A Conversation with Bioneers Co-Founder Nina Simons
by Brita Belli
Bioneers are innovators from all walks of life, seeking to make the world a better place in ways that respect the Earth and all of its inhabitants. Their organization, considered a “network of networks,” connects people and ideas through their annual National Bioneers Conference, local community action groups and original multimedia productions, including the award-winning “Revolution from the Heart of Nature” radio series.
Bioneers co-founder Nina Simons, co-editor of Moonrise: The Power of Women Leading from the Heart, talked with Natural Awakenings about the role each of us plays today in creating a more sustainable tomorrow.
How can we be hopeful about the state of the Earth?
I feel that we each need to cultivate a balanced view. It’s important to hold what I call a “both/and” awareness, which recognizes how seriously our planet’s life support systems are compromised and how intensive the demand is for us to engage in reversing their deterioration. At the same time, I remain deeply hopeful, because so many people are awakening to the urgency of the issues we face and many more are now mobilizing to act in positive ways.
Does this mean that you see a societal shift toward a better way of thinking?
Our state of mind is directly affected by where we place our attention. If our primary source of information is mainstream media, then it’s easy to feel depressed and hopeless. Each of us would benefit from limiting our daily media intake, because it influences our inner story and impacts how we nourish our psyches, stories and visions.
One of the greatest medicines for despair is action. When we act on behalf of what we love and those in need, it can help restore gratitude, a sense of faith and a more balanced view. That’s why natural disasters often elicit the best kinds of responses human beings can offer: compassion, empathy and a desire to generously contribute to solutions.
To what extent does healing the Earth depend on healing ourselves?
We co-created the current political, economic, energy, industrial and food production systems based on competition and hierarchy that are wreaking havoc on Planet Earth and on our collective quality of life and future survival. As long as we participate in them, we perpetuate them. We have an immense opportunity to reinvent our selves and society’s systems right now.
Our culture conditions us to be hard on ourselves, judging and comparing our talents and actions while often valuing ourselves primarily based on our work or relationships. To be the most effective change agents we can be, I believe we need to reverse these patterns and learn to consider ourselves and all of life as sacred and inherently worthy of love.
One of the most powerful things each of us can do at this pivotal point is to claim full responsibility for our inner “story-scape”—to shift our personal story about the impacts we’re capable of having, what our capacity for action really is and how bringing ourselves in service to life at this moment can be meaningful, joyful and effective.
Isn’t there often a conflict between what people believe and what they do?
We each contain a complex ecosystem within us. The more we can become conscious of cultivating ourselves to be authentically and fully in heartfelt service to what we love, the better we can show up on behalf of the Earth and the people and creatures with whom we share it as home.
Do you see women playing a particular role in this transformation?
While every person is a unique mix of both masculine and feminine qualities, I think that women as a whole have a deeply embedded coding that inclines us to be especially strong in caring, compassion and collaboration. As leadership capacities, I believe these three—and connecting across differences—may be among the most essential to resilience. Our future as a species will clearly benefit from more women finding their voices, truth and connections to power.
The more women that can articulate their individual experiences in support of an inclusive collective vision, the more we can begin to tip our institutions, culture and the men we love to increasingly value these “feminine traits,” which I refer to as relational intelligence. For a long time, we have perpetuated a fatally flawed culture that has put intellect first. It’s past time that we all put the wisdom of our hearts, bodies and intuition first, with intellect in a supporting role.
Brita Belli is the editor of E-The Environmental Magazine. Connect at BritaBelli.com.