Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Holding It All Together: Wild Roots Feral Futures 2012 Report-Back

By Cordage

This was my first year attending the Feral Futures gathering. I was originally a bit skeptical of it but in going to the gathering was really impressed with it and how it went. Held in the Weminuche Wilderness in the San Juan Mountains in Southwest Colorado, the location was perfect. The Pine River was in close distance to our camp, providing us with water for bathing, drinking and just enjoying. Ponderosa Pines, Douglas Fir and Quaking Aspen trees made up the forest with a diversity of plants that provided for food and medicine. The connection to this place was quickly felt for myself, as wilderness broke down and wildness came forth.

The amount of people who came quickly rose as the days passed, and I found that in no time at all what it began to feel like wasn't just a random gathering of people but a group of people working to create community and anarchy, however temporarily. And although it was a glimpse, it seemed to provide a wonderful example of how people can come together in the right setting and treat each other as equals and friends. What really was great was having conversations with people actually engaged with no cellphones or other distractions to take away their focus, something so rare now.

There was a large focus on healing as Wylden Freeborne has mentioned elsewhere; overcoming all of the damage that has been inflicted upon us by domestication and Western Civilization. I thought this was a really important part of the gathering that seemed to flow throughout it constantly.

There was no one taking charge at Feral Futures, and the anarchic nature of the event was definitely apparent. Problems were dealt with as they came up, with not too many being present. There was an issue of sobriety and intoxication and the creation of "sober" fires and "rowdy" fires, with the solution being to focus on the circle at the sober fire being sober, and people having to step outside of it to drink or smoke. Perhaps there could have been a better way come up with to balance the needs of those folks that didn't want to be around intoxication and those who have no issues with it, but the fact that at least some considerations were taken was nice.

There were a lot of great workshops, including workshops on consent, direct action, and discussions on invisibility disabilities and the green scare amongst others. I personally was really interested in the radical parenting workshop despite not being a parent myself, but beyond the discussion, what was really interesting was the actual radical parenting that some folks were engaged in at the gathering and how the children differed from children raised in a non-radical civilized parenting style. I was also really interested in the rewilding workshop which had a group of us sitting around discussing what rewilding has meant for us, our experiences, challenges,and such. A really great conversation.

Unfortunately, events such as Feral Futures are just short lived experiences that are outside of what is happening in civilization where all the destruction continues. There was no forgetting this at the gathering, to everyone's credit, this didn't just turn out to be a party in the woods with a celebration that we're at the end of it and it's time to party. While this system is collapsing, that doesn't take away from the everyday destruction and violence that it is inflicting as long as it continues to collapse, and that the question of what to do to resist that is really important. What Feral Futures does do though is provide a wonderful example of how despite all the fucked up things this culture does to us, we still do have the potential to be as humans, and to come together in positive ways.

"The end of their days; is the beginning of our lives. Freed from self-imposed restraints the wanderers will re-arise"Peregrine

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Earth, Spirit, & Anarchy: Wild Roots Feral Futures 2012 Report-Back

From Earth, Spirit, & Anarchy:

I have sat down several times to try to write this report-back from Wild Roots Feral Futures 2012 and have found that putting such experiences into an essay while sitting in front of a computer is fairly difficult. To try to represent our time together in written word and place the experiences we had in the woods of Occupied Ute Territory (in a part now called southern “Colorado”) into the context of an article to be read on the internet by those of us living in techno-industrial society is quite a challenge, and so I begin by conceding that my efforts to describe my experiences are severely limited, more so even than the usual limitations offered by the written word. 

