Category: Episodes

S1E50 – This Month In The Apocalypse

Episode Notes

Episode Summary
For this This Month in the Apocalypse episode Brooke, Margaret, and Casandra all researched different topics and discuss them. Margaret talks about climate collapse, droughts, floods, wildfires, the cost of wheat, and the dangers of rising humidity for wet bulb temperatures. Casandra talks about Monkey Pox, rises in other viral and vector borne illness, and discovers why rain might actually be a bad thing for your food. Brooke talks about student loan forgiveness and things you, brave listener, might not be aware you are forgiven for. Everyone attempts to get us sponsored by ‘Big’ Rain Barrel. If you’re out there ‘Big’ Rain Barrel. Please sponsor us.

Host Info
Casandra can be found on Twitter @hey_casandra or Instagram @House.Of.Hands.
Margaret can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy or instagram at @margaretkilljoy.
Brooke is just great and can be found at Strangers helping up keep our finances intact and on Twitter @ogemakweBrooke

Publisher Info
This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at www.tangledwilderness.org, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at www.patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness.

Next Episode
Come out Friday, September 23rd, and every two weeks there after. Might be about thru-hiking, Parenting, or Archiving.

Transript

An easier to read version is available on our website TangledWilderness.org.

Margaret 00:16
Hello, and welcome to Live Like The World Is Dying, your podcasts for what feels like the end times. I’m one of your hosts, Margaret killjoy. I have Brooke and Casandra with me as well as cohosts today, because today, you will be very excited to know that the world’s still ending…that we are doing our second monthly This Month in the Apocalypse and we’re going to be talking about basically the last month and the I guess that’s in the name. Okay. So, Brooke, Casandra, do you want to introduce yourselves? Possibly with Brooke going first.

Casandra 00:52
Your name was first.

Brooke 00:53
Yeah. Okay, alphabetically. Hi, everybody, it’s Brooke Jackson again, coming to you live? Oh, wait, no, this will be recorded by the time you hear it. From the sunny lands of the Willamette Valley in Oregon.

Casandra Johns 01:11
We’re all in the Willamette Valley right now.

Margaret 01:14
It’s true.

Casandra 01:15
It’s true. This is Casandra. That’s me.

Margaret 01:19
Okay, and so this will be a very short episode, because actually, nothing bad has happened in the world, certainly not nything that feels end times ish, nothing out of the ordinary. I’m under the impression we have reversed most of the major…I mean, I think Biden passed a bill. So, I’m pretty sure climate change is over. And COVID is over. I learned that just the other day walking into a place where I thought everyone would be wearing masks, but it’s over. So that’s cool. Or, alternatively, let’s talk about how China’s in the worst heatwave in human history…in recorded history. We’re gonna cut it up into segments. And I’m gonna go first with my segment.

Casandra Johns 02:06
Do we need to say “Du duh duh duhh, Channel Zero? As part of the intro?

Brooke 02:13
Do a Jingle?

Margaret 02:16
Yes. Okay. You want to do it?

Brooke 02:20
She just did.

Casandra 02:21
Oh, yeah, I did. Duh duh duh duh!

Margaret 03:19
Okay, and we’re back. Okay, so, China…70 Day heatwave as of several days ago, now. And by the time you all are hearing this, I believe we’re recording this about five days before this episode comes out. So, who knows what will have happened? There has been a lot of heat waves and floods all over the world this summer. And so China’s in the middle of a 70 day heatwave. The drought has reduced hydroelectric output, which huge areas were reliant on the electricity because the water levels are so far down. And of course the electricity is what powers the AC. So no air conditioning is really fun as things get really hot. AC has been turned off in a lot of office buildings. It’s cut power to tons of industry, including a bunch of car manufacturers where I’m a little bit like “Eh, whatever. Cars are bad.” I mean, I drive cars so I’m kind of an asshole and hypocrite. Anyway. But also solar panel output and EV battery plants and like lots of stuff that’s like being pitched as the alternative to things…y’all can feel free to cut me off too as I talk about these things. I’m just like going through my notes. And I don’t know, it’s breaking records all over the place by like four degrees in a lot of places. It’s four degrees Fahrenheit.

Brooke 04:44
What is heatwave in this context? Like are they having like, you know, 115 degree temperatures, are they just?

Margaret 04:53
I mean, so. I mean, I believe in localized places. It’s getting like crazy hot but what’s interesting about this is that it’s it’s more the length of it and the abnormality to its usual that is, like, it’s a lot of this stuff is like 106 degrees Fahrenheit and things like that. You know, things that are very not nice, but are…well, human survivable. Although we should probably at some point talk about wet bulb temperatures and how dry places are survivable at substantially higher temperatures than humid places. But yeah, so it’s it’s, it’s an it’s an abnormality causing problems as far as I understand, rather than like, just specifically, if you step outside, you will be scorched by the heatray that is the sun. It’s affecting over a billion people, which is a lot of people. The area of the heatwave is 530,000 square miles, which for context is Texas, Colorado and California combined.

Casandra Johns 05:57
Does that overlap with the area…like, isn’t there like a massive wildfire happening in China right now?

Margaret 06:04
I think you know, more about the wildfires than I do.

Casandra Johns 06:07
I don’t know what region it was in.

Margaret 06:09
Okay.

Casandra 06:09
I guess I’m curious. Of course, they’re related because everything climate-y is related, ultimately.

Margaret 06:16
Yeah.

Casandra 06:19
Yeah, I’m curious how closely they’re tied together. But, if you don’t know, and I don’t know, that’s fine. Because there’s also a massive wildfire. And that sucks.

Margaret 06:27
Yeah. There’s a massive wildfire.

Brooke 06:31
Is that a continuous area, Margaret? That five? Whatever, something miles?

Margaret 06:37
You all are exceeding my level of research that I did, because I did research about the entire world. So I don’t know.

Brooke 06:44
Okay, fair.

Casandra 06:45
Oh, yeah. You have more. This is just like heat waves everywhere. Okay.

Margaret 06:48
Yeah. Okay. And also joining us today on playing the squeaky toy in the background is Rintrah, the best dog in the world.

Brooke 06:59
Can confirm.

Margaret 07:00
The best dog in the world. No complaints? Okay. Yeah, I, you know, there’s a lot more I don’t know about this, right? But this was one that I haven’t even seen really cropping up much in the media at all. And actually, one of the things that’s sort of interesting and terrible and telling is that a lot of the information that I’ve been able to find about climate change disasters comes from the business media, like, a lot of this is about how it will affect stock prices, how it will affect, you know…300 Mines are shut down right now in China, or as of you know, two days ago when I did most of the research for this recording. And so it talks more about the 300 mines that have been shut down instead of the 119,000 people who have been evacuated from their homes. And it’s just, it’s a real problem. There’s a lot of photos of like, low reservoirs that are like 20 meters below what they’re supposed to be and things like that. And, of course, to tie everything into everything else, you know, things that happen in one place don’t only effect that region. The drought is fucking up their harvest, and fertilizer for export has been affected, which will probably fuck up the world’s food supply, which was otherwise very stable. So, I don’t think that’s gonna be a problem.

Casandra Johns 08:16
The world’s been chaos, but at least we know, food is cheap and available.

Margaret 08:20
And will stay that way.

Margaret 08:22
Okay, so then the one that I’m finally starting to see more get talked about in the media, thankfully, although it’s annoying, because it’s only been talked about because now there’s like dramatic photos. But whatever. I mean, I’m not blaming people for not paying attention to everything that’s happening in the world. Pakistan is having flooding, like just absolutely massive flooding. I’ve read reports saying that there’s a half a million people living in refugee camps. It’s taken at least 1000 lives, it’s fucking up food production. Over a million homes have been destroyed. A third of the country is underwater. Have y’all seen the satellite image photos?

Casandra 08:22
Yep

Casandra Johns 08:59
Yeah, and they’re referring to it as a ‘lake.’ Which makes me wonder like, are they anticipating at least some portion of it to remain? Like, “And look at our new lake!”

Margaret 09:10
Yeah.

Casandra 09:12
I heard I heard someone else I heard someone referred to it as a ‘small ocean.’

Margaret 09:18
Yeah.

Margaret 09:19
Yeah. And, and Pakistan is the the fifth most populous country in the world after China, India, U.S., Indonesia, I think. Yeah. And so it’s like, it’s a big fucking deal and a big fucking problem. And one of the other problems because capitalism solves…makes everything worse. Pakistan has taken out a $1.1 billion dollar loan from the IMF, which for anyone following at home, the IMF is a predatory lending organization called the International Monetary Fund, that actually a lot of modern leftist politics, at least in the Western world and actually a lot of the developing world kind of cut its teeth in the…during the, the turn of the millennium fighting against the IMF and the World Bank, specifically because of the stuff that they do, which is that they loan predatory. It’s like a payday loan. You know, it’s like a paycheck loan place, but for entire countries, they loan you $1.1 billion, and then you’re going to be paying off the interest for the rest of your life as a country. And of course, a lot of what’s happening right now is that developing nations as they take out these loans are therefore forced to extract more fossil fuels from their own countries, in order to pay off the interest of their loan, not even touching the principal, trapping us further and further in the cycle of what’s destroying everything. So that’s all really fun. Okay, then, East Africa, particularly Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia, are also facing prolonged drought, rising food prices. A lot of this is because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This is projected to leave 20 million people hungry with an estimated 3 million potential deaths if aid isn’t delivered, and these three countries represent 2% of the world’s population, but 70% of the extreme food insecurity. And most of…about 90% of the wheat imported by East Africa comes from Russia and Ukraine, which are of course, having some issues right now. They’re not famously friends. But you’re thinking to yourself, “Well, I’m a wheat farmer in the US, and the high prices are good for me.” They are not. Things are not good with domestic wheat production here in the United States, either, which, of course, affects large quantities of the world. Also, the US is a major grain exporter. And so this is things that affect the US do affect everyone else. And not just because we’re the center of Empire. Drought is affecting wheat fields in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska. Kansas is estimating a 30% drop in their harvest. Oklahoma is estimating a 50% drop, in its harvest. And so even though you have these, like record high prices for wheat, farmers are expecting to lose money, because they’re not able to grow enough. You look like you have a question.

Brooke 09:19
Oh wow.

Casandra Johns 12:24
And yeah, so we talked about this a little bit the other day, I think, like I’m not sure if people realize what it means when the wheat crop is devastated. You know, it’s not just like, “Maybe I can’t eat bread.”

Brooke 12:43
There’s more to it than that?

Casandra Johns 12:45
Right! I mean, the next thing I think of is like, who eats the wheat? Not just humans. You know, like, I can’t eat wheat, but like, I eat beef.

Margaret 12:58
Yeah.

Casandra 12:58
And chicken.

Margaret 13:00
Yeah.

Brooke 13:00
Was does that matter, Casandra?

Casandra 13:03
Maybe they eat wheat. Just the like domino effect.

Margaret 13:07
Yeah.

Casandra 13:08
Yeah. When we talk about rising food prices and rising fuel prices, and how those are connected to like rising everything prices.

Margaret 13:15
Yeah. And book prices most famously.

Brooke 13:16
Okay, well, like, I have a solution.

Casandra 13:19
Okay, what’s your solution? Is it Communism?

Brooke 13:19
Cause, we’re all about solutions here. Well, you started talking about Pakistan being all flooded like the country’s a giant lake. And then you said drought in the US and I’m like, “Let’s just pick up some water over there and just put it over here.” And then there won’t be a drought or flood.

Margaret 13:36
So what’s so great and I’m gonna get to in a moment is that drought and flood are entirely related. I think you knew this, and we’re just setting me up to say this, but they’re absolutely related. The more drought you have, the worse flooding you have, which of course, like boggles my immediate science, right? My non science brain is like, “But water is the opposite of drought,” you know, and we’re gonna get to them second. Okay, so also in the US, Lake Mead is drying up. It’s the largest reservoir in the United States, it provides water to 25 million people. It’s possible that soon it won’t have enough water to feed the Hoover Dam, which provides electricity to about a million people. And the one upside of all of this drought..this is really selfish. It’s kind of like interesting the stuff they keep finding in the water. They keep find…

Margaret 14:26
Yeah. They’re like finding like some guys like “Oh, look a barrel,” and he like pops open some barrel from the 1920s. And just like a dead guy with a bullet in his skull, and they’re like, “Oh, the mafia really did just drop people off in barrels,” which led me to the conclusion that apparently leaving dead bodies in large body in large bodies of water is more effective of a strategy than I’ve been led to believe.

Casandra 14:27
Well, they haven’t they also…hasn’t also revealed like Nazi…like sunken Nazi ships and shit. And then they’re like the….

Casandra 14:27
Crime?

Margaret 15:01
Yeah, not in Lake Mead, though.

Casandra Johns 15:04
Right. But then..No, but I’m just saying like everywhere it’s revealing interesting things like in Europe the…what are the stones called?

Margaret 15:12
The Hunger Stones.

Casandra 15:13
Hunger Stones?

Margaret 15:15
Yeah.

Casandra 15:15
So apparently, what’s the context for this? Previously, in history when there were massive droughts and like rivers dwindled down to nothing, people made carvings in the stones at particular water levels with these like really epic, maybe Margaret’s looking at some examples, of these really epic miserable statements about like, “Fear ye, fear ye, if the water gets this low…”

Margaret 15:40
You’re dead.

Casandra 15:40
Yeah, but people are seeing those now, which is terrifying and interesting.

Margaret 15:47
Yeah. Terrified and interesting is a good way to describe the current epoch.

Brooke 15:52
Cool. That’s the silverling, the mud caked lining.

Brooke 15:52
Yeah. There was. It’s not happening right at this moment. But here locally, when the Detroit reservoir got real low a couple of years ago, there was a town that had been flooded when they built the dam there and it was low enough that like, remnants of this town were visible, including like an old wagon, like covered wagon base kind of wagon and other cool artifacts.

Brooke 16:27
See some history before we all die.

Margaret 16:30
Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Brooke 16:31
Great.

Margaret 16:32
So, in California, heat and drought are also combining as power usages reaches a five year high power use, because people are running more and more air conditions. I didn’t quite realize exactly how…I don’t I don’t have a percentage in front of me…But like, air conditioning is a really, really big use of electricity. And so in California, the grid is estimated…is expected to become unstable, although that might have already happened. It was supposed to happen like this week. So that might happen by the time y’all hear this. Or maybe it didn’t happen. And I’m here I am chicken littling, all day long. And, of course, Jackson, Mississippi flooding. The capital of Mississippi, which is primarily black city has left 150,000 people without drinking water. Sooo…

Brooke 17:18
I haven’t heard about this at all?

Margaret 17:20
Oh, yeah. And there’s some mutual aid groups on the ground. Cooperation. Jackson is a long standing organization that works to sort of build dual power and do all kinds of awesome stuff in terms of cooperative economics and things like that. And they are doing a lot of mutual aid work. I believe there’s also a group and maybe this is actually not maybe they’re not directly related. I’m not sure there’s a group called Hillbillies Helping Hillbillies that I’ve at least seen talk a lot about this issue. I don’t know if they do most of their work down there or if they’ve been more focused on the Tennessee floods.

Casandra Johns 17:54
I know Mutual Aid Disaster Relief is also doing work there.

Margaret 17:59
Yeah. So “Why does all this stuff happen, Margaret?” you might ask.

Brooke 18:07
Why does all this stuff happen, Margaret?

Margaret 18:09
Well, I am an expert named Jennifer Francis, a senior scientist at the Woodward Climate Research Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts, and my quote, that is definitely me is, “As the air and oceans warm under a thicker blanket of greenhouse gases, more water vapor evaporates into the air providing more moisture to fuel thunderstorms, hurricanes, nor’easters and monsoons.” Basically, as the temperature rise of the Earth, the warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapor, every degree of…every increase of one degree Celsius can boost the capacity for holding water vapor by about 7%. So that’s fun. And also as things get more humid, you’re like, “Okay, well, that’s cool. It’s like more tropical and stuff, right?” Higher humidity is substantially more dangerous, like heat and humidity is what kills people, because of the way that our bodies thermo regulate basically, like, if you’re at 100% humidity, and the temperature goes above your body temperature, you die. Not like instantly, right? But your body loses its ability to thermo regulate. And so that is the wet bulb temperature is the temperature at 100% humidity, and that can be calculated out from there. So, for example, 105 degrees Fahrenheit at 5%. humidity is not that bad. It’s like 61 degrees wet bulb, right? You’re not in danger, I mean, you can be in danger zone from other parts of it, you need to get in shade, right? But like, whereas 105 degrees at 95% humidity is 103 degrees wet bulb. So, and for context, you know, it’s like I used to never really think about the level of humidity that I lived in until I moved to the South and I had to worry about mold and all kinds of other shit. But, much of the South, and San Francisco and also I believe much of Alaska sit at around 80 to 90% humidity, whereas the Southwest might be at around 30% humidity. So, when you hear about temperatures at different levels in different parts of the country, the humidity that they’re facing, like matters in terms of how catastrophic this type of thing is likely to be. And then the “What to do about it section!” Don’t worry, we’re almost done with the terrible climate shit part.

Casandra Johns 20:20
I feel like earlier, you mentioned something about the relationship between flooding and drought. I was hoping you were gonna circle back to that.

Margaret 20:28
Okay. Oh, yeah. So. So basically, the…some atmosphere shit I only half understand. But, as everything gets hotter, more of the air like sits…and more of the water sits in the air and that…it just fucks everything up. So, like, the rain falls off fucked up. I, I kind of like, wrap my head around it. And then I, it unraveled, you ever, like study things that are completely outside your thing? And then you like, you get your takeaway, and then the details like dissolve? That’s what happened to me while I was researching this?

Casandra Johns 21:00
No, that’s I didn’t realize it had I, I thought my assumption was it was going to be that, you know, you can look up videos of this where like, people put a cup of water upside down on like dry soil, you know, partially damp soil and like saturated wet soil. And the cup of water immediately, like seeps into the ground in the saturated soil, but it takes a really long time for the dry soil to absorb the water.

Margaret 21:25
Yeah.

Casandra 21:25
And so my assumption was like, “Oh, if there’s a drought and the soil is bone dry, it can’t absorb moisture very effectively.”

Margaret 21:33
Yeah.

Casandra 21:33
Which is counterintuitive, maybe? But…then it floods.

Margaret 21:36
I think that is a big part of it. Yeah.

Casandra 21:38
Okay.

Margaret 21:39
And then also, I was even just like…go ahead.

Brooke 21:43
I was thinking about how matter can’t be created or destroyed. And so the water still exist somewhere, even though it got sucked up from the dry places. And that might be why it ended up flooding in other places because the water still exists.

Margaret 21:58
Well, a lot of places it’s literally the same place will have droughts and floods. I think Texas was dealing with that I think it was Dallas, was having a record drought and might still be in a record drought and then had like, really fuck off flooding. I think it was about a week or two ago. That was like destroying everything. And, you know, because if the rain patterns are just completely different than Yeah, what the ground is used to absorbing and like, and which ties into what to do about it. A lot of what to do about it needs to happen at the scale that we’re not necessarily going to talk about right now. But, rainwater catchment and drought areas is super important. And, you know, I was looking it up because there’s this like. I’d always been sort of told that rainwater catchment like fucks up the water system of that area, you know, because Colorado has, they have re-legalized it a little bit in 2016. But it’s been illegal for a very long time to catch rainwater in Colorado because they’re like, “Oh, it’s so dry here. We need all the groundwater.” That was what I had always got told. The real reason’s that Colorado made rainwater catchment illegal have a lot more to do with…capitalism, and the way that water rights are, you’re basically stealing from people in entirely different areas if you catch the rainwater at the source or whatever. And, it it can affect things,right, if you like take water that could otherwise have ended up groundwater, but you’re mostly it’s mostly like shit that would have run off anyway. And so rainwater catchment increasingly in a lot of places, I believe Arizona has like new laws that like require new buildings to include rainwater catchment. There’s entire countries who I didn’t write down the names of that require rainwater catchment in all new buildings, especially island nations, I’m under the impression and so rainwater catchment is cool. And then, Arizona you can get rebates if you install rainwater catchment. In Colorado, it is now legal again for like home level and there’s like all these like rules and shit. And you’re, you’re only allowed to store two barrels for a total of 110 gallons and you can only do it at like, home, or whatever. I’m sure there’s ways that people could imagine catching rain water without getting caught. The CDC points out that rainwater is generally not safe to drink without treatment. You can use it to water non food plants without treatment. I say this, I showered with rainwater for the past three years and don’t give a shit. But, maybe I shouldn’t recommend that to other people. But, also filtering rainwater is like not the biggest deal in the world. And then…

Casandra Johns 24:39
Also like, the idea of only using it on non food plants is really funny to me, because like it just rains on my plants, you know? And then I eat them.

Margaret 24:51
Yeah.

Brooke 24:52
You shouldn’t let rain land of your plants.

Margaret 24:54
You shouldn’t be eating food from plants. Plants comes from stores, Casandra.

Casandra Johns 24:59
Uh oh. Okay. And if they get rained on specifically then they’re like poison.

Margaret 25:06
Yeah, me, okay. Like, you walk out of a food store, the main place that people get food, like McDonald’s, and you have your chicken nuggets, or…

Casandra 25:14
And then they get rained on?

Margaret 25:16
You wouldn’t want to eat them now, would you?

Casandra 25:18
Okay, I see what you mean.

Margaret 25:20
Yeah, no, I like that part about the like non food plants or whatever is like to me is like that’s what the CDC says. The CDC has lost a lot of…I don’t trust it as much as I might have used to.

Casandra 25:36
Interesting segue to…

Margaret 25:39
Yeah. Well, there is one more part though that I believe one have you added to the notes about soil remediation and dry gardening? I’m wondering if you want to talk about some of that.

Brooke 25:52
That has to be Casandra, cause it wasn’t me.

Casandra Johns 25:54
Oh, I mean, that was me thinking about like, how the what I was saying before how bone dry soil…the best place to store water is in the soil. Right?

Margaret 26:04
Yeah.

Casandra 26:06
Just like the best place to store nitrogen is in the soil. But, you know, if I lived in a super dry area, and this is only so effective for like the home gardener, this like ideally would happen on a large scale. But, if I lived in a really dry area, I’d be working really hard to like improve my soil health so that it can store more water. So that things like dry gardening are possible. So I can you know, have food even in a drought.

Margaret 26:32
What is dry gardening?

Casandra Johns 26:36
Dry gardening is gardening with little to no, like, manually added water.

Margaret 26:43
Is that where you like mulch the shit out of it all to prevent evaporation?

Casandra Johns 26:46
Yeah, you can do it that way. You can also…there. There’s a…well, it’s on my bookshelf, so I’m not gonna mention it because I can’t remember the title right now. But yeah, mulching, spacing your plants a lot farther out, making sure that your soil can store water so that if you know we live, where I live, it rains a lot in the spring. And if the plants I plant have a room, and the soil is fluffy enough that they can send the roots really deep, then in the summer, when it’s dry, they can still access the water that’s stored in the soil. Does that make sense?

Margaret 27:19
Cool, and then they grow chicken nuggets?

Casandra 27:22
Yep.

Margaret 27:23
Cool. Okay, so back to the clever segue that I broke about not trusting the CDC….

Casandra Johns 27:36
Yeah, yeah, I Okay. So, we realized we should probably say at least something about monkey pox. Because it’s the thing that exists. My notes are titled monkey pox sucks. And…

Brooke 27:52
Correct.

Casandra Johns 27:53
Correct. Yeah. And I realized in researching this that I knew very little, I think I was just like, “We live in a time where there will be epidemic after epidemic,” and I’m, you know, mentally overloaded on this topic. And had a lot of assumptions that were wrong. But, one interesting thing I found out is that the CDC is saying it’s not transmitted….It’s not airborne. Which, you know, they’ve kind of gone back and forth about whether masks are going to help…masks. I can’t enunciate….whether masks are going to help prevent the spread.

Brooke 28:37
If the mask prevents you from licking someone’s open wounds, then then I say that would be helpful. Put your mask on.

Casandra Johns 28:44
But, then there’s there are other recommendations around like, avoiding close face to face contact with people. So that’s all. I think I’m just affirming that I am also skeptical of CDC guidelines at this point, which is a bummer.

Margaret 28:59
Yeah.

Casandra 29:01
Anyway, do you want to hear all about monkeypox?

Margaret 29:04
Yeah. Yay.

Casandra 29:06
Yay.

Margaret 29:06
What a fun show we make.

Brooke 29:10
That’s like a game, right? It’s a children’s game that you play. It’s fun. Spread all over? Isn’t it great?

Casandra 29:18
No.

Margaret 29:19
It’s one of those games with a 1-3% death…. Okay, please continue.

Brooke 29:24
That’s pretty low. It’s fine.

Casandra Johns 29:26
Oh, my God, what a world that we live in. So apparently was discovered in 1958 in laboratory monkeys. So, you know, you can insert something here about blaming capitalism for everything. Because maybe it wouldn’t have been a thing if monkeys were not in laboratories? Anyway, it’s a cousin of smallpox in the first human case was recorded in 1970. When I first heard about monkey pox in May or whatever I was like, “Oh, cool and new disease.” It’s not new. It’s been around for decades. So, it’s really interesting that like, we don’t have a vaccine that can quickly be rolled out. Do you want to guess why that is?

Margaret 30:14
Is it Capitalsim?

Brooke 30:14
I guess ‘racism.’

Casandra 30:15
Racism. Brooke wins with ‘racism.’

Brooke 30:23
Yay?

Casandra 30:26
Yeah, so it was that to be uncommon in humans, but cases started increasing around 1980. And most of the cases have been documented in central and western Africa. That correct? In Africa.

Margaret 30:41
Yeah, you said Nigeria is like one of the main spots of it?

Casandra 30:45
For this outbreak.

Margaret 30:46
Okay.

Casandra 30:48
Yeah. So, and they think that one of the reasons….so there have been multiple outbreaks since it was first recorded in humans in 1970, which I didn’t realize, because we don’t hear about them, because mostly they’ve taken place in Africa. Which is just depressing. And I’ll come back around to that in a minute. But, they think that that the increase in cases might be connected to the fact that it is related to smallpox. The smallpox vaccine, they think gives like, 85% that it is like, 85% effective against monkey pox. But most people don’t get the smallpox vaccine anymore.

Brooke 31:27
Yeah.

Casandra 31:28
And I think that’s related to the increase in monkey pox cases.

Margaret 31:33
People don’t get the smallpox vaccine anymore, because smallpox kind of went away because of vaccines?

Casandra 31:40
Yeah,

Brooke 31:41
No, it just stop being trendy. People were like, “That is not cool anymore. I’m not gonna take that one.”

Casandra Johns 31:48
Yeah, yeah. Which then is like, there’s a whole tangent in here about who and how they decide a disease has been ‘eradicated.’ I’m doing air quotes that you can’t see has been, ‘eradicated.’ Especially when something like monkey pox is trance was initially transmitted from animals to humans. And so, yeah, I don’t know, is smallpox eradicated? I don’t know. I’m not an epidemiologist. But I’m curious. So, let’s see. Okay, so the current outbreak grew from one case in Massachusetts in the US, I’m talking about the US now, May 17. And at this point, you know, however many days it’s been since May, there are almost 20,000 cases in the US, which is a lot of cases.

Brooke 32:40
I mean, it sounds like a big number. But, also I know, there’s a lot of people in the US, but also, I don’t know how much cases of other things that we know about are common. So I don’t have any frame of reference.

Margaret 32:51
Yeah same.

Casandra 32:53
Yeah.

Brooke 32:54
Well, it’s way smaller than Covid.

Casandra Johns 32:57
Right. It is way smaller than Covid. But, you know, and it’s, it’s sort of like Covid, you’re probably not going to die from it. But then there’s the asterisk, ‘unless you’re immunocompromised already,’ you know. So like, who are we? Who are we willing to throw under the bus for this?

Brooke 33:13
So just Casandra.

Casandra 33:13
Yeah, just me. Yeah. But then there’s also public health experts are apparently warning that the virus is on the verge of becoming permanently entrenched here.

Margaret 33:24
Cool.

Casandra 33:25
So maybe 20,000 isn’t, you know, a big chunk of the population, but in terms of like, a virus, it’s bad news, because we don’t really want it to become entrenched here, right?

Brooke 33:38
Yeah, viruses, bad.

Casandra 33:41
Virus equals bad. Okay. Okay, so, so there’s been a lot of criticism about Biden’s administration and their sluggish response to the outbreak. I read a really interesting report. I think WaPo [Washington Post] was the first place to report on this, but they said that, on August 4, US Health and Human Services officials plan to stretch the country’s limited supply, or they announced, that they plan to stretch the country’s limited supply of vaccines by splitting doses to cover five times as many people. This is after saying that they had plenty of doses. So, already sketchy. Yeah, cool, cool. And then the chief executive of Bavarian Nordic who’s the vaccine manufacturer responded by accusing the Biden admin of breaching contract by planning to use them in this like inappropriate way by splitting the doses and then apparently threatened to cancel all future vaccine orders so that….Yeah, I’m not sure how that was resolved.

Brooke 34:45
Capitalism. The other ‘ism’ now at play.

Margaret 34:50
I was right. I was late.

Casandra Johns 34:57
So the big concern for me in researching this was how it spreads, because I have a child who’s about to go back to public school, so apparently animal to human transmission, it’s spread by direct contact with blood, bodily fluids or cutaneous or mucosal lesions of infected animals. And then human to human transmission is close contact with respiratory secretions, which to me says airborne, right, right? Is that not what that means? Anyway, respiratory secretions, skin lesions of an infected person, or recently contaminated objects. So things like bedding, clothing, stuff like that. Um, but the CDC says it’s not airborne. So, take that, as you will. I don’t know. How are you gonna take that, Brooke?

Brooke 35:41
Right. Well, I mean, respiratory secretions that does sound more significant than just like, you know, air droplets, like we talked about with covid, like, more moist, kind of things coming out of you, like sneezes and coughs and stuff that actually sprays more liquid matter?

Casandra 36:07
So, use your imagination with that.

Margaret 36:08
We could just go through and describe every act that could…

Casandra 36:10
Don’t spit in people’s mouths.

Brooke 36:14
Damn it, there goes half of my kink play.

Margaret 36:18
I mean, it does seem like it’s less contagious than like, because like, okay, right, like, because they said originally COVID wasn’t airborne. And they weren’t always wrong about that, right? But, the fact that it’s been here for months, and is at 20,000 cases, is like, ‘promising,’ in that it seems less contagious than COVID? But that’s, I guess I’m talking about like, the first or second most contagious virus that the world’s ever faced. So, I guess it’s a terrible benchmark to compare it to.

Casandra Johns 36:49
Yeah, I think comparing everything to covid is probably not in our best interest, especially because a lot more people are comparing this to AIDS, in terms of the communities it’s impacting, and how it’s spreading. So it’s, it’s okay, let me go back to my list. Alright, so the incubation period is usually six to thirteen days, it’s thought to be mainly spread through sexual activity, specifically, men who have sex with men and have multiple partners, though now they’ve sort of expanded that to include like queer and trans people, which is good. Not that it’s spreading in queer and trans communities, but that they’re changing language. So then I was like, “Well, is it an STI, right?” And I Googled “Is Monkey pox and STI? And the first two articles that came up, were: Number one, “Monkey pox is an STI and knowing that can help.” And then number two is, “Monkey pox is spreading through sex, but it’s not an STI.” So you know, I’m not a doctor.

Casandra Johns 37:02
It’s not an STI.

Casandra 37:29
Okay.

Brooke 37:31
Because it’s not it’s, yeah, go ahead.

Casandra Johns 37:52
But it seems to mainly be spreading through sex, probably because of the close contact involved.

Margaret 38:02
Yeah, I mean, like, like, scabies is…

Brooke 38:04
Yeah, like not through the sex itself.

Casandra 38:06
Right.

Brooke 38:07
But through the close physical contact of you know, that happens during sex.

Casandra Johns 38:12
I think. I also saw a list. I think it’s LA County. I was reading their like, list of eligibility criteria, and maybe risky behavior to avoid…’in void.’ Would that even? Yeah, thank you. I was just trying to figure out what my made up word means. Risky behavior to avoid and they listed that, like, we’re still learning about how it’s transmitted, right, which is wild for a disease that’s been around since the 70s. But, they listed that it could possibly be transmitted through semen. Like not solely but that could be another way that it’s transmitted.

Brooke 38:53
Sure, transmitted through bodily fluids, but the distinction when it when it’s an STI is something that’s sort of limited to being transmissible through kind of the genital region.

Casandra Johns 39:10
Is that why one type of herpes is considered an STI, and the other isn’t?

Brooke 39:14
Yeah, so you can like can get both of them in both places because of oral sex.

Casandra 39:21
Huh, that’s interesting.

Brooke 39:23
But yeah, technically. That’s why.

Casandra Johns 39:25
Thanks for knowing more about STI classification than me. I appreciate it.

Brooke 39:29
Well, I fuck a lot. So I got to know these kinds of things.

Casandra 39:35
All right, moving on with my notes. My next…

Brooke 39:40
I just made everyone turn a scarlet blushing red color because I have non prude among this collective.

Casandra Johns 39:48
I’m not blushing. I’m not prudish. I’m just Demi. Okay, so my next section is titled “Racism,” which, yeah, so the virus isn’t spreading in this specific outbreak of monkey pox is been spreading in Nigeria since 2017. Yet, somehow there are no clinical…there’s no clinical trial data of the effectiveness of the vaccine or T pox, which is the antiviral they’ve developed. No human studies. I wonder why. Um, well, I as I said it’s understudied because up until now, it’s been isolated to central and west Africa. Yeah. What would have happened if we were vaccinating on a large scale in Nigeria? Would it have spread?

Margaret 40:31
Yeah, I mean, that’s like such a thing that I keep thinking about all this shit, where it’s like, it’s just seemed so obvious to me that, like the solutions to all the major things that we’re dealing with right now, like don’t make any sense in a world full of borders. You know? Being like, like, “We got ours. Fuck you,” doesn’t make any fucking it never made any fucking sense. But, it really doesn’t make any fucking sense now, or it’s like, yeah, if we had, like, I don’t understand, even if I’m like a self interested, rich white American. I don’t understand how I can be like, “Oh, new new disease just dropped and it’s in another country.” Let’s go get rid of it in another country. That makes sense from…it’s cheaper than building spaceships to Mars.

Brooke 41:16
I think it’s people still just not fundamentally understanding how deeply integrated we are now as a global society. Yeah. I mean, we shouldn’t have figured especially in the last couple of years, if you haven’t figured it out before, then like, you should understand that now. I feel like…

Margaret 41:32
Yeah, acids been around for a long time.

Casandra 41:39
Don’t understand the reference?

Margaret 41:43
Just like, oh, no, like, we’re all one consciousness? Whatever.

Casandra 41:52
Okay, my next subsection of notes is titled “Homophobia.”

Margaret 41:55
Hurray.

Casandra 41:56
This is…I’m announcing these by way of a content warning. So yeah, so I read a few different, you know, I’ve seen like on Twitter and stuff, people talking about how homophobia relates to the way the language the government has been using and media outlets have been using around monkeypox, and also the government response to it and didn’t fully understand that other than that it’s mainly spreading in queer networks right now. But, I read an article that talked about how the homophobia they were seeing was mainly around the language that gay sex is quote, unquote, ‘driving’ the epidemic. Yeah, and just like really sex negative advice around how to keep from getting monkey pox. But, in reality, the drivers of the epidemic are the structures globally that have led to like vaccines and tests and treatments all existing for this virus, but not being accessible.

Margaret 42:57
Yeah.

Casandra 42:58
Yeah, I don’t know if y’all have read any of the first person accounts of people trying to find access even to a test. Like I read an account of someone who went to their doctor was like, “I think a monkey pox.” and the doctor, like, had to jump through all of these hoops just to access a test

Margaret 43:14
Fucking hell.

Margaret 43:16
So that’s cool. Let’s see, before I talk about the ‘What we can do,’ I want to circle back to climate change really quickly. Because, I think that in my brain, I know that epidemics and climate change are related, but I hadn’t thought much about how in the particular mechanisms, but I read an interview that, that interested in me a lot. And they talked about how climate change is driving the risk of infectious diseases. I saw a report that 58% of the 375 infectious diseases they examined, have…this is a quote, “have been at some point aggravated by ‘climatic hazards.'” So that’s cool.

Brooke 44:03
I…but how? I don’t understand the connection.

Casandra 44:06
Yeah. So. So one way is that climate change, they were talking about how it brings humans closer to animals, not in the sense that like “We are closer to nature,” but just like, as we encroach on…

Brooke 44:17
oh, sure.

Casandra 44:20
And so, animal to human transmission is a thing. But, also if we’re talking about like climate change and natural disasters, people get very sick of diseases and die after natural disasters. So, I’m sure that’s part of what they mean by ‘aggravated,’ being ‘aggravated by climatic hazards.’ Warmer temperatures also attract insects and carriers of disease to parts of the world that they didn’t used to exist in. Margaret. I feel like you were talking about…we were talking the other night and you mentioned like…no was it you? Maybe I was reading something? I’ve been reading too much lately. I was reading about a type of mosquito that is like, more likely to carry things like Dengue fever, and is now in the US, is now in the northern hemisphere. And.

Margaret 45:08
Oh, that’s exciting.

Casandra 45:10
Yeah, and it has to do with warmer water temperatures where they can hatch their eggs and also with capitalism, because apparently they were transported here in ‘tires.’

Margaret 45:22
Huh?

Casandra 45:23
Like when tires sit, you know outside in a wash, tje water pools? Yeah. Wild.

Margaret 45:33
Which ties back to rain catchment and how don’t do lazy rain catchment where you just put your downspout into the barrel, you should filter it, and you should prevent mosquitoes from breeding in there. Also algae, and all kinds of other stuff.

Casandra 45:47
Yeah, it’s true.

Brooke 45:49
So today’s episode is brought to you by capitalism and racism.

Margaret 45:54
And I was thinking rain barrels. But Sure.

Brooke 45:59
Well, the reason we have to talk about these horrible things is the ‘isms.’

Margaret 46:04
Right? Where as I was thinking about sponsors, Big Rain Barrel. The big sponsor of the show.

Brooke 46:11
That’d be a great sponsor. I hope we get a free barrel.

Casandra 46:14
Yeah.

Brooke 46:14
Free barrel with every Ep [episode]

Margaret 46:16
Yeah. I want to be able to talk about them personally. So, please contact us through the site. The advertisers. I want the I want Big Rain Barrel to…I just want a rain barrel. That’s all. Please continue.

Casandra 46:31
So in 2022, we’re still experiencing the COVID outbreak, right? And now my monkey pox. And also polio.

Margaret 46:40
Cool.

Casandra 46:42
Yeah. Yeah, yes. Polio. Someone Someone got polio. For the second time since they declared polio like a…they don’t use the word eradicated. But they were basically like, “Humans don’t get this anymore.” But two have since then. One was this summer. So that’s…okay.

Brooke 47:06
That’s neat.

Casandra 47:07
Yeah, what can we do about it? We can wash our hands a lot. I’m still gonna wear a mask, even though the CDC says it’s not airborne, because I don’t understand the difference. And also Covid’s still a thing. We can research testing and vaccination in our areas, because it seems to be vastly different in different cities and counties and really confusing. So you can do the research ahead of time and share it through your network so people know where to access information and help. You can also get vaccinated if you qualify. However, I let’s see, I looked at a few different counties and their eligibility criteria. And they all seem to have a few things in common. You have to be gay or bisexual men, or a transgender person who has had either 1) Multiple or anonymous sex partners in the last 14 days or 2) Skin to skin, skin to skin or intimate contact with people at large venues or events in the last 14 days. And then they’re also starting to include people of any gender or sexual orientation who have engaged in commercial or [cuts out], so sex workers in the last 14 days. So yeah, if any of those are you, and you have a vaccination place near you, why not get it?

Margaret 48:32
Because Bill Gates will be able to track all the sex you have?

Brooke 48:38
Yeah,

Casandra 48:39
The reason I agreed to research monkey pox for this episode is because, like I said, my kids about to go back to school. And I was really nervous. And I’m feeling a little bit less nervous for the moment about school because of the cases documented in children so far areextremely low. So, that’s some good news for all of the other parents out there.

Margaret 49:02
And the children listening

Casandra 49:05
For any of the children listening.

Margaret 49:06
It just occurred to me that children might listen to this podcast. I’m so sorry, children, about the world. Not about the cussing. I’m sorry about the world.

Casandra 49:18
Speaking of school,

Brooke 49:20
Hey, yo, student loan forgiveness that’s been in the news. Right? And as the person with the background in economics, I feel like I have to talk about that. So, student loans, I’m fairly certain that of the two of you one of you has student loans and one of you does not. And I’m I’m curious how each of you feel about student loan forgiveness without…you can go ahead and not reveal which one of you it is and isn’t for the moment. Just tell me if you like it? Is it good? Or bad?

Casandra 49:56
Fucking-tastic I mean, not this version, this version is just like so. So, but like, should they forgive all of our student loans? Fuck yes, they should.

Margaret 50:04
I agree.

Brooke 50:05
Casandra says yes. Oh, and Margaret agrees Wait, but only one of you has student loans?

Margaret 50:11
So, I don’t have student loans. And…I can’t imagine, I can’t imagine anyone who doesn’t have student loans giving a shit. Like I just like, I struggle so hard. Like, every time someone’s like, “They did this with our taxpayer money,” and I’m like, “Motherfucker, they invaded half the world with our tax money.” Like…

Casandra 50:35
There there other things you should be frustrated about being done with your tax dollars.

Casandra 50:40
And this is not one of them.

Margaret 50:40
Yeah!

Margaret 50:42
Yeah. And then even with my like, even if I was like a self interest capitalist shit, it’s like, I don’t know, healthy economy is not one built on fucking debt. And I don’t know, whatever. I’m just like…

Brooke 51:00
Don’t spoil my ending, Margaret.

Margaret 51:02
Oh, sorry. Right.

Casandra 51:04
But capitalism means that there have to be people who are suffering and poor so that I can feel superior and be stable and have more money.

Margaret 51:13
Oh, that’s a good point.

Casandra 51:14
Yeah.

Margaret 51:15
No, I take it back actually, Brooke. I’d like to change my answer. No one should.

Casandra 51:21
Fuck Casandra.

Margaret 51:26
No one should have the right to have debt forgiven. It should probably be transmitted to children and children’s children. Oh, wait, that already happens. Just okay. Anyway.

Casandra 51:36
What about corporations? Shouldn’t they be able to get their debt forgiven, Margaret?

Margaret 51:40
Oh, yeah. I mean, corporations, obviously should have their debt forgiven. I mean, otherwise, we wouldn’t have an economy.

Brooke 51:46
Like, God. Okay. You two know everything. My work is done here. Throw the topic and walk away. Excellent.

Casandra 51:55
Sorry, Brooke.

Brooke 51:56
No, I’m loving it.

Casandra 51:58
This is how we cope with talking about money.

Margaret 52:01
Yeah.

Brooke 52:04
Oh, it’s so good. No, I have you know, I have a couple of, of friends and or relations that are both on the against it side. Well, neither of whom went to college or have any students debt.

Casandra 52:21
Why are they still your friends?

Brooke 52:22
Well, Facebook friends, let’s say that.

Casandra 52:25
That’s fair.

Brooke 52:25
I think it’s important to listen to what people say on the other side. So, I try and understand the arguments and can have a conversation back and hopefully bring them into the light.

Margaret 52:34
Yeah, that’s legit. But wait, what if we instead created an increasingly more insular and pure subculture?

Brooke 52:44
It seems problematic I’m gonna say, but…

Margaret 52:47
What?

Brooke 52:47
That’s probably for another episode. Okay.

Margaret 52:50
Okay, I’ll stop derailing you,

Casandra Johns 52:52
it would only be the three of us. Everyone else is wrong in some way.

Margaret 52:56
I think that that’s probably true. I’m sorry Bursts, who’s doing our editing, I’m sorry Inmn, who produce the podcast.

Brooke 53:06
You better apologize to all the patrons right now too.

Margaret 53:10
Yeah, if you want to be pure and join our pure culture. A $20 a month level.

Brooke 53:19
No. No cults. No cults.

Margaret 53:22
Everyone keeps saying that to me. Okay.

Brooke 53:26
That’s why I took away that book on cults that I showed you the other day, you don’t need the help.

Margaret 53:32
Please continue.

Brooke 53:33
Oh, God. Right. So so the arguments against it. Like you were saying, you know, one of them’s about the, “I don’t want my tax dollars going to that,” which, like you said, is a pretty wild argument, because we don’t get to decide directly where our tax dollars go. There’s plenty of things that I’m in…None of us like taxes…And amongst us, especially like, abolish the government abolish the taxes, but even people who are okay with taxes as a functioning society, we still, you know, you don’t get to decide where each dollar goes. What’s your question face?

Casandra 54:10
You mean when I vote, it doesn’t directly change things?

Brooke 54:14
Oh, God, another topic for another whole podcast episode about how about how it actually works out there in the world. Yeah, so that argument is kind of wild. And then the other one that I that I have seen is the, you know, “Why should anyone else pay for their choices?” especially if it’s their…other people’s bad choices or whatever. Which again, is wild to me.

Margaret 54:42
You mean the bad choice to loan $60,000 to a 17 year old?

Brooke 54:47
Yeah, seems like maybe that should be not a not a thing.

Margaret 54:51
Well, I just but it’s a bad financial like, like come on. That’s that’s a that’s part of loaning money is you take into account like, there’s risk involved. It is a risky loan to loan a 17 year old money. Anyway, yep. Sorry.

Brooke 55:07
Yeah, I saw one of my, you know, probably Gen X or Boomer aged relatives saying, “Hey, I signed up for the loans at 18. And I read the document, and I knew what I was getting myself into. And it was a choice. And it’s everybody’s choice.” And it’s so many bad takes so many bad takes…

Casandra 55:24
I wonder how much their loan was compared to mine?

Brooke 55:27
Yeah, and there’s that.

Casandra 55:28
I’m gonna guess significantly less.

Brooke 55:30
Yeah, so let me get into a little bit of data here, because I love data. Let’s talk also about what the loans are and aren’t, because if you’re only looking at the headlines there’s a lot that’s not captured in there. The number we see tossed around is the $10,000 of forgiveness. And that’s up to $10,000 of forgiveness. So there’s caveats on that, because there’s a income limitation as to when you can get it. And it decreases a little bit based on what your income is. But also, if you were awarded a Pell Grant, at any point in your college education, you can actually get up to $20,000 in forgiveness, and Pell Grants are a federal grant, not a loan, but a grant, i.e. a gift, basically, that only go out to the lowest income kind of folks. So, if you qualified for a Pell Grant at the time that you also took out loans, then you can get a higher amount of loan forgiveness. And then it also only is it takes effect for people who had taken out a loan prior to June 30th of this year 2020. So if you’re in school, right now, if you’re just starting this fall, it doesn’t apply to you. You had to have taken out a loan prior to that to qualify. Some of the cool things about it, though, are that it helps kind of all kinds of federal loans, which 95% of student loan debt is a federal loan. Only about 5% is private loans. So that’s most people with loans, although it’s only again, those income requirements, but that’s still a large portion of folks. Where’s the other one I was looking at? Oh, there’s a type of loans that parents can take out to help their kids. So most of the federal loans that folks sign up for, they are signing up themselves, right, you’re putting yourself in debt for it, even though you’re only 18, or whatever. But parents can also get a loan, there’s a federal loan called Parent PLUS, that you can take out to help your kids and those loans also qualify for forgiveness. And that is different than the student’s loan. So if you’re a parent who took out one of those loans for your kid, and your kid also took out loans, you both separately qualify for forgiveness.

Casandra 57:48
Is this…Sorry, is this…I hadn’t heard of those parent loans. Is the thought that they’re taking out a loan to help pay for their kids college?

Brooke 57:56
Yeah.

Casandra 57:57
Okay. So, just like, “Look, another loan we can give to someone.”

Brooke 58:02
Yeah. And it’s a federal federal one again, and you know, federal loans overall are, at least compared with like private student loans you can get they’re way more reasonable, super low interest rates, longer repayment periods, you can get restructuring, if you’re having financial issues or get a pause on it, there’s more ways to get them forgiven, like working for a nonprofit or in the private sector, stuff like that. So, these are sort of nicer loans, which is one of the faults that people point out with it is that the the private loans that are the more of the predatory style loans, like we talked about with the IMF earlier, you know, higher interest rates, they don’t care about how much you are or aren’t making necessarily, they just say you have to start paying it at this point, and you have to pay this much and they’ll come after your car or your dog or your firstborn child or whatever in order to get their repayments. And this federal forgiveness doesn’t affect those folks.

Margaret 58:59
Would you say that our listeners should take out predatory loans from payday loan places in order to buy rain barrels?

Brooke 59:08
No. Because you should never support predatory loan places. You can steall from those places.

Margaret 59:16
What if we, what if we start a rain barrel loan fund that offers predatory rates?

Brooke 59:28
Then I would no longer call you an anarchist. You’d be an An-Cap [Anarcho-capitalist] and out of the club.

Casandra 59:33
Is this you? Is this you segwaying into an ad break for our sponsors?

Margaret 59:41
No, i was my brain’s poisoned by how the fact that my other podcast is…has actual ad breaks.

Casandra 59:48
Duh Duh duh duuuuh! I’m rain barrels!

Brooke 59:49
Hey, if rain barrels would give away some, loan some rain barrels, I would let them plug a little ad on this ad-free anarchist podcast network. Yeah.

Margaret 1:00:01
Yeah. Although, I’m holding out for big IBC tote.

Brooke 1:00:05
Yes.

Margaret 1:00:05
Cause IBC totes are 275 gallons, sort of 55 gallons. And that’s what I showered with for the past three years, an IBC tote available from wherever you’re willing to go get a really cheap thing that used to be full of detergent and wash it out vaguely.

Margaret 1:00:11
Half an hour’s drive, we can go grab some.

Casandra 1:00:25
Wait, really?

Margaret 1:00:26
Yeah, yeah.

Casandra 1:00:28
We should talk about that after we’re done doing a podcast which we are in fact doing right now.

Margaret 1:00:32
Oh right, okay.

Brooke 1:00:33
Okay, one of the other things that comes up when folks talk about student loans is you get like the the Boomer types that will say, you know, “I worked a part time job when I was in school and paid off my…paid for my school while I was going to school.” And I think we all know that that’s just not possible to do anymore. And that’s because of the cost of education and how it has skyrocketed. So, if you look at the difference from 70s, 80s, or so, of like median income in the US with the average household makes, versus the average cost of college, the average income has gone up like half again as much since the 80s or so, whereas the cost of college is four times more expensive than it was. And then the other argument that comes up that people make is, well, “Everybody thinks they have to go to college. Now, you know, everybody’s trying to enroll in college, not everyone needs to go to college. But everyone tries to.” And when you look at the numbers of like, the portion of the population that has that’s going to college and how that’s changed in the last like 50 years, it’s been pretty much steady for the last 25 years. It rose in the 60s, late 60s was kind of flat in the 70s then started to rise again through the 80s and the mid 90s. Probably because of the series of recessions that we had that were really severe in some places, like Oregon had a really severe recession. And when there was a recession, more people go back to school, but it hit a peak in the mid 90s And then dropped for a while and then has kind of been staying around that peak, on average, over the last 25 years. That and that’s the number of people has gone up, but the portion of the population, right, so as a percent of the total population has actually been quite stable for a while now.

Margaret 1:02:30
And like, I’m a big fan of having not gotten a degree, right? But, I even had a dream again last night where I like dropped out of school again. And I was like, “Fuck you, I quit.” And it was really, but, but it’s something that I think that a lot of people don’t talk about when they talk about being like, “Oh, well, not everyone needs a college degree,” or whatever it is they they don’t understand that like how important upper higher education is to upward mobility and upward class mobility, especially for like people who are like, marginalized among other identities besides class, like specifically around race, you know, like, there’s…so I think that…I think it’s something that we can accidentally get a little to like, “Yeah!” like, you know, people get very, like “I’m so blue collar, everyone should drive forklifts,” instead of going and studying gender studies or whatever, right? And just like not fucking getting how important class mobility can be for people and how that functions most of the time. And so I get really annoyed when people are like, “No one should ever go to college,” or whatever, because I’m like, that is a really that is a position that comes from a specific place for some people, you know?

Casandra 1:03:44
Yeah.

Brooke 1:03:46
I think people also forget in that the fact that college classes can include courses for some of those types of jobs. So,talking about like the other four year degree, an apprenticeship. You know, if you’re an electrician or a sheetmetal worker, you’re probably you’re going to take some classes and probably through a community college as part of your education to get those kinds of jobs. If you’re doing a forklift or CNC, you have to take a course and they can be three months, six months, twelve months courses, and often again, through community college. So even though you’re not getting a degree, you’re still doing some post secondary education.

Margaret 1:04:29
Yeah.

Casandra 1:04:30
Do you want to know how much debt I have for my community college?

Brooke 1:04:34
Oh, this is gonna hurt.

Casandra 1:04:36
Forty Grand.

Brooke 1:04:38
Shut the front door.

Casandra 1:04:41
And that’s like with grants and shit because like I good grades and all that. I was on the ‘President’s list.’

Brooke 1:04:45
For a frame of reference, listeners, Casandra graduated more recently, like last couple years, or three or whatever it was, but fairly recently. Yeah. When I was looking at the numbers, here’s my personal anecdote. The cost have the four year degree that I got 15 years ago. I’m taking some community college classes now. And if I did an associate’s degree, it would cost me as much for two years of community college today as it did for a four year degree with two majors 15 years ago. Yeah, the cost has has exponentially risen again. Four times. It’s it’s four times higher than it was like 40 years ago. It’s risen more than anything, any other good or commodity. The cost of college has increased.

Margaret 1:05:40
I will say, my, like optimistic, putting on my optimism hat. I don’t like hats. That’s probably why I’m not great. Okay. When I think about like some of the most…the strongest that leftist movements, anarchist movements, I know more about anarchist movements, I do other movements. The strongest they’ve been is like often, while popular education, or the existing educational infrastructure is failing everyone. And, you know, like a lot of work around reframing education in both France and Spain was coming out of anarchists in the late 19th and early 20th century in the modern school movement, all this stuff, and people were getting, like, literally murdered for advocating for things like “What if boys and girls are taught in the same classrooms and shit,” and it’s like awild idea that anarchists came up with. And like not talking about God in the classroom. Oh, my god, we’re actually losing on all of these. Okay, anyway. It’s like, “Remember the fight for an eight hour workday?” And I’m like, “Man, I wish I had eight hour workday right now.” Okay, and but, but so that’s like, my like, my, like, optimism is that like, in a burned for us new weeds grow? You know, I think that there’s a lot of opportunity for alternative educational systems, but not in a way where they could like, immediately step in and be like an accredited university that allows the sort of class mobility that we’re talking about, or whatever, right, but like, it does seem like mutual aid schooling and education are like, probably in a better position to take a foothold than they used to be. I hadn’t really…I’d only previously thought about this more for like, grade school type stuff, especially for the whole, like how public school is like also kind of like low key just like childcare. And like, hadn’t quite thought about this in terms of like, how it ties into, you know, continuing education, but it could, we could have Anarchy University, and then everyone could have degrees and okay, I don’t know where I’m going with this.

Brooke 1:07:45
Anarcho-U.

Casandra 1:07:45
You need another project, Margaret. So…

Margaret 1:07:51
No, dear listener, you need a project. At Projects-R-Us, we will give you a project.

Brooke 1:08:00
Wrong podcast. Wrong, wrong podcast.

Margaret 1:08:02
Replace the continuing education system!.

Brooke 1:08:04
Nope, wrong podcast.

Margaret 1:08:04
Okay, fine.

Brooke 1:08:06
Yeah, so,

Casandra 1:08:07
That’d be like your ideal job, I think.

Margaret 1:08:09
it really would be, yes, I have way better at coming up with things that I can dedicate my entire life to than dedicating my entire life to any of the individual things.

Brooke 1:08:22
Oh, maybe, maybe you didn’t need to start the cult just to find leaders for all of these ideas. So students loan forgivness..

Margaret 1:08:27
No, someone else’s to start it. You out there, you can be the one start the cu–… like, okay, sorry. Please continue. I’m sorry.

Brooke 1:08:36
Okay, I’ll try and stay off a tangent because I want to. Student loan forgiveness, generally good. Why? Because college is super expensive. And college is not just going out and getting a four year degree or even a two year degree. It’s, you know, taking some amount of classes. Education is good. And it’s expensive to do so. And we need to make that easier for people and the student loan forgiveness we have will alleviate some pain and suffering. It doesn’t deal with some of the fundamental issues that we have of the fact that college is too expensive right now. So, it’s not, it’s not perfect. Maybe it’s not even great, but it is net good and movement in the right direction of things. One more fun note on it in case this affects anybody listening and they don’t know about this. Student loan payments have been on pause since March, 2020, the start of the pandemic. They’re going to end December 31, 2022. So they’ll resume.

Brooke 1:09:36
The pause is going to end. Yeah, thank you. So repayments will resume January. Now, some people may have chosen to still make payments during the pause and those payments that you made, you’ll be eligible, If you meet the other criteria for loan forgiveness, you’ll be eligible for reimbursement. So, let’s say that you made a $100 payment every month for about 30 months now. So, that’s about three grand. So, you can get a reimbursement of, out of your 10, you get three grand reimbursement for payments that you made during the pause, and then you could have the other seven applied to loans that are still outstanding. So, that’s a cool thing to know. And something to watch out for. If you’re someone who’s going to be applying for the loan forgiveness.

Casandra 1:09:36
The pause is going to end?

Casandra Johns 1:10:29
Imagine if they had just forgiven student loans like actually, and fully.

Brooke 1:10:36
Yeah, that would have been a nice thing.

Casandra 1:10:39
It was really hard to be on on social media for a few days with a bunch of people being like, “This is great. Biden has done it.” Like, really?

Margaret 1:10:49
Yeah, no,

Casandra 1:10:50
I mean, am I happier that potentially maybe if I’m lucky, I doubt this will happen. Like I’m still skeptical of the whole thing, but because I had Pell grants and maybe 20 grand will like, be forgiven. I still owe 20 grand.

Brooke 1:11:05
Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Casandra 1:11:06
Cuz I don’t even have that many loans compared to most people because I went to community college. Yep.

Brooke 1:11:18
Okay, anything else?

Casandra 1:11:20
That’s a depressing note to end on.

Margaret 1:11:21
That’s what I was trying to say like Anarchy-U, my positive…We have a whole degree in rainwater catchment.

Brooke 1:11:33
A degree in it or just how about a certification? You can be a certified rainwater catcher?

Margaret 1:11:39
Okay. Yes. I don’t want to micromanage, so whatever you decide since you’re now opening this university.

Brooke 1:11:49
No, no, no, I wasn’t volunterring to take it over!

Margaret 1:11:52
Nose goes. Last listener to touch their nose has to start Anarchist University.

Casandra 1:12:02
But then, but then you could sponsor us and we could promote you.

Margaret 1:12:06
Yeah.

Casandra 1:12:08
Yep.

Margaret 1:12:09
For free.

Brooke 1:12:09
Great.

Casandra 1:12:11
For free? I don’t think that’s how sponsoring works, Margaret.

Margaret 1:12:15
That’s how the Channel Zero sponsor thing works.

Casandra 1:12:17
Oh, that’s true. Okay.

Margaret 1:12:19
Mutual aid networks.

Brooke 1:12:22
Or they could support us on Patreon.

Casandra 1:12:24
Uh, huh.

Margaret 1:12:25
Are you doing an outro?

Casandra 1:12:26
At the university?

Brooke 1:12:28
I was trying to, but I don’t actually know all the words that go before thanking our patrons. So you might, you might need to do that.

Margaret 1:12:39
Thanks so much for listening. Here’s okay. That since since Brooke is going to be coming on as a host, you say “Thanks so much for listening.” You say, “Algorithms suck. But if you like, comment, reviews, blah, blah blah, makes algorithms give our show to more people. It’s kind of the only way that people end up hearing about our show is word of mouth.” All that stuff’s true. I’m not just saying it cynically, it’s just that I have said it like whatever we’re on like episode like 50 or something so so like 50 times, and, “That you can support us on Patreon by supporting our publisher, our publisher is Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness. The three of us are collective members of a collectively run publisher called Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness. It’s been around for about 20 years. But it’s like getting new mega forces Voltron combined version of itself lately, and it is primarily supported by Patreon. And if you support us at $1 a month, you have access to all of our content, although also if you just go to “Tangledwilderness.org” you have access to basically all of our content. But it’s still cool to support us. The supporters at $5, you get a discount on everything that we are ever going to make, which is starting to exist. We have t-shirts now including for the show. And then if you support us at $10 you get a zine mailed out to you every single month different fiction, nonfiction….There’s probably other types of things in the world besides fiction and nonfiction…”

Casandra 1:14:04
Poetry!

Margaret 1:14:05
Yeah. And if you support us at $20 a month, I pass it over to Brooke…

Brooke 1:14:13
You get a shout out here on our podcasts and special thanks. In particular we would like to thank Hoss the dog, Micaiah, Chris, Sam, Kirk, Natalie, Eleanor, Jennipher, Staro, Kat J, Chelsea, Dana, David, Nicole, Mikki, Oxalis, Paige, SJ, and Shawn. Thanks for listening. Bye. Yeah,

Margaret 1:14:38
Okay, we did it!

Find out more at https://live-like-the-world-is-dying.pinecast.co

S1E49 – Andre on Solar Power, DIY Internet, Mesh Networks, and Solar Punk

Episode Notes

Episode summary
Andre and Margaret talk about a lot of things. They talk about recycling/reusing/remelting plastics, turning them into fuel, setting up solar power systems, setting up DIY internet, intranets and mesh networks as well as some concepts dealing with solar punk and hydroponics, and of course how most things can be easily analogized to baking a cake.

Guest Info
Andre can be found at www.anarchosolarpunk.substack.com, or on Twitter @HydroponicTrash
or on TikTok @HydroponicTrash.

Host Info
Margaret Killjoy can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy or instagram at @margaretkilljoy.

Publisher Info
This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at www.tangledwilderness.org, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at www.patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness.

Transcript

Andre on Solar Power, DIY Internet, Mesh Networks, and Solar Punk

Margaret 00:15
Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m your host, Margaret killjoy. And I use ‘she’ and ‘they’ pronouns. And I am very excited about this week’s episode, which I guess I probably say, most weeks. But, I’m excited to be talking to Andre, who is someone I first ran across his work because someone was just I think someone sent it to me or was showing me these, these pictures of someone who had ‘hydroponic trash’ as the user name, and was talking about making off grid internet through mesh networking. And I was like, “Yeah, this is up my alley,” but not my alley that I’ve actually explored. It’s a alley that I’m interested in. So I’m very excited. I think you all will be very excited. But first, this podcast is a proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchists podcasts. And here’s a jingle from another show in the network.

01:45
Jingle

Margaret 02:23
Okay, if you could introduce yourself with your name, your pronouns, and then maybe kind of a little bit about yourself about the kind of stuff that we’re going to be talking about today. Like how you got into it or what you do?

Andre 02:34
Yeah, for sure. My name is Andre, my pronouns are he/him. I go by Hydroponic Trash on Twitter and Tik Tok. I focus a lot on upcycling things that people would normally kind of regard as like trash, like recycling plastic containers to make indoor vertical hydroponic gardens. I’m a hacker, a gardener, a woodworker, I kind of tend to do a lot of random shit. So. I also write speculative solar punk fiction on combining technology, both low and high tech, with social change, and balancing that with the ecosystem. With that being said, I’ve been also kind of focusing in on infrastructure, and how people can build passive and active systems to meet their basic needs like food, water, shelter, communications, electricity. Right now, what that kind of looks like is making off grid intranet networks, off grid solar power, and some other passive projects that kind of deal with DIY off grid stuff.

Margaret 03:47
Yeah! You basically just listed all of my interests. This very exciting to me. I’m going to ask at the end of the episode as well, but do you want to say where people can find like, say, for example, your speculative fiction, like, I know that you write about a lot of the stuff that you do, and you also write fiction. Where can people find that?

Andre 04:03
Yeah, so mainly, I post my long form stuff on anarchosolarpunk.substack.com. So mainly post my like, long form writing on Substack. But, I post a lot of written form content and other stuff to my Twitter, HydroponicTrash and Tik Tok, I posted videos whenever I can make videos about a whole bunch of various different topics or projects that I’m working on.

Margaret 04:29
That’s cool. Okay, so I was gonna start with off grid internet. But first, I want to ask you about recycling plastic trash, because I’m really excited about ways to…recycling is like fake, right, these days, you know, like market based recycling? It seems like most, I don’t have the numbers in front of me or whatever. But it seems like more and more if you put something in the recycling bin, it just gets thrown in the landfill. And so I’m really excited about ways that people can directly recycle. So, what does that look like that you’re recycling plastic trash. Is this like melting it down? Or are you just like repurposing it or what’s happening?

