Friday, Nov. 16 - Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012
Prince Conference Center, Grand Rapids, Michigan






































Keynotes & Speakers

Mr. Daniel Quinn, best selling author of Ishmael, Providence, The Story of B, and Beyond Civilization.  In 1990, Ted Turner offered a $500,000 prize for the best unpublished novel offering positive solutions to global problems.  Quinn submitted Ishmael, which was selected as the grand prize winner, by a panel of distinguished authors, out of 2500 entries. *

Extended Biography of Daniel Quinn

Daniel Quinn (1935- ) grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, where he graduated from Creighton Prep in 1953. He studied at St. Louis University, the University of Vienna, and Loyola University of Chicago, receiving a bachelor's degree in English, cum laude, in 1957.

During a twenty-year career in educational and consumer publishing in Chicago, he served as Biography and Fine Arts editor at the American Peoples Encyclopedia, managing editor of the Greater Cleveland Mathematics Program (Science Research Associates), head of the mathematics department at Encyclopedia Britannica Educational Corporation, Executive Editor of Fuller & Dees Publishing (a division of the Times Mirror Corporation) and Editorial Director of the Society for Visual Education (a division of the Singer Corporation).

Mr. Quinn is best known as the author of Ishmael, the novel that in 1991 won the Turner Tomorrow Fellowship, established to encourage authors to seek "creative and positive solutions to global problems." Ishmael has been in print continuously since its publication in 1992 and has been made available in more than 25 languages. Thoroughout the U.S. and Canada and in other countries as well, Ishmael is used as a text in a broad range of classes that include anthropology, ecology, history, literature, philosophy, ethics, biology, and psychology, at age levels from middle school through graduate level.

He followed Ishmael with an autobiography, Providence (1994), The Story Of B (1996), a novel that continues the philosophical and religious exploration begun in Ishmael; and My Ishmael: A Sequel (1997), in which it's learned that, unbeknownst to the narrator of Ishmael, Ishmael was working with another pupil, a twelve-year-old girl. Other works include Beyond Civilization (1999), a nonfiction work that explores, among other relevant topics, tribal ways of making a living that work here and now; After Dachau (2001), a novel that critics have compared to Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, and 1984; The Man Who Grew Young, a graphic novel that tells the unique and fascinating story of a man who lives backward through time and history; The Holy (2002), a metaphysical thriller that has been compared to John Fowles' The Magus (and which won the 2003 Independent Publisher Award for Mystery/Suspense/Thriller of the Year); Tales of Adam (2005), written as part of an early version of the book that ultimately became Ishmael, illustrated by Michael McCurdy; Work, Work, Work, (2006), a children's book with Quinn's own illustrations; and If They Give You Lined Paper, Write Sideways, in which the author investigates the source of his own ideas (which so many readers have found mysteriously alien). His short fiction has appeared in The Quarterly, Asylum, Magic Realism, and elsewhere.

He instituted the Stateville Penitentiary Writers' Workshop (1969-71) and served on the Board of Listeners of the World Uranium Hearing, Salzburg, Austria, convened in 1992 to hear testimony of victims of uranium mining, nuclear waste disposal, and nuclear power disasters around the world. He has addressed students and faculty at the University of Massachusetts, the University of Texas, Trinity University, Portland State University, Salisbury State University, Elon College, Baylor University, Texas A&M, the University of Georgia, Roger Williams University, Kent State University, Rice University, the University of Oregon, St. Louis University, and other colleges, community colleges, and high schools. He has been a keynote speaker for conferences and meetings for groups such as The Minnesota Social Investment Forum, St. Martin's College World Population Forum, Systems Thinking in Action, Vision 2000, Iowa State University's Institute on World Affairs, the North American Association for Environmental Education, The Foundation for Contemporary Theology, and EnvironDesign3.

* Quinn appears via exclusive and extensive pre-recorded  video


Dr. Steve Keen received the Revere Award from the Real World Economics Review in 2010 for being the economist who most cogently warned of the economic crisis, and whose work is most likely to prevent future crises.  He is Professor of Economics & Finance at the University of Western Sydney and author of  "Debunking Economics" (2012).

Extended Biography of Steve Keen

Dr. Keen was one of the handful of economists to realize that a serious economic crisis was coming our way, and to publicly warn of it from as early as December 2005 ( This, and his pioneering work on modeling debt-deflation, resulted in him winning the Revere Award from the Real World Economics Review ( for being the economist whose work is most likely to prevent a future financial crisis. He is one of the handful of economists to receive a grant from the Institute for New Economic Thinking (

Dr. Keen was able to predict the crisis due to economic work that expands upon Keyes, Fischer, and Minsky, utilizing an accounting, flow of funds or circuit model. He was one of the few economists studied for the paper "No One Saw This Coming" (2009) by Bezemer, Dirk J.  He is commonly interviewed by TV stations and written up in the press.  He is often invited to meetings of financial advisors, hedge funds and economic conferences, world wide.

