Fede was the first to see one. Driving home one evening, she caught it in her headlights on our steep driveway. The last time we had strays wandering the hills was when some towny neighbors moved in and couldn’t handle their new sheepdog. This clearly wasn’t a sheepdog, even if it was alone and looked disoriented. Then Luca, who admittedly isn’t a noted wildlife expert, saw another on the main road. This is the same Luca who thought he’d seen a carnivorous squirrel devouring a mouse on the property, later debunked by his discovery of the concept “weasel.” But still, his was only further confirmation. Actually, in these
days of the social media scoop-debunk-hot-take cycle, of course the first inklings of their presence in our valley came through unsubstantiated reports and grainy video online.
Wolves. Skitterish, small, not exactly all of what we see in our imaginations. I just finished my degree in Ecological Design Thinking this last year and, among many other topics, wolves and their role in human imaginations and more than human ecology came up on several occasions. Perhaps you’ve seen the viral video about wolves changing the Yellowstone River? Perhaps the meme of how a wolf pack moves to favor weaker members? Perhaps you were afraid of wolves as a child, like our boys are. Perhaps you’ve also heard about the controversies in many areas where wolves have been reintroduced and bump back up against humans in apparent competition for the top spot on the food chain.
In my studies, I explored how wolves have been returning to the Apennines as more parkland is preserved and less of their prey is hunted or controlled through other means. I studied biomimicry, or the process of exploring ecological systems and behavior to more harmoniously live on this planet. The wolves’ return should actually be a sign of strengthening biodiversity and invitation to interact more closely with a changing landscape. Now we are farmers though. What kind of farmers? Good question. Are we the kind of farmers that are more worried about the deer wiping out our winter crops or are we the kind of farmers that never expected our goat and our chickens to be decimated? Or are we the farmers that are interested in big concepts, ideas of being part of something bigger and can’t afford to count on our produce anyway? I do know we are the kind of farmers willing to take lessons from what we observe. This appearance of lone wolves can be taken as an invitation to raise questions about their expertise in the interplay between individual and collective goals and needs.
So what do these individual wolves have to say to us about the current moment? These days we receive a steady stream of messages from people asking about how they can become involved in our project. Absent any complete answers, we offer these two very immediate opportunities to explore living as a pack with us if you are feeling alone and interested:
- We are currently hosting a weeklong exploration of community living in partnership with Chakruna Way of Living and there is a prospect that others could join a second session next week: for those who want to experience the dynamics of community life, #chakrunawayofliving has organized two Community Workshops for Italian-speaking people who want to know more about group life. At the beginning of each week, training led by Andrea Safir Stagliano on #sociocracy, #empathiccommunication and, #dragondreaming. Next week, from 7 February to 14 February, there are still free places for those who are interested. The event is cosponsored by RIVE, the Italian Ecovillage Network, with Lorenzo Olivieri and Jacopo Tabanelli. To apply visit https://tinyurl.com/Laboratoricomunita
- We have also just confirmed we will host our second volunteering retreat in partnership with Quaker Voluntary Action, March 20-26 at Borgo Basino. Quaker Voluntary Action offers hands-on retreats in with exploration of Quakerism, practical collaborative tasks and reflection in a community setting. We will co-facilitate the retreat with the fabulous Rosie Carnall and English-speaking persons with an interest in Quakerism, agricultural skills and group process are welcome to apply! Write to email@example.com for more information.