Stating Focused In Primitive skills

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This post will follow closely, the article that I wrote in our August newsletter.

In any hobby, job, passion, way of life, or Skill set there will be times when a person or more motivated or less motivated to learn and work based on how life unfolds on any given day. I have what I call Primitive Skills ADHD. I know it’s not funny to joke about learning disabilities, or as I prefer to call them “unnecessary labels for children who learn differently.” But, it’s not really a joke. I cannot focus on any one skill for too long. My mind simply won’t let me. Everything that I get really hyper focused on always falls within the realm of primitive living skills, but the focus of my intent is constantly changing. One day the only thing that I care about is tracking, and the next day it’s quill-work, and then 2 weeks later it’s flint knapping. This really bothers me sometime, but for the most part I’ve come to terms with it. I feel like having my focus split up this way means that I’ll never be really good at anything. The truth is that I am decent at most of the things that I do, and I do a lot of things. The way that I have accomplished this is by becoming obsessive about Whatever it is that I am working on at the time. I don’t necessarily recommend this approach. It drives me crazy, and what is way more important is that it drives my poor wife crazy. One day i’m all like blah blah blah gait patterns, and Inter-digital spaces, and the next week i’m like hey, I made a Simpson point using only a hard hammer stone. She never knows what’s going to come out of my mouth, and she certainly doesn’t have time to keep up. But, this is how my brain works, and it’s what I’ve got. I feel that everyone who feels drawn to this subject has a sense of the need for it. They feel driven, or drawn to learn and practice the skills of living with the earth, as a part of nature. Whatever iteration that takes is the proper one. I know that regardless of what my attention is currently on it will always be earth based. Everyday I find out that there is something else that I want to learn. Sometimes I indulge it, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes, I read a book or 2, watch some YouTube videos, and have a get together with someone who knows a lot about the subject and then decide it’s not for me. But I’m still better for the experience. I recently broke a wall down that I wasn’t sure I could ever do. I met someone in person, that i had met on Facebook. It turns out he lives just down the street from me. We decided to meet up and break some rocks. I hadn’t done much knapping for about 7 years, but I had such a good time meeting a new person, and practicing an old skill, that my fire is rekindled. I am now rededicated. Any experience that we can create will help guide you  and help you grow as a person and in your skills.

So, keep practicing, keep learning, and stay primitive.

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Kids in the woods

last child in the woods“The woods were my Ritalin. Nature calmed me, Focused me, and yet excited my senses.”-Richard Louv

As we glide through life with no real sense of what life is we grow farther and farther from any deep meaningful connection to anything. The current life style of the first world deprives us all of a sense of belonging, or importance beyond the words of our parents. This should not be normal, it should not be acceptable. removing ourselves from being a part of the world means that our children will never know what that feels like in the first place. We are destroying the human race at the cost of our children. It feels pretty urgent to me that we not allow our greatest resource to grow up unconnected from nature, and from our communities. This type of deep relationship is Essence of humanity. When people lived close to the earth they had a much stronger sense of belonging, and of self worth. The earth gives us a measure by which to compare our selves. Am I helping or hurting, do my action show love or fear.

“With Love there can be no fear, and fear there can be no love.” -Dr. Wayne Dyer

As the generation that is now coming into Power in the world, it is our obligation to ensure that our Children know this connection. They must know how it feels to be a part of the world for real, not just on Facebook or twitter. Children need to feel mud between their toes, and the hot summer sun on their faces. Children need to see animals and butterflies, Chase lizards and snakes, and to feel the rough bark of an ancient oak tree on their faces. Children are born with an innate sense of wonder, and we need to feed it.

There is no one right way to go about this. Everyone will have different thoughts and feelings on the subject. For some, taking their child to the park a few times a week will be enough, for others a yearly camping trip will be their only exposure. The problem here is simply that you cannot develop a connection or a sense of belonging in a couple brief outings, people need constant exposure to grow. When I was a kid in Northern Minnesota, my little brother and I would leave the house and go run in the woods, or play in the park, or swim in a lake, or go fishing, or………….. All day everyday. We knew no fear, at least not in nature. It was our home. It was where we belonged.

