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Topics - woozletracker

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Visions of the Rewilding Renaissance / Rewilding Britain
« on: July 16, 2015, 11:03:12 AM »
The movement inspired by George Monbiot's book 'Feral', as well as numerous small-scale projects across the UK, just put up their new website:


They've also been getting some favourable media coverage, eg:

http://www.channel4.com/news/catch-up/display/playlistref/130715/clipid/130715_REWILD_1307  (possibly only available here)

Still no mention of human rewilding, except in the context of ecotourism and an increased 'sense of wonder' in less domesticated landscapes, but I was heartened to see an English writer putting this point across in the latest Permaculture magazine:


No text from the article at that link, I'm afraid, but here's the key passage fyi:

[...] the dominant view of rewilding perpetuates the false division between people and the rest of nature. Many indigenous communities do not have a word for 'wild'; they recognise themselves as part of nature, not separate from it. The wild should not be a place we visit, it should be something we are, an integrated whole that includes humans. Through recognising humans as part of nature we come to see that just as we domesticated animals and landscapes through agriculture, we also domesticated ourselves. In this sense humans need rewilding just as much as places. From this less well-known perspective rewilding is a homecoming to our own wildness, a simultaneous transformation of human systems and landscapes.

The 'false division' is in evidence in the Channel 4 piece, where it is set up as a conflict between the needs of wild nature vs those of the 'human ecology', referring to the barren uplands that have been grazed down to grass monocultures by sheep farming. So far there has been no analysis that I'm aware of as to why we have this division or how it came about (*cough*, agriculture). Monbiot views this as a problem inherent in the entire human species, as I mentioned in a previous thread, so this fits the alienated ecotourist vision, with barriers in place to limit our destructive activities and protect other species from us. There's little or no emphasis on the need to implement sustainable or regenerative subsistence strategies as a way of breaking down this division and creating situations where human activity in relation to other species can be encouraged rather than limited and policed - or simply reserved as a weekend leisure activity for affluent city-dwellers. I might even side with the sheep farmers if that turns out to be the case!

Anyway, thought it might be of interest to see how some are taking the rewilding idea in different directions.


PS: yay, we've got beavers again: http://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/reintroductions/beaver


Archaeologists have found evidence of einkorn wheat in underwater excavations near the Isle of Wight:


This shoves the arrival of agriculture in the British Isles back a good 2,000 years to around 6,000BC. Just DNA, no seeds, so it's unclear whether it was planted and harvested there or just brought over and ground into flour by travelers. The coastline was much further out during that point in the mesolithic before the ice melted and seawaters drowned those lowlands, but the researchers seem to be working on the assumption that the wheat traveled by boat among surprisingly (to them) well-traveled human cultures:

Whichever scenario is correct, the discovery suggests a very unexpected degree of Mesolithic period maritime mobility (and Neolithic-originating cultural practice) that has not hitherto been apparent from the archaeological record.

If now-inundated coastal zones around continental Europe and Britain really were home to more technologically-developed and geographically-connected Mesolithic societies than those more inland Mesolithic cultures on what is still dry land, then there should be other differences at the Isle of Wight site, apart from just the einkorn evidence.

Remarkably, some such evidence has indeed emerged there.

The archaeologists, working there have found evidence of a wider range of flint tool styles - including some Neolithic-style  flint implements - and have also found around ten pieces of split timber, including three which had been split in a manner not seen elsewhere until the Neolithic.
Recent archaeological discoveries

The archaeologists say that the site may have been a Mesolithic boat-building encampment -perhaps the oldest such site yet discovered anywhere in the world. They have found evidence for woodworking, cooking and flint tool manufacturing. They also discovered pieces of Mesolithic string, the heel bone of a giant wild cow (aurochs) and DNA from dog (or wolf) and cattle (probably giant aurochs).

"The use of, or introduction of, cereal grains in Britain now appears to have been a much longer and more complex process than we had previously imagined," said archaeologist, Professor Vince Gaffney of the University of Bradford, co-author of the Science paper.

