Rewilding Havens

In the US, we have lived in a period of relative law and order, where it is possible to live safely and securely in a solitary house on a farm in the countryside. It is hard to imagine the brutal reality of living in a world without the safety and security of Law and Order.

I find it interesting that you say this. I personally feel totally unsecure in this modern world, with the government/corporation’s dream of an all-seeing eye more realized than ever before. I don’t feel afraid of other ordinary people (strangers), but I do feel nervous when I see a cop (and feel relief when they can no longer see me).

Here on Salt Spring (a relatively small, rural community to be sure), we have a local tradition of picking up hitchhickers (passing them by is considered impolite), and I do this whenever I can (as a lone woman in a car, I pick up men and have never felt unsafe). No one here locks their doors, many don’t lock their cars in town, and some even leave their keys in the ignition (while their cars are unlocked, of course). In the middle of town! It’s sort of a local joke, but it makes the point that many here reject the culture of fear (fearing our fellow humans) that the dominant culture tries to promote. And crime on the island hardly exists, so while some do take advantage (a few petty theft crimes happen), this trust is hardly misplaced.

Of course, any community needs to protect each member’s safety and well-being, but I think that happens much better through social technologies and a culture of trust and openness (where everyone feels free and supported to speak up whenever they don’t feel comfortable, for example), than it does through “law and order” (the ever-present threat of violence provided by the state). Any women who works on domestic violence will attest to the fact that the police do a miserable job of protecting women from violence (and actually often commit the violence) - while any look at the riot cops at a non-violent protest shows how well the police do the job of protecting the interests of those in power.

I hope I haven’t diverged too far off topic, but I also wanted to say that I agree that we need to be very concerned with our communities safety during and after the collapse. But defending the community from harm stands as a very different issue from internal security, which would be solved by a variety of social technologies.

On a different note, I think I have somewhat of a different idea of the nature of rewilding havens than others - although I like the idea of having as many types of rewilding havens as possible. What I have been thinking of - what I would personally want to create - doesn’t consist of a sort of travelers’ rest stop provided by a “host”, but instead of creating a true rewilding community, where people could join and leave according to where their life takes them. In this situation, a “host” wouldn’t exist - there would only exist the community.

I feel that the tricky part comes with the issue of land ownership. Just when I think I fully understand the evilness of “private property”, I find yet another negative thing about it. In this case, it seriously complicates the whole dynamic of rewilding havens. The system requires regular payments (similar to a stickup by a highway robber, I feel) by land owners, in the form of taxes, insurance, and mortgage, which begs the question of how the community would pay for this?

And in general, the different status of “landowner” and “visitor” could create strange dynamics among members of the community, such as feelings of entitlement, issues of respect of the land, etc. Although I think the community could easily eliminate the problem of freeloaders, abusive members, etc by having clear guidelines for acceptable behavior, and requiring those who violate those guidelines to leave.

I feel that because some people have a much more fortunate financial situation than others (due to the unequal nature of civilization), providing land exists as one of many ways to contribute to the community, and while it is an essential contribution, it should not grant someone special status (except as a founding member of the community, helping to create its ideals and guidelines).

I think the more that the idea of “ownership” of the land is minimized, the healthier and less civilized the community will become. I know that if I bought land for a rewilding haven, I would not in any way want that to affect my relationships with the other members of the community. I especially wouldn’t want to become “above” others in a hierarchical sense, with my land ownership granting me special power to dictate things to the rest of the community (the definition of a dictator, I think). I also would not feel comfortable living in a community where that were the case. How this would be avoided seems a bit complicated, though. Private property rearing its ugly head again - I would love nothing more than to cut it off ;).



I don’t feel particularly secure in the modern world either. Cops do tend to make me a little anxious, but then so do a lot of folk. Probably related to getting the shit beat out of me so many times in school. Funny how that happens.



I've bought two pieces of land in my life. Both came to us through very hard work and commitment. I never had those kind of resources handed to me on a platter. I have had people express that I had certain luxuries because I had land and a home. My response is that it was a concious decision to make that commitment that could be made by anybody if it was possible for me. The same goes for the "free" life of the nomad. It requires a commitment to what that life demands.

I think you have made a good point here, and those are wise words.

I have an experience to share.

I’m 34 years old now, but since I turned 18 I have made concious choices to try and remain debt free. As it stands right now, I am debt free for the most part. This is after my family and I just moved into our cordwood house that we built on 32 acres. I feel fortunate and grateful.

