The sun shined smiled down on us like the baby faced sun from the teletubbies……
The point is, it was a beautiful day in Chicago. Hardly a day to be spent indoors but for Virgina Baker, Tina Verilli, and myself it was a day well spent inside the UIC student center. Our reason for being here was the Great Lakes Bioneers Conference, a three day event with speakers from around the world giving presentations and workshops about how to intersect the environment with our daily lives and be better citizens of the Earth. The conference was being put together in part by our friends from the Eco-Justice Collaborative (EJC) who asked CYCC to run two of these sessions on Friday.
One of a myriad of amazing main-stage speakers scheduled to appear that day was the author and activist Bill McKibben. Our role was to facilitate a Q:A and discussion following his presentation about the state of the environment and engaging in activism in Chicago. As it turns out, the aftermath of hurricane Sandy was making waves across the nation and Bill was forced to cancel his engagement. In his place a video of him speaking at a different Bioneers conference was screened. Even in video the man had a powerful effect on the audience. After then a glowing introduction from Pam Richert of EJC Virginia and I hit the stage. The questions thrown at us were not easy at all; they ranged from questions about energy development and research, the value and role of activism, and mobilizing constituents. But we were able to answer all the questions satisfactorily. I was told afterwards it looked like we had prepped for hours, a testament to our awesomeness since we hadn’t spent any time preparing before we went on.
Tina arrived shortly afterwards and our trio headed to a separate room for the workshop we were about to run about one of the most powerful organizing tools, one-on-ones. We had spent a decent amount of time preparing and were all very excited. It also seemed very appropriate that the recently shut down Fisk coal plant was visible from our window. While somewhat under attended, together we delivered a strong training and managed to meet and network with some new students.
Not long after our workshop Virginia departed while Tina and I stuck around for the reception at the end. It was more or less a wonderful light hearted networking session with presenters from throughout the day. Delicious snacks and drinks with some great local performers made the night complete. At the end of the day though, my favorite part was the hoedown we got going when the folk band started heating up. There’s nothing quite like busting a move in your formal attire.