Category: Episodes

S1E79 – Burdock on Road Kills and Earth Skills

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Burdock and Margaret talk about the overlap between Earth Skills and preparedness as well as going over the basics of how to preserve animal hides, how to process road kill for food, and why you probably don’t want to eat roadkill. Trust your nose on that one

Guest Info

Burdock (she/they) can be found on Instagram @Scragetywocket

Host Info

Margaret 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, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at


  • Live Like the World is Dying: Burdock on Earth Skills and Road Kills

Margaret 00:14
Hello and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m today’s host, Margaret Killjoy. And I’m really excited to be talking about this stuff that we’re gonna be talking about today because it’s something I’ve been wanting to talk about since I first started the show. We’re going to be talking about the primitive skills scene. And in specific, we’re going to talk a bit about roadkill and we’re going to talk about tanning hides of animals that have been destroyed by the mechanisms of industrial civilization. And I’m excited to get into that. But first, this podcast is a proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchist podcasts. And here’s a jingle from another show on the network da da duh duh da daa. [Singing a melody]

Margaret 01:38
Okay, we’re back. Okay. So if you could introduce yourself with your name, your pronouns. And then I guess a little bit about how you got into the stuff that we’re going to be talking about today?

Burdock 01:48
Yes, Hi. I’m Burdock. And I use she/they pronouns interchangeably. No preference. And I got into this stuff about 10-11 years ago, living in a city my whole life and being like, "This is not working for me at all. And I want to live in a completely different way." And I went to crazy intense primitive skills school because that was like, the thing I found that resonated the most with me, and it was really traumatizing. But I also learned a lot. And since then, I’ve been continuing to explore communities and practice those things on my own largely.

Margaret 02:30
Okay. What’s primitive skills? To start at the like, super basic, right? This the thing where YouTube influencers get money out of people to fake build things in the woods? [Said with dry sarcasm]

Burdock 02:45
[Laughing] Totally. That is definitely one of the things. That is one of the many ways that it manifests in the world. And also, like, a lot of people hate the term "primitive skills." I think it’s not great. [Margaret makes an affirmative sound] But it is like, the most known term for this realm I’m talking about. And so I usually use it just so people understand what I’m talking about, that I don’t have to be like, "Earth skills, ancestral skills, primitive skills," and I don’t know, I think "earth skills," is like, the best in a way. But yeah, acknowledging right now that this whole thing is like rife with cultural appropriation. And there’s definitely like conversations happening around that in parts of the primitive skill scene, earth skills scene.

Margaret 03:45
No, it’s called Earth skills. [Said jokingly, but seriously]

Burdock 03:47
Yeah, I’m gonna go with Earth skills from here forward. It feels it feels better. Anyway. So, Earth skills broadly refers to all of the ways that humans lived for most of our time here on Earth. Like pre pretty much pre….I don’t know there’s even metal smithing included in a lot of like Earth skills gatherings and stuff…So, but like, usually very, still very, like, land-based, like wood forges and stuff, but pre-agriculture, pre industrial revolution. But, there is some agriculture stuff because like, I think it’s a bit of a myth that like, agriculture equals industrial society equals capitalism equals bad, right?

Margaret 04:38
Yeah, no. Okay. So that is like, kind of my question is like, what skills are included in this kind of place? Like so Earth skills, I assume it’s like hunting, gardening–I mean, in my mind, I’m so used to like survival stuff, so I’m like building emergency shelters filtering your water–but I assume it’s also like, building more permanent structure and making your own clothes? Like like what? What kind of different stuff are people doing?

Burdock 05:07
Yeah, I’d say the standbys are fire by friction, like ways of making fire from only materials you’re harvesting from the land, foraging for food and medicine and other useful plant materials, animal processing, so, you know, post post hunting, what do you do with the body of the animal that you killed? Hunting is definitely there. And weapon making as well, making weapons just from what’s on the landscape around you, just from what you can find. Shelter building. And I think the theme, the theme that runs throughout all of these is "Just from the land around you and maybe you have a knife." But I teach friction fire with no knife, so that varies a lot. There’s pottery with local wild clay and how to process that clay so you can actually make pots with it. Basket making–which is also something I do–with materials you’re foraging and how to forage for those materials or how to propagate them, how to process them. Totally different from, you know, the materials being prepared for you and you’re just going for it. Yeah. Yeah. And I’m sure I’m forgetting tons of stuff.

Margaret 06:38
Yeah, no, I’m, I’m sure, too. And I…it’s been a while since I’ve been around people who are particularly into this, but I it’s been interesting to be around. Okay, I have a bunch of questions about it, though. So one of them is, what role does this have in the modern world? Like, what? And I’m sure that’s something that people talk about within this, you know, scene or community and stuff, but like, what…or like, sell me or the listener on getting into this kind of stuff? Like, what’s it about?

Burdock 07:10
I think it’s about different things to different people. And what it’s about, to me is resilience and becoming a more resourceful kind of creative person, having more options of ways to live. I get to disengage from a lot of the kind of modern society stuff when I choose to engage in those skills, which for my life has been important because I have like sensory processing stuff. And so being able to, like, escape from the barrage has been really important. And I think different people have different reasons for needing to get away from that. Even just traveling, like it’s making my traveling life easier. Even stuff, like being able to pee stealthily or find like spots in the woods to like, have an anxiety attack. Like, all of these skills are really practical in just surviving the modern world the way it is now. Like, even if things stay exactly how they are. And, you know, there is this idea of, "Oh, if stuff gets worse I’m going to be prepared in all these ways. And I can like, share these…I can teach the skills that I know to other people so that they can deal with whatever’s happening." And, you know, including just stuff like blackouts that are short or natural disasters. Like that’s definitely part of it, too. But a huge part of it for me is just the selfishness needed to protect my senses.

Margaret 09:01
That makes a lot of sense to me. And one of the things that’s kind of come up more recently on this show as I interview different people is realizing there’s all of these different means by which people engage in nature, right? And I know that…I kind of at some point, I don’t know if I have the brainwidth to do it, the brain space to do it right now, I want to problematize the idea of nature, problematize the idea that nature is this separate thing that is distinct from humans, and even–if you want to piss off people–it’s even a separate thing that it’s not separate from industrial society, right? Like anything that humans make. But there’s all of these different ways that people interact with nature. And it’s like really interesting to see which ones are useful for people now in the world to learn how to disengage and which ones are useful for people in different kinds of collapse scenarios, different disasters and things and so it’s like…You know, I haven’t had on someone to talk specifically about bushcraft, but It seems like bushcraft is almost the like step more modern than like what you do, right? Like, because like bushcraft would be like, "Well, you have your saw on your axe and you can build your log cabin, right?" Which is in some ways, I think the least sustainable way for modern people to go interact with nature. But maybe I’m only saying that because I haven’t interviewed a bushcraft person who’s gonna sell me on it really well. And then you have Earth skills, which is like the least–not necessarily the least impactful–but the least, requires the least resources, right? Versus you have the ways that outdoor athletes, like hikers, and skiers, and snowboarders–I don’t know, I don’t know anything about winter–interact with it, versus the way that like hunters interact with it, right? And there’s like all of these different ways that people interact with and I’m really interested about it. So that’s like…what you’re talking about, like, here’s how to go… Like, I don’t know how to start a fire by friction. I’ve seen people do it. I still don’t really believe it. It doesn’t seem real because I’ve tried. But it’s really, really hard, I think. I don’t know,

Burdock 11:07
It’s really hard because these skills need to be passed down from person to person. And in a lot of cultures it’s like cultural information. It’s encoded in the songs, and in the stories, and it’s encoded in everything. And so even as a child, if no one’s showing you how to do it, you know from the stories and the songs maybe what plants on the landscape are useful for that. And you’ve seen people around you do it. Most people when they’re trying to start friction fire they maybe have never even seen people do it before. They just have this concept in their mind of like rubbing sticks together, or like they saw it a little bit in a video, or they even watched a tutorial on how to do it. But, that’s not enough because you learn these things through the senses. You have to be able to see and touch and hear. And when you can’t do that, it’s really hard to learn them.

Margaret 12:01
Ya, no. That makes sense. Also, usually I here now make a joke about how everything that I don’t understand is fake. But, I actually don’t want to here. I do it about fishing usually. Usually my joke is that fishing is fake. But, I’ve seen people start friction fires and it’s cool. So, one of the main reasons to learn this is for the here and now, is like ways to disconnect, and ways to you know, go out and engage in nature, again, the loaded word, "nature." Okay, so one of the things I think that we talked about wanting to talk about now is where earth skills fit within the sort of subset of prepping. Like, I am under the impression that the Earth skills scene, for example, is like kind of a prepping scene in some ways, just not the same as the one that most people know about.

Burdock 12:50
Yeah, it’s a lot like bushcraft, and it’s a lot like even like backpacking, and it’s a lot like homesteading, and it’s a lot like all these things. And then the core difference is like basically starting from scratch-scratch. Like you’re making all the tools that you’re using to do all these projects. You’re…If you have a backpack, you’re like making that backpack and you have to make the material that the backpack is made out of like…

Margaret 13:22
You have to make nylon. [Laughing].

Burdock 13:25
Right, you have to make the nylon. You have to go harvest the oil and process it. [Probably said jokingly]

Margaret 13:29
[Incredulously] Do people do that?

Burdock 13:30
I recently went to a gathering where you had to drive past this like oil well thing that was just like actually actively pumping oil from the Earth.

Margaret 13:40
Oh my God.

Burdock 13:41
It was actually a great reality check, though. Because it’s like, "Oh, we’re going to this gathering. We’re all pretending that we live in this like beautiful, ideal community where everybody wears natural clothes and stuff." And it’s like, yeah, this is…We’re all driving here. Like we’re all involved in this.

Margaret 14:00
Well, and it gets into this–I want to come back to the prepping thing, but I want to follow on this tangent really quick–It gets into this thing that I think about a lot. I’ve been like camping and hiking more a lot recently–mostly because I realized I can because I work on a computer on my own schedule for living. And like mostly I read history books for a living and I’m like, "I can do that in a hammock in the woods." And so I’ve been trying to do that. And one of the things that’s like been really striking me is this reminder that there like is no outside. And I mean that–like I mean there’s like outside the house–but there’s like no outside of society, like there’s no…Like the closest we have are like wilderness areas, at least in continental US you know is where I hang out, right, but there’s like…You’re not…Like, we’re like choosing to not bring Fritos with us, right? It’s not that the Fritos aren’t available to us, you know. And like…And at least the way I do it, I’m like driving there and stuff, but also it’s like, even when I go find like the free dispersed camping and stuff, there’s like tons of other people around, which is actually fine. It helps break–So I kind of wonder whether Earth skills falls into this a little more than it should–it helps break the like frontiersman mentality, the like, "I’m going to go tame nature," and that’s like something that’s always kind of…Not rubbed me the wrong way about all Earth skills, but like seemed like a danger available to the Earth skills community. But maybe I’m completely off base. I don’t know how people handle that or talk about it.

Burdock 15:26
No, that’s really on point. I think there’s a lot of like…There’s a lot of bizarre ways…I feel like within the Earth skills community, what I see the most is people having this like reverential, like, "I have this spiritual connection with the Earth and with these plants." And there’s this kind of disconnect, in a way, with like..Yeah, I don’t know how they’re actually living their lives, how they’re actually behaving. Like, I feel like people don’t acknowledge enough, like, "I regard the world and the earth in this way, but I also am exploiting it in the way that I live, too. And I’m playing a part in…" You know, like, some of these people are rich. Some of the people who do this stuff, they have land and that’s why they have enough time to learn how to tan hides, like as a hobby, you know? And there’s no acknowledgment there of like, that’s contributing to this, like, apocalypse thing that’s being foretold in like Tom Brown’s–he’s a primitive skills teacher guy–prophecy, doomsday stuff, like…

Margaret 16:54
No, that makes sense. Because it’s like most people…Most people who are making money through Capitalism or whatever like at large scale–not like people who work at Starbucks or whatever because they have to–the people that like own Starbucks. The person who owns Starbucks might be able to have like, a million acres somewhere that they can keep pristine so they can go around and build huts or whatever, but they’re doing that by like, destroying the shit out of Central America or whatever, you know?

Burdock 17:19

Margaret 17:21
It’s interesting. And, okay. I’m actually really interested in Earth skills stuff and so it sounds like I’m talking shit, but I really don’t mean it this way.

Burdock 17:29
No, you gotta talk shit about it. I talk shit about it because I love it and I want it to be good.

Margaret 17:33
Yeah, no, it makes sense. I wonder whether how much–at least again, in the continental US–settler people, like white people in the United States, how much there’s like this, like…I kind of hate framing things….I hate publicly framing things this way because I don’t know how to do it better. But, like, I feel like there’s this curse, where people like want to have a certain type of connection and almost just like can’t because it’s just cursed to them. Because…Not because of blood or something, but because of being a settler of a culture that has come and destroyed this place. You know? And so it feels like trying to…It’s not…It’s still worth trying to engage in stuff. But it feels like there’s this like insurmountable or very hard to surmount curse that disconnects us. And when I’m using us, I–I actually don’t know anything about you–it disconnects me and other white people from connecting in certain ways with this specific land. And I…I don’t know how to say it better than that because I’m not trying to make this like…Well, I mean, I believe in the decolonization of the US, like, on a political level, right, I believe that the United States is an empire that should not exist and occupies stolen land that should be, you know, returned. But, I’m still not trying to make a like permanent proclamation about something on a spiritual level. But I just I feel like there’s like this thing that has to be overcome. And I don’t know whether it’s possible. I think I gave you a really easy question there. [Jokingly]

Burdock 19:08
I love it, because this is what I think about all the time. And I agree with all of those…like everything you said about this country, basically. Like, I’m on the same page. And it’s been something I’ve been thinking about a lot because when I started doing this 11 years ago, that stuff wasn’t on my mind. Like, I was just like, "I’m 19. I don’t like living in a city." And as I’ve…You know, and the school, I went to appropriated a lot. And I’ve been to gatherings where there’s a lot of appropriation and it wasn’t on my radar. And then it’s been thanks to a lot of the work that indigenous people are doing and black people are doing in that I’ve like, come into this awareness like…But, it’s also been through the plants and the land themselves.

Burdock 20:00
It had to come over time. Like when I was at that school 10 years ago, we harvested wild rice. And that…that’s like a real…it’s the cornerstone of the traditions of all of the people who live where wild rice lives. And then I moved, and I was trying to continue harvesting wild rice and there were a lot of layers about it. Like, it kept not working out for me. And then it was like…I like…It kept not working out until in one way or another I accidentally gave tobacco to the water. And then it would be like, "Oh, now it’s working." And so I figured that out. And then after I figured that out, I was really hearing from the land, like, for the first couple of years, it was like, "It’s great that someone’s here. It’s great that someone’s like, seeing us and acknowledging us. Like, we’re the wild rice and we missed people." And the longer I listened, the more I was like, "Oh, you don’t miss like me. You miss "the" people. Like, you miss "your" people and the songs and the stories and the way that those people live and the way that those people live with you. You miss them and I will never be able to be that for you." All I can do is hear that. And that doesn’t really answer your question. But, it takes time and a lot of listening and moving at the speed of relationship.

Margaret 20:00
No, that makes sense.

Margaret 20:02
Okay, that makes sense. And I, you know, and I don’t want to like specifically call out this community more than any other community, right? Like, I think that people engaging in a lot of this kind of stuff…Well, I don’t know, I’m not in a place to make any kind of judgment about that. I’m not part of either the things that I’m talking about, but to people…Okay, so let’s go back a step. We were talking about how Earth skills are a subset of prepping or of the prepping world. And I’m wondering if you want to talk more about that. Like, how does it engage with your own preparedness? How can communities use this kind of knowledge to become more resilient is like one of the big questions I have.

Burdock 22:22
Yeah, I think most of the people who engage in Earth’s skills aren’t thinking very hard about how it actually applies to prepping, but they do believe in some kind of like, apocalyptic future. And that’s one of the reasons that they do it. But they’re like not thinking about it that hard. They’re not thinking about it in real terms.

Margaret 22:42
It’s just a utopian thing for them. They’re like, "Industrial civilization will collapse. And we’ll all be free"?

Burdock 22:46
There like, yeah there will be a lot of suffering, but like, you know, and then we’ll be free and it’ll be fine. Well, I’ll live in huts in the woods. And nothing will be problematic anymore.

Margaret 22:59
Yeah. Because there’s…Then you get to have an outside once everyone’s dead. That’s one of my problems with it.

Burdock 23:05
It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense. And like, I used to kind of think that way before I really thought about it. And I’m like, I have too much like, compassion for human beings to wish for anything like that. Like some people want this, like doomsday type thing to happen. But yeah, natural disasters happen. Things happen all the time that we want to be prepared for. And, I just feel like me existing and having like this little library of skills in my brain and my body, it makes it so that anywhere that I am, all the people around me have that skill. And so if we’re stuck in a situation where like, we don’t have matches, we don’t have a lighter. All this stuff happens spontaneously. Like, I know of more than one way to start fire without those things. And so yeah, just having any one person knowing any of those skills, it makes you more prepared for things…Like you can only prepare for so many things.

Margaret 24:11
Yeah, totally.

Burdock 24:12
Like you cannot like, "Oh yeah, I brought matches, but I didn’t think about water filtration, or I dropped my water filtration device and it’s never to be found again or." And also just like even if you have all those things, if you’re in a long term situation, like you’re gonna run out of matches. You’re gonna run out a lighter fuel. Your clothing is gonna deteriorate. Like you do need to…Even if you even if you like have access to warehouses of this modern stuff, it’s important to be passing down these skills person to person. And I think it changes the way that you engage with the world as it is presently, which I think needs to happen.

Margaret 24:59
That It makes a lot of sense that. So, teaching these skills and learning these skills both makes you more prepared in the sense that you know how to start a fire if shit goes bad for a couple days and you know how to repair clothes or fix clothes or make clothes from scratch if shit does stays bad, but that also–I’m just saying back what I think what I think you’re saying–but also, people learning these skills also teaches people like, nicer ways to engage with the environment that they’re in and like more useful ways to…like less destructive ways of being. Is that kind of what you’re saying?

Burdock 25:35
It’s having a different mindset, like…

Margaret 25:41
A grind-set kind of deal.

Burdock 25:42
I process a lot of roadkill.

Margaret 25:43
The road kill grind set.

Burdock 25:44
Yes, I process a lot of roadkill deer, the roadkill grind set next, and it’s just changed the way I’ve thought about them a lot. Like, and how I think about all animals but particularly deer, like they’re no longer just this, like, being I see in the distance in the land or like a see their dead bodies around, I’m just like, they, each one of them has a unique personality. Each one of them has led a life of like, that we cannot comprehend as humans, you know? And, and each one of them holds in their bodies, like the things that can keep us alive. And I mean that both on this like strictly physical level where it’s like, there’s bone tools, and there’s meat to eat, and fat to eat, and there’s connective tissue for bag making. And, like, there’s that but it’s also…it’s also on an emotional level. It’s also on a, on a spiritual level, if you’re into that.

Margaret 26:53
Okay, well, let’s talk about roadkill because that’s probably what’s going to be the title of the episode. Maybe not. Maybe you all are listening to "Earth skills with Burdock," instead of "Roadkill with Burdock." I’m not sure. But yeah, okay, so like, so I see a dead thing. How rough should we start here? Like, cause some of the questions that people have about roadkill. right, one of the main questions is, "Can you eat that? Is that safe?" Right? That’s like…And then there’s like "How to?" Right? There’s the like, "Can you?" and then "How to." And I guess there’s two different things, there’s the eating and then there’s….

Burdock 27:35

Margaret 27:36
Oh, okay. Oh, I was gonna say, well, there’s the eating the animal and then there’s the making stuff with the animal.

Burdock 27:44
First there’s the assessing of the animal.

Margaret 27:47
Okay, so let’s hear how to assess. I got really embarrassed once. I was…There was a roadkill deer on my property and my neighbor…

Burdock 27:55
Oh, on your property.

Margaret 27:56
Yeah. I live rurally. Or, I don’t know if you’re just taking us a jab at the fact that I’m referring to it as "my property."

Burdock 28:02
No, no, I just mean that that happened. Like right there.

Margaret 28:06
Oh, yeah. No, I, there’s deer all around where I live. And. And, you know, all I know is that there’s a dead deer intact on my property. And we’re like, I don’t know how this thing died. And I was like, "Hey, neighbor, do you want this?" And my neighbor was like, "That’s no good." And I’m like, "How do you know?" And they just like, look at me and they’re like, "Well, it’s just no good." And I’m like, "Oh, you grew up knowing how to assess a deer." Because in my mind, well, it’s not it’s not rotting. I don’t know anything about this besides that it’s not rotting, you know?

Burdock 28:41
Yeah, well, and I think different people also have different ideas of what is and isn’t good, even people who have experience with processing roadkill, with picking up and working with roadkill. Some people think all roadkill is just not good to eat. And there is something in that because the impact does damage the tissues and sometimes even a fresh deer is just…it’s just pulverized on the inside in a way that like even if it’s not their stomach contents in the meat–that’s something people worry about–but like the muscle tissue itself has just kind of exploded interiorly and it does…Injured tissue doesn’t taste good. And so if you’ve assessed the deer and you’ve said "This deer. I’m going to continue processing this deer. I think there might be food for me inside of this deer," having a framework in your mind for what is and isn’t normal tissue is important. And a huge way of how you learn that is just doing it a lot. But, I think the main way that you’re going to assess a deer, and the way I assess them, is smell. And, like, if an animal smells really bad, they’re rotting and you shouldn’t eat them. And if but if you can, like getting them off the road a little farther, so scavengers aren’t putting themselves at risk when they’re going to eat the deer is nice. It’s really nice to do. But yeah, another thing that I do, if I come upon a roadkill deer or other roadkill animal, is you can, super simple test, just pull on the hair of the belly. And if it comes out, just like with no effort at all, that rotting is really set in. And you don’t want to use the hide. You don’t want to eat the meat.

Margaret 30:52
You don’t want to use to hide if it’s rotten?

Burdock 30:54
Yeah, I mean, particularly for first because the fur is all going to slip, but at that point, like if the hair is slipping, there’s enough bacteria present in even the hide that it’s a health risk to move forward with processing them, especially like you know, bacteria from a rotting hide getting into any kind of open wound on the hand. I get cuts on my hands a lot because I do lots of my hands. People you can get infections and they’re really bad.

Margaret 31:29
What if I have Earth skilled myself like a nitrile hazmat suit?

Burdock 31:35
Then you’re fine. Or I mean, even, if you really wanted to tan that deer skin, you could like wear some gloves and get the hide and flush it and get it into like a alkaline solution, like a wood ash solution. And that would actually neutralize things. And from that point forward, the hide would be fine to work with. But you know, until then, you gotta you gotta put on your earth skills latex gloves.

Margaret 32:01
Yeah. Well, and it’s probably worth pointing out that if you are learning how to do this from a podcast, do not try the expert level thing.

Burdock 32:09
No. Even putting a hide in wood ash has just taken me years to figure out, like, "How much water to mix with the wood ash," and "How much…How to assess like when do you even want to do that?" And yeah, yeah, most of the information about that out there is really bad. And the way I learned it was my friend just being like, "Here, this is how it should feel," and me being like, "Oh, okay, it should feel slippery like this. And that, that means it’s the right amount of wood ash and the right amount of water" Like dammit, yeah.

Margaret 32:41
Yeah, that makes sense. That’s the kind of thing that you can’t get from YouTube or a podcast, you know?

Burdock 32:48
No, you can’t.

Margaret 32:51
Okay, okay, so, you’ve done the initial assessment.

Burdock 32:54
No, you’ve done the actual assessment.

Margaret 32:56
It’s, it smells fine, the hair on the belly doesn’t slip, and you’ve…so then you cut into it. And I’m so grossed out by it, but I’m going to do this for out listeners. I think everyone who listens knows that I’m vegan, but also have no ethical qualms with roadkill or hunting, personally. But, so I’m going to try my best. So then you like cut it up, right? And you’re like, "Oh, there’s meat in here?" Is that the?

Burdock 33:24
Yeah, well,…

Margaret 33:26
It’s like a video game, right?

Burdock 33:28
Usually you have to–unless they die on the road right outside of your house and even then–you need to move their body to where it’s safe for you to process them. And so there have been times in Maine where all I’ve had to do is move the deer off the road because it’s wooded and there’s not going to be some person coming over and being like, "This is my land. What are you doing here with this dead deer?" But sometimes you have to put the deer in your car. That’s a whole thing. But after you’re at a place where it’s safe to do that process…Yeah, I mean, do you want me to really get into…the details of it?

Margaret 34:05
Yeah, I mean, like maybe not like totally blow-by-blow but like…Okay, like how much am I willing to disassociate for this? Maybe don’t tell me how to like…You know what, let’s let’s cut to the…I’m sorry everyone you’re gonna need a different teacher…We’ll cut to once you’ve got the meat and the skin and they are separate things. I don’t need to know about the organs as much, but maybe there’s like big, like, "Don’t rupture the such and such." I think there’s like some organ that if you rupture, it’s like all over. Everything smells awful.

Burdock 34:40
It’s really, it’s not hard to not do that. I think people make a really big deal about the gallbladder. Yeah, I feel like if you’re just starting out, like if you’re just starting out, if you’re picking up a deer, they should smell neutral. Like if they smell a little bit like a horse to you or like like grass, like that’s what you want. Sometimes I pick up deer who smell different, but it’s because I’ve had time to figure that out. And you want to just, for roadkill, remove all guts. Just don’t deal with that. And then you’re dealing with a clean body and a skin. There’s lots of skinning videos on YouTube. And there’s lots of different ways to do it. You know, like, you know, the different ways to…

Margaret 35:29
Not allowed to how a 30 round magazine.

Burdock 35:31
Yeah. [Laughing a little confused]

Margaret 35:32
YouTube, you’re not allowed to do a 30 round magazine, but you can watch some animal get removed from its skin. It’s bad.

Burdock 35:38
Totally and it’s, it’s not considered violent or anything.

Margaret 35:42
Yeah. I mean, whatever, I’m completely fine with it. But anyway,

Burdock 35:45
It’s just different standards. But yeah, and I like to just quarter the animals and just what that means is having a back leg, and another back leg, and a front leg, and another front leg, and then the torso and you can break that down however much you want. But you just have these kind of large chunks. And from that point, if it’s good, if it’s the right weather for it, you can just hang the meat. And the meat is okay just hanging outside. And I have to do that a lot because I often am not living with refrigerators and freezers. Some people, when they get a roadkill deer, they either choose to or they need to process all the meat right then and there and like wrap it in plastic or paper and put it in the freezer and it takes like all day. Yeah, but it’s…I think it’s more ideal if you just get to hang up some legs and a torso.

Margaret 36:48
What’s the legality of taking roadkill?

Burdock 36:48
It varies from state to state.

Margaret 36:49
Okay, great.

Burdock 36:50
So, you got to look up what your state says about that.

Margaret 37:00
Don’t break and then point to us about it.

Burdock 37:03
Don’t break the law. But also different cops have different feelings about it. Like some of them secretly think that you’re really cool for doing that. And so even if they like see you doing it there, they ignore it.

Margaret 37:19
Yeah, fair. Okay. Okay, so. And for anyone who’s listening, the reason that there’s…Like a slight lag. And so that’s like, why my dumb interjections aren’t always working. Otherwise, they would be incredibly funny and everyone would be laughing all the time. It’d be a laugh track. [Joking] And so, okay, so you’ve got your drawn and quartered animal where you’ve tied it between four horses and pulled it all four directions and then…Sorry, wait, that’s the medieval torture. So, we’ve quartered the animal. Alright, so the meat. We don’t talk about cooking meat and stuff. Right? That’s meat. Alright. So yeah, but you want to talk hide, right?

Burdock 37:59
Yeah. Hiiiiides. [Excitedly inflected upwards like singing] I love having the honor and privilege to work with animal skins. And I think that it’s a huge thing to do because like with the meat you’re eating, it’s gonna be back in the earth pretty soon, but with the skin, you’re suspending a part of the animal away from the Earth where they normally go when they die for like a long time. And that requires this huge effort. And it takes a long time to learn. And it takes a lot of infrastructure, especially for larger skins like deer skins, if you’re making brain tanned leather or bark tanned leather–and we can get into all the different kinds of tanning if we want–but yeah, you need physical infrastructure. And, you can make all that stuff pretty easily. But then that also takes time. So…Uhhh…I’ve gotten to a place where I can improvise a lot, but there’s also…it’s, way easier to work with a skin when I just have like, the physical infrastructure already there. Like if I’m traveling and I show up at a friend’s place and they have all that stuff ready to go, I don’t have to think about it. Like a scraping beam. That’s the first thing you need because when you remove the skin from the animal, they usually have some muscle tissue and maybe fat still on the skin, and you need to remove that because that’s what’s gonna be starting to rot the soonest. And you do that by…I mean there’s other ways to do it, but I do it by draping the skin over like a log and pinning the skin between my body–which I have like an apron of some sort on–and the log and I use a metal scraping tool. It’s quite dull–you don’t want it to be sharp because you don’t want to puncture the skin–to push the muscle and fat tissue off of the skin. You got to do that for every skin you’re working on. A lot of it…From there, there’s a plethora of options, but every skin needs to at least be fleshed, as they call it, just the process of removing muscle and fat tissue.

Margaret 40:27
Okay, so where does the skill tree build up from there if you’re playing a video game? I don’t know. So, you said there’s a bunch of different options. So there’s like–I’m going to make them up–so there’s like rawhide, and there’s brain tan–there’s natural tannins–and then there’s vegetable…Wait no, and then there’s mineral tanning, which means chemical tanning. And which means it’ll never rot into the Earth and therefore is unholy by the standards that I personally hold. In a similar way as plastic, which I totally use, and so I’m not actually casting judgment here. Okay, those are the only three I know of.

Burdock 41:03
I love that you said rawhide first.

Margaret 41:07
Well, that seems like the most…It’s the one where you do the least…I don’t know.

Burdock 41:11
Yes, I love rawhide. And I think that people don’t give rawhide enough credit. Because you can use rawhide in a lot of ways. And people use tanned skins for a lot of things you can just use rawhide for. Like, please save yourself the effort. Like, it’s a great place to start if you want to work with skins. And it’s a great place to start. It’s just making rawhide and using it.

Margaret 41:37
Okay, but what are people using it for that…What are people using a tanned leather that they could be using rawhide for?

Burdock 41:43
Like hides that you’re going to sleep on, or sit on the ground with, or even put on a chair, like they don’t need to be softened the way that hides that you’re going to put on your body and wear as clothing needs to be.

Margaret 42:02
So it’s about softening them not about preserving them?

Burdock 42:06
Well, it’s also about preservation because…I’ll use the example of using a hide to sit on the ground. I prefer rawhide for sitting on the ground,because it takes rawhide a lot longer to absorb moisture from the grounds. At least in the places where I live, the ground has moisture in it. And if you’re putting pressure on a hide you’re sitting on it’s going to be sucking up that moisture. And a tanned hide, like a brain can hide especially, it is more like a towel. It will it will take in moisture faster and more easily. Even on a really humid day, if it’s like foggy or it’s really humid, a brain tanned buckskin, for example, is just going to pull moisture in from the air and just become wet.

Margaret 43:04
This sounds awful. You’re describing a nightmare. You are trapped in another creature’s moist skin.

Burdock 43:09
And that’s and that’s why like I lament, for a lot of reasons, but with you know, with the genocide of so many people, you lose these, like finer details. Like if people who lived in the territory of the Penobscot, for example, wore buckskins, how did they deal with it when they absorbed moisture from the air? Like what? Yeah, did they? How did they prevent that from happening? Or like, how did they deal with that? Or did they just…was it not a big deal and they dealt with it? I don’t know. And it’s…it’s hard. It’s hard to even like mentally process how much of that finer detail, more land specifics information, is if not lost, unmoored and difficult to to find. Yeah.

Margaret 44:24
Okay, so the three methods…Am I wrong that it’s the three methods? There’s rawhide, vegetable tanning, which is brain and bark, any natural tannin–I’m literally making this up–and mineral tanning which is chemical stuff.

Burdock 44:41
Yeah, so your your close.

Margaret 44:44

Burdock 44:45
Rawhide. And then I categorize brain tanning and vegetable tanning differently, but I consider those both natural tanning methods. And a lot of people just say naturally tanned, though, and then they don’t go into details. And when they can’t tell you more information it’s usually chemically tanned anyways.

Margaret 45:07
Oh, I thought you could tell by like cutting the leather. I was like in the leather working for this brief moment. Like, I wasn’t very good at it. I thought you could like tell by like cutting the leather and it was like darker if it was…I’m expecting I’m wrong. I thought was like darker if had been mineral tanned inside.

Burdock 45:25
Honestly, I think it’s hard for me to tell even now as a tanner, sometimes, like, what, in what manner hide was tanned. It’s usually pretty obvious, but sometimes it’s a little unclear. Yeah, those are kind of the two natural tannings and then there’s alum tanning, which I know nothing about it, but it does seem kind of in between natural and mineral tanning. Or maybe it’s…You know, some people would say, "That’s a natural method." And some people will say, "That’s not natural." But I don’t know anything about it so I’m not gonna talk about it. And then yeah, there’s all the more industrial methods of tanning where they’re constantly using new chemicals to do it because either the old ones got outlawed or they can’t find those chemicals anymore. Or, you know, they have to like put everything…they have to put the whole tanning station on a boat and put that boat into waters where there aren’t regulations about these things so that they can dump the caustic stuff that they’re using, just you know, into the ocean, like it’s that…It’s that level. So yeah, commercial tanning is is bad, y’all.

Margaret 46:40
Well, no. Okay, so this makes me feel better about…the weakest part–I don’t really proselytize veganism, people will do whatever they want–but the weakest part of veganism in general is when people are like "Use vegan leather instead," because what they mean is use plastic instead. Right? Yeah. And like using plastic instead of leather is like not actually doing anyone except possibly the factory farmed animal any favors, right? But if the way that commercial leather is treated is also fucking evil then it like moves a point back over. Anyway….

