Saturday, October 20, 2007


Bioneers Conference

Several months ago, a recent acquaintance invited me to facilitate a workshop during Spokane's first Bioneers Conference, to be held simultaneously with the national conference in California. To be honest, I had never heard of Bioneers, so I determined to learn more. From their official website, they had this to say about their values and mission:

"Bioneers are biological pioneers who are working with nature to heal nature and ourselves. They have peered deep into the heart of living systems to devise strategies for restoration based on nature's own operating instructions. They come from many cultures and perspectives, and all walks of life.
"Bioneers are scientists and artists, gardeners and economists, activists and public servants, architects and ecologists, farmers and journalists, priests and shamans, policymakers and citizens. They are everyday people committed to preserving and supporting the future of life on Earth. They herald a dawning Age of Restoration founded in natural principles of kinship, interdependence, cooperation, reciprocity, and community."
Retrieved from: on October 20, 2007.

In the following months, it became clear they wanted me to speak about restoring and preserving indigenous cultures. I was also informed I would co-present with John Hartman and Jill Wagner, who are both employed by the Coeur d'Alene Tribe.

My Presentation

About 19 people attended our session. John and Jill spoke first about their work protecting archaeological sites within the traditional territory of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe. They are not tribal members, but they provide a valuable cultural work for the people.

After hearing the scientific perspective of cultural preservation, I had a chance to share my experiences with indigenous education and spirituality. As I spoke from my own experience, I began to sense something of my own contribution to a wider spiritual awareness on the continent. Though these words were never spoken, one thing became clear: I will have to find a way to tell my life story. To be honest, I'm both humbled and frightened by the prospect.

The Campus

Visiting the conference site on the Spokane Falls Community College campus brought back memories of my younger years as a college student at that very institution. I obtained my Associate of Arts degree from the Falls back in 1996.

Today the campus was nearly desolate, with the exception of a scattered handful of conference attendees. Everything seemed heavy with moisture, from the brilliant-colored trees dripping with rain water, to the dark blue storm clouds hanging low overhead. And yet even amid the hovering rain, the clouds occasionally parted just long enough to allow the sun to enter and illuminate the raindrops like crystals falling from the sky.

I met so many wonderful people tonight, but sadly I didn't get any pictures. I always feel awkward asking people for their photograph when we just meet. In time, perhaps I'll get the chance.

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