Andre 05:03
So, at the moment, it’s mostly repurposing, but I am going to start doing actual plastic recycling by melting it down and making it into other objects. But um, so right now repurposing plastic, it really started when I, like, just saw how many plastic containers there were just out in the world, I’ve been picking up trash in like my local park for a little bit. So, while picking up trash, it was like, it makes you really, really aware of the type of pollution that’s out there in the world, because you’re picking it up out of like waterways and in parks and stuff. So. it got me thinking of like, okay, well, plastic to-go containers, for instance, how do we actually like reuse these types of things. So, what I started doing was taking old Tupperware, that was just kind of sitting in my cabinet, sitting in my kitchen. And I drilled holes for it to put in net cups, which are usually used for hydroponics, and I just started growing plants in it. So trying to find some creative and different ways to not only like reuse plastic in a safe manner, but not only to reuse the plastic, but to find a new use for it. So that way, it didn’t just end up going into the landfill. And it was also kind of doing something productive as well.

Margaret 06:24
Yeah. Yeah, I, I got really excited when I, I people think people might have already heard me talk about this, but I’m really excited about the idea of basically like, setting up mutual aid recycling in the same way that I think that neighborhoods can compost with each other. Like, some of the infrastructure, it seems like is better put at a neighborhood level, like a small community level than like a, you know, an individual level. But I’m curious when you start repurposing it….Okay, so the things that I’ve come up with for plastic–I haven’t done any of these things.This is all just me falling down rabbit holes on YouTube and stuff.–The main things is people taking certain kinds and making DIY 3D printable plastic. Other ones are like literally just melting it down and putting it into forms and molds. And then the one that I’m like, kind of the most excited about, although it’s sort of terrible is that apparently you can make diesel fuel out of plastic DIY? I don’t know, like, what do you? What are your aspirations? Or what are you thinking on for your DIY recycling?

Andre 07:22
So, all of that pretty much entire, all the stuff that you just said, is pretty much what I want to do. So I’ll go into some more repurposing stuff and talking about specifically about additive manufacturing and recycling inputs into stuff. So yeah, like, recycling, plastics is a really big thing. So recycling PLA plastic or recycling…there’s a whole bunch of plastics that will melt and be able to remelt that you can make in certain different things. And I think that recycling plastics specifically for 3d printing is going to be kind of like the next frontier of additive manufacturing, because not only are you taking plastics…so say, for instance…it’s a full cycle…So, we could be not only cleaning up the environment of plastic waste, but using that plastic and re-melting it down and making it into new objects, when otherwise that plastic would have just been floating in some water in a creek or sitting, you know, not deteriorating in a landfill.

Margaret 08:29
Yeah.

Andre 08:30
And so from there, it kind of opens up a whole new space of thinking about the things that we use and thinking about manufacturing in general, because we’re moving away from mining the earth and using natural resources and exploiting the natural resources to make the inputs for the stuff. And instead, mining the trash and mining the stuff that we’ve that we’ve thrown away and regarded as trash and mining that. So, I kind of think of it as like a closed loop, circular ecosystem of removing trash from the environment, repurposing it. And then not only that, kind of changing our social relations when it comes to how we deal with objects, changing our conceptions of things of like disposability, changing our conceptions of how we treat objects, and moving away from disposal into like modularity or repurposing stuff. So yeah, I think it’s really interesting to think of it in that way of like, instead of making these new things, taking what we’ve already polluted the earth with and making things out of that.

Margaret 09:45
Yeah, no, this is…I’m just gonna basically over and over be like, “Yeah, this is this is my alley. This is the shit that I love.” Yeah, one of the things that I notice is that, you know, from living off–I don’t currently live off grid, but I’ve spent a lot of my time living off grid–is you start noticing every single object that comes into your purview, right? Because ‘what are you going to do with it at the end?’ becomes this very important thing. If you don’t have trash pickup, if you don’t have a way to just easily make the thing go away, then you have to be like, “Okay, I’m going to compost this, I’m going to, you know, compost that.” I was just thinking of cardboard. And I was like, “Oh, I used to burn all my cardboard, but I’m gonna try and move to composting it,” you know. And, you know, just like thinking, “Okay, I’m responsible for all of these objects, I’ve chosen to caretake.” And this isn’t me trying to be like, “Oh, recycling is gonna save the world,” or whatever, because it’s like, but for me, it’s more about when we think about when we start thinking of small scale systems, based on all of the things involved, I think that puts us in a better position to imagine better futures. Because we actually have to think to ourselves like, “Well, if I don’t want, if I want to use plastic, what the fuck am I going to do with it afterwards?” And I mean, I don’t actually particularly, I used to sort of hate plastic. And now I’m kind of like now that I think of mining the trash for plastic. I sort of like it, you know?

Andre 11:05
Yeah, I could talk more about turning plastic into fuel.

Margaret 11:09
Yeah, please, do I only know the like YouTube level of it.

Andre 11:15
Yeah, so another part of that is…okay, so, even if we were to say, for instance, like in the future, get everything that we wanted, have the big ‘R’ Revolution, you know, have the utopic vision that we have come to fruition, there’s still going to be the problem of trash, there’s still going to be the problem of yeah, like, what do we do with plastic, even after it’s like, use has kind of gone through, and we can’t reuse anymore? Like, what do we do with it?Like, another option of that, too, is using the plastic as a fuel source. So you can do stuff like pyrolysis, where basically, you’re heating up plastic, condensing that, and basically making it back into a form of burnable fuel. And like, you know, personally, I absolutely hate combustible fuels, obviously, for their, for their, their impact to the environment. But then again, there are a lot of things that are absolutely necessary to run. So say for instance, you know, if we are using renewables only to power things, one issue is, say, for instance, solar, if you don’t get a lot of sunlight, you don’t get power, pretty much. And you could supplement that with other, you know, renewable energies. But there might be times especially in say, like a natural disaster, when like, you absolutely need power to power like medical equipment to power to power hospitals, or to power equipment that we need up and running. And so that would be a time when, like, using these fuels would really make a lot of sense. On the flip side of that, too, talking about like fuel and stuff like that, there’s also making hydrogen fuel using electrolysis. So, using electricity, to basically separate the hydrogen from water, and then using that hydrogen as a fuel. So, that’s another, you know, way of approaching it and way of approaching energy, not thinking of extracting it from the earth, but trying to figure out new ways and different ways of finding energy that’s really all around us.

Margaret 13:34
Yeah, my, my favorite, I looked into it at the last place I lived because was on enough of a hill, I got really into storing electrical power through gravity. You know, like, you could do this thing where I’ve seen people do it where you like, you set up…okay, you set up a water…a rain barrel at the bottom of your house. And then you also set up a rain barrel at the top of your house. And you use your solar while it’s running, instead of to power a lithium battery, which is obviously not a renewable resource, you know, which is the thing that people often forget. Well, I mean, whatever, it’s better than some things. But, you know, the battery storage is one of the weakest parts of off-grid power, right? And so you put your rain barrel at the top of your house, and then while there’s power, you pump the water up to the roof. And then when there’s not power coming through the solar, then the, the rainwater comes back down and it charges…like I mean this charges like a cell phone, this is not a you know, but people are talking about doing it on these industrial scales where you can do it like water towers, you can do it, you know, dammed areas, whatever.. I’m not presenting it as like the perfect solution, but just like interesting to me that there’s all of these different ways that we can store power that we don’t traditionally think of. I don’t know.

Andre 14:54
Yeah, exactly. And it’s one of those things where like, it isn’t necessarily profitable too, to do stuff like that. So it just isn’t being done right now. But if we were to look at living in a post capitalist world, obviously, we want to pick solutions and pick things that not only like are detrimental socially, but not detrimental ecologically as well. So like stuff like that is just so perfect in taking the energy that we have just all around us and using it in responsible ways. So yeah,

Margaret 15:29
Okay, so this isn’t even what we were going to talk about today. I just got really excited about that. The the main thing I wanted to talk to you about today is, is off-grid internet is mesh networking is DIY internet. And I’m wondering if you could explain what that kind of concept is?

Andre 15:45
Yeah, for sure. So I’ll kind of go into a little bit of background on like, why, or what really got me started in thinking on this train of thought. So like, I live in Texas. And living in Texas has made me very aware of kind of the crumbling infrastructure in this country.

Margaret 16:06
Whaaat?! [Sarcastically]

Andre 16:07
Yeah, I know, “What?” a private grid run by a corporation that seems to fail, even though there’s no regulation, “What?Oh.” And a big wake up call was winter storm Yuri, which like completely, absolutely fucked up Texas. It was a week long ice storm with snow. And, it just like completely destroyed the homes of just thousands of people. Thousands of people lost their lives because of the storm. And it just kind of pointed out the fact that ERCOT’s mismanagement of the power grid and the effects of that were just like, really big. So, it kind of got me thinking of ways to do communication and electricity, that didn’t rely on the crumbling infrastructure around me. So, after thinking about that kind of got me thinking about emergencies and building resilient systems, and communication was like really, really up there. Especially when it comes to communications during natural disasters. There’s, you know, there’s obviously Ham radio and handheld radios that people use during natural disasters. But, when it comes to actually sharing information, say, for instance, sharing books, sharing videos, communicating with a massive amount of people that doesn’t require specialized equipment, like radios, that’s a whole nother realm, you know. So, that’s what kind of got me thinking about making an emergency like community internet was so that way people in my neighborhood could have access to like, a chat server ebooks with like info on surviving different natural disasters, a media server to stream videos, either for educational content, or for just like, if the power’s out, you’re bred you know, you have nothing to do, sooo. And music is another big thing.

Margaret 18:08
That was one of the things that before, before Covid, I was like, running around doing all my preparedness stuff. And I went out and got a hard drive and filled it with movies that I obtained legally. And I was kind of even as I was doing it. I was like, “What the hell disaster am I going to be in? What version of the apocalypse has me like bored watching movies?” And then COVID hit. And I like, and I was off grid, and I like, didn’t have good internet, you know? And I was like, “Oh, this, this is the crisis for which I prepared.” And, you know, whatever public domain television shows got me through, got me through the worst of it. Anyway, I didn’t mean to completely derail you, please continue.

Andre 18:54
No, no, no, that’s completely on topic, you know, especially because like, these kinds of systems allow people to communicate without needing to be face to face. And so what a lot of people don’t like think about are people who are immunodeficient who can’t like, go face to face in front of people or people with disabilities who it would be harder for them to physically go out and get a radio from somebody and start using it. So, you know, resilient systems that like keep everybody in mind that can access it like really big. But yeah, like COVID was a perfect…not really perfect, but you know, it definitely pointed out some some, some stuff that maybe we were all thinking about, but didn’t really want to think about, but…So, from thinking about all this stuff, what I kind of landed on was making a solar powered internet with like a Raspberry Pi as the server that ran all the services and a Raspberry Pi is a single board, like small computer that runs off of USB power. So it requires really, very little power. But, from there, you know, it’s fine to have your own small kind of like local network. But, I really wanted to come up with ways to try and expand that network. So, basically make like beacons to connect back to the main network to spread out the signal.

Margaret 20:25
Cool.

Andre 20:27
So, in a way, this kind of started off as just like a small off-grid, solar powered system. But, now it’s kind of grown out to be more of almost like a community wide Internet where like, we can add more routers to the network and spread the connections out from there.

Margaret 20:44
How…How do? [Pause] How does that happen? Like, like are thre resources that, you know…how complicated is it? How expensive? Is it? How…it seems like it’s scalable, so you can kind of up the complexity and the expense as you want? But yeah, what’s involved?

Andre 21:04
So I, when I wrote the article, and like, was thinking about this, I really wanted to start from like the bare minimum, and try and convey the bare minimum of information that somebody would need to do this. So, starting off, I wanted to make sure to use things that were first of all easy to find, second of all, easy to work on, like the average person with some technical skills could pick it up and like, know what to do with it, and wasn’t something super proprietary, where maybe only a handful of people in a city would even know how to work it. So, it has to be, you know, easily picked up by your average person. So, that’s kind of where I wanted to start from was using the most basic hardware, the most basic software, and from there, you can build up to it. So, for example, like in the article that I wrote, that kind of goes by like step by step on how to make it, it’s more of like a recipe book almost. So, breaking it down into like, its fundamental parts, with core ingredients to make it what it is. So like, you know, a cake has core ingredients that you know, make it a cake, but you can add and subtract on top of it to make it work for whatever you need it to work for.

Margaret 22:34
Well other people can.

Andre 22:35
True

Margaret 22:38
Whenever I try to make a cake…I can make muffins and brownies. Anyways I’m that useful wit cakes yet.

Andre 22:49
Well, yeah, as long as you can find somebody to make it. That’s the biggest thing. Yeah.

Margaret 22:54
Okay, what are some of those core ingredients?

Andre 22:57
So, the core ingredients are basically a client, a router, and a server. So, that’s pretty much it, which sounds really really reductive. But, when you boil it down, and kind of like, look at the core concept, that’s the three things you have. So, a client is a computer. Really, any computer. A router determines like what addresses computers in the network have, and it directs traffic. And a server is basically another computer that hosts the data for your clients to access. So. I’ll kind of walk through some of that stuff, too. So, like I said, A client can be really like literally any computer, it could be like a brand new MacBook, it could be a single board computer, like a Raspberry Pi, you could even use like a smart fridge to do this. It can literally be anything that…it can literally be any computer that can access the internet, you can use as a client to go onto the network, right? Yeah. And so next you have routers, which are basically like little boxes that can direct traffic and determine like, what addresses computers on the network have. So think of it as like mailing addresses almost. So, if I wanted to send information to somebody down the street, I would have an address and they would have an address, and the router is basically like a mailman who delivers that information from me to the address that I wanted to send it off to. And I’m obviously kind of like making this way more simpler than what it is, because in reality there’s like so many networking things in the middle that makes this happen but routers basically do that.

Margaret 24:44
Okay, can this router in this case be like, like I have a router right now I believe that is connecting between my modem and my computer or something, right? Can Can. It sounds like this router is the most custom piece of this whole puzzle or is it something that you can also repurpose out of an existing like Wi-Fi router or something?

Andre 25:06
You can repurpose it out of any Wi-Fi router, which is awesome.

Margaret 25:10
Hell yeah, cause it’s in every house.

Andre 25:12
It’s in every house. Every house has internet access, you have a router. All you have to do is change the networking settings to be able to basically connect back to whatever network you make. So, it doesn’t require you to go out and buy something. You probably already have it in your house already.

Margaret 25:29
Yeah. Okay. I mean, you probably have to destroy the one you have, or you have to reprogram the one you’re having you have so you wouldn’t be able to use it and your regular internet?

Andre 25:42
Excatly.

Margaret 25:43
Yeah, you would need to go find one in an abandoned house.

Andre 25:45
Yeah.

Margaret 25:45
Okay. Cool.

Andre 25:49
You could, you could. Yeah, I mean, like internet squatting is a, I guess, a new thing now so…. But the last kind of part of that is the server. And that’s like, again, really any computer that’s running software to share data. So, with those three pieces, a client, a router, and server, if you scale that up like a million times and add in fiber optic cables from the bottom of the ocean to connect routers and to data centers together, and then boom, you have the ‘Internet,’ right? So, like network engineers are probably going to be listening to this and be really mad about what I’m saying. But, the internet is basically just a giant combination of intranets. It’s a big intranet that’s been connected to other intranets, through a bunch of other networking equipment, protocols, datacenters, all that kind of stuff.

Margaret 26:43
An an intranet is a is an internet, but a local one, a one that exists within like a building or a neighborhood or something is an intranet. It’s a network that is not part of the larger internet. I mean, it can be part of that. You can access it from the larger internet, but it’s sort of walled off. Is that a decent way to explain intranet?

Andre 27:03
Yeah, exactly. So, if you add your client, a router and a server, you basically made an intranet right there because it isn’t connected back to the major, actual internet. But, that’s what the Internet is. It’s this gigantic intranet. So, it kind of takes a lot of the black box magic out of the Internet, because really, you’re just distilling it down to these core pieces and understanding, “Okay, well, if I can do this at like a super small level, and I spread this out, we really could create, you know, a local, a regional, or even a gigantic people own Internet with our own hardware.”

Margaret 27:48
So, basically, if we build this entire shadow internet…Are there other people who have done this? Are there already existing like large networked intranets all networked together? Do they control like, the giant space laser or whatever? Like? I mean, what are the? Yeah, how much is this already done?

Andre 28:08
Yeah, so not exactly when it comes to like making it almost like an alternative internet, it’s mainly done to actually provide internet access to people who can get it. So, a good example of that is NYC Mesh. And they’re are a group in New York City who basically are doing this exact same thing. They’re making an a mesh network to broadcast out a Wi Fi signal. And then they have nodes that pick up that Wi Fi signal and keep basically building out the range that the network can can hit. So, what they’re doing is finding areas that internet service providers won’t bring in the necessary equipment to give people internet access, or people who can’t afford internet access. And so, they’re basically making these mesh networks to get the Wi Fi coverage over to the people who need it. So, we can do basically the same thing with a system like this. So, you can make a network like this that works in tandem with the Internet. So say for instance, if power or Internet access gets shut off, for whatever reason, you have a backup, basically like community internet. But, you can also connect, say, for instance, like your main router that you’re kind of using to run the network or just any router on the network, connect that to the internet, and then you can share Internet access across the secondary internet. So, basically, you can make a mesh intranet network, and you can have it walled off from the wider internet and still have it work without electricity. grid electricity and without internet access, but when you have electricity and internet access, you can actually supply Internet access to the network and give other people access to the internet. So, it kind of serves two purposes too so that way, it’s not just like, “Oh, this is only in an emergency network.” But also, you know, there’s some resilience resiliency built into it.

Margaret 30:25
That’s cool. I like that it has a purpose, sort of during crisis, and also even just like during the crisis that is, you know, poverty and lack of access and stuff like that. The other thing that I like about this, I mean, it’s funny, I don’t like it personally, because I live rurally, but, but one of the things that comes up is that so much of the prepping stuff that gets talked about, especially under the name ‘prepping,’ rather than ‘preparedness’ focuses on rural folks, right? It focuses on access to, if not financial resources, it often focuses on access to space, like physical space to store things, or even kind of what you can do with low population density. Right? It’s a lot easier for someone to have five acres here in West Virginia than it is for some of the five acres in the Bay Area or something, right. And the thing, that’s kind of interesting, because you’re pointed out that the you know, a lot of this work, people have been doing it New York City, and I’m like, h, it the higher population density you have like, the more bang for your buck, it seems like this kind of thing would have. And that’s cool, because I think that we way too often think of high population density as like, ‘bad.’ Whereas actually, in terms of like, efficiency of living, in terms of even like small ecological footprint, higher population densities can be really fucking good. So, I like that. For my for myself, I’m like, oh, well if I set it up, it would just be on my like, you know, like, where I live with some people or whatever and it would just be the like, “Well, if the power goes down, you can access the the movie server and the off-grid, Wikipedia,” or the, you know, I do a download of Wikipedia every, whenever I remember, it’s usually about once a year as like part of my preping is I do the download of Wikipedia or whatever. Without the images. I don’t have enough money to pay for that kind of terabytes of data for the images. But yeah, I don’t know, the larger. I don’t know, I’m just getting lost thinking about the possibilities of something like this. What distinguishes a mesh network from just a simple intranet? Is a mesh network, because it’s all wireless. Like what what makes it a mesh network?

Andre 32:32
Yeah, so mesh network differentiates itself because you’re basically able to connect networking equipment back to each other. So, you can do a mesh network, a quote unquote, ‘mesh network’ with like, hard wired Ethernet cable, but really what network mesh networks do is use certain protocols to connect routers or network equipment together. So, in this case, what we’re doing connecting our main router to our beacon that will, you know, propagate that network is using a protocol called WDS, which is called ‘wireless distribution system.’ And basically, what that lets you do is it lets you connect other routers, as if they were connected with an ethernet cord together, but it’s completely wireless. So, you can get another router, turn on WDS, join in the network, and then this new router that joins in becomes a beacon and extends the range of the network.

Margaret 33:37
Okay. So, you don’t have to, you don’t have to as the alternative internet engineer, you don’t have to walk around and physically set up each and every beacon. It’s a it’s a thing where basically people by joining are making the network better?

Andre 33:53
Exactly.. As long as they can get power. Anybody can turn their home router, and either use WDS to connect their routers together, or basically putting the routers into what’s called AP mode or basically making it an–

34:12
An ‘access point.’ [Not getting the joke] Yeah.

Margaret 34:12
[Interuptting] Advance Placement.

Margaret 34:15
No, I was lying. Sorry, I was trying to make a bad joke.

Andre 34:21
See, I’m not smart enough to have taken an AP classses High School. Yeah, I my terrible ADHD like stopped me from going into AP classes. So.

Margaret 34:32
Yeah, fair enough. I took AP English. Did not did not pass it to the college level. In my defense, the only they only taught, they only taught books written by men in my AP English class. I think all white men. Now there might have been I feel like….

Andre 34:54
Yeah, what English class isn’t just full of just like old white dudes?

Margaret 34:58
Yeah. Although actually, it was before….This is just completely tangential. English class is how I like learned about like Langston Hughes and stuff in 10th grade and like, so that was good. That’s all I remember.

Andre 35:14
My introduction to de-schooling was actually through an English teacher. So I guess, yeah, English teachers, English classes, thumbs up, you know?

Margaret 35:25
Yeah, Totally. Many of them, many of them. Okay, so before we started thinking about our English teachers, okay, you mentioned that if you have power, right? But and I’m I’m under the impression, a lot of what you’ve also done is work on trying to figure out how to make sure that people within this network would have access to power during a crisis or whatever. What does that look like?

Andre 35:54
Yeah, so I mean, obviously, we can’t run electronics without power. So trying to think about, what are some ways that we can generate power locally, and be able to supply power to people who need it. So, getting into talking about power kind of connects it to other areas of infrastructure to, and all those other areas of infrastructure connect into building mutual aid networks, but so we’ll start with power first. So, with powering nodes, basically, what we’re talking about here is creating almost like micro, community micro grids using solar. So, basically making like small power stations that use solar energy to charge batteries and supply power to your neighbors. And so, this can turn into a form of mutual aid, right? So if we’re making these small scale solar power stations that we can attach to like dollies, or attach to wood and like, roll them out when need be. Now we’re talking about giving people the autonomy and giving people the tools to make their own power and help each other survive in a way that’s beneficial to everybody in the community. But also is helping to power, you know, the devices that will connect back to the network, the network itself, but also help power medical devices and stuff like that, that you know, people need to survive and live off of. So, talking about making community micro grids, we’ll start from like, the small scale and then start building up, because again, like, all of this is modular and able to scale with however many resources you have, or however big you need it to be. But, the key part is to understand that like at every level, it’s the same idea, just with, you know, some parts switched out. So. And there’s also two, there’s also different kinds of solar power, too. There’s solar photovoltaics using like traditional solar panels is what we think of, but also passive solar as well, because there’s energy, you know, the sun is fucking hot. The sun rays have a lot of energy. So, there’s other ways to produce energy and talk about that sort of stuff. So, there’s high tech and low tech, solar, but we’ll start in and start small with small scale, kind of micro community micro grids. Right? So by solar in this case, I’m talking about photovoltaic cells to generate electricity from the sun. So you can make stuff like this, or you can buy like premade systems to kind of cut down on the amount of work that you need to do, but there are some like major downsides to getting like a premade solar system kind of like an all in one package, because most of the parts are proprietary. So, in the middle of an emergency, you’re not going to be able to like mail your solar charge station if the power plug breaks. So, a DIY method allows you to kind of have modular off the shelf parts that if something breaks, you can easily fix it. And all of these parts are easy to find too. So once I start talking about the parts that are involved with it, you can think of a whole bunch of places where you can find this stuff that’s just sitting out there.

Margaret 39:32
Just by the side of the road.

Andre 39:35
Yeah, honestly Like literally, I found solar panels in the middle of forests, just kind of like smashed solar panels in the middle of a forest before so like yes search on the side of the roads. You could find some cool shit.

Margaret 39:52
Yeah.

Andre 39:53
But yeah, so like when you start talking about solar power and solar power generation it’s really daunting, because like what we’re used to is seeing solar panels on roofs, or electricians installing this stuff. But, really, it’s really simple once you break it down into the core ingredients, just like before, just like making a cake, once you know the core ingredients, you can scale things up, add, subtract to whatever you need, to whatever scale you need. So.

Margaret 40:21
Yeah, that you have to like…you do when you scale solar power…I don’t know that much about mesh networking. But I’ve installed a bunch of different solar systems and lived off solar systems of different types. And, it’s a really good point about the modularity that can pull pieces out and put them back in. But, it’s annoying that every time you’re like, Oh, I’m going to go from 400 watts of solar power to 800 watts of solar power. Now, I need to change out every piece of the entire thing. Because it’s, it’s like baking, if in order to double the ingredients. You also had to like, buy a different bowl and spoons, you know?

Andre 40:58
Exactly, exactly. You’re like these look exactly the same, but like I have to pay like an extra $500 For this one that can handle like, oh, a little bit more power. What the hell?

Margaret 41:07
Yeah. Yeah. And it is it is more like baking than than cooking. You know? it’s…because it is very like, “Okay, do this. Exactly. And it’ll be great and safe and right.”

Andre 41:24
Yeah, add these ingredients in together in a safe way, and you’ll be good.

Margaret 41:30
Yeah, exactly. Which is not to try and scare people off of it, it really can be done safely. Like, I didn’t know shit about electricity when I first started doing this, I, when I first installed my first 12 volt battery, I was like terrified of it. You know, I was like putting the cables on it. And I was afraid it was gonna like shock me and my friend just like went up and grabbed both terminals and was like, “It’s fine. It’s 12 volts.” And like, and then he was immediately like, “But if you dropped a wrench and connected the two poles, then you might die. But…” Most use case scenario….anyway. Sorry, I have a lot of I have a lot of thoughts about solar. But please, please continue. I’m sorry.

Andre 42:13
No, no, no, no. But like, yeah, like you just said, with anything to do with solar power, obviously, there’s gonna be some safety things to keep in mind. But, you know, if you practice basic electrical safety, you can make these systems pretty well, at least at a small scale. Once you’re talking about like, multiple megawatts of power generation, then we’re talking about kind of things that are kind of outside of this. But, for small scale, like, say, for instance, right now I have 400 watt solar panels charging a battery bank right now, like that’s easy to handle for most people. And for producing power for, say, for instance, like a couple of different families at different houses or different apartments, that, that that’ll work. It sounds small, but like 400 watts of solar power, and like a decent amount of storage will get you really far, especially in emergencies when you’re only powering a couple things at a time, but.

Margaret 43:15
It’s not going to run your AC. And it’s not going to run your electric heater. And it probably it’s not gonna run your fridge. But, it’ll run a tiny electric cooler, it’ll keep your phone’s charged, it’ll keep the lights on, it’ll keep a fan going. Especially if it’s not…box fans use an ungodly amount of power. I mean, that said, I did keep a fan going on 400 Watts, 24 hours a day for like a year once. So, you know,

Andre 43:41
Yeah, I can’t be done. But like, okay, so in terms of like the core ingredients of a solar system, you’ve got really basically four parts, you’ve got your solar panels, a charge controller, batteries for storage, and an inverter if you’re going to be doing specific stuff. So, adding those four things together, you can make either like a super small system more, say for instance, like you’re talking about earlier, running some pretty basic household appliances. But you can also change all this stuff to fit the needs that you have. So, using this as an example, for like a really, really micro community micro grid, we could basically take like furniture dollies, tie some wood to it, put a charge controller, a battery, or two, strap it on to that, and an inverter, and then attach those to a solar panel, and then basically what you’re doing is just generating power on a really small scale. And then, say for instance, you want to make a bigger one well, get more solar panels, add a different charge controller, add more batteries in series to your battery bank, and add a bigger inverter, and then you could power refrigerators and AC units and stuff like that at a bigger scale. But, the key is just knowing kind of the core parts to it. I go through step-by-step on an article on my Substack called “DIY Off Grid Solar Primer.” And it kind of walks through like all of the steps that you go through to make either a really small solar system or a pretty big one, that’ll power a lot of things. And so it’s kind of like, it’s one of those things where it’s, it’s like a black box, and not a lot of people really, like understand the stuff that goes behind it. And not a lot of people understand that it’s not that crazy to do this type of stuff.

Margaret 45:53
Yeah, I guess that is the…you know, when I, I don’t know, the fact that this is actually doable, like, from, you know, I won’t do…I’m not going to do a house level install. I’m not going to do grid tied solar myself. I feel like, that reaches a level where, I mean, you’re actually putting the safety of the like, the electrical workers at risk if you do grid tie stuff, right? So, I understand the need for people with specialty training for that. But yeah, the the actually doable part, I think, is just what people…what I want more people to understand.

Andre 46:34
Yeah, because there’s so much information out there that just seems so out of reach for most people. But it’s really enriched, it’s just the fact of like, knowing what to do, knowing, even knowing what you don’t know, is like the key to really getting started with it.

Margaret 46:49
Yeah, but I will say though, in defense of the, the all-in-one boxes, I’ve used both, and I’ve like talked with a lot of people who are living off grid about which is better in which circumstance. And for people who are like, “I live in this cabin, I want my life in here to be good,” Build it yourself, or work with a friend who knows what they’re doing, but get the actual pieces and build it modularly. But, for people who are kind of like, “This is my truck camper, I sleep in two months of the year,” and like, or, “This is my cabin for now. But I kind of don’t really see myself being living here in a year,” you know, or “I have a really limited budget, and I just need to get my cell phone charged.” There’s like, there’s, I think there’s purposes for the all-in-one boxes there in that you just don’t have to fuck with it. It’s like it takes less specialization, like one of the one of the infrastructures I’ve lived with…sorry, there’s very few topics I get to like be I get to be really excited about and have like more like some experience on compared to, you know, when I talk to someone about. But, one of the ways that I had it going at one point was like I built a solar power setup, and I built it modularly partly actually, because I didn’t have enough money to go out and get the size of box I wanted. On the other hand, in the end, I probably paid more for my system,because I kept upgrading it, because I kept being like…but you can kind of you can kind of do it. 100 bucks here, 100 bucks there as compared to going out and buying this $1,200 all-in-one box or $400 all-in-one box. They come in all different sizes. And, what I found that most people didn’t bother with was using the all-in-one boxes hooked up to solar panels. What I found, what we ended up doing was, you know, the the barn on the property with the solar setup that I built, everyone would just bring their boxes over and charge them. You know, and so it’s not a very proper way to do a grid. But, in some ways, that’s how we did our grid is that there was like a central charging station and everyone would bring their boxes and then go plug their boxes back into their shacks or whatever, you know,

Andre 48:58
That’s really cool. Because like, I mean, that technically is a grid, because I mean, you’re transferring power from one generation into, you know, a place where you’re actually going to use it. So like, but people don’t consider that a grid only because, you know, it’s just kind of so used to just like, oh, the grid is just the shit on the lines that just exists. Yeah, but like there’s so many other ways to think about it.

Margaret 49:23
Yeah, I had another friend who, another off grid project I know of, a friend of mine has a cart, a trailer pulled behind a car, very light, one very small, one size of a teardrop or smaller and it’s just full of old iron, lithium, whatever the cheap old batteries, the car batteries. And well they’re AGM. They’re just not lithium ion. And we just drive them into town like once a week. Just attach it to the car, drive it into town. Charge it at the Anarchist social center in town. And then drive it back out. And then power everything on the land project for like a week or whatever with these, you know, big battery banks.

Andre 50:10
Yeah, I mean, that’s that’s definitely one way to do it. Like I did the same kind of thing where like, I was running a whole bunch of stuff off of this, like little RYOBI portable inverter thing for like my power tools, and like just charge the, the, the batteries and then just like take the batteries with me and then use it like that. So like yeah, it’s same concept.

Margaret 50:37
Yeah, I use my battery tool batteries as my cell phone charger for a long time before I got all the solar stuff set up. Yeah.

Andre 50:45
It works. You have power. So, that like ultimately, that’s what it comes down to is like figuring out ways to take energy, store it and then transport it somewhere else where somebody else can use it. So like, who cares if you’re using like, a drill battery attached to a little inverter to power the router for the network? It’s still powering it. So there you go.

Margaret 51:08
That’s cool. That just makes it cooler. Because then also anyone could just take it and charge it on it. You know, like everyone has a charger for that thing. Well, then you can have the Ryobi versus DeWalt class war, but the person with the Makita will chime in and be like, “No!”

Andre 51:31
But yes, so I mean, like, so we’ve gone from making like small internets into making a larger mesh network. I also want to like, I also wanted to run back and talk about what you brought up earlier, when it came to the differences between kind of urban and suburban areas and doing this in rural areas, or areas that might not like be as accessible. So, when it comes to rural areas, you can do the same thing. So making this mesh network. The biggest thing is going to be actually getting that signal out. So, then we’re talking about like, kind of more high powered antennas, and talking about, like, how to broadcast signals, like a far distance. And there’s some interesting stuff out there. So, I saw this guy on YouTube who made a giant parabola, and made it out of wood and chicken wire, and then put a Wi-Fi card in the middle of that parabola. So, you know, like the curve, almost like a satellite dish, but made out of chicken wire. And, he was able to broadcast Wi-Fi through the jungle for about six miles, just just using chicken wire in a parabola shape. And, you know, a simple like off the shelf network card. So like, line of sight, with some really simple DIY shit like that, like making parabolas out of chicken wire, or even using old satellite dishes to bounce that signal off, And at least get it over to maybe if you, you know, have a neighbor six miles away from you, then they could be the next node in the network. And they could just bounce signal around there. So like, in mountainous regions, it’s really hard to get internet access.

Margaret 53:37
I’m Aware.

Andre 53:42
Mainly because, you know, internet service providers are, you know, they don’t think it’s profitable to spend the money for the infrastructure to bring it out there. But, it’s also really hard to do it period. So, in that case, you know, you could set up a mesh network with your own DIY antennas to basically like bounce up and down mountainsides to supply internet access to other people. So, it works not just from like urban suburban areas, but also rural areas, but it just requires a, again, like a different, like thought process behind it.

Margaret 54:17
Right, but out here, it would be more possible for me to like, you know, talk to the person who does own the next ridge over and be like, “Hey, can I put up like this old satellite dish and some solar panels on your property, you get free internet, and so does everyone on the other side of the hill,” you know? I mean, presuming the friendliness of the person who has the…owns the top of the mountain or whatever, but no, that’s okay. Yeah.

Andre 54:48
And that can be a really good intro point to establish a mutual aid networks in rural areas, because it’s really hard especially like in In rural areas to like, talk to your neighbors if your neighbors are like six miles away, but if you come to the people and say like, “Hey, we can mutually benefit each other,” in a way that like, you know, they can completely understand and like be on board with, then you have, then you’re talking to your neighbors, even though your neighbors live like super far away from you. So yeah, it’s a really good in to like starting to build relationships locally.

Margaret 55:29
Yeah. No, that’s interesting. So one of the things that you talked about, you mentioned earlier about how this all ties into general infrastructure and how infrastructure as a way to build mutual aid networks, is that something that, you know, basically, because most of what I’ve talked to people about mutual aid networks, which is incredibly valuable, but a lot of mutual aid networks are around community health, or food access, or, you know, defense against sweeps of encampments of people who are living out. And, you know, the idea of like, providing internet and power it obviously makes sense, as part of it, it’s just part that doesn’t get talked about as much because I think it probably more of my friends know how to cook than know how to program routers, you know, although then again, 10 years ago, it was probably the opposite. Well, when I was a teenager was definitely the opposite. But yeah, so I’m curious if you have thoughts about sort of general infrastructure, how this ties into infrastructure, mutual aid networks.

Andre 56:32
Yeah. So, when we were talking about like, hierarchical, well, we talked about like, systems like capitalism, hierarchical systems, states, the way that they cement power is basically by controlling our access to like our basic needs. So, if we can build our own infrastructures, either both like within the system, but also alongside and out of the system, then we can much more easily separate from capitalist and hierarchical systems, and create our own networks, and our own infrastructure in our own worlds alongside of things. So, that kind of touches into, you know, ideas of building dual power of like building the systems that we want to use and building the world that we want to see now, not just working within capitalism, sometimes you’ll have to say for like legal issues and stuff like that, but building systems that work outside of capitalist and hierarchical systems. So, taking back control of the infrastructures that really rule our lives. So like, the infrastructures that can underlie everything that we do, you know, we kind of have the main, the big three, food, water shelter. But, I’d include a couple more things in there just because like, you know, our modern times things have like changed, technology has changed. On top of that, I put communications, so that would include like stuff like radio and Internet, electricity, which includes things like air conditioning and a lot of regions that like you will literally die without air conditioning, and care work as the kind of like main parts of infrastructure

Margaret 58:38
That, that tracks. And those do seem to be…I mean, those are the things that we kind of focus on with mutual aid with this special edition of communication and power. I’m into it.

Andre 58:58
But like, so, I’ll go into a scenario of how building community micro grids and building communication networks can like, tie back into mutual aid efforts and like other revolutionary things, so you know, starting out, you decided to do this, you get a foldable solar panel, you use that to make your own small network with your server, you get a Raspberry Pi or like an old laptop and use that as a server. And then use an old router that you have or your the router that you have in your house right now. To just start, to start the network. And from there, you’re like, Okay, well, let me you know, if I want to build this network out, then I’ll start making small micro community micro grids to share with my neighbors. So, let’s say if you live in an apartment building, then you’re like, Okay, I’ll go to the people in my apartment building, make one of these things, you know, make one of these, like solar power carts or something. And then just like talk to my neighbors and say like, “Hey, would this be valuable to us?” And so then like, you’re starting to provide, basically free electricity to your neighbors. And by doing that, you know, you’re starting to build relationships, starting to talk to people, and with talking to people, and kind of showing people what can be done with just like solidarity and working together, then, you know, you start talking some more and some more. And let’s say like, you, through these relationships that you have with the people in your apartment building, you’re like, “Okay, well, what if we like formed a tenant’s union? I don’t know, that might be a good idea?” And in trying to form that, you’ll need some ways of communicating that’s going to be secure. So, you can either meet in person, but not everybody is going to be able to meet in person. So, how do we make secure communications with each other to do stuff like organizing tenant unions are organizing unions within our workplaces. And so, you can do stuff like this, where you’re making the services, the infrastructure available to people to be able to talk to each other in secure ways. So you could on your server, put up like encrypted messaging, and then use that as a method of organizing the tenants union or whatever, you know, use that as a method of organizing. So, you’re going from like, starting out with just kind of like wanting to build your own solar power stuff into now you’re talking to your neighbors, and now you’re organizing stuff. And this kind of snowballs. As you add on to it, as you talk to more people as things kind of, like, move along, there’s a snowball effect and to just like, being able to make the infrastructure for things to happen. And like that’s the big thing.

Margaret 1:02:09
I like it. I am sold. I…there’s that joke, “I would like to subscribe to your newsletter…” But in this case, people should subscribe to your newsletter, or Substack or whatever. Okay, well, we’re kind of coming up on time. There’s a lot of stuff that I want to talk to you about that we didn’t even get into about you know hydroponics. It’s what’s in your username, and I want to turn my basement into a place that produces food, 24 hours, or 12 months, a year, whatever. You know, I live in a climate with a real winter. And I’d like to be able to still have fresh vegetables and hydroponics seem cool. But that’s not what we’re going to talk about today. But, that might be what I bug you about sometime in the near future. Is there any kind of final thoughts on the stuff that we’ve been talking about today that you want to bring up?

Andre 1:02:50
Yeah, I mean, I guess ultimately, it just comes down to if there are things out there that you want to do, try and figure out like, the core concepts and build on that. And just like just fucking try it. Like there’s, there’s so many things like all this, like building this off grid, internet building, off grid power systems was all just kind of like, I want to do it. I’ll try and find the information and condense it for other people to use and they can build it themselves too. But like, that was the key was just like, fuck it. Let me just get started and try it. So, it’s the same thing with like mutual aid networks. It’s like if there isn’t one around you, fuck it, try building it.

Margaret 1:03:31
Yeah, totally. No, that’s so good. That is…Yeah. The secret is to really begin. I can’t remember what this from, some insurrectionist tract, but I really like it. You know, just the like, well we actually just got to do it. We you know, like, I don’t know, I feel like I would have more clever way to say that, but I don’t

Andre 1:03:54
No. That was good.

Margaret 1:03:57
All right. Well, if people want to subscribe to your newsletter, or follow you on the internet, how should they go about it?

Andre 1:04:03
Yeah, you can find me on Substack. It’s anarchosolarpunk.substack.com. And then I’m active also on Twitter and Tik Tok at ‘hydroponictrash.’

Margaret 1:04:18
Cool. Yeah, we didn’t even talk about solar punk. That was like on the list of things that we should talk about. We will talk again soon, I assume and people will get to hear from you again. All right. Well, thank you so much for coming on.

Andre 1:04:30
Awesome. Thanks for having me.

Inmn 1:04:37
Hi, I am not Margaret. But, I am here to thank you for listening, because Margaret forgot to record an outro, which is short for our introduction, in case anyone was wondering. Okay, I stole that joke from Margaret. Sort of. So now it’s kind of like you’re getting her. I’m Inmn, and I do some of the behind the scenes work for Live Like The World is Dying, to make sure that it comes out every two weeks. If you enjoyed this podcast, please go tell someone about it and rate and review and like and subscribe or, you know, whatever the algorithm calls for, feed it like a hungry God. You could also post about it or tell people in person. It’s the main way that people hear about the show and honestly one of the best ways to support it. However, if you want to support us in other sillier ways that don’t involve feeding a nameless and mysterious entity, consider supporting our publisher, Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness, of which I am also a member of. Strangers is a publishing collective committed to producing inclusive and anarchistic radical culture. We currently have one other podcast called simply “Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness,” where you can hear me talk about our monthly featured zine, along with narrated audio versions, the monthly feature and an interview with the author. Speaking of the monthly featured zine, if you subscribe to our Patreon at $10 a month, we will mail to you a zine version of our monthly feature every month, anywhere in the world. But, also you can read it for free on our website. Our monthly feature ranges from fiction to poetry to zines about plants and hopefully soon history and folklore. These features are submitted by listeners like you and we are always looking for more submissions. We’re looking for stories that don’t know where they fit in, for people that don’t know where they fit in. So, if you’d like to write and think your story would find a home in this tangled wilderness, consider submitting it and perhaps we’ll buy it. You can support us for now at patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness and find more submission info at tangledwilderness.org. Just to plug some other things that Strangers and our members have going on since no one is here to stop me: Margaret’s new short story collection is currently on preorder from AK press. “We Won’t Be Here Tomorrow” comes out September 20th. So, check it out and look for her soon on her book tour. Our first book as the new version of the Strangers Collective will be available for preorder on September 1st. Try anarchism for life by Cindy Barukh Milstein, a thrilling exploration of art and social relationships and worlds soon to emerge, featuring amazing art by 25 incredible artists. Look for it on our website, and also look for Milstein on the Strangers podcast as the September featured zine. A dear friend of the Strangers Collective also has a book out for preorder right now. Nourishing Resistance: stories of food, protest, and mutual aid, edited by Wren Awry along with a foreword by Cindy Milstein. The preorder is currently live at PMpress.org. So please go check it out. Wrenis an incredible writer, editor and archivist. As you heard on our last episode of Live Like The World Is Dying, we are about to start playtesting or TTRPG. Penumbra City. Listen to the last episode on composting to hear more. And check out the next episode of the Strangers podcast where I talk to Margaret and Robin about the game after we listen to Margaret’s new short story, “Welcome to Penumbra City: part one.” Find it wherever you get podcasts on August 31st. One last shameless plug: By the time this episode airs, we should have t shirts live on the Strangers website. You can get both a Strangers’ t shirt and a Live Like The World Is Dying shirt. Both have art created by our art director Robin Savage, and we’re printed by the CREAM print shop and our seriously soft, cozy, and beautiful. That’s all my plugs. Except for a very special plug. A shout out to these wonderful people who have helped make this podcast as well as so many other projects possible. Shawn, SJ, Paige, Oxalis, Mikki, Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea, Staro, Jenipher, Eleanor, Natalie, Kirk, Michaiah, Sam, Chris, and Hoss the dog. And here’s a special thank you to Bursts, our audio editor who has an incredible anarchist new show called The Final Straw, which is also on the Channel Zero Network. Thanks so much for your support. It means so much to us and us has allowed us to get so much done as a collective. See you next time on August 9th for another roundtable segment of “This Month In The Apocalypse” with Margaret, Casandra and Brooke. Let us know if there’s anything you want them to talk about.

Find out more at https://live-like-the-world-is-dying.pinecast.co

S1E48 – Paige on Composting

Episode Notes

Episode summary
Margaret talks with Paige, who works in composting and humanure systems, about how to set up systems for disposing of food and human waste, different kinds of systems that can be used including worm composting, and the importance of thinking about the scale and purpose of your system.

Guest Info
Paige can be found on Twitter @badcompost

Host Info
Margaret Killjoy can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy or instagram at @margaretkilljoy.

Publisher Info
This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at www.tangledwilderness.org, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at www.patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness.

Penumbra City Spot
If you would like to play test our Penumbra City TTRPG with your friends, contact us at Penumbra.City.Playtest@gmail.com

Transcript

Paige on Composting

Margaret 00:15
Hello, and welcome to Live Like The World Is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m your host, Margaret Killjoy. Well, I’m one of the hosts, but I’m your host today. But, now there’s new hosts for the show, which is very exciting to me. As much as I love listening to the sound of my own voice all the time, sometimes I like listening to other people talk. And, today we are going to be talking to Paige about composting, we’re going to be talking about what to do with stuff that rots and why it’s so important. And I don’t know, lots of stuff around shit and things like that. I’m really excited about this kind of selfishly, because I have a lot of questions that are for my own personal use as someone who composts, and you know, has lived off grid a lot and stuff like that. So I think, I hope that you will get a lot out of it, and this podcast is a proud member of the Channel Zero network of anarchists podcasts. And here’s a jingle from another show on the network.

JINGLE

Margaret 01:49
Okay, if you could introduce yourself with your name, your pronouns, and then I guess kind of why people should listen to you about compost.

Paige 01:58
Thank you so much for having me. My name is Paige. I use she/her pronouns. I guess I started composting at a pretty young age. We had a pile at my parents house growing up and then more recently, actually worked for Tucson’s city composting program when it was run through their university, so was on like an industrial scale operation for a couple of months. I currently work at the food bank in their farm and garden program. And I have helped them redesign their worm composting system as well as their just general composting system as well as installed composting toilets on site. I’ve also worked with friends of a land project and help them set up a composting system for humanure as well as just like food waste.

Margaret 02:51
Cool. For anyone who’s listening, if you can hear a squeaking in the background is because I gave my dog a toy that I thought didn’t have a squeaker in it. And I was proven mistaken. So, I apologize for that. But okay, so composting, what is composting, that’s where things where you just like throw an apple into the woods, and hope for the best.

Paige 03:12
So composting isn’t just kind of throwing stuff and hoping for the best. It’s usually just taking, like organic material. And there’s different types of composting, there’s different systems, but it’s kind of creating in a controlled environment to process what would be waste products into something that you can use more as a soil amendment, maybe for your garden, and maybe for fruit trees. But it’s just yeah, processing waste into something really valuable and useful.

Margaret 03:40
I get really excited about it. I have this kind of like scavenger mindset leftover from when I was more of like a squatter and traveler. But, I feel like food waste is like the main way I can still really feel that, like scratch that itch, you know? I mean, I guess I do it sometimes with other stuff where I try and scavenge. But like, I get really excited by the idea that you can like not have food waste be waste. And so I don’t know, I’m very excited about this. Okay, so what are some of the basics of you know, okay, so, I mean, I guess the ‘why’ someone would compost is probably sort of implied, like not letting things go to waste. And then also like, not needing to, you know, go and purchase fertilizer and things like that for your garden. But, what are some of the basic ‘Hows’ like, I guess starting at a smaller scale, you know, if someone wants to set up compost at their apartment or at their house or wherever they are.

Paige 04:35
Yeah, so I think it’s really going to depend on like what you have available to you. So, like a backyard system. You could do an outdoor, like hot or thermophilic pile, which I’ve seen systems built out of pallets where you just kind of set up like a three or four sided bin, and then you just throw your food scraps in there along with some sort of cover material which will generally be like a dry carbon based thing, maybe leaves, maybe sawdust. In my house, I use manure I like go pick it up every couple of months if you’re an apartment and don’t….

Margaret 05:09
Manure is the cover?

Paige 05:10
Yeah, I use like, well, so the manure that I find it’s like it’s manure mixed with straw. So it’s like pretty dry.

Margaret 05:18
Oh, okay.

Paige 05:18
And bulky. And I think the thing that I see people doing wrong is just not having enough material to do like a hot compost pile. So, they’re just kind of throwing stuff in a pile, and I live in the desert, so it just kind of dries out. I think it’s probably different and more humid wet places. But yeah, to get like, kind of your traditional hot compost pile, I feel like would be kind of more on the scale of like, a pallet bin at the smallest, like three feet by three feet. Ish.

Margaret 05:48
Okay.

Paige 05:49
But, there’s also you know, there’s other options for like apartments and indoor use, such as like a worm bin, or there’s, there’s also a style of composting called Bokashi. That’s actually more of like a fermentation that people do in buckets that you can also use to process your waste. I’m not as familiar with that. But, you know, not everybody has outdoor space to have a big pile that might be kind of gnarly sometimes.

Margaret 06:14
Yeah. So, you keep talking about hot composting. Is that like, in contrast to cold composting. Is there cold composting that we could be doing? Or? No?

Paige 06:22
There is. Yeah, I mean, if you if you’re just adding material really slowly over time, or you don’t have a lot of material, you’ll probably have like kind of a colder compost and stuff won’t break down as quickly. Generally, like a big hot compost pile is also going to result in like an end product like your compost will be more like bacterially dominant versus like, a long to cold compost where you’re like not trying to get the temperature up, is going to be more conducive to like a fungally based compost. So, there are like there are kind of different end, end goals based on maybe what they use is going to be. A veggie garden that’s going to prefer like a bacterial heavy…a bacteria heavy compost, and like trees are going to prefer like a fungally based, but if you kind of mix and match, like, it kind of doesn’t matter. There’s like, yeah, I feel like you can go really deep into all the science behind it, or you can just kind of like not and still make good compost and like, deal with your food waste accordingly. But, there are like different methods you can do, depending on on what your end goal is if you wanna goo deep into it.

Margaret 07:35
Yeah, I guess that’s something that’s always sort of intimidated me about it is that, you know, before I started composting, I had always been sort of, I’d read all this stuff about it. And it was very, like, “This is the perfect ratio of nitrogen versus carbon material to add,” or I guess, greens versus browns, I think is the way it’s like often phrased or something. “And if you get it wrong, like all hell will break loose and demons will come forth from the seventh seal,” and all of that and, and so it like kind of like, I think it scares a lot of people off, but you’re sort of implying and my understanding is that you can kind of just do it and then like fuck with it to fix it as you go? Is that is that fairly accurate?

Paige 08:13
Yeah, I would definitely say that’s accurate. Yeah, I think like…yeah, definitely people kind of stick to like the greens and browns, but I don’t know, I think it’s kind of tricky. Sometimes if you have material that’s like, drying out or really not drying out, depending on your climate. So, like here out in Tucson, where I live, it’s like you have to water your compost. Otherwise, it just, it’s just a pile of like dried old vegetables or whatever you’re throwing into it so. And yeah. So I mean, it’s like the greens and browns, which are your carbon to nitrogen, but then it’s also you’re looking at like moisture and porosity. So, if you think of like a pile of sticks, like that’s like too porous, there’s too much airflow that’s not going to break down. But if you have like a mucky swamp that’s also not going to have airflow. it’s gonna it’s gonna be really anaerobic and smelly. So yeah, I mean, I think like you kind of just have to see what works for your climate, and I think trial and errors the best way to go and err on the side of maybe a little more of like the browns, the carbon, stuff and add water if need be. And if it’s not breaking down, then you’d want to add more of like the green nitrogen rich stuff, but I don’t know. Yeah, I feel like in the current moments, I’ve tried to like come up with the perfect recipe and it’s just not…it’s just not necessary for like a backyard system.

Margaret 09:41
Yeah. So it’s more cooking than baking?

Paige 09:44
Yeah, definitely. Yeah. Yeah. It’s kind of like throwing in the spices….

Margaret 09:48
It gets presented as baking.

Paige 09:49
Yeah, Nah. It’s I mean, yeah, If you’re doing it on like an industrial scale where there’s like regulations and all of these different things that could really go wrong and you’re dealing with like, tons and tons of material I think it’s a bit more of an issue, but for like your average backyard person, I think like, just try to start and see what happens and adjust from there.

Margaret 10:10
Yeah. What about those like roller…I feel like when you look for like compost, backyard composting like products, you have these…And I actually have one in my side yard, but it has yet to produce useful compost, but I think that’s not not the fault of the product. But like, yeah, what do you what do you make of these, you know, it’s like, I have this thing that looks a little bit like a five gallon of sorry, a 50 gallon drum but on a spindle where it can spin and there’s like a…mine has like two compartments. And, I don’t know, I’ve got it a Tractor Supply.

Paige 10:46
Yeah, I’ve never had luck with those. But, I think it’s just being in the desert. I think here inthe desert they just dry out. So, I’ve I’ve never tried those. I kind of tend to think that a lot of I mean, there’s there’s so many like compost products out there that are like try to make it easier. And I…to me, they all feel a little gimmicky. It’s like, okay, you need like, you need to put stuff somewhere. It needs water, air, carbon, nitrogen. And that’s it. And so having all of these like, additional, like tools, I yeah, I haven’t had luck with them. I think the idea is that it gives you more airflow and allows you to like turn and mix the material, which probably helps it break down faster. But, it’s also they’re so small, like 50 gallons…I just, I usually try to start a pile that’s bigger than that if I’m trying to get it hot.

Margaret 11:35
Okay.

Paige 11:35
And then. Yeah, I mean, I try to like I just put stuff in a pile, have enough material, and then I kind of like turn it sometimes. But, I try to kind of more just like let it sit and let like all the microbes and like fungus like do their job because it’s just less work for me to deal with. But, I think they probably worked for some people. I don’t know.

Margaret 11:57
So we shouldn’t do the Live Like The World Is Dying branded backyard compost tumblers? We should find a different gimmick product to sell?

Paige 12:04
Probably. But you know, also if you’re trying to do a brand deal, I think I’m open to discussing it.

Margaret 12:10
I know I was gonna say like what did you get a cut? Does it suddenly…is it a better product at that point?

Paige 12:14
Yeah, well at that point.

Margaret 12:15
Okay. Yeah. Okay, I mean, I, the times I’ve seen them I think that the the primary appeal is almost like the…well it’s like the like, my dogs not gonna get into it because it’s in this thing, you know? It’s like it’s like pre contained, right. But, but yeah, I also have had it for nine months and it is still just sort of full of old leaves rather than full of like good useful dirt, so I can’t really like speak to its efficacy.

Paige 12:47
Yeah.

Margaret 12:49
And I’m, I’m trying to build a system now that is like three bins that are four foot by four foot each each bin with the idea that one bin per year, and then by the time I fill up the third bin the first bend has been sitting for two years is my like, maybe overkill. I have all these like plans to make it rat proof and stuff too. I guess Okay, so I want to talk about some of the like downsides of composting or these sorts of compost like the things that I’ve heard about and worry about, 1) is you know, my dog has gotten into compost before and gotten really sick, right? So, keeping specifically Rintrah, my dog, out of compost is the first most important thing, and then also rats, and then smell, and then okay, what’s the other one? Murdering yourself by putting it on plants, and having the plants that you grow murder you instead of feed you. Those are the four things that I’ve heard as potential downsides.

Paige 13:47
Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I think all of those can be concerns. I definitely have like my friends dogs come over, and they hop in the compost. We kind of joke that like our house is the fun house for all the dogs, because they get to come and like play in like rotting stuff. But, you know sometimes that’s maybe not ideal for them just because of, yeah, I put chicken bones and stuff in there, which you definitely don’t want dogs getting into. But yeah, I think for to kind of control for for small animals and pets. I think doing pallet bins and then lining that with hardware cloth, kind of like what you were saying or honestly even lining it with cardboard would probably be effective at keeping them out. And not the rats, but at least like dogs. If there’s like wood and then a couple other layers of stuff. As far as the smell, that’s often an indicator of too much nitrogen and too much humidity and liquid. So, to kind of mitigate that you’d want to add more like dry carbon based stuff. And yeah, it’s interesting because it sounds like your pile on the ground might be kind of smelly, but then you’re like tumbler pile might just be dry leaves, so maybe if you just like threw the dry leaves in with the pile thatmight kind of address that. Working with what we got.

Margaret 15:03
Oh, the tumbler pile. The tumbler pile is gross as Hell. That’s why it’s full of dry leaves now.

Paige 15:07
Oh, Okay.

Margaret 15:09
It used to be. There is no ground pile yet. The ground pile is a dream. It’s a 2×4 frame that is currently sitting in the space that used to be a garden from the last person who lived here.

Paige 15:21
Oh okay.

Margaret 15:22
Tut I haven’t…I haven’t done the lining it with hardware cloth and all that stuff yet.

Paige 15:26
Cool. Yeah, yeah. But, I…you know, composting in the desert we’re trying to keep out pets and javalinas, and also squirrels. And yeah, I feel like doing it out of pallets, and then hardware cloth has…I’ve seen be pretty effective in keeping that stuff out. And then yeah, smell is usually it’s too wet. As far as like creating like a dangerous end product, I think for that you can really just think about the time that…how long it takes as well as like the heat of the pile. So if you’re able to get enough material and get it to heat up, it’s gonna kill almost anything that is harmful to humans. The kind of industry standard is getting piles up to 130 degrees for about 15 days. And that’s considered like sufficient to, like, kill pretty much anything like even like human waste. So, you know, and I think letting it sit for longer periods of time is the way to kind of guarantee that, that it’s going to be alright for for food production.

Margaret 16:24
That was kind of my thinking behind the the setup that I’m going to do with the two years instead of like one year is just out of like, well, what if I’m really lazy and do it badly then I’ll just have it have set for two years instead of one year.

Paige 16:33
Totally.

Margaret 16:33
I don’t know. What shouldn’t people compost? I have a feeling that the answer to this is, ‘It depends.’ It depends on like the scale of the compost and things like that. But, to maybe like, I feel like kind of at this beginning, we’re sort of talking about like backyard level compost, like vegetable garden level compost, and then I’d love to from there move into humanure and also like doing it at scale. But, in terms of like a backyard compost. What are things that are like good or bad for compost?

Paige 17:10
Yeah, generally, most like vegetable and like fruit scraps are super great. Some people have trouble with like citrus peels, like they’ll just kind of dry out. People tend to recommend against dairy, meat, and bones as well as really fatty things. If you have something it’s really oily, as well as like often cooked food. But, a lot of that is mostly because of the salt content in the cooked food. Like adding a bunch of salt to your compost isn’t ideal, because you don’t want to be putting like salty, just salty compost on your vegetable garden. That’s going to kind of suck the water away from from the roots of the plants. But, honestly, if you’re doing like even like a four by four backyard, like I put meat, I put cooked food, I put pretty much anything in there, and just kind of…as long as it’s getting hot enough and it’s big enough, it’s probably going to be okay. But, if you’re doing smaller scale, you might want to be a little more choosy. And then if you’re doing like an indoor worm bin, if you don’t have an outdoor space, then you have to be a lot more choosy because you’re not, you’re not just putting stuff together and hoping it works out. You’re kind of like feeding worms and they’re they’re a little pickier than some of the microbes that will be in your big outdoor pile.

Margaret 18:25
Yeah, that makes sense to me. How long does it take to like, if you’re throwing like chicken bones and stuff in that, like, how long is that taking to break down?

Paige 18:33
Um, I feel like it takes like three to six months generally, but that’s if it’s..if you keep the pile hot and big, and there’s like a lot of like, if it’s moist enough, then like stuff will break down pretty quickly.

Margaret 18:45
Okay.

Paige 18:46
The bokashi method I was mentioning earlier, too, that can be used to kind of like ferment and like break stuff down. And, that’s like a couple of weeks, but I haven’t I haven’t actually tried that method. But, I’ve heard that it can be really good for like animal bones.

Margaret 19:00
Yeah, I watched one video. I probably a lot of people listen to this also do the thing where they’re suddenly interested in something to watch all the YouTube videos and listen to all the podcasts about it. That might be why you’re listening to this very podcast right now. Maybe you don’t listen to the show. Maybe you just googled or searched ‘compost.’ One of the things that I watched was just like, “And then you kill the rats, and then you throw the rats in the compost pile.” It was just sort of the the compost pile is like the ‘all devour,’ and it was like clearly he was doing it in this very like, “See. Look. The compost pile is not so fragile as people claim.” I don’t know that kind of impressed me, the idea that you can just throw the rats into…the dead ones into the compost pile. I don’t know.

Paige 19:43
Yeah, totally. No, it’s it’s kind of wild like what a pile will just like totally consume. Yeah, I think also like speaking about rats, like rats aren’t gonna go into a pile if it’s 140 degrees. Like that’s too warm for them. They’re like not gonna fuck with it.

Margaret 19:58
Oh Huh, okay.

Paige 19:59
Yeah. I just like it’s just not…Yeah, if you if you’re keeping it hot, it’s like not a very like, comfortable environment for a lot of like the rodents and things like that. They’ll kind of keep away from from at least the hot parts of it. Yeah, it’s also cool. Like the the heating aspect of it, I’ve seen systems where, you know, it’s like, you’re using the heat to kind of generate all these microbes and break down all the material, but I’ve also seen systems where people are using it to heat water. If you like coil like pipes through it, you can even kind of get a couple of different uses out of that heat, which is pretty cool.

Margaret 20:35
And compost piles generate this heat on their own from like, it’s like a byproduct of the process of breaking down?

Paige 20:42
Yeah, basically, it creates like, it’ll just kind of breed all these microbes. And as these micro populations multiply, they yeah, and they consume food, they just create an like an immense amount of heat. I’ve seen piles that got up to like 160 degrees Fahrenheit. When I was working at the city’s composting site, there was one winter where it snowed in Tucson, which was kind of scary, but there were two inches of snow on the ground everywhere, except for on top of…a lot of industrial scale areas, we’ll use what’s called wind row, which is like a pile, it’s maybe five to six feet tall, and then it’s just elongated it across whatever area they have. And so everywhere there was snow, except for on top of these wind rows that were just steaming and just melting everything that fell on them, which was really cool.

Margaret 21:29
Yeah. Okay, so can you heat a house? By setting up a compost bin in your basement?

Paige 21:36
Oh, I wonder. I mean, I think you could, if you put a compost pile in your basement, and then ran pipes through the pile, and then through your floor, I feel like you could gett some good like, floor warming action. Yeah, or like, some people will pile.. they’ll put their pile against a greenhouse to kind of like, passively have a little like heat source near their greenhouse. But, if you’re trying to…

Margaret 22:01
Oh, that’s interesting.

Paige 22:02
Yeah, if you’re trying to maintain like a pretty consistent amount of heat, though, you kind of need to constantly be adding a good amount of material and turning it because it’ll, it’ll kind of like it’ll get really hot initially, when there’s all this like new new material, microbes, air, water, and then it’ll cool off. And then if you add more, or turn it and add more air, it’ll heat up again, and it kind of will go through these cycles. But, eventually, what you want is an end product that’s not going to reheat. And that’s kind of a sign that the compost is like aged well and is a stable thing that you can put into your garden.

Margaret 22:36
Oh, okay.

Paige 22:36
Yeah, I’ve put in compost to my garden, like mixed it in when it wasn’t fully done. And then like my garden bed, like, reheated and like was up at like 120 degrees, which is like not, yeah, not ideal and not good for growing plants. But if you have like unfinished compost, you can like, put a couple inches on top of your plants. And that’s often going to be all right. But if you’re like really doing like a first amendment of your…of a new garden plot, you want to make sure that you’re working with something that’s not going to reheat.

Margaret 23:10
Okay. So, you know, you kind of know compost is done when it looks like dirt and isn’t hot anymore? Do you like? Do you build up a pile and then just move on to the next pile? Are you kind of always adding to the original pile? Like, what what is to be done? How do you? How do?

Paige 23:27
So there’s a lot of different systems you can do. So there’s, if you start a pile and then move on to the next one, that’s kind of what’s considered a batch system. So, you’re building something up and adding to it and then you’re letting it sit for an amount of time to make sure that stuffs broken down. There’s other systems that are more designed as like a flow through system. So you’re maybe adding to the top of the pile but you’re able to pull stuff off the bottom, a lot of worm composting systems are flow through because you kind of have to, when you’re putting new material and then harvesting old material, you’re also trying to not like remove all the worms from the system. So you’re trying to kind of add often, add material to the top and harvest from the bottom. So there’s, there’s different like commercial or DIY systems that that can be made to accommodate that. So, you can do either. And I think it really depends on like, what your timeline is and what your end goal is. Like, are you just trying to get rid of the waste that you have? And not have it be in your trash? Are you trying to make a soil amendment that’s as good as possible as fast as possible? And so there’s kind of different systems that that make the most sense based on just like what you have on site, what kind of energy you want to put in, and what your goal is. Yeah, but either are options.

