Skip to content

You're here because you're no "Mr. Jones" — You're here as our brothers, or sisters, our kin.

Excerpt from the Book

“We must decide if Homo sapiens are mammals or mini gods. Are we created in the divine’s image to stand special and above, or created in the divine’s image, like everyone else, our cousins, to kneel alongside? A life controlled is a life less real and, soon enough, it will become a life not at all.”

Stagtine: Kincentric Rewilding, Science, & A Tale of Letting Go

Be Life > A Living

D. Firth Griffith

Does Soil Health Matter?

A Letter From the Author

Dear Regeneration,

I was wrong. It was not you. It was me. Is me.

Starting out in this story, we find ourselves nestled but unsettled in some perplexity. I am hesitant to name this thing, this story and its imaginative and creative sciences, as names gives us something to hold on to but also something that allows us to feel like we can hold anything at all. The best somethings cannot be held—a red-tail in flight, a white spring speckled ungulate under her oaken bungalow, a yellow-orange eyed feather that at once flutters by my head and at once also flutters by yours, a passing smile, a moment, Earth.

I give this trilogy away under the guise of “kincentric rewilding.” But make no mistake. We do not have time for such mistakes. It is only a guise, a veil on this happy day that will pass, mature, and transform into something else very soon. Life is change and we live on an orb of ever bouncing particles that also seems like an ever changing playground of impermanence and this change makes life what it is: beautiful and real. This impermanence is also a guise. Make no mistake about it. Unhappy impermanence is degeneration in the fullest sense and happy impermanence is what kincentric rewilding wants to be: stalwartly in place but also unwaveringly waving across the pull of time. Anything permanent mocks life’s impermanence and everything impermanent becomes more eternal when it decides to be more temporal. In place, here, now.

If this book was better published, it would have been titled Kincentric Rewilding and not Stagtine. If this book was better published, it would have been written to convince you that Kincentric Rewilding is the next fad, what will soon be in vogue, and what will soon save the world. If this book was better published, it would capitalize Kincentric Rewilding as a term, a human-created phrase to copyright and trademark and own. If this book was better published, it would be a published book that was well positioned to sell and not a gift that will position you to live, actually and fully (if you have yet to do so, turn back a few pages and read the copyright).

Gifts are not for us to hold, but to hold us. And this is my hope at the very least and also at the very most: that this gift holds you and in its holding you change with it. Yes, this book will change with you, if you allow yourself to change with it. And I guess, if I know anything at all, I imagine that this is the very nature of kincentric rewilding. It is everything but not everyone’s; it cannot be owned; it is life in the full sense and not a life that is full of things.

Please, if you do anything, hold this loosely, hold life loosely, and let her fly away when she wants—the red-tail, the fawn, the butterfly. All I ask in all this perplexity is that you never capitalize it, never allow it to be a “thing” in life—like Regenerative Agriculture or Holistic Management®.

Over the last fifteen years, my wife Morgan and I have walked our way through the complex array of health and health journeys in a meager and humble attempt to save my life. That was our goal. From the bottom up, we just wanted some extra years for me to enjoy. We did what all good, new farmers at the time were told to do: regenerate the land and do it yourself, alone, hard! For years, we beat our heads and bloodied hands; for years, we put the soil on a pedestal and our two and four legged cousins in cages to regenerate it; for years, we strove to “feed our community” by growing and raising and producing every morsel of food possible from market gardens to chickens to ducks to goats to lambs to cattle to pigs to tree crops to agrotourism and “rural experiences” for the urban elite.

Five years in, we began to notice the shortcomings of regeneration and local food systems and that both were being greenwashed from the inside and the outside, mostly from the inside.

But we walked on, truculently and intentionally setting blaze to the commercial ligaments of this internal, industrial greenwashing, believing that the heart of the regenerative and the agrarian approach was worth saving. We read books and supported authors who wrote about such things—the return of the agrarian ethic, the rural revival, the hope of a local-food economy. But there was a problem—there is always a problem when writers write about a life that does not and has never existed. If we were to return to this agrarian ethic, growing food locally, we would yet have both of our feet in the industrial capitalist and sticky complex that surrounds our rural revival with pointed weapons and denudes this reawakening’s hurrah with chains. What is the difference between these well-intentioned rural mythologies and the well-intentioned urban marketing of better foods produced in moderately better soils? What is the difference between worshiping the old rural landscape of yesteryear or celebrating the new industrial foodscape of today? What is the difference between chemically killing bugs and weeds in monocrop corn fields (degenerative agriculture) and enslaving and caging our two and four legged cousins in pastured CAFOs?

Being at a loss to resolve these questions, I am resolved to tell you a tale.

One afternoon nearly a year ago, we were tired, deflated by the work and the deep lack of hope we were feeling. I had just left a meeting where I was told by folks who are leaders in the Regenerative Agriculture movement that, what we really need to do is “simply get rid of all the local farmers and plant a few large farms in their place. That—,” the individual said as he pointed across the table at me, “—would solve all of your problems.”

