2014 Maui Kinship Circle Expedition
Dear Bioneers Friends and Supporters!
We send you warmest greetings from us both! Welcome to the Bioneers Inside Track (BIT), our newly renovated quarterly e-letter especially for you, our esteemed circle of donor-activists.
BIT is intended to offer you breaking news, early updates on the growing edges of our work, and other compelling successes and initiatives resulting from your support.
BIT will also feature stories about you and your philanthropic innovations, cool projects and events. So please keep us posted.
Because we want BIT to provide real value for you, please tell us what else you’d like to see in BIT, and how we can make it fabulous, useful and most relevant to your priorities and passions.
As you likely already know, we set out over three years ago to build the organization that could truly address our ambitious mission. We’ve since navigated through a momentous and systemic organizational restructuring. It has meant widening the leadership circle, beginning by strengthening our superlative Program Directors, the heartbeat of the work. It climaxed in late 2013 with re-opening our San Francisco office and tapping the Bay Area’s world-class talent pool to hire our fantastic new Executive Director, Joshua Fouts, and Chief Operating & Outreach Officer, John DeCock, among others. They and other new staff are now based in the Tides Center at the Presidio.
Wahooo!! It’s a profoundly fulfilling passage that synchronously marks the 25th birthday of Bioneers this year! For us personally, as Gloria Steinem brilliantly put it, “I’m not passing the torch – I’m using my torch to light other torches!” We ourselves are more excited than ever to collaboratively grow Bioneers into exciting new areas with our truly formidable team!
We’re grateful beyond words to each and every one of you who has helped us reach this authentic milestone. Both your financial juice and the countless other ways that you contribute qualitatively advance our shared work and mission. We feel honored and joyful to shoot the rapids of transformative change with you.
As the world has moved from urgency to emergency, our work together today is more important than ever. It's our firm conviction that the years between now and 2020 will be the most important in the history of human civilization. Without question, the revolution from the heart of nature has begun, and we’re so very grateful Bioneers exists at this epochal moment. We’re better positioned than ever before to contribute in game-changing ways to assure that this epic once-in-a-civilization transformation heads in the most strategic and effective directions.
So we encourage you to double down on your commitment to Bioneers for our 25th birthday, as some of you already are!
Windows of opportunity are finite and fleeting. The time is now.
Together, we want to look back in 2020 and rejoice that Bioneers really made a difference that made a difference because we seized the moment and joined forces to turn the tide.
With Our Deep Love and Gratitude –
Bioneers Kinship Circle
Inaugural Journey of Discovery in Maui
In late May, we launched the maiden voyage of our Kinship Circle expeditions. We gathered a dozen of our existing and prospective Kinship Circle supporters (who give $25,000+ a year) for an Indigenous Deep Dive in Hana, the deeply indigenous and remote part of Maui. We relished the quality time to hang out together in the Bioneers vision and how best to move it forward in action.
Our goals were several-fold: to deepen our Kinship relationships; to connect a truly fabulous group of our donors with each other; to do a deep dive into indigenous “Aloha” culture and engage with some of the most urgent environmental and biocultural issues and promising initiatives in the Islands; and to inspire irresistible money mojo to power Bioneers on our 25th birthday!
We really want to thank our longtime Kinship Circle member Susan O’Connor who hosted us at the Ala Kukui retreat center. She recently built the center for exactly this kind of gathering with a purpose. It’s truly a sacred place, and it gave us an amazing container for the magic to unfold.
We thank Kinship member Jeffrey Bronfman, whose farm we toured, where we also learned about the resistance against Hawaii’s being “Ground Zero” for large-scale GMO research and production.
We deeply thank our Indigenous Knowledge Program Director Cara Romero and Board Member Melissa Nelson, who assembled an incredible program of native Hawaiian teachers and guides.
We are planning more Kinship Circle expeditions over the next year, including another to Hana next May. Please let us know if you’d like to be on the invitation list.