“Teaching children about the natural world should be treated as one of the most important events in their lives.”-Thomas Berry

So, here are a few simple suggestions: Let your kids play outside, every day. encourage them to get, wet, dirty, hot, cold, and to get scraped knees. Give them tasks. Find three different types of leaves, and figure out what kind of tree they came from. Look for animal tracks in the dirt, and identify them. learn to grow some vegetables or flowers. Dig for worms. These are all really simple. On a higher level, you can take them geocaching, or go for a camping trip. Find someone to teach them how to fish. I spent some of my childhood in Arizona, and we found a way to go fishing a couple time a year. Maybe get your children involved in a group that encourages time in nature. This one is important, Encourage your children to sit still and quiet in the outdoors, and just observe. To see rabbits, and birds. This quiet reflection is very important for children, and for adults, maybe you could even try it yourself.

If we can offer this feeling to our children, they will grow up to be more connected to their communities, and they will be more able to process their emotions, which will make them less prone to violence. Our world will be better if more people feel connected to nature, Period.

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Connection and awareness training.

 

 

This post will coincide with the Articles that I have written for the may and June newsletter. I believe that of all the pursuits that a person can undertake, Being connected to both the earth and to the community around you, as well as opening your awareness and allowing yourself to become party to the world around you are some of the most noble. It is not possible to know how much of an impact these ideas can have on your life until you start to work on them. This idea really started to come alive for me just recently, when Gregg, Jeff, and I were teaching a wild edible plants class. As we were walking the students through the park and talking about the important and easily identifiable plants I started watching them. As we progressed I would catch one of them saying, “wow, look at all that burdock, I can’t believe that I never noticed it before, Or, walking up a hillside and having the youngest member of our group notice a hillside full of Virginia water leaf, Cleavers, and Garlic mustard, when only an hour or 2 earlier we had walked by the same spot and to her it had simply been a forested hillside. Everything that we learn in life, as it pertains to wilderness skills or not, increases our awareness.

As we learn we start to notice more, which makes us more curious to learn and it snowballs from there. We are on a never ending learning curve, that can consume and destroy us, or it can open us up and help us know ourselves and be a part of the world on a much deeper level. It seems in today’s society that everything is very shallow and surfacey. This is because we have created a society for ourselves in which we do not need to be connected or to belong, we can just watch it on our smart phone, or on Hulu. This is not, however, fulfilling to the human spirit. We are pack animals and we need our clan. Historically societies were set up in such a way that everyone was interconnected. The hunters need the hide tanners and leather workers to make the quiver which held the arrows that were made by the arrow makers, using the arrow points made by the flint knappers, which were fired from bows made by the bow makers, etc. etc.. There was no part of that culture which was unnecessary or wasteful, and everyone felt connected. Everyone was a part of the community and a part of nature. When you feel these connections you will feel a much deeper sense of meaning, and self worth.

There is no substitute for dirt time, in the pursuit of a deep connection to the earth, and no comparison when your awareness is rising. In order to attain these heightened levels you must spend time, a lot of time in nature, in the woods, or the desert, or the coast, wherever you live, you need to be outside to gain the benefits of these practices. Aside from simply spending time outside, there are exercises that you can do to work on it. A few examples are the square foot practice: This entails marking off a 12″x 12” square on the ground, once you have marked out your area, you simply lay down and look at you square foot. Notice how the grass moves a little in the wind, how the ants group on certain twigs more than others. Notice how there are different layers, even on this tiny scale, you will see the canopy life, the ground life, and the in between life. Many people are skeptical about this exercise, it seems mundane and unnecessary, but no one that I have shown this to has come back less than shocked at how much life there is on such a small scale. Write down your findings, and maybe even make a few sketches. If you are trying to learn something new, drawing it forces you to take a deeper look at the details. Another good exercise is camouflage hide and seek. A group of people gather around a tree or other land mark. The one who is it, puts their face into the tree while the others hide. The trick here is that the people hiding have to be within sight of the one who is it. When the counter reaches their pre-determined number, they stop and turn around. The counter must then pick out the hiders without leaving the starting point. The hiders should employ natural camouflage techniques, to mask themselves. This forces the hiders to blend into the back ground, and the counter to work on ultimate awareness to find them. One of my favorites is the dark circle. In this exercise, you join a group of people sitting in a circle in the dark (no talking) After a few minutes you all turn your backs to each other, and sit for a few moments, then every 2-3 minutes you walk 5 paces away from each other until you are far enough away from each other to feel that you are alone. Then you sit. I like 15 minutes, but you can use any number as long as it is long enough to affect your fear. The point is that you are alone in the wilderness at night, but the security of knowing that there are others close by makes it easier to relax and enjoy the solitude.

