By Candace Schermerhorn
Just back from the 21st Annual Bioneers Conference in San Rafael, CA and still marveling and the things I saw. From a wealth of keynote talks, workshops, panels, media and intensives it was difficult to choose where to start. The very first speaker knocked it out of the park – Karen Brown, Creative Director for the Center for Ecoliteracy (Berkeley, CA) and an award-winning designer.
is dedicated to education for sustainable living… not a sustainable future but for present-tense sustainable living. They work with over 400 schools on 6 continents. “Smart by Nature” immerses learning in nature through hands-on, project-based activities.
Karen gave incredible examples of real schools doing real work NOW…. like a wind turbine, made by students at the Long Eaton Public School in the UK, from recycled cans!
By looking at systems at work in a field of wild flowers, students learned that nature “distributes and networks.” This in turn led them to see how these small, affordable and recycled turbines can multiply their output simply by networking and distributing their power. An innovative design that works!
Students at the Troy Howard Middle School (Belfast, Maine) were inspired by Elliott Coleman, an organic Maine greenhouse gardener. The got a grant to save 1 acre of land (on school property) destined to be a garage and transformed the space into a greenhouse running on solar energy so cheap that everyone in the community could afford one of their own. Check it out…. where year-round food comes out of a small, efficient greenhouse run by middle school students even in the dead of winter in Maine. And it gets even better. The project is self-supporting (they sell the food they produce); the greenhouse gardeners are seed savers; and they make and print their own labels.
Sustainable living is rooted in a deep knowledge of place. The Center for Ecoliteracy and the work of Karen Brown are making this a reality in K-12 schools around the world! I learned all this from just the first Bionner session I attended and the most important thing I learned is that we can all be Bioneers.