For The Wild is an anthology of the Anthropocene; focused on land-based protection, co-liberation, and intersectional storytelling rooted in a paradigm shift from human supremacy towards deep ecology.
Nine questions with Ayana Young, Founder
Where do ecology, culture, and spirituality connect in your work?
AY: It is impossible for us to discuss one of these aspects of our work without the others, in large part because to speak of only one would feel incomplete. We feel that approaching our work through a purely ecological lens falls short of the integrity that we aim for. For The Wild strives to accomplish our work with potency, reciprocity, and morality through recognizing the intersections between ecology, culture, and spirituality in all that we do.
What brought you to this work?
AY: Love brought this work alive, but before it was apparent, there was more of a nagging feeling of discomfort, that something was not right. A feeling of not consensually agreeing to the conditioning of Western culture. Through grief and confusion emerged a deep knowing that there had to be something beyond this. For The Wild was born out of a yearning to understand what was, and is, beyond dominant culture and consumer conditioning.
What’s one thing you want people to know about your work?
AY: We approach all that we do with a continual student mindset. We’re continuing to learn along with our audience, while navigating the complexities and systemic injustices we face, as we walk together through the Anthropocene. Above anything else, our work is simultaneously about upholding a commitment to our principles while persistently questioning and challenging ourselves.
What matters most to you right now?
AY: We are committed to our allegiance to the temperate rainforest. What matters the most right now is direct action around issues like protecting the Chilkat River, stopping the development of the Greens Creek Mine in Haines, Alaska, breaching the Snake River dams in defense of the remaining Orcas, addressing the Admiralty mining district, and working towards ending salmon farming. While at first blush these issues may seem separate, we recognize that Cascadia is interconnected, and we see clearly that there is a need to come together around the manifold issues threatening the Pacific slope; there is no other way around it.
What do you see happening in your field—or beyond, in the world—that you are really excited about?
AY: There is still so much to be done, and often it feels like what is being done is the very bare minimum. Approaching things from that position, allows us to stay excited about the work that must be done. We are particularly inspired by building stronger relationships with people and community and being together in the truth of the time we’re in, holding one another in both compassion and accountability as we step into the future against all odds.
What does service mean to you?
AY: Service means being committed and dedicated to something beyond one’s own life. Service requires acting without ego and entitlement. It necessitates recognizing and critically analyzing your human conditioning and committing yourself to greater betterment, and often it also means making sacrifices. At the same time, however, these sacrifices are made with the understanding that it is never a loss to be useful to something bigger than yourself.
What keeps you going?
AY: The land—honoring that relationship and love. That connection is everything to For The Wild. We are moved by the unattainable pursuit of repaying the wonder, the joy, and the nourishment that the land gives.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
AY: I am in a pray/work rotation pretty regularly. So when I’m not working on my devices, I’m worshiping the land. I like to cold plunge, lay on rocks, cuddle with my fur children, and listen to wind when I am lucky enough to hear it blow.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
AY: The only thing I can remember wanting to be was an alligator, and that was when I was five. Otherwise, I can remember wanting impact. I don’t know if I still want to be an alligator, but I am clearly still striving for impact.