After having to miss last year’s gathering as a result of my own poor planning I swore to myself that I would make it to Wild Roots Feral Futures 2012, so when offered the opportunity to travel with a group of anarchists heading there from Oregon I jumped on it. After about a week on the road, I arrived at the trailhead pretty exhausted and drained. The hike in, though long and hot, forced me out of my head space and into my heart space by the time I got to the encampment and met up with others in attendance. Upon arrival I was met with a calming, loving, caring, and generous presence. It was as if people had checked a lot of their baggage at the trailhead. Politics and ideology faded into the background and real, communal, lived experience took a turn at the wheel in a way that is rare in so-called radical spaces. It didn’t matter if someone was an old school Earth Firster!, DGR, anarcho-primitivist, hillbilly, or hippy. We were there to learn, to grow together, and to build a community (albeit a temporary one) and when that is really the goal, politics, economics, and ideologies have to return to their rightful place in the theoretical and the abstract. 
I was so overjoyed to discover the heavy emphasis our temporary community chose to place on personal, communal, and ecological healing. While primitive skills and eco-defense are definitely essential to the pursuit of anarchy (not to mention the survival of our species and many others) healing must hold a prominent place of importance in our lives and in our communities. We are constantly traumatized, triggered, and retraumatized by life in civilization. Through the profoundly anti-life and anti-community institutions of civilization, our natural and healthy social relationships are destroyed and rebuilt. What was once natural, wild, organic, free, and anarchistic becomes organized and ordered. However, Mother Earth’s natural tendency and our individual bodies’ natural tendency is towards restoration and healing. All we have to do in most cases is to stop engaging in activities that are destructive to ourselves and to our Mother and the healing process can begin immediately. It is largely because we continue to inflict wounds upon ourselves and our Mother through civilized living that we find her and ourselves in a state of disease and pain.  
Another pleasant surprise, and certainly closely related, was the emphasis on spirituality that so many brought. Traditionally, radical circles have been dominated by the same stale, lifeless, scientific fundamentalist atheism. The folks at this gathering, however, brought many different spiritual (though not religious, at least not that I encountered and if there were any religious folks they didn’t impose it upon anyone else) beliefs to the table. Some were more pagan, some more animistic/shamanic, but nearly all having a personal spirituality influenced by many different beliefs and/or traditions mixed with their own personal experience. Ceremonies were more or less general and allowed for people to engage or not engage as they chose. If someone was actively seeking something to be offended by, they could find it or manufacture it because spirituality is so personal and because the dominant culture says that if someone else is freely expressing a spirituality that is different from yours then they are oppressing or dominating you in some way. For true seekers, however, space was definitely created where each person could engage or not engage according to their own heart and consciousness. For me, personally, a moment that really stood out was when I had the opportunity to co-facilitate a discussion about invisible disabilities. As a result of scheduling and the fire ban that came into effect during our time there, the discussion ended up being held around some glow stick and head lanterns. I had originally worried that the darkness and the inability to see who we were talking to might be a trigger for some, or at least detrimental, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The dim light allowed people to open up and make themselves vulnerable in a way that might have been impossible were we all able to look one another in the eye or stare at the speaker. At one point I invited everyone who identified as having an invisible disability to stand and raise a fist with me. It was so empowering to see all of those with conditions including PTSD, fibromyalgia, traumatic head injuries, learning disabilities, and more share their experiences, their anguish, their struggles, and their strength with the rest of the group. 
It is incredible the change that simply living a different way can bring to one's heart and spirit. I heard a saying once "If you want it bad enough you'll find a way, if not you'll find an excuse." I began to realize that my life was a series of excuses. I want my life to be like a group of 70-year old white men! No buts! Before heading to feral futures this year, a lot of what I believed only existed to me in the abstract. However, actually laying my hands on wildness, immersing myself in it, living in anarchy, swimming naked in wild water, dancing around and jumping the fire (an old european pagan ritual, the idea is that your demons can not follow you through the fire) to the pounding of drums, and living in a community of humans and non-humans alike attempting to reconnect to our Earth Mother and Sky Father in such a profound way... one simply can not walk away from such an experience unchanged. When I needed water, I went to the river. When I needed to shit I dug a hole. I didn't go to a faucet or a toilet where I would abuse water, my relative, by fowling her up with my waste and making her carry it to a cesspool. I didn't wipe my ass with slaughtered rainforest trees. I didn't carry a phone or a computer. I had a profound meeting with a wild moose. I ate bugs right from the ground or from my own body as they crawled on me. The simple act of pulling an ant off of your leg and eating it is really quite the experience.
Even in the short time we were there, we began to develop a relationship with that land base. Because the Pine River was where we got our water, we didn’t want to dirty her up and pollute her. She put us to bed at night as she flowed over the rocks in the riverbed. She cleaned us off and offered communal recreation during our group swimming times. She kept our bodies hydrated with her crystal clear body. Many of us used local plants and herbs to heal wounds. Some successfully treated allergies by eating local plants. This is a relationship one can not have with a washroom, grocery store, or pharmacy. This is reconnection. 
One of the most surprising things for me was the ease with which this temporary community came together and the cohesiveness of that community. Community life was relaxed and pleasant, often with banjo or guitar music, friendly conversation, and laughter wafting through the air along with the sounds of the dogs who were in attendance running and playing together. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the community was able to address specific needs for specific groups and individuals without getting into the Oppression Olympics or identity reductionism. Though it is often presented as being nearly impossible to build such a community, we did it. Granted it was only for a short time, but from what I experienced I truly believe that it is both possible and necessary to keep what we were building there alive and not allow it to die at the close of a gathering, but help it to grow and spread. 

I found that I am a completely different person in the wilderness. When I am not listening constantly to electrical hum, when I don't have to hear cars driving by or the air conditioner kicking on or the refrigerator running but instead hear the rush of the river, the call of the birds, the wind rustling through the trees... then and there I am myself. I am human. I feel parts of myself that I have rarely or never felt. I hear the forest and her children speaking to me in tones no longer silenced by the leviathan. The change I experienced, however, was not something that only changed while I was in the woods. I walked out a very different person that I was when I walked in. My time there made living in civilization intolerable to me.  
Each of the technological devices and civilized norms that we are sold as conveniences and ways of staying connected are in reality chains that weigh us down and keep us isolated. To me it is no longer a matter of "lifestyle choice" but a literal fight against the forces of domestication and civilization for my life, my humanity, my existence. For so long I have been complicit, albeit perhaps as a squeaky wheel, but the squeaky wheel is still part of a functioning machine. We must find other ways of life while dismantling this civilized way of death. It is no longer enough for me to be merely a dissident, a squeaky wheel. Our Earth Mother and all of our relatives are already engaged in active, direct resistance and they need warriors fighting in solidarity with them. If I am not one of those warriors then I am simply walking dead. Without community, without my connection to my Earth Mother, my Sky Father, and all my relations, I am simply a shell, a drone, a cog in a death machine bent on genocide, specicide, ecocide, and ultimately omnicide. This I can take no more. Give me wildness or give me death. 

Until the Earth is Wild Again,
Bison Wilder

Sunday, July 29, 2012

More report-backs please!

The Wild Roots Feral Futures organizers' collective would like to encourage attendees and participants in this year's WRFF to write and submit report-backs about your experiences in the woods, good and bad. You can publish them on your own websites if you have them, or just send them to us at (be sure to let us know if you'd like it kept private and confidential or published publicly). 

Here's another such report-back from raven0us:

osha flavored lips spill toxins on the breathing, sweating pines

From June 16th to 24th, I attended Wild Roots Feral Futures along Los Piños in the Weminuche Wilderness area of Colorado. I have attended this encampment the last two years and had been desperately waiting for just this flavor of release. Over the last two years the wilderness in the San Juan National forest has become my family. Hiking into the forest has come to feel like returning to meet the Grandparents I never knew.

