2017 Central Coast Bioneers & Empower.SLO

Thank You!

Thank you to all of our volunteers, exhibitors, speakers, sponsors, artists and attendees who made our 2017 conference a success! As usual, wonderful stories were told, important information was exchanged and great connections were made.

2017 Central Coast Bioneers Conference


We will be viewing tape delayed presentations of many of the inspiring plenary addresses from the National Bioneers Conference:
Democracy Now! Covering the Movements Changing America

(with an introduction by Kenny Ausubel, Bioneers CEO and founder)
The award-winning journalist Amy Goodman, host of that pillar of progressive media Democracy Now!, is without doubt the most indispensable voice reporting with urgent immediacy on the front lines of the most critical struggles facing our nation and world. She will speak about the increased threats to freedom of the press and the crucial importance of truly independent media to hold those in power accountable. In more than 20 years of reporting, Democracy Now! has covered the social movements long ignored by the corporate media, and that are now forming the groundswell of opposition to the Trump administration.

Lessons from the Forest: How Trees Communicate and Help Each Other

Visionary ecologist Suzanne Simard has made extraordinary discoveries about the hidden life of forests: how trees, in symbiotic relationship with fungal mycelia, exchange information, nutrients and water in shared underground networks that make them far more resilient to threats and stressors such as climate disruption. As a professor of Forest Ecology at the University of British Columbia, her cutting-edge, rigorous research offers us profound ecological parables about what forests can teach us about community, cooperation and mutual aid.

– A New “We the People” for a Sustainable Future

(with an introduction by Nina Simons, Bioneers co-founder)
Heather McGhee, President of Demos, a public policy organization working for an America where we all have an equal say in our democracy and an equal chance in our economy, will depict how deep democracy is the only solution to the crises of inequality and climate change, and how the changing demos — people — of America can rise to meet this moment. A thought leader on the national stage, Heather, among her many accomplishments, helped shape key provisions of the now threatened Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Beyond the Anthropo-Scene

(with an introduction by J.P. Harpignies, Bioneers Associate Producer)
The renowned “anthropologist under Amazonian influence” and indigenous rights activist Jeremy Narby, author of such classics as The Cosmic Serpent and Intelligence in Nature, considers the intelligence of living beings and wrestles with his own culture’s anthropocentric concepts. In his view, constantly affirming the centrality of humans gets in the way of respectful living in the biosphere. Rethinking human-centered concepts such as “nature” and “anthropocene” can cast light on our relationship with the living world. Because the words we use influence how we think, we gain from examining them with care.

Sequestering carbon from the atmosphere back into the soil is emerging as among the top biological strategies to radically mitigate climate disruption on large scales. It’s also a rapidly growing movement among farmers across the country, including in conservative communities – because it IS conservative… of the land and soil. John and Calla Rose are visionary leaders of the Marin Carbon Project, a gold standard of carbon farming research demonstrations. John is co-owner (with his wife Peggy Rathmann) of the Nicasio Native Grass Ranch. Calla Rose, former Fellow with the Rocky Mountain Institute, has led policy and climate action programs with Aspen, CO and San Francisco, CA, and is a leading advocate for and expert on agricultural carbon sequestration.

Truth to Power: Taking on Coal and Nuclear Domination

(with an introduction by Kenny Ausubel)
How can we take on the most powerful pillar of the status quo—the fossil fuel industry? And how can we, despite these challenging times, find and maintain the necessary courage, steadfastness, and stamina to see our way through to victory? How do we organize and build effective coalitions? Mariel Nanasi, Executive Director of the courageous New Mexico non-profit, New Energy Economy, shares insights drawn from her longtime leading role in confronting the electric utility monopoly, the most powerful corporation in her state. Mariel is an inspiring dynamo who lives by the motto: “Activism is the antidote to despair.”

Local Speakers

Tim LaSalle

Tim LaSalle will host a Q&A on carbon farming following the John Wick & Calla Rose Ostrander video.



April Price

Following the Mariel Nanasi video, April will report on the CEC’s ongoing efforts on a coalition to move forward 100% renewable energy goals in the San Luis Obispo-Santa-Barbara-Ventura region.


Advanced Activism Training

  • Nonprofit Free Speech
  • Digging Deep – Performing Background Research
    on Elected Officials
  • Effective Messaging and Working With the Media
  • Organizing for Social Change


Nonprofit Free Speech

Joel Diringer will lead a discussion on the expansive roles and limitations affecting nonprofit organizations in advocacy including lobbying, grassroots organizing, and providing legislator and voter education.