Margaret 24:44
Okay. So this kind of brings me…Well, I don’t know if it logically brings me to but the thing that it makes me think of is that okay, so if you’re in an apartment, right, and like I guess you could kind of tiny scale compost and on your porch or something, but it seems like it It makes more sense to have sometimes composting be a sort of shared thing between houses or within a community. Right? Like, you know, I know a lot of cities, and it sounds like this is something that you have been involved with at a municipal level, have like composting where people were able to set aside their food and the city goes and composts it because it’s not trash, right? It should never have been trash, so the idea that we live in a society that’s all organic matters is trash is very bizarre. But, it seems like you could also set that up kind of like smaller scale, right? Like, you know, within any given community, if you don’t live somewhere with municipal composting, or, or is it better to just let it be at municipal level? Like what are the advantages of doing compost at scale, whether it’s a community wide scale or municipal wide scale?

Paige 25:45
Yeah, so I think doing it at a community or at a municipal scale and having it be really official, I think it makes it easier to divert stuff from the landfill. So, when food waste goes into the landfill, it creates methane, which is, you know, more potent than than co2. And, so it’s actually interesting here, and here in southern Arizona, a lot of food comes through the port, that’s like two…an hour south of Tucson through Nogales, and they have…the landfill there is like one of the most methane rich ones in the country, because they don’t have a composting program down there, or like a way to divert food waste besides through like their food bank. And so when trucks come across the border, and food doesn’t pass inspection, it just goes and the semi trucks are just dumping food waste into the landfill. And then it’s creating like methane.

Margaret 25:45
Oh, god.

Paige 25:47
And so, you know, that’s like a huge problem. It probably like deserves like a pretty big solution as far as like, what a system to address that would be. But, I think when I was working at the at Tucson’s program, we had a lot of problems of people putting just garbage and trash into like the food waste bins at different restaurants. And, so it creates this really big problem of contamination, like when you’re doing it on a large scale, like we…I remember seeing like freon tanks and just like constant plastic bags. Yeah. And so we were, it’d be like a huge part of what we did is we would just like kind of like tromp around in these massive piles of rotting food like pulling out plastic and even like the quote unquote, like compostable bags don’t actually break down in some systems, and they would, they would clog up some of our machinery. And so yeah, I think I think large scale, you just have issues of contamination. And you also need a bunch of heavy machinery. Like we were operating, like a water truck and front loaders, we had like this machine that was specifically like a compost turner. It was, it was just like a lot of…it was pretty energy intensive process. It was fun. It was cool. I like you know, got to drive a tractor around. That was fun. But yeah, I think I think having it more be like the community scale where it’s like, either backyard based or neighborhood based, or like community garden based, I think is is a better way to do it and just kind of cutting out like the transportation time and just having it at that scale. But, but again, that’s not going to it’s not going to address, you know, the semi trucks full of rotting food. But right, yeah, so. So there’s, yeah, there’s benefits and drawbacks, but I think I think, you know, with almost anything usually, like a lot of small, decentralized solutions are usually better than the large centralized ones.

Margaret 28:27
I’ve I’ve based most of my political beliefs on this concept. But yeah, but I also believe that sometimes certain things need to be structured at larger levels in order to be effective, you know, or like, I don’t know, accomplish what they need, like what you’re talking about with like the, you know, the trucks or whatever. Well, okay, so then if you do it at the community level, it seems like another advantage right is you probably get less contamination literally because people could be like, “Joe, you can’t keep throwing your Freon tanks in with your compost.” You know, like Joe keeps doing that and, and probably gets shamed enough about it, right.

Paige 29:07
Yeah, definitely.

Margaret 29:09
I literally can’t even imagine what a Freon tank is. I mean, I’m aware that there’s a liquid called Freon…

Paige 29:13
It kind of looked like a propane tank, but it was like blue and like, I was just like, In what world do we think this is gonna break down? Yeah, it was. Yeah, it was just, it was a bit of a mess. But yeah, so I mean, you know, when you’re doing large scale, yeah, it’s like you need to also figure out like how to like educate people versus Yeah, like, the just like community shaming of Joe for his Freon tank is is maybe a little more effective than like a massive scale like, program. Yeah. But yeah, and also, I mean, I think when you’re doing smaller scale it also…people end up talking to each other and, you know, building community Yeah, that they do if they just aren’t interacting. Yeah,

Margaret 29:55
That makes sense. Okay, so But then, in terms of the stuff that…one of the things I got kind of excited about when I started doing…looking more into compost, because I’ve lived in situations that have required relied upon compost at various points in my life, a fair amount, but I’ve never been personally like, directing it the way that I am currently. And one of the things that kind of surprised me to learn about is that, like cardboard and paper and stuff can be composted, but maybe not easily, or it needs to be shredded or like, like it, there were a couple things that in my mind were marked trash, or fake recycling, because one of the biggest problems I think we have in this world is that recycling is a scam, or at least the version of–not the concept of recycling, right–but yeah, you know, the current industrial infrastructure of recycling seems to be largely smoke and mirrors. So, I’m excited by the idea of like, the more DIY recycling type stuff we can do, the more repurposing we can do. So, paper, cardboard: Yes? No? Maybe?

Paige 31:03
Paper, cardboard, yes, under certain circumstances. So yeah, you’re totally right about the shredding. So a lot of what that has to do with is like the surface area to like mass of the item. And so if you think about, like your compost pile is all these little particles, and then the microbes that are breaking stuff down, kind of live on like, the slime level surrounding each little particle. And so all these little microbes are going to have a lot easier time breaking down a bunch of shredded tiny bits of paper than like a full sheet or like a full chunk of cardboard that you’re just creating more areas for them…

Margaret 31:37
Or like an entire Ayn Rand book.

Paige 31:39
Yeah, I mean, that’s a good yeah. Yeah, you might need to rip that up first, which I think people would not be opposed to.

Margaret 31:46
Okay.

Paige 31:47
Might have fun with.

Margaret 31:48
Okay, cool. Yeah.

Paige 31:50
Yeah, I think that would be the ideal. I think also, cardboard and paper, worms really love it. So, you know, you could also set up multiple systems where you put something somewhere in some in another. The system that I have at the food bank demo garden here in Tucson, we have like a hot compost area, but then we also have a big worm area. And what we feed them is we feed them shredded paper, and then unfinished compost. And so we we put like a layer of paper and then we on top of it, we put a bunch of hot compost essentially but because we’re only putting like an inch or two, it’s not gonna stay hot. But we that’s what we feed our worms. And they they love it. And so yeah, cardboard and paper, I would think more of as worm food than then putting it in my in my pile, although you can. But as the more you’re able to break it down, the better.

Margaret 32:44
Are there like–speaking of products and gimmicks–I can imagine a paper shredder, and I can imagine a wood chipper. But, can you just put cardboard into a wood chipper? Or like, like, is there a way to, you know, because I think that a lot of people during the pandemic probably receive more and more things in cardboard boxes at their front porch. And, like, you know, having ways to dispose of that as like bonus besides of course just using it as like sheet mulch or I don’t know if that’s what you call it, but like the gardening purpose of laying out cardboard, you know, any any tips on on breaking down cardboard?

Paige 33:24
Umm, getting it wet and ripping it? But it’s Yeah, I don’t I don’t think you could put it into a shredder. I think it would maybe gum it up. You also have to kind of take off like the plastic tape of that stuff. Because that won’t break down. Some people get really specific and focused on like, “Oh, this is with a like plastic based ink. Like we’re gonna be putting microplastics in like the soil.” And like, there might be some truth to that. And I’m just like, we just live in like an industrial world where there’s microplastics everywhere. And like, you can not put the like plastic based ink into your compost, because of the micro plastics or you can just be like, shrug and throw it in.

Margaret 34:07
We’re all gonna die one day. And yeah, we did this to ourselves. Yeah.

Paige 34:10
I live in a city and I breathed the air here. Like, I think some microplastics in my garden is…we’re already full of microplastics. I think it’s fine. We’re just like, you know, we’re all connected.

Margaret 34:21
I mean, it’s either fine or it’s not right. But it’s like, I don’t think I’m going to dramatically improve my quality of life by avoiding that additional little bit in my cherry tomatoes or whatever.

Paige 34:30
Yeah, totally. Yeah, I guess it’s actually deeply deeply not fine. And we don’t have control over it may be my actual belief but…

Margaret 34:38
Yeah, totally. Okay, well, speaking of the ruins of industrial society, can you can you put ash in compost? Is it depend on what the ash is of

Paige 34:46
No ash and compost. No, don’t do that.

Margaret 34:50
Fuck.

Paige 34:50
Yeah. Well, I mean, like…

Margaret 34:51
What am I supposed to do with ash then?

Paige 34:53
I don’t know. People ask me that sometimes. And people were putting it into like a composting system and like using it in the humanure system, and I was Like, I mean, it’s kind of just like, it’s almost like really fine sand like it’s just not alive. It’s, it’s maybe gonna bulk it and not harm it. It’s not you’re not adding anything that the pile needs. It’s just kind of like fluff and like very dense fluff.

Margaret 35:14
You’re just putting it there to get rid of it.

Paige 35:15
Yeah. And just like based on how dense ash is, especially when it’s wet, you’re probably limiting some of the airflow which is not good. So I yeah, I don’t have a good use for ash besides, I’ve mixed it into like concrete before like when I needed to buy like sand and mix up like Portland cement. I’ve just like thrown ash in and that was fine. But I don’t know how many how many concrete projects you have in your life right now, that might not be a reasonable solution.

Margaret 35:43
I actually have more experience building than growing food so…I’m growing food as the unexplored terrain. Although I kind of hate working with concrete and I’m not very good at it. And I’m terrified of breathing it in. But well, yeah. Okay. Cement, I guess is what I’m terrified of breathing in concrete itself. I’m not particularly worried about chunks of gravel or whatever. Yeah. Okay. Okay. So no ash. Okay. But you mentioned these compostable plastics, aren’t they gonna save us all? And isn’t everything fine and plastic is great now because it’s all compostable? Basically. Okay. So like, I’ve heard this before, right? That you need that, like your plastic spoon that you get at the hippie diner doesn’t actually break down in a home compost. It would only break down on like, municipal level compost. Is that true? Is it like does it just take a lot longer? Or is it about a heat difference? Or is it all scam?

Paige 36:37
Um, it’s yeah, it’s a heat and time thing, but it’s really just a scam. I mean, I just don’t…In what world is a single use item good for the environment at all. Like it’s just greenwashing bullshit scam. Yeah, it’s also there’s interesting things about like what’s biodegradable versus compostable? Like biodegradable just means it’s gonna break down into way smaller pieces and compostable means it’s like made out of a carbon or like quote unquote, natural thing that will eventually become dirt. But,we yeah, even at like an industrial scale, like we would constantly just be pulling plastic out. And so you know, it’s kind of a thing that, you know, people do where it’s like, ‘wish cycling,’ where you like, you’re like, Oh, I’m gonna put this in the recycling bin because I like hope it’s recyclable, but it’s really not.

Margaret 37:27
I did as a kid. Yeah.

Paige 37:29
Yeah. And it’s like, ultimately, proud. Totally. It’s like a weird Yeah, you’re like, you’re like hoping something will break down. But, you’re ultimately like, making it so like, some like worker or machine is gonna have to, like deal with it later down the line. And, you know, it’s like, maybe you feel a little better about yourself, but it’s, it’s ultimately not not making a difference.

Margaret 37:48
It’s like calling the cops instead of handling the problem directly. You’re just putting it on someone else.

Paige 37:53
Yeah, it’s like, yeah, It’s kind of some weird like, Nimmy Nimmy thing. Maybe it would be a way to think about it. But yeah, yeah.

Margaret 38:01
Yeah. Okay, fine.

Paige 38:06
Sorry.

Margaret 38:07
Okay, so I can’t put ash in. All the plastic stuff is a scam. Yeah. I mean, neither of these thing surprise me. The ash thing I’m sad about. It makes a lot of sense. The way you described it makes perfect sense. Basically, because burning cardboard when when recycling is fake is something that people sometimes do.

Paige 38:26
Yeah, totally.

Margaret 38:27
Okay, so let’s talk about…you’ve been bringing up worms a couple of times. My conception of worm composting is fairly simple. It’s like, instead of the food is digested by random bacteria from the air/becomes sort of soil in the classic rot way. Instead, like worms, eat it and then poop it out. And then the worm poop, which we call castings to not sound gross is the like, some of like, the best, most nutrient dense compost in the world or something?

Paige 39:02
Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, worms are a little pickier eaters than the microbes. But yeah, they’ll break stuff down really well. It’s not all types of worms. There’s like some specific worms that are better for composting. They have different names. Often people call them Red Wigglers but they’re like scientific name is Eisenia Fetida and that those are yeah they’re good worms for composting.

Margaret 39:23
It’s a prettier word.

Paige 39:23
Yeah, it’s a little prettier. Or fetid, you know, working with rotten stuff, but they, yeah, they’re not good for fishing. They like kind of create like a weird smell that fish don’t like so they’re, they’re very specific for for compost and they kind of only live in like the top three inches of soil, usually like rotting leaves and stuff. Yeah, and so you can you have to, you have to have a little more control over a worm pile because you’re not you’re not it’s not just kind of like set it and leave it. You need to make sure that they have water, that they have fresh food, that they don’t get too hot or too cold. Like there’s a little more care that goes into that.

Margaret 39:58
That they don’t get bored.

Paige 39:59
Yeah. You got it? Yeah. Totally gotta…

Margaret 40:01
Like little worm toys or yeah?

Paige 40:03
Yeah, exactly. Definitely add adding a few toys I haven’t I feel it’s a good idea to see how that affects our our system at the food bank, do some trials see if they’re more productive if we give them some, you know, we give them bread, but not circuses. So we’ll see if they’re a little more productive if we meet their needs.

Margaret 40:24
Flea circuses are the worms.

Paige 40:26
Yeah, we’ll figure it out.

Margaret 40:28
Okay.

Paige 40:30
But yeah, what else can I say about worms? Oh, it’s interesting, because a lot of worms like for compost, as well as worms that like live in our soil are mostly invasive in North America. So kind of similar to honey bees or a lot of honeybees in North America. And they’ve Yeah, they’ve really, you have to actually be kind of careful with what types of worms you’re working with, and where you’re putting the material in certain parts of the country, because there’s been really big problems of invasive earthworms. And they’re, they’re really impacting forest ecology, actually, you know, a lot of forests, maybe had a certain type of worm there, or maybe it didn’t have worms. And so part of the forest ecology is that all of these, like leaves fall on the ground and take a long time to rot. But if you add a bunch of worms to that system, they end up eating all the all the leaves, which it just changes the soil makeup. And and it’s, it’s kind of a big problem. Yeah,

Margaret 41:23
It gets rid of the mulch or whatever, right?

Paige 41:26
Yeah.

Margaret 41:26
Hmm. Okay. And so when you when you do worm composting, and you have a worm bin, you’re basically breeding worms at the same time, right? Like, do you end up with more worms than you started? And you therefore can like, go and start your new worm bin? Because you have like, twice as many worms, or…

Paige 41:46
Yeah.

Margaret 41:46
Like, do…You don’t have to like keep going by and buying worms at the worm store? The wormery?

Paige 41:54
Yeah, ideally, you would not have to make too many trips to the wormery kind of like a one and done scenario would be ideal. But yeah, they’ll double in population every three to six months under ideal conditions. They…eah, it was interesting. Like, you can get worms as like bait worms, where you buy them like 12, in a little cup, but those often aren’t actually composting rooms. And the way that you generally buy composting worms is by the pound. And so when we started our system at the food bank, I bought 25 pounds of worms, which was about 25,000 worms. And the way you kind of calculate how many worms you need is actually based on the surface area of how big your system is. So every square foot, you can do a pound of worms, but….

Margaret 42:38
Cause they only hang out the top three inches?

Paige 42:40
Yeah, yeah, totally. So if you have like, a super deep system, like they’re just not going to go that deep. But yeah, there’s a lot of…Yeah, worms are fun. And again, they they’re creating like, super high quality material. Part of that is because when they, you know, part of what’s good about compost and worm castings is like they will they add a lot of like microbes and bacteria to your soil and kind of help build up your like soil food web. And there’s a lot of like microbes and bacteria that actually breed and reproduce like within the digestive tract of a worm. And so they’ll like they’re basically eating microbes and bacteria, and then shitting out like, way more microbes and bacteria. And that’s like, kind of the thing that you want in your garden. So yeah, worms are fun. They’re cool. And they Yeah, they’ll any worm can like mate with any other worm. And then they they lay like an egg that has like, two to four baby worms in it, and then they hatch.

Margaret 43:34
Okay, because they’re not individually sexed or something like…

Paige 43:37
Yeah, they don’t. Everybody’s got all the junk. Yeah.

Margaret 43:41
Okay, cool. So The Left Hand of Darkness is the worms existence. Can you use other creepy crawlies? Like if you want to have your like goth garden where you only grow black eggplant, and black tomatoes, and black roses, and stuff, can you get like nightcrawlers or like, centipede or something?

Paige 44:01
You can do you can do like nightcrawlers. Yeah, I mean, same as worms, but you can also do people will do black soldier fly larva to break down food and it’s like, they just look like little weird grubs. And you can use those not to I guess that’s not really composting at all. I mean, it’s it’s getting rid of like a waste material and like feeding it to like, little little bugs. But then you would just use those to like feed your chickens or something. So…not really compost, but a way to….

Margaret 44:28
So there’s more steps involved?

Paige 44:29
Yeah, probably. Yeah, yeah.

Margaret 44:32
Okay, so speaking of worm casings, and poop, the–not the final question, but the final like category–we’ll be talking about human casings as part of composting, like, I know that this, you know, one of the reason want to save it for last is almost like the escalating level of like perceived grossness, right? Like I, I think people are like, “Oh, food rots. I understand that. Vegetables and rot. That’s cool.” And then you’re like, “Yeah, but what if there’s a bunch of worms,” and then people get a little bit weird. And then you’re like, “Okay, but what if you do with human shit?”

Paige 45:04
Yeah.

Margaret 45:05
And then that’s where people say that they don’t want to come over anymore. And that they don’t want to eat your vegetables.

Paige 45:11
Yep.

Margaret 45:12
But it’s actually completely fine. Well, it just takes additional safety precautions? I’m asking this is like, it’s funny because I’m like, I try to self insert as the person who doesn’t know anything about this, but I’ve like also lived on in places with humanure systems for a number of years. But,I’m curious your experience or like, how you sell people on humanure, or? I don’t know, can you give an introduction to human casings? Yeah,

Paige 45:38
Totally. Um, yeah, so you a lot of like, what to compost on what not to compost will be like, definitely not human, like poop or pee. And yeah, that’s just totally not true. You can, you know, we’re an animal like any other creating manure, and you can definitely use it. The yeah, there’s a lot of different systems. I mean, there’s commercial composting toilets that you can buy for your home that are like in the 1000s of dollars, but you can also make like DIY systems for like, under $50. Yeah, I’ve, I’ve seen a couple of different systems, I’ve helped set some up. At the garden that I work at, we have like a fully permitted humanure system that I built. And yeah, I’ve helped set up some different ones on like a land project. But yeah, you can definitely do it, the, the differences are, you just want to be really certain that you’re hitting high temperatures, because that’s what’s really going to address like kind of the pathogen problem. But if you’re if you’re getting like a big hot pile of compost, and you’re putting like human waste in it, like it’s, it’s gonna break it down, and it’s going to be safe to use. Yeah, I’m trying to think of the I think the big questions are like, at what scale are you trying to do it? And do you care if it’s like permitted or not? In some states, you can legally compost human waste at your home and some places you can’t. It’s also interesting, the like, a lot of sewage treatment plants end up composting, like their final product, and they refer to it as bio solids. And so actually, a lot of cities are composting human waste, they’re just doing it after it’s gone through like…

Margaret 47:13
That’s good.

Paige 47:14
Yeah, it’s like it’s after it’s gone through like a really like chemical heavy process to like, really ensure that there’s nothing like bad in it. But yeah, ‘bio solids,’ is kind of like the, like industry term that, that they’ve adopted to not say like ‘human shit,’ which, you know is a little more off putting. But ultimately, yeah, yeah.

Margaret 47:34
I mean, it’s interesting to me, right? Because like, I think that this, to me is an example of where sometimes people…I read a book by a purported environmentalist once that was like, “We’re animals, we should just poop on the ground.” It was this big name, author that…whatever it was Derek Jensen, I fucking hate him. I don’t care about name droping him. Fucking transphobe piece of shit. But anyway, you know, he wrote this book called “What We Leave Behind,” that I just like, even back, this is like, back when I like before I learned…I’m not a particular fan of this particular author, but I was when I was younger. And one of the first things that talks about is basically being like, “I just go poop on the ground, because that’s we’re animals and it’s fine.” And I’m like, I also believe that the idea of like, taking our nutrients or whatever, and flushing them into the ocean is a bad idea, right? But, I also believe that we develop that system for a reason, which was that before we used to just poop in the streets, and everyone would get sick and die.

Paige 48:31
Yes.

Margaret 48:32
And so, so something like this is actually really interesting to me, because it seems to be this…you know, both sides are just full of shit…I didn’t even mean to make that pun. Yeah. We’ll be here all day. Okay, and I don’t know. So it’s just like, it’s particular interesting. It’s particularly interesting to me that it’s like, “Okay, well, we actually can just do it right.” We can actually…and it’s not incredibly hard. You just actually have to do it. You just actually have to make sure that your compost pile sits for a really long time and or gets up to the right temperature if you’re not going to be you know, I don’t know. I don’t know where I’m going with that rant. But…

Paige 49:18
Derek Jensen sucks. Conclusion.

Margaret 49:20
Yeah, yeah, totally. Don’t just go poop on the ground next to your dog’s shit.

Paige 49:26
Yeah. I yeah, I think it feels really absurd to poop in drinking water, especially in the desert. A lot of like municipal sewage systems were not built to the scale that they’re now operating at. A lot of them were like built to just totally overflow into like, whatever local water source there is. So yeah, I think like not shitting in drinking water and like having smaller scale ways to address like human waste I think is like a way better option and, you know, kind of similar to your other compost pile where you add like your greens and browns. In this case, the poop is actually a green, it’s more of a nitrogen rich thing. It’s not a brown, ironically. But yeah, you can I mean, I think the simplest system is like, it’s called like a ‘bucket to barrel’ system or a ‘bucket to bin.’ And you would just have like a five gallon bucket with a toilet seat and like kind of a bin built around it so it’s comfortable to sit on, and then you just like, go to the bathroom in it, and then cover whatever you leave behind with your dump, I guess, with wood shavings or some kind of carbon source. And then basically like, when that’s filled, you just transfer it out to your bin system or wherever you’re, you’re kind of doing the the secondary processing. And yeah, just like make sure that pile gets hot. The systems that I’ve helped install, and we’re actually trying to get one installed in my house in Tucson right now are either like barrel systems or like larger, I guess, bin or like a tote system. But you. Yeah, so there’s the barrel, the bucket system, or you can also build toilets out of like 55 gallon barrels where you just like put build a toilet seat for the top of it. And then just like use, use that for your waste, and you’re adding sawdust and things. And you just want to make sure that that system has like some ventilation as well as like an insect trap. And…

Margaret 51:28
I was just going to ask, yeah, if you’re doing it. Is that where you like? I’ve seen people do it where they like, take a…I completely cut you off. I’m sorry.

Paige 51:36
Oh, you’re good, go ahead.

Margaret 51:38
People take a tube and like drill holes in it, and then stick it in the middle of the whole thing. So that way, like, even as the compost builds up, there’s always like, a way for air to get in and throughout it all.

Paige 51:48
Yeah, totally. Yeah, that’s, that’s….

Margaret 51:50
I think sometimes people over design these things, too.

Paige 51:53
Yeah, totally. I think that’s, that’s definitely true, I think. I mean, I think it’s helpful to have like more airflow, especially in like a composting toilet scenario. You also like, if you have like that 55 gallon barrel, like you do need to like turn it, which you do with a compost crank, which is kind of like a long, stick with like a coil at the end. And you just kind of like you put that stick in and kind of like crank it down and pull up and just try to get like some some like mixing in there. And that’ll help the material breakdown better.

Margaret 52:22
Oh, I see.

Paige 52:24
Yeah, and then usually those are, those are kind of more of a batch system. So you would have a certain number of barrels, depending on how many people you had using it. And you would essentially use one and once it’s filled, you would cap it, and then like wait four to six months and then empty it eventually. In that four to six month time period, you do want to make sure that you are turning it, and making sure that it’s getting up to temperature to kind of guarantee that any any pathogens are dying in there. Yeah, and the other system that I’ve built is like more of like a larger tote system. So it was built out of cinder blocks. And it was like a two two section toilet. And so it’s a bigger space is going to take longer to fill. But it’s by having kind of like multiple of the same thing, then you have one that’s like aging and resting and one that’s actively being used. The other factor to consider is urine diversion. Different people have different take on it. I think if you’re doing a bigger system, like with barrels or like the bigger bins, it’s helpful to try to divert urine. So having like…

Margaret 53:27
Oh, interesting.

Paige 53:28
Yeah, it kind of depends on where you are and how heavy of use it is. But a system that I helped work on was one that like often would have like a lot of people using it really quickly. And so kind of keeping urine diverted was helpful because otherwise it would just get too moist and bulky. And like in that sense, and in those moments like it actually does get smelly and gross often. If you’re maintaining it well it’s actually not smelly or gross at all. But yeah, if it’s heavier use it’s helpful to like have a urinal or like there’s like urine diverters or funnels that like you can have like in the toilet seat that kind of helps like if people are like sitting and peeing it all kind of separate from the solids. Yeah, so there’s there’s there’s different ways to do it. But I mean, urine also can be composted. So.

Margaret 54:16
Right, yeah. Well, and a lot of people will put it–please don’t listen to me as the expert gardener anyone who’s listening to this–I’m under the impression is about 10 to 1 water to urine and then like apply as fertilizer directly once it’s like watered down that heavily. That’s something that you’ve heard ever?

Paige 54:37
I’ve heard people do that. I feel like I I’ve kind of tended to more just do like, compost everything first and then use it. Yeah, just because yeah, I mean, I think for me, too. It’s just like not It’s not easy for me to like, harvest my own urine. It’s not a thing. I feel super….Like. Yeah, I but I have heard of people doing that.

Margaret 55:00
Yeah, yeah, it just seems like the process of combining the two. 10 to 1 or whatever it just involves, like lots of…I don’t know, stagnant urine is one of the worst punk house smells that’s ever been smelled.

Paige 55:16
Yeah.

Margaret 55:17
And that’s not something that I would try to sell someone on. But, then that is the reason…As I’ve been researching hypothetical humanure systems….I have been interested to see the different ways that people take the different takes that people have on it. It seems like if you’re not diverting it, you’re just you’re ending up with a lot watery buckets, right. And so you just have a lot more. You’re saying it’s bulkier, because you’re just adding so much more sawdust or hay or whatever your carbon is, in order to start absorbing all that?

Paige 55:49
Yeah, you can, you can run through your carbon source a lot faster if you’re trying to add that. I think also like, especially with bucket systems, like if you’re peeing in the buckets, and just like, I’ve carried some buckets that were just like, I was like, This is disgusting. Like, this is just like, piss and shit and like a little bit of sawdust. And I’m not happy about this. I’ve also like, yeah, you know, trained people to use a bucket system and like, don’t ever pee in the bucket. And then the next morning, I’m like, sitting there, and I’m like, Oh, God, I’m peeing. I’m letting everyone down. I’m such a hypocrite. Oh, no. It happens. It’s a shameful thing to do I guess but. But yeah, if you’re, if you’re, especially with a bucket system, if you have to, like move it, I feel like if there’s a lot of people using it, it’s nice to maybe divert the urine just for like it weighs less, it just is less smelly. But you can also just add a lot more carbon. So like, when I’ve done systems that weren’t going to have urine diversion, I’ve actually started whatever like receptacle or container with like, a third full of whatever carbon material I’m going to be using, just to really make sure that there’s like, kind of like just a bunch of dry material that can soak up that excess liquid. And yeah, and I think it’s, you know, a, I’ve worked with systems that are I’ve gotten systems permitted. And I’ve also been around systems that were not permitted. And a lot of like, the permit stuff, like will require urine diversion, just for, like, pathogens and smells and things like that. Yeah. So I think it’s just a thing to consider of how you’re, how you’re gonna manage that, that added, like, moisture and, like, just like dense material.

Margaret 57:33
So what do you…so in terms of carbon to add, I think that this is also another thing that holds people up, right is because, you know, there’s like, oh, just add a lot of sawdust. And most people, I think, think to themselves, I don’t have a lot of sawdust. I don’t produce much sawdust in my life. Even I as someone who like makes her own furniture, sometimes and shit. I don’t produce that much sawdust compared to like what is necessary, right. And, you know, some of the places I’ve lived before will make deals with sawmills where they just basically show up with a truck and are like, “Hey, can I have your sawdust?” And the place is like, “Yeah, whatever, just get rid of the sawdust for me, I don’t care.” But it seems like everyone has different tactics on getting carbon material. And it’s like, it seems like it’s the it’s the one that a lot of people aren’t producing themselves enough and therefore go and get. And that was actually why I was so excited about like cardboard and paper as possible carbon sources. I know that for myself, I fortunately, live somewhere where there’s a lot of land and I can just like, run a push mower with a bag on the back and fill out the bag. And then this is literally my hypothesis. It’s green when it first gets cut, but later it’s brown, and it seems like it when it’s dried out. It’s more of a carbon for compost.

Paige 58:49
Yep.

Margaret 58:51
Okay, so how would you recommend 1) Am I doing it right? And 2) that other people go and find a carbon source?

Paige 58:56
Yeah, I mean, I think the sawmill thing is a great thing to do. That’s what we’re doing. Like with the garden and other projects, like we just have agreements with sawmills, and like, cabinetry places and the only thing we have to keep an eye out for is if they’re working with walnut. That’s a word that has a lot of like antibiotic, antibacterial properties and will like kind of halt the process. And so you don’t want to be adding walnut and I think there’s maybe a few other types of wood that that you wouldn’t want to use.

Margaret 59:24
Like Cedar, maybe?

Paige 59:25
Potentially I’m not, yeah, I’m not totally sure. But yeah, I think dried grass clippings would work great as a cover material. The other thing that we will sometimes do out here in the desert is like sweep under like mesquite trees because there’s just these really fine little leaves that when they’re dried out work really well. But yeah, the other thing is just getting…if it’s like just a system for yourself, and you’re not having to source that much you can also just buy like wood shavings at like a pet store, which is annoying. It’s like annoying to have to buy, buy something that you have to put into your system, but I think it’s better than shiting in water, personally. But…

Margaret 1:00:01
Yeah, well especially in Tucson or something.

Paige 1:00:04
Yeah, totally. Yeah. But it’s, you know, I think it’s up to what you have on site. I don’t know that shredded paper would be…because part of what you want to do is you want to kind of cover your poop so that it’s like not smelly and not like easily accessible to flies and different insects–and so like I’m thinking if you just did like shredded paper, I think it would just be kind of like some fluff on top but still like a lot of access for like smells to pop up and for like insects to get in. That might not work super well, unless it’s like that really finely shredded paper, but I’m not sure.

Margaret 1:00:43
But it’d be really fun for whoever’s job it is to, to steal your shredded paper in order to like, re put together your files and try and prove that you did this or that, you know, yeah, if they had to, like literally go into the compost bin.

Paige 1:00:58
Yeah, that’s a good way. Yeah. Some good security culture, maybe to compost your, your paper and I support that.

Margaret 1:01:10
Okay, well, that’s, that’s the majority of my questions. I was wondering if you had any final words about why this is like, great? And matters? And it’s so interesting? You know, you’ve, you’ve talked about, like, for example, like, like shitting in drinking water is like, not the coolest thing that’s ever happened. But, but yeah, do you have like, or any other final thoughts are things that I should have asked you that I didn’t, or?

Paige 1:01:35
I can’t think of anything right now. But yeah, I mean, I think composting is just like, it’s a way to just like address waste problems on site. It’s like small scale, it’s a way to build up soil and not use fertilizers and inputs. So, I think it’s just a really good thing to do if you’re able, and it’s fun. I think it’s fun.

Margaret 1:01:55
Yeah, I think it’d be a cool way to like, you know, one of the questions I get asked a lot is, like how people can can meet their neighbors? And I mean, obviously, sometimes it’s a very complicated question, you know, if you’re, like, I’m not in a, I’m not in a blue state, let’s say. And, you know, like, like, there’s a lot of like, complications and safety questions about, like, you know, just telling everyone to, like, run out, become friends with everyone who’s physically around them. But, it still seems like kind of an interesting thing that if, because it, it’s like me setting up a compost bin, I could easily also be composting, the five neighbors, the five closest houses, and it wouldn’t, all it would do is give me more fertilizer, it wouldn’t actually add that much more work for me, right, because it’s like one of those systems that…it’s like cooking dinner, like cooking dinner for five people is about as much work as cooking dinner for one person, and it’s just so much more rewarding. And so I’m just like, kind of interested in these these sorts of things. The other thing I want to is not what I want to pick your brain about specifically, but I also want to see more people set up like actual recycling. Like cuz I feel like that’s kind of what composting is on the neighborhood level. It’s like being like, okay, the the infrastructure that we were promised is not working. How can we actually do this? And so it’s like, what would be involved in actually, you know, taking plastics and turning them into 3D printable filament or diesel fuel, or there’s all kinds of ways that you can turn plastic into or plastic. You can make fucking Legos out of them, you know? No, no, this is just, I’m just dreaming of the day that eventually I have enough infrastructure to go run and get all the punk houses bottles and then put them on a conveyor belt and have them pulverized into sand and use that in concrete. Because that’s the only thing I only recycling I’ve come up with. Okay, this is completely tangential. Alright, well…

Paige 1:03:39
Sounds like you have to use up all of your ash first.

Margaret 1:03:43
Yeah, that’s a good point. Yeah. Well, I won’t make as much of it once I shred the cardboard.

Paige 1:03:48
Oh, that’s true. Yeah. Yeah, no, I think composting is a great thing. I think it is like, Yeah, I think what you’re saying about you know, market based recycling is like very clearly failed. And yeah, breaking down, like, organic matter at local levels is like a really good solution to dealing with less waste, and yeah I just building backup soils, because our, our like, you know, agriculture and food production has become like such an extractive industry, like we’re just like pulling stuff out of the earth and like putting fertilizer and all these chemical inputs and then even like, the final product of that, like our waste, like then also just doesn’t get treated as like a resource. And so trying to like, kind of fix that nutrient cycle and just have it be a lot more integrated for like food production. waste diversion. I think there’s a lot of opportunities for it. Yeah, yeah. I think the community scale is like where it needs to happen at because I think the operating…burning a bunch of diesel and operating a massive scale thing that’s just full of trash is i i feel skeptical about about how those systems are gonna are gonna function well. Oh, but you know, there’s maybe a place for them.

Margaret 1:05:03
Yeah. Yeah. And if you’re listening and your name is Joe, we aren’t trying to call you out specifically unless you are the one who keeps adding the nitrogen, nitrous, fluoride, what was the?

Paige 1:05:18
Freon.

Margaret 1:05:18
Freon to the compost. All right. Well, thank you so much for coming and talking to me about all this stuff.

Paige 1:05:24
Yeah. Thanks for having me.

Margaret 1:05:30
Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, you should go compost, or just throw rotten things into the woods. Don’t do that one as much. That one’s not good. I mean, but go compost or find someone else to do the composting and then give them your organic matter. Maybe don’t show up at your friend’s house with a five gallon bucket of shit. Unless you’re like that kind of friend. In which case, congratulations. Okay, so you can also tell people about the show is a really good thing that you can do. That is the main that way that people hear about, Live Like The World is Dying. You can tell people about it on the internet, and you can tell people by rating and reviewing and liking and subscribing and doing all those things that feed the algorithms, and tell people in person. And you can also support us by supporting our publisher. The publisher is Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness and Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness is a collectively run publisher of anarchist culture. Basically, at the moment, we have one other podcast which is called Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness. And we have every month a new feature that gets mailed out as a zine to our Patreon backers, and made available on our website for free to anybody. You can support us at patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness and you can listen to that other podcast the same way that you listen to this podcast. And in particular, I would love to thank Shawn and SJ, Paige, Oxalis, Mickki, Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea, Kat J, Staro, Jennipher, Eleanor, Natalie, Kirk, MIchaiah, Sam, Chris and Hoss the dog. Thank you all so much for your support. It means a lot. It means a lot to you know, there’s a whole team of people who have produced this podcast. There’s no…I actually didn’t ask ahead of time about who wants to be named. But there’s a whole bunch of people work on it, including Bursts, who is our audio editor, who has a different podcast that you should check out that’s also on the Channel Zero network of anarchists podcasts. That’s called the Final Straw Radio and it’s basically the best news, Anarchist news podcast that exists. No offense to the other ones. If you’re listening you run another one, I love yours too. But, the Final Straw Radio is my go to and has been my go to for a very long time. And I don’t have any closing words. So I guess I’m done. Take care.

Margaret 00:00
Hi, Margaret here, popping back in to say, we are looking–by we I mean Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness. We are looking for gaming groups, tabletop gaming groups, who would like to help us beta test a tabletop role playing game that we’re developing called Penumbra City, which is a secondary world fantasy tabletop role playing game set and kind of a turn of the century jazz and radio and an evil god king who is sending people off to war against giant beasts and all of that kind of stuff. You know, the classic tropes, like people who eat fungus and talk to rats and anarchist paladins and nihilist ex Marines who are trying to blow everything up. And slumming Lordling’s, who come down from the floating city and like basically flash their dad’s name around to hang out with cool adventures and everyone secretly begrudges. It is a class based game, not in the Marxist sense, but in the Dungeons and Dragons sense. And that there are different classes that are more important than any other decision that you make about your character. And it’s fun, I really liked playing this game, I helped design it. And I’ve been playing it in some incarnation or whatever, for fucking 10 years now or something. But it’s finally getting ready to go out into the world. And we just need some help. We need you, not just you alone, unfortunately, we need you and your gaming group who wants to run this game. It is a simplified rules system, but a lore rich world. So, we would send you a rule set and a pre written adventure, you would run that adventure with your gaming group. You could also come up with your own adventure. And then you would participate in a feedback session, which might include a survey or a conversation one on one with game developers. So yeah, please, please reach out to us. How can they do that, Inmn. You’re secretly on the line, you should chime in?

Inmn 02:04
Well, Margaret, they can reach out to us by email at Penumbra.City.playtest@gmail.com. Just shoot us an email and tell us about your gaming group a little bit and we will send you some information and see if it works out for you to help us play test. Thank you so much.

Find out more at https://live-like-the-world-is-dying.pinecast.co

S1E47 – This Month In The Apocalypse with Margaret, Brooke, and Casandra

Episode Notes

Episode summary
In this new monthly segment, members of the Strangers Collective discuss current events as they relate to community preparedness. If you’re watching the news and wondering what’s going on with inflation, supply chain shortages, the heat “wave”, or Q’anon talking about space lasers and the black holes that are causing all of this, tune in. The group breaks down the mechanics of inflation, why prices are what they are, why we’re seeing shortages, and ways you can prepare now for when things get worse.

Host Info
Casandra can be found on Twitter @hey_casandra or Instagram @House.Of.Hands
Margaret Killjoy can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy or instagram at @margaretkilljoy.
Brooke is just great and can be found at Strangers helping up keep our finances intact and on Twitter @ogemakweBrooke

Publisher Info
This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at www.tangledwilderness.org, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at www.patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness.

Transcript

This Month In The Apocalypse

Margaret 00:15
Hello and welcome to Live Like The World Is Dying, your podcast for feels like the times. I’m one of your hosts, Margaret killjoy, because joining me today are two other co-hosts if y’all want to introduce yourself.

Casandra 00:28
I’m Cassandra.

Brooke 00:30
I’m Brooke.

Margaret 00:32
And today, we are starting a new, a new fun series talking about all the fun stuff that’s going to be coming your way soon. It’s called This Month In The Apocalypse, because we’ve realized that on this podcast, we talk a lot with different people about how to do different skills, about different specific issues, but there’s so much happening these days that it seems worthwhile to kind of keep track of this as it happens, all the different things that are happening, I don’t know, does that decent description of what the hell we’re trying to do?

Casandra 01:09
Yeah.

Margaret 01:11
And you will be excited to know that this podcast is a proud member of the Channel Zero network of anarchists podcasts, and here’s a jingle from another show on the network.

Jingle song 01:24
It’s going down, and you’re invited for what they sell it. We buy in, there is no running. There is no hiding. There’s only fighting or dying. It’s going down, and you’re invited for what they’re selling, we aint buying. There is no running. There is no hiding. There’s only fighting or dying.

Jingle Host 01:53
It’s going down is a digital Community Center from anarchists, Anti-Fascist, autonomous, anti-capitalist and anti-colonial movements. Our mission is to provide an autonomous and resilient platform to publicize and promote revolutionary theory and action.

Jingle Host 2 02:10
Go to itsgoingdown.org for daily updates, check out our online store for ways to donate and rate and follow us on iTunes if you like this podcast

Margaret 02:27
We’re back from the jingle. I’m used to having another podcast where there’s actual ads, which sucks. And so I don’t know how to talk anymore. So, nothing really happened this month and everything is continuing as it should. I believe there’s no major supply chain interruptions nothing forecasted bad to happen. Does that that match with the yall’s understanding?

Brooke 02:54
Yeah, good done, end of pod. Move on with our lives.

Margaret 03:01
What do we want to talk about first? Want to talk about shortages? All the stuff there’s shortages of?

Brooke 03:09
Sure.

Casandra 03:10
Yeah, I was looking at a list. And it’s it’s just everything. They’re shortages in everything.

Margaret 03:16
Give me some example.

Casandra 03:17
It started out like meat, dairy, eggs. And then it was like produce, aluminum for packaging things, plastic packaging things, fuel to get things to places.

Margaret 03:27
Yeah, one of the things I was trying to think about was like, you know, when I was looking through, it seems like some of the things that they’re shortages of there’s shortages of from a supply chain point of view, sort of a temporary point of view, right? Like, like one of them is like pet food. I saw that one and I like freaked out. It’s like I have a pet. You know, do I need to fill my basement with like a like a ball pit, but just full of kibble?

Brooke 03:52
Ongoing forumla shortage issues.

Margaret 03:55
Yeah. Well, but and what’s interesting is to try and figure out which of these things are….the pet food issue, at least as I saw was a little bit different than some of the other ones. It actually more is about there’s increased demand, because locked down got more people to decide to become closer buds with different creatures that aren’t human that eat pet food. And, I guess there’s a word for those. And so… it’sprobably in the word pet food. Food. People decided to become friends with different food. Shit, I’m supposed to be the vegan on this podcast. Okay, so….

Brooke 04:30
We’re off to a banging start.

Margaret 04:34
Hell yeah. So pet food, it seems like the shortage is, at least at the moment more just that like there’s a lot more demand for pet food. And, so therefore, like people are rushing to keep up. Kind of like the mask shortage at the beginning of the pandemic wasn’t like, “Oh God, we’re out of the capacity to produce masks.” They just were like, “Oh, we need to like ramp up our infrastructure.” And so there’s like some of it like that. But, then it seems like some of the other shortages are a little bit more because there’s not the capacity to either create the thing, or distribute the thing. I don’t know, you all know more about this.

Casandra 05:09
Or even there’s…I think about crops, like there’s the ability to create the thing, but not to actually harvest and process the thing. It’s seems like every step along the way, is having issues.

Brooke 05:23
Right. And if you’ve got issues with plastic and aluminum, then you can’t package the thing. So, maybe you could make it and maybe you even can ship it, but you pack it up. But, there’s also then lots of problems with actually transporting it from place A to B.

Margaret 05:40
One of the things…Okay, I was reading a list too. And I came up with this clever segue. So I’ll just draw too much attention to the fact that I planned this ahead of time. One of the things that there’s a supply chain shortages of, I was like, looking through this list, and one of them was garage doors. And that’s not something that I think about on a regular basis. I just don’t think about whether or not I could go down to the store and buy a garage door today. Right? But it has all of these like, cascading effects. And like, I don’t know, you all were having this interesting conversation that I’m trying to trick you into having, again, about housing and the ability to construct homes and all that shit.

Casandra 06:21
Oh, I thought you were referencing the conversation about how I actually need a new garage door. And I was like, “Oh, I don’t think that’s useful. I don’t think that’s useful on this podcast, Margaret.”

Margaret 06:30
I was just gonna embarrassingly admit that I have two garage doors, because I live rurally and there’s multiple garages on the property. So, I just feel like I’m kind of like, you know, I’m stealing doors.

Casandra 06:44
Rich in doors!

Brooke 06:46
Well, I mean, technically, Cassandra and I also both have two garage doors, because we have two car bays in our garage and each has a separate door. So we are all two garage door people.

Casandra 06:57
Door Priviliege. Door Privilege. Yeah, no, what you actually asked me about was much more useful.

Margaret 07:02
Okay.

Casandra 07:06
Brooke, please help.

Brooke 07:09
Yeah, well, I feel like it came up, because you know Cassandra, you are renting your current house and would love to buy it and have wanted to buy it for a while. And so, you and I keep having these conversations about everything going on with the housing market.

Margaret 07:27
So let’s talk about that.

Casandra 07:28
Right before Covid, it seemed like a good time to buy a house. And then six months later, it seemed awful. And it seems like it’s just getting worse.

Brooke 07:38
Yeah, that’s super accurate. And for just a whole bunch of different reasons. I mean, housing has been overpriced for a while and has gotten just exponentially more so. The cost of housing is outrageous. But then the bigger kicker in the last year is interest rates on mortgages have doubled. So you know, they went from a place where they were at like 3 or 4%, which is actually really pretty reasonable. And now they’re up between, like closer to 6%, on average, most of the time, which is not a good interest rate. And one of the things that we saw before the fall of the housing market back in ’08, was these super high interest rates, you know, 7-8%, or some of the really predatory lending stuff, people will have them at 10-12%. And we’re not quite seeing that. But we are seeing with things like the 6,7,8% interest rates right now, which is not good.

Margaret 08:33
Does that mean we’re heading for similar places as 2008? Like, how does the how do these compare? I feel like you know, a little bit more about this.

Brooke 08:39
Yeah, the the underlying factors that are causing our current bubble, are very different from what we saw in 2008. The ultimate outcome will be a lot the same in a housing crash, and people not being able to afford their mortgages and all the ripples through the economy and whatnot. But, the underlying causes are different. One of them is that the inflation has been on the rise. And so mortgages, you know, we tend to think of a mortgage as a thing that we have in order to buy our house. But from a bank’s perspective, a mortgage is a commodity, it’s a product that they’re buying and selling. So anytime you see prices for products on the rise, mortgages are going to be one of those products that become more expensive.

Margaret 09:24
How does this affect renters? Like I would guess, sort of maybe rudely that most of our listeners are renters, and, you know, is it like is that just kind of cause rents to go up if the fact that like if if mortgages are getting harder and harder for landlords like…

Casandra 09:40
Well, rents are already going up, at least here. I guess I wonder how much that’s related, though.

Margaret 09:47
No, I don’t know. Is it just going up because of inflation?

Casandra 09:49
Yeah, i think it’s just general inflation. Yeah.

Margaret 09:51
Which is interesting, though, right? Because one of the advantages of homeownership, it seems to me is that it’s slightly more inflation resistant, because If your interest stays the same as locked in of whatever you bought it at, you know, and so…and the amount you owe, the bank doesn’t go up to match interest. So the landlords have any excuse at all for jacking up rents? Because it’s not like they’re not like their mortgages have gone up, you know, the same amount is as interest.

Brooke 10:21
Well, if they’re requiring, if they’re using the mortgage payment that you’re making in order to fund their life that’s their source of income is the profit, you renting the house. Then their costs for all of their other goods in life are going up, so they need to make more money off of the thing that pays them, i.e. the renter,

Margaret 10:42
It doesn’t seem like a good system, the idea that someone can just make money off of someone else’s work instead of their own work. That doesn’t that doesn’t sound right. That sounds like Communism. It doesn’t actually sound like Communism. But that is what people claim.

Brooke 11:01
It’s incredibly problematic.

Margaret 11:04
So landlordism, not not a good…

Casandra 11:07
Not great.

Margaret 11:09
Hot take.

Brooke 11:10
I do not stand. I do not stand the landlords.

Casandra 11:13
I hope my landlord doesn’t listen to this podcast.

Brooke 11:17
If he’s the kind of person who listens to this podcast, he should just give you your house.

Casandra 11:21
It’s true. Shout out to my landlord.

Margaret 11:23
And if you’re a landlord listening to this, sell your houses to your renters at reasonable rates.

Casandra 11:32
Right?

Margaret 11:32
Or just give them if you can afford it.

Brooke 11:35
Yeah, we were talking about the interest rate the other day, Cas, I think you had some good questions about…you had a bunch of good questions the other day that I would love to talk about here on the pod to if you want.

Casandra 11:47
Oh shit, I wonder if I can remember what my questions were. The other day, it was a long time ago.

Brooke 11:54
Understood. And also, you know the answers, so you’re not wondering anymore.

Casandra 11:59
Yeah. Or I just got confused and forgot, which is also possible.

Margaret 12:05
That’s what I would have done if someone explained many things to me.

Casandra 12:08
Yeah, that’s generally what my brain does as well. That’s why Brooke’s here. Thank you, Brooke!

Brooke 12:13
Sorry, I guess we should have done in the introduction why I’m relevant too.

Margaret 12:19
Yeah, okay. Well, so like, so folks who’ve listened, if you’ve listened before, you’ve probably met me. You might have met Casandra. Casandra has been on a few more times recently. Brooke, who are you?

Brooke 12:35
I am a baby anarchist with the pronouns “she” and “her”, living in Oregon, relatively near to Casandra. And I have a background in economics and accounting, because before I was an anarchist, I was a capitalist. I’m sorry. And I thought that capitalism was good and fine. And I did a whole lot of time studying and learning about it. And now I like to use all of that knowledge and understanding to talk about how bad capitalism is.

Margaret 13:09
I mean, the person who did the most work researching capitalism was Karl Marx. Like, as far as I understand, like, a lot of capitalists were like, “Ah, yeah, that that’s what we’re doing,” you know, after he like, actually wrote down how capitalism works. Just had different takes about whether it was good or bad. So, you know, I dunno. Yeah, so, so we’ve been talking about…and Brooke is part of Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness, the publishing collective that puts out this podcast as well as other good things, like a podcast with it’s the name Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness that you can listen to also. And so we just, we’ve been having a lot of conversations amongst ourselves about like, “Well, what the fuck we going to do as people as all this crisis happens?” And then we were like, “Oh, right, we should, we should talk about this stuff more.” So…

Casandra 14:02
l remember.

Margaret 14:04
Great.

Casandra 14:06
Thanks for that, giving me time to remember. So, I asked about your interest rates. The last time they were this high was 1984. And theoretically they’re hiking up interest rates to help deal with inflation, which doesn’t make sense to me. But Brooke, you had you understood that?

Brooke 14:33
Yeah, because when you mentioned the thing about the interest rates, I was like, “Wellllll, not actually.” Because the interest rate that we hear about a lot in the news is the Federal Funds rate, which is set by the Federal Reserve, which is the National Bank that we have in our system. It’s basically the bank that our banks use, so all of your US banks and Chases and all of that, they bank at the Federal Reserve. And that’s the interest rate that we’re talking about is the Federal Reserve’s rate that they pay to banks to store money with them. So you’re a bank, and you are legally required to have a certain amount of your cash saved at the Federal Bank. It’s like 10% of your holdings have to be there. And then the government says, “Thanks for letting us sit around and hold on your money, here’s some interest.” And to incentivize banks to save more of their money, they’ve raised that interest rate. So that’s the one that you’ve heard about that’s higher than it’s been since 1984.

Margaret 15:39
Oh, interesting.

Brooke 15:40
And it’s not directly tied to the other types of interest rates, like loan interest rates, you know, mortgages and credit cards and cars and stuff. But it definitely influences them, because when you look at it from a bank’s perspective, like you walk down to your neighborhood bank, and you want to take out a loan from them, they have the choice to get a certain guaranteed interest rate from the Federal government, which is super secure, they’re gonna get their money back, they’re gonna get their interest, you know, think safe over there, or to loan you a consumer money and gain interest from you. And they only want to give you money, if they can make more on it than they would by loaning it to the Federal government, especially because you as a consumer might be taking it out for like, a mortgage loan, which is going to be 30 years, let’s say, so the banks not going to get their money back for a much longer period of time. Whereas with the Federal government, they can go anytime and say, “Hey, I need some of my money,” and get it right then. But you as the consumer, they can’t. So, they charge you the consumer higher level of interest. So, whatever the federal interest rate is, the bank is going to then want to set its interest rates that it charges to people higher, so it can make more money. And if you can’t afford to pay that higher interest, the bank is like, “Fine, I can load my money to the government, and still make still make money off it.”

Margaret 17:05
So how does this relate to inflation? How does this relate to everything costing more money now and like, you know, you’re saying that they were like, they’re doing this to solve it, it sounds like it would make it worse to me, I don’t know shit about shit. But…

Brooke 17:20
Yeah, so they’re trying to make money more valuable. So right now, because inflation is high….Let’s say you have $1 in your pocket, and you go buy a banana today, and that banana costs $1. So your dollar equals a banana. Let’s say you decide to buy a banana tomorrow, and you still only have $1, but the price of the banana has gone up to $1.10. You no longer have one bananas worth of money, in this situation,

Margaret 17:51
92% of a banana or something.

Brooke 17:55
It’s too high for a banana, but that was the first thing that came to mind. Anyway, so they want to curb that inflation so that tomorrow you can still buy your banana for $1. But in order to do that, they have to make your money more valuable, in a sense. And they do that by removing some of the money that’s out there in the world.

Casandra 18:18
It’s…is it possible I’m an anti-capitalist just because the shit can….

Brooke 18:21
Doesn’t make sense?

Casandra 18:22
Yeah.

Brooke 18:23
Yeah, you have to stop thinking about money, the way that we as normal human beings think about it as like, “I give you this stupid thing and you give me something good and useful.” And think about it in terms of a bank that thinks of it as a product. So their money is a product that they can buy and sell and get value for. So when you decrease the amount of a product that’s available, what’s left becomes more valuable.

Casandra 18:48
I’m glad this isn’t a visual recording so people can’t see my like trying to grasp face.

Brooke 18:53
This is very helpful to me to know whether or not I am making any fucking sense at all.

Casandra 18:59
I’m sure you’re making sense. I just…yeah, my brain shuts down when I think of all this stuff, which is why I’m glad you’re here.

Margaret 19:07
Yeah, and it’s like, I want to understand this stuff, but I’ve also have a little bit of a like, yeah, part of why I’m anti capitalist is I’m like, “This just seems needlessly complicated.” And then I’m like, but then I turned around, and I’m like, “Okay, so a federated model, where you have all of these different autonomous groups, and the spokes go to this other thing. And then those make decisions by consensus, except in some cases where they use majority vote, except people have a block, but then as it goes to this other level, and then this is the way they communicate.” And so then I’m like, okay, I’m not actually afraid of complicated organizational structures.

Casandra 19:45
But that’s…Complicated is different than bureaucratic, you know?

Margaret 19:49
Okay. Okay.

Brooke 19:50
Yeah. I find myself living in this weird place of like, all of this is just ridiculous and unnecessary and most really bad. But also, this is how the thing works, and I’m a pretty big opponent and like, understanding how the thing works, especially when you want to dismantle the system,

Margaret 20:11
Yeah. No, and like, I actually just want to appreciate you and people like you, you know, I remember I had a conversation with someone once recently, or they’re like, “Oh, I don’t think the anarchists would like me. I like spreadsheets too much.” And I’m like, “No, we need you….

Casandra 20:25
We love you!

Casandra 20:25
We need you more than we need other people.”

Brooke 20:28
Yeah. For the listeners at home, every time the word “spreadsheet” comes up in the Strangers’ group discussions for work, I’m always like, “Me! Me?, do I get to do it? Can I have a spreadsheet?”

Margaret 20:39
Whereas I’m like, I’ve been doing it? And I’m like, I don’t know, I’m just beating my head against these things.

Casandra 20:47
Well Brooke, you mentioned wanting to understand like, how, how things work. And I’m wondering, so we talked about that the fact that there is inflation, but I’m wondering what the factors are contributing to that, like, why it’s continuing to go up at such a rapid rate, because we haven’t really…

Brooke 21:08
inflation?

Casandra 21:09
Yeah.

Brooke 21:09
Why it’s gone up so much?

Casandra 21:11
Yeah.

Brooke 21:11
Inflation is a complicated beast. We know that a portion of it is just straight up corporate greed and fucking capitalism being capitalism, you know, of companies saying, “Oh, we can, we can raise prices and have great profits. And people will just like, do that, and we get more money? Yay!” So, and because it’s happening in real time, there’s not like great data to say, “Oh, half of the reason of inflation…” or whatever, like, we don’t know exactly how much that specific action is contributing to it. But it’s some large portion of inflation is just because companies are awful greedy, terrible. But, a couple of other factors that are leading into it are fuel prices, like everything in the world is basically affected by fuel prices to move things from A to B, and the creation of so many things, you know, incorporate some amount of petroleum. And…there was a third thing that just fell in my brain. But that actual cost is on the rise. So like it is more expensive to create products. So, that’s contributing to it. And then also, the shortages in the supply chain, like we were just talking about that anytime there’s less of something, it becomes more valuable. So like, how you see price gouging, when there’s an emergency, you know, like, like, if the city’s water shuts off, suddenly bottled water becomes more expensive. It’s because there’s less of it, then they can start to charge more, because people who will afford it can still buy it, and people who can’t, then too bad for that. And again, it’s all just because capitalism is evil and bad.

Margaret 22:57
So, in terms of like solutions, one of the things we talk about when wee want to talk about all the bad stuff and then we want to talk about what people can do, at least as individuals and communities to combat it. Right? And like, and I’ll say that for my own sake, and I don’t know that this is actually a you know, I actually, I’ve talked to some of my friends who actually work in finance, and they’re a little bit like, “That’s not what I would have first thought of,” but that’s…I guess that makes some sense. You know, one of the things I’ve been thinking about, right is like, I don’t know, like, if you can get in things that hold value, right? You know, this is in the sort of traditional prepper sense, this is where you like run out and buy gold, right? Not because gold is an investment, it doesn’t become necessarily more valuable, but it because it like, is more likely to hold its value as inflation goes up. But I would argue the same is true of hard liquor, which does not go bad. I don’t even drink hard liquor, but I have a bunch of it.Ammunition. Eh Eh? Okay, this is gonna be where everyone’s giving me the “We let this wingnut prepper on.” But ammunition does go up and down in value. But overall, I will argue that it will stay valuable and therefore continue to hold its value against inflation. And then also like, this is where my financial friends get really mad at me. I’m like, “Basically like spend it if you’ve got it,” because like, because money is becoming less and less valuable. So like, cash in your pocket is just losing money when it stays in your pocket. Its value goes down every day, you get fewer and fewer bananas.

Brooke 24:32
Bananas.

Margaret 24:32
Yeah, you have fewer bananas every day. The longer that you hold on to it.

Casandra 24:36
This is making me hungry.

Margaret 24:38
Yeah, I kind of want a banana. I need to go to the grocery store. But okay, so this is like for example, this is like why I’m like, “Alright, well fuck it,” like, get tools. Get stuff if you can, right? Obviously, this is like kind of annoying advice for anyone who I mean like right now I think most of the money issue that people have right now is not having enough money for their basic necessities that they meet on a regular basis. But even like, like I was like, I don’t know, as I try to explain someone to be like, Alright, look, if you’re going to go out if you’re going to spend X amount of money on canned chili over the next three months, buying it now, instead of later, if you can afford it will literally get you more chili, because the prices of everything are just going to go up. And so as you’re able to fucking cans of chili are better than cash right now is my my claim, especially the good vegan chili with the little TVP in it.

Brooke 25:39
Yeah, if you’ve got a spare dollar in your pocket today, it’s going to be less valuable tomorrow. It’s going to be less valuable the day after that. It’s just going to keep getting less valuable as long as we’re in this cycle of this high inflation. So as much as I tend to be like a saver, it does make more sense at the moment to go buy things preferably things that are like durable, useful, and will last then to…

Casandra 26:08
That’s still saving.

Brooke 26:10
Yeah

Margaret 26:11
Yeah, you’re just transferring the value into a different form.

Brooke 26:14
Yeah, buy some seeds.

Casandra 26:15
[At the same time] My favorite form is seeds. Yeah, that’s my preferred one.

Margaret 26:19
Yeah.

Brooke 26:20
How To books.

Casandra 26:22
Like oh, I just got I got all my spring seeds for next year.

Brooke 26:25
Oh, wow.

Casandra 26:25
Well, yeah, just last week, because I knew they’d be way more expensive next year, and they’re just in the fridge in plastic bags. Waiting.

Brooke 26:34
Very smart. That’s a genuinely a good investment, especially given the food supply shortages that we’ve got going on right now.

Casandra 26:43
Yeah, what a good segue

Margaret 26:44
[At that same time] What a good segue.[Everyone laughing] Hope you all like this new format of friends chatting. We’ll work on it.

Casandra 26:56
We’re doing great!

Brooke 26:57
Yeah, no, it’s gonna be exactly this great every time.

Margaret 27:02
Food shortages. What do you mean food shortages? That sounds like a bunch of wing nut talk.

Casandra 27:11
There are no food shortages.

Brooke 27:13
There’s no such thing as food. Buy guns.

Casandra 27:20
Eat ammo.

Brooke 27:22
That’s exactly what I was thinking when you said ammo and gold and I was like that’s good. Those are things you can eat. We’ll be fine.

Margaret 27:29
Yeah, yeah. [Everyone laughing]

Casandra 27:30
I think there’s something to be said about the fact that you and I both have kids, Brooke. So, when I’m like oh…You know if I have 20 extra bucks, what am I putting it into? It’s like it’s food.

Margaret 27:41
It’s not whiskey?

Brooke 27:45
Pretty much all the time or the next size of clothing for my child that doesn’t stop growing. But But yeah, food shortages. So, that’s like a really interesting and again very complicated topic. So, I work part time for a local farm as well. And here in Oregon, our spring was especially wet like it’s it’s…Oregeon is a fairly wet place and we get a fair amount of rain in the spring, but it was like a lot more than usual. And it stayed cold for longer. So this farm, which usually opens up the first week of June and starts selling produce had to delay by a week its start date, because there just was there weren’t crops and then they’re battling larger infestations of problems and new and different ones so they’ve had funguses, and mold, and bugs, different kinds of bugs, and greater quantity of bugs attacking their crops, and they’ve been sending like…

Margaret 28:44
Larger bugs.

Brooke 28:44
Yeah.

Casandra 28:45
Yeah, the pest have gone wild up here.

Margaret 28:46
Like bugs the size of cars.

Brooke 28:48
Yes. Yeah, they’ve been sending almost weekly samples to the state, the Oregon State Extension office which is our…they do a bunch of farming program things anyway they…

Casandra 29:01
OSU?

Brooke 29:02
Yeah, OSU. A lot of states have extension services from their state university, anyway that that analyze like “What is this blight? What is this fungus? Why is this thing turning yellow? Why…what is causing this?” So they…

Margaret 29:17
What is this language it’s speaking to me and why are its eyes rotating sideways from its head.

Brooke 29:22
Yeah, they test for that kind of thing too. E.T. For sure. You know, they would usually send maybe a couple of samples in a season and they’ve had to send like almost weekly samples for two or three months and then you know devising on the fly–because organic farm, you know, safe organic practices to combat these things. And it’s, you know, required a lot of extra time and investment and attention to the farm and the crops that are going in it just to to get a healthy crop out of it.

Casandra 29:56
And we’re not even experiencing you know, the heat wave here that they’re experiencing what, like Western Europe right now.

Margaret 30:05
Yeah. And parts of the southern and central United States also. But like.

Casandra 30:10
Yeah, and North Africa.

Margaret 30:12
Yeah.

Casandra 30:13
I was reading that in Portugal. It’s so hot that farm equipment is setting dried crops on fire as they’re like trying to harvest things.

Brooke 30:25
Oh, wow.

Casandra 30:26
Like things are that hot and dry. Growing food is becoming more difficult. That seems to be the moral of the story.

Margaret 30:36
Well fortunately, I believe the biggest breadbasket of the world, or at least of Europe, is doing just fine and isn’t currently being invaded by a megalomaniac, and certainly huge chunks of what’s left aren’t supporting someone who would invade such a place, so….Or, as I doubt this is news to anyone who is listening, but maybe it is, you know, the the war in Ukraine is fucking up well will fuck up remarkably, the harvest in Ukraine of wheat, and I believe, like it’s them in the US maybe are the biggest exporters of wheat in the world. I should have looked up my actual.. I’m learning so much about how I’m gonna do this next time.