"Scientists' ability to analyse genetic material found deep in ancient buried marine sediments will open up a totally new chapter in the study of British and European prehistory.

My working theory on this is that it shows agriculture (aka the Neolithic Revolution) as capable of moving through forager territory much quicker than previously reckoned - although clearly much slower than the breathtaking pace of change upon first contact with the Americas and other suitable temperate zones around the globe. It throws up all the usual questions of who these people were - conquering immigrants or locals converted, either through choice or coercion, to the new way of life. How sharp were the distinctions between farming and foraging societies? Did they trade? Did they fight? How long did they coexist, with one group occupying the fertile lowlands (including those now underwater, it seems) and the other sticking to the forested highlands or the coasts? At what point did the foragers capitulate and what, if anything, of their culture and traditions remained, adopted by those who superceded them?

Interesting stuff...


Grief & Praise / Wild boar 'tragedy' in the UK
« on: February 03, 2015, 06:38:46 AM »
Tragedy for who?


The Government is to investigate how many wild boar are living in north Wiltshire after a motorist died after hitting one on the M4 through the county.

The chairman of Natural England, Andrew Sells, confirmed his department would be sending an expert to join a local deer initiative, with the specific remit of finding out just how bad the wild boar problem is in the farming country north of Chippenham and in the Bradon Forest, near Malmesbury.

The action comes after the tragic death of Raymond Green, a 47-year-old from Royal Wootton Bassett, whose car hit a huge wild boar on the M4 near junction 17 and was then hit by a lorry in the first week of January. [...]

My analysis of the news & framing terms of the article (x-posted from here):


Mr Gray said he was pleased the problem was at last being recognised. [...] once the monitoring work is completed, DEFRA will consider further steps to deal with the growing problem of wild boar

What are We going to do about the wild boar Problem?

Where have we heard this kind of language before? It often comes out as a justification just before further atrocities are committed towards an already long-persecuted population. What are We going to do about the Jewish Problem, the Gypsy Problem, the Badger Problem, the Rabbit Problem... etc. Who does the 'we' refer to and who gave 'us' the authority to arbitrarily deal out death in this matter?

Their population growth has been such in the Forest of Dean that there is now an annual cull, as gardens, parks and football pitches are dug up by the boar.

Our chosen haunts - those We create and maintain through great and continuous labour - take precedence over Theirs (wild boar are a woodland animal and their disturbance of the soil actively favours the growth of saplings in areas where grass otherwise dominates). When They invade and upset Our carefully laid schemes they forfeit their right not just to passage in those areas but to their lives even those scraps of woodland which We (in our temporary beneficence) have allowed to persist.

The action comes after the tragic death of Raymond Green, a 47-year-old from Royal Wootton Bassett, whose car hit a huge wild boar on the M4 near junction 17 and was then hit by a lorry in the first week of January.

When one motorist loses their life because of a collision with a wild boar (whose own loss of life is pointedly not considered 'tragic' or cause for concern in any way) it is taken as an call to arms to defend all motorists from the threat posed to them by the bodies of living animals. What of the threat posed to animals by the M4 and all the other rivers of flying steel which cut through their migratory routes and fence their tiny living spaces with the constant threat of death? Once again it recalls Derrick Jensen's premise:

Violence done by those higher on the hierarchy to those lower is nearly always invisible, that is, unnoticed. When it is noticed, it is fully rationalized. Violence done by those lower on the hierarchy to those higher is unthinkable, and when it does occur is regarded with shock, horror, and the fetishization of the victims. (http://www.derrickjensen.org/work/endgame/endgame-premises-english/)

Natural England does not carry out any formal monitoring of feral wild boar populations

There is a snarl behind the word 'feral' and further coded meanings behind the word 'wild', despite the attempts of some to rehabilitate them in a more positive light. At the heart of it lies disavowal: We are not 'wild' or 'feral' animals, and this is where our judge, jury & executioner authority comes from. We have cultivated ourselves just as we have cultivated the land and are now domesticated and civilised - or more correctly domesticating and civilising because the process is never complete and never unresisted. And yet the word 'feral' describes Us down to a 't' if you take it to mean an animal that has not discovered its place in the ecosystem, and which (until it manages to do this) causes great damage to the native flora and fauna leading to simplification and ecological impoverishment, with only the strongest and most flexibly adapted capable of resisting its onslaught.

