Saturday, December 22, 2018

Why We’re Moving into 2019 Full of Hope for the Future

Bioneers Pulse – updates from the Bioneers Community
Greetings fellow Bioneers! 
Though it’s easy to focus on the victories that remain just out of our reach and the challenges that seem too big to overcome, it’s just as important to reflect on our achievements. In the past year, we’ve seen numerous successes in the blocking of major oil pipelines and drilling operations on Native lands, exposed corrupt national and local leadership, and seen cities and countries commit to eliminating the use of fossil fuels. The Bioneers community—from Indigenous leaders, to politicians pushing forward progressive and just legislation, to those of you offering your time and support in the fight for justice and equality—is working toward victories like these year-round. In this week’s newsletter, Bioneers Co-Founders Nina Simons and Kenny Ausubel and Executive Director Joshua Fouts address some of the roadblocks we still face in moving toward a better future, and give us more than one reason to feel heartened as we continue fighting the good fight in 2019.

The Big Question: Waste Not

The natural world is incredibly good at cleaning up after itself. There are mushrooms feeding on the toxic radiation at Chernobyl, birds scavenging the remains of dead animals, and all manner of chemical-eating bacteria. But dangerous substances aren’t the focus of every natural cleanup crew: A dung beetle’s entire life revolves around lowly poop. These insects are incredibly sophisticated at gathering and transporting rather unconventional meals for their little beetle families. (Read Co-Founder Kenny Ausubel’s Bioneers 2018 keynote address for more on that.) While locating a feast isn’t usually too much of an issue—the beetles have excellent olfactory senses—getting it back to their families does require some navigation. Researchers have discovered that one variety of African dung beetle uses what for navigation to bring home the...bacon? (Read to the bottom of this email to find the answer.)

Wise Words

“Thirty years ago Ronald Reagan was president, the threat of an apocalyptic nuclear war seemed very real, a large swathe of the earth lived under the totalitarianism that got called Communism, which seemed like it might last centuries rather than another year… Anita Hill had yet to speak up and almost no one addressed sexual harassment … Same-sex marriage was virtually inconceivable to most people; the Lawrence vs. Texas ruling decriminalizing gay sex nationwide was fifteen years away; First peoples had been almost entirely erased in public discourse … and we got most of our energy from coal.”
—Rebecca Solnit, journalist and author. Bioneers Executive Director Joshua Fouts referenced this quote from Solnit during his Bioneers 2018 keynote address—read more about how Solnit's words inspired Fouts here.

Video to Watch: Roots and Branches

Bioneers Co-Founder Nina Simons, renowned for deeply intimate, poetic talks about how to find inner balance in the midst of our struggles to resist injustice and save the biosphere, explores here what trees can teach us about rootedness in community, embracing light and “branching out” effectively, even in the midst of challenging conditions. She describes how the long history of resilience of women and Indigenous and other oppressed peoples, including her Jewish ancestors, has helped her find perspective and fortitude, and how the extraordinarily dynamic women and youth-led movements that have been rising up these past few years are filling her with hope.

This Week on Bioneers Radio & Podcast

By around 2044, the U.S. will become a majority-minority nation. This seismic demographic shift has triggered a cultural earthquake, provoking a radical spike in hate crimes. In times of massive disruption and economic stress, what Carl Jung called the “shadow side of the psyche” comes into play: the pronounced psychological tendency in the collective psyche is to project these shadow qualities with unusual potency onto whomever people see as “the other.” But is there also a deeper story? Perhaps the question to ask is: Who benefits? In this half hour, we hear from Heather McGhee of Demos. She sees a direct connection between today’s extreme inequality and this peak moment of racial panic and white anxiety.
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Help Bioneers Continue This Important Work

Exciting news! An anonymous donor has offered to match all donations to Bioneers, dollar for dollar, up to $100,000 before the end of the year! We're 25% there! Support Bioneers now with Venmo or Paypal by giving to or click the button below:
Help Us Meet Our Match!

Pep Talk: Kenny Ausubel

Following is an excerpt from Bioneers Co-Founder Kenny Ausubel’s 2018 conference keynote address:
The Banana Republicans are pedal to the metal dragging us full-throttle into the abyss — right when time is of the essence to floor it in the opposite direction. The US republic is ostensibly based on the “consent of the governed.” I revoke my consent. How about you?
As Michelle Alexander wrote, “We are not the resistance. A new nation is being born. Trump is the one who’s fighting it. The regime is radically out of step with the ground truth of American culture and the arc of today’s diverse, interdependent world. They’re like the Japanese soldiers in World War II still fighting on an island who didn’t yet know the war was over. As Frederick Nietzche observed, “All great things must first wear terrifying and monstrous masks in order to inscribe themselves on the heart of humanity.”
As Naomi Klein sees it, “The reason the mask has fallen off, and we are now witnessing undisguised corporate rule is not because these corporations felt all-powerful: it’s because they were panicked. Our movements are starting to win. Rather than risk the possibility of further progress, after decades of privatizing the state in bits and pieces, they decided to just go for the government itself. It’s a corporate takeover.”
But make no mistake: Trump is just a babbling hood ornament on the Hummer of a plutocracy gone off-road. The 2008 financial crash outraged the public and stoked serious talk of nationalizing banks. It spawned the Occupy movement, the fight for $15, a surging fossil fuel divestment movement, and mass social movements all over the world committed to toppling political corruption, social injustices, and austerity schemes that further concentrate wealth and distribute poverty. The imperative now is to convert these movements into systemic change. Read more here.

Don’t Miss: Winter of Wellness

It can be difficult to know where to turn for trusted wellness resources—particularly when searching for practitioners who are experts in their fields and are able support you in achieving your individual wellness goals by addressing your unique needs. To learn how to take your health into your own hands, join Winter of Wellness, a FREE online event taking place from January 14-18. This unparalleled health, healing, and wellness series will feature talks from today’s top health experts. Bioneers co-founder Nina Simons will be one of more than a dozen featured speakers offering innovative solutions to your most pressing health concerns, from diet to mental clarity and focus. Interested in joining? Click here to RSVP now.

What We’re Tracking:

  • After the U.S. agencies recklessly violated their own rules regarding fracking on Native land, the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma mobilized to save their land and put a stop to the illegal activity. (Jessica A. Knoblauch via Earth Justice)
  • Scientists recently discovered an entire ecosystem thousands of meters below ground and teeming with microorganisms that’s nearly double the size of the Earth’s oceans. (Jonathan Watts via The Guardian)
  • Xcel Energy has committed to a goal of 100% clean, carbon-free energy by 2050, making it the first major utilities company to do so in the U.S. (David Roberts via Vox)
  • Rootstock Radio recently hosted Arty Mangan, Director of Bioneers' Restorative Food Systems Program, to discuss his early career, the work he's done with Bioneers over the past two decades, and how he sees carbon farming as an effective way to mitigate climate change. (via Rootstock Radio)

The Big Question, Answered: Waste Not

In order to transport its ball of dung home, the African dung beetle Scarabaeus satyrus navigates through the help of the Milky Way. Researchers confirmed this by placing tiny hats over the beetle’s eyes so they were no longer able to see the stars and the distant galaxy. This caused the insects to wander aimlessly around the field, unsure of where to go—similar to what would happen when the sky is overcast. Learn more about the fascinating dung beetle at ThoughtCo.
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