I picked up a copy of Nick Baker’s book ReWild: The Art of Returning to Nature the other day. One of the first inspiring thoughts coming from reading it centered around the original concept of the term which has to do with the conservation and preservation work needed to secure greater access and availability to the wilderness for keystone species of wild mammals. Mostly by connecting already set aside and protected natural areas, creating key corridors, and thus opening up essential linkages allowing these creatures to follow natural instincts relating to health, survival, and species continuity.
The picture presented was developed out of a recognition that nature and human culture has drifted apart in alarmingly diverse ways to a point where humans have created a Noah’s Ark philosophy toward species conservation and preservation; where the zoo is the sad representation of such convoluted thinking. Cages and confinement, separation, isolation, and estrangement, are becoming our norm relative to the whole world of other. “Other” constituting the whole of organic life, which plays less and less of a role in human cultural relations.
Cited within these provocative pages were references to such ReWilding projects as the wolf restoration within Yellowstone National Park, which many can claim familiarity with through the video How Wolves Change Rivers. This work evolved out of Aldo Leopold’s ecological vision depicting series of trophic cascades interrelating, balancing, and sustaining the wealth of evolutionary involution and evolution processes within natural systems. Though the Yellowstone project is undoubtedly a success, it has not gone unnoticed that the certainty of survival for keystone species end at the Park’s boundary. ReWilding is an emerging and developing trend that pushes the boundaries of our thinking, as well as the physical lines upon maps which limit mammalian movement.
Linkages that expand upon cultivate, and ensure the capacity for a more significant field of relationship is critical. We need to relearn how to connect the dots!
And this by association got me thinking about this same pattern of thinking, and life estrangement from the field of life relationship in our educational process. We harbor a well-known penchant for straight and narrow pathways toward “success,” “life” and “value” that echo what Baker calls shifting baseline syndrome – the current “known” sidelining any and all other contextual clues from life. And we drift further and further away from all the contextual clues within life that compose the trophic cascades of evolutionary and involutional relationships that feed, nourish, and nurture our humanity as a niche within Nature. Hell-bent on a myopic view of purpose we walk blindly through a landscape of shadows. Though, if truth to power finds the light of day spoken, we don’t walk, we sit! A massive and elaborately constructed baseline of entrenched thinking constitutes the prescribed pathways of institutionalized educational landscapes, and youth are in dire need of rewilding.
Corridors need establishing to allow for migration toward greater relational pastures where human need (greed) does not trump higher value and purpose. Higher as in meaning an elevated grasp of what our niche within what a full ecological vision may intimate.
Rewilding our youth isn’t something we need to do as much as it is to allow. Right education has moved beyond the sage on the stage to the guide by the side for many, but to go entirely wild we need educators who build the bridges, and then allow our youth unobstructed passage to regions needing to be traversed and for new stories then being told.
I’m for going wild. And I would often echo Thoreau’s assertion that “in wildness is the preservation of the world,” and add of the human species as well.