“Occasionally a conference can, by the strength of its vision, create a whole new context within which to understand an issue.”

~ Paul Hawken, author and social entrepreneur

2012 appears to be a record-breaking year.  Forest fires consumed 7.7 million acres of land, global temperatures increased 1.01°F, and the amount of carbon dioxide in the planet’s atmosphere climbed to 392 parts per million.  Despite these doomsday figures, leading voices in the worlds of sustainability and environmentalism will come together for Bioneers on Friday, October 19 – Sunday, October 21, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Telluride’s Wilkinson Public Library.  As one of the only free screening venues on the entire Western Slope, Bioneers offers everyone a chance to discover solutions for change.

Now in its 23rd year, this annual conference provides professionals in business, academia, non-profits, and government the opportunity to hear innovative plenaries designed to restore the people and the planet.  This year’s presenters and speakers include among others Annie Leonard, Bill McKibben, Sandra Steingraber, Paul Hawken, and Gabor Maté.

As the author of ‘The Story of Stuff’ and Director of ‘The Story of Stuff Project,’ Annie Leonard’s short film reached viral status when it took viewers on a provocative and eye-opening tour of the hidden costs of a consumer driven culture.  Today it has generated over 13 million online views around the world, and is one of the most successful environmental-themed films of all time.

Joining Leonard will be famed environmental activist, journalist, and founder, Bill McKibben.  His recent Rolling Stone magazine article entitled ‘Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math’ has become a viral phenomena as well, and he will deliver his Keynote presentation, ‘The Climate Fight Gets Hotter’ on Saturday morning.  A regular presenter at Telluride’s MountainFilm Festival, McKibben’s speech is sure to provide an important update on the state of the earth’s climate, and what his organization is doing to prevent a permanent shift in our climate’s temperatures.
Sandra Steingraber, who appeared at MountainFilm this year, will make a presentation on Sunday that addresses the public health threats of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to extract oil.  Later in the afternoon, the social entrepreneur Paul Hawken whose optimism about the future of the environmental movement has inspired hope in many generations of activist will give a lecture on regeneration.  As he famously wrote, “It has been said that environmentalism failed as a movement, or worse yet, died. It is the other way around. Everyone on earth will be an environmentalist in the not too distant future, driven there by necessity and experience.”

This year, the University Centers of the San Miguel (UCSM) will also offer graduate in-service credit for a class that will run in conjunction with the conference.  “Bioneers for Educators” will cover the basic vocabulary of sustainability and highlight every speaker that will be presenting during the plenary sessions. “Guides, teachers, librarians, and anyone who provides instruction to different audiences are invited to participate in this class, and learn some techniques for discussing these innovative solutions with others,” explains Robyn Wilson, Director of sustainability and College Studies for UCSM. To sign up for this class contact Robyn Wilson at 970-369-5255 or visit

For those traveling to Telluride, discounted lodging is available for the weekend. To reserve a room contact Scott Doser at or call (970) 728-4519 x 20.  To learn more about “Bioneers for Educators,” listen to my interview with Robyn Wilson.

One Response

  1. ann says:

    thanks this