Eco-literacy and food justice for a young generation

Bioneers Video Series offers forward-thinking speakers and ideas

Eco-literate designer Karen Brown

Eco-literate designer Karen Brown

All I had to do was ask
I devoted part of my Feb. 2 column to this month’s Bioneers Video Series at the Chico Women’s Club, noting that I wanted to learn more about the intriguing, three-installment, eco-friendly program that kicked off on Feb. 9. No sooner had I put the word out than Women’s Club member Joy Mendoza sent me an email telling me more about this Thursday’s (Feb. 16) program.

That was not long before I ran into another member, Rosemary Quinn, at the Saturday-morning downtown farmers’ market; Quinn shed even more light on the youth-centric Feb. 16 event, which starts at 7 p.m. and is titled “Youth, Food Justice & Computer Games.”

Featured during the three-part series are videos of speakers from the 2011 Bioneers National Conference in Marin County.

Leading off Feb. 16 is pioneering online-journalist/gamer/techno-whiz Joshua S. Fouts, executive director of New York science-education-promoting nonprofit the Science House Foundation and executive producer at Dancing Ink Productions (

“Fouts has an extensive career on the cutting-edge of journalism, online media, games, culture and foreign policy and a history exploring the impact of new technology tools for media years before they are adopted by the mainstream,” according to the Dancing Ink website.

The dynamic Fouts will speak on “how 12-year-olds with computers can solve real problems.”

Designer Karen Brown—not to be confused with local songstress Karen Joy Brown—is creative director of the Berkeley-based Center for Ecoliteracy (; Brown’s filmed talk will be about her mini wind turbine and the importance (and ease) of engaging K-12 students in sustainability issues via her kid-friendly invention. She has lectured worldwide on the human and environmental consequences of design, and is instrumental in the creation of the center’s forward-thinking online and print publications such as its Rethinking School Lunch Guide and educators’ guides to the films Food, Inc. and Nourish.

Real-food activist Anim Steel

But, Quinn is most excited about the presentation of Ghana-born real-food activist Anim Steel, whose filmed talk on “mobilizing students for the real-food challenge” will serve as the sweet cream in the Oreo cookie, sandwiched between Fouts’ and Brown’s talks.

Steel is the director of national programs at The Food Project in Boston; its stated mission is “to create a thoughtful and productive community of youth and adults from diverse backgrounds who work together to build a sustainable food system” (see The Food Project currently employs more than 100 Boston-area teenagers who grow, sell and donate more than 250,000 pounds of organic produce annually. The Food Project is also working to build a national youth movement aimed at creating just, sustainable food systems.

In 2008, Steel co-founded the Real Food Challenge to redirect $1 billion of university food purchases “away from industrial farms and junk food and toward local/community-based, fair, ecologically sound and humane food sources É by 2020” (see

Cost for the Feb. 16 event is a mere suggested donation of $2 to $5; students are free. This event (as well as the third one, on Feb. 23, called “Scaling Up") is a benefit for the Chico Women’s Club Scholarship and Community Fund, which goes to helping keep Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park open. More info: