Great Lakes Bioneers Chicago Event, 2012

2012 was Great Lakes Bioneers Chicago’s inaugural event. The 2012 theme, Exploring Solutions Guided by Nature, called us to come together to begin the journey to help Chicago become a more just, sustainable city, based on nature’s principles, including kinship; diversity; and creation, absent of waste.. The event, held from November 2 through 4, at the University of Illinois, Chicago, focused on introducing new, innovative ideas; building relationships; and having fun..

Eco-Justice served as the lead organizer and fiscal sponsor. We are grateful for the leadership team and our sponsors, including the Pierce Family Foundation, who made this event both possible and a success!

Plenary Speakers:

John Edel.  John is Executive Director of Plant Chicago. The Plant, located in Chicago’s historic Back of the Yards, is repurposing a century old meatpacking facility to explore the intersection of recycling, job creation and local growing. By harnessing food waste, this this 95,000 square-foot vertical farm is shooting for net-zero energy use while recycling waste products, energy and gasses.

John also is the owner and developer of the Chicago Sustainable Manufacturing Center, a green business incubator in the Stockyards Industrial Corridor. As general contractor, Edel took the facility from a burnt-out shell to 100% occupancy while using a mixture of waste-stream recycled materials and leading-edge technology to make the building energy efficient and non-toxic.

Richard Heinberg. Richard Heingberg is Senior Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute.  He regarded as one of the world’s foremost Peak Oil educators. He has authored scores of essays and articles that have appeared in such journals as Nature, The American Prospect, Public Policy Research, Quarterly Review, The Ecologist, Resurgence, The Futurist, European Business Review, Earth Island Journal, Yes!, and The Sun; and on websites such as,,,, and

Richard has been quoted in Time magazine, appeared in many film and television documentaries and has spoken to hundreds of audiences in 14 countries and is a recipient of the M. King Hubbert Award for Excellence in Energy Education.
Read More…

Nina Simons.  Nina is cofounder of National Bioneers. Throughout her career, Nina has pioneered innovative social marketing strategies for successful ventures that have worked to advance social and environmental change. Previously, she served as president of Seeds of Change and as director of strategic marketing for Odwalla. In each case, she was instrumental in the companies achieving rapid national prominence.

Throughout her career, Nina has pioneered innovative social marketing strategies for successful ventures that have worked to advance social and environmental change. Previously, she served as president of Seeds of Change and as director of strategic marketing for Odwalla. In each case, she was instrumental in the companies achieving rapid national prominence.

Vandana Shiva. Dr. Shiva is a philosopher, environmental activist, author and eco feminist. In 1982 she founded the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, dedicated to high-quality, independent research to address the most significant ecological and social issues of our times. In 1991, she founded Navdanya, a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources, especially native seed.

Among her many awards are the Alternative Nobel Prize (Right Livelihood Award), Order of the Golden Ark, Global 500 Award of the UN, Earth Day International Award of the UN, Lennon ONO grant for peace award, Sydney Peace Prize, Doshi Bridgebuildep Award, Calgary Peace Prize and Thomas Merton Award.

Gerould Wilhelm. Dr. Gerould Wilhelm is a botanist, research taxonomist, and educator. He is an owner of Conservation Design Forum, Inc., the pioneer company devoted to changing the water doctrine in the United States, and is the Director of Research for the Conservation Research Institute.

He co-authored with Floyd Swink, the definitive flora “Plants of the Chicago Region,” and is developing an expanded, illustrated “Flora of the Chicago Region.” Dr. Wilhelm is noted for his Floristic Quality Assessment (FQA) methodology, which has become widely adapted for use in over 20 states and provinces: His recent research effort on Timber Hill Savanna has increased our understanding and awareness of the critical cultural relationships involved in the evolution of North American landscapes and ecosystems.

Starhawk. Starhawk is an author, activist, permaculture designer, and a voice for earth-based spirituality. Her newest book is “The Empowerment Manual: A Guide for Collaborative Groups”.

Starhawk is a veteran of progressive movements, from anti-war to anti-nukes, and deeply committed to bringing the techniques and creative power of spirituality to political activism. She is a panelist for “On Faith,” a religion website sponsored by Newsweek and the Washington Post.

Mark Lakeman. Mark is a co-founder of the City Repair Project in Portland, Oregon and served as the Co-Director of Creative Vision from 1995 to 2008. He also is the founder and principal of Communitecture, Inc., a cutting-edge design firm with sustainable building and planning projects.

After in the 1980′s as a lead designer of large scale corporate projects, Mark embarked on a series of cultural immersion projects with numerous indigenous societies in order to derive place-making patterns that could be applied to urban settings in the United States. These patterns include broad participation, local ownership and transference of authority to local populations, creative expression, and social capital as the primary economic engine of change


Bioneers Chicago 2012


Over 700 people attended one or more of this three-day event, designed to begin the journey towards a more just and sustainable city.


Bioneers Network Event

Great Lakes Bioneers Chicago was a local affiliate of Bioneers that highlights breakthrough solutions for restoring people and the planet. Our vision for the future is rooted in nature-inspired solutions to the world’s most pressing social justice and environmental challenges. For more information on National Bioneers, visit:

What is Bioneers?

Pioneers comes from the root words “Biological” and “Pioneers”.  Bioneers look at solutions to today’s social, economic and environmental from the lens of nature, asking the question “how would nature solve this problem”?.  Solutions created in this way are holistic, interconnected, and low-impact, and avoid the pitfalls of false solutions that typically lead us from one problem to another.

Great Lakes Bioneers Chicago (GLBC) is a recent initiative by Eco-Justice Collaborative, and a local self-organized group affiliated with National Bioneers. Founded in 2011, GLBC hosted two events to create a leading-edge forum where participants can see tomorrow today … a future environment of hope.

In 2012 and 2013, we brought together social and scientific innovators who focus on breakthrough solutions inspired by nature and human ingenuity. These visionaries already are creating the healthy, diverse, equitable and beautiful world we want to live in – our legacy for future generations and the web of life on which our lives depend.

EJC recently relocated its offices to Champaign, Illinois, and is hoping to rekindle Bioneers in the central part of the state, while others, part of the leadership team, are working to find ways to keep the Bioneers tradition in Chicago moving forward.