Kinship Circle Maiden Voyage
By Nina Simons
Nina Simons and Sandra Hobson in Maui
The high caliber of teachings about indigenous knowledge systems and Hawaiian culture on this journey augmented the joyful time I had deepening relationships with a dozen supporters and friends. It was also a joy to witness their discovery of each other. I was gratified to see that I’ve not been exaggerating the quality of people who form the Bioneers Kinship community, after all. As one friend noted “It’s so unusual to be at a gathering where there’s no one you wouldn’t want to sit next to at dinner!”
We began with a teaching on Indigenous Knowledge Systems by Rose von Thater-Braan, an extraordinary Tuscarora/Cherokee educator who works at the nexus of indigenous worldviews with the arts, science, academic and corporate worlds. From 1989 to 2000 she served as Director of Education at U.C. Berkeley's Center for Particle Astrophysics. Her communications have a crystalline quality, as her voice conveys the lucidly clear thinking that is often prized among Native American scholars.
When she described the transformative power of a Learning Lodge, where diverse people come together to think not with one thought, but with one mind, I realized she was articulating one of my aspirations for Bioneers. “In a Learning Lodge,” she noted, “there is no need to defend, respond, or correct. There is shared interest in exploring the unknown. It’s not about bringing or proving what we know, as we are not expected to know.” She added that, from an indigenous worldview, it’s critically important to learn to consider extremely divergent views with equal value to our own.
Indigenous worldviews, she said, are about bringing ourselves into relationship with the natural world, with the field of harmony that birthed us. I found myself drinking these ideas in deeply, sensing how gracefully and readily my psyche absorbed them. I realized they were medicine for the stresses with which I arrived in Hana, and I relaxed in circle with people I respect, admire and love amidst the beauty, cultural integrity and sensual paradise of Hana.
Another highlight for me was an offering about Aloha, the warm and inviting spirit and philosophy that are the heart of native Hawaiian culture. Puanani Mahoe is a widely respected Hawaiian spiritual master in the kahuna tradition. Affectionately known as Auntie Pua, she began by teaching us the meaning of Aloha, explaining that
A means “first spark”
Lo means “the balance of heaven and earth, spirit and matter”
Ha means ”‘breath.”
It reminded me of the ancient Peruvian tradition that’s become central to our Cultivating Women’s Leadership retreats that suggests “Language Creates Reality,” where words are believed to have magical power because their sound can invoke thoughts into being.
Auntie Pua tells us that Aloha is every human’s birthright, regardless of ancestry or bloodline. Hawaiians were given responsibility to care for that birthright, and to spread it back into the world at the proper time. That time, she says, is now. Now is the time for each of us to accept it, wear it, live it and be it.
I’m happy to invite you to hear Auntie Pua at Bioneers this year along with another of our Hawaiian Kinship teachers, Luana Palapala Busby-Neff, a brilliant native activist and educator.
I hope to see ou on a future Kinship Expedition with us!
By Kenny Ausubel
Kenny Ausubel in Maui
“Maui Wowie” is right!
Our first Kinship expedition was a blast and it put the “fun” in “fundraising.” It was an amazing group and we cherished our time together, including precious slow time to hang out, a rarity in all our lives.
I learned a huge amount, and the experience deepened already important relationships we have in the Islands and with our indigenous allies there. It opened up many rich possibilities for how Bioneers can support and engage further with critically important work there.
It was mightily gratifying for us to be able to give back to our Kinship “peeps,” who have given so much to Bioneers both financially and programmatically.
I want to share several gems I learned about.
Puanani Mahoe, a revered Hawaiian elder known as Auntie Pua, shared some of the Aloha teachings that revolve around love and forgiveness. She said that these teachings are a birthright for all people, not only indigenous peoples. It’s not a bloodline, but a consciousness. So much of Aloha is founded in generosity, and it was really powerful to feel how inclusive indigenous Aloha philosophy and culture can be, despite the horrors of colonialism and the relatively recent U.S. military coup at the turn-of-the century that entirely upended and crushed local governance, and tried to destroy traditional native culture.