But the disavowal allows Us to ignore all that we have in common with these wild boar, which we in turn perceive entirely in terms of Them, which permits us to go on destroying them or keeping them down (it's always a pushing down, coming from a fear of what may rise up after such long repression) as we see fit. That's the point of this article.


Wild boar have recently re-established a presence in the UK after being driven to extinction probably during the 1200s. George Monbiot had a good article about them a few years back:


What parallels can we draw between their rewilding experience and our own? How can we make alliances and start to protect them (and maybe have them protect us)?

Thoughts welcome


Anyone watching this recent BBC documentary series? Full of the standard nature porn, complete with small fluffy animals for the youtube generation... But what most caught my attention was the way it describes social relationships and conflicts among other animal species entirely in terms of civilised humanity. I think the purpose of this is to basically legitimise the inhuman power structures which we're forced to endure on a daily basis by pointing to the 'animal kingdom' and saying: "Look, they're just like us! Everybody acts this way so our chosen way of life (hyper-violent, male-dominated hierarchies) is justified!" Here's the intro to the fourth episode, titled simply 'Power':

Now [after animals 'learn the lessons of childhood, enter the adult world and find a safe home'] they must battle for dominance, because those with power get privileges: the best food, the best territory and the chance to beat rivals for a mate. But only a lucky few will ever reach the top. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p026vhmr/life-story-4-power)

They look at kangaroos, meerkats and archer fish among others, but the real propaganda coup comes with the focus on a band of chimps in which one adolescent is trying to 'rise up the ranks' and assert his dominance on an existing male leadership. The description is full of loaded words like that, and you almost feel that you could be listening to Attenborough narrating power struggles in the corporate world, with 'vigorous young go-getters' taking on the old guard. All the footage is of action, squabbles, conflict, again typical of nature docs. You never see animals snoozing for half the day, slacking off or foraging lazily & peaceably with their peers. I guess the producers would say that doesn't make for good TV. But crucially it does nothing to challenge the very civilised concepts of resource scarcity, life as a constant struggle for survival, the need to 'get ahead' even at the expense of friends and family, the requirement to never let a moment pass and to always be seeking to improve status, expand your own personal empire etc.etc.

Seems to me it would be valuable to collect counter-examples in an attempt to show civilised folks, through the observation of non-humans, that life doesn't have to be this way. Probably an examination of noncivilised human cultures would be a powerful way to do that too.

Can anyone point me to books, articles, other documentaries that challenge this idea of the whole natural world being rooted in dominance and power? I need to wash Attenborough's smarmy narration out of my mind...


This looks like a good'un! Real News interview in 3 parts (two up for now, will post the third when it arrives) with historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz:



and here's a decent review:


The part I found most interesting was her explanation for how the first European settlers repeated the same kind of patterns of colonial exploitation practiced in Ireland (and, I assume, other 'internal colonies' like Wales, Scotland, Cornwall, and probably other regions under the other colonial powers of Europe). It sounds like not only the oppressors carried on the same work with the Native Americans, but even the oppressees turned on them, failing to see any cause for solidarity in their own history. It's like the way child abuse gets passed down from generation to generation (see Alice Miller & others). From the review:

European ideas of property also played a crucial role in the colonization of the Americas. Peasantry dispossessed of land and livelihood, especially in British occupied Ireland, comprised the rank-and-file of newcomers who came to make a life of their own. They had little choice in the matter when faced with the alternative of starvation and death at home. With them also came soldier settlers, or Ulster-Scots, who were seasoned and violent settlers in the colonization of Northern Ireland. They also brought the practice of scalping, which they first used on the Irish, and the tools of colonization necessary for violent war making against Indigenous peoples. These Scots-Irish settlers formed the wall of colonization as both fodder for the “Indian Wars” and as militant settlers who pushed frontier boundaries. They willingly or unwillingly cleared the way for “civilization” by transforming the land into real estate. The myth was born that white European civilization was “commanded by God to go into the wilderness to build the new Israel” and “entitled to the land through their blood sacrifice.” (55)

(It was also news to me that scalping was (originally?) a European practice. Bloody savages, eh?)

