I’m Jessica Carew Kraft. I’ve always been a writer and an artist, but my medium keeps changing. My first non-fiction book, Wild Skills, will be published by Seal Press in 2021. It’s about my journey to learn from people who reject the comforts and convenience of civilization to live in nature using pre-historic tools and skills. Weaving tales of my own Stone Age adventures with the latest scientific knowledge about human pre-history, I explore what motivates rewilders to adopt an extreme lifestyle, why they believe wild skills are an urgent priority during digital transformation and climate change, and how we can all benefit from the wisdom of early humans.
My reporting on health, culture, and education has been published in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Forbes, KQED, Christian Science Monitor, ARTNews, YOGA Magazine, NBC News online, and other publications. I also ghost-write, co-write and edit books.
My journalism is activism. I reported from Tunisia about its post-revolutionary arts scene, covered emerging mindful tech designers at Stanford, and was the first to write about a racial controversy in collegiate debate competitions for the Atlantic.com, in an article that ended up going viral (and inspired an episode of This American Life). My San Francisco Chronicle investigation into Medi-Cal exposed its unjust genetic testing policy. One year later the California Senate took up the matter. I’ve shed light on many hidden environmental hazards and chronicled the underside of sustainable food (Yes, I dumpster dove!). I’ve also published graphic memoir essays about motherhood in Motherwell Magazine, Hip Mama and Mutha Magazine. Literary Mama published an interview with me in 2017.
I’m a California Naturalist and teach a certification course for people who would like to connect more deeply to local ecology. I am a member of the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto and a “creative in residence” at The Battery social club. I used to make Jewish wedding documents (called ketubahs), paint public murals as a community service, and sew quite shabbily. I like to pretend I speak French. If I’m not trail-running, I’m dancing.
Before all of this, I earned a B.A. in sociology and anthropology from Swarthmore College and then pursued cultural anthropology for a Master’s at Yale. No one told me not to acquire another graduate degree in cultural studies from the University of London. I spent 7 years prostrate to the higher mind as an adjunct instructor (now I’m free!)
I live in the East Bay with my two daughters, ages 11 and 7. We surf the hills on our electric bike, and road-trip to the woods and skills gatherings in our tiny home. One day we’ll transcend the nuclear family and create a wild live/work co-op inspired by Dancing Rabbit and Mr. Plumbean’s house. Let me know if you want to join.