Bioneers Pulse – updates from the Bioneers Community
Greetings fellow Bioneers!
This week’s newsletter is all about empowerment. Whether as individuals, groups or organizations, we all have the power to move the needle on big issues—we just have to find the necessary tools. Below, you’ll read about a movement whose primary foundational tool was social media, how one of the founders of Bioneers found her leadership voice through digging deep into her identity as a woman, where and how economics and social justice collide, and more. And don’t forget, early-bird tickets to the annual Bioneers Conference are still on sale at a great price.
The Big Question: #Progress
In 2013, a movement began online with a simple but powerful hashtag. That movement has since grown far beyond the internet, resulting in more than 30 local chapters throughout the U.S. and sparking notable protests (and counter-protests). Can you name the hashtag that started one of the most prominent domestic social movements of the 21st century? (Read to the bottom of this email to find the answer.)
“The next America is facing a significant crisis in terms of growing inequality. We’ve got a changing demography, and we’ve got growing inequality. We need to be able to address that issue. The way to address it is by combining projects, policy and power. The only thing that really moves public policy into being is power. And power, in fact, comes from social movements. Social movements are sustained groupings that develop a frame, a narrative, a story about where we need to head in the future, and begin to build a broad base that helps to create long-term transformations in power.”
Video to Watch: Labor, Immigration and the Environment
Maria Elena Durazo - 2006
On the heels of International Workers Day (May 1), Maria Elena Durazo, president of the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Union’s Local 11 and the first Latina woman to lead a major union in Southern California, tells the story of her work as National Director of the Immigrant Workers’ Freedom Ride.
This Week on Bioneers Radio
Shamans and Scientists: Changing the Landscape of Power: As we hurtle into the Sixth Age of Extinctions, we face the cataclysmic loss of half the world’s biological diversity. 80 percent of the remaining biodiversity is on Indigenous lands. Ethnobotanist and Indigenous rights advocate Mark Plotkin of the Amazon Conservation Team tells us how scientists are helping protect the people who will protect the land, and the age-old wisdom that’s imperative for our future.
Green-Collar Jobs: Laboring into the Next Economy: Labor leader César Chavez helped ban DDT. Truckers are helping address appalling asthma rates at the filthy port of Los Angeles. And inner-city clergy, not suburbanites, led the latest victory against the big-box WalMart stores sprawling over community open space. Unlikely allies? Environmental justice and labor leaders Manuel Pastor, Maria Elena Durazo and Rev. Alexia Salvatierra show us that in a truly sustainable economy, everybody is an environmentalist—and a healthy environment depends on economic justice.
Following is an excerpt about Simons’ progress toward conscious leadership through the foundation of Bioneers:
I began to see an insidious and largely invisible cultural legacy of devaluing or even demonizing those human characteristics relegated to the domain of the “feminine,” and elevating and institutionalizing those qualities associated with the “masculine.” I realized that it was not only women who have been systematically culturally devalued, but the “feminine” qualities within us all. This legacy of cultural bias has damaged everyone.
Fritjof Capra notes that the transition toward becoming an eco-literate society (one that understands how to live in balance with the natural world) requires a shift in emphasis from counting things to focusing on mapping relationships. Seen through my gender lens, this change in our priorities reflects a reintegration of the feminine back into our human wholeness.
As I explored this idea, it was striking to discover that, from a Jungian perspective, the feminine is associated with the inner, and the masculine with the external or outer. I began seeing twin pathways to help restore our cultural health—one of inspiring and equipping women toward greater leadership, and the other of elevating and restoring the qualities of the feminine within us all. I began to program panel discussions at Bioneers to explore a theme I called “Restoring the Feminine.”
When I investigated my own relationship to leadership, I noticed a disturbing incongruity. Although others saw me as an accomplished woman leader, having entrepreneurially helped to develop a national company and having cofounded an influential nonprofit, I did not see myself that way. Inwardly, I felt uncertain and deflected compliments so consistently that Kenny teased me for being Teflon. I began the inner work to find a way to align how others saw me and how I saw myself. I started seeing that the ways in which I undervalued my common sense and intuition, my relational intelligence and creative contributions, might have roots in a larger cultural story.
I knew that these innate gifts were essential for my work, but I saw them as lesser contributions than the rigorously fact-based, analytical and intellectual gifts of my husband and other male (as well as some female) colleagues. To grow into my own sense of purpose in the world, or my own potential, I realized I had to stop comparing myself to others. I practiced receiving compliments, really letting myself feel them, and began appreciating my own very different brand of eloquence. I forgave myself for not remembering facts and figures.
Reflecting inwardly, I realized that I had a deeply embedded belief that I was serving Kenny’s vision, and saw myself as the “woman behind the man.” When I encountered obstacles, I was quick to attribute them to a sexist system, or to inwardly blame his or others’ leadership style. Once I recognized the story I was telling myself and saw how self-limiting it was, I knew that I could shed that narrative and adopt a new one—one in which I became the generative actor in my own story. Though a small voice within me worried about being self-centered, my desire to serve the world’s healing helped me to shed it. I was elated, and I knew that I had found the keys to my own liberation.
#BlackLivesMatter was born out of an online conversation between three women Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi after the 2013 shooting death of Trayvon Martin by police officer George Zimmerman, who was later acquitted. While Garza, Cullors and Tometi are credited as the movement’s founders, #BlackLivesMatter has no official hierarchy or leader and has remained relevant, prominent and influential for five years. Bioneers is excited to welcome co-founder Patrisse Cullors as a keynote speaker at this year’s conference in October. Learn more here.
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