Thursday, March 25, 2010

The New American Tribe: A Proposed Experiment in Modern Nomadism

I'm literally weeks away from graduating and I'm grinding to a halt--physically, mentally, emotionally, etc. At this point it's just a mad dash for the finish line that isn't accomplishing much of anything. It isn't teaching me any new skills or ideologies. It isn't preparing me for any job I will likely have. It isn't pushing me toward the future life I wish to live or the future world I wish to live in. It's all for a piece of paper that says I survived 4 years.


I'm not being the change I want to see in the world, as Gandhi famously suggested. I'm bending to the will of a world that I see as broken, a world where everything we eat is corn, where my generation may have a lower life-expectancy than my parents', where sea-levels are rising and islands are being consumed, and where people are forced to stay inside to protect themselves from man-made smog.

I don't want to be here. Do you?

Add to that a lack of community, a lack of connection to food and people. I'm supposed to be on "break" but instead I'm spending hours a day at a computer dreading a thesis I don't want to write. I get nary a text message, email, phone call, or knock at the door (except for a couple of Mormons who meant to convert me, and who I later regretted shoeing away in such a hurry).

Too much time inside. Too much time apart from people. It's frustrating.

TribeNot to mention that I watched The Tribe a few days ago. Certainly it was far from a perfect situation, but I connected with the situation: a modern group of people all depending on each other for their survival while living largely independent of the larger social structures.

Lets face it, we've created a system where it's easy to feel stuck.

If I don't go to school I won't get a good job. If I don't get a good job I won't make good money. If I don't make good money I won't be able to buy any land. If I don't buy any land I won't be able to grow my own food. If I don't grow my own food I won't be able to be self-sufficient. If I'm not self-sufficient I'll never be able to get out of this system which I detest.

We've made it even easier to get stuck by pouring concrete over land that was once abundant with food and by making it illegal to hunt or fish without the proper licenses. Our survival, our very instincts, are regulated.

But what if we worked together? What if we unstuck ourselves? What if we started a New American Tribe?

If this sounds like something you'd be interested in, you should fill out this form.

Basically, I want to put together a group of 10-20 people from the Pacific Northwest with a diverse set of survival skills (foraging, hunting, fishing, trapping, shelter construction, first aid, etc.) and head south. And then north. And then south.

Our goal would be to cover all 48 contiguous United States on foot, moving with the seasons to avoid the most extreme weather. We'd forage, hunt, and fish for our meals and trade manual labor (like farm work or yard work) for shelter and food. When necessary, we'd sell handmade trinkets (perhaps you're a jeweler?) to earn money for food. Ideally we'd be eating 100% local food (wild or from local farms) and in turn avoiding additives like high fructose corn syrup which have become seemingly necessary components of processed food. We'd be getting back to our heritage as wholly as is possible in this broken landscape.

So often we're ground down by overwhelming abundance. We don't have to work for food. Surviving becomes trivial. Life becomes boring because we don't have to try in order to survive, but instead we worry about created stresses like phone bills and rent.

This experiment would allow us to be energized by the act of surviving. It would allow us to see the country in an environmentally friendly way. It would allow us to have a community amongst ourselves and to connect with our fellow Americans. Our interactions with different farmers and people with diverse backgrounds will help us develop a diverse skill set in a world where we're forgetting how to do many wonderful things.

Yes, this is a crazy idea. But I'm sick of worrying about what job I'm going to get when I graduate, and about how I'm going to be perpetuating a broken system. I need a break to do something crazy. I think you should do it with me.

If you're between jobs, just graduated from school, or are otherwise unsettled, this might be right for you. If you want to do something crazy, refreshing, educational,  and rewarding, this might be for you. If you want to see the country in an environmentally friendly way, connect with others, and be a part of something big, this might be for you. If you have the necessary hunting, foraging, and wilderness survival skills, this might be for you.

If you're interested, fill out this form and subscribe to the blog. If I get enough interest in the project I'll contact people to start discussing details.

Thanks for reading and your continued support. This crazy kid is now off for some shut eye.

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