Burdock 47:17
Over to the vegan side.

Margaret 47:20
Yeah, I totally…

Burdock 47:24
I mean, watch out. Someday they’re gonna figure out cactus leather, or mushroom leather, or kombucha scobi leather.

Margaret 47:31
They’re working on mushroom leather.

Burdock 47:35
I don’t think that any of those leathers are ever going to be able to do animal-based leather can do.

Margaret 47:48
I have no counter argument. Okay, so I’m guessing that you’re a proponent of vegetable tanned leather, or naturally tanned leather and not chemically tanned leather. Is that an accurate assessment?

Burdock 48:03
Yeah, yeah. But there are…you can get vegetable tanned leather commercially, too. And it’s different from the home tanned stuff. It is often still done in pretty shitty and unsustainable ways. But at least there’s less like chemicals involved. Some of the barks that are used in the commercial vegetable tanning are like from the Amazon rainforest and they’re byproducts or products of like deforestation that shouldn’t be happening. So there’s that too. I like the home tanned stuff because you know what’s going into it? You don’t have to ask those questions. "Where did this come from?" "Oh, I found this deer on the road." "Where did the bark come from?" "I found the bark that had just fallen up the street,that just fallen. I took the bark. I boiled the bark, I put the hide in the bark. I waited a long time. I kept changing the water and then I took the hide out and I put oil in it and I softened it while it was drying and now, now it’s my shoes."

Margaret 49:15
I really liked the speed run of tanning and you just did.

Burdock 49:20
Well that but that’s just vegetable tanning. Brain tanning is a little different.

Margaret 49:24
Okay, so is brain tanning and vegetable tanning both using something called tannin, which is some kind of chemical thingy that naturally occurs in a bunch of different stuff including acorns and some bark and apparently brains to do stuff to the leather? Is that the big idea?

Burdock 49:48
Vaguely Yes. So brain tanning involves no tannins. At that point…And pretty much at any point tanning is like a colloquialism. It’s a word that we say that doesn’t necessarily have an association with tannins anymore. And what people mean when they say tanning is they just mean that the hide has been softened and preserved.

Margaret 50:11

Burdock 50:12
But the only method in which that’s happening with tannins is the vegetable tanning method. And vegetable just means plant matter in that context. So it can be leaves, it can be bark. I don’t want to get into the acorns thing because I’ve never successfully like boiled acorns or acorn shells and gotten tannins that I’m happy with. I think it’s a myth. But maybe other people have other experiences with that. And if you have, tell me how you do it.

Margaret 50:48
Okay, but why would someone pick brain tanning? Because in my mind, I’d be like, "Oh, well, the thing you got comes with the thing you need," like so it seems like brains are gross as shit but like a natural–I mean you’re already doing something gross as shit–so whatever. It seems like a natural thing. Like why? Why do you fuck around with leaves and bark when the brains right there? Or like what are the…how do you decide how you’re going to tan your shoes?

Burdock 51:18
Yeah, different leathers for different purposes. And they behave differently as well. Brain tanning…And it really shouldn’t be gross. Like, if there’s bad smells going on, something’s wrong and you need to figure that out. It shouldn’t. It shouldn’t smell bad even though the concept of like, "I’m touching a skin. I’m touching a brain," might be…uncomfortable

Margaret 51:44
Yeah, yeah. It’s not gross because of the smell. It’s gross because you’re inside something. It’s gross. Yeah, but this is my own…I don’t like the inside of my own body. Like this is fine.

Burdock 51:56
Yeah, yeah, outside it’s fine.

Margaret 51:59
Yeah, well like half the reason I’m vegans is I’m like, "Well, that’s just gross so I just don’t fuck with it." I don’t know. Anyway,

Burdock 52:07
Um, yeah. So I like brain tanned leather for clothing that’s going to be against my skin, for example.

Margaret 52:19
Makes you smart.

Burdock 52:21
Yeah. It’s always going to be softer and more supple in general, more flexible. But, it absorbs water, it absorbs moisture the most quickly from out of all of the leathers. So, it’s not great for for instance, shoes in a climate where the ground is wet a lot. Right. Even though buckskin moccasins are incredible footwear, it’s really nice to be able to feel the Earth while your feet are protected. But, if they got wet, it feels really gross. And it just like it deteriorates quickly. Like if you wear your buckskin moccasins and they get wet and you continue wearing them, they are going to get holes and wear out very soon. You know? Vegetable tanned leather doesn’t absorb moisture as quickly. And it’s it’s generally a little tougher. And I think rawhide doesn’t absorb moisture…It takes the longest to absorb moisture. It’s the toughest. Okay, yeah, yeah. And what brains do to the hide is it’s just it’s just a softening agent. It does the same thing. Oil for vegetable tanned leather is also just a softening agent. The preservative agent and brain tanning is smoke. It’s the woods smoke. After the softening process, you can stitch the whole hide up like a balloon and fill it with wood smoke by making a super smoky fire and like funneling all the smoke into it. I’m oversimplifying a lot. And you turn it inside out and smoke the other side. And it’s the aldehydes in the smoke that are acting as the preserving agent.

Margaret 54:20
Okay, that…Yeah, that makes sense. You can smoke meat. So yeah, to preserve it. Okay, okay, I know about meat. [Said skeptically. Then laughs]

Burdock 54:35
Yeah, whereas with vegetable tanning, the preservatives, the actual tannins that are in the plants, you’re boiling or cold leaching them so that they come into the water and then from the water they go into the hide and they bind with the fibers of the hide. But tannins, the way that you know something is tannin right, is like tasting it. You put in your mouth and it’s like, it feels horrible. It has this drying quality. It’s more astringent than bitter. It’s more about the astringent action. And the astringency, it’s like…it’s like this drying, puckering thing. And so when you put a hide and tannins, it’s stripping it of moisture, it’s very drying. And it actually causes the whole hide to kind of pucker up a little bit so it gets a little smaller and it gets thicker.

Margaret 55:33
Everyone who’s listening, I’m very sad that you didn’t get to see Burdock enact what happens to the hide. You’re just gonna have to imagine at home.

Burdock 55:44
The little dance.

Margaret 55:48
Anyway, sorry.

Burdock 55:49
I have to get my brain back into science mode. So yeah, once you’ve…once all the tannins have bound all the fibers in the hide, and it can’t absorb any more tannins, you need to replace all of the like glubons and stuff that have been stripped out with oil. If you don’t oil a vegetable tanned hide…like if you don’t oil a hide that’s full of tannins, it’s really brittle because of the drying astringent quality of tannins.

Margaret 56:24
Are you getting that oil from animal fats? Because, I’m under the impression that oil is like one of the harder things to source in the wild.

Burdock 56:31
It can be. It can be any kind of fat. It could even be, yeah, egg yolks or brains. It can be…but it can be like plant fats, you know, olive oil. Some people use olive oil. Some people use Neatsfoot oil, it’s like this really specific thing. I still don’t really fully understand what it is. You can use coconut oil. You could use…but I use bear fat. That’s really abundant in the places I’ve been living. And a lot of it is discarded every year during bear hunting season. And I try to…I keep in connection with the local game processor. So he gives me the fat and I render the fat and I gift a lot of that fat to the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot and pretty much any local indigenous folks who want it. And then the stuff that’s like not quality enough to gift. I keep for myself and use for hide and other stuff. And because that’s like the abundant fat of the landscape I’ve been living on.

Margaret 57:43
Yeah, as compared to like something like olive oil, which is basically people being like, here’s the thing that I think is cool that applies to a very different climate than…

Burdock 57:52
I mean if you dumpster dived that olive oil, you know, good on you.

Margaret 57:58
Okay, well, we’re almost out of time. But actually, one of the things I find so interesting about this is that like, rather than replicating, like just what was done before civilization or whatever…What was done before civilization was using available resources. And so we have such different available resources now. And so that’s why I love the inclusion of something like dumpster diving, or even like roadkill, right? Roadkill is not a very natural process. And again, it’s complicated, "natural," but whenever I’m using it. Yeah, you know, like things getting hit by the fact that I drive a giant fucking truck, like, I hate that but whatever. And, and so that’s actually one of things that’s really interesting to me. I really liked this thing that you’re talking about, like, "Okay, we find what is discarded and work with it." That’s like the part that really appeals to me the most, besides a preparedness point of view, the idea of working with refuse in a society that throws too much away, has always appealed to me. I no longer subsist off of dumpster diving, but I did for a very long time. And I really liked the idea of like dumpster diving the roads, you know? It’s interesting to me.

Burdock 59:11
That’s some major raccoon energy right there.

Margaret 59:14
Yeah, totally. Um, okay, well, what is the…Okay do you have any like final thoughts either about Earth skills, or about tannins, or why tannins are overrated, or anything like that?

Burdock 59:31
I love tannins and I love vegetable tanning, but it is definitely the highest effort kind of tanning because you need so much plant matter. So so so so so much. And it takes a lot of physical labor to process all of that. So if you can use rawhide, use rawhide, and if you can’t use rawhide, use buckskin, and if you can’t…or brain tan, and if you can’t use brain tan leather, then vegetable tan leather is is a good option. That’s kind of how I tried to approach it. And my other note is just that it takes way, way, way, way, way longer than you think it’s gonna take. And that’s a good thing. Learning any of these skills and doing any of these things.

Margaret 1:00:25
Because one of the things that…I was gonna leave the last word and then I keep thinking about things. I’m sorry. One of things I was thinking about I remember, because there’s this whole argument about like, did vikings wear leather. If you want to like fall down a weird rabbit hole, look at the fucking Norweeboos and arguing about that.

Burdock 1:00:42
[Squealing] The Viking discourse is so weird.

Margaret 1:00:47
Yeah. And when I try and…I really like writing Dark Age fantasy, right? I know [incoherent] Dark Ages, but I don’t like high medieval, I like low medieval. So I like writing early Middle Ages fantasy as…That is my sweet spot, right, Because they have the cooler helmets and swords barely exists. Anyway, whatever. Yeah. And arguments about leather and like leather clothing. Right? And. And there’s not a lot of historical record of people wearing leather clothing in Norweeboo land. What is that called? Norway, Sweden? And some of my listeners are there. I’m sorry. I’m a terrible person. So and, and so there’s all these arguments about it. But then I learned how much work was involved in making a yard of linen. Like to sew into clothes. And you’re talking about–I’m gonna get this number wrong because it’s been a while since I looked this up–it was like a week’s worth of work for someone to make a square yard of linen fabric. And so when I look at that, I’m like, "Yeah, of course they fucking wore leather. What the fuck? Why wouldn’t you?" But and then, I mean, you’ve gone over some reasons why you might not want it for some of your clothing. But, um, yeah. But that is an interesting thing that you’re bringing up about it takes way longer than you think. That was my train of thought. Sorry.

Burdock 1:02:13
Yeah, I mean, what if I told you that it also takes a week to manufacture a square foot of leather. I mean, that’s, that’s not necessarily true. For vegetable tanned leather, though, it takes longer than that. And that’s why I’m saying that’s a way bigger investment. And that’s something you don’t want to make every single thing out of. But, for like brain tanned leather, yeah. I guess in a week, you could produce six square feet. I mean, depending on who you are. Some people are fast, some people are slow. And if you’ve been doing it for a longer time, you can do it faster. And the weather conditions. And what the hide is doing. There’s so many factors.

Margaret 1:02:53
Fine. Back to linen I go. I mean, that’s more what I like wearing anyway. But anyway, okay, okay. Well, if people want to…I don’t even know whether, I can’t remember whether you do like…Should people try to find you on the internet? Would you prefer to not be found? What…Do you have anything that you want to plug here at the end of all things?

Burdock 1:03:14
[In a low and ornate voice] I don’t want anybody to find me? I just live secluded in the forest. [Switches to normal] No, I have an Instagram. My handle @scragetywocket and it’s all one word. Great. But if you can’t find me, that means I’ve changed my instagram handle to @huge_racc. [said like "Huge Rack"] And that’s RACC. I did a poll and everybody thinks I should change it to that. So I’m considering it. Which is referencing raccoons by the way.

Margaret 1:03:51
Yeah, of course. Totally.

Burdock 1:03:58
Okay, yeah. You can cut that out if you want.

Margaret 1:04:05
No, no, it’s staying in. Alright. Well, thank you so much for coming on. And explaining all of these things that I’m both incredibly interested in and incredibly terrified of learning. So thank you.

Burdock 1:04:19
Thank you. It’s been great to chat about all this stuff. Thanks for being open to it.

Margaret 1:04:23
Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoy this episode, then you should go live like a raccoon. That was the one takeaway that you should have had from this. Or, you should tell people about this episode and other episodes of Live Like the World is Dying. And you can also support us, you can support us by telling people about it, which is already covered, and you can support us on Patreon. Our Patreon is And no, that’s not true. Our Patreon is because I have to give everything long, complicated names. And Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness is an anarchist publishing collective that publishes a ton of stuff, including this podcast and including some other podcasts that you might like. If you back us, we will send you a zine in the mail. If you back us enough. I’ll read your name out right now. I want to thank Princess Miranda, BenBen, Anonymous–hell yeah, Anonymous–Funder. Also a good choice. Jans, Oxalis, Janice & O’dell, Paige, Aly, paparouna, Milica, Boise Mutual Aid, theo, Hunter, Shawn, S.J., Paige, Mikki, Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea, Cat J., Staro, Jenipher, Eleanor, Kirk, Sam, Chris, Michaiah, and of course, Hoss the Dog. And that’s pretty much it. Everyone should take care as best as they can and don’t fall into an apocalyptic cult. Even though you listen to an apocalyptic podcast I run.

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S1E78 – Rot Glow Farm on Forest Farming Mushrooms

Episode Summary

B and M from Rot Glow Farm teach Inmn about how to farm mushrooms in the forest. They talk about their farm and growing set up, as well as the Lobelia Commons project they work with, and the Earthbound Almanac that they help put out.

Host Info

Inmn can be found on Instagram @shadowtail.artificery.

Guest Info

Rot Glow Farm can be found on Instagram @RotGlowFarm.
Lobelia Commons can be contacted at or found on Instagram @LobeliaCommons or on Twitter @LobeliaCommons.

The Earthbound Almanac can be found at or on Emergent Goods at

Deadline for submissions is July 31st, 2023.

Publisher Info

This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at


Live Like the World is Dying: Rot Glow Farm on Forest Farming Mushrooms

Inmn 00:16
Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m your host Inmn Neruin, and this week we’re going to be talking about something really fun. And that is fungi. Specifically, we’re going to be talking about how someone can grow mushrooms for food or medicine. And we’re going to be talking with the folks that operate Rot Glow Farm where they grow mushrooms in the forest. But first, this podcast is a proud member of the Channels Zero Network of anarchist podcasts and here’s a jingle from another show on the network. Doo do do doo doo doooo. [Making noises that sound like singing a melody]

Inmn 01:40
And we’re back. Thanks y’all so much for coming on to the podcast today. Would you like to introduce yourselves with your name, pronouns, and the farm that y’all are both part of and just tell us a little bit about about that project?

B 01:59
Sure. My name is B. My pronouns are they/them. We a part of Rot Glow Farm and are farmers in Mississippi, pretty close to New Orleans, about an hour and a half away.

M 02:16
Yeah, I am M. And he/they. And yeah, we’ve been farming here in southwestern Mississippi for three years.

Inmn 02:26
Cool. Cool. And could y’all tell us a little bit about like, what is Rot Glow Farm and what do y’all do there?

M 02:34
So we’re primarily a mushroom farm and tree nursery. We grow quite a bit of shiitake mushrooms outdoors on logs, which we take to market and most of the sales from the shiitakes goes into basically subsidizing this tree nursery that we have where we grow thousands of trees and give them away in New Orleans and rurally in Mississippi.

Inmn 03:07
Cool, cool. Like how did y’all get involved in doing this?

M 03:12
For me, several years ago, I read that book Mushroom At the End of the World, which was kind of a life changing book for me. And that got me really excited about mushrooms generally and fungi. That first manifested by growing shiitakes in New Orleans as part of a backyard gardening practice. And then, when the pandemic happened, some of us had been part of this project in New Orleans called Lobelia Commons, which is this…We define it as like a network for food autonomy and neighborhood survival. In that project, we started a collaborative mushroom group where we kind of learned together how to produce mushrooms, which would fit into a wider network of ways of producing food in the city. So, the way that first manifested was doing oyster mushrooms, workshops to do oyster mushrooms in buckets at a decent scale. And we then also started doing some production on logs. Then wanting to scale that up a bit, we were interested in growing shiitakes in the forest north of New Orleans. So then we started growing out here in Southern Mississippi. And yeah, that’s how I got here.

Inmn 04:53
B, How did you start to…Like what got you interested in in mushroom farming?

B 05:00
Yeah, so where I was living before, I was involved in mutual aid programs and just living in a place for a while and feeling sort of stagnant and feeling like the work that we were doing was great and impactful. But it…I just….I think my heart wasn’t in it. It felt more like a job, like going to my mutual aid job. And it felt more like charity than it did like actually connecting with people in a way that felt horizontal. And, I had a big life event and had to leave where I was living at and started to get involved with the Gulf South region through hurricane relief after [Hurricane] Ida. And so I was connecting more with people in this area. And I met M a few years prior and M and I were getting closer as friends and starting to meet more people who were doing this work that, to me, felt more aligned with my interests and my value system and also just something I was really fascinated by. And the mushroom farming was an aspect of that. And like M said prior, it helped us subsidize this thing that we do and the nursery growing that what we do and some of these other projects that were involved in. And, it felt sort of like a natural progression for myself because years prior I used to live in central California and had a fair amount of experience just walking through the woods and foraging mushrooms that were wild and talking with budding mycologists. And where I was living before, it was sort of like a casual culture of mushroom interest that people had. And so there’s like a annual fungi fair that happens every year in the area I was living before. And so I guess I had never really considered farming mushrooms. And M was already starting to cultivate that here. And once I was introduced to it, it felt like this really exciting thing, but yeah, it just kind of fell into my lap in this way what was like, "Oh, yeah, of course. That’s what I’m doing now." And yeah, like I said before, it’s not disconnected from anything else that we do. It feels really interconnected. And that’s what also makes it feel regenerative and worthwhile. Does that make sense?

Inmn 07:47
Yeah, totally. Totally. And I guess maybe this is silly question, but like, why…why mushrooms as opposed to like any other food or medicine thing that you could grow?

M 08:03
Um, so partially, the land that we inhabit here is a successionary forest, very young. Everything around us is pine plantation, mostly Lob lolly pine. We have a lot of like lob lolly here and a lot of young sweet gums, young oaks. And in…like, in some ways, the only way to farm at all here we would have to clear some woods. So, and on the one hand, it’s practical, because we also would like to grow large amounts of trees. So, we can’t grow trees in the middle of the forest. Well, we could, but it would take a very long time. And it wouldn’t be like really effective towards getting them in the hands of people who want to plant trees. So, we cleared some of the forests to have that nursery and small garden and, you know, meeting some local needs. So, with those trees, the sweet gums and the oaks in particular, we turn them into mushroom bolts is what they’re called, like blogs, basically. But I think beyond that, I think mushrooms are just like an extremely fascinating subject. They’re unlike anything else that you eat. I think they have something that’s kind of like indescribable or like uncanny. And I think when you get into conversations with people–especially like we’re often at farmers markets–there’s a way of finding, especially rurally like who the kinda secret freaks are. And like you know, it’s really hard to find each other out here. And mushrooms, I think is like kind of a little like, "wink wink," in some ways, and I think that that’s been a big asset for us. We met a few people through farmers markets like that.

Inmn 10:27
Like, mushrooms is like, more….Farming mushrooms is more common like, for people that you might feel more like the true freaks or something? Or?

M 10:38
I think not even just farming–I mean definitely farming–but I think, like in a good way and a bad way. There’s definitely some mushroom farmers who are like, maybe not freaks we’d like to hang out with on a lovely Saturday night. But I think the type of people that are drawn to are like going into the woods, getting down, and like looking at the Earth very close and that these super tiny things or sometimes, like really phallic things. Or, you know, like in all the all the forms…[B interrupts]

B 11:17
Yes. Slimy, stinky, like, yeah, voluptuous, like, disgusting. All of the brackets of signifiers. Yeah, and like you said, it takes a certain kind of attention and careful consideration and observation where you’re getting down on your hands and knees and just like you’re…There’s this one particular–I can’t remember what it’s called–but it’s a…there’s this one type of mushroom that grows just on Magnolia stuff, just the cones of magnolia trees. And it’s really teeny tiny. And you would never think to look for it if you didn’t know it was there. And there are just so many species of mushrooms that are hidden. If you just look a little bit closer on the bark of a pine tree, it’s this microscopic guy that just exists like in this one area, or, yeah, there’s just so many numerous species like that, that are fascinating to look at and to think about and so many species that are being discovered all the time. And then also just the queerness of mushrooms is fascinating and really interesting to think about when we’re thinking about the way things are reproducing and sex, of biological sex and how there’s like…What’s the one that the? [M interrupts to answer]

M 12:54

B 12:57
Yeah, Schizophyllum. Has how many different sexes?

M 13:01
The common name is common split gill, and it has, I think it’s like 23,000 different distinct sexes. [Noises of incredulity from Inmn] You’ll see it everywhere, it goes pretty much full sun to like deep shade on all kinds of dead wood.

B 13:21
And the reason why it grows everywhere, right is because of how promiscuous it is and how adaptive it is. And so that’s like, part of its ability to reproduce so successfully is because of the wide diversity of sex that it’s able to inhabit.

M 13:40
Yeah, I think it’s something like any one individual of that fungus can reproduce with like, it’s like 96% or 98% of all total of that species, total individuals of that species. Which so cool.

B 13:58
Yeah, and that’s just, you know, that’s just one particular grouping. When you start to go through them, it’s…I mean, yeah, it’s infinite.

Inmn 14:12
Yeah. That’s, that’s really cool. Um, I’ve heard that in, like, in the southeast that, old growth gets talked about a little bit differently than, like on the West Coast, for example. Where like, like an old growth forest has like more to do with the amount of fungal interactions that are going on than it has to do with like, the size or the age of the trees necessarily. Is that, is that true?

M 14:44
It’s, it’s, that might be…I might not be totally qualified to answer to that. But my inclination is that that’s a glass-half-full way of looking at the situation with southeastern forests, which is unfortunately the southeastern long leaf pine forests, which are, you know, amazing and, unfortunately exist only in fractions of fractions of fractions of its former glory like, you know often gets compared, like the type of biodiversity that gets compared to the Amazon rainforest. And I think a lot of that is in the soil, like particularly the Russulaceae, the Russula laurocerasi is extremely diverse in the southeast. And that’s, that’s a mycorrhizal mushroom that you’ll often see it’s like kind of the one that is, has a brittle cap, often red caps, but has quite a diverse array of colors, green, purple, blue, there’s even a yellow. But yeah, and that’s just the one’s that you’ll see quite a lot.

Inmn 16:09
Cool. Cool. To switch a little bit, it seems like maybe it’s like a practical decision since y’all live in a forest, but like, why kind of doing like forest farming? Like as opposed to like…I guess I don’t know how people normally grow mushrooms. But like, yeah, is there something that’s different about forest farming for y’all than like how a lot of people might go about cultivating mushrooms?

B 16:43
So yeah, so, if you’re growing mushrooms outdoors, you could probably have a very elaborate way of creating shade and humidity and the kinds of things that you need in order to grow mushrooms on logs. But, it just makes sense because you’re as a person who’s growing mushrooms on logs, you’re…in some ways, you’re replicating what would be occurring in the wild, and how those mushrooms would be occurring on decomposing wood or logs in the wild. And so it sort of does the work for you of…I mean, you’re already in a forest. So, instead of putting that in an indoor setting, which a lot of people will do this where they’ll they’ll have, you know, a sterile, often sterile environment indoors, they’ll have bags of mushrooms–and I don’t know that much about it because I don’t do it myself–but from what I’ve read about it and talked to people about it, you’re able to really dial in the exact conditions that these mushrooms would need to produce. Whereas, in an outdoor setting, you’re exposed to whatever kinds of temperature increases or decreases and you’re exposed to the seasons and, you know, if there’s a drought that year, or whatever it is, and so the forest is going to help maintain the environment that you’re going to need to be able to grow those mushrooms. Does that sum it up? I don’t know,

M 18:37
I think I would add, like a question that we get asked a lot by, especially by other farmers whether or not they’re mushroom farmers, is that they’ll ask what our acreage is. Which doesn’t matter. You know, like if you have any amount of space and you have a way to make shade, and you’re not just sitting on concrete, you can grow mushrooms outdoors, pretty much. So that one doesn’t matter. But they often ask like, "Why don’t you…I’m sure you can get a grant. Why don’t you put in like an indoor space, or like a warehouse? You know, you’ve got plenty of space to put in a warehouse." And it’s like okay, you have to like just clear cut a bunch of forests where mushrooms are already happening. Fungi are everywhere, you know, raised, you know, in their perfect condition. We already have the perfect condition. It’s just like yeah…And I mean, obviously this comes from farmers are very concerned with yields, and productivity, and stuff, which totally makes sense. Like, obviously that’s like a capitalist mindset. But, we also have to eat, you know. Like, if the mushrooms don’t fruit then we can’t go to market. And, we eat a lot of shiitakes. We also just eat less of that stuff. So, I understand where that comes from. But, I think our wager with forest farming has been that we really need to try and try and try new things. Like, the way things have been running for, you know, 300 years in this area hasn’t hasn’t been working, simply put. So, this is one effort to try something that’s different, that’s maybe not motivated by capitalist economics and colonial mentality. Yeah. And hopefully it works out.

B 20:51
Yeah I mean, I’m right. That’s, that’s it, we’re, I guess, generally…I mean, maybe in the future, we would experiment with doing some indoor space just to try it because I personally, I’ve never done that before. So it would be interesting to see. And I think for folks who are trying to really scale up, there is some sense in doing something indoors, because you can really dial it in and you can maximize the amount of space that you have for the amount of yield that you’re able to get from being able to manipulate your environment in such a way that you’re able to get it. You know, like you can calculate exactly how much you’re gonna get. And, I guess really, the point is just that we’re trying to sort of move away from having this artificial spaces that takes a lot of energy to create, especially where we are. I mean, thinking about climate controlling an indoor space to be able to produce mushrooms in the dead of summer, you know, where it’s like, you know, 100 and get gets up to like 115, sometimes, like 110 degrees. It sort of goes against the path that we’re trying to go down, which is to take ourselves out of that cycle of constant resource extraction and constant, which is like cultivation, or like artificial cultivation to be able to make as much money as possible in the shortest amount of time. We feel like, yeah, just trying to sort of see it in a different way and show others that it can be done in a different way. And also that like yeah, of course, it’s not going to be as profitable, but I feel like the process in figuring it out and trying it is worth the setbacks. Like for example, recently, this last spring, we didn’t have as much shiitake yields as we thought we would have. And we’re not really totally sure why that is. But, our reishi did really well. And we’re still…We’re still troubleshooting why that happened. And if we were operating a completely indoor space, I think it would be pretty simple to figure out, okay, well, you know, we didn’t have this humidity, or like, our air conditioning unit broke down for this one week or, you know, we tried this one strain that maybe wasn’t as viable as like a different strain. But, I think there’s something about that, that it forces you to really look at your environment and be forced to be more connected to where you’re at and the kinds of species that are growing. And like for example, we’re growing on sweet gums and oaks. And so we’re starting to think "Okay, well, is it…Do the sweet gums maybe not last as long. Do they maybe last two years or three years rather than four years? Are the oaks better to be growing on rather than sweet gums? And that’s all being figured out through trial and error. But, it feels like important long term information to be gathering. Albeit, might be frustrating to be like "What the fuck, why isn’t…why aren’t they fruiting as much as they were last year?" or whatever it is.

Inmn 24:34
Yeah, yeah. It’s wild to me that someone would question why you would grow a thing in the place where it naturally grows. [Said sarcastically and then laughing]

M 24:47
Yeah, and I mean, to be fair, it’s like, you know, shiitakes not from here. Reishi is. But, it [shiitake] does quite well in the in the woods here.

B 24:58
But then you know, we’re going to markets and there are these other growers that are growing indoors and you have a bunch of mushrooms, and they’re selling, you know, they’re selling as much as they possibly can get out into the market. And for us, we’re like, "Oh, shit, we don’t really have that much to offer this Spring," because we’re more at the whim of what’s going on in the world around us than if we were operating in an indoor space, which like, it makes sense that people would choose that because it’s…it’s a lot…It’s something you can count on. And especially if you’re counting on it for your survival or your your livelihood, then like, it does make sense if you have that startup capital that you would decide to do it that way inside.

Inmn 25:46
Yeah, yeah. If y’all didn’t like…Like, if someone were growing, or cultivating shiitake or like reishi logs in the forest where they lived, what can the yields be like, on that? Like, if someone was just growing mushrooms for their own consumption? Like, what would that be like for someone?

M 26:13
So, I think that there’s a really good PDF online from Cornell, that–I think he’s named Steve Gabriel–put out. He’s a professor there with the [undecipherable] there. And it has…Like, if someone is getting involved in growing on logs, specifically, it’s kind of like "the book." It’s like a 40 page PDF, and it has so much good information. But, I think you’ll see there and many other places, a claim that each log per year will produce about a pound of shiitakes. That’s just for shiitake. I think we’ve found that to be fairly accurate. And in some cases, low. But, for instance, reishi, it’s going to be much lower. And Reishi, as you grow it in on the ground, it loves…like it wants like 90% humidity, 95% humidity. The longevity of the log is up for question in terms of like, do you get termites. We get termites here. So, the longevity is up for question. But what we’ve found is, depending on the size of the log, you can get quite large flushes. I’m not sure if we’ve ever actually weighed them because we don’t…we don’t take those to market. We mostly just get them out to friends to make medicine with. But, I would say even with one log…Yeah, without being able to quantify it–and partially not really wanting to mediate everything through like a measurement–it’s absolutely worth it. Even if you only have one reishi log, you can make quite a lot of tincture or tea with what that would produce for one year. You can probably expect a couple of caps minimum. They might be quite large caps. Yeah, I personally haven’t found a rhyme or reason to why they’re bigger or smaller.

B 28:17
Yeah, it’s really fun. Like, even if you’re not interested in growing on a bigger scale or like feeding your family or whatever it is and you just want to try it because you’re simply interested in it. I think that it’s so worth it to invest in the startup costs of getting yourself a drill bit, or something that goes on an angle grinder, and inoculating a couple logs, putting them in the shade and looking at that PDF, and just getting going on it because yeah, it’s just it’s a really interesting thing to take part in. And it’s so fun, and it can be really rewarding. And it might lead you to starting to connect with your local mycological club or connecting with other people that are growing mushrooms. And yeah, it can be really rewarding. So yeah, I just, I’d like to encourage people that maybe they’re listening to this, and they’re like, "Oh, well, I wouldn’t want to do that on like a large scale or maybe it just seems like too complicated." It’s pretty simple.

M 29:31
Yeah, I would, in terms of like investment, I would definitely say that–and we had the experience in New Orleans, specifically, where this worked very well–would be to team up, you know. There’s other people out there, either through a local mycological club. Some regions have like really robust robust ones and might, you know, likely have people who are already growing. So you wouldn’t have to buy any kind of drill or drill bit or the like plunger things. And doing it together, it’s like a really great social activity. We do kind of like a festival of sorts every year when we do the inoculation time, and people kind of look forward to it, and we’re all like working together and not too hard, you know, just like, it’s a…it’s a really fun time. And I would encourage, especially like, building a culture around that can be really rewarding. And if you are just on your own, listening to the podcast, and really want to grow mushrooms, but you don’t know anyone who’s interested in it, that’s…I mean, that’s how I started. Me and my roommate were the only two people I knew that were interested in it. And there’s like…they sell inoculated dowel rods online, which, you just basically just drill into logs, and you hammer into the log. So, it doesn’t…you don’t need like a whole gang of people inoculating, you know? You can absolutely do it on your own as well.

Inmn 31:06
Cool. I know there’s this book/PDF, that y’all reference that lays out the process probably pretty pretty well, but would you mind kind of just breaking down like what the process is like? Like, how would you set up a like a log for growing mushrooms. Just like the kind of like a breakdown of the steps.

M 31:33
So first, you’re sourcing your log. So that could look like a lot of different things. You could be felling the tree your yourself, you could be maybe talking to a tree company that sometimes has extra logs. There could be a storm and you just find a log on the side of the road. Any of those are fine. The recommendation is–and we have found this to be true–that you want the tree to be dormant and already healthy. You wouldn’t want it to be already infected with some other fungal pathogen. Like if it’s living, it already has something some other mycelium running through it. [Interrupted]

B 32:18
Because that would out compete what you’re trying to inoculate it with.

M 32:24
So, you want something healthy. So let’s just go with from felling, which is what we do. Fell the tree. Buck it up, so like cut it into like a manageable size. So, for shiitakes, for instance, we find that somewhere between like, four inch and eight inch diameter [log]. I feel like once it gets wider than that it’s starts to get cumbersome because you have to move them around if you’re forcing them. But, if you’re leaving them just in your backyard and not not ever touching them, you don’t have to worry about that quite as much. But just you don’t want to like, you know, hurt your back when you’re working on them. So, you cut them up into what’s called bolts. Then you let them sit. This is something that’s a kind of debated, some people will tell you that you need to inoculate the next day or as soon as humanly possible from felling. Some people will tell you three to four weeks waiting, to basically let the tree kind of fully die and make it so it’s it’s not going to challenge your mycelium that you’re putting into the log. I tried kind of all of that. And it doesn’t seem to matter in our case, dealing with oak and sweet gums. We’ve inoculated the next day and we’ve inoculated four weeks later. So long as it’s not fully…you’re starting to see like other fungal growth on the log, you’ll be good. And even if you do have a log that has, like, you know, like we were saying, already has fungal pathogen in it, or you fell it and then you wait too long and you see that like on the edge, often you’ll see like where you cut the log start to become black. Even if that’s happening, it will probably be fine. You just might not get as long of a yield because basically after you inoculate them, they’re competing for space inside the log. So, inoculation looks like you basically either produce or order spawn. Likely if you’re listening to this, you’re ordering spawn. There’s a number of good places to order from. We use Field and Forest, for what it’s worth. I don’t necessarily endorse them, but what’s cool about them is on their website, they have a ton of information about each of their strains and how it performs. And…[interrupted]

B 35:07
And like what temperatures it does well in.

