start where you are
use what you have
do what you can
Zack Rouda, Director / Instructor
President of the Board, Acting Treasurer
I didn’t grow up in the woods and I do not have a lifetime of experience, but I have chosen my path based on my personal conviction that our shared need to develop a connection to the natural world is paramount to ensure the survival of humanity and the living planet. I value open and honest communication and am comfortable giving and receiving feedback. I am committed to continuous learning, teaching and sharing.
I grew up in Washington, DC, and was enamored by performance arts from a young age. I attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and pursued acting in addition to a semi-successful career as a rapper. Gradually I became disillusioned by life in the city, and was increasingly curious about the history of inequality, exploitation and
environmental degradation. I studied anthropology (and theater) at the University of Vermont, attempted and withdrew from a life in New York City for a second time, and finally came to Maine for an apprenticeship at Maine Local Living School, during 2013 and 2014.
Time spent learning from Chris and Ashirah at Maine Local Living School was profoundly reformative. I discovered in small-scale, place-based living skills a genuine joy that had been absent from me throughout my years onstage and inside academic classrooms. From Ashirah and Chris I learned to live in a more positive place; I began focusing more on what I love and wish to create, rather than what I hated, feared and wished to escape from. I couldn’t go back to New York City, or even back home to Washington. I couldn’t go back to the way I had lived before; I could no longer focus my efforts on the shortsighted egoic world of “show business.” I continued to practice what I learned at Koviashuvik after moving to Portland in 2015.
In 2016, at the behest of my neighbors, and with support and encouragement from my friend, Peter Bauer (founding director of Rewild Portland) I began leading wild-edible-foraging tours and started teaching basket-making classes. I recruited a board of directors to incorporate Rewild Maine as a 501(c)3 educational non-profit in 2017. Over the years, the organization has grown and changed. I am continuously grateful.
I am a chronically low-income, Jewish, olive-skinned, neurodivergent, quite atypical person in the non-profit world, who is often racialized as white and sometimes categorized as an oppressor. I I try to navigate the challenges of my own identity with as much humility and grace as possible. I am always open to deep communication and genuine connection.
I offer this story for you to learn about me, and also to consider: we do not have to stay where we are put. We may give ourselves the freedom to recreate our lives to meet our needs, to replace ourselves where we want to be, to reconnect with our fundamental nature; to rewild. I look forward to meeting you.
I am an artist and educator whose work spans the technological spectrum.
I travel to work on computerized kinetic sculptures with Hypersonic Design and Plebian Design. At home in Union Maine I experiment with small buildings, mud ovens, and various village-scale technologies. I am happy to sing songs and swim in the ocean whenever possible. I have BS, MS, ABD and IBS from MIT and have also studied homesteading and natural building at Stone Soup Institute, Koviashuvik Local Living School, and Fox Maple Natural Building School. I am currently working on a cooperative homestead project with the Farming Artists in Blue Hill.
Danjo Paluska, Board Member / Instructor
Vice President of the Board
Every morning when I wake up, I try to remember to say to myself, “I am thankful, I have a life and that is amazing. How can I devote my energy of the day to something positive?” I like to think of myself as a supporting actor, or a member of a life support team. All of my actions, all of my transactions, they support other life.
What kind of life am I supporting? What am I keeping alive? Am I strong enough to be the change I want to see? I’ve been thinking a lot more about plants lately. Fruit trees are something else. I go up to a
fruit tree and I find a tasty piece of food in a convenient biodegradable package. I enjoy this tasty treat for free and then toss the wrapper and possibly a core on the ground. Or maybe the seeds pass through me or another animal. There’s a chance some of those seeds might end up in the ground again. Take some care, find the write spot, have some pay chance, and… lookie here! Another fruit tree making more treats! Holy moley!!! That is some high tech wizardy. Clearly I have a lot to learn. I am thankful for that.
Alia Bradley, Board Member / Instructor
Hi! My name is Alia. I’m named after a character from “Dune” by Frank Herbert. My mom is a nerd.
I’m a board member, volunteer, and professional educator. I’m a passionate naturalist and am curious about all aspects of the natural world, from the macroscopic scope of a large, interconnected environmental community, to the microscopic view of genetics and cell biology. A large part of my studies have been devoted to microbiology, cell theory, and human anatomy/nutrition. I hope to expand my studies into botany, ornithology, and ecology.
There is no magical solution that will solve all the problems we are faced with today. Although
individually we may not have directly contributed to the problems in the world, we are each personally
responsible for cultivating the kind of world we want to live in. Rewilding fosters a relationship with the
natural world, empowering the average person to take responsibility for their local community and
ecology. Working with natural systems can only benefit everyone. Nature is not a scary stranger separate from humanity. Humanity came from and is part of nature, and
in this way, true connection with the natural world unites and equalizes every living being.