With the launch of the Shemanese a few months ago it quickly became apparent that people really enjoyed the "new" logo that LT Wright Handcrafted Knives put on the blade for us. We have since put it on some hats and will very soon add it to some shirts as well.
What is most surprising about this, is that it is hardly new at all. It has been with us for over a decade now. We just decided to bring it out and showcase it a bit by putting it on the knife the way we did. My purpose in putting this post together is to point out the important points of the design, and its deep importance to myself and what I intended the Nature Reliance School (NRS) and community-at-large to be.
Our current logo, seen here, has been a part of what we do at Nature Reliance School since about 2009. I started formally teaching courses to friends and family in 2006 and was using a logo that I designed. It was terrible.
In 2009, I contacted Surge Promotions in Richmond, KY to design a quality logo based on some things that I liked. The graphic designer actually met with me and we talked for quite some time about what I intended NRS to be and to do. I also brought along some items that had importance to me, and that I felt represented what was at the heart of the future NRS. Two of the things that I took with me were:
- A longhunter's knife that was hand-forged for me by one of my good friends.
- Some Castanea dentata (American Chestnut) leaves from some trees that survived the blight.
I took several other items, but I will focus on those two here since they made it to the logo. What we also did during the day of our discussion is come up with a slogan that I felt fit the future of the organization. The slogan ended up being "Where Practical Meets Natural" and has always been a part of the logo as well.
I have used many different outros and mottos over the years for my videos and written work. Most notably the first one I used was, “I hope to see you on, or off, the trail.” I used that one in most of my video work with Dan’s Depot and for quite a while on the Nature Reliance School blogs and videos as well. Sometime very early on, NRS Instructor Tracy Trimble came up with the slogan “Come on, join in, let’s learn together”. We have been using it ever since, as it really seems to encompass who it is and what we are very well. I use it as my outro for nearly all my video work now.
With that said, "where practical meets natural" is still, to this day, the foundation of who and what we are. We always wanted to get people outside, sometimes that takes the form of teaching survival, bushcraft, land nav and similar course work. What we also intended for this to become was an organization that developed a great awareness of nature, its value, and its importance to all of us.
When Nature Reliance School was just an idea in my head, I took a look around and saw so many “survival” schools, schools of “self-reliance” and similar. To me survival is reactive and while that is sometimes necessary, I prefer to teach our students to be pro-active. Meaning, I want them to go take care of themselves and be the rule, not the exception. Yes be prepared for that exception, but don’t go out planning to be that exception. That is where the “Where practical…” part of our slogan comes into play. Secondly, here are some thoughts regarding the concept of self-reliance. Self-reliance is vitally important but no-one relies solely on self in the modern era. Yes, we must prepare ourselves, but without the natural resources that surround us both in nature and in the modern world, very few people can exist. Is it not obvious that water and food are natural resources? If you get the majority of your water everday from a faucet then you are reliant on nature. Primitive and modern people have relied on both self and nature, in my humble opinion they are equally important.
The question must be asked then, why the knife and leaf in the logo? Here is why.
The knife is a drawing that the graphics designer made of the knife I mentioned above. It is a hand-forged replica of a long hunter's knife that I was gifted nearly 30 years ago. To me, it represents modern-day skills built upon the backs of the legends that came before us. I spoke of this quite a bit when I launched the Shemanese knife I designed (built by LT Wright Handcrafted Knives). As one of my mentors is fond of saying, most of what we do in the survival, bushcraft, and outdoor communities has been done before. There is very little originality anymore. Acknowledging, that our skill sets, and what we teach is due mostly to what they did before us. It is simply disingenuous and unethical to teach and not acknowledge those who have taught you. Whether it is in person, from a book, or from a video. We give a tip of the hat to those that came before us with that knife as part of our logo.
The leaf in the logo (yes it is a leaf) has caused some slight confusion. Some people have told me they thought it is a tobacco leaf (representative of Kentucky) or a feather from a bird. The leaf is a drawing from a leaf that I took from an American Chestnut tree. Yes, that American Chestnut. The species that many people believe have all died. There are still small remnants of them in wild places. I told the Kentucky Division of Forestry where some were many years ago in exchange for them testing the tree I took the leaf from and verifying it was American Chestnut and not a hybrid of some sort. They did, and it is verified.
In the early 1900s, a blight nearly killed all American Chestnuts in our country. I have always seen that event as a metaphor for our country. It was at that same time, mostly due to the world wars, that our country put an extreme emphasis on industrialization and left behind the Jeffersonian ideals of agrarianism and nature as a common interest. I do enjoy many of the things that have come from that industrialization. I also lament that we have lost sight of nature and what all it offers. That is why the leaf is part of our logo. In my mind, it metaphorically represents the loss of outdoor nature skills. I see Nature Reliance School as an organization that is much like those small remnants of chestnut trees not so easily found in the forest. Our school and its focus is not like all the others, it is a remnant that focuses on practical and natural skills together in a way where we build one another up, rather than tear one another down. That is where the “…..meets natural” comes into play in our slogan.
There you have it. In a world that creates brands and names based upon google search keywords, so they can be more easily found, Nature Reliance School has become a community of teachers and students that are a tad bit hidden but remain steadfast in our ethics, stewardship, and our desired positive growth of one another. Sometimes that comes in training a US military man-tracking team, other times that comes from teaching school kids and adults that tulip poplar buds look like a duck's bill. All of it pertains to being more situationally aware, and proactive with our involvement in the outdoors.
Thank you to all of our current and former students, both near and far, that have joined us in support of the ideals of this logo. As director of NRS I am humbled and joyed you have been with us, are here now, or will be in the future.
I certainly hope to see you on, or off, the trail sometime soon. If not then please by all means, come on, join in, let’s learn together!