Also good to see is a challenge to the historians who put the greatest emphasis on epidemic disease as the major cause for the demise of Indian societies:

Dunbar-Ortiz works against the so-called “terminal narratives” to which many U.S. historians subscribe, that Indigenous population decline was mainly due to biological factors such as disease. Conveniently absent from these narratives is over three centuries of colonial warfare waged against Indigenous peoples. “Commonly referred to as the most extreme demographic disaster—framed as natural—in human history,” Dunbar-Ortiz writes, “it was rarely called genocide.” (40)

I like her style: such devastating analysis presented quietly, unassumingly from such a small frame! We need more warriors like that.


Still not sure how to process news of this kind:


The number of wild animals on Earth has halved in the past 40 years, according to a new analysis. Creatures across land, rivers and the seas are being decimated as humans kill them for food in unsustainable numbers, while polluting or destroying their habitats, the research by scientists at WWF and the Zoological Society of London found. [...] The steep decline of animal, fish and bird numbers was calculated by analysing 10,000 different populations, covering 3,000 species in total. This data was then, for the first time, used to create a representative “Living Planet Index” (LPI), reflecting the state of all 45,000 known vertebrates.

The fastest decline among the animal populations were found in freshwater ecosystems, where numbers have plummeted by 75% since 1970. [...] The number of animals living on the land has fallen by 40% [...] Marine animal populations have also fallen by 40% overall

The trouble, I think, is that the stats come from somewhere alienated to my everyday experience. Over the short time that I've been alive (and the even shorter time I've been paying close attention) the conditions for wildlife around me have apparently stayed much the same - even improved somewhat. 200 species going extinct every day across the globe, I hear, but in the UK it seems to be 'only' one extinction every year on average, mainly among the invertebrates (since most of the larger vertebrates were exterminated centuries ago) - sad, but I'm not sure how I would even notice, barring knock-on effects.

This appears to be another case, like climate change, poverty, disease, famine, etc. where my material circumstances, where I was born and where I continue to live has sheltered me from the worst aspects of the global ecological catastrophe:

The biggest declines in animal numbers have been seen in low-income, developing nations, while conservation efforts in rich nations have seen small improvements overall. But the big declines in wildlife in rich nations had already occurred long before the new report’s baseline year of 1970 – the last wolf in the UK was shot in 1680.

Also, by importing food and other goods produced via habitat destruction in developing nations, rich nations are “outsourcing” wildlife decline to those countries, said Norris. For example, a third of all the products of deforestation such as timber, beef and soya were exported to the EU between 1990 and 2008.

I hear (via Monbiot again) that huge areas of Europe that were formerly under cultivation have been reverting to a wild state and will continue to do so, leading to incredible opportunities for large, landscape-scale rewilding. Is this because the agricultural industries have finally decided to let up and allow the non-domesticated living community to have its space? No, of course not: as with other industrial manufacturers they're simply taking their operations elsewhere, where they can make bigger profits. Simon Fairlie challenged the new-born rewilding movement in Britain with a similar point in a recent edition of The Land Magazine:

The more we rewild in Britain, the more food we will need to import and the more we are likely to dewild land in countries that provide us with substitute food. Conserving our natural environment at the expense of other people’s is a neo-colonialist agenda. There is an environmental price to pay for having so foolishly allowed England to become one of the most overpopulated countries in the world, but that price should not be paid by people and environments in other countries. (‘Rewilding and Food Security')

I feel like I'm living in a bubble. On one level I don't want the bubble to burst, don't want to lose my illusions, but on another I realise that no real progress will be made until that happens and we (in the affluent West) finally have to deal with all the shit we've been pumping out into the rest of the world for all this time.

