This past February I had the opportunity to attend Envision Festival. I experienced incredible concerts, moving sound and meditation workshops, and some of the most life changing talks. One of the talks I attended was with Nina Simons.
Meet Nina Simons
Women Bridging Worlds
Tell us about Bioneers
Bioneers is a network or community, a festival of sorts, and a fount of inspiring media that brings together visionary and practical solutions for healing our relations with our selves, each other and the living Earth. We feature people from all walks of life who are revealing a future that’s possible today, one that works for ALL.
What can we expect and learn about at the Bioneers Conference?
What’s so terrific is that it’s possible to learn and get inspired by any area of life you’re interested in. Everything from the leadership of everyone, of young people, Indigenous peoples and women to how to help clean up our water, air and soils while lowering carbon in the atmosphere. Experience how people are reinventing everything about our civilization, creating new models of health and regeneration, from economics to education, from farming carbon and reclaiming cultures to political transformation and movement building.
Bioneers hosts the Everywoman’s Leadership program. Who is this program for and what can we expect to gain from it if taking part in the course?
Everywoman’s Leadership is for everyone who identifies as female, all ages and colors and disciplines, and it’s intended to help us all learn how to lead from the heart, clarify our sense of purpose and use all our ways of knowing, while liberating women and girls to bring their fullest, most expressive capacities to helping transform our world. This work is dear to my heart, and personally, I’m convinced that it’s the leadership of women all over the world that has the best chance of helping heal and transform our societies, and so the program seeks to inspire and equip all women to lead with clarity, intention and all of our best selves involved. So I’d encourage those who are interested to come.
At Envision Festival you spoke about human beings needing to learn how to be human beings again. Can you dive a little deeper on this?
I shared that in the context of lessons I’ve learned from Indigenous teachers, and I believe that Western culture has us all too focused on doing, and not focused enough on being. Too focused on actions, and not enough on relationship. To become better human beings, I believe we need to listen more than we talk, we need to ask for help and permission before taking anything, and we need to strengthen the feminine receptive sides of our natures, regardless of what gender we happen to currently inhabit. The combination of a culture biased toward the masculine (patriarchy) and capitalism has us too focused on progress and productivity, and not giving enough practice to listening, feeling, sensing with our intuitions and other senses, and asking for guidance. I believe we need to reorient our lives to be more about valuing connection, learning and listening, and less about activity, productivity and imagining we know the answers already.
You spoke quite a bit about Indigenous women. How can we as a society stand with them? What can we learn from them? How can we hold space for them?
Yes, I feel deeply committed to their cultures, survival and leadership. There are nearly 600 sovereign tribal nations living across this nation, and their communities have been lied to, systematically violated and damaged more than any other peoples in this country, but they also have keys to our future survival. They are simultaneously the people who are the poorest economically, and the richest culturally among us. We can learn about their issues, and help stand with them in defense of our shared water, air and survival. Above all, we need to not ‘help’ them, but rather show up humbly, appreciating their ‘elderhood,’ and see how we can strengthen their work to reclaim their cultures and heal their communities while defending land and water against corporations who seek to destroy them in the name of profit.
You told us that “What is worthy to love is what is alive.” What can we do in our day to day lives that helps us love what is alive or to stay awake and mindful?
I noted that part of what’s out of balance in our mainstream culture is the desire for things, to acquire stuff, rather than investing in relationships. I believe we’re living into a relationship economy, where the only real security lies in being held and supported by a web of people who love us. We can check our own goals and desires, and remind ourselves frequently to create rituals to strengthen our relationships, with ourselves first, and then with those around us. I do believe, at the end of our lives, what will count is the number and quality of our relationships, not what we’ve accumulated.
Do you have any words of advice for young women entrepreneurs trying to make a difference in the world today?
Follow your dream and your vision. Don’t try to do it all alone, but ask other sisters or mentors for feedback and help. And don’t give up – I believe perseverance and flexibility win the day.
What inspires you to teach others?
I deeply yearn to be of use, and to help contribute to the leadership that can change the course of our culture. I’m especially lit up by helping create the conditions for women to have their own discoveries and discover how to get out of our own way…to liberate greater joy, expression and boldness in leadership. I love being a bridge for women to new ideas, approaches to healing ourselves and the world, and awakening people to the immense value of our Indigenous neighbors and colleagues. When I imagine the end of my life, I most desire to contribute to creating the connective tissue that can help make a unifying movement of women of all ages, colors, issue areas and classes – and the men who love them – emerge to challenge and change our structures and societies.
Who is your favorite Shero and why?
I’m not sure I can name only one. I adore and admire Terry Tempest Williams, because of the ways she models integrating all of herself into her work, and marrying apparent opposites. She is both vulnerable and immensely courageous, and devotes herself to wilderness, democracy, the sacred and love all at once. Alice Walker has been a great inspiration to me, in her writing and activism, as have Joanna Macy and Valarie Kaur. There are dozens more that inspire and mentor me ongoingly.
Where do you see yourself and Bioneers five years from now?
My vision is that Bioneers is widely recognized as a go-to place for inspiring and connecting leaders and identifying game-changing solutions, and is well supported to do that work across the many platforms we use. My work, writing, speaking and working with women will be seen as among the deepest, most dimensional and therefore most enduring work to elevate the feminine in leadership. I’d love to speak at more festivals, at colleges and to help connect a network of creative and skillful women leaders.
Do you have any last words of encouragement or advice on helping the planet, holding space for indigenous peoples, or helping others on restoring the feminine?
What seems most useful to me is this: create a women’s or men’s circle wherever you are, to explore the unspoken and often unconscious biases we all carry, to help heal the gender wound and see ourselves more clearly. Learn to love yourself, while also holding yourself accountable. Practice gratitude and generosity, and find teachers to learn from…and keep cultivating yourself to live into the best version of yourself you can be.
I hope that helps, and remember, love’s always more powerful than hate or fear – and if you’re not sure what to do, serve whatever you most love.
Connect with Nina!
Cofounder of Bioneers & Women Bridging Worlds
Nina, originally from New York City is the Cofounder of Bioneers and Women Bridging Worlds. She has been enjoying life in the mountains outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico for over 30 years, with her partner and husband and three rescue dogs. To learn more from Nina, check out her book: A Moonrise: The Power of Women Leading from the Heart. If The Bioneers Conference sparked something in your heart (as it did mine), check out their online Podcasts and Videos. Lastly, if YOU are a woman interested in the women’s leadership training: Connecting Women Leading Change then send an email to Nina at: firstname.lastname@example.org