Uncivilize is a journalistic exploration of the human rewilding movement—bringing you the stories of pioneers who have “left” our modern industrialized world behind to forge radically alternative lives in the 21st century. Using the long lens of human history (read: evolutionary biology, anthropology, indigenous knowledge and cultural history), each episode examines a future existence that could not only restore balance to an imperiled planet, but reclaim humanity’s original, inborn connection to the natural world. Hosted by Los Angeles-based environmental journalist and award-winning author (UNLATCHED, 2017 Rachel Carson Environment Book Award) Jennifer Grayson. Theme music: Paul Damian Hogan. Photo by April K / CC BY 2.0. www.jennifergrayson.com
Eat From Where You Live - Daniel Vitalis
It couldn’t be more perfect that for this last episode of Uncivilize, my guest is the very person who inspired me to start the show: Daniel Vitalis, former host of the immensely popular and provocative Rewild Yourself Podcast. Being interviewed by Daniel for Rewild Yourself (Episode 134) was a revelation, because until that introduction, I hadn’t known that the seemingly disparate areas that had enthralled me since my childhood—exploring the wilderness, environmental conservation, anthropology, ancestral peoples, and a general aching to have lived at an earlier time in our human existence—had a name, let alone had converged into a movement: rewilding.
Much has happened since that epiphany more than two years ago, especially for Daniel, who not only found love and got married but dove deeper into another love: hunting, fishing, foraging and food. From that came WildFed, his new culinary adventure show and podcast that hopes to connect people with their local landscapes—not to mention 3 million years of human history—by opening their eyes to sustainably harvesting, cooking and eating wild food.
Here’s what we talk about:
-Daniel’s recent wild-food wedding
-Finding the balance between the modern and the primitive
-Connection to the landscape through food
-The problem with rugged individualism
-“We’re at risk of losing some very fundamental human technologies”
-Daniel’s non-hunting childhood
-Urban vegans, and making the case for hunting
-Wild turkeys, leeks and fiddleheads: Daniel’s first harvest
-Hunting in the United States: What you need to know
-The making of WildFed
-How to find your wild food niche, no matter where you live
Check out the WildFed Podcast (available wherever you get your podcasts) and go here to watch trailers for and order Season 1 of the WildFed show. You can also follow Daniel and all his happenings on his website, as well as on Facebook and Instagram.
Thank you for listening to and supporting this show over the past two years! You can subscribe on iTunes to catch up on all 35 episodes. (If you’ve enjoyed the show, I always appreciate good ratings and reviews. It will help me with my next project.) The theme music is by Paul Damian Hogan.
The Journalist-Farmer - AC Shilton
This week, I bring you the delightful AC Shilton, the investigative journalist of Netflix’s “The Innocent Man” fame who recently added farmer to her resume: Last year, the self-described city kid and her park ranger husband went all in on their bucolic fantasy, purchasing a 45-acre fixer-upper ranch in rural Tennessee.
Here, AC shares the real story of how she now divides her day between tending chickens and penning pieces for the likes of The New York Times and Outside magazine (spoiler: it’s not easy). She also dishes on learning to farm by the seat of her pants, prepping her farm for climate resilience, and why farming may be the perfect antidote to our modern scourge of arrival fallacy.
Here’s the rundown:
-A day in the life of an investigative journalist–farmer
-What it really costs to start a small farm
-“This has brought me more joy than anything I could have ever imagined”
-Pastured eggs, honey and Dexter cattle
-Planning her farm with climate change in mind
-Learning to farm as city kids
-Rural loneliness, recent injuries, and advice for wannabe farmers
The Journey to Wild Abundance - Natalie Bogwalker
I had a big birthday on Tuesday, and one of my wishes is to travel to the mountains of Southern Appalachia to take Natalie Bogwalker’s immersive women’s carpentry class (followed by perhaps her tiny house building class). If you haven’t yet heard of Natalie, prepare to be amazed: A trailblazer in all things rewilding, she co-founded Firefly Gathering and is now the founder and director of Wild Abundance, a one-of-a-kind permaculture and homesteading school outside of Asheville, N.C.