Visions of the Rewilding Renaissance / Feral
« on: September 10, 2014, 01:13:05 PM »
I recently finished George Monbiot's book, Feral and was interested to hear peoples' reactions here, if anybody else had read it or GM's other writing on the topic.

Overall I really enjoyed reading the book. There's lots of useful info about the state of the ecology in the British Isles before the industrial revolution and other depredations of the civilised culture. I especially appreciated the focus on sea and river life, which hasn't really figured in my own foraging adventures thus far because I'm miles away from the sea and, well, I wouldn't be comfortable eating anything from our inland waterways without first doing major research into the local toxicity issues. Amazing to consider that the North Sea would have been a different colour before the first trawlers killed off the massive populations of oysters and other filter feeders on the seabed. Also the rivers only being brown because of soil erosion due to agriculture and livestock farming...

The stuff on sheep and the uplands really struck a chord with me too. They do quite clearly act as a boot on the neck of the non-human (non-domesticated) world by favouring the growth of grass, which gets nibbled to the ground leaving a habitat of minimal worth. However he provides a long discussion with an educated Welsh sheep farmer which gets into the perennial problem of nature conservation - hands-off observation only, or human engagement via direct subsistence. I actually sympathised more with the farmer, because it seems more important to have that direct connection to the land (even if in an exploitative capacity?) than to only benefit from it indirectly through eco-tourism or other alienated relationships, which seems to be as far as Monbiot's imagination stretches (he talks about wolves and beavers in Yellowstone Park and their various beneficial effects through trophic cascades, but he never mentions the indigenous people of that region - what effects they had, and should we consider reintroducing wild humans too??)

For me the main drawbacks were his refusal to take seriously the anarcho-primitivist view of rewilding, on the grounds that Mesolithic Britain only played host to a few thousand h/gers and the old trope that  a return to that kind of lifestyle would hence require a genocide of most of the current population, and his uncritical acceptance of the overkill theory, based on recent research which seems very far from conclusive. His depiction of Pleistocene h/gers at times made me laugh out loud:

Had the Mesolithic people of the Americas eaten everything they killed , they would scarcely have trimmed the herds of game, so small were their numbers. One ground sloth could have fed a clan of hunters for months. The speed with which the megafauna of the Americas collapsed might suggest that they slaughtered everything they encountered. Among those who broke into the New World, anyone could be a Theseus or a Hercules: slaying improbable monsters, laying up a stock of epic tales to pass to their descendants. [...] Perhaps the care with which some indigenous people of the Americas engage with the natural world came later. (p.138)

The last sentence to me indicates that he knows he's on dangerous ground. There's no footnote, and he doesn't discuss modern h/gers or anthropological studies anywhere in the book, or in any of his other work that I've seen, for that matter. He speaks generously and evocatively about Mesolithic beachcombers and talks about time spent with Masai herders, but as soon as he gets back to the Pleistocene the depiction of Homo Sapiens is of an ecocidal maniac every bit as callous and mindless as modern poachers and the capitalists that support them. I find this view troubling and implicitly racist, as I attempted to explore in this blogpost reacting to an especially terrible article of his on the megafauna issue.

Also lacking is an in-depth understanding of civilisation and the agriculture that underpins it, as made clear by this quote:

While some primitivists see a conflict between the civilised and the wild, the rewilding I envisage has nothing to do with shedding civilisation. We can, I believe, enjoy the benefits of advanced technology while also enjoying, if we choose, a life richer in adventure and surprise. Rewilding is not about abandoning civilisation but about enhancing it. It is to 'love not man the less, but Nature more'. (p.10)

He doesn't seem to view human rewilding as a serious attempt to reorganise the human methods of subsistence, but more as a kind of weekend activity to relieve city-workers of their 'ecological boredom'. As such, while the rewilding he advocates may bring many benefits to nonhuman life, the core problem remains unsolved and the day job (facilitating the destruction of nonhuman and human communities in other parts of the world) will always take precedence.

Anyway... I'd be interested to hear your thoughts! What about this herbivore-led rewilding that's gained ground thanks to Franz Vera and the Rewilding Europe crowd? Some potential or another dead end? (Related reading: http://www.self-willed-land.org.uk/articles/what_rewilding.htm )

Good to see the forums back in action!