We were equally honored and grateful to have Kaimana Barcarse, a master of the ancient art of Star Navigation, grace us with his teaching. The ancient Polynesians, who first settled Hawaii with canoes, were some of the greatest navigators ever, without “technology” or GPS. Master navigators can lie in a very small, completely enclosed box on the canoe and know exactly they are, and where they’re going just by feeling the movement of currents. Google Maps, move over…
Kaimana, who has been instrumental in reviving traditional canoe culture and “star navigation,” described how several years ago only one master navigator remained, “Papa Mau” (Pius "Mau" Piailug) from Polynesia. No one in Polynesia had much interest in his knowledge. When Kaimana approached him about sharing it with passionate indigenous Hawaiians, Papa Mau faced fierce opposition from his own people against crossing this cultural barrier. Papa Mau made a courageous decision to break tradition and follow the energy.
The rest is history. Kaimana demonstrated a compass “construct” that people have managed to reconstruct, based greatly on Papa Mau’s knowledge. A serious Canoe and Navigation revival is now spreading worldwide among native peoples. It’s engaging entire communities and many young people because “it takes a village” to prepare for these perilous voyages over thousands of miles of open ocean.
But tragically much of that knowledge has been lost. Through her group, The Cultural Conservancy, Melissa Nelson has been helping fund and advance the growing revival of Canoe culture, which we’ve featured at Bioneers. So it was profoundly inspiring to see how people are preserving what still exists and reinventing it anew.
Lastly, we visited the HAPI farm of Jeffrey Bronfman, a 1990 founding Bioneers member and enduring supporter. Jeffrey will be doing a Bioneers keynote this year about his work with the Uniao do Vegetal, the Brazilian ayahuasca church for which Jeffrey got legal recognition from the U.S. Supreme Court.
We got a leading-edge report on how Hawaii is ground zero for GMOs today, and on initiatives to stop companies such as Monsanto from genetically polluting the Islands and testing all kinds of nasty stuff with inconceivable amounts of toxic agricultural chemicals. Our bioneer speaker and friend Jeffrey Smith happened to be there because he’s helping organize resistance, and he laid out the 5-year strategy to end GMOs at large.
This is just a taste of all that we learned and did! We hope to see you next time.
Hawai'i Rising: A Hero’s and Shero’s Journey to Maui
(aka The MOST Blessed Kinship Circle)
By Joshua Sheridan Fouts
Nina Simons, Melissa Nelson, and Joshua Sheridan Fouts in Maui
Our first full day in Hana began with an early morning trek to Hana’s sacred Hamoa Bay. We were met on the bluff above the Beach by Hawaiian Elder Don Atay, a man whose warm demeanor was punctuated by his flowing black hair and red headband. Like a kind time traveler come to lead us into a different era, Don greeted us each with compassion and the traditional Hawaiian nose-to-nose greeting in which he instructed each of us to breathe each other’s breath. He then led the group down to the beach and began a powerful morning prayer and invited us to enter the water.
Sharing each other’s breaths and cleansing in the ocean became an active, living metaphor.
This deep, communal and cleansing moment reset our bodies, spirits and minds and set the tone for what was to be five days of open hearts, open minds and a unity around the spirit and meaning of what it means to be a believer in and supporter of Bioneers.
With our spirits reset to Hawai’i time, we began two concurrent journeys: one into the past toward a deeper understanding of Hawaiian culture, traditions and beliefs, and another into the future, exploring how we can honor this knowledge and carry it with us into this era in which we have gone as Kenny says, from “urgency to emergency.”
Part of each day was spent in a circle in which each member of the Kinship Circle shared deeply moving stories about his or her personal journeys to today, as well as history and relationship with Bioneers. On the side trips to Jeffrey Bronfman’s HAPI farm or a trek to the Seven Sacred Pools, we had time to walk and talk and learn.
I found myself in a state of constant gratitude on each of these side trips; each one providing a new opportunity to learn each of the Kinship Circle member’s Hero’s and Shero’s Journeys toward authenticity – a meditation on how the sharing of these journeys informs and empowers and enriches our own journeys.
The true heroes of this story were the Indigenous Elders and Teachers who openly shared with us the wisdom and knowledge of these First Peoples. At the same time, we learned of their societal journey toward cultural self-actualization. Hawaiians are on the rise. They are working to take back their cultural rights and reactivate their wisdom in a process that has taken over a 100 years since colonialism tried to erase traditional culture and governance.
