For this week’s Spotlight, We Fight chatted with co-founder Gretchen Evenhouse of Wild + Wonder TC — a space for young people and their parents to come together, learn, and grow. Storytimes focus on emotional awareness, social justice, and building community. Founders Gretchen Evenhouse and Christine Straley are also members of We Fight!
How would you describe Wild and Wonder to a stranger?
Wild + Wonder came from the belief that raising little humans should not happen in isolation- especially after the last 2+ years we’ve lived through. Parenting is built on trial and error and it goes a heck of a lot smoother when we know how to support our child’s social emotional wellness and development, navigate the challenges, and know we are not alone in our experiences.
What are some of the primary goals of your work?
Honoring the wild and leaning into the wonder of our children alongside a solid community of support.
Where we are going + what we hope for:
Currently, we are offering social emotional + social justice story times and events, and community connection with events throughout the Traverse City community. Our greatest hope is that in the very near future we will move into a brick + mortar space of our own!
Wild + Wonder will offer a professionally curated market of books and resources, story times, parent workshops, a child-led play space with various gross motor, fine motor, and sensory opportunities for children to use and play on within the space and more!
The belief that as humans, we are doing the best we can with the resources we have access to is foundational to the work of Wild + Wonder. The values of a community program such as this are rooted in finding people’s strengths, desire for social emotional wellness for young people, as well as social justice.
What are you most proud of about the work you do at Wild and Wonder?
The aspect of the work Wild + Wonder has done so far that I’m most proud of lies in the community support and enthusiasm. It is such an exciting experience to have a caregiver or community member express their gratitude for the concept that we are and hope to be for the Traverse City community.
Presenting at TC New Tech Pitch Night was also really amazing, as well as receiving the Fulfillament Grant this spring. Those two opportunities truly gave us such validation, pride, and momentum to keep plugging along and working towards our goals for this business.
Wild + Wonder is giving prevention strategies and support to the important work of raising our next generation of kind, inclusive, and emotionally well humans and that in itself makes me proud. I have also been so proud of the events we have hosted so far- the turn out of families, connections made, and feedback has been just lovely.
What’s a favorite memory or experience you’ve had so far in your programming?
Hands down, one of the best memories for us was the Rainbow Story Time we put together in collaboration with Up North Pride, Dharamsala Yoga, Mindful + Music, and Brilliant Books. This was an event that was such a labor of love and it was amazing! This was our largest event to date and the community showed up for rainbows, love, and kindness!
We started off with reading two beautiful, inclusive books and then transitioned into music with Miriam Pico. Miriam ended our time together singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and there were many tears of hope, joy, and love in the room- children dancing with their grown ups, all types of families singing together, showing their PRIDE. It was extremely special and validated the work Wild + Wonder stands for in this community.
How can folks get involved, or support you?
Join us for a walk in the woods, on a llama farm, at our Community Rising event, or for one of our Body Safety and Consent workshops. Please share these events with your community, family, and friends. Hope to see you there!
If you have been to any of our events (and loved it!)- a Story Time at Elev8, Rainbow Story Time for Pride, or a Wander with Wild + Wonder- we would love to hear from you. Please leave us a review!
Whether you share an event or our Instagram or Facebook pages…every new follower is a life we can touch, support, and connect with. Always feel free to reach out to us for guidance, support or to tell us what you hope to see from us.
The We Fight Spotlight aims to shine a light on the many organizations working toward a northern Michigan where everyone plays a role in protecting our kids’ mental health.
If you’d like to have your organization spotlighted contact us at email@example.com.