Visions of the Rewilding Renaissance / Tent cities etc.
« on: February 15, 2012, 08:08:36 AM »
The BBC ran an interesting program the other night: 'America's homeless resort to tent cities'. If the iplayer doesn't work for you, you can watch the half hour segment
on youtube
. Here's the synopsis:

America's homeless resort to tent cities

Panorama's Hilary Andersson comes face to face with the reality of poverty in America and finds that, for some, the last resort has become life in a tented encampment.

Just off the side of a motorway on the fringes of the picturesque town of Ann Arbor, Michigan, a mismatched collection of 30 tents tucked in the woods has become home - home to those who are either unemployed, or whose wages are so low that they can no longer afford to pay rent.

Conditions are unhygienic. There are no toilets and electricity is only available in the one communal tent where the campers huddle around a wood stove for warmth in the heart of winter.

Ice weighs down the roofs of tents, and rain regularly drips onto the sleeping campers' faces.

Tent cities have sprung up in and around at least 55 American cities - they represent the bleak reality of America's poverty crisis.

Black mould

According to census data, 47 million Americans now live below the poverty line - the most in half a century - fuelled by several years of high unemployment.

One of the largest tented camps is in Florida and is now home to around 300 people. Others have sprung up in New Jersey and Portland.

In the Ann Arbor camp, Alana Gehringer, 23, has had a hacking cough for the last four months.

"The black mould - it was on our pillows, it was on our blankets, we were literally rubbing our faces in it sleeping every night," she said of wintering in a tent.

The camp is run by the residents themselves, with the help of a local charity group. Calls have come in from the hospital emergency room, the local police and the local homeless shelter to see if they can send in more.

"Last night, for example, we got a call saying they had six that couldn't make it into the shelter and... they were hoping that we could place them... So we usually get calls, around nine or 10 a night," said Brian Durance, a camp organiser.

Michigan's Republican-controlled state government has been locked into a programme of severe budget cuts in an attempt to balance its books.

The cuts have included benefits for many of the state's poorest residents.

Between the cuts and the economic conditions pinching, there is increased pressure on homeless shelters.

Michigan's Lieutenant Governor, Brian Calley, was asked about the reality of public agencies in his state suggesting the homeless live in tents.

"That is absolutely not acceptable, and we have to take steps and policies in order to make sure that those people have the skills they need to be independent, and it won't happen overnight," he said.

Depression-type poverty

There are an estimated 5,000 people living in the dozens of camps that have sprung up across America.

The largest camp, Pinella's Hope in central Florida - a region better known for the glamour of Disneyworld - is made up of neat rows of tents spread out across a 13-acre plot.

The Catholic charity that runs it has made laundry available, as well as computers and phones.

Many of the camps are organised and hold regular meetings to divide up camp chores and agree on community rules. They have become semi-permanent homes for some residents, who see little prospect of getting jobs soon.

These tent cities - and this level of poverty - are images that many Americans associate with the Great Depression.

Unemployment in America today has not reached the astronomical levels of the 1930s, but barring a short spike in 1982, it has not been this high since the Depression era.

There are now 13 million unemployed Americans, which is three million more than when President Barack Obama was first elected.

The stark reality is that many of them are people who very recently lived comfortable middle-class lives.

For them, the economic downturn came too fast and many have been forced to trade their middle-class homes for lives in shelters, motels and at the far extreme, tented encampments.

Naturally the presenter's reaction was one of horror and disgust at the 'extreme', 'last resort' living conditions, with the implied solution of re-metabolising them as quickly as possible into the supposed normality of work and rent-slavery on the bottom rung of society - what Lieutenant Governor, Brian Calley presumably means by '[taking] steps and policies in order to make sure that those people have the skills they need to be independent'.