M 35:11
Yeah. They’re like, kind of like…The US shiitake industry was kind of built around what they started in the 70s. But, there’s also, if you’re in the South, there’s Mushroom Mountain, run by Tradd. Cotter. But, so you put the spawn into the log by drilling and then plunging in the spawn and then sealing it in.

Inmn 35:42
What is the spawn?

M 35:43
The spawn is either sawdust or grain that the company, in this case Field and Forest or Mushroom Mountain, has inoculated with a strain of a fungus.

B 35:58
So ,it comes in a bag. And they’re plastic bags. And they…they sort of they seal them. But Okay, start that one over. They come in these bags, these plastic bags, and you just…It looks sort of like a brick, like a fuzzy, creamy brick. That’s all of the mycelium that’s colonized that sawdust or brand or whatever it is. Grain. And so you just open up your bag, and you take a handful of it, and you break it up so that it’s sort of mixed up, and then you’ll take your plunger, which is just…it’s like a handheld…it looks like a short dowel, and you plunge it and it captures the spawn in a compartment that is at the base of the plunger, and then pull it up–It’s sort of like the way a syringe works or something–so you pull it up, and then you put it on your hole that you’ve drilled out of your log, and then you plunge it into the hole. And then once you’ve plunged it into that hole, it fills up the whole hole. And you’ll sort of like tap the top of it to make sure that it’s all the way full because sometimes your plunger might not capture all of the amount of space that’s like the compartment at the end of the plunger. And so it might be kind of loose at the top. So, you just kind of like tap it to make sure it’s all the way full. And then what we do is we heat up golf wax in a crock pot and we use these little foam applicator brushes, you know, like the kids arts and crafts ones. We have found that those are the best to seal plugs because they capture a lot of wax that we’re going to be using to seal the hole. And, you can just kind of dab it and then the wax comes out really well. And, you want to make sure the wax that you’re using is hot enough. We use golf wax. But, it’s hot enough that it’s clear when you’re applying it to your hole to seal it up. Because if it’s not clear, it’ll it will be opaque. And it just means that it’s not hard enough. And so it sometimes works. But, often what happens is you put it on opaque and it kind of seems like it’s done the job, but then you wait a few hours or a couple of days and that whole piece that you sealed up will just kind of crack and pop off. So, you just want to make sure it’s hot enough that it penetrates that hole and makes a good seal. And you just kind of dab on your little applicator and then seal it up.

Inmn 39:08
Okay, and what is the wax? Like? What is it keeping in? Like what’s happening inside that hole?

M 39:17
So, it protects the spawn from drying out is probably the primary thing that it’s doing. And, it protects from fungal competitors. So, one that we often are concerned with is Trichoderma which is like a blue green mold. And also, it will to some extent protect from getting predated on by birds and rodents. But, I think that they eventually will get through it. The goal is to basically…You’re giving your team, you know, your your fungus, the best chance at it digesting the log, or what a lot of people called colonizing the log. Basically, as soon as you put the spawn into the log, it’s going to start moving through the wood and digesting wood. And, once it has completely taken up the wood, or, again, fully colonized the wood, that’s when it’s ready to start fruiting.

Inmn 40:27
Okay, so it’s like…And, you know–maybe everyone who’s listening knows this–but it’s like the fruiting body or like the piece that we eat is like very…Like, what is the the body of the fungus? Like, like, what’s it like? What’s it like inside there?

M 40:49
Yes, so it’s, it’s mycelium. People are probably familiar with this. I think oftentimes people assume that mycelium is just like in the forest floor like the mycorrhizal network. But, it’s also the body of the fungus that…In this case, we grow what’s called saprobic mushrooms or saprobic fungi. They eat dead stuff. And they also are made up of mycelium. And then you’re right, the mushroom is the fruiting body, the sexual organ, and what produces the spores, which will then go on to germinate on whatever surface that species requires.

B 41:40
Yeah, and so, when you’re getting those bags in the mail, you know, and you’re breaking up the spawn to inoculate with your plunger, that’s the body. That’s…You’re breaking up the body, basically, and you’re putting it in the log, and then it’s doing the same thing that it did to the sawdust or the grain where it’s moving through the log. And so, I guess to be able to picture it, you’ll see it sort of when you get it. If you get it in that bag form, you can sort of see how it moves through and clumps in that particular strain anyway.

Inmn 42:23
That is very weird and freaky.

B 42:27
Yeah, you should, if you’re interested, I highly recommend trying to, or getting some and, you know, breaking it up with your your fingers is a really interesting sensation. It’s sort of like cool and smooth but also has a lot of texture to it. And the way it breaks apart is sort of fibrous,

Inmn 42:51
Cool. Yeah, that sounds that sounds like a freaky texture experience. I want to try it. Cool. And so then like once the logs are fully colonized, they start producing these fruiting bodies. What like…What…Or I feel like I always ask funny leading questions because I like vaguely know the answers, but like what kind of conditions do they then need to produce fruiting bodies? Like, I imagine a lot of moisture. Or do you have to water them? Or?

B 43:30
Yeah, so it depends on your climate. But you have to keep a certain level of shade and humidity in the fruiting yard. And so for us, we’ve had to experiment with shade cloth and trying to grow up certain trees to make more shade or less shade. And so that’s something that folks who are listening would have to figure out based on where they’re at and their particular climate and situation. But, if you want, for us, before we’re about to go to a market, about 10 days prior to wanting a fully formed mushroom to take to market, we do what we call force fruiting. Also we call it dunking. So, we have a cattle trough, and we put–we have what we call groups–so every year we’ll label group one, group two, group three, and it will help keep organized to know which groups that we’ve brought in or which ones we haven’t. And so let’s say we have group one. So, let’s say it’s 12 logs. And so we put all of our logs that we’ve stacked in like log cabin style stacks…Is that we you call it? [M makes an affirmative noise] And so that’s just to maintain aeration and make it so that they don’t get too crowded out. And so we’ll take each one of those, put them in our cattle trough that’s filled up with water. And then we sort of weigh it down because once the mycelium moves through them, the logs start to get more pithy because the mycelium are eating through that wood. And so the logs will get lighter and lighter weight as you go on. But also wood floats in general, so we just have to weigh those down. And then we keep them in overnight, usually around 24 hours. And they have to be–they don’t have to be like totally fully submerged–but generally, yes, like submerge them. And then we take the weight off. And some people will do it and really like cute ways where they have like…What does that guy do where he puts them in some…. [Interrupted]

M 45:55
There’s a few places where they’re like super picturesque, you know. Yeah, they’ll put them in a creek and they’ll have a little section, roped off or whatever. And it’s just like it…which is actually, you know, if you have that, that is the perfect place because if you think about how shiitake evolved, you know, that we’re basically mimicking like a cool spring flood or rain, you know, a heavy rain event. Like actually one of the heaviest fruitings we’ve had was, like, the week after Hurricane Ida because it was such a disturbance event. And that’s basically what we’re trying to mimic. So, you have these these people that have these gorgeous farms, they put them in the creek or a pond or something sometimes, yeah.

B 46:45
But so, we’ll take them out 24 hours later. And then we lean them up against sort of a makeshift shelf type thing and make it so that there’s enough space between each of them so they’re not fruiting into each other. And we just wait about 10 days and sometimes the individual mushrooms will go at different timescales, but generally they’ll all fruit around the same time and they’ll all be developed around the same time. And then we harvest and go to market and then we put in the next group.

Inmn 47:24
Cool that..I mean, that whole process sounds kind of like wacky and ridiculous but in you know, like a really fun way. Like, I could grow them like inside where I live, but I live in a desert so we we…It’d be pretty hard to. Although, we do… So, it’s wild. We do have these like during the monsoons, if you go hiking up in like really rocky mountains the like, all of the dried lichen, because there is dried lichen, and it will like flesh out and get like carpet-y and like poofy for like a day or two and then it like dries up again. It’s weird. [Everyone goes "Whoa."]

B 48:09
Yeah. Also, I was just thinking of your cave…I feel like I’ve heard of these caves in Tucson. Yeah. Okay, good. Yeah.

Inmn 48:30
Cool. So, the other thing that I wanted to have y’all talk about is y’all put out an Almanac, right?

M 48:42
Yeah, so we’re part of the group Lobelia Commons, which puts out…or, some members of that group put out the Earthbound Farmers Almanac. And we are going into our fourth year doing that.

Inmn 48:57
Cool, what like…What kind of Almanac is it? Like, does it have specialized information? Or like what information is in this?

M 49:07
So, it’s primarily land-based knowledge would be kind of like what it specializes in. It’s like not necessarily focused on farming, per se, but more skills and thoughts around being on land and what that means in our current climate. And I think pulling on a urge to build new cultures of being land. Kind of like, obviously there’s a legacy of radicals getting back to–of course with the 60s with Back To the Land–but trying to forge something that grapples with the world we’re in today. Of course of climate change, trying to sharpen a anticolonial…While also simultaneously trying to build this culture that would sort of fill a void in some ways because there’s been so much damage done by genocide and just colonization and settler shit. So, people might not have something like a knowledge base to pull from, whether or not they’re indigenous, settler, Black, or what have you, living on Turtle Island. We are, unfortunately fairly dispossessed in a fairly general way from ecological knowledge that is really critical for the world we’re entering.

Inmn 51:11
Yeah, cool. What would be kind of like a sample of like information that, or like kinds of information that might might be in there?

B 51:26
So, something to note is that we’re…we just put out our 2023 Almanac. And we can like link in the show notes, where to get that. Emergent Goods is distributing it for us. But we also are putting a call out for submissions for 2024. And, I feel like this is a good moment to sort of list the kinds of submissions that we’re looking for. And it also summarizes past editions and the kind of content that is in there. So, anticolonial histories and features, critical agri-ecology, recipes from the land, stories from your neighbors, climate change noticings, traditions to uplift or destroy, farm notes, and just I mean, really whatever you feel like is relevant and close to you in this time and what would ring true for others and inspire and uplift others In the moment that we’re in.

M 52:40
Oh, yeah, but the entire first three, and for the future, everyone we put out in the feature, can be found at A lovely collected member just made this site today. You can just look at them online and get tons of examples. If people are listening to this because they’re interested in mushrooms, particularly, they might be curious to check out the 2021 issue which has some, like a detailed how to grow mushrooms using coffee grounds, growing oyster mushrooms on coffee grounds. And this is something that the person who wrote this, who also is the person who made that lovely website, actually, they were growing quite a lot of oyster mushrooms. She has coffee grounds that they were keeping from their coffee habit. And there’s also in that one a nice introduction to foraging to try and kind of abate the general mycophobia that exists in our culture. But there’s all kinds of stuff. There’s recipes. Like, I think that one has like a recipe for a fig cake, which I’ve never had but sounds really really good. There’s cool like almanac-y information like, you know. For those outside of the Gulf Coast, New Orleans area, some of the almanac information isn’t quite as pertinent, but I think it’s maybe an inspiration for people to start noticing those types of things in their life on that almanac, those almanac pages, the monthly kind of like phase of the moon, day length, that types of things. Also we include each year, farm notes from a different farm or nursery projects or what have you. The most recent one, I’m a big fan of, it’s someone who doesn’t have…He doesn’t like own land, doesn’t have like a cool urban farm, but is really just like in love with the world and loves noticing birds and, you know, goes hunting and so is, you know, following elk and, you know, is trying to grow things and moves all over. It’s like a dispossessed person that just rents, you know, where they can. And there’s there’s a piece in the 2023 Almanac about basically how to develop this type of practice. And it’s very witty, and I just really love that piece that came in at like, the 11th hour. And yeah, really appreciate these. Recommend.

Inmn 55:44
Cool. Yeah, that sounds great. I’m definitely going to check out the old Earthbound Almanacs. Cool. Well, that brings us about to our time for the day. Is there any anything else you want to plug before we go? Or any last minute thoughts on on things that we didn’t cover that you’d love to mention?

M 56:09
No, yeah, I think I would just, once again, encourage people, if you’re a writer, or like, don’t fashion yourself a writer, but might have some thoughts about growing or whatever. Just like really, really, really feel free to send us a pitch. Doesn’t have to be very long. Just give us like an idea of what you want to write. You know, worst case we’re like can you flesh this out a little bit more and tell us what you’re thinking. But you can email us And if you’re not inclined to write or anything like that, but maybe you’re a photographer, or illustrator, send us some examples that, you know, we would love to include. We like always need illustrations and photos. And none of the above, but you are really interested in it as project, we send copies of the almanac, like entire boxes, to groups, all over the place. And we just ask that people cover the shipping and the cost of the printing. And then in good faith, we let people sell it for, you know, to benefit, whatever cause that they are like locally interested in supporting. So, this oftentimes is like a local food autonomy project, maybe like a pipeline resistance, the campaign to Stop Cop City. Can be all kinds of stuff.

Inmn 57:52
Cool. Great. Well, we will we’ll link to all those things in the show notes. And thanks, y’all so much for coming on and teaching us about mushroom farming.

B 58:04
Thanks for having us.

Inmn 58:05
Thanks so much for listening. If you enjoyed this podcast, please go grow some mushrooms and then tell us about it. But also tell people about the podcast. You can support this podcast by telling people about it. You can support this podcast by talking about it on social media, by rating and reviewing, doing whatever the nameless algorithm calls for. Feed it like a hungry god. And you can support us on Patreon at Our Patreon helps pay for things like transcriptions, or our lovely audio editor, Bursts, as well as going to support our publisher Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. We put out this podcast and a few other podcasts including my other podcast Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness, a monthly podcast of anarchist literature, and the Anarcho Geek Power Hour, which is the podcast for people who love movies and hate cops. And we would like to shout out some of those patrons in particular. Thank you Trixter, Princess Miranda, BenBen, Anonymous, Funder, Jans, Oxalis, Janice & O’dell, Paige, Ali, paparouna, Milica, Boise Mutual Aid, theo, Hunter, Sean, S.J., Paige, Mikki, Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea, Cat J., Staro, Jenipher, Eleanor, Kirk, Sam, Chris, Michaiah, and Hoss the Dog. We seriously couldn’t do this without y’all. I hope everyone is doing as well as they can with everything that’s happening and we’ll talk to you soon.

Find out more at

S1E77 – This Month In the Apocalypse: June, 2023

Episode Summary

This time on This Month In the Apocalypse, Brooke and Inmn talk about storms, extreme flooding, and the deadly heat dome. They talk about a lot going on in the ocean, including orca attacks, the Ocean Gate submersible, and El Nino. They also talk about mostly bad things for trans people. However, there are some fun instances of fascists beating each other up.

Host Info

Brooke can be found on Twitter or Mastodon @ogemakweBrooke. Inmn can be found on Instagram @shadowtail.artificery.

Publisher Info

This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at


This Month In the Apocalypse: June, 2023

Hello and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. This is your early summer June-ish installment of our segment This Month In the Apocalypse. I am Brooke Jackson and co-hosting with me today is the very delightful Inmn. Our podcast is a proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchist podcasts. And before we explore today’s episode, we’d like to share a little jingle from another pod on the network. JIngle jangle, jingle jangle. [Brooke singing a simple melody]

And we’re back. Hey Inmn, how are you feeling today?

I’m, I’m feeling fairly good today, Brooke. But you know, a lot of bad things happened in June. But also, some really funny things happened in June. So…

This is true. You wanna hear the funniest thing that happened? I bet you have one, but I have one that’s gonna be funnier.

Yeah, yeah. There’s a couple of funny things that we’ll get to. How are you, Brooke?

I’m good. I like that we’ve swooped in and taken this podcast away from Margaret. Just kidding. She’s dealing with other stuff. We miss her terribly. And, she trusted us to do this whole episode on our own.

Yeah, because we’re real people.

And I’m so excited about that. Do you want to hear really funny story?


Okay, so Portland, Oregon always does a big Pride celebration on–well it’s usually it’s a Sunday, I think–in June and it’s often fallen on Father’s Day because of terrible planning and timing. And this year it finally didn’t for once. So, it was having his big Pride celebration. I think this was just a week ago. And both the Proud Boys and the Rose City Nationalists showed up to protest Pride, except both groups showed up to the wrong location. And they showed up to the same wrong location. And they got in a fight with each other instead of fighting and protesting Pride.

Wow, do you know that the fight was…Like, why did they fight?

There’s some videos you can find on like Twitter and the Proud Boys are attacking the Rose City Nationalists and they’re calling them racists. And the Rose City Nationalists are in like khaki pants and blue shirt, you know, that full face covering thing. What does they call that? Something. And like hats. And the Proud Boys are a bunch of older white dudes, burly biker gang kind of guys, and they’re yelling at them for being like punk kids, and wearing masks, and being racist. They just kick the shit out of them.

Maybe just because I don’t know totally who they are; who are the Rose City Nationalists?

Oh, there are local to Portland chapter of one of the white nationalist groups in the US.

Okay. What…Do you know why did the Proud Boys think that they’re racist?

I think if I remember correctly, I think they’re like a neo-Nazi affiliated group, the nationalists, and they think it’s really weak of them to wear full face coverings and not show their faces when they show up to events and to be in like matching outfits. I think they mock that too when they’re getting into the fight, how they’re in their little khaki and blue shirt uniform thing.

Wow. That is…You know, if all of the white supremacists want to like fight each other and spend all their time doing that, I would be thrilled.

The best outcome to a Pride protest ever, two asshole groups showing up at the wrong location and fighting each other instead.

Oh, that’s just wonderful.

A big thanks to friend of the pod, Alex, for sending me all of the videos from this and news articles and stuff. I’ve just been laughing about that all week. I keep thinking about it and just chuckling

I have a similarly…you know, it’s like a something bad happened, but also something funny happened kind of thing. All right.

Let’s go. I like funny news.

Okay, so, ongoing anti-trans legislation across the country and in Texas. Yeah, it’s pretty bad. But, Michelle Evans who’s like…I think she’s a Texas House Representative candidate and some kind of like legislative Director for some wacky organization that is trying to do weird things around COVID vaccines. She was at the Texas State Capitol to celebrate SB14, which is a bill that was signed into legislation that blocks doctors from providing gender affirming care to minors, which is pretty horrifying.

It’s awful.

Yeah, it is. It is not as bad as SB 1029, which would essentially defund all gender affirming care for anyone in the state of Texas. It’s through some pretty interestingly deceptive means. Like, it blocks use of public funds for those things, which sends this ripple effect through….because you could be like, “Oh, What about like, you know, private providers? Wouldn’t they still be able to provide care for people?” And the answer is probably not. Because, the public funding affects things like malpractice insurance or insurance providers in general. And so it’s essentially, private doctors who don’t receive public funding for doing gender affirming care, would essentially not be able to get insured because of this funding that’s being…would be taken away. So…

It’s not okay. So not okay. These bills make me so angry. And I feel like every time we do one of these episodes, we’re talking about another state, another place, another layer of these bills, and it’s not just like, “Oh, they’re considering this,” like it’s that these bills are passing in various places.

Yeah, and SB 1029 has not passed in Texas, but SB 14, which blocks gender affirming care for minors, did pass. But, Michelle Evans was there at the Capitol celebrating and she confronted a trans woman in the bathroom. The altercation reportedly like involved some verbal harassment of this person. And then Michelle claims, she claims that she was sent a picture of this person in the bathroom.

That’s creepy.

Yeah, by one of her followers. That’s what she says. But she…It’ll make sense in a moment. Okay, so she tweeted this out to her following and it very rapidly, you know, went viral and there were people commenting to her about it, being like, “Hey, you know, it’s illegal to film people in the bathroom, right?” And she was…While she was still at the Capitol, she was detained by the Capitol Police and got her phone confiscated and she was questioned about the photo being like….They were like, “Oh, we heard that you tweeted this photo of someone in the bathroom.” And she was like, “Oh, but I didn’t take the picture.” You know, or so she claims. And yeah, so she is still under investigation for taking a picture of someone in the bathroom, which is against the law it turns out in Texas.

Oh, there’s a ray of sunshine in this awfulness. And that’s like, I mean, even if…Okay. Laws, not laws. Anarchism….You know, it’s confusing. But, It’s wrong, whether or not it’s legal or illegal, it’s just like, your own internal ethics should tell you that that’s wrong to do. So it’s nice that there’s repercussions for it in some way.

Yeah, you know, like, I don’t…like I’m not down with the State existing or laws or like, whatever. But I’m absolutely not going to have sympathy for anyone who, like, might end up getting charges for filming people in the bathroom because that’s fucked up. So, I’m curious if it’ll catch on as like any kind of thing or like piece of resistance that people can do for like being harassed in bathrooms, like wherever they are, is to like….if you get filmed in the bathroom, it’s like…I’m wondering if more people will end up catching charges for filming people in the bathroom who they believe to be trans.

Right, you know, but then now, as you say that, I realized the flip side of it. If you’re someone who’s being verbally or whatever, assaulted, attacked in the bathroom, like, you shouldn’t get in trouble for filming the way someone’s mistreating you. But, the law doesn’t, you know, have that caveat to it.

Yeah, it’s dumb. Yeah. But luckily, a lot of these people who are confronting people in bathrooms are like, incriminating themselves, I think. Mostly.

Yeah, that is handy. Like, if you’re the bad guy and you’re taking the video, thanks for the evidence and doing the thing that’s illegal and getting you in trouble. I just feel bad for the person who’s on the receiving end of the assaults, and them maybe feeling like, “Oh, I can’t document this because it’s illegal to film in here.”

Yeah, yeah. So yeah, a thing for people to think about. So, that was a kind of funny thing.

That had better ending than I was expecting. So thank you for that.

Yeah. Um, do you want to hear some more kind of bad news, though, for trans folks in the news this month?

No, I don’t. But I also don’t want to be an ignorant…to live in ignorance. So you can tell me.

Okay. So Elon Musk, you know, is in the news, again.

Oh God, I know where this is going.

Elon announced that “Cis” and “Cis gendered,” like those terms, are going to be slurs on Twitter and that targeted use of them could be grounds for account suspension on Twitter.

Just when you think he’s not done being the worst, he finds new ways to be just the absolute worst.

I know. And like, I’m like…I feel like he just does it for the media cycle or whatever. Like, every time he like dips out of the news, he’s like, “Oh, I’ll just like, ridicule trans people and get back in the new cycle.”

He just needs the attention one way or the other. All attention is good attention, including negative. Speaking of horrible rich people, actually, I have one for you, which is going slightly out of the order that we talked about earlier, but I think it’s fun to put it in here. There’s a company called Ocean Gate that has developed its own little mini submarines for undersea exploration. And it’s doing private tours of underwater things like, you know, submarines and other wreckage. And it’s gone down to the Titanic. And they’ve…I guess they’ve been doing this annually the last couple of years, although it sounds like the last two years were both research missions. And then this year was the first year, from what I’m reading, that they were doing an actual tourist expedition. So, five super rich people who paid a quarter million dollars a piece, popped into this tiny little submarine to go down and explore the Titanic and the submarine didn’t survive the water pressure. Ergo, neither did the unfortunate rich people on their underwater sea exploration.


I don’t know if any of them were specifically terrible human beings. But you know, rich people in general, if you can afford to pay a quarter million dollars to go underwater, I don’t feel superduper bad about it.

Yeah, I think from from what I read, it was like, it was like three literal billionaires, the owner of the company, and then a titanic expert, who, I don’t know what that person’s deal was. So, you know, I might feel a little something for the Titanic expert who was possibly not a billionaire. But also, I don’t know, I don’t know what that person’s life is.

Yeah, but the billionaires Hey, you shouldn’t be hanging with billionaires anyway. And, it is pretty ironic that the founder of the company was one of them. And yeah, while they’ve done, you know, for people who don’t know this, explorations have dived to the Titanic, and pictures you’ve ever seen in videos and stuff has never been from like, people actually being that up close to the wreckage because it’s so deep underwater. It’s from sending–I don’t know what they call them–a drone that’s underwater. So, a remotely manned, piloted underwater craft that goes down and like, explores that wreckage.

Yeah. And there’s something…like, the pressure down there, it’s like 6000 pounds per square inch or something. So like when that thing depressurized it was crushed within a few milliseconds?

Yeah, I have it here if you want. About one millisecond. 1 thousandth of a second is how fast it would collapse. And the human brain can’t respond to stimulus–the fastest the human brain can respond to stimulus is like 25 milliseconds. So, significantly later than when it actually happened. Like. your brain couldn’t register that it happens before you died. And also, this is interesting, human bodies incinerate and are turned into ash and dust instantly upon this implosion.

That’s crazy.

Isn’t that wild? So, you wouldn’t even know that had happened. Like, less than a blink and you’re gone.

Yeah, yeah. There is a there is an image circulating–which is probably like, you know, after hearing that, like, it’s probably a photoshopped image–but there was an image floating around where people thought they could see the Xbox controller that controlled the sub on the bottom of the ocean. Which I think is probably not true because everything was destroyed. But….

Yeah, it’s kind of funny, though. For a frame of reference, you mentioned that it’s 5000 pounds of pressure. It’s…that’s like 400 times the amount of air pressure that we feel just standing around at sea level, I should say. So, it’s the equivalent of the weight of the Eiffel Tower on you.


Yeah. Or, I guess on the submarine. I shouldn’t say on the person. But, that’s the equivalent of the Eiffel Tower sitting on top of that little mini submarine.

Yeah. And on the note of the ocean gate, do you know who the…you know, this is a Wikipedia joke, so you know, maybe there’s other people, but…Do you know who the last person who was killed by a maritime invention that they created was prior to this?

Maybe a Nazi submarine creator? I don’t know. I’m guessing. Way randomly guessing.

Thomas Andrews. who designed the Titanic.

[Brooke laughing] The Titanic being like, “You shouldn’t fucking come down here. Bad things happened.” Cursed a bit of water.

Yeah. Cursed water.

So, mini submarines created by eccentric rich people who ignore standard safety protocols and the warnings from experts probably don’t hop into one of those Let’s move on. What else is happening in the ocean, Inmn?

So, I’m sure everyone has heard about this. But there have been an increasing string of orca attacks, specifically in the Straits of Gibraltar, which is kind of off the coast of Spain. And the…So it’s a big hype in the media right now, I think because of some specific things, like that they’ve sunk at least three boats at this point.

Do orcas get big enough to sink boats?


Wow. I’m bad with the size of things in the ocean. I think of them as being like dolphin size, but no, they’re not. They’re whale size, right?

Yeah, they weighed like 11 tonnes or something.

Oh lord those are big. Okay. I feel really ignorant for having confessed that to everyone. Just go ahead and laugh. It’s okay.

Yeah, they’re big. They’re big and powerful. And they’re incredibly smart as well. And there’s this one boat captain who’s reported getting attacked by orcas twice at this point. And both times, his ship’s rudder has been disabled. And that’s what the orca are doing, is they’re–in some cases they’re sinking boats–and in other cases, they’re disabling the rudders by ramming into them and breaking the mechanism.

I don’t know why I love that, but I kind of do.

Yeah, it’s very interesting. And, they’re supposedly teaching each other how to do it. There’s adults teaching calves how to do it. And then like the calves mimicking the ramming of the rudders.

I love this. I don’t know why I love this so much.

Yeah, yeah, it’s pretty good. And so, it’s coming to prominence because of the sinking of the ships and because of the antagonism of this global boat race that goes through the Straits of Gibraltar and ships getting attacked during the race. But, can you guess how many orca attacks, or like encounters that resulted in some kind of worrisome interaction, with an orca that there have been since 2020?

Since 2020?


Okay, I’m gonna guess that there’s a couple hundred a year in normal times. And, I think the time frame you’re giving me implies that it’s worse than usual. So, 1000.

Okay, I mean, you know, you’re good at extrapolating disasters…[Laughing]

Because that still seems extreme. What is it close?

There have been over 500 recorded worrisome encounters or attacks on boats between 2020 and now. But, orcas have been attacking people and boats since the early 1900s, at least in terms of like what is recorded. There was a study done interviewing a lot of Inupiaq people in Alaska about orca interactions. And so like, you know, there are Indigenous stories of orca interactions dating back much further. And, what a lot of folks from those interviews had to say was that orcas are like, these, you know, wise and mystical creatures, but also that they hold grudges, might revenge themselves upon anyone who has harmed a whale in the past.

Fuck yeah.

Yeah. Which makes sense for some of the….Like, some of the orca attacks are being talked about, in the media specifically, they’re like, “Yeah, it might be due to past trauma.” Specifically, for this one whale named White Gladis who’s supposedly the one who’s teaching all of these orcas.

Angry old lady orca. I love it.

Yeah. But there’s some kind of funny things being said about it. Like people are like, “Oh, it’s from trauma.” Some say it’s revenge. Some cited it as a fad. And there are some people who are kind of minimizing it saying, like, “Oh, this is just a fad. Like, they’re not revenging themselves upon people there. It’s just a fad that they pick up and they’ll drop it soon,” citing examples like, in the Pacific Northwest, where for a while there was this pod of orcas that would swim around with dissembled seals on their heads.

Wow. Alright.

Yeah. And what’s amusing about this to me is that people…I think people are just coming up with wild reasons for why animals do things. And it’s like, I feel like it’s almost how the news talks about like youth culture and youth uprisings. Like, there’s some similar language being thrown around,

Oh, my gosh.

But one of the biggest underlying factors of the orca attacks in the Straits of Gibraltar could be linked to the fact that they were recently declared a critically endangered species or sub population. There’s like 40 of them left in the Straits of Gibraltar.

Shit, that is not a lot.

I know. And so it’s funny that people have this tendency to say like, “Oh, it’s just a fad, or it’s from past trauma.” And it’s like…they’re a critically endangered sub population that is like, “No, fuck the chips. Like, it’s messing with us.” And, it is. Because, a lot of increased ship traffic leads to a lot of complications for them for hunting tuna. And, their fishing and hunting grounds are severely being messed up by boats, boat noise, and by changes in tuna migrations, which is exacerbated by warming waters. So, I think it’s pretty clear they’re revenging themselves upon humans for this

Yeah, for sure. And, when you’re talking about how few of them there are and then you put that in perspective how many attacks there have been like…Obviously, you know, there are orcas in other places, not just the Straits of Gibraltar, but if there’s only 40 there–and I don’t know how many of the 500 or so boat attacks are…but let’s say a couple 100 of the boat attacks are in that area where there’s only 40 orcas, you know? That means every orca has gone out and done like five boat attacks. [Both laughing] It’s just like, once or twice a year, they’re like, “Fuck these boats. I’m doing it.”

Yeah, yeah.

And I’m here for it. Go orcas!

Go Orcas.

You know what else what happens when we fuck with Mother Nature?

What also happens when we fuck with mother nature, Brooke?

Weather. Weather weirdness and stuff going bad. For instance–you’ve got a better one than me–but this is a little one that I’ll pitch as a warm up and then you can share your much better story. There have been storms in the Midwest and the East Coast this last week that have grounded thousands or even tens of thousands of flights. They’ve been delayed and canceled. So, there’s however many passengers that equals–maybe it’s thousands of planes and tens of thousands of passengers was the number, actually. They’re, you know, stranded vacationing on the east coast, what have you, and can’t get back to their homes. And, they haven’t even started rescheduling flights yet. And I compared this earlier to like Climate migration. And it’s obviously not quite the same thing. It’s like a very temporary sort of situation in which a whole bunch of extra people are stuck in a place because of the climate preventing their ability to travel. Isn’t that fun?


No, certainly not. Yeah. I mean, it’s just like not the normal time of year for there being epic storms like this that are holding up planes and causing cancellations and stuff.

Yeah, yeah. Is some of that related to smoke from the wildfires in Canada?

Um, you know, I didn’t see any notes about it being caused by smoke. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some of that going on too. But, it was talking really specifically about major storms, rain storms, wind storms in the Midwest and east, which is like…When we hear about it in the winter and there’s flights canceled, we’re like, okay, yeah, winter snow, and ice means flights get canceled. But, when you hear about it in summer, it’s very strange to have that going on right now.

Yeah, yeah.

Is there are other strange weather going on now?

There’s some other strange weather going on right now. So, in the southeast United States, South America, and Mexico right now there’s this pretty intense heatwave going on. In Mexico alone, since March, there have been over 112 people who have died from extreme heat related complications in Mexico.


It’s pretty brutal. There’s large sporting events being canceled from athletes just like dropping out from heat illness. In the southeast of the US it is particularly bad with heat indexes of upwards of 120 degrees in New Orleans and Texas right now. And, a lot of these are like record heats for the areas. And notably in Texas, in Big Bend over the month, a 14 year old hiker in Big Bend died from heat related illness complications. And, his stepdad also died from heat related illness from crashing…which resulted in him crashing his car and dying while trying to get help for his stepson.


Yeah, it’s awful. It’s kind of brutal. And, there’s kind of like critical fire conditions in New Mexico because of this. Like, I know someone who’s like getting deployed to a fire pretty imminently in New Mexico. And, in contrast to this there’s also wild flooding happening. Yeah, there’s kind of been like an early little hurricane season in the Caribbean. And, in June there were catastrophic floods in Haiti, across the rest of the Caribbean, and in South America with catastrophic flooding in Brazil, Ecuador and Chile.

So like, just south of the areas that are having the really bad heat waves, basically?

Yeah. There’s also this extreme flooding happening. And, some of this can be explained by a another pretty large weather shift, which is that we are officially in an El Nino weather pattern as of June

An El Nino is the wet one, right? It’s way too much rain. And La Nina is something else?

