember anyone you deal with has a lineage,” said co-founder and director of the Sacred Circles Center Jerry Tello. “We must call to our lineage, recognize that when you hurt, I hurt, and when you heal, I heal. We must take the opportunity to bless each other.”

Write an apology letter to yourself, from your abusers: Writer Eve Ensler described the relief she felt in writing The Apology (read an excerpt here), which was an imagined letter to her from her abusive father. “I don’t believe that the mandate is ever on the victim to forgive,” she said. “But I do believe there is an alchemy that is achieved with a true apology. That your hate and your anger release when somebody truly apologizes.”

If you have a platform that can benefit somebody else, give it away: The incredible panelists in the “Grief, Sacred Rage, Reckoning & Revolutionary Love” afternoon session discussed the importance of uplifting others as a tool to combat rage and hopelessness.

Tell stories focused on actual human need: In the Green New Deal afternoon roundtable, Paul Hawken shared how stories about existential threats, such as climate change, don’t mobilize people; stories about concrete needs and actions do. (More on that here.)

Support initiatives and candidates trying to get big money out of politics: Several speakers point to this step as one of the biggest moves we can make to carry out several important initiatives.

Campaigns to Follow or Support:

Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition (supporting a need raised by Terry Tempest Williams).

Mission: “To assure that the Bears Ears area will be managed forever with the greatest environmental sensitivity…where we can be among our ancestors…where we can connect with the land and be healed.”

Sacred Circles Center (introduced by Jerry Tello).

Mission: “The Sacred Circles Center is a place for people to gather to find and affirm their ‘purpose in life,’ ​to release their baggage, and to heal their wounds.”

Institute for Nonprofit News (introduced by Monika Bauerlein).

Mission: “To provide education and business support services to our nonprofit member organizations and promote the value and benefit of public-service and investigative journalism.”

News Match (introduced by Marcia Parker).

Mission: “NewsMatch is a national campaign to encourage grassroots support for nonprofit news organizations.”

The Revolutionary Love Project (introduced by Valarie Kaur).

Mission: “We produce stories, tools, curricula, conferences, films, TV moments, and mass mobilizations that equip and inspire people to practice the ethic of love. Our current projects focus on racism, nationalism, and hate against Sikh, Muslim, Arab, and South Asian American communities.”


For Conference Attendees:

Events like Bioneers often have changes up to the last minute. It’s a dynamic process and we’ll keep this page updated throughout the weekend. Most of these changes are reflected in the online program but we are presenting them here for reference.

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