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I had the opportunity to attend Great Lakes Bioneers in Detroit, October 14-15, 2011.  It was a real pleasure to experience Bioneers without having any responsibilities, and especially enjoyable to connect with people we’ve worked with through the Great Lakes Bioneers network.  Cleveland and Detroit share so many similarities; it was great to see how much they care about their city and how proud they are of strides forward.  One highlight was seeing the new “Green Garage,” a beautiful restoration of a Model T showroom that had fallen into disrepair.  The restoration has been done to make it into a zero energy and zero waste building with lots of insulation and some solar water heating.  Wood and brick were reused to great effect, and a formerly derelict alley has been transformed into a garden-like atmosphere.  Even more exciting, the building is being used as a green business incubator using an innovative “One Earth Patterns” concepts, promoting good design that is attuned to our relationship with the earth, minimizing our impact. Check out:

The other impressive part of the conference was the involvement of 100 middle and high school students in a full day of tours and special workshops.  Their energy and interest was rewarding to see.

Nancy King Smith

Posted October 27th, 2011.

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Watch the 2011 Bioneers Conference Speakers!

Watch the 2011 National Bioneers Speakers at

Posted October 21st, 2011.

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Fast Track Projects

Sue Blouch’s incredible drawing capturing the live presentations of the seven Fast Track Project ideas presented the opening morning of the Bioneers Cleveland 2010 Conference.

Posted October 21st, 2011.

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Peter Warshall: Dreaming New Mexico

2010 Bioneers National Plenary

Peter Warshall: Dreaming New Mexico

Peter Warshall: Dreaming New Mexico from Bioneers on Vimeo.

Dreaming New Mexico produced a systemic statewide analysis and re-visioning of all aspects of a region’s food (and energy) system. This innovative project offers a template for cities and states to realize do-able dreams to leverage the way we produce, market and eat food, region by region.

Posted December 12th, 2010.

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A Quality of Action

On a beautiful, sunny afternoon, I found Kim Foreman in her Environmental Health Watch office on Lorain. She graciously shared information about her project in progress, Neighborhood Leadership for Environmental Health. NLEH is about involving four inner city neighborhoods in sustainability education and action. As Kim says. “Sustainability means different things depending on where you live.”

I came away from our time together instructed and moved by all she and her partners are achieving. There is a wonderful quality to their actions.

Here’s  some of our conversation:

Q  You are giving, along with George “Keemah” Durden III, a workshop at the Conference. In reading the information about the workshop, I was struck by the kind of quality of action that it involves.

I met with Dorothy Salem, a Professor of History at Tri-C to talk about her workshop about women of color in the environmental movement. She mentioned that Sonia Syler had given an Earth Day speech at Tri-C on environmental racism. And one of the things that Dorothy Salem was talking about in our interview was that people who are impacted  by environmental racism have so many different things to contend with, other than what their water’s made of.

A. Exactly

Q.  So, what struck me about your workshop was that you are talking about action, and the empowerment of action.

A.  Right. I have a panel set up. The workshop title is Neighborhood Leadership for Environmental Health. That title is also the title of an actual project that Environmental Health Watch, the Neighborhood Leadership Institute, Earth-Day Coalition and the Greater Cleveland Clean Air  Campaign is working on in four urban Eastside neighborhoods in the city of Cleveland. We’re working in Mt. Pleasant, Buckeye-Woodland, Central and Fairfax. Rid-All Green Partnership is one of our key project partners. I also called on Vicki Trotter from Trotter’s Cleaners because she has an incubator, working with youth on entrepreneurial initiatives. Trotter’s Cleaners is one of the first Green cleaners in Ohio. I think people just don’t know about it. Continue Reading…

Posted October 26th, 2010.

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Best of Bioneers Docufest

Join us today – Friday, Oct. 22 – at 7 pm in Cleveland State University’ s Levin College of Urban Affairs, Dively Auditorium to watch..

The WINNERS for the Best of Bioneers DocuFest…
  • Michael Pollan: In Defense of Food: The Omnivore’s Solution
  • Sarah James: Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change: Report from the Arctic
  • Mary Margil: Who Speaks for the Trees? Driving Nature’s Rights into Law
  • Chief Almie Narayamoga Surui: Biocultural Conservation in the Amazon
  • Janine Benyus: Nature’s Best: Top Biomimicry Solutions to Environmental Crises
The DVD’s will be shown with no charge; Donations  will be accepted.
The Best of Bioneers will lead up to the 2010 Bioneers Cleveland Conference where nine outstanding plenary speakers will be included on the program.

Posted October 22nd, 2010.