Yeah, kind of. I spent a long time trying to understand these weather patterns and they’re rather complicated. So, essentially what is going on is that there’s this large amount of warm water that accumulates around Australia. And at some point, there’s this big weather shift due to these like feedback loops changing. And, all of that warm water starts to move eastward. So, okay, during a La Nina event, Australia and tropical Asia experience a lot of flooding and storms and stuff. And then during an El Nino event, all of that warm water starts to shift eastward, which results in much higher surface water temperatures across the Atlantic. Which, can do a lot of it brings. It brings rain as well to the Atlantic. But, it also brings a huge amount of heat. So like during an El Nino event, there is projected to be like large increases in global temperatures and specifically in the surface water. And so typically in a La Nina event, we experience in the Atlantic a lot more hurricanes. So during an El Nino event, there’s actually like a decrease in the amount of intensified hurricanes because of the trade winds that are associated with an El Nino event. They kind of like cut off the head of the hurricane before it can develop. But, due to an unprecedented heat event occurring, the heat is actually suppressing the winds and so a lot of weather scientists are unsure what’s going to happen for this El Nino event because the winds that normally prevent large hurricanes might not do that anymore. But, there will be a huge increase in warm water and in the amount of water in the Atlantic so other catastrophic things could happen.

Oh, good. Just what we need more catastrophic things.

Yeah, and this is….I feel like I’m going to get @’ed for for some of this reporting. Go watch a YouTube video about El Nino…. [Brooke interrupts]

You’re not a climatologist full time.

Yeah, not a climatologist. I had a really hard time deciphering a lot of this information. But yeah, that’s what I got about the weather.

I think it was great. And I appreciate that. Alright, one quick news topic for you if I may?

Yeah, yeah. What else have you got in this list of horrifying things?

Well, the United States Postal Service, USPS, is raising the price of stamps again. That’s effective July 9th. So, if you happen to be listening to this before July 9th and you’re someone who does a lot of mailings, run out and buy some Forever stamps because they will be only be 63 cents and you can use them for first class postage forever. Where as, starting July 9th, they’re going to be 66 cents. They’re gonna go up three whole cents. They’re also raising the price for postcards and for international mail.

Cool. I mean, you know, whatever. But…

I have one more funny news story, but I can’t remember if you had other stuff to share, too?

I have some more stuff. I have some other headlines. But, you know, do your headlines.

Oh, no, throw out one of your headlines. I want to your headlines. I just did a headline. We take turns here at Strangers. It’s very important.

All of my headlines are about pretty bad things happening for trans folks.

Oh God, no.

No, it’s not a good month or a year for us.

Or century. Life time.

In Vancouver, BC, a husband and a wife interrupted a track and field meet literally in the middle of the shot-put event as this kid was walking up to do her turn. And this dad like literally stormed onto the field, accusing this person–who is a cis girl–ended up berating and accusing her of being trans, and how she should not be able allowed to compete, and demanded that the parents produce a birth certificate on the spot to prove that this like nine year old, this girl was, in fact, a cis girl.

Don’t harass children. I mean, the whole thing is kind of bananas, but what grown ass adult in their right mind thinks it’s okay to walk up to like, you know–I was picturing like a high schooler, which is still not okay, but then you said a nine year old and I’m like, “What the actual fuck? Like, what’s wrong with your brain?” I shouldn’t say it that way. Why would you think it’s okay to berate a nine year old child? A stranger that you don’t know? That’s just bananas. That’s bananas.

Yeah. All in the name of protecting children. [said with dry sarcasm]

Yes, as a mother, I’m imagining if that had been my child in that situation, I would have not done well. I become kind of a mama bear with my kid. And like some stranger comes up and starts shouting at my kid, it’s not gonna go well for them. And I just don’t understand how anybody thinks that’s okay.

Yeah, and the both of them also verbally berated both of this kid’s moms as being, you know, groomers and genital mutilators?

Gross. Yeah, child’s not even trans. Not that would be okay if they were, but it’s just that extra layer of ignorance.

Yeah, it does point to this larger thing, though, of like, you know–obviously, all of this heightened violence towards trans people is obviously more dangerous for trans people than it is for anyone else–But, I think that we’re going to see–and this is corroborated by some more headlines that I have–that a lot of this violence is also going to be directed at other queer people. It’s going to be directed at trans guys. And, a lot of it’s going to be directed at cis women. Like, basically anyone who doesn’t fit gender norms.


Whether that’s how they dress or how their hair is cut or otherwise. And, that was part of the provoking incident with this nine year old was that she had a pixie cut. So, she had short hair.

Oh, no. I had a shaved head at that age. Like 8, 9, 10. Like, shaved. Like that’s just a pixie cut, you know, little tiny baby hairs. That’s how I like to wear it. And it’s weird to think about how if I were nine years old today, how I might be treated. I mean, everybody thought I was weird for having a boys haircut then but like, nobody was going to come up and yell at me about, I don’t know, my gender expression or anything like that. They’re just like, “You’re weird.” And that was all.

Yeah. Interesting. Do you have any other headlines?

I’ve got one more fun story from Oregon for you. Do you want it now? Or do you want it after your evil headlines?

Maybe if it’s fun, maybe it’s like a nice thing later?

Okay, yeah, that’s good. Suffering for a little bit. And then maybe I can take us out with some lols.

Another notable thing that happened…this was like trending on Tik Tok a lot this past month was a like…a masc, a slightly masc presenting cis lesbian woman was actually arrested for using the bathroom designated for women.

Oh, of course.


God forbid.

Yeah. Which involves this dude cop like going into this bathroom and trying to shake this person down for ID, you know? To like, prove that she was in fact a cis woman.

Oh, the whole bathroom thing.

Ben Shapiro. I’m sure folks knew who Ben Shapiro is.

A little bit.

Yep. So, Ben Shapiro and the Daily Wire is filming an anti-trans movie in Nashville right now.

I was really hoping you were gonna say in a bathroom. Sorry.

I’m sure bathrooms will get brought into this movie.

Okay, and where? Nashville?

Nashville Tennessee.

What’s it called?

It’s called the Coach Miracle and it is about a group of cis men who are pretending to be trans women so that they can play basketball in the Olympics.


And I think I’ve heard that Ted Cruz was on location filming with it. And they misled…they had a bunch of misleading casting ads, which tricked a lot of queer actors into signing on to the film.

Yeah, I see it. I see it now.

Because it’s being billed as this like queer comedy movie about basketball. But, yeah, it’s pretty bad. But okay, so the one thing that I’m wondering is, does them making that movie put them in violation of Tennessee’s drag ban?

When the shitty laws come back around to bite the shitty people in the ass? I hope it does.

Yeah, well, or

I really hope it violates that law.

It definitely wouldn’t…like no one…None of them are going to be prosecuted for that. But, in a good bit of news, a federal judge rejected the Tennessee drag show ban as being unconstitutional.

Yeah, it is. It’s a First Amendment violation

Yeah. So, the Tennessee drag ban is is no more. I mean, it’s still in the books, but it has been deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Alright. Well, that’s a little something to make me less, just a little bit less worried about the world.

Yeah. But also the Human Rights Campaign, which I feel like I’m having like a brain fog around. I feel like the Human Rights Campaign came under heavy critique for being pretty transphobic in years past. But I can’t remember a lot of things. So. But, you know, regardless, Human Rights Campaign, declared in June, what, you know, trans people have been saying for a very long time, which is that they declared a national state of emergency for trans people.

Holy shit.

Which, you know, I don’t really understand what that means. And it’s like, you know, queer and trans people have been saying the same thing for a very long time. So like, I don’t really know what kind of legitimacy they’re lending to it. But…

Yeah, but they’re like a well known entity. So them, I think, saying that like really is going to draw some important attention to what’s going on that obviously, you and I are paying well attention to, but I don’t know how much any of the rest of society and you know, your normal Democrats or vanilla leftist folks are really paying any attention to all of this that’s going on.

Yeah, yeah, that’s true. But regardless of what’s up with the Human Rights Campaign… And my foggy memory…Maybe they’re fine? I don’t know. They did put out a report recently that is this interactive document that keeps up on what laws are being introduced, what bills have been signed into law, what states there are sports bans and bathroom bans, and things like that. Pretty much all of the information to stay up to date on what’s going on in your area or your surrounding area can be found in this interactive report that they put out.

So, okay. Well, if you’ve had problems in the past, it sounds like they are catching up and making progress and starting to do some good things now. So we should always applaud when that starts to happen.


Or we can be disappointed. But it’s, you know, it’s good that they’re getting there now. I feel like.

Yeah. What’s your good headline? Yeah. What’s your funny news?

Okay, soon New Jersey is going to be the only state in the United States where you’re not allowed to pump your own gas because Oregon’s legislature just passed a law saying that’s going to end our very, very silly law that says you cannot pump your own gas. So, the governor still has to sign in that law–which there’s no reason to think she’s not going to–and then congratulations to us. When we get to a gas station, we can get out of our cars and do it ourselves. And it’s hard to emphasize how ridiculous this is if you haven’t, like, lived here in Oregon and then traveled to other places where you can pump your own gas, you know? I’ve lived in this state my whole life, but I traveled to Washington frequently. And once I crossed that state border, I pump my own gas and it’s not a big deal. But, in Oregon, I mean, you don’t get out of your car, right? You roll down your window and someone comes to you and takes your card and pumps your gas. And there have been a couple of times like during severe heat waves and part of COVID, in which they allowed self-service. And it was very confusing for people. You could see them when they got to the gas station that they were sitting there and like looking around and waiting. And then they realized there was a sign and then they were like, “Oh, pump my own gas,” and they get out and they look at this machine like it’s asking them to do calculus or something. Oh, it’s gonna be so confusing and upsetting for people and I’m looking forward to it.


It’s just so silly that we can’t. I mean, it’s a law that came on the books like 70 years ago or something like that because the government was worried about, you know, people handling flammable materials and whether or not they could be responsible and safe. And, Oregon still has that law active on the books.


Yeah. So this means nothing to, you know, probably 80% of our listeners, but the 20% of you who are in Oregon with me or who have lived here for a set of time, you know you’re laughing.

To just to frame this episode with, you know, fascists killing or harming or trying to fight other fascists. So, people might have heard, but there was an attempted coup in Russia from this group called the Wagner Group, which is a private military company of some 50,000 troops.


Yeah, yeah. And it’s a private military company, they’re literal mercenaries. It is a company that is operated by a single person who was…It’s hard for me to understand what, you know, fascists quips with other fascists are, but they were dissatisfied with the military leadership for the, you know, the invasion of Ukraine. And they were upset that they claimed that their troops were getting shelled by the larger Russian military. And so they staged a coup. They attempted to go to Moscow to specifically target this general who is in charge of the invasion of Ukraine. And that lasted about a day and there was this shady sounding deal that was brokered between Putin and Prigozhin, who’s the head of the Wagner group, by the Belarusian president, I think. And the details of the deal have not been…no one knows what the details of the deal are. But, the Wagner group went from being accused of treason and like considered criminals by the Russian state to everything’s fine and no one’s getting in trouble.

Yeah, sure. Everything’s fine.

So yeah, some fascists killed some other fascists.

Excellent. No notes.

No notes.

As we started the episode, so we ended with good news. Thanks for that happy headline. Can I do the the ending thing now with the ending of the thing?

Thanks so much for listening to the latest installment of This Month in the Apocalypse. We come to you as members of the Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness publishing collective. We produce a few other podcasts, great zines, publish books. And, we just finished very successfully Kickstarting our first tabletop role playing game, Penumbra City.

Which, as of…If you’re listening on Friday, you still have until 7am on Saturday, July 1st to back this Kickstarter.

So why would you want to?

So this wonderful role playing game that me, and Margaret, and Robin, and Casandra have been working on for a really long time is…We Kicstarted it. It was a huge success. Thank you, everyone. So, if you back the Kickstarter now, in addition to whatever rewards you select–and there’s, you know, there’s rewards from digital PDFs, to a beautiful hardcover print edition of the game–you get a reduced price because it’s going to be cheaper on the Kickstarter than it will be when we sell it later.

That’s like a 20% discount. That’s awesome. Yeah.

And you also get some Kickstarter exclusive swag, a sticker that won’t exist after this, and access to an art print by Robin Savage, which will also not be available after the Kickstarter. You also get, if you back it now at any level, you get two additional books, which is a novella by Margaret Killjoy, and a campaign module that I’ll be writing. And those are because we unlocked most of our stretch goals. You’ll also get digital–and these are digital editions and like discount on print editions later–but you’ll also get a digital edition of a full color map that Robin and Casandra are making. And so, you know, go check out the Kickstarter. Kickstarter, Penumbra City. It’s on there. And yeah, I’m disappointed we didn’t get to…[interrupted]

[Finishing] The pizza party or the naked live streamed hot tub party.

It was never naked. It was never going to be…[interrupted]

I was gonna be naked. I don’t know what you guys were gonna do. But there’s still time though. Get us to that 100k mark and be naked in a hot tub for everyone and you will be happy about it. I promise. Yeah, there’s a new book coming out too, that we are crazy excited about? At least I am because I got to do that editing work on it and it is phenomenal. I think I’m gonna buy like five copies, at least, from us when it comes out because I want to give it to so many people.

Yeah, it is an incredible book. It’s coming out. It’s actually, if you go to our website anytime after listening to this, it’ll be available for preorder. And that is To the Ghosts Who Are Still Living by Ami Weintraub. And it is a collection of essays written by Ami. In this collection of remarkable essays, Ami guides us on a journey to meet the ghosts of his Jewish ancestors, the people whose struggles and stories sometimes whisper and sometimes scream to be shared. Ami examines challenging questions of heartbreak, memory, restitution, and self-discovery. It is an absolutely beautiful and heartbreaking book. And, if you want to hear more about the book, what also came out today is an interview with Ami on my other podcast, Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. There’s a really incredible interview that he does talking about the process of creating the book and a sample chapter read by the wonderful Bea Flowers. So, go check out the book and the other podcast to hear more about it.

Nice. All that great stuff is available on our website, And we are also on some social media platforms and you can connect with us there. We are able to do all of these rad things because of the support of our listeners, especially because of our Patreon supporters who really provide the base monthly financials that we need in order to do our production work. So, we’re incredibly grateful to our patrons. If you’re interested in supporting the work, you can check out our Patreon at and our lovely Patreon supporters who provide at least $20 a month get a very special shout out at the end of every podcast. We thank you Hoss the dog, Michaiah, Chris, Sam, Kirk, Eleanor, Jenipher, Staro, Cat J., Chelsea, Dana, David, Nicole, Mikki, Paige, SJ, Shawn, Hunter, theo, Boise Mutual Aid, Milica, paparouna, Aly, Jans, Paige, Janice & O’dell, Oxalice, Funder, Anonymous, BenBen, Princess Miranda, and Trixter. Thank you.

Find out more at

S1E76 – Sean on Brewing

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Sean teaches Margaret about brewing alcohol. They talk about fermentation in general and then walk though how to make beer and cider.

Guest Info

Sean (he/him) can be found at

Host Info

Margaret 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, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at


Live Like the World is Dying: Sean on Brewing

Margaret: Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. This week we’re talking about fermentation. We’re talking about little things that eat things and then poop out alcohol. I actually don’t really know because I’m the one who’s going to be asking these questions and I record these introductions before I actually do the interview. So, I’m going to be learning more about fermentation and we’re gonna be talking about alcohol, but we’re also gonna be talking about all kinds of other stuff too. And I think you’ll get a lot out of it. And first, we’re a proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchists podcasts and here’s a jingle from another show on the network. La la la, la la la la [Margaret making musical melody sounds]

Margaret: Okay, we’re back. And so if you could introduce yourself with your name, your pronouns, and then I guess like a little bit about how you got into fermentation?

Sean: So my name is Sean. Pronouns are he/him. Well, I actually started with, with cider and mead because I had a harder time finding commercially available cider and mead that wasn’t just kind of like a novelty product or obscenely expensive, you know, imported from like Basque country or whatever. So that’s, that was kind of where I got my, my kickoff on fermentation. I worked in commercial fermentation doing sour beer production as well as like conventional clean, you know, canned beer, and then actually worked in sales and distribution with beer for a while.

Margaret:Okay, so this is really exciting because I’ve always kind of wanted to get into this. Well, I’ve kind of wanted to get into everything, which is the whole reason I started this podcast, so I could ask people about how to do things. But fermentation…so you can format things and it makes them different? What is fermentation?

Sean: So fermentation basically is either yeast or bacteria breaking down almost always some form of sugar or carbohydrate. The main thing that is being produced by that is co2. But a nice little side effect that is often produced is alcohol, right, or lactic acid is often produced especially in the presence of bacteria, specifically in the presence of lactic acid producing bacteria. We call them you know, LAB is the abbreviation that’s used. So, fermentation is happening generally-when people are referring to it–they’re referring to yeast fermentation. So the most common yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, right, beer yeast. It’s the same. It’s called beer yeast. But that’s the same yeast that’s used to ferment wine. It’s used to ferment like a sour mash, if you’re, you know, making whiskey in a legal distillation situation as opposed to you know, the other distillation situation. It is illegal to distill alcohol for home use in the US. So, yeah, you have to be very careful you don’t do that. On Accident.

Margaret:Yeah, we won’t cover that for a while.

Sean: Yeah, right.

Margaret: Okay, wait, is this the same yeast as like sourdough and all of that?

Sean: It’s very, very close. So sourdough is–especially if you make like a if you’d like a sourdough starter capture right from the air… I have not done this. It’s something I’ve wanted to do. I’ve captured wild yeast for brewing from the air but never for baking. But they are a similar blend of airborne yeast, so you’ll have wild yeast. You’ll have wild Saccharomyces cerevisiae as well as wild other yeasts, Brettanomyces. Yeast strains are very common in air. And then you’ll also have lactic acid bacteria in the air. So these are those rod shaped bacteria that are active in the absence of oxygen. They’re anaerobic bacteria. So, they will continue to acidify things, even when there is no oxygen present to like kind of fuel or catalyze that reaction in a way that regular beer yeast, or even bread yeast, baking yeast, right, won’t necessarily be able to do.

Margaret: I’m really not used to the idea of thinking about bacteria as a positive thing.

Sean: Right. No. So they are extremely a positive thing, Lactic acid bacteria, because they drop the pH as well. And lower pH means you don’t have to worry about like botulism, for example. You know, so that’s definitely a benefit. Most spoilage…So one number I’m going to be saying probably a few times is 4.2. 4.2 is like the pH level, below which you have a greater degree of protection because of the acidity, right.

Margaret: Okay. Cause botulism doesn’t like hanging out in there?

Sean: Botulism is…I’m not 100% sure if it’s the pH, the alcohol, or both. But botulism does not like low pH, nor does it like high ABV. So these are, these are both good ways of protecting yourself from that.

Margaret: So it’s that kind of…so fermentation probably comes originally, basically…Well, probably by accident. But originally probably comes from people just basically desperately trying to figure out how to make sure food doesn’t go bad. And this is and fermentation is like, one of the many ways that humans have developed to keep food from going bad? Is that a?

Sean: My theory is that’s why fermentation stuck around. I think it showed up eventually because human… ancient, you know, human beings, proto humans even, you know, proto hominids realized they could get fucked up with it.

Margaret:Yeah. That’s fair.

Sean: I think that’s the key point. Like human nature hasn’t changed that much. That will always be the driving influence on novelty, I think.

Margaret: So, what are some of the things–I’m going to ask you about some of the specifics about how to do this a little bit–but what are some of the things that you can ferment? I know, you can make sauerkraut and you can make pickles? Nope, that’s not fermentation.

Sean: No, lacto fermented pickles, absolutely. That’s frementation.

Margaret: Oh, yeah. No, I totally knew that. That’s definitely why I said it.

Sean: Not like quick pickling with vinegar in the fridge. That’s not an active fermentation process. And I do that too, like quick pickled red onions are like…those go well on everything. But no, like actual, like long term pickling. Hot sauces are a big one. You know, I did a batch of…I grew a bunch of jalapeno peppers. And then I went to like a restaurant supply type grocery store and they had like three or four pound bags of jalapenos for like, you know, they were starting to go off, right, I got them for like, under $1. So I fermented about 40 pounds of jalapenos in a five gallon bucket. And you just make a make of salt brine. Right. Like you can you can look up the levels. I think I did a 3.5% or 4%. saline brine in there.

Margaret: I’ll ask you the more specifics about how to do it in a bit.

Sean: But yeah, so peppers you can do. You can do any kind of…anything that has an naturally occurring sugar usually can be fermented and emits….And when you have high levels of naturally occurring sugar, like the classic example is grapes, you usually are, you know, suspending that sugar and solution, water. Right. And you’re making a beverage. Like that’s the most classic example. That’s, you know, wine, that’s beer, that’s, you know, fruit wines. You know, there’s a lot of rural cultures throughout the world. There’s, you know, non-grape wines, right, it’s very common mead is another one, right, and probably the oldest. You know, we talked about the, you know, anthropological aspects of fermentation earlier. And, yeah, that’s almost certainly we’ve, you know, a lot of evidence suggests mead,

Margaret: Okay. So, when you ferment stuff, how long? What kind of shelf life are you able to get on something like hot sauce or sauerkraut or pickles and things like that? The like food stuff.

Sean: Yeah. So you’ve definitely there are two dates at play here, which is the this is going to, you know, this still tastes really good and this is still a safe source of macronutrients and, you know, and things like that. I’ve had no decline in flavor with fermented hot sauce. And I usually package the fermented hot sauce in beer bottles with like a beer cap over the top or in a, like, sometimes mason jars as well. But in that packaging, I’ve not really seen any kind of degradation over like a two year time period, as far as flavor is concerned. It’s probably foodsafe not indefinitely but probably at least 10 years. But it is going to depend on your process. It’s going to depend on how much oxygen is introduced at packaging It’s going to depend on the amount of salt that you have, you know, because salt is usually part of, you know, fermented food preservation and salt is a preservative. So, you know, there’s going to be a lot of little factors that are going to affect that aspect of that.

Margaret: Okay, but if you if you do it right, you can probably make bottles of stuff and leave them in your basement for like 10 years if you need to?

Sean: Yeah, absolutely.

Margaret: Fuck yeah.

Sean: And that applies to especially lactic acid bacteria fermented alcohol. You know, whether that’s like a French or Basque style cider or a sour beer. Those things we’re talking, you know, probably a 20 year lifespan.

Margaret: Oh, interesting. Okay, as compared to so that’s the bacterially fermented?

Sean: So the food is bacterially fermented as well.

Margaret: But I mean, as compared to regular beer, right?

Sean:Yeah. Yeah.

How long does regular beer last?

Very high alcohol beer can last just as long because alcohol is a preservative just like salt, you know, the effects that some of these bacteria create. Bacteria and wild yeast like Brettanomyces is oxygen scavenging, right. So when you when it referments, if you re-…it’s called bottle conditioning, right, it’s where you add a small amount of fermentable sugar to a bottle and then cap it and then it referments in the bottle, you get a tiny layer a yeast at the bottom and it carbonates in the bottle. It’s not done as often professionally because it produces pretty inconsistent results. But it is going to increase the lifespan of your beverage exponentially because as part of that like reproductive cycle, oxygen is scavenged and where there’s less oxygen there’s less spoilage.

Margaret: So it’s like putting the little oxygen absorber in with your like Mylar bag food only it’s…

Sean: Except it actually works. Yeah. [Laughing] It’s far more effective because it literally is pulling every, almost every last, you know, unit of oxygen out of there and using it to fuel, you know, its own cellular reproduction. So it’s not just being like absorbed and held–as much as it can be absorbed and held inert–it’s like being used.

Margaret: That’s cool. Alright, so let’s say I want to ferment because I kind of do. Let’s start with…I think probably the average listener is probably thinking about how they’re going to make beer or wine or things like that.

Sean: Ciders probably the easiest.

Margaret: Okay, so yeah, I want to make cider. What what do I do? Like what what do I need? How do I get started?

Sean: You are in like actual apple country. If I understand correctly. So you have some options that most people don’t. Where I am like getting getting really quality fresh pressed apple juice, apple cider, unfermented, right, is is a little bit of a challenge. But the easiest way to do it is to just go to a grocery store, you know, any place where you can get like the half gallon or gallon sized jugs of apple juice. You know, get them when they’re on sale, get them in bulk. Use frozen apple juice concentrate if you want. It doesn’t really matter. You are going to put that in a five gallon bucket, HDPE, high density polyethylene, plastic, right. It’s a food-safe bucket. But like in food service, you see, you see these buckets used for pickles, you see them use for frosting at you know bakeries and things like that. If you want to do some dumpster diving, you can find yourself some of these real easy or if you just have a you know, a friend or member of your community that’s, you know, involved or, you know, is working in food service they can probably hook you up with these as well. Worst case scenario, you….

Margaret: I’m looking it up, it’s number two on the bottom of a? Like, plastic usually has a recycling symbol. Is it number two?

Sean: HDPE?


Sean: I don’t remember if that’s denoted with a number two, but it’s HDPE plastic.

Margaret: I just looked it up.

Sean:Yeah. And it’ll usually be specified as food grade or, you know, if it was used to hold food in the sense of the, you know, recycling and reusing from, you know, food service and like commercial kitchens and things like that, obviously, you know, you’re taken care of in that respect.

Margaret: I’m trying to look up to see whether like the Lowe’s buckets are HDPE or not.

Sean: There’s two different types. Lowe’s did have food grade ones. But the like, kind of universal blue bucket one, I believe it is HDPE but it is not certified food grade. So there might be contaminants in there. So, you would be maybe rolling the dice on that one a little bit. In a survival type situation or something like that, I think that would be fine. But, if you have other options, you know, maybe err on the side of caution.

Margaret: Okay, that’s good to know. I have a lot of these buckets for a lot of different purposes.

Sean: Me too. Yeah. They get a lot of use in the garden.

Margaret:Yeah, exactly. Now I’m like oh, are they not food safe. Should I not be growing tomatoes in them? And then I’m like, this is probably over thinking it.

Sean: Depending you know, some something that like roots are touching not necessarily that food are touching versus something that you have in acidic and micro biologically active thing churning around that you are then going to drink in large quantities, like you know…

Margaret: Okay. No, okay, fair enough. And this has been an aside Okay, so I’ve gone and gotten some apple juice, or if I’m really lucky I press some apples. And I’ve got a five gallon bucket and I fill the bucket with apple juice I assume?

Sean: So, about four gallons of apple juice. Yeah, you gotta leave yourself some head space because you are going to, you know, have some activity in motion with the yeast. Then you’re going to be pitching in yeast. For apple juice for cider you can use champagne yeast, right? That’s, a very, very common one. It is a like a specialty product that you need to order online or get from like a homebrew store or a brewing supply store, something like that. You can use just regular like baking yeast, like breadmaker’s yeast like Fleischmanns or whatever. It will work. You will get a few like…you’re more likely to develop some off flavors, maybe some sulfur type, aromas. Things like that. And then you also might have a less healthy fermentation. So the fermentation might take longer and your final gravity right, the amount of residual sugar left by the fermentation will be higher and the amount of alcohol produced will be a little bit lower. Okay, so that’s that’s using like bread or baking yeast. If you’re using a champagne yeast, you know, wine yeast, beer yeast even you are going to get a faster and much more complete fermentation. Less likely that contamination, if there is any present, will will take hold. Right?

Margaret: Okay, what about um, like, let’s say the supply chains are all fucked, right and I can’t go get yeast. My two questions is one…okay well three questions. Can I use wild yeast? Second question, when you’ve already made this stuff, can you like reuse pieces of it as the yeast? Like in the same way as you like can with like sourdough or something? And then third question is, can you use a sourdough starter? That one so I’m expecting no.

Sean: The answer to all of those is yes, actually.

Margaret: Oh, interesting.

Sean: And I’ll go through one at a time. So your first, if there are supply chain issues, you don’t have, or you just in general you don’t have access, or you don’t want to

Margaret: Or you’re in a jail cell and making it in the toilet or whatever.

Sean: Yeah, right. that’s gonna that’s gonna have its own very special considerations. But yeah, you can absolutely use wild capture yeast. So the…what I would do with with the equipment that I have, I would get a cake pan and I would put…I would fill it maybe between a quarter inch and a half an inch high full of fermentable liquid, in this case apple juice. I put it outside, ideally on a spring or a fall day when there’s no danger of a hard frost, right, either before or after, depending on which shoulder season you’re in. But fairly close to that date is when you’re going to get the best results. You’re going to want to have some kind of a mesh over the top, maybe like a window screen or door screen, you know, screen door type mesh.

Margaret: Keep bugs out?

Sean: Yep, exactly. Keep bugs out. You want the microscopic bugs not the ones that we can see flying around in there, you know? So leave that out overnight on a cool night. If you have fruit trees, especially vines, any grape vines, anything like that, right under there is ideal. If you don’t, just anywhere where there is some, you know, greenery growing. In the wild and you kind of have–not in the wild but you know, outside–in a non sterile, you know, non-contained environment, you’re gonna have less luck trying to do this inside or, you know, in like a warehouse building or something like that. Yeah, this is actually, once you have that, you know, you’ve had it left overnight, decant it into maybe a mason jar or something like that with an airlock. I use like an Erlenmeyer flask just because I have them for other fermentation stuff. And you can with an Erlenmeyer flask, you can drop a magnetic bar in there, put it on a stir plate, and you know, knock the whole process out, you know, 10 times as fast. Obviously not necessary. But, it’s a fun little shortcut if you want to, you know, drop $40 or $50 on a stir plate.

Margaret: Is that just like a basically like, a magnet? Inside the flask that moves because of a magnet on the plate?

Sean: Yep, that’s it. Exactly.

Margaret: That’s Brilliant.

Sean: Yeah, so you have like a little bar magnet. It’s like coated in like a food safe plastic, right, so it’s not gonna scratch anything up. And then you just drop that in, you turn on the plate, it usually has a like potentiometer, like little knob that you can control the speed on. Sometimes if you get the speed up too far, it will throw the magnet and then you’ve got to recenter it and get it all there. But that’s great for, you know, doing your own yeast and bacteria captures. It speeds that up.

Margaret: So it’s speeding it up because you need to stir it. To go back to the I’ve just done this without a flask. I’ve put it in a mason jar.

Sean: Yeah, just give it a swirl a couple times a day, give it a couple swirls. It is going to be, you know, working the same way just on a slower timeline.

Margaret: And this is a sealed jar?

Sean: Sealed, but with an airlock because again, anytime you have fermentation you have CO2 production, it you don’t have an air lock, you’ve just made an improvised explosive device sitting on your kitchen counter. So you don’t want that

Margaret: Right. Usually not. Okay. So that’s the little thing that you see sticking out of carboys where it’s a little glass thing with some water in it. The thing goes through where the air bubbles go.

Sean: Yeah, it’s usually plastic. The most common ones are, it’s like an S bend, right? The same kind of thing that you’ve seen, like sink and toilet plumbing to keep the stinky gas away. The function works the same way that gas can pass through in one direction.

Margaret: So basically, you’ve captured some wild yeast and you’ve put it in a mason jar with an airlock and then it it…you’re feeding it…it feeds off of that for a while and that’s how you get your starter? Is that?

Sean: Yeah, so that is your yeast. That is your inoculant, your starter? Yeah, but you do need to do a couple things to confirm that that is–because you know, wild captured isn’t going to work every single time perfectly. It’s why we’ve you know…

Margaret: Why you can go buy champange yeast at a store.

Sean: Yeah, everyone uses that. So what you need to do is you need to confirm that the pH is below 4.2. Okay, all right. So…

Margaret: It’s that magic number.

Sean: Yeah, that’s the big number for…I think that’s what Douglas Adams was talking about, actually, he just probably pulled the decimal point. But no, so you need to make sure it’s below 4.2 ph. You can do this with pH testing strips. Litmus paper. You can just, you know, put a drop of it on there and you know, see what color it is. I would advise against using the full pH range like the 0 to 14 ones just because since it is such a wide range, it can be kind of like “Is that greenish brown or is that brownish green?” like that’s that’s a whole point on the pH scale. The pH scale is logarithmic. So the difference between brownish green and greenish brown is a factor of 10. So like, you know, have a more narrow range. Litmus paper is ideal or a pH meter. They’ve gotten a lot better in the last five or ten years and a lot cheaper, like we’re talking under $20. So those are really…if you’re going to be doing fermentation, I would recommend using both just in case there’s like a, you know, a calibration error or anything like that. It’s just a good way to confirm.

Margaret: Okay. Alright, so you’ve got to now, you know, the pH is under 4.2. What else are we checking?

Sean: Yeah, we’re also going to just use our olfactory sense. So get your nose in there. And if it smells like rotten eggs and sewage like toss that shit out. There are other bacteria at play that we that we don’t want playing in our in our happy little colony here. So that needs to go and instead just, you know, do another capture. You want like fruity aromas, aromas that maybe have some spice or piquancy to them are fine. Like alcohol aromas are really good too, you know, things like that. These are all indicating fermentation production of, you know, of alcohol production of CO2 as well. You want to see that. That’s another really good indicator is that and that’s why I like those S-bend airlocks as opposed to they also make like a three piece one that just kind of percolates through. The S-bend one is really nice because you can see the CO2 coming through, right, you can see it coming through in bubbles. So you have a visual and audible indicator, right? Like you can hear that there are, you know, 10 or 15 bubbles coming through a minute, right. So you know that there is cellular reproduction happening and fermentation happening.

Margaret: This whole thing…I recently recorded an episode about yeast, about sourdough, this is why I keep referencing sourdough. Yeah. And the whole thing is like hard for me to believe is real. Once I start doing it, I’ll believe it but wild capture…Like sure the invisible alcohol makers in the sky are just going to turn it…like of course they are.

Sean: It feels like some like biohacking, like bio-punk speculative fiction. Yeah. Like it totally does.

Margaret:Yeah. But I love…I mean, when I start doing this, I’m gonna go out and buy yeast, right. But I’m much more interested in hobbies that I know that like, I know how I will do without buying chemicals if I have to, you know? Okay, so wild capture and then you said that you can also use…

Sean: You can inoculate with stuff that you’ve already made.

Margaret: Yeah.

Sean: I think your second question, right. So the example I’ll use for this is sour beer, right? I can go out and pick up a bottle of sour beer. I can drink the sour beer and leave just the dregs at bottom. I can swirl that up and I can pitch that into a fermenter and I’ve just inoculated it. That’s it.

