Kindle, the northern New England Bioneers conference was hosted, among other places, at USM. Every year the Bioneers have a conference in several locations on the same weekend. The conference aims to teach its participants how culture, society, and business are connected with issues of environment sustainability.

The Bioneers have been meeting since the group started in 1990, but until now USM has never been on the list of conference sites. This year USM almost didn’t make the list of sites, but some last minute work by Ted Regan, the event organizer, secured it as a location (even after USM was told that there would be no additional locations for the Bioneers conference this year.

What is exactly is a Bioneer? Before last weekend, I’m not sure anyone at USM really knew, and regrettably not too many USM students ever found out. The event was slated to cost $300 for all participants, including USM Students. If you’re still broke from buying text books, the $300 price tag was likely going to limit your admittance. However, in the week leading up to the conference, scholarships were provided to make the event free for USM students, but it may have been too late for a large student turnout..

The conference was from 7:00am Friday morning until 5:00pm Sunday evening. Each day started with a two to three speakers before lunch and then broke up into workshops before the keynote at the end of the day. The workshops were lead by industry leaders in sustainability, and covered topics ranging from new media to community activism for rights to control access to public sources of water. No matter what your personal flavor of sustainability may be, the Bioneers covered it.

There was a heavy emphasis placed on blending art and music with presentations. There were several sessions of dance and music between speakers to get participants moving. This included everything from a performance by singer songwriter Emilia Dahlin to live dance by the Keigwin and Company dance troupe. Why were the arts used to help combat some of these environenmental issues? When asked, about the conference Eric Favreau, a student at USM said:

“You can’t fight environmental issues without looking at human rights, without looking at culture, and without looking at the very way that we live. It did a great job at attacking the hard issues hollistically.”

Kevin Casey, another USM student present at the conference had this to say about his experience when asked what he thought of the Bioneers conference:

“I thought the Bioneers conference was a great success. It was a great display of bright individuals from all professions, talking about the importance of coming together as a community and stressing the environmental issues, problems, and solutions that we can do together.”

The conference was a great success for all those who went, but we still don’t know what exactly a Bioneer is. To answer, lets look at the Bioneers Kindle website. Who are Bioneers? They say:

“Bioneers are social and scientific innovators from all walks of life and disciplines who have peered deep into the heart of living systems to understand how nature operates, and to mimic ‘nature’s operating instructions’ to serve human ends without harming the web of life.”

That’s a mouthful, to say the least, so we can sum it up like this: A Bioneer is a person who recognizes the ways in which we are all connected; how our society is connected to business and how business is connected to the environment. A Bioneer seeks to understand the impact we have on the environment and the necessary work before we can achieve our goals as a society while also protecting the environment. They seek to understand because they care, and through their compassion for the issues, Bioneers embark to create change leading to a sustainable tomorrow.


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