Early in my career I developed a first version of this website to set out my stall as a specialist in human ecology, organisational development and facilitator.
Later, I moved from self employment to an exciting job with Carnegie UK Trust connecting people working on building community resilience across rural UK and Republic of Ireland. This site went dormant as my focus switched to hosting our social network -called ‘Fiery Spirits’.
Next, after finishing a doctorate that reflected on that experience, I joined the Scottish Government to support a transformation in Scottish public service toward more participative and ‘assets based’ ways of working. Along the way I had the privilege of working alongside people who are walking their talk of building more purposefully human centered organisations, enabled by coaching cultures, self organising teams, and experiments on collaborative leadership. The story of this work was shared through Workforce Scotland’s site as films, events and blogs.
I then joined the Scottish Government’s pool of organisational development and coaching specialists where there’s much learning, much of it in spaces that need to at stay private.
So, in parallel, I’ve returned to re-invent this site. Its purpose is now to share a deepening exploration into what ‘wilding’ could involve – and not just for third a me who were lucky enough to be born into the name.
There is already growing interest in this. One example is the ‘ReWilding’ movement to allow nature to regenerate vast swathes of land as a way to address climate change, loss of biodiversity and more. It’s not all pie in the sky either – from the efforts of community land owners in Scotland to Knepp Estate’s thirty year experiment of shifting away from industrial agriculture (see the beautifully written book called ‘Wilding’) to George Monbiot’s persistent advocacy in columns in The Guardian, Rewilding is an idea whose time is coming, and fast.
For me, as inspiring as this framing of Wilding is, there is still further to go.
For example, when I first read Gary Snyder’s Zen poetry in the early 1990s, his notion of ‘Wild Mind’ grabbed and shook and wouldn’t let me go. I realized that my birth name ‘Wilding’ was an open and scary invitation – too long ignored – to explore what it might mean to untame myself as well as geographical places and communities… and the organisations I hoped to one day help transform to achieve more ecological sanity and social justice.
This exploration was charged with searching questions of how to stay sane – even hopeful – in the face of what I was learning about climate change, social injustice, accelerating species extinctions.
Now 25 years later, I’m picking this thread back up here.
I’ll be asking, so what might putting ‘wilding’ into practice really mean?
And I’ll be exploring this question in two ways:
The first is by staying curious about the spaces between people, places, ideas, selves: and to practice creativity by bringing into conversation things that are usually apart.
The second is about sharing stories of attempting to apply this ‘wilding’ spirit to help communities and organisations become more life affirming, and more resilient to destructive change that future ecological and social shocks might bring. What might spaces for ‘wilding’ feel and look like – both inside and out?
Exploring these two questions, I imagine this blog as an intentionally diverse ceilidh or symphony. Over time themes and patterns might emerge; but we can mostly follow Claude Debussy’s understanding of music as “the space between the notes”.
And just as meditators in the Vipassana Buddhist tradition have as core to their practice watching the gap between breaths… if through this journeying we find a stillness between thoughts we can perhaps recognize that as the essence of our collective ‘wilding’ nature.