“Be connected. You are a part of an evolving community and a dynamic universe that is changing as well. Rely on your connections with others, with nature and with the world to sustain you during times of change.” This was part of Stephan Martin message in his workshop, Lessons from the Universe on Navigating Crisis, Change and Transformation at the Bioneers By The Bay: Connecting for Change conference in New Bedford Massachusetts. The GALAvanters took on the conference ready to learn from this new experience. Several hundred people from all over the country came together to connect and share the common goal of wanting to see a change in our world today.
The three-day event started in the early morning with a gathering under tents on the blocks of downtown New Bedford, serving delicious muffins, coffee, and tea to warm our bodies in the crisp October air. All ages, shapes, sizes and colors filled the tents with smiling faces to make up a very diverse group of Bioneers. There was a common message that was heard over the weekend: We are all one, and the difference one person can make. No matter what part of the globe we come from, we are all on it together and with this message respect was given to all members in the community, and to those outside of it during these three days.
To start the journey a mixture of Accapelle groups, African drummers, spoken word artists, and poets created the energy leading into the keynote speakers who set the tone for the day. To name a few, Amy Goodman, John Francis, John Perkins, Satish Kumar, and Riki Ott were part of this powerful line up.
The afternoon was our time to explore personal interests and we had the opportunity to choose from a variety of different workshops. From Recycled Art in the Bee Tent, Lunchtime Yoga, or a Sacred Economics Workshop, there was a place for everyone to find his or her inspiration. The workshops had the best kind of learning environment with the speaker leading organically giving what the audience was searching for.
In our country’s current time of struggle there was one common question with all the Keynote speakers, “What should we do now to sustain ourselves?” This question although very difficult to answer, came with very simple and meaningful responses, such as, “have something to give that can serve the real needs of people on the planet”, said Charles Eisentein, author of Sacred Economics. He also said to be as generous as possible because that is where social power should come from, not from those who have the most money. John Perkins said that we were all born into this time because we have a purpose. We all have a role to play in this life, and not one part of it should be underestimated. There were friendly reminders that although we may be the 99% to other parts of the world, we are the 1%. Stephan Martin emphasized the power of gratitude, be grateful for what we have in the moment and pay attention to what we are naturally allured to. The hope for our future was coming from all corners, which was uplifting and refreshing.
In the evening there were opportunities to watch movies learn about mountain top removal in West Virginia and the deathly effects on the people living in the valleys and to the ecosystem. An open mic extravaganza with the Connecting for Change Youth Initiative was a time for singing, dancing and coming together in the midst of amazing performances with a theme of social consciousness.
Connecting for Change was an opportunity for NEGEF to celebrate fifteen years of grant making, and all of the work and support they have given to help make change a reality.
All in all, this conference was an enlightened gathering of people who were coming together as one, speaking up as a community, and connecting to make a change.