It's Time to Put Money Into the Equation (includes video interview)

Dr. Keen maintains a highly influential blog on economics ( and his book Debunking Economics is a classic exposition of why Neoclassical economic theory is not only wrong, but more of a threat to the survival of capitalism than any number of left-wing revolutionaries. The second extended edition was published in October 2011.

Dr. Keen is Professor of Economics & Finance at the University of Western Sydney, and author of the popular book Debunking Economics (Zed Books UK, 2001; He has over 70 academic publications on topics as diverse as financial instability, the money creation process, mathematical flaws in the conventional model of supply and demand, flaws in Marxian economics, the application of physics to economics, Islamic finance, and the role of chaos and complexity theory in economics. His work has been translated into Chinese, German and Russian.

Steve Keen’s Debtwatch blog ( makes his non-orthodox approach to economics available to the public. The site has over 12,000 subscribers and more than 50,000 unique readers each month.

Dr. Keen’s excellent communication skills were honed in his pre-academic career, which included stints as a school librarian, education officer for an NGO, conference organizer, computer programmer, journalist for the computer press, and economic commentator for ABC Radio National and Radio Australia.


Mr. Richard Heinberg is author of ten books, including The Party’s Over, Peak Everything, and The End of Growth.  He is regarded as one of the world’s most effective communicators of the urgent need to transition away from fossil fuels. Heinberg exposes the tenuousness of our current way of life and offers a vision for a truly sustainable future. **

Extended Biography of Richard Heinberg

Author of ten books, including The Party’s Over, Peak Everything, and The End of Growth, Richard Heinberg is widely regarded as one of the world’s most effective communicators of the urgent need to transition away from fossil fuels. With a wry, unflinching approach based on facts and realism, Richard exposes the tenuousness of our current way of life and offers a vision for a truly sustainable future.

Senior Fellow-in-Residence at Post Carbon Institute, Richard is best known as a leading educator on Peak Oil—the point at which we reach maximum global oil production—and the resulting, devastating impact it will have on our economic, food, and transportation systems. But his expertise is far ranging, covering critical issues including the current economic crisis, food and agriculture, community resilience, and global climate change.

Richard’s latest book, The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality makes a compelling argument that the global economy has reached a fateful, fundamental turning point. As energy and food prices escalate and debt levels explode, paths that formerly led to economic expansion now go nowhere. The “recession” will not end in a “recovery,” yet in the coming years we can still thrive—if we maximize happiness rather than the futile pursuit of growth at any cost.

Richard is a much sought-after speaker and has presented in dozens of countries and across the United States. He’s featured in many documentaries, including End of Suburbia and Leonardo DiCaprio’s film 11th Hour. Richard has appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America, Canadian Broadcasting Television, BBC, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and Al Jazeera, as well as numerous radio programs (national NPR) and print publications (Time magazine).

He lives in northern California with his wife and is an avid violin player.

** Heinberg appears live via video conference


Ms. Nicole Foss is senior editor for The Automatic Earth and former editor of The Oil Drum - Canada. Foss is an expert speaker on peak oil, economic instability and personal preparation. Foss has delivered her Century of Challenges talk hundreds of times and in twelve countries. Foss has presented at conferences on peak oil, biodiversity, and economics.

Extended Biography on Nicole Foss

Nicole M. Foss is co-editor of The Automatic Earth, where she writes under the name Stoneleigh. She and her writing partner have been chronicling and interpreting the on-going credit crunch as the most pressing aspect of our current multi-faceted predicament. The site integrates finance, energy, environment, psychology, population and real politik in order to explain why we find ourselves in a state of crisis and what can be done about it. Prior to the establishment of TAE, she was editor of The Oil Drum Canada, where she wrote on peak oil and finance.

Most recently, Foss ran the Agri-Energy Producers' Association of Ontario, where she focused on farm-based biogas projects and grid connections for renewable energy. While living in the UK she was a Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, where she specialized in nuclear safety in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union, and conducted research into electricity policy at the EU level.

Her academic qualifications include a BSc in biology from Carleton University in Canada (where she focused primarily on neuroscience and psychology), a post-graduate diploma in air and water pollution control, an LLM in international law in development from the University of Warwick in the UK. She was granted the University Medal for the top science graduate in 1988 and the law school prize for the top law school graduate in 1997.

Foss travels extensively on speaking tours throughout North America, Europe and Australia.


