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Wildhood is kinship of the wild in all people, places, and things.

Submission for Wilderness 50th


Welcome the wild.

Submission for Wilderness 50th

Mark Douglas

2014 marks fifty years since the US Congress passed the Wilderness Act. There will be a large conference and gathering in Albuquerque, New Mexico in October in celebration and recognition. I'm submitting two co-authored presentations with me taking the speaking role in one. Those two have to do with my work researching the social conditions in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota. In addition, I'm submitting some original work. This is the draft submission.

Incorporating Wilderness in Everyday Life

The nature of the wilderness experience has been researched for over fifty years with scholars such as Borrie, Patterson, and Williams respectively examining its multiple phases, generation of stories of nature, and role in the construction of meaning. However, these contributions have not adequately addressed the constitutive role of wilderness involvement in people's lives. My presentation addresses the lived role of wilderness with special attention to the embodied meaning of wild places. Specifically, in my presentation, I will be looking at wilderness embodiment as a useful construct for understanding similarities and differences in the way people find themselves affectively  relating to wilderness. I will discuss how applied ideas from geography and philosophy may help understand constituency diversity. Thinking in this way about the interwoven complexities of cultural and natural worlds in juxtaposition to strictly calculative thinking reveals the overlooked reach, range, and depth that structure wilderness embodiment. I make the case that wilderness areas are constituted in part by embodied significance that is interpreted through ecologies of meaning in the lived worlds of people for whom wilderness matters. In conclusion, this presentation, by closely examining wilderness embodiment, sheds new light on the neglected issue of incorporating wilderness in everyday life.

Audience: wilderness constituents, advocates, researchers, interpreters, and stewards.

Learning objectives: 1) To understand how wilderness embodiment helps people maintain a connection with nature. 2) To examine how wilderness embodiment is useful for considering constituency perspectives. 3) To discuss how knowledge about wilderness embodiment offers a way to influence stewardship communication, interpretation, and education tools and practices.