Kandee DeGraw: What are you doing for the Bioneers event?
Elisabeth Gick: I am one of the three organizers for the event. The other two are Joan May from Sheep Mountain Alliance and Betsy McKinney from Restore Our World. We did it together last year and we had such a good time that we are doing it again.
KD: Now, you are beaming it here to Telluride?
EG: Yes, the Bioneers main, or mother conference, happens in San Rafael, Calif. and has happened for 15 years. This is the 15th annual. They are in the Marin Center, a building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, so it is a great environment. It holds 3,000 people, and a bunch of years ago, maybe five years ago, they filled all 3,000 seats. So they started putting a tent next to the center for another 1,000 and now all 4,000 seats are sold out. They said, "We want to get our message out there, what other possibilities do we have?" They came up with the idea of beaming it to sites throughout the country. It is a satellite sound link. It is not interactive, we cannot talk to them and they cannot really talk to us, but we see and hear what is happening. Ingrid Lundahl will be our photographer this year and she will take pictures all day long. Three times a day she will send them out to San Rafael and suddenly we'll see ourselves on the screen. "Yeah. Go Telluride!"
KD: How many other places are doing this?
EG: There are 15 sites this year. Last year there were 12. The goal eventually is that there are two sites in every state. Colorado is the first state that already has two sites.
KD: Great, where is the other one?
KD: Of course. Why is this message so important to you?
EG: The message is fabulous. When people talk about the main topics of Bioneers – which are all health related in my opinion – it is the environment, it is social justice, it is community, it is personal health. They are all very much connected because how can you have personal health in a dirty environment or in a bad community? I see health as the big picture, the overall title for it. They don't present topics in a doom and gloom fashion, recounting all the terrible stuff that is happening in the world all the time. All Bioneers have a practical solution to a problem. If you don't have a solution, don't call yourself a Bioneer.
KD: How did you get involved? Did you go to the one in California?
EG: I went to one, actually, when they were still in Santa Fe. That was 12 years ago. Betsy went to one two years ago and she came back a changed person. We heard they were looking for more beaming sites and there was a deadline on April 15th. We wrote our letter on April 15th and faxed it out there and FedExed the hard copy after that. We told them how incredibly beautiful Telluride is and we told them what a perfect community we are. And they said, "Yep, you sound O.K."
KD: Do you feel Telluride has that Bioneer "motto" going on?
EG: I think Telluride fits in for the most part. We are happy environmentalists, not doom and gloom environmentalists. People in Telluride know how to put on an event, maybe a little too well (laughs). I think the three of us are a pretty powerful – what's the right word? – leadership team.
KD: Do you think Telluride offers practical solutions?
EG: (Long pause) Well, it takes me a little while to answer that one, no? (Laughs) The recent victory in the [Valley Floor] lawsuit is a step in the right direction. I think we are scrambling here to keep up with the negative stuff. It is hard for us to put out enough positive to counterbalance rampant development and so on. I cannot really say anything good about that. I think the right ideas are here in Telluride, the right mindset.
KD: What are you hoping to learn this year?
EG: You know, they always surprise me. I know there are a bunch of big names. We pretty much know what Amory Lovins says, we know what Paul Hawkins says, although he is fabulous, and then there are the names that don't mean anything to me. There is Jay Harman, he is not famous. I have no idea what he is going to talk about. The title (Designing the Next Golden Age) means nothing to me. Last year a farmer from Canada we had never heard of had everybody in California and here at the Opera House crying when he told his story. It was David and Goliath, it was Percy against Monsanto. Unfortunately he lost, unlike David. (Laughs) But it ain't over yet. I am hoping for something that just comes out of the blue and blows my mind. You can almost count on it from Bioneers.
KD: What are some of the topics they will be hitting this year?
EG: In some way they always relate to social justice, the environment, alternative health practices, and community. I am sure the upcoming election will be mentioned more then once.
KD: But they don't have a specific topic each year.
EG: Nope. There are 15 plenary speakers, five every morning. They have dozens of workshops every afternoon, out there in San Rafael, for the 4,000 participants and we have activities all afternoon, workshops and conversation cafes.
KD: All local?
EG: Right here by local leaders – in this case local means from the Four Corners. That is the area that I like to involve in this conference. Anybody living south of Flagstaff can go to the conference in Prescott. I know we have people coming from Steamboat Springs, but definitely the Eastern Slope goes to Boulder.
KD: What are some of the activities that people can expect?
EG: Well, if you have always wanted to ride Betsy McKinney's electric scooter this is your chance. Along with Dulcie's Bio-diesel Jetta and some of the Toyota Priuses, we have some test-driving set up. If it is a gorgeous day like today you can go on a guided hike with Phil Miller or Chris Hazen, both very knowledgeable people. You can take a workshop with Kris Holstrom, "How to avoid GMOs" or you can take part in a workshop called "Investing with Your Values." It goes on and on and they are all fabulous. In the evening on Friday and Saturday we have our own live speakers. Friday evening Anna Lappé will speak. She is the daughter of Francis Moore Lappé who wrote Diet for a Small Planet, what 25 years ago?
KD: Oh yeah, I read that.
EG: You were very young Kandee. (Laughs) Anna Lappé is as forceful as her mother, she is gorgeous and young. I am hoping to attract a lot more young people this year than last year. "Media Might" is the topic of her talk. Saturday evening is for the oldies like myself. Lloyd Khan is the speaker. He wrote a book in 1974 called Shelter. Every hippie owned it, everybody had a copy. Now he has come out with the sequel to it, only 30 years later, called Home Work, and again it is about hand built houses around the world. The book is out and it is so gorgeous. You are just drooling and scheming, "Where can I finally build a straw bale house?" So that is Saturday.
KD: How do people get involved?
EG: Buy your ticket, $40 for the whole weekend. It is worth it.
KD: Tickets are?
EG: At Restore Our World or they can call Joan at 728-3729, or me at 728-4698 or 728-3886. If they really cannot cough up $40 we will find a volunteer spot or something for them to do to work it off. You can come to just one session in the morning and then come back for the film that will play after Anna Lappé at the Opera House. It is $15 a day or $40 for the whole weekend. Can I mention that we have Angel tickets? If you want to be an angel and help us out, because $40 doesn't really cover the cost, then buy an angel ticket for $100.