As part of our 25th anniversary conference and celebration, we asked members of the Bioneers community to tell us about the impact Bioneers has had on their life and work. Below, Marie Bourgeois of Colorado shares her remarkable story, which we selected as the first winner in our contest for a free 3-day pass to the 2014 Bioneers Summit Conference.
Please read and share Marie’s story. We hope it inspires you and others to share your own stories using the link at the end of the post—you too could win a free pass to join us at this year’s conference October 17-19!
Inspired by a Local Bioneers Event
Bioneers advances the mission of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and serves to expose environmentalists from all areas to new ideas.
Biomimicry, viewing nature as model, measure and mentor, was first brought to my attention when hearing Janine Benyus speak about this emerging science at the local Bioneers downlink site at the University of Colorado in Boulder. As an environmental engineer for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, I recognized the value and strength of using this new approach to environmental protection, which is the mission of the EPA.
Inspired, I completed a degree program to become a Certified Biomimicry Professional in 2010 and have incorporated this approach into the work of EPA.
The Bioneers conference has served to present EPA’s successful biomimicry projects to interested individuals in the Colorado network. It is one place where this new thinking can be explained, explored and discussed, often resulting in expanded opportunity for application of innovative ideas.
Connecting Activists, Policymakers & Innovative Ideas
As an example, presenting biomimicry work at the Bioneers conference served to educate an activist in one of the local communities. His interest in this biologically-based science resulted in an audience with local government officials and a requirement to use a biomimicry approach to a redesign of the town’s storm water system.
Engineers selected for the project were required to hire a “biologist at the design table.” Adding this expertise during the project design phase resulted in a solution that restores critical functions to the ecosystem, while serving the needs of the residents. Better protection for all organisms on the planet, not just humans.
The annual Bioneers conference also serves to connect others interested in using biological knowledge to solve environmental challenges.
In 2009, EPA sponsored a Biomimicry Workshop for 23 local, state and federal government employees who used this approach to find solutions to the questions: “How does nature organize, adapt to changes in climate, transport water using low energy process and create community?”
Many of the participants for the workshop were chosen from applicants who had heard about the workshop opportunity at the local Bioneers conference. Results from this workshop were returned to the Bioneers Community in a subsequent conference.
Annual Conference Sparks Year-round Community
In Boulder, CO we are especially blessed that two individuals, regulars at all of the local Bioneers conferences, decided to host a monthly event named “Colorado Bioneers Salon.” Each month, we gather for a potluck dinner, a re-showing of selected Bioneers keynote recorded lectures, along with local experts who can expand on the salon theme.
These monthly meetings serve to keep the Bioneers spirit going throughout the year and provide a place to meet others with like-minded ideas and remind us all that we have partners in our quest for a more sustainable way of living on earth.
The local Bioneers conference is a yearly gathering of my kind of people. It reminds me that the struggles of moving to a new, biologically-based system are shared with others and I always come away inspired to “keep the faith” along with a wealth of new and innovative approaches that help with this task.
“Life…looks more positive from this perspective.”
Thank you for your dedication, inspiration and challenge to seek a different outcome for human activities on our lovely planet. Bioneers has provided me with the energy to alter my perspective on ways I can protect our environment and meet the EPA’s mission.
I am a changed woman because of Bioneers and I thank you for altering my point of view. Life, and the future of our species, looks a lot more positive from this perspective.