It was a story of empowerment and transformation that gave me hope – a hope that is exemplified by the stories of the 25 years of Bioneers. Trea Yip beautifully expressed this feeling of gratitude in her moving comment about her own path, one that leaves her feeling the “most blessed.” By the end of our trip, I too felt the most blessed. I wager we all did.
Forming a Diverse Grassroots Women’s Leadership Network
By Nina Simons
I am super excited that in early August our Everywoman’s Leadership Program will host a retreat of 25 diverse grassroots women leaders to create a web of connection and to dream into being a timely and vital network for women working across race, class, generation, sectors, issue areas, geography and sexual orientation.
This catalytic gathering will lay the groundwork for a truly diverse, inclusive and strategic network to emerge – one that currently does not exist. I’ve learned so much over these past nine years of Cultivating Women’s Leadership retreats, and those along with Bioneers have allowed me to build relationships with many powerful existing networks including V Day, World Pulse, CodePink, Standing In Our Power, Women Donors Network, Move the Crowd and the Domestic Workers’ Alliance. Now we can begin connecting the dots among so many other crucial webs of relationship to build solidarity, power and a foundation for a truly inclusive movement.
I’ll share updates after the retreat!
Game Changing Grants
Two Covers from the New Bioneers Media Collection
In the spring of 2013, the Kalliopeia Foundation gave Bioneers a truly game-changing 2-year grant. Totaling $300,000, its purpose has been to qualitatively advance the dissemination of Bioneers media content to reach much wider audiences, as well as specific constituencies and key influencers.
The overarching goal was to make the many paradigm-shifting stories from the past 25 years of Bioneers widely accessible across a rapidly evolving media landscape as both educational and organizing tools for catalyzing and supporting social transformation nationally and globally.
The speed with which media have evolved over the past decade has radically accelerated the costs required for non-profits to keep pace with “new” media and make their stories accessible to their communities. In the last ten years, previously unknown venues and words have entered our vocabulary. Consider that before 2003 there was no iPhone, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube, each of which has had a dramatic impact on the way organizations use new and contemporary media to tell their stories.
Both the size and the multi-year nature of the grant have allowed us to make a quantum leap forward. Instead of trying to piece together smaller grants that come at irregular, unpredictable intervals, this grant allowed us to do what any business needs to do: Plan and implement effectively and consistently.
Kalliopeia calls us a “grant partner,” and its staff members worked closely with us in designing the grant. It was a big benefit because their thoughtful insights helped us clarify our thinking and refine our goals and deliverables. At the same time, the staff made it clear that final decisions were ours to make, an exceptionally respectful act. They also afforded us flexibility in the second year to adjust appropriately, based on what we had learned and on new developments.
A major portion of what we needed to do was decidedly unglamorous, such as building the foundational technical infrastructure and qualified staff capacity to support the dissemination effectively for all media, including diverse digital devices and platforms and meeting contemporary broadcast standards across multiple broadcast platforms.
We’ve been able to bring on highly professional people and build our capacity and infrastructure. It’s rare that funders are willing to support this kind of un-sexy but absolutely imperative capacity building.
For us, this is the best of all possible worlds, and we are deeply grateful for the thoughtful process, the money, the willingness to fund infrastructure, and the multi-year span. For all these reasons, it has been a game-changer and it’s already yielding powerful results.
We’re thrilled to report that this work is about to become visible. Needless to say, this quantum leap could happen only because of all the support our entire donor community has given us to build the foundation.It further built upon preceding media grants from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and the Metabolic Studio, which gave us a big jump forward toward being able to realize the Kalliopeia accomplishments.
So we’re really, really happy to show you, our esteemed grant partners, what your generous and enduring support has grown.
What’s the growing edge?
For now we’ve focused on releasing our own content. What’s howling to happen next is to hire a sophisticated editor for the Media pages of our web site to populate a digital coral reef that will provide the experience of the Bioneers conference year-round online and keep us all up-to-date on the amazing work of the Bioneers community in real time. The editor will reach out to the entire Bioneers community for year-round news, views, and initiatives and campaigns.
