After almost a year as working as Propriometrics Press’s marketing director, I finally had the opportunity to meet and connect with both Katy Bowman and Doniga Markegard in person, and get the chance to really #PracticeWhatYouPublish! Although I live in Portland and work remotely, I was lucky enough to be able to join Katy and Doniga at their Wildnerness Moves retreat and talk at the Patagonia headquarters in Ojai & Ventura, CA on September 22. For those who were unable to make it but are interested in what these types of events look like, this was my experience.
Katy and Doniga’s “Wildnerness Moves: Food and Farming Movements” retreat was held at a lovely farm in Ojai (Poco Farm) that is used mostly for teaching local school children about farming and livestock and where their food comes from. There’s a small orange orchard, a herd of goats, and very friendly proprietors. We started early in the morning with a circle of the 30–40 attendees to go around and say their favorite food movements, which ranged from picking fruits to grinding coffee to chewing.
Then Katy led us through some movement exercises, where she explained some of her teachings on alignment and the correct way of walking and carrying the load of our bodies. This was an invaluable in-person experience, since you were able to see Katy demonstrate both the right and wrong ways of holding, carrying, and moving your body!
After a short break, Doniga led us on a tracking hike in the area, where we examined the ways human involvement had changed the local landscape and looked for traces of animal activity. She pointed out raccoon tracks that led to a creekbed, and places where native live oaks thrived and where their environment was not ideal due to a lack of animal activity. It was amazing to be with Doniga as she shared techniques she had learned to look around our surroundings with owl eyes, and quietly walk like foxes through the terrain.
We then took a moment to eat an orange picked from the orchard—after asking for permission, as Doniga had taught us, and with Katy urging us to really be in tune with the experience of eating the orange— and then made ourselves useful on the farm by moving mulch around the orange trees, accidentally scaring a nest of mice in the process!
After some manual labor, making sure to move, squat, and carry as Katy had taught us in the beginning of the day, Poco Farm had set out a delicious and locally-sourced lunch for us that showcased the dairy, fruits, and vegetables grown in the area. To end the retreat, Doniga and Katy signed books that people bought or brought with them to the farm.
We were all exhausted and exhilarated by the morning, and met back up at the Patagonia flagship store in Ventura in the evening for Katy and Doniga’s talk on “Movement Matters: The Missing Piece from Our Sustainability Models.” The crowd at Patagonia was attentive and appreciative of Doniga and Katy’s in-depth discussion on how movement, food, farming, and sustainability all interconnect, and where we as a society are falling flat. It was especially poignant to see Doniga and Katy surrounded by Patagonia’s “Facing Extinction” climate action ads while talking about this topic! One thing Katy said sums it up well: “Eating without moving is not working for our bodies. Agriculture without movement is not working for the planet.”
I left these events with a renewed invigoration and a better sense of the concepts that both Doniga and Katy talk about in their books (Dawn Again for Doniga, and Movement Matters, Move Your DNA, etc. for Katy). If you ever get the chance to see one or both of these amazing, inspiring women in action, I highly recommend it!
And to see more, check out ABC 7’s Lori Corbin’s coverage of the event here!