How the Bow and Arrow Changed Everything - Victor Kühn

Photo: Victor Kühn,

Photo: Victor Kühn,

The invention of the bow and arrow was one of the biggest feats in the history of human[kind]. Then everything started changing.
— Victor Kühn

I’m so excited to share this fascinating conversation I recorded last spring with Victor Kühn, a master traditional bowmaker and primitive archery expert based in Boulder, Colorado. Here, Victor traces the ancient history of the bow and arrow, revealing how its invention tens of thousands of years ago forever changed the trajectory of humankind. We also talk about Victor’s (née: Vitezslav) remarkable childhood in the aftermath of Communist Czechoslovakia, his passion for the iconic American West, and the intense craftsmanship that goes into his one-of-a-kind bows (he fells his own trees!). 

Show notes:

  • How Victor first discovered bowmaking

  • “Wild times in the ‘90s”: Growing up after the fall of Communism in Czechoslovakia

  • Coming to the US and falling in love with the iconic American West

  • The ancient history of his homeland versus the untouched wilderness 

  • How bowmaking forever changed human history

  • Is bowmaking still relevant in a world with guns? 

  • Why Victor feels called to preserve this art

  • The intense research and craftsmanship that goes into Victor’s traditional bows 

Want to learn more about Victor’s work, take one of his bowmaking or archery classes, or order one of his traditional handmade bows? Visit his website at And don’t miss his beautiful Instagram page: @vikiesbowsandarrows.

The Outdoors Does Not Have to Be Uncomfortable - Wes Siler

Photo:  Wes Siler

Photo: Wes Siler

There’s such a misconception that you have to be super legit or suffering in order to deserve these outdoors experiences, and it’s just not true.
— Wes Siler

In this premiere episode of our third (and final!) season, I talk with outdoor adventure journalist extraordinaire Wes Siler, who runs Outside’s lifestyle column IndefinintelyWild. Here, Wes shares his stereotype-defying approach to “rewilding,” including his recent transformation from Angeleno to gun-toting Montanan, why all environmentalists should support hunting, and everything you need to know to recreate his epically cushy camping experience. 

Here’s the run-down:

  • On camping: What you’re doing wrong and a camping mattress you can have sex on

  • Growing up in North Carolina, France and going to military school in England 

  • Why being Bear Grylls sucks

  • How to move beyond fear in the outdoors

  • How Wes splits his time between work and the wilderness

  • The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation

  • Hunting, guns and prepping

  • Wes’s advice for creating a nature-fueled life

  • His upcoming adventure wedding in Baja

Want more Wes? Follow his stories on adventure travel in the wild at Outside Online. (And don’t miss his new video series, Rewilding with Wes Siler.) Wes is also a must-follow on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter

More reading:

Wes on Outside: The Ultimate Sleep Setup for Car Camping
Wes on Outside: Should You Carry a Gun Outdoors?

Cohousing and the Return to Communal Living - Karin Hoskin

Photo of  Wild Sage Cohousing : Adam Johnson

Photo of Wild Sage Cohousing: Adam Johnson

The intentional part of intentional communities is that we choose to know our neighbors.
— Karin Hoskin

I know many of you, like me, dream of decamping the modern existence to live in the solace of the woods or on a bucolic homestead—just as many of our Uncivilize guests have done. But many of you also may not yet be able to fully commit to that dream (like me) or perhaps don’t even want to commit to that dream; that what, in fact, you are searching for is a more connected human existence in the 21st-century city or town in which you already live. To you, I introduce cohousing, an intentional community-on-the-rise best described as a modern and sustainable take on the village (or commune) of yesteryear. 

And to give you the rundown, I introduce Karin Hoskin, executive director of The Cohousing Association of the United States, who lives with her husband, two teenage kids, mother-in-law, two cats and two dogs in Wild Sage Cohousing in Boulder, Colo. Wild Sage is a community of 91 people living in 34 homes on an acre-and-a-half of land surrounded by nature and open space; but as Karin explains here, the possibilities for cohousing are as diverse as their settings and the folks who choose to live there. (There’s a mixed-income bike-sharing condo community in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood and a rural cabin community eight miles west of Fairbanks, Alaska!)

