History of Humanity, Simplified and Generalized
(mostly quoted and/or excerpted from Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari)
For 2.5mm years, humans fed themselves by gathering plants and hunting animals, living in small traveling bands numbering several dozen or, at most, several hundred individuals. Members of a band depended on each other to live, knew each other intimately and were surrounded by friends and family; loneliness and privacy were rare. People were deeply entangled in each other’s lives and closely connected to the Earth.
All this changed about 10,000 years ago when humans began to devote all their time and effort to manipulate the lives of a few animals and plant species. This work, they thought, would provide them with more fruit, grain, and meat, and make their lives meaningfully easier. It was a revolution in the way humans lived – the Agricultural Revolution.
While the Agricultural Revolution certainly enlarged the sum total of food, that food did not translate to a better diet or more leisure. Rather, it translated into a population explosion, pampered elites, and the disempowerment of women in the household and society. The Agricultural Revolution was history’s biggest fraud. Our diets suffered, our bodies suffered and our relationships, connection, and community suffered.
In the last 150 years, an easier and “richer” life has been the promise of the Industrial, and most recently, the Technological Revolution. None of these revolutions have delivered on their promise – all frauds.
Why Wild Earth?
Wild Earth programs, at their very heart, are designed to simply and elegantly connect us more deeply to ourselves, each other, and the Earth.
We take children (and adults) into the wild – uncluttered from nonessential belongings, undistracted by phones and always-on technology – to re-connect and re-entangle ourselves to our Wild Earth village.
We spend long days and nights in small bands, exploring the land and remembering (again) the plants and animals that feed us and, most importantly, our desire to be deeply connected to ourselves and each other.
People keep coming back because strengthening these connections, intimately knowing our place, and entangling ourselves in each other’s lives is ultimately fulfilling. It is primal, passionate and purposeful.
Entangling on Our New Land
A little over a year ago, with the help of a small, dedicated group of private lenders (3 Wild Earth families) and foundation grantors, Wild Earth was able to fulfill a 15 year dream; we secured 135 acres of the Shawangunk Ridge as our future and forever home. And, we set our goal to open the land to our community for summer camp this year. A heroic goal, for sure!
The land was raw, in many places – poorly tended, and in some – severely damaged. I have to say, the land felt quite sad.
But, a bunch of unlikely and unexpected heroes with generous hearts and expert skills stepped forward and presented themselves ready, willing and able to make Wild Earth’s dream a reality.
To me, it felt like all of our hard work and service to our community over the years was reciprocated by a perfect group of angels representing the goodwill of our entire community. Each was willing to put aside their individual agendas to become entangled with each other, Wild Earth and this incredibly ambitious land project.
Hilton Purvis helped us find it, Steve & Betty Shapiro saw the future and shared it, 3 donors became 3 private lenders to help us afford it, Allison Walsh and Dana Rudikoff legalized and helped close it, Ron Barringer helped us understand the possibilities, Terry Ringler surveyed it, Nadine Carney (Peak Engineering) engineered it, Connor Steadman (AppleSeed Permaculture) planned for our land use, 2 foundation grantors helped fund initial projects, Paul Colucci and team (P.E. Colucci Excavating) built the parking, stream crossing and emergency access road, Eric Himelfarb and Dave Gates (H&G Daughters) stewarded and tended the trees, CJ Greene milled the lumber for future projects, Eddie Walsh, Tom, and Adam (Tahawus Trails) created a network of woodland trails, bridges, and kiosks, and Jesse Patrick and Sean DeRyder are now hand-building our “Welcome Center.” Aja Hudson valiantly (and temporarily) stepped off the Wild Earth Board to expertly and gracefully manage the entire project supported by her team at Earth Designs Cooperative. And, as always, Wild Earth’s board members trusted and supported the vision and execution of it all.
With this team of angels, the dedication of Wild Earth’s board, leadership team and staff of inspired instructors, we opened summer camp at the end of June, and led 6 weeks of our best summer camp ever for 300 youth…on our new land.
I should have known all along, we would do it the Wild Earth way; we would remember the village, and join together a small band of local heroes, entangled, to create a home for our community. Really, it is just what the children do each day at Wild Earth. We entangle ourselves more and more with each other and reconnect to the land in this deeply fulfilling way. This land and our deepening program is a shining beacon of hope for our future. It is primal, passionate and purposeful.
In 2004, David co-founded and, today, is the Executive Director of Wild Earth, where he seeks to help regenerate healthy community culture and create opportunities for people to connect with themselves, each other and the Earth. Prior to founding Wild Earth, David worked as a wealth advisor on Wall Street for twelve years before realizing a life dream – fully sharing in the care and parenting of his three children, and creating a small family farm. Today, the Brownsteins raise dairy cows, goats, chickens, bees and vegetables in season. David also maintains an active counseling practice called Root Connections, where he focuses on helping individuals, couples, groups and business leaders identify and manifest their unique vision. More about David's work.