My son was set to arrive on the 14th and he was equally excited to rewild with his friends and family; flora, fauna and feral folks alike. He is 5 and last year he lead his own thorough bug walk (promising to even offer zebras if he could conjure them up). There was a significant amount of trouble with his flights and it was projected that he would return Wednesday the 20th instead. His absence was a difficult reality for me to swallow. He had been in Japan with his father since the previous year’s WWFF and many of us were eager for his return. I was met by those who knew my son and I with compassionate loving arms. Many, though unsure how, were ready to support me through the extra days without my little animal.

Then I saw the young folk, so many more than last year! There was even a 3 month old bundle of wild. It was like in 80′s movies when one person comes around the corner at the big climax and then slowly after a whole group shows up with raging music and your blood flows, except instead of cheesy clothes and absent-minded culture there were pine tress and our youth in the least polluted environment most of us have ever seen!

Over the first few days I oscillated between immense joy, stimulation and complexity and heart-crushing longing, feeling as though my womb was empty and sick and paranoia that I was not relatable. I arrived after reading books on the pervasiveness of it all(oppression, repression and pollution) and feeling it sticky on my one on one interactions.  I walk through each day wondering how resisting or at least deconstructing this culture isn’t the norm. I wonder how and why I feel pressured to glorify the military or buy things or eat junk. When each societal honorable action leaves guilt prints on my dreams I can’t look my loved ones in the eyes anymore. The forest does it’s best to back me/us. I found some balance beside the hodge-podge tribe that was coming to fruition around me. In an attempt to resciprocate the balance, I spent much of my time and energy attempting to support infrastructure. There is always dish buckets to change out, grey water holes and poopers to dig and miscellaneous trash to pick up. I missed many of the practical workshops because my heart was all but absent. Many times I just sat and stared at the tops of the old pine trees. They swayed in a rhythm native to my homeostasis. They rocked me and mothered me.

Wednesday morning when the time came to get my son, I suddenly realized I was not alone in my oscillation. People I knew well and hearts I had grown close to quickly were also side tracked. There seemed a universal distraction and inability to focus or feel in step despite all the magic flowing through us. I thought of the fires raging all around us and I wondered if we could all feel the discomfort of the burn, the inability to self regulate. I wondered if we were personifying the forest or just finally, partially back in tune with the extended pieces of our bodies, this earth. On the way to the river for our daily group jumps into the cool, crisp river my eyes rolled in boiling seas of heat. I closed them to douse the fire but I couldn’t. Rage seeped from me and I cried, helpless. I wanted my son and I wanted him to know this land. Somewhere in me I already knew his flight had not worked out. I felt the distance from him in my bones and my body ached. Three friends very dear to me were at the river bank beside me. One offered me a piece of Osha and said, “Here. Chew this. This is what the bears eat when they wake from hibernation. It clears the fog.” I chewed it and returned to the city to hear the news. I was right, Jordan was still in Japan.

On the way back into the forest I hiked alone. I nearly jogged and let my eyes drain down my cheeks. My pace met the gait of the rocks. I chased the sun set trying to make it to the women’s circle scheduled at sundown. Along the way I acknowledged that being fully present for the remainder of the week was the best I could do for my son and myself. My lungs began to feel more full and I arrived back to the clearing. Some already knew my son was not with me, they met me with hugs, sincerity and optimism. In a world that has forgotten how to value mothering, I had been braced for heavy judgement. There was none.

Since WRFF is an autonomous gathering dependent on initiative, there was a circle every morning to add a little form to function. This year many of the circles contained the internalized fire’s unpredictability. Continuity of intent among the group seemed rare but relevant. Some wanted the meetings to speed up while others felt silenced by the rush. The group decided on designating the main camp fire area a sober space. There was no drinking and no smoking in the circle. This created a new campfire dynamic and some were given the opportunity to relearn how to socialize without vices. There were several amazing skill shares and plant walks that came up each day.

There was also discussions, discussions that almost never have space in our common lives. There was a radical parenting talk that created commonalities and regrounded many including myself. Things I had been reiterating in my community that made me feel like a broken record were brought up by other parents without me voicing them. It made me feel more sane but the universal nature of the concerns also made them feel more heavy. I was having trouble putting these commonalities together. It felt necessary, more so past due, to map a plan or create helpful hints for communities of resistance to not only include younger folks in holistic ways but also make space to take their lead more to have them part of decision making.  There was one family who had a lot of positive experiential allyship to tell about. I listened and wondered how much I was not letting support in or if the fact that they had both of the parents on the same page helped. I acknowledged that no matter what them talking positively of their support group actively made their support network more strong. I thought of the balance between optimism and criticism, between satiety and desire.

I found a lot of personal space for intimate conversations around open relationships. I connected with others who were struggling to decode liberated sexuality. I haven’t found the words for the pieces yet but I am little bit closer.

Then there was chaos day.

After feral decision-making, it was decided that solstice was to be chaos day. To me, it was shocking and a bit refreshing that such a decision was reached. After all of the theory and process that accumulates in radical culture it sometimes feels necessary to pull the rug out and see what intuition has to say, to trust ourselves. It was a bit of a challenge that chaos day also fell on the day we processed two goats as well as set up a ritual to celebrate the solstice.

I feel as though this resynched our steps or at least mine. Solstice happened. Ritual and chaos happened. Offense happened beside growth. Fear met dialogue.

The next day we reconvened around what it means to transgress and fail and how many different people’s healing can happen beside each other.