If you are interested in making it happen, let us know!! We’re raring to go and the world is thirsty for it…
- The first 15 Themed Bioneers Media Collections will enjoy a sustained release beginning in July, with 15 more to come this second year. Twelve Collections comprise digital and packaged Bioneers Keynotes and Radio Shows that cover diverse issues of global importance, delivered in formats ensuring multiple markets penetration. The other three are the 2012 Women in the Economy Intensive Keynotes, the 2013 conference Keynote Collection, and the 2014 annual Radio Series. They lend themselves to multiple contexts, from educational settings to community-based screenings, conferences and gatherings of all kinds, as well as individual use. We will market the Collections as holiday and year-round gifts. The process has involved creating the template itself, as well as the branding and artwork, featuring many outstanding artists’ work. We are crazy excited to start releasing the first Collections in July.
- We’re reaching into mainstream digital broadcast channels and reputable and growing platforms of “independent media” delivery and distribution. These kinds of platforms fulfill the demand and trend among both liberal and conservative audiences seeking content free from commercial bias. We’re now up on Roku, an Internet-based set-top box that is currently in over 5 million homes. Our radio series is on the Stitcher app, the #1 talk-radio app and one of the most popular audio and podcast apps. We’re available on SoundCloud, a hugely popular music and audio platform. We will soon be on iTunes, who are giving us an entire page to promote Bioneers because they are so excited by our content.
- We're growing the listenership for our radio series “The Bioneers: Revolution from the Heart of Nature," now reaching an audience reaching over 487 stations domestically and 67 internationally, with U.S. Total Market Coverage over 125 million potential listeners. We’re also now hosting the freely available digital archives of our radio series on the Bioneers site, iTunes Global and SoundCloud to a potential audience in the hundreds of millions. In May, The Bioneers swept the distinguished Communicator Awards for radio with 11 awards for 12 nominated episodes: 4 Gold and 7 Silver.
- We’ve improved the Media Pages on the Bioneers web site and begun incrementally posting content from our extensive library. Over the next year, we’ll be releasing large volumes of content including some of the best of our vast and rich audio library.
- We’re back on Link TV and continue on FreeSpeech TV. The themed Collections were a big advantage for their programming strategies. The majority of Link’s audience is global. A large proportion of FSTV’s audience is in red states.
- We’re about to distribute our media to priority constituencies and Media Partners. A number of mission-aligned companies are becoming Bioneers Media Pollinators and will be promoting our media to their clienteles. (If you or your company may be interested in becoming a Bioneers Media Pollinator, please send us an email)
- The addition of study and discussion guides later this year will support not only classroom use, but also individuals and communities who use our media as educational and organizing tools. Most of the Bioneers presentations over the past 25 years are evergreen and invaluable as educational tools. We’re packaging our media content into study guides tailored for K-12 and higher education. This will be free or “pay what you want” to download on our site. We have recently set up a partnership with iTunesU where it will be carrying our content and making it available to universities and beyond.
- Many of our Resilient Communities Network partners (formerly called Beaming Bioneers) are going to use our media year-round in their communities to gather people in person and feature local speakers or to support community initiatives.
That's what a game-changing grant can do! We offer big gratitude to Kalliopeia Foundation and all of you who got us here.
Be among the first to listen to an exclusive advance release episode of Bioneers' award-winning radio series, The Bioneers: Revolution from the Heart of Nature! The spoken word artists of Climbing PoeTree and John Densmore, Drummer from the Doors, discuss art as social change.
Pay It Forward
We cannot afford not to have diverse young and emerging leaders, educators, students, community leaders, activists, and low-income change-makers be a part of this movement!
Your gift of $500 will fund participation, food and travel for the average scholarship recipient to attend teh 25th Anniversary Bioneers Conference. Help us raise a total of $250,000 to fully fund all scholarship recipients!
Tell your Friends! For new donors, the Pond Foundation has offered a matching grant of $25,000, leveraging $25,000 into $50,000 for 100 full scholarships!
“Thank you for providing a forum for youth of color. You created a space to discuss this and even had speakers talk about the tension between environmental justice and racial and class inequalities. It made the conference more accessible to the youth”
— Brian Katz, Educator at Desert Mirage High School, Coachella Valley, CA