Back in March 2022, I put up three linked posts about the thorny issue of re-wilding in response to George Monbiot’s book Feral.
That issue came up again during a recent conversation with Lindsey Colbourne in relation to work we’re both involved in with a collaborative called Utopias Bach. I won’t rehearse my objects to Mombiot’s book again now. Instead I want to share something of what arose from that conversation with Lindsey. A sense later given sharper focus by my starting to re-read Kerri ni Dochartiagh’s Thin Places. (It’s a book by an author who, in many ways, is Monbiot’s antithesis in terms of gender, social background, and lived experience).
What prompts me to reflection here is the convergence of my experience working with Utopias Bach – a collaborative almost entirely made up of women – and the tenor of a brief section of ni Dochartiagh’s book (pp. 14-17). There she reflects on a run she took in Derry just prior to Brexit. An experience that results in an evocation of the inclusiveness of nature, an evocation of openness to nature placed right in the midst of human addiction, degradation, anxiety and violence. What I see as central is that it’s an account that brings her to listening; an account entirely devoid of the curious mix of righteous anger (some of it justified), shaky machismo and tacit escapism that runs just below the surface of so much of Feral. An evocation of the necessity of finding an all-inclusive understanding of our relationship to nature through privileging listening that has been confirmed and strengthened by my contact the Utopias Bach collaborative.