Bioneers Conference, green energy experts coming to Mac

By April DeJarlais

In a nod to its sustainability efforts Macalester will be hosting the fifth annual Northland Bioneers Conference Oct. 23-24. There will be 12 workshops revolving around green energy offered over the two-day event, plus a “sustainability tour” of the Macalester campus. Over 30 exhibits will also be featured, with local sustainable energy, food and product organizations showing their wares.

“[The conference] will connect the local level with the big name speakers,” sustainability director Suzanne Hansen said.

Macalester associate professor of Environmental Studies Roopali Phadke’s presentation is tentatively titled “Green Energy Blues” and concerns community opposition to renewable energy. She will be presenting her lecture the week after in Washington, D.C. to the Federal Science and Technology Policy Institute.

“These issues are so current, there are lots of conflicting views about where we go from here,” Phadke said.

The Bioneers group approached Macalester’s High Winds Fund, a group focused on community development, last summer about hosting the conference. Macalester is making strides toward becoming a more sustainable campus, with the LEED-certified IGC building and the waste reduction program of the last few years, which has reduced Macalester’s waste by a third.

The conference represents another way to raise awareness on the matter, and acts as a “nice partnership and a good experience for students,” Hansen said.

The conference features as its keynote speakers University of Minnesota Director of Technology Massoud Amin, Phadke, alum Timothy DenHerder-Thomas ’09 and Midwest Permaculture founders Bill and Rebecca Wilson.

The Northland Conference is a satellite version of the larger Bioneers Conference that was hosted in San Rafael, CA Oct. 15-17. Recorded talks from the San Rafael conference by Jane Goodall, James Hansen, Andy Lipkis and John Francis will be shown at the Northland event.

Attendance costs for Macalester students are $5 per day or $10 for the weekend. Volunteers who commit to more than eight hours of service are provided with free admission.