There was a group talk about how some duties with the goat and the rituals went well and how some could have been seen as disrespectful.

It was decided that there would be a people of color fish bowl. For me, this was one of the most profound discussions of the week. People of color sat in the center and were the only ones allowed to speak until they felt ready to open the circle for discussion. From living in Denver for a couple of years, this was not a totally new experience for me but I have rarely seen such a discussion feel respectful. The facilitation of this dialogue was heart-felt and empowering. The discussion was long but did not feel overdone in any sense. Color, race, ethnicity is one of our most programmed divides. It is so pervasively unconscious at this point in our culture and it takes a lot to face ourselves in these conversations. It is hard to keep the courage to stay motivated to continue the conversation. Colonization ties the topic to our land bases, rights and resources. Genocide can be tasted just bringing the topic up. I sat and listened, fully present and endlessly thankful for the voices speaking. I felt almost unjustifiably honored to hear the testimonies and the strength. I felt torn inside as I always do in these fish bowls. Beside voices of praxis and excitement, voices of selfishness and insecurity spoke up in my head screaming, “Wait, no. I am not who you are talking about. I am not racist. I do x,y and z to make sure. You aren’t seeing my whole self!” I stopped in my head at “whole self” and I thought of how often the people in the circle get to be seen as a whole self. I ruminated on the turmoil inside of my stomach and I wondered how much each of them felt their identities being shoved back down their throat. We all know the feeling at least a little, but it is far out of balance. My guilt disintegrated in a way because I saw a new way I could own my part. I could feel that with them for a moment and truly listen. Like all cycles of renewal, it was my time to feel it, to maybe balance the weight just a little. We discussed some of the offenses of the ritual and I realized that my path of healing is going to rub rough against people with different backgrounds, ancestors and upbringings but that I can’t stop trying my best. I can be conscious and accountable and move forward in new ways.

We talked a lot about allyship. I thought about how people ally with me as a single mother/communal mother. I thought about the times I could have been more thankful for people’s efforts. Wild Roots Feral Futures is the most allyship I have felt as a single mother, hands down. Allyship is extremely situational and we have to all be open to receive it and open to failing when we give it. When we are criticized in our attempts, we have to be ready to say, “I hear you” and mean it. We have to be ready to try again.

The wilderness let us in to reunite with our wild. To inspire us to rejoin it. It wasn’t asking me to protect it as much as it was asking me to heal to be strong to fight beside all of the interconnected pieces of it. All effective action stems from solid affinity. Affinity grows through allyship. Resistance is often compiled of theory and propaganda, rarely is it so personal and palpable as what unfolded during this week.

Since the encampment I have been viewing through a finer tuned lens. I have traveled this country a lot over the last couple years and I have not found a group of peers like the friendships I have built in the forest. The environment, sparkling in the dust of the heat, interacted in our process by shedding a couple of layers of built up anxiety. I return to the city and each year I feel the grease of industrialism building up on my gears. I feel my heart and mind dulling under the routine. I have a comparison of relief to contrast my tension and I resent the destruction of our healing spaces more.

No compromise.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

WRFF report-back from Deep Green Philly

The Wild Roots Feral Futures organizers' collective would like to encourage attendees and participants in this year's WRFF to write and submit report-backs about your experiences in the woods, good and bad. You can publish them on your own websites if you have them, or just send them to us at (be sure to let us know if you'd like it kept private and confidential or published publicly). Don't miss Wylden Freeborne's call-in report-back (around 18 minutes into the show) on a recent episode of Anarchy Radio.

Here's another such report-back from Deep Green Philly:

If you’re like me, someone who has spent a majority of their life living in a city, you’ll understand what I mean when I say that we often experience nature in bits and pieces; the nature we’re exposed to is offered up to us de-fanged, in painstakingly pruned portions, in very carefully maintained and manicured spaces where wildness, if it exists, is heavily monitored lest it grow out of control and threaten the power lines or the aesthetic sensibilities of our neighbors. We’re definitely missing out on something magical, something very necessary, yet most of us in the midst of our general malaise never figure out exactly what it is we’re missing out on, and we automatically accept the curtailment of wilderness as a necessary aspect of modernity. The Population Reference Bureau predicts that by 2050 at least 70 percent of humanity will be urban, with most of this urban growth occurring in “less developed” countries. This prediction should sober us all. How can a people almost completely cut off from wilderness muster the will power to stop the destruction and degradation of industrial civilization? If one is not intimately familiar with the power of nature, Her beauty, Her gifts, then the desire to preserve what’s being rapidly lost and consumed will at best be abstract and theoretical. If the neon lights of the city and the manufactured gadgets and machinery of industry become our gold standard by which all other things are measured then we have already lost. With all this in mind, I hope to explain why I feel that events like Wild Roots Feral Futures are so vitally important, especially for city dwellers. Words can’t really express the full depth and power of what I’ve just experienced, but I’ll give it a try.

I arrived in the picturesque San Juan mountains of southern Colorado with no expectations, yet in the back of my mind there was a premonition that some life changing experience was on the horizon. In fact, I was already in the midst of such an experience. My first trip to the west coast had already been full of awesomeness; the company of some amazing radicals, an intense sweat lodge in northern Oregon, a road trip on the holy!holy!holy! bus through California, camping in the foothills of Mount Shasta, hot springs under the stars (more stars than I’d ever seen before… damn you, light pollution!) underneath the sprawling sky of the Nevada desert, the excitement of meeting new friends and sharing such incredible experiences… So far, so good! When we pulled into Durango for a supply run I took a moment to reflect on everything that had happened so far and considered with an incredulous sense of joy my good luck at having been fortunate enough to experience such things. We drove up the mountains, a bus full of new friends and old friends; good music was blaring, the sun was shining, and here and there we talked about Wild Roots Feral Futures. It was finally about to happen, and it would be the culmination of an epic journey that had so far left all of us almost breathless.

