Who We Are

BeWildReWild is a loosely-knit group of volunteers with a passion for wild things.

BeWildReWild LogoIt is also a special fund for the purpose of exploring three questions: What do you/we mean by wild? What lifestyle changes are needed for us to live within the bounds of sustainability? How can we create a wilder, more beautiful, more biologically diverse, and a more enduring Mississippi River Watershed? And here on this website it is a place for visioning, debating, storytelling, teaching, and learning.

“When we chain and confine all our wild country, eliminate the free-roaming animal life, then there will be no space left for that last wild thing, the free human spirit.”

Called by the Wild by Ray Dasmann

Our Vision

BIG RIVER CONNECTIVITY is our vision for a wilder, more beautiful, more biologically diverse, and a more enduring Mississippi River Watershed.

It is a plan for shrinking the Gulf of Mexico’s Dead Zone while allowing the recolonization of apex predators and keystone species essential to a balanced ecosystem. And it is about liberating humans and nonhuman otherness from the ravages of over domestication.

The Corn Belt is ground zero. Permanently rewilding floodplains and steep slopes is a priority. It is also critical that a meaningful acreage of annual crops be replaced with perennials.  Humans are consuming more than can be replenished. Adjustments must be made in both the city and the country. Significant change is needed for us to live within the bounds of sustainability. We must redefine what it means to be happy and successful. We must focus on needs rather than wants. Consumers, governments, and academia must unite to create a lower input culture. Once that process is underway, farmers will create a lower input agriculture. Other industries will follow suit.

Great potential exists for connecting large core habitat areas like the four state Driftless Region, the four state Ozark Plateau, and the four state Loess Hills Area. Many smaller cores are needed as well. The Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, and Red Rivers are primary corridors across our vast watershed. Smaller rivers like the Platte and Niobrara are equally important for expanding the Reconnect-Restore-Rewild effort previously existing mainly outside the heartland. Groups like Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and The Nature Conservancy do an incredible job of restoring landscapes. Our emphasize is on reconnecting and rewilding…and we take a total watershed approach. The BIG RIVER CONNECTIVITY goal is to get everyone involved and to keep the game going. We are visionaries and story tellers. We are here to learn and teach. The mission is both inspirational and overwhelming.

Essence of Enduring

BIG RIVER CONNECTIVITY is about the beauty of wild nature, biological diversity, soil/nutrient loss from farms, urban waste, the Gulf of Mexico’s dead zone, and how all of that impacts our goal of creating a more enduring Mississippi River Watershed.

A Few Friends I Met in Books

by Roger Ross Gipple

The 1980s were years of considerable challenge and questioning for me. As a result I became increasingly open to alternative ways of thinking and to the interconnectedness of life. By the early 90s, I was walking and thinking and walking and thinking as never before. New concepts begged for validation, sometimes available only in literature. A period of intensive reading brought wonderful new mentors into my reality. Following are some quotes collected during that vigorous search for affirmation. They may also bring added meaning to your journey.

Mentor Quotes

“If you are ready to leave father and mother, brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again, - if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man, then you are ready for a walk.”

Henry David Thoreau

“When we chain and confine all our wild country, eliminate the free-roaming animal life, then there will be no space left for that last wild thing, the free human spirit.”

Called by the Wild by Ray Dasmann

“Thoreau says ‘give me a wildness no civilization can endure.’ That’s clearly not difficult to find. It is harder to imagine a civilization that wildness can endure, yet this is just what we must try to do. Wildness is not just the ‘preservation of the world,’ it is the world.”

The Practice of the Wild by Gary Snyder

“In Literature it is only the wild that attracts us. Dulness is but another name for tameness. It is the uncivilized free and wild thinking in ‘Hamlet’ and the ‘Iliad’, in all the Scriptures and Mythologies, not learned in the schools, that delights us.”

“In short, all good things are wild and free...Give me for my friends and neighbors wild men, not tame ones. The wildness of the savage is but a faint symbol of the awful ferity with which good men and lovers meet.”

Walking by Henry David Thoreau

“Conservation is getting nowhere because it is incompatible with our Abrahamic concept of land. We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect. There is no other way for land to survive the impact of mechanized man, nor for us to reap from it the esthetic harvest it is capable, under science, of contributing to culture.”

“That land is a community is the basic concept of ecology, but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics. That land yields a cultural harvest is a fact long known, but latterly often forgotten.”

A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold

“Freedom is opportunity to make choices and decisions and to formulate them into action, ---unrestricted, uncoerced, independent, sovereign. Freedom requires self- determination, whether the involved entity be an individual or social group. Freedom exists when the individual or social group has an unrestricted opportunity for self- expression, ---physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually.”