Margaret: And so it can’t be pasteurized, right?

Sean: No, no, you don’t want to pasteurize. But again, remember, we were talking about bottle conditioning, right. It’s a bottle conditioned to beer. So, because it has sugar added to the bottle and it’s naturally re fermented in the bottle, you know, built up co2 and nice, pleasant effervescent bubbles in the bottle that means that it is it is fully bioactive. That’s great, too, because that…much higher levels of like vitamin B and things like that, as well as a full culture of yeast and bacteria, which are really good for your gut biome, which is also important. So that’s why I’m a big fan. Pasteurization definitely helps for like safe transportation and breweries not getting sued when their bottles explode and leave glass in people’s hands and things like that.

Margaret: And so for anyone listening, pasteurization is where you treat it so that everything’s dead inside, right?

Sean: With heat.

Margaret: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Sean: Yeah, exactly. They slowly increase the pressure in increments that you don’t notice until you find that everything is completely dead.

Margaret:Yeah. Okay. Cool. And safe for capitalism.

Sean: And safe for capitalism. Absolutely. Yep. [laughing]

Margaret: Cool. All right. So once we’ve domesticize, the bottles of beer…okay, anyway.

Sean: Yeah, so we want to avoid pasteurization unless absolutely necessary because then the product is less healthy for us and it’s less useful for us in the future. We can’t use it to inoculate other other batches. If I were going to be doing that, I would–I mean, again, going back to that stir plate, I’m talking about an ideal situation–I would add some of that to unfermented beer or cider on the stir plate and let that go because that’s going to get my yeast and bacteria cell count up very, very high. That’s going to ensure the fermentation and acidification start quick and finish strong.

Margaret: Okay. And so is there any like…Is it just a taste difference if you were to like….if I were to go get sour beer and then dump it, you know, do everything you just said, and then dump it in as my starter for some cider, would it just be like weird? Or would it be fine? Or like. Like mixing flavors and mediums or whatever it would be called?

Sean: Oh, so like fermentables. Like a mix of apples and malt for example.

Margaret: Well, so it’s like if I’m using…if the yeast I have access to is I drank a sour beer and I have what’s left, right. But what I have access to to ferment is apple juice. Can I use that to ferment the apple juice?

Sean: Absolutely.

Margaret: And will it taste really wild and different? Or is it just kind of yeast is yeast?

Sean: Not especially. Sour beers is yeast and bacteria. So you have yeast and bacteria at play.

Margaret: Can I make make sour cider?

Sean: Yeah. Because there’s already both malic acid and lactic acid naturally present in apple juice, using lactic acid producing bacteria doesn’t make it seem as sour as like sour beer, right? Because it’s already, there’s already these natural acids at play. In beer, like the pH of non-sour beer, it’s lower than like water, but it’s not low enough that our brains register as sour. So, when you apply those bacteria to a, you know, fermented malt liquid, it’s such a huge gulf between non-sour bees and sour beer. Non-sour cider and sour cider are kind of adjacent more. There is one other little factor though, that ties into what you brought up, which is that yeast and bacteria over time are going to adapt to perform ideally in the fermentable that they have reproduced in. So, if you are reusing like a culture, and I’m going to use the word culture rather than yeast or bacteria because it’s almost always a combination of bacteria and multiple yeast, right? If your culture has optimized itself to reproduce and to, you know, churn through the fermentables in beer, right, you have a lot of longer chain carbohydrates in beer than you do in fruit juice whether that’s apple or grape, right? So they’re going to evolve to deal with those and, you know, when you switch from one to the other, your first fermentation might be a little bit sluggish. Still perfectly viable.

Margaret: So, okay, so to go back to where we’re at in the stage. I really actually like…I think probably most of this episode will be just literally us walking through the steps of making some cider, but we’re gonna learn so much along the way. I’m really excited about it.

Sean: I’m here for it. I’m here for it.

Margaret: Yeah. So okay, so you’ve gotten your apple juice, you’ve gotten your starter yeast. Ideally, you went and got champagne yeast, but maybe it’s the end of the world and you wild captured or maybe you just don’t want to do that. My plan is to start the easy way and then try the hard way later.

Sean: Yep. Good. It’s good to….You’re more likely to keep going if your first endeavor is successful.

Margaret: If I succeed. Yeah, that’s my theory. Okay, now I’ve got my five gallon bucket. I’ve added yeast. I’m closing it and putting a little S…

Sean: Airlock. And it doesn’t…again going back, like if you don’t have access to a homebrew store or the internet or whatever and you can’t get an airlock, like you’re not completely screwed here. All you need is a piece of hose or tubing in a cork or bung or something like that and stick the other end in liquid, you know. Maybe water with a with a few drops of bleach in it, sanitizing solution, vinegar, alcohol, whatever. Right? Because then it’s just you know, the CO2 is blowing out of that tube and just bubbling out of thing. Like an airlock is cleaner, takes up less space, and is more optimized, but yeah, improvisation works fine.

Margaret: Okay. How long am I leaving this? Does it have to be in a cool dark place? Like can I do this on the…

Sean: You don’t want direct sunlight. Alright, so you don’t want direct sunlight and you don’t want light from you know, you don’t want

Margaret: Grow lights, or UV, or whatever.

Sean: Yeah, grow light or UV or anything like that. If you just got like, you know, ambient room light hitting hitting it, especially if it’s in a bucket, you’re probably okay. Beer is more of a concern because beer has hops, and hops are photosensitive, and your beer will taste like Heineken at a summer picnic, you’ll get that like kind of skunky thing that you get in green glass bottles.

Margaret: Yeah. Which I weirdly, I have positive associations with just from…

Sean: A lot of people do. A lot of people do. It’s like…What you like isn’t isn’t wrong. Like, it is what it is. It’s an unfavorable characteristic to some people, but, you know, there’s a lot of traditional German beers that are described as having a sulfur character. And it’s like, I don’t like that though, but it’s correct.

Margaret: I drink a lot of Grolsch. And like, yeah, yeah, I drank a lot of green-bottled Grolsch when I lived in the Netherlands. And it was not…Yep. I’m not trying to relive my cheap beer phase. But like, Grolsch was a good middle of the road, cheap beer, you know.

Sean: I like the bottles because they’re almost infinitely reusable. You’ve got to replace those little plastic… Grolsch bottles are the ones that have that swing top with a little cage that clicks down. So those are…I still have a few of them that I use that I have been reusing for almost a decade now.

Margaret: That’s amazing. Okay, now so we’ve got the bucket, you’re keeping it out of the sun because you don’t want Heineken and especially with hops.

Margaret: Oh, I would assume gravity is about alcohol.

Sean: It’s less of an issue with with cider. But you’re going to, depending on how finicky you want to be, you can test the original gravity, right? Original gravity is the original measurement of the liquid’s specific gravity, basically how much sugar is in solution?

Sean: No, gravity is sugar in solution.

Margaret: So that’s how you find out your relative…Go ahead, please explain it.

Sean: Yeah, you look at how much sugar you started with and how much sugar you ended up with and subtract the difference. Yeah, because yeah, yeah, no, it’s…there’s a couple ways of measuring original gravity.

Margaret: Yeah, how do you do that?

Sean: The easiest, cheapest, and most like durable over like a long term survival situation is going to be the use of a hydrometer. So that is like a little glass. It almost looks like an old school mercury thermometer with a bunch of weights on one end and like a glass bubble. And that floats in solution. You can float it in like a little like a tall cylinder so you don’t waste very much alcohol. You can also float it directly in the bucket. Right? And it’s got little lines. It’ll tell you like 1.050 Like, that’s like the standard standard gravity for most beer and cider. Right? It’s around, you know, 1.050 and that when it’s fermented fully…

Margaret: Is it measuring the buoyancy of the water?

Sean: Basically, yeah.

Margaret: Yeah. Okay, cool. Yeah, sorry, please continue.

Sean: So that is how a hydrometer works. And then you’ll measure it again. If you’re doing it in a bucket, you don’t need a cylinder, you just need to sanitize that hydrometer and then stick it in, measure the original gravity, the gravity reading before you add yeast, and then after–in the case of cider, I would say, you know, three or four weeks I would start checking it again. The other really nice thing about a hydrometer is you can hold off on packaging until you get consistent readings, right? So if you check your…you know, you’ve let it ferment for three weeks. You check your gravity on Monday and then you write it down, you know: 1.015. Then you check it on Wednesday: 1.014. Okay, well, maybe check it again on Friday: 1.013. No, it’s still going down. Like we need to, we need to let this continue to ferment.

Margaret: Okay, so you’re basically letting it eat as much sugar as it can.

Sean: Yeah, yeah, it’ll…it’s got its own limit. It’s got its own limit. And once there are no more digestible, you know, saccharides then you’re safe to package. If you package while the yeast is still actively fermenting, you’ve got two problems. One of them is the….

Margaret: Exploding bottles.

Sean: You know, exploding bottles, as mentioned earlier. The other is that, you know, our cultures are generally pretty considerate in that they clean up after themselves, right? They metabolize the most easily available sugars first and then there are some compounds leftover. A lot of them have unpleasant, you know, tastes or aromas, maybe like a really bitter, pithy, green apple thing. Sulfur is very common, right. But these compounds, the yeast is going to turn to when it runs…and bacteria are going to turn to when they run out of very, you know, junk food, basically. Very easily digestible monosaccharides.

Margaret: Is there something called young beer where it hasn’t eaten at all? Am I completely wrong? I just have this in my head somewhere.

Sean: Like it’s like a historical thing, right? Like in English brewing maybe?

Margaret: I don’t know. Some concept where people intentionally drink beer that still has the sugar or something? [Sounding unsure] I’m probably wrong.

Sean: No, semi-fermented beer is very much a thing. And I know in some brewing traditions, I think there’s some in Africa that use like cassava and things like that where you’re drinking it like 12 hours into the fermentation and it’s like kind of like a communal thing. Like, you know, people, you know, make a big batch and everybody drinks it at once so that you know, you can get it right when it’s super fresh. Tepachi as well, like the fermented pineapple drink in South America, it’s kind of a similar thing. There’s the pineapple and then there’s brown sugar added as well and you want to start drinking it when about half of the sugar is fermented so it’s still really sweet. It’s almost like a semi-alcoholic, like bucha tiki drink sort of thing.

Margaret: Okay. Before we get to packaging, my other question is, is beer just white sugar? Is that the thing that’s added? Like, what is the yeast? What is it? What is the…or is it eating the carbohydrates instead of the sugar?

Sean: The carbohydrates. Beer uses beer uses malted barley. So malting is a process by which you take you take your grains of barley, you get it slightly damp and you just keep turning it over. And the kernels will like begin to germinate. But before they like crack open and you get like a little shoot or something like that, the process of germination, basically you get a lot of these very difficult to digest carbohydrates converted into simple carbohydrates so that the emerging plant has a rapid source of fuel. Kind of similar to an egg in the survival strategy, sort of. Yeah, right. Once it once it’s malted, right, once that has has taken place, they kiln it, right. So, they hit it with heat. And that kills the sprouting grain. So, it’s not like the malt is going to like mold or, you know, go to seed or, you know, start growing or anything like that. That would be inconvenient. You want this stuff to be able to stay shelf stable for a couple years. So, they treat it with heat, right. And there are there are all kinds of ways of doing it. It is a very involved process. I have never malted my own grains. I’ve thought about doing it, but it’s like very labor intensive and really only economical at pretty large scale.

Margaret: Is this why people didn’t fuck with beer until after they were fucking with cider and meat and all that shit?

Sean: I think so. But, the first beers were actually made from bread not malt. So.

Margaret: Because it’s simple?

Sean: Exactly. Same process, right? It’s easier to make bread than it is to commercially, you know, kiln, you know, bags and bags of barley. And also, you know, bread has its own shelf life. So, if you’re getting towards the end of it….

Margaret: Oh, yeah, then you turn it into booze.

Sean: Exactly. And that’s a thing in Russia too. Kvass, K-V-A-S-S, it’s a it’s made with, like rye, rye bread. And it’s usually around 2% or 3% alcohol, but it’s literally like a thing that you know, people…

Margaret: I love low-alcohol beer.

Sean: Yeah, me too. Oh, man. Like a 2.5% alcohol pale ale. Yeah, just a little bit of hops. That is like my sweet spot.

Margaret: Yeah, absolutely. Because it’s like, oh, I want to drink a beer, but I don’t want to get drunk all the time. Like, you know, it’s like I love a beer on the nice afternoon, but I hate the after afternoon nap that you could get stuck taking if you drink an 8% beear. Like what the fuck.

Sean: Yeah, no, it just like the day’s plans have all of a sudden have changed.

Margaret: Okay, because the reason I asked about the sugar thing is the first time I ever helped someone ferment. They made dandelion wine. And ever since then I’ve been like this is all bullshit because dandelion wine–at least as this person made it–I was like, this is just cane sugar wine. It’s just cane sugar wine with some dandelion flavor. And I was like really upset by this. Because I–and maybe this is bullshit–but it’s like, which of these alcohols are mostly just cane sugar? And which ones can you actually ferment?

Sean: Dandelion wine for sure is because there’s virtually no fermentable sugars in dandelion, but there are a lot of very strong botanical flavors. Like dandelion wine…like the dandelions are more equivalent to like hops in beer than they are to malt in beer.

Margaret: Because the hops are flavor?

Sean: Yeah, they’re adding they’re adding flavor. They’re adding aroma. They’re adding like all of these botanical, you know, aspects to it, but they are not the source of the alcohol. They are not the source of the sugar or anything like that.

Margaret: Okay, can you make dandelion wine with like, with actual…I mean, I know cane sugar does come from a plant, but it’s still…I feel betrayed.

Sean: Yeah. You could make dandelion…you could add dandelions to cider. I haven’t done it but I’ve noticed people doing it. You can use, you know, any kind of like a reconstituted fruit juice and do like a fruit type wine. I think the reason…and I think the one of the more interesting ways of doing the dandelion wine thing is doing a dandelion mead. I’ve had a few of those that are really good.

Margaret: Oh, that sounds nice. That sounds very like cycle of life, you know, like, honey and the flowers.

Sean: It’s a lot of closed loops, right? No, I think the reason that cane sugar became a convention for that is, you know, economic. Like cane sugar was fairly cheap. It was the cheapest, you know, fermentable available to rural people in the Dust Bowl era.

Margaret: That makes sense. Yeah.

Sean: I mean, artificially so, right. Yeah. I think that’s where that came from.

Margaret: Okay, so you mentioned doing all this in a bucket. I still want to get to the putting it in the bottles and stuff. But, is there an advantage…Like, do…Should I get a carboy if I have the money to spend. I’m under the impression that a carboy are a big glass bottle that looks like one of those five gallon jugs you put in your office cooler, only it’s for making alcohol. Is that better?

Sean: That’s pretty much it. I don’t…I don’t like carboys. I’ve used them. I use them for bulk aging of sour beer. I use them for primary fermentation of clean beer and cider. I got rid of all of mine.

Margaret: So you use buckets and stuff?

Sean: I use buckets or I use converted kegs or converted stainless steel kettles if I’m doing a larger batch. It’s just I have a like…for like all the sour beer I have like a 15 and a half gallon stainless steel kettle with a like a bulkhead. Like a like a valve on the bottom. And that allows me to like do pass throughs. So I keep that as like my acidifying chamber. It’s called a Solera. I actually wrote a Kindle digital single about like building and maintaining these. It’s almost exclusively useful for sour beer, you know, bacterially fermented cider or vinegar making. But, if you’re doing any of that kind of thing, especially, you know, small scale, but you know, wanting to provide for a bunch of people like a club or community or anything like that, it’s really the most efficient way to do it.

Margaret: Why don’t you like carboys?

Sean: I don’t like glass. I don’t like glass because there’s just a real risk of injury. When…if you’ve got a seven gallon carboy full of liquid, we’re talking 70 or 80 pounds in a glass bottle.

Margaret: Yeah, okay. I see where you’re going.

Sean: Things can go Bad real quick. When I use them, I had some that fit in milk crates so I could just pick up the milk crates. That helped out a lot. They also make, they call them I think just carboys straps, it’s like a like a four piece harness with handles that you can use. But when I when I’ve seen them break, it’s almost always when someone’s setting them down, right? Anytime you’re setting down something heavy, you know, unless you’re very strong and have a great deal of control, right, that last little bit you can sometimes kind of crack it down. And again, we’re talking 70 or 80 pounds in a glass bottle. And you don’t have to crack it down very hard for the whole bottom to go out and that’s a mess.

Margaret: Yeah. Because then you got blood in your beer. And that’s just…

Sean: Yeah, right. It gets very Klingon on very quickly. And it’s Yeah. But the other aspect I don’t like is they’re completely light permeable too, right cause they’re just clear glass.

Margaret: Yeah. That always seemed weird. You have to keep them in a closet with a towel on them or whatever.

Sean: Yeah, yeah. It’s just I think, again, it was…so homebrewing only became legal in the United States under Jimmy Carter. Right. It had been illegal from prohibition to Jimmy Carter. Yeah.

Margaret: Holy shit. Yeah. Does that mean we’ll eventually get home moonshining? I can’t wait.

Sean: I feel like if we were going to get it, it would have happened already. And I don’t think the trends politically are towards individual deregulation anytime soon for that kind of thing. But you know, it is legal to make you know, like fuel alcohol. Some people make fuel alcohol and then lose it in barrels and things like that.

Margaret: Yeah, it’s not worth it for me. I always figure I shouldn’t do anything that brings the Eye of Sauron anywhere near me. So I’m just not gonna make it.

Sean: Oh totally. And, there have always been people who are going to do it, you know, illegally, but it’s not worth the hassle. It can be like…I know we’ve been talking about fermentation on the side of, you know, consumption and food and beverage and all that, but I do know, people who have stills that use them to produce like fuel alcohol, you know, for backpacking and things like that. And that is valid. And you can, you can, you can produce, you know, fuel alcohol very cheaply, if that’s the thing that you use for, you know, kind of off grid type stuff that can really be a useful a useful toolkit, but kind of outside of what we’re talking about today.

Margaret: Yeah, I’ll have you on…have you or someone else on at some point for that. Yeah. Okay. So you’ve made your alcohol, this was all simpler than I thought. So now you have a bucket full of alcohol, and you don’t want to just pass out straws. What do you do?

Sean: Yeah, passing out straws is an option, but you need to, you know, make sure there are enough people in your in your group to get through five gallons all at once, I guess. No, so you’re the two main options available are bottling and kegging. Right? So bottling is usually, you know, when we’re talking about it as an alternative to kegging, rather than, you know, bottling from a keg, which is a totally different thing. If we’re going to bottle it, we’re probably going to bottle conditioned it. So, we’re going to add a small amount of sugar back. What’s that?

Margaret: But why?

Sean: Bottle condition?


Bottle condition for the oxygen scavenging effects of Brettanomyces yeast.

To make it as safe as possible. because we don’t have commercial…

And shelf stable as possible.

Right? Okay. If we had like a big commercial thing then there would be a way of bottling it where no air gets in, but because we’re doing a DIY some air will get in so that’s why we want to bottle condition to clean up our mess?

Well, even in commercial systems you are going to have oxygen ingress, but it’s going to be significantly less than than what you have at home. Okay. So yeah, that’s going to help with that. So we got longer shelf life both for like a quality flavor product and a, you know, safe to consume product. Both of those are extended. That also adds carbonation, which a lot of people really enjoy, you know, having the nice fizzy bubbles.

Oh, it’s flat until this point?

Yeah, yeah. Totally flat. Because it’s only going to pressurize in a sealed environment. It’s only going to carbonate in a sealed environment.

No, that makes sense.

You got to blow off tube. So all your co2 is, is going away.

Does that mean people don’t bottle condition their wine because otherwise you make champagne?

You wouldn’t want to add sugar to wine that you are bottling unless you are trying to make sparkling wine. But of course it wouldn’t be champagne unless it came from Champagne, France.

I’m glad we have the same bullshit cultural reference. 90s…whatever.

Oh, man. That one is, like…

I love Wayne’s World.

…hilarious too just in their own right.

Okay, so, okay, so, back to our cider. We’re bottling it. Oh, but that actually…cider is not normally carbonated. Is DIY Are you kind of stuck? Does bottle conditioning always carbonate it?

You can, if you want if you want still cider, just don’t add sugar.

How are you bottle conditioning then?

It’s just not bottle conditioning, it’s just bottled. It still has yeast in there, it still has all of that in there because you haven’t pasteurized it, right? So, it still has those those health effects. Shelf life might be a little bit lower. I haven’t seen any significant studies on comparing, you know, home produced still versus, you know, carbonated, you know, via bottle conditioning insider. But I would like to. Like that would be really…that’d be some really useful data if somebody wants to get on that. But you still are probably going to have a good few years of preservation. And again, the higher the alcohol you get the longer it’s going to be shelf stable, right? You have fortified your cider with say brown sugar, right? That’s a very common one that people will do. You add brown sugar and maybe some cinnamon or vanilla, right, especially for kind of like a winter drink. You can very easily make a cider that’s 11% or 12% alcohol and ferment almost as quickly and that is going to stick around just fine. And it tastes really good.

You know I want this. I don’t even drink very much. But yeah, this is making me…I’m on…like, I barely drink anymore, but I’m like, I just want to make this stuff.

It is a lot of fun. And I’ve always really gravitated towards like the kind of like sensory aspects of beverage. Yeah, like, just the, I don’t know, I love a head change. Don’t get me wrong. Yeah. You know, there’s a reason that humans, that we’ve been covergently evolving with alcohol for as many millennia as we have. But there are flavors that only really come out through, like for fermentation, specifically through lactic acid fermentation, and I’m talking flavors in beverages and food. You can get you get these, you know, different compounds from all different aspects of the process that you just can’t get anywhere else.

Okay, but we’re, we’re coming up towards an hour and I want to get to the point where my cider is in bottles.

Where we have drinkable alcohol?

How do I get it? How do I get it into the bottles? So am I like siphoning it like you’re stealing alcohol? Like when you’re stealing gas?

Yeah, you can people do that. But they also make what’s called an auto siphon, which is just like a little racking cane kind of arm that you just put the tubing on. And that like, let’s it starts the siphon for you. It automatically starts to siphon for you. So you don’t get your bacterial mouth on tubing.

Yeah, that makes sense.

Yeah, you know, in a survival situation, you know, switch with some vodka and do it and call it good, but in an ideal situation, a sanitized, racking cane is ideal. Even more ideal, I think a lot of people do especially with cider because it doesn’t produce nearly as much yeast sediment, just ferment in a bucket that has a little valve or bulkhead on it.

Oh, down at the bottom?

Yep. All you got to do is take your bucket, sit it up on your counter, you add in you know a little bit of sugar. It’s usually around like four ounces of sugar, you dissolve it in boiling water and then add the sugar solution. Stir it gently. And then you just use that valve to fill the bottles. And then you use a bottle cap or you can either use like a bench capper that like sits on a bench and has like a little lever arm like this. That’s a lot more ergonomic. They also have these they call them wing cappers. There’s two handles and you just kind of set it on top of the cap and then you know, push down. I have definitely broken bottlenecks with the wing cappers before. Yeah, not broken any with a bench capper. So I would definitely recommend a bench capper.

Or, drink Grolsch.

Yeah, drink Grolsch. Yeah. And any kind of you can, you can save those. It’s not just Grolsch bottles, but those are probably the most common ones. They have like a little swing cap cage, a little ceramic cap with a rubber grommet. You have some kind of siliconized grommet. Yeah. And that just sits there and then clicks it in place. And yeah, those sometimes you have to replace the little rubber part after every six or eight uses of the bottle. But yeah, that’s a hell of a lot better than replacing the whole thing. Okay, once you have bottled, though, you are going to need to leave them alone for two or three weeks because the bottle conditioning needs to occur. So, it’s refermentation in the bottle. So in order to get that CO2 built up and those those nice lovely bubbles, you’re gonna have to leave that alone.

But if it’s cider, we can drink it right away because cider isn’t conditioned.

Yeah, cider or wine. I like bottle conditioning cider. I like to carbonated cider. But if you’re, if you’re leaving it still, you know, that’s kind of like the English tradition. I think you generally see more like carbonated cider, though.

I’m…yeah, now that I realize I do….Cider does have carbonation. Great. I totally know what I’m saying.

Some don’t and like a lot of…like, I was relating to like Basque cider. And you know, from like the France and Spain kind of border area you have like this huge range of carbonation. There you have some that are like champagne levels, like over carbonated like, you know, almost burns your nose when you drink it. And you have some that are completely still and then you have some that are, “Oh, yeah, I guess there are bubbles in here. I guess this is technically carbonated.” Yeah, pétillant is the industry term. But so there is like a huge range on that.

Okay, so the stuff I need is I need a fermentable, I need yeast. I need a not carboy but a bucket or whatever. I need a water lock…airlock.

Airlock or a blow off tube. Yeah.

Yeah, and I need a way…either a spigot or a auto siphon. And I need bottles, bottle caps and a capper.

Yep. The other thing that I would say you need is, you need some kind of a sanitizer. If we’re going with convenience, the easiest one is like a brewery specific sanitizer Star San or Quat, things like that. They’re no-rinse sanitizers. So you don’t…They sanitize and they leave a little bit of foam in place. And you don’t need to rinse them. They will be broken down by the process of fermentation and they are soluble in alcohol and they are completely food safe. Yeah. So you generally buy these in like a concentrated form, like a 32oz or 64oz bottle with a little like dispenser, you know, thing at the top, and half an ounce of this concentrate will make…one ounce of the concentrate will make five gallons of sanitizing solution. So if you have one of these around…

Jesus, so that’s enough for a long time.

Yeah, I know, I’ve replaced my at some point, but I can’t remember when the last time it was. Like, you don’t go through it very quickly. It’s definitely worth investing. You can, again in a pinch, you can use, you know, water diluted with bleach and then just rinse it with like water that’s been boiled. Yeah, you can use you can use alcohol, right? You can you can use…

If you have that still that we of course won’t have…Once the apocalypse comes and we all make stills.

Yeah. Right, then in that situation, and obviously, you can use that to spray it down. You can even put, you know, in our in our current, you know, situation, you can you can put pop off vodka in a fucking Dollar Tree spray bottle and yeah, do it that way. You know, like there are options for that purpose. You know, like, you know, industry specific beverage and brewing no-rinse sanitizers are the easiest. And again, like we were talking about.

Yeah, if you’re planning it out.

If your first endeavor, if it goes well, right, and everything works easily, you’re more likely to keep doing that. So, I definitely recommend using those, if possible, but again, certainly not necessary. Once you you’ve got that, the only other bit of material that we talked about, and it is optional, is the hydrometer.

Oh, yeah, that’s right. Because then you know when it’s done.

You can also use a refractometer, which is a different piece of technology I mentioned. I meant to mention this earlier, but I didn’t. A refractometer is…it almost looks like a little Kaleidoscope that you put up to your eye, but it’s got like a like screen and then a piece of plastic that clips on top that lays flat on top of the screen. You put a couple of drops of your liquid on the screen and then put your plastic on there and you look through it. And it shows you on a line what your specific gravity is based on its refractometary index.

Is the reason people homebrew is because they want to feel like mad scientists? And they want alcohol.

A lot of people I’m sure. Yeah.

I mean, this is some mad Scientist shit. Now you use the kaleidoscope to find out how much alcohol there is.

I feel like yeah, you should have some Jacob’s Ladders and Tesla coils behind you as you’re doing it.

That’s how you sanitize is you make the ozone with it. Anyway.

Oh, you just lightening flash the ozone. Yeah, I can’t believe I haven’t heard about this. Yeah, no. The nice thing about the refractometer is we’re talking like half a cc of liquid being used. So it is a really, really efficient way to measure it. It will not measure accurately in the presence of alcohol. There are like equations that can like compensate for this a little bit.

Wait, then what good does it do?

It tells you how much is there originally. So if, like for me, I know to what degree like my house culture of yeast and bacteria ferments. It ferments down to like .002 or even just 1.0. The same lack of sugar in solution as water, basically. Right? So if I know that, I don’t need to measure it at the end if it always winds up at the same place. Right? If I was selling it, I would need to, but if it’s just for personal consumption, and I always know where it’s finishing, I just need to know where it’s starting and I know what the alcohol is.

Okay. But then you can’t tell if it’s done except for the fact that you’ve done this enough that you’re like the bubbles have stopped. It’s been a week. I’m used to this. It’s done. Or whatever.

Yeah, yeah. So, for Starting off, I definitely recommend the hydrometer. It’s just more effective. And if you’re doing all of your fermentation in a bucket anyway, it’s real nice because you can, you can just put it in, you don’t have to pull some out, put it in a sample, pour it, you know, put it in a tall cylinder and then toss that, you know, eight ounces of beverage down the drain or whatever.

Yeah. Well, I think that’s it. I think that we’re out of time and we didn’t even get to the food stuff. So, I’m gonna have to have you back on if that’s alright some time.

Yeah, that’s absolutely fine by me. I’ve enjoyed myself thoroughly.

Fuck yeah. Is there anything that you want to plug? Like, for example, you have a book that people can buy about how to do some of this stuff? Maybe if more than one? I don’t know. Like, you wanna? Yeah.

So “The Self-sufficient Solera” is the name of the book. I just did it is a Kindle single on Amazon. So you can you can get it there. If you don’t, if you don’t want to go through there, my website And yeah, there’s contact info there too. You know, if anybody has any questions about any of this stuff, I love to share that and all of my writing is collected there. So, I’ve published an article on like, composting spent grains and like, you know, reducing waste from home brewing. I published that with Zymurgy Magazine recently. And, you know, that’s all on there and original fiction and all that good stuff, too.

Awesome. All right. Well, thank you so much. And I look forward to talking to you more about this soon.

Sounds good. Have a good one.

Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed that episode then go get drunk. I don’t know, maybe don’t go get drunk. If you don’t drink, we will be talking about fermentation that doesn’t have to do with alcohol at some point in the future. And tell people about the show. We’re weekly now. And you can be like, “Holy shit, this shows weekly,” and people be like, “I’ve never heard what you’re talking about.” And you can be like, “I can’t believe you’ve never heard of Live Like the World is Dying, what the fuck is wrong with you?” Or, instead of gatekeeping, you could just tell them that they can find it wherever they listen to podcasts. And if they’re like, “I don’t listen to podcasts,” you can be like, “That’s fair. Everyone gets information in different ways.” I mean, you can be like, “No, you should absolutely listen podcasts. It’s the only reasonable thing to do.” You can also support us by supporting us on Patreon. Our Patreon is Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness is an anarchist media collective that puts out, you’ll be shocked to know this, it puts out podcasts like this one, and Anarcho Geek Power Hour and Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. And we also put out zines and we put out books, including my most recent book “Escape from Incel Island.” So you should support us if you want. It allows us to pay for transcriptions and audio editing and makes all of this possible. And in particular, I would like to thank top of all–I can’t say Hoss the Dog is the best dog because Rintrah’s the best dog. I’m sorry Hoss the Dog. I know every dog is the best dog to their individual people that they hang out with. But Rintrah is the best dog. But close runner up, just like close runner up on also Anderson, but close runner up is Hoss the Dog. And I’d also like to thank the following people who are presumably humans. Michiahah, Chris, Sam, Kirk, Eleanor, Jenipher, Staro, Cat J., Chelsea, Dana, David, Nicole, Mikki, Paige, SJ, Shawn, Hunter, theo, Boise Mutual Aid, Milica, paparouna, Aly, Paige, Janice, Oxalis, and Jans. Y’all make it possible. As for everyone else, y’all are also great because we’re all going to try and get through this really, really nasty shit together. And we’re doing it. We’re so here. We will continue to be here. That’s the plan. All right. Oh, goodbye.

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S1E75 – Emily on Antifascist Organizing & Hunting Nazis

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Emily and Margaret talk about organizing against fascists while the Eye of Sauron is upon us. Emily breaks down the history of some far-right groups in the US as well as the history of opposition to them. She talks about how to organize against neo-Nazis, the interconnections of antifascism and transness, the perils of seeking asylum, and how to hunt Nazis and win.

Guest Info

Emily (she/her) can be found out in the world winning. Or, she can be found on Twitter @EmilyGorcenski or at

Host Info

Margaret 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, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at


Live Like the World is Dying: Emily on Antifascist Organizing & Hunting Nazis

Margaret: Hello and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcasts what feels like the end times. I’m when your host, Margaret Killjoy, and today I’m excited. I guess I say that every single time that I’m excited. But it’s actually true. I really…I wouldn’t interview people if I wasn’t excited about it. Today, we’re going to talk about antifascism. There’s going to be a couple of weeks–I don’t actually know what order they’re gonna come out–And maybe you’ve already heard me talking about antifascism recently, but nothing feels more important in terms of community preparedness than stopping fascism. So, that’s what we’re going to talk about today. And today, we’re going to talk with someone who was involved in organizing the counter protests in Charlottesville, the anti-Nazi side of Charlottesville, and has had to deal with the ramifications of that. And I think you’ll get a lot out of it. But first, we’re proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchists podcasts and here’s a jingle from another show on the network da da duh da da. [humming a made up melody]

Margaret: Alright, if you could introduce yourself with your name, your pronouns, and then I guess, a vague overview of who you are and why I had you on today.

Emily: My name is Emily Gorcenski. She and her. And I am an activist from Charlottesville. I had called Charlottesville my home for about eight years before the infamous Unite the Right rally happened. And that sort of called me to anti- fascism. In the wake of all of that, I also started initiatives to digitally hunt Nazis and track them down, expose them, and understand how their networks operate, how their movements form and grow and evolve, and have been involved in sort of organizing against fascism for the last several years.

Margaret: Awesome. This is going to be good stuff that we’re going to talk about. Well, bad stuff, I suppose. So the Unite the Right rally, what was that? I mean? It’s funny because it feels like it was either yesterday or 15 years ago.

