The state of masculinity is up for grabs. What we think of as masculine is shifting and the stigma around men and their emotions has become outdated. Evryman, an organization dedicated to helping men connect to their deeper feelings so they may live more successful, fulfilling lives, relies on the power of the woods to create an open space for men to dive into depths previously uncharted. Dan Doty, co-founder of Evryman believes nature begins to sync men up with what they feel in the moment. He talks to Sand about establishing Evryman.
Tell us a bit about Evryman and its origins.
Evryman is a co-creation between many men, but primarily between myself and the other co-founders, Owen Marcus, Lucas Krump, and Sascha Lewis. I met Owen and Sascha in the context of two different men's groups I had been a part of in my younger days; one in NYC and one in Northern Idaho. The were similar and different but both had important impacts on my life.
The shape of Evryman presented itself to me during a romantic getaway to Maui with my wife. At the time, I had a big exciting job making TV and the day before we left, I got word that my job might be dangling precariously. My wife was pregnant with our first boy and this news freaked us out. I called a friend who told me to buy a notebook and write down exactly what I’d do if I lost my job. So, I sat on the beach and wrote.
What inspired you to found this organization?
The impetus for founding Everyman came from a lifetime of being disconnected from my own emotionality and vulnerability. I was a sensitive kid in a very not-sensitive culture and community. But the real, clear decision to do something about it came to me as a young man after college. I worked for several years with hundreds of teen males in a therapeutic wilderness setting. These boys were struggling at home and they were sent to the desert to find themselves. It was an incredible time for me during which I learned so much. A lot of which I'm putting to use today. Hundreds of days in the woods tends to have a powerful effect on a person.
The other major impetus was a one-two punch of losing my TV job in the same month I had my first child. It was time to get to work. My own inspiration met the inspiration of my co-founders and we simply went for it.
How did people initially react to Everyman?
The initial reaction to Evryman was overwhelmingly positive and that hasn't changed. If anything, the reaction has become more and more positive and powerful. I believe the reason for this is that what we do is so simple and so obviously missing. When you say "men are repressed and disconnected", pretty much everyone nods their head in agreement. Then when you say, "we can fix it and make the process attractive and sexy”, people want to get on board.
Ninety-nine percent of our success so far has been through word of mouth, grassroots growth. Men come to our events and sit in our groups and they share it with their community. That's it. The other one percent of success is from the media attention we've garnered, which itself is a byproduct of the grassroots efforts.
What do you think men are missing most in their emotional lives today?
It's different for all men, but they are missing a lot. It's easy to imagine that men don't know what to do with their anger. That's real. It's easy to think that a man may be hiding things he's ashamed of. That's real too. But it's more subtle and less understood that many men don't allow themselves to be happy, proud, or feel basic joy. There is a great stifling of pretty much everything in most men's lives. This keeps us from really being alive and it keeps us from connecting to each other. As social primates, emotions are the language through which we feel each other, and through that feeling is true human connection, safety, and community. What we're getting from most of our men is a fraction of their whole potential, at best. Kids get a fraction of their dads, partners get a fraction of their husbands, and businesses get a fraction of their full hearts.
It's a very confusing world for men today. How do you guide them and give them the answers they need?
Very simply; with three steps from our ROC formula. Relax: Slow down. Open: Feel your body and experience your emotions. Connect: Express your truth to others.
It really is that simple. It takes some guidance and learning by example is the easiest way to master it. This is not a cerebral undertaking, it requires you to let go and jump in.
Why is it important to facilitate group activities instead of one-on-one treatments?
One-on-one has its place. I and other leaders on our team coach and mentor one-on-one, but the group interactions are where our hearts lie. The main reason is that once the basic skills are in place, we don't need a teacher or guru, we really just need each other. We learn about ourselves and our basic humanity by seeing, feeling, and hearing others.
Tell us a bit about the power of the woods. Why is the "wilderness experience" so integral to what you do?
Being in nature helps us take the R in ROC seriously. When we unplug, our bodies naturally begin to get in sync with our minds, and we're able to get in sync with each other. We use the wilderness and nature for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it's exciting, scary, and quite fun. Many men, particularly those in cities, are craving and asking for more adventure in their lives. Also, when we’re in nature, we automatically begin to slow down. We begin to think differently and become more self aware. In that way, nature does a lot of the work for us. It helps us line up with what we’re feeling in the moment. When we get outside with the intent to slow down and connect, big and beautiful things tend to just unfold.