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