There, from her working eco-homestead, she not only builds but forages, gardens, crafts, and raises her young daughter, all while teaching an abounding offering of earth-based living classes with her partner Frank and a community of devoted instructors. I felt honored that Natalie found time last month to step away from it all (including the launch of her groundbreaking online hide tanning course; seriously, check it out) to talk with me about the incredible life she’s created and the Wild Abundance student experience.
Some of what we talk about:
-Laterlife motherhood and the ultimate childcare co-op
-Growing up in the woods of Washington state and the accident that changed her life
-Living in a squat in Barcelona and Wild Roots
-The rewilding movement, 15 years ago
-Firefly Gathering, Wild Abundance and her women’s carpentry classes
-What the future holds
-Her new online hide tanning course
How the Bow and Arrow Changed Everything - Victor Kühn
I’m so excited to share this fascinating conversation I recorded last spring with Victor Kühn, a master traditional bowmaker and primitive archery expert based in Boulder, Colorado. Here, Victor traces the ancient history of the bow and arrow, revealing how its invention tens of thousands of years ago forever changed the trajectory of humankind. We also talk about Victor’s (née: Vitezslav) remarkable childhood in the aftermath of Communist Czechoslovakia, his passion for the iconic American West, and the intense craftsmanship that goes into his one-of-a-kind bows (he fells his own trees!).
-How Victor first discovered bowmaking
-“Wild times in the ‘90s”: Growing up after the fall of Communism in Czechoslovakia
-Coming to the US and falling in love with the iconic American West
-The ancient history of his homeland versus the untouched wilderness
-How bowmaking forever changed human history
-Is bowmaking still relevant in a world with guns?
-Why Victor feels called to preserve this art
-The intense research and craftsmanship that goes into Victor’s traditional bows
The Outdoors Does Not Have to Be Uncomfortable - Wes Siler
In this premiere episode of our third (and final!) season, I talk with outdoor adventure journalist extraordinaire Wes Siler, who runs Outside’s lifestyle column IndefinintelyWild. Here, Wes shares his stereotype-defying approach to “rewilding,” including his recent transformation from Angeleno to gun-toting Montanan, why all environmentalists should support hunting, and everything you need to know to recreate his epically cushy camping experience.
Here’s the run-down:
-On camping: What you’re doing wrong and a camping mattress you can have sex on
-Growing up in North Carolina, France and going to military school in England
-Why being Bear Grylls sucks
-How to move beyond fear in the outdoors
-How Wes splits his time between work and the wilderness
-The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation
-Hunting, guns and prepping
-Wes’s advice for creating a nature-fueled life
-His upcoming adventure wedding in Baja
Civilization Is an Ecological Phenomenon - Peter Michael Bauer
As rewilding has reached the mainstream (or the word rewilding, anyway), it’s come to encompass many tenets: land conservation, nature immersion and ancestral skills; living off grid; homeschooling and forest schools; even wearing minimalist footwear. (At its most commercial, the term has been used to sell trucker hats and promote vegan restaurants, but I digress.) But the deeper meaning of rewilding—the call for systemic rewilding—is what we should be focusing on, says my guest Peter Michael Bauer, as we stare down an environment cataclysmically changed by civilization.
Peter would know: He was at the forefront of the rewilding movement when it emerged from the green anarchist movement in the early 2000s and is the author of the seminal book Rewild or Die. Now, he’s fostering place-based resilience with his organization Rewild Portland, along with his newly launched The Rewilding Podcast.
Here’s the rundown:
-Peter’s recent trip off grid to the Olympic Peninsula and the Makah Museum
-What’s wrong with civilization?
-The consequences of agriculture and the myth of progress
-“There is no collapse. There is transformation.”
-Rewild Portland, and why he isn’t living in the woods
-Rewilding as a crime?
-Peter’s newest project: The Rewilding Podcast
Follow Peter’s work on his website and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Listen to The Rewilding Podcast on iTunes. And don’t miss his upcoming Annual North American Rewilding Conference in Portland.
Editorial note: This episode originally aired on December 26, 2019. It has since been changed to the date of my actual interview with Peter, in order to provide more context for the final season of the show.
If you enjoyed this show, subscribe on iTunes so you don’t miss the next one (and don’t forget to leave a rating and review). The theme music is by Paul Damian Hogan.