Stan State conference seeks solutions for people, planet

TURLOCK -- With a combination of biology and pioneering, California State University, Stanislaus, is holding a sustainability conference this weekend.

The event, called Bioneers, includes local panel discussions and satellite broadcasts. Its focus is connecting the environment, health and social jus- tice by providing practical solutions for people and the planet, according to David Colnic, assistant professor of politics and public administration at Stanislaus State.

"It's not doom-and-gloom environmentalism," said Colnic, Bioneers organizer. "It's hopeful and positive and suggests things we can do in our everyday lives."

Stanislaus State is one of 19 sites across the country participating in the satellite communication. The sessions will be broadcast out of San Rafael at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. today and Sunday. Professors have taken their students to the Bay Area for past conferences, but Colnic wanted to bring the discourse to the Turlock community.

The event began Friday night. Featured speaker Gerald Has- lam, an author and retired English professor at CSU, Sonoma, read from his Central Valley studies. A San Joaquin Valley native, Haslam's work celebrates California's rural and small-town areas, their poor and working-class residents.

Other speakers are presenting topics such as "Reading, Writing and Restoration: The Educational Value of Teaching Rivers," and "Teaching With a Green Thumb -- How to Utilize a Community Garden to Teach K-12 Students."

Breakout sessions for teachers will include earth sciences, environmental values and using gardens to teach students. Other discussions will cover San Joaquin Valley air quality, solar and alternative energy, carbon footprints, water issues and conservation, and food production.

A "Wild and Scenic Film Festival" featuring movies with environmental themes will be held tonight, with music provided by history professor Sam Regalado.

Food is available on campus during the conference, and tours will be conducted in Stanislaus State's BioAg sustainability garden.

The cost of the three-day program is $20. Stanislaus State students, faculty and staff can get in for free. Most of the event will take place in and around Demergasso-Bava Hall on the west side of campus.

Bee staff writer Michelle Hatfield can be reached at mhatfield@modbee.com or 578-2339.