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Tom’s Garden

Tom Gibson and Catherine Feldman are going to present a workshop at the Bioneers Conference: Permaculture and the Home Landscape. I know them both as involved and active gardeners who completed a permaculture design certification course (along with me) at the Shaker Lakes Nature Center this past winter and spring. I’ve had the experience of seeing the lovely gardens that Catherine and Elsa Johnson have created at Catherine’s home. The extensive gardens are a wonderful combination of some of the concepts of permaculture and aesthetics. As I’d not had a chance to see Tom’s garden, I went gladly to meet with him there one afternoon in a free moment, just after he’d completed his Plant Biology midterm at CSU.

It wasn’t hard to find his house, hardy ageratum and white woods asters were blooming in full on the tree lawn, harbingers of sorts to the larger garden filling his front and back yard. Ten years ago, after a sewer problem left a large grey gash in the front, Tom and his wife Carol decided to plant a native garden, full of plants they both liked and were curious about. On the day I visited, blue stem goldenrod and blue asters bloomed in the dappled shade provided by old, tall trees.

Tom and Fuki

I was, more than once, sternly reminded to watch where I stepped, and to stay on the paths. In the back, there was a path made of sunken stone (an idea of master permaculturist Dave Jacke’s) and planted with prostrate bird’s foot trefoil. There was a this- year- new, gentle, privacy fence of smooth alder, a nitrogen fixer. There was wood and stinging nettle, and I was introduced to fuki, a Japanese plant that likes wet shade, and whose stalks are edible. (Also, I was introduced to a new breakfast recipe: Steam either wood nettle, stinging nettle or fuki stems. Then sauté them with garlic. Add eggs and veggie sausages.) Woodland strawberries were spreading their tentacles, and the comfrey, wonderful mulching and fertilizing plant, was growing full after its third cutting. Across from a bed of herbs, there was sweet cicely to nibble on, and a pungent leaf mustard.

So, my tastebuds  were happy as Tom and I sat down to talk on the porch.

Q.   So, you and Catherine are giving a workshop that involves permaculture. I wanted to ask you, since permaculture is such a large subject, how you yourself define it?

A.   Well, I go back to the Bill Mollison thesis, which is to mimic the process of nature to grow the most amount of food with the least amount of effort. That’s true – but it is hard to ‘unpack’ for people who don’t know what you’re talking about. He had to come up with some kind of definition. I guess the way I see it is people integrating food production into their home landscaping. That’s what I’m really focusing on.

Continue Reading…

Posted October 13th, 2010.

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Living Downstream

Last night I went to Ohio Environmental Council’s Green Screen Environmental Film Series.  Every first Wednesday of the month at 7pm, OEC screens an environmental film at the Gateway Film Center.  Last night they showed the documentary Living Downstream that follows the critically acclaimed book of the same title by 2008 Bioneers plenary Sandra Steingraber.

The film documents a journey that Sandra is following to demonstrate the scientific linkage between environmental contaminants and human cancer.  She has been proclaimed the modern day Rachel Carson, and I highly recommend that you see her poignant film.

{post by marianne}

Posted September 2nd, 2010.

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Stories from the Field

Gather 'Round Farm, photograph by Marianne Eppig

The more you become involved with the various environmental and community-building projects in Northeast Ohio, the more you hear about other great people and projects filling niches you had never even considered. It’s a nourishing, uplifting experience that reminds you your work is not in vain and that you’re not alone. Yet much of this great work goes unnoticed. Often you don’t learn about something until you meet that person who heard from her sister that the co-worker of an old neighbor of theirs is involved in this wonderful project that….

A large part of what Bioneers Cleveland is about is bringing people together. We strive to be a group that fosters inclusiveness and connections. As part of that, we are launching a “Stories From the Field” page on this site to keep readers apprised of various efforts being made to better life in our area. Our volunteers hail from many different locations and backgrounds; they have their hands in a wide array of projects and know of many more.

Still, we’re sure there are a lot of good things we’ll miss. That’s why we’re hoping that visitors to our site will jump in and share their stories too. Are you involved in a community arts project? Tell us about it. Planting an urban garden in your neighborhood or even your own backyard? Let us know how it’s going. Want to shine a light on a new education initiative in a local school? We’d love to hear about. In short, if you know of any project, event, organization or person that’s working to make a positive difference in Northeast Ohio, please write something up about it and send it to us at:

We’ll post your story to the “Stories From the Field” page and invite others to comment. Or, if you’d rather, simply submit your story, links, etc. as a comment to a post that’s already on the page. Together, we can create a vibrant community discussion and help to spread awareness, participation and pride in Northeast Ohio’s web of creative and meaningful energy!

Post by Matt Marshall

Posted June 29th, 2010.

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