Here’s the episode breakdown:

  • How Karin came to live in cohousing and with her mother-in-law

  • When did it become so uncommon to live with extended family?

  • “There were always people in, people out”: Karin’s upbringing with dozens of cousins in the farming Midwest

  • Cohousing, explained, and the difference between cohousing and other intentional communities

  • What it’s like to raise kids in cohousing, from babyhood to the teenage years

  • Why you don’t have to be an extrovert to live in cohousing 

  • Karin’s thoughts on the future of urbanization and the rise in communal living

Want to explore cohousing communities or learn how to start your own? Check out the wealth of resources on the Coho/US website or attend the upcoming 2019 National Cohousing Conference, May 30-June 2, in Portland, Ore. (At last check, tickets are still available. The conference also includes tours of seven Portland cohousing communities.) You can also connect with Karin and Coho/US via FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Editorial note (5/6/19): A small portion of this episode has been edited since the original episode that aired on 4/25/19. The change was made due to privacy concerns, and in no way alters the meaning or context of the original interview.

Photo of  Wild Sage Cohousing : Adam Johnson

Photo of Wild Sage Cohousing: Adam Johnson

Photo of  Wild Sage Cohousing : Adam Johnson

Photo of Wild Sage Cohousing: Adam Johnson

If you enjoyed this show, subscribe on iTunes so you don’t miss the next one (and don’t forget to leave a rating and review). The theme music is by Paul Damian Hogan.

On the Hadza and Human Metabolism - Herman Pontzer

Photo credit: Herman Pontzer,  Human Evolution and Energetics Lab  at Duke University

Photo credit: Herman Pontzer, Human Evolution and Energetics Lab at Duke University

The world today is this weird zoo that we’ve built for ourselves. It’s completely divorced from the way that we evolved, and from the lifestyles that our bodies are built for.
— Herman Pontzer

I am so excited to bring you this interview with one of my favorite guests to date: Herman Pontzer, a biological anthropologist at Duke University whose paleontological and biological field work across Eurasia and Africa have upended much of what we in the modern world thought we knew about diet, exercise, metabolism and human health.

Here, Herman reveals what it’s like to live and work with the Hadza hunter-gatherers of Tanzania, the paradox of calorie expenditure (hint: you can’t burn off that Shake Shack), and why we as humans must move to survive. (Don’t miss his brilliantly written recent feature for Scientific American, along with this episode!)

here’s the run-down:

  • Growing up in the woods of Pennsylvania and finding his evolutionary calling in college

  • A day in the life of a Hadza hunter-gatherer

  • Why everything we thought we knew about human energy expenditure is wrong

  • The connection between sedentary lifestyles, inflammation and our modern-day epidemic of chronic disease

  • Misinterpretation of scientific studies in the media

  • How humans evolved to require high levels of physical activity

  • Evolutionary mismatch

  • What does the future hold for the human species?

  • How to live a more evolutionarily aligned life

Check out Herman’s work at his Human Evolution and Energetics Lab at Duke University. Read more of his writing in Scientific American and The New York Times. You can also follow him on Twitter.

If you enjoyed this show, subscribe on iTunes so you don’t miss the next one (and don’t forget to leave a rating and review). The theme music is by Paul Damian Hogan.


360 Live: Herman Pontzer Ends Up in the Hot Seat

A Homestead Built on Faith - Kip Smyth

The Smyth family of YouTube’s  1000’s of Roots  channel: Kip, Carrie, Caleb, Joshua, Nathan, Esther, Joseph, and Naomi Smyth. Photo credit:  1000’s of Roots .

