Seeds of Change | Omega

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Seeds of Change

An Omega Center for Sustainable Living Online Event

Available Until: 12/31/2017
Vandana Shiva, Winona LaDuke, Maude Barlow, Ralph Nader... See More

Over the past decade, presenters and participants at the Omega Center for Sustainable Living's conferences have added an important voice to the national conversation on our environmental, economic, and social challenges.

By bringing together thought leaders and activists working on diverse and interconnected issues central to a more regenerative future, a compelling and hopeful vision is emerging toward a socially just, inclusive, and ecologically sustainable society.

In October 2015, Omega continued the conversation with Seeds of Change: Cultivating the Commons. Vandana Shiva and Winona LaDuke are back, joined by renowned water advocate Maude Barlow, consumer activist and political commentator Ralph Nader, ecological visionary John Todd, and grassroots seed freedom and food justice advocates Ken Greene, Natasha Bowens, Jalal Sabur, and Will Allen.

Omega CEO Skip Backus says, “The lens of the commons instills an understanding and awareness of the value of both the natural and cultural resources that we all share. This individual change in awareness is crucial in helping bring about the sort of cultural shift we need, a shift away from consumption and depletion and toward regeneration.”

Whether you are already working closely with these issues, or are interested in learning more, we invite you to be part of a growing community coming together to protect and care for the commons, including the pivotal right to save and share seeds, the necessity of stewarding our water resources, as well as transparency in labeling and access to healthy food.

Saturday evening features a public forum with Vandana Shiva, Winona LaDuke, Ralph Nader, and Maude Barlow.

Music with spiritchild
Conference Welcome with Laura Weiland & Robert "Skip" Backus
Keynote: Vandana Shiva

Opening remarks with Robert "Skip" Backus
Keynote: Maude Barlow "Blue Future: Protecting Water for People & Planet Forever"

Music with spiritchild 
Presentation: John Todd "Healing the Waters: New Ecological & Economic Paradigms"
Conversation with Robert "Skip" Backus, Maude Barlow & John Todd 


Music with spiritchild 
Afternoon opening with Michael Craft
Keynote: Winona LaDuke "Creating a Multicultural Democracy: Culture, Religion & Identity in America"
Keynote: Ralph Nader "Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State"
Conversation with Ralph Nader Winona LaDuke
Music with spiritchild  

Presentation by Poughkeepsie Farm Project, Recipient of Omega's 4th Annual OCSL Leadership in Sustainable Education Award
Public Event: A Conversation with Vandana Shiva, Ralph Nader, Winona LaDuke Maude Barlow, moderated by Robert "Skip" Backus
Music & Dancing with spiritchild 


Opening Remarks with Robert "Skip" Backus
Short Keynote: Natasha Bowens "The Color of Food"
Short KeynoteVandana Shiva "GMOs, Biopiracy & Food Justice" 
Short KeynoteKen Greene "The Art of Seed Stewardship"
Short KeynoteWinona LaDuke "Who Owns the Seeds of the World? Biopiracy, Genetic Engineering & Indigenous Peoples"

Food Justice Forum with Natasha BowensVandana Shiva, Winona LaDuke & Ken Greene
Spoken Word Performance with Decora "Flowers"
Presentation: Jalal Sabur "Freedom Food Alliance"
Keynote: Will Allen "Growing Power & the Good Food Revolution"
Conference Close with Robert "Skip" Backus

Vandana Shiva

Vandana Shiva, PhD, is a world-renowned environmental leader, eco-feminist, author, and thinker. Director of the Research Foundation on Science, Technology, and Ecology, she isa leader in the International Forum on Globalization, along with Ralph Nader and Jeremy Rifkin. Recipient of many awards, she also has served as an adviser to governments and NGOs.

winona laduke photo

Winona LaDuke (Anishinaabe) is an internationally acclaimed author, orator and activist. A graduate of Harvard and Antioch Universities with advanced degrees in rural economic development, LaDuke has devoted her life to protecting the lands and life ways of Native communities.

maude barlow photo by wolfgang schmidt

Maude Barlow is the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and chairs the board of Washington-based Food and Water Watch. She is a board member of the San Francisco–based International Forum on Globalization and a Councillor with the Hamburg-based World Future Council.

ralph nader photo

Ralph Nader has been honored by Time magazine as "One of the 100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century." Nader helped create the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. 

Will Allen growing power photo

Will Allen, farmer, founder and CEO of Growing Power Inc., is recognized as a preeminent practitioner of urban agriculture in America and throughout the world.

Natasha Bowens photo

Natasha Bowens is an author, beginning farmer and community activist who focuses on building empowerment and community with food and storytelling. The Foreword Review calls her book The Color of Food: Stories of Race, Resilience and Farming “a trailblazing look at the past and present of North American farming” through the eyes of farmers of color.

ken greene photo

Ken Greene founded the Hudson Valley Seed Library. He is a tireless advocate for seed sovereignty and the important role of art in celebrating our agricultural and horticultural heritage.

jalal sabur photo

Jalal Sabur is a farmer, organizer, and educator. He is the co-founder of the Freedom Food Alliance, a collective of small rural and urban farmers, activists, artists, community folks, and political prisoners who use food as an organizing tool.

spiritchild photo

spiritchild, a freedom singer from the South Bronx by way of Brooklyn, uses the arts to cultivate a cultural revolution throughout the world. His eclectic and experimental fusion of true school hip-hop, funk, electronica, and jazz continues to break boundaries.

decora photo

Decora is a hip hop artist, DJ, emcee, producer, and performance poet based in the Hudson Valley of New York. Decora is a multifaceted artist, whose interdisciplinary utopian vision unites a folk music ethos with hip hop and social change through community action, making an entirely new creative experience for audiences that is both formally innovative and consciously progressive.

John Todd

John Todd, PhD, is cofounder and president of Ocean Arks International, and founder and chairman of John Todd Ecological Design, Inc., an international design, engineering, and natural resource planning firm. Author of more than 200 articles and seven books, he is the inventor of Eco Machines for the treatment of wastes, production of foods, generation of fuels, and restoration of damaged aquatic environments.

Robert "Skip" Backus

Robert "Skip" Backus, is chief executive officer of Omega and the visionary behind the Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL), the first green building in America to receive both LEED® Platinum and Living Building Challenge™ certification. For more than 20 years, he has played a leadership role at Omega as operations director and campus manager, maintaining all of Omega’s buildings. In this capacity, he helped Omega lay the foundation for its environmental initiatives. He frequently speaks about sustainability at a variety of venues.

Betye Arrastia-Nowak photo

Betye Arrastia-Nowak is in the ninth-grade and lives in upstate New York with her father Mark Nowak, a writer, and her mother Lisa Arrastia, who teaches at SUNY Albany. "Illuminating the Blackness of Invisibility" is Betye’s first public poem; it’s inspired by Ralph Ellison’s 1952 novel Invisible Man and the most recent murders of African Americans in the U.S.