Why I love Wilderland

Focussing on the important things in life was one of the aims of my time away and Wilderland feels to me like it epitomises this. The style of work really gives people free head space to think about what they care about, and to share some of life’s positives rather than always worrying about the negatives. Plus of course even the work itself is centred around life’s basics: food production, shelter, water provision and making the most of the natural resources.

Some reasons why I love Wilderland

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“She lifts her skirt up to her knees, walks through the garden rows with her bare feet, laughing”
A lyric from the beautiful Empty by Ray Lamontagne. Feels like I see it here daily!

There is no requirement to look a certain way.
People help with building work wearing a skirt and bare feet [I’m not going to do this I’m still far too sensible!] They do gardening in whatever clothes make them feel happy and comfortable. There’s no conforming to social standards about appearance or natural hair growth or fashion or interests or taste. This goes the other way too: if you’re comfortable with the social standards, that’s perfectly fine as well. This is wonderfully liberating – I don’t really hear the word ‘should’ in this kind of context here. Some people reading this might think they wouldn’t agree with that or feel comfortable, but it’s worth remembering that whenever you tell someone they ‘should’ look a certain way, you’re putting pressure on them to be someone other than themselves.

When we’re working, we’re all treated like human beings
The work is not for profit, it’s for sustainability. So every little bit helps and there’s no-one pushing you to give more than you’re able to give. People care about people’s well-being, and as long as you’re trying, whatever that may result in, it’s good enough. If you’re not up to a certain task that day, you do something else instead.

There’s variable work
A given task is usually relatively repetitive, which means you know what you’re doing after just a short time and don’t have to think about it too much after that. Whilst being productive, you can get to know your fellow workers, which is often a slightly different small group each day, and you can change what you’re doing the next day so it doesn’t get boring.

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The work-life balance is great
As a wwoofer here, to earn my food and accommodation I only have to work half a day, 6 days a week, then the afternoons and evenings are my own or I can contribute further if I want to. The long-termers have more responsibility and often want to progress their own projects in the afternoons as well. There are interns passionately studying permaculture, so they have more to do to fill their time. In general, people are doing things because they want to, and everyone’s learning, so they’re happier, which is wonderful to be around!

I’m not saying it’s a perfect place; as with everything, people have their disagreements, people make mistakes, some people make more mess than others, some people work harder than others or make smarter decisions and some people have more dominating characters than others. But there’s good interdependence at work. In general everyone believes in what they’re doing, because it’s all for themselves and each other and for the good of the land. People generally find it quite hard to leave!

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Posted in How I'm feeling, New Zealand, People, Volunteering, Wilderland

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