We made our way up into the mountains, driving along lakes and up steep, uneven paths until we finally arrived at a spot that looked like the backdrop for a Colorado gift shop post card. After we unloaded the bus we hiked along a rocky, winding path underneath a dense canopy of tall trees. Deeper and deeper, farther and farther we went, and soon I could feel it. Here, finally, was wilderness. There was life all around with barely a trace of the artificial (only a somewhat camouflaged barbed wire fence marking the boundary of private land and the occasional Forest Service sign ruined the illusion); in the stillness I could sense the woods teeming with life. The forest creatures were mostly out of sight but surely there underneath the surface or in the shadows, either resting or subdued by the hot summer sun.

The hike to the WRFF site was challenging but not too overwhelming, and after several hours of slow going with our packs, gear, and musical instruments we finally arrived. We were in a sort of valley surrounded by tall hills and mountains with trees and meadows growing up and amongst the rocky peaks in seeming defiance of gravity. Close by there was the sound of water rushing swiftly over rocks intermingled with the occasional sweet trill of birdsong. Occasionally there would come a calming whoosh of the wind as it rustled the pine woods all around us. The air was clean, dry, fresh. The earth was fairly parched due to the drought afflicting the southwest. Later that day someone told us that a wildfire was raging just beyond the furthest mountain off in the distance…

WRFF doesn’t have a leader, or a leadership structure, so everyone who’s interested in keeping things running smoothly simply steps in to do what needs to be done. It’s entirely volunteer driven; people from the Durango area of course take on more than most others to get things going, but just about everyone who attends helps in one way or another. Just about everyone was friendly, but not in a weird way; it was the genuine camaraderie of being around like minded people that engendered an atmosphere of mutual goodwill. Someone pumping water though a filter by the stream took the time to explain to me how the meals were handled, where the latrine was dug, and how to find out more information about the workshops and skill shares.

The people, the people were of course amazing. It was a fairly diverse group from all over the country, mostly of European settler origin, but there were a fair number of POC folks there, including some Natives from Arizona. There were even people there from Australia and France who came to check out WRFF during their travels through the U.S. I thought I might be the only one from the east coast but there were travelers there from Vermont, Florida, and New York state. Some people there had taken on some really charming nature/plant/animal names, and I found this to be extremely interesting. I found myself wondering why they had chosen such names. Was it to preserve a sort of anonymity, or was it because they felt an affinity for these beings? Or both? There was Ember, Raccoon, Sage, Juniper, Nettle, Rowan, Bison, and more I unfortunately can’t remember. “How did you choose that name?” I asked one of them. “Well, I don’t know… It just comes to you,” they replied, gazing dreamily off into the distance.

It’s amazing what a group of committed people can do with very little infrastructure. It’s equally amazing to see how little we really need to not only survive, but thrive. The gadgets and gizmos and the glut of endless other consumer goods and services we’re told we can’t live without (either explicitly or implicitly) are of course very much unnecessary. During that week we all lived in relative material poverty and were quite happy overall. One of the main goals of the encampment was to leave behind the smallest human footprint possible, so there were very few structures built. Besides the fire pits, latrine structures, wooden logs for sitting, and a few other things hastily made out of necessity, everything there was hiked in and would be later hiked out. Meals were originally prepared over fire; then after Forest Rangers arrived and announced a fire ban we hiked in propane and portable cooking stoves. Many thanks to Food Not Bombs and the dedicated people of the cooking crew who made sure we had nutritious and delicious meals three times a day without fail! The logistics of living in the wilderness were at first sort of overwhelming for a novice like myself, but in practice it was not too difficult at all. Shitting in the woods is actually quite pleasant, and washing in a stream beats a shower any day. As Americans we’re used to gorging ourselves at meals, but when our food is nutritious and fresh our bodies are able to work much more efficiently with smaller portions.

Activities ranged the gamut of just laying in a hammock enjoying the shade to pretty intensive goat processing. With very little centralization and hierarchy, skill shares and workshops often popped up organically. Someone would mention something they’d like to learn, another person with that knowledge would find out, and then the next day during the morning circle ritual a time and place would be announced for everyone to come join in if they were interested. Tree climbing, basket weaving, direct action training, wild edible plant foraging, wildlife tracking, and musical instrument instruction were some of the many activities on offer during the week. For those who weren’t interested in workshops there were plenty of discussions; radical parenting, the green scare, invisible disabilities, and deep green resistance were among my favorites. Someone familiar with the night sky facilitated a star gazing…well, I can’t call it a workshop. I’m not quite sure what it was, but it was awesome laying in the middle of a field surrounded by mountains in our sleeping bags with the Milky Way and hundreds of bright, flickering stars overhead. As we lay there, someone with another one of those cool nature nicknames described the heavens with his soothing voice. Much of the day was simply free time. to explore the forest, socialize, be alone with your thoughts, read, or whatever you liked. I personally spent a good number of hours sitting on the soft moss by the stream alternately gazing at the mountains and reading ‘The Dispossessed’ as I soaked up the sun and the smell of the forest. I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt such peace, such tranquility.

