Many of you know of, or have participated in, our Beaming Bioneers program. Centered around locally produced annual Bioneers Conferences, the program has reached an estimated 70,000 people and engaged over 60 communities across the US, Canada and the UK since 2002.
This year, we’re excited to announce that Beaming Bioneers has evolved into the Bioneers Resilient Communities Network (BRCN). BRCN is an active and engaged national network of communities of practice, focused on sharing, spreading and implementing breakthrough solutions.
BRCN takes the best of Beaming Bioneers and adds more support for on-the-ground change across our network, including year-round local events and virtual workshops that connect you and your community with practical, replicable projects and plans directly from leaders you may have seen (or will see) on the Bioneers stage.
A Program Inspired by Our Community
A core Bioneers premise since our inception 25 years ago has been that the solutions to many major environmental and social problems are already in existence—the trick is to daylight, spread and implement them.
In 2001, several particularly innovative conference attendees who weren’t satisfied with simply attending a conference far from home approached Bioneers with a request. Would it be possible to literally “bring Bioneers home” by partnering with communities to host local Bioneers Conferences with plenary presentations delivered via satellite broadcast?
In 2002, Beaming Bioneers was born with five locations in the US and Canada. To date, we’ve partnered with 60 towns and cities across the US, Canada and the UK, engaging an estimated 70,000 people through the program.
In 2013, Bioneers went on a listening tour, engaging in extensive conversations with our partner communities. What we heard was twofold.
First, the Bioneers approach and content continue to resonate across the country. Local organizers find great value in utilizing the videos of Bioneers keynote speakers and our general framework of interdependence to advance important issues in their communities.
Second, our partner communities wanted to be able to do more, to get more deeply connected with the projects and speakers from Bioneers, and find ways to realize those solutions home to their own backyards.
In response, we made sure the Bioneers Resilient Communities Network includes some additional components to leverage the deep connections Bioneers has with leading-edge projects around the country that have the potential to be replicated and scaled up.
What Does the Bioneers Resilient Communities Network Include?
The Bioneers Resilient Communities Network program consists of three key planks:
1. Public Bioneers Events.
As members of the Bioneers Resilient Communities Network, partner organizations and institutions are granted a license to organize events utilizing Bioneers media materials under the Bioneers name and brand—think TEDx with a clear focus on social and environmental movements. (Beaming Bioneers began years before TEDx.)
Partners create their own events generally by combining Bioneers conference keynotes with dynamic original live programming tailored to local and regional issues and organizing priorities. We’ve moved away from the daunting costs and logistics of a live broadcast model. With greater flexibility, now partners develop diverse events that range from full three-day conferences to monthly or bi-weekly series of various types of events.
2. Applied Solutions Workshops.
A fundamental goal of the program is to provide Network members direct working access to the principals involved in relevant environmental and social change projects.
To do this, we’re hosting live videoconference workshops throughout the year focused on practical, how-to style presentations, with time for discussion. Bioneers works closely with select partner organizations to facilitate relationships and follow-up with communities where the featured model, tool or project resonates with a local need and capacity.
Workshops are invitation-only and Network members are encouraged to invite key community representatives to attend.
3. Network Development, Support & Partnerships.
While we offer regular guidance and direction, the most significant value comes from the emergent initiatives, directions and ideas that arise from the Bioneers Resilient Communities Network itself. Sharing information and most promising practices horizontally is proving to be a rich process. We’re continually amazed at what individual communities have figured out, and excited to help it spread.
Developing bioregional clusters within the larger Network is also an ongoing goal, part of a systems-centered approach that reflects the reality of shared watersheds, food sheds, energy sheds and culture sheds. Bioregional hubs already exist—the Great Lakes Bioneers locations, for example—and there is substantial interest in establishing others.
Connect with Leading-edge Solutions for Your Community
Some of the projects and solutions you’ll find highlighted in the Bioneers Resilient Communities Network you’ve seen and heard from the main stage at Bioneers for years. Some are small-scale gems from local communities, individuals and organizations that have developed truly innovative and exceptional models for problem solving that we’re thrilled to share more widely.
A sample of current partners and projects include:
- The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, Envision Spokane and their groundbreaking work on instituting Community Bills of Rights that put community decision-making above corporate rights and embeds Rights for Nature.
- The Detroit Local Food Policy Council and the community’s work to develop equitable, healthy and sustainable food policy in Detroit.
- Andy Lipkis and TreePeople and their efforts to streamline and integrate urban water planning to enable cities to think and function like healthy watersheds.
This new approach to the program is already yielding tangible results. A Network-wide videoconference with representatives from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) examined in depth the practical “how” of building the legal and community organizing basis for Community Rights efforts related to fracking, resource extraction and industrial agriculture. It led directly to an immediate agreement to have CELDF field organizers engage with key community groups in the greater Chicago area.
The rest of the story is yet to be told, but this is exactly the idea driving the program: to facilitate a pathway among those who need solutions and those who have already found a way forward that works.
Contact Us to Join the Bioneers Resilient Communities Network
If you or your organization is interested in joining the Bioneers Resilient Communities Network or would simply like to find out more, please feel free to get in touch with us via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-986-0366, ext 112.
Not quite ready to join? Be sure to subscribe to our email newsletter and follow us on Twitter and Facebook, where we’ll be sharing Network news and updates that detail the incredible work happening on the ground.