An UNTAMED start to a WILD 2011

An essential part of WILD’s experience after 40 years of working with wilderness, wildlife and people around the world is that there is an “internal wildness” within humans that comes from the 2 million years we evolved within wilderness, around campfires, in caves and trees…and as hunters. We also know that as humans technologically evolved over the last 1000 years or so, we’ve estranged ourselves from wilderness. We’ve developed a misplaced pride, or hubris, believing that we are different from and no longer beholden to the wildness from which we were born and which continues to support us.

If uncorrected, this estrangement could be fatal….the evidence is all around us. But we can change this, and create personal strength and social resilience, by understanding our own “human wildness.

WILD is well-known for our work with wilderness policy and protected areas around the world. In addition, we have ALWAYS focused on how to communicate this essential message, so that people shift perspective, ask “what does nature need?” and act accordingly so that human society can prosper and be healthy.

Our main way of doing this over the years has been encouraging or leading direct experiences of wilderness. Our Wilderness Leadership School has taken some 50,000 people into the bush over 55 years, and the evidence is unambiguous. People “get” the connection between themselves and wild nature. But not everyone can go into the wild easily or often.

Another, more accessible, way we communicate this message has been through the arts. There is a strong connection between right brain (creative, imaginative activity) and the internal wildness which nature bequeathed us. In the years ahead you will see even more of our work with artists, communicators, writers and others who translate wilderness and wild nature into symbols, images, movement, song and more.

I started the New Year with one of the most targeted and effective examples of the arts and wild nature I’ve ever experienced. “Untamed” is a collaborative exercise between sculptor Dylan Lewis, writer/explorer/psychiatrist Ian McCallum and architect Enrico Daffonchio, on exhibition at Kirstenbosch Gardens in Cape Town. It is high impact.

Close colleague Ian McCallum is also the leader of In the Tracks of Giants, an expedition initiative of Nature Needs Half. I spent the day with Ian at “Untamed”, and afterwards we talked long and deep about the internal dimension of change, of connection to wild nature, and how we need to increase our commitment even more to this in 2011….stay tuned in the months ahead!

As a gift to start 2011, I leave you with this one taste of Ian’s writing:


You have come this far…
keep moving…don’t turn back.
No one holds the measure
of their undoing…no one,
the meaning of their dying.
hold what lives
behind the masks
of your own making…
the music of your wild name.
Know that every tumble,
every turn on your twisting path
is a dance within a living
church of elements…
a sanctuary of stars
wings, breath and bone
where the masks of your making
are undone.

Ian McCallum

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