The Smyth family of YouTube’s 1000’s of Roots channel: Kip, Carrie, Caleb, Joshua, Nathan, Esther, Joseph, and Naomi Smyth. Photo credit: 1000’s of Roots.

I was asking the question, Why am I alive? Because the decisions I had made and the things I had done, I should be dead. But I was still alive. And when I asked that question—Why am I still alive?—I had a picture in my mind: I saw myself walking down a desert path with a bright light shining on me, and I was wearing a white robe...
— Kip Smyth

Happy New Year! I’m coming back to you from winter hiatus later than anticipated, due to an extended illness and the now-historic teacher’s strike here in Los Angeles. During that time (which also saw LA pounded by torrential rains and floods), my daughters and I holed up at home and often lived vicariously through the videos of my guest today: homesteader Kip Smyth of the 1000’s of Roots YouTube channel. Via twice-weekly vlogs, Kip, his wife Carrie and their six children—ages 15 years to 19 months—document their permaculture-homesteading and homeschooling adventures living on a 500-square-foot off-grid home set on 20 acres in the Missouri Ozarks. 

The Smyth family’s stripped-down way of life is deeply rooted in their Christian faith; and yet, as Kip reveals in this interview, this was an existence he never could have imagined growing up as a self-described “jock” in a secular family in suburban Los Angeles. Here, we talk about consumerism overload, his calling to Christianity, homesteading from scratch, and so much more. 

Show notes:

  • Kip’s troublemaker childhood in Thousand Oaks, CA

  • From the party scene to finding himself on his family’s land in Alaska: “That’s when crazy stuff started happening to me”

  • Becoming a Christian, Simpson University as a 25-year-old freshman, and meeting Carrie

  • Arizona, the housing bubble and discovering Joel Salatin

  • Working at Home Depot: “If consumerism is the problem, then I need to become a producer”

  • Back to Alaska, and a brief foray into hunting and fishing 

  • Strategic Relocation and why the Smyths chose Missouri

  • Primitive skills and the problem with the prepper mindset

  • Learning to homestead from scratch, building debt-free, and the long-term vision for 1000’s of Roots

  • Faith, their lifestyle as a calling, and Kip’s advice for other wannabe homesteading families

All photos:  1000’s of Roots

All photos: 1000’s of Roots


Watch the Smyth family’s journey on their YouTube channel: 1000’s of Roots. Read more about their life on the 1000’s of Roots blog. You can also support the family’s mission on Patreon.

If you enjoyed this show, subscribe on iTunes so you don’t miss the next one (and don’t forget to leave a rating and review). The theme music is by Paul Damian Hogan.

The Birth of an Explorer - Alegra Ally

Photo:  Alegra Ally ,  Wild Born Project . From “ Women at the End of the Land ” expedition to the Yamal Peninsula.

Photo: Alegra Ally, Wild Born Project. From “Women at the End of the Land” expedition to the Yamal Peninsula.

I would sit in a classroom and I would daydream about me just going and disappearing in a jungle and living with a tribe....These are the most memorable moments of my childhood.
— Alegra Ally

This week, I bring you this much anticipated conversation with ethnographer and award-winning photographer and explorer Alegra Ally. Via her Wild Born Project, Alegra has traveled to the far-flung corners of the globe to document the traditional ecological knowledge of indigenous motherhood—from pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding to rite-of-passage rituals for young girls.

This year, Alegra became a new mother herself. She spoke to me from her native Israel, where she and her husband (free diver and photographer Erez Beatus) were enjoying time with family before embarking with their baby son on their next adventure. For Alegra, the drive to explore seems inborn; here, she shares the remarkable story of her first solo expedition to Papua New Guinea at the age of 17, the near improbable logistics of photographing remote tribal birth, and the “superhuman” power she’s found in the wake of new motherhood.

