Raising a Wild Child: A New Film From the Born Wild Project

The Born Wild Project connects families with wilderness and wildness

Posted Dec 08, 2016

Getting youngsters off their butts and into the outdoors

I'm always interested in all efforts to get youngsters off their butts and into the outdoors (please see "Nature-Deficit Disorder Redux: Kids Need To Get Off Their Butts" and links therein). As part of individuals rewilding their heart, it's essential to have youngsters have firsthand experiences outdoors, learning about, appreciating, and respecting landscapes and other animals. 

An interview with Alisa May Geiser about "Raising a Wild Child"

Here, I'm very pleased to interview Alisa May Geiser of the Born Wild Project about their new film called "Raising a Wild Child' for which she was a producer. 

Why did you produce "Raising a wild child"?

It’s not breaking news that American kids are spending way too much time in front of screens (7 hours/day for 12-18 year olds), and way too little outside running free (4-7 minutes). Free time in nature teaches independence, physical coordination, problem solving, and important social and play skills. Kids learn to work with discomfort and discover their limits. Think about how creative you need to be to play Candy Crush on your iPhone, and compare that with the skills of imagination necessary to entertain yourself with a few sticks. Kids who spend time outside are healthier, smarter, and more socially capable: science will back that up, and if you ask your soul I bet it doesn’t argue. Then there’s the future environmental impact of an indoor generation: how can you love what you don’t know? If we want our children to protect this planet and especially its wild things and wild places, we need to help them build a relationship with it.

With permission of Aly Nicklas
Source: With permission of Aly Nicklas

My other driving force is the desire to reclaim child rearing as a valuable role in American society. Our culture of outsourcing childcare drives me nuts. It’s a point of pride to have a nanny, or an au pair. Teaching is one of the worst paid professional occupations in this country.  And we rank dead last among developed countries when it comes to maternity leave. I’ll argue anyone who wants an earful that raising the next generation is one of the most important responsibilities there is. So why don’t we celebrate it? Why do we create role models out of tippling celebrities, or wealth- and physique-obsessed sports stars? The moms of Raising a Wild Child have become celebrities in their own small right by committing themselves fully to raising their kids in this beautiful, inspiring way - and personally I find watching 12-month-old Huck go backcountry skiing in the Wasatch way more interesting than Vanessa Williams’ latest Botox. I hope that this kind of celebrity spreads. Power to the moms.

With whom did you do this awesome and inspiring project?

My friend Aly Nicklas and I run the Born Wild Project and the film series. My other friend Stephanie Sizemore is the project’s art director and built the website with me, and Morgan Brechler and Brooke Froelich, two of Raising a Wild Child’s subjects, have been very involved in our social media and content creation. We’re an estrogen powerhouse. It’s really convenient to have friends who are so damn talented and committed.

With permission of Aly Nicklas
Source: With permission of Aly Nicklas

Please tell me more about yourself and how you wound up doing this project

This film really created itself. It all started with a little photoshoot . . . three moms who’d met through Instagram approached Director Aly Nicklas to take some group photos of them and their kids. The photo shoot became a road trip, everyone got excited, and next thing you know, Aly was pulling me in for story consulting on a little five-minute film. She started an Instagram to share the adventure, and it blew up. Suddenly we had tens of thousands of parents fired up to get their kids outside . . . but needing some help opening the door.  They were looking for information, inspiration, and community. I know from science, and from the voice of my soul that the more time kids spend outside, the better off they and this world will be. I was shown the tools to open the door for these families. Of course I chose to pick them up and use them.

Me, I grew up rough and wild, and no one ever wanted to tame me except for one ex-boyfriend, and he got the boot. I cry at the beauty of sparkling of frost on a golden prairie, and go cross-eyed when I try to watch TV. My lifelong obsession with an art and story-driven love revolution has led me to photography, publishing, filmmaking, and above all the creation of viral campaigns for social good. Until every child on this earth is nourished and safe and loved for being the beautiful wild little creature that they are, I will keep fighting for them.

Please tell me more about your organization?

The Born Wild Project connects families with wilderness and wildness. We do this by curating and creating inspiring, informative media, and then sharing it across our social media networks with the hope of building a thriving community of rewilding families.

What are your major messages?

  • Not everything needs a tangible goal or end-point. Enjoy the journey.
  • You already have everything you need to get outside with your family.
  • Start small, start now.
  • Unstructured play outside is crucial for the health of children.
  • Raise a next generation who will protect this planet.
  • Nurture your wild side.

You’re an animal. Don’t forget that. Smell things, listen to the birds, feel the texture of your desk, taste the wind. Roll around in the leaves, climb a tree, howl under the stars. You may be surprised that these silly actions make you end up feeling more like yourself.  

Who is your intended audience?

Millennial families, but we hope to reach a much wider group of people.

Are you hopeful for the future?

Yes. Look at nebulas, or trees growing through the sidewalk. Nature always wins.

If humans can figure out how to exist in harmony with the other living things on this planet, we’ll get to stick around for a while and keep evolving and creating, and have the opportunity to do some really cool stuff, like figure out how to get to Kepler-62, and hang out with extraterrestrials.

If we stay on a track of species-wide narcissism, we’ll 86 ourselves from existence in a geological blink and take a lot of beautiful creations with us, but even our nuclear waste will be churned back into stardust eventually.

What are your current and future projects?

For Born Wild, we’re currently editing Wild Inheritance, which is my mother’s story of taking 18 of her kids and grandkids backpacking in the Wyoming backcountry. It’s a study in the risks and rewards of making wilderness and wildness the family jewels. These mountains are where we go to create ourselves and find each other, even those who are no longer with us. Our souls are always in those hills, our feet will have always left those tracks.   

This spring, we’ll begin producing Built Wild, which explores the creative ways humans can, do and must stay wild within urban environments.

The Born Wild crew will be hitting the road this summer to tour with the films and seek new partnerships for the Born Wild Project!

Aly and I just finished a short about a 50-mile run we just did from Boulder to Winter Park in training for running the 382-mile Oregon Coast trail this summer, which NOVA will also be making a film about. Tomorrow Aly is running a marathon up a volcano in Chile with the Merrell team!

Thank you so much Alisa. I loved your film and I hope it will reach a broad global audience. And, good luck with you future projects. We need to rewild education and get youngsters outside for their and our good. 

Marc Bekoff's latest books are Jasper's Story: Saving Moon Bears (with Jill Robinson), Ignoring Nature No More: The Case for Compassionate Conservation, Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed: The Fascinating Science of Animal Intelligence, Emotions, Friendship, and Conservation, Rewilding Our Hearts: Building Pathways of Compassion and Coexistence, and The Jane Effect: Celebrating Jane Goodall (edited with Dale Peterson). The Animals' Agenda: Freedom, Compassion, and Coexistence in the Human Age (with Jessica Pierce) will be published in early 2017.