On occasion, throughout the past 16 years, I have tried to help various family members and friends achieve a debt free lifestyle. On almost every occasion they point at a circumstance that I have created for myself and tell me how lucky I was to have that opportunity, and that particular stroke of luck was the reason for my success. What they forget is the opportunity came from a concious choice and hard work. Needless to say none of them achieved a debt free lifestyle.

Also, there have been times throughout the past 16 years where I’ve had a little bit of money saved up. As a result I have loaned it out interest free to various family members and friends that needed it, and on almost every occasion I’ve had to beg for my money back, and sometimes never getting it back. Somehow they felt that since I had money saved up, and was better off financially, they were entitled to the money I had loaned them interest free. Looking back, this says a lot about how they valued our relationship.

I do need to mention one occasion where I didn’t have to ask for any kind of payment for the money I loaned out. My Grandpa and Grandma borrowed money from me when they were in their early sixties. They were the least well off health wise and financially than anyone I have loaned money out to. Despite those two facts, I never had to ask them for any kind of payment. I find it interesting they were the only people that I ever loaned money out to that lived through The Great Depression.

Take care,



Re-wilding havens seems like a really interesting idea. I like what Pulling for Wildflowers is doing. And Willem-- I just discovered your Mythic Cartography website, and am busy back-reading everything (good job!). You bring up some good points about invisible social technologies, like “accord”, that we have lost in our modern society, about reciprocity, responsibility, clarity, trusting agreements.

I own land in a wetland-spring area in the Mojave Desert, that would make a good stop in spring and fall for hunter-gatherers, with cattail roots to dig in the marsh, mesquite beans to harvest in the fall, and I have been experimenting with native grass seed collecting as well in the area, such as Indian rice grass, Desert needlegrass, and weedy brome, to grind the seeds. There are a bunch of awesome medicinal desert shrubs here, and very importantly, you can drink the water right out of the spring without filtering.

But I too share concerns about having people I don’t know come to this place that I worked very hard to get, spent decades finding, and feel lucky to have (although the sacrifices for living out here are often not realized by those in the city). We have a locked gate because there are crazy people on the highway that have gladly in the past driven in to shoot all the quail, off-road-race over the desert, and steal. But even more disturbing are the friends and aquaintances that we have invited over, that overstayed there welcome. One woman was a wildlife photographer, who began to think we were her private bed-and-breakfast. We finally had to kick her out. Maybe that is more a problem with “domesticated folk,” I don’t know.

So I like the idea of getting people aware of limits and responsibility, and recommendations so that only trusty wild people would come.

I just finished reading Elizabeth Marshall Thomas’ The Old Way, where she talks of Bushmen families in the 1950s Kalahari Desert. Certain family linaeges had ‘noresi’ or traditional springs and hunting/gathering territories that they were sort of the caretakers of. Other families had to ask their permission before camping and partaking of the water and wild foods around, when they came visiting from their own noresi. And almost always they were known to the noresi-owners by relational ties or gift exchange ties or some other network where they were vouched for and could be trusted. Strangers were not trusted, and brought up fear actually.

I really like the idea of a nomadic lifestyle, as I have lived in a tent in my past. But I also have gotten to know this piece of land deeply now and have some developing animistic-spiritual connections with it. Seems like rewilding our psychology would help a lot with integrating private land-owners and nomads.

Just my two cents…


Everybody has kept saying so much insightful stuff, that I don’t know if I can respond person by person. But keep it coming! I like feeling overwhelmed with good stuff.

Michael Green, at his Afterculture visionary art installation, has a quote from the druidic tradition-

I honor your path. I drink from your well. I bring an unprotected heart to our meeting place. I hold no cherished outcome. I will not negotiate by withholding. I am not subject to disappoinment.

Every time I read that my neck hairs stand on end and life-affirming energies surge through my veins. I hear a profoundly grounded and universal message in that; including the Bushman ethic, that lizard mentioned.

What does it mean to come without feeling entitlement, to “come bearing gifts”, and perhaps even along with “carry your own weight”, to also help “carry THE weight”. The sacred weight of caring for the land and each other.

