Wilder Ones

New approaches to kindergarten offer us a glimpse of what childhood used to be, and still could be—the modern re-creation of the children’s garden. If we looked to these examples, we might be able to rescue childhood.

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In his humorous and uplifting style, Gever Tulley debunks classic myths of childhood safety. With rampant fear mongering, is it any wonder that children are actually over-protected? Instead, Tulley believes the most effective way to keep children safe is to give them a little taste of danger.

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In a time before live media broadcasts and video games, everyone was raised free range.   Our parents were all raised free range – it was the only way of being raised.  It was the good ole days of riding a bike to the park, to a friend’s house or the store when penny candy was only a penny.  You could build forts, scrape legs and be pre exposed to a slew of forbidden activities without anyone being sued, just as long as you were back by dusk.

 

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…By village I don’t simply mean “a group of houses and associated buildings, larger than a hamlet and smaller than a town, situated in a rural area.” I’m referring to the way of life inherent to relatively small, relatively contained multigenerational communities. Communities within which individuals know one another well, share the joys, burdens, and sorrows of everyday life, nurture one another in times of need, mind the wellbeing of each other’s ever-roaming children and increasingly-dependent elderly, and feel fed by their clearly essential contribution to the group that securely holds them.  

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Screen Printed Over Grow The System patch by artist Bubzee . Printed on re claimed fabrics.

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Have you ever rubbed two sticks together and created a spark, and then used that spark to light a fire?  I don’t know about you, but even as a small child I’ve been fascinated with the idea of creating fire without matches or a lighter – so much so that I spent hours banging rocks together in the hopes of creating a spark (and instead of sparks I accumulated lots of bandaids on my thumbs).

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My ten year old son Luke just returned from his first solo-overnight trip in the wilderness. He wanted to sleep in a debris hut by a local wild river, make a fire on his own, and catch fish and gather plants for food or else go hungry. Luke is a little competitive, and his two years older brother had accomplished his first overnighter a year ago.
The morning after his night out alone, Luke returned to our backyard. His steps had a little swagger to them; the steps of a boy who just pushed himself to his edge and succeeded.  The buckskin shirt he and his father made together a few months before was streaked with mud. A black smudge ran across his cheek.
“So you made fire?” I asked him, pointing to the charcoal on his cheek.

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I pulled with all my might.  It’s harder than you think, pulling on two goat legs covered with slippery amniotic fluid.  The fact that there were two feet instead of just a little head was marvelous.  Ideally, goats are born in a diving position – two legs, and the head on top of them, often with a pink tongue sticking out.  
An hour earlier, I realized that the goat giving birth had strained and strained without making progress.  I knew I had to “go in” to straighten out the baby’s position.  The problem was that my own baby, 11 months old Eva, had just woken up from her nap, and my husband and neighbors were all gone, so I had no help.  “Going in” can be nerve wracking work, but I had no choice.  So I strapped Eva onto my back with my Moby wrap, a long piece of cloth slung around mother and baby to securely attach baby to the mother.  I called for my sons, five-year-old Lukas and seven-year-old Kai.

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Hand forged kitchen knives made by Over Grow The Systems founder Sydney Woodward. Forged at White Crow Farm in Winlaw ...

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Within weeks of our daughter being born, her father and I realized that she was instantly pacified and tuned in the moment we went outside. She could be inconsolable inside, but even getting our coats and shoes on to go out would sooth her. At 15 months, it’s exactly the same, she can be having a tantrum inside, but get her shoes on and cross the front entrance and she’s all smiles. This is great for us as edible landscapers and permaculture consultants; working outside is our livelihood and our passion. We spend multiple hours in the garden most days, and having our daughter beside us is an incredible feeling. Watching a tiny human growing alongside plants we grow and eat is a powerful experience.

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A genius, natural way to get your kids excited about being outdoors. 

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In a time before live media broadcasts and video games, everyone was raised free range.   Our parents were all raised free range – it was the only way of being raised.  It was the good ole days of riding a bike to the park, to a friend’s house or the store when penny candy was only a penny.  You could build forts, scrape legs and be pre exposed to a slew of forbidden activities without anyone being sued, just as long as you were back by dusk.

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