This word raises a lot of questions for me. Is rewilding completely spontaneous and unplanned? Is it a dynamic and shifting decentralized process? What happens when industrialized capitalism crumbles, slowly, or all at once, and what impulses and powers make themselves known in that transition? What would happen if, absent of the structures we know, we were left to our own devices? I think that ideas of ‘wildness’ or a return to it can create a binary with domestication, or valorize an idea of the natural world that erases indigenous peoples. Rewilding might conjure images of chaotic overgrowth, or perhaps intentional shift and transformation in ways that undermine dominant oppressive social orders. Rewilding makes me think of plants overtaking concrete and asphalt, crumbling petro-materials that seemed infallible. But it also makes me wonder about the elder trying to walk through the crumbling path without stumbling. I hope that whatever ideas we envision about rewilding also imagine a path through the overgrowth.
Fatema Maswood is a landscape designer, educator and environmental artist of Tunisian and Bangladeshi descent. Their work explores food sovereignty, decentralized water infrastructure, soil remediation, and land justice. As the 2020-2021 Artist-in-Residence with the Providence Office of Sustainability they created a free, public collection of open-pollinated, heirloom, and culturally relevant seeds in partnership with Providence Community Libraries (provseedlib.com). Some of their past projects include modeling future cities with youth, interactive disaster preparedness games, and illustrated introductions to cooperative land ownership and economics.