Changing the world may seem like an improbable goal for an introverted, socially awkward guy with a passion for wilderness survival skills. I don’t know if I watched too much of the evening news or what, but I’ve been driven since childhood to make a difference in the world. I was particularly drawn to economic and environmental issues, which were portrayed on the news as jobs-versus-environment. The news broadcasters always made it sound like we had to sacrifice one or the other.
Although seemingly unrelated on the surface, the issue of jobs and the environment is directly connected with my wilderness survival hobby. Wilderness survival is all about making a living and trying not to destroy the natural world in the process, which is the issue we all face on a daily basis. How can we survive and meet our needs for shelter, warmth, water, food, and clothing in a sustainable way? Based on the belief that there must be a way for people to live in harmony with nature, I started at the bottom, and worked my way up from the Stone Age.
While practicing my wilderness skills on the one hand – learning to build shelters, start fires by rubbing sticks together, and forage for something to eat – I also researched topics like alternative housing, renewable energy, and sustainable agriculture. The biggest obstacle to practicing my wilderness skills has always been this consuming interest. I tend to be in my head, processing things like energy-efficient house designs, holistic ranch management, using swamp filters to treat city sewage water, balancing the federal deficit, rethinking foreign policy and wildlands issues. This was my personal life as a teenager, and still is, decades later.