Casandra 31:22
I was just reading percentages, and they fell out of my brain, but it’s big.

Brooke 31:27
The combination of Ukraine and Russia and it’s mostly Ukraine on this, they provide 12% of the world’s wheat supply. Or to put it in other terms, Ukraine’s wheat feeds 400 million people a year. So like, the for scale, the population of the US, like one year’s worth of wheat. So yeah, it’s, it’s a lot. And they’re basically going to have essentially zero harvest coming out of Ukraine this year in terms of wheat.

Casandra 32:01
And it’s not just like not having flour on the shelf, but if you’re a meat eater, you know, grain fed, grain finished…My brain just died.

Brooke 32:15
Animal feed.

Casandra 32:16
Thank you. Fuel and animal feed.

Brooke 32:20
Cows in particular, yeah, all the little things that the grain goes into, yeah, it’s very bad. And, you know, we in the US might not experience as much of that being a wealthy country that’s more insulated. Like one of the readings I was doing was talking about how, of course, Africa will be one of the most impacted continents by all of this because it has the highest rate of imports of food from other places, because so much of its inhospitable to growing or growing large quantities of food. And they often get the short end of the stick when there’s global supply chain issues.

Margaret 32:56
And it’s not just the US’ position as wealthy. It’s that we grow…I think I, I think we’re the largest exporter of food in the world, I again, really have learned so much about the kind of stuff I’m going to look up before I start recording next time.

Brooke 33:12
Yeah, California, grows like some percentage of the entire world’s…just California State of California alone grows an appreciable percent of the world’s food supply.

Margaret 33:25
Not to just drive home the animal agriculture point, but wow, it sure takes so much more grain to feed a cow to then turn around to feed a person than to just feed the grain to the person. Whooa! Anyway, if I’m gonna get accused of propaganda.

Casandra 33:44
But Margaret, I can’t eat grain.

Margaret 33:46
Yeah, no, I know. That’s actually why I don’t believe in, everyone should do X. There’s very few things I would say everyone should do, and that certainly, certainly applies to diet more than almost anything else. People should do, what they need and what their bodies want. And also what their, you know, local environment sustains most effectively and all those things.

Casandra 34:14
I was listening to a podcast yesterday about food shortages that I’m going to forget the name of now.

Brooke 34:19
There are other podcasts?

Casandra 34:21
There are other podcasts like this? Wild.

Margaret 34:24
Cool People Who Do Cool Stuff?

Casandra 34:26
No, it wasn’t that one, I’m sorry, Margaret.

Margaret 34:28
Wait, there’s a third podcast? Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness?

Casandra 34:33
Is it Behind The Bastards? Is that the?

Margaret 34:35
Oh, yeah, I guess they do technically…

Brooke 34:37
Are they still allowed to have a podcast? I thought we shut that down.

Casandra 34:42
Anyway,

Margaret 34:44
So you can’t start with another podcast because it takes too much grain.

Casandra 34:49
Noooo!

Brooke 34:52
That’s the title of this episode now.

Margaret 34:57
It’s called interrupting Casandra. That’s the name of the podcast.

Brooke 35:01
I love you, Casandra. I’m sorry.

Casandra 35:03
You guys, my brain can’t hold a thought for that long.

Brooke 35:06
Understood.

Casandra 35:08
Okay, so I was listening to this, what I would call like a progressive podcast. And I’m usually really annoyed with the like, “We can solve climate change and world hunger by eating locally.” But when we’re talking about, you know, International food shortage crises, that does seem like one of the more manageable solutions. And we were talking in the chat prior to this episode noticing that I feel really grateful for my CSA share this summer. Because I paid for it, you know, months ago, which means that, you know, if we’re going back to the banana analogy,

Margaret 35:52
The value hold on.

Brooke 35:53
I mean, that is very accurate. You know, we’ve got, we’ve got eggs included in the CSA that I work on. And, you know, we do a small markup on that just to cover all the logistics of getting the eggs from the egg supplier. But she had to raise prices at the start of the season. And we’ll probably have to raise them again, like in the fall. But if you signed up for the CSA, and that included eggs in your particular box, your price gets to be set, right where it is.

Casandra 36:26
Yeah, it’s hard, though, right, because especially when we’re talking about prepping like one of…I get annoyed with prepping conversations, because oftentimes, people either don’t have the space to store large quantities of things or the money to buy things in bulk. And I would consider paying for a CSA ahead of time buying a thing in bulk, or similar, you know, similar impact. And it’s hard because a lot of people can’t do that. Like, I was hurting for a few months, because the payment came out. I was like, “Oh, yeah, that thing I said I’d pay for.” I’m glad I did it. But…

Margaret 37:06
Okay, but. [Brooke interupts] Go ahead….Okay, so there is a community solution to this, though. So you can’t eat ammunition. But if you have enough ammunition and friends….This thing that happened in history, that should never happen again, because it was violent, during the Spanish Civil War, people collectivized all the farms.

Brooke 37:32
Wrong podcast. Wrong podcast.

Margaret 37:34
No, but see, see, this is…

Casandra 37:36
Did they do it with dinosaurs?

Margaret 37:39
I’ve heard that dinosaurs were involved. They…I at least read one story about that. But, you know, it…I means it’s funny to me, right? Because it’s like, on some level, okay, so individual solutions are complicated, because they involve certain types of resources. A lot of community solutions are good. And they’re working to set up different kinds of like small scale agriculture that you can do within a community and mutual aid organizations that can take care of people and help fill in some holes and different people’s, like, dietary needs and stuff like that. But it’s like, it’s so frustrating, because honestly, like, like, a lot of the solutions to these problems are destroy the existing infrastructure and build an infrastructure, well, not even the infrastructure, the systems that control the current infrastructure, and enter them into a more reasonable and equitable method of distribution. But obviously that has some risks associated with it. So I don’t know, I guess, I guess sometimes I get like, frustrated, because it’s like, you know, we’re all like, kind of trying to be like, “Okay, how do we deal with these issues in this issue,” and it’s like, and we should figure out how to do it on these, like, smaller scales, but it’s like, so frustrating because I think so many people like, kind of have a sense of like, what the grander solution is, and just don’t know how to fucking do it.

Casandra 39:01
Yep.

Margaret 39:01
Including me, I don’t know how to do it. Although in 1936…Anyway.

Casandra 39:07
Were you gonna say something, Brooke?

Brooke 39:10
One way to help solve the problem of food supplies in a very small way, amongst you and your friends: We grow things more efficiently when we focus on growing one thing at a time. So we’ve talked about on the pod growing, starting a garden, even a single container on your balcony kind of thing. But ,if you have a friend or a couple of friends that can also do a little gardening, maybe talking amongst yourselves and have each of you grow a specific thing or a couple of specific things. And they have each of the three of you be different. And that way you can focus on doing a good job of growing a couple of things. And they can do a good job growing their couple of things and then you can exchange the produce as it starts to ripen because it’ll be more than you want.

Casandra 40:01
I like that. When you said one thing my brain was like, “But polyculture!?”

Brooke 40:06
Yeah, sorry, I’m thinking of like, if I can get everyone on my street to, you know, grow something in their backyard, and we all had one different crop, you know, just this whole weird place that my brain goes to that would be beautiful. But the other thing about the the food shortages, the crop growing problems, and all of that that I wanted to point out is how much this is an immediate future problem. Like, right now we’re having all of these problems growing things and creating the food. And what we’re eating for a lot of the part is if you’re eating dry foods, packaged foods and stuff that was grown maybe last year in a previous growing season. So where we’re going to start to see this pinch, even worse is going to be later this year and into next year, when we’re going to buy things that were grown in a previous season. Except they weren’t, because Ukraine didn’t export any grain or because all of the black bean crops failed, or what have you. So it’s going to get worse very soon, because of that kind of problem.

Margaret 41:15
Yay. Yeah.

Brooke 41:20
Thinking about growing a thing, like right now before that problem really hits home, and then you’ll suddenly have some food growing on your back porch, or whatever.

Casandra 41:29
That also makes me grateful for…this is probably an option in other areas, not just where we are, but Brooke and I are part of a co op. And we can purchase things through companies at wholesale prices. So like, I just put in an order for like 10 pounds of salt and 25 pounds of beans and, you know, makes me grateful for options like that.

Brooke 41:59
Yeah, bulk buying.

Margaret 42:02
And that’s like, kind of the origins of food co ops, as far as I understand it is that, you know, now we have this conception. And I feel like most people are like, “Why would a food co-op be cheaper food co-ops are more expensive, because like food co-op is like practically just like, a way of saying super bougie independent grocery store with natural food. And the origin of food cooperatives is basically people pulling together and saying like, well, “We want to buy a bunch of food. So let’s act like we’re a store and go to the distributor, and put in orders together.” And those do still exist in various places. And also, not everything that call itself a food Co-Op is just bougie and shitty and like, some of them are very good.

Brooke 42:44
I would say ours isnt…wasn’t. At least that’s from my very biased perspective.

Margaret 42:50
Wasn’t good or wasn’t bad?

Brooke 42:52
Wasn’t bougie wasn’t bougie.

Margaret 42:54
Ah.Yeah.

Brooke 42:56
Can I go back to Casandra, you mentioned, the heatwave stuff happening in Europe and crops catching on fire. I had read last week about this heatwave that was coming in Europe and some of the problems they anticipated having but I have not had time this week to like catch up on what actually happened. And I think both of you guys have been paying more attention to that news. And I’m curious if you want to enlighten me and perhaps our listeners about the actual effects of that heatwave in addition to farming equipment catching crops on fire. Which is bad.

Casandra 43:29
Part of a glacier collapsed in Italy.

Margaret 43:34
They still have glaciers there?

Casandra 43:36
Apparently.

Margaret 43:38
You ever get depressed, you ever go to Glacier National Park and just been sad, because you’re like, it’s just full of signs that are like, “There used to be a glacier here.” and you’re like, “This sucks.”

Brooke 43:48
That would be depressing.

Margaret 43:49
It’s really beautiful. Anyways.

Brooke 43:51
What is what does it mean, the glacier collapsed, like a portion fell over?

Casandra 43:55
Like an avalanche, like a portion of this glacier collapsed and it killed 11 people, but it’s just also a testament to how hot it was. Iran was like 126 degrees.

Casandra 43:59
There was something about the railways, the rail lines that so was having problems.

Margaret 44:17
Yeah. So, TERF Island is this island off of the coast of Europe. That is ruled by, it’s still a monarchy, and it’s ruled by J.K. Rowling, Queen of the TERFS. But unfortunately, most of her subjects actually wish they didn’t live on a place called TERF Island, and wish that they could go back to just being embarrassed about having colonized most of the world. That’s also worth being embarrassed about anyway, yeah, England, TERF Island, is pretty fuck right now, and I mean, the same as the rest of Europe, right. But, England is normally a dreary, overcast place and that’s why everyone has turned their head against so many people. And so they are…And so their their rail infrastructure is designed, you can build railways for cold, and you can build railways for heat, but it’s like actually kind of hard to build railways for both. Because you have these, like, long chunks of steel, these rails, right, and they warp. And as people want to go faster and quieter, they are now continuous rails that are welded into like one continuous thing. Which means that when they distort in the heat or contract in the cold or whatever, it’s a bigger issue, right? So, their rail system, at least as we record right now is just like fucked. And like, a lot of the rails aren’t running or if they are running, they’re running really slowly to not, like, I believe, cause additional heat and cause additional problems. I actually don’t remember exactly why going slowly is the solution to this. But it’s like such as like a clear example….And then they’re having this thing where, and I’m sure this happens everywhere. But they’re particularly good at being like, cozy during crisis that’s like part of the national character as far as I can tell. And so they’re like, “Oh, this isn’t a big deal.” And like, they had this heatwave in 1976. And so they’re all like, “Oh, this is just like 1976.” But and 1976 was bad, right? But there hasn’t been like more and more heat more and more times, right? That was a little bit of an outlier year. Whereas they’re constantly breaking all these records. And it’s just, it’s fucking everything up. And I hate…I want…I sort of hate that I know more about this than I know about some of the stuff that’s going on in Iran, or I know that very recently, India has had really massive heat waves that have caused a lot of problems. I know…

Casandra 46:35
China.

Margaret 46:36
Yeah. Yeah. And, but there’s this sort of like, I don’t know, at least by the way, people are talking about it who are not in England. I almost feel like there’s this like, Oh, thank god if this happens to the English and to the white Americans, like maybe something will start happening. And because like just seen as like these like centers of power or whatever, but people are very resistant to actually believing anything’s wrong. But it’s really obviously something wrong.

Casandra 47:06
Oh my gosh. But, you know what people are willing to believe is wrong?

Margaret 47:12
What?

Casandra 47:14
People are willing to believe that our globalist overlords at CERN have shifted our dimension multiple times and opened a gateway to Hell, and summonned Satan. And that’s why everything’s bad.

Margaret 47:33
Please Explain.

Casandra 47:34
It can’t be climate change, it has to be a Stranger Things portal…run by the Jews.

Margaret 47:43
I was about to ask if the Jews were involved. I thought you all were busy with the space laser.

Casandra 47:48
Always. God, if only we had an actualy space laser.

Margaret 47:53
I know! You all multitask so well, like you’re busy running the space laser. I mean, I guess thats..

Casandra 47:59
It’s because we rest one whole day a week that we have all this energy.

Brooke 48:02
Hey, wait a minute, Mormons do too, but we do not have space lasers. So….

Casandra 48:07
You have like alien and tablets and shit.

Margaret 48:08
Yeah, Catholics don’t rest. Wait, so please explain more. So there. Okay. So CERN is the the miniature black hole creator, right. [Brooke and Casandra laugh skeptically] Wait, at that point. I thought I wasn’t even lying. I thought that was what it does. Like it investigates…Am I wrong?

Casandra 48:29
It’s, it’s….

Brooke 48:31
It’s a particle accelerator.

Margaret 48:32
Yeeah

Casandra 48:33
No, it’s not. It’s a group. It’s a group. CERN isn’t even the thing itself. CERN is the like group that does the research.

Margaret 48:39
Oh, like the Zionist Cabal or whatever.

Casandra 48:44
Yeah, and it’s been around since the 50s and they do like particle physics shit that I don’t understand. You know, finding new particles, researching antimatter, potentially creating mini black holes, apparently.

Margaret 49:00
Do you think antimatter gets mad at regular matter? Like kind of like an Antifa versus FA kind of thing?

Brooke 49:08
Well, matter wins over antimatter. So I mean, it can get mad all it wants. It loses the battle.

Casandra 49:13
So they’re trying to find, you know, proof of like the Big Bang and doing all these….But then, so it’s been around for a long time. It’s been around since the 50s I think. But, I want to say the facility, the particle collider…this is gonna be the funniest explanation because none of us understand it fully. But, apparently the facility is like 17 miles wide, and most of its underground and it looks very like you know, Stranger Things, Sci Fi, space AG.

Brooke 49:52
It’s that wide because it’s a giant metal circle. So it’s not actually like taking up 17 miles, but like you’re able to go from one end of this metal tube to the other like it is that far apart.

Margaret 50:03
Yeah, it’s like a roller derby rink.

Brooke 50:07
Yeah, more or less.

Margaret 50:10
Or it will be.

Casandra 50:10
Yeah, so all these conspiracy theorists for years now I think particularly since 2012, have decided that the reason things continue to be bad is that…there are multiple theories, but one is that the world actually ended in 2012. Another is that each time they turn on this particle collider, we like shift timelines. So that’s happened in like, 2012, 2016. And then just this last July 5, apparently. It’s just fascinating to me, the lengths people will go to to explain bad shit happening rather than just like, accepting climate change.

Margaret 50:53
Yeah.

Casandra 50:54
Or like, pausing to understand capitalism and its function. And it’s like, “Nope, it’s gotta be a black hole to Satan.”

Brooke 51:03
This is especially funny to me, because the, the collider literally takes like, the like, the tiniest little bits of matter. Like it tries to get down to like a single atom, and then sends it through this giant tube to smash into each other. And I’m like, Yeah, so you’re telling me that like, two oxygen molecules smashing into each other, is what’s opening multiple timelines?

Casandra 51:29
And it’s stuff that’s like, only comprehensible and interesting to physicists, as far as I can understand. Like, if you look at their list of achievements, none of that makes sense to a normal human being. You know?

Margaret 51:45
I kind of like some of that stuff. But I read a lot of science fiction.

Casandra 51:49
Yeah, I have an ex who’s like, really into both space and physics, and is really fascinated by some of the work they’ve done. But yeah, it doesn’t make sense to me at all. And it doesn’t make sense to the conspiracy theorists either.

Brooke 52:07
Okay, so we’re running out of food. Europe’s on fire.

Casandra 52:13
Not just Europe, apparently North Africa, China, India, the southern United States,

Brooke 52:18
Most of the world in the last two years has burned down in one way or another. We’re opening black hole portals. No one can buy a house.

Casandra 52:27
What’s that, Margaret?

Margaret 52:29
Oh, just always the wrong parts of it are burning down.

Casandra 52:32
Right

Margaret 52:33
I mean, well with the exception of the Third Precinct.

Brooke 52:35
Yes.

Margaret 52:36
Notable. Notable Exception.

Casandra 52:39
We’re still figuring out how to aim the space laser.

Margaret 52:44
Okay, okay. So it was actually you all. It wasn’t actually Dark Biden.

Casandra 52:48
Oh, no. Marjorie Taylor Greene blamed the wildfires.

Margaret 52:52
On the space lasers?

Casandra 52:53
That’s how the spacel laser thing started.

Margaret 52:55
Oh, my God. Really? Why would you burn down the forest? Is her claim that you all don’t know how to aim it?

Casandra 53:06
Let me find this was…

Margaret 53:08
What is your [Marjorie’s] rationale for why the Jews have decided to start forest fires? It it seems to me that even if I….There are other targets that I could imagine, as an anti-semitic conspiracy theorist that I would imagine that the Jews would point the space laser at.

Casandra 53:26
Right? Let me try to…let me see if I can find the exact tweet because it was really funny. Oh, all I can find is spoof tweets in my quick search.

Brooke 53:35
I feel bad for you having to read through Marjorie Taylor Green’s tweets right now. That’s a punishment you do not deserve.

Casandra 53:42
The like wingnut anti-Semites kind of crack me up. I don’t know why she would blame it on that. I have no idea. It’s…

Casandra 53:49
I mean, Q’anon ties into the whole thing.

Margaret 53:50
Well, let’s come up with it.

Margaret 53:51
Oh, yeah.

Brooke 53:53
Casandra, do your people hate forests?

Casandra 53:57
Forests?

Brooke 53:58
Yes.

Casandra 53:59
No, of course not. We actually have a whole holiday dedicated to trees.

Margaret 54:05
Whoa, that’s cool.

Casandra 54:06
Tu BiShvat. We liked the trees.

Margaret 54:15
Well, maybe you are trying to….No, I don’t even want to. I’m trying to come up with anti-semetic conspiracy theorists. But I don’t want to do it. I can’t do it.

Brooke 54:25
Here’s a news thing that we didn’t talk about in our briefing. And I don’t know if we care to right now. But, are y’all paying any attention to the whole January 6th committee things? They just had one last night.

Margaret 54:36
Yeah, a little bit.

Casandra 54:37
No, I didn’t read about last night.

Brooke 54:40
I am mostly not paying attention as well, except that I see these tweets of people being like, “Oh my gosh, did you know blah, blah, blah.” And most of it’s like all along I feel like yeah, that’s been reported on already. We already knew about that. Why is this news?

Margaret 54:54
That’s kind of how I feel about it. I like maybe maybe it’s not fair. Bu,t I kind of just say this political theater at this point like we we all know what they did. We watched it. And we all know what their organizations look like. Anti-fascists have done the infiltration work and released all of the…like everything anyone has ever said to each other that’s a fascist in the United States has been released by anti-fascists, not the government. And so in some ways, I’m a little bit like…and maybe it’s not right, maybe, maybe I should care more about it. But in my mind, I’m a little bit like, I’ve moved on to the next news cycle issue in my head, and it feels like kind of like…remember how we were like waiting forever for them to impeach Trump? And they’re like, “We swear we’re going to impeach Trump soon.” And I’m like, is this whole thing just a way for The Washington Post to sell newspapers? And that’s more…again, more than is fair, how I how I feel a little bit about January, 6th, it’s just like, Okay, y’all found something that you can milk for? I don’t know….

Casandra 56:05
I mean the too little too late sort of encapsulates our response to most things, right.

Margaret 56:12
Yeah.

Casandra 56:12
Whether it’s climate change or insurrection.

Brooke 56:15
Now the one good thing that did that did come out of last night’s was little video of Senator Josh Hawley running away from the rioters. And then all the people on Twitter who use that little video and set it to various pieces of music.

Casandra 56:33
Finding moments of joy.

Margaret 56:35
He’s the guy who supported….he’s the guy who was supporting them beforehand, right?

Brooke 56:40
Yeah, he’s the one with like the really well known fist raised in support picture rightbefore they started destroying everything.

Margaret 56:47
I never thought that the leopards eating people’s faces party would eat my face…Well, does that seem like a decent spot to end it for July? Nothing bad can happen in the next week.There’s gonna be like at least a….

Casandra 57:06
I think we wanted to give people more hope you know, like more tools, or ideas? Or even just like…

Margaret 57:16
Oh, right. Buy whiskey. Build a bunker. Hole up

Brooke 57:19
Tanks are bad.

Casandra 57:20
If you live in wildfire country like we do those plastic windows…

Brooke 57:26
Blame the Jews.

Casandra 57:27
Blame the Jews. We can say that because I’m a Jew. I want to make that really clear. Before we put this podcast out. No, buy those plastic windows sealer kits and fresh filters for your air filters.

Margaret 57:45
Yeah, do it before they’re needed. That’s part of the supply chain stuff.

Brooke 57:50
Plant a zucchini,

Casandra 57:51
Planted zucchini with your neighbors and trade them with each other.

Margaret 57:57
What if everyone just grows zucchini?

Casandra 58:00
Zucchini’s really versatile. You know.

Brooke 58:01
Zucchini and potatoes.

Margaret 58:02
That was the main thing that my mom grew. My mom grew mostly zucchini. And so it was just like nothing, nothing, nothing and then everything is made out of zucchini for like two weeks. And I actually loved it because we ate so much zucchini bread and it was so good.

Casandra 58:17
Yeah.

Brooke 58:18
They’re relatively easy, like if you haven’t gardened before and you need something to garden that’ll make you feel really good and successful. Like they’re easier to grow you know a little harder to kill than, and then when they start producing like you get these big zucchinis and like if you completely ignore them, you can get these like just monstrous beasts and it’s just really satisfying to grow zucchini.

Casandra 58:41
I never grow zucchini because I always have friends who grow zucchini and have too much.

Brooke 58:45
Yes. As zucchini does.

Casandra 58:49
Anyway.

Brooke 58:50
Grow zucchini.

Margaret 58:52
This podcast is brought to you by zucchini. Okay, what’s another hopeful? Don’t rush out and buy a garage door right now if you can avoid it. Turn your basement fear into a kiddie pool full of kibble.

Casandra 59:15
If your garage door privileged you can just like revel in that.

Margaret 59:18
Yeah.

Brooke 59:20
Genuinely you know, pet food is an example of a thing where if you’re gonna go if you have some extra money and you’re gonna go invest it quote unquote, in something pet food will hold up and your pet will need food. So instead of bananas buy pet food.

Margaret 59:34
If you do buy bananas, you have to put them in you have to peel them and put them in the freezer if you want them to last and then you’ve turned them into smoothies.

Casandra 59:43
That’s the only good way to eat a banana anyway. Controversial take

Brooke 59:48
I do not agree.

Margaret 59:50
Yeah, I just…Huh, I thought we I thought we were friends.

Casandra 59:58
I just lost to friends.

Brooke 1:00:05
I just know not to bring bananas over your house. They won’t be safe.

Margaret 1:00:09
Well they are safe.

Casandra 1:00:09
You can use them perfectly for smoothies and banana bread. How do we end this?

Margaret 1:00:21
We we like can do this, right? Like all this like bad shits happening, but like the reason to talk about all this bad shit that’s happening is to stare soberly into the face of what’s coming. Not so that we like, give up and like, it’s not the part in the movie where the “Run there’s a monster,” and then the monster eats everyone. It’s the part where you’re standing on the bulwark of the–I watch love fantasy movies–the bulwark of the castle and you look out and there’s the gathering storm and the hordes of usually poorly racially designed enemies…is coming…now I just feel bad about using this analogy. I love Lord of the Rings, but i was not…

Casandra 1:01:03
The new Lord of the Rings is about to come out.

Margaret 1:01:05
Yeah.

Casandra 1:01:05
Apparently it’s more racially fair and equitable and diverse.

Margaret 1:01:09
Yeah. That’s good. And I personally more than I probably should think Tolkien would have listened to some of this criticisms since he like, like, when the Nazis came to Tolkien, and were like, “Hey, we love your story, are you Aryan?” and he got really fucking mad. And he was like, they like he was like, “If you’re asking if I’m Jewish, I am sad to say that I am not, but fuck all of you forever.” So anyway. he’s not a perfect man.

Casandra 1:01:43
Comrade Tolkien.

Margaret 1:01:45
But I think he, I think he meant, well, we all know that intentions are what matters. Okay. So but this is the part of the movie where you’re staring out at the, you know, the bad thing is coming, right? And it is a big, bad thing. And we can’t just all go back to bed and be like, “Oh, the government will take care of this for us, right?” Because the government is one of the things that’s out there gathering and the big fucking mass. Well parts of it, because governments are made out of people. And some parts of it will probably stop being part of the government when bad things happen. But… well like the National Guard like gives food to the like mutual aid groups and like that they’re supposed to give to Red Cross, like this has happened sometimes. They’re like, “Oh, shit, y’all actually put things where they’re supposed to go.” And they like help the anarchists instead of the bureaucracies, because they’re people. But, we can do this. We can look, we can see what’s happening, we can face it, we can communicate with other people about what we’re facing. We can work together to get through this. And, and I genuinely believe that and that’s why I do this podcast. And that’s why my basement is full of kibble. And um…

Casandra 1:02:54
We’re all gonna come swim in it.

Margaret 1:02:55
Yeah, totally. Yeah, it’s probably gonna be full of rats by that time, but you know.

Margaret 1:03:01
Yeah!

Brooke 1:03:01
Rats are food…too.

Margaret 1:03:01
I’m like a rat farmer in my basement. That’s a turn you never expected from Ol’ Margaret.

Brooke 1:03:01
Rats need food too.

Casandra 1:03:14
Vegan turned rat farmer.

Margaret 1:03:17
That’s still vegan.

Brooke 1:03:21
Okay, so this segment is…

Casandra 1:03:24
Devolving.

Margaret 1:03:25
Alright. And, so thank you all so much for listening. If you enjoy this podcast, please tell people about it. You can tell people about it on the internet. And you can tell people about it not on the internet. And both of those things are good, because not in person. Because on the internet is good because of algorithms and in person is good because that’s a better way to live your life. She said while living alone and on the top of a mountain. And also, if you want to support us more directly, you can do so by sponsoring our Patreon. We are published by Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness, which is a anarchists collective that is dedicated to creating culture and good stuff. Sometimes we do theory, but that’s like not our thing. It’s like almost like we try and kind of do the other stuff around. And you can support us by following us on Patreon or by supporting us on Patreon patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness. If you sponsor us at $10 or more a month, we will send you a zine anywhere in the world for free every month. If you sponsors at all, you’ll get access to the digital copy, even before other people get access. I think usually we’re good at that. Sometimes. Most of the time. We’re still getting our shit together. But there’s lots of good content. We have bunch of books coming out. We have another podcast you can check out called Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness, which is the monthly zine, but it is available to everyone and then it also follows with an interview with the Creator talking about their process. It’s really good. You should check it out. Do either of you to have anything to plug before I?

Casandra 1:04:58
I just got this book in the mail that I did the art for that you might know about.

Margaret 1:05:03
Yeah, what is it?

Casandra 1:05:06
It’s your book. Margaret.

Margaret 1:05:07
I have a book?

Casandra 1:05:08
Yeah. You have a book coming out.

Margaret 1:05:09
Is it called “We Won’t Be Here Tomorrow. I have a book of short stories that’s coming out called “We Won’t Be Here Tomorrow.” It comes out September 20. From AK Press, which is a collectively run anarchist publisher, which rules and if you order it now you get art print made by Casandra. Well, drawn by Cassandra. It’s probably made by a printer somewhere. The prints part of it anyway, and it illustrates one of my stories and also Casandra did the cover art, and it’s really beautiful. So, you should check it out. And in particular, we want to thank some of our Patreon backers. We want to thank Hoss the dog, Chris, Sam, Micaiah, Kirk, Natalie, Eleanor, Jenipher, Staro, Cat J, Chelsea, Dana, David, Nicole, Mikki, Oxalis, Paige, and SJ. Thank you so much for for making this possible. And yeah, I hope you all are doing as well as you can with everything that’s going on.

Find out more at https://live-like-the-world-is-dying.pinecast.co

S1E46 – Four Thieves Vinegar Collective on The Promise of DIY Pharmaceutical Abortions and Drugs for Long Covid

Episode Notes

Episode summary:
Margaret talks with Mixael from the Four Thieves Vinegar Collective about access to different medical technologies, biohacking access, and how the medical industrial complex complicates that. They talk about the importance of being able to audit medical access and ways you can build medical infrastructure in your own communities. They talk about old projects like the DIY Epi Pencil as well as new projects they are revealing, which include new ways to access medicines for abortion, regimens forpairing emergency contraception with PReP, and potential medicines for the treatment of Long Covid.

About the Guest:
The Four Thieves Vinegar Collective is an anarchist collective dedicated to bringing access medicines and medical technologies to those who need them but don’t have them. This is done primarily by publishing DIY methodologies for taking responsibility for one’s own health by building your own medical devices, manufacturing your own ingredients, or compounding medications yourself.

They can be found at https://fourthievesvinegar.org/ or on Twitter @4ThievesVinegar

Host Info:
Margaret Killjoy can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy or instagram at @margaretkilljoy.

Publisher Info:
This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at www.tangledwilderness.org, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at www.patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness.

Transcript

Four Thieves Vinegar Collective on The Promise of DIY Pharmaceutical Abortions

Margaret 00:15
Hello, and welcome to Live Like The World Is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m your host, Margaret Killjoy. And this week, we’ve got a special treat for you or i dunno if it’s a treat. But, it’s a really interesting episode. And, I think you might get as much out of it as I do. On this episode, I’ll be talking with Four Thieves Vinegar Collective, who we’ve talked to before. They’re basically people who do DIY wet chemistry and teach people how to make their own medications. And this time, they’re going to be talking about how people could choose to make their own abortion medications, and also even some Long Covid drugs that have some promising successes and many other things besides, so a lot to dig into. This podcast is a proud member of the Channel Zero network of anarchists podcasts. And here’s a jingle from another show on the network da da ba da buh baa!

Jingle 01:12
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Margaret 02:06
Okay, if you could introduce yourself with your name, your pronouns and then I guess a little bit about Four Thieves Vinegar Collective and what it is you all do?

Mixael 02:19
Yeah, my name is Mixael Laufer, I prefer to take whatever pronouns the person addressing me seems are appropriate of the moment. And the Four Thieves Vinegar Collective is an anarchist collective devoted to bringing access to medicines and medical technologies to people who need them, but don’t have them. And we’re fairly agnostic about the methodologies that we use to try to bring that into being. So, we do a lot of different things, and including trying to find ways to build DIY medical devices. We do a lot with chemistry, and devising ways that people can build the active pharmaceutical ingredients of drugs that they might need. And we also look at methodologies and strategies by which people can acquire the things they need through non traditional channels. So, either looking for drugs that are packaged for other purposes, or looking for things that are closely related, that you might be able to get and convert into what you need. And that’s what I spend most of my time doing, I’m the chief spokesperson for the collective. And, I do a lot of work in logistics. So, mostly I take people who are subject matter experts of different types and I try to make sure they have the tools and materials that they need, and that the information they need and the information that they have gets shuttled to the other subject matter experts with whom they work so that we can eventually release literature and guides for people to be able to take control of their own health and hopefully have a better quality of life.

Margaret 04:18
So, basically, what you all do is you’re decentralized collective of people who’ve research ways to open source different medical technology, drugs and physical equipment, and then make that open source like show people how to make it and make the tools available for people to make it themselves?

Mixael 04:37
Yeah, so that is exactly correct. And to be a little more specific just for your listeners, we don’t do any research of our own. We’re not developing any new tools. We mostly are hijacking existing tools. We’re looking for medical technologies that we already know work. We don’t do things like clinical trials or try to develop new drugs that nobody’s ever heard of. We look for things that are on the shelf, but inaccessible things that are perhaps not legal for various reasons, perhaps things that have merely not come into the marketplace because they weren’t profitable, but still are effective, things that perhaps weren’t approved because they were effective, but only in a small margin of the population, and, or in events where they’re really inaccessible because the price has been jacked up too high. Or if you happen to be in a situation where the infrastructure just can’t reach you, for whatever reason, either due to sclerotic bureaucracy, and you just can’t get your insurance provider to give you what you need, or you might be in a rural place where there just isn’t a pipeline to get such things. So yeah, we’re, we look to take things that are already established that they work and try and get them to the people who need them.

Margaret 06:02
So what are some examples of the…I know, we’re going to be talking about some of the new products that you all have been working on in a moment, but what are some of the examples of existing things that you all have done that you’ve released that people are on their own using and accessing right now, because of you all’s work?

Mixael 06:20
Yeah. So the thing that we are ironically best known for was just a sort of side project that happened, but when, when Heather Bresch was lying in front of Congress about why she jacked up the prices of the epi pen, you had a lot of people knocking on our door, saying, “Why aren’t you doing something about the epi pen?” So we put together a project that we lovingly and playfully called The Epi Pencil Project that allows you to make in an open source reloadable version that costs $30, to build and about $3, to reload. And that garnered a lot of attention just because it was very timely. And that was fun, and felt good. And, you know, I still get letters from people saying that they’re using it. And it’s it’s good to know that that technology is out there and that people are benefiting from it. Our sort of flagship project that I believe you and I talked about last time is the Apothecary MicroLab, which is an open source, automated chemical reactor that helps you walk through the process of doing organic chemistry if you’re trying to synthesize on active pharmaceutical ingredient of a particular drug, and it will help you through the things that are easy for a machine to do, but are easy for a human to mess up. And then it will ask you to sort of help it are the things that are difficult for machine to do but easy for human.

Margaret 07:46
What kind of successes have y’all had with getting this stuff out in the world? You’re saying that you’ve you know, met people who use the Epi Pencil, like, have you? Have you seen widespread adoption? Is it mostly within the hacker community? Like what kind of reach do y’all currently have and what kind of reach are y’all working towards?

Mixael 08:04
Well, we don’t really know. And I don’t think we really have a goal as to reach. And this is a really sort of central tenet of our philosophy is that we’re not looking to try to get what we have out there in a certain volume, because we don’t want to be supplanting an infrastructure that we’re trying to offer an alternative to. The idea is that we build some tools, and those tools are available. And ultimately, the decision as to whether somebody wants to use those tools or thinks it’s necessary to use those tools, or even thinks it’s a good idea, or wise or foolish to use those tools really lies with the end user. I mean, and this is really important, right? Because the thing is, is we’re not saying “Hey, you should use our stuff instead of the regular stuff.” Instead, what we’re trying to say is, look, you shouldn’t be stuck in the position where either the medical infrastructure serves you the way it’s supposed to, or you shrug and just continue to suffer or wait to die. You should have the option of taking things into your own hands. And plenty of people don’t want to do that for any number of reasons. And that’s their personal decision. The goal here is to make it possible for people to have an alternative option where they previously didn’t. And so, because of all of that, we work very, very hard to not try to push what we create as “Hey, you should use what we do.” It’s, “Here’s what we did. We think it’s kind of cool, and we hope you look at it carefully and make up your own mind thoughtfully.” And at the same time, like, we don’t go trying to chase down people who’ve used it to say, “Hey, you know, give us a good review on Yelp,” or whatever. It’s…the idea is that it’s out there, right? The idea is that it’s out there in terms of reach the…

Margaret 10:18
But how are you going to become a millionaire if you don’t sell it? [laughing]

Mixael 10:22
Yeah, right? I get that question all the time. And. [both laughing] And, yes, that sort of giggle is typically what comes out of me.

Margaret 10:35
yeah, yeah.

Mixael 10:37
So, so it’s…the one the one thing that I think about in terms of that sometimes is I think about people who might want to use what we’ve created, but don’t know that it exists yet. I like to get the message out there a little bit. And it was interesting, too, because we’re revamping the website currently. And the, in a group of, of people who are doing the redesign. One of them isn’t from a really strong anarchists background, and was looking at this, this new look that we have, it’s like, so pretty, and I’m so excited. It’s got this like green neon noir look. And there’s like splatters of ink and stuff. And he said to me, he’s like, “I am concerned that this, this gritty look that you are pushing for is going to turn some people off.” And I said, “Uh huh.” And he said, “But don’t we want to get as many people as possible to the website.” And I said, “Absolutely not. What we’d like is we’d like to get as many people who like what we do and appreciate it to our website. And I promise you that if you try to polish this up, like some corpo thing all of our gutter punk friends are going to see that and run. But make it gritty, we’re raising a flag saying “You’re one of us. Welcome home.”” And there was this long silence. And then finally he said, “Understood, thank you.” So yeah, so in terms of like reach, I, I want to reach more of our people, you know, I want to reach more of the people who would use the sort of stuff that we do. And when we get these big splashes in mainstream media, it’s very weird, because we get a lot of praise from people who kind of pay lip service to like the idea that they think they like what we do, but they don’t [pause] like deep down. And it’s so bizarre, because I remember, I remember I had been invited shortly after that project to speak at the Sloan School at MIT. And so I was with a bunch of kind of normies. So, after the after the epi pencil droped. And, and so we’re having dinner, and like this woman, I think she was from NASA. And she’s sitting next to me. And, and like, and just to be clear, like this conversation that I’m about to recount is typical. Like, I’ve had the same conversation with a lot of people like her. But, she was from NASA. And she said, “Oh, I heard about the Epi Pencil Project. It’s really so great that you’re making this accessible. My,” I don’t know, husband or niece or whatever, “has some sort of anaphylactic shock that she goes into when blah, blah, blah, happens. It’s really so wonderful to see you do this.” And I said, “Oh, thanks.” And I said, “So did you build one?” And the inevitable response was, ” Hahahaha, God no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, I bought it. But, it’s really great that you’re doing that.” And I was like, “Excuse me, I think I’m in the wrong seat.”

Margaret 13:55
Yeah, I mean, I can, I can understand being like, “Well, I have the resources. So I’m gonna buy this one that’s like, I expect to be dependable.” In a weird way, though. It’s almost like saying, “I want to trust an expert rather than trust my own expertise”, right, like, because–

Mixael 14:17
It’s even weirder than that. Yeah. But this is exactly the point. The the phenomenon that you point out is spot on. It’s…because I’ve dug into this a lot, because I’ve come across it so much, but it’s so bizarre. And the thing that’s strange is that they want to put faith into an infrastructure that they can’t audit. And it’s so counterintuitive, because you think that will be the opposite of what you want. But the reason that they want it so badly is that when you do not have the power to check then you’re absolved from the responsibility of checking.

Margaret 15:01
Ah, yeah, uh huh.

Mixael 15:01
And this offloading this outsourcing of responsibility is something that I find over and over and over again, is so very appealing to people. Where if you, if you take something on then if it goes wrong, it’s your fault. While if you have an infrastructure supporting you, if something goes wrong, well, that’s just bad luck, right? It’s a nobody’s fault. And there’s this this bizarre, this bizarre sort of like blind eyed psychology that happens when you say, “Well, I trust that the infrastructure in place is going to take the best care of me that it can. And that is more comfortable, because I don’t have to worry that if something goes wrong that I am blameworthy.” And this is terribly ironic, on multiple levels. And it is the most ironic, especially with the Epi Pencil Project, and not to like harken back to this little little thing that we did. But, right after we did that, there was a recall of something like 65,000 epi pens, because they were failing.

Margaret 16:20
Huh, Yeah.

Mixael 16:21
And the number of tragic stories that came out were just innumerable, of, you know, some poor little girl had a airplane meal that like had a peanut in it or something, and her throat starts to swell shut, and her father hits her with the epi pen, and it fails, and he’s got a second one, and that one fails, and he’s 30,000 feet in the air somewhere over the ocean and just has to watch her die, because you can’t take the thing apart and make it work unless you’re trained in like how to break it properly. If instead, he’d made it himself, like, there’d be no way for it to fail. It’s it’s an auto injector. And if something went wrong with the mechanism, you just unscrew it and you use the syringe. There’s there’s…and it’s just it’s I don’t know, it’s it’s maddening sometimes when you hear about these tragic stories where people either thoughtfully or thoughtlessly have put all of this trust in in an infrastructure which heartlessly fails them and feels no remorse when it does. It’s just a matter of business. Like, that’s what, that’s the American Way.

Margaret 17:32
Yeah. I mean, that’s the that’s a an easy microcosm of a very large political truth. And that that’s what people want. That’s why people trust police. That’s why they essentially give up their agency in order to…Well, I mean, in some ways, like, you know, I understand the desire to not have to think about everything I do, right? Like, it’s nice, that some stuff…

Mixael 18:00
Sure.

Margaret 18:00
…someone else takes care of, like, my friend Bursts is editing this audio. And it’s nice to be able to be like, “Oh, he’s going to edit the audio. And I don’t have to think about it,” you know, and, and so I understand why people want to do that. But, when you do it at the level of society, and you have everything turned into these black boxes, and you just sort of say, “Well, the black box never fails.” And then when it fails, you’re like, “Well, I guess there’s nothing that could possibly have been done to solve this,” you know? And then what you all do is you rip open these black boxes.

Mixael 18:35
That is the goal. That is definitely the goal. Yeah. And I think what you point out is really a critical thing. When you talk about this is why people trust police and trust government and trust, you know, infrastructure and roads and bridges, and like, whatever, you know, whatever you’re looking at, in terms of systems, you know, trusting your internet service provider, trusting your phone company, trusting the water systems, like any number of things. And ideally, it would be really nice if all of these things worked, right?

Margaret 19:10
Yeah.

Mixael 19:11
You know, in, in a sort of a Hallmark card fairy tale world, we’d really like to think like, “Well, the water that comes out of the tap, won’t catch fire or be full of lead. And the roads that are designed are designed to be safe. And I’m not being unduly spied on or abused or exploited.” And unfortunately, we don’t get those systems working that well most of the time.

Margaret 19:45
Yeah.

Mixael 19:46
Or enough of the time. And so, I harken back sometimes his memory I have of a friend of mine who went to business school and he’s a really nice guy and has plenty of good qualities. But, in a moment of being rather misguided, he went to business school. And so he still has a little bit of that business mindedness sort of stuck in his consciousness. And he said to me, “How would you qualify success of Four Thieves?” And I kind of thought about it for a minute and I said, “Well, if we didn’t have to exist anymore.”

Margaret 20:20
Yeah.

Mixael 20:21
And he kind of looked at me quizzically, and I was like, “We’re filling a gap that really shouldn’t be needful. Either the infrastructure should function well enough that it takes care of everybody, or the idea of DIY medicine should be sufficiently normalized that like, we’re not important anymore. And everybody’s just doing it. Because that’s a natural thing to think of.”

Margaret 20:44
Yeah, I I like this idea of the ability to audit things mattering ,right? Like, I think of, because I think about how I want to offload certain responsibility. It’s just part of my life, as I, you know, as I try to dive deeper into certain specializations, it’s nice to free up mental space to not have to think about every system that I rely on. And, one of the things that I think scares people away from anarchism, even if they understand that anarchism is an organized thing, is that there’s this assumption that everyone has to have a decision about everything, make a decision about everything. So you have like everyone in the city gets to decide how the water is filtered, or whatever. And, I’m much more into there being a working group of the people who filter water, who figured out the best way to do it and and present it. But, the difference that matters to me is that that would remain auditable, that would remain…I like that phraseing and that would be something that I could–

Mixael 21:41
Exactly.

Margaret 21:42
I don’t want to think about how the water is filtered until I suddenly do, and then I want to be able to know, you know, I want to know, and have input if it’s necessary.

Mixael 21:51
Yes. Exactly. And that’s beautifully put, right? That’s beautifully put, and that, and that sort of two tiered, I don’t even mean to say it’s a two tiered system, that sort of a dual structured system, where it operates independently, but is accessible is really ideal, you know, and people, often when people hear about Four Thieves, right, the first thing that they say is like, “How do you know it’s safe?” And I always just have this quizzical moment where I say, “How do you know what you get from the drugstore is safe? You’re not allowed to go behind the counter, and even see, if they got the right pills out of the right bin. You’re not allowed to go right back there into the refrigerator and see if they stored it properly. You’re not allowed to check the truck that it came in on and see if it was shipped properly. Furthermore, you’re not even allowed to know what factory it came from. And you’re certainly not allowed to go into that factory and see if it was manufactured properly. And yet, somehow that feels safe to you? But if you had your own eyes on everything from start to finish, that seems like a terrible risk. Why? Why do you feel that way?” And people don’t tend to have a really good answer most of the time, but it’s the same sort of thing. I mean, I think that…I think that there’s something automatic about it, again, about wanting to trust structure. But, in the same way, you know, I think that the same thing happens when people who are like, I don’t know, cooking their own psychedelics, I think a lot of people would be like, “Oh my God, how is that safe?” And you say, “You bought something from a stranger? How do you know what’s even in that? That doesn’t seem safe at all.” Like where is your saftey versus…

Margaret 23:41
Yeah, I mean, the answer is that none of them are safe.

Mixael 23:46
Right, well, but in one case, you at least have complete surveillance over the entire process. And in the other. You have zero.

Margaret 23:55
Yeah.

Mixael 23:56
So, that seems like a better trade off in my mind.

Margaret 24:01
Yeah. I mean, part of it is that it’s like, like I keep kind of harkening back to is that I don’t want to be an expert on everything, right? Like, you know, I really like what you all do, and there’s a version of the world where I would learn wet chemistry, but it is not particularly likely, right? Like I am, personally not incredibly likely to start manufacturing these things, and but in part because I don’t personally physically require any of the things that you all make, to my knowledge, that exists so far, right? And so I’m kind of like, it’s sort of easy to, to not think about, but it’s…

Mixael 24:37
In the event that you have one that you needed.

Margaret 24:41
I also like am part of a community where I do know people who are smart enough to do these things and, and one of the reasons I like Four Thieves, one of the reasons I talk about you all a lot, is that one of the questions I get asked a lot by people was like, “Well, how do, you know in an anarchist society or after the apocalypse which people equate a little bit more than they should and I do sometimes too, but how would you create such and such drug? And the answer is always like, well, people do it. And there’s still going to be people. So, people will do it.

Mixael 25:13
Right. Yeah.

Margaret 25:13
You know? And one of the things that I try and remind myself as a person is that I’m like, I generally believe that if people are capable of doing something, I am a people, and therefore I am capable of doing it. Not like, today, I could go and do open heart surgery. But…

Mixael 25:32
This is exactly my argument too. Yeah.

Margaret 25:34
But I like, I trust my friends that did learn how to do that.

Mixael 25:39
Right. Yeah. Yeah, I think that’s absolutely astute.

Margaret 25:43
Well, you know, we’re, we’ve been talking for a while already, but I wanted to kind of give this groundwork. But, I’m really excited about y’all have an announcement today, you have many announcements of a bunch of new products that you all are releasing. And when I say today, I mean, yeah, July 22, 2022. I have no idea when you’re listening to this. But, let’s, let’s hear some of these things that you have to announce.

Mixael 26:09
Yeah, so we have a bunch of new projects, because we’ve been working through the pandemic. We decided to stop going to virtual conferences and just focus on projects. So, now that it’s been almost two years, since we’ve made any announcements, we have a lot of new projects to drop. And as we were talking about before we went on the air, the sort of element du jour here is abortion drugs. And, this is such a…such a head shaker of an issue, to my mind, because this is a social problem that has a complete and perfect technical solution that there are all of these barriers to implementing that are entirely unnecessarily present. It’s just so so so so bizarre. Because, when I think of abortion, I think, “Well, there are some drugs, you take the drugs, and your body is no longer pregnant. Why do we even have to discuss this anymore?” There are a few other pieces where things have–

Margaret 27:27
It seems like a solved problem is what you’re saying?

Mixael 27:27
Right, it seems like a solved problem. And, and it’s just maddening to me that the the technical part of it was solved decades upon decades ago. And still, it’s not accessible, which is just the most bizarre thing ever. So, in looking at the decision that just came out of the so called Supreme Court, you see that the the adenda include this sort of roadmap for bringing this down to emergency contraception, eventually bring this down to contraception itself and, you know, re-criminalizing gay sex and like a million other things that just are kind of just incomprehensible that anybody would want to make that happen. Like, even from the most conservative standpoint, you think that the pragmatism of realizing that it’s bad for business when you’re horrifically bigoted like maybe he would count for something, but clearly, I am in error when I assume that because it just happened.

Margaret 28:50
Yeah, no. Hate is big business.

Mixael 28:53
Yeah, yeah. It really is. And, I think I need to learn more about why it is because it’s, it’s so…I don’t know, I can’t get it to gel in my head. It’s It’s really weird.

Margaret 29:10
It’s a different reality.

Mixael 29:13
It is. It is. And, I think that yeah, I think that that’s really it, right? Where if you if you want to really crank up your compassion and try to understand why these people might feel that they’re doing the right thing, despite this just horrific acts that they’re doing that somewhere in there, like they think that something is better by doing this and it’s, I really need to unpack it. And maybe it’s something more basic in human behavioral biology that I just don’t have a good handle on. But, like you said, it’s it is big business and it is definitely a thing So, that to say, regarding abortion, there are two major releases that we have around that that are pretty exciting. And the first one, a we call them, Plan B Plus. And, when you think about getting emergency contraception, as is you know typically termed Plan B, which interestingly enough, all Plan B, and even the off brands like My Way, and the others have in the last week, tripled in price.

Margaret 30:39
Holy shit, Uh huh

Mixael 30:40
It’s I mean, not that that’s still super expensive, but it’s amazing that you used to be able to get My Way for $6. And now it’s $16. Like, it’s crazy. But you know, again, right? Money drives a lot of things bizarrely, and, you know, supply and demand and all that. But looking at that, you know, Plan B emergency contraception is very effective. But, when you think about the potential negative consequences that might happen from unprotected contact, you might also be thinking about contracting HIV. And we also have a good solution for that. There’s post exposure prophylaxis. There’s this good regimen for taking some anti-retrovirals. And in the event that you were exposed to HIV during the act, you can be pretty confident that you’re going to be protected. And we were able to go through the literature and find what a good regimen for post exposure prophylaxis is. Now it’s interesting. So if you look at what happens in a hospital, if somebody has a needle stick accident, the typical regimen for post exposure prophylaxis is a fairly aggressive multi-drug set of anti-retrovirals that you take over a period of a month, and they’re pretty rough on your body, because you’re taking them in fairly high dose, and you’re taking them for a long time. However, the literature indicates that the first dose or two is really doing the heavy lifting. So, if after an event of unprotected contact, or exposure of whatever type, you get one dose of this, it can do 85-95% of the work in terms of protecting you against HIV, which is really great. And so, we had the idea of saying, Well, why not take this with emergency contraception? It seems like kind of a, you know, why not just do them together?

Margaret 32:54
Right.

Mixael 32:54
And, we were very deflated to find out that anti-retrovirals actually interfere with emergency contraception biochemically.

Margaret 33:05
Ah, okay.

Mixael 33:05
And we thought, “God, what a drag?” This…I mean, what a terrible, difficult decision that you’d have to make. Would you prefer to protect yourself?–

Margaret 33:14
Yeah. Which one do you want to deal with?

Mixael 33:15
Right? Would you rather deal with HIV or an unwanted pregnancy? That’s a terrible decision to have to make. And one of our superstar researchers managed to find a research summit that was done on this very question just last year, and as it turns out, all you have to do is double the dose of the emergency contraception and that’s enough that it’s no longer being interfered with by the anti-retrovirals. So, there is a course of treatment that you can give yourself, that is both Plan B, emergency contraception, and post exposure prophylaxis with a multi-drug cocktail, and you will be able to be fairly certain that you will not have either an unwanted pregnancy or an HIV infection, which I’m pretty excited about. I think that’s really great to be able to empower people with that, you know. You can just take some pills and that problem is, you know, 19 times out of 20 no longer gonna be a problem anymore.

Margaret 34:21
And so, if someone is interested in making this, it’s y’all’s system, the MicroLab that people could use to make Plan B Plus?

Mixael 34:34
That is possible, um, indeed, and the…and we are releasing version four of the Microlab as well. And there’s a whole software suite with that. Not only is there the MicroLab itself, but there is a graphical user interface that’s there to build programs to run on the MicroLab. We have open access our new supercomputer so that you can utilize it to figure out synthesis pathways for whatever drug you’re trying to synthesize. And on top of that, also, there’s a research assistant that will help you comb through the scientific literature. So you could do that. However, in this case, these are off the shelf drugs, and you can just take them.

Margaret 35:22
Oh, I see what you’re saying, okay.

Mixael 35:24
So we’ll be releasing a regimen. So, what you can do is merely you would, if you wanted to have this on hand for a rainy day, what you would do is you would buy two doses, so three milligrams, instead of a milligram and a half of the emergency contraception and then you would buy a, you know, a dose of a couple of different anti-retrovirals and you would just, you know, stash them away in the event that you will need them. And, and we’ll be releasing that specifically as a, as a regimen, and there’ll be documentation so that you can both read through what we have found and also, you will be able to read the original research and literature that this is based on. Again, like, we didn’t come up with this.

Margaret 36:19
Yeah, yeah.

Mixael 36:20
This came from existing scientific research. So yes, all the all the primary source material is there, again, auditable, right? You should be making up your own mind. We, we’ve gone through and found the stuff and you can take a look at it and decide if it’s something you want to do.

Margaret 36:38
Okay.

Mixael 36:40
So yes, we do have another technology in the abortion drugs realm that is extremely, extremely exciting. And so as you and most of your listeners, no doubt know, abortion medication is typically made up of Mifepristone and Misoprostol, and you take one dose of the Mife, and then you follow that up with three doses of Miso. And that is roughly 95% or more effective. And so that’s kind of a slam dunk. However, in the world of underground abortion providers, it’s very well known that if you have Miso only that you can take the three doses of Miso. And, it’s roughly 85% effective. And of course, the earlier you take it, the more effective it is. And so most underground abortion providers do that. They work with Miso only. It’s easier to get a hold of and it’s it’s easier to work with.

Margaret 37:48
Okay.

Mixael 37:48
However, there’s still the problem of getting it from point A to point B. Typically, these days, it goes through the mail. And, one of the problems is it gets hung up, in the reason that it gets hung up is that it’s a tablet. And there are these rigid object detectors that are in mail systems, and they get caught and they get pulled, especially through crossing international borders. It’s very difficult. Same sort of thing. If you’re in a some sort of oppressive environment, either like your home life or your small community if you have pills lying around, or if somebody spots you with pills, like a lot of question marks are going to come up. So when we released our video on how to make your own Miso tabs, the big thing is making the tablet. And the reason you have to make a tablet and this is really critical is that misoprostol is a very fragile molecule. If you just swallow it, your stomach acid will immediately destroy it and it’s useless. You need to have it in a tablet so that you can put it in your cheek and let it dissolve and it will slowly soak in and be effective. That’s also the reason why the alternate route of delivery is vaginal administration just of the tablets. You need it to dissolve in a place where there are a lot of capillaries. And apparently it’s also fairly local. So there are some theories, that vaginal administration can be more effective. But, I think the literature is kind of split on that. But again, it can’t be a capsul.

Margaret 39:35
People have talked about this idea. And I don’t know. So, don’t listen to me as saying absolutely the truth. But, I have heard people talk about how vaginal use of this is more traceable than oral use of it, in terms of possible prosecution.

Mixael 39:53
Right. So, there are documented cases of that. So, what can happen and what has what has happened in, I believe in number of Latin American countries, is that when things have not worked, and somebody’s had to go in to a hospital, say, “I’m having a miscarriage, and it’s going poorly, and I need medical attention,” that after a pelvic exam, not the active ingredient, but some of the buffer and binder hasn’t dissolved, and somebody says, “You have chunks of pills in you, we know what you did.” And so, there are…sometimes say if you’re in an extremely non permissive environment where you would go to jail for murder, if anybody knew that you tried to induce a miscarriage in your body, that taking it orally is safer in that regard. So again, again, the key thing here again, is thinking about it dissolving, that it has to be in a…you can’t just put it in a capsule and swallow it, right, it has to be in a tablet form. And this is the difficult part. If you give somebody a bunch of raw active pharmaceutical ingredient, they can’t just put it in gel caps they get from the health food store and make pills, you have to press it into a tablet. And while you can do that, and you know, we did release a video on how to do that, it’s not that difficult, but it is a pain and putting through the mail is you know, they’re fragile, and they break and what do you do with that? Is that okay? And people get nervous. So we were all sitting around trying to figure out what to do about this and one of our absolutely brilliant members just kinda looked up and said, “Why don’t we just put it in blotter paper, like acid tabs?” And we all just had this moment of silence and said, “Oh, my God, that’s brilliant.” And again, scouring the literature, it turns out that this has been done. It’s just nobody does it. There’s a very effective way that you can put miso into paper with a binder so that it’s less…so it’s more stable, more shelf stable and less fragile. Misoprostol is shelf stable when stored properly.

Margaret 42:31
Do you have to keep it in a freezer?

Mixael 42:32
You don’t have to keep it in the freezer. The thing apparently that it is most susceptible to is–

Margaret 42:38
I’m just thinking of Acid.

Margaret 42:39
Oh, right. Haha. Yeah, so the thing that the thing that misoprostol apparently is most susceptible to is moisture. And the interestingly, the buffer that comes with, when you put it into the paper makes it less susceptible to moisture. If you’re planning on storing it for a long period of time, yeah, you can put in like a Ziploc bag or a little Mylar bag or whatever, that’s fine. And it’ll keep for longer. But, in the suspension that we’ve found, you can just have a little piece of card. And so what we are hoping to do is to have a whole bunch of little business cards that have six little squares that you can cut out, and you take two of them, and put them in your cheeks and you let them sit there for about an hour. And then you you wait the requisite number of hours and you do your second dose and then you’d wait the requisite number of hours and take your third dose and you’re done. And the thing that’s magical about this is that it removes a lot of the infrastructural problems. You can send this through the mail. It’s totally undetectable. You can stick it into a copy of “The Left Hand of Darkness” in the public libraries and just tell somebody that they can go pick it up, if they need it. You can take this and stash it in any number of geocaches.

Margaret 44:11
I think that you should use “A Country of Ghosts.”

Mixael 44:13
There we go. Yeah. So you know, they’re…right or or or “The Mists of Avalon” or any number of appropriate works of literature that you can stash these in entirely appropriate.

Margaret 44:25
Yeah.

Mixael 44:26
And what we’re hoping to have by the time this airs is to have a lot of these already out there and circulating. Not just that it’s an idea, but that it’s been manufactured by a bunch of affiliate cells, a number of other anarchist health activism groups, and that hopefully the opinion as it’s called of the Supreme Court becomes just their opinion. And if there’s so much out there that people can just get it for free whenever they want, because we’ve made so much of it, then maybe they just don’t matter that much anymore.

Margaret 45:15
So, I’m laughing super hard, because it’s fucking brilliant. And also, of course, because I really liked the idea of being able to say, “Yeah, well, that’s just your opinion, man,” to the Supreme Court’s opinion.

Mixael 45:27
Yeah, I like that.

Margaret 45:28
But this, this does bring up a question. What’s the legality of manufacturing and or, clearly, we would never advocate anyone break the law, because that’s the, I mean, actually, literally, that’s the kind of thing that people need to make their own decision. Oh, well,

Mixael 45:46
Oh, well you and I might differ on that.

Margaret 45:51
You live in a different country.

Mixael 45:51
I would certainly advocate for people to break the law. But yeah, details. Yes. Right.

Margaret 46:00
And also, I would say that I advocate for people to have knowledge with which they can make their own informed decisions about which laws they want to follow. But–

Mixael 46:08
That’s a good way to phrase it.

Margaret 46:09
To what degree is there a concern around like, like, if I live in a state where Miso is legal, is it legal for me to make it myself?

Mixael 46:20
Oh probably not.

Margaret 46:20
Like, in general, what kind of legality will people be running into?

Mixael 46:26
All manner of weird things, and it does depend on the state that you’re in. And the the legal team at Four Thieves basically put it to me like this. If they want to arrest you, they can find a way. And it was sort of it was kind of like it’s a moot right. Are you distributing a dangerous drug? Are you distributing a dangerous drug with intent to defraud? Are you practicing medicine without a license? Are you…that there’s so many weird laws that are so broadly written, that any number of things could be thrown at you, if you were making it, distributing it, sharing it, taking it, especially with all the new shifts in law. And again, it becomes, in, in my mind, with my understanding of the situation as it is now, the risk that you run is really measured in Is it going to be worth it for the law enforcement in question to try to chase you down? Or not? How possible and how plausible is that? Because if you think about the state of New York, you’re in the northeast, some you’re near New York, right?

Margaret 47:57
Sure, yeah.

Mixael 48:00
Okay, you might be in New York.

Margaret 48:02
I’m in Appalachia. I am closer to New York than I am to like San Francisco.

Mixael 48:09
Right, closer to New York than I am. So but, I happen to know that in the state of New York, if you were to say, “Hey, Mixael, you know, I have a headache?” And I say, “Oh, yeah, have you thought of taking an aspirin for that,” that I am technically, committing a felony of practicing medicine without a license. That’s how broadly the law is written. Now, nobody’s ever gonna prosecute that of course. But, the law in many cases and in many places is written so broadly that anything will fall under its purview. And it becomes this weird question of is it worth the energy of a prosecutor? Is it worth the energy of the local police force? Is worth the energy of an investigator? And so in sort of a threat modeling sort of idea, the way the InfoSec people talk about it, you just want to make yourself just a little bit more of a pain in the ass to hunt down than anybody’s willing to do. And you’re probably safe. Now, this isn’t like good advice from me, like go talk to a real security person, if you’re thinking about doing this, and like, keep yourselves and keep each other safe. Please, please, please, please, if you’re if you’re one of us, we need you out here and safe. So that we can all keep doing stuff and helping each other. So, you take as…take more precautions than you think you need. Please. Try to be…try to err on the side of safety. However, I would say do not allow the the fear to paralyze you into inaction. There are ways that you can keep yourself relatively safe, and stay out of so called trouble and still do the things that you believe are right. And you will be able to continue to help other people and keep each other healthy and keep each other safe.

Margaret 50:25
Yeah. Yeah, no, I, I sometimes get sad because I’m like, “Well, I picked being very public as my role. So I guess I’m not doing anything really cool.” But, I don’t know. So. So what else you got? It’s your big day of announcements. You’ve already offered the world ways to access reproductive, their own reproductive health. What about oh, I don’t know this thing that’s going around that’s disabling a lot of people and causing a lot of problems and killing people called Covid. You got anything for that?

Mixael 51:05
Yeah. Well, we do, we do. And I’ll give at least a little teaser.

Margaret 51:10
Yay!

Mixael 51:10
Now, this is an interesting thing. Because in Four Theives we we have a general policy of marching away from the sound of the guns. If there are a lot of people working on something, we tend to think, “Okay, well, then we’re not needed there, we need to focus on the things that aren’t being focused on.” We did I construct a Covid survival guide. In the very early days. I think we released it in February of 2020. When people kind of weren’t appreciating how scary it was going to be. And, we put together the information that we had access to at the time, and it’s aged, okay. There are a number of things that are certainly outdated. And at least one thing that’s not terribly correct. Or, it’s miscontextualized. We have a thing where we’re like, “You know, masks don’t keep you safe very much,” which is true. But masks are really important because they keep everybody else safe. So you know, don’t be a jerk, wear a mask, keep everybody else safe. It wasn’t clear at the time that it was going to be so pervasive that we were going to need to do that all the time. So, we did that when it seemed nobody else was. And then subsequently, when basically every scientific organization in the world suddenly turned their microscopes on this, we thought, well, okay, cool, we’re not needed anymore, we’re going to focus on other things. But, as the years have passed, there is one aspect of Covid that is getting all largely ignored by the mainstream medical infrastructure, which is Long Covid. I have spoken with a number of medical professionals who have a very dismissive attitude. And they say that they feel they think, Long Covid is largely psychosomatic. And I’m kind of disgusted.

