Go Green Spots
The Bioneers are Coming to Town Again!
by Lawson Schaller
This year's Central Coast Bioneers Conference proved to be as inspiring and informational as last years. There were great international and local speakers. The Slo Coast Journal's Jack McCurdy spoke about today's mainstream 'news organizations'—perhaps 'news corporations' is more accurate.
As many of you may know Jack is a reporter with decades of experience. He is also the author of books and recipient of a Pulitzer Prize while working at the Los Angeles Times. The take home message for me was the lack of fact finding, good analysis, and objective reporting in today's info-tainment media. This leaves a lot of room for misinformation, bias, and subjective opinionated writing. Beat reporters seem to be a thing of the past. In these times of corporate short-term, bottom-line thinking there is evidently little room in the budget for thorough reporting.
Immediately after Jack's presentation, Rebecca McCarigle spoke about miscommunication as it pertains to environmental awareness. She suggested techniques and strategies for effective understanding between opposing points of view on environmental issues—in this case, global warming. Naturally this can be a rather heated topic.
Rebecca spoke about survival and addictive traits that make communicating about this topic so challenging. Some of us see and feel the survival of the planet threatened (green house gases, nuclear waste, etc.). Some may cling to and protect that position. Others see the survival of their way of life threatened (oil dependency, trucks, SUV's, career, large home, luxury, etc.). Some may cling to and protect that position. The addictive part, as I understood it, is related to change—giving up our addiction—and how that change is perceived as threatening to our survival. Change is challenging. How we communicate with each other about large issues of the environment and the health of the planet is also challenging, as it can deeply stir our emotions.
Another talk at the conference was about green washing. It also tied into Jacks talk about mis-information, and the blatant use of misleading information. Many corporations, large and small, are using terms like "eco-friendly," "sustainable," "natural," and "made with renewable energy" in order to gain market share and increase sales.
The speaker, Kathryn Farrara, is an attorney with the National Advertising Division (NAD) Council of the Better Business Bureau. They help in assuring accuracy or validity in advertising claims, including green claims. In short, who can you trust these days? Are we heading back to the rough and tumble times of buyer beware? Snake oil vendors peddling their potion?
According to Kathryn, the NAD appears to be doing good work on holding companies accountable for their advertising claims, but there is so much (mis)information and advertising on-line, on TV, radio, and print. it seems impossible to scrutinize thoroughly. There may be tougher times ahead for the consumer.
One of the more moving moments for me at the conference was watching the film- Living Downstream, a documentary by and about Sandra Steingraber. Sandra is an ecologist and PhD. She is a cancer survivor and researcher who dives into the possible causes of her and her family's cancers. She is a very courageous and determined woman. Some compare her to a modern day Rachel Carson. The film is an engaging and interesting piece on possible correlations between atrizine, a herbicide, and cancer. It also talks about PCB's and their possible role in cancer.
While Living Downstream was playing, participants in the adjacent room had a talk titled Going Beyond Organic. I found it interesting, the close tie in of the two simultaneous events. There were also talks on ancient grains and sustainable food supplies. It all tied into and reinforced the message and concern of heavy chemical use in our crops and foods and the need for sustainable and safe processes and methods in our lifestyles.
I was impressed with the consistent messages and themes woven in throughout the conference. This was yet another wonderful Central Coast Bioneers event—well organized, well attended, and having a positive impact on our path to a better world.
We'll see you there next year. Mark it in your calendar.