This week we are proud to announce the launch of the WorldWild podcast.
Listen or Download : Episode 1 with guest Sam Thayer (find more episodes here)...
It feels like a kind of coming of a age, a finding of our voice after 15 years as a business working in the field of wild food for a living and for me personally all the years before that not only foraging but generally finding my place in the world and trying to make sense of things. Included in this process was studying for a psychology degree in my late 20's with the intention of finding explanations for why people suffer from what are generally known as mental health difficulties on the one hand and for insights into the human make up which would help me to live well on the other. I must say, I mostly drew a blank from that line of enquiry...
In all this what I realise I was doing, was trying to look into the heart of life, to see why things flourish and why they break down. Key insights I have gradually gained are firstly that life, organic life, is a flourishing and glorious self sustaining mass at the heart of which are the qualities of complexity and diversity. The biosphere flourishes because many things relate in complex ways to the benefit of many things. Put another way, ecosystems provide multiple benefits to multiple species. Secondly, human civilisation has since the dawn of agriculture been moving away from organic complexity as a basis, gradually replacing a reliance on organisms with a reliance on mechanisms. In so doing we have been both withdrawing from and undermining the resilience which is integral to organic life.
Simply put, the reason we are facing the problems we are with the health of ecosystems, communities, bodies and minds is that we have substituted the complex intricate, wise and strong systems of life which have evolved over millions of years, for mechanisms, processes and gadgets we dreamed up yesterday.
Not only this but all these gadgets and mechanisms have a hidden cost which is scarcely being noticed let alone systematically monitored: for every benefit they provide, they sever vital connections between us and our surroundings, be that land, other species, other people or the traditions of our ancestors. For me I came full circle when I discovered that the new science of interpersonal neurobiology explained what psychology could not: mental health issues are entirely a product of the breakdown of social bonds. As Stephen Porges puts it in his Polyvagal Theory, the safe space of social engagement supports the neurophysiological system of health, growth and restoration. For me this provides a handy metaphor for everything else: life itself is a social engagement system which supports health growth and restoration! Whereas disengagement or the breakdown of linkages not only leads to death and decay, it is the essence of death and decay.
So back to us finding our voice through the podcast... I have long felt that radio (and podcasts are the new radio...) is a superior medium to TV. I now better understand why- staring at a screen frustrates our expectation for a two way flow from what we focus our visual attention upon, e.g. other people's facial expressions changing in relation to ours when we talk. This is why kids have been shown to display adhd like symptoms 20 minutes after watching a screen. Because radio is just audio it doesn't seem to have the same downside. And for me personally, I find that being filmed does not often capture me in a really relaxed, smiling and therefore socially engaging mode, whereas simply recording my voice somehow brings out a more relaxed state of mind that is reflected in my manner of speaking, and even more so in the context of good conversations with people I like, which is our chosen focus for the podcast. I must also say that much inspiration has come from the very excellent Radio 4 Food programme, in particular the programmes produced by my friend Dan Saladino, and also the RewildYourself Podcast which over several years has covered a huge range of topics empowering individuals to move their lives back into realms of organic complexity.
I suppose the aim of the WorldWild Podcast is to work more at the societal level, or at least to foster discussion and be a catalyst for that to happen. What I mean is that, rather than for example persuading a few individuals to eat more wild greens or whatever, the podcast is aimed at influencing the global food system, by getting a conversation going which can feed into practical initiatives, collaborations, research and who knows what else which can influence the shape of food production and consumption. The effects of people listening to us talking would of course be hard to measure but there we are- that's the reason we are doing this. I want this to be a resource for changing things and making them better- more beneficial- whether the outcome is felt at a bottom up, grass roots level, or a top down public policy level.
But whilst wild food is our main area of practical know-how, the podcast will be looking at all things wild and wonderful, in order to track many possible and possibly meandering routes back into the wild that could be collectively explored. So its not just about food or food culture, but about culture generally, as a complex system which has the potential to once again weave a powerful fabric in the space between people and landscapes. And food is just one kind of resource which can be gained from wild ecosystems- if we are going world wild, all kinds of resources are topics for consideration but really the topic then is how we interact with the global landscape at a species level. Then the subject of indigenous land management becomes central- what …. has referred to as 'tending the wild' and Nancy Turner has called 'ethno-ecology'. In essence that's where the primary focus will be: changing the relationship between people and landscapes, by moving away from blunt instruments of mechanistic control and back to reciprocal and complex relationships. People engaging in other words.
Wildness is a context of life giving engagement. Going back to the wild is reinstating that life- giving engagement, it is restoring the vital connection between people, between us and other species, between us and our landscapes. Let's go wild. Let's go WorldWild!