Emily: Yeah, both of those. It was both of those. Unite the Right was what a lot of people call “Charlottesville.” It was the big neo-Nazi rally in August of 2017, August 11th and 12th to be precise, and it was one of several neo-Nazi rallies in Charlottesville. It was the biggest and got the most news coverage. During that summer…Locally, we call it the “summer of hate.” We don’t like to use the word “Charlottesville” to describe the moment in time because we are still a community, but it was the moment that you saw everything from the neo-Nazis marching with the swastika, to the terror attack, to Donald Trump saying there were very fine people on both sides.

Margaret:Yeah, kind of it feels like the moment that sort of kicked off the modern Nazi-right. Like it feels like their big coming out party, their gender reveal–if Nazis a gender. I don’t know if it’s…Nazi might not be a gender. I hate to disrespect people’s gender, but that might be not on the list. And I don’t know what color they would use for fireworks. But it… Okay, so it feels like their coming-out, right, like it was this thing. And I’m kind of curious what your take on it is because from where I’m at it seems like kind of a little different than stuff had gone before and a lot of bad things happened. A lot of very bad things happened and we can talk about some of those things. But, it felt like kind of this like aberration. Everyone was like–I mean, except the president the US–everyone was like, “Oh fuck, that’s bad. We don’t like this. This is bad when Nazis march down the street with torches chanting, ‘Jews will not replace us.'” Clearly this is bad. But it feels like…it does feel like it kind of worked for them to kick them off into the mainstream. Like it. It doesn’t feel Like their movement has shrink since then, I guess I will say.

Emily: I think it’s a complicated. Yeah, that’s a complicated topic. If you look at the history of what led up to Unite the Right, there were a number of neo-Nazi rallies, sort of the ascendance of the alt-right throughout the country, right. So we had Richard Spencer growing in prominence and forming the alt-right movement. We had these groups like Identity Europa and Vanguard America, and Traditionalist Worker Party. And all of them were sort of, they’re holding these rallies all over the country, right. There were some in Pikeville, and there are some in in Huntington Beach, California, and there was some in in Berkeley, right, the the sort of infamous battles of Berkeley. And all of these events were sort of in the months around, I don’t know, anywhere from one month before or two months before to a year, year and a half before, right. And this is sort of aligned with the ascendance of Donald Trump, the sort of hard shift right in American politics, the reaction to a lot of things, including Obergefell, the court case that legalized gay marriage, and two terms of a black man being president, right, there are a lot of factors that kind of started to swirl together and formed this vortex of the alt-right. And what happened in Unite the right was, this was…it was almost like that moment in an orchestra where everything was tuning up beforehand, right? You know, there was like the smaller rallies, there was some violence, there were some, you know, definitely some things that are fairly scary, but it was isolated. And it was easy for people to ignore. What happened in Charlottesville, everything came together. And when we saw on the night of August 11th, at the University of Virginia, the Nazis marching with the torches and chanting, “You will not replace us,” and eventually, “Jews will not replace us,” all of that started to come together to be like that moment that the orchestra starts playing, right. And I think ironically, August 11th was also their high watermark. Because even though we have seen fascism grow in power since then, the dynamics are much more complicated because those groups that organized and participated in Unite the Right have essentially been destroyed and that movement has essentially been destroyed. And so what we see is actually something that’s morphing. And I think that’s a much more important thing to understand.

Margaret: Okay, that makes sense. That does kind of–because I don’t hear people talking about the alt-right anymore, right? And a lot of the individual groups that made up yeah Unite the Right like, died, like the part of the Lord of the Rings, where the orc grabs the barrel of dynamite and runs towards the wall and blows up–maybe that…I think that was Lord of the Rings–to bring down the wall or whatever. Like because we don’t talk about the alt-right anymore. We talked about the right wing. And now but it does seem like the right wing is now doing the things that the alt-right used to do. Like, why is it–I’m asking this like half earnestly and half to get a an answer from you–but like, why is it we got rid of, we voted out the far right politician and now things are going further and further right, even though he’s gone. Does that relate to all of this?

Emily: I think I think it does, right? So it’s all about movement and counter-movement. We defeated the alt-right. We killed the alt-right. The alt-right didn’t die. It didn’t die of its own accord. it was killed. it was killed through through antifascist organizing, it was killed through through criminal charges being brought against key players, it was killed through alt-right people committing mass shootings and the movement being unable to recruit, and it was killed through civil court cases even. So there was a number of factors that killed that movement, but

Margaret: I take back my comparison the to the Lord of the Rings guy.

Emily: The thing about the alt-right, though, is that it doesn’t need to exist anymore. Its purpose was simply to set an anchor point that everything else can be sort of tied around, right? And so actually what you see if you look at, over time. at these dynamics, you know, 2015, 2016, 2017, you had the alt-right movement on its upswing. 2018 It started to die. And by 2020 It was pretty much gone. On sort of that sort of downswing of the alt-right, you had groups like the Proud Boys starting to grow in power. So the Proud Boys existed as early as 2016. They participated in Unite the Right, but they were not a major factor. They didn’t really participate in the organizing. They were kind of on the fence of “Should we? Should we not?” But they we’re there. Enrique Tarrio was there. Many Proud Boys organizers were there. As the alt-right died, the Proud Boys started to gain in prominence. And the difference between the Proud Boys and the alt-right, is that the Proud Boys had more of a sanitized image in the public eye, right? They were led by a Hispanic man. And they were…they had these members that were like Samoan and Asian and they didn’t look like the, you know, dapper Nazi with the fascy haircut and all that stuff. And that kind of…what the alt-right did is it created a foil for the Proud Boys, right? So, it was very easy for everyone to decry the alt-right after they committed a terror attack, murdered Heather Heyer, and did all this awful stuff using images of swastikas and stuff like that, right? It was to set a sort of expectation so far removed from what was acceptable, that as long as you weren’t that, as long as you weren’t the worst possible thing, you were probably pretty okay. And so now you see the Proud Boys and they got really involved in the electoral politics, right, they were really close to Roger Stone, and they had a really big part in the the J6 [January 6th] insurrection and all of this stuff, right? So, you see this sort of like…it’s like a three phase current, right, as one, as one movement starts to decline, another movement starts to pick up, and now the Proud Boys are in the decline now. They’re they’re facing trial. The trial is currently ongoing. I don’t know how it will end up. And you see these other movements start to pick up, right, and this is now more mainstream. Now we have more politicians like Ron DeSantis and they’re bringing this explicitly fascist agenda into legislatures and into sort of normie spaces, even though it’s the same exact thread that has been going through the alt-right, the Proud Boys, etc, all the way to like the white power movements. It’s a lot of the same philosophy, but it presents itself differently. And so even though we elected out Trump, we didn’t get rid of that undercurrent. We just changed the face of it.

Margaret: Okay, so if we have these three phases, and this is a very–I’m not really saying…is a very convincing argument–that we have these three phases. And I really like focusing on this idea that this the first wave of it, at least, was stopped by antifascism and through a diversity of tactics, both electoral and direct action tactics. I want to come back to that because I want to talk about what those tactics are, but I want to ask about with this current wave, what do you think are effective organizing strategies? Like what can stop this? Because it does seem probably, legally speaking, no one’s gonna go fistfight DeSantis in the street, right? No one’s going to out him because we know who he is. He lives at Florida’s White House. I don’t know how governors live. What? Yeah, what do we do?

Emily: I think this is why the diversity of tactics is so important, right? Because every movement has a different face. And it has a different way of operating. So you need to be able to confront it with different techniques. And I think that what’s important about like the current wave of fascist organizing is that there actually does exist a long activist history of opposing what they’re doing, right? This movement is not actually new. Everything that like Ron DeSantis is doing, Ron DeSantis is essentially a product of a decade’s long evangelical project to essentially turn America into a theocracy, a christo-fascist theocracy. And so this is like, if you look at the history of how these groups have organized and tried to introduce bills and stuff like that, there’s actually a really strong sort of cadre of people who can oppose those things through the systematic means that we have, right? And so some of the direct action, yes, you can go out on the street and you can punch Nazis and that’s great. You don’t want to go out into the street and punch Ron DeSantis. That’s probably going to end really, really, really badly for you.

Margaret: I feel like there’s different ways of defining the word “want.” “Shouldn’t,” maybe.

Emily: Yeah, maybe yes. So I think that what we need to do is we actually need to look to these groups that have been opposing the other sort of things that this group that these these fascists have been focusing on over the last several years, like homeschooling, and parental rights, and the opposition to gay marriage, and, you know, things like the Tebow bill, if you remember the Tebow bill, right? It was this this whole thing about like using federal funds to allow home schooled athletes to participate in public college sports. And all of this is coming from the same core, right, and there are people who have been opposing this for a long time quite successfully. And so I think that what’s important is actually to understand how to organize with them and follow their leadership and to try to muster up the resources that they can use to effectively oppose these things in the forms where these things can effectively be opposed. Now, there may come a time when that opposition renders itself ineffective, either the bills pass, or, you know, these groups just don’t have enough money to fight all of the bills or whatever it might be, there will probably come a time when that no longer works. And then we have to look at other means, right? Funding battles in the courts, right? Use that system against them, you can protest outside of these people’s houses, right, you can protest outside of these offices that our that are responsible for, you know, some of these consulting firms that are like, funding these politicians, right you can do, there’s a bunch of direct action campaigns that you can choose to organize around that don’t necessarily need to be movement versus movement in the streets type of confrontation, there are a lot of tools in the toolkit. And it’s really important for us to be fluent with as many of them as we can, right. Organize boycotts, strikes, right, all of that stuff.

Margaret: How do people get involved in that kind of stuff? Like, I mean, this would be true, regardless of the tactic, like one of the main questions that I get asked a lot, and I’m always sort of the wrong person ask because I don’t have blanket answers and I can’t necessarily speak to individuals and also I’m just not an organizer. If people say like, “Well, how do I get involved?” and whether it’s how do I get involved in the groups that are fighting Nazis or doxing Nazis, or whatever, but also, how do you find the sorts of organizations that are fighting these bills? How do you? Yeah, how do you do it?

Emily: Yeah, I think that the most important thing is to connect with your local community and see who’s been organizing in your local community because they usually know the best, right. And even if they’re not the ones that are opposing these things, they usually know who is and how to oppose it and stuff like that, or they usually know what groups are out there. There’s also a lot of resources online, right. If you’re opposed to like the hateful legislation that is being proposed and debated, there’s like the Equality Network that tracks and, and lobbies against it and and they’re different in each state–and some of the states are kind of mediocre, and some of them are actually pretty good–but they’ve been effective, right? And I think that what we forget is that what we’re seeing now is not unique. It’s barely even noteworthy compared to what we’ve seen over the last year. So right, there’s like, 400 or so like anti-trans bills this year, right. But if you look at the last three years, there’s been a thousand anti-LGBT bills that have been introduced, right? So, we know how to fight this stuff. And in these organizations that are putting themselves out there and raising funds and looking for volunteers and stuff like that have been showing leadership. Now, I don’t always love equality, right? I don’t the Equality Network, right. I love equality. But the Equality Network, right. I’m not always their biggest fan, right? If you don’t know…like, you can start there and branch out. And I think that the most important thing is that a lot of people come to activism because they’re upset with seeing something, they’re hurt, they’re feeling marginalized, they’re feeling scared, and they feel like they need to do something. And that kind of gets bundled up with a feeling that nobody else is doing something. But it’s not really true, right? There are people who are fighting these things. And the most important thing that you can do is actually just start with your local community, see who’s doing what, go to your city council meetings, talk to your….you know, find your local Black Lives Matter chapter, find your local immigrant rights chapter, you know, whoever is fighting for….fighting against ICE, fighting against, you know, police violence, right? This exists in almost every community. And if it doesn’t exist in your community, look at the neighboring community. Network with these people, because they have the leadership. Even if they’re not fighting for the cause that you believe in directly, all of these causes are linked together and they will be able to help you. So that’s the first step is just get to know people around you.

Margaret: Well, it’s good…that actually…you know, most of what we talked about on this show is preparedness, right, like how to store water and all that shit. And the number one thing in all of that is the same. It’s literally the same. It’s get to know your neighbors. And whether it’s get to know your neighbors because you want to share water with them or get to know your neighbors because you want to know who is going to try and murder you as soon as it’s legally allowed for them to murder you. getting to know the landscape of what’s around you makes them a lot of sense to me. And it ties into something…Okay, so you’re like talking about diversity of tactics often is used as this kind of like, way of saying, “Hey, more people should support more radical action.” But it’s worth also understanding that diversity of tactics also means like supporting action that like, isn’t quite as radical seeming or as like revolutionary, like you might want in terms of just actually maintaining a decent platform from which to fight, right? It’s like easier to fight for things when you’re not in jail. It’s easier to fight for things when you’re not in the process of being forcibly detransitioned medically. And it’s interesting because like, okay, earlier on, you talked about how one of the reasons that all this stuff came up is that people felt so aggrieved by the fact that we had two terms of a black president and we had gay marriage, you know, sanctified in law, or whatever. And it’s funny, because in the crowds that I’m part of, two terms of a black president and gay marriage was like, so unimpressive. The left was like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” right? Whereas meanwhile, I guess the right is, like frothing at the mouth that these things are happening, which makes me realize that they were a bigger deal all along, or something, you know, I don’t know.

Emily: Yeah, I think it’s because the left is really good at judging situations as a…in their distance from where we want them to be. Right? So we judge things, as, you know, from how far are they from our ideal. The right doe opposite, right. They judge things as “How far is it from the norm,” so things like gay marriage and a black president, those aren’t really big things. Like a black president is not a big deal when they actually what you want to do is abolish the presidency, right? But if you’re if you’re a, you know, white Christian Evangelical that is a racist and, you know, maybe doesn’t like openly support the Klan, but doesn’t really denounce them either, right, like, that’s a huge deal because you actually do believe in this notion that like white Christian men should be in charge of everything. And that means the presidency. And that means everything else, too. So, I think that part of what we have to do as organizers is actually try to look at where things are, and how our sort of political opponents are using change to drum up recruitment, and are using fear mongering and things like that, right. And we’re so used to trying to judge based on the outcomes that we want that we miss that picture.

Margaret: Now, I really liked that way of framing it. It’s an interesting…do you think that relates to…there’s there’s sort of this cliche that the left will cast you out for one sin and the right will take you in for one virtue? Which I don’t think is…doesn’t have to be true, but…

Emily: It doesn’t have to. It doesn’t have to be true. And it’s not really true, right? Because there’s much more complex dynamics on top of that. But I mean, it’s really kind of like to same philosophy. Yeah, exactly. It’s the right, well, if…they’ll overlook a lot of failures if you can move the needle even one degree further, which is why you have things like fairly moderate, otherwise moderate politically women in the UK who are like, supporting the Proud Boys and these anti-trans issues, right? They’re just like, “Oh, yeah, I don’t care about the fact that you’re basically a Nazi organization, as long as you also hate the trannies.” Like, that’s kind of how that is all working.

Margaret: Yeah, and you have this thing that I wanted to be a bigger split than it was–although I think it’s something worth holding on to–is that like, there’s like Satanists and pagans throwing down alongside evangelical Christians because they’re all Nazis together. And it like, it doesn’t make any sense to me. I can’t imagine–Well, it’s hard to imagine being a Nazi period–but it’s just like…You know, even like the rise of the Catholic right. I keep wanting to be like, “Y’all know that the evangelical right doesn’t even think you’re Christians. Like, they want to murder you too.” That is the history of the United States. That is the history of large parts of Europe. Like, it’s amazing who will decide the Nazis are on their side because they all hate the same people or whatever. Okay, so to tie this into the the trans thing, right? Both of us are in a book called No Pasarán on by Shane Burley, that you can go and get from wherever you get your books–this is really ad, this is a plug–and your piece in that talks about relating antifascism and transness. And when we talk about like a lot of the laws that are right now being challenged, a lot of the stuff that…currently, the Eye of Sauron seems to be on the trans community in particular. It’s on lots of communities in particular, but like we’re the ones in the news, even more than usual or something right now. I’m wondering if you kind of want to talk about antifascism and transness. And then we can kind of tie that back into this conversation.

Emily: Yeah, sure. So the chapter I wrote is about looking at antifascism through the lens of transgender identity. And what I tried to do is to take a walk through the current day to the historical context and then back through to the current day of how fascist and far right movements have used trans people as scapegoats for a larger agenda, part of that agenda being hatred of other people, including hatred of the Jews, but also a power play, right? And I think part of the lesson of the chapter is that we need, we need to be much more careful and thoughtful in how we look at comparative analysis. Because there’s sort of two schools of thought that are happening in the left, especially in social media discourse. One is, you know, you you sort of look at historical mapping, and you say, this is basically the same thing as this thing that happened in the past, right, like, the laws that are being passed against trans people now, it’s like, just what happened in the Holocaust. And that’s kind of a problematic comparison, right? But it’s also, it’s also like another thing where it’s like, you also have people saying, “Oh, don’t compare what like the bathroom bills are about to what happened during Jim Crow, because that’s a problematic comparison,” right? So these are two things, like two different perspectives. Or it’s like, don’t compare these two groups of people. And then another perspective is like, “Actually, these things are…” you know, because the first is like, “Don’t compare these two, these two situations because, you know, people now don’t have the same dynamics. There’s not a racial element. There’s not a history of slavery,” for example, right? And the other school is kind of like, “Well, actually, you need to look at the causes. And you need to look at the factors that went into it.” And I think that there’s a little bit of both of these things that are going on, right. And so when we actually look at historically how trans people were targeted in the Holocaust and how gay people were targeted in the Holocaust–and they were. There were a lot of trans–what we would now, today, call transgender people–they didn’t have those words back then and also they were speaking German–And, you know, and queer people. They were targeted in the Holocaust. But it’s also impossible to separate the way that they were targeted from the anti-semitism, right. So a lot of trans people talk about, today, talk about like the raids and the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft [Institue for Sexual Science] in Tiergarten, Berlin. So, the Deutsche Studentenschaft, which was like kind of like the Proud Boys of its time, raided the archives of Magnus Hirschfeld, who is a sexual scientist at the time, and they burned those books and a lot of trans people love to focus on these images and say, “You know, these, these books were the archives of the Institute for Sexualwissenschaft, and it’s partly true, right? But, it also erases a big part of that history because it wasn’t only those books, it was also Jewish authors like Sigmund Freud. It was Carl Jung. It was Jewish scholars,and politicians, and philosophy.

Margaret: So all of this homosexuality is all a Jewish plot to destroy the good German people? [said with dry sarcasm]

Emily: Right. And if you actually look at the posters that the DST put up to recruit for what they were calling the aktion gegen den undeutschen Geist, the action against the un-German spirit. Their…one of their key like bold faced bullet points was “Our principle enemy is the Jew,” and so what they were doing is they were using trans people as a way to attack Jews. It doesn’t mean that trans people weren’t attacked. What it means is that you have to recognize that, historically, there was an interconnection here. And so if when we’re erasing that interconnection, we’re losing out a big part of that history. And we’re also losing out a big part of how we can fight against these movements. At the same time, when we, when we totally ignore these things, like when we say, “You know, don’t compare the trans movement now to the civil rights struggle of before,” we’re missing out on how the right wing uses these arguments to recruit and to motivate, right. So yes, it’s not true that trans people who are denied bathroom use now, they’re not in the same position as black people were who were denied bathroom use during Jim Crow, right, but the arguments are very similar. The white Christians back then were saying “These black people are going to like go into the bathrooms and they’re going to rape your women,” right? They use the like the fragile virginity of the white American woman as this this sort of rallying cry to drum up support for their cause, which is very similar to the arguments that are being made against trans people now. So when we look at this sort of comparative analysis, we have to bring in sort of a two sided perspective.

Margaret: Yeah, there’s so much there. It’s funny because my immediate instinct, and I don’t know whether this comes from my position as a white American or something, is to…it would never occur to me to compare the bathroom bill to Jim Crow, right? That just, to me, seems like obvious that the foundation of slavery is so dramatic and so influential. When, as compared to when I think about being targeted by the Holocaust, you know, to me–and maybe it’s just like, my Twitter brain or like constantly thinking about what people could say to undermine what I’m saying or find holes in it or whatever–to me, that feels like a not only a safer argument but a more logical argument because it’s…I wouldn’t compare what’s happening to trans people as to what’s happened to Jews in the Holocaust. I compare what happens to trans people, to what happened to trans people in the Holocaust. I can make that comparison. But I really, I think this is really useful, this thing that you’re talking about because the way I’ve been talking about it lately, right, like a lot of the anti-trans stuff and the rhetoric right now on the not-far-right, but the middle right, is around trans athletes, right? Specifically, trans feminine people, participating in sports with other feminine people with similar levels of hormones and bone density and shit, or whatever. Whatever the fuck. And it’s this wedge issue, right?. And if you take a step back–it’s the reason I don’t fucking discourse about that–is because it’s a wedge issue. It is meant not to talk about trans people in sports but to use trans people in sports as to break off support for trans people in general from the rest of LGBT community with the eventual intention, I believe–I evade anything that seems conspiratorial, but this seems like the strategy that our enemies are taking–to then eventually, you weaken LGBT, you split them off. Homosexuality can be a larger wedge issue to start more and more just like basically dividing and conquering and, you know, with the eventual plan of making us no longer exist.

Emily: Yeah, I don’t think it’s conspiracy, right, I think it’s exactly true because they say so much. They say it like that. They say, “Let’s split the T off of the LGB.” I think that’s absolutely true. And you’re right, it is a wedge issue, it is a way to get us to fight amongst each other instead of fighting against them. At the same time, the answer to us fighting against each other, is actually to look outside of us and actually to go and seek the solidarity of other groups of people who are marginalized, right. And so I, like I’m really uncomfortable with some of the language. Like I’ve written about this, like, there’s a big movement of like, “How do you apply for asylum?” right? I’m like, screaming at the top of my lungs, “Please do not do this.” Because not only do you not understand how bad this process is for people who are actually seeking asylum–and you thinking that you’re going to get some sort of preferential treatment to that is really problematic–but it will also ruin your life, and in ways that you don’t yet know. And this is like that sort of, there’s like a whiteness or an Americanness of the privilege to this, this thing that’s being that’s being promoted, right? And so I’m like really hesitant to embrace some of this catastrophizing language. Also, because we have seen stuff that is just as bad being done against people like immigrants at the southern border of the US, right, of Muslims during the early days of the Trump administration, right? We’ve seen this stuff, right. And what we should be doing is we should be banding together with solidarity with these groups and saying, “Look, it doesn’t actually matter what our internal dramas are. What matters is that we must be united against this broader front, right? We have to unite against patriarchy, we have to unite against white supremacy, we have to unite against xenophobia, against anti-semitism, against Islamophobia, all of these things. And we have to, we have to come together, right. And so I’m a little uncomfortable with some of the things that have been sort of out there because it’s such an internal focus on ourselves. And it’s not really doing a great job at saying like, “Actually, you know, what, like, we’ve been saying, you know, ‘First they came for the x…'” And we’ve been saying that about three different groups, four different groups over the last four years. At some point, you actually have to stop and think, “Actually, wait a second, I’m not the first. They were the first. And before them, or, you know, before them…before us, was them and before them was another group. Why don’t we start building those connections? Why don’t we start building those networks?

Margaret: Right. Well, and that’s actually why like, at the beginning, I was like, you know, the Eye of Sauron like currently on us, right? Like, it’s not, it didn’t start on us. We are not the primary….yeah, like, I guess I’m saying I agree with you. And then even in terms of when I think about the history of splitting up the movement and things like that, like I think about how the first thing that the Gay Liberation Front did after, in 1969, after Stonewall, you know, which was a very diverse crowd of different queer people fighting back against the repression as gay people, it was in this context of the late 60s in which all of these other struggles are happening. And the Gay Liberation Front, at least, and many other people, at least–whether because of their own intersectional marginalization or just out of having some awareness of history and present–worked together, right? Like the first actions of the Gay Liberation Front were to protest the Women’s House of Detention where Afeni Shakur, Tupac Shakur’s mother, was being held as part of the Panther 23 [Meant 21] trial, right. And the Gay Liberation Front, I don’t think was even aware of Shakur’s sexuality at this point–I don’t actually know if she was at this point, it was around…I believe she had her realizations while she was in the Women’s House of Detention–but they were doing that because they were part of the new left. They were part of…like, of course we roll with the Black Panthers, of course we work together with all of these other groups, all of these different marginalizations. And yeah, so in my mind, it’s less like…yeah, rather than comparing ourselves one to one with other marginalized groups, yeah, we just need to be fucking working together.

Emily: And I think it’s also important, like, at the same time, that we don’t…like the Eye of Sauron, as you said, it’s on us now and it’s going to look away. And it’s probably going to look away pretty soon, right? The right wing doesn’t have the attention span to stay focused on one thing for a long time, right. Like, over the last five years, I’ve been called a terrorist by a government organization of some sort at least four times, right? And I’m still hearing, I’m still walking free, right? I remember when Antifa was a terrorist organization that Donald Trump was going to like executive order in prisons all, right? I remember all of this stuff. And I’ve been through so much of this, right? This focus on the trans thing, it’s going to go away and it’s going to be on somebody else. And what we should be doing is actually preparing for supporting that group, whoever it goes on to next whether it’s Muslims, whether it’s immigrants, whether it’s Asians, right, remember when it was the Asian hate, right? That was at the beginning of the pandemic. All of this stuff, right. It’s going to be something else, pretty soon and we just need to be prepared for that. But at the same time, I think we also owe ourselves this look at history to look at how these groups have won and how they have succeeded, even in the face of these, you know, incredible odds, right? Because, we actually owe ourselves a little bit of joy and hope at the same time, right? You don’t become an antifascist, because you like, are a cynic, right? antifascism is about creating a better future. Nobody goes out into the street and like maybe gets shot because they don’t believe that they can create a better world. So we do need to think about this as a struggle but a struggle that we will win and a struggle that is going to, you know, lead to a better future at the end of the day. So, I think it’s really important to like, keep that sort of focus in that perspective.

Margaret: That makes sense to me. One thing, I kind of want to push back a little bit on is about the asylum thing, where–and maybe it’s just because my standard is that I do not judge people on whether they choose to fight or whether they choose to go, right? Like, I’m a bit of a stay-and-fight person myself, right. But, I think that there’s also this thing where I’m coming at this as an adult, right? Like, the state I’m in will probably pass a law this year that will make it illegal for me to go to the grocery store. It probably won’t be used against me. And I can put on pants and pass as a weird looking cis man with bangs, you know? And, but like, I have the tools to navigate that, right? But, the children who can’t access gender-affirming care or the adults in some states that will no longer be able to access gender-affirming care without breaking the law–and I do think that there is a difference between…I guess you don’t seek asylum in Oregon, right. You just moved to Oregon. But, I think that the general…I dunno, frankly, I think that a lot of people should, if they’re able to, keep their passports current. Like, I…go ahead.

Emily: Absolutely. Like there’s nothing wrong with with fleeing, right? Nobody has to fight. I moved to Germany because I had a Nazi that was trying to kill me and like there were multiple attempts on my life. Right. I was SWAT’d. There was all sorts of stuff. Yeah, there’s nothing there’s nothing shameful about fleeing. Asylum is a very specific word, however. It has a legal meaning and it means a specific thing and a lot of people…like, yes, keep your passports handy. But before you even think about moving overseas and requesting asylum, talk to people who have done this because there’s a lot of options out there for how you can do this safely, and not request asylum. Because, the thing that a lot of trans folks who are not organizing in solidarity, or who have not yet organized in solidarity, let’s just say, with immigrants with with refugees and stuff like that do not understand how bad this process is. If you apply for asylum in Europe, for example, like some people are like, “I’m gonna go to Europe” First of all, Europe will deny your claim, almost certainly. I’m not a lawyer. Not legal advice. But, they will almost surely deny your claim. But they will only deny after two years, maybe. During those two years, you have to live in a detention center, essentially…not a detention center. It’s called an Arrival Center. But it’s essentially a camp. You have four square meters to yourself. You cannot work. You cannot travel. You can’t leave the city or the state that you’re in. Right? The medical care is worse than the medical care that you’ll get even under the laws that are being passed in the United States. The violence in those centers is off the charts horrible, right. And there are trans people who have tried to apply to asylum. There’s a there’s a case, that I am not going to name to the person, but this person went to Sweden and applied for asylum and spent like 16 or 18 months there, living on the equivalent of $6 a day. And at the end, her claim was denied and was deported. And now she can’t even come back to Europe, most likely. So it’s a really, it’s a really dangerous thing. And I really want to stress this for anyone that’s out there. Talk to people who can help with this because this is…the stuff that’s going around is so dangerous that if you don’t have an expert supporting you, it’s going to ruin your life.

Margaret: Okay, now that that makes a lot of sense. I was thinking of it mostly in the context of like, leaving the country versus the specifics of seeking asylum.

Emily: It’s way easier to move to Minneapolis than it is to move to Madrid.

Margaret: Right. And there is kind of a like, “Where we’ll stay safe” is a very blurry thing, right? It is unlikely, but not outside the realm of possibility that we’ll see federal bans on various things in United States, depending on how power can move. But it’s unlikely, right? And, but at the same time, it’s like, “Oh, yeah, that place that everyone loves all the trans people, and no one thinks we’re horrible monsters who are against the will of God,” that place, you know, like, I mean, there are places that are better and worse, don’t get me wrong. But okay, so I want to I want to change gears and talk about digitally hunting Nazis because I feel like that’s something that you have some experience with, is that fair to say?

Emily: I think that I’m a pretty decent Nazi Hunter. I’ve exposed a few.

Margaret: What’s, you know, cuz it’s funny, because I think about like, Okay, we’ve talked about how the landscape has changed to where it’s no longer doxing and holding physical space in cities as like the two primary…Well, they were never the primary, but they’re certainly the most visible and some of the easiest to sort of get involved in in some weird way because you can just…you can’t just go fight Nazis, right? It’s not a good idea. You should have support networks and all that shit. But it is like…it’s like the advantage of direct action, as you can imagine point A to point B fairly easily. But even though the landscape has changed, I feel like a lot of people….his, like, the grassroots Nazis still exist, right? And like, they still, like I have my Nazi doxers who occasionally remind me that they exist and things like that, you know? And like, so it still feels like there is still this territory. And I’m curious about what your experiences has been hunting Nazis, like, what are some of the…what are some of like, the wins, you’ve gotten out of that and some of the things that you’ve learned from doing that?

Emily: I think that what really makes me proud when I do that work is when I get somebody out of the community that could have done harm to that community. And by exposing these folks and by helping a community defend itself, I think that’s the greatest reward. So there’s a young neo-Nazi, who with his 17 year old wife, lit a synagogue and fire in Indiana, and I did a lot of work tracking down his case and researching the documents. And in following his case, I found that he was recruited along with his wife into Identity Europa and found evidence of some of the people that recruited him and how they met and how they brought him into the network and her into the network and exposed this information. And as it turns out, this information helped connect to an online presence to a real name, and it turns out that this woman was running a stand in the Farmers Market in Bloomington, Indiana, and was just there in the community every day, and she was a neo-Nazi recruiter. And when the community found out, they mobilized and they organized and they work to get this woman kicked out and pushed out a farmers market and totally disrupted her ability to organize and recruit for that group. And I think for me, that’s like the reward of sort of hunting Nazis and exposing them is that you actually get to help a community defend itself. I think the thing that I’ve learned from doing this is that it’s fucking dangerous. Because, what you’re doing is actually you’re exposing people to shame. And the reason that this sort of–we can call it doxing–the way that this sort of doxing works is that it has to be bad enough for a person to be shamed out of their community, right. We don’t do it to harass, we don’t do it to intimidate. It’s done to give people the tools to say, “I’m not willing to have this person in my midst. I’m not willing to employ them. I’m not willing to go to school. I’m not willing to work with them.” Shame has to be a factor, right? And when you shame people, they can react, and they can come after you and yeah, that’s why I had like an Atomwaffen hit squad tried to fly to Germany to assassinate me once, so I knew that was always a possibility.

Margaret: Aw, that’s exciting.

Emily: Yeah, that was very strange. It was really strange when the Berlin police, like the Berlin polizei slid into my Twitter, DMs. That’s 100% true story. I will show I will show you the DMs if you want some day.

Margaret: No, I believe you. The interactions I’ve had with German police have all been incredibly authoritarian and incredibly polite. Those are the two…whatever, I’ve only been stopped by the German police twice. And both times, very polite, very stern.

Emily: That’s, the German dream, that that’s Deutschland for you. Very authoritarian and very polite.

Margaret: Which, you know, I have feelings about but yeah, it is what it is. I guess…Damn, okay. So wait, tell me more about this hit squad. Like what happened?

Emily: Yeah. I don’t exactly know what the motivation was. But I got a DM from the Berlin polizei. They were trying to find me. Because apparently–we think it was the CIA because the CIA is responsible for protecting Americans overseas–But somebody had, through whatever surveillance they had on Atomwaffen, the Atomic Division in English, whatever like surveillance they had on this group, they detected that these folks were flying overseas and had intentions to be in Germany and that they had intercepted chats apparently, saying that they’re going to try to find me at a demo and stab me. Which is very funny, because I don’t really go to demos in Berlin. But anyways, that was their plan. And I think I know who these folks are. They ended up getting arrested and sent to prison at some point, not for trying to murder me but for other things.

Margaret: For being an Atomwaffen. So pretty…Yeah. Yeah. I don’t feel like that group deter deserves to be pronounced properly in German because I feel like that’s like what they want is to be like, “We’re good, proper German Nazis,” but there’s just some fucking…I mean, obviously, I’m not trying to….Well it’s interesting, I do want to diminish them and make fun of them, but at the same time, like, there’s a weird balance here, where you kind of want to be like, “Oh, you dumb little assholes,” you know? Well, not, while still accepting that they’re a very serious threat in some ways. You know?

Emily: I could always speak actual German around them. And watch them be dumbfounded.