Margaret 53:18
It’s the same shit of every fucking viral. It’s just the same thing as every viral long term thing, that people just like, like, like people have….there’s other viruses that people get that cause long term symptoms that get called psychosomatic is what I’m saying.

Mixael 53:36
Sure and the thing that it, it sounds very…harkens back to a lot of the stuff that you typically hear mainstream doctors say about things like chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, things that definitely affect people with two X chromosomes. When you’re looking at these things, it’s like, “Oh, it’s on your head, you need to exercise more, you should probably lose weight. You,” you know, whatever. Just this very, very dismissive attitude that when I hear it, and when I sort of poke at these people and ask them to sort of unpack their reasoning for me, that when you get down to it, they’re basically like, “Look, we don’t know how to treat it. So essentially, in my reality, it doesn’t exist.” And I’m like, that’s exactly the opposite of the attitude we should be having towards something that’s crippling people. This is terrible. This is terrible.

Margaret 54:37
Yeah.

Mixael 54:37
And so as happens sometimes there are occasionally people that reach out to Four Thieves and have some information that’s not in the public sphere or is not highlighted enough. And a guy that I worked with years and years ago said, “Hey, I know what you’re doing and there’s this thing that I have for Long Covid. And I can’t get any traction on it. Maybe you can push it in through one of your backdoors.” And I said, “I don’t believe you. There’s no way you have a cure for Long Covid. Long. Covid is so complicated. It’s like this world. It’s this giant umbrella of different symptoms and different mechanisms of action.” And he was like, “Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s only for one.” And so I shut up. And I said, “Okay, I’m listening. What are we talking about?” He said, “Well, a lot of Long Covid cases seem to be autoimmune in nature.” And I was like, “Yeah, I’ve read that. And he said, the very few doctors who are taking this seriously are treating it with immunosuppressants.” And I said, “Okay, cool. What now?” And he said, “Well, the problem is, is immunosuppressants that are approved in the United States, are very, very hard in the system, and will often cause people’s kidneys to fail before they do what they’re supposed to do.” And I said, “Yeah, so you got something better?” And he said, “Actually, yes, it’s an old drug. It’s FDA approved. It was originally designed for leprosy. And it’s called Clofazimine.” And I said, “This is ridiculous. You’re talking about an antibiotic. That’s not going to do anything,” And he said, “Slow down.” He said, “This modulates the calcium channels in your T cells, and it will bring your immune system down to chill out.” And I said, “I don’t believe you. This is ridiculous. This is this is this seems totally…There’s no way you just have this in your backpack. How is this real?” And I said, “Wend…Do you have documentation?” And he said, “Yeah, of course. I have a truckload of documentation.” “So we’ll send it to me.” He said “Well, I will.” And he did and he was right. The weird thing that’s, that’s so difficult is that Clofazimine is almost impossible to find, because leprosy is seen as a poor people disease, a non-white people disease.

Margaret 57:19
Yeah.

Mixael 57:20
And, so despite the fact that Clofazamine was approved by the FDA, and is on the books, it’s not manufactured by anybody in the United States. And it’s not imported to the United States by anybody. So you really, really, really have to go looking for it. And, so the last thing where I’m still kind of totally incredulous with this guy, whereas I said, “So what? Somebody just takes this for the rest of their lives, and maybe they’re okay? Like, and how long do they need to take it before they even know that it’s working?” And he said, “They can take one or two doses, and it’ll either work or it won’t.” And I said, “You’ve got to be joking.” And he said, “No, I’m serious.” I said, “Well, and then when they take it forever?” And he said, “No, then you can take it for about a month, and your immune system will settle out to a regular setpoint. And then you can stop taking it, and you can just go back to your regular life.” And I was just absolutely floored. And so we continue to try and look for sources Clofazamine. They allegedly are available in places like Indian Bangladesh. Again, we’re recording this in advance of when it’s going to be released. So hopefully, we’ll have a truckload full of it. And we’ll be throwing it to people from the stage. But, again, it’s been very hard to turn up. And again, I think just the fact that it’s hard to get these sorts of things is so emblematic of all of the problems that you and I keep talking about in terms of the way that health running both worldwide, and especially in the US. So hopefully, we’ll have some of this and hopefully, we’ll be able to get it to the people who need it and help people who need it, get it themselves. And Long Covid can be something that isn’t affecting so so so many people, and we’ll be able to make at least some of them a little better.

Margaret 59:12
What…like what kind of…you’re saying that it only works on certain, certain Long Covid symptoms or sufferers, like, is there a sort of like a rough idea of like, what percent you’re talking about? Because also, there’s I know that you expressed incredulity in the story, but it’s like, it’s so hard not to hear this and think this is horse paste again, you know, this is ivermectin.

Mixael 59:35
Right. So, so, so Long Covid again, is this it’s this big umbrella term for something happened with Covid and you’re experiencing things after you are quote unquote, “better.” One of the ways that this manifests is people just get severe forms of Covid and get organ damage. And that’s Long Covid Right. You have permanent effects from it, like no drug gonna to fix that, okay. You have organ damage, you have organ damage. That’s very hard to reverse. There are manifestations where people kind of have chronic infection where especially in people who are immunocompromised, their viral load never really goes away. And, they just continue to suffer. Also, this is not going to help that at all. But what seems to happen in a, you know, maybe not the majority or even the plurality of cases, but a large chunk of cases is what happens is, people get a fairly severe Covid infection, and their immune system kicks into hyperdrive as it is designed to, but Covid can be sufficiently aggressive and hang around long enough that the immune system never modulates back down. And so what will happen is that people who have recovered from their Covid infection become hypersensitive to things again. They’re totally fatigued all the time, because their immune system is taking up all of their resources. They don’t tolerate things well. They get weird, like allergic reactions to things. All sorts of stuff that, again, is in this sort of autoimmune disease manifestation. And the thing that’s really magical is that you take one or two doses of this, and it’ll either work or it won’t. If you if you start to feel better, you know, that you’re in this particular category of this is what you needed. And then you can just take a course of treatment, and hopefully, you’d be better. And you so you don’t have to, like tax your body for a long time trying to say, well, like maybe it’ll work maybe won’t, you’ll know very quickly, which is such a blessing. And so my hope at the HOPE conference in New York, is that if I find people who say they have Long Covid, that I’ll be able to give them one or two doses and say, “Take one today, take one tomorrow, and if on Sunday, you feel much better, I can give you a month’s worth. And then you can just take it home with you and be better.”

Margaret 1:02:20
Right.

Mixael 1:02:21
So that’s my dream. And again, also that you proliferate it so that people know how they can access it on their own without having to need us as an intermediary. And have ways that people can, as you say, potentially manufacture it, if it’s not accessible at all. Access is really the thing. There’s so many, so many things that are on the shelf we can fix, but you can’t get them legally. So, while you might not encourage people to break the law, I say, have at it. Have at it! If it’s the difference between breaking the law and keeping your health, would you rather be the most law abiding citizen in the graveyard? Or would you like to maybe work circum-legally, or extra-legally and live to fight another day? I think it’s a pretty easy decision

Margaret 1:03:16
That that I encourage everyone can make on their own. Yeah, no, totally. All right. And so I think you have one more announcement for today. And maybe we’ll go over this one quickly. We’re kind of running out of time. So, but, you have a defibrillator?

Mixael 1:03:33
Oh, so I’ll give another teaser is that we have…yeah, the defibrillator. So we have an open source defibrillator that you can build for about $600 instead of the usual $6,000. And so we’ll be giving details on all of these things at the talk at HOPE [conference]. And we’ll be doing workshops at DEF CON a few weeks later. And I encourage you all to come out. And if you can’t, I know that you can get a virtual ticket to HOPE so that you can not just stream all the talks, but also interact and ask questions in real time. And I believe that DEF CON will also be hybridized. So, if you go to the Biohacking Village Channel [On Youtube], you should be able to watch what we’re doing. And yeah, I hope to see you all there. Or sooner or later somewhere.

Margaret 1:04:26
All right. There any last words, things that we forgot, things that need to get pointed out?

Mixael 1:04:37
Well, if you like what Four Thieves is doing and you want to support the mission, please go out and find somebody who needs your help and help them whether or not you think they deserve it.

Margaret 1:04:49
Yeah, fuck yeah. All right. Well, thank you so much for coming on. Again.

Mixael 1:04:55
Keep each other healthy, each other safe.

Margaret 1:04:58
Thanks so much for coming on again.

Mixael 1:04:59
Thank you so much. It’s always great chatting with you. And I hope we can do it again.

Margaret 1:05:02
I look forward to it.

Mixael 1:05:03
Yeah, me too.

Margaret 1:05:11
Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this podcast, you should tell people about it. You should tell people about it on the internet, and in person, and sky writing. I don’t know if sky writing is ethical. If you all come up with a green version of sky writing, you should do it hot air balloons? I feel like hot air balloons. If you were to set up hot air balloons, and do banners from the hot air balloons, maybe that don’t just say “Live Like The World is Dying” because that would be kind of a scary thing if you were just driving around and there was a hot air balloon up above you that said, “Live Like The World is Dying.” Or maybe that would be good. I’m not the boss of you. You do whatever you want, including not tell people about this, whatever. You can also support us. You can support us by supporting our publisher. We are published by Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness, which is a publishing collective that’s how you know, they publish things like podcasts. We. I’m part of it. We put out zines. And we put out podcasts, and we’re going to be putting out books soon. We’ve been around for almost 20 years in various different incarnations, but this new version of it is new and exciting. And if you support us on Patreon, patreon.com/strangersInatangledwilderness, you can sign up there and you can get a zine sent to you every month. Not for free. It’s like, you have to pay for it. But it’s like once you sign up for the thing, then we send it to you and we’ll send it to you anywhere in the world. And also all of our content is made available as best we can free on the internet as well. But, it’s really cool to be supported and really grateful. I know that I like to say this every time but I’m really grateful for all the support that people have shown. Both the people who came over with me. It used to be a personal Patreon for me, and have come over to supporting the collective, and then also all of the new supporters. It it’s like really good for morale. We’re like trying to do this fairly ambitious project with all this stuff that we’re trying to get done. And we haven’t been able to get all of it done yet, right? And people being like, “No, we believe in you!” by supporting us has been really big, really great. So thanks. Thank you. And in particular, I would like to thank Hoss the Dog, who is a dog, not a person. I already made this joke. And now I’m stuck making the joke again. I’m sorry. If you missed the joke, Hoss the Dog is a dog but anyway, Hoss the Dog, Chris, Sam, Miciahah, Kirk, Natalie, Eleanor, Jennifer, Staro, Kat J, Chelsea, Dana, David, Nicole, Mikki, Oxalis, Paige, and SJ. Yeah. Thank you. And to everyone else, go out and don’t commit crime unless you want to commit crime. Really, I guess that was the whole point of the whole thing you just listened to. Good luck! Weird shits happening? I don’t know. We’ll get through it. Yeah, it’ll be good. Totally. See you all soon.

Find out more at https://live-like-the-world-is-dying.pinecast.co

S1E45 – Margaret and Casandra on “How To Get Started Prepping…Or Getting Prepared”

Episode Notes

Episode summary

Margaret and Casandra talk about some of the basics of preparedness and how to get started even if you don’t have a lot of money or skills. They go through their lists of things they always consider when preparing for crises, whether that be a natural disaster, “the bomb”, food shortages, inflation, the further advancement of Fascism, or any of the other of the various multi-faceted horrors contributing to our slow apocalypse. They talk about community preparedness vs individual preparedness, ‘stuff focused’ preparedness vs response focused preparedness, bunker mentalities, and a lot of other great stuff, like how potatoes prove once again to the be the only wholesome thing, why you shouldn’t trust rich people trying to sell you shit, and how again Hope is maybe the only real strategy we can count on. This is a new format for the show that we’ll be exploring more soon!

Next Episode: We’ll have a special episode coming out next week on July 22nd from the Four Thieves Vinegar Collective.

Host Info
Casandra can be found on Twitter @hey_casandra or Instagram @House.Of.Hands
Margaret Killjoy can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy or instagram at @margaretkilljoy.

Publisher Info
This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at www.tangledwilderness.org, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at www.patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness.

Transcript

How To Get Started

Margaret 00:14
Hello, and welcome to Live Like The World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m one of your hosts today, Margaret killjoy. And, left implicit in that statement is that I have another host today, because instead of doing a normal interview format, I’m going to have my friend Casandra, who also works on this podcast, usually more behind the scenes on to join me in conversation. How are you doing today? Casandra?

Casandra 00:41
I am okay. I think the day started out rough. But we’ve been chatting for a while and I’m feeling a lot better now.

Margaret 00:48
Yeah, we’re recording this on the day that Roe v. Wade was officially overturned in the United States.

Casandra 00:56
Yep.

Margaret 00:57
Hooray. But that’s not what we’re talking about today. We have other content that more directly relates to that on this show. But today, we’re talking about crises and how to prepare for crises. But, more importantly, today, we’re telling you that Live Like The World Is Dying is a proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchist podcasts. And here’s a jingle from another show in the network….[waiting expectantly for Casandra] You gonna make the noise?

Casandra 01:39
Ba ba da da daaa. [laughing] Okay, I did it.

Margaret 01:59
Yay!

Chanel Zero Network Jingle

Margaret 02:32
Okay, we’re back. So, yeah, we’re basically going to kind of ask ourselves as though we’re a panel, we’re both going to be interviewed by you in absentia. You the listener. Because we’ve been getting a lot of questions for this show. And so we’re gonna kind of talk through some of them. And hopefully, it’s going to turn into a very coherent and brilliant introduction to preparedness that will be useful for all people.

Casandra 03:01
Oh, that’s my cue. Margaret, what, what are the first steps that you take in preparing for a crisis?

Margaret 03:11
It’s funny, you should ask that. I wrote down a list. You told me you were going to ask me that. So I mean, the first and most important thing is you have to think about what the crises you’re preparing for are right? We can’t prepare for everything. Like you can slowly…you hit this point of diminishing returnsfor preparedness, but you’re like, you know, where you live, maybe a tornado is more likely then a tsunami, right. And so you’ll probably prepare more for tornado if you’re in Tornado Alley, and less for tsunami. But at some point, once you’re prepared for tornado, maybe you’ll start preparing for [a tsunami]…..don’t prepare for tsunami, if you live in the middle of the country, that’s pointless. But you know, like, theoretically, you could start focusing on the crises that are less likely, like nuclear disaster is substantially less likely than a large number of other crises. Right? So I wouldn’t start there. And where I would start is with doing a sort of preparedness audit, figuring out what you need, or what you have, and what you would like to have in terms of preparedness, not necessarily items, but in terms of plans or access to resources or like relationships with people or skills necessary to confront these different things. And, you know, so, to just go through that list, I guess, I would say, you know, start with like, temperature, right? If there was an immediate, you know, you lose power and you suddenly lose your ability to…or you don’t have air conditioning or you don’t have heat, right, what are the sources of climate control that you rely on? As an individual like the clothes that you wear, as well as any structure that you you generally reside in. If you live in a tent, how do you heat and cool the tent? If you live in a truck? How do you heat and cool the truck? If you live in a house? How do you heat and cool the house? So that would be the first thing, right? Temperature. Just think about that. And the next is shelter, protection from elements. That kind of relates, you know, what systems do you have in place for shelter? And then what are your backup systems for shelter? Right? Like, you know, if you…do you have a vehicle you can take shelter in if your house is no longer accessible? Do you have a tent? Do you have, you know, tarps to put up if you….whatever, you just think about all the different things that protect you from the elements. This one is less likely to be like, directly…you’re probably not going to be changing that much about your shelter, but it’s just worth thinking about. Next is water. You know, we need water on a pretty regular basis, almost daily, in fact, do we require water. So. [Casandra laughs] Actually, I drink water every day. That’s how on top of it, I am. [Casandra still laughing] So, water, okay, where does your water come from? What do you do when that water source stops? This is a really good example for me, because a lot of people that I know live in places where they rely on municipal water, and fairly regularly have boil advisories right. Fairly regularly, there’s going to be some sort of contact, that’s going to be like, “Hey, you have to boil your water, because there might be something nasty in it.” And so if that’s something that happens where you are, having some extra water around might mean you don’t have to boil your water, you just go to the 10 gallons of water that you keep, or you make sure that you know you have a way to boil that water. And with any of these things, you want to think about it first in sort of the very immediate, like, what would you do if you suddenly, you know, were without water for five hours, and then go from there to like three days and go from there to like two weeks and you’re slowly looking to build up. You know, I’m not necessarily recommending that everyone who’s on municipal water like also dig a well or come up with some like solar distill thing where it automatically takes the moisture in the air and gives you drinking water. Like all that’s just really cool, right? But it might not be your first step. Eventually, everyone who listens to this needs to have a personal water tower. [Casanda laughs] Okay, maybe not. Okay.

Casandra 07:34
I’m imagining a water tower on like an apartment balcony somehow.

Margaret 07:39
Yeeeeeeah, totally. And that way it’s pressurized. You know, you can use it as a battery for power because gravity is its own battery. Okay, anyway. Oh, go ahead. Okay,

Casandra 07:53
I just breathed. That’s all.

Margaret 07:56
We didn’t actually talk about that one, air. [Casandra laughing] Let’s somehow include that was shelter? I don’t know. Think about your air filtration systems. Again, that’s only…

Casandra 08:07
Oh I mean, I live in wildfires. Yeah, so we think about that a lot. [Margaret laughing]

Margaret 08:13
Yeah, fair enough. It’s pretty clear I wrote this here in Appalachia where the air quality is like, “I dunno [made into a mumble sound] It’s too humid.” Okay, so then, from there food, right? You know, on the simplest level, keeping some fucking protein bars in your backpack or purse or whatever, right? And you can build up from there, you can build up. What would you do if suddenly, the way that you accessed food is no longer available? For a few hours? Or a few days? Or a few weeks? Or a few months? Or a few years? You know, start with the simplest ones. Health is after that, like stuff that affects your long term health. This gets into, you know, things like medications, whether over the counter or not. I don’t know, whatever. Then go through community. Who are your neighbors? Do you know who your neighbors are? Do you know who you could trust? Or who you specifically need to avoid? Or have you started talking to them about like, figure out if you’re on similar pages about having preparedness, you know, and you could do this with neighbors you don’t even like friends with you know, you can still be like, “Hey, if something happens, I have your back,” or whatever, right? And then of course, you could build out from community and to community mutual aid organizations, right? There’s nothing so prepared as a resilient community. This is a very long winded first answer. Okay, so then there’s a couple more. Getting there. Security is after that, right physical security. How do you defend yourself? How do you defend your communities? What weapons and or training do you want to have available to you? Transportation, more important in different places than other places, but in general, what are the systems by do you get around? Are there more that you can have as backup? Like, if you have a gas powered vehicle, that rules. What if gas is no longer available? What’s your plan? You know, do you have a bicycle like, in some ways a bicycle is a better preparedness. I’m saying this as someone who does not have a bicycle. [Casandra laughs] I was actually better prepared when I lived in a van because I had a bicycle in my van. And that’s what I have on my list of the things that you should audit. That is my first step and preparedness for people is audit yourself. What a good word “audit” and everyone’s positive associations with the word “audit.” Casandra, what do you think the first steps in preparedness are?

Casandra 10:42
Um, I love that you just broke that down into like, a list and steps because that’s how my brain works. But that’s not how I how I’ve taken my first steps, because I find it totally overwhelming, just like the scope of it is…my brain kind of shuts down. So, first steps for me have looked like doing something, anything, little things often. So, like, I saw some big five gallon water containers on sale at Walmart a few years ago was like, “Ah, a step I can take!”

Margaret 11:26
Yeah.

Casandra 11:27
And bought a few of them or like, each time I go shopping, I get a thing, that’s shelf stable, that’s extra, and put it in my cupboard. So, it’s not systematic at all. But it’s doing something. Does that make sense?

Margaret 11:45
I would like to change my answer. [Both laughing] Yours is a better first step. Do what Casandra’s said first. And then later, if you decide this is something that you’re going to like, step into more, that’s maybe where the audits and stuff makes sense. No, I, that makes sense to me the like….go ahead.

Casandra 12:08
I just think it’s a both, a both ‘and’, you know?

Margaret 12:12
Yeah.

Casandra 12:12
Like what you’re describing is so important. But, I still haven’t done that. Because I…my brain sort of shuts down–

Margaret 12:19
Yeah.

Casandra 12:20
—when I try to.

Margaret 12:21
Yeah, and maybe just…

Casandra 12:23
I feel so unprepared.

Margaret 12:26
I know. Okay, so that is a big disadvantage. I mean, but it’s like, you know, I look at this, and I’m like, “Well, I’ve been doing preparedness for a long time now.” or whatever. And I don’t know, there’s a ton of this shit that I still don’t have, right? Like, I feel like it’s important to think about preparedness not as a…there’s no perfect preparedness, you know, there’s always just like, steps you can take to have a little bit more of this one thing in case this one thing happens. And then and then it’s like really annoying, because like everyone thinks you’re the prepared one. And then you’re like, you don’t have a flashlight on you. And people are like, “What the hell we’ve been relying on you to have a flashlight on you.” This is clearly not a specific anecdote.

Casandra 13:07
There’s also that like, I mean, we’re we’re experiencing constant catastrophes and crises, right. And so each time there’s a crisis. And I you know, gather things together, I need to get through that crisis. I don’t just like get rid of them afterward. That…those things become a part of my life and a part of my process. So we had like a massive freeze last year. Was that last year?

Margaret 13:37
I lost track of time a while ago, I don’t know.

Casandra 13:40
Me too. What is time? Anyway, we had a massive freeze. And I was without power for I think, 10 days. And so, people were doing a lot of work like sharing firewood with each other and stuff like that. And I didn’t just like, stop collecting firewood after that, you know, something like that’s going to happen again. So that’s become integrated in my like, process of preparing constantly.

Margaret 14:08
Yeah, no, that makes a lot of sense. And leads me perfectly into my next question. What we get asked is we get asked, how to anticipate crises. How do you…how do you think about what you want to prepare for, Cassandra?

Casandra 14:27
Oh, I think I underestimated like how easily overwhelmed I’d feel in this conversation. I have a child. So, when I think about anticipating crises for myself, often it feels manageable. But, then when I think about how to anticipate crises in a way that would like make a child comfortable, I start to get super overwhelmed because it’s a lot more. That’s a lot more effort. But logically for me, I just look at the crises that I’ve experienced in my bio region in the last five or ten years. So, flooding, really intense freezes, really intense heat waves, algae blooms in our water supply is now like a constant issue.

Margaret 15:20
That sounds wild.

Casandra 15:21
And then wildfires. Right? Yeah. Yeah, so we can’t even boil water. Like boiling doesn’t get rid of the toxins.

Margaret 15:27
Oh, my God, what do you do? Do you have to filter it also, or?

Casandra 15:31
I just have 15 gallons of water stashed.

Margaret 15:35
What are people expected to do? That’s…so you just don’t have water for a while?

Casandra 15:40
Yeah. I mean, people are expected to go buy water by the gallon at the store. But then the stores get cleared out really fast.

Margaret 15:49
Ah, okay.

Casandra 15:49
So. We could go off on a whole tangent about like how few filters actually clear out cyanotoxins. It’s pretty wild.

Margaret 15:58
Yeah, I’ve actually…I’ve I’ve heard people talking about that. I heard people talk….Like, one of those things that I’m like, as someone who lives off of well, water where I don’t even know if it is an issue. Maybe it is an issue, and I just haven’t paid enough attention to it. Are there filters that can get rid of cyanotoxins?

Casandra 16:18
When I was looking into after that happened, the filters I found that, at that time, maybe it’s changed in the last few years. But the big like Berkey…is that the brand? The big giant expensive…

Margaret 16:29
Yeah, that’s the one. Yep. Yeah.

Casandra 16:33
Which I just haven’t been able to afford. So, that’s why I, I use a basic filter and just keep 15 gallons of water.

Margaret 16:41
Yeah.

Casandra 16:43
On hand all the time.

Margaret 16:44
Yeah.

Casandra 16:45
[dispasstionatly] Whoo. I don’t remember what I was saying. Oh! Yeah, I look at what tends to happen in my bio region and that’s how I prepare. Yeah. And then there are things that people catastrophize about. I’m on the west coast, so earthquakes and tsunamis. Those seem like the main things I have to prepare for. How about you, Margaret? [Laughing]

Margaret 17:11
You know, not to jinx myself, but I live in a a more stable by region than most I believe. There’s not a lot of…the non coastal Mid Atlantic does not have a ton of earthquakes does not have a ton of tornadoes. It has it has tornadoes, that’s the thing. I’m not worried about tsunamis, I’m not worried about…we catch the tail end of hurricanes. But, I worry about…well, I worry about people deciding to murder all the trans people in mass. And, I worry about the, the need to confront people attempting to take the United States in a fascist direction. A more fascist…whatever, I’m not trying to throw that word around, like, super loose. But clearly, we’re not necessarily headed in good directions right now. And, I worry a bit about forest fire. I think that a lot of the changing climate is changing what crises look like in different places. But I, I mostly worry…well, it’s less about what I worry about, right? Because in some ways, I try to think of preparedness as a way to not worry about things. I remember, you know, my last house, I lived off grid, like really in the woods where far more likely of a problem than forest fire was like, the dead branch above my house falling on it or something, right? But overall, like if I was worried about forest fire in the, in the woods I lived in, I thought through what to do about it, which in this case, since I wasn’t going to clear the forest, the best I could do was have a go bag, and make sure that my you know, truck has at least half a tank of gas at any given point. And make sure to not stay so completely isolated from communication channels that I wouldn’t get an update from a weather update or something, right? And once I did that, I stopped worrying about forest fires, because I was able to sort of check it off in my head about being like, “Well, I’ve done what I can.” Every now and then I might catastrophize about it and be like, spend the night looking into how to dig fire shelters and you know, things like that. But for the most part, I try to view this as a way to turn off anxiety, be like, you think about a crisis. You think, “What can I do about it?” You do those things. And then, and I know this doesn’t work for everyone, but I’m actually a reasonably anxious person and this has helped a lot. I then stop worrying about those individual things because I fucking did what I could.

Casandra 19:57
What about…what about… I’m Just thinking about crises that aren’t natural disasters, or like…I guess forest fires can last for a long time, but that aren’t such a huge immediate impact, so like, rising food prices and food shortages.

Margaret 20:20
Yeah, no, that’s a…fuck, that’s such a good one. And I mean, one of the things that’s kind of weird to say is that with with, with massive inflation, and everything, everything shelf stable is like a good investment. Right? Like, a jar of honey is cheaper today than it’s going to be three weeks from now.

Casandra 20:42
Right!

Margaret 20:43
So, cash is less useful to me right now than a jar of honey is, you know, in terms of a thing that holds its value, not necessarily in terms of like, I’m not going to turn around and sell the honey at a profit. Both like, you know…

Casandra 21:02
But it’s a worthwhile investment.

Margaret 21:05
Yeah, for me, I am less concerned about my retirement savings, and more concerned about my ability to have access to like… it’s actually one of the reasons why I try and prioritize tools, right, so that I can like, make the things that I feel like I need, but that has to do with like, my own personal skill set. And, like, the place I live, you know, rurally having more access to like land and like, if need be, I could like cut down a tree to get the fucking wood or whatever. Although, I say that as if I had a sawmill and I don’t, I don’t even have a chainsaw mill, I really need a chainsaw mill. And then I need a covered place to store the wood for…it’s a year per thickness…for a inch of thickness is how long you have to store wood to cure it before you can use it as lumber. Anyway, I’ve definitely looked into all that stuff. Sustainability, pushing towards sustainability with it without like being like, I guess I could say my, my personal goal is it would rule to like be like, I don’t need to get anything from the store. I have everything I need or whatever, right? But that’s nonsensical as an individual to desire. There’s a reason we have societies. And, I would only want that in the context of a community that shares resources. But yeah, I don’t know, I guess, figuring out as food prices rise and all that stuff, how to supplement my, my food buying with more gardening, how to supplement different things. I don’t know, you’re actually you’re actually better at this question. So it was unfair that you asked me and so I will ask you instead.

Casandra 22:48
I could ask you a different question that you basically just let us into.

Margaret 22:52
No, well now I’m just asking you this question. What what foods? Should we, you know, how do you get started with with storing food or getting food? Food, question mark. That’s my question.

Casandra 23:11
Well, I already talked about it a little bit, right? Like when…every time I go to the store, I get one thing, at least, that I don’t need immediately that’s shelf stable. So that can be like a can of beans, or a bag of rice, or a jar of peanut butter. We do this very differently. I think. So, I’m curious to hear what you have to say as well, because I don’t do like, what’s it called, deep storage?

Margaret 23:38
That’s what I’ve been calling it, I don’t know.

Casandra 23:40
I don’t do deep storage. I get things that I’m going to actually eat and cycle through. So, instead of getting freeze dried food and putting it into deep storage or things like that, I’m getting like a 50 pound bag of black beans and actually working through it and eating it before I get a new one.

Margaret 24:02
Yeah.

Casandra 24:06
I feel like gardening is a whole other a whole other topic.

Margaret 24:11
Well, but that’s actually one of the things that really interests me about. I think the way that you came to your system of preparedness is that you are creating, you are growing food, you are…anyone who’s listened to previous episodes has heard Casandra talk about canning, and so you’re, you’re getting food and you’re putting it in jars so that you can eat it later. You know, and I don’t know, and so it seems like a very natural thing to combine gardening with with this style of, of cycling through different foods.

Casandra 24:42
Yeah, yeah, I think it is too, you’re right. The way I do it is that…so I live close to an organic farm. And I have a CSA and so we haven’t gotten to the what distinguishes community preparedness from individual preparedness question yet, but there are certain foods that I don’t really ever have to worry about growing or, or buying from the store, like if it’s a food that can be grown, if climate changes is, is it a point where if food can still be grown, I can I can get those certain foods pretty easily. So what I’m interested in is growing foods that I can store long term whether that’s through, like curing, or drying, or canning. So like potatoes, beans, tomatoes, winter squash, onions, garlic, things like that. And also perennial perennial foods.

Margaret 25:41
So rather than things that grow once, things that just keep on giving. What are good examples of perennials?

Casandra 25:48
Depends where you live.

Margaret 25:49
What are some that you do?

Casandra 25:51
For my bio region, lots of berries, huckleberries, currants, things like that. I think root vegetables are really important for me and the way that I have to eat because I can’t really have grains. So, I’ve done a lot of experimenting with, like, Ground Nut, Tiger Nut. Camus is a local perennial food crop. There are lots of ornamentals that you can eat the roots of, so Jerusalem artichoke, Day Lily…oh my gosh, my brain just went blank. My favorite one I can’t remember the name of. Anyway. Learning which roots you can eat and planting a shitload of them, because if it’s perennial, it will just be in the ground and grow until you need it.,right?

Casandra 25:52
Oh yeah. Okay, because it’s no longer perennial. Once you dig it up and eat the root.

Casandra 26:48
Well, you can split…like for a lot of them, you can split it and replant part of it. So, think of like a potato. You plant a chunk of potato, which isn’t perennial, but as an example you plant a chunk of the potato and get a whole ton of potatoes. At the end of the season all you have to do is replanted chunk.

Margaret 27:13
Yeah.

Casandra 27:14
Yeah.

Margaret 27:15
Okay. I’m not convinced that all of the plants that you just listed are real. [Laughing] For anyone listening, I am convinced that Casandra every now and then makes up a new plant to tell me about. Sure of course those are all real. [skeptically and slowly] “Potatoes.”

Casandra 27:34
I can even send you pictures as proof. [Laughing]

Margaret 27:36
[Laughing] It could be any plant! What do i know of plants? And so…so which ties into…my ignorance about plants is actually how I ended up with my take on all of this stuff. I haven’t had…no I haven’t like lived in a rooted way, pun not intended, until more recently in my life and I guess it’s so recent that I could not really claim to be rooted now either, because I haven’t lived where I live for even a year, but so I’ve tended to be towards more packaged foods right and I’ve tended towards…in my mind I think a health the healthiest possible way of handling food for someone to be prepared would be a combination of these things where you cycle through them, right, you have your pantry, your pantry foods, your the canned stuff, the jars of peanut butter, all of that that have several years shelf life in general. And you know, yeah, you do the thing where you when you get the new one it goes to the back and then you take the oldest one out to eat, right? I have a little cool cheap plastic rack system where I dropped the cans in and it feeds me the oldest one so that…

Casandra 28:56
Oooooh, fancy!

Margaret 28:57
I call them “first in first outs”…I don’t know, they have some fucking fancy word, but…

Casandra 29:03
Oh, it’s for like a cans you buy at the store, not like canned jarred food?

Margaret 29:10
Yeah, although you could,,,no, I guess mason jars are a little bit not round enough to roll properly.

Casandra 29:15
Yeah, you probably don’t want to store them on their side either.

Margaret 29:18
Okay, it would work with wine and just…because you’re supposed to store that on its side…no it would probably all break. Okay so…

Casandra 29:25
Wine for the apocalypse.

Margaret 29:27
I don’t even drink on a regular basis, but I definitely have both hard alcohol and wine. But not beer because it goes bad sooner. I think I don’t, I don’t know that much about alcohol. I want to start making my own at some point. I just need to…what I do is when I want to learn how to do something is I have a guest on the show and have them explain it to me. And so I need to do an alcohol episode at some point. But….

Casandra 29:55
So we can like track Margaret’s interest in projects based on who you have on the show.

Margaret 29:59
Yeah, totallly. At some point recently…yep, I don’t know. Yep, I get too personal, okay, so. So what I’ve done more historically, is instead of focusing on like jars and things, but instead stuff with like 30 years shelf life, right, and you can, you can go out and buy it, you can go out and buy…different brands will sell you apocalypse food where it’s dried beans that are stored in such a way usually basically stored in such a way where the, there’s oxygen absorbers within that, in order to give it a shelf life of 30 years. And that leads to really weird things where like brown rice doesn’t last as long as white rice, because it’s almost impossible to store fats long, for long periods of time. And so there’s like, it only provide certain amounts of good. And so, usually, people are storing dried beans, dried rice, lentils, sometimes like powdered peanut butter, and then freeze dried food. Freeze drying, much more technologically involved, but it has a very different texture that I actually don’t like very much to be real. But, it can last substantially longer than like regular dried food, which regular dried food lasts long enough, right? Several years is long enough. You could…if you have food for several years, you would at that point, try and put food in the ground. But I really like shit that I can just like leave in the corner and forget about, just to be like, “Oh, well, there’s a bucket.” So in case of i’m ever fucked, I could go to the apocalypse bucket and get some food. So, that’s why I like that whole thing. So, that’s food. Now I’m supposed to ask a question. Okay, maybe the thing that…

Casandra 31:57
We just covered everything there is to cover about food.

Margaret 32:00
That’s right.

Casandra 32:01
Sorry.

Margaret 32:01
All you need is potatoes. One potatoe becomes many potatoes. Freeze dry potatoes. Yeah. I don’t even know if he can do that. It doesn’t…I’m sure you can.

Casandra 32:11
Yep. Don’t store jars on their side. Okay, we’re good.

Margaret 32:18
Yep.

Casandra 32:18
Check.

Margaret 32:19
Yep, everything you need to know. Okay, so the question that comes up probably the most is, well, “What the fuck, I don’t have a ton of money. How the hell am I going to be prepared?” And I think that this comes from how we keep seeing, like traditional, especially kind of Right-wing and even centrist preparedness stuff is so stuff focused. And this episode is a little bit stuff focused. But basically, people are like, “I can’t afford to get into preparedness. What do I do?” Casandra, what should people do?

Casandra 32:53
I just realized this ties into the other question, which I’m also going to ask now, which is “What’s the difference between community preparedness and individual preparedness?”

Margaret 33:01
Right. Well, I asked first, so you have to answer both of them first.

Casandra 33:06
Right. I mean, I think one of the best ways to prepare for different variables when you don’t have…space is another issue, right? So, not having enough space or not having enough money, is to do it as a community. So, if Margaret has the sawmill.

Margaret 33:24
One day.

Casandra 33:25
And I have, right and I have the garden, then and we live close enough to each other, then I don’t also have to have a sawmill. And maybe she doesn’t have to have a garden, right?

Margaret 33:38
Yeah, besides some herbs.

Casandra 33:41
Right. Or maybe you do and it’s just…

Margaret 33:43
Basil.

Casandra 33:44
Or maybe, you know, you don’t like gardenin, so you like let me garden at your house or something. But…

Margaret 33:52
And then in exchange I have to do the sawing. Okay, yeah.

Casandra 33:55
Yeah. I said I would try to be more wordy. But that’s that’s, I mean, my other like, “If you don’t have money thing,” I’ve already said twice, which is just like, do a little bit of something.

Margaret 34:11
Yeah,

Casandra 34:12
Each month, or each time you go to the grocery store, or whatever, like chip away at it. There’s so many variables, but I know and where I’m living, there are different options. So, there’s a group in my area that’s like a buying club. They call themselves a co-op, but we can do bulk orders through them so we can get bulk dried goods at wholesale prices. CSAs, or like preferred befriending farmers in your area, or befriending people who work at grocery stores so you can use their discount to get cases of things. Dumpster diving, and my brains obviously on food, but those are the things that come to mind. Check.

Margaret 35:01
I mean, so much of the immediate simple stuff around preparedness is food, right? I mean, some stuff is like cheap, right? Like a LifeStraw is cheap. It’s not the best water filter, but it’s a brand of water filter that’s like regularly on sale for like $9. Where, and sometimes it’s like a two pack. So that gets into community preparedness right there.

Casandra 35:25
That’s what I have.

Margaret 35:27
Yeah, a Lifestraw is a brilliant, useful thing for not dying in certain situations and it is a terrible thing for maintaining any sort of access to water on a regular basis, because it’s not particularly convenient. You literally use it like straw, like the name implies. But…but yeah, I guess Okay, so in terms of the difference between individual preparedness, community preparedness, you know, the, the traditional preparedness space is just flooded with individual preparedness stuff. And so sometimes it, it can be really overwhelming. And it’s really easy to think of preparedness as guns, Faraday bags, bunkers, and wilderness survival skills, right? That’s all there is to preparedness. And I’m a little bit more on this traditional preparedness side, because I do the like, fill my basement with dried beans and shit. And, you know, I’ve spent my time like, looking into how to bury ammunition and gold. But!

Casandra 36:33
But you do that because you want to share your beans with people, not because you want to use guns to keep people away from your beans.

Margaret 36:43
Right! Totally. No, and that is, that is the difference, right? Because even when I’m trying to do these sort of individual steps, I tend to do it because I have often sort of as an as an anarchist, whenever I work as an activist or whatever, I tend to personally do my own thing, and then plug it into larger frameworks. That is like how I’ve gone about, you know, a lot of my work has been as a writer, or even at demonstrations, and I do not recommend this, I tend to go alone, and I’ve been doing it for 20 years is why I feel comfortable going alone. But, I find ways to be useful to a larger crowd, as an individual, whether it’s like maintaining exits, or scouting, or you know, whatever. And, and so I tend to view my own preparedness in a similar way, I tend to be like, alright, well, especially since when I first started, I couldn’t convince anyone else to care about this shit, then for some reason, COVID and all kinds of other stuff happened, and few more people care about it. But yeah, I tend to see like, like, I used to live in a community environment where no one else wanted to do any preparedness in terms of what I was interested in. And so I was like, fuck it, I’m gonna have six months food for 10 people stored, because I can’t afford to get a year’s worth. And also, realistically, if something happened, it would suddenly be…it probably wouldn’t be 10 people six months, it would probably be I can’t do the math off the top my head, it would be 60 people’s one month. That’s probably not how math works. You know, because because I, because sharing is really useful. Sharing is not only caring, but it is like it’s the most direct and useful fucking preparedness thing is this is how it ties into also being poor and doing this, right. It’s like, like, people and access to people. That is the best resource, right? Because people are how things happen. I don’t know. I never fucking understood it, where people would be like, “Oh, I have mine. So fuck you.” and be like….

Casandra 38:43
I don’t understand.

Margaret 38:45
No, go ahead.

Casandra 38:46
I think like, who would want to survive without…

Margaret 38:52
Live alone on a pile of beans?

Casandra 38:54
Right, like, why?

Margaret 38:57
Yeah, totally.

Casandra 38:57
What’s the point then?

Margaret 39:00
Yeah.

Casandra 39:02
Aside from the fact that it’s harder and less efficient, and you know, dangerous, and all these things like, why?

Margaret 39:09
Totally and, and I think, not to go grandiose, but I think that’s one of the most important questions of our time, because I think crises are going to continue to happen and I think they’re gonna get worse. And as they do, I think people are going to shake out polarizing on one of two sides, which I will call Nationalist and Internationalist, just for lack of a better immediate terminology. And one, if you imagine a walled off city an “I got mine, fuck you city,” and then a like “Refugees Welcome city.” The “Refugees Welcome City” is going to have some immediate problems as the immediate stockpiled resources are drained. But, like even from an economics point of view, even if I was a capitalist, it just makes more sense. People grow the economy, right? Like more gets done when there’s more people doing it. I mean like have you ever tried to move on your own it’s fucking pointless. Just get people to help like…[Casandra laughing]

Casandra 40:11
I want to know where this where the like hyper individualists bunker types get all their energy. Like I would just be too tired, you know, maybe because I have a chronic illness, but I would never survive [laughing] be like actually it’s naptime.

Margaret 40:28
Yeah.

Casandra 40:29
Oh God.

Margaret 40:31
Spite alone, I think is how half of them are planning to get by,

Casandra 40:36
I think they envision themselves in like a movie. But, when they get…when they actually get to that, whoo, I almost threw my computer. When they actually get to that point and realized that no one’s like watching them be their like ideal badass or whatever. It’s gonna get really boring.

Margaret 40:52
Yeah, totally.

Casandra 40:53
Yeah.

Margaret 40:54
No, that makes it makes a lot of sense. And like. So, in terms of cheaper ways to prepare, you brought up dumpster diving and I think dumpster diving is it’s fantastic, and what I would…okay, this is not actually cheap, but in a community sense, right? I’m always obsessed with these, like more technological solutions. It’s sort of like, like, I like hydroponics as much as I like traditional gardening, especially once I found out you can make your own nutrients for hydroponics, you know, you don’t just have to like buy store bought stuff. But, with compost. But we want resources. The trash is full of resources. So if you had a freeze dryer, and then dumpster dive, [interuptted by Casandra laughing] okay, so no, no, no, no, no. So the problem is freeze dryers…

Casandra 41:45
Margaret’s on a mission.

Margaret 41:46
Yeah, I really want a freeze dryer and I can’t afford one.

Casandra 41:49
You don’t even like the texture of freeze dried food!

Margaret 41:54
Okay, but my plan is to just go around and be the like freeze dried food fairy where I show up in towns, in order to build mutual aid networks, or I show up and be like, “Look, I’ve been dumpster diving. Here is a god awful amount of strawberries, just a god awful amount, but they last for 10 years. So you can just fucking eat them if you liked the texture or wait for the apocalypse if you don’t.” Because a lot of people do like the texture, because they’re wrong. And so. So I think I think dumpster diving, even without the freeze dryer, like regular drying is also very good. And also eating the food directly…

Casandra 42:34
Everyone loves strawberry jam.

Margaret 42:35
Yeah, totally.

Casandra 42:36
Make that shit into canned jam.

Margaret 42:38
Yeah. And so I think that, yeah, and I think that we people get lost in the and I do it too, right. And I’m like, “If only I had a $4,000 Freeze dryer.” Like cans of beans are still at 89 cents or whatever, at the grocery store near me. And you know, you need a lot of them to survive a day. And you probably don’t want to only canned beans, but I don’t know, starting small, focusing more on relationships and skills, if that is like if you feel really not in a good place to get resources. There’s also just other ways that people gather resources. Some of them are crime, which I would never advocate, because that’s the…not because it’s morally wrong, because I think legality and morality are entirely divorced as concepts. There’s no correlation or negative correlation between the two. Plenty of cool shit is legal, plenty of uncool shit is illegal, but whatever. So, crime is a way that people gather resources, dumpster diving, which technically probably counts as crime, but in the “Who fucking cares level of it”, depending on your…I mean, as long as you can afford to interact with police, you know, if you can’t afford to interact with police, then dumpster diving is a much harder thing to do, right? But I don’t know. Someone should write grants for this sort of shit. I don’t know, create mutual aid organizations. And especially as you’re doing things on a community level, I think people would come forward. I’ve seen it happen a lot, because I think there are people who do have resources, financial resources, who would like to be part of developing mutual aid organizations. And really, what is community preparedness, but mutual aid? That’s my long winded answer. Casandra was like, “I don’t talk long,” and I was like, I don’t talk short.

Casandra 44:40
But when you talk long, then it reminds me of other things. So…

Margaret 44:42
Oh, good.

Casandra 44:43
I’m thinking about how…I’m thinking about doing things on the cheap. And I know I’ve occasionally looked up like, “10 items, you must have to be prepared,” or whatever. And I think those lists are really pointless and overly expensive if you follow them exactly, because like what I need to be comfortable is not the same as what other people need to be comfortable. And what I need to survive is not the same as what other people need to survive. Still using food as an example, like I’m not gonna…why would I spend money on a bunch of, I don’t know, wheat products, which is what all of those like premade freeze dried buckets are like really high in like wheat and dairy and sugary things that I can’t eat. Like, why would I spend money on that when I can put resources into other things? So just like not getting the gadgets and the shit that you don’t need, which it feels…we talked about this at the very beginning. You mentioned something before we started recording about some YouTuber, it doesn’t really matter who, but how it feels like they’re trying to like sell the apocalypse.

Margaret 46:02
Yeah.

Casandra 46:05
And often also trying to sell like products along with it, which you didn’t say, but I just inferred

Margaret 46:11
It’s true. The one that I was talking shit on absolutely sells products. Yeah.

Casandra 46:14
Really?

Margaret 46:15
Yeah.

Casandra 46:15
[Mocking] “You need this product to survive?” [not mocking] Probably not. You know?

Margaret 46:19
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, one of the one of the best piece of advice is that I’ve ever heard is, don’t ask for gear recommendations from rich people.

Casandra 46:33
Right!

Margaret 46:34
Just don’t, because they will always have a reason they will be like, like, if you…firearms is a black hole of money, right? And people are like, “Oh, you need this gun belt. You will die if you don’t have this $80 gun belt. And if you don’t have this gun light that costs $350 You’re basically already dead. I actually don’t know how you made it this long, Casandra without a $350 gun light.”

Casandra 47:06
For a gun I don’t have…

Margaret 47:07
Although I will say from a self defense point of view, I would absolutely in most situations…well, I actually do on most situations have a tactical flashlight on me and not a gun, because I think in most situations, lethal force is not warranted. And if you shine a really bright light in people’s eyes, it confuses them, and you can get away. The like tactical flashlight as the like “This is so you can fight with it,” I’m like, “No, no, no, just a flashlight that clips into your pocket that’s really bright. That’s…”

Casandra 47:37
Yeah.

Margaret 47:38
Anyway. And yeah, and, like, if you want a $50 knife, you can go out and have a $50 knife. And if you use knives all the time, you might appreciate how it stays sharp and how you never need to tighten the little folding mechanism and shit. But you know what, have a $3 folding knife and like, a $3 folding knife is fine. It cuts things. It opens boxes, it kills ticks. Those are the only things I use my knife for.

Casandra 48:09
I have a $15 Mora knife that does not fold. But in my head, the boxes is it ticks are like “It splits weaving material.”

Margaret 48:18
Yeah, exactly.

Casandra 48:19
“I can prune with it.”

Margaret 48:21
Exactly. Like, yeah. So, don’t take advice from rich people. That’s my number one tip.

Casandra 48:31
Except your light sources.

Margaret 48:34
Yeah. Yeah, totally. And, and don’t see it as a like, if you can’t be fully prepared, there’s no point. You know?

Casandra 48:45
Yeah.

Margaret 48:45
Because there’s just times when you’re like, like, most of the time I use my emergency kit it’s because like someone’s like, “Does anyone have any Advil?” And I’m like, “I do have Advil,” you know, and like, I don’t know. And so a little tiny emergency kit gets used a lot more than…and the first, the first five gallons of water that I store are the only ones that I’ve had to personally use now that I live on grid, right? Like when I lived off grid, I used all of my 150 gallons on a regular basis. But the first the first five gallons of water is the most important. The first extra jar of peanut butter is the most important. The first $3 knife is the most important. So all the expensive shit, whatever.

Casandra 49:39
Yeah. Yeah.

Margaret 49:45
Well, this ties into the question, “Why prepare rather than just deciding that the apocalypse is when you die?” Hey, hey this wasn’t on the list. But I get asked this…

Casandra 50:03
Do I have to go first, or do you go first?

Margaret 50:07
If you are able to, you should go first. But if not, I can go first. I just get asked this a lot.

Casandra 50:15
I mean, I think two reasons. The short answer for me is that I have a child that I have to take care of. So, I can’t just… like if it was just me, I might possibly say like, “Eeeeeh, I mean, maybe I’d rather go when the apocalypse happens.” So that’s reason number one. Number two is that I don’t think the apocalypse is like a singular, like, quick event. I think we’re in the midst of it. So you know, yeah. I’m here already doing it.

Margaret 50:43
Totally. Yeah. I was reading something. I read a lot of history now for my my other podcast, it’s called Cool People Who Did Cool Stuff, if you want to hear about history. And, one of the things that’s like, come up a couple of times is this idea that like, even during, like really wild shit, where tons of people are dying, they’re still often singing and dancing, right? There’s still often beauty. There’s still often love. You know, there’s all of these things. And so yeah, we’re like, we’re living in a slow apocalypse now, and I really, I don’t like the slow apocalypse. I really like my life, you know. And then the other thing is that is a friend of mine who survived the fall of the Soviet Union as a teenager is the one who always reminds me that most people survive the end of their way of life. So there are apocalypses is that where most people don’t survive, right? I live on territory in the United States, that is the result of such an apocalypse where I mean, it was not complete. And those people are… you know indigenous people are still here. And I’m not trying to erase that. But, I’m, it was a devastating apocalypse of conquest and murder. But, most ends of ways of life, people survive. Most people survive. We can get focused on all the people who died. And on some level we owe it to the people who died. But…

Casandra 52:30
Yeah, that, that made me think…if this is too grim, it can be cut, but that made me think of the story. I want to say it’s from Poland during the Holocaust, a Jewish community was…the story is that a Jewish community was rounded up and they were, you know, lined up in a field to be shot. And the soldiers. were, like, taunting them. And and I believe the soldiers were like, “Dance for us,” you know. And so the Jews started singing “Mir veln zey iberlebn, iberlebn, iberlebn” , which is “We will outlive them.” They were like, “Alright, fuck you!” Yeah.

Margaret 53:13
Yeah, and you’re still here.

Casandra 53:16
Right. Yeah.

Margaret 53:18
That’s cool.

Casandra 53:18
They were shot. But…

Margaret 53:21
Right, but there’s also kind of a…I don’t know, maybe this is just also on this kind of grim page, but it’s like, it was a quote, I think it’s George Jackson, I think but I’m not entirely certain, that’s basically like, “I don’t care how much longer I live over this, I have no control.” I’m completely paraphrasing really rudely. But, it’s a quote I think about constantly, “I have no control over how much longer I live. I have control over how I live.” You know, and I’m already…I’m already as old as like medieval peasants get, right? Or medieval royalty! Really kind of anyone before before fucking antibiotics. Like, I’m doing alright. And I don’t know, i was like a ‘no future’ punk kid. And then after every birthday after 30 I’m kind of like, “Sweet borrowed time,” you know, like, and so I kind of I don’t know when I think of the like, alright, like, just to completely horribly paraphrase various quotes, I think this one actually comes from the Quran. It was a big part of activist culture when I first got involved, it was like, “If the world would end tomorrow I would still plant a tree today.” And I believe that the original source of that is the Quran, I learned after writing an essay about this particular quote and how much it means to me. But, it just means a lot to me because it’s just like, alright, well, we like do the things that we care about doing. And the reason I prepare is because I’m like, well, I’m hedging my bets. I still want to try and live long if I can, you know. This guy way darker than I originally…

Casandra 55:13
it’s hard to talk about, like, climate collapse without a certain mix of like you know realistic grimness and also hope. I don’t think there’s really any other way to talk about it, personally.

Margaret 55:27
Yeah, maybe that’s why I like hate the Doomer versus like Bloomer. Maybe I misunderstand this debate, but this kind of this like, idea that, you know, either everything’s gonna be fine….Okay, I guess the bloomers aren’t this, but like, people…I mostly run into people who are either like stick their heads in the sand because thinking about the apocalypse is too much, which is a completely understandable response. And people use the like, stick your head in the sand really pejoratively. And maybe I shouldn’t so much, right? It’s a very understandable response to just not pay attention to something until you have to, right. Or this, like doom and gloom, we’re all going to die, so buy these products thing.

Casandra 56:11
Yeah.

Margaret 56:13
And I don’t like either of them. I like looking as soberly as possible at what seems possible, and how we can best manage it? And then just do that? I don’t know. That’s, that’s what being a responsible human looks like to me is you look at problems and then you try to solve them. I don’t know, like, am I wrong?

Casandra 56:42
No, you’re not wrong.

Margaret 56:44
Like if there’s a problem, give up? Or there’s a problem, don’t look at it.

Casandra 56:49
Yeah, I don’t even know if it’s conscious for a lot of people. Like we’re, I was talking with my therapist about this a few weeks ago, actually, not in terms of climate collapse, but just, you know, crisis in general, and how our nervous systems are, like not built to handle what we have to handle right now, just in terms of like, how much input we have constantly. Yeah. But you know, if my neighbor, if something were to happen, and my neighbor hasn’t been in a place where they can process what’s going on in the options, like, hopefully, I’ll have some extra beans for them. So that’s good.

Margaret 57:31
Totally, because I think a lot of those people, some people I love very dearly fall into this category, and I’m not going to name them because there’s so many negative connotations here. Like, some of those people are some of the best people in crisis, right? So they’re not necessarily good before the crisis, at anticipating the crisis and averting the crisis. But sometimes, the like weird, weird is not the right word, but this like mono focus on like, “Okay, now this thing is happening, and I’m going to deal with it. And then I’m not going to think about any other time.” You know, maybe yeah, like, you’ve done a lot of prepared. You’ve done a lot of preparedness. And then as the thing happens, maybe your neighbor is like, not burned out. And is like, “Okay, what do we got to fucking do?” Maybe I’m giving too much credit to your neighbor. I don’t know.

Casandra 58:24
No, even thinking about recent crises, like the the I won’t be too specific, but like the Big Freeze. I was fine. Even though I didn’t have power for 10 days, but my seven year old was not going to be fine.

Margaret 58:43
Yeah.

Casandra 58:44
And someone in my family who got power sooner than me…whatever, that. I’m not sure where I was going with that anecdote. I mentally froze not because I couldn’t take care of myself, but because I couldn’t figure out how to make it comfortable for my child and someone who doesn’t think about preparedness as much as I do was able to be helpful.

Margaret 59:09
Yeah.

Casandra 59:10
Yeah.

Margaret 59:11
That makes sense to me. Okay, one of the other questions that we get asked a lot is kind of like, well, “How can I be useful? I am poor or I am a tech worker and I don’t know shit about starting fires, or I have the following different types of disabilities or, you know, I’m old or I’m young or these things that society says you’re outside the realm of like, the cool bearded guy who can live in the forest, eating squirrels with a hatchet?”

Casandra 59:47
Chops with a hand and videotapes it.

Margaret 59:49
Yeah, totally. Yeah. But literally with his with his hands, you know?

Casandra 59:54
Yeah.

Margaret 59:55
Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, I get asked and Live Like The World Is Dying gets asked like, “What do we…or what do I do?” Or like…and I don’t know, to me that’s almost like, one of the most like, fun questions. I know it’s kind of weird, say “fun,” but…

Casandra 1:00:18
No, it’s fun.

Margaret 1:00:19
There’s just so many things.

Casandra 1:00:20
So many things.

Margaret 1:00:22
Yeah.

Casandra 1:00:24
Can you organize a buying group so people can get bulk goods? Do you have room in your house so someone else can store shit?

Margaret 1:00:31
Yeah, if you can, if you can throw a party, you can probably like, organize people to get something done. And if you hate parties, there’s probably something else you focused on. You know? Even like, I don’t wanna say even as if it’s this like other, but I don’t know, I think about my friends who are like, specifically really good at Magic the Gathering and video games…

Casandra 1:00:55
Oh, my God, they can watch people’s kids while other people do stuff.

Margaret 1:00:59
Yeah totally!

Casandra 1:01:02
Perfect.

Margaret 1:01:04
Also, good at strategy. Yeah, if you feed them the right rules. Now I’m just I’m thinking about one of my specific friends. I’m not trying to make broad statements. But, I’m like, well, you’re very good at taking this like systems and apply and figuring out how to like, maneuver through it in order to accomplish a goal. You know, whereas when I play games, I’m like, “I don’t know, hit the button!” And then I die. And then I’m like this games awful.

Casandra 1:01:32
Also, like we need games in order to survive, right?

Margaret 1:01:36
Yeah.

Casandra 1:01:37
And stories and things like that. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Margaret 1:01:40
Yeah, totally, totally. And like, folks who you know, are, like, older have a lot in terms of things that they’ve seen happen before and what’s worked and what’s not worked? And then people who are a lot younger, have energy unclouded by the knowledge of what has failed before. And both of these things are really useful.

Casandra 1:02:05
Yeah.

Margaret 1:02:06
But you’re so right about childcare. And like, I don’t know, it seems like when revolutionary movements start, they start like getting good once there’s like mutual aid childcare.

Casandra 1:02:18
Yeah, that’s like a whole other topic.

Margaret 1:02:25
Totally. I mean, honestly, it’s one we should do on this show at some point is like, literally, like, I’m like, there’s a lot of non kid having adults in this generation, I say, this generation, as if everyone listening to this generation, but I’m a millennial. And, you know, a lot of a lot fewer of us have children and don’t know how to take care of children, and therefore sort of try to avoid taking care of other people’s children, which is bullshit, because that should be a shared responsibility. So we should do an episode on how to take care of other people’s kids. This is clearly just the like Margaret tries to find people to ask in order to answer questions that she has. Okay.

Casandra 1:03:16
Did you have any other secret questions you were hiding for me?

Margaret 1:03:20
Yeah, there’s one final question.

Casandra 1:03:21
Okay.

Margaret 1:03:22
Final question is: Casandra, what gives you hope about all of this kind of stuff?

Casandra 1:03:27
Okay, I think the thing that gives me hope is that we know things are in the process of changing drastically. And with change is always the potential to like create a different, and who knows, maybe in some ways better future.

Margaret 1:03:43
Yeah, I think about how the good apocalypse books…or the ones that I like, and movies are basically stories of hope. Because people don’t like the current society. There’s a lot of reasons to dislike the current society. And so, I don’t know, like one of the things that I think plagues the current society is loneliness and isolation. And I mean, frankly, it’s a question we didn’t get to. And hopefully, we’ll get to, again, do a similar thing is like people ask all the time, like, “How do I get involved? How do I meet people? How do I make connections? How do I? How do I have a community?” You know, because most people don’t beyond very limited contexts in the current world. And what gives me hope is that disaster disaster studies shows that time and time again, when disaster happens, people get their shit together and hang out with each other and do things together. That’s what gives me hope. I hope that we pull through this and come out, come out in a better a better future. A bright future dawning over there.

Casandra 1:04:56
Here, here.

Margaret 1:04:57
Yeah. You Well, thanks for listening to our different style…It turned into more of a question and answer than a specific like, “How to begin preparedness,” but I think it…I hope that this is a good style of podcast. And if you enjoyed listening, you should maybe tell us that this one was good and support our show.

Casandra 1:05:35
How can they support our show, Margaret?

Margaret 1:05:38
Well, that’s a it’s funny that you ask. They can support our show by supporting the publisher of this show, which both Casandra and I work with, called Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness, which is an anarchist collective, committed to the cultural side of resistance and basically trying to create things for people who didn’t know where they fit in. And lots of other people too. But, we tried to make cultural things and we make this podcast and you can support us on Patreon at patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness. And that money will go to help produce this show. It’ll go to help send out all kinds of content. If you back us at $10 a month you’ll get a physical zine in the mail every month, anywhere in the world. And in particular, I want to thank some of our patrons, Hoss the dog, who is a dog. The rest of these are presumably people, but Hoss, the dog, is a dog who supports us. Very grateful. Hoss, the dog is maybe our longest running…Although some of these other people are also very long running. I’m not trying to disparage them. Hoss, the dog, Chris, Sam, Nora, Micaiah, Kirk, Natalie, Eleanor, Jennifer, Staro Chelsea, Dana, David, Nicole and Mikki. Thank you so much. And thanks everyone who doesn’t support us financially, but just listens and does this stuff, because we do this not for the support, we do this because we want people to take care of each other and selfishly I do it so that other people take care of me in the apocalypse times. Any final final words?

Casandra 1:07:26
Oh, for me?

Margaret 1:07:26
Yeah, why not?

Casandra 1:07:26
No.

Margaret 1:07:28
Okay.

Casandra 1:07:30
I was trying to be very quiet so you could close.

Margaret 1:07:33
Oh, well, we ruined that. We will talk to you all very soon, because now we come out every two weeks.

Casandra 1:07:40
Whoo!

Find out more at https://live-like-the-world-is-dying.pinecast.co

S1E44 – Mo on Grand Juries

Episode Notes

Episode Summary:
Mo, a criminal defense/movement lawyer with the National Lawyers Guild, talks about how Grand Juries are used by the State to destabilize communities, and what your options are for resisting them if you are issued a subpoena. Margaret and them talk about the importance of not cooperating with Grand Juries and how you can be an eternal badass…i mean protect yourself and your community by resisting them. They also talk about the most important legal strategy: Hope.

Guest Info:
Mo, Moira Meltzer-Cohen (they/them), is a Criminal Defense Lawyer who works at the intersection of Criminal Defense and struggles for social and economic justice. They work for the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) Federal Defense Hotline. You can find them on Twitter @ProbYrLawyer.

Show Links:

National Lawyers Guild Federal Defense Hotline: (212) 679-2811 IF YOU RECEIVE A SUBPOENA FOR A GRAND JURY CALL THEM. (If you call you might get Mo!)

NLG NYC_:_ On Instagram @NLG_NYC

Civil Liberties Defense Center: CLDC.org for legal primers, brochuers and information.

Grand Jury Resistance Project: GrandJuryResistance.org

SparrowMedia.net: Chelsea Manning Grand Jury Resitance info.

Host:
The host Margaret Killjoy can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy or instagram at @margaretkilljoy.

Publisher:
This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at www.tangledwilderness.org, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at www.patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness.

Transcript

Mo on Grand Juries

Margaret 00:15
Hello and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m your host, Margaret killjoy. And this week I will be talking to my friend Mo, who is a lawyer. And not just any lawyer, but the lawyer I know who got one of my friends out of jail when he was in jail for Grand Jury resistance. “What is a Grand Jury?” you might ask, and “Why might we resist it?” Well, that’s the topic of this week’s episode. So if you stay tuned, you will hear all about Grand Juries and why they suck, and what we can do about them, and what you can do about them. This podcast is a proud member of the Channel Zero network of anarchists podcasts. And here’s the jingle from another show on the network.

Margaret 01:48
Okay, if you could introduce yourself with your name, your pronouns, and then kind of what you do for work.

Mo 01:53
Hi, Margaret, I’m Mo. My name is Moira Meltzer-Cohen. My pronouns are they/them. I’m an attorney, and I work at the intersection of criminal defense and struggles for social and economic justice. So, I’ve probably represented a lot of your listeners.

Margaret 02:13
Hurray. Yeah, for context. I’ve literally had nightmares, where I get rounded up by cops, and I’m just like, “I need to call Mo!” And and then Mo comes and saves me.

Mo 02:26
I’ll do my best.

Margaret 02:27
Yeah, I appreciate it. The only other phone number I’ve memorized besides like my immediate family. So speaking of friends of ours that Moira has gotten out of jail, I want to talk about something that happened a number of years ago to our mutual friend, Jerry Koch, which was that one time Jerry Koch was may may or may not have once been in a bar. And people in that bar may or may not have been talking about a crime that happened. I think, before Jerry even moved to New York City, but I’m not entirely certain. And that crime was that someone may or may not Well, clearly, someone did it. No one knows who did it. Someone bicycled past recruitment center and threw a box full of black powder at it, and it destroyed the door in the middle of the night, and no one was hurt. And because it was a federal crime, it became this huge deal. And so Jerry was subpoenaed to speak before a Grand Jury, and Jerry refused to do so. And as a result, he spent nine months in jail without being accused of any crime, and basically, like all of his rights were taken away. Like all of his, you know, First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights were not enough to say, well, basically, they can try and make you talk even though it’s not illegal to not talk to them, and they can still throw you in jail. And I wanted to have Mo on one because Mo was the one who got Jerry out of jail. But also because I think that it’s useful for people to know about the Grand Jury process, kind of what it is, what it can do to social movements, and how we can prevent it from doing those things to our social movements as we fight for a better world. So do you want to tell me like, What is a Grand Jury?

