Mindrolling – Ep. 167 – Bioneers Co-Founder Kenny Ausubel


On this week’s episode of Mindrolling, Raghu sits down with Bioneers co-founder, Kenny Ausubel.

They discuss the role of Bioneers and how it is bringing innovative thinkers together to create radical social and environmental change. Kenny explores the interconnectedness of all things and what can be done to strike a balance between nature and humanity.

“Before we think that we can change anything, we are going to have to change our own hearts.” – Ram Dass


Show Notes

01:35 – We are introduced to Kenny and how he came to be interested in changing the world. Growing up during the tumultuous social and political climate of the 60’s, Kenny became interested in affecting positive social change.

After suffering a bizarre illness due to massive chemical exposure, Kenny moved out of NYC to improve his health and wellbeing. He ended up settling in New Mexico where he began a deep journey into alternative medicine and healing. This experience deepened Kenny’s commitment to doing all he can to heal the planet and improve the quality of life of others.

Kenny describes setting out on a path which led to a series of unlikely events and connections that would result in the forming of Seeds of Change. This business was a seed company that focused on replenishing biodiversity in agriculture.

Inspired by his success, Kenny began to seek out other individuals who were all asking the question of, “How would nature do it?”, in regards to replenishing and sustaining the environment we inhabit. Kenny began to call these type of people “bioneers.” Consumed with the dilemma of having all these people providing solutions, but being overlooked, Kenny was inspired by a friend and given the opportunity to hold a conference of these biological pioneers.

11:35 – Larry shares an example of “bioneering” in practice. John Todd, Ph.D. conducts work in constructed wetlands, an alternative to conventional sewage treatment plants. He created a process which simulates wetland environment and purifies water naturally. Many companies are currently looking to use this method to filter large amounts of water and make it safely consumable to its customers.

We also hear about the work of mycologist Paul Stamets. Stamets wondered if the medicinal properties of mushrooms could heal the environment as well as humans. He used the spores from oyster mushrooms to absorb massive amounts of oil at a nearby oil spill. The experiment showed that mushrooms could remove 100% of the oil from the contaminated soil.

20:05 – Raghu explores the company Bioneers. Kenny describes the company’s conception and rapid growth. The core role of Bioneers is bringing visibility to the biological pioneers of the world and communicating their vision and projects to the media and public.

Due to the efforts of Bioneers, these innovative people can get invaluable press and funding they otherwise might not have seen. Bioneers also serves to connect everyone working on these different projects so they may better work towards a more unified goal.

23:25 – “Before we think that we can change anything, we are going to have to change our own hearts.” – Ram Dass. Raghu and Kenny address the problem of being self-reflective while not engaging in the outer world and being socially active while not working on the Self.

29:45 – While on the topic of his personal garden, Raghu asks Kenny advice on finding high-quality seeds from a socially aware company like Seeds of Change once was. Here is the list of these companies mentioned in the podcast:

The Living Seed Company
The Sustainable Seed Company
Renee’s Garden
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
High Mowing Seeds
Salt Spring Seeds
Peaceful Valley

32:10 – Kenny discusses biomimicry, the fair food system, and the concept of open pollinated seeds. A biomimetic food system has to be not just an ecological system but one that is socially just.

Organic farming and holistic range management are the top two methods of addressing our carbon and deforestation concerns. Kenny describes the benefits of biodiversity and how necessary that is to keep tasty and nutritious crops alive.

46:20 – Closing, Raghu discusses developing consciousness around indigenous tribes that offer such a perfect balance of the inner and outer. It is remarkable the balance many of them have struck between inner work and outer respect for the environment.

Kenny describes the work that Bioneers have done in highlighting the concerns that indigenous people face. At the Bioneers Conference, there is a forum created especially for the discussion of these issues. Last year 87 different Naive American nations met at the Bioneers Conference to work together on their shared problems and goals.

More About Bioneers

Bioneers was founded in 1990 in Santa Fe, New Mexico by social entrepreneurs Kenny Ausubel and Nina Simons. Bioneers advances the great transformation underway in human civilization by serving as a seed head for game-changing social and scientific vision, knowledge and practices that honor the genius of nature and human ingenuity.

Bioneers does so through their annual National Bioneers Conference, award-winning media, local conferences and community resilience networks, and leadership training programs focused on youth, women, and Indigenous peoples. The next Bioneers Conference is October 21-23, 2016. For information or to register, click here.

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Photo via Bioneers.org