Here’s the run-down:

  • Traveling to Tonga as a new mother

  • Alegra’s own experience of birth

  • Working as a diving instructor, early travels and how she met Erez

  • Her childhood in Israel, and “planning” her first expedition at age 11

  • Her first solo expedition to Papua New Guinea at age 17

  • The spiritual and intuitive search that led her to Wild Born

  • How she documents indigenous motherhood: the logistics

  • Her forthcoming book, her new nonprofit, and what’s next for Alegra and Wild Born

Photo:  Alegra Ally

Learn more about Alegra (and see her amazing photographs) on her personal and Wild Born Project websites. And don’t miss her must-follow Instagram accounts: @alegraally and @wildbornproject.

Photo:  Alegra Ally ,  Wild Born Project . From “ Women at the End of the Land ” expedition to the Yamal Peninsula.

Photo: Alegra Ally, Wild Born Project. From “Women at the End of the Land” expedition to the Yamal Peninsula.

Photo:  Alegra Ally ,  Wild Born Project . From “ Walking with the Himba ” expedition to Namibia.

Photo: Alegra Ally, Wild Born Project. From “Walking with the Himba” expedition to Namibia.

If you enjoyed this show, subscribe on iTunes so you don’t miss the next one (and don’t forget to leave a rating and review). The theme music is by Paul Damian Hogan.

A Year of Autonomous Eating - Rob Greenfield

Photo: Rob Greenfield via

Photo: Rob Greenfield via

People have a hard time wrapping their head around the idea of growing and foraging 100 percent of my food…There are zero exceptions: my salt; my oil; no grocery stores; no restaurants; no taking a nibble at a party; no gifts of food from others; no going to someone else’s garden and eating from their garden; literally growing and foraging 100 percent of the food.
— Rob Greenfield

This week’s guest is adventurer and environmental activist Rob Greenfield, whose societal-boundary-pushing projects have ranged from biking across the United States on a bamboo bicycle for sustainability (three times); to dumpster diving in thousands of grocery store dumpsters to raise awareness about food waste and hunger; to wearing 30 days’ of trash to create a visual of how much trash one American creates. Here, we focus on Rob’s latest extreme endeavor: Growing and foraging 100 percent of his food for One. Entire. Year.

From his 100-square-foot tiny home in Orlando, Florida (hand-built from 99 percent salvaged materials, natch), Rob shares the eating hows and whats of his aptly named Food Freedom project (think harvested salt and golf-course-foraged giant yams; oh, he also grows his own toilet paper). But with no shortage of self-reflection, Rob also digs deeper: into his own impoverished upbringing, the unintended consequences of living with no car or bank account or bills, and finding his true purpose in a life both inside and outside industrial capitalist society. 

Some of what we talk about:

  • What’s behind all the 1s: The launch of Food Freedom on 11/11 and Rob’s 111 possessions

  • The plan to grow and forage 100 percent of his food for one year; building his 100-square-foot tiny house in Orlando (and why Orlando?)

  • Staple crops, salt from scratch and the 160-pound yam 

  • How to make coconut oil; North America’s yerba mate

  • The 11 months of prep that went into the project 

  • Rob’s philosophy on foraging and pesticides

  • A sampling of the 300-500 foods Rob will be eating for the next 12 months 

  • Taking inspiration from subsistence cultures  

  • The paradox of Rob’s impoverished childhood: “We were consumers. My mom was a consumer; I was a consumer.” 

  • His awakening to “not living a delusional life”

  • What it’s like to live with no credit cards, no bank account, no driver’s license, no car, no bills and no taxes 

  • Consumerism and mortality 

  • Rob’s vision for the future 

You can follow Rob’s year of Food Freedom on his website, along with on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

If you enjoyed this show, subscribe on iTunes so you don’t miss the next one (and don’t forget to leave a rating and review). The theme music is by Paul Damian Hogan.