With so many practices at hand in the vein of learning, growing, and connecting, there is no reason not to give it a try, I promise it will change your life for the better. and if nothing else, it’s quality time in nature.

 

Rewilding the 21st century

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Throughout human history technology has grown and evolved at a pace that is mind baffling. Human beings have existed in some form or another for about 7 million years. Most anthropologists agree that Sahalanthropus Tchadensis was the first human ancestor after our split from apes. My Geological history professor in college described this by saying “Imagine the history of the earth is a football field and one end zone is the beginning of the earth and the other end zone is now. The very first humans showed up at the 1/4″ Line.” That is the best visualization that I have been privy to. At that time, the peak of human technology, was foraging for edible bugs and plants, and hiding in trees. At roughly 3.4 million years ago there is evidence that humans were making and using fire. and at roughly 71,000 years we start to see evidence of the use of bow and arrows through stone blades found in South Africa. This is to say that at one point in time the hand drill for fire making was the pinnacle and that the bow and arrow was also, at one time the highest level of technology. For thousands of years human technology continued to improve, and with each step we evolved to be smarter, stronger, faster, and more versatile. It was this versatility that allowed humans to thrive throughout history. It is only in the last couple hundred years that technology has progressed to the point that we no longer seem to need nature. We can control our environments through air conditioning, heating, humidifiers, humidifiers, and many other creations. Now we have smart phones, so we don’t need to know anything any more, we can just look it up. When I was a child, i had to memorize every important phone number, and address. I had to remember the things that I learned in school. Now Everything that you could ever want to know is right at your finger tips.

It seems that this sort of progress would be  mile stone for humanity. And, it is. We are at a point in time where depression and suicide are at all time highs. Mental health issues are the story of the day. We have millions of children on medications for mental health disorders, and cancer and obesity are running rampant. It seems to me that the reason that all of this is happening is because: Modern Human life does not work well for Humans. We have become very separated from one another and from the earth. We are lonely even though we spend all day with our “friends” on social media. Please believe that I am not decrying Smart phones or social media. Without them Future Necessities would not exist. What I am saying is that we need more. We need more connection to community, Human beings are by nature social creatures. throughout the history of our species we have always leaned on each other. In the villages of our ancestors, there were artisans making stone tools, and baskets, there were women who delivered babies, and there were hunters who fed the village. These people were not on their own, they were an integral part of their community. Everyone was needed and everyone played a role. This gave each person a sense of belonging, and a sense of self. They were connected to each other and they were connected to the earth.

Even as recently as the 1890’s average people still ha\d a very solid connection to the earth. They had spent the time to learn the plants and animals, and they had connected meaningfully to their surroundings. Even now we can see in the san bushmen of Southern Africa, such a strong connection to their place that they will act out the movements of an animal that they are tracking, leaping and pawing at the ground. For them it is simply a way to connect on an intimate enough level that they seem to know the animals thoughts before it even acts, and this is how they feed their families.

This type of connection is still possible for all of us. We can and must learn to be connected to our communities and to our wildness. We can still go to work, and play candy crush, but for our children’s and grand childrens sake. We must put forth the effort to relearn, and to rewild our lives. Take classes, play out side, sit under a tree and just watch what happens around you. There are organizations all over the country and the world that are aimed at helping people regain this connection. We do not do it to get rich, we do it out of passion. I love this world, and I love our species. It must be our goal, and our mission to strengthen our bonds to nature, and to wildness. This is how we save ourselves from mental illness, and this is how we can stop hating and killing each other. This planet is our home, Let’s show it some love. Let’s get wild…..

teaching the human birth right

grey foxIn the past 2 years we have done a lot of growing and evolving at Future Necessities. We are working on becoming a non-profit. We have gone from a few classes a year to 2 or more a month. We have big plans for the future, including; Obtaining land to form a larger summer camp type situation, Adding some sustainability and perma-culture type classes, and Working with urban school districts to get kids from the city out into nature. It is becoming more and more obvious with each passing year that nature, and time outside is so incredibly important to the development of children. We would love to be the catalyst to getting these kids to a more meaningful connection to nature.