Mo 04:18
Right? So the Grand Jury is anomalous in the American legal system, and it’s, as you will see, it’s so anomalous, and it so disregards so many of the core assumptions that most people have about the Constitution and the American legal system that I have encountered many people, including many attorneys, who have a really hard time believing that Grand Juries exist and operate in the way that they do actually operate. So a federal Grand Jury is an investigation where 18 to 24 people are called together in the same way that, you know, you get called for, like jury duty. People get called for Grand Jury Duty. And they hang out and listen to prosecutors to federal prosecutors present evidence about various criminal offenses and determine whether or not a crime has actually occurred. And in doing these investigations, federal prosecutors can issue subpoenas, which say, to whoever they’re issued to, you have to show up to this Grand Jury and answer my questions in front of these 18 to 24 people. And there’s really…and you don’t get an attorney in there with you. And there’s no judge in there. There’s just the prosecutor and these people who have been called to Grand Jury Duty. And they can tell you to come and give testimony and answer their questions. And they can also tell you to come and bring various kinds of documents. And this is compulsory, whereas usually, you would have the right to decline to participate in a police investigation, which is what I talked about last time I was on your show, which is that you really never have an obligation to talk to police. Unfortunately, this is sort of the opposite, where if you are issued a Grand Jury subpoena, and you declined to participate, you can be ordered by a judge to participate, sort of, in spite of all of the rights you think you have, like the First Amendment, right to Association and Speech and Belief, and your Fifth Amendment rights to remain silent. And your Sixth Amendment right to have a lawyer with you, if you’re being questioned, all of those rights kind of fly out the window. And if you refuse to participate, a judge might order you to participate anyway. And if you continue to decline to participate, the judge will find you in Contempt of their Order To Participate, and they can throw you in prison. And so you can spend a pretty significant amount of time in federal prison, not because you have been accused of a crime, not because you have been convicted of a crime, but because you have declined to help the state make out their case against yourself or someone else.

Margaret 07:29
One of the things that really strikes me about Grand Juries is like when you first try to describe the process of someone, it sounds like a good thing, right? It’s like set up to be this thing where you’re like, oh, you can’t just accuse people have crimes. And you actually have to have a meeting ahead of time to make sure there’s enough evidence before you can accuse someone of a crime. And it just I feel like the state is really good at taking things that like ostensibly might possibly be designed to protect us from government overreach and turn them into over government overreach.

Mo 08:01
That’s exactly right. So a Grand Jury is a it’s a process that was invented in the 12th century. And the reason that it was invented is it was a group of sort of citizens, men, who would come together to privately investigate whether an offence had even been committed, because sometimes the Crown would just throw people in, in jail. And so this was… the Grand Jury was a step that was intended to make sure that there was some constraint on the unfettered power of the Crown. And unfortunately, the way that the Grand Jury has been adopted and used in the United States is not…it is an arm of state power, as opposed to a bulwark against it. Although, federal prosecutors get really butthurt if you say things like that, and they…they’re constantly saying, we’re a bulwark against unfettered power, but they’re….

Margaret 09:07
And that’s why we threw your friend in jail for nine months for not talking to us.

Mo 09:11
I can never tell if federal prosecutors actually believe the things that they’re saying. They’re very defensive about… they’re very defensive about the Grand Jury process. And they seem genuinely to believe that it’s protective, despite the fact that there, I think, is only one other nation in the world that still uses Grand Juries, because they have come to be understood as really damaging. They’re not transparent. They’re secret proceedings. They’re frequently compared to Star Chamber Proceedings. But one of the things that is a big difference between a federal Grand Jury and the Star Chamber is that the Star Chamber Proceedings were public.

Margaret 09:54
What’s a Star Chamber Proceeding?

09:57
The Star Chamber was this like, sort of secret authoritarian court.

Margaret 10:03
Cool.

Mo 10:04
So, yeah, so the thing about Grand Jury proceedings is the claim that’s made is that they happen in secret so that they don’t sort of destroy the reputations of people who the innocent accused, right? But there’s actually ways of initiating a criminal prosecution that don’t involve secrecy, right? You….people in countries all over the world managed to prosecute criminal offenses without using Grand Juries. And it involves sort of public cross examination and having sort of the trappings of due process that we would assume, obtain in the American legal system, and they typically do, but federal Grand Juries, you know, as I said, there, it’s totally unnecessary. But, they’re very useful. They’re very useful for a number of reasons, because their critical attributes give tremendous power to prosecutors. Sorry, let me rephrase that they’re very useful to prosecutors for a number of reasons. They’re not particularly useful to anyone else? They’re quite dangerous for exactly these reasons.

Margaret 11:18
Because they can like…they can use them to just fish information out of scenes, right? Because you can show up and say…

Mo 11:24
There’s a bunch of things about them. One is that what a prosecutor can ask is almost unlimited. There’s there’s really… the rules of evidence that we would think about, like, you know, hearsay, being inadmissible various kinds of unlawfully collected evidence being admissible, relevance, right? If you’re having a criminal trial or a civil trial, you can’t just get any kind of…you can’t start asking questions about unrelated things, right? Well, in a federal Grand Jury, you can, and there’s…Furthermore, there’s nobody there. There’s no judge there, there’s no defense attorney present. The only person who’s present is the prosecutor. So the prosecutor gets to determine what evidence gets seen, and what evidence doesn’t get seen, right? They’re presenting their case to this Grand Jury, but they’re not giving a complete picture, which is why we have Grand Juries where, you know, over 99%, of people accused of a federal offense get indicted by a Grand Jury. But are those people ever cops? I mean, almost never, right? And that’s because the prosecutor controls how evidence is presented and what evidence is not presented, and how evidence gets placed before those grand jurors. And so they really control the narrative. And they basically determine what gets prosecuted and what doesn’t. They can also use the federal Grand Jury, as you said, to go fishing, because they can basically issue as we saw with Jerry, they can issue a subpoena to just about anyone and ask them just about anything. So, you know, we have no idea whether they actually thought Jerry had any relevant information about that event, which they refer to as The Bicycle Bombing. Right? Who knows whether they actually thought that Jerry had any information about it, despite the fact that he told them publicly many times that he did not. And they don’t seem to have had any real reason to think he did. But what they definitely thought he had information about was anarchist organizing in New York City. And that’s clearly what they were interested in asking him about. And so maybe they weren’t necessarily going to get information about the Bicycle Bombing from subpoenaing him to come and give testimony. And maybe they weren’t gonna even get information about any kind of Federal offense from his testimony, but they sure we’re gonna get some social mapping. They sure we’re gonna get some information about, you know, potentially about like, internecine quarrels in the anarchist community. So, you know, a lot of, a lot of this is a fishing expedition. And I think that sort of brings us to the next thing that you and I were discussing, which is, Grand Juries are these really complicated, really anomalous legal proceedings. They’re sort of quasi criminal. They involve a lot of different really technical elements. But at bottom, they’re sort of anathema to anarchists. And there’s a few reasons for that. And I think, you know, this is sort of the thing that I guess we wanted to talk about, which is that,

Margaret 14:55
Yeah, why don’t anarchists talk to Grand Juries?

Mo 14:58
Well, this is yeah, I mean, this is the thing, right, is that there’s sort of three things going on. One thing is anarchists pretty much don’t talk to Grand Juries, on principle, because fuck the state. But there’s also materially, it’s very dangerous to give testimony to a Grand Jury, because you’re essentially, even if you’re not giving them information about any unlawful activity, any information that you give to the state, can and very much will be used against you and your community. And anytime you’re talking to a federal Grand Jury, or a federal investigator, law enforcement of any kind, anything that you say, can be used to get more information can be used to cause trouble in your community, and can be used to prosecute, prosecute you or the people in your community. And then the third even more technical reason is that strategically, legally, there are a whole slew of reasons and legal arguments that you can bring to bear against cooperating with a federal Grand Jury. And, in fact, you know, I would say, as a legal matter, you know, I can’t…whether or not to cooperate with a federal Grand Jury is not a decision that an attorney can make for another person.

Margaret 16:25
Right.

Mo 16:26
But there are a number of legal advantages to litigating questions around the enforceability of a Grand Jury subpoena.

Margaret 16:39
Well does this tie into, like, how how you got Jerry out?

Mo 16:44
Yes. Well, there’s sort of there’s phases, right, because the first thing that I would say, the first thing that would happen in Grand Jury litigation, is developing arguments or or seeing if there are arguments against the enforceability of the Grand Jury subpoena. And these range from things like: “Is the subpoena properly issued and enforceable?”to “Can you enforce this Grand Jury subpoena against this particular individual?” Does this Grand Jury subpoena impermissibly intrude into First Amendment protections? Does it impermissibly intrude into Fifth Amendment protections? Can you demonstrate that this particular subpoena was issued on the basis of illegally collected evidence? There’s things like that, that certainly you would want to litigate before just rolling over and cooperating with a Grand Jury. Again, from the legal point of view, quite apart from the issues of principle, you know, if you don’t, if there’s a way to avoid incriminating yourself, you, you know, I would advise you to do it. So, there’s a whole kind of litigation to…that happens sort of up front, to try to do what’s called “quash the subpoena”, right, to nullify the subpoena. That almost universally fails. We are not successful with that litigation that happens early on in the process. And then what what typically happens? Well, sometimes what happens is that the prosecutor gives up, but that’s, that’s not typical. Although it happens occasionally.

Margaret 18:39
We could hope we could pin all of our hopes on that.

Mo 18:43
Yes. I wouldn’t expect it.

Margaret 18:47
No, we should pin all of our hopes on it. That’s what’ll happen. You heard it here first, there’s nothing to worry about.

Mo 18:55
Please call my office. If you get a Grand Jury subpoena. Do not lay awake in bed hoping for the prosecutor to let it go.

Margaret 19:03
Interesting. Okay. Okay.

Mo 19:05
You know, we even have a hotline.

Margaret 19:07
Yeah?

Mo 19:08
Which I can tell you about later. But yes, we…you can call the office, you can call the hotline. You can call your local chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.

Margaret 19:19
Okay.

Mo 19:20
Hire a lawyer instead of hoping.

Margaret 19:22
Okay.

Mo 19:23
Okay.

Margaret 19:24
And probably a movement lawyer rather than like one that’s just looking out for…

Mo 19:28
For sure. Yes. Hope is not a great legal strategy, I guess is what I’m trying to say.

Margaret 19:36
It’s almost like we should be prepared as individuals and communities for bad things that might happen.

Mo 19:42
It’s almost like that.

Margaret 19:43
Yeah, but that would be crazy. Anyway. Okay.

Mo 19:46
Typically, what happens is that you litigate the validity or the enforceability of the subpoena. And then the judge typically says, “The justice demands that we do unfettered investigations, and be allowed to ask whatever questions we want. And, if you have nothing to hide, you shouldn’t be worried, just go talk to the federal Grand Jury.” And they will, the judge, will order the witness to give testimony. But of course, the judge can order you to do something all they want. That doesn’t mean you actually have to do it. And so, if you continue to refuse to give testimony before the federal Grand Jury, the way the judge will enforce their order, is to say, “Well, if you won’t give testimony, I’m going to hold you in Contempt of Court. And the sanction for being in Contempt of Court is that I will put you in federal prison until you agree to give testimony. And if you don’t agree to give testimony, then you are going to stay in federal prison until the Grand Jury expires (Grand Jury is typically at last 18 months). So, I’ll keep you in federal prison until the Grand Jury expires.” And then the other way that you can sometimes get out without giving testimony is to just demonstrate that you will not be convinced by your confinement to give testimony, right, because the the only permissible reason to put somebody in prison for civil Contempt is to convince them to change their mind. Right?

Margaret 21:40
Cause that’s coercive instead of punitive. Is that the idea?

Mo 21:42
That’s right. That’s right. So there’s…

Margaret 21:44
What a weird dumb distinction that the law wants to make.

Mo 21:49
There’s a distincation that…I would say it’s a distinction without a difference, except it does have this very significant meaningful difference…

Margaret 21:57
Right, legally.

Mo 21:57
Which is as follows:

Margaret 21:59
Okay,

Mo 22:00
A judge cannot put you in prison to punish you in the absence of due process, in the context of Grand Jury litigation, Contempt of Court is Civil and not Criminal. And so you don’t get due process in the way that you would have to, in order for the judge to punish you. And so the judge…the fiction here is that the judge is not punishing you by confining you, the judge is just putting you in an uncomfortable situation with the promise that it will stop if you agree to do the thing the judge wants you to do. So, it isn’t punishment. It’s coercion.

Margaret 22:51
Hooray.

Mo 22:52
So it’s, it sounds very silly, except what follows there from is that if you can demonstrate to the judge, that it isn’t coercive, and it’s only punitive, then they have to release you, because it’s unconstitutional to punish you.

Margaret 23:13
Right.

Mo 23:14
And so, being able to demonstrate that the confinement in federal prison has been transformed from a coercion into a punishment is the way that you can eventually after some, usually many months, you can get your client out of prison, which is what happened with Jerry.

Margaret 23:43
Okay, I kind of love because it’s like, “Look, if you’re a badass, and you come from a badass movement, I’m sorry, you just can’t put badass is in jail. It’s just not allowed anymore”, is like the kind of and like, I’m under the impression when you were talking earlier about one of the reasons why anarchists in particular, might want to refuse to speak to Grand Juries is does this build a stronger case for future anarchists basically, to be like, “Oh, it doesn’t work. This won’t work.”

Mo 24:13
Absolutely. I dont think it will prevent them from trying to exact a cost.

Margaret 24:17
Right.

Mo 24:19
They’ll still put you in.

Margaret 24:20
Right. But I was under the impression this was like part of the way of explaining to a judge like “My you know, my client cannot be coerced into testifying.”

Mo 24:33
Absolutely. Yes, very much. You know, there’s…and it isn’t just to be clear, it isn’t only anarchists who do this. There’s some really great case law that stems from different organized crime people and white collar crime, which is just another kind of organized crime, I guess, people refusing to cooperate. There’s a really great case where a Jewish guy says that it’s against, you know, It violates the tenets of his faith to to snitch, which I as a Jew, I I would say, “Yes that I would agree with this assessment.” And of course the judge said, “No, you… I’m sorry you don’t have a religious First Amendment right not to snatch.” Morris Simpkin, I think was the was the guy. Rabbi Morris Simpkin.

Margaret 25:26
That rules.

Mo 25:27
Yeah, no, he’s he’s a hero. And then there’s a guy who basically was released, because he, he said, “I’m not going to…I’m not going to talk. Because, as you know, I have several million dollars waiting for me in an offshore bank account. If I tell you about it, I won’t, you know, I wont be able to access it later.”

Margaret 25:51
Did that work?

Mo 25:53
I don’t think it actually did work particularly well. I think the Court said something like, “You know, this is a little too venal even for us to deal with.” But, so…it isn’t just anarchists who refuse to cooperate with Grand Juries. And then there’s also people who refuse to cooperate with Grand Juries, because they’re in fear for their life, which is, I think, maybe even more common than people refusing on principle.

Margaret 26:23
Yeah. So how does this come up in movements? Right, like, you know, the the example that we use at the beginning is a fairly like, it ties into the anarchist movement in New York City at that time, but it’s a fairly isolated incident. But I’m under the impression that Grand Juries are used or end up disrupting social movements in a broader sense.

Mo 26:45
Yeah, absolutely. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Nobody talks, everybody walks”? That’s sort of, I think this is not a legal strategy commentary. But, I think the sort of the goal of anarchist communities is to recognize that the more people talk, the more evidence you are creating, the more information you are providing to the State that can–even if you’re providing evidence that has nothing to do with unlawful conduct–providing information of any kind to the State gives the state a toehold that gives them a foot in the door, it gives them something to hang a warrant on for example. It just gives them an entree into your community in a way that makes you more vulnerable. And so, you know, when when we’re saying, well, “Nobody talks, everybody walks,” the less information the State has, the less effective they will be at intruding into your community, at manufacturing allegations of unlawful conduct of fabricating, you know, conspiracy charges. There’s all kinds of ways that federal prosecutions can emerge. I mean, I would say, it’s important to recognize the way that State repression is used against vulnerable communities generally. A few years ago, there was this really horrific conspiracy prosecution that involved over 100 people in the Bronx. And, you know, there was a guy who ended up in federal prison because the evidence that he was part of this conspiracy was that he waved to somebody at the bodega.

Margaret 28:38
Oh, God.

Mo 28:38
You know, so when we’re talking about, is it protecting our communities? I’m not suggesting that, that there’s a conspiracy to hide. It’s that…or that there’s even unlawful behavior to hide or to conceal. It’s just that it is very disturbingly easy for federal law enforcement to sort of manufacture charges and allegations out of whole cloth that can just devastate a community, you know, with long term consequences. So, not handing over information to federal prosecutors or law enforcement of any kind even if you think the information is harmless, or even if you think the information serves to demonstrate your innocence. Any amount of information that’s given to federal law enforcement is dangerous to you, and it’s dangerous to your community.

Margaret 29:46
So, if you get subpoenaed or you suspect you might be subpoenaed. I’m under the impression that because the subpoena is not a warrant, that It’s not illegal to…to not get subpoenaed, to avoid being subpoenaed. Is this is this true?

Mo 30:09
It’s not…I mean, I know what you’re trying to say it’s not…you’re not going to get like arrested for avoiding service of a subpoena,

Margaret 30:19
Right? Which means you think they might come to your door, just don’t answer the door or don’t be there? Not saying that this is the strategy everyone should take, obviously. But, I’m curious…because this whole thing is so anonamalous, a nominal…is out of the ordinary. It…I’m under the impression that there’s like, a lot of history of people…like it’s a weird…I’m under the impression is a gray area where you’re kind of like allowed to go on the run. Like, it’s not illegal to flee a subpoena. It would be illegal to flee after you’ve been subpoenaed is my impression. I’m not telling people what to do. I’m just merely… it’s a very interesting part of this whole thing from my point of view,

Mo 30:59
It’s not necessarily exactly illegal. You could be arrested on what’s called a “Material Witness Order.” Because you haven’t, you’re not being accused of a crime. Right? So running isn’t exactly illegal. There are examples of people going underground to avoid subpoena. I’m not sure it’s…you know, I wouldn’t advise somebody to do it as a lawyer. But, you know, I would tell them what the potential consequences might be. But, largely the consequences would be a lot of discomfort and instability, I think. And if you, you know, I guess it sort of depends on what kind of resources you have, if you feel like you want to, if you want to go underground in order to avoid a subpoena, and you think that’s going to be easier than getting a movement lawyer to fight the subpoena. Or, you know, I think it would be very disruptive at one way or another, you are going to get a subpoena. It’s going to be disruptive. So I guess, pick your poison.

Margaret 32:06
Fair enough. I just, I kind of want to go through, like, what happens if you get a subpoena? And you know, obviously, or if you believe you might get subpoenaed. And so when I imagine the flowchart, like, yeah, one of the options is if you’re aware that you might be subpoenaed, and you want to disrupt your own life dramatically…

Mo 32:25
Certainly.

Margaret 32:26
And it’s basically a way of LARPing undergrounder because you’d like on the run from the law, but you’re not breaking the law to go underground.

Mo 32:34
I don’t know if you can LARP underground. I don’t know if you can learn being underground. You…because even if you’re being underground…

Margaret 32:44
Legally,

Mo 32:45
Because you have a delusion that you might be subpoenaed, you’re still going to be really uncomfortable.

Margaret 32:52
That’s true. Yep. Okay,

Mo 32:55
The consequences are still going to be real.

Margaret 32:57
Yeah.

Mo 32:58
But sure, one of the…one of your, one of the options available to you is to go underground. And then another option that’s available to you is to call an attorney. I’m gonna give you the hotline number, the National Lawyers Guild, federal defense hotline is (212) 679-2811. And if you call that hotline, you will get me, and you can have a privileged, confidential, and secure conversation about your rights, risks and responsibilities. And I will do my very best to connect you with appropriate legal resources in your jurisdiction. And that’s a better idea, in my opinion then going underground, but I am not the person who’s looking at subpoena. So that is a choice that you get to make.

Margaret 33:53
Yeah, I’m not advocating here. I’m just like, you know, laying out options to people.

Mo 34:00
It is an option.

Margaret 34:01
Okay. Okay. So if you get the subpoena, and you decide to fight it, and they call you, what next?

Mo 34:08
I’ll take a look at the subpoena, or your attorney will. Your attorney will take a look at the subpoena. They will call the prosecutor who issued the subpoena. Typically, they’ll ask for some time to postpone the date of appearance so that they can put together some legal arguments and try to have the subpoena quashed, which as I said before means nullified or withdrawn. They try to look for some way in which the subpoena is unenforceable or invalid. And that can be on the grounds again of the First Amendment. Like, “This subpoena intrudes into First Amendment protected behavior. The subpoena is a Fourth Amendment violation,” or “We believe that it that the subpoena was issued on the basis of evidence that was illegally obtained by the prosecution.” Or, “This subpoena in some way violates the Sixth Amendment,” or, very commonly, “This subpoena violates the Fifth Amendment and testifying in front of this Grand Jury would expose the witness to criminal liability.” So, you make all of those arguments. If the federal prosecutor really wants you to give testimony, what they will very frequently do is approach the federal government or they’ll approach the Department Of Justice and ask for what’s called an “Immunity Order”, which undermines your right against compelled self-incrimination, because it involves a promise not to prosecute you. And so, the idea is that they can then compel your testimony, because nothing you say could be self-incriminating,

Margaret 35:55
Right. But it’s still incriminates everyone else you know, and…

Mo 35:59
That’s right.

Margaret 36:00
Which could lead to them…

Mo 36:00
And probably still yourself anyway.

Margaret 36:02
Right, because then if they get someone else to talk, they could talk about you, and then their testimony can be used against you.

Mo 36:08
And your own testimony can be used against you, it just isn’t quite as straightforward as it might otherwise be.

Margaret 36:13
Oh, cool. Okay.

Mo 36:14
No, Immunity Orders are not meaningful in the way that the government would like to have you believe. So, you know, honestly, testifying before a federal Grand Jury really does…I can’t emphasize how dangerous it is, it really does expose you and anyone else, you know, to criminal liability, even if you haven’t done anything unlawful, because this is really a situation where your innocence will not protect you. And very often, especially if we’re talking about the sort of world of “conspiracy”, the very fact that you might be perceived to have information in itself can be parlayed into evidence of culpability. You know, there’s there’s just a lot of ways in which giving testimony before a federal Grand Jury is very dangerous, and really exposes you and anyone, you know, to criminal liability. And it also perpetuates the cycle of more Grand Jury subpoenas being issued,

Margaret 37:31
Right. Because they know it works.

Mo 37:34
Well. Because, if one person responds and goes before the federal Grand Jury, and are asked who was at the anarchist meeting in 1998, and then says, “Oh, I think, you know, Jose, Joseph and Joe, were all there.” Then Jose Joseph and Joe will get supoenas.

Margaret 37:55
You know this is a public show, though, right? You just used their names…

Mo 37:59
Oh. Hahah.

Margaret 37:59
And I really like interrupting you with jokes, because I feel like a jerk every time I do it. Anyway, I’m sorry. Please continue.

Mo 38:12
I love you very much.

Margaret 38:13
Thanks.

Mo 38:18
Yeah, it perpetuates a cycle of more subpoenas being issued, because anybody who says anything, the prosecutor then takes anything they’ve said, and you know anybody’s name who comes up gets, then that that person gets a subpoena. They also, you know, the more information you give them, the more that they can figure out how to target people who feel isolated and vulnerable, and who are more likely to cooperate, right. So if you…and just to be clear, what the federal government perceives as like “vulnerabilities and weaknesses” are not necessarily things that are vulnerabilities and weaknesses. So for example, they may target people who have children, believing that, you know, someone who has a child will be more willing to cooperate with the federal government, then to potentially risk prison time for a refusal to cooperate. They might target someone who’s gender non conforming, you know, on the belief that, you know, a trans person would be less likely to be able to like tolerate the idea of going to prison. They might target someone who has mental health issues, or who has a lot of friction in their community. The belief that a person who has…who’s sort of fighting with other people in their community will have an incentive to, I guess, to talk shit about those people, and to give them up and to give the government information. I think the federal government thinks we’re a lot less organized and a lot more petty than we are. And, I think the federal government thinks that we have a lot less courage than we have. But yeah.

Margaret 40:12
I mean, it’s one of the reasons that Grand Juries are scary, right, is that it’s one of the things where, as you said earlier, like “Innocence will not protect you,” you know, like, there is a level of risk just being socially engaged in activist movements, right, and so, you know what, whether or not you…what…whether or not you like do crimes, doesn’t necessarily, like affect the degree to which this particular threat might threaten you?

Mo 40:47
Yeah, I mean, I think this is the point where, you know, to return to the story of what happened to Jerry, right? Nobody ever said that Jerry knew anything about the Bicycle Bombing. Nobody ever said Jerry was involved in the Bicycle Bombing. The claim that was made is that he might have been present when a couple of other people were having a casual conversation about it.

Margaret 41:11
Right.

Mo 41:12
Which is, you know, one of the reasons that we say like, “Don’t speculate. Don’t make jokes. Don’t brag,” right? Like, because you’re not just exposing yourself to liability. You’re exposing anyone who hears you, or who is believed to have heard you to a Grand Jury subpoena, which if they’re a principled person means exposing them to prison time,

Margaret 41:41
Right. When when Grand Jury stuff hit closer to me, and it started affecting more my friends, and you know, when Jerry went to jail and stuff it, you know, sort of selfishly scared me. I had nothing to do with any of that stuff. I wasn’t living in New York, any of that. But just that realization, my that my like, non crime-ness is not enough to keep me safe or whatever. But then, I guess I’m trying to, like, offer this, like note of courage or hope, I guess, which is my legal strategy is hope. But, that’s not true.

Mo 42:16
When you say it like that, it actually sounds reasonable, though.

Margaret 42:19
Well, okay. But so the one of the things that I remember when we were working on on Jerry’s campaign, was there’s this flowchart of Grand Juries, right? And what can happen to you at each stage. And the end result of that is freedom.

Mo 42:38
Yes.

Margaret 42:39
Like, the degree to which it sucks before then varies. But, the the end result is that you’re out and you’re back with people, and everyone knows that you’re fucking badass and have their backs. And, and, and I feel like that’s a useful thing that like, I hold on to, and that I think other people. I mean…

Mo 43:02
That’s true. I think that’s true. You know, there…it is finite. There’s a few really unusual cases where someone has been charged with instead of Civil Contempt, Criminal Contempt. There are, you know, a few very, very specific instances where, you know, really post 9/11 people who were alleged to have been involved in, quote, “terrorism,” have done very serious prison time on Criminal Contempt for refusing to cooperate with a Grand Jury. But typically, what we’re looking at is a maximum of 18 months, which doesn’t have no lasting consequences.

Margaret 43:51
Oh, yeah.

Mo 43:51
But, but it is finite.

Margaret 43:54
Yeah.

Mo 43:55
You know, I mean, one of the things about Grand Juries for…in terms of resisting as a community, is that federal Grand Juries are secret, right? No one can talk about what happens in the Grand Jury room, with one significant exception, which is the witness. The witness can disclose that they’ve been subpoenaed. The witness can say what they said or what they didn’t say. They can say what they were asked. And the power of the federal Grand Jury really does very much lie in its secrecy. You know, I said, there’s no judge there. There’s no defense attorney there. I think even more importantly, there’s no public there. Right? And so it functions to isolate the witness. It functions or it is intended to function to isolate the witness. But the fact is, you know, one of the things that, as you know, Jerry did was he stood out on the courthouse steps and he made a statement and he said, “I’ve been subpoenaed. This is what I think they want to ask me about. I’m not going to talk to them about it.” He went into the Grand Jury room, he came out and disclosed what he had been asked very publicly, you know, he made a bunch of statements about his commitment to principle, and people really rallied around him. And that really served to undermine that terrifying power of secrecy, just by making that process more transparent.

Margaret 45:34
Yeah. Well, are there any final thoughts about Grand Juries that you want to want to offer the audience? Or did we miss anything major?

Mo 45:46
So, you know, we were just talking about how, you know, in Jerry’s case, and in many other cases, I’ve, I’ve litigated, the witness has been very public about their experience with the Grand Jury with the subpoena with litigation. And this is socially useful and politically useful. I will, I’d like to let your audience also know, it’s legally very useful, because at the end of this process, when you’re trying to demonstrate to a judge that your client is in-coercible, that they, that the incarceration that has been imposed upon them in order to coerce them, isn’t working, and is therefore punitive, but since they haven’t been given any due process, they’re not allowed to be punished and should therefore be released. The evidence that you put before the judge is evidence of the witness’s articulated moral conviction, their psychological makeup, and all of these social incentives that have not wavered or changed over, you know, some not insignificant period of confinement. So, all of those sorts of public statements, and, and those acts of silence before the Grand Jury, those are, in fact, the substantive evidence that will hopefully serve to win their freedom.

Margaret 47:09
Yeah.

Mo 47:11
And in fact, one part of the evidence is social support. So the more you can educate your community about what a Grand Jury is, why they’re dangerous to the community, and really help people to rally around, it sort of…showing that kind of community support, also functions to help the judge understand that it would truly be a loss, a moral loss for the witness at this point to disappoint all these, all these supporters. I want to reiterate sort of the consequences of cooperation with a Grand Jury, because, you know, being confined in a federal prison is terrible, and, and frightening and hugely disruptive. So, you know, I think there are a lot of incentives for people to cooperate. But I think people really need to understand that the consequences of cooperation don’t just include snitching about criminal conduct. It includes disclosing information about people and movements, that is totally unrelated to illegal behavior, but can be compromising in other ways that aren’t any of the State’s business that can cause internal conflict in movements, can chill other people’s commitment to movements, their willingness to participate in movements. And, of course, the, you know, the consequence that I keep talking about is the witness themself ending up in prison, which, you know, if you are convicted of a federal criminal offense, as opposed to being civilly confined, because you’re refusing to cooperate with a Grand Jury, the sentencing guidelines for federal offenses are typically way longer than 18 months. So you know, when we’re talking about going in for being a recalcitrant witness, and saying, I’m not going to cooperate with a federal Grand Jury, it is truly finite, which is may or may not be the case, if you end up incriminating yourself or somehow exposing yourself to criminal liability. And then you’re looking at a much longer sentence that, you know, that is punitive. And that that is going to last a lot longer than 18 months likely.

Margaret 49:38
So it’s kind of a parallel to the whole like, “Shut the fuck up when you’re arrested thing,” where like, all right, you’re going to jail and the difference is whether you’re going to jail, like for a couple of days or you know, for a long ass time.

Mo 49:53
Right. I mean, I again, I cannot advise someone not to cooperate with a Grand Jury. That’s not my role, it would be unethical for me to do that. But what I can do and what my job is to do is to make clear what all the various consequences might be…

Margaret 50:15
Okay.

Mo 50:16
Of cooperation, or non cooperation. And I’m not going to, I’m not gonna lie, like, if you’re subpoenaed before a federal Grand Jury, and it’s at all politically motivated, you know, there is a long history of federal Grand Jury abuse in this country that goes back to, you know, prosecuting abolitionists for sedition, and continues through the labor movement, and the 19th century anarchist movement, and the Women’s Rights movement and anti-war stuff, and Black Panthers and environmental stuff and the Green Scare. It’s a pretty strong through line of using the federal Grand Jury to disrupt, drain, distract, and repress social movements.

Margaret 51:07
Yeah.

Mo 51:09
And one of the reasons that Grand Jury subpoenas are such a powerful tool is that the government’s basically always going to get something that they want, right, they might not get to put all of you in prison, but you know, they’re gonna get something. Either they’re gonna get the information they want, which has sort of the added consequence of disrupting a whole community, because everyone’s afraid. And there are indictments and convictions. Or they can get someone to cooperate and catch them in a perjury trap, and then exploit that person for more information by agreeing not to prosecute them for the perjury, or they can subpoena someone that they absolutely know, for a fact will not cooperate. And then they can do what I would call “coercing Contempt of Court”, right? Because they’ve subpoenaed someone they know is going to…they can be held in Contempt. And then they exact a real cost from that witness, and from the whole community, and they’re draining the whole community of time and energy and resources, and distracting from the actual work that that community was trying to do in the first place.

Margaret 52:17
Yeah.

Mo 52:17
So, you know, I think your exhortation to hope is well taken. But, I also want to be very real about the fact that a Grand Jury subpoena, in and of itself, can be extremely disruptive. That said, I mean, we have been through this a bunch of times. We know how to support each other. We know how to endure the consequences of resistance. We also know how to endure the consequences of people betraying us in cooperating with Grand Juries. Right? And there’s people like me, there’s lawyers and legal workers and people like you, and people like Jerry, who is now both a former Grand Jury resistor and a lawyer.

Margaret 53:05
Yeah! That’s cool.

Mo 53:07
Yeah, I know, I couldn’t yell, any harder. There’s, you know, there’s a lot of people out there who have already been through this crucible.

Margaret 53:16
Yeah.

Mo 53:18
You know, and like I said, there’s ways to protect each other from subpoena by observing good security hygiene.

Margaret 53:24
Yeah. It’s a…it’s a..it’s a…it’s a proud lineage to be part of, you know, if you need to hold on to something, like going through the like history of people who’ve been fucked over by Grand Juries. It’s like, you just like listing the high points of American history, you know, like…

Mo 53:43
No, I mean, you’re gonna be in good company.

Margaret 53:45
Yeah.

Mo 53:46
I mean, to be clear, not every federal Grand Jury is…I mean, every prosecution is political.

Margaret 53:52
Right.

Mo 53:53
But, not every Grand Jury investigation is explicitly motivated by political animus against the person who’s being investigated.

Margaret 54:02
Right.

Mo 54:03
But there is, you know, there is a very well documented history of the federal government just using Grand Jury subpoenas to gather information to disrupt, to, to criminalize people who haven’t actually done anything unlawful to criminalize people who are doing something that is unlawful, but just.

Margaret 54:28
All right. Well, if people want to know more about Grand Juries, is there any resources you could point them to? Or?

Mo 54:35
No, there’s no resources, sorry.

Margaret 54:37
Okay. Wait…are you doing dry sarcasm back at me? I’m supposed to do the dry sarcasm.

Mo 54:44
Sorry. No, there are there are resources. There are some zines out there that I think are pretty good. There’s one that we put together during Standing Rock. There’s…actually, oh no, that’s on jury nullification. There’s a really great–this is off topic so you can totally feel free to cut it–there’s a really great scene on jury nullification that was written and illustrated by the guy who wrote “Go The Fuck To Sleep.”

Margaret 55:10
Oh, that rules. We’re gonna keep that in. Okay, cool.

Mo 55:13
Anyway, yeah, there’s like there’s good zines. There’s a–I think it still exists now I gotta google it…Oh well, the CLDC, the Civil Liberties Defense Center, and Lauren Regan have a Grand Jury brochure that’s good. Oh, and then here it is the Grand Jury Resistance Project. I think this is what it is. This is at GrandJuryResistance.org. And CLDC.org has a brochure about about Grand Juries. There’s also some information from…there’s a really great resource that is on SparrowMedia.net. That is a letter that Chelsea Manning wrote to the judge in that case when I was representing her, that goes through sort of the history of Grand Juries in the United States and internationally. And I think it’s, if I say so myself, it’s a really thorough and really compelling letter. And, I think it was really helpful in educating the judge about, you know, what her reasons were at least, for refusing to participate in the federal Grand Jury system, and what her objections were. So if anyone’s interested in that again, that’s at SparrowMedia.net. And, they have a search function.

Margaret 56:33
Cool.

Mo 56:33
And it was the letter that Chelsea Manning wrote to Judge Trenga at some point when we were trying to get her out.

Margaret 56:42
Okay, well, thank you so much for taking time out to tell everyone about this terrible thing.

Mo 56:49
My pleasure?

Margaret 56:52
Do you have any anything else that you want to shout out or ways that people should or shouldn’t reach you or anything you want to promote?

Mo 56:57
Yeah, I would, I would just like to remind people that there’s really never any reason to talk to police officers of any kind. Certainly not prior to consulting an attorney. If cops knock on your door, tell them you are represented by counsel, and to leave their name and number and your lawyer will call them back. Feel free to call me at the National Lawyers Guild Federal Defense Hotline at (212) 679-2811. And just remember, if you are arrested to say, “I am going to remain silent, and I want to speak to a lawyer,” and then actually remain silent.

Margaret 57:41
Sounds good. All right. Well, thank you so much.

Mo 57:45
You’re very welcome.

Margaret 57:51
Thank you so much for listening. I hope you never need the information that was in this week’s episode. But, I feel like it’s worth having in your back pocket just in case, like a lot of preparedness. And see this is a preparedness episode, you all were like, “The fuck have to do preparedness?’ Well, we want to be prepared for a lot of different threat models. So if you enjoyed this episode, you should tell people about it. You can tell people about it in person. And you can tell people about it on the internet. And you can tell algorithms about it by liking and subscribing and rating and reviewing and all that nonsense that tells robots what to do. And you can also support this podcast by supporting the people who helped make, which it just not just me anymore, it’s a whole team of people working at a publisher that I’m part of, an anarchist collective publisher, called a Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness. And if you support us on Patreon, you’ll get access to…well, you won’t get access to a ton of like unique content. But, what instead is you’ll support us making content. And then if you support us $10 A month you’ll get a zine in the mail every month, and anywhere in the world. In particular, I would like to thank Mikki, and Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea, Staro, Jenipher Eleanor, Natalie Kirk, Micaiah, Nora, Sam, Chris, and Hoss the dog. Your support makes this show and so many other projects possible. Alright, well that’s it for now. And I will talk, I guess “at” you soon, not really “to” you because it’s kind of a one way communication media, which is kind of weird, but it is what it is. I hope you all are doing as well as you can with everything that’s going on.

Find out more at https://live-like-the-world-is-dying.pinecast.co

S1E43 – Elle on Threat Modeling

Episode Notes

Episode summary

Margaret talks with Elle, an anarchist and security professional, about different threat modeling approaches and analyzing different kinds of threats. They explore physical threats, digital security, communications, surveillance,and general OpSec mentalities for how to navigate the panopticon and do stuff in the world without people knowing about it…if you’re in Czarist Russia of course.

Guest Info

Elle can be found on twitter @ellearmageddon.

Host and Publisher

The host Margaret Killjoy can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy or instagram at @margaretkilljoy.

This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at www.tangledwilderness.org, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at www.patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness.

Show Links

Transcript

Live Like the World is Dying: Elle on Threat Modeling

Margaret 00:15
Hello, and welcome to Live Like The World Is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m your host, Margaret killjoy. And with me at the exact moment is my dog, who has just jumped up to try and talk into the microphone and bite my arm. And, I use ‘she’ and ‘they’ pronouns. And this week, I’m going to be talking to my friend Elle, who is a, an anarchist security professional. And we’re going to be talking about threat modeling. And we’re going to be talking about how to figure out what people are trying to do to you and who’s trying to do it and how to deal with different people trying to do different things. Like, what is the threat model around the fact that while I’m trying to record a podcast, my dog is biting my arm? And I am currently choosing to respond by trying to play it for humor and leaving it in rather than cutting it out and re recording. This podcast is a proud member of the Channel Zero network of anarchists podcasts. And here’s a jingle from another show on the network.

Jingle

Margaret 02:00
Okay, if you could introduce yourself, I guess, with your name and your pronouns, and then maybe what you do as relates to the stuff that we’re going to be talking about today.

Elle 02:10
Yeah, cool. Hi, I’m Elle. My pronouns are they/them. I am a queer, autistic, anarchist security practitioner. I do security for a living now that I’ve spent over the last decade, working with activist groups and NGOs, just kind of anybody who’s got an interesting threat model to help them figure out what they can do to make themselves a little a little safer and a little more secure.

Margaret 02:43
So that word threat model. That’s actually kind of what I want to have you on today to talk about is, it’s this word that we we hear a lot, and sometimes we throw into sentences when we want to sound really smart, or maybe I do that. But what does it mean, what is threat modeling? And why is it relevant?

Elle 03:02
Yeah, I actually, I really love that question. Because I think that we a lot of people do use the term threat modeling without really knowing what they mean by it. And so to me, threat modeling is having an understanding of your own life in your own context, and who poses a realistic risk to you, and what you can do to keep yourself safe from them. So whether that’s, you know, protecting communications that you have from, you know, state surveillance, or whether it’s keeping yourself safe from an abusive ex, your threat model is going to vary based on your own life experiences and what you need to protect yourself from and who those people actually are and what they’re capable of doing.

Margaret 03:52
Are you trying to say there’s not like one solution to all problems that we would just apply?

Elle 03:58
You know, I love…

Margaret 03:58
I don’t understand.

Elle 04:00
I know that everybody really, really loves the phrase “Use signal. Use TOR,” and you know, thinks that that is the solution to all of life’s problems. But it actually turns out that, no, you do have to have both an idea of what it is that you’re trying to protect, whether it’s yourself or something like your communications and who you’re trying to protect it from, and how they can how they can actually start working towards gaining access to whatever it is that you’re trying to defend.

Margaret 04:31
One of the things that when I think about threat modeling that I think about is this idea of…because the levels of security that you take for something often limit your ability to accomplish different things. Like in Dungeons and Dragons, if you were plate armor, you’re less able to be a dexterous rogue and stealth around. And so I think about threat modeling, maybe as like learning to balance….I’m kind of asking this, am I correct in this? Balancing what you’re trying to accomplish with who’s trying to stop you? Because like, you could just use TOR, for everything. And then also like use links the little like Lynx [misspoke “Tails”] USB keychain and never use a regular computer and never communicate with anyone and then never accomplish anything. But, it seems like that might not work.

Elle 05:17
Yeah, I mean, the idea, the idea is to prevent whoever your adversaries are from keeping you from doing whatever you’re trying to accomplish. Right? So if the security precautions that you’re taking to prevent your adversaries from preventing you from doing a thing are also preventing you from doing the thing, then it doesn’t matter, because your adversaries have just won, right? So there, there definitely is a need, you know, to be aware of risks that you’re taking and decide which ones make sense, which ones don’t make sense. And kind of look at it from from a dynamic of “Okay, is this something that is in my, you know, acceptable risk model? Is this a risk I’m willing to take? Are there things that I can do to, you know, do harm reduction and minimize the risk? Or at least like, make it less? Where are those trade offs? What, what is the maximum amount of safety or security that I can do for myself, while still achieving whatever it is that I’m trying to achieve?”

Margaret 06:26
Do you actually ever like, chart it out on like, an X,Y axis where you get like, this is the point where you start getting diminishing returns? I’m just imagining it. I’ve never done that.

Elle 06:37
In, in the abstract, yes, because that’s part of how autism brain works for me. But in a, like actually taking pen to paper context, not really. But that’s, you know, at least partially, because of that’s something that autism brain just does for me. So I think it could actually be a super reasonable thing to do, for people whose brains don’t auto filter that for them. But but I’m, I guess, lucky enough to be neurodivergent, and have like, you know, like, we always we joke in tech, “It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.” And I feel like, you know, autism is kind of both sometimes. In some cases, it’s totally a bug and and others, it’s absolutely a feature. And this is one of the areas where it happens to be a feature, at least for me.

Margaret 07:35
That makes sense. I, I kind of view my ADHD as a feature, in that, it allows me to hyper focus on topics and then move on and then not come back to them. Or also, which is what I do now for work with podcasting, and a lot of my writing. It makes it hard to write long books, I gotta admit,

Elle 07:56
Yeah, I work with a bunch of people with varying neuro types. And it’s really interesting, like, at least at least in my own team, I think that you know, the, the folks who are more towards the autism spectrum disorder side of of the house are more focused on things like application security, and kind of things that require sort of sustained hyper focus. And then folks with ADHD make just absolutely amazing, like incident responders and do really, really well in interrupt driven are interrupts heavy contexts,

Margaret 08:38
Or sprinters.

Elle 08:40
It’s wild to me, because I’m just like, yes, this makes perfect sense. And obviously, like, these different tasks are better suited to different neuro types. But I’ve also never worked with a manager who actually thought about things in that way before.

Margaret 08:53
Right.

Elle 08:54
And so it’s actually kind of cool to be to be in a position where I can be like, “Hey, like, Does this sound interesting to you? Would you rather focus on this kind of work?” And kind of get that that with people.

Margaret 09:06
That makes sense that’s…. i I’m glad that you’re able to do that. I’m glad that people that you work with are able to have that you know, experience because it is it’s hard to it’s hard to work within….obviously the topic of today is…to working in the workplace is a neurodivergent person, but it I mean it affects so many of us you know, like almost whatever you do for work the the different ways your brain work are always struggling against it. So.

Elle 09:32
Yeah, I don’t know. It just it makes sense to me to like do your best to structure your life in a way that is more conducive to your neurotype.

Margaret 09:44
Yeah.

Elle 09:45
You know, if you can.

Margaret 09:49
I don’t even realize exactly how age ADHD I was until I tried to work within a normal workforce. I built my entire life around, not needing to live in one place or do one thing for sustained periods of time. But okay, but back to the threat modeling.

Margaret 10:07
The first time I heard of, I don’t know if it’s the first time I heard a threat modeling or not, I don’t actually know when I first started hearing that word. But the first time I heard about you, in the context of it was a couple years back, you had some kind of maybe it was tweets or something about how people were assuming that they should use, for example, the more activist focused email service Rise Up, versus whether they should just use Gmail. And I believe that you were making the case that for a lot of things, Gmail would actually be safer, because even though they don’t care about you, they have a lot more resources to throw at the problem of keeping governments from reading their emails. That might be a terrible paraphrasing of what you said. But this, this is how I was introduced to this concept of threat modeling. If you wanted to talk about that example, and tell me how I got it all wrong.

Elle 10:07
Yeah.

Elle 10:58
Yeah. Um, so you didn’t actually get it all wrong. And I think that the thing that I would add to that is that if you are engaging in some form of hypersensitive communication, email is not the mechanism that you want to do that. And so when I say things like, “Oh, you know, it probably actually makes sense to use Gmail instead of Rise Up,” I mean, you know, contexts where you’re maybe communicating with a lawyer and your communications are privileged, right?it’s a lot harder to crack Gmail security than it is to crack something like Rise Up security, just by virtue of the volume of resources available to each of those organizations. And so where you specifically have this case where, you know, there’s, there’s some degree of legal protection for whatever that means, making sure that you’re not leveraging something where your communications can be accessed without your knowledge or consent by a third party, and then used in a way that is conducive to parallel construction.

Margaret 12:19
So what is parallel construction?

Elle 12:20
Parallel construction is a legal term where you obtain information in a way that is not admissible in court, and then use that information to reconstruct a timeline or reconstruct a mechanism of access to get to that information in an admissible way.

Margaret 12:39
So like every cop show

Elle 12:41
Right, so like, with parallel construction around emails, for example, if you’re emailing back and forth with your lawyer, and your lawyer is like, “Alright, like, be straight with me. Because I need to know if you’ve actually done this crime so that I can understand how best to defend you.” And you’re like, “Yeah, dude, I totally did that crime,” which you should never admit to in writing anyway, because, again, email is not the format that you want to have this conversation in. But like, if you’re gonna admit to having done crimes in email, for some reason, how easy it is for someone else to access that admission is important. Because if somebody can access this email admission of you having done the crimes where you’re, you know, describing in detail, what crimes you did, when with who, then it starts, like, it gets a lot easier to be like, “Oh, well, obviously, we need to subpoena this person’s phone records. And we should see, you know, we should use geolocation tracking of their device to figure out who they were in proximity to and who else was involved in this,” and it can, it can be really easy to like, establish a timeline and get kind of the roadmap to all of the evidence that they would need to, to put you in jail. So it’s, it’s probably worth kind of thinking about how easy it is to access that that information. And again, don’t don’t admit to doing crimes in email, email is not the format that you want to use for admitting to having done crimes. But if you’re going to, it’s probably worth making sure that, you know, the the email providers that you are choosing are equipped with both robust security controls, and probably also like a really good legal team. Right? So if…like Rise Up isn’t going to comply with the subpoena to the like, to the best of their ability, they’re not going to do that, but it’s a lot easier to sue Rise Up than it is to sue Google.

Margaret 14:51
Right.

Elle 14:51
And it’s a lot easier to to break Rise Up’s security mechanisms than it is to break Google’s, just by virtue of how much time and effort each of those entities is able to commit to securing email. Please don’t commit to doing crimes in email, just please just don’t. Don’t do it in writing. Don’t do it.

Margaret 15:15
Okay, let me change my evening plans. Hold on let me finish sending this email..

Elle 15:23
No!

Margaret 15:25
Well, I mean, I guess like the one of the reasons that I thought so much about that example, and why it kind of stuck with me years later was just thinking about what people decide they’re safe, because they did some basic security stuff. And I don’t know if that counts under threat modeling. But it’s like something I think about a lot is about people being like, “I don’t understand, we left our cell phones at home and went on a walk in the woods,” which is one of the safest ways anyone could possibly have a conversation. “How could anyone possibly have known this thing?” And I’m like, wait, you, you told someone you know, or like, like, not to make people more paranoid, but like…

Elle 16:06
Or maybe, maybe you left your cell phone at home, but kept your smartwatch on you, because you wanted to close, you know, you wanted to get your steps for the day while you were having this conversation, right?

Margaret 16:19
Because otherwise, does it even count if I’m not wearing my [smartwatch].

Elle 16:21
Right, exactly. And like, we joke, and we laugh, but like, it is actually something that people don’t think about. And like, maybe you left your phones at home, and you went for a walk in the woods, but you took public transit together to get there and were captured on a bunch of surveillance cameras. Like there’s, there’s a lot of, especially if you’ve actually been targeted for surveillance, which is very rare, because it’s very resource intensive. But you know, there there are alternate ways to track people. And it does depend on things like whether or not you’ve got additional tech on you, whether or not you were captured on cameras. And you know, whether whether or not your voices were picked up by ShotSpotter, as you were walking to wherever the woods were like, there’s just there’s we live in a panopticon. I don’t say that so that people are paranoid about it, I say it because it’s a lot easier to think about, where, when and how you want to phrase things.

Margaret 17:27
Yeah.

Elle 17:28
In a way that you know, still facilitates communications still facilitates achieving whatever it is that you’re trying to accomplish, but sets you sets you up to be as safe as possible in doing it. And I think that especially in anarchist circles, just… and honestly also in security circles, there’s a lot of of like, dogmatic adherence to security ritual, that may or may not actually make sense based on both, you, who your actual adversaries are, and what their realistic capabilities are.

Margaret 18:06
And what they’re trying to actually accomplish I feel like is…Okay, one of the threat models that I like…I encourage people sometimes to carry firearms, right in very specific contexts. And it feels like a security… Oh, you had a good word for it that you just used…ritual of security theater, I don’t remember…a firearm often feels like that,

Elle 18:30
Right.

Margaret 18:31
In a way where you’re like,” Oh, I’m safe now, right, because I’m carrying a firearm.” And, for example, I didn’t carry a firearm for a very long time. Because for a long time, my threat model, the people who messed with me, were cops. And if a cop is going to mess with me, I do not want to have a firearm on me, because it will potentially escalate a situation in a very bad way. Whereas when I came out and started, you know, when I started getting harassed more for being a scary transwoman, and less for being an anarchist, or a hitchhiker, or whatever, you know, now my threat model is transphobes, who wants to do me harm. And in a civilian-civilian context, I prefer I feel safer. And I believe I am safer in most situations armed in that case. But every time I leave the house, I have to think about “What is my threat model?” And then in a similar way, sorry, it’s just me thinking about the threat model of firearms, but it’s the main example that I think of, is that often people’s threat model in terms of firearms and safety as themselves, right? And so you just actually need to do the soul searching where you’re like,”What’s more likely to happen to me today? Am I likely to get really sad, or am I likely to get attacked by fascists?”

Elle 19:57
Yeah. And I think that there is there’s an additional question, especially when you’re talking about arming yourself, whether it’s firearms, or carrying a knife, or whatever, because like, I don’t own any firearms, but I do carry a knife a lot of the time. And so like some questions, some additional questions that you have to ask yourself are, “How confident am I in my own ability to use this to harm another person?” Because if you’re going to hesitate, you’re gonna get fucked up.

Margaret 20:28
Yeah.

Elle 20:28
Like, if you are carrying a weapon, and you pull it out and hesitate in using it, it’s gonna get taken away from you, and it’s going to be used against you. So that’s actually one of the biggest questions that I would say people should be asking themselves when developing a threat model around arming themselves is, “Will I actually use this? How confident am I?” if you’re not confident, then it’s okay to leave it at home. It’s okay to practice more. It’s okay to like develop that familiarity before you start using it as an EDC. Sorry an Every Day Carry. And then the you know, the other question is, “How likely am I to get arrested here?” I carry, I carry a knife that I absolutely do know how to use most of the time when I leave the house. But when I’m going to go to a demonstration, because the way that I usually engage in protests or in demonstrations is in an emergency medical response capacity, I carry a medic kit instead. And my medic kit is a clean bag that does not have any sharp objects in it. It doesn’t have anything that you know could be construed as a weapon it doesn’t have…it doesn’t…I don’t even have weed gummies which are totally like recreationally legal here, right? I won’t even put weed in the medic kit. It’s it is very much a…

Margaret 21:52
Well, if you got a federally arrested you’d be in trouble with that maybe.

Elle 21:55
Yeah, sure, I guess. But, like the medic bag is very…nothing goes in this kit ever that I wouldn’t want to get arrested carrying. And so there’s like EMT shears in there.

Margaret 22:12
Right.

Elle 22:13
But that’s that’s it in terms of like…

Margaret 22:16
Those are scary you know…the blunted tips.

Elle 22:21
I know, the blunted tips and the like safety, whatever on them. It’s just…it’s it is something to think about is “Where am I going…What…Who am I likely to encounter? And like what are the trade offs here?”

Margaret 22:37
I remember once going to a demonstration a very long time ago where our like, big plan was to get in through all of the crazy militarized downtown in this one city and, and the big plan is we’re gonna set up a Food Not Bombs inside the security line of the police, you know. And so we picked one person, I think I was the sacrificial person, who had to carry a knife, because we had to get the folding tables that we’re gonna put the food on off of the top of the minivan. And we had to do it very quickly, and they were tied on. And so I think I brought the knife and then left it in the car and the car sped off. And then we fed people and they had spent ten million dollars protecting the city from 30 people feeding people Food Not Bombs.

Elle 23:20
Amazing.

Margaret 23:22
But, but yeah, I mean, whereas every other day in my life, especially back then when I was a hitchhiker, I absolutely carried a knife.

Elle 23:30
Yeah.

Margaret 23:31
You know, for multiple purposes. Yeah, okay, so then it feels like…I like rooting it in the self defense stuff because I think about that a lot and for me it maybe then makes sense to sort of build up and out from there as to say like…you know, if someone’s threat model is my ex-partner’s new partner is trying to hack me or my abusive ex is trying to hack me or something, that’s just such a different threat model than…

Elle 24:04
Yeah, it is.

Margaret 24:05
Than the local police are trying to get me versus the federal police are trying to get me versus a foreign country is trying to get me you know, and I and it feels like sometimes those things are like contradictory to each other about what isn’t isn’t the best maybe.

Elle 24:19
They are, because each of those each of those entities is going to have different mechanisms for getting to you and so you know, an abusive partner or abusive ex is more likely to have physical access to you, and your devices, than you know, a foreign entity is, right? Because there’s there’s proximity to think about, and so you know, you might want to have….Actually the….Okay, so the abusive ex versus the cops, right. A lot of us now have have phones where the mechanism for accessing them is either a password, or some kind of biometric identifier. So like a fingerprint, or you know, face ID or whatever. And there’s this very dogmatic adherence to “Oh, well, passwords are better.” But passwords might actually not be better. Because if somebody has regular proximity to you, they may be able to watch you enter your password and get enough information to guess it. And if you’re, if you’re not using a biometric identifier, in those use cases, then what can happen is they can guess your password, or watch, you type it in enough time so that they get a good feeling for what it is. And they can then access your phone without your knowledge while you’re sleeping. Right?

Margaret 25:46
Right.

Elle 25:47
And sometimes just knowing whether or not your your adversary has access to your phone is actually a really useful thing. Because you know how much information they do or don’t have.

Margaret 26:01
Yeah. No that’s…

Elle 26:03
And so it really is just about about trade offs and harm reduction.

Margaret 26:08
That never would have occurred to me before. I mean, it would occur to me if someone’s trying to break into my devices, but I have also fallen into the all Biometrics is bad, right? Because it’s the password, you can’t change because the police can compel you to open things with biometrics, but they can’t necessarily compel you…is more complicated to be compelled to enter a password.

Elle 26:31
I mean, like, it’s only as complicated as a baton.

Margaret 26:34
Yeah, there’s that XKCD comic about this. Have you seen it?

Elle 26:37
Yes. Yes, I have. And it is it is an accurate….We like in security, we call it you know, the Rubber Hose method, right? It we….

Margaret 26:46
The implication here for anyone hasn’t read it is that they can beat you up and get you to give them their [password].

Elle 26:50
Right people, people will usually if they’re hit enough times give up their password. So you know, I would say yeah, you should disable biometric locks, if you’re going to go out to a demonstration, right? Which is something that I do. I actually do disable face ID if I’m taking my phone to a demo. But it…you may want to use it as your everyday mechanism, especially if you’re living in a situation where knowing whether or not your abuser has access to your device is likely to make a difference in whether you have enough time to escape.

Margaret 27:30
Right. These axioms or these these beliefs we all have about this as the way to do security,the you know…I mean, it’s funny, because you brought up earlier like use Signal use Tor, I am a big advocate of like, I just use Signal for all my communication, but I also don’t talk about crime pretty much it in general anyway. You know. So it’s more like just like bonus that it can’t be read. I don’t know.

Elle 27:57
Yeah. I mean, again, it depends, right? Because Signal…Signal has gotten way more usable. I’ve been, I’ve been using Signal for a decade, you know, since it was still Redphone and TextSecure. And in the early days, I used to joke that it was so secure, sometimes your intended recipients don’t even get the messages.

Margaret 28:21
That’s how I feel about GPG or PGP or whatever the fuck.

Elle 28:24
Oh, those those….

Margaret 28:27
Sorry, didn’t mean to derail you.

Elle 28:27
Let’s not even get started there. But so like Signal again, has gotten much better, and is way more reliable in terms of delivery than it used to be. But I used to, I used to say like, “Hey, if it’s if it’s really, really critical that your message reach your recipient, Signal actually might not be the way to do it.” Because if you need if you if you’re trying to send a time sensitive message with you know guarantee that it actually gets received, because Signal used to be, you know, kind of sketchy on or unreliable on on delivery, it might not have been the best choice at the time. One of the other things that I think that people, you know, think…don’t think about necessarily is that Signal is still widely viewed as a specific security tool. And that’s, that’s good in a lot of cases. But if you live somewhere, for example, like Belarus, where it’s not generally considered legal to encrypt things, then the presence of Signal on your device is enough in and of itself to get you thrown in prison.

Margaret 29:53
Right.

Elle 29:53
And so sometimes having a mechanism like, you know, Facebook secret messages might seem like a really, really sketchy thing to do. But if your threat model is you can’t have security tools on your phone, but you still want to be able to send encrypted messages or ephemeral messages, then that actually might be the best way to kind of fly under the radar. So yeah, it again just really comes down to thinking about what it is that you’re trying to protect? From who? And under what circumstances?

Margaret 30:32
Yeah, I know, I like this. I mean, obviously, of course, you’ve thought about this thing that you think about. I’m like, I’m just like, kind of like, blown away thinking about these things. Although, okay, one of these, like security things that I kind of want to push back on, and actually, this is a little bit sketchy to push back on, the knife thing. To go back to a knife. I am. I have talked to a lot of people who have gotten themselves out of very bad situations by drawing a weapon without then using it, which is illegal. It is totally illegal.

Elle 31:03
Yes

Margaret 31:03
I would never advocate that anyone threaten anyone with a weapon. But, I know people who have committed this crime in order to…even I mean, sometimes it’s in situations where it’d be legal to stab somebody,like…

Elle 31:16
Sure.

Margaret 31:16
One of the strangest laws in the United States is that, theoretically, if I fear for my life, I can draw a gun…. And not if I fear for my life, if I am, if my life is literally being threatened, physically, if I’m being attacked, I can I can legally draw a firearm and shoot someone, I can legally pull a knife and stab someone to defend myself. I cannot pull a gun and say “Back the fuck off.” And not only is it illegal, but it also is a security axiom, I guess that you would never want to do that. Because as you pointed out, if you hesitate now the person has the advantage, they have more information than they used to. But I still know a lot of hitchhikers who have gotten out of really bad situations by saying, “Let me the fuck out of the car.”

Elle 32:05
Sure.

Margaret 32:06
Ya know?.

Elle 32:06
Absolutely. It’s not….Sometimes escalating tactically can be a de-escalation. Right?

Margaret 32:17
Right.

Elle 32:18
Sometimes pulling out a weapon or revealing that you have one is enough to make you no longer worth attacking. But you never know how someone’s going to respond when you do that, right?

Margaret 32:33
Totally

Elle 32:33
So you never know whether it’s going to cause them to go “Oh shit, I don’t want to get stabbed or I don’t want to get shot,” and stop or whether it’s going to trigger you know a more aggressive response. So it doesn’t mean that you know, you, if you pull a weapon you have to use it.

Margaret 32:52
Right.

Elle 32:53
But if you’re going to carry one then you do need to be confident that you will use it.

Margaret 32:58
No, that that I do agree with that. Absolutely.

Elle 33:00
And I think that is an important distinction, and I you know I also think that…not ‘I think’, using a gun and using a knife are two very different things. For a lot of people, pulling the trigger on a gun is going to be easier than stabbing someone.

Margaret 33:20
Yeah that’s true.

Elle 33:21
Because of the proximity to the person and because of how deeply personal stabbing someone actually is versus how detached you can be and still pull the trigger.

Margaret 33:35
Yeah.

Elle 33:36
Like I would…it sounds…it feels weird to say but I would actually advocate most people carry a gun instead of a knife for that reason, and also because if you’re, if you’re worried about being physically attacked, you know you have more range of distance where you can use something like a gun than you do with a knife. You have to be, you have to be in close quarters to to effectively use a knife unless you’re like really good at throwing them for some reason and even I wouldn’t, cause if you miss…now your adversary has a knife.

Margaret 34:14
I know yeah. Unless you miss by a lot. I mean actually I guess if you hit they have a knife now too.

Elle 34:22
True.

Margaret 34:23
I have never really considered whether or not throwing knives are effective self-defense weapons and I don’t want to opine too hard on this show.

Elle 34:31
I advise against it.

Margaret 34:32
Yeah. Okay, so to go back to threat modeling about more operational security type stuff. You’re clearly not saying these are best practices, but you’re instead it seems like you’re advocating of “This as the means by which you might determine your best practices.”

Elle 34:49
Yes.

Margaret 34:49
Do you have a…do you have a a tool or do you have like a like, “Hey, here’s some steps you can take.” I mean, we all know you’ve said like, “Think about your enemy,” and such like that, but Is there a more…Can you can you walk me through that?

Elle 35:04
I mean, like, gosh, it really depends on who your adversary is, right?

Elle 35:10
Like, if you’re if you’re thinking about an abusive partner, that’s obviously going to vary based on things like, you know, is your abusive partner, someone who has access to weapons? Are they someone who is really tech savvy? Or are they not. At…The things that you have to think about are going to just depend on the skills and tools that they have access to? Is your abusive partner or your abusive ex a cop? Because that changes some things.

Margaret 35:10
Yeah, fair enough.

Margaret 35:20
Yeah.

Elle 35:27
So like, most people, if they actually have a real and present kind of persistent threat in their life, also have a pretty good idea of what that threat is capable of, or what that threat actor or is capable of. And so it, it’s it, I think, it winds up being fairly easy to start thinking about things in terms of like, “Okay, how is this person going to come after me? How, what, what tools do they have? What skills do they have? What ability do they have to kind of attack me or harm me?” But I think that, you know, as we start getting away from that really, really, personal threat model of like the intimate partner violence threat model, for example, and start thinking about more abstract threat models, like “I’m an anarchist living in a state,” because no state is particularly fond of us.

Margaret 36:50
Whaaaat?!

Elle 36:51
I know it’s wild, because like, you know, we just want to abolish the State and States, like want to not be abolished, and I just don’t understand how, how they would dislike us for any reason..

Margaret 37:03
Yeah, it’s like when I meet someone new, and I’m like, “Hey, have you ever thought about being abolished?” They’re usually like, “Yeah, totally have a beer.”

Elle 37:10
Right. No, it’s…

Margaret 37:11
Yes.

Elle 37:11
For sure. Um, but when it comes to when it comes to thinking about, you know, the anarchist threat model, I think that a lot of us have this idea of like, “Oh, the FBI is spying on me personally.” And the likelihood of the FBI specifically spying on ‘you’ personally is like, actually pretty slim. But…

Margaret 37:34
Me?