Resources from the show:

Orlando Permaculture
Berkey water filter
Rob’s post: On Health Insurance, Age and Death
Rob’s post: My Net Worth Is
Rob’s TED talk: Be the Change in a Messed Up World

The Woman and the Little Cabin That Could - Ayana Young

Photo: Ayana Young,  For the Wild

Photo: Ayana Young, For the Wild

If there’s nowhere to hide, then it allowed me to stand where I love, and fight like hell for that place. For me, the temperate rainforest was what called me…This whole ecosystem called me back and said: ‘Now that you’re over your own little life, you will work for us.’ And I said, ‘OK, put me to work. What do you need me to do?’
— Ayana Young

In her mid-20s and a few years past her ecology studies at Columbia University, Ayana Young’s life had the makings of an off-the-grid fantasy. She lived with her partner in a cabin on an organic farm on an Oregon mountaintop. She studied herbalism. Then, Fukashima happened. The two, no longer feeling safe, set off on a journey to find “the promised land”—that untainted wilderness where they could live out their days sheltered from the toxic threats of industrialized civilization. Instead, Ayana found herself awakened to the harsh reality of her anarcho-survivalist quest: that it had clouded her true calling of working in service of something greater than herself.

This week, I speak with Ayana about that remarkable journey and the “something greater” that resulted: her creation of the trailblazing For the Wild collective—which now encompasses the 1 Million Redwoods reforestation project, For the Wild podcast, and a new spinoff series birthed from a preservation campaign around the Tongass National Forest. (She helms this all from yes, her handbuilt cabin in the coastal redwood mountain range of Northern California.)

some of what we talk about:

  • The making of “the little cabin that could”

  • “So lost and damn naïve when I started this endeavor”

  • Ayana’s upbringing in suburban Southern California

  • Living in an 1800s farmhouse in Pennsylvania and the birth of the For the Wild podcast (then Unlearn and Rewild)

  • The cedar cabin in Oregon, the journey to New Zealand and the awakening to the Anthropocene

  • The inevitable consumerist existence of cities

  • Human supremacy

  • The Bill McKibben question and “What are we really trying to save here?”

  • The 1 Million Redwoods Project, biomimetic reforestation and learning how to have a reciprocal relationship with nature

  • The off-the-grid fantasy versus Ayana’s life now

  • “We don’t have the time to be arguing about small things anymore”

Follow Ayana and her mission at For the Wild, where you can learn about the 1 Million Redwoods Project, subscribe to the For the Wild podcast, learn about her new spinoff series, sign up for her newsletter and make a nonprofit donation. She’s also on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

If you enjoyed this show, subscribe on iTunes so you don’t miss the next one (and don’t forget to leave a rating and review). The theme music is by Paul Damian Hogan.

The Biophilic Nature of Serenbe - Steve Nygren

Photo credit: Jennifer Grayson

Photo credit: Jennifer Grayson

We have come into such an intellectual society that we have forgotten the miracle of where we live. And the miracle of our own being.
— Steve Nygren

In this first episode of our second season, I interview Steve Nygren, the founder of Serenbe—a microcosmic urban utopia set on 65,000 acres of preserved forest land, a mere 40 minutes south of Atlanta’s expanding sprawl. Yet to paint Serenbe as the latest picture of the New Urbanist movement (or as a green community, or a nature community, or an “agrihood,” as it’s been called in reference to the 25-acre organic farm the town is centered around) wouldn’t do it justice, as my family and I discovered when we called Serenbe home for two months this past summer.

Here, during an epic walk in the woods, Steve and I delve into the biophilic theory underpinning Serenbe’s design—along with the journey that took him from “having it all” in Ansley Park as a successful restaurateur to a life of deep nature connection for his family and Serenbe’s burgeoning community.