Margaret: Yeah. Okay, so one of the things that stands out from what you just said about all this stuff–besides the how complicated of strange times we’re in where the CIA is stopping Nazis from murdering antifascists–is the fact that this recruiter was at the farmer’s market instead of like…like when I was more actively involved in stuff, it was like metal shows, you know, it was this like, it was a very subcultural milieu, the the Nazi scene. And I feel like this like move to farmer’s markets is like worth exploring and talking about, you know, you have the kind of like, the way I usually see it expressed is like the crunchy granola to Nazi pipeline and things like that. And like you talked about how, like homeschooling was like a big avenue. Yeah. Do you want to talk more about that just to the why they’re at farmer’s markets?

Emily: I think it’s, you know, there’s so many different factions of the far-right. And one of them is sort of this traditionalist faction, right, there’s a lot of like homesteading, and there’s a lot of prepping, and there’s a lot of like live off the land and be independent and have lots of white children and be pregnant and barefoot all the time. That’s part of this sort of Christian, this this far-right, like, Christian sort of segment of the far right. And there’s also like it’s part of this white Christian sort of traditionalist second segment of the far-right. There’s also like, Neo-pagan segments of the far-right that are similar. But yeah, I think that there’s there’s a lot of this like mythology, right? One of the essential elements of fascism is that what differentiates fascism from other far-right, authoritarian ideologies, is that Fascism is fundamentally around sort of this mythos of rebirth, right? So these these mythologies around like folkish culture and traditionalism, and the rebirth of like, return to like proper America, and like, when men were men and women were women and all of that stuff, right? Yeah, this is part of the mythology of it. And so the difference, like the shift between the skinhead Nazi to the traditionalist Nazi, it’s as much a matter of ideology and aesthetic as it is the degree to which they understand and embrace those elements of the fascist belief, right? And I think it’s dangerous because so much of American identity is also about nuclear family and home values, like you know, good old fashioned values and home cooking, and you know, doing things with your mom and your dad and your 2.7 kids and having a white picket fence, right. So much of American culture is wrapped up into that, fascists have realized that it’s really easy to prey on that. That’s why you have Nazis at the farmer’s market.

Margaret:Yeah. Makes me sad, but I get it. So what are what are we…we’re coming up on an hour, and I’m kind of wondering what’s the question I should have asked you? What else do you think? Do you have any, any final thoughts or any like, you know, rousing “How do we solve all of this?” not to put you in, not to give you an awkward question.

Emily: I would have asked me about what it’s like beyond the activism? Right, because I’ve actually kind of retired from the activism. And I think that a lot of my perspective now, is about what it feels like to be in the middle of this whole milieu of the shit. And then to walk away from it.

Margaret: Yeah. Alright. What’s that like?

Emily: So I don’t know. I think that there’s a few years where like, I spent almost every day looking through Discord logs, doing alt-right research, tracking their cases. I was spending thousands of dollars on pacer fees, downloading and court documents and all this shit, right. And I would end my workday, and I would go home and I wouldn’t play video games, I would start hunting Nazis. And I would wake up in the weekends and I would update my website where I tracked Nazis and I did this and this was my life. And it was a way of dealing with trauma. There was also a time, still today, probably a week doesn’t go by that I don’t see the torches from from the rally from August 11th, right? So that trauma is still very present. And it was a response to it was my way of coping with it and dealing with it. And then when the insurrection happened, I kind of saw that as a passing of the torch. The insurrection was the moment that the alt-right stopped being relevant and the Republican-right started being relevant in this discussion of “Extremism,” right? And I realized pretty quickly that I wasn’t going to…one, I wasn’t going to be able to keep up with it and two, my work was done. My goal was always to try to give tools to mainstream journalists so that they could write more effectively about what we were seeing in the world from the position of an antifascist, right? antifascist often have a really antagonistic relationship with the media and for very good reasons. At the same time, if you don’t have relationships with the media, nobody’s going to tell your story to that forum for you. You have to have some sort of ability to work with these groups of people in order to help get your message out. With these reporters and stuff, right. And I feel like since 2016 up until 2021 there were a lot of folks that actually started to figure out how to write about the far-right. They’re not always perfect at it, they don’t always do a good job, they sometimes fail to credit and stuff like that. All of those things are annoying, but I think that they covered substantively a lot of this much better. And I decided to retire from public activism. And now that I stepped back, and I can look at this, and I’m not on Twitter day to day, and I’m not, you know, in every debate and having every argument, I can actually sort of zoom out and feel like I can have a much broader picture. And it helps helps with like my mental health. And I think that’s actually…I think it’s actually important to also take breaks from this work. Because if you’re just in the day after day, you’re going to be fucking miserable. And it’s, and you’re not going to be able to change anything, you’re not going to fix anything if you don’t give yourself breaks.

Margaret: That makes a lot of sense to me. I feel like there’s a lot of cycling in and out. And I don’t know, I do think that there’s a difference between…I think that sometimes people and you’re not necessarily doing it here, but sometimes people refer to it as sort of like leaving a thing, right, and being like done with it. Or like, sometimes people burn out so hard that they’re like, “Now I’m apolitical,” or, “Now I don’t care,” or whatever. And I think there’s a very big difference between like, “My time in the front line of this particular struggle is done. And now I’m in this like, support role where mostly I’m living my life,” you know, and I feel like–and maybe I say that, because that’s what I do, right? Like, I’m no longer in the streets to the degree that I was when I was younger. But and I actually think it’s useful for people to see folks like you, who are no longer doing something full time but still still existing in this. Like, I don’t know how to say this. But it’s just like, I think it’s useful for people to see that it’s like, this isn’t everything. This is not the entire life, one’s entire life is not the struggle and things like that, you know?

Emily: Yeah. And I think one, people are doing it better than I ever have done it. The people, the work that’s being done now is such high quality, like the antifascist groups that are out there, they’re so good at what they do that I’m embarrassed to even be in the same breath as them, right? They’re so much better. They’re so much more rigorous, they’re so much more careful, they’re’ so much more impersonal egoless, right, that I like, stand in awe watching what they do. And I don’t even want to consider myself part of that because they’re just on another plane. I think that when I started this, we didn’t have enough people doing the work. And I’m happy that I was able to contribute. And I think that that’s my chapter of it. antifascism is shift work, right? You can’t work in solid…like part of solidarity work is knowing when to step up and knowing when to step back. I’m still writing, you know, I think I know that not everyone agrees with some of my takes. My goal is not to get everyone to agree with me. Right? I think that’s also something that I’m trying to take away getting away from Twitter, right, is I don’t actually necessarily need to convince you or to sell you or to get you to agree with me. What I want to do is actually give you something to think about. And I want to try to give you a lot of tools to view a problem from a variety of perspectives, knowing that we’re all on the same side. Right. And so, I don’t know, I’m just sort of hoping that that I can add, if there’s anything that I still have to add to this fight, it’s that there’s a little bit of to add depth and sort of dimensionality to it, rather than just being front lines, whether it’s digital front lines or physical front lines, just to try to add some…to broaden the spectrum.

Margaret: That makes sense. Yeah, go ahead.

Emily: And also, just to kind of live a good life. Like I was targeted by Andy Ngo for how long….I was like…Seb Gorka once followed me on Twitter, right, while he was in the White House, you know. There was like, Milo Yiannopoulos was targeting me, right. I went through all of this stuff. I had Atomwaffen trying, you know, flying overseas and threatening to execute me and all this stuff. It’s like…none of them succeeded. None. Like Chris Danwell spent, has spent five years trying to put me in jail and has never succeeded. These folks, they’re not winning. I won. Yeah. And what allowed me to say that I won is I can close my laptop whenever I want, I can walk out the door, I can breathe free air. And even though I will face oppression in everything that I do because I’m not white and because I’m trans, I still had the freedom of that choice. And that is something that the fascists can never take away from me. And I think that that is an act of defiance and antifascism too.

Margaret: That makes a lot of sense. And that feels like maybe a good note to end on. If people want to find more of your work, or in a nice way, if people want to follow you do or….I mean, it sounds like you…do you want people to find your work? And if so, how can they do so?

Emily: Um, you can you can google my name. I still syndicate stuff through Twitter, right? So you’ll still see the links and the stuff that I do when I post, right. So you can twitter @EmilyGorcenski, you can go to and see what I’m posting and half of it is about my day job working in technology and half of it is about trans issues or antifascism or politics and half of it is shitposting. And I know that that’s three halves. But I’m a mathematician, so I get to make the rules with numbers. And yeah, I think that, you know, I’m on Mastodon as well, but it sounds complicated. So just like Google my name and figure it out.

Margaret: Yeah. Okay. Well, thank you so much for coming on. And keep winning. It makes me happy.

Emily: Thank you for having me and keep doing what you’re doing because I couldn’t be winning if it weren’t for people like you. Thanks.

Margaret: Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, you got something out of it then well, the main thing to do is to think about how to be in solidarity with different groups when the Eye of Sauron passes upon each of us, because it does stay in motion for better and worse. You can also, if you like this podcast, tell people about it. You can tell people about it on the internet. You can tell people about it in real life. You can tell your dog about it. Kind of the only person I’d be able to tell about it right now. Hey, Rintrah, I like this podcast. Rintrah doesn’t care. I recommend telling people. Animals are great but people are most of our listeners as far as I’m aware. I’m about to shout out Hoss the Dog. Shout out to Hoss the Dog, our like longest standing Patreon backer. If you want to support us as well as Hoss the Dog has supported us, you can go to And there you will see that we put out new content every month that actually anyone can access for free at But, if you want it mailed to your house support us there. And also you get a discount on everything we do in the store. You can also check out our other podcasts. At the moment…well, there might even be a new one by the time this comes out because I’m recording this a little bit before this one comes out–but at the moment, there’s Anarcho Geek Power Hour, for people who hate cops and like movies. And there’s Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness for the content that we put out as Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. That one comes out monthly. And I want to thank some of our backers. I want to thank Hoss the motherfucking Dog, who has been with us as a Patreon backer for years. Thank you Hoss, Michaiah, Chris, Sam, Kirk, Eleanor, Jenipher, Staro, Kat J., Chelsea, Dana, David, Nicole, Mikki, Paige, SJ, Shawn, Hunter, Theo, Boise Mutual Aid, Milica, Paparouna, Aly, Paige, Janice, Oxalis, and Jans. If you’d like to see your name on here, you can do it. You can even make it be a silly name that I have to say every time but not an offensive one because I wont do it, not even for money. Anyway, I hope you’re doing as well as you can and I or one of the other hosts will see you next Friday.

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S1E74 – Emil on Arctic Hiking

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Emil talks to Margaret about life on Svalbard. They talk about hiking in the Arctic, staying warm, gear, the unfortunate realities of climate change, and the rising conflicts between humans and polar bears.

Guest Info

Emil (He/they): a masters student on Arctic Outdoor life.

Host Info

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


LLWD: Emil on Arctic Hiking

Margaret: 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. And this week, we’re going to talk about snow and ice and moving across them. And I’m probably gonna ask about glaciers. And we’re gonna talk about all that stuff. And I’m really excited because we’re gonna be talking about how to move over Arctic terrain, which might be everywhere in the future. I mean, everything’s getting warmer, but like, you know, everything’s getting wackier. So things might get different. Do you need crampons? I don’t know. I’m gonna find out. And that’s what we’re going to talk about. But first, we’re proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchists podcasts. And here’s another jingle from another jingle…Here’s a jingle from another show on the network. [Makes noises that sound like singing a melody]

Margaret: Okay, we’re back. So, if you could introduce yourself with your name, your pronouns, and then a little bit of your background as to why I’m having you on the show.

Emil: Yeah, sure. So, my name is Emil. I go by he/him or they/them. I have a bachelor’s degree in Arctic Outdoor Life and Nature Guiding from the University of Tromsø in Northern Norway. And I’m currently doing a master’s degree, also in Outdoor Life, at the University of Southeastern Norway.

Margaret: Okay, so this means that you spend your time with a sledge and fighting polar bears? And penguins. Is that correct? [Said with dry sarcasm. Emil laughs]
Emil: There have been sledges and polar bear guard standing involved. But the penguins are on the other side of the planet unfortunately. We don’t have penguins up here. [Laughing] Would be cool, though.

Margaret: Yeah, I mean, because then you can have the polar bears and the penguins hanging out and the Far Side comics would be complete. Okay, so yeah, so you’re a guide, or like, you know, so this is one of the things that you do is you take people out and show them how to move over this terrain and show them how to explore. Like, is this like tourists? Is this like, scientists? Is this people who got lost in the snow on their way home? Like, I don’t really know what…I’ve never been in Norway. This is gonna come across.

Emil: Yeah, no, it could be, it could be all those things. It could be guiding on scientific expeditions, it could be taking tourists on trips, or it could be more like, you know, like summer camps and things of that nature. Which, is more like…not as hardcore. So you have sort of, it’s a broad range of sort of different levels from summer camps with kids that’s really sort of safe to the two week long expeditions in the Arctic, skiing, where you really have to sort of take care of yourself and the people around you and you have to be sort of on guard.

Margaret: Okay, yeah. And so I kind of want to ask you about…I mean, basically a lot of my questions are just like how do you move over Arctic terrain? Like what is involved? How do you get…how do you practice? Like, is it…is everything like snowshoeing? Is it cross country skis? Is it like, dogs and sleighs? Is it reindeer pulling the sleighs? Like what’s…I’m making jokes, but I also know there’s reindeer up there.

Emil: Actually, actually, you can. You can actually do reindeer sledding. Some people do that.

Margaret: Whoa.

Emil: But yeah, really, in Northern Norway, the northern most county, there is a yearly reindeer sledding competition, actually. So that is the thing that some people do. But it’s…Yeah, dogs sledding and skiing, I think, are the most common for long distance. If you’re moving, sort of in forests, then snowshoes can be advantageous. But if you’re moving any sort of distance, it’s going to be cross-country skis, or we call them mountain skis. They’re a bit broader. They’re a bit wider than normal like racing skis, or dog sledding. Yeah.

Margaret: So, like for my own selfish reasons–it’s unlikely that I will specifically need to be moving…escaping an apocalypse in Northern Norway–like that seems not incredibly likely but something that does, like, within my own selfish…when I think about it, I’m like, “Well, what if I had to move over some mountains?” Right? Like, what if? And that seems like, the kind of thing that could theoretically come up in my life or just could be fun, right? What’s involved in starting to learn that stuff? Like both, like, how does one? Like when you take someone out and you’re like, “Here’s some snowshoes?” Is it like a? Does it take people hours to figure them out? Is it like, pretty quick? Like…

Emil: It’s…I think it’s pretty intuitive often. A lot of the outdoors sort of pedagogy or the philosophy of learning is learning by doing. So, it’s getting hands on experience and just sort of trying it, obviously, putting people in an environment that’s challenging enough that they feel a sense of accomplishment and mastery but not so challenging that they die.

Margaret: Okay, that’s seems like a good way to learn. Yeah.

Emil: Yeah. So it’s…What’s involved in learning it? I think a lot of it does come from from childhood, at least if you live in the north, sort of something you grew up with. But I think it’s kind of just like, getting out there. And then I know, there’s skiing courses and stuff that you can take if you want to learn, like technique.

Margaret: Yeah. Okay. Well, if I like had to, like, Lord of the Rings style cross a mountain pass, do I want skis? Or do I want snow shoes? Or do I want the Ring of Power? Like? Like, like, if I’m just crossing a mountain…Like, obviously, if I’m going to be like moving overland in the far north, it would be way better if I had skis, it seems to be the case. But like, if I’m just trying to like cross a mountain pass, do I need skis?

Emil: Well, I think it depends on the…I think it’s going to depend on the time of year and the snow depth. So you don’t necessarily need skis. You can walk through the snow with just your normal shoes, not even snow shoes. But, it’s probably going to be faster on skis. And additionally, you would probably want, at least if if you’re going to be out for more than a day and you’re going to be out for several days, you’d want something called a pulk instead of a backpack. A pulk is just a sled. So you pull the sled after you instead of carrying a backpack. It helps with stability. You can carry more, which typically, winter equipment is heavier. So it is advantageous to pull the sled.

Margaret: Okay. Yeah, cuz one of the reasons…I think, I think that you commented, like, we posted an episode recently with an ultralight through hiker, right, and I think your comment was something like, “Whoa, things are different in America,” or something like that. And, and so that’s why I reached out to you. So, it’s like, I’m curious, your reaction to concepts of like weight and ultralight and stuff like that. And I guess when you’re carrying a pulk you, like…weight probably still matters, but in a very different way?

Emil: Yeah. At least when it comes to when it comes to winter in the Arctic, you want equipment that sturdy. It’s quite often specialized equipment as well. So, on average, it’s going to be a bit heavier. So doing ultralight isn’t necessarily feasible. So I think it’s going to depend on sort of the environment you’re in. Moving ultralight in a temperate forest, I think is probably more feasible. Like in, I don’t know, the Appalachian Trail or the parts of the PCT, right? But, it’s it’s also a thing where the arctic environment is kind of inhospitable in the sense that there isn’t a lot of available energy in the environment. So if you think about walking through temperate forest, right, you have firewood and there might be some food and stuff that you can forage, right. So energy both in the sense of fuel for heat and in the sense of calories, right? If you think about moving across a snowy mountain plateau, it’s sort of a barren, it’s kind of like an ice desert. You have to carry all of that energy with you, the fuel, the gasoline, the food, everything. So, it’s necessarily going to be heavier.

Margaret: Wait, what’s the gasoline for?

Emil: The gasoline is for stoves for burning. Yeah.

Margaret: Oh, okay.

Emil: Both for heating food and heating the tents.

Margaret: Okay. Okay, so then…this is so much to think about. Obviously the way people do this now is probably very differently from the way people did this a hundred years ago or something, right? Like, I assume that a hundred years ago people probably bringing like–well, actually probably they were still bringing oil stoves a hundred years ago, actually, now that I think that through–rather than, like…people aren’t hauling their firewood. People are instead hauling oil to burn? Is that?

Emil: Yeah, yeah. Or is it kerosene? The sort of oil?

Margaret: From wax?

Emil: Yeah.

Margaret: Burnable wax. Paraffin wax. Okay, yeah. Um, I’m trying to think there’s like so many things I….

Emil: I know, it was different, like, the sleeping bags were made of reindeer skins and stuff, you know?

Margaret: Yes. Yeah. And so it’s probably lighter equipment now than it was 100 years ago? I assume that’s like…

Emil: Yeah.

Margaret: Okay, what kills people? Like, besides probably everything, but like, what is the? Like, what are the like, main things you’re worried about? Like, if I’m like, walking through the snow, am I gonna like just like, fall into the snow and then die? Like, I know, there’s like avalanches to worry about…Like, like, I read a lot of like, “And then everyone went hiking, and then there’s snow. And then they all died. And it was Russia. And people still argue about what happened to them. And they all went mad.” Now, I can’t remember where it was from.

Emil: Yeah, the Dyatlov pass incident, I think it’s called. Yeah, that I think was confirmed to be an avalanche. Or the the main theory now is that was an avalanche. That can….actually this actually a good example.

Margaret: Yeah. Do you want to explain to the audience because if people have no idea what we’re talking about, what are we talking about?

Emil: Yeah, it was a group of people in Russia that went on a hike and they all died. And it’s been sort of…it’s been sort of a mystery for quite some time, what actually happened to them. Right. So there’s been a lot of like, conspiracy theories and stuff. But, to the question of sort of what kills people: what killed them, the the predominant theory now is actually a, I believe, a combination of an avalanche and subsequent hypothermia. Okay. So they’re…what we believe is that their tent was caved in by an avalanche, which then made everyone super wet, and super cold, and without shelter. And so they became hypothermic, and essentially, became so hypothermic that–and this is what happens when you become really, really, really cold, you start to feel warm, which is called the sort of…I think it’s called the hypothermia paradox, right, which is when people, towards the end, they get so cold that they feel warm, they take off all their clothes and then they succumb…

Margaret: Die.

Emil: Yeah, to the cold. Alright, so the main things to worry about, I would say, are avalanches. So, if you’re moving in terrain that is steeper than 30 degrees, or moving…then that’s sort of the avalanche zone and then you have a zone below that where the avalanche could…the run out zone that you have to worry about. And then you have hypothermia, of course, just being cold. And hypothermia can be sort of a slow and insidious killer because it can actually creep up on you over the course of several days.

Margaret: Yeah. Oh, interesting.

Emil:Yeah, it can. And then the last one is carbon monoxide poisoning.

Margaret: Oh, from like burning stuff inside your tent?

Emil: Yes.

Margaret: Or your snow cave.

Emil: Yeah, from burning stuff inside the tent or the snow cave when you have, for example, a gasoline burner that isn’t burning properly. So the flame is, if the flame is yellow, that means that it’s an impure…the…it’s not a…it’s not a complete complete combustion, as opposed to when the flame is blue. So blue flame means less carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is tasteless, colorless gas. It’s a heavy gas that settles below, sort of on the floor. And it takes up the place of oxygen in your blood. So, your blood transports oxygen through your body. But, when the body takes up carbon monoxide there is no more space for oxygen, essentially. The body thinks it’s oxygen, and so what happens is that you actually, your brain becomes oxygen depleted. You become dizzy, tired, you can begin to hallucinate, and just generally your decision making ability degrades.

Margaret: You sound like you’re speaking from experience.

EmilI have, I have woken up one time with sort of…you get these, you can get these sort of black spots under your nose almost from a night of sleeping in it. Yeah. And I was kind of dizzy after, that day.

Margaret: Okay, but do you all have a like, and maybe it would be in Norwegian and not in English, but do you have like a like, like, “Flame is blue, that’ll do. Flame is yellow, you’re a dead fellow.” Like, is there like… that’s the one I just made up. But like…

Emil: It was very good. I don’t think we do, actually. We should. Yeah, no, we’re not that creative.

Margaret: Okay, you got to work on that.

Emil: Maybe it’s something to do with our Norwegian language. I don’t know.

Margaret: I literally don’t know word of Norwegian. So I can’t…That’s annoying. I’m like, I usually know how to say at least like, “Thank you,” and, “Fuck you,” in like most languages.

Emil: You know, it’s quite similar, actually, because English is a mix between, I think it’s…there’s some Gaelic in it, and then there’s Norwegian, and Danish, and Swedish, and French, right, because of all the different groups of people that invaded England and settled there over the history. So it’s, you say, “Egg,” I say, “Egg.” [rhymes with “dig”] You say, “Window,” I say, “Vindu.” So, it’s quite similar.

Margaret: Okay, how do you say “thank you”?

Emil: Takk

Margaret: Takk. Okay. I think I have heard this before. Or is it? Maybe it’s similar to Swedish or something?

Emil: Yeah, they’re mutually intelligible.

Margaret: Oh, interesting. That’s good to know. My tiny bit of Swedish.

Emil: Swedes and Norwegians can talk to each other.

Margaret: As everyone in the audience learns that Margaret doesn’t know shit about Norway. I know way more about Finland. Okay, so. So, the question then is like, okay, why do you burn stoves inside? Is it just because you fucking need to? Because there’s like, otherwise you’ll freeze to death?

Emil: You don’t, so you don’t necessarily need to. It does help, right? It does help with especially the form of hypothermia that’s kind of creeping hypothermia that you you get warm once a day in the evening. That you…and it’s also like a psychological thing. It’s having warm food, knowing that you’ll have warm food. It’s also…well actually you do need to because you need…

Margaret: And you can’t look outside because it’s too cold?

Emil: And you need, and you need, you need water as well. You need to melt snow to drink.

Margaret: Oh shit. Yeah.

Emil: Yeah, yeah. So you do actually need a burner. You can theoretically melt snow by just putting it in a, some sort of a plastic bottle and heating it with your body heats, so keeping it close to your body while you walk. But, it’s not very efficient. Yeah, so and it’s also the social psychological aspect of, “You know even though I’m cold now, I know that when I get to camp tonight I will be warm.” Right?

Margaret: So does that mean y’all’s tents…Like in my head when I think about tents in the continental US where I live, there’s like three-season tents and then four-season tents, and four-season tents are just like honestly…they’re almost like more windproof and they just have like fewer events, right? And they’re heavier. And then there’s like lighter shit like single wall tents, and little pyramid tents with no floor, and all that stuff. But like…but overall, we have three season four season tents. But then I’m like aware of this thing that just is not part of my life because I don’t live in the North–if you ask some southerners I do, but, you know, that’s a political distinction and not a how-much-snow-is-that distinction [noise of something hitting the floor]…I just dropped something that scared my dog. But then, I’m aware that there’s like these tents that have stove jacks and stuff and you can vent out a chimney and shit. Is that like what y’all are fucking with? Are y’all just basically taking the same four-season tents as us and then like putting a burner in there and like hoping you get the flame right?

Emil: Yeah, it’s essentially a four-season tent. Yeah. So, the last one. You can, if you do dog sledding, for example, or you use a snowmobile then you can do the really big heavy duty tents with…what did you call it?

Margaret: The stove jack.

Emil: Stove jacks. Yeah, right. So yeah, it’s the chimney, right?

Margaret: Yeah

Emil: Yeah. So, you can do that. But, I think those are more used for base camps because they’re so big and heavy. So, it’s more of a four-season tent and then you have like, you know, you have an outer tent and an inner tent, right, so you can cook food in the outer tent, but you can also bring the stove inside the inner tent as long as you’re careful with all your sleeping bags and all that stuff. If that squared away, you can put the, you can put the stove on a wooden plate, for example. You can just jury-rig that system. And then, if you then burn inside the inner tent, it can be easily 20 degrees Celsius. I don’t know what that is in Fahrenheit, but it’s like a nice comfortable temperature.

Margaret: Nice and warm. Yeah, I want to say it’s around 70 [degrees Fahrenheit] or so. Yeah,, let me actually do this math for our listeners. 68. Yeah, I was close. Yeah. The the ideal temperature in a lot of ways.

Emil: Exactly.

Margaret: Yeah. Okay, because I cannot imagine bringing a stove inside my…like the way that I grew up, you know, I mean, we would have like…I would camp in…Well, this is going to be non-mutually intelligible. I guess I’ll just keep this thing up. You know, it’s like I’ve camped in like five degrees Fahrenheit, right? Which is like negative fifteen. That’s about as cold I’ve camped and it would never occur to me to heat my tent. But, I know a lot of people do do that. And then the other thing…Okay, the other question I have is: do people use little…like what I use in my like cabin and I use in my truck is like a little one burner, a little propane heater that’s like meant for inside safeness. Do people use those? Like, why the stove? Is that so they have only one thing that both melts your water and keeps you warm or like…I’m so afraid of this carbon monoxide thing. I’m just like, we need to come up with something different.

Emil: Yeah. No, the carbon monoxide poisoning is definitely something to be aware of. The key there is to check your flame and check that you have a blue flame. So, you can do that by, and you can improve that by…Like, when you have a gasoline burner, usually you have a pump to pressurize the gas container. Sometimes you have to pressurize the pump to make sure that you have a blue flame but it’s…You can use like propane or butane, but that is mostly used in the summer because when it gets cold enough those gases don’t really work anymore.

Margaret: Are you fucking kidding me? Goddammit.

Emil: No, no.

Margaret: Okay, I believe you. I was trying to figure out why the fuck you use gasoline. So, this makes sense. Okay.

Emil: Yeah, you use gasoline because gasoline works in extremely cold temperatures. [Margaret unintelligibly interrupts]

Margaret: Go ahead. Sorry. I’m sorry. Go ahead.

Emil: No, you can get like, you can get like special propane, butane that can do a bit colder. But if it’s going to be really cold, you do want gasoline. Essentially.

Margaret: When you say really cold–I have a suspicion that we have different conceptions of how cold the world can get–can you give me an example of what you’re talking about? Like how cold are we talking about?

Emil: Yeah, I mean, so butane and propane, at least I think butane, stops working at, let’s say, I don’t know, 20…I’m looking at the Celsius to Fahrenheit calculator. 20 degrees Fahrenheit? Maybe? It’s below freezing, right?

Margaret: Yeah.

Emil: So like, a bit below freezing, the gases kind of stop working as they should. But then if we’re talking about really cold, my definition of like, really, really cold would be something like 22 below Fahrenheit. Right? That’s really cold.

Margaret: Okay, what’s the coldest you’ve camped in? This is like, I’m just literally just curious.

Emil: Yeah, it’s around there. It’s around 22 below 0 in Fahrenheit terms.

Margaret: I think that’s roughly the coldest I’ve ever experienced in my life and that was not camping. I’m very grateful.

Emil: That sort of cold really sort of saps the warmth out of you, right? It really kind of…you feel your heat is being stolen by the environment. You have to be constantly moving.

Margaret: So, that actually leads to one of the other questions I have about all of this. Whenever I read about people in Antarctica or the Arctic, it talks about like…because in my head you know, if you’re cold, you put on more layers, but I’m aware of this thing where like, if you’re hiking and like climbing and doing all this shit, you kind of can’t just do that because then you like sweat and die. Like…

Emil: Yeah.

Margaret: What kind of clothing? Like what do you need clothing-wise to go on an Arctic expedition in the winter?

Emil: Right. So you want, you want wool as your base layer. It’s also–I think in English, it’s referred to as a wicking layer–because it dries, it basically takes the moisture away from your body, right? And it’s also…wool is also warm when it gets wet, or warmer than cotton, for example. Yeah, so you want wool as a base layer and then maybe you want, if it’s really cold, you might have a second warm layer and then a jacket. You can have, if you’re standing still or you’re in camp, you can do a down jacket. When you’re walking, it’s quite common to use just a shell jacket, shell pants that are windproof and waterproof, but that’s what you’re walking in. And also, it’s a constant sort of, it’s a constant adjustment, where you’re putting on and taking off layers as you’re walking as well quite often. So if you’re walking up…if you sort of, you’ve been walking flat and then you come to sort of a pass that you have to climb or a mountain that is…like a steep hill, you might take off the layers, but you have to be adjusting. Okay, but to the sweat thing, like…Yes. No sweating is like…the ideal situation is to be dry. But you are going to sweat. And I think sort of the whole, “If you sweat, you die,” thing is kind of overblown as long as you can dry–and that’s another reason why you would want a stove in your tend, so you can dry your clothes in the evening.

Margaret: Okay, okay. We say cotton kills because it’s alliterative. Is it alliterative in Norwegian also or no?

Emil: Yeah, you mean you can…Yeah, I think so.

Margaret: Okay, because that’s one of the phrases I learned when I was very young about not wearing cotton is, “Cotton kills.” Although that is a little bit with the like, “Everything will murder you,” theory. Although, it sounds like in the Arctic more things will actually murder you than usual. But, alright, well, I feel like I could talk about this for the whole hour. But, there’s a bunch of other stuff I want to talk to you about. And, one of the questions I have is, as I read a lot of stuff about climate change and one of the main things that it talks about is like the disappearing ice and the like, the impact this is having on the polar areas of the world. And, and that is completely hypothetical in my head, right? I’ve only seen a glacier with binoculars. On the other hand, I would have seen a lot more glaciers in Glacier National Park if I had been there 20 years earlier. So clearly, this is an impact. But, how has it…like what does it look like on the ground for climate change?

Emil: I can give you two examples. One example is from Svalbard, which is a Norwegian owned archipelago. It’s north of Iceland and east of Greenland. It’s quite close to the North Pole where I spent a year doing an arctic nature guide course. And on Svalbard, the thing is, Svalbard does have polar bear, right? And polar bears are classified as marine mammals for a reason. That’s that they spend a lot of time out on the ice, right, hunting seals. Seals are what they eat. And with the warming climate, Svalbard is actually one of the warmest…or one of the fastest warming places on Earth. It has been…it’s warmed, I think 4 degrees Celsius for the past, or over the past 50 years. So, since the 1970s, that’s 4 degrees, right? We’re talking about the global average of 1.5. Celsius. So, that gives you a sense of the scale of warming in the in the north, in the Arctic, heating up really quickly. And so one of the things that happens is because the ice is melting, the sea ice, polar bears are increasingly hungry and losing their sort of winter habitat, right, so they’re more on the archipelago itself instead of out on the sea.

Margaret: Are you leading up to they attack more people? Is that what’s happening?

Emil: Yeah. Yeah.

Margaret: Oh, fuck. Oh no. Because then people shoot them and then they die.

Emil: Exactly.

Margaret: Okay. Please continue. Sorry.

Emil: Yeah, no, that’s what’s happening. So, there’s two things, right, they’re hungrier and they are in the same places people are, right. And so they…it’s it’s increasing. The polar-human conflict is increasing because there are more polar bears coming into camp. And they’re hungrier, so they’re more motivated to find food, right. So, that’s–which is again, sort of exacerbating the loss of number of polar bears, right? So, it’s kind of like it’s a double whammy. It’s both the climate and then the climate is impacting human-polar bear relations. If you want to put it that way.

Margaret: Okay…

Emil: So, then I have another example.

Margaret: Yeah, and then I’m going to ask you about fighting polar bears. Okay.

Emil: Awesome. So, in Northern Norway, the only indigenous people in sort of Western Europe is in Northern Norway, the Sámi people. So Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. And one of the sort of main components of Sámi culture, at least today, as we know it today, is reindeer herding. And so what happens–and the reindeer eat moss from the ground also in the wintertime–And so what happens is when the winters get warmer, you have more of these freeze…these what do you call them…Cycles…

Margaret: Oh, like when it defrosts and then freezes again?

Emil: Yeah, exactly. It melt-freeze cycles [melt-thaw cycles] which creates ice. Which makes it more difficult for the reindeer to find food because they have to kick through the ice layer to get to the moss. And so this is impacting indigenous livelihoods as well. I wanted to bring that up, too.