Elle 37:35
Well…

Margaret 37:37
No, no, I want to go back to thinking about it’s slim, it’s totally slim.

Elle 37:41
Look…But like, there’s there is a lot like, we know that, you know, State surveillance dragnet exists, right, we know that, you know, plaintext text messages, for example, are likely to be caught both by, you know, Cell Site Simulators, which are in really, really popular use by law enforcement agencies.

Margaret 38:08
Which is something that sets up and pretends to be a cell tower. So it takes all the data that is transmitted over it. And it’s sometimes used set up at demonstrations.

Elle 38:16
Yes. So they, they both kind of convinced your phone into thinking that they are the nearest cell tower, and then actually pass your communications on to the next, like the nearest cell tower. So your communications do go through, they’re just being logged by this entity in the middle. That’s, you know, not great. But using something…

Margaret 38:38
Unless you’re the Feds.

Elle 38:39
I mean, even if you…

Margaret 38:41
You just have to think about it from their point of. Hahah.

Elle 38:42
Even if you are the Feds, that’s actually too much data for you to do anything useful with, you know?

Margaret 38:50
Okay, I’ll stop interuppting you. Haha.

Elle 38:51
Like, it’s just…but if you’re if you are a person who is a person of interest who’s in this group, where a cell site simulator has been deployed or whatever, then then that you know, is something that you do have to be concerned about and you know, even if you’re not a person of interest if you’re like texting your friend about like, “All right, we do crime in 15 minutes,” like I don’t know, it’s maybe not a great idea. Don’t write it down if you’re doing crime. Don’t do crime. But more importantly don’t don’t create evidence that you’re planning to do crime, because now you’ve done two crimes which is the crime itself and conspiracy to commit a crime

Margaret 39:31
Be straight. Follow the law. That’s the motto here.

Elle 39:35
Yes. Oh, sorry. I just like I don’t know, autism brain involuntarily pictured, like an alternate universe in which in where which I am straight, and law abiding. And I’m just I’m very…

Margaret 39:52
Sounds terrible. I’m sorry.

Elle 39:53
Right. Sounds like a very boring….

Margaret 39:55
Sorry to put that image in your head.

Elle 39:56
I mean, I would never break laws.

Margaret 39:58
No.

Elle 39:59
Ever Never ever. I have not broken any laws I will not break any laws. No, I think that…

Margaret 40:08
The new “In Minecraft” is “In Czarist Russia.” Instead of saying “In Minecraft,” because it’s totally blown. It’s only okay to commit crimes “In Czarist Russia.”

Elle 40:19
Interesting.

Margaret 40:23
All right. We don’t have to go with that. I don’t know why i got really goofy.

Elle 40:27
I might be to Eastern European Jewish for that one.

Margaret 40:31
Oh God. Oh, my God, now I just feel terrible.

Elle 40:34
It’s It’s fine. It’s fine.

Margaret 40:36
Well, that was barely a crime by east…

Elle 40:40
I mean it wasn’t necessarily a crime, but like my family actually emigrated to the US during the first set of pogroms.

Margaret 40:51
Yeah.

Elle 40:52
So like, pre Bolshevik Revolution.

Margaret 40:57
Yeah.

Elle 40:59
But yeah, anyway.

Margaret 41:02
Okay, well, I meant taking crimes like, I basically think that, you know, attacking the authorities in Czarist Russia is a more acceptable action is what I’m trying to say, I really don’t have to try and sell you on this plan.

Elle 41:16
I’m willing to trust your judgment here.

Margaret 41:19
That’s a terrible plan, but I appreciate you, okay. Either way, we shouldn’t text people about the crimes that we’re doing.

Elle 41:26
We should not text people about the crimes that we’re planning on doing. But, if you are going to try to coordinate timelines, you might want to do that using some form of encrypted messenger so that whatever is logged by a cell site simulator, if it is in existence is not possible by the people who are then retrieving those logs. And you know, and another reason to use encrypted messengers, where you can is that you don’t necessarily want your cell provider to have that unencrypted message block. And so if you’re sending SMS, then your cell, your cell provider, as the processor of that data has access to an unencrypted or plain text version of whatever text message you’re sending, where if you’re using something like Signal or WhatsApp, or Wicker, or Wire or any of the other, like, multitude of encrypted messengers that you could theoretically be using, then it’s it’s also not going directly through your your provider, which I think is an interesting distinction. Because, you know, we we know, from, I mean, we kind of sort of already knew, but we know for a fact, from the Snowden Papers, that cell providers will absolutely turn over your data to the government if they’re asked for it. And so minimizing the amount of data that they have about you to turn over to the government is generally a good practice. Especially if you can do it in a way that isn’t going to be a bunch of red flags.

Margaret 43:05
Right, like being in Belarus and using Signal.

Elle 43:08
Right. Exactly.

Margaret 43:10
Okay. Also, there’s the Russian General who used an unencrypted phone where he then got geo located and blowed up.

Elle 43:23
Yeah.

Margaret 43:24
Also bad threat modeling on that that guy’s part, it seems like

Elle 43:28
I it, it certainly seems to…that person certainly seems to have made several poor life choices, not the least of which was being a General in the Russian army.

Margaret 43:41
Yeah, yeah. That, that tracks. So one of the things that we talked about, while we were talking about having this conversation, our pre-conversation conversation was about…I think you brought up this idea that something that feels secret, doesn’t mean it is, and

Elle 43:59
Yeah!

Margaret 44:00
I’m wondering if you had more thoughts about that concept? It’s not a very good prompt.

Elle 44:05
So like, it’s it’s a totally reasonable prompt, we say a lot that, you know, security and safety are a feeling. And I think that that actually is true for a lot of us. But there’s this idea that, Oh, if you use coded language, for example, then like, you can’t get caught. I don’t actually think that’s true, because we tend to use coded language that’s like, pretty easily understandable by other people. Because the purpose of communicating is to communicate.

Margaret 44:42
Yeah.

Elle 44:43
And so usually, if you’re like, code language is easy enough to be understood by whoever it is you’re trying to communicate with, like, someone else can probably figure it the fuck out too. Especially if you’re like, “Hey, man, did you bring the cupcakes,” and your friend is like, “Yeah!” And then an explosion goes off shortly thereafter, right? It’s like, “Oh, by cupcakes, they meant dynamite.” So I, you know, I think that rather than then kind of like relying on this, you know, idea of how spies work or how, how anarchists communicated secretly, you know, pre WTO it’s, it’s worth thinking about how the surveillance landscape has adapted over time, and thinking a little bit more about what it means to engage in, in the modern panopticon, or the contemporary panopticon, because those capabilities have changed over time. And things like burner phones are a completely different prospect now than they used to be. Actually…

Margaret 45:47
In that they’re easier or wose?

Elle 45:49
Oh, there’s so much harder to obtain now.

Margaret 45:51
Yeah, okay.

Elle 45:52
It’s it is so much easier to correlate devices that have been used in proximity to each other than it used to be. And it’s so much easier to, you know, capture people on surveillance cameras than it used to be. I actually wrote a piece for Crimethinc about this some years ago, that that I think kind of still holds up in terms of how difficult it really, really is to procure a burner phone. And in order to do to do that safely, you would have to pay cash somewhere that couldn’t capture you on camera doing it, and then make sure that it was never turned on in proximity with your own phone anywhere. And you would have to make sure that it only communicated with other burner phones, because the second it communicates with a phone that’s associated to another person, there’s a connection between your like theoretical burner phone and that person. And so you can be kind of triangulated back to, especially if you’ve communicated with multiple people. It just it is so hard to actually obtain a device that is not in any way affiliated with your identity or the identity of any of your comrades. But, we have to start thinking about alternative mechanisms for synchronous communication.

Margaret 47:18
Okay.

Elle 47:18
And, realistically speaking, taking a walk in the woods is still going to be the best way to do it. Another reasonable way to go about having a conversation that needs to remain private is actually to go somewhere that is too loud and too crowded to…for anyone to reasonably overhear or to have your communication recorded. So using using the kind of like, signal to noise ratio in your favor.

Margaret 47:51
Yeah.

Elle 47:52
To help drown out your own signal can be really, really useful. And I think that that’s also true of things like using Gmail, right? The signal to noise ratio, if you’re not using a tool that’s specifically for activists can be very helpful, because there is just so much more traffic happening, that it’s easier to blend in.

Margaret 48:18
I mean, that’s one reason why I mean, years ago, people were saying that’s why non activists should use GPG, the encrypted email service that is terrible, was so attempt to try and be like, if you only ever use it, for the stuff you don’t want to be known, then it like flags it as “This stuff you don’t want to be known.” And so that was like, kind of an argument for my early adoption Signal, because I don’t break laws was, you know, just be like,” Oh, here’s more people using Signal,” it’s more regularized, and, you know, my my family talks on Signal and like, it helps that like, you know, there’s a lot of different very normal legal professions that someone might have that are require encrypted communication. Yeah, no book, like accountants, lawyers. But go ahead.

Elle 49:06
No, no, I was gonna say that, like, it’s, it’s very common in my field of work for people to prefer to use Signal to communicate, especially if there is, you know, a diversity of phone operating systems in the mix.

Margaret 49:21
Oh, yeah, totally. I mean, it’s actually now it’s more convenient. You know, when I when I’m on my like, family’s SMS loop, it’s like, I constantly get messages to say, like, “Brother liked such and such comment,” and then it’s like, three texts of that comment and…anyway, but okay, one of the things that you’re talking about, “Security as a feeling,” right? That actually gets to something that’s like, there is a value in like, like, part of the reason to carry a knife is to feel better. Like, and so part of like, like anti-anxiety, like anxiety is my biggest threat most most days, personally. Right?

Elle 50:00
Have you ever considered a career in the security field, because I, my, my, my former manager, like the person who hired me into the role that I’m in right now was like, “What made you get into security?” when I was interviewing, and I was just like, “Well, I had all this anxiety lying around. And I figured, you know, since nobody will give me a job that I can afford to sustain myself on without a degree, in any other field, I may as well take all this anxiety and like, sell it as a service.”

Margaret 50:33
Yeah, I started a prepper podcast. It’s what you’re listening to right now. Everyone who’s listening. Yeah, exactly. Well, there’s a value in that. But then, but you’re talking about the Panopticon stuff, and the like, maybe being in too crowded of an environment. And it’s, and this gets into something where everyone is really going to have to answer it differently. There’s a couple of layers to this, but like, the reason that I just like, my profile picture on twitter is my face. I use my name, right?

Elle 51:03
Same.

Margaret 51:04
And, yeah, and I, and I just don’t sweat it, because I’m like, “Look, I’ve been at this long enough that they know who I am. And it’s just fine. It’s just is.” One day, it won’t be fine. And then we have other problems. Right?

Elle 51:18
Right.

Margaret 51:19
And, and, and I’m not saying that everyone as they get better security practice will suddenly start being public like it… You know, it, it really depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. Like, a lot of the reasons to not be public on social media is just because it’s a fucking pain in the ass. Like, socially, you know?

Elle 51:36
Yeah.

Margaret 51:36
But I don’t know, I just wonder if you have any thoughts about just like, the degree to which sometimes it’s like, “Oh, well, I just, I carry a phone to an action because I know, I’m not up to anything.” But then you get into this, like, then you’re non-normalizing… don’t know, it gets complicated. And I’m curious about your thoughts on that kind of stuff.

Elle 51:56
So like, for me, for me personally, I am very public about who I am. What I’m about, like, what my politics are. I’m extremely open about it. Partially, because I don’t think that, like I think that there is value in de-stigmatizing anarchism.

Margaret 52:20
Yes.

Elle 52:20
I think there is value in being someone who is just a normal fucking human being. And also anarchist.

Margaret 52:29
Yeah.

Elle 52:30
And I think that, you know, I…not even I think. I know, I know that, through being exactly myself and being open about who I am, and not being super worried about the labels that other people apply to themselves. And instead, kind of talking about, talking about anarchism, both from a place of how it overlaps with Judaism, because it does in a lot of really interesting ways, but also just how it informs my decision making processes. I’ve been able to expose people who would not necessarily have had any, like, concept of anarchism, or the power dynamics that we’re interested in equalizing to people who just wouldn’t have wouldn’t have even thought about it, or would have thought that anarchists are like this big, scary, whatever. And, like, there, there are obviously a multitude of tendencies within anarchism, and no anarchist speaks for anybody but themselves, because that’s how it works. But, it’s one of the things that’s been really interesting to me is that in the security field, one of the new buzzwords is Zero Trust. And the idea is that you don’t want to give any piece of technology kind of the sole ability to to be the linchpin in your security, right? So you want to build redundancy, you want to make sure that no single thing is charged with being the gatekeeper for all of your security. And I think that that concept actually also applies to power. And so I…when I’m trying to talk about anarchism in a context where it makes sense to security people, I sometimes talk about it as like a Zero Trust mechanism for organizing a society.

Margaret 54:21
Yeah.

Elle 54:21
Where you just you…No person is trustworthy enough to hold power over another person. And, so like, I’m really open about it, but the flip side of that is that, you know, I also am a fucking anarchist, and I go to demonstrations, and sometimes I get arrested or whatever. And so I’m not super worried about the government knowing who I am because they know exactly who I am. But I don’t share things like my place of work on the internet because I’ve gotten death threats from white nationalists. And I don’t super want white nationalists like sending death threats into my place of work because It’s really annoying to deal with.

Margaret 55:02
Yeah.

Elle 55:03
And so you know, there’s…it really comes down to how you think about compartmentalizing information. And which pieces of yourself you want public and private and and how, how you kind of maintain consistency in those things.

Margaret 55:21
Yeah.

Elle 55:22
Like people will use the same…people will like be out and anarchists on Twitter, but use the same Twitter handle as their LinkedIn URL where they’re talking about their job and have their legal name. And it’s just like, “Buddy, what are you doing?”

Margaret 55:37
Yeah.

Elle 55:38
So you do have to think about how pieces of data can be correlated and tied back to you. And what story it is that you’re you’re presenting, and it is hard and you are going to fuck it up. Like people people are going to fuck it up. Compartmentalization is super hard. Maintaining operational security is extremely hard. But it is so worth thinking about. And even if you do fuck it up, you know, that doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the world, it might mean that you have to take some extra steps to mitigate that risk elsewhere.

Margaret 56:11
The reason I like this whole framework that you’re building is that I tend to operate under this conception that clandestinity is a trap. I don’t want to I don’t want to speak this….I say it as if it’s a true statement across all and it’s not it. I’m sure there’s absolute reasons in different places at different times. But in general, when I look at like social movements, they, once they move to “Now we’re just clandestine.” That’s when everyone dies. And, again, not universally,

Elle 56:40
Yeah, but I mean, okay, so this is where I’m gonna get like really off the wall. Right?

Margaret 56:46
All right. We’re an hour in. It’s the perfect time.

Elle 56:50
I know, right? People may or may not know who Allen Dulles is. But Allen

Margaret 56:54
Not unless they named an airport after him.

Elle 56:56
They Did.

Margaret 56:57
Oh, then i do who he is.

Elle 56:59
Allen Dulles is one of the people who founded the CIA. And he released this pamphlet called “73 Points On Spycraft.” And it’s a really short read. It’s really interesting, I guess. But the primary point is that if you are actually trying to be clandestine, and be successful about it, you want to be as mundane as possible.

Margaret 57:22
Yep.

Elle 57:23
And in our modern world with the Panopticon being what it is, the easiest way to be clandestine, is actually to be super open. So that if you are trying to hide something, if there is something that you do want to keep secret, there’s enough information out there about you, that you’re not super worth digging into.

Margaret 57:46
Oh, yeah. Cuz they think they already know you.

Elle 57:48
Exactly. So if, if that is what your threat model is, then the best way to go about keeping a secret is to flood as many other things out there as possible. So that it’s just it’s hard to find anything, but whatever it is that you’re flooding.

Margaret 58:04
Oh, it’s like I used to, to get people off my back about my dead name, I would like tell one person in a scene, a fake dead name, and be like, “But you can’t tell anyone.”

Elle 58:15
Right.

Margaret 58:16
And then everyone would stop asking about my dead name, because they all thought they knew it, because that person immediately told everyone,

Elle 58:22
Right.

Margaret 58:23
Yeah.

Elle 58:24
It’s, it’s going back to that same using the noise to hide your signal concept, that it…the same, the same kind of concepts and themes kind of play out over and over and over again. And all security really is is finding ways to do harm reduction for yourself, finding ways to minimize the risk that you’re undertaking just enough that that you can operate in whatever it is that you’re trying to do.

Margaret 58:53
No, I sometimes I like, ask questions. And then I am like, Okay, well don’t have an immediate follow up, because I just need to like, think about it. Instead of being like, “I know immediately what to say about that.” But okay, so, but with clandestinity in general in this this concept…I also think that this is true on a kind of movement level in a way that I I worry about sometimes not necessarily….Hmm, what am I trying to say? Because I also really hate telling people what to do. It’s like kind of my thing I don’t like telling people what to do. But there’s a certain level…

Elle 59:25
Really?

Margaret 59:25
Yeah, you’d be shocked to know,

Elle 59:27
You? Don’t like telling people what to do?

Margaret 59:31
Besides telling people not to tell me what to do. That’s one of my favorite things to tell people. But, there’s a certain amount of.

Margaret 59:38
Oh, that’s true, like different conceptions of freedom.

Elle 59:38
But that’s not telling people what to do, that’s telling people what not to do.

Elle 59:44
It’s actually setting a boundary as opposed to dictating a behavior.

Margaret 59:48
But I’ve been in enough relationships where I’ve learned that setting boundaries is the same as telling people to do. This is a funny joke.

Elle 59:55
Ohh co-dependency.

Margaret 59:58
But all right, there’s a quote from a guy whose name I totally space who was an old revolutionist, who wasn’t very good at his job. And his quote was, “Those who make half a revolution dig their own graves.” And I think he like, I think it proved true for him. If I remember correctly, I think he died in jail after kind of making half a revolution with some friends. I think he got like arrested for pamphleteering or something,

Elle 1:00:20
Jesus.

Margaret 1:00:21
It was a couple hundred years ago. And but there’s this but then if you look forward in history that like revolutionists, who survive are the ones who win. Sometimes, sometimes the revolutionists win, and then their comrades turn on them and murder them. But, I think overall, the survival rate of a revolution is better when you win is my theory. And and so there’s this this concept where there’s a tension, and I don’t have an answer to it. And I want people to actually think about it instead of assuming, where the difference between videotaping a cop car on fire and not is more complicated than people want you to know. Because, if you want there to be more cop cars on fire, which I do not unless we’re in Czarist Russia, in which case, you’re in an autocracy, and it’s okay to set the cop cars on fire, but I’m clearly not talking about that, or the modern world. But, you’re gonna have to film it on your cell phone in order for people to fucking know that it’s happening. Sure. And and that works absolutely against your best interest. Like, on an individual level, and even a your friends’ level.

Elle 1:01:25
So like, here’s the thing, being in proximity to a burning cop car is not in and of itself a crime.

Margaret 1:01:33
Right.

Elle 1:01:34
So there’s, there’s nothing wrong with filming a cop car on fire.

Margaret 1:01:41
But there’s that video…

Margaret 1:01:41
Right.

Elle 1:01:41
There is something wrong with filming someone setting a cop car on fire. And there’s something extremely wrong with taking a selfie while setting a cop car on fire. And don’t do that, because you shouldn’t do crime. Obviously, right?

Elle 1:01:42
But there’s Layers there…No, go ahead.

Margaret 1:02:03
Okay, well, there’s the video that came out of Russia recently, where someone filmed themselves throwing Molotovs at a recruitment center. And one of the first comments I see is like, “Wow, this person has terrible OpSec.” And that’s true, right? Like this person is not looking at how to maximize their lack of chance of going to jail, which is probably the way to maximize that in non Czarist Russia… re-Czarist Russia, is to not throw anything burning at buildings. That’s the way to not go to jail.

Elle 1:02:35
Right.

Margaret 1:02:35
And then if you want to throw the thing at the… and if all you care about is setting this object on fire, then don’t film yourself.

Elle 1:02:41
Right.

Margaret 1:02:41
But if you want more people to know that this is a thing that some people believe is a worthwhile thing to do, you might need to film yourself doing it now that person well didn’t speak.

Elle 1:02:53
Well no.

Margaret 1:02:56
Okay.

Elle 1:02:56
You may not need to film yourself doing it. Right? Because what what you can do is if, for example, for some reason, you are going to set something on fire.

Margaret 1:03:09
Right, in Russia.

Elle 1:03:09
Perhaps what you might want to do is first get the thing to be in a state where it is on fire, and then begin filming the thing once it is in a burning state.

Margaret 1:03:25
Conflaguration. Yeah.

Elle 1:03:25
Right? And that can that can do a few things, including A) you’re not inherently self incriminating. And, you know, if if there are enough people around to provide some form of cover, like for example, if there are 1000s of other people’s cell phones also in proximity, it might even create some degree of plausible deniability for you because what fucking dipshit films themself doing crimes. So it’s, you know, there’s, there’s, there’s some timing things, right. And the idea is to get it…if you are a person who believes that cop cars look best on fire…

Margaret 1:04:10
Buy a cop car, and then you set it on fire. And then you film it.

Elle 1:04:15
I mean, you know, you know, you just you opportunistically film whenever a cop car happens to be on fire in your proximity.

Margaret 1:04:23
Oh, yeah. Which might have been set on fire by the person who owned it. There’s no reason to know one way or not.

Elle 1:04:27
Maybe the police set the cop car on fire you know? You never know. There’s no way to there….You don’t have to you don’t have to speculate about how the cop car came to be on fire. You can just film a burning cop car. And so the you know, I think that the line to walk there is just making sure there’s no humans in your footage of things that you consider to be art.

Margaret 1:04:29
Yeah. No, it it makes sense. And I guess it’s like because people very, very validly have been very critical about the ways that media or people who are independently media or whatever, like people filming shit like this, right? But But I think then to say that like, therefore no, no cop cars that are on fire should ever be filmed versus the position you’re presenting, which is only cop cars that are already on fire might deserve to be filmed, which is the kind of the long standing like film the broken window, not the window breaker and things like that. But…

Elle 1:05:29
I think and I think also there’s, you know, there’s a distinction to be made between filming yourself setting a cop car on fire, and filming someone else setting a cop car on fire, because there’s a consent elemenet, right?

Margaret 1:05:34
Totally. Totally.

Elle 1:05:47
You shouldn’t like…Don’t do crime. Nobody should do crime. But if you are going to do crime, do it on purpose. Right?

Margaret 1:05:55
Fair enough.

Elle 1:05:55
Like that’s, that’s what civil disobedience is. Civil disobedience is doing crime for the purpose of getting caught to make a point. That’s what it is. And if you if you really feel that strongly about doing a crime to make a point, and you want everyone to know that you’re doing a crime to make a point, then that’s, that’s a risk calculation that you yourself need to make for yourself. But you can’t make that calculation for anybody else.

Margaret 1:06:25
I think that’s a great way to sum it up.

Elle 1:06:27
So unless your friend is like, “Yo, I’m gonna set this cop car on fire. Like, get the camera ready, hold my beer.” You probably shouldn’t be filming them.

Margaret 1:06:38
See you in 30 years.

Elle 1:06:39
Right? You probably shouldn’t be filming them setting the cop car on fire either.

Margaret 1:06:43
No. No

Elle 1:06:44
And also, that’s a shitty friend because they’ve just implicated you in conspiracy, right?

Margaret 1:06:49
Yeah.

Elle 1:06:50
Friends don’t implicate friends.

Margaret 1:06:53
It’s a good, it’s a good rule. Yeah, yeah. All right. Well, I that’s not entirely where I immediately expected to go with Threat Modeling. But I feel like we’ve covered an awful lot. Is there something? Is there something…Do you have any, like final thoughts about Threat Modeling, and as relates to the stuff that we’ve been talking about?

Elle 1:07:18
I think that you know, the thing that I do really want to drive home. And that honestly does come back to your point about clandestinity being a trap is that, again, the purpose of threat modeling is to first understand, you know, what risks you’re trying to protect against, and then figure out how to do what you’re accomplishing in a way that minimizes risk. But the important piece is still doing whatever it is that you’re trying to accomplish, whether that’s movement building, or something else. And so there there is, there is a calculation that needs to be made in terms of what level of risk is acceptable to you. But if if, ultimately, your risk threshold is preventing you from accomplishing whatever you’re trying to accomplish, then it’s time to take a step back, recalculate and figure out whether or not you actually want to accomplish the thing, and what level of risk is worth taking. Because I think that, you know, again, if if you’re, if your security mechanisms are preventing you from doing the thing that you’re you set out to try to do, then your adversaries are already winning, and something probably needs to shift.

Margaret 1:08:39
I really like that line. And so I feel like that’s a decent spot, place to end on. Do. Do you have anything that you’d like to shout out? People can follow you on the internet? Or they shouldn’t follow you on the internet? What? What do you what do you want to advocate for here?

Elle 1:08:53
If you follow me on the internet, I’m so sorry. That’s really all I can say. I’m, I am on the internet. I am a tire fire. I’m probably fairly easy to find based on my name, my pronouns and the things that I’ve said here today, and I can’t recommend following my Twitter.

Margaret 1:09:17
I won’t put in the show notes then.

Elle 1:09:19
I mean, you’re welcome to but I can’t advocate in good conscience for anyone to pay attention to anything that I have to say.

Margaret 1:09:27
Okay, so go back and don’t listen to the last hour everyone.

Elle 1:09:31
I mean, I’m not going to tell you what to do.

Margaret 1:09:34
I am that’s my favorite thing to do.

Elle 1:09:36
I mean, you know, this is just like my opinion, you know? There are no leaders. We’re all the leaders. I don’t know. Do do do what you think is right.

Margaret 1:09:55
Agreed. All right. Well, thank you so much.

Elle 1:09:59
Thank you. I really appreciate it.

Margaret 1:10:07
Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this podcast, you should tell people about it by whatever means occurs to you to tell people about it, which might be the internet, it might even be in person, it might be by taking a walk, leaving your cell phones behind, and then getting in deep into the woods and saying,” I like the following podcast.” And then the other person will be like, “Really, I thought we were gonna make out or maybe do some crimes.” But, instead you have told them about the podcast. And I’m recording this at the same time as I record the intro, and now the dog has moved on to chewing on my cloak. Why am I wearing a cloak? That is a question between me and God, I guess. And if you want to support this podcast, you can do so by supporting its publisher, which is Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness. And actually, Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness is a very old project, but also a new project. We’re relaunching it’s tangledwilderness.org. And we’re going to be bringing you all kinds of stories, and podcasts, and memoir, and role playing games, and all kinds of fun stuff. I think you’ll actually really like it. I hope you really like it. And we’re also looking for more content, and we do pay our contributors, so please check out our submission guidelines. Or just support us on Patreon which is patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness. And we send out a zine every month to our backers as well as put it online. Although people can also eventually read the content for free on our website. Because paywalls are gross and weird. In particular, I would like to thank Mikki, and Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea, Staro, Jennipher, Eleanor, Natalie Kirk, Michiahah. Nora, Sam, Chris and Hoss the dog. Your contributions are absolutely what make this podcast possible. Because it no longer supports me directly. My this used to be supported by a Patreon that was for me directly. But now it instead supports a whole bunch of people doing a whole bunch of other things with as Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness and also people who are doing transcription and editing and all of those things that make podcasting possible. So thank you so much. I hope you’re doing as well as you can, and I hope that you to find someone’s arm to chew on in a very annoying fashion. Much like my dog is doing to me. Take care

Find out more at https://live-like-the-world-is-dying.pinecast.co

S1E42 – Bay Area Doula Project on Abortion and Abortion Access

Episode Notes

Episode summary

Margaret talks with two people who work with the Bay Area Doula Project. They talk about different kinds of abortions, histories of abortion methods, different kinds of self-managed abortions, clincal and procedural abortions, pharmacological methods vs herbal methods, and abortion access.

Guest Info

Bay Area Doula Project can be found on Instagram @BayAreaDoulaProject or on Twitter @BAPDtweets

Host and Publisher

The host Margaret Killjoy can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy or instagram at @margaretkilljoy.

This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at www.tangledwilderness.org, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @LiveLikeTheWorldIsDying. You can support the show on Patreon at www.patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness.

Show Links

If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice
We’re a national nonprofit network of law students and lawyers who know that reproductive justice doesn’t just happen.
www.ifwhenhow.org

Places to donate:
https://www.ifwhenhow.org/
https://abortionfunds.org/
https://accessrj.org/

Some history of misoprostol in Brazil:
https://www.scielo.br/j/hcsm/a/X74PWDTg8njthWPPh5dVQSd/?lang=en

Some history and resources on Reproductive Justice:
https://www.sistersong.net/reproductive-justice/
https://www.blackwomenradicals.com/blog-feed/black-feminism-and-reproductive-justice-a-reading-list

Some info on trans-inclusive abortion care:

https://translash.org/translash-guide-to-trans-bodies-trans-choices-my-abortion-saved-my-life/
https://www.optionsforsexualhealth.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/FQPN18-Manual-EN-BC-web.pdf

Criminalization
California judge overturns 11-year prison term for woman whose baby was stillborn
Adora Perez, who admitted to using meth, was originally charged with murder and pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter.
www.latimes.com

Women who were recently imprisoned for their pregnancy outcomes in California:

Adora Perez: https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-03-18/california-judge-overturns-conviction-woman-whose-baby-was-stillborn

Chelsea Becker: https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-05-20/murder-charge-dropped-against-woman-who-suffered-stillbirth

For the following, folks may want to consider digital security. As in use a VPN to visit these links, TOR, ect…

We like hackblossom’s guide:
https://hackblossom.org/cybersecurity/and Digital Defense Fund also has great info: https://digitaldefensefund.org/ddf-guides/abortion-privacy

info on abortion with herbs:
https://www.instagram.com/holistic.abortions/
https://holisticabortions.bigcartel.com/
https://we.riseup.net/assets/351138/22321349-Natural-Liberty-Rediscovering-Self-Induced-Abortion-Methods.pdf

info on abortion with pills:
http://www.misoprostol.org/
https://www.plancpills.org/
https://hesperian.org/books-and-resources/our-mobile-applications/safe-abortion-sa/

Other Projects
Awesome fund in Mexico City: https://www.fondomaria.org/
The New York Doula Project: https://www.doulaproject.net/

Literature
They also have this great zine on being your own doula: http://www.diydoula.org/

Transcript

Margaret 00:14
Hello, and welcome to Live Like The World Is Dying, your podcast. It feels like the end times. I’m your host, Margaret killjoy. And this week I’m talking about some end times stuff. It’s not really end times. End times is too complex… whatever. You’ve heard me talk about my opinion about end times and how complicated that is. But, I think that is absolutely happening right now is that people’s ability to access abortion is being stripped away inside the United States. And so I’m talking today with two people from the Bay Area Doula Project, about self managed abortion, about the state of things, about the different types of abortions that one might seek to release their pregnancy. And I think that there’s going to be a lot in here for every listener, including those who think it doesn’t affect them directly. This podcast is a proud member of the Channel Zero network of anarchists podcasts and here’s a jingle from another show in the network.

01:36
jingle

Margaret 02:13
Hi, if you two could introduce yourself I guess with your your names, your pronouns and kind of what you do what what brings you on the podcast today.

Aspen 02:25
I’m glad to go first. My name is Aspen I use they/them pronouns. I’m an abortion doula fertility awareness educator and also an herbalist. And I’ve been work doing abortion work for the past, I don’t know, handful of years, seven years or so I’ve been deepening the relationship with the idea of abortion, the practice of abortion, the herbs that have been facilitating abortion for centuries. And I’m excited to be on this podcast just because it feels like a really but especially potent moment even thoughaccess to abortion has been on the front of my mind for a long time. I’m like thankful for this moment where it’s in more people’s awareness.

Cobalt 03:08
And I’m Cobalt, I’ve been doing abortion support work, you know everything from emotional support, to rides and hosting people who have to travel and also abortion, you know, education about self managed abortion with pills and abortion support education, helping other people kind of understand what their power is in supporting other people through their abortions, whether it’s in or out of clinic. And I’ve been doing all of that for more than a decade now. And yeah, what Aspen said about why we’re here. And oh, and we are with Bay Area Doula Project. Which, there are a bunch of doula projects around the country that have, you know, different ways of working that are just based on you know, what’s appropriate for the area and the collectives. And, we are a pretty small group focused on, like you said, the supporting people individually and also helping other people learn how they can support their communities.

Margaret 04:06
So what does that look like with the Bay Area Doula Project? Is it you know, can people just reach out to you? Is it like, basically, people are like, “I’m hoping to have an abortion. I’m pregnant and wish I wasn’t. Can you all help me in various ways?” Or what is the…what is the actual project kind of look like on a tangible level?

Cobalt 04:24
Aspen does a lot of the answering the emails, so I think they should talk on this.

Aspen 04:29
Yeah. So we definitely have like a platform for people to reach out if they’re looking for…you know, as an abortion doula, we hold a lot of hats. You know, sometimes we provide counseling. You know, sometimes people don’t…don’t know their options, don’t realize like, you know, they have options inside clinics, outside of clinics. And so meeting people where they’re at whether they’ve already made their decision or they’re still in that sort of uncertainty, space of uncertainty. We can pair people with abortion doulas, if that’s what they’re seeking. We do also partner with an organization called Access, which is our, our local California abortion fund. And through that sort of pathway, we can connect them with like ride support, child care support, hotel if the hotel if they need it, because sometimes abortions need multi or multi day procedures and they need overnight support. And especially if people are traveling, even in California people have to travel hours. So we also provide trainings and that’s a lot of our work at Bay Area Doula Project is providing trainings so that people can learn how to support their communities as an abortion doula or an abortion supporter.

Margaret 05:36
So why do people have to travel hours if you’re in the golden land of California, where everything is perfect and easy and accessible? And everything’s great.

Cobalt 05:48
Yeah, because we still don’t actually have that very many clinics, because the clinics that do exist in smaller towns tend to be extremely risk averse. And so they may not do procedures for people who have, you know, a pre existing medical conditions like a heart condition. Maybe even the reason that they need to terminate is also the reasons they’ll be refused an abortion.

Margaret 06:11
Oh, cool.

Cobalt 06:13
People may be refused, because the anesthesiologist doesn’t know their job and doesn’t know how to work on fat people, or maybe the gestational limit that the clinic has. And so therefore, they need to travel to a place where they can get in hospital care, or something like that. And, yeah, so and or the clinic that’s in their town is maybe only open one day a week, and it’s not a day that they’re able to do things.

Cobalt 06:36
How do people….you said that one of the things that you end up helping people do is pick between clinic and non clinic, clinic abortions? What kind of, I mean, obviously, you can’t give the listener advice, because you don’t know the listeners position. But like, How does someone go about picking between clinic or non clinic for their abortion?

Aspen 06:54
That’s a good question. I think that…so so earlier, Cobaltt and I were talking about how we really complement each other and how we practice and how we move through this work. And so I’ll talk from my perspective, as someone who identifies as a spiritual…like I and like, something that’s big for me, when I’m walking someone through that process is like, consent is like the number one thing like every step of the way, they’re making a choice. And it’s their choice. And I think choice has been one of those big words around the abortion movement. And it’s not just the choice to have an abortion and not have an abortion, but how they’re going to have an abortion, who they want to be around. Do they want to be in their home releasing their pregnancy? Do they want to go to a clinic? Do they have the time to actually work with herbs over a couple of weeks? Or do they want to get it done sooner? Because it’s just a matter of practicality? And like, what are they feeling? Because I think that when it comes to reproductive justice work, and when it comes to abortion, a lot of sometimes there’s a lot of healing and doing what our body consents to, because most people in this world have had an experience where that consent has been crossed. And so I think that this is an opportunity to heal that within them spiritually and emotionally. So I think that, walking through that someone’s process with that is asking a lot of questions and just meeting them where they’re at.

Cobalt 08:13
Yeah, for me, I work with a lot of folks, but specifically with trans guys, and, you know, other folks who may deal with like, body dysphoria stuff, and, you know, for a lot of reasons, needing to get an abortion in clinic might just really add to that. So, you know, that’s one of the reasons that a lot of people I work with might decide, you know, that they would just like to do some pills and have something that’s like, relatively straightforward and doesn’t involve anyone sticking any instruments anywhere. And, you know, but of course, all that’s also limited by, you know, things like what’s the gestational age that you’re at, also by like any other health concerns people might have, how available pills are, things like that. So, you know, there’s like a combination of physical safety concerns why someone might decide that working with the clinic is more important. There’s also a lot of other things that can go in to making it so that doing things outside of clinic is both safe and practical and a much better experience.

Margaret 09:17
That makes sense, as a trans person who is very statistically unlikely to get pregnant, personally, pending various medical things that may or may not be on the horizon. I’m curious, though, you know, you say that you you do work with, with trans folks who, who do need abortions, and I’m wondering if you have any, like, advice around seeking abortions while trans whether how that impacts either the way that one might navigate the social and political environment of the medical industry or, and this is completely I have literally no knowledge about this about whether or not various medical transitioning that people might be doing, whether that impacts anything about the decisions that they might be making? Basically just like, so much of what we hear about about abortion applies, for good reason, you know, majority of the people who can get pregnant are cis women I would guess statistically, but I feel like there’s not as much information out there for people who aren’t.

Cobalt 10:15
Yeah, so let’s see, there’s a few things. First of all, so Miffy and Miso, the abortion pills, both are have have like very low incidence of side effects, but Miffy. Sorry, so I should first say slang terms, Miffy is mifepristone. Miso is misoprostol. Much easier to just say Miffy and Miso. So mifepristone is the Ru-486. It’s a progesterone blocker, and it can help increase the effectiveness of the abortion. So you can do things with Miffy and Miso together or just Miso alone, like either one is safe and effective, but with Miffy is a little bit more. Okay, so that said, Miffy can increase blood levels of testosterone, Valium, Xanax, ibuprofen, and some other drugs. So you don’t have to, like stop taking T or something in order to, you know, take medication abortion, but it may actually heighten your T levels in your blood for a little bit, you know, you should also be careful, if you’re taking any of those meds to maybe calm yourself or reduce pain. You might need a slightly lower dose than usual. So that’s like, one thing is like, just, you know, interactions and things to worry about. But as far as dealing with clinics, it can be really complicated. You know, even in the Bay Area, not every provider that you might go see is super, you know, trans informed. And you know, even if you have a support person with you, right, like, it can be really hard to make decisions about how much you’re going to push back against anything, because it might compromise your care. And so people you know, may try to go stealth, you know, they may be out and you know, put pronouns on the door, and really, you know, like, make demands of people really just, yeah. That part depends on personality. Problems that can come up, people can hear a masculine voice on the phone and think it’s your, you know, somebody’s boyfriend calling to set up the appointment for them and just refuse to serve them.

Margaret 12:12
Oh, shit. Okay. No, that makes sense. I just, that never would have occurred to me. Yeah. Because they think that the, they think that the person who needs the abortion is not the one making the decision?

Cobalt 12:21
Exactly, yeah.

Margaret 12:22
Okay.

Cobalt 12:22
Yeah, they’re worried about coercion. And so they’re, like, “No, how, you know, the, the person who’s getting the abortion has to call.” and they’re like, “But it’s me!”

Margaret 12:31
Yeah.

Cobalt 12:32
And so that can be difficult. I’ve even heard, even heard of people having problems with insurance. Like if they had even if you have insurance, insurance might go “Well, well, your gender marker is male. And this is not…this procedure is not for men.”

Margaret 12:46
Oh, god.

Margaret 12:47
Yeah. Yeah. It’s awesome. And, yeah, and then there’s, you know, just stuff like being in the waiting room can be kind of uncomfortable, right? Like, one of the reasons that, you know, we do like waiting room support is because, you know, you’re sitting in the waiting room, and people are looking at you weird, because you’re a like, dude, and why are you there? Or sometimes clinics will be conscious of that. But, their solution is to like, sweep you into a backroom somewhere. So nobody sees you. And like that could feel like crap too. Yeah. So yeah, those are a few of the challenges that I can think of.

Margaret 13:28
Yeah, I could see that impacting people’s decision about clinic versus nonclinic, for example.

Cobalt 13:34
Yeah. And also, you know, if you’re, you know, if the place you have to go is like “women’s clinic”, like it can be really hard to tell if they’re gonna be, you know, yeah, kind, anything, giving you good service, give it give you you know, quality medical care. Yeah.

Margaret 13:50
So, let’s presume that I don’t know anything about how abortions work, which is not totally the case, but I try… whatever. How, you know, I’ve heard you’ve talk about abortion pills and herbal abortions so far, like on this, what are the what are the differences between this. I’m under the impression both can be used for both self managed and being taken care of, I don’t know the opposite of self managed. You know, what, what are the advantages or disadvantages that people might be looking at?

Aspen 14:24
Yeah, I can start and please fill in any gaps I have Cobalt. So herbal abortions, herbal release. One of the incredible things I think about when I think of herbal abortion is it’s an opportunity to connect to connect with your individuals ancestral medicine, like all of our lineages. There have been abortions that have happened within our lineages you know, we think we focus on the birth but you know, it’s an opportunity to connect with the plants from your your lineages, connect with your families medicine to like take things slow and learn a form of medicine that can’t be taken away by the governmen,t. Can’t…there can’t be distribution mishaps when you can grow these plants in your garden outside or in a pot even, or even on your windowsill like these plants are in grocery stores. They are literally under our nose are everywhere. And I’m, you know, talking from a place in California where things are growing a lot. So it’s also… I’m in a position of privilege to, just how incredible the growing season is out here. But the thing about herbal abortions is that a lot of this medicine has been like scattered, it’s been specifically targeted through many systems of harm, through colonization, through the witch trials, through even through like, medical Industrial Complex was like built on the backs of herbalist and medicine, people who knew this knew how to control their family size. And so there’s a lot of reclaiming someone’s power when they are working with plants and other medicines too. But I’m just talking specifically about this. But because that information has been so scattered and hurt and harmed, like a lot of it has contained, like that lineage of medicine has continued and has been resilient. And there’s a lot of information, but a lot has been lost. And so one of the things I think has been lost is that either the information of how to induce an abortion later, later on after you know, six weeks and someone’s last menstrual period isn’t so accessible. So it’s much better and safer. And someone will have better effects if they use plants earlier on, either even before they miss their period, which is just isn’t an option for everyone. And so that’s definitely a con of like herbal abortion is that people because we’re trapped in this, in capitalism, people don’t even realize that they missed their period. Because we’re not taught how to track our cycles, or how to follow our own rhythm when we’re following the rhythm of capitalism. And it can take two, three weeks of an herbal protocol where you’re taking herbs all day long, on quite a regiment before the pregnancy actually releases. And so during that time, you’re going through quite a phase of uncertainty. Are the herbs going to work? Are they not going to work? And you also have to really keep with it. And so for some people, that’s a pro and some people that’s a con but it definitely is a much more involved process than some of the other options. And I think that something that can really help for anyone who’s releasing a pregnancy with herbs is to prepare for it. Prepare for your abortion a year before. So it means like building relationships with these plants. It’s not just picking up the plants that you just met for most people. And so that’s the herbal piece. There’s also the medication piece, and someone can, depending on where they are, either access medications from a clinic, where they’re given mifepristone inside the clinic and then they’re given misoprostol to take within 48 hours. The mifepristone ends the pregnancy. It blocks progesterone and the misoprostol causes uterine contractions, which is cool, because that’s the same thing that the herbs are doing. So that is an option for some people. And now, you know, and there’s been really interesting developments since COVID, that telehealth, and people are able to access these medications by ordering them online. In some states, people can even order these medications, the abortion pills even before they’re pregnant, just to have on their shelf. And so when abortion is like induced with medications, it can be more of that something’s being done to your body, then your body is like just releasing the pregnancy on its own. So it can be more of a physical experience than the herbs. Do you want to add a little bit about medications before I move to like surgical and those kinds of things.

Cobalt 18:49
I was actually going to ask you to say something about combining herbs and medications.

Aspen 18:54
Yeah, so herbs and medications play really well together. You know, like we mentioned, like I mentioned before, this process of mifepristone, which is blocking progesterone and then misoprostol, which is inducing uterine contractions and stimulating the uterus, this is actually the same template, herbs have been doing the same things that the way we ingest herbs that they induce on to the body. And so in some cases, some people can only access misoprostol because it’s more easily accessible. It’s cheaper than mifepristone and there is a beautiful legacy of around the world of misoprostol being used on its own. it is highly safe and effective. And so when someone doesn’t have access to that first pill that mifepristone, this is where pills…or this is where herbs can come in. Herbs that block progesterone, pair really well at misoprostol, and so there are herbs that can help in combination with misoprostol help ease the process of abortion, but also herbs can come in just to help our nervous system, help calm us down, like I’m just I’m always about talking about chamomile to help you know ease our bodies leading into an abortion, after an abortion, and herbs are also there to help supplement all that blood loss with iron support and nutrition.

Margaret 20:08
Well, I’ve heard that both medicated and herbal abortions can be fairly intense, like, physically on you, and so the idea of like, working with something to sort of mitigate that, that makes sense to me.

Cobalt 20:20
Yeah, I was also gonna say, nausea can be an issue when dealing with all those uterine cramps to you, which is something where like, yeah, you can take a Dramamine. For that you can also yeah, have some ginger or some other…anything that kind of helps calm that nausea is a good idea. Also to add on to like the history of Miso was basically like, we owe a huge debt to people in Brazil, for miso it was originally an ulcer medication, it still is an ulcer medication, it’s prescribed to humans, and also two dogs and horses, possibly other animals as well. And it was available in Brazil with a big warning on it saying that, you know, you shouldn’t take it as a pregnant person. And it’s known that it could cause interactions. And so people in Brazil started using this. And eventually, providers in Brazil were like, “We’re seeing a lot fewer complications from more physical abortion techniques,” right, from, you know, people, you know, sticking unsterile instruments in places that they shouldn’t go or, you know, having like punctures, because of the instruments being, you know, used or misused, and were like, “Well, this is happening a lot less what’s going on?” and you know, sort of like talking to, you know, patients and things. And that is how Miso got figured out. You know, it was really people creatively, you know, off label usage. And, yeah, and that was in like, the, like, late 80s and into the 90s, when that was going on, and then we got Miffy. If you’re, if you’re a human in the 90s, then, Ru-486. Right, was developed in France in early 90s, as well, and then we didn’t get them as available in the US, the FDA didn’t approve them. I shouldn’t say available in US, but the FDA didn’t approve them until 2000. So, yeah, there’s gonna be a lot of, you know, Aspen mentioned, telehealth, you know, also allegedly, one could use an online pharmacy to order things they’re often called, like a combo pack, where it just comes with like, you know, the Miffy is in like, one, you know, larger circle of the foil pack and then the the Miso pills that you need are in the rest of this, you know, smaller bits there.

Margaret 22:37
So when you say “”allegedly”, is that because it’s not always legal in all areas, and yet somehow might still be accessible in areas where it’s not legal, which obviously no one should ever do.

Margaret 22:45
Yeah and actually, so this is the interesting thing about abortion generally, and, you know, abortion with pills specifically, and even just supporting people with abortions is that basically, there’s no specific laws against it. So in a lot of ways, it’s totally legal. But also, as we know, basically people can make anything illegal if they try hard enough if they really care. And so people will dig up practicing medicine without a license and abuse of a corpse and all kinds of other stuff that was never meant to criminalize, you know, a pregnancy loss of any kind. And yet, it happens all the time. It especially happens with people who use drugs and come to the hospital having a pregnancy loss. And that is like the most common way for people to get reported and in fact, there were like two cases within the last few years in California where we had like this one jackass prosecutor tried to charge two different women with murder for…

Margaret 23:41
Oh my god.

Cobalt 23:42
Yeah, for having admitted to using meth and then having….and there’s no medical connection. Like there’s literally like no research that indicates that that’s…there’s a correlation there, but he managed it. Luckily they’ve now both had their charges fully dismissed. But you know, it’s still lost them years of their lives. So yeah, so yeah, so basically, I’m gonna say “allegedly”, and, you know, in my craft and whatever else, so for some things. And Aspen…

Aspen 24:10
I also want to just add “allegedly”, misoprostol is also used to stop hemorrhaging inbirth, and so midwives have access to misoprostol, allegedly, so they should have it in stock.

Margaret 24:20
Yeah. For births. Yes,

Aspen 24:23
Yes. Strictly, yes.

Margaret 24:26
Okay.

Cobalt 24:27
Yeah. I mean, it’s also the standard protocol, when someone you know, has experienced a pregnancy loss, you know, the loss of a pregnancy that they wanted to keep, and there might still be some tissue around that needs to be expelled. So yeah, it’s, it’s used for a lot.

Margaret 24:44
What’s the effective shelf life of….the prepper and me is coming out whenever like things can be acquired. I’m like, “Acquiring things! How long does it last?”

Cobalt 24:55
Yeah. I forget right now what the shelf life is, I’d have to look it up. I’m also fairly laissez faire, about expiration dates, you know, things like, it’s always best to, you know, have the things as fresh as possible. And also, things often continue to work long past, you know what it says on the bottle.

Margaret 25:18
Yeah, I’m under the impression, it’s like a, you just start losing some efficacy rather than entering danger. But then the danger might be that you’re using something that is less effective than you need it to be is would be my concern. But I also don’t know anything about applying or using these things. So I don’t know whether you’re like, “Oh, it’s not working, just take more whether that’s like ever the plan.” I’m not trying to make y’all give medical advice on this show.

Aspen 25:40
Can’t give medical advice. But I do want to say that like the general protocol, if someone does have…if someone is taking medication and like not, all the tissue doesn’t actually release just to take another protocol of the medication within the week are within 48 hours. And so if an abortion is incomplete, the risks are, we’ll get into the risks a little bit later, but there is like the potential for infection and things like that, even though those those those possibilities are lower than the reality that the body will just continue to release the pregnancy on its own. But it also, it also depends on how far along someone is. And so there’s a certain protocol of taking a certain amount up until 12 or 13 weeks. And then after that point, actually, it’s better to take less misoprostol to release a pregnancy. So it just depends on how how far along the pregnancy is.

Cobalt 26:34
Yeah, and that’s because the the body gets more, I guess sensitized to the miso and more, you know, prone to do contractions as you get later in the pregnancy. And so you actually want less and there is a danger of taking too much in the sense that the contractions can get so strong that that becomes a danger, a uterine rupture. So yeah, like, there is such a thing as taking too much. Don’t just ever be like, “Well, I think this is probably less than efficacy, I’ll pop a few more,” is probably not a good idea.

Aspen 27:09
Yeah. And the same with herbs. That’s what I, you know, as an herbalist, I see that a bit too much on the internet, but people being like, here are the 20 herbs that I know that can cause on abortion, and it’s like actually it works a lot better if using three or four with intention, that we know what they’re doing, than throwing in the kitchen sink, whether it’d be with medication or with herbs.

Margaret 27:32
That makes a lot of sense to me. So okay, we’ve talked about medicated abortion, herbal abortion, and then what would you call things like D&C [dialation & currettage] ? Is that the medical abortion? Like, what’s the, the taxonomy here is not super important. Do you all want to talk about other types of abortions?

Cobalt 27:49
Yeah, I would say procedural abortion. Some people will say surgical, which I find, you know, scary and like, there’s no scalpels involved, and it just doesn’t feel accurate. Other people will say therapeutic abortion, which also just seems like an odd word choice to me. So…

Margaret 28:03
That makes it sound like there’s really nice music playing.

Aspen 28:09
Right, which like I hope?

Margaret 28:09
Yeah, no, I mean, I would want that. I’ve had some, this is a tangent, but I had some energy work done at one point, and I was like, “Why isn’t that dentist like this? This rules. Like, this is so much nicer.” Anyway, in terms of the atmosphere, I don’t want my dentist putting crystals in my mouth. I want my dentist cutting abscesses out, but but I want but it would be really nice if you know, there….everyone’s talking very calmly. And anyway, please continue. I’m sorry.

Cobalt 28:40
Yeah, so that’s so yes, I say procedural, you know, this is stuff where like, when we’re supporting people who are having, you know, in clinic abortions can become relevant, not something that I would generally encourage folks to do at home, you know, again, unless you’re, although, you know, I will say like, I do know, folks who, you know, practice menstrual extraction on each other. And, you know, there are ways to do that, you know, safely but, you know, again, it’s one of those things that you don’t want to do it like, first time, you know, when it’s critical. That’s something that if people have a lot of practice in then it can be okay. And it can be a good way for people to get to know their bodies if that’s something that they want to do. There’s also, just want to plug there’s an awesome papaya workshop. So papayas are vaguely uterus shaped. And you know, and they kind of have a wall with some soft stuff in it. Andthey’re so I think it was UCSF developed a whole like a program where they like teach med students how to do IUD insertion with papayas and also teach them how to do an aspiration abortion with a manual. So there’s two there’s two different kinds of things that can be used for an aspiration abortion and one is like, like desperation…

Margaret 29:57
So what is an aspiration abortion?

Cobalt 29:59
Ah-hah, that is basically, that’s something that can be done a little later than pills, is sort of the first like least invasive procedural method that can be used where basically they’re using a vacuum either an electric vacuum and EVA for electric vacuum aspiration. It’s a machine that is providing the suction or manual vacuum aspiration MVA that is using this kind of like, big kind of syringe shaped thing to….yeah, actually, this will not help podcast listeners, but this. [Holds up an MVA] and basically, you know, you pop the base, and then pull this out.

Margaret 30:45
Dear listener, they’re holding a giant, weird syringe thing. I actually didn’t catch your pronouns at the very beginning. I just use they for you.

Cobalt 30:52
Yeah, they/them is perfect. Yeah. And so when you, you know, so if I had had my hand on the end of this, you know, when it pulled it out, it would have like, stuck to my hand, right? You know, creates that vacuum. And then when you’re using this on a person…

Margaret 31:05
There’s no needle again?

Cobalt 31:07
There is actually…

Aspen 31:08
It’s called a cannula.

Cobalt 31:09
Yes, cannula, which is this sort of straw that goes on the end,

Margaret 31:13
Which I pronounced wrong in my other podcast, and like four people yelled at me.

Cobalt 31:19
Haha, It’s medical terms.

Margaret 31:21
Yeah.

Cobalt 31:23
So yeah, but then. So this is what you know, goes through the cervix, this, this is the part that needs to…the cannula is the part that needs to stay sterile, it’s going into the cervix. And so that’s definitely a place where infection can be introduced and stuff. But assuming you’re all in a good clean environment, then this is what’s used. So the, you know, the vacuum is working, it’s pulling tissue in through the hole at the end of the straw. And then they’re, you know, using that against the wall of the uterus and stuff to make sure they’re getting out all of the tissue. Yeah, so the the advantage of that the fact that you have this manual aspiration is that it can be used anywhere, whether you have electricity or not, you know, it’s something that’s used in a lot of clinics all over the world, that don’t necessarily have stable power.

Aspen 32:05
Or, you know, if you’re outside of a clinic, then it’s something that can be used in a living room with like someone who has the experience of it. And that’s where you can get your music playing good, happy, you know, however, you can create the scene, however you’d like. And I think that’s one of the things about, you know, having an aspiration abortion in a clinic, you have people who are in that medical model, or you could have one at home with someone who has the experience of using it. And you can really set the tone and the setting of who you want to be there. And how you want it to be. You can, you know, in every procedure, there should be the option, whether there is or not, there should be the option to slow down. But when you’re in your when you’re in your own space, you can really set the terms of slowing down and taking a break and having some tea. So that MVAs can work in or out of a clinic.

Margaret 32:52
When I…I’m really not trying to play like I’m the expert here. I did a…my other podcast, I did an episode about the Jane collective and in Chicago. And in it, I ended up talking about the people who invented the “cannula?” [pronounces carefully testing the pronunciation]

Cobalt 33:09
Yeah exactly.

Margaret 33:10
And then later, menstral extraction, the guy who invented…I don’t have anyone’s names in front of me, I don’t have any notes in front of me…But the women who invented menstrual extraction, and so I’m kind of I’m framing this as a question…Basically, they were able to do it so that wasn’t considered medical, and it wasn’t considered an abortion, because it was just the like, an extraction of the menstrual products or whatever. And it was like a way to skirt…because it wasn’t an abortion. It was just like, “Oops, we’re just cleaning out all the menstrual products.”

Aspen 33:43
Yeah,

Margaret 33:44
Is that….that seemed really hopeful to me in the era of post Roe v. Wade, that was going around.

Aspen 33:50
Yeah, those people…so there was a Jane collective up in Chicago, but the people who really worked with menstrual extractions lived in California. So in California, it’s considered a home remedy. And I think that’s the language that they’ve used. And it was sort of, you know, people can extract their period or their menses, even if they aren’t pregnant. And it’s actually what some people prefer to do, because they don’t want to bleed. They could extract their menses, but it is a bit of like an involved experience. You have to have a cannula inserted into the uterus and have that be extracted, but then you’re not bleeding for multiple days, which may be one of the ways to practice before someone’s actually pregnant is to extract each other’s menstrual cycles. But the thing about it is that, so someone, so by the time….So someone’s inserting the cannula in with the MEs (Menstrual extraction). There’s a little bit of a smaller syringe, and the person who’s having the experience can actually pull the syringe and so it’s much more of like I’m doing it to my own body too, which makes it a bit detached from like a providers providing a service who’s not actually part of the clinic system.

Margaret 33:51
It’s cool. I got really excited when I learned about it and I remain excited about it.

Margaret 35:01
Like in a dettached way.

Cobalt 35:01
Yeah.

Cobalt 35:02
Yeah, I think it’s very cool. I appreciate people that are, you know, doing it thoughtfully and safely. And I’m also much more of a proponent for pills, like myself again, because like, I also deal with like, the dysphoria, and I’m kind of like, “I’d rather not deal.” And also because they really are, you know, the pills, depending on you know, exactly how far along on your gestational age it’s like, up to 97% effective.

Margaret 35:30
Okay.

Cobalt 35:30
And, you know, with with no risks of…very low rate, you know, you’re not, you’re not inserting anything there. So you’re not introducing a possible infection vector that way. There’s also no like risk of puncture. Although 1) it’s better not to have an IUD in if you’re inducing, pretty terrible cramps. But, uh, yeah, so but it’s definitely an option for people who you know, don’t like have access to pills, don’t have you know, access to herbs, or not doing things that you know are the right time for that, it’s definitely another option that is available to folks. And that can be done quite safely.

Aspen 36:07
And it’s, it’s all done on like a shorter timeline, like with with herbs and with….like herbs is one of the longer timelines and with medication, it’s within a couple of days window, but someone’s still going to be likely bleeding for a couple of weeks after that, even if they pass the tissue, their bodies still healing, and they’re likely still bleeding. And with the menstrual extraction, and with the MVAs, you’re you’re taking out all the contents, and so it’s much easier to go right back into getting back into your flow. You’re not…there’s a shorter healing time, maybe like

Margaret 36:37
Get right back to work?

Aspen 36:39
I was gonna say that. Honestly to me, and that’s their priority. They’re like, I don’t want to be disrupted.

Margaret 36:47
We got to eat, you know?

Cobalt 36:48
Yeah, exactly. I can’t afford to miss my job. So yeah.

Margaret 36:54
Yeah. Okay, well, to go back to kind of the doula project itself, I’m kind of curious about how things like this, you said, there’s a whole bunch of these around, are they? Is it a network? Are these just completely independent and autonomous groups that use similar names and structures like, like, what’s going on with doula projects?

Cobalt 37:16
So the original doula project is in New York, and they even have a book out about kind of their founding and some of the work that they do. The people that initially formed the Bay Area Doula Project, got a lot of their initial materials and like kind of training and inspiration from those folks. And I know a couple people associated with the project in New York, but we’ve not like strongly connected as any kind of organization. It’s really been something, I believe, where people who want to set up a doula project, you know, may inherit some materials and just go with it. And again, do with it, what’s possible and appropriate, in whatever location there they are.

Margaret 37:58
How would one go about starting in such a thing?

Cobalt 38:03
That’s a very good question. We fell into…So, so history of theory of Bay Area Doula Project is that it’s been through, my understanding is that it’s been through sort of several incarnations where people have kind of, you know, some group of people have done it until they have gotten burned out or had other projects and then or been priced out of the bay area or whatever. Yeah, and they, you know, leave but have left behind some, you know, group of people who, you know, then try to, like resurrect it in a new like, new and different way that’s appropriate for this, like new group who’s taking it over. That’s certainly what happened with us. So we came into this pre founded, Bay Area Doula Project has been around for in one or one or another form for a bunch of years now. But as far as like, trying to get started, I think it’s, you know, find at least a few other folks with, you know, similar care about, you know, abortion and specific and emotional support around medical care, like, and, you know, start figuring out what is needed in your area, you know. One of the things here…so like the New York Doula Project, they do a lot of in clinic work, they have, you know, they train people to be in the clinic, and people work shifts, and they sort of help whoever comes in who, you know, to have somebody, you know, hand to hold and, you know, just someone you know, being there who’s not practicing medicine upon them. And whereas here, you know, the local clinics do have, you know, some great people doing counseling and things already that are paid to do that. So it’s not something they need volunteers for, you know, but so we focus more on the out of clinic stuff or on the waiting room support, you know, things like that, you know, helping people get from place to place and have…not feel so isolated, or scared while things are happening.

Aspen 40:00
I think that there’s something beautiful in that like, we can’t just be duplicated everywhere. And I think that the best thing people can do is go to their community and figure out what the needs are. I’ve seen some doula projects who focus like, mostly on more practical support. So like they’re connected more with like the abortion funds in their area. I’ve seen doula projects do like Plan B drives where they distribute Plan B to a bunch of people. So it can look like you know, being an abortion doula can look so many different ways. And so I really just want to empower people to go to their communities and ask. Figure out what the need is.

Margaret 40:35
You talked about abortion funds, and one of the things that I’ve been running across in the wake of, you know, this thing that is happening, where Roe v. Wade is no longer the law of the land or whatever. And one of the things that I’ve been running across as people saying donate to abortion funds, rather than, say, for example, Planned Parenthood. Is that a framework you all believe in? If so, can you can you talk about what abortion funds are? And how people who want to help…how can people best help if they’re not starting a doula project? Like with their money?Is it abortion funds? Is it something else? Is it you all?

Cobalt 41:18
It is definitely abortion funds. You know, Planned Parenthood does a lot of good things that they’re also already pretty well funded. You know, everybody knows who planned parenthood is. Abortion funds are the people who fill in all of the different gaps, right, they, you know, in a lot of ways, a lot of times they do, you know, work directly with clinics, you know, help support clinics in you know, whatever way, so you’re also helping support, possibly a Planned Parenthood or possibly a more independent clinic. And, you know, funds are also going to be helping with the things that make access actually possible. So again, helping with people who need to, you know, get a bus or train or a car, to travel costs or, or plane possibly hours to get to their appointment, helping people figure out childcare, and helping people afford meals while they’re doing this traveling, you know, filling in all of those gaps. Not every fund does the practical support part, but a lot do and I think it’s, you know, a growing thing. So that’s really why I would say and again, not just in, you know, certainly certainly in the States, where, you know, abortion access is most restricted, but really everywhere, everywhere needs them. And also, the funds that are part of the NANF, if, you know, they kind of work together. They’re, they’re a network for a reason. And so it’s been…

Margaret 42:34
What’s the NANF?

Cobalt 42:35
Ah, the National Network of Abortion Funds.

Margaret 42:38
Cool. Thanks.

Cobalt 42:38
So jargony, Yeah, yeah. So it’s a network for a reason. And when those, you know, if there’s a clinic that’s, you know, really low on money this month, and has a particular need, you know, the call will go out and it will get covered, you know, by however, we can make it happen. So, yeah, donate to your abortion funds.

Aspen 42:58
I totally agree with that, and that abortion funds are doing a lot of good, I really appreciate they’re doing a lot of local work. It’s not just this like overarching Planned Parenthood, even though Planned Parenthood, I want to keep I want it to keep on staying or sticking around. But like, I think that people should really be directing their energy elsewhere. But the thing about abortion funds is that their funding clinical abortions, which is just a part, just a sliver of abortions, which we’ve been mentioning throughout this entire podcast, so find your local abortion doulas who are doing work too and get…you know, we also need to be funded. And that’s something that, you know, me personally, I’m trying to figure it out because a lot of the work that…the people who are providing and supporting abortions outside of clinics are supporting people who can’t afford, you know, or access clinical abortions, which the abortion funds are filling to some extent. But, I mean, there’s so many, like we mentioned before, there’s so many reasons why people might not want to go into a clinic, whether it be just not aligned with what their what their what they’re wanting, and yeah, abortion providers outside of community abortion providers are doing really great work and we need to be funded to.

Margaret 44:08
Yeah, no, that makes sense.

