The world appears to be heading into a nosedive, and many different communities around the world have noticed. Of those who are wary, a select few have gotten together, pushing away at the metropolitan cities of millions, the suburban luxuries of the first world, and the standards of popular culture, to try to make something a little more enduring.
These collectives began in their early stages (think American colonies, or barefoot communities in the 60s and 70s), colonies and communes: two words recently associated with cultish behavior or being very reserved from the rest of the world. However, they existed for the sole purpose of creating a better community in their own way. They rejected the ideas of modern society with such fierceness that people on the other side of the spectrum had no opportunity to open up to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, there’s something to be learned here.
Whether people believe the world is dying, the climate changes like an eternal seesaw, or that global warming is some foreign-propaganda to tear the American voting community apart, people tend to agree that things are weird right now. Our storms are bigger than ever. Our winters are colder. The ocean coughs up islands of trash and rises with our reliance on fossil fuels. We go to the movies, watch majestic tributes to our natural world, but walk by the trash we see on the beach. People love going to the zoo to get a taste of the wild side, but extremely few are actually willing to go wild.
Thankfully, in 2017, the world is still full of young people, and young people love to go wild. The problem is, people born in the new millennia have increasingly fewer opportunities to connect with nature. Being nurtured in an educational system that values standardized tests over holistic personal development makes it a lot harder for teachers and students alike to consider their potential outside the same cookie-cutter classroom they learn in, every day. And we all have it.
The wonderful thing that sustainable communities realized long ago, was that nature is all around us. It’s there, day-in, day-out, waiting to be enjoyed by people. However, it really takes an enterprising spirit to go out into nature and make something happen. Nature is full of sharp sticks, dirt, bugs, weather and other things that have no place in our classrooms. We talk about them in our math problems and read about them in our books, but only rarely are people able to go out into the world and pick up a stick or a shovel and get creative.
Right now, there is an explosion of alternative education programs, taking people out of their dorms and lecture halls, and giving them the opportunity to interact with the world they may have forgotten inside their dorms. With an exploding market of high school and college students, fed up with being told how to walk, talk, think and feel about their education, things are getting even weirder. Today, higher education tends to be taught in a vacuum –with people being given vast amounts of information, on all sorts of topics way outside of their day-to-day lives. And when students aren’t given the opportunity to really try on these new ways of thinking, they tend to reject it as bullshit with the same seriousness as our parents may reject the idea of us backpacking through a far part of the world for a few months.
But self implies other, artificial implies organic, and tame implies savagery. If we all considered for a minute, what our mindful-side would say to that trash on the beach, or what we really like to do with our Sunday mornings (jump in the river anybody?), then maybe we will grow a little closer to the earth and each other. By cultivating our own primal spirits, we enrich the earth through our actions. Achieving sustainability in our lives and as part of our world comes with practice. Practice in living in the elements: further away from our digital screens, closer to our wildest dreams, is the easiest way. After a few days and weeks, you start to realize that the planet is not a piggy bank full of resources. It is a harsh place, but it can be lived in. It takes more grit than watching Netflix, and is a whole lot dirtier than only comes when people are willing to take a walk
Over the next few weeks, Jungle Strength will be featuring the work of some of these new trailblazers, and how they are engaging and reshaping their world, getting creative, and using their resources to live their dreams. We look forward to sharing our findings with you, and hearing your thoughts.
Stay Strong, Stay Savage,