The 10th Annual Bioneers Conference kicked off Friday morning in the Humanities building. The conference takes place at CU every year, allowing people to come together to take a look at environmental issues and their solutions.
Preparation for the conference began over the summer, with the involvement of both students and the local community working to transform the environment and how people interact with it. The conference is one of the many satellite conferences branching from the ideas and networks of the national conference held annually in California.
Mary O’Brien, an herbalist who specializes in medicines using bioregional plants and a representative from the Woodbine Ecology Center, presented a workshop called “Empowering Ourselves with Herbal Medicine.” It addressed the importance of local plants being used to their entire potential in a sustainable way.
“What can we grow?” O’Brien said. “What grows around here that we can use for food and medicine? What grows in our area has an affinity for us, we’re tuned more into that. We already have a relationship with the plants in our area, so why not create a deeper relationship? Once you start using them, it becomes a real connectedness.”
O’Brien stressed on the importance of herbal medicines, both for people and their environments.
“Herbal medicine are great for preventatives, for keeping you healthy,” she said. “We need to start thinking about how we’re going to preserve these plants for ourselves and our generations to come. Natives need us to help them to regenerate and to grow here and we need them because they are tuned to this area.”
The conference continues until Sunday evening, presenting a wide range of workshops and sessions addressing economic and social concerns pertaining to the environment. The workshops and sessions allow for attendees to get a hands-on experience with the topics being learned.
Kaitlin Lewis, an 18–year-old freshman journalism major, believes that people have a much deeper connection with the environment than they actually know.
“Because our environment shapes us and surrounds us and we draw a lot from it, it’s very important to maintain a positive healthy connection with it,” Lewis said. “It encourages treating both yourself and your environment with respect. There are a multitude of opportunities to better the environment and educate students on why it’s important to do so.”
Topics discussed at the conference range anywhere from herbal medicines to becoming one with nature, and from sustainability to indigenous permaculture.
Austen Bernier, a 19-year-old open-option major, saw the conference as successful means of environmental change.
“It’s a real cool place to come together and just network,” Bernier said. “They’re cool people, they’re excited about change and to start making a difference.”
The idea of permaculture, meaning the creation of a permanent culture through agriculture, was addressed several times during the workshops.
Sherry Ellms, Assitant Professor in the School of Natural and Social Sciences at Naropa University and speaker for the session “Radical Joy for Hard Times”, focused on the interconnections between the land people live on and the people that lived there before.
“I want to honor literally where we’re standing and this land,” Ellms said. “This is the land of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and phenomenal harm has been done where we are standing.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Haleema Mian at Haleema.email@example.com.