Cobalt 44:11
I also want to plug If/When/How. They have a repro[ductive] legal helpline, so anyone who has any questions about, you know, legality of something they might be considering, or especially if someone has been criminalized for a pregnancy loss of any kind, those are folks that will jump in and help. They are awesome. They’re If/When/How, or they’re like Lawyering For Reproductive Justice, I think is the name, is the full name, and they’re just fantastic. There’s a lot of other great orgs you know, doing work in the space. They’re one of them. I also realized we’ve been using this term reproductive justice and I want to make sure that we call out like the, you know, history and origin of that, which is that in 1994 I think it was a group of black women, you know, really called out that like you choice just doesn’t, you know, cover it right, like choice is not enough. And, you know, called out the you know that it’s not just the choice to have an abortion, right, it’s access to abortion, but it’s also the choice to have a child when you want to, and to parent the children that you might already have, you know, in, in safety, and then health. And so reproductive justice is just like a much wider lens, and, you know, more inclusive of all of the, you know, things that come under bodily, bodily autonomy and parenting and yeah, so like, you know, the formula shortage that we’ve been having is definitely a reproductive justice issue. The fact that WIC doesn’t cover diapers, the Women, Infants and Children program that like makes sure that kids have food doesn’t cover diapers, and if you don’t have diapers, then you often can’t drop your kid off for daycare, because they’ll require you to give them a certain number of diapers for the day. And so therefore, you can’t like go…

Margaret 45:55
Have a job to buy diapers.

Cobalt 45:56
Exactly. You know, that’s a reproductive justice issue. The asthma rate for often, you know, Black, or Latin or Native American, you know, places like asthma rates, worries about, you know, if you do have a child, can you safely breastfeed them because of the pollution that you know, is in your area, right, like, all of these things are also like big and important. And that is, you know, once again, black women like leading the way to think about all this stuff more broadly. So, I’m going to call that out.

Margaret 46:33
Yeah. Do you ever have those moments where you just, there’s something you already know, but it still hits you as an epiphany, like, whenever I do this kind of….whenever I like, talk to people about this kind of thing. It’s I don’t know, I just have this moment where you’re talking about like, “Oh, in case you’re being criminalized for losing a pregnancy…” And I’m like, “What fucking world we live in?” It’s like something I’ve been, like aware of for a very long time, right? Which is like every now and then it like slips through the armor that you build up. And you’re like, oh, right, people aregoing to be locked into cages because they lost a pregnancy that they may or may not have wanted to lose.

Aspen 47:11
People already are. People are already incarcerated in the so called United States for miscarriages. And it’s just going to increase because really, we are criminalizing bodies that are losing pregnancies, whether it’s by an abortion or a miscarriage. And the thing is that they’re, they’re medically identical. So yeah, it’s it’s really concerning how many people are going to be harmed in general, but specifically the people who are going to be miscarrying losing pregnancies.

Margaret 47:41
Yeah.

Cobalt 47:41
And I was just gonna say, this is a good chance to circle back to, okay, so like things that can go wrong, especially specifically….

Margaret 47:47
Hurray!

Cobalt 47:48
Specifically about pills, which is, you know, you might be bleeding a lot, the recommended, or the sort of definition is, if you’ve soaked, you know, all the way through two or more pads an hour for two hours, then, you know, like, go seek help for blood loss. I feel like I would probably go in a little sooner, especially, you know, depending if people were showing other signs of blood loss, like, you know, being pale or like, you know, if their skin like, you know, if you the dehydration test, if you like kind of pinch the skin on your hand, and it stays up, you know, you don’t have enough fluid in your body, like, that’s another, you know, check, but definitely, if it’s more than two pads an hour for two hours. So that should also be a consideration, you know, is like, how close are you to the hospital, you know, when you’re sort of figuring these things out there. And then the other big thing is like infection. So you know, if you, in the days after develop a fever, or start having some really bad smelling, or strange looking discharge, then that’s probably you need to go to the hospital. But, like, Aspen just mentioned, miscarriages or miscarriages. Medically, there’s not a blood test that one could give for what pills a person might have in their system. There’s like, no medical reason why one would need to say whether or not this miscarriage was self induced or not.

Cobalt 48:01
There’s…like it should not change the treatment plan or the plan of care of a doctor at all. So there’s literally no reason for you to self disclose, and certainly no reason for a doctor to or a nurse or anyone to pry. So one thing is a lot of the guidelines for self managed abortion, encourage people to take things by mouth. And that’s partly because one could also take it vaginally, but if you swallow it, it’s gone. If you spit things out into the trash, or if there’s like residue leftover in the vagina, that could be something that can be used to criminalize a person. So that’s why it’s like kind of the protocol is to let things dissolve in the mouth. And then once they’ve been in the mouth for the required amount of time, you know, you could swallow them or spit them out. But the the choice, the best choice is generally to swallow them. So yeah, but the most important thing is, yeah, there’s no medical reason why you would need to say anything about, like, what started the sequence of events, and just that you’re there, you know, you think you might have lost a pregnancy and you’re bleeding a lot, or you might have an infection. Yeah.

Margaret 48:01
Okay.

Margaret 49:18
Okay

Aspen 50:26
Yeah.I appreciate you Cobalt naming like those, like those big things like the, like, possible complications, or like bleeding too much, and also infection. But the reality is that the biggest complication and risk of, of abortion is being incarcerated for it and being criminalized for it. So that is honestly like the biggest harm or the biggest, like concern of abortion, to be honest.

Cobalt 50:50
Yeah, it’s also important to say this is a lot safer than carrying a pregnancy to term. As far as like likelihood of side effects, likelihood of harm, especially, you know, again, frankly, especially if you’re a person of color in America, and especially if you’re a Black person in America, you know, the mortality rates are absurd, for people who are getting for black people who are giving birth, so there’s multiple, there was multiple points buried in there. One is that it’s super safe. And two is that like, we need to do better by Black folks, and they are linked together, but also separate.

Margaret 51:25
The fact that the most dangerous part about seeking an abortion is that someone might try to lock you into a cage and ruin your life for doing it is so just fucking dark. I don’t know. Like, again, not in this like surprising way. But every now and then I just have like these moments where I’m like, there’s someone right now who’s in a cage for like, smoking weed, and the fact that we live in a society that has people in cages period, just like walking around being like, oh, that’s the place where everyone’s kept in cages as if that’s like this, like normal thing. But every now and then it just, yeah, I don’t know why it’s just every now and then just like hits me like this horrible dark epiphany, that of something I already know. But…Aspen, at the very beginning, you talked about how one of the things that you do is teach people how to track fertility. Is that something that there’s like a really short, useful way to talk about to an audience? Or is that? Or maybe like how people can go about finding this out? Or?

Aspen 52:25
Yeah, I mean, so I am a fertility awareness educator. So looking at those terms, fertility awareness, there’s a directory via the Read Your Body app. So if you look up, there’s like a Read Your Body fertility awareness directory, and there’s like, a bunch of fertility awareness educators, so you can really find someone who like who meshes with you and who you’re interested in learning from. There’s also like, it’s possible to also self teach or like, be self taught when it comes to fertility awareness. In my own journey. I was self taught for a while until I just really needed another human to be like, “You’re doing it, right.” So I also want to validate like, needing that community support and that like, you know, it’s it’s also okay to, to learn from someone. And I think that…so I’m excited about cycle tracking, not only it for…for me, it feels like a huge resistance against the laws that are being passed that are restricting abortion to a certain certain week, because it’s essentially capitalizing off the fact that most people who bleed haven’t been taught much about their cycle, they’ve just been taught that it’s like a pain. And that’s pretty much it. Which if for some people, it is just a pain, which is okay. But I track both…I take my temperature every morning. Every time every morning, when I wake up, I take my temperature and I write it down. Every day I check for my cervical fluid. Every time I use the bathroom, I look in my underwear and when why when I wipe across my vulva, I look at the toilet paper, and I see cervical fluid. And that is what…in those combination of combination of information. I know when I’m fertile. I know when I’m infertile. And it might be news to someone to learn that. If you have a uterus, you’re not fertile every single day of your cycle. That was news to me. I was really raised with like the hyper fertility myth. And so just bursting that bubble in the first place, I think is important. And knowing that it’s totally possible to check cervical fluid to take someone’s temperature every morning, and to make different decisions to use condoms certain times of the month, to abstain certain times of month, to have different types of sex and intercourse in different types of the month, to avoid pregnancy pretty effectively.

Margaret 54:32
Hell yeah. Alright. Is there last stuff? Is there stuff that I should have asked you but I didn’t? Like, I mean, obviously, there’s a lot more about all of this. Well, for example, actually, we didn’t talk about like specific herbs and I was guessing that that was kind of an intentional thing of like, not trying to just go tell people to drink pennyroyal tea or whatever. I’m using that as a specific example of what you shouldn’t go do, to my understanding, but…

Aspen 55:00
Yeah i i Like don’t call out certain nerves, because I think that I really want to elevate people building their relationship with herbs and there are so many herbs out there but since you mentioned Pennyroyal and that’s a friend of mine like there’s a lot of slander on the internet right now against pennyroyal. I just want to push against it for a second because pennyroyal is so great in a tea. There has been harm caused to some body because they’ve ingested the essential oil. So never ingest the essential oil, but Pennyroyal tea is such a great ally and friend when it comes to releasing pregnancies. But I do want to name a couple resource books, “Natural Liberty” by the Sage Femme Collective is a really great book, that’s like a pretty extensive resource book about a lot of different types of self managed abortion. It does use gendered language so just as a content warning. There’s like a if you can go through go through your TOR and your VPN, there is like a Rise Up pdf of it online. So it’s easy. It’s like free online, or you can purchase the book. Holistic Abortions on Instagram is another maker of educational content that I would suggest finding some information from. They have a zine called “Grow Your Abortion”, which focuses on like 10 plants. And it teaches you how to gives you information on how to grow these plants, what dosages, how to work with the…how they would work together. Because like I mentioned, at some point in this podcast, it’s about choosing three or four plants with like, with reason and skill, rather than just choosing a bunch of plants. And like, you know, there’s these resource books, because a lot of this information has been lost to us in our lineages, but I also want to elevate the fact that like, so these stories and medicines might still be within your family line. And I really want to encourage folks to talk to your elders, talk to the people who you can talk to about abortion within your families to learn what are your family’s abortion stories? Did your did your abuela did your grandmother drink some tea to release some pregnancies? Because she might have and she might have some stories that she’s like, ready to share.

Margaret 56:58
Fuck, yeah. Okay, any last? Any other? Any other thoughts?

Cobalt 57:05
Oh, yeah, you know, I wrote down some things to make sure we covered and the last one I wrote down was that like, LMP is confusing and terrible.

Margaret 57:14
Okay what’s LMP?

Cobalt 57:14
So yeah, LMP is your last menstrual period. Right. And so your your gestational age, like the number of weeks pregnant you are is calculated from the first day of your last menstrual period, regardless of whether you know that you only had sex once in the last month. And you know exactly when it was, that’s not the day that they will consider you to start having been pregnant. It’s just the first day of your last menstrual period. So when people hear like a six week abortion ban, I think most people will kind of assume that it’s like six weeks from your first missed period. But it’s not. Like it’s, you know, it’s basically two weeks from your missed period if you have regular periods and happen to have noticed, you know, when it went missing, so yeah, it just I don’t like it so much. And it causes Yeah, like it’s it muddies the debate more, so I just needed to say that I hate it.

Margaret 58:05
Yeah,

Aspen 58:06
Some of my final thoughts that I want to share is that abortion has been happening as long as people have been giving birth. And like, really, abortion has become medicalized through legislation and the so-called US over the last 150 years and there’s so…it’s like, there’s the right now is like a great opportunity to zoom out and be reminded, like the large expansiveness that is abortion care, it is clinical abortion, but also, it’s much more than that. And whether or not this is going to be published before after Roe v. Wade, is overturned, if it’s overturned, whatever is that, like, I really want to encourage folks to make a safety plan like, you know, “What would happen if you did if some, if you did get pregnant, or you know, someone in your community did get pregnant? How would you respond?” Because it’ll be much more easier on your nervous system in your heart. If you already have that plan in place, already have the ideas and the resources you can reach out to before you need it.

Cobalt 59:03
Very much seconded. Yeah.

Margaret 59:05
Yeah, there’s something that you all brought up at the very beginning. I actually wrote it down. I remember which one you said is like, kind of almost being like thankful for this moment that it’s in people’s minds. I didn’t get the impression that you all were like, “Oh, thank god everything’s about to get harder,” or whatever, but like, but it was still an interesting silver lining that I pulled from what you were saying.

Cobalt 59:23
Yeah, I mean, that is the weird thing about stuff like this right is it gets more attention to something that’s already been bad. Yeah, that’s what I’ll say. Roe has never ever been enough. You know, three years after…two-three years after Roe v. Wade, they passed the Hyde Amendment which makes it so that no federal funding can go towards abortions which means that people who you know rely on Medicare or whatever can’t get their their abortions funded that way. That’s another reason why the the abortion funds are so important. And yeah, it just means that like, although things are going to get harder for more people, you know people are gonna have to travel further distances and all of that stuff, for you know poor people and young people of color, and people living on reservations and all kinds of stuff. It’s just already access already hasn’t been there. And so in some ways, this is a huge change, but in some ways, it’s just not a change at all. And we need to do better. Like, you know, I met some abortion activists from Mexico City, and they, you know, part of their slogan is that, you know, like, “it needs to be free and on demand.” And I was like, we don’t even bother trying to ask for it for free in the States like…but we should. Yeah. Everywhere. Free. On demand. Easy to, you know, access all of that. Yeah.

Aspen 1:00:51
Yeah, I really feel like this moment in time, people want to…people’s eyes are open. And so that’s a lot of my excitement. And I also feel like some shits gonna have to burn down before things get better. And this is something that is needing to burn down, because the clinic system has never served everyone and we need to expand access to abortion in a way that’s actually sustainable. That includes ancestral medicine that actually prioritizes the wellness of the person. And I think that what’s going to be…what’s going to grow out of this, what’s going to be born out of this is going to be something amazing and radical, so I’m here for it.

Margaret 1:01:26
Yeah, fuck yeah. All right.

Cobalt 1:01:29
Uplifting ending!

Margaret 1:01:31
Well, how can people find or support either your project or you as individuals, if that is a thing that you desire strangers on the internet to do? Yeah, where where would you like to draw attention?

Cobalt 1:01:48
I prefer to remain a cipher. But we are BayAreaDoulaProject All one word on Instagram, and BADPtweets on Twitter.

Aspen 1:02:02
Yeah, I want to second that. Please come reach out to us at BADP. Send us an email, find a post on on Instagram or on Twitter, come comment if you’re if you’re interested in like, getting involved or like learning more about what a doula project is, and wanting to support people more around abortion. And if you’re looking to provide, you know, funding to this sort of effort to I really would encourage you to reach out because if you have money to share, and you want to support abortion workers who are doing the work on the ground, then we’d be happy to funnel that money too.

Margaret 1:02:38
Fuck yeah, thanks so much for coming on.

Cobalt 1:02:43
Thank you.

Margaret 1:02:48
Thanks so much for listening. If you enjoyed this podcast, the first thing you should do is check out the Bay Area Doula Project and give them money. And when you’re done giving them money, and maybe you don’t have money, I’m not trying to be like “the only way to do anything good in the world is money.” That’s not…that’s completely not true. But it is a thing that you could consider doing. And or you could start your own doula project. Or you could do anything else that you feel drawn to including tell people about this fantastic podcast you listen to called Live Like The World Is Dying. And you can also support this podcast and not just by telling people about it. But by sponsoring Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness on Patreon. Because Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness is a publisher that publishes this podcast. It also publishes another podcast that you might want to check out. It’s called Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness. And it is a podcast that has different fiction, and essays, and memoir, and role playing game content, and all kinds of stuff, basically, that we publish every month with Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness also gets put up in audio format. And the host of that show, Inmn, then goes and interviews the authors about what it is they’ve created. It’s really cool. And you should check it out. Because I made the theme song. You can hear me play piano on it. In particular, I would like to thank Hoss the dog, Chris, Sam, Nora, Miciahah, Kirk, Natalie, Eleanor, Jennifer, Staro, Chelsey, Dana, David, Nicole, and Mikki for your support and making this podcast possible. I would also like to thank Inmn, the producer. And I would like to thank Bursts, the audio editor, and you can check out Bursts’ is podcast The Final Straw, which is also on the Channel Zero network, but not part of Strange In A Tangled Wilderness, because the world is full of all these complicated interacting things and different organizations that do different things made up of different volunteers. Can you tell that I haven’t gone outside enough today and I’m rambling at you? Well, I’m gonna go outside now and you should too, or maybe you were outside already. Either way. I will talk to you all soon. And I hope you’re doing as well as you can

Find out more at https://live-like-the-world-is-dying.pinecast.co

S1E41 – Casandra on Mediation

Episode Notes

Episode summary

Margaret and Casandra talk about the importance of learning mediation skills, what mediation is and what different processes look like.

Guest Info

The host Margaret Killjoy can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy or instagram at @margaretkilljoy.

This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at www.tangledwilderness.org. You can support the show on Patreon at www.patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness.

Links

Transcript

Margaret 00:14
Hello, and welcome to Live Like The World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m your host, Margaret, Kiljoy, and I use ‘she’ or ‘they’ pronouns. And today we’re going to talk about something that everyone has requested. Just kidding, no one actually bothers request this because they don’t know they need it. That’s actually not true. People actually haverequested this. We’re gonna be talking about conflict mediation, and we’re going to be talking about when conflict mediation isn and isn’t the way to handle different types of situations. And when we’ll be talking to Cassandra about that. And I’m very excited to hear what they have to say. This podcast is a proud member of the Channel Zero network of anarchists podcasts. And here’s a jingle from another show in the network.

Margaret 01:40
Okay, if you could introduce yourself with your name, your pronouns, and then I guess kind of your background, both professionally and non professionally with what we’re gonna be talking about today with conflict mediation.

Casandra 01:52
Yeah, my name is Cassandra, I use ‘they’ or ‘she’ pronouns. I’m a volunteer mediator at a community mediation center. I trained in mediation…What year is it right now? I don’t know, eight years ago?

Margaret 02:08
It’s 2022, right now,

Casandra Johns 02:09
Nine years ago, something like that. And I also worked at my local mediation center, at the beginning of the pandemic, as program coordinator for one of the counties.

Margaret 02:25
So what is conflict mediation? This is when when you don’t like someone, you just respond passive aggressively to them and or cancel them, right?

Casandra 02:36
Yep, and block them on Twitter.

Margaret 02:39
That’s important.

Casandra 02:42
Conflict mediation is where a third party is called in to be present during discussion about a conflict. So, in its most basic form, that could mean asking a friend who isn’t like a stakeholder in a conflict to come sit in while you talk with someone who you have issues with. Through the mediation center, like on a, on an organizational level, we deal with all different sorts of conflicts. So community conflicts, like neighbors disputing property lines. We also do family mediation, parent/teen, stuff, things like that, we do a certain amount of mediation through the court system. So people in my area can opt to do mediation instead of going to like small claims court, which is pretty cool.

Margaret 03:32
So like if you’re mad at your neighbor for hitting your car with their bicycle. I don’t know that’s not a good example. Instead of suing them, you can, like go hash it out with someone.

Casandra 03:49
Yep. Yeah.

Margaret 03:50
How do you then maximize your personal profit?

Casandra 03:54
Well, that’s a good question. I mean, the chance if you go before a judge, there’s a chance that they’ll say, Nope, you don’t get this money. Whereas in mediation, you get to talk to the person and explain to them why you need the money, and they explain to you why they can’t pay the money, and then you work out a plan, which usually benefits both people.

Margaret 04:14
Well it just doesn’t lead very easily to feeling righteous and better than everyone, though. So it seems like a disadvantage.

Casandra 04:21
Yeah, I mean, I think if you want to feel righteous, you should probably just sue someone and okay, and not worry about mediation. Yeah.

Margaret 04:29
So what were you gonna say before, i said weird sarcastic things?

Casandra 04:32
The center where I work, also has this really cool program, where we do restorative justice processes for youth offenders. So, rather than going through the usual punitive process, some juvenile offenders have the option to do restorative justice instead.

Margaret 04:52
Give me an example of like, not a “John did this,” but I like what that might look like?

Casandra 04:59
Yeah, Let me think. I have to be vague. So I’m remembering a case where one teenager punched another teenager, like the, I think they were at the movies or something, this was pre-pandemic, and was charged with assault. And so rather than having to go through a punitive process and have that assault charge on their record, they have the option to do this restorative process instead. So that would look like sitting down with the person who was harmed or with a proxy, we use proxies as well, if the victim doesn’t want to be present, and talking about the impact of their actions and then coming up with a plan for making amends, which can be really varied. Like it can be, It can be as simple as like, “I will go to therapy.” Or it can be direct remediation, like “I will pay you money or do yard work for you,” you know, it, people get really creative. But it’s a cool option.

Margaret 06:04
Okay. What is the difference between, outside of a legal or court system, what is the difference between conflict mediation and restorative justice? Like, when is one thing appropriate? And when is the other thing appropriate?

Casandra 06:20
Yeah, I think of mediation as a part, like an aspect of larger alternative justice processes. So it’s like a tool you can use in alternative justice processes. But alternative justice processes are intended for instances where harm has been caused. So it’s not just a you and me on equal footing having a conflict or disagreement, actual harm has been done. Does that make sense?

Margaret 06:46
Yeah, so like, basically, if I’m trying to…if someone within my same social circle sexually assaulted me, and then I don’t want to go and sit down have a like samey samey conversation with them about like, how we all have feelings. Instead, I can….instead restorative justice as the more appropriate thing, then specifically, mediation in that circumstance. Is that what you’re saying?

Casandra 07:11
Yeah, or probably transformative justice. But yeah.

Margaret 07:15
What’s the difference?

Casandra 07:17
Sure. So.

Margaret 07:19
Sorry.

Casandra 07:20
No, that’s fine. Restorative justice was developed, I think in the 70s, I want to say, and that’s what the mediation center where I work…that’s what we use in conjunction with the court system. And it’s dealing more with individuals. So, this individual has harmed that individual, and we’re going to figure out how to make amends as best as possible between the two of them. Transformative justice, I think, was developed in the 90s. And it’s a more systemic approach. So it’s acknowledging that people often cause harm. Because of trauma, because of a lack of resources, you know, it acknowledges that we’re all a part of these larger systems of oppression. And so through this transformative process, it seeks to heal both people. Often communities are brought in as part of that as well.

Margaret 08:22
Okay. So like, everyone who’s involved with the thing shows up, and has a say in it.

Casandra 08:31
Maybe not for all parts. But, you know, the hope is to bring in as many people as possible, because the idea is that, that creates more sustainable change.

Margaret 08:42
So how does one…How does one go about doing this, right? Like to focus maybe more on mediation than restorative and transformative justice? We obviously within our communities come up with like ad hoc means quite often, and we just sort of try weird things all the time. And sometimes those things don’t work very well, like passive aggressive notes. Or, you know,

Casandra 09:11
Wash your dishes!

Margaret 09:13
Yeah, totally. Yeah. You know, like, how does one do this? Like, if I’m starting to feel like I’m either having conflict with someone that I’m in community with, or I’m watching a conflict develop within the community that I’m part of? What are some steps to notice that that’s happening and work to resolve it?

Casandra 09:35
I feel like that shouldn’t be a big question, but because we’re so conditioned to be conflict avoidant, not just on an interpersonal level, but like, society, you know, we live in a….part of liberal democracy, part of representative democracy is like creating these abstractions when it comes to conflict and creating institutions to deal with it, instead of even acknowledging that the conflict exists. Now I have to remember what your question was.

Margaret 10:09
So what the fuck do you do when you’re like, really pissed off that your roommate won’t do the dishes, and is like, snubbing you at parties and this pretending like you don’t exist. But they think that it’s happening because you borrowed their guitar without asking.

Casandra 10:31
I mean, mediation doesn’t have to be a big formal thing, right? Like, you can just ask a mutually trusted friend to be…Well, first of all, you can just talk to them. So, so mediation is just a tool in our toolkit. But there’s something about having a third person present, who isn’t like a stakeholder in a conflict. And even if they don’t say anything, just having a third person present and witnessing is sometimes really helpful. One of my favorite mediators at the center rarely says anything. He just has this presence, he’ll sit there with his hands in bold and just like exists, and somehow people are like, Oh, well, shit. Now I have to…

Margaret 11:13
Just like quietly judging you?

Casandra 11:16
No, just like, holding this like, calm space. He’s, yeah.

Margaret 11:23
Quietly judging you! Because like, well not in a bad way, right? Because like, yeah, if I’m like, if I feel really, like, justified and you know, like, bah, blah, blah. But then as soon as I realized I’m saying it to a third party, I’m like, “Oh, this might not make sense.” Like when I say to a third party? Yeah, yeah, no, okay. Okay.

Casandra 11:41
Yeah. And anyone can do that. Right? Anyone who isn’t a stakeholder and who’s comfortable being around, conflict can be in that role. Obviously, there’s more that you can do to like develop those skills. That’s why trainings and mediation centers exist.

Margaret 12:00
Most of the time, I’ve tried to do this. It’s gone very badly when I’ve been asked to mediate things, but I think that’s usually because the people…because I did everything, right, and the people involved id everything wrong. But, it seems like people got really defensive and kind of entrenched in their positions. And it stayed a really like, “No, I’m right. Fuck, you,” “No, I’m right. Fuck you,” kind of thing? How do you break that up?

Casandra 12:31
Yeah. Have you heard the analogy of like, if you draw a heart on a piece of paper, and place it between two people, and they’re like standing on opposite sides of it, and ask them to describe what they see, they’re going to describe totally different things, but they’re looking at the same image, you know?

Margaret 12:50
Oh, because it’s like, not symmetrically positioned between them.

Casandra 12:53
Yes.

Margaret 12:54
Okay.

Casandra 12:55
I think that…Well, first of all, I think it’s okay for people to just not agree, tight? Part of getting over our conflict avoidance, as a society, I think is acknowledging that, like, we’re not going to agree and that’s not only okay, but positive. Like we need to have people around us who we disagree with, in order to like, examine our own opinions and things like that. But, the second thing is that conflict isn’t bad or scary. Like, I feel like part of people’s fear around not agreeing with someone is that the assumption is that if you and I don’t agree, then we can’t have any sort of relationship or function. Like we’re so conflict avoidant, that if we don’t agree, we just simply can’t function.

Margaret 13:46
Oh, yeah, totally. And then we just like ice each other out completely.

Casandra 13:49
Yeah, which is really common and unfortunate. And obviously, like, there, I’m gonna disagree with a Nazi, right?

Margaret 13:58
Right.

Casandra 13:59
We’re not just going to agree to disagree, but I’m gonna ice them out. But, that doesn’t have to be the case for everything.

Margaret 14:06
No, that makes sense. I kind of…I kind of do this thing where I have, like, one set of values that I hold myself to, and one set of values that I hold other people to, you know, so like, I’m trying to come up with a good value to to use this for. I don’t want to get…Okay, so like, but if there’s if there’s something that I believe I shouldn’t do, it doesn’t necessarily mean…even though kind of in the abstract, I wish no one would do it. Like okay, like lying, right? Like I have a very, very strong sense of never lying to anyone that you’re not trying to control or hurt, right? And I, I will, like live or die by this as a person, but I recognize that not everyone I surround myself with holds the same value, and it like rubs me the wrong way. But, I can agree to disagree about it because I recognize that this is a value that is not shared by everyone. Um, and I’m on my own, like, wing nut paladin and kick or whatever. Andk but then yeah, like, there’s other values like, you know, “don’t be like”, I don’t know, “don’t be fucking, like racist or whatever, like, don’t be a fucking Nazi,” that or…is that kind of what you’re kind of what you’re saying, like learning to have different standards for yourself versus other people or I guess that’s not just the only way to…how do you how do you personally decide which things you are allowed to disagree about and which things you’re not allowed to disagree about?

Casandra 15:39
Oh, I don’t feel like I’m in total agreement with anyone, like literally anyone. And that’s great. Yes. The world would be really fucking boring. If I was. There’s this, there’s this essay called “In Defense of….” shoot, am I going to forget it while we’re recording? No. In Defense of Arguing.

Margaret 16:05
Okay.

Casandra 16:05
Like an anarchist theory of arguing or something like that. And the author talks about these like larger things, like how social democracy…how the how liberal democracy as a larger structure encourages us to to not be in direct communication, and to avoid conflict.

Margaret 16:24
Well, okay, so, how does this I guess my question is like, okay, we know that Nazis are on the far end of one…you know, like, God gave us Nazis, so that we have enemies. You know, there’s this, like pure representation of bad right, that most of society used to agree on and it’s no longer the case, but like, we have this pure representation of bad over on one end, and then you have like, you know, “John Barrows, my guitar without asking sometimes, and thinks it’s okay, that he does.” Or someone is has a different interpretation of some political analysis or, you know, like, like, shit that I might feel really directly personally strongly about, but is at the end of the day, not a big deal. You know, so that…Is the answer, “Everyone’s just gonna draw those lines in different places?” That’s my instinct is that everyone’s going to draw the lines of like, well, I can be in community with someone who I don’t know, like, sometimes as a like grouchy libertarian on some issues. Or some other people will be like, “Oh, I can be in community with Marxists,” or something, right? And then other people will be like, “No, we’ve seen where Marxism leads to. So fuck them.” So people are going to draw these lines in different places. Is it just, is it just alright, that people are going to draw those lines in different places.

Casandra 17:53
Yes. And that, thank you. Yeah. So it’s alright, that people are going to draw this lines in different places. And that reminds me why I brought up that article, which is what…not only is it okay to draw those lines, but having actual dialogue about where we draw those lines and why, and how they might be different from where other people draw those lines is ultimately productive.

Margaret 18:15
That makes sense.

Casandra 18:18
Because that’s how we, you know, interrogate our own boundaries, right? And our own ideology.

Margaret 18:26
It was interesting. I was like, this thing is gonna be very, like nuts and bolts episode Are we like talk about like, really specific practices, but…

Casandra 18:32
I mean, we can but…

Margaret 18:33
No, we should do it too, but I, what I really like thinking about this stuff around…Yeah, the how we build diverse communities and how we avoid, you know, I would argue that echo chambers are one of the things that destroys communities of resistance more effectively than even sometimes outside pressure. You know, as soon as everyone starts…go ahead.

Casandra 18:55
Oh, I was just gonna say that like moral homogeneity is also what leads to these like, fundamentalist movements that were opposing, right. .

Margaret 19:04
Yeah. And then yet, like, people were like, well, you know, you can’t let ‘something something’ in because it’s a slippery slope. And I’m, I’m on this like, crusade against slippery slope as a useful phrase, because, well, it’s a useful phrase, be like, “Hey, that’s a slippery slope,” should mean like, so be careful when you walk it not like boarded up, none shall enter like, you know, maybe like put handholds along the way to like, help people like navigate complicated ethical terrain.

Casandra 19:31
Cautionary signage.

Margaret 19:32
Yeah, exactly. Like instead of being like, well, everyone who likes the following philosopher who died 100 years before Nazis came about is a Nazi, even though like, you know, both Nazis like this guy and some Nazis hated this guy and some non Nazis hated this guy. I’m actually not trying to defend Evola right now at this time. That’s not the path I’m trying to go down right now. Maybe Nietzsche is how I’m trying to…But I don’t even want to defend Nietzsche… anyway.

Casandra 20:04
They can both go to the sun as far as I’m concerned.

Margaret 20:08
But like, but you know, where we draw these lines might be different about like, okay, so like, fuck this guy, but is it fuck everyone who is inspired by this guy? And is it fuck everyone who’s inspired by people who were inspired by this guy, you know? Because, like how many how many layers removed from something do we still hate it? You know?

Casandra 20:33
Yeah. Yeah, totally.

Margaret 20:37
So nuts and bolts of conflict resolution?

Casandra Johns 20:42
Can I first…

Margaret 20:43
Yeah, please do.

Casandra 20:44
Before we move into specifics. I think the like overarching stuff is really important because every so often I see these pushes in radical spaces to develop more skills around things like transformative justice, but no one talks about conflict resolution, no one talks about mediation, which is wild to me. Like, the reason I trained as a mediator is because I saw it is like one of the building blocks of these larger structures. But it’s just not something that seems to be valued or discussed on the left for the most part. And that’s baffling to me, considering how much divisiveness we face and how we all seem to agree it’s a huge issue. But haven’t put in the work to develop the skills to like, deal with it.

Margaret 21:35
So what we’re doing is we’re jumping straight to the like justice framework, which is, you know, far more, it’s not inherently punitive, but like, it’s more antagonistic and implies far more heavily that there’s like harm that’s been done. And it’s one directional, right like, which is often the case, I’m not trying to claim that this is not the case quite often, but but we’re jumping to that rather than a lot of things that could be headed off way before they get really intense through mediation, or even things that are really intense are still a mediation type thing rather than a transformative justice type thing is that right?

Casandra 22:12
So yeah, even just as abolitionists, if we’re talking about divesting from the current system as a whole, people don’t just go to court because they’ve been abused, you know, they go because they’re in conflict with someone and want an authority figure to decide who’s right and who’s wrong. And so that’s something we have to replace as well.

Margaret 22:36
Yeah, I know that makes sense.

Casandra 22:36
And ideally without the authority figure. But even like, it doesn’t have to be some intense formal, heavy thing. You know, like I’ve mediated for friends, and it’s just been like a very casual conversation. I think that normalizing it, talking about it at all would be great as the left, but then normalizing these practices,

Margaret 23:02
Just normalizing going to your roommate, your housemate, the third person and being like, “Hey, like, we keep arguing about the fact that I want to leave my socks in the living room.”

Casandra 23:16
Will you just be present while we chat through this?

Margaret 23:18
Yeah,

Casandra 23:19
Like yeah why not? You know.

Margaret 23:22
Okay. I’m coming up with silly examples, but I’m like, mostly because I’m just not feeling very imaginative off the top my head, but

Casandra 23:28
I’ve had housemates, I know how it goes.

Margaret 23:31
It starts feeling really personal at a certain point.

Casandra 23:33
It does!

Margaret 23:35
Yeah, and sometimes it’s really easy to be really, really angry at this, like, heavier stuff than the larger framework of what’s happening.

Casandra 23:46
Yeah, totally. I have a child, I understand that. I’m taking your lack of folding your laundry personally at a certain point.

Margaret 24:01
That’s because you’re the authority. No, I don’t want to get into that that’s a different conversation.

Casandra 24:07
Abolish bedtimes?

Margaret 24:12
Yeah, okay. So like, well, actually, I mean, I mean, this would be an appropriate, like mediation would be an appropriate thing to do with, like, between you and between a parent and a child at various points also, or is that?

Casandra 24:26
Yeah, yeah, one of my favorite types of mediation that I do through the center’s parent/teen. There are different types of mediation. And the type I was trained in was..is somewhere between what’s called facilitative and transformative mediation. So, in some scenarios, we’re just hashing through a specific problem. And the people aren’t going to have a relationship after that. And then in other scenarios, we’re actually trying to shift the relationship to make it healthier, which I prefer. And

Margaret 24:58
Yeah.

Casandra 24:59
The Family mediations tend to go in that direction. But there’s a power dynamic, right. And so part of the mediators job is to level out power imbalances, which can be really tricky. But also really cool to watch.

Margaret 25:17
Well that’s cool, because I think that critiques of power are necessary, but there’s always going to be different types of relationships between people with power imbalances, right? Even when, like two adults are dating, you know, there’s going to be power imbalances based on like, different levels of societal privilege, or, you know, heterosexual relationships have a massive power imbalance to start with that they have to deal with…either overcome or like learn to address. So it makes sense to, like…

Casandra 25:46
I think personal history and like communication style cnn create that

Margaret 25:52
In terms of like, if someone has a more aggressive communication style, and another person has like a style that is triggered badly by that style of communication, is that kind of what you’re getting at?

Casandra 26:03
Yeah, things like that.

Margaret 26:05
Okay. I remember thinking about how this has to, like, sort of be taught and developed, I remember being at a workshop once at a conference about this issue….Pardon me, as I pull a tick off of my head and cut it with a knife

Margaret 26:23
But ticks aside, you know, the way the way that this needs to be taught was really laid clear to me, I was at this, this workshop, and we’re going through and, you know, the person teaching the workshop was teaching about conflict resolution and things and, and a friend of mine, who was a, I believe, a kindergarten teacher, I’m not entirely certain worked with very young kids. And my friend was explaining it was like, “oh, when two kids get in a conflict, like they both want a toy, you know, it’s recess, and only one of them gets the toy. And they, they both want it, they get really excited, and they run up and they’re like, “Teacher, Teacher, we have a conflict, we have to resolve it.”” You know, and it was this really amazing heartwarming story. And, unfortunately, most of the people at the workshop, because they didn’t have enough context for what was being told in the story were like, Ah, yes, this is the wisdom of children. You know, we should all just learn from children. And then my friend came up to me later, and was like, that was really frustrating. The kids do that, because we taught them how to,

Margaret 26:23
Oh God!

Casandra 26:29
Yeah, yeah.

Margaret 26:33
And it… And there was a certain amount of like wisdom of children, and that they hadn’t specifically developed other bad habits, like, you know, I have a lot of bad conflict habits that I don’t love about myself that are ingrained to me for various purposes. But, it seems like we still have to, like…go ahead.

Casandra 27:47
Even that approach, that they were excited to talk about it…like they knew where to turn. They knew where their resources were, and they were excited to resolve it. Like imagine feeling that way about disagreeing with someone. One of my teachers says that every mediation is a success, meaning that regardless of whether or not people come to an agreement, the fact that they’ve shown up to talk about it shifts something in their relationship. And that is in and of itself a success.

Margaret 28:16
That makes a lot of sense. And then also might lead to kind of my next question, which is like, when? Well, as I had a phrased was like “when conflict resolution fails,” you know, but it seems like sometimes you would go and be like,”Oh, we’ve heard each other out. And we fucking hate each other. or we’re fucking mad about this thing.”

Casandra 28:39
We’ve heard…like feeling hurt, being able to say your piece to someone, and knowing that you’re in this contained space where they have heard you. And then still not agreeing with them is still a form of resolution, you know, like, we’re not going to agree on this. But, I’ve had the opportunity to, like, say my part. And that’s something.

Margaret 29:03
Yeah. No, that makes sense. It’s like, asking nicely before you ask meanly, in terms of like, on like, a social change level, right? You know, we’re like, “Hey, give us our rights.” And they’re like, “No, we don’t give you your rights.” and we’re like, “Well, we asked, now, we’re not asking anymore.” And that. And that’s sort of assuming one person is like, right in this mediation whereas theoretically, probably both parties think they’re right, but I don’t know. Yeah, I feel like sometimes I’ve been asked to kind of mediate informally, which i don’t have nearly the background you do, but I like rambling. And I’ve kind of ended up leaving with this result with like the, you know, no one’s really asking my opinion, necessarily, but I’m like, oh, probably the answer is that they hate each other. That the answer is that like both people feel totally justified and from their own perspective, they are totally justified. And probably this won’t be settled and they should stay away from each other.I don’t know.

Casandra 29:59
Which like, at least they knew that afterward, you know?

Margaret 30:02
Yeah.

Casandra 30:03
Yeah. I mean, I’ve had many…or I’ve been present for…. I’ve been present for many more mediations than I’ve actually actively mediated just because of the job I had. Which is awesome, because I get to see the way other people mediate and learn from that. But I’ve witnessed really shocking mediations where it seems like the people walk in hating each other, and they don’t come to an agreement. They’re not going to agree. But they… the sense in the room at the end is peace. You know, they’re like, “Ah, well, we both know, we’re not going to agree and why. And at least we know that.”

Margaret 30:43
Yeah. Yeah.

Casandra 30:45
Which is real. Right. Yeah.

Margaret 30:49
No, I like that. Because it’s like, it’s not trying to…

Casandra 30:53
Kumbaya?

Casandra 30:53
I’ve already said this but, yeah, they’re not trying to solve everything, you know, like some things just don’t get solved. But, but at least everyone knows what’s happening.

Casandra 31:04
And there’s that detachment to, you know, the idea that one person’s right and the other is wrong is something that if you’re mediating, you can’t, that can’t be in your brain. It’s not your job to decide who’s right and who’s wrong or to even have an opinion about it. And there’s something freeing there, because suddenly, you can see why both people feel they’re right, like where the rightness is in, in both stories, which is pretty interesting.

Margaret 31:30
Well does that end up leaving the mediator like, hated by both sides often? Because like, this person, this staying neutral when clearly I’m right?

Casandra 31:31
No, and maybe this is important to talk about, but like part of, especially in a formal setting, when I open to mediation, some of the things I explain include, like confidentiality and mandatory reporting stuff, but I also explain that my role is to be neutral. I’m not going to take aside, I’m not going to make decisions or offer opinions or advice, like, all I’m there to do is to help them communicate productively. Yeah.

Margaret 32:07
And I actually, I would guess, that the average, not…no training mediator of the things that you just said that they might fail at, would be the not offering advice part, right? So it’s not like showing up to the council of elders or whatever the people who are going to, like, offer their wisdom down onto you. Instead, it’s really just about helping the people involved, develop their own communication as relates to it. So it’s not a…you’re a no way like a judge or an arbiter. Is that kind of what you’re saying?

Casandra 32:39
No, there are. So there are different types of mediation. Arbitration is involved in certain types, but not the type I do and not the type that I think is useful in like, community and interpersonal settings. Yeah, and it is hard sometimes to not give advice.

Margaret 32:59
Yeah, I know when I’m like, I think people might have failed that. I’m like, No, that’s probably what I failed at.When I have attempted to mediate things, because I’m like, ” Ah! I now, see, because I have all of the information. Now I will clearly explain because I’m so wise.” And then I’m like, “Why isn’t this working?”

Casandra 33:13
Okay, no, it’s it’s really hard. And it takes a lot of practice. Honestly, the…when in mediations where I take a more active role, because in some mediations, I don’t have to people are…people don’t really need much guidance sometimes. But, when they do, I find myself almost like teaching healthy communication skills through example. And there’s really not any time for me to think about offering my opinion or something like that. I’m like, so busy trying to help them untangle the communication.

Margaret 33:50
Okay. Which seems like, in a similar way that like facilitating consensus in a large group is absolutely not about your own opinions about what should happen. And basically by being a facilitator in a large group you like, kind of like, get your own voice removed from that particular decision.

Casandra 34:12
Yeah, I see it as a spectrum of skill sets, the like facilitator, the mediator and then whatever we want to call these transformative or alternative justice.

Margaret 34:21
Judge Dredd? No, we have no movie about that. Okay. Okay, so which brings me to this idea like, right, you’re like, oh, you know, you’re gonna come in assuming neutrality as mediator, not that both sides are equal, but assuming your own neutrality to help foster communication. What about when it is…like, this sounds like it would be really unhealthy if I was forced to do it with an abuser, right? And so I’m under the impression that you would not use this in situations of abuse is that?

Casandra 34:59
Mediation?

Margaret 35:00
Yeah.

Casandra 35:01
Yeah, yeah. And, and maybe before that, it’s expected that if a mediator doesn’t feel that they can maintain appropriate neutrality, they just don’t mediate the case, they pass it to someone else. So that’s, you know, people are gonna have strong opinions, and feel triggered by different scenarios. And that’s real and fine.

Margaret 35:27
Oh, I meant I meant as a participant, I wouldn’t, you know, I wouldn’t want to be called…am I wrong in thinking that it would, that I wouldn’t want to be called into mediation with my abuser, you know?

Casandra 35:42
Well, I mean, the easy answer is no. But both restorative and transformative justice, have mediation type processes, that can be a part of these larger processes.

Margaret 35:59
Okay.

Casandra 36:00
So, and maybe we don’t call it mediation, maybe we call it like, a facilitated dialogue or something?

Margaret 36:06
I don’t know.

Casandra 36:09
I think it’s, it’s a tool, right? Like mediation is a tool. And you have to do it differently when there’s a vast power imbalance like that, or when harm has been caused. But..

Margaret 36:25
So I guess…how do you judge…How do you judge when to use mediation versus transformative justice? Like, how do you decide when a given thing is the right means?

Casandra 36:42
That’s a really big question. Because ideally I don’t, right? So I can tell you at the Center, how it works, which is that if the courts contact us and are like, “We have decided that someone harmed another person, therefore this is going to be restorative process.” Like that’s how we know.

Margaret 37:00
Right.

Casandra 37:01
But in this larger project on the Left of developing these these alternative systems, that’s something we have to figure out. And I don’t think it can happen without intact communities. Because, I don’t think it would be an individual process.

Margaret 37:21
Yeah, okay.

Casandra 37:23
But as a mediator, if I’m in a session…maybe this is a much simpler way to answer it, If I’m in a session, and someone says something about, like, causing physical harm to the other person. That’s a like, “Oh, we got to stop this and shift” moment.

Margaret 37:39
Okay. That makes sense. That is kind of one of my questions is like, do you ever like, yeah, escalate up the like, response ladder? It’s a terrible way of phrasing it. But yeah,

Casandra 37:53
There are plenty of cases that get called…so that so the Community Mediation Center, it’s all free, right? Like anyone can call in with anything and be like, can you help me with this, which means there are plenty of cases that we can’t mediate, that we say, “Oh, that’s, that’s not an appropriate topic for us. But here’s some other resources.”

Margaret 38:11
And that would be usually cases of like, clear harm having been caused?

Casandra 38:15
Yep. Or like certain types of conflicts, just because of the way the legal system is set up. Like, custody disagreements, we don’t do it our center, it’s just bureaucratic bullshit. But I think it would be similar in a community setting where different mediators are comfortable mediating different types of cases. And if something comes up within a mediation that either signals that harm has happened or that isn’t suitable for that particular mediator, you just stop and find someone else to help.

Margaret 38:49
Okay.

Casandra 38:50
Like, we all have different skill sets, you know,

Margaret 38:52
And what you said about it requires an intact communities to be able to, to effectively do this kind of thing, as a, you know, the more transformative justice element of it. It’s kind of interesting to me, right? Because then that’s something that… it seems to me that intact communities relies on conflict, resolution, and conflict resolution, and mediation and all of the things we’ve been talking about. So it’s sort of a…

Casandra 39:19
Chicken, egg?

Margaret 39:20
Oh, I was thinking almost of a like, like, building a building, you know, like, a pyramid, a traditional representation of hierarchy. But, in this case, representing bottom up, you know, where like, the strong base of a community is not it’s like justice system, but instead it’s like, conflict resolution and the ability for diverse opinions to coexist. And there’s the general ability for people to coexist, because people implies diverse opinions unless you live in some hellscape. Ideological bubble.

Casandra 39:54
Yeah, yeah, that makes sense.

Margaret 39:57
Now, it’s interesting because then this answers the question of how do you supplant the justice system? which is an important question.

Casandra 40:05
You support people in developing skill sets like this, which I was thinking about it before this interview and remembering when I was…so I don’t get paid to mediate as part of the neutrality, nut the initial 40 hour training, I took cost money, because it’s a non profit, very poor mediation center. And you’re one of the people who who you gave me like 50 bucks or something.

Margaret 40:32
No.

Casandra 40:32
And you said, you messaged me, you said something to the effect of like, “Oh, I’m giving you money. This is like a skill that I think we need in more radical spaces.” And I was like, “Fuck, yeah, this Margaret person seems really cool.”

Margaret 40:44
Cool. Yeah, I don’t remember that. But, I believe you. I don’t remember a lot of things, dear, listener. That’s one of my skill sets is that I don’t remember things.

Casandra 40:59
That can be a blessing, I suppose.

Margaret 41:02
Sometimes, it’s like I, you know, it helps me really live in the present, you know, because it’s all just fog in front of me and behind me. I have impressions, impressions of what’s ahead and impressions of what came before. No, that’s great. I mean, how common are these types of organizations? Like, you have one in your town? Is it? Do I have one in my…well, I don’t have one in my town. There’s 500 people who live in my town.

Casandra 41:28
I’m only really familiar with my state. So, I’m in Oregon. And we have a network of Community Dialogue Resource Centers [CDRC]. I’m so bad at acronyms. There’s a whole network all over Oregon. And each center works, to some extent with the current justice system, depending on where they are in the resources, but they also offer free community mediation, and it’s really easy in my state to get training. Like at my center, you can, if you speak Spanish, and are willing to volunteer, as a bilingual mediator, you can get training for free, like it’s a pretty accessible thing, but I’m not sure about other states, like the agreement we have with the Justice System to do these restorative processes for youth offenders is pretty unique, apparently, like it’s a it’s a test…test run, that’s been going on for years. But I don’t think that’s necessarily common.

Margaret 42:31
I mean, it’s so basically, a way that some elements of the Justice System are trying to move towards an actual reasonable model away from the incarceration and punitive model is that right?

Casandra 42:43
Yep. Yeah. And it’s been because people at these Community Dialogue and Resource Centers have pushed really hard for the state to implement these programs here. But it’s also…I mean, mediate.com has really good classes, you can just take on mediation. You can get, I have a whole…I’m looking at it, I realized this is not a video recording, but I have a whole bookshelf full of books on mediation, AK has presses put out…you know, there, there are lots of resources on mediation that are accessible. If people want to explore the skill set.

Margaret 43:22
Would you be able to provide a few of those links for our show notes?

Casandra 43:27
Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Margaret 43:29
Thanks. So okay, my last question, I want to I want to take with take you on this journey, where we imagine you know, a society without the state, whether because we win or because we lose, depending on how you know, like, like,

Casandra 43:47
How you want to look at it?

Margaret 43:48
Yeah, I mean, you know, obviously, like, this is a, it’s not gonna be like some wingnut thing for people, for me to suddenly be like, “What if there was an apocalypse?!” right? Y’all are listening to Live Like The World Is Dying. I kind of want to ask you about the role of, and I know a lot of it’s implied, but we talked about, but like, the role of conflict resolution in terms of community preparedness, if you have like thoughts around that? [That] didn’t really end with a question mark.

Casandra 44:18
That’s fine. That’s hard for me to answer because it feels like a given. Like, community preparedness means that we need functional, intact communities, which means we have to have systems that could look all sorts of different ways, right? But we have…

Margaret 44:34
Like passive aggressive notes?

Casandra 44:36
That’s one way. But we have to have systems for working through conflict or else we do not have functional communities. And maybe different communities choose to do that in different ways. This is just like one particular tool or skill set that’s very adaptable.

Margaret 44:54
So if the state is abstraction of power, right, away from ourselves, basically the existence of the state, the long standing existence, the state is probably a huge part of what leads us to this conflict avoidance that you talk about, like causes these problems, we’re so used to relying on the state to handle our conflicts for us by calling armed people who like putting people in cages. And so basically…do you ever have those moments where like, you’ve been an anarchist for a long time, and then you still end up with these, like, obvious epiphanies that like, seem really obvious when you say them out loud, but still feel like epiphanies? That’s what I’m having right now about this, because I’m like, “Oh, this is everything. This is the foundation,” which is also what you just said, I’m saying this back to you.

Casandra 45:39
That’s why it’s so baffling to me that I’ve searched for years for collectives, groups, any, any individuals, anyone offering these skills in radical spaces, and it’s so hard to find. And that’s wild to me. It’s so wild. And that doesn’t, people aren’t doing it.

Margaret 46:00
Right.

Casandra 46:01
But it just doesn’t seem to be of high value.

Margaret 46:04
I wonder if it’s like, because people…because I have seen a lot of groups, and I’m glad there are groups that focus on transformative justice, right, but that’s the top of this pyramid of needs…my hierarchy of needs that I’ve created because I love hierarchy.

Casandra 46:19
Such a good anarchist.

Margaret 46:21
I know. I wonder if it’s kind of similar to how like, it’s a lot easier to find like armed anarchist organizations that will teach you how to shoot guns and like harder to find ones that’ll teach you how to like immediate conflict resolve, like someone angrily comes into your…you know, I and often I’m…the individuals do this, right? Like, there was a time. I don’t know if this person listens to this podcast, but a friend of mine was at some anarchist screening at some info shop and some angry guy comes in and starts yelling this and that about I think trans people. And my friend who’s trans was just like, “Hey, man, you want to go outside and have a cigarette with me?” And just like, went outside and talked to the guy. And he calmed down and left, and like, and my friend carries, right. But like, it’s so much easier to find information about the nuclear option the the, you know, the escalated version than it is to find resources about the “Hey, man wanna step outside with me and have a conversation.”

Casandra 47:26
Yeah, those soft skills are really devalued because of the way our society…

Margaret 47:32
What?! What if there was like a word to describe type of…We should call it patriarchy?

Casandra 47:38
I mean, who did people used to go to? Right? Was it like, grandma? Or like, gr… you know, the people, we devalue? e?

Margaret 47:53
Yeah.

Margaret 47:55
Well, I, you know, it’s hard. I don’t know where to go from, okay like, now we understand the entire basis of an anarchist society, without the state, basically means that we have to learn how to stop putting this not on other people, because obviously, we need other people, we need society to help us do this, but stop putting it on this, like, legalized abstraction that’s off in the distance.

Casandra 47:55
Yeah.

Casandra 48:23
So there, I mean, there are interpersonal skills, we all need to develop right around communication? But if we’re talking about people actually filling these roles that we need, we have to actually figure out how to support people in developing those skills and like value their skill set.

Margaret 48:40
Yeah. So how do we how do we do that?

Casandra 48:44
Well, you did it for me, I was like, Hey, Internet, I need money for this training. And you were like, “Here’s 50 bucks. This is important.” I was like, “Thanks!”

Margaret 48:58
Best part is that was probably a couple of years ago when I had substantially less …and like I’ve, since I think people who listen to this know that I’ve since like, started a nonprofit job and like, have more money than I used to.

Casandra 49:09
Oh, this was like 2016.

Margaret 49:11
Yeah, okay. Yeah. Okay. But okay, so like, so people can go and get trainings and people can bring this kind of information to their communities, both by doing it, but also by maybe like spreading the skills that people could be setting up like informal collectives or formal collectives are something to kind of like, work on fostering these types of skills like what else can we do?

Casandra 49:38
Just talking about it more. I mean, I remember who was I…Oh, I guess I can’t talk about this on the internet. I was doing seasonal labor that grants one a lot of spare time to talk and the people I was doing this….

Margaret 49:53
Blueberry harvest.

Casandra 49:55
Yes, blueberry harvest. The people that I was doing the seasonal labor with were like, “Hey, what if we listen to Rosenberg’s lectures on non violent communication and practice, because we got time to kill.” And we were like, “Alright,” so we all… I mean, and there’s a lot to say about NVC and its flaws, but we agreed to do this as a group and she sat around and practiced arguing using NVC until we got comfortable like, I, it’s hard to, it’s hard to, like, write us a prescription for people to normalize something like this, right? But the, the solution is that we have to normalize it somehow..

Margaret 50:35
No, that makes sense. Do you have any any final thoughts on conflict resolution or things that we didn’t talk about that we should have talked about?

Casandra 50:46
Um, it’s really important, we won’t function as a society without it whether it’s mediation or some some similar skill. I don’t know, Google “mediation centers” where you are. Chances are there there’s one somewhere in your state, or wherever you’re listening from.

Margaret 51:08
Yeah, I think we sometimes try to reinvent the wheel all the time, within radical subcultures. I can’t speak to other ones besides the anarchists ones, because it’s the one I participate in the most. But, we I think sometimes we like only look to existing anarchists projects as like, the realm of what’s possible. And that seems nonsensical.

Casandra 51:29
Yeah, actually, that reminds me…so that the center where I work is not politically affiliated, right. I’m like the youngest person there. It’s mostly a bunch of retired folks of various political leanings, which we don’t talk about. And there’s something to be said, for working in spaces like that, and learning these skills in spaces like that, because we don’t live in an anarchist society right now. Which means that we need to be able to navigate conflict with people who aren’t anarchists. And so if two people are in conflict, and they aren’t anarchists, and I approach them and say, “Hey, I’m an anarchist mediator,” then suddenly I’m not neutral or like a useful resource, right?

Margaret 52:16
Right.

Casandra 52:17
So it’s not that I think we shouldn’t have anarchists mediation collectives. I’m just saying that. I don’t think people should shy away from these a-political resources, because they really valuable still.

Margaret 52:31
There’s this thing I learned yesterday while doing research for my other podcast that you can check out, it’s called Cool People Who Did Cool Stuff that comes out every Monday and Wednesday. Okay, and um…

52:41
I know what you’re going to say, and yes.

Margaret 52:43
Yeah, well, okay. So like, I learned about this thing where, you know, I have infinite respect for the Jane Collective, right, the people who in the late 60s, early 70s, in Chicago were in this collective that ended up including more than 100 different people; women working as Abortionists illegally before Roe v. Wade. And for some reason that’s on a lot of people’s minds right now. But then I discovered looking back that in the 1920s and early 30s in Germany…Cassandra’s already heard this…there was all of these non politically affiliated organizations of illegal birth control advocates and Abortionists all over Germany. There’s more than 200 of these groups, and they were non politically aligned. But it was almost all syndicalists, anarchist syndicalists coming from a specific union, the acronym of which I forget off the top of my head. FAUD actually, I now remember it. And it’s like the Free Workers Union of Germany or something. And even though they did a lot of organizing and propaganda as anarchists in the rest of their lives, the abortion clinics, were not an anarchist project, because that wasn’t the point of it. And they weren’t there to recruit. And they weren’t…they were just there because people needed to have access to birth control and abortions. And I could imagine mediation….you know, if I was forming an anarchist mediation collective, if it was like, “We are the anarchists mediation collective,” it would maybe be for the anarchists, but if it was like, “We are anarchists doing this mediation collective and we’re willing to tell you, we’re anarchists, but it is not about anarchism.” I don’t know is that?

Casandra 54:23
Yeah, totally. I mean, I remember during my first training, going up to one of the directors and asking, I don’t remember what question I asked, but it was something about like, “What we’re talking about sounds like prison abolition,” you know, and like, there’s a particular mediation center in my area that is politically affiliated, and I was asking him if I should try volunteering with that center or with one of the non affiliated centers, and he said, “Definitely one of the non affiliated centers because the whole point of this if we’re actually abolishing the prison industrial complex is to get everyone to divest from it, which means everyone needs access, which means we don’t want to turn them off because we say we’re liberals or anarchists or whatever.”

Margaret 55:17
Yeah.

Casandra 55:18
I say liberal because he was probably a liberal, but surely, yeah.

Margaret 55:23
Yeah. No, that that makes a lot of sense to me. It’s interesting challenges a lot of like, the presuppositions I have about like when it isn’t, isn’t useful to identify projects politically. But, I think that makes a really strong case. Because, the point has never been, from my point of view to create little weird pure bubbles, cause, as we talked about creating weird pure bubbles is just….they’re just going to destroy themselves, much like bubbles, when you blow bubbles, they don’t last.

Casandra 55:54
Well and even like if you create this weird pure bubble, what if someone..what if you’re in conflict with someone outside that bubble? Is that person going to trust a mediator who is strictly inside that bubble?

Margaret 56:08
No, then we’ll just go break their windows, no matter what happened. Even if our friends are the one at fault.

Casandra 56:15
You know, if I get in an argument with my Catholic, Republican, anti-semitic neighbor across the street, even if I might prefer an anarchist mediator, that’s not something he’s going to agree to, therefore, the mediation won’t happen, and therefore it’s not productive.

Margaret 56:33
Right. Yeah. And, and even then, like, if you have a mediator who specifically there to be on your side, you don’t have a mediator, you have an advocate, I guess.

Casandra 56:42
Which is important. Advocates are really important. But that’s different. Different skill set.

Margaret 56:50
Yeah. No, totally. I mean, and then you get into the like, since you can’t enter someone into transformative justice, if they don’t want to, and if they’re not part of a community, you know, sometimes like, I remember there was an instance where to abstract this as far as I possibly can with the story is still making sense, where an anarchist went on a really bad date with a guy who wasn’t an anarchist, and then, like 30, people in black bloc, showed up outside his house with megaphones, and scared the everLiving shit out of him. And I think he was a little bit more careful from then on. But…

Casandra 57:28
Different techniques for different scenarios, right?

Margaret 57:31
Exactly. Exactly. Like, not everything should resort to violence or the threat of violence, but also, not everything…I think that is…I think that’s one of the things that turns people off from a lot of mediation is that I think that people see it applied at times when sometimes like,”No, maybe just like direct conflict is the actual answer to certain types of problems,” you know, but not that not that many of them.

Casandra 57:56
Well in mediation when it’s done well, I see the same argument around nonviolent communication, which I think Rosenberg was brilliant, I think that…or is? he like…

Margaret 58:07
I don’t know.

Casandra 58:08
Anyway, I don’t know, I think the way it’s applied often is horrible. But, I see this a similar argument around mediation and NVC and where those tools can be utilized to like tone police or silence people, etc. But mediation, one of the foundations of mediation is that it’s a consensual process. Which means that if someone’s in a mediation, and is like, “Oh, this doesn’t feel good to me anymore. This is like some boundaries been crossed, or I’m not comfortable with the way I’m being asked to communicate,” or whatever. They just stop the process. That’s it.

Margaret 58:50
Yeah, no, that makes sense. Yeah, I wish I could have done that with like…I have such negative connotations for NVC, because I feel like the times it just gets use…it’s, it’s just been like weaponized against me by people who are like, making me cry and then asking why I’m communicating so meanly while I’m crying because of the things that they’re saying to me or whatever, you know?

Casandra 59:10
Same, same. When I when I actually read Rosenberg, I’m like, oh, yeah, that’s not what he was describing.

Margaret 59:20
Yeah.

Casandra 59:23
Yes, yeah.

Margaret 59:24
And the spirit of the law, the spirit of the idea often gets stripped away and left with the letter of it.

Casandra 59:31
I’ve also had so many jobs where I’ve had so many bosses who were like, hippies using NVC to just like gaslight the shit out of you, you know? Like, “Yeah, I hear you feel this way. But I’m still your boss and will fire you.” You know?

Margaret 59:52
Yeah. All right. Well, I think we’ve covered every single thing about mediation and…

Casandra 1:00:01
Ever. Yep. And even can go and mediate now I’m sure.

Margaret 1:00:04
Yeah, totally. Just make sure to stick your own opinions in. Anyone is free to leave at any point all they…they will just be excised from the community. And, passive aggression is the logical response to everything. What else, did we cover everything?

Casandra 1:00:20
Gossip with your friends about everything you hear in a mediation so they can cancel each other.

Margaret 1:00:24
Oh, yep, definitely. And it’s really good to not only block people on social media, but then yell at everyone else to block the person on social media. Getting anything? I sarcastically make fun of things that people do in order to defend themselves from really bad things that happen. I understand why people do these things sometimes. It just gets out of hand.

Casandra 1:00:49
Different different tools for different scenarios.

Margaret 1:00:51
Yeah, totally. All right. Well, thank you so much for coming on. Is there anything you want to shout out or plug or draw people’s attention towards here at the end of the episode?

Casandra 1:01:05
Um, maybe this…I don’t know publishing project called Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness.

Margaret 1:01:12
Oh, are you part of a publishing project?

Casandra 1:01:13
Have you heard of that?

Margaret 1:01:15
Is it Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness at Tangledwilderness.org? The publishing collective that you and I are both part of?

Casandra 1:01:24
Yeah, yeah, we could call that out.

Margaret 1:01:27
Yeah, if…this podcast is published by Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness, and we also publish a monthly zine. We’re publishing a bunch of books this year. And we’re really just…it’s a project that’s been around in one incarnation or another for about 20 years. But we’re like really, kind of kick starting it. No pun intended with the company this year and trying to give it a good push and we have a bunch of stuff coming out.

Casandra 1:01:54
If you like podcasts, now, there’s an audio version of each zine each month.

Margaret 1:01:58
Oh, yeah. What’s it called?

Casandra 1:02:01
Oh, shit, isn’t it’s just called Strangers [In a Tangled Wilderness]? This is our job.

Margaret 1:02:10
We’re very professional. All right. Well, thank you so much for coming on.

Casandra 1:02:18
Thank you.

Margaret 1:02:19
Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this podcast, you should learn how to mediate or don’t learn how to mediate and just walk like a wrecking ball through communities and tell everyone what you think. I guess I’ve already made enough sarcastic jokes this episode. Mediation is really cool. And you should look into it. You can also support this podcast. The main way you can do that is by telling people about it. You can tell people about it on the internet, or in person. Those are the only two spaces that exist I think. But either way you’d be helping us out. You can also support us directly by supporting us on Patreon. Our Patreon is patreon.com/strangersInatangledwilderness, and depending we put up content every month, we have now two podcasts, this one and the podcast Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness. We publish a lot of fiction, we will be publishing some poetry’s, and role playing game content, also some essays, memoir, history, you name it. And in particular, I’d like to thank Mikki, Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsey, Staro, Jennifer, Elena, Natalie, Kirk, Micaiah, Nora, Sam, Chris, and Hoss the dog. You all are amazing and make all this possible. Strangers…well, this podcast used to be just me. But now it’s going to be coming out more regularly, thanks to all the hard work of all the people who work behind the scenes. So thank you for supporting them and thank you people who are behind the scenes for doing that also Anyway, I hope you’re doing as well as you can with everything that’s happening and I will be back soo

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