Bioneers 2010: "The Shift Has Hit The Fan"


Audience member applauding at Kenny Ausubel's opening speech at Bioneers 2010. Photo via Jaymi Heimbuch

Kenny Ausubel is one of the founders of Bioneers and he along with his partner Nina Simons are the backbone of the event. So it's no surprise that one of the most awakening and inspiring speeches came from him during the opening of the event. "The revolution has begun. But in fits and starts. The challenge is it's one minute to midnight - too late to avoid large-scale destruction. We have to fan the shift to ecoliterate societies at sufficient scale and speed to dodge irretrievable cataclysm," he stated. While it sounds dire, his speech, and his call to action, was anything but. Check out more of what he had to say. As republished on Huffington Post, Kenny's speech focused on changing, well, focus.

From breakdown to breakthrough, it's a revolution from the heart of nature and the human heart. It leads with a basic shift in our relationship with nature from resource and object to mentor, model and partner. Game-changing breakthroughs in science, technology and design such as biomimicry are revolutionizing our very ways of knowing. The Rights of Nature movement is recognizing the inalienable rights of the non-human world of ecosystems and critters, widening our circle of compassion and kinship. Greater decentralization and localization are building resilience from the ground up - shaped by ancient indigenous wisdom of becoming native to our place.

From renewable energy innovation to a change in how we understand and practice banking to a greater appreciation for the wisdom of older generations, knowledge we're rapidly losing, Ausubel highlighted the many areas where we can -- and are -- making important stride. But are we striding fast enough? While Ausubel pointed out that our gains are tenuous and vulnerable to politics, and our emissions are still rising at a catastrophic rate, a change is possible.

Our collective fate likely hangs from the cliff by three intertwining ropes: systems, power, and story.

Shifting the mindscape starts with systems thinking. Complex systems by nature are unpredictable, nonlinear and cannot be controlled. The key to building resilience is to foster the system's capacity to adapt to dramatic change. As Dana Meadows observed, "A diverse system with multiple pathways and redundancies is more stable and less vulnerable to external shock than a uniform system with little diversity."

A paradigm is the hardest thing to change in a system, but it can happen fast. As Meadows advised, "Keep pointing at anomalies and failures in the old paradigm. Keep speaking loudly and with assurance, from the new one. Insert people with the new paradigm in places of public visibility and power. Don't waste time with reactionaries; work with active change agents, and the vast middle ground of open people."

The systems and structures are vast and complex, but Ausubel directed the audience's eyes at the silver lining -- we all have the ability to make personal, familial, community, regional, national and global change. It's a matter of personal choice and actions, and it's within our power to make the necessary changes. We just have to act fast.

The full speech is well worth a read -- check it out in full on Huffington Post
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More on Bioneers 2010
Bioneers 2010: "Washed Ashore" Art Exhibit Explores Plastic Pollution with Giant Beach-Trash Bird
Bioneers 2010: Gary Hirshberg Explains How To Scale Up Sustainable Foods
Bioneers 2010: John Warner on Making Better Chemists as Key to Green Chemistry (Video)
Bioneers 2010: James Hansen and the Million Letter March

Tags: Activism | Ecology | Global Climate Change