Sunday, October 30, 2016

What I learned at Bioneers 2016

This was my first time attending the Bioneers Conference. I really appreciated how this conference focused on solutions, connections, and healing people and our planet.

The performance I loved the most was a spoken word poem titled, “Being Human” by Climbing Poetree. I’m waiting for Bioneers to post it so in the mean time here it is from a previous year. I’ve also created images with parts of the poem on my Instagram so stay tuned!

On Sunday during the lunch break I was able to meet and hug Alixa and Naima. I thanked them for using their art to heal and reach out to connect more people to the Environmental Movement.


I was really excited to see one of the Youth Leadership Keynotes by Ryan Camero. He is from my hometown of Stockton and is working to protect the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta ecosystem.

Another favorite was, Creating An Equitable Environmental Movement, by Vien Troung, Director of Green for All. She shared her life story and how she was the first in her family to go to college and I loved when she said, “The purpose of my education was not to escape poverty, it was to learn how to end it.” She talked about the future of the movement too, saying, “We have to go beyond eco-elites to working together… it’s not about solar panels and bus passes it’s about transforming lives.” I have so much respect for Vien and was so happy to see and hear her speak.   


Latinas Leading Change for Climate Justice and Solutions
This was the first time I have seen an entire panel and topic dedicated to Latinas! The panel did a great job and in the Q&A I was happy to ask, “How can we promote Vegetarianism in our community?” They offered great answers including using social media. The moderator also shared with us at the beginning that "Latina" in South America has a very different meaning. It means that you identify with decedents from Europe rather than the indigenous.  So in the Q&A I was also happy to bring up Latinx. For me, Latinx, means that we are include members of our community who want to express themselves in the way they determine. And at the same time it recognizes the limitations of gender in language from the Spanish colonizers. 

Changing the Story: Media, Technology, and New Generational Waves of Storytelling
The biggest takeaway for me is that our youth really wants messaging that provides solutions to problems. They feel overwhelmed by the doom and gloom as well as hearing that they are going to inherit a world full of problems that they will have to solve.


Engaging Leadership: From Insight to Impact
We talked about leaders as healers participated in experiential exercises. I was excited to attend this event to learn and strengthen my own leadership skills.

Youth of Color Caucus
The theme for this workshop was to “learn our past, to grow our future.” To me that was my cue from the Universe to start including a story I have from a recent trip to Mexico in my presentations. We also talked about how our ancestors were the first stewards of the earth and they are counting on us to be innovators for the future. I was also super happy to meet one of the youth who inspires me, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, from Earth Guardians.

Networking | Educators for the Future
I love the work that I do and my team. I am so lucky to have a great mentor/boss that has created our program that has been awarded and recognized internationally in the environmental field. Many times when I am at events and talk about our program I’m reminded of the positive impact we are making. What I learned from others at this event is that it would be great to connect students to indigenous voices and actions to protect our planet. One person in the group said this would be a barrier because not all students can relate to indigenous communities and think of them as people who live without technology. I believe that every student has a tie to ancestors with rituals; educators can help students connect to this and if there are still no connections, look for ties where we live. Who lived here before us? Our water comes from Hetch Hetchy, how did we get that name?

Community Forum: Gender Equity and Reconciliation
At first I thought what does this have to do with the environment? As I went through the exercises I remembered that everything and everyone is connected. We bring our experiences everywhere all of the time. We had to ask ourselves how we could create a gender-balanced world. It was also made clear that gender was defined by how each individual wants to identify. This workshop was great, it provided a space for me to learn more about all the different ways gender impacts our lives and what we can do about it.

Throughout the three-day conference honoring Indigenous communities and our ancestors played a big role in how we can heal people and our planet. I was thrilled to see the diversity at this event and left feeling refueled. I also want to give a special shout out to a friend who gave me the free three-day pass to this event and hope to attend again in the future!