Sue Bridge is Wildside's founder and current resident steward;. She hires and supervises Wildside's interns, consultants and vendors, schedules classes given by local institutions, works on the land, and conducts individual and small group tours of the cottage and gardens.
Some years ago, Sue began to understand that the ripple effects of climate change and human over-population are likely to present future generations with a very difficult future. Her initial thought was to build a homestead to see if deep green living as currently understood could be a practical reality for herself, and thus perhaps a way for others to gain greater personal control of their food and energy supplies. Early on, though, as dozens of people heard of what she was attempting and asked to visit, it became clear that Wildside should be open to the public.
Now a healthy, happy seventy-something, Sue sees taking pragmatic measures at the local and regional level as increasingly urgent, since actions taken now may help avert great suffering for generations to come. With no children of her own, she has come to feel that "All children are my children." Eventually Wildside will be left to the non-profit corporation formed for this purpose (Wildside Cottage & Gardens Inc.), and managed as the exciting experimental and teaching platform it has become, long into the future.
Sue takes special pleasure in Wildside's hands-on approach. The Wildside project follows a lifetime of pro-social engagements at the United Nations, teaching at university, working at the Christian Science Monitor, and supporting health care reform and environmental causes. However, all this work involved urging others to change: to distribute wealth, cease polluting, stop wars, legislate solutions and so forth. At Wildside she finds a deeper joy in communicating by example -- learning to manage the cottage's solar-powered systems through high heat and deep cold, understanding the usefulness of a composting toilet, and out on the land, planning, watching, planting, nurturing, keeping notes, replanting, preserving, studying, sharing.
Seeking to follow Gandhi's advice to "Be the change you want to see."
Jono Neiger designed Wildside's gardens; he has long professional experience in landscape design, land restoration and permaculture, is on the faculty at the Conway School for Landscape Design, and a partner in Regenerative Design Group in Greenfield, MA.
Sarah Shields is an herbalist, farmer and owner of a small company which produces natural body care products and teas; she and her family are long-time pioneers in energy efficiency, food production and preservation. Her husband, Keith, built Wildside Cottage.
Tom Bridge owns Durango Nursery and Supply in Durango, CO, specializing in native and xeric plants, soils and soil amendments. He has worked in mining in the Yukon, fishing in Alaska, and has owned a hydroponic vegetable production company. He is Sue's brother.
Josh Morse is in his third year at Franklin Land Trust in Shelburne Falls MA, where as Land Steward he coordinates the land trust's popular volunteer easement monitoring program. He intends to go to graduate school in forestry and environmental studies in the fall of 2015.