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An Oasis of Hope for Detroit’s Future

For the second year in row, Marygrove College is hosting the Great Lakes Bioneers Detroit (GLBD) annual conference October 15-17. It is a reunion of like minds, and a celebration of common goals through education. Bioneers care deeply about their connection to community, and the planet at large. They advocate progress without disrupting the greater web of life, by championing simple concepts—the kinds of things we all learn as children—and giving them relevance on a larger scale: Don’t litter. Leave things the way you found them. Don’t take more than you need. Applying state-of-the-art technologies to these fundamental lessons is the challenge for today’s leaders and scientists. In the tradition of Marygrove’s founder and sponsor, the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM), Marygrove is continuing the dialogue: How to make the world a better place.

The conference brings greater consciousness for innovative, green-based ideas at a time when Detroit is faced with reinventing itself. Marygrove believes that its commitment to urban leadership in an evolving world is profoundly current, and can help guide our struggling city in a positive direction. “We’ll offer a variety of workshops that participants can tailor to their interests,” says Rose DeSloover, Conference Liaison and Dean of Fine Arts, Marygrove. “You can take a tour of Detroit’s urban community gardens, explore low-cost technologies for renewable energy, and even earn Continuing Education Units (CEU) through Marygrove by introducing students to Bioneers concepts…it’s very exciting to be a part of this movement.”

One and all, we are custodians of planet earth

Roughly 600 participants from all walks of life are expected to attend this year. “It’s important to bring people together right here in the city, and give them a chance to see the bigger picture,” said Gloria Rivera, IHM Sister and GLBD Coordinator. Rivera also emphasizes the need for individuals to do their part —whether it’s joining a neighborhood improvement committee, or growing vegetables in the back yard. She advocates the Bioneer spirit of “getting involved any way you can, and be present…that’s how change happens.”

Area youth from grades seven through 12 are invited to Young Bioneers Day on Friday, Oct 15. There are hands-on workshops, and an organic, locally grown and prepared lunch.  Students will learn how to re-define progress by staying connected to the natural world, and respecting the planet we depend on. Forward thinking and future-oriented, a young Bioneer holds the promise of engaging other students to look beyond the limits of their school’s recycling program.

Is it pie in the sky?  It most certainly is…and more than likely… pesticide-free wild blueberry with a whole wheat crust. For example, chemicals polluting the air can cause ozone depletion, which affects the growth of plant life, which affects the number of bees that pollinate, which affects the amount of fruits and vegetables the earth bears. In short, the health of the sky can affect your pie. It is all linked. Bioneers believe the sooner we wrap our heads around it, the better off we’ll be; especially in Detroit, where the vestiges of a once-thriving manufacturing base has taken its toll on the environment and local economy. Through the power of partnership and education, Marygrove is positioned to make a difference. Join us!
For early registration information contact Rose DeSloover at (313) 927-1336. On-site registration begins Friday, October 15 at 8 a.m., on the campus of Marygrove, Madame Cadillac Building. Find out more at

Sisters walk the walk.

Bioneer concepts are really nothing new for our sponsoring IHM Sisters. They renovated their 376,000-square-foot 1920’s home in 2003 to make it a sustainable dwelling to be enjoyed for many generations—at little cost to the earth. The Mother House in Monroe, MI houses over 200 IHM sisters and serves as headquarters for the IHM congregation. Wetlands were engineered on the property to recycle 40 percent of their waste water, and geothermal heating and cooling greatly reduce the home’s energy costs. Everything from the paint on the walls, to plumbing and electrical material was carefully chosen to be environmentally sound. The Sisters’ belief that “human progress has come at the expense of the entire community of creation” makes them Bioneers at their very core.


Author, filmmaker and founder Kenny Ausubel coined the term Bioneers in 1990 to describe an emerging culture: “Bioneers are social and scientific innovators …who have peered deep into the heart of living systems to understand how nature operates, and to mimic "nature's operating instructions" to serve human ends without harming the web of life. Nature's principles—kinship, cooperation, diversity, symbiosis and cycles of continuous creation absent of waste—can also serve as metaphoric guideposts for organizing an equitable, compassionate and democratic society.”

Sustainability is defined as meeting ecological, societal, and economical needs without compromising any of these for future generations. Sustainable living is described as making choices to live within the above parameters, efficiently and responsibly. Choices are made based on reducing an individual’s carbon footprint.

The term carbon footprint refers to the amount of carbon (C02) we emit individually in any one-year period. C02 is produced from many sources and is the primary gas responsible for Global Warming and the resulting alarming changes in our climate. Nearly everything we do in our modern society requires energy. This energy is generated primarily by burning fossil fuels. From all sources, the average American is responsible for approximately 19-21 tons of carbon emissions annually. This is an average. For some Americans, this tonnage is less. For others, it is considerably more. The US as a whole is responsible for emitting 25% of all global greenhouse gas emissions every year while we are only 5% of the world’s population.