What I saw, however, was potential. I also saw where these skills I've been learning over the years (wild food foraging, herbalism, bushcraft etc.) most urgently need to go. Why not, instead of leading these people back into total dependence on the parasitic capitalist economy, teach them some true independence skills? How hard can it be to find a solution for black mould, coughs, or icy tarpaulins? There are so many simple, low-tech methods of healing, the knowledge of which could be spread about by word-of-mouth at practically no cost to immeasurably improve the over all quality of these peoples' lives without indebting them to industrial medicine. I know quite a few people in the UK who live comfortably in similar conditions throughout the year. Through choice!

As DQ suggested so heretically in Beyond Civilization, why not help the homeless succeed at being homeless? I don't see why, given half a chance, tent cities couldn't evolve to provide viable - indeed, preferable - longterm solutions for the urban poor. The one shown on the program didn't look that bad to me! Admittedly some might be worse with crime & drug problems (as pointed out by several redditors) but, as the Occupy people have been finding out, this could be seen as just another challenge to cope with & find autonomous solutions to.

As for the stereotypical pictures of a run-down quasi post-apocalyptic Detroit, depicted as the worst-of-all-possible-worlds by the BBC, I note Ran Prieur's Feb.13 comments as a counter-balance:

The permanent solution is to build alternate economies which have negative feedback, not positive feedback, in the concentration of wealth. [...] To join these new economies, people first have to get out from under the control of the old economy. Basically that means we have to get food and shelter without money. This brings us to a third, lower-profile effective political movement, which is mostly fighting at the local level: occupying vacant properties, changing laws to legalize the occupation of vacant properties, and changing laws to expand urban farming rights.

My present hosts are at the leading edge of this movement in Buffalo, which has the same opportunities that more famously exist in Detroit. They bought this house from the city for a dollar, on the condition that they bring it up to code. Yesterday they showed me an acre of contiguous lots where they're planning to make a farm, across the street from a brick building that they got in exchange for doing a few weeks of work for the owner. They've ordered 23 chickens, and Buffalo has a new lengthy and restrictive chicken ordinance, but the city is on the defensive. I'm curious to see how far we can roll these laws back, if we keep pushing.

More potential!

Anyway, for me this goes to show the importance of keeping knowledge colloquial and, as far as possible, making the effort to send it down the hierarchy to benefit those who could make best use of it in their immediate situations. Seems to me that too many wild foodies attempt to put a hefty price on their knowledge in an attempt to sell it to the high bidders in restaurants and the upper-class city folk with a transient interest. Not to say that folks shouldn't try to make a living from this stuff, necessarily. Just that they should also consider making the knowledge cheaply/freely-available to the underpriviledged who have the greatest need.

Anybody have experiences of tent cities or homeless living combined with rewilding?


Music, Art & Creativity / 'How I learned to improvise'
« on: January 23, 2009, 09:17:13 AM »
Okay, as I wrote in my introduction, I'm interested in talking about what it would mean to 'rewild music'. Giuli had a great post about this over at


which prompted me to think a little deeper on what I might have to offer in this area. Commenting there I recommended 'improvisational fluidity as a key to keeping things live in the short term and a-live in the long', so I thought the best thing might be to tell my own story, coming from institutionalised music and breaking out into other forms more reflective of my own immediate, ever-changing experience.

As per my usual habit, and especially because telling this story would involve a fair amount of conflict with taken-for-granted norms, I put this on the backburner until just recently when, like Giuli, I took Jeff Buckley as my catalyst and a whole load of it poured out almost by accident:


After that I decided to finally go into my own history (a little strange to have so little of this in a blog, I'll admit) and once I'd started I kept on thinking of new things to add. So here's what I've come up with so far:






And I'm currently working on a few more things for a pt.6. Happy reading!

I mailed the first few of these to some of my musician friends who I thought might appreciate the content. So far only one of them has got back to me with any related thoughts. I guess in a weird way this shows that my attempt has been successful (in thinking 'unthinkable thoughts' as Quinn puts it). Still, I'd like to discuss the ideas with some people not entirely hostile to their implications.

That's where you guys come in! How do we cut the puppet strings, kick the ventriloquist in the balls and learn to use our own voices to once again express our own personal experiences and truly reflect the changing situations of our minds, bodies and spirits?


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