Nature, Culture, and the Sacred

A Woman Listens For Leadership

by Nina Simons

Publication Year: 2018

Bioneers co-founder Nina Simons offers inspiration for anyone who aspires to grow into their own unique form of leadership with resilience and joy. Informed by her extensive experience with multicultural women’s leadership development, Simons replaces the old patriarchal leadership paradigm with a more feminine-inflected style that illustrates the interconnected nature of the issues we face today.

Sharing moving stories of women around the world joining together to reconnect people, nature and the land—both practically and spiritually—Nature, Culture and the Sacred is necessary reading for anyone who wants to learn from and be inspired by women who are leading the way towards transformational change by cultivating vibrant movements for social and environmental justice.


Table of Contents

Introduction 7



Shifting Guidance from Head to Heart 17

A River of Purpose: A Human-Nature Landscape 21

Listening for Guidance: Mystery, Intuitionand Dreamtime 36

Cultivating Relational Intelligence 41

Through Darkness, and Into Vision 51

From Mourning Into Daybreak 56

Reinventing Leadership: Reclaiming the Feminine(Interview with Lauren

Schiller, Inflection Point) 63




At the Front Lines: The Global War on Women 83

Grassroots Women: Restoring Relations Around the World 90

Reclaiming Activism: Indigeneity, Leadership and Collaboration (Interview

with Ayana Young, For the Wild) 99

Illuminating Possibilities: Leaders Lifting Others Up 110

The Power of Story 131

The Power of Story: Eve Ensler 137

Celebrating Women’s Ways 142



Valuing Relationship & Tradition: Towards a Future that Works for All 149

Healing at the Intersections: Environment and Social Justice Conjoin at

Bioneers (acceptance speech for the Goi Peace Award) 155

Escaping the Tilted Room 165

Trauma, Rupture and Repair 171

Pathways for Repair after Ruptures: Best Practices (Notes from the Journey)


Women Finding Voice: The Relationship between Inner and Outer Work (A

Conversation with Terry Tempest Williams) 196

Nature, Culture & Spirit: Integration and Congruence through Practical Magic


Acknowledgments 231

Selected Bibliography 235

Praise for Nina’s book:

This is the time when the power of women returns to us, as we reaffirm our relationships to each other and to our Mother Earth. Together we will doula the next economy into being, re-birthing ourselves and this world. Nina’s writing explores the path forward on this journey that we will make together.  —Winona LaDuke, Executive Director, Honor the Earth

he world seems to be divided into two kinds of people—those who divide everything into two, and those who don’t. Reading Nature, Culture and the Sacred is a step toward melting this false division into “feminine” and “masculine,” and allowing each of us to become fully human again and at last.  —Gloria Steinem, Co-founder of Ms. Magazine

In Nature, Culture and the Sacred Nina Simons has woven a compelling and honest tapestry of hard-earned personal and collective wisdom, honoring the earth and igniting the revolutionary ways of women. It’s a book as much about the inside as it is about the outside, exploring where and how they can meet for a sustainable future.  —Eve Ensler, founder of V-Day and author of The Vagina Monologues

Nature, Culture and the Sacred: A Woman Listens for Leadership is the perfect book for this historical moment. Nina Simons not only knows the rare gifts of leadership women can offer, she also reveals how challenge and adversity brings these gifts forth more brilliantly and powerfully.  —Joanna Macy, author of World As Lover, World As Self

Nina Simons About the Author


NINA SIMONS, is a social entrepreneur passionate about reinventing leadership, restoring the feminine, and co-creating a healthy and equitable future for all life on Earth. An advocate for social and environmental healing, she speaks and teaches internationally on leadership and transformational social change and is dedicated to the value of creating truly diverse collaborations and connections among issues, leaders and movements.

In 1990, she co-founded Bioneers with her husband and partner, Kenny Ausubel. As President, she helped to lead the organization through 23 years of identifying, gathering and disseminating breakthrough innovations that reveal the positive and life-honoring future that’s within our grasp, today.

Nina’s work currently focuses on writing and teaching about women, leadership, diversity, systems thinking and restoring the feminine in us all. She is the co-founder and co-facilitator of the Cultivating Women’s Leadership Leadership trainings. Her previous book, the anthology, Moonrise: The Power of Women Leading from the Heart, contains 30 essays by over 40 contributors, who collectively help to redefine the leadership landscape.

Find out more at


Jennifer Browdy | About the Author


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