How do we form that adoptive family of collaborating cousins, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles? Perhaps we come with a small packet of sacred herb in our hand, and at the gate of the land of those we wish to make relatives, we say "I offer these herbs to you. They carry these words-

I yearn to nurture and receive nurturing from you and your land.
I fear that you will ask too much of me, and I set that fear aside.
I fear that I will not ask what I need of you, and I set that fear aside.
I commit to listening for, and when I can, acting on both yours and the Land’s calls for help.
I commit to asking for help when I need it.
With sadness and joy I know that a long road awaits us, of building more and more
what we can ask of each other, and what we can give each other
I know the time will come when I cannot help you when you need it,
and when I will not ask for help, when I need it
I weep and celebrate our own humanity in this
and know that then we may need to part ways for a while
before we come back together
and build our bonds even stronger."

I mean what else can simple human beings do? Ex-slaves, even, still terrified of the whips of civilization. Piece by piece, we put lives worth living back together. Scared to hurt and to feel hurt, we do the best we can.


YES! Beautiful words, Willem. :’( :smiley:


That is beautiful, Willem. Maybe it could work both ways to build relations: nomads coming with humility, but land-owners also realizing they do not truly own land, they are here to protect land so that it can be shared with others. I think the sharing ethic is key.

If I wanted to participate in a nomad haven circuit, I would also take the responsibility to go meet with people, such as going to a Root Camp I suppose, making friends, connecting. Then it wouldn’t be so abstract.


The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of forming some sort of non-profit corporation for rewilding havens, even if that will give it the stink of capitalism. With some creative book keeping and other such things, we might be able to avoid a lot of taxes. Many businesses, like my parents’ print shop that I’m helping at right now, give discounts to non-profits. It won’t be the property of individuals, so even if we as individuals rack up debt, feds won’t come and steal the land (not that they particularly need and excuse). For the launching at least, I think this is a good way to use the master’s tools.


I have a piece of land I’d readily offer up as a Rewild Haven. It isn’t legally my own but a friends of mine. The land is completely vacant. The legal owner of this land is currently attending college and is unable to make any use of the land. It is a 10-acre piece of land, but she technically is only entitled to 3-acres. She has repeatedly agreed to let me use the land for something such as this, in fact she is enthusiastic about me doing something with it. Also I should say its in Upstate NY by the Canadian Border, so it is cold as hell in the winter.
I am offering this land that was offered to me as a rewild haven. I would like to be taught the principles of Open Space and put into action the building of this haven.
I think ideally we would work this out throughout the winter and then come spring take direct action towards moving to, and rebuilding, the landscape. I think waiting till spring is ideal because it will be much more comfortable and it will be much easier to rebuild the land. And of course this will give us ample time to prepare for the winter seasons instead of going straight into a winter season.
I am willing to learn whatever it is I need in order to make this happen. This is my most profound dream and if I could achieve this I would be a MUCH MUCH happier being. Thank you in advance for anybody that aides in the materializing of this idea.


… I think it is time for those who share the vision, desire, and excitement for creating Rewilding Havens, to begin planting the seeds that will grow into a real web of interconnected Rewilding Havens across the country.

follow this web strand to the web of In-visioning Rewilding Havens


I see an oppertunity here… for those who own land that has been ravaged by civilization (pollution, damaged by modern improvments, buried under mounds of civ waste) you could offer your property to rewilders in exchange for cleaning up and returning the land to it’s natural state.

After all we should clean our own houses before we point to our neighbors.

This could be the first step to creating/reclaiming our heavens. Not to mention the hands on experience that could be gained by those that do not have the ability to purchase their own land. With a network of property owners, migrating rewilders could spend their lives and never see the end of it. The owners would benifit from the care and restoration.

What do you think?


[quote=“Wenatcheeguy, post:51, topic:1142”]I see an oppertunity here… for those who own land that has been ravaged by civilization (pollution, damaged by modern improvments, buried under mounds of civ waste) you could offer your property to rewilders in exchange for cleaning up and returning the land to it’s natural state.

After all we should clean our own houses before we point to our neighbors.

This could be the first step to creating/reclaiming our heavens. Not to mention the hands on experience that could be gained by those that do not have the ability to purchase their own land. With a network of property owners, migrating rewilders could spend their lives and never see the end of it. The owners would benifit from the care and restoration.

What do you think?[/quote]

I think your touching on something I feel strongly about. I would gladly dedicate my life to help restore bleeding land to it’s former glory, but I don’t know how. I’m sure there are plants to plant that would take care of the polluted soil, bacteria and algae that would eat oil etc but which plants, which organisms, and how do I get them?


I know this is an old thread on a quiet forum, but I love the idea of rewilding havens.