“Each right is accompanied by a proportionate responsibility. Men who have a right to choose have also a duty to fulfill, and this right and this duty are inseparable.”

Scott Nearing

“The most exciting breakthrough of the 21st century will occur not because of technology, but because of an expanding concept of what it means to be human.”

John Naisbitt

“If you listen carefully enough to anything, it will talk to you.”

George Washington Carver

“At the root of all war is fear.”

Thomas Merton

“We are all human beings now, standing in the rubble of a destroyed literate society, looking at the ruins of education, family, and child protection. Technology has destroyed inter-relations in the human community that have taken centuries to develop. The breaking of human beings’ connection to land has harmed everyone. We are drowning in uncontrollable floods of information. We are living among dispirited and agonized teenagers who can’t find any hope. Genuine work is disappearing, and we are becoming aware of a persistent infantilizing of men and women, a process already far advanced.”

The Sibling Society by Robert Bly

“The infantile atmosphere of modern society---its gluttony, instant gratification, and simplistic values, its unwillingness to risk or endure, its lack of a cosmology that recognizes limits and otherness---continues to demand that living things be cartoons, warm and lively in their imagery, preferably projected by or seen as electronic and mechanical devices.”

The Others by Paul Shepard

“In industrial Japan it’s not that ‘nothing is sacred,’ it’s that the sacred is sacred and that’s all that’s sacred.”

“We are grateful for these microscopic traces of salvaged land in Japan because the rule in shrines is that (away from the buildings and paths) you never cut anything, never maintain anything, never clear or thin anything. No hunting, no fishing, no thinning, no burning, no stopping of burning; leaving us a very few stands of ancient forest right inside the cities. One can walk into a little jinja and be in the presence of an 800-year-old Cryptomeria (sugi) tree. Without the shrine we wouldn’t know so well what the original Japanese forest might have been but such compartmentalization is not healthy: in this patriarchal model some land is saved, like a virgin priestess, some is overworked endlessly, like a wife, and some is brutally publicly reshaped, like an exuberant girl declared promiscuous and punished. Good, wild, and sacred couldn’t be farther apart.”

Practice of the Wild by Gary Snyder

“I do not know but that thoughts written down thus in a journal might be printed in the same form with greater advantage than if the selected ones were brought together into separate essays. They are now allied to life, and are seen by the reader not to be far-fetched...Perhaps I shall never find so good a setting for my thoughts as I shall have taken them out of. The crystal never sparkles more brightly than in the cavern.”

Henry David Thoreau

“The main episodes of war---cooperative murder---can be seen in caged or stressed predators of any kind. But among neither free living animals nor hunting-gathering men is war an inherent trait that was at sometime in the past a regular part of daily life. Among all carnivores, individuals occasionally kill other individuals. Sometimes it is an accident of uncontrolled rage, but usually it is the outcome of a chronic disturbance that has led to instability in group competition... when a group is threatened by disintegrating forces such as sudden mass mortality, acute deprivation, alien invasion, unusual climatic events, widespread health or nutritional disorders, or the failure of important social and religious institutions, it normally reacts with genocide and war.”

The Only World We’ve Got by Paul Shepard

“The attempt to control nature is at its heart the attempt to control other persons. Human freedom is not the freedom to control nature but the freedom to be natural...One cannot be free by opposing another. My freedom does not depend on your lack of freedom.”

Finite and Infinite Games by James P. Carse

“It is a universal maxim, that the more liberty is given to everything which is in a state of growth, the more perfect it will become.”

Joseph Priestly

“For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same; as one dies so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts; for all is vanity. All go to one place, all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down to the earth?”

Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3:19-21

“Sitting quietly doing nothing spring comes and the grass grows by itself.”

 Zen poem

“If the world’s air is clean for humans to breathe but supports no birds or butterflies, if the world’s waters are pure for humans to drink but contain no fish or crustaceans or diatoms, have we solved our environmental problems? Well, I suppose so, at least as environmentalism is commonly construed. That clumsy, confused, and presumptuous formulation ‘the environment’ implies viewing air, water, soil, forests, rivers, swamps, deserts, and oceans as merely a milieu within which something important is set: human life, human history. But what’s at issue in fact is not an environment; it’s a living world.”

David Quammen

“Because we live in such a mind-dominated culture, most modern art, architecture, music, and literature are devoid of beauty, of inner essence, with very few exceptions. The reason is that the people who create those things cannot--even for a moment-- free themselves from their mind. So they are never in touch with that place within where true creativity and beauty arise. The mind left to itself creates monstrosities, and not only in art galleries. Look at our urban landscapes and industrial wastelands. No civilization has ever produced so much ugliness.”

