Winter is now fast upon us and there is some palpable excitement for us here at The Fringeologist!
First of all, I’m thrilled to announce that our ski season is officially getting underway this weekend. This is a banner year indeed because I have officially completed my Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC) certification and have been welcomed aboard our local ski patrol!
Full confession – it was not an easy pass. I’m really throwing myself back into the world of riding pretty intensely these past five years. There were moments that I felt very overloaded by the scenarios–no matter how mock. I’ve got plenty still to learn and tie the knot on in terms of process. But I’ve got an incredibly supportive team and I’m genuinely looking forward to being a help to injured skiers and snowboarders this Winter on the hill. I’m also looking forward to being a part of a new cohort of trainers for this year’s incoming candidates.
Completing OEC also dove-tailed nicely with completion of my Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certification–which I undertook through NOLS in Estes Park, CO this past month (November). I tell people who express an interest in getting outdoor care education that there is no other organization that I can endorse as wholeheartedly as NOLS. I was blown away by the fidelity of the instructors to the curriculum, and the strength of that curriculum to cut through a lot of medical and technical information to just help equip students with solid skills that they can use in the backcountry. When you get through a NOLS course you feel like one of the elite and like you’ve been through something really special.
Here at The Fringeologist we are all about exposing the public and interested readers to the journey of one person (little old me) going out into the world and into the backcountry to get the skills they need to re-wild their direct experience. We’re trying to show anyone who might be interested that if you have the means, and more importantly you have the will-power, you can move yourself beyond a mundane life of staring at your device or your computer screen all day. There are great adventures to get up to in the wild environs of our backyards and beyond.
A lot of these backcountry trainings I’ve invested in with the resources that my tribal nation has made available to me are professional development opportunities that are geared towards the entrepreneurial project that is Fringe Digital. Fringe Digital has taken an innovative approach to its business development–namely harnessing touch-points in the online and digital space to circle audiences and partners back toward getting their hands dirty and feet wet in the real world. Fringe Digital takes as its long-term objective the challenging task of breaking unhealthy personal addictions to technology and institutional obsessions with technological solutionism. Whenever and wherever possible it aims to do this through immersive outdoor experiences, or at the very least, radical advocacy for in-person and analog alternatives.
This coming January (2022) will mark the one-year milestone of Fringe Digital operations. As the Founder and Chief Consultant I’ve learned so much in this first year of experimentation.
For example, I’ve realized that working with cultural and academic institutions on decolonizing content and methodologies in digital spaces can be very slow for progress. In one recent project that involved place-based storytelling through virtual app development, it became clear that expansive and fluid notions of sacred space, time, and territories for indigenous communities do not always play nicely with an insistence on a fixed set of data points–things like date, time, and geolocation for example. Forced migration patterns and seasonal hunting and gathering routes are resistant to simple search, retrieval, and one-time rendering. In yet another project geared towards standards development, it became clear that a very ambitious, virtuous, and global effort to indigenize data made itself heavily contingent upon settler-oriented outputs, infrastructures, and systems for consuming and processing that data despite the standards that were giving it a more indigenous definition.
Fringe Digital has been honored and privileged to participate and contribute to projects such as these–the first example being very local and the second example being very global. At the same time, they have helped our consulting business understand the limits of our impact and effectiveness.
Starting in January, we’re going to make a very strategic shift in our business model and our focus on partners and audiences. In our last post, we pointed readers to the launch of Fringe Digital’s inaugural publication–[dys+-(u)topia]. We’re very excited about [dys+-(u)topia] as a creative and scholarly contribution to the decolonization movement, particularly where it intersects with digital content, spaces, and platforms. Beginning in January, Fringe Digital will be hunkering down to become a full-blown small-press/micro-press publisher and media development corp. Our Fringe Labs will be our main research, production and printing space. In our next issue of [dys+-(u)topia], we’ll unpack this change in more detail–so stay tuned!
But suffice it to say, we’ll no longer be investing time, energy, and resources on advancing decolonization through direct consultation on projects with academic or cultural partners. Time and time again the end product and the ownership and maintenance of the product is never fully indigenized from our perspective. This has a lot to do with the very intractable settler colonial cultures of institutions and their tendency to conform to prevailing norms when it comes to the digital domain. Fringe Digital can have a lot more impact tearing down and transforming those norms from outside of these institutions and their embedded projects.
Moving Fringe Digital away from consulting and direct outreach/education to community and institutional partners means that all of the professional development we’ve been undertaking to facilitate immersive outdoor experiences with such groups can come into its own. In some ways this has been the catalyzing role of Fringe Digital all along, namely to enable my work to more fully make the leap from the virtual into the analog.
So, starting in January visitors to our top-level author site for Fringe Digital (mgschultz.com), will get the chance to learn a little bit more about me and how I can consult with them directly in a wellness and life-coach capacity. Whether you are interested in building a life plan for yourself to detox and decolonize your digital life, or you are just interested in taking your direct experience with nature and the outdoors to a new level, we’ve got the background, trainings, and certifications to work with you.
Exciting stuff! Keep following along here at The Fringeologist. We’ll post here again in January on the heels of our next big training–a 5-Day Winter Skills Immersion in the backwoods of Maine at the one and only Maine Primitive Skills School. See you then!