Of course there were some rough patches. With so many types of people coming from such a diversity of backgrounds, and with so many tasks that needed to be done to keep the camp running smoothly, of course there were occasional misunderstandings and breakdowns in communication. When some people voiced problems they had with some aspects of the Solstice celebration and goat harvesting, it could have gotten ugly, but instead a larger conversation about cultural appropriation was opened up. I’m still too overcome with emotions to speak about that, but I hope someone else will because it was extremely powerful and eye-opening. I strongly believe that one thing that held us together was the tacit understanding that every single person there was wounded in one way or another by the dominant culture, by capitalism, racism, homophobia, sexism, or by any of the other seemingly endless barbs and arrows slung at us daily by this fucked up cultural maelstrom we’re all swirling around in. Knowing this, and being around people with similar if not exactly matching views helped us to be patient with one another. To my knowledge there were no real major fights or disagreements, and that’s quite incredible.

Apparently this year was the fourth Wild Roots Feral Futures encampment. I’m not sure how it compares to the others, and for me it doesn’t really matter because if I’m not in prison I’ll be sure to be there next year one way or another. The wilderness, the people, the animals, the sky, the spirits; they have become a part of me, and I look forward to the time when we will be reunited. One thing I’ve neglected to mention, the most important thing: the sense of love that permeated everything during WRFF. It was our collective love for nature, our love for each other, our love of the mystery that is life. In a culture that teaches us to hate, and even worse, to be apathetic, this love is the most important thing…


Friday, June 15, 2012

Seed Camp Report-Back

Seed campers here, reporting back from set-up. There are just a few things we wanted to make a note of for everyone.

First off, the mileage previously listed was underestimated. Whereas Vallecito proper is located about 20 miles from Durango, after driving around the lake and up the dirt road, the trailhead is more like 33 miles from Durango, give or take a mile or two (depending where in Durango you begin counting).

When you leave Durango, you will likely be greeted by a large sign proclaiming the extremely high fire danger. You will also be driving through burnt timber from the 2002 Missionary Ridge fire. Due to other fires in the Southwest, you may also experience smoky skies. Don't worry! Though fire danger is indeed very high, we are taking every precaution to be safe and aware with our cooking and social fires, and are closely monitoring local wildfire conditions. We are asking that folx refrain from making personal fires at their camps and enjoy the main communal fires at the base camp. Thanks!

We also want to once again encourage everyone, due to the hike, to make multiple trips and request help if you need it. We recommend a first load consisting solely of sleeping gear, enough warm clothing, enough food to last for a day, and whatever other minor items you might want to bring along. Other supplies, tools, food, gear, etc. can be hauled in during subsequent trips. Don't over-burden yourself! There's no need to carry everything in one trip. If you see other feral folx, see if they need any help hauling anything!

And as always, STAY HYDRATED!!!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Site Location & Directions!

Los Piños - Pine River
The time has come! Scout Council came to a consensus on a site location on the Full Moon, and now that the Transit of Venus is underway for the last time in any of our lifetimes, we are prepared to announce the location info and directions!

This year, Wild Roots Feral Futures will be taking place in the Weminuche Wilderness, amongst the mixed pines (including old-growth Ponderosa for tree climbing trainings!), firs, spruces, quaking aspen, and willow thickets along the upper Pine River, aka Los Piños, northeast of Vallecito Reservoir, about 35 miles from Durango, CO.

If you're driving in, please check in with the ride share board to see if there's anyone from your area or on your route who is seeking a ride. Also, keep your eyes peeled for feral hitch-hikers!


From Bayfield: Turn North off Highway 160 onto County Road 501 towards Vallecito Reservoir.

From Durango: Take 15th or 32nd Street off Main Ave./Highway 550 in Durango to Florida Road (County Road 240), towards Vallecito Reservoir. Turn left onto County Road 501.

Take County Road 501 all the way to and around Vallecito Lake to FR 602. Continue until the road ends at a trailhead for Trail 523, where you will pass a fee site campground and find free and plentiful trail-head parking. We may not be able to have an established presence at the trailhead, but at the very least we'll put some visible welcoming info in the windows of some vehicles. (If anything appears unclear to you in these directions, please email us for clarification.)

Barbed wire fencing along Granite Peaks Ranch
The trail leads you past three miles of barbed-wire fencing on the right-hand side of the trail (we recommend keeping your animal friends leashed so they don't chase squirrels and get cut by it like our dog friends did!) past the Granite Peaks Ranch, and then through about a mile of day use area to the wilderness boundary, which is well-marked and can't be missed. The trail is relatively flat and easy-going (particularly compared to past years), but take your time and make multiple trips if necessary. Likely we'll have some significant communal gear to haul in, so help out if you're able!

The site location begins pretty much as soon as you enter the wilderness area, but the main base camp where the community kitchen will be located is up the trail about a mile, on the edge of a large meadow on the right-hand side of the trail, at an already-impacted site. The valley continues onward and upward into the wilderness, so explore and find yourself a nice spot! We're asking folks to try to stick to the established campsites and avoid creating new ones, as well as new fire pits. Having one main community fire and only a few neighborhood campfires elsewhere helps with group cohesion dynamics, as opposed to many fires at each camp that keep us more isolated and has a greater impact on the land. We're asking everyone to practice good low-impact, leave no trace, dispersed camping, which we will talk about in the woods as well.

Several dynamics are significantly different from past years, perhaps most significantly the absence of car camping at the parking area. While folks can most likely get away with sleeping in their vehicles at the trail head parking, you cannot set up camp at the parking/trail-head (pitch tents, make fires, etc.). There is a pay campground just before the trail-head, but staying in such a travesty more or less defeats the purpose of attending such an event in the first place. Regardless, because we cannot otherwise set up a welcome center camp at the trail-head, we will possibly utilize some of our funds to get the camp site closest to the trail-head for the duration of the event, which will serve as our welcome station. If we opt against this, we'll at the very least leave some welcoming info inside the windows of some vehicles.