Mr. Albert Bates is author of The Biochar Solution: Carbon Farming and Climate Change and many other books..  A former environmental rights lawyer, Bates lives at The Farm, an intentional community in Tennessee;  co-founder of the Global Ecovillage Network and delegate to the UN climate talks; and teaches permaculture, ecovillage design and natural building.

Extended Biography of Albert Bates

Albert Bates was a civil sector representative at the Copenhagen, Cancun and Durban climate conferences and Rio+20, trying to point the world back towards a stable atmosphere using soils and trees. His books include Climate in Crisis, The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook and The Biochar Solution:Carbon Farming and Climate Change. Working with the Global Ecovillage Network he has taught appropriate technology, natural building and permaculture to students from more than 60 nations.

A former environmental rights lawyer, paramedic, brick mason, flour miller, and horse trainer, Albert Bates has received numerous awards and accolades as part of the steering committee of Plenty, working to preserve the cultures of indigenous peoples, and board of directors of The Farm, a pioneering intentional community in Tennessee for the past 40 years.

This year he has researched, taught workshops and lectured in Australia, New Zealand, Alaska, Washington, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Mexico, Belize, Cuba, Brazil, and Peru. In the United States, he has recently launched an annual series of stove camps, working with backyard tinkerers to advance the next generation of carbon-capturing appliances. His most recent workshop was in Edible Forest Design.

When not tinkering with fuel wringers for algae, hemp cheeses, or pyrolizing cookstoves, he teaches permaculture, ecovillage design and natural building and is a frequent radio and podcast guest. He tweets at @peaksurfer and blogs at


Ms. Stephanie Mills is an author, lecturer and bio-regionalist. Her books include: On Ghandi's Path,  Tough Little Beauties, Epicurean Simplicity, Turning Away from Technology, In Service of the Wild, In Praise of Nature, and Whatever Happened to Ecology?  Mills is president of the Bay Bucks local currency board, and holds an honorary doctorate from Mills College, CA.

Extended Biography of Stephanie Mills

Since her galvanic Mills College commencement address in 1969, Stephanie Mills has been speaking, editing, writing, and organizing for ecology and social change. She has produced seven books, including Epicurean Simplicity,Tough Little Beauties, and the recently released On Gandhi’s Path: Bob Swann’s Work for Peace and Community Economics.

A longtime bioregionalist and veteran of the Whole Earth publications, Stephanie Mills has written scores of essays and articles appearing in publications from Orion to The Britannica Book of the Year, as well as in numerous anthologies. Active in her community, Mills helped launch a local currency in northwest Lower Michigan, where she has lived since 1984. Featured in the PBS documentary EarthDays, Stephanie Mills holds an honorary doctorate from her alma mater and is a Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute.

From her beginnings, in 1969 as a young ecology activist through editorships, lectures, and authorship of scores of articles, essays and several books, Stephanie Mills has been applying mind and heart in an effort to inspire a renewed stirring of love for the Earth.


Mr. Aaron Wissner is a teacher, writer and speaker specializing peak oil, climate change, money and debt, and cultural transition.  Wissner has organized six major conferences bringing in hundreds of speakers and thousands of participants.  A featured article on Wissner was published on the front page of the Wall Street Journal in 2007.

Extended Biography of Aaron Wissner

Wissner is founder and executive director of Local Future, a 501(c)3 tax-exempt non-profit educational organization. Under his leadership, Local Future hosts annual conferences designed for visionaries, activists and leaders.

Wissner has spoken at events including the U.S. Social Justice Forum, Michigan Green Energy Fair, National Animal Rights Conference, International Conference on Peak Oil and Climate Change, Progress Michigan Conference, and various local events near his home. His talks focus on sustainability, environmentalism, localism, community resilience, and similar topics.

Wissner maintains the Local Future Network channel on YouTube, which features free full length talks from various conferences and events.  The channel has now achieved over 800,000 views.

Wissner is a 20-year veteran public school teacher, having taught students from Kindergarten through twelfth grade, with courses including math, science, computers, video production, and student leadership.

Wissner served in various capacities for the Michigan Education Association / NEA including local union president, union negotiator, treasurer, county president, region president, delegate to NEA/MEA representative assembly, legislative committee, national resolutions committee.

Wissner is holds a B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, with additional course work from Michigan State University, Grand Valley State University, Kellogg Community College, Grand Rapids Community College, and West Shore Community College.



KMO is the host and producer of the long-running C-Realm Podcast. He apprenticed under an organic market gardener, lived at the Ecovillage Training Center on the Farm in Summertown, TN and published over 300 interviews with people who are crafting a resilient future.

