The Society for the Preservation of

Wild Culture

Some background on our mission, history and current programs.

"At Work in the Fields of the City." New York's Highline, an elevated park streaming through the city. Sept. 12, 2011. Photo by Whitney Smith.


The Society for the Preservation of Wild Culture (Wild Culture) exists to discover, celebrate and preserve wild culture. Our goal is to use Wild Culture online and live events in local chapters to house a community of passionate individuals engaged in collaborative practice. To grow this community composed of individuals from different and even contrary backgrounds, Wild Culture espouses a loose set of values, aims and editorial boundaries.

The Wild Culture practice is about having conversations and sharing perspectives and visions about the world that result in creative work that appears online and/or in live events that somehow belongs within the rambling fences of 'wild culture'.

Ideally, dialogue leads to making. The clash of diverse ideas, disciplines and personalities often produces the most inventive results. For this reason convening a space where a different cast of mind and a diverse cast of characters is welcome is key to the fertilizing process. So far our experience has taught us that the steps of finding and making wild culture are fun, meaningful and, with luck, useful.

A Wild Culture Salon in Toronto in November 2011.

Throughout human history, the “wild” idea has triggered great change. Wild Culture stipulates that human societies currently have problems that are too large and too complicated for a single hierarchical structure or movement to solve, and that a series of multi-leveled approaches to addressing these problems is required. The Wild Culture approach is one of many.

Our approach is rooted in the belief that hope resides in every individual, and that such hope is nurtured by the opportunity for the individual to know how his or her creative power and passion can be accessed, and, how to connect collective power with what needs to be done in the world, especially in one's local place.

"Rhetoric Series, #1". © Photo by Whitney Smith. All rights reserved.

The Wild Culture community brings people together who have a different cast of mind on a particular thing or things, who have a tolerance for ambiguity, and who are engaged in activities that reside outside the norm and slightly sideways of center. Wild Culture loves the air and terrain outside the walls of the mainstream, yet enjoys the view peeking in. Despite the need for good critical assessment, judging takes a back seat to the play of ideas. We feel that a great number of people have notions similar to these, and that many cultivated minds contain a wild part that wants expression. Our online platform and live events are designed to be a home for the community's discourse and the products that spring forth from it.


Assessing the results of a Cardjam, which we use as a warm-up and a kind of

trigger for editorial ideas, and to get out of the box as quickly as possible.

Below: a four card sample from the 28-card set.


Historically, The Society for the Preservation of Wild Culture was established in 1981 by Whitney Smith for the purpose of producing a series of art performances that fostered innovative cultural critiques by artists on the subject of wild foods. Wild Culture was manifested most prominently in the literary magazine The Journal of Wild Culture, was based on the terrain that intersected ecology and imagination, the relationship between species and habitat, the human and the non-human, and ideas that emerge from the question of what happens when humans are disconnected from an intimate experience with nature.

The early stage of Wild Culture also recognized that human creativity could be brought to bear on the quickly accelerating consciousness of environmental problems — but without the doom, gloom and pained earnestness. Through its magazine and live events the organization combined with a certain level of scholarly and critical substance with the quirky, irreverent, playful and fun. Mind Mulch. Head Humus. Cranium Compost.

Wild Culture 2.0. Today, the new iteration of Wild Culture welcomes participation from a much broader range of practitioners, and so the parameters of what wild culture is and who might want to get aboard are greatly expanded — even outside the filter of ecology and imagination. In broadening the playing field, we acknowledge that every person, no matter what their avocation or interest, looks at certain things from a different angle. Ecological problems, for instance, may require the input of electrical engineers. Cultural troubles may benefit from solutions put forth by computer programmers. Economic conundrums may be decoded by poets. The search for wild culture in the world is also the search for wild culture from many point of views. We invite you to define yourself in.

A single creative spark might not launch a revolution, but it can ignite the next idea, and the one after that. Wild Culture's aim is to convene live events locally and online for a new community where ideas and passions can be shared, crafted into works and vetted — and funded by the community members themselves. Fundamental to this process is the need to serve as a connection point between disparate individuals in the hope that the relationships they form will lead to examples of meaningful wildness.

May each of us live a life wild with purpose.


With thanks to Brandy Dean.

The SPWC is developing a currency model of Wild Culture Acorns for work done on our various projects.

(Drawing of Mr. & Ms. Acorn by Brad Harley)


Table of contents page from The Journal of Wild Culture, Vol. 1, No. 3.




• Wild Culture Salons, every Wednesday excluding the second Wednesday of the month. Conversation, group discussion and brain-storming.

Wild Culture New Vaudeville, at the Rivoli, next on February 8. Avant-garde variety show comprised of short performances and presentations of all kinds (wild cultural) of seven minutes of less.

• Landscape Readings. Walking tours led by local artist. TBA.


• Wild Culture New Vaudeville, late March.

Charlatan Tours, monthly since November 2009.


• Wild Culture New Vaudeville, TBA.

• Landscape Reading, TBA.

For information about booking Wild Culture Talks, please contact Whitney Smith.



Cover from The Journal of Wild Culture, Vol. 1, No. 3.