We would also like to note that we have also come to a consensus in the selection of a back-up location site, should some unforeseen event beyond our control (be it "natural" or imposed by the State) lead to our eviction or evacuation from this location.

Again, we are asking everyone to arrive prepared for self-sufficient wilderness camping (be prepared for cold and rain as well as heat, etc.) and are requesting that folks bring as much potable water and communal supply donations (tools, food, etc. - see our initial call-out post) as possible. Also, please come with as much water purification and/or filtration capacity as you're able. Though we may get a significant amount of potable water at the trail-head, all water at the site itself will either have to be hauled in, filtered, boiled, or otherwise purified. Bring your own filter if you can, and share it if you're able! For communal use, we're looking into utilizing communal funds we've raised to purchase some sort of quality, high-capacity backcountry outfitter's water filter. If you have or can acquire anything of the sort, please bring it! Most importantly, stay hydrated! We will be at a high altitude and some folks will need to acclimatize to the elevation. Hydration is key in this.

Off the computer, into the woods!

May the forest bewitch you...

—the Wild Roots Feral Futures organizers' collective

Final Call for Workshops, etc.

Hey there feral folx! It's time for one final shout-out for workshops, skill shares, performances, discussions, etc. for this year's Wild Roots Feral Futures, taking place in the Weminuche Wilderness, June 16-24, 2012.

If you would like to commit to facilitating a workshop or discussion, or would like to book a performance, etc., email us at and/or post them yourselves on our forums. Also, please let us know if you'd like us to post your workshop or performance (etc.) here on our blog, via the email address above.

Thus far, confirmed workshops include a two-day action medic training with Colorado Street Medics, forest defense tree climbing (and maybe platform rigging, etc.), discussions on the struggles at Black Mesa and the San Francisco Peaks (amongst others), wild plant walks, discussions on decolonization and dismantling civilization, assorted ancestral earth skills and crafts, and a possible visit by the Occupy Caravan!

This is but an incomplete list, and many more workshops etc. will emerge organically and informally in the woods. We also have various musicians and performing artists who will be sharing their craft with us in the woods (in the case of music, acoustically of course). We will announce workshops verbally on a daily basis at the morning circle, and will have a workshop scheduling board where workshops can be listed for further reference.

If there is anything we can do to help facilitate what you have to offer (such as trying to acquire certain materials and supplies, etc.), please contact us or post a general request that everyone can see on the forums.

Also, last night on the Full Moon, the Wild Roots Feral Futures site location scout council came to consensus on a site! Stay tuned for the location announcement shorty, which is again near Durango, but take note that it is not at the same location as previous years. But worry not, it's an wildly amazing location, and you won't be disappointed!

Off the computer, into the woods!

May the Forest Bewitch You...

-the Wild Roots Feral Futures organizers' collective

Friday, May 25, 2012

Call for Musicians & Performing Artists

In the past, Wild Roots Feral Futures has featured some amazing musicians and performing artists from with a wide variety of skills and talents, and would like to make a special appeal this year for even more to join us to share their muse.

If you are a performing artists, traveling troupe, or band and would like to commit to formal or informal performances at this year's Wild Roots Feral Futures, please email, or just show up in the woods and do your thing!

This year, one musician who will be present and informally playing when the desire strikes is Bobby Whittenburg-James:

Last year, and with any luck again this year, we were graced by the presence and musical riotousness of holy!holy!holy!:

So, if you'd like to perform for us, let us know or just c'mon out! See you in the woods!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Help fund Wild Roots Feral Futures 2012!

Online fundraising drive closed!

Many thanks to all our donors! After service & processing fees, we raised nearly one thousand dollars! We'll put it to good use, as consented upon by all present at funds councils (which will also take place in the woods, for supply runs, and will be consensus and open to all).


Wild Roots Feral Futures is an informal, completely free and non-commercial, and loosely organized event operating on (less than a) shoe-string budget, formed entirely off of donated, scavenged, or liberated supplies and sustained through 100% volunteer effort. 

This year, we are reaching out to the greater community in an appeal for funding donations. All proceeds go directly to acquiring essential collective supplies and food, as well as reimbursing trainers, speakers, teachers, performers, medics, and others who are traveling long distances to provide us with their services, knowledge, skills, and expertise.

Donation records & expense reports will be openly reviewed on the ground at Wild Roots Feral Futures by the organizers' collective and any other attendees/participants interested in such transparency and accountability.

Every dollar helps. Thank you in advance!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Art of Group Reliance

From our friends at This Is Primal War:

Primitive skills are not merely niche hobbyist and macho survivalist concerns, rather are the birthright of every human today, much as knowing how to navigate thousands of miles each season is the birthright of the Monarch Butterfly. It is precisely these skills that kept our asses alive for the millions of years of human existence, but they did much more than just allow us to survive. These most basic of skills created and sustained communities of people, built ties, strengthened relationships and allowed us to be more fluid without the constraints of an anxiety racked, alienated work force of producers and mind-numbed consumers.  Today, these skills are written off by many in the left as the toils of reactionary, right-wing militia types, hell-bent on individualist living.  How short is the memory of those dependent upon forgetting?

The basics of our survival: food, water, shelter, containers and cordage, are now available in finished, plastic wrapped, mass produced form to any first world person with the money to buy them. The concept of need is tormented in it's false projections and the joys of wants are as manufactured as the cheap filth products that abound to fulfill them. This process requires the enslavement of a production society, the enslavement of a service society and the enslavement of a consumer society, married to the absolute destruction of the land bases of us all through industrial extraction, waste, and the civilization borne illness of a disposable society. We have ourselves a recipe for insanity. The division of labor is not only a division of who does what work, but a division of self to the land in which we were born to thrive in. The passing of primitive skills helps to break the barrier of the frightened co-dependence of civilized life, and welcome in a wildness that is not only all around us, but inside of us. 

