Roots

The Wildwood Path is growing from an intertwining, ever-changing, and complex marriage of teaching lineages and practices from the ancestries of all the people and places who comprise our living system. Starting from the grief-soaked acknowledgement that this organization is predominantly led by settlers on un-ceded Indigenous Wabanaki land, we step into a humble, never-ending — and yet magnificent — effort to “de-colonize” our social, spiritual, and economic practices in order to embody an emergent vision of how to live well on the earth together through nature connection and cultural regeneration. It’s an honor to work and play with a diverse team of leaders and participants in a space where multicultural, multiracial, many gendered, interfaith, and ever-changing offerings are at the core of our community of practice. Our shared connections with nature bring us together while our beautifully unique forms of expression, identity, and ancestry make us strong. We know that the systems of oppression that disproportionately harm Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color are part of the same big systems that harm wild nature and other marginalized people, and we are committed to working for liberation and justice in specific ways and broad sweeps until all are well. We are committed to standing for Black Lives, to solidarity with Indigenous leadership, to Queer liberation, and to growing regenerative economic systems so that all people can thrive. No matter where you are on your journey of nature connection, cultural regeneration, re-skilling, and eternal learning– You are truly welcome at the Wildwood Path as we co-create fabulous nature experiences and support one another to sprout seeds of nature connected positive change in all the unfolding aspects of our uniquely differing lives.

Come learn with us!

Land

The “home base” of the Wildwood Path is an amazing piece of land in unceded Penobscot territory which abuts the Kanololus Bog, on Hemlock Hill, in the Sebasticook River watershed… at a nook that we call Paridae Grove in Unity, Maine. Here, we are surrounded by trees, fields, streams, gardens, and wild creatures for whom we are always grateful and of whom we are eternally in awe… but we are just as capable of hosting deep nature connection experiences in the hearts of cities or from suburban armchairs, where the wild is also divinely alive! We lead programs around New England and beyond. Nature is everywhere and is everything, and whatever land we find ourselves on can have something wild to teach us. As we explore relationship with land, we are thankful for the friendship, guidance, and participation of the Native peoples of this whole region as we attempt to re-learn what treaties exist in this place concerning settler inhabitation, so that we can abide by and honor these ancient agreements even as we forge a modern day path forward with the leadership of Native people– paired with acknowledgment of and action to address the historical and ongoing harms perpetuated by settlers against indigenous people. We’re especially grateful to the Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, Micmac, and other Wabanaki People who have given us ongoing opportunities to be in healing relationships through activism and community connections at the Nibezun project, The Wildwood Path, and more. Please support their incredible regenerative cultural initiatives!

Vision

We envision a world where nature connection and cultural regeneration are part of every facet of society, and where our skills and gifts as humans are leveraged in service to the flowering of life on this wild planet through reparation of past wrongs, the support of equitable relationships for diverse modern peoples, and the humble and magnificent shared labor for a future in which we live well with one another and this Earth. With nature connection as a force for justice in our world, we are working across sectors so that equitable cultural sharing is possible in our communities and beyond. This involves an ongoing exploration of our own diverse cultures—including both the beautiful and the difficult aspects—so that we can make amends for our patterns of oppression and grow new natural, social, spiritual, economic, and practical practices and relationships from our ancient roots of connection.

Practice

This includes the study and practice of “wilderness survival skills” including herbalism, shelter-making, tracking and naturalist skills, handcrafting, more– as well as the myriad “cultural elements” such as song, storytelling, ceremony, and reciprocity practices that infuse all of our work. Some of these elements are cross cultural and hard to trace back to where we first learned them, and most were partially or completely forgotten by many of our own ancestors during our recent generations of trauma and disconnection– but all continue to be kept alive and protected under duress by indigenous people and small pockets of wise and courageous traditional folks in neighborhoods, living rooms, forests, and street protests around the globe– and we are benefiting from their continued labors, and are aware of our responsibility to acknowledge their gifts and stand up for their liberation. Our nature connection practices connect with our activism and our dedication to serving Life!

Lineages

Our work comes from a complex lineage of influences and teachers, some of whom cannot be named. From our roots in summer camps and scouting to keeping ourselves safe on city streets to family camping with our grandparents and families to adventures in modern wilderness leadership through Outward Bound and 4H, all of us at Wildwood have grown a set of experiences and skills to share. Our work is made more profound and beautiful by the generous sharing of many teachers who have generously and bravely shared their people’s ancient ways not for our consumption or extraction as students, but for our inspiration, motivation, and the re-activation of our own ancient ancestral ways. Our teachers are complex, brave, generous, flawed, beautiful, sometimes controversial, and always-changing humans… as are we. We honor and thank them. We can name just a few of them here and look forward to sharing more of their stories and connections when we meet in person.

Through the “8 Shields” international community, we have been honored to be introduced to many deep nature connection principles and practices. Specifically, we have leaned on the teachings of Gilbert Walking Bull (Lakota), Paul Rafael (Ojibwe), Jake and Judy Swamp (Kanienkehaka), and many Hawai’ian and S’an elders and teachers, most of whose wisdom is coming to us through our friend and mentor Jon Young, to whom we are also grateful. Through our connection to the Maine Primitive Skills School and therefore the Tracker School, we have been honored to learn from the lineage of Tom Brown, Jr. and his Lipan Apache teacher Stalking Wolf as well as many other Native and non-Native teachers over the years. In our exploration of wheel and cycle teachings from around the world, we have learned much from Anu Dudley of the “Temple of the Feminine Divine”, and from working with Starhawk and other modern pagan leaders. We are also grateful to our generous teachers Sobonfu Somé and Malidoma Somé of the Dagara people, to Daniel Foor and the blessing of his Yoruba teachers, to the influences of our individual teachers spangled like stars across our communities and coming from many faiths and traditions (Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, all kinds of Animist, Pagan, Atheist, etc), and especially to the cooking pot that is Martin Prechtel’s school “Bolad’s Kitchen”, which holds us to a skyrocketing standard of integrity in all our relationships and agreements. Right here in our own backyard, we are honored to have Seed Maven Nikos Kavanya asking us good questions and holding us to our deep agreements with this land. And of course, we are especially grateful for the ongoing friendship and welcome of Penobscot leaders Carol Dana, Tim Shay, and others for their support for our fumbling efforts towards courtesy in their ancestral lands.

Our Relationship Web

The Wildwood Path exists in a web of relationships that spans the globe. We are honored to be affiliated with all of these schools, projects, communities, and people… and with many more!

The Nature Connection Leadership Network

The 8 Shields Institute

Carol Sanford Institute

Nibezun

The Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve

The Maine Master Naturalist Program

White Pine Programs

Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association

Vermont Wilderness School & Vermont Art of Mentoring

CyberTracker International (via Nate Harvey and Kersey Lawrence)

The Northeast Wildlife Trackers Conference

Healing the Wounds of Turtle Island Ceremony

Sue Morse & Keeping Track, VT

EarthWalk Programs, VT

Wild Earth

Feet on the Earth Programs

FEDCO Seeds

Bolad’s Kitchen

Farm and Forage Kitchen

The Maine Primitive Skills School

Sowing Solutions Permaculture