The Origins Program is a journey over nine months where we practice and build a variety of traditional skills, with the goal of going on a weeklong trip into the woods and utilizing them. The rules for the final trip are simple; no metal, no glass, no paper, and no plastic. The food brought must be gathered or grown by us. These constraints cause us to ask ourselves the basic needs of our life, and the technologies required. We need to reconsider clothing, shelter, food, water, how to carry water and our harvest, use to make light, start fires, tools needed, and more.
This is no bleak survival equation, but an experience in subsistence living in a Stone Age context. In these limits we can push ourselves to discover some of the beauty found in a life tied to the land and what you can make of it. There are challenges within, yet it holds an allure of living life with a changed perspective. One that is fresh with knowing there is more to learn, enlivening in connecting with the more than human world, and enjoying the beautiful.
It is noteworthy, that through the years we see that our basic needs as humans are the same person to person, but that the landscape determines what materials are used and style of hand craft is unique to the individual. I think of the food people have brought telling of where they were from; seaweed from Maine, pecans from Texas, acorns from Vermont. These foods then needed containers to be carried; be it in birch bark that has been folded, and woven straight or diagonal, in stake and strand willow, folded buckskin, wrapped in leaves, in bark containers, clay pots, sections of bamboo, and so on. The questions are the same, while the answers can be many, and it is beautiful to see what comes to be by each student. It is our hope that the focus of the final trip motivates people to work hard on these skills. We also hope that this trip serves as a catalyst and that each student finds inspiration in this knowledge base to affect them for the rest of their life in simple yet powerful ways. That tracking natural becomes a part of their walks, that oak trees (plants at large) carry a different and more personal meaning, that not having light at the flick of the finger encourages you to not take that for granted and that the dark and stars are important elements in our life. That knowledge, resourcefulness, and ingenuity run deep in what makes us human.
Origins informs us of who we are as humans in the projects we work on, as well as the interaction and relationship with such a broad array of plants and animals. There can be a lot of talk ascribed to living closely and intimately with the land, but in this it is experienced firsthand. This engagement of holding these materials in our hands and having them support us fosters an ethic of caretaking the land in a way nothing else can.
Take a look below at the list of what constituted our food and material culture in 2012.
Origins 2012 List Of Materials
Food & Medicine
Plants For Utility
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“Once We Have Tasted This Wildness, We Begin To Hunger For A Food Long Denied Us, And The More We Eat Of It The More We Will Awaken.”