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

“We were talking about the possibility of a coming transformation, which in many ways is already in motion. But I don’t believe this new transformation can harmoniously proceed without integrating the Big Three.” (Plato’s the good, the true, and the beautiful; or morals, science, and art) “The dissociation of the Big Three was the gaping wound left in our awareness by the failures of modernity, and the new postmodern transformation will have to integrate those fragments or it will not meet the demands of the twenty tenets--it will not transcend and include; it will not differentiate and integrate; it will not be able to evolve further; it will be a false start; evolution will erase it.”

A Brief History of Everything by Ken Wilber

“The study of chaos has provided a seemingly paradoxical insight: that rich kinds of order, as well as chaos, can arise – arise spontaneously – from the unplanned interaction of many simple things.”

Nature’s Chaos by James Gleick

“A town is saved, not more by the righteous men in it than by the woods and swamps that surround it. A township where one primitive forest waves above while another rots below – such a town is fitted to raise not only corn and potatoes, but poets and philosophers for the coming ages.”

Henry David Thoreau

“Why use up the forests which were centuries in the making and the mines which required ages to lay down, if we can get the equivalent of forest and mineral products in the annual growth of the fields? I know from experience that many of the raw materials of industry which are today stripped from the forests and the mines can be obtained from annual crops grown on the farms...industrialization of crops will also have the advantage of making a considerable saving to the manufacturer who learns how to accomplish it...the best possible working plan for any man in our civilization is to have one foot on the soil and the other in industry.”

Henry Ford

“I believe that the great Creator has put ores and oil on this earth to give us a breathing spell. As we exhaust them, we must be prepared to fall back on our farms, which is God’s true storehouse and can never be exhausted. We can learn to synthesize material for every human need from things that grow.”

George Washington Carver

Industrial hemp: A variety of Cannabis sativa L., a tall annual herb of the mulberry family, native to Asia. The plant is grown for a wide range of consumer and industrial products, and possesses no psychoactive qualities.

Industrial Hemp

“Make the most you can of the Indian hemp seed and sow it everywhere.”

George Washington, 1794

“American farmers are promised a new cash crop...a machine has been invented which solves a problem more than 6,000 years old...designed for removing the fiber from the rest of the stalk...Hemp is the standard fiber of the world. It has great tensile strength and durability. It is used to produce more than 5,000 textile products ranging from rope to fine laces, and the woody ‘hurds’...can be used to produce more than 25,000 products, ranging from dynamite to cellophane. It can be grown in any state of the union.”

1938 Popular Mechanics

“The spiritual gift on the inner journey is to know that creation comes out of chaos, and that even what has been created needs to be returned to chaos every now and then to get recreated in a more vital form. The spiritual gift on this inner journey is the knowledge that in chaos I can not only survive, but I can thrive, that there is vitality in that chaotic field of energy.”

Parker J. Palmer

“We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, we greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complex than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.”

Henry Beston

“The true poet will ever live aloof from society, wild to it, as the finest singer is the wood thrush, a forest bird.”

Henry David Thoreau

“When Adam finally passed on, he left humankind his legacy of mapmaking and boundary drawing. And since every boundary carries with it political and technological power, Adam’s bounding, classifying, and naming of nature marked the first beginnings of technological power and control over nature. As a matter of fact, Hebrew tradition has it that the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge actually harbored knowledge not of good and evil but of the useful and the useless--that is, technological knowledge. But if every boundary carries technological and political power, it also carries alienation, fragmentation, and conflict--because when you establish a boundary so as to gain control over something, at the same time you separate and alienate yourself from that which you attempt to control. Hence the Fall of Adam into fragmentation, known as original sin.”

No Boundary by Ken Wilber

“Early in his career Paul Shepard gave up writing and thinking about wilderness landscapes as a key to our sense of nature. He felt we had been corrupted not only by domestication but also by the conventions of nature aesthetics, where we had been steered by Freud’s psychology depicting us as creatures destined to suppress sexual or combative urges. Nature, Paul asserted, has been oversold for four centuries as an aesthetic as opposed to a religious experience--even the spiritual uplift of wilderness is burdened with our egocentric human purposes. When wilderness became a subject matter in art, the criteria of excellence became technique. In such a context the real landscape is objectified and distanced through photography or landscape painting or, for that matter, through nature writing. As a consequence of this abstraction of nature as art, masses of people who are not interested in art analysis regard the extinction of animals, destruction of old-growth forests, pollution of the sea, and the whole range of environmentalists angst as ‘elitist’.”

Florence R. Shepard

“Here is the constant danger we face in domesticating any species: We extinguish traits without any foreknowledge of what those traits are likely to be. In our arrogance, we think we can control nature, but in fact we begin a haphazard and often unpredictable course of events that can have dire consequences even for humans – as we are learning to our peril when it comes to disease and parasites in genetically altered animals.”

