“The best time to plant an oak tree was thirty years ago. But the second best time is today.”
January 23–26, 2020
Portland, OREGON (ChinookAN Territory)
5441 SE Belmont St, Portland, OR 97215
The annual North American Rewilding Conference is an Open Space conference. It is a think tank of some of the continent’s most inspiring rewilders and rewilding projects, as well as a social networking opportunity for rewilders. Here you will find individuals and grassroots organizations collaborating on a range of rewilding-related fields including ancestral technology, decolonization, wildlands restoration, ethnobiology, reintroduction of species, social and environmental justice, traditional ecological knowledge, and much more. This event is brought to you by Rewild Portland, a nonprofit organization serving the Portland area and the rural and wild areas beyond. Proceeds from this event go to supporting Rewild Portland's mission to promote cultural and environmental resilience.
What is Rewilding?
Rewilding is the process of creating autonomous, place-based, regenerative subsistence cultures. It is rooted in social and environmental justice: in order to shift our culture to a regenerative subsistence model, we must dismantle the social systems in place that prevent people from doing so. At its core, rewilding is about restoring the health and vitality of our minds, bodies, relationships, communities, and ecosystems.
A note on the word wild: Though it carries many connotations, wild comes from the word willed. The “wild” things were and are the willed things: things that exist outside of civilization’s domination. This is why the myths of civilization simultaneously demonize and romanticize the “wild”; civilization hates and fears what is out of its control, yet also desires and fetishizes them (think: wild stallion). It is this attempt to control that which cannot be controlled that leads to destruction of ecosystems, health, and human relationships. Rewilding is, therefore, an attempt to return to lifeways that work with the flows, the wills, and cycles of nature rather than waging an all-out war to control them.
3nd Annual Theme
Opening Night Presentations
Social Networking Icebreaker
The word conference comes from the Latin root conferre, meaning “to bring together.” The focal point of a conference is to bring people together. We begin the conference by playing a social networking game. This serves the purpose of igniting the connections and dialogue that our conference is known for.
Ten individuals will each present a five-minute "lightning-round" talk related to rewilding work, projects, ideas, and/or strategies. These diverse presentations will get us all on the same page, illustrating the vast complexities and multidimensional nature of rewilding, and whet our collective appetite for the deep conversations to come during the Open Space part of the conference. Presenters TBA
After our lightning talks, our keynote speaker will give his presentation.
Weekend Open Space
At its core, the North American Rewilding Conference is an Open Space conference. Open Space Technology is a non-hierarchical, organic, social collaboration tool best used to discuss and create solutions to a specific problem or issue. We have chosen to use Open Space Technology because it is a way of rewilding a conference. This conference does not operate the way we think of traditional conferences, with presenters or speakers giving lectures or teaching classes. Rather than having a few people talk at you, Open Space allows us to generate discussions between everyone in the field of rewilding, from institutional to grassroots, from "experts" to hobbyists. All participants arrive in the morning on the first day, create the topics, and lead the discussions. You can take part in whatever discussions you want. One of the most amazing things about Open Space is that it puts the known experts on the same field as the unknowns and laypeople. Everyone has things to contribute in a community, and Open Space is a way of pulling ideas out of the zeitgeist of the movement rather than expecting to hear solutions from just a few "thinkers." In an Open Space conference everyone is equal and all ideas have an opportunity to be discussed, in real life, face to face with other humans.
How Open Space Works
Participants of the open space create the agenda first thing in the morning. People are given the opportunity at this time to announce their session to the entire group. Sessions can be added any time during the open space, but the morning is the only time people are able to announce the session to the entire Open Space.
After announcing the sessions, participants hang them on the Open Space "Marketplace." The marketplace is the agenda and schedule.
