Book Review: Unlearn, Rewild


| 3/25/2013 1:04:31 PM


Tags: Sustainability, Book Reviews,

Unlearn, Rewild 

Unlearn, Rewild By Miles Olson
Published in 2012 and available through New Society Publishers 

If you could rewrite the ending to Where the Wild Things Are, would you? In the beloved children’s book, Max—sent to his room for acting wild—imagines his escape to the world of Wild Things. When he becomes king of this new land, everyone celebrates with a wild rumpus. Such fun! In the end, though, Max realizes he does not belong with the Wild Things and returns home to his family (which happens to be sitting down to a civilized dinner). Its fun to be wild, the story tells us, but not our destiny.

Miles Olson, author of Unlearn, Rewild, is living out a tale parallel to Max, though it’s one that will likely end differently. There are no wild monsters in Olson’s story. Rather, every creature is wild. We must learn to live with the wild things, he suggests. We must remember that we are wild things.

From the book’s start, Olson outlines a framework for sustainability far more radical than any notion I’ve dared to entertain seriously—namely, that we should reorient our collective dream of the future and begin moving toward a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Not that such a change would happen in a lifetime, he notes, but over the course of several generations. “My thought is that most developed cultures are those that have the most seamless relationships with their land base,” Olson writes. “They are so good at tending their gardens that you can’t even see them.”

Miles Olson