October 13, 2008

Heartland Bioneers Conference is Oct. 17-19

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Bioneers seek and promote practical ideas and creative strategies for restoring the environment. Later this week, the Heartland Bioneers will gather at Southern Illinois University Carbondale to learn and share.

The Fifth Annual Heartland Bioneers Conference is Oct. 17-19 at the SIUC Student Health Center Auditorium. This conference coincides with the 19th Annual Bioneers Conference in San Rafael, Calif. Part of the local programming will be via satellite broadcast from the national conference while some elements are purely local. Telecasts are from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. each day.

Events slated for Carbondale’s site include:

Friday, Oct. 17

• Heartland Jamboree, 5-9 p.m., a concert and mixer at Rustle Hill Winery featuring music by Carter and Connelley and Tom Cat Hill Social Club.

Saturday, Oct. 18

• Energy bike demonstration, 10-10:30 a.m. Aur Beck, president and chief technician of Advanced Energy Solutions, founding board member of Illinois Renewable Energy Association and Southern Sustainability, will demonstrate the energy bike in an interactive and informative display of energy conservation.

• Power smart pricing discussion by Justin Harrell, 3-4 p.m. This pricing plan from Ameren Illinois Utilities, with CNT Energy as administrator, lets consumers reduce electrical costs by paying the hourly wholesale market price instead of the usual residential rate. Harrell is a certified energy manager and president of the Southern Illinois chapter of the Association of Professional Energy Consultants.

• Gaia House Focus Group, 3-6 p.m. at the Interfaith Center, meeting to develop a proposal for a modern, environmentally sustainable student residence community. The meeting includes dinner.

* Special session led by Chris Klarer of Energy Justice Network along with students from Project EcoDawgs and Power Vote. Time and place location announcement is coming soon. The two-part event will include a skill-swap with participants sharing their successful strategies and the other component will focus on state legislation and how student coalitions can succeed relative to legislation.

Via satellite, the conference will feature presentations Friday by Paul Stamets, president of the mail-order business Fungi Perfecti; Erica Fernandez, at 18 an environmental justice activist in California; Ray Anderson, international environment hero in 2007 according to Time magazine, “green” business leader and founder and chairman for Interface Inc., a billion-dollar carpet manufacturing company name; Kavita Ramdas, president and CEO of Global Fund for Women; and Alexandra Cousteau, an underwater explorer from the legendary Cousteau family.

Also presenting Saturday are Janine Benyus, biologist and author; Dune Lankard, a native Athabaskan commercial fisherman and Time magazine Hero of the Planet; David Orr, Oberlin College professor and chair of the Environmental Students Program, author and visionary; Greg Watson, senior adviser for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs’ Clean Energy Technology and vice president for sustainable development with the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative; and Sandra Steingraber, ecologist, biologist, cancer survivor and author with expertise in the links between environment and reproduction.

Rounding out Sunday’s program are Lucas Benitez, a farm worker and co-director of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, who launched a labor action rights program; Christine Loh, also a Time magazine Hero of the Environment, co-founder and CEO of the Civic Exchange and member of Asia Society’s International Council; Naomi Klein, award-winning journalist and author with expertise in politics, the economy and corporate globalization; Rebecca Moore, Google software expert working with Google Earth’s mapping and visualization technologies; and Rick Reed, senior adviser to the Garfield Foundation, co-founder of RE-AMP and part of the leadership for a groundbreaking collaboration to transform the Midwest from an emissions leader to a clean energy leader.

Registration for the Heartland Bioneers Conference is free for all SIUC students. The regular registration fee is $60 for the full weekend or $25 per day and anyone can participate. The cost for seniors over age 55, students not attending SIUC and those earning less than $9,000 annually is $10 per day. Participants can register online through Wednesday, Oct. 15, or at the conference after that date. Teachers can earn continuing professional development units each day they attend.

Co-sponsors of the Fifth Annual Heartland Bioneers Conference include: Southern Illinois Center for a Sustainable Future, SIUC Environmental Studies Program, Student Environmental Center, Undergraduate Student Government Student Activity Fee and University Christian Ministries Interfaith Center/Gaia House. For more information about the conference, call 618/525-7900, e-mail sustain@siu.edu or look online at www.southernsustainability.org.