Illustrated eBook

Produced by Courtney Chandrea. Resulting in an illustrated ebook guide about exploring, understanding, and TRUSTING WILDNESS. Illustrated by Erica Wilson. Ready in February 2020.

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A $5,000 grant would be used toward the production of an ebook intended to guide its readers through exploring, understanding and trusting wildness. It will be divided into six themes to approach this end, and those themes are 1 – the body and the elements, 2 – sovereignty, 3 – diversity and relationship, 4 – birth, growth and decomposition, 5 – motion, and 6 – acceptance and trust. Each section will be accompanied with a full page illustration done by my close friend and visual artist, Erica Wilson. The illustrations will reflect themes of the natural world and the psyche to create an integrative experience. Each section will also contain a short essay written on the theme, and a collection of activities intended to engage and connect the reader to that aspect of wildness. The goal is to assist the reader in developing a personal relationship to all that is wild, within their self and their environment. 

The book will be made available at no charge, in PDF format. It will be independently published by myself. Access to the book will be found on the author’s personal blog, and hopefully at the BeWildReWild website as well. Furthermore, the book’s concept and illustrations will be exhibited at the Dubuque Arts Collective, and possibly in other Iowa galleries as well. At the exhibition(s), interested parties can find all the information needed to access the book. I grant BeWildReWild and the Iowa Natural Heritage Fund to use and share the project at your discretion. The book’s completion is slated for the beginning of February, 2020.

What do you/we mean by wild?

When I say wild, I’m referring to all that is raw, pure and natural. I am referring to that vital stuff which is borne before pretension, assumption and prejudice. In the human, what is wild lives in the body and the reptilian mind. While wildness might arise in our daily cognition, it originates from a much deeper place. The wild is what moves us, because wild is movement. It is rampant growth, self-regulated. It is change, “mutation,” diversity operating as a colorful whole, without clear direction yet somehow always in balance – even if that balance sometimes defies the contemporary reasoning power of the human.

What changes are needed for us to live within the bounds of sustainability?

First and foremost, I believe our species needs to reconnect to the wild. My sense is that this reconnection begins in accepting our own individual wildness. It follows that we can then accept the wildness of the land that gives us life, and the creatures with which we share our home. 

Many of us living in contemporary society are suffering from disconnection to the wild. There is unspeakable distance between us and our food sources, our families, and even our own bodies. The more we divorce ourselves from these aspects of our lives, the less we know and the more we suffer.

Reconnecting to this hidden aspect of ourselves will infuse our awareness with an understanding of how we, as individuals and as a species, are impacting our environment. Through this connection, we will learn which of our behaviors are aiding us in our survival, and which behaviors are killing us in the long run. Most importantly, this connection will teach us the nature of balance: pain and perfection, beauty and decay. This is wild. When one holds space for this balance in oneself and one’s life, there is no longer a craving for having “more.” There is only simple, exquisite appreciation for what is. 

How can we create a wilder, more beautiful, more biologically diverse, and a more enduring Mississippi watershed?

There are two answers to this question. The first is painstaking and complex, the second is remarkably simple. The complex answer is that we, as a species, cease and desist in treating the earth with pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers shown to be harmful to the earth’s creatures. We eliminate microplastics and maintain filters on our washing machines. We take out the dams, eliminate petrol-based transportation on the river (and off, for that matter), and discontinue mowing and landscaping its edges. We begin to engage with the river as a living creature, asourve of cleansing, and a source of life. We understand that in protecting the well-being of the river, we protect our own livelihood.

The simple answer? We continue on as usual, and Mother Earth will do her thing. I advocate that we take as many steps as seems practical, possible and fitting in that complex answer, while always remembering the truth of the simple one.