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 PiƱos 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.