I’d like to clarify some things here. This site does in fact have a definition of rewilding. It represents a continuum from a domesticated life to a wild one. The arrow of rewilding always points to a natural, wild life. We further define a natural way of life for humans by looking at the 3 million years of history that we have lived on this plant in contrast to the 10,000 or so years we have lived domesticating ourselves and the world. The goal of “rewilding” is to once again live as families enacting hunter-gatherer land management and economics.
While everyone feels a different calling in rewilding, if the end goal is not a culture of families enacting hunter-gatherer land management and economics, then you are not rewilding. Rewilding is defined by the end goal. There is no one right way to rewild, but there is a common understanding of what it means to live an authentic wild life, and that defines whether or not you are authentically rewilding.
The discussions here rest in the hands of this understanding; in order to have a cohesive community, we must agree on these things. To build a rewilding culture we must have a common story. This website is about creating a community based on that story. If that story doesn’t catch your fancy, there are plenty of other sites that discuss the lone mountain man story, such as Paleo Planet.
Hey Blue Heron,
My reaction to Wenatcheeguy’s post came from his initial statement:
I am another that would have to disagree with the idea that rewilding solitarily is unsustainable.
This entire thread has been devoted (along with several other threads of the same nature) to showing how solitary human survival is unnatural. This statement implies that he disagrees with the definition of rewilding that sits on the splash page of this site. I’m not judging or “writing off” his experiences or decisions; I’m pointing out that they are not the definition of rewilding we use on this site. It doesn’t mean that I think his experience is invalid, it doesn’t mean that living alone for a time isn’t a part of rewilding. But by saying the above, it frames the picture of how one sees living alone, and that’s not the story of rewilding as we define it here.
[quote=“Mugwort, post:65, topic:254”]Urban Scout, can you substantiate the following claims that you have made so authoritatively:
[quote]-“Living alone in the woods is not “natural” by any definition of the word”
[quote]-“You can practice “rewilding” alone, but you’ll never live wild that way”
Let us not forget the years when Crazy Horse lived alone in the Black Hills and hundreds of illegal miners turned up dead. By your definitions, Crazy Horse, during this period, was not natural, was not living wild and was not fully human. [/quote]
Humans have evolved for 3 million years within a social organization (which we call culture). Natural humans live in cultures of people who interact with the land on a cultural level. You cannot practice cultural land management as an individual. While you can do things as an individual that hunter-gatherer cultures did, you are not a culture of hunter-gatherers. Every animal fits into the community of life in some way. but socially structured animals fit a different way because as a social structure, your entire “group” is like one whole organism. So the group behavior (not the individuals) defines how they species “fits” into the environment. This is why it doesn’t matter what you do as an individual in civilization (buy organic, fair trade, etc) it’s what the group does as a whole. Humans fit into ecosystems as large groups of hunter-gatherers. Living as a wild human implies living in a culture that practices hunter-gatherer land management. So one can never live “wild” as an individual. Not to mention the fact that, well… without producing an offspring you are not sustaining your way of life anyway. You can’t really have a baby by yourself can you? So you “rescue” yourself from civilization only to die a lonely death and help no one else. That’s not rewilding. Even if you had a partner and had a baby. What will that child do when it grows up? Who will it continue the culture with?
If you don’t have a culture, you don’t have a natural way of life. If you don’t have a population, you don’t have a culture. If you don’t have a clear understanding of hunter-gatherer economics, you won’t keep the land healthy. All of these are implicit in rewilding.
Secondly, in hunter-gatherer cultures the skills learned on a solo survival trek were for the purpose of integrating an individual into the larger culture. Lone survival was used for personal reflection and a rite of passage among indigenous peoples. Rarely did it have anything to do with a culture, but more to do with preparing the individual for life in a culture by giving them confidence, self-reliance and a personal vision for how the person can help the culture. I have nothing against going out and doing that, but that is a ritual, a rite, and is not by any means a “sustainable” form of rewilding because by calling it sustainable, you make a ritual sound like the end goal.
Scouts, the military end of hunter-gatherers, lived a solitary life for long periods of time, but again they served a function for a larger culture. They were defined by their culture, not the culture themselves. They were a by-product of a whole culture, not singular.
As for Crazy Horse… Well, no he wasn’t living a wild life at that point because civilization caused a cultural collapse for his people. He was rewilding, not because he was living by himself in the woods but because he was trying to stop civilization and regain his natural way of life of a culture of families enacting hunter-gatherer land management.
Lastly, this site is not a pit-stop for people. If you sign up to this site it’s a commitment to creating a culture here. Every once and a while some asshole signs up and is like, “You can all sit here and talk, I’m gonna go do the real rewilding, who’s with me?” It’s really obnoxious and I’m sick of it. Running away to the wilderness and living primitively with a handful of people is not creating a culture of hunter-gatherer land management. Its more like civil war reenactment; a superficial exploration of historical peoples. We dress like hunter-gatherers, and we have all of their tools, but we don’t actually live like they did (do), because we have no real culture and have no real idea how the culture interacted with the land on a large scale. A bow-drill is not hunter-gatherer land management. Knowing what plants to eat is not a culture of hunter-gatherer land management. Brain-tanning buckskin is not a culture of hunter-gatherer land management. Tools hunter-gatherers used are not a culture of hunter-gatherer land management. They are by-products of it.
All of this means to say that yes, solitary living has it’s place in rewilding. Both as a rite of passage for individuality clarity and as scouts on the edge of a rewilding culture. But when someone says that it, alone, is sustainable that’s just someone with a very different picture of what rewilding means, then the one we have defined here at this site.