The Emperor’s Embrace by Jeffrey Moussaieff Mason

“There are enough mild dull eyes of domestic brutes that we have bred from bird and beast to make them part alive and partly dead. A thousand generations in a cage makes a helpless thing.”

Michael McClure

“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world...as in being able to remake ourselves.”

Mahatma Gandhi

“The word wild is like a gray fox trotting off through the forest, ducking behind bushes, going in and out of sight. Up close, first glance, it is ‘wild’ – then farther into the woods next glance it’s ‘wyld’ and it recedes via Old Norse villr and Old Teutonic wilthijaz into a faint pre-Teutonic ghweltijos which means, still, wild and maybe wooded (wald) and lurks back there with possible connections to will, to Latin silva (forest, sauvage), and to the Indo-European root ghwer, base of Latin ferus (feral, fierce), which swings us around to Thoreau’s ‘awful ferity’ shared by virtuous people and lovers.”

Gary Snyder

“Anyone who doesn’t hate his father and mother as I do cannot be a disciple of mine. And anyone who doesn’t love his father and mother as I do cannot be a disciple of mine.”

“Have you found the Beginning so that you now seek the end? The place of the Beginning will be the place of the end.”

“The seeker should not stop until he finds. When he does find, he will be disturbed. After having been disturbed, he will be astonished. Then he will reign over everything.”

Jesus from The Gospel of Thomas

“It is vain to dream of a wildness distant from ourselves.”

Henry David Thoreau

He held his purpose –
Through the glad spring hours
Along the panting reach of sultry days
Into the autumn glory.

Then, like a leaf
That has thrown back the afterglow,
And beckoned to the morning star;
That has kept rain and sun and wind
From grateful travelers,
He slipped the world’s harsh bondage
And is free.

He held his purpose through the years.
He holds it still.
His place on life’s great evergreen
Must now be filled by others
Who, with equal courage, Greet the sun;
Bide the storm;
Glory in the star-shine,
And at last
Loosen their hold on life, and move
Into the great beyond.

Those best can go who best have served.
He lived and labored ardently.
Our debt to him is paid
As we take up his tasks.

Scott Nearing “October,” 1920

“For most Americans, to reflect on ‘home place’ would be an unfamiliar exercise. Few today can announce themselves as someone from somewhere. Almost nobody spends a lifetime in the same valley, working alongside the people they knew as children. Native people everywhere (the very term means ‘someone born there’) and Old World farmers and city people share this experience of living in place. Still – and this is very important to remember – being inhabitory, being place-based, has never meant that one didn’t travel from time to time, going on trading ventures or taking livestock to summer grazing. Such working wanderers have always known they had a home-base on earth, and could prove it at any campfire or party by singing their own songs.”

“The heart of a place is the home and the heart of the home is the fire pit, the hearth. All tentative explorations go outward from there, and it is back to the fireside that elders return. You grow up speaking a home language, a local vernacular. Your own household may have some specifics of phrase, of pronunciation, that are different from the domus, the jia or ie or kum, down the lane. You hear histories of the people who are your neighbors and tales involving rocks, streams, mountains, and trees that are all within your sight. The myths of world-creation tell you how that mountain was created and how that peninsula came to be there. As you grow bolder you explore your world outward from the fire pit (which is the center of each universe) in little trips. The childhood landscape is learned on foot, and a map is inscribed in the mind – trails and pathways and groves – the mean dog, the cranky old man’s house, the pasture with a bull in it – going out wider and farther. All of us carry within us a picture of the terrain that was learned roughly between the ages of six and nine.”

“Our place is part of what we are. Yet even a ‘place’ has a kind of fluidity; it passes through space and time – ‘ceremonial time’ in John Hanson Mitchell’s phrase. A place will have been grasslands, then conifers, then beach and elm. It will have been half riverbed, it will have been scratched and plowed by ice. And then it will be cultivated, paved, sprayed, dammed, graded, built up. But each is only for a while, and that will be just another set of lines on the palimpsest. The whole earth is a great tablet holding the multiple overlaid new and ancient traces of the swirl of forces. Each place is its own place, forever (eventually) wild.”

Gary Snyder

“There’s a land where the mountains are nameless, and the rivers all run god knows where.”

Robert Service

“They who never go to the Holy Land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds; but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean...having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all; but the saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea.”

“So we saunter toward the Holy Land, till one day the sun shall shine more brightly than ever he has done, shall perchance shine into our minds and hearts, and light up our whole lives with a great awakening light, as warm and serene and golden as on a bank-side in autumn.”

Henry David Thoreau

Old wood to burn
Old wine to drink
Old friends to trust
Old books to read

Alfonso V of Aragon