in nature, nothing is perfect

and everything is perfect

ALICE WALKER

What is REWILDING?

                                           

   Well, that depends on who you ask. The word has several meanings: sometimes it's used to describe the process of reintroducing native species of plants or animals to a particular place, from where they may have previously been eradicated; sometimes rewilding is used to describe the process of humans reconnecting with small-scale, bioregionally-specific, regenerative ways of living on a personal level. The term is being contemporarily defined in an ongoing process by conservationists, educators, activists and others around the world. If rewilding is not fully the process of undoing and reversing domestication, then it is at least, fundamentally, a process of reconnecting with uncivilized human life ways. Most basically, ecologically, rewilding is the process of encouraging, allowing or otherwise assisting natural regenerative growth patterns on the land.

   Regardless, there is fathomless wisdom in our species' wild, expansive ancestry, and in the act of trusting the power of natural systems on planet Earth to sustain thriving life. Modernity, certainly, has made considerable developments in attempts to streamline specific systems, and yet, ultimately, evolution's wisdom is evident in the utility of wildness: even now, cutting-edge theories like permaculture and biodynamics attempt to steer us back to nature. Rewilding, then, may be understood as the process of making humans or land more wild, and also as an umbrella term covering other other place-based movements.

 

   Rewilding must be, in part, a process of reconnecting to each other. All of our youth and adult programs are designed to create a container in which community can safely grow among participants. Our classes and workshops are purposefully informal and egalitarian; our focus is to facilitate collective educational praxis in order to work together, support each other and deepen connections. We believe that removing invasive species, planting native plants, facilitating place-based craft classes, food-systems and earth-focused workshops, skill-shares, regenerative foraging, making useful things, and practicing open and honest communication may synthesize rewilding into some practical action. A bit.

Rewild Maine is an educational 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in what is now known as Portland, Maine.

Our Staff

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Anti-racism & Decolonization statement

"Maine" is the name given by European colonists to this land, which has remained as the traditional territory of Wabanki peoples for at least twelve thousand years. Rewilding is concerned with accountability and historical wisdom; we will acknowledge the complex colonial history of this land. Inequality is a product of industrialism, which has always been exploitative; rewilding is inherently, therefore, a social justice movement. Since civilization is always racist, rewilding must be an anti-racist movement. Our goal is for a collective, inclusive, ongoing conversation, which must take responsibility for the historical past of this land in order to accept the present, and begin to visualize a healthier and more wild future. 

Imperative to rewilding is the acknowledgement that the history of industrialized, "civilized" culture as one of violent, global colonialism and racial supremacy. The culture that is shared by all global colonists is called industrial civilization. Industrial civilizations, as opposed to small-scale, place-based tribes, clans, bands, groups, villages, and settlements, are and have always historically been exploitative, destructive, and racist; as civilizations spread from their provenance across the planet, wildness, biodiversity, ecological health, and the healthy of humanity are always reduced, and traditional ecological knowledge and regenerative ways of being have historically been all but erased. The culture that is shared by all supremacist colonists is called civilization, and rewilding is an intrinsic part of its dismantlement.

Historically, all civilizations have employed various psychological compartmentalizations to dehumanize its subjects, victims, and slaves. Dehumanization on the basis of race, sexuality, sex and gender is a tactic historically shared by colonists across the world. Most recently, white supremacy has shaped and perpetuated the growth of the conjoined civilizations that currently dominate the world, and historically, supremacist ideologies have been employed in the absence of any concept of whiteness.

Racism, sexism, and all other forms of dehumanizing discrimination against individuals are necessary tactics that must be employed by industrial civilizations in order to function. Rewilding is, most greatly, the process of undoing the damage done by industrial civilizations and supporting the growth and reemergence of regenerative, place-based ways of interacting with the land, and each other.

Therefore, of course, but very clearly, and again and again, and not for nothing, Rewild Maine does not and shall not ever discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, political affiliation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations. We do not discriminate against anybody for any reason whatsoever, no matter what. We try to meet everyone exactly where they are at and work with them from that point. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our staff, students, clients, volunteers, and community members, without exceptions. 

Rewilding is an inherently anti-colonialist movement, and must take responsibility for the affects of colonization. Rewild Maine stands in opposition to all forms of racist discrimination; we are aware, true tolerance requires intolerance of intolerance - but also requires patient tolerance of people who are intolerant, in order to encourage them and help them grow.