I felt the rush of blood pulse, unkindly, through my bulging veins and a deep sense of hopelessness saturated around my nerves—like an poisoning herb in boiling water. I got up and left the meeting. I got up and left. And in some larger sense, I never returned.

About an hour later, I received a phone call from the community’s organizer, a non-profit organization trying their best. He said, “If I was a better man, I would have walked out with you.” I returned, “If I was a better man, I would have stayed.”

Later that day, I opened my email to an aggressive letter of an unwanted but truly needed critique. “You have totally misunderstood Regeneration,” the author wrote. “It is not about all these wonderful things, utopia and all that. It is not about what you say. It is about cover crops and soil health. It is about getting better. Not best. You are disillusioned.”

Reading the email, I felt myself come into tears. I felt myself meeting myself, for the first time in a long time. And I felt myself doing something I never do—respond. I hit “reply” and wrote a simple email back. “Thank you, deeply. You are right. It is not you. It is not regeneration. It is me.”

Yes, the person in the meeting and the person writing the email were and are completely correct—regeneration is not about a more beautiful or more free and autonomous world. It is not about life. And that is okay.

In the midst of all of this, our own struggling regenerative farm had transitioned to a kincentric rewilding landscape. But we were not yet prepared to talk about it. To be honest, we had little reason to believe that it would work (for us or our non-human relations) and so we kept silent, kept piloting and kept researching.

Across it all, something was missing. Something is always missing when you try to control your way out of a problem that was constructed, initially, out of control. We are the latecomers to the party who, after drinking the last cup of party punch, commandeered the karaoke and declared, “Everyone! Stop what you are doing and come taste this punch!” Until we openly acknowledge this, allowing its potency to flow, unhindered but not without pain, through our veins, no social or ecological good may well come about.

If this book or gift that you hold in your hands is anything, it is an open acknowledgment that our modern worldview isn’t working. It is an open acknowledgement that letting go of our mastery over the meadow is not about questioning if it works or if it doesn’t. If this book and its trilogy says anything, it says that I do not buy your premises—that Earth cares for our capitalism (“you cannot regenerate if you are not profitable”), that we need to save the world (“we must sequester carbon to solve climate change”), that nutrient-rich foods come from enslaved soils (“soil health alone matters”), and so on. Every idea in this book and trilogy can be reduced, improperly but still clearly, to this statement—I do not buy your premises.

We are the latecomers, and our world is a punchless party and it is time to give the karaoke back to the singers.

Over the last twelve months, a troupe of ideas rolled its way through me and, while I tried, hard but not incuriously, to let them pass, their power triumphed. They awakened me to wonders simultaneously common and uncommon, humdrum and magical.

The last six months have been fueled by this reawakened sense—a sincere purpose mixed, sometimes rudely, with old dreams and new thoughts. I have been secretly working on bringing these ideas together in the form of three brand new books and feel blessed to be able to share them with you. I’m extremely proud of them, as each book embodies different aspects of an awakening consciousness that has forced me to grow personally and in interesting ways.

Each book carries us, step by step, through the transition of our home, what we refer to as The Wildland, from a struggling regenerative farm to a paradigm-shattering and kincentric rewilding landscape, focusing on different aspects of our story and their supporting reflections and science. Book I, Stagtine, offers our tale of transition. Book II, Cliffhawk, details the emergent properties following our release, and Book III, Spearhead, gives voice to the land and its yet “wild” animals.

You see, Earth was never invited into our worldview. She was never asked to speak at our conferences. Her definition of “working” was never considered. In return, she has retreated away in grief. Her retreat is what I believe climate change to be. These three books, I think, are about the hope found when we let go, give our non-human relations the voice (not a voice but the voice), and begin to accept our role as dreamwalkers, as humble but active participants in this great and ancient and as yet unfinished story.

The writing of these books is a silent process of filtration through filaments, strings, intention, and accidents, ultimately woven together through both fortune and design. Anyone who reads anything knows that sometimes the best somethings are found through unexpected discoveries at local, used bookshops or on forgotten library shelves. But these wonderful somethings, at least in my own experience, do not simply manifest themselves into being. Thousands of hours are spent considering research and reflecting and then even more are spent distilling the already overflowing cauldron to bring just one book to life, let alone a trilogy. But I hope that this one in particular is particularly impactful to you. That is my hope. My hope at the very least and also at the very most.

Well, this is the end of the letter. I quite agree that it is superfluous and perhaps too long for your taste. I have been told that my books start too slowly. “Get to the meat! You cannot keep people waiting for the book to start.” one Senior Editor at a publishing company told me when I queried (unsuccessfully) this book that you hold in your hand.

But I leave this letter with you. Since it is written, let it stand. And now to the story.