Once the session announcements are over, the Open Space begins. Participants then choose which sessions they would like to attend. Open Space Technology has five "principles" and one "law." The five principles are: Whoever comes are the right people. Whenever it starts is the right time. Wherever it happens is the right place. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened. And when it's over, it's over. The one "law" is the law of two feet: if at any point during our time together you find yourself neither learning from nor contributing to the discussion, use your two feet and go someplace else. At the end of the day, participants come back together to share moments of the day.
A small corner of the Open Space room is reserved for ancestral skills. This is a place to share, teach, and practice natural hand crafts. While dialogue and conversation are the central themes of this conference, not ancestral skills (check out our summer gathering Echoes in Time for a focused week of skills building), we offer this space as a way of grounding our dialogue through handwork. Come relax and work on a project, share something you are working on, or teach a mini skills session.
Our Open Space Facilitator
Diana Larsen is coauthor of Liftoff: Launching Agile Teams and Projects; Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great; and Quickstart Guide to the Five Rules for Accelerated Learning; as well as co-originator of the Agile Fluency™ Model. Diana delivers inspiring conference keynote talks and facilitates productive Open Space Technology events. As a volunteer, she contributes as a leader with Agile Alliance, Organization Design Forum, Agile Open Northwest, and the Agile Open Initiative. As a founding partner of FutureWorks Consulting, she leads the practice area for Agile software development, team leadership, and Agile transitions. FutureWorks Consulting contributes to the growth of workplaces where people say, “I love my work; this is the best job ever!” As a founding member of the Agile Fluency Project, Diana delivers ways to chart a course for teams, create alignment with management, and secure organizational support for continuous learning and improvement.
CLASSES TBA: COMING SOON!
The theme of these classes is “Agents of Regeneration.” How can humans create, or become active agents in, regenerative ecosystems across a wide range of places, from home scale to private property to public land? We offer a variety of planting and restoration programs. These hands-on classes are a way of learning new techniques while giving back to various food security and sovereignty programs by helping them out with our labor.
Thursday - 6pm-9:30pm || Lightning Rounds
Friday - 9am-5pm || Classes w/ Keynote
Saturday - 9am-5pm || Open Space
Sunday - 9am-12pm || Field Classes
Sunday 1pm-5pm || Open Space
MORE DETAILS TBA
Childcare is available for children ages 5–11. The fee for childcare is $95. This covers the Saturday and Sunday portion of the conference only. To register for childcare, please see our registration page.
"Nowhere else in my world are people having the conversations that people at Rewild are having. This is not because people aren't dying to talk about these topics but because the conditions haven't been created in enough spaces. Environmental education that doesn't address the inner violence of colonial culture won't get past mere skills, and we can't simply bow-drill our way out of modern problems. I left the conference feeling a grounding sense of awe and gratitude—something truly special happened this weekend and I only wish we didn't have to wait another year to gather like this again." - Colleen
"The conference left me feeling inspired and connected to a large base of people working on radical change in our world. The culture was supportive and exploratory, with so much room for our human cracks. I felt encouraged at the way people listened and shared openly, allowing the depths of what we truly care about to be seen." - Heron
"What an amazing weekend! The simplicity and power of the open space format allowed for our individual and collective brilliance and inquiries to steer us. It was humbling to both contribute and listen to the intellect, heart, skills, songs, and stories of our community. I came home full of a richness of practical next steps, inspiration, and new friendships. I am so grateful to have attended and already added next year's dates to my calendar." - Leah
"The Rewilding Conference provides a truly unique chance to provoke thought and inspiration while nurturing mutual opportunity and community connection. This brilliant band of folks brave enough to peek through the looking glass are a hoot to boot! I am already looking forward to next year, and I am a serial conference avoider...THANK YOU!" - Rose
"How wonderful to gather people together for rich dialogue around rewilding and how to create that tangibly in all our spheres. Together we can shift our collective reality towards a wild and connected future." - Kim
This event is hosted by Rewild Portland, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. We do not have investors who make money from this event. Any money earned goes back into our mission to create cultural and environmental resilience through the education of earth-based arts, traditions, and technologies. Click here to learn more about our organization and our values.
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