This is an attempt to contribute to the work of addressing problems wrought on the natural world and uncivilized people by the leviathan of "civilized" empires. How can we begin to address and possibly heal the damage caused by colonization? What actions may we take, individually and collectively, to claim responsibility for our own existence, and also for others? Where can we go from here? These are important questions and Rewild Maine is committed to sitting inside of them. We all need deep healing; we all can always learn more and we all benefit from further connection to nature.

We communicate genuinely, authentically and without pretension. We are committed to being personally accessible to communicate openly with all of our students, supporters, friends and community members.

We always welcome feedback, and any contribution anyone may have to share. 

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regarding cultural appropriation

Cultural exchange may be defined as any form of trade or sharing of practices or artifacts between members of disparate groups that does not result in exploitation. This interchange between peoples has allowed for the spread of various tools and skills around the world. Exchange between societies has existed in some form, to an extent, among various groups of humans for at least 295,000 years. 

 

Cultural appropriation, by contrast, is generally understood to be an unacknowledged, inappropriate or otherwise exploitative extraction of artifacts or skills, from a victimized people by members of a colonizing force. As a term, it is alternatively defined by different people and may be challenging to collectively understand. 

Rewild Maine has, in the past, been "called out" as being a Racist, Classist and White Supremacist organization based largely on the fact that our founding director is white (or at least, white-passing), and that we sometimes ask people for money to attend our programs. People have said things like, "White people should not teach other white people how to use and abuse stolen land," and, "White people should not practice Indigenous peoples' skills."

 

This negative, racialized framing of Rewild Maine and of rewilding has been perpetuated, exclusively online, by a number of anonymous detractors. Every few months or so, continuously, some school or other institution that has agreed to work with us will call up on the phone and say, "I heard from somebody online that you are a racist. Unfortunately, because of this, we won't be able to work with you." Or, occasionally, "I heard you are a racist. So, are you?"

 

We have prevaricated around this issue. Getting called out bothered me intensely, and it wasn't just because I am extremely sensitive to criticism (although, like many people, I am). It wasn't even because I wanted to be recognized as clearly sensitive or anti-racist or A Good Guy or a good revolutionary comrade. I can't care that much what people think of me, personally. 

 

The thing that bothered me most about getting called out was what they said about the education of the practices of nature connection. "You're on stolen land," they said. "You shouldn't teach other settler-descendants how to use and abuse the stolen land. You shouldn't practice or teach any skills that weren't developed by members of your own ethnic ancestry. There is no healthy way that white people can connect with stolen land. You should go back where you came from."

 

This way of thinking is especially harmful, because it directly blocks us from engaging with the last shred of available hope that we might have for saving this world. We all, each of us, need to know that we can always find solace in nature when everything feels confusing and scary, even if that wild nature is on the stoop or a rooftop of an urban apartment. Otherwise, all hope is lost. 

 

The reality is that colonization has been the vehicle used to spread industrial civilization since the inception of this way of life, 10,000 years ago. Colonialism has been extremely harmful in many ways, and utilitarians could agree that it'd be better if industrial colonization had ever happened.

 

But, of course, industrial colonization has happened. And, here we all are. The youth of today have spent the past several years of their lives, or more, online. Anxiety, depression, great violence and vehement judgment abound. Everyone points the finger at everyone else. I get it. I don't want to make excuses for the evils of past. I don't want to make excuses for harmful behavior enacted in the present.

 

But, considering where we are right now, and what we are facing, we all need to do whatever we can to support each other, stop harmful behavior where we can, teach peace, and improve the world. Regardless of what we believe.

 

We need to encourage ourselves, and each other, and every living person to work towards growth and regeneration; to walk humbly with the rhythms of the world. We need to learn and teach each other how to be a part of this world without requiring the destruction of everything. We need to remember, and revitalize, the ways of life that do not require exploitation. To continue to learn and grow, as we have for hundreds of thousands of years, we will invariably need to engage in some form of cultural exchange. 

We acknowledge the land, the history of the world, and the context we find ourselves in. We do not teach any specific cultural ceremonies, songs, stories, or traditions. We are most excited about skills that are present around the world throughout the historic and prehistoric record. That said, we do not endorse any racialized distinctions between those who may or may not practice small-scale, place-based living skills. 

We cannot, nor should we, all go back where we come from. We all need to connect, regeneratively, to the places we inhabit in order to grow resilience and heal. We are not exploiting anybody by offering our programs. We all - each of us, everybody, every one, regardless of racial identity - need to learn this, with humility, and gratitude, again and again and again.

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