• Bioneers Day 3: Not as a God, but as a God Might Be*

    On the third day (a wonderfully wet Sunday Morning), the Lafayette Bookstore (the bookstore at the conference) graciously let me sign books. One might think a 100-person line at a signing would be impossible for a new author like me, but in fact it actually happened! The catch was that the line was made up of early birds waiting for Jane Goodall.


    Oddly, it wasn’t at all surreal to have one of the environmental movement’s founding mothers scheduled to sign books right after me. All of us in the movement seem to be doing the best we can do given our lots and talents. Sure, she’s borderline godhead, but so are YOU! (And she’d probably be the first to admit this.) Plus, when all was said and done, I noticed stacks of Goodall books that were NOT purchased, whereas we came a mere two books shy of selling out of Harvest the Rain!


    *from “Sunday Morning” by Wallace Stevens

  • Bioneers Day 2.1: Green Jobs? Toxicologists Wanted. (The Sad Tales & Real Promise of a Green Scientist)

    A longtime Polaroid employee addressing thousands of cutting-edge environmentalists? Sounds like a concoction for conflict, but it turned out to be a fabulously successful experiment yesterday. John Warner told his story about becoming the founding father of Green Chemistry with one part optimism, two parts tale of innocent death, three parts useful information, and four parts humor (ranging from deadpan to verbalized slapstick).


    While taking Chem101 merely to fulfill a college requirement, Warner stumbled into extra-credit research because he suddenly found hours of  time on his hands. The drummer of his busy rock band (which he said, “sounded a lot like The Cars—but with better lyrics”) died of Leukemia, and Warner needed something to do. Warner said he would have probably held on to his preconceived notion that science is boring and uncreative if it were not for the death of his friend.


    Years later, a more terrible sadness would overcome him. While vaguely pondering his life and his career and his awards and his success at bringing “green chemistry” to industry, he looked up at the ceiling during his two year-old son’s funeral and wondered if something he had touched, some chemical, had caused the birth defect that killed his child.


    Mourning the fact that he had never taken any toxicology during all of his years as a chemist, he added an important fact: “Not one college chemistry program in this country requires a course in toxicology.” Fortunately, the chemistry landscape is changing, he said, as more and more young people come in with a desire to use chemistry for sustainable purposes. “You’re no longer laughed at for talking about sustainability,” he said. The industry is slowly turning its focus to green chemistry not only due to societal and market pressures, but also because mimicking nature (as opposed to creating materials that combat nature) tends to work better than the industry previously expected.


    Warner’s tale is terribly sad, but his message is ultimately a very entertaining one—filled with a keepable promise to help us save civilization from itself using biomimicry, green chemistry, and intellectual ecology.

  • Bioneers Day 2: Walkin’ the Walk to a Lipkis Talk

    Woke up this morning and found two flat tires on the bike I’m borrowing for the conference. The tires had been losing air slowly, but after last night’s goat head attack, the situation was grim. I pumped up the tires got dressed, shaved, called the family, responded to some emails, loaded my computer, bike pump, and books into my back pack, and strapped on my helmet. When I grabbed the bike, I immediately discovered that both tires were miserably soft.


    Fortunately, my spirit deflated only for a brief  moment, as I immediately realized I could easily walk to the conference. If John Francis (one of yesterday’s speakers) could walk for 22 years of his life, I could take the half-hour walk from the Sheraton. And I would still make it with plenty of time to catch Andy Lipkis’s incredibly inspiring talk about how he and his colleagues have greened Los Angeles over the last 40 years--turning the city into an ecological example for other major metropolitan areas around the world.


    Thanks Andy for you awesome work and for the wonderful blurb that you gave to my book. Here’s what he said about Harvest the Rain over a year before publication:


    “This book will not only make you a true believer in the regenerative power of harvesting rain—it will show you how. Harvest the Rain  is full of practical solutions to our water shortages and points the way to a climate-resilient future. If we want thriving landscapes, abundant food, strong communities, and sustainable economies, we should start by treasuring rain.”


    Yes, indeed!

  • Bioneers Day 1.1: YERT Provides Hope and Humor

    After chowing a few-too-many organic sandwich-cookies found on a plate on a table in the media room, I strolled over to the “Leading-Edge Climate Initiative” panel featuring David Orr and four other power-grid whizzes. The biggest threats we face are not technical. It seems they center around our lack of cultural and political will. Meanwhile, the Clinton-era media consolidation, the costs associated with Bush’s Wars, and the Robert’s pro-corporate court all make a difficult situation worse.


    For the next few hours, it was hard for me to imagine the critical mass of people necessary for a meaningful revolution, but by the end of the night, it was pretty easy again. I had the honor of introducing a new film called YERT and then emceeing the Q and A with two of the three filmmaker-costars. YERT, which stands for Your Environmental Road Trip, will be complete early next year, and I (who rarely recommends you watch anything on a screen) highly recommend it. It’s funny, heart-wrenching, and very inspiring. In fact, I haven’t seen an audience as jazzed about a movie in 33.3 years. (Do you remember where you were when Luke first blew up the Death Star? I do!)


    Seeing my friend Larry Littlebird get the penultimate quote in the screening was a blast, too. Larry’s presence meant that even though the movie-watching experience was completely entertaining, it was also grounded in the spiritual aspects of the movement, the indigenous, regenerative, and extremely powerful part of human nature that will someday thrive in the detritus of composted tea bags.


    Can we human persons organize now before it gets much worse? If enough people got to see YERT, it sure would help. Picture a spontaneous and joke-filled “Inconvenient Truth.” This might be just what our culture needs now. Check our www.yert.com for more info.

  • Bioneers Day 1: An Ultratransformative Conference!

    I must have been about seven years old when my Gramma Adams got together with some friends and they stopped the construction of an interstate highway that would have run across the west side of Connecticut, through Massachusetts, and all the way up to Burlington, Vermont and beyond. The death of the Super 7 project was a great political victory, and I think I’ve been an avid and positively focused environmentalist ever since.


    Having evolved from being a mere environmentalist into a practicing permaculturalist-cyclist-activist-water-harvester-in-the-desert, I have to say that I was not expecting the Bioneers conference to be extremely transformative. But within a couple of hours of the three-day conference here in San Rafael, California, it certainly had been more than merely transformative! In fact if there is a word for “ultratransformative,” I’d like to use it.


    I was especially moved by Alec Loorz, a 16-year-old activist who is taking climate degradation very seriously. His organization is called Kids vs Global Warming, and his “I Matter March” is scheduled for Mothers’ Day, this May, 2011. Be There!


The final frontier.

These are the musings of an engaging enterprise.
Its thirty-year mission:

To create a greener planet.

To seek a better life in our lumbering civilization, and

to slowly go where we are all are headed anyway.


Is an unproven system for generating wide-spread sustainability.

it asks for 10 minutes a day for a year. At the end of the year, it asks for 10 more.

So in the second year, you spend just 20 minutes a day, in the third year, 30 minutes.

If you keep up this pattern, 27 years later you spend over 4 hours per day being extremely green.

Share Here!
Describe your attempts At a sustainable life.