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Caspar Hosts First Community Bioneers
Caspar Hosts First Community Bioneers
special to the Ukiah Daily Journal
by Michael Potts
Scarcely 150 miles north of the sold-out thirteenth annual Bioneers conference in San Rafael, a hardy gathering of pioneers held the first-ever Community Remote Bioneers in Caspar last weekend. In the spirit of the conference theme, "Revolution from the Heart of Nature," Caspar's conferees watched morning satellite broadcasts, including Fritjof Capra, noted physicist and environmentalist observed that a 2.7 mile per gallon improvement in U. S. passenger fleet fuel efficiency would eliminate a need for Persian Gulf petroleum. "The stone age didn't end because they ran out of stones," Capra quipped. "The Petroleum Age will end because we find better ways to get things done."
One grateful coastal resident noted that she saved a tankful of gas as well as the wear and tear of a city trip. "I want to thank Bioneers for bringing this important conference to Mendocino County," said Mike Dell'Ara, president of the Caspar Community. "Next year we will make sure more people can take part in these important conversations."
Many county residents were fascinated by John Todd's Friday presentation of naturally based sewage treatment methods being used to clean up polluted ponds in New England and canals in crowded Chinese cities. Todd explained, "In nature, waste equals food. We went to the eel grass community, one of the most productive communities on the planet, and asked, 'What do we need to know about treating waste?' The answers were surprisingly simple." Showing slides of successful bio-remediation projects on three continents, Todd quipped, "I sometimes feel like a little mammal at the end of the dinosaur age, scurrying around creating a new world without the behemoths even knowing."After Todd's session, one coastal resident, noting the absence of Mendocino County's Public Health establishment, famous far and wide for its inflexible opposition to innovative sewage treatment techniques, said "Next year, let's hope stop saying 'No' long enough to come here and learn something new."
On Saturday, following Capra's address, conferees in Caspar heard Jeannette Armstrong, of British Colombia's Enowkin Center, speak about consensus and community problem solving. "Robert's Rules come to us from the class-dominated society of England, and set up dissension and oppression. We Native Americans have a better way, which in the language of my people, the Okanagans, is called 'enowkin.' Enowkin says that the minority voice is the most important voice to consider, because it tells of things not being considered or swept under the rug. If we can't use creativity to provide for our weak, our sick, and our hungry, then we aren't worthy of the name 'humanity.'"
The next speaker, Dr. Larry Dossey, spoke about the resistance and ill-will that typically confronts innovators. Noting that Bioneers are often on the receiving end of such "shadow thinking," Dossey sought advice from a respected northern New Mexican shaman, who told him, "You white people have one of the best prayers of protection going, and you don't even use it. It's the Lord's Prayer – remember 'deliver us from evil'? – I even use that one myself."
Following each day's satellite broadcast of the Marin addresses, workshops convened for bringing to bear the morning's inspiration on a variety of matters of local importance – reinvention of community, reclamation of polluted industrial sites like the Fort Bragg mill, sustainable development and affordable housing, alienation of water rights, and identification and avoidance of cancer clusters and causes were just a few of the topics. Each of these special-interest panels led to a commitment from many attendees to keep the dialogue alive until next year's Bioneers in October, 2003. "This was the most exciting conference ever to come to Mendocino County," enthused one Ukiah-based attendee. "I'm glowing with enthusiasm for the solutions I heard, and can't wait to put them into practice."
written by Michael Potts for the Ukiah Daily Journal, print date unknown
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