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Op/Ed

Florida Earth Skills Gathering 2012

by Dave Grace, guest writer, Spirituality & Social Justice crew

Last weekend, 10 Warren Wilson students attended the Florida Earth Skills Gathering. However, this was not the full representation of those with some Warren Wilson affiliation. Also present were at least 2 alumni, 2 former students, and 1 parent (of a current student). Asheville residents were also in high density, with an estimated quarter to a third of the whole.

At the gathering, there was much focused energy directed toward learning ways of being that are more beneficial for both the human and non-human. This covered a wide range of topics ranging broadly from classes on “caring for you cast iron” and “rewilding our words” (on nonviolent communication) to tracking, hide tanning, fire by friction, and wild plant identification—as well as many other skills and discussion topics. The gathering officially lasted from Wednesday to Sunday, but the stated intention was to further this learning by encouraging the integration and practice of these skills into one’s daily life and community.

After attending the gathering, we reflected on how we became interested in developing these skills. I was highly encouraged by the genuine and thoughtful sharing that took place throughout the trip but this discussion especially stood out. What I found was that within our small group, individual motivation was spurred by different factors including enjoyment of the senses and their direct use, self-reliance, yearning for true community, preparation for collapse and disassociation with a damaging societal direction, and desire to homestead. While there was a wide range of perspectives, I couldn’t help thinking that what underlay it all was a shared desire to experience the vitality of life at its fullest, at every level.

Tracking life to its origins is a pathway to healing the damage that has been wrought by civilization. This is a call out to students, faculty, and staff at Warren Wilson to stay alert to opportunities to gather in sharing knowledge and skills which contribute to living a wild and free life. A lot is already being done on campus that could be expanded upon and opened up to others. I’m interested in what can be done outside the classroom and dorm rooms. After retuning from the Florida Earth Skills Gathering, there is a solid group which is interested in helping to make the critical connections between what is now being done on campus and the many things which could be done.

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