Direct Action Organizing – Planning Strategies and Tactics to Reach Your Goals

Based on the strategy chart developed by the famed Midwest Academy, Kylee will take us through the steps to develop a strategy for your issue including:
• Defining goals
• Ascertaining available resources
• Knowing your allies and opponents
• Identifying targets
• Designing tactics

Effective Messaging and Working With the Media

The effect a good media campaign will have on your issue cannot be overestimated.  We have all seen what negative coverage can do to a group’s efforts to promote an idea.  Tom will guide us through the steps to build relationships with reporters, the timing of your release of information to the media for maximum effect, and the various types of outreach to employ, including press releases, press conferences and op-ed pieces.

Digging Deep – Performing Background Research on Elected Officials

Along with researching specific public service opportunities, Rosemary has discovered techniques for effective information gathering on issues, strategies, and resources. This workshop will focus on how to develop these strategies to meet your own objectives and to support your efforts to communicate effectively with elected officials, candidates, and your community.

Lunchtime musical performance by singer-songwriter Jill Knight

Jill Knight’s soulful sound is unmistakable. A native of Savannah Ga, her music delivers a southern texture blending americana, blues and weaving in a little R & B that will take the listener on an unforgettable journey.

Just announced! 

Our closing event will be a celebration of the many groups and individuals who collaborated for years in the triumphant effort to stop the crude oil train terminal project proposed by Phillips 66 for its refinery on the Nipomo Dunes. We will honor the hard work of the group, hear the story of their achievement, and learn some takeaways from their success to apply to our own campaigns.
Your panel:
  • Charles Varni, SLO Surfrider Foundation, STOP Climate Change Campaign Coordinator
  • Andrew Christie, Exec Director, Santa Lucia Chapter Sierra Club
  • Laurance Shinderman, Mesa Refinery Watch Group
  • Mary Ciesinski, Exec Director, ECOSLO

Our Photo Gallery

Thank you to all of our volunteers, exhibitors, speakers, sponsors, artists and attendees who made our 2017 conference a success!  As usual, wonderful stories were told, important information was exchanged and great connections were made.

Salinas River, San Luis Obispo County, CA

Closing panel on how the Phillips 66 oil trains were stopped.   Left to right:

  • Charles Varni, SLO Surfrider Foundation, STOP Climate Change Campaign Coordinator
  • Laurance Shinderman, Mesa Refinery Watch Group
  • Mary Ciesinski, Exec Director, ECOSLO
  • Andrew Christie, Exec Director, Santa Lucia Chapter Sierra Club
Morro Rock and Morro Strand State Beach, San Luis Obispo, CA
Our beautiful stage art, created by Timo Beckwith.
California Condor in Flight
He’s been with us since the beginning – Hilding Larson of Matrix Mobile, our AV wizard.
Ecologistics Board Members with Dave Foreman at Doug Tompkins Tribute, January 31, 2016
Coffee, tea and breakfast bar courtesy of SLO Natural Foods Coop, staffed by the wonderful Wyatt sisters.
Carrizo Plain National Monument, San Luis Obispo County, CA
Our wonderful volunteer MC Denise Dudley (who has also been with us since the beginning) introducing the Stop Oil Trains panel.
San Joaquin Kit Fox on the Move
Exhibitor Jeff Wade of Slow Money SLO.
Stacey Hunt at Central Coast Bioneers Conference, October 2011, San Luis Obispo, CA
Carroll and helper from our conference bookstore Volumes of Pleasure.
Pismo Dunes, San Luis Obispo County, CA
Conference attendees mesmerized by Amy Goodman.
Sea Otters in Kelp Bed
Exhibitor Whalebird Kombucha pulled samples of their tasty products.
Hikers on Bishops Peak, San Luis Obispo County, CA
Everyone checking cell phones in the lunch line.
Phyllis Davies and her solar oven, out there even in the threat of rain.
Checking out the exhibit tables.
Tim LaSalle discussing the benefits of large scale carbon farming.

Breakfast will be provided by Natural Foods Coop (donations welcomed) serving coffee, tea, scones and amazing brownies from Marlena/Airen’s Confections, and a variety of croissants and morning buns from Pan D’oro.

Lunch provided by Javed Kabob Paradise

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