One of the steps that we are taking is to up our game a little bit. We have always been driven by the idea of teaching skills used by the original inhabitants of Minnesota and the upper Midwest.  This is where we live, and the skills that one might learn in California, or New Jersey may not necessarily work out here. If a person goes to any high quality wilderness skills class, they can expect to learn how to use a bow drill, or a hand drill. They may learn how to set up a tarp shelter or build a debris hut. And any number of other skills may be applied to this same line of thinking. However, we aim for a slightly higher level of intent. We want to pass on the skills that people want to learn, we want to specifically target these skills toward the changing of the seasons in the upper mid-west, and we want to connect these all through the idea of a human birth right. When the skills of friction fire and flint knapping were developed and perfected, there was no race, no religion, no cultural identity beyond simply passing on our humanity to the next generation. There is no reason in the 21st century world, that these differentiation’s need to continue taking place. we are human, and these skills belong to us. Our main goals as an organization are to keep alive the skills of our ancestors, and to use the teaching of these skills to build community, spread confidence, and to promote a healthy environment and connection to nature.

Please join us in this endeavor, spread the word, take a class, do whatever you feel is right for you. This is a time when community and confidence are waning, and need a come back. It is up to us to make sure that the earth, and our human civilization are healthier for our grand children then they were for us.

Fall 2015

22264025389_4faf1bc2ae_oAs November ends and we fade ever more quickly into winter, I remember vividly why this is my favorite time of the year. The animals are out feeding and mating in preparation for winter. The fall root and plant foods are coming alive. and the people are settling into there crafts, and winter projects. My personal projects for the winter are to work on becoming a better tracker. I just met a great group of people called the Minnesota tracking club, whom, I believe will make this a lot easier for me. Also, over this winter, I plan to learn to finger weave. I do not feel the need to be the best finger weaver around. I do not even really need to be good at it, I just want to be able to weave my own straps for my projects. Maybe in the future I could even teach a finger weaving class, who knows? Any skill that a person can gain, is a step closer to self reliance, and everything that we learn makes us that much stronger. What will be your project this winter? What skills would you like to learn. If you want to learn a nature based skill and you don’t know where to start, please contact me via the website. I am not the best in the world at anything that I do, but, I can do quite a few things decently, and I am all about sharing, and teaching. Good Luck, Happy winter, and get out there and learn!!!

Teaching wilderness skills

I have been fascinated with the idea of wilderness living and primitive living skills as far back as I can remember, I have always loved to be in the woods, in fact I feel more at home in the woods than I do at home.The draw is somewhat practical , and a bit esoteric. The practical aspect of my love of nature are simply that Nature will give us anything that we could ever possibly need as long as you know where to look. If it cannot be scavenged or created out of nature, we do not need it.The esoteric draw is a little more in depth. I feel a draw as if the woods are where god intends me to be. It is a feeling of ultimate familiarity, and an intimate understanding. This feeling has stirred my emotions and my curiosity since early childhood.

With all of these thought and feelings stirring in my head, I began my study of nature at a very early age, and have worked for many years to hone my craft.

Nearly ten years ago, I envisioned a way to bring people back to nature, to help them be comfortable and confident with the time that they spend in the outdoors. I began working on building up ways to teach and to share knowledge in easily understood by anyone who wanted to learn.

We have now run several programs, and I have learned so so much. I believe that I have learned more from the programs that we have run than our students have. That is not to say that the students aren’t learning, just that I have had some pretty amazing insight through what we teach. It is amazing how quickly kids pick up the skills of wilderness living. We have worked with a few groups of kids and they all come from a place of seeming innocence and genuine thirst for knowledge. We worked with a group of ten year olds this summer and the kids were picking up the fire making skills faster than I could explain to them how to perform the tasks.

Working with adults has the added challenge of the cup being full. That is to say that Many adults come into a new situation with a feeling of understanding or knowing, and when you think you understand something it makes it a little challenging to learn it. I have wanted to do this work my whole life, and now that I am doing, I have learned that it is a lott more rewarding than I ever could have imagined it would be. Every single student that I have worked with has given me something that has helped me grow as a person and as a teacher.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to share with you, and thank you for all your support.