Bioneers 2020 Day 3: The Power of Small Acts

In the third day of the Bioneers 2020 Conference, speakers and panelists discussed the power of individuals to create widespread change, and the intensification of that power through bridging divides.

“What I advocate for is that we begin with short bridges, and at the same time we pay attention to structure and culture,” said Director of the Othering and Belonging Institute john a. powell. “We engage in a practice that centers our body, centers our mind, centers our heart. But we also recognize that we’re a part of the world. It’s an iterative process. It’s not one before the other. We do both at the same time.”

Following are some of the ideas and takeaways Bioneers introduced at Conference Day 3.


Lessons, in Their Own Words:

  • “Make no mistake, above all, what COVID is unveiling is a sneak preview of what climate chaos is going to unleash. Climate resilience is about to become the central organizing principle of everyone’s lives.” -Kenny Ausubel; CEO & Co-Founder | Bioneers
  • “We can build the resilience to stay awake and engaged in the great work of remaking our lives and world through an infinite procession of itsy, bitsy small actions and efforts, because the power of small is much bigger than you think. But we have to believe, and we have to invest, and we have to keep leaning in.” -Trathen Heckman; Founder and Director | Daily Acts Organization
  • “When we say a feminist climate renaissance, it doesn’t mean get out of the way, women are in charge of everything now; it means that we need to embrace these stereotypically feminine characteristics as part of how we lead ourselves out of this absolute morass that we’re currently in.” -Ayana Elizabeth Johnson; CEO and Founder | Ocean Collectiv
  • “Paying an undocumented person half the value of their work, extracting all you can get from them to take care of your homes and families, and then deporting them is an American math story gone wrong.” -Alejandro Fuentes-Mena; Motus Theater
  • “It’s not enough to just say ‘I’m a good person. I don’t see hierarchy. I don’t see differences.’ Those differences are real. We can’t just sit in ourselves. We can’t just engage in internal work to fix these problems. These problems are inside and outside. …Bridging doesn’t mean we agree with someone. It’s predicated on seeing each other. It’s predicated on being present. It’s predicated on listening. It’s predicated on compassion, which means to suffer together.” -john a. Powell; Director | Othering and Belonging Institute
  • “I think that if we neglect the mental health aspects of organizing and activism and climate anxiety, and all of the stuff that comes with trying to fight against the end of the world, then we’re going to have an entire generation of very burnt out, very cynical people.” -Jamie Margolin; Founder | Zero Hour
  • “We have to get much more adept at understanding how policy works and how it shapes the systems we’re in. To do that, we’ll have to build a system of support across views in our society. There are places of common ground in this.” -Brett KenCairn; Senior Policy Advisor for Climate and Resilience | Boulder, Colorado
  • “American consciousness has been holding on to this ideal of the mystical Indian, and that’s been very convenient. They aren’t looking at all the things that make us complex because that requires questioning a lot of the story of the foundation of this country.” -Tommy Orange; Author | There There

Campaigns to Follow & Support:

  • Reclaim the power of your every daily action to create a regenerative, resilient and just world. Daily Acts is a holistic education nonprofit that takes a heart-centered approach to inspiring transformative actions that create connected, equitable, and climate resilient communities. (Mentioned by Trathen Heckman in his keynote presentation, The Power of Small for Big Transformations)
  • Historically, popular literature written by non-Natives has misrepresented the stories and lives of Indigenous Peoples. Decolonize your bookshelf by reading and sharing the literary works of Indigenous authors. Here’s a good place to start. (Mentioned in the panel The Power of Words: Indigenous Writers Workshop)
  • Support data that makes a difference. Data for Progress is a multidisciplinary group of experts using state-of-the-art techniques in data science to support progressive activists and causes. (Mentioned by Julian Brave NoiseCat in the panel The New Deals We Need Now: Green, Red and Blue)
  • Uplift organizations making a difference in the lives of Indigenous young people. The American Indian Child Resource Center is an American Indian led, American Indian serving community service organization focusing on American Indian foster care, mental health, education & cultural protective factors. (Mentioned by Manny Lieras in the panel The Power of Words: Indigenous Writers Workshop)
  • Center the voices of diverse youth in the conversation around climate and environmental justice with Zero Hour. (Mentioned by Jamie Margolin in her keynote address, Burnout and Balance: Finding an Identity Outside Of Your Activism)


The Upside of the Downside

“The best way to predict the future is to create it. That’s what we’re here to do. All power to the imagination.”

Read Bioneers CEO & Co-Founder Kenny Ausubel’s Conference Day 3 opening remarks here.

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