Margaret: Yeah, no, no, that’s…it’s absolutely worth bringing up. And then I think that one of the things about this melt-freeze cycle, I was talking with one of my friends who lives in Canada who like has…like, in rural Canada, where it snows more than half the year, which is not my experience. Where I live, it could snow, you know, three or four months of the year. And, it seems when you when you’re somewhere where, like where I live, where it constantly melts and freezes, it seems like a nightmare to have nine months of snow it seems unlivable. Right? I’m like, “How does anyone do it?” And I was having a long conversation with my friend about it. And one of their main points was that like, it stays snow. And so it’s navigable in a way that like…you know, when it snows here, the road is fine, because I have a big truck, but the next day, it’s fucked because the next day the sun has melted enough of it and then it’s frozen overnight. And then like…and if more snow falls, it’s snow on top of ice and then the roads are just fucked. You know? So I just…it’s interesting to think about that also fucking up moss and fucking up…It makes sense. But I don’t know. Okay, my other…Okay, I have two questions about all this. One, is it just heartbreaking? To like, actually visually see more of this happening? Because we have like, “oh, the weather’s really fucking weird.” And we have a few more like disasters, right? But I’m not watching permafrost melt. I’m not watching glaciers recede. I’m not watching the place that I go…like, I’m not trying to bum you out. But, I’m like…How do you know? How do you cope?

Emil: You know, it’s it’s difficult. I think. I don’t think I have a good answer for you. Yes, it is depressing, right? And so I think one coping mechanism could be just taking that sort of sorrow and anger and putting it towards political action. I think that sort of…I think that’s what I’m doing. Also, just like, getting really mad at politicians, just going around thinking all day, like, “Fucking Prime Minister. Fucking,” you know? You could just, you could just be angry. It’s okay to just be angry, you know? That’s…that’s fine. But, yeah. No, it is, I think, especially for the people who live in these landscapes and have their lives and livelihoods intimately connected to these landscapes, it’s…we think of climate change as an existential threat in the abstract, but for them, it’s already sort of in their lives, you know? And so yeah, I do think it’s…it’s, it’s closer, kind of. It’s not just on TV. It’s in this valley you’re moving through, you know?

Margaret: Yeah. And having it be different every year, probably every year that you go into it. Okay, well, that brings me my other…It doesn’t actually but my other question from what you were just saying. Alright, so how do you fight polar…like, you’re saying that it increases, like, conflict and so it’s like two questions, like, one, is like…I’m sort of aware I’m gonna get some of this wrong–I know how to deal with black bears because they are black bears where I live, which is that you have to like, stand up to them, right? You’d be like, “Hey, fuck you, black bear. I’m bigger than you,” which is like a lie, right? But they’re like, “Ahh, alright, whatever.” And they fuck off. And it’s like sketchy. And it like confuses me that I have friends who do this on a regular basis who are like forest defenders, you know. And I’ve only had to do it like, a handful times in my life and let it stay that way. That would be great. And then we have like grizzly bears are like the biggest thing that we worry about, right? Because like–and I don’t worry about them because I don’t live in Alaska–but like, the polar bears are like…they’re like mythical to me, right? They’re like, oh, you know, there’s bears. And then there’s like dire bears, which are grizzly bears. And then there’s dragons. There’s just dragons in the north. And that’s the polar bears. They are this like mythical fucking thing. And so the concept of like…like I’ve stood guard for bears or like, when you have a forest defense camp in the Pacific Northwest, people have to do bear duty where they sit around and like, throw rocks at bears that are trying to come into camp and shit, right? But I can’t imagine what that is like with polar bears. I want like a fucking palisade, and like, like spotlights, and like helicopters, and shit. Like, like, what is the…How do you deal with polar bears?

Emil: Yeah, so, I think it’s much the same way that you deal with other kinds of bears. The only thing is that, I mean polar bears can be really, really persistent. I believe they’re the only bear species that is known to actively hunt humans in emergencies.

Margaret: [Laughing] I mean, it makes sense. They’re a lot bigger than us. Yeah.

Emil: Yeah, but it’s actually, it’s only in emergencies because it’s a caloric loss project for them. The reason they eat seals is because seals are so fatty. And fat has more than twice the amount of calories per pound than carbohydrates and protein. So, like most of us aren’t as fat as a seal. So it’s…they don’t do it unless they absolutely have to. But you do…When you’re out in a big group, you do polar bear guard, right, whenever you have camp. 24/7. That means getting out of your comfortable warm sleeping bag where you’re snug at three o’clock at night and going out for an hour and grabbing the rifle and standing guard from from three to four, right, in the middle of night or in the early morning hours. But, you do, you have some sort of signal flare, usually, that is for scaring the bear away. So, you you can have…it’s like a small explosive fired out of a flare gun that…it’s just like a flash bang essentially, right. It’s a really big loud boom. And then you also carry a rifle, usually, you can also, some people carry magnums. I have seen…

Margaret: By Magnum, you mean a large pistol?

Emil: [Said while Margaret interrupts Emil] I have seen Glocks for sale….Yeah. By Magnum, I mean, like a .44 Magnum revolver.

Margaret: Yeah. Okay.

Emil: Yeah, a nine millimeter. I have seen some Glocks for sale. That’s not really
going to be very effective. You need a big round like a .308.

Margaret: There’s 10mm. Yeah. And they’re like, I mean, actually, for Grizzlies and for black bears, you’re better off, instead of a gun, you’re better off with bear spray. It’s just like, statistically, more effective at deterring a bear is to get sprayed with bear spray than to get shot. I don’t know about polar bears. But like, but I know that 10mm is a round that is often carried by people who are in Alaska or are in places where like, big fucking game is like a thing that they worry about, you know? Anyway, I didn’t mean to cut you off. I’m just like, geeking out about it. But, so the rifle that you’re carrying is .308?

Emil: Yeah, usually .308. Sometimes .30-06 Springfield, [pronounced thirty-aught-six] usually .308 Winchester. That’s kind of the standard, and then some people carry essentially big handguns as well. It’s lighter to carry a revolver. But, obviously it has sort of like less range and stuff. But it’s less…it’s more difficult to shoot a pistol than a rifle, but I have to say it’s…it’s shooting a polar bear is not something that you should do. There an endangered species. It’s actually, it’s illegal. It’s illegal to shoot a polar bear in Norway. The hunting was banned in the 70s. So, when you shoot a polar bear on Svalbard, in self-defense, it’s treated as essentially like a murder case.

Margaret: But you just like, prove it was self-defense?

Emil: You prove self-defense, essentially. So that’s, that’s very important to add that it is like a last resort.

Margaret: Yeah. Do people use bear spray for polar bears or just not?

Emil: You can you can use bear spray as well. But, I think the effective range of bear spray is so short that, sort of, people might not be comfortable with letting the bear get that close.

Margaret: That’s fair. I mean, I don’t want to get that close to a…I’ve only seen a grizzly once it was through binoculars. And I was like, “This rules. This is the right distance. I’m so happy. I got to see a grizzly bear. It is checked off the list.” Okay. Alright, so that’s how you defend yourself against polar bears. How common…I mean, you’re saying on Svalbard it’s becoming more and more common, but it’s like, is this a like…like, there’s places where bears are like raccoons, you know, they’re just kind of everywhere. But I assume that this is a kind of not the case, because they’re pretty endangered.

Emil: Yeah, not quite like raccoons, but they’re quite common. I think–because the usual line about Svalbard is, you know, “The archipelago with more polar bears than people.” Which has, which has a degree of truth to it. It’s just that the polar bears are also distributed around the sea ice, around the island group, right? So, it’s 2,500 people, and they reckon around 3,000 polar bears. So, it’s quite common, quite common. It’s not unusual to see a bear. But I didn’t see one.

Margaret: Okay, fair enough. Like, I want to go. I like, I’ve never been up where the sun doesn’t actually set. I’ve been close, you know, Well, actually, I’ve done the opposite. I’ve been in the far north in the summer and had like 2am Twilight and I love it.

Emil: It’s so weird. It’s like a super strange experience coming out of a nightclub at like, 4am and then the sun is just like shining straight in your face. Like, “No, I’m tired. I want to sleep.” Like all the birds are circling around you and fucking making ungodly noises and it’s…yeah, it’s a surreal experience. I mean, it’s…I’ve
been partying all night and it’s like, it’s bright as day now.

Margaret: Yeah, I’d feel betrayed. I’d be like…Yeah, I like it. But, I don’t know how I would handle it if I lived there. I like that I get to experience that every now and then. And I don’t know how I would handle the, you know, how–I don’t know how many days of night it is–but you know, the sun not coming up thing. But, okay, one of the other things that you mentioned that you wanted to talk about, and I got really excited about, was how you spent a lot of your time in the outdoors, you spent a lot of your time guiding people and like and working with groups of people in dangerous and complicated situations. And I want to ask you about the decision making in that kind of environment and leadership structures. And also, you know, specifically how this led you towards more thinking about non-hierarchical organizing and anarchism and stuff like that. What was that like for you? Or, what’s that? What is that like?

Emil: Yeah, so, in my, during my studies, I’ve been outside, I’ve been working with a lot of different groups of, especially fellow students, and one of the things that struck me is that the…when we were out on trips, especially like study trips, all of the decision making was remarkably sort of consensus based. Rarely was there sort of a clear leader. It didn’t really feel natural to have a clear leader. When we were…When we had differing opinions about which route to take, we would usually sort of discuss and people kind of fall into, sort of, the organizational structure where people just sort of take up tasks that they see need doing, you know, and things just kind of work themselves out. And it’s also…Now, it is nice when you have the sort of structure to have sort of evening talks that are, for example, after dinner we have half an hour of like daily feedback, for example. “How did you do this day? Is there anything that’s, you know, bothering you? Annoying you?” I think actually the Kurds have something similar? I don’t remember the name.

Margaret: It’s called techmill.

Emil: Techmill. Yeah, exactly. It’s…So, we kind of had our own, like daily techmill when we were on hikes. And so this experience, really, I think, is one of the things that sort of pushed me towards anarchism, towards like, the idea of non-hierarchical social organization, or like self-organizing, because I see that it works even in sort of demanding contexts because the outdoors can be quite demanding. You’re like tired, cold, wet. And yet still, just with like a bit of work, a bit of like good effort it works and works well.

Margaret: Yeah. I love hearing this, because I like things that fit my presupposition about how the world works, but specifically, it’s like, because it’s the opposite of what everyone says. Everyone always says, like, “Oh, you can do consensus when it’s like, no stakes. But as soon as you’re in the backwoods you need a guy with big muscles to be like, “Nah, we got to go this way, then like,” and everyone would just naturally…” It’s just really cool to be like, this makes sense to me. They’re like, “Oh, which route do we take?” “We should figure this out, not listen to what the captain says. Like, we should actually listen to everyone here. And come to conclusions, because this is all of our lives on the line. And there are a bunch of people who like know what they’re doing. So we should ask all of them and figure it out.” This makes complete sense to me. But it’s completely the opposite of what everyone always says about this kind of situation. Yeah.

Emil: I have to say there are specific situations that are…When when the risks are extremely high, when you’re in an emergency, for example, if there’s been an avalanche, it does make sense to have one person coordinating the whole thing, right?

Margaret: That makes a lot of sense to me.

Emi:l: Or, or…Yeah, same thing if, hypothetically, this is not just outdoors but like if you’re being shot at, if you’re in a group of people and you’re like taking fire, right, it makes sense to have like one person who kind of, whose job it is to to keep their head on a swivel and kind of figure out what’s going on and make some decisions because it needs to happen quickly, right? Since there may be someone stuck in an avalanche. But other than those sorts of extreme situations, right, that consensus works.

Margaret: Yeah. Okay. And I actually really liked that you point this part out too, because I think a lot about like, when you’re in a situation where someone’s been grievously injured, the medic is in charge. And the medic can tell everyone what to do. And you just fucking do it. You know?

Emil: Exactly.

Margaret: Yeah. And that makes sense. Like, “This person is bleeding out. You go get me towels.” Or…you don’t need towels. Just whatever it is.

Emil: Yeah, you’re not going to spend 10 minutes discussing what to do and figuring out a plan together because by that time the person is already dead.

Margaret: Right. And so that that actually does make a lot of sense to me. And then you have like, basically, these roles are filled based on the people who are most capable doing them. Like, the person who’s been in a bunch of firefights, like…Yeah, maybe when we’re planning the overall strategy we listen to the people who have the most strategic knowledge, but it’s still “we figure it out together.” But yeah, like no, if someone’s shooting at me, and someone’s like, “You go there. Shoot back. You do this. You do that.” Like, I do like…To me, that’s almost like…It’s like the exploding brain of anarchism. Like, the bigger and bigger steps of it is being like, “Oh, no, sometimes you let people tell you what to do.” Like, sometimes that’s part of being a part of a functioning group. And then, okay, the other thing that I like about it, too, is that you’re talking about like, okay, you have your conversations you have every evening and it’s this balance because you’re talking about how everyone kind of takes these roles. They’re like, “Oh, what needs doing?” and then does it. But, then part of it is structured and so it’s this mix of organic…It’s like chaotic and structured all at the same time, you know? I really liked it.

Emil: And it’s not just…I mean, you can have I think social structure without hierarchy, right?

Margaret: Yeah.

Emil: So you can…So I mean, for me, hierarchy kind of implies a…kind of implies violence and coercion, right?

Margaret: Yeah.

Emil: But structure, social structure doesn’t necessarily imply violence. Social structure can just be sort of something that emerges by itself and which can then be discussed in these evening conversations, for example. So, if a person sort of naturally falls into the role of cook for the group, right, that can be a form of social structure that just kind of emerges. But, if that person isn’t happy in that role, it also helps to have these sort of regular scheduled conversations where those sorts of things can be discussed, right? And maybe we want to…maybe they want to do something different the next day, or like, maybe we can like switch tasks.

Margaret: Yeah.

Emil: Right? And so, but this actually comes to something that I think is sort of important here and that’s that the outdoors is actually a fantastic arena for forming social connections and group, sort of, bonds, and also political…and also, like, within political groups. Like there’s a reason why in the 20th century outdoor activities, outdoor recreations, like the Scouts and those types of stuff, but that type of stuff was actually taken up by all the mass political movements, socialists, and communists, and anarchists, and fascists. All to use the outdoors as like an arena, right? But, I think as, as the–because it works really well–but as our societies have sort of Neo-liberalized and individualized and kind of also de-politicized in a way, I think that sort of, the outdoors as a political arena, that idea, has sort of faded away. And I think actually, for us as anarchists, that’s something that we can kind of take back. We can use the outdoors as a fantastic place to get to know each other and to practice anarchism, to form group bonds, and to just train. And it’s also just like fun. It’s a nice thing to do.

Margaret: I’m really excited by this idea. That makes so much sense to me. I think about like…I mean, one, literally being in Boy Scouts is a very formative experience for my life, right? And I like go back to the stuff I learned there constantly. And I was only in there for a couple years, because then I got like to cool. And like, you know, quit or whatever. And and then yeah, like, as I read about social movements in 20th century, I read about, you know, the hiking clubs in Weimar era Germany that the communist, the fascist, and the anarchists all did things with. And the like, wild, queer kids who didn’t really have a political label would also go do. And yeah, and then the Spanish anarchists had sports clubs as a huge part of what they were doing. No, this is really interesting to me. And then because even like when you’re describing all this stuff–because I’ve been getting more and more into hiking–and one of the things that when you’re talking, like one of the reasons I want to ask about all the Arctic stuff is like not because I really think that there’s a really good chance that I’m going to have to move over mountains personally, right? But knowing how feels like really useful to me and interesting to me. And then also like, going out and practicing and learning seems like fun, you know, and a good way to…And even…Okay, when I was talking about, when I was asking you how to cope with climate change, one of the things that I’ve been doing–and I don’t know whether it’s like good or not, but it’s been working a little bit for me–is to kind of embrace seeing more and like experiencing more–and not necessarily just like tourist and traveling–but like literally just hiking around where I live and just like feeling the Spring, you know, like getting out and being like, “Spring is here.” This winter was weird. We had a really dry, warm winter here. The west coast the US had the exact opposite. You know, but like, being like okay, how is this Spring different than last Spring? I want to be able to start really building that and being like, well if this is the last bits of the Earth being like this, let’s fucking enjoy it. Let’s do this shit.

Emil: Yeah, I agree completely. Yeah, it’s one of the things where I think a lot of people…because being outdoors, we’ve talked a lot about the practical and a little bit about the political, it also has an existential dimension. People go outdoors to feel a sense of peace, or time for reflection, or to get into, there’s a particular rhythm to, to hiking, for example. And it also has a spiritual aspect actually for a lot of people. So you can, what some people experience is that like, as they spend time outdoors, they feel a sense of sort of connection, or a being in place, feeling like a part of a network of relations to the landscape around them to the flora and the fauna. And from that can actually emerge, kind of animism as well. Like, if I’m wandering alongside a river, for example, in a valley and I’m fantasizing, I’m starting to think about this river as sort of having a life or like having a life force that sort of an animistic thought, and it doesn’t mean that–and it sort of arises naturally, I think–and it doesn’t mean that I literally think that the river has a consciousness, for example. But it’s an expression of this idea that this river in this valley is central to a sort of network of relations. It’s thinking ecologically. So, I think getting in touch with that side of things as well can be really–you talked about how to cope with what you asked about how to cope with like, climate grief–I think just sort of getting in touch in that way, can be a way to…or just like getting close, you know, to the landscape, to this network of relations. I think that can be a really sort of valuable personal experience and also an experience that you can have in groups, but perhaps wandering alone would be the best way to like get that.
Margaret: That makes a lot of sense to me. And I feel like that might be a good note to end on, for people to reflect on. And yeah, I guess I want to say thank you so much for coming on. And do you have anything that you want to plug, either your own work or work of people that’s around you that you want to draw attention to? Anything like that?

Emil: Um, let me think, Oh, yeah. I mean, thank you so much for having me. It’s been a pleasure. I think I don’t have anything to plug personally. But sort of on the last note that we were on, I would direct people towards a book called Becoming Animal: an Earthly Cosmology, by an American author called David Abram. He writes beautifully about, he takes a phenomenological perspective for those who know what that is. And he writes beautifully about exactly what we’ve been talking about now, sort of getting in touch with this network of relations. Yeah, I think that’s what I would point people towards.

Margaret: Fuck yeah. I like that. I like that your plug is a book. That makes me happy. I mean, I haven’t read the book yet. But now I’m gonna check it out. Alright, well, thank you so much. And I’m probably going to at some other point have you on to ask more questions about how to walk over frozen lakes.

Emil: That would be awesome. And also glaciers. We didn’t know mention glaciers.

Margaret: That was one of my questions I didn’t ask. Yeah, I know. I know. All right. Well, we’ll have to we’ll have to have you back. But yeah, thank you so much.

Emil: I would love to be back. Yeah, that’d be awesome.

Margaret: Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, please tell people about the show. Tell people about it on the internet, or in real life, or in the Arctic, which is part of real life. Believe it or not. If you want to support us more directly, you can do so by supporting us on Patreon because this podcast is produced by Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. We are a collective that publishes anarchistic culture stuff, Fiction, essays, memoir, podcasts, obviously podcasts. There’s this podcast. There’s another podcast called Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. There’s another one called Anarcho Geek Power Hour and there will hopefully be other ones soon too that you all can hear. And if you support us on Patreon we will send you all kinds of stuff in the mail as a thanks every month. And also, some of you we’ll thank directly. In fact, we’re going to thank Hoss the Dog. Michaiah, Chris, Sam, Kirk, Eleanor, Jenipher, Staro, Kat J., Chelsea, Dana, David, Nicole, Mikki, Paige, SJ, Shawn, Hunter, Theo, Boise Mutual Aid, Milica, Paparouna, Aly, Paige, Janice and O’dell, Oxalis, and Jans. Thank you all so much, and I hope everyone is doing as well as you can. And hopefully I will talk to you soon while we’re trying to convince the polar bears that they’re on the same side as us. And that together we can destroy the thing that’s destroying the world together. Us and the polar bears.

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S1E73 – Bex on Basic First Aid for Emergencies

Episode Summary

Bex and Inmn talk about first aid and why it’s super important for everyone to know a little. They talk about different trainings you can take, different situations you might need to know first aid for, what the world of street medics is like, and when to seek higher levels of care. They also talk about a really helpful zine by Riot Medicine called Basic First Aid for Emergencies.

Host Info

Inmn can be found on Instagram @shadowtail.artificery.

Guest Info

Bex can be found nowhere. However, Riot Medicine, the writers of Basic First Aid for Emergencies, can be found at where you can find a lot more resources on learning about first aid, and responding to emergencies and all sorts of situations. You can read Basic First Aid for Emergencies here.

Publisher Info

This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at


Live Like the World is Dying: Bex on First Aid

Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m your host Inmn Neruin and I used to them pronouns. This week we’re talking about something super important that we’ve covered in bits and pieces in other episodes and that is first aid. This episode was used on our other podcast that I host called Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. On that podcast we have a voice actor narrate our monthly zine and I do an interview with the author. This month we chose to use our zine Basic First Aid for Emergencies by Riot medicine and invited our friend Bex to talk about first aid. Bex is not the author of the zine but does know a lot about first aid. And since this is a very much a Live Like the World is Dying topic, we decided to feature it over here. Content warning, we talked about blood and bodies. I mean, the precious light that fills our bodies. There’s no blood in us. Bex has been on Live Like the World is Dying before to talk about treating gunshot wounds and it was one of the first episodes. So, go back and listen to that one if you haven’t already. But first, we are a proud member of the Channel Zero Network. And here is a jingle from another show on that network. Doo doo doo doo.

Real quick. We just launched a Kickstarter for Penumbra City, the TTRPG that we’ve been writing–we being Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. The Kickstarter launched on June 1st, which might have been yesterday or might have been a long time ago. Watch the game that inspired the short story Confession to a Dead Man come to life. We also have an actual play recording of us playing that game that just came out on this feed right before this episode. So give it a listen. And check out the Kickstarter at Find your friends. Kill the God King.

And we’re back. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast today and for talking.


And for talking to us about this thing that is just so important and something that we will…a topic that we absolutely can’t cover in a single podcast episode but we’re gonna try to get through the basics of. Would you like to introduce yourself and just tell us a little bit about your background in first aid and like responding to emergencies?

Yeah, my name is Bex, thanks so much for having me on the podcast. Stoked to be here. I first got involved with doing first aid or like emergency medical response in 2010 when I took my first street medic training with the Rosehip [Collective] medics out of Portland. Previous to that I, you know, was like a youth lifeguard and things like that. But, I feel like that’s that training in 2010 kind of kicked me off on a different path and I’ve been sort of running as a street medic since then and running medic trainings and street medic trainings for the last 10 years. And, now work professionally doing wilderness first aid trainings as well. I’m having…I’m not like an expert medical practitioner, but I do have a bit of experience and I’m extremely passionate about education and sharing knowledge and making this skill set accessible to folks who are interested in it.

Yeah, yeah. And it’s funny because I feel like people who…like there are a lot of people who are like, extreme experts in a field or something, but are like, maybe not as excited about teaching or education or finding ways to introduce people to those worlds as much. So.

Yeah, and especially in the sort of medical industrial complex, I feel like it’s a place where people often feel extremely alienated both from their own bodies and also from being able to access information about how to take care of themselves or take care of people around them. And, I feel like trying to break that down and make that…change emergency medical response from something that is, like, highly specialized and professionalized to something that is available and accessible for everyone is tight.

Yeah, yeah, it is a very, very cool thing. And, you know, that’s part of what this zine is supposed to do, it’s supposed to kind of break down the barriers to just, you know, people who have no medical training to have some kind of foothold in responding to different emergencies. But to kind of back up from that–although listeners, we are probably not going to like go through this zine, page by page in this interview because that would, one, take way more time than we have on this podcast to talk about all the topics and, two, because it is possibly not the best way to learn about the minutiae of these topics. So, we’re gonna focus mostly on talking about what first aid is and why it’s important and how you can learn more about it outside of an hour long podcast. But, Bex, Could you could you tell us kind of like what…what is first aid? And what is kind of the scope of first aid?

Yeah, the like, general gist of first aid is: it’s the very first care or intervention that someone receives, or gives to themselves when a illness or injury occurs. So, this is usually what’s happening by a layperson, someone who’s not a professional, and is happening in, you know, where the injury or illness is happening rather then in a clinical setting. And this can range from the everyday first day that we give ourselves at home, like, “Oh, I got a cut. I’m gonna wash it out in the kitchen sink and put a band-aid on it.” Or it could also be in a protest scenario or it could be in a wilderness scenario or it could be anywhere. Anywhere there are people doing things there is first aid happening.

Cool. That is a very great explanation for first aid. And, for folks who are kind of like less knowledgeable–maybe they’re hearing these phrases for the first time–what is a street medic? And what do street medics do?

What do street medics do. [inflected as more of a statement] Yeah, so a street medic is basically someone who has some amount of emergency medical response training, who goes out in a protest or demonstration sort of scene, whether that is mobilization in the street, or whether it’s hanging with their affinity group, or whether it’s place based, sort of like encampment type of protest, or anything like that, and responding to the types of illnesses and injuries that we might see in those settings, including things like dealing with police munitions, chemical weapons, or potentially gunshot wounds, as well as like, “Ah! The bike brigade hit me and I fell over and now I’m scraped up,” or whatever, but it’s basically doing some emergency medical response in a protest setting.

Well, cool, and what kind of training do street medics usually have? Or like could that vary? I’m asking you leading questions I know the answers to.

Well, there’s controversy here actually. I would say that the gold standard for street medics is to have a twenty-hour training. In that twenty hours, you can really cover the depth and breadth of how to do a basic patient assessment system to make sure that you are really understanding the full picture of what’s going on with a person that you are supporting and you learn different types of interventions, whether that’s wound care, eye flushes for chemical weapons, how to tell if someone has a spinal injury, all kinds of things. You get to practice in a bunch of like fun hands on scenarios. People do shorter trainings as well. There’s like bridge trainings for folks who are already coming from a professional medical background but want to get involved in sort of street medic stuff. And then there are also much shorter trainings, like just “stop the bleed trainings” or things like that where you’re just dealing with major hemorrhaging bleeds.

So…Oh, and like, sometimes, you know, street medics obviously have varying levels of training, like whether they have the twenty-hour training or whether they’re coming to it with like, you know, like, I know nurses who are street medics. I know, doctors who are street medics. I know EMTs, wilderness EMTs, like people with wilderness first responder certifications. So there’s a…Or like, herbalists or clinicians. Like there’s such like a wide scope to who practices street medicine, right?

Yeah, definitely. And, then there’s also this other side of the spectrum where, because street medics for decades now in protests have been sort of like a visible element of many protests scenarios, it can also be tempting for people to adopt this as their identity. And they’re like, “This is what I do. I am a street medic and I stand on the sidewalk where I’m really safe and I don’t actually participate in anything. And I’ve like been in situations where you’ve got like, ten medics, and you’ve got like, ten legal observers, and you’ve got, you know, like, a police liaison, and then there’s like five people actually involved in the protest. And I would just really encourage breaking that down. And, I think that you can be supporting people and like providing emergency response or first aid while also being a really active, engaged participant in movement spaces and in demonstrations. And like approaching that with like, some nuance or some caution about like, “Hey, am I gonna mark myself as a medic if I’m gonna go do this sketchy thing? Maybe not.” But like, Yeah, I think that finding like these niche ways to…or like these kind of, like, ways to bring our skills to protest movements is really awesome but not at the detriment of also being really active participants in all of the things that we’re interested in and feel up for engaging.

Well, yeah, and maybe we’ll talk about that a little bit more later. But, before we get too heavy into theory, I just want to I just want to go over this is zine. So folks, if you’re listening on the Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness podcast or if you’re listening on the Live Like the World is Dying podcast, we have this zine called Basic First Aid for Emergencies, it was put out by a group called Riot Medicine and it is the first in a series of skills series zines that we’re putting out, which we are woefully behind on. If you know a cool skill, and you would like to write a zine for this series of skill scenes, then you know, get in touch with us. So, this zine was put out by Riot medicine and Riot Medicine is an entity that puts out essentially medical information specifically geared at people who might go to things that, you know, some people might classify as riots or like responses to kind of like police violence or violence from the, you know, alt right or fascists. I mean, you know, fascists all of a different name. And the zine, it goes through some really kind of baseline stuff, like stuff that someone with no medical training might find as helpful tips. It talks about safety, your safety, kind of like environmental hazards, and it talks about, like, personal protective equipment that you should consider. It talks about a layperson’s guide to finding someone’s vital signs. It talks about best practice ways to move people who might not be able to move themselves. There is a very brief introduction to compression-only CPR, there’s a brief guide to wounds, specifically for severe bleeding and then for minor wounds. There’s a section on burns, heat illness–which we did an entire episode on heat illness before, so if you want to learn more about heat illness, go back and listen to “Guy on Heat Illness”–talks about hypothermia, frostbite, talks about clean water, and then kind of has a basic construction for what a first-aid kit could contain. And that is available for free to read on our website or you can get it mailed to you. And Riot Medicine also, they….just to kind of go through some of the things that Riot Medicine puts out. If you go to their website,, you can find a more comprehensive guide to to learning about medic stuff, they put out a full length textbook called Riot Medicine, it’s yeah, it is massive. It is 466 pages, which includes an absolutely obscene amount of information that might, you know, peruse at your leisure. They also put out a smaller field guide. This is something that could be like in your medic kit and view kind of like a reference piece. They put out a bridge guide for people coming from other medical professional backgrounds who want to learn how to apply those backgrounds to engaging in street medic work. And yeah, they put out a ton of really awesome stuff. And yeah, so that is kind of the basis of the guide. And instead of kind of like digging into depth of like all of these topics, I would encourage everyone to go out and read about it or to attend a training of some sort. It’s going to be a much better way to learn about a lot of these topics. But, to kind of switch gears into in talking about backgrounds, on the Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness podcast, I always like to ask people kind of like, “What the story behind their story is?” or “How this piece came to be?” And that is a little less applicable in this context, but Bex, how did you get your start in learning about responding to medical emergencies of all kinds? Like what what was your catalyst or origin story, so to speak?

My first-aid origin story. Well, okay, first, let me just say the zine is really cool. It’s a–in addition to all the things that Inmn described–it also has illustrations for almost everything. And so if you are into sort of like the visual learning, it’s got illustrations. It’s great. Everyone should check it out. It seems really useful. Keep it in your backpack, keep it under your bathroom counter for when you’re like, “What am I supposed to do with this gnarly cut I got?” Okay, but my my villain origin…I mean, my first-aid origin story. Honestly, I’m like a very accident prone person. I would say that in general, I’ve got like pretty low body awareness. And it’s not uncommon for me to like, get injured in odd situations. So, I’ve spent spent a lot of time taking trips to the urgent care and being like, “I think there might be something serious going on.” And, specifically, there’s like one incident that really launched me into wanting to learn more about first aid, which is that I got a pretty bad concussion from a bike accident. And I had no idea that I had a head injury. I had no idea that I should even be considering that I might have a head injury until like, the next morning when I was like collapsed in the shower and my roommates were like, lifting me up by my armpits and like patting me off and like, putting me in the car to like head out to the urgent care to like see what the fuck was wrong with me. And that experience was just like…was extremely scary and extremely eye opening to know that like there could be something like seriously wrong going on inside my body and I did not…I didn’t know….I didn’t know what to look for. I didn’t know what was going on until it sort of like reached a more critical point. And that just made me really want to learn more. And I think that I probably went to a street medic training and also maybe like a 16 hour wilderness first-aid training in the year or two following that incident.

Why did you go to a street medic training? Like, first, instead of like a WFR class or WFA class?

Yeah, and WFR stands for wilderness first responder. That’s like an 80 hour training usually, and wilderness first aid is the WFA that Inmn just said and that’s usually a 16 hour training. There’s different orgs that offer those. Um, well, I went to a street medic training, because when I heard about it I thought it sounded cool and fun. And, because I was looking for a way to plug into some specific movement spaces, or like, demonstrations that were coming up that I was eager to participate in, but wasn’t quite sure how to engage in. And this felt like a…I was like, “Oh, there’s something I can do, like something I can offer, a skill set.” And now I feel like my thinking on that has shifted, where I’m like, actually, every single person brings something. Like every person brings a skill set and that’s being exactly who they are engaging in a protest space. But, at the time it felt like getting a street medic training was a really empowering sort of entry point of like, “Oh, I’ve got this sort of, like, motivating reason to show up and feel like I can be helpful or something.”

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, it’s a great–I feel like it maybe this is less true now–but I feel like at— really aging myself here–a while ago, I feel like it was a really good entry point into, like, getting involved with movements, like, in the same way that, you know, when I was a teenager I would go to Food Not Bombs. And that was a huge entry point into learning about different radical projects in my area was just going to Food Not Bombs. And so, like, I feel like street medic trainings similarly offer a very easy, low-barrier way for people to get involved in protests or like uprising movements. Or at least that’s how they did in the past. I don’t know if that’s true anymore.

Yeah, and in general, I mean, I think that, like, we as human beings are like, very, sort of, like, motivated towards connection with others and like, relationship building, and, like community building and a sense of belonging. And I think that in radical movements that creating containers–whether it’s things like a street medic training or Food Not Bombs or like, you know, whatever–it is finding places where people can know that, like, “Oh, I can show up here. People are going to be stoked that I’m there. They’re gonna, like, be actively and enthusiastically, like, sharing their knowledge and skills and like, inviting me into the space feels really fucking good.” And we need more models of that all around us.

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I mean, you know, that was one of the first ways that I got involved in that kind of stuff was like, I don’t know, I went…I like was at a thing and I watched the police fuck some people up and I watched these, like, street medics like swoop in, and like, just, like, instantly have this like, response of like…it’s like, I saw someone screaming because they’d been like pepper…they’d been maced in the face and there was suddenly this group of people who knew exactly what to do to help those people. And it was like…it like it was a very, like catalyzing experience for me. At least to like, see that and then be like, I want to help people like that. I want to like know what to do when my friends get hurt.

Yeah, totally. And I feel like doing a street medic training and getting involved in that world was a really catalyzing experience for me as well, where previously, when I would witness, you know, like, police brutalizing someone at a protest, I would be overwhelmed with this sense of helpless rage, where I’m, you know, you’re like watching something terrible happening and there’s nothing you can do or like, you feel like that in that moment. And one of the big things that I love about emergency medicine in general–whether it’s street medicine or wilderness emergency medicine or what have you–is his emphasis on calm, like spreading calm, and bringing calm to a situation. And like, Yeah, we should all be fucking mad and energized, but we can like find a place of calm and purpose in our responses rather