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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Benjamin Bures
Assistant News Editor

Back in 2019 I was just a contributing writer to The NorthWind. I found the experience to be one of the best ways to get involved with our community and help spread information...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

LEAVE NO TRACE — Heather Vivian from Respect Marquette County educates on the impacts of outdoor recreation as part of the organizations mission of protecting natural resources.
Leave No Trace 101 workshop promotes protecting natural resources
Benjamin BuresDecember 1, 2023

Hippie “Nonsense”


I spent nearly all of my weekend inside. As I listened to people talking, my bum and the cushioned chair I was perched on slowly melded into one. Watching a screen hour after hour dried my eyes and painted them red. By the end, I could not keep my legs from bouncing in under-moved, unexercised angst.

I can hear it already: “But Callie, you’re the Outdoor writer – you’re supposed to be outside. You promised to be the best cheerleader ‘The Outdoors’ has ever seen and encourage us to get outside.”

Yes but I also promised to write about “the greater issues that will ultimately determine if I will be able to continue to enjoy the outdoors in my lifetime and provide the same experiences for future generations.” As a lady of my word, this binding clause kept me inside as I attended the Great Lakes Bioneers Conference in downstate Traverse City.

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What is a Bioneer? Bioneers are “social and scientific innovators from all walks of life and disciplines 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.” Thoughtfully and eloquently called “hippie crap” by many.

Well, Earth ain’t no hippies-only club. In a global society that separates – people, ideas, ecologies, money and land – at an increasingly polarizing altitude, we are cutting ourselves off from the most amazingly powerful web of support ever created. While the laws of interconnectedness are inescapable, we can decide whether our role in this framework will be positive or negative. But we have to decide fast and dominance is not an option.

The conference brought together leading-edge thinkers in a nationwide network of conferences to share breakthrough solutions to the world’s most pressing social and environmental issues. Their messages were of hopeful urgency: they recognize the problems; they define the tipping points (or points at which damage is irreversible); they find the solutions in nature; and they have faith in the capacity of human thought and compassion to implement these solutions. These people are at the intellectual forefront of the human species spectrum.

But they are not the entire spectrum. I found the most grounding experience of the conference to be in the presentations (and my own experiences) of the social issues that continue to afflict our global society. Equity and justice are repeatedly accosted by the institutionalized workings of social (cultural, political, economic, racial, etc.) frameworks. We treat each other poorly; we treat the earth poorly.

The opening keynote speaker, Kristin Rothballer, said in a workshop I attended that sustainability is not going to be an intellectual revolution; it is going to be a soulful revolution. It is going to be a revolution that ties civil rights with environmental rights. And it is going to be rooted in human compassion. If we treat each other with equity and justice, we will treat the earth with the same principles.

As outdoor enthusiasts, we seek to get away from “civilization,” to find solace and to be out into the wilderness. When describing wilderness, we use words like untouched, pristine and isolated. This paradigm that wilderness is somehow unaffected by the throes of human-propagated climate change returns us to our disconnection from the Earth and from each other.

I was told to give you advice on sustainability: ways in which you could make a difference, ways to help. But there is no checklist of ideas I could provide or changes you could implement that would suddenly make you “sustainable.” Likewise, “to help” is to make this quest personal. It is going to take all the talents, creativity and passions of this world. What I can give you is the impetus to continue to move up on that combined intellectual-compassion spectrum: those who don’t know – learn; those who know – act; those who act – stay grounded and pollinate.

I spent nearly all of my weekend inside. My red, dry eyes watched and my ears listened as speaker after speaker blew my mind with their creative solutions to this global problem – the intellectual uplift was astounding. But my eyes were no longer dry when we discussed the dire need for social uplift. There is work to be done but there are many hands.

When dealing with the Earth, be ruled by a clear mind. When dealing with people, be ruled by a full heart.

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