"If you make the choice to come, you get the gift of being healed in whatever way that you need to be."
Near the southern edge of the Rocky Mountains lives a community of volunteers who seek to nurture themselves just as they nurture the wolves they care deeply about.
Mission Wolf: Experiment in Living is the story of rescued wolves on wild lands in Colorado and the volunteers who keep them alive. The stunningly beautiful hills near the Sangre de Cristo mountains is the home of a wolf refuge by the name of Mission:Wolf. It is an odd place—off the grid, snowed in in winter, run by an often-changing group of young people who strive to have a small footprint on the planet and to nurture themselves as they nurture the wolves. As Will, one of the volunteers, says, “You can be healed in whatever way you need to be.” However, it’s not always easy. The outside world intrudes in unexpected ways, and power dynamics from American society find their way into the refuge, causing confusion and interpersonal struggle.
The characters in the documentary are diverse: Kia and Nate are a married couple, lapsed Mormons whose foremost values are environmental sustainability and intentional community living. They often travel around the West in their beloved van, working jobs here and there. Rachel, from England, had an unsettled childhood—a father who died when she was young and a mother who became an alcoholic and mentally unstable after Rachel's father's death. Rachel finds working with wolves to be a healing experience, and she finds a sense of belonging and community for the first time among the volunteers at Mission: Wolf. Will is a Yale graduate who had limited experience living in the wilderness before coming to the refuge, where he lives in a teepee and talks about how the other volunteers “literally had to teach me how not to die.” Mike is a former child actor from Hollywood who always had a dream of running a wolf refuge. And Kent is the middle-aged creator of Mission: Wolf, the leader who is trying not to be the leader, as he wants the volunteers to find their own paths in the work and the life at the refuge.
The film will appeal to viewers interested in how wilderness impacts people and people impact wilderness. It’s also deeply about wolves, what’s left of wildness in the West of our country, and how an experiment in living impacts any of us who strive to leave mainstream urban life behind.