The battle we are in constant struggle with is the innate hierarchies in civilized living. There is much argument to when these began. Some say with the advent of agriculture and some with the concept of marriage, others with gender roles and religiosity. No matter where it began, we cannot argue that hierarchy is a cornerstone of civilization. Without it we cannot domesticate, subjagate, persecute, or enslave. One of the greatest benefits to primitive technologies is their decentralizing force. Who controls your ability to survive, controls you totally. If the elements of survival are shared with all, or at least grasped by all, then there is an automatic liberation in it's beginning. If we take even a cursory glance at the functions of our societies today, one will see an intentional hording of information. Whether this is for profit or control, or both, varies by situation. Power dynamics are  prevalent in most civilized relationships, necessitating the constant struggle towards liberation.

  Children are kept segregated from society, in small boxes where they are taught anything BUT the methods of survival. Advertising uber alles ensures that an entire nation will be under the firm choke-hold of consumerism. We are taught to want, and what to want, but not how to create. Elders, many of whom do not even have the skills to survive themselves, are also pushed away into packing houses of the sick and dying.  We are taught to navigate THEIR systems of life, to ignore the natural systems from which we are being ever torn. By the age of 5 we are all too familiar with the Logos of fast food poisons, while simultaneously taught that the forest is the place where the big bad wolf lives. This elemental disconnect begins our journey away from the community of life, and into the assylum of alienation. Food comes from those lighted signs and danger comes from the dark places. Most people I know that are between the ages of 17 and 28 do not know how to prepare their own food, let alone how to grow, forage, or hunt for it. This is a primitive skill that has been taken away, refined and left to the experts, this case being the corporate giants, to handle. We were once these children too, and we were taken away from this world at birth. We are taught to see our history in the rear view, always receeding, and not allowed to understand that the story of our lives is alive, albeit in much danger of extinction. Everyone from the age of 18 to 65 is stuck in the middle ground of not knowing where to put their ass or their face, and end up covered in shit.

As our family has taken steps to break from societal confines over the years, none of our choices have been so beneficial as seeking out primitive skills.  You cannot begin to know what it feels like to sit with a group of your family and friends and rediscover hand to mouth skills from the land that surrounds us until you do it. Political discussions are a great form of intellectual masturbation, but little brings more joy to resistance than holding life in your hands and feeling at home. In the vast sea of Green Anarchist critique, most of which I very much enjoy and take part in discussing often, I have seen a disconnect from the skill aspect of primitive living. Without this element we are flinging shit in the wind of academia, hoping to not get hit on it's return. There is no philosophizing needed when my 7 year old daughter teaches me how she knapped a flint scraper with elk antler. Maybe for some of you, there is too much philosophizing to grasp it. As for me, I am content with it being what it is. A child who is not only grasping an ancient skill, but having a hell of a good time doing it. It is a few hours she is not being slammed with billboards and adverts. An hour she is not being made to feel less than another because her clothes are dirty, or she is not quite as strong as another kid. It is a time that negates time, and begets confidence, skill, tools, and re-creates memories that are older than us all.

One myth of primitive skills is that  the classes are costly, and the instructors are all macho hetero males. While there is a lot of truth to part of this, being that organized classes with specific "tracker" groups are quite overpriced, and many of the "leaders" of these classes are capitalist macho pricks, this, of course, does not need to be the case. Many of the skills I learn are from books or friends, for free. Being that I don't have any macho prick friends, I skirt the latter and since most of my friends have no money, and are quite content, I dodge the prior. It is not that I am opposed to paying for certain classes, or gatherings, as I understand that the filthy lucre of the king has taken over most of our daily exchanges, it's just that we don't have any money, so it is not an issue. If you do have the money to take a course or a few courses from a good tracker school, by all means do! Take every thing you learned and share share share! Your friends will love it and if you are savvy enough to make a zine, youtube videos or a blog, you can guarantee I will be reading it at some point. In the meantime, there is no end to the amount of free information that exists on these subjects. 

Click here to

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Basic Street Medic Training at Wild Roots Feral Futures 2012

We're excited to announce that Colorado Street Medics will be facilitating a two-day Basic Street Medic Training this year at Wild Roots Feral Futures. The training will take place June 17th & 18th.

Who & What are Street Medics?

You’re among thousands at an antiwar demonstration when police start using pepper spray and firing tear-gas grenades. You’re choking and blinded. People around you are shouting and panicking. Ordinary fire and rescue services are standing idle–they are instructed never to enter areas until police declare them secured, and to tear-gas a crowd is to define it as insecure.

Who will help? The Street Medics. A band of volunteers with varying levels of medical credential but all specially trained in the treatment of the injuries most common at demonstrations. Street Medics walk purposefully alongside frightened crowds, urging them to “walk!”. They move in buddy pairs, carrying medical supplies and wearing eclectic uniforms–a fishing vest with MEDIC and a star of life emblazoned on the back or a jacket with a Red Cross made of duct tape.

Street Medics aren’t just at protests. We travel wherever we can to offer medical care. Be it an anti-war demonstration, a natural disaster or a war zone, the Street Medics will travel to help those in need.

Colorado Street Medics are one of the original street medic collectives organized to assert that healthcare is a human right. We band together as medical providers ranging from herbalists and paramedics to doctors and acupuncturists. We believe in participating in solidarity, not charity. We participate in events as community members, not saviors or heroes. We work to deconstruct oppression in ourselves and our communities as well as supporting social movements that work to do the same.