John Barrie is the Executive Director of the Appropriate Technology Collaborative, an award winning nonprofit company that designs low cost sustainable technologies that provide opportunity for the world’s poorest people to overcome poverty. Mr. Barrie is an Architect and Industrial Designer; he has also been an Adjunct Professor of Architecture at the University of Michigan and faculty member at Washtenaw Community College. Mr. Barrie is currently working with “World Challenge Design Teams” - groups of engineering, design and business students from colleges and universities across the United States to develop new appropriate technologies for low income people in the developing world. John Barrie conducts lively and inspiring workshops on sustainable appropriate technologies and technology development for low income communities.

John Sarver became Executive Director of the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Assoc. in March 2012 after working for the Michigan Energy Office for 35 years where, at different times, he was responsible for public institution grants, utility demand side management, industrial, commercial, and residential efficiency programs, and efforts to promote solar and wind energy. John chairs the Michigan Wind Working Group and has served as a board director for a number of organizations including the National Assoc. of State Energy Officials, National Council on Electricity Policy, Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, and Michigan Interfaith Power & Light. He has a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Michigan.

Renae Hesselink is a founding member of U.S. Green Building Council West Michigan, and past Chair of the Board of Directors and currently the Chapter’s Green School Advocacy Committee Chair. She has been identified by MiBiz as a “Champion of Sustainability” and Michigan Business Review as a “Green Visionary”. Contributed two cases studies published in “The Business of Green Cleaning” by Stephen Ashkin and David Holly. She holds a Master’s of Business Administration in Leadership Studies and International Business from Baker College and undergraduate degree in business from Grand Valley State University.

Maryann Lesert, MFA, is a playwright, novelist, and more recently, an investigative journalist who teaches writing based on the environment and sustainability at Grand Rapids Community College. Her first novel, Base Ten, was published in 2009 by The Feminist Press and the National Science Foundation. She is researching fracking for her third novel, in progress.

Daniel Schoonmaker an award-winning journalist and public relations professional, Director of Communications for West Michigan Environmental Action Council. In his time at WMEAC, the organization has become the most visible environmental voice in its region and one of the highest profile in the state.

Tom Bulten has a master’s degree in geography and urban affairs from Michigan State University. Since 2005 he has been the executive director of Oakdale Neighbors, a community development organization in Grand Rapids that creates opportunities for development through Boston Square Community Bikes and other programs.

Mark Nixon background includes 15 yrs. in construction, 10 yrs. in rental property mgmt., 15 yrs. in film making. Active in local historic preservation, public access TV, & a member of The Congress for the New Urbanism since 1997.

Bryan Mets is a graduate of Biochemistry and English from MSU. He currently works for an environmental non-profit. His blog on sustainability and creating resiliency at his home in Ann Arbor can be found at

Christian Smith is a graduate of MSU in Psychology and Biology and a co-founder of a local resiliency group Sustainability Lansing. He is working with the Greater Lansing Time Bank, and its associated public access series. Both are part of an eco-village design team, combining aspects of the Transition Town movement serving as a food hub for a re-localized food network, and an intentional community.

Steve Losher is President of Michigan Land Air Water Defense. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Environmental Studies from Bowling Green State University, and has worked for California Public Interest Research Group and Greenpeace San Francisco. For the past 20 years he has resided in Barry County, Michigan, where he is a licensed residential builder and part time musician.

Tiffany Hartung is the Sierra Club Michigan Beyond Coal Campaign Representative. Prior to working for the Sierra Club, she worked for a number of social justice organizations including as an organizer on coal mining issues for a rural, environmental justice organization in Tennessee.

Mary A. Colborn, a doctoral student at Michigan State University, is a children's author, environmental educator and organic farmer. She returned to Michigan after living in Washington State for 20 years with the goal of helping her family turn their 59 acre family farm into a sustainable learning center.




The conference invites you to submit a proposal for the opportunity to be included as a speaker. 


This is the seventh annual conference for Local Future, a 501(c)3 tax-exempt non-profit educational organization.

Past speakers have included: Julian Darley, David Goodstein, Ellen Brown, Richard Douthwaite, Joseph Tainter, Randy Udall, Megan Bachman, Pat Murphy, David Korowicz, Robert Costanza, Bryn Davidson, Vernon Ehlers, Bill Wilson, Chris Bedford, Katie Alvord, Dawn Moncrieffe, Harvey Wasserman, Leslie Glustrom, Richard Gilbert, Thaddeus Owen, David Gard, Soji Adalaja, Michael Brownlee, Tom Brandstetter, Maryann Lesert, Tom Stanton, Peter Bane, Timothy Bennett, Guy McPherson, Sally Erickson, Kurt Cobb, Gloria Flora, Peter Sinclair, KMO, Tom Greco, John Barrie, Christina Snyder, Stephen DeGoosh, and Nathan Ayers.