Saturday, 29 December 2007

Easily Forage-able Resources. Online And In The Suburban Bush.

Every tribe or social grouping has its rituals and catchphrases, which let members identify each other, and let outsiders know they are outsiders. Sometimes these mantras set a frame of context, making sense of a situation and sometimes they serve to remind you how to do the business in challenging circumstances.

For as long as there’s been a fireside to return to at night, there’s been bush-lore passed on verbally by the light of the campfire, and now there’s the Bushcraft-Blog-Law. The law that dictates how a new tradition develops its tried and tested formulas, conventions and clich├ęs. Leaving aside (for the moment), the obligatory pictures of knives, axes and hats that most of has used as symbols for our adventures. Every bushcraft blog must also pass on some timeless wisdom:
‘The-more-you-know-the-less-you-carry’.
Usually attributed to that wise old man of the hills Mors Kochanski.
Or if you wanted to ‘freshen up’ your pitch (or create your own trademark) it could
‘Make-up-for-what-you-don’t-have-with-what-you-do-know.’

As a culture develops there are also powerful totems which when invoked through stories and songs will provide insight and inspiration. Some people will find themselves wondering what Ray Mears would do. The wit and whiles of the coyote have served as a signpost to thinking beyond the expected in many North American cultures. In South Dakota I often wondered how BoB would have approached the task in hand and by emulating him was able to pass myself off as competent camper rather than reveal myself as a tubby desk jockey from the ‘burbs. But if I were to choose a guardian deity for suburban bushcraft it would have to be Wimbledon’s most famous residents…

I used to spend a lot of time with a really clever management consultant, who ran mind-bending workshops. A sort of Tobermory of consultancy, fixing up (and super charging) broken projects with stuff he found lying around. One of the really cool things that he taught us to do was, to see familiar behaviours (individual and organisational) as processes. Then to look at the process we’d uncovered in new and unexpected ways, until we could see other examples of when and where the behaviour or system attribute could perform another purpose. A bit like bushcraft and survival skills and of course just like the Wombles….

‘Making good use of the things that we find,
Things that the everyday folks leave behind.’

I really was starting to think that I’d seen all the bushcraft blogs of note, when I saw that a guy who posts on one of the bushcraft sites as Fenlander had started one, and its the best I’ve seen in ages. While most bloggers are enthusiastic amateurs afield (or incompetents-a-couch in the case of your pal the bushwacker) – This guy is skilled AND enthusiastic, what the Kiwis call ' a good keen man', check out the post where he and a pal test out the insulation provided by some woolen clothes. Brrrrr!!

As Fenlander demonstrates when the really skilled bushcrafters are out in the backcountry they find new uses for the thing that they find, stuff everyday folks would leave behind. Sadly my backcountry is more, well, suburban back-yard and it’s not so much things left behind, as crap folks throw over my back fence (everyday).

Look everyone SBW’s made a lantern!
(Without spilling any blood or severing a finger!!)

Meanwhile at the other end of the performance curve - Fenlander’s made a distress whistle that, ‘in a pinch’, could save your life.

Thanks for reading
Bushwacker