Show notes:

  • Serenbe’s origin story

  • Steve’s farming roots in Boulder, CO

  • Richard Louv and Last Child in the Woods

  • Why 68 percent of people don’t like where they live

  • “We have removed what I think are the two most important things for a vital life: and that’s connection to nature, and connection to each other”

  • The New Urbanist movement and inspiration from the English countryside

  • Preservation, development, and a model for balanced growth

  • The elephant in the room: affordable housing 

  • The problem with “intentional” communities 

  • The biophilic community, the awakening of intuition and Serenbe’s sacred geometry

Learn more about Serenbe (or maybe even plan a visit) on the Serenbe website, events page and Life at Serenbe blog. You can also check out Serenbe on Twitter and Instagram.

If you enjoyed this show, subscribe on iTunes so you don’t miss the next one (and don’t forget to leave a rating and review). The theme music is by Paul Damian Hogan.

The Everwild Way - Amanda Caloia and Elizabeth Wells

From bottom, left: Amanda Caloia and Elizabeth Wells of  EverWild . Photos:  Emily Hart Roth .

From bottom, left: Amanda Caloia and Elizabeth Wells of EverWild. Photos: Emily Hart Roth.

Society expects us to go down one path. And then if it doesn’t feel right or it doesn’t feel good, often we don’t know that there [are] other resources available.
— Elizabeth Wells
I think the biggest question that you could ask, and that [the Everwild kids] ask constantly, is: ‘I wonder…’
— Amanda Caloia

Our Season 1 finale is here! I can't imagine a more fitting close to our six-month journey than this interview with Amanda Caloia and Elizabeth Wells, two of the co-founders of EverWild—a Los Angeles-based community that connects city-dwellers to the wild through family adventures, conservancy projects, and a pioneering nature-immersion homeschooling program.  

Amanda's and Elizabeth's journeys to create EverWild (along with Rebecca Chou, not featured in this episode) mirror so much of what we’ve been searching for on this show: a connection to nature, yes; but also a connection to true, human community. After all, the wild places we made our home in our ancient human past wouldn’t have been survivable without the tribe that surrounded us. As I’ve come to recognize over these past 22 episodes, we’re hardwired to be in the fold. While the loss of nature is palpable, community is that unnamable thing we’re grasping for in an increasingly virtualized and individualized world. 

In my LA backyard (over foraged yerba santa tea, homemade pumpkin bread, and a smattering of airplane and mower noise), Amanda and Elizabeth and I chatted it up about the quest for the "perfect" place to live, surfing and skating (Amanda is a Longboard Girls Crew USA skater), homeschooling in the wild, and how they ultimately found “the EverWild way” of life. 

Thank you all for your incredible support this first season! I wish you lots of time to “uncivilize” in your own life until I'm back again this fall.   

Here’s what we talk about: 

  • Surfing, snowboarding and searching for the “perfect” place to live

  • How Amanda and Elizabeth balance living in the city with their need to be near nature

  • Elizabeth’s background: from Cape Town, South Africa to Santa Monica

  • Bee and wasp attacks

  • Navigating risk in Everwild’s classes and “bloops”

  • Why kids need to learn according to their internal clock

  • Amanda’s aha moment about outdoor education

  • Homeschooling, unschooling, LA Nature Kids, and the creation of EverWild

  • Elizabeth: “Like all of these choices we make, [EverWild] is a way of life.”

  • Child-led learning and David Sobel

  • A surprise guest co-host and a day in the life at EverWild

Want to learn more about the EverWild way? Check out EverWild’s programs and upcoming happenings on the EverWild website, where you can sign up for a free trial day for the homeschooling program. You can also follow their adventures on Facebookand Instagram. (And don’t miss Amanda’s personal IG page for some rad skating/surfing/snowboarding pics: @pandaskate.)

If you enjoyed this show, subscribe on iTunes so you don’t miss the next one (and don’t forget to leave a rating and review). The theme music is by Paul Damian Hogan. Want to chime in on this episode or have an idea for a future show? Connect with me via my Instagram page, I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Inspire Charter School
Kiss the Ground
Hahamongna Watershed Park
Backbone Trail
LA Nature Kids
Pam Laricchica's Exploring Unschooling podcast 
Red Rock Canyon State Park