Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

December 16, 2020

Bioneers Day 4: Healing Ecosystems & Uprooting Racism

Bioneers Conference 2020 Day 4
Beyond the Great Unraveling -- Weaving the World Anew

By Bioneers

The fourth and final day of the Bioneers 2020 Conference was a reminder of the ways in which humanity interacts with the natural world, to its benefit as well as to its detriment.

"By elevating ourselves above her, separating and isolating ourselves from nature, by refusing to understand nature as a living entity, we bring our own ruin," said Mari Margil of the Center for Democratic and Environmental Rights. "And in taking ourselves down, we seem intent on taking everything else down with us." 

Following are some of the ideas and takeaways Bioneers introduced today.

The Bioneers Team

P.S. Didn't make it to the live Conference? Keep reading to learn how to get access to all recorded sessions!


Many of the speakers at this year's Bioneers Conference are authors, and at the Bioneers Book Shop, we've made sure to include all their books, plus many more compelling titles, as well as the complete Bioneers Book series.

Lessons, in Their Own Words:

"We need to make a fundamental shift in how we govern ourselves toward nature, transforming nature from being considered other, incapable of possessing rights and protections, to nature being recognized as a living entity with legal rights, finally afforded even the most basic rights to exist, to thrive, to regenerate, to evolve, and to be restored." -Mari Margil; Executive Director | Center for Democratic and Environmental Rights

"Something is yearning to be born and worth fighting for. We need to breathe deeper. ...Become lightning striking its 'yes' into the atmosphere." -Naima Penniman; Program Director | Soul Fire Farm

"Society is waking up to the fact that we cannot have a healthy food system if we ignore racial justice and if we ignore the health of the land. We are in an uprising and a portal to something ancient and new. ...My belief is that the work of this moment is to return maize, both literally and metaphorically, to her sisters, to restore the polyculture, the carbon sequestration, the agroecology, and the honoring of our ancient and powerful ways." -Leah Penniman; Co-Executive Director | Soul Fire Farm

"When you have the honor and privilege of partnering with and learning from Indigenous colleagues, you understand that yes, indeed, the world can be woven anew." -Mark Plotkin; Co-Founder and President | Amazon Conservation Team

"The question of 'What's wrong with the food system?' feels huge in my mind. It's difficult for me to answer what's right with it, when I think about the exploitation, excessive profit over people, when I think about control over others instead of relationship in solidarity with others. I think about its impact on the earth, the soil, communities' health. I think about the way that this system has been used as a tool of racism and white supremacy. What's right with our food system?" -Heber Brown; Founding Director | Orita's Cross Freedom School

"What we conspire with comes to life, now more so than ever before because the veils are so thin. How do we sound in unison with the great loss we are all experiencing right now so that it knows that we are here honoring it as it transitions into something new? ...We need to normalize discomfort as a great teacher." -Alixa Garcia; Artist
Campaigns to Follow & Support:

Learn more about the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance, including its Indigenous Seed Keepers Network project, which promotes Indigenous cultural diversity for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants. (Mentioned in the panel BIPOC Leaders Share Food Sovereignty Strategies)

Fight for the legal rights of nature with the Center for Democratic and Environmental Rights, which works with governments, tribal nations, Indigenous communities, civil society, and grassroots activists to protect the human right to a healthy environment and establish the rights of the environment itself – the rights of nature. (Mentioned in Mari Margil and Thomas Linzey's keynote address, Changing Everything: The Global Movement for the Rights of Nature)

Read Leah Penniman's Farming While Black, the first comprehensive "how to" guide for aspiring African-heritage growers to reclaim their dignity as agriculturists and for all farmers to understand the distinct, technical contributions of African-heritage people to sustainable agriculture. (Mentioned in Leah Penniman's keynote address, Farming While Black: Uprooting Racism and Seeding Sovereignty)

Support the conservation of the Amazon with the Amazon Conservation Team, which works hand-in-hand with Indigenous and other local people to apply the power of innovation and time-tested traditional practices to protect the forests and watersheds of tropical America. (Mentioned in Mark Plotkin's keynote address, The Healing Forest Inferno: Conservation of the Amazon in the Face of Fires and COVID-19)
Learn more about how banks are supporting the fossil fuel industry and how you can support efforts to hold them accountable with the Rainforest Action Network. (Mentioned in the panel Turning off the Toxic Tap: Innovative Approaches to Stopping Big Oil)


Take Action with Speakers from the 2020 Conference

We've collected all of our roundups and action items from each day of the Bioneers 2020 Conference into one spot for you to review and share.


While the first-ever live virtual Bioneers Conference has concluded, we're thrilled to be able to provide On-Demand access to all the keynote talks, performances and panels, totaling nearly 30 hours of deeply compelling and inspiring talks and conversations with 130+ world class leaders. Participate in the Bioneers Conference on your own schedule (through January 15, 2021).

If you've registered for the Conference, you already have access. If you haven't registered, On-Demand access is now available for purchase at a super accessible price!


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