Rewilding Havens

So this thread really began over here, with Jessica’s question about creating community in BC to rewild with.

(I want to post this in “Communities of Rewilding” but it doesn’t quite fit)

Rewilding Havens

What if we moved away from the ecovillage model (investment, shares, membership agreements, etc.) and began to embrace an idea of a web of havens that welcome people who rewild? What if we carried this map in our minds, and kept it unwritten? What if these havens operated according to the principles of Open Space?


Every Open Space requires a host (the keeper of the land?), a facilitator (the one who holds the space), and attendees (those who fill and circulate through the space).

Every Open Space has four principles and one law that nurtures life in that space.
[Edit: succinctly;

  1. Only the right people will come.
  2. What could happen, will happen.
  3. When it starts, it starts.
  4. When it ends, it ends.
    The Law of Two Feet: If you learn nothing and have no contribution to make where you stand, go somewhere where you will.]

And the holder of such space will hold clear boundaries* according to what creates life and what doesn’t.

I actually believe that in some form or another, this work has begun already, of course. So let’s add to the momentum. Sometimes things just need a name. What do you think, should we open a topic in the communities of Rewilding category for folks to sign up their place (or their future place) as Rewilding Haven?

I wonder if, to volunteer such a thing, one would need a firm understanding of Open Space Gathering’s principles and law. Otherwise it might de-evolve into ecovillages again. :wink:

I feel myself on the verge of volunteering to somehow teach Open Space methods to anyone willing to put their place on the Rewilding Havens map. I don’t quite know yet what I can really offer in terms of travel to locations and such though.

But this idea really inspires me. I do think the time has really, really come to change how we think as a community, of the connection between places and rewilding.

I welcome anyone else’s insights on this. What inspires you about this idea? Where do you see the energy going? What role do you play in all of this? Would you sign up your land for such a map?

*I’ve written about clear boundaries a lot from a rewilding perspective; for more info on how I experience these issues, read:
and listen:

Hi Willem,

This would break the "old-mind" model of static ecovillages. In fact, I must say, ecovillages operate this way anyway, with lots of coming and going according to the needs and soap operas of the moment.

This would also break the need somewhat (in a good way) for “residential wilderness schools”. They would have their place, but no longer serve as the main option.

This is what inspires me about this.

Would you sign up your land for such a map?

I would consider it. Though before I did it I would have to become more familiar with Open Space Gatherings.

Take care,


Part and parcel of this idea would involve care for place; that we have Rewilding Havens both for meccas of rewilding, and as places that need nurturing and habitat rewilding themselves.

From the wiki:

For example, rather than renting someones land, why not offer a day of labor to care-take the land? At the Portland Rewild Camp we had 45 people. Some rendezvous like Rabbitstick draw 400 people. What kinds of work could you do for someones land in one day with 400 people? A lot. Like set up a humanure compost system so you bring soil to their land, and not have to pay for port-a-potties. Get it?

Let’s turn everything on its head. Not “organic farming/permaculture apprenticeships”, but just out and out ongoing rewild-caretaking jamborees.

Obviously books like Tending the Wild would help with knowing where to start in your particular place.

Also, one place can’t provide a full range of foods, unless it ran over quite a large area. What if Havens involved food trade/mutual food gifting as part of the relationship?

Different scale heavens. People with small places can host a couple folks, but not a large gathering. A gift of kind for the caretaker for the use of the land might work well. Not payment of money, but some reciprocity.

You know, some ecovillage-type places. Wilderness Schools. Etc. Already exist that can form a beginning network of Havens. When you add some of us on to the list… Have to figure out the details and approach some of these places to create such a network. Trade of information inherent here may have some additional benefits too.

Just because some of us don’t fit into the ecovillage model, or at least any of the established ecovillage models, doesn’t mean these places aren’t on a similar enough page to offer hospitality. Especially if the quest comes with venison or a sack of wild blackberries.

Sorry, kind of stream of consciousness here.

Maybe writing a document putting out the obligations on both sides, the open space stuff, etc as necessary. Might make it easier to enlist and prevent problems. An early big failure can end the whole deal before it really gets going. I know some people don’t like putting stuff in writing like this…maybe writing it in e-prime would help? Don’t know. But putting it writing will probably help. And each Haven will have rules regarding the care of the land. Where you can sleep, excrete, eat, volume (both number of people and auditory), and the use of alcohol, tobacco, etc. Having those in writing and available a head of time might help the nomads pick out their route.

Very interesting and inspiring!

I don’t have much else to say for now, as I want to take time to check out the links to “Mythic Cartography” posted earlier on this thread, and re-read the posts on this thread, and think about this some more. But it does sound good.

This strums a chord with me. A friend (more like a brother) and I on the verge of striking out to some land in the southern appalachians to live, garden, fish (hopefully), and learn the skills of living in kinship with the land.

We honestly don’t know how long we’ll try this experiment for. I want to consider this a possible long-term direction for my life, but my friend has only committed for the spring, summer, and early autumn. Willem, your essays on rewilding adulthood and the accords have helped me understand that this hesitance on each of our parts results from a desire to not over-commit ourselves and to live in the spirit of constant renewal (accords).

Regardless of how long this experiment lasts, neither of us wants to roam these mountains as a two-person clan. We’d like to recruit more, but we don’t have the years and certainty of time that tends to make an ecovillage. I’ve considered that after a couple of years, we’d have the experience in the garden to offer a rudimentary WWOOF opportunity to bring more folks around, since I have the impression that WWOOF hosts typically offer themselves in a teacher-apprentice fashion. Rather, since both my friend and I have only limited skills related to rewilding, gardening, and permaculture, we’d love to meet folks who we can have open-ended mutual partnerships in teaching, learning, and caretaking the land.

In other words, I like the beginnings of this idea…

Wildeyes- If you make it up to Athens, Ohio or vicinity drop me a line.

Can I throw a [font=Verdana][size=10pt][size=10pt]“WOOO-HOOO!”[/size][/size][/font] out there, just to acknowledge all you folks who’ve posted your thoughts so far? ;D

Yeah, differently-scaled Havens, absolutely (I love your typo, “heavens” instead of “havens”). The host and facilitator of the particular Rewilding Haven would absolutely need to stay clear on what they can handle, what will create Life for their place, and hold to it like a compassionate yet firm pit bull from Hell. :slight_smile: Modern Americans have a lot to learn about setting and maintaining boundaries (still learning myself - an ever receding goal!), so it will take some work on how to sit in service to a Haven, but I think folks can do it. Yes, maybe I could throw out some sample ideas in a document that would provide options for how to maintain and hold space. I could also throw together a podcast on my perspective on this Rewilding Haven idea. Hmmm…

Oh, also, yes, I agree that some Ecovillages work similarly enough for a partnership. This work really has already begun - and I’d just like to see it continue, from a Rewilding perspective, rather than from a “sustainability and green eco-future” perspective.

I feel really good that I have helped you in any way work toward that goal of “constant renewal” of agreements and commitments. Really, really, cool. Thanks for mentioning it. The beginnings of your adventure sound very exciting!

Once you’ve perused the links, I look forward to any questions or insights you might have!

From where I sit, to make this work, we must learn to benefit from the renaissance of social technology occurring right now, and not get sucked to its dark side. I could tell you a dozen stories of abuse of any “new-age” social tool, whether Naka Ima, Non-Violent Communication, Consensus Decision Making, Open Space Technology, Agile Teamwork, etc.

People of the modern culture excel at taking other’s life-giving art, tools, knowledge, and turning it into tools for colonization and enslavement. YUCK! Unfortunately this includes me and you.

So the true secret to Rewilding Havens, may come down to this:

[size=10pt]How do I hold a life-giving space?[/size]

Of course in my blog I obsess over this notion, podcasts and essays galore, all in the end to struggle with this question. How do I hold a space, in which I can welcome and accomodate everything humans do:


And facilitates their feeding of Life in that place, among that people?

Yeah, aren’t I all clever. :wink:

How do I hold a space, in which I can welcome and accomodate everything humans do:

And facilitates their feeding of Life in that place, among that people?

I think it may ultimately come down to understanding. Realizing that people only very rarely act in bad faith. Say and do things to intentionally hurt others. Most of the time people intend to be kind and end up misunderstood. That’s a big problem I run into sometimes. The coordinator of a Haven would probably be well served by facilitator training and experience.

-Benjamin Shender

I like where this thread is going (both figuratively and literally). I’m surprised that nobody has yet mentioned the utilitarian aspect of this vision of Rewild Havens: when the sh*t hits the fan we may have places to go and people we can trust and work with. Could Rewild Havens serve as future sites of a new post-collapse rewilded culture?

I also like the idea of using already existing wilderness schools. What about a series of accords between different schools to support each other and create Havens, especially in a time of collapse?

I think that the relevancy of this idea is of the utmost importance at this moment in history as we seem closer to collapse than ever.

I was talking with a few friends last week about the idea of living tribally, close to our families and each other. This got me thinking of trying to plan a sort of neo-indigenous longhouse for a few couples/families. It would be minimal electricity, and would have private bedrooms and bathrooms, with a common kitchen, living area (central fireplace), laundry room, and workshop. I’m putting aside money to set up such a living situation, preferably on a few acres of forest, surrounded by more forest. Perhaps if I ever actually set it up, it could be something of a haven.

Sweet! I love longhouses. What a great idea. Native peoples seemed to build them like crazy once you get to a certain point North longitude (that intersects with water) - Vikings, Iroquois, Haida, Makah, all around the world the longhouse clearly works.

Just podcasted an interview with an expert in Open Space, Agile Teamwork, communication and group decision-making. Seems relevant. :slight_smile:

I have been working towards paying money for the opportunity to caretake a piece of land for a few years.When that land presents itself to me it will for sure be a rewilding haven

Sweet! :slight_smile:

I wonder if much of this can help tie into the proposed northwest rewild tour?

You know, that thought crossed my mind. Thanks for bringing it up here. Patrick has asked me a bunch of times to go on that, maybe this makes one more good reason to do it!

If we decided to hold Rewild Camps on the tour in places where folks want to have Rewild Havens then we could dovetail the open space training nicely.

Ai waited a while to post on this thread, cause ai dont exactly know how to put mai feelings into words, but ai’ll try anyway. This seems like a very positive idea. But wont most of the places where rewilders inhabit be in the Pacific Northwest? What about the rest of us in other places? Will we be able to form an unbroken chain of Havens (bytheby haven is just a varient of “heaven”) clear from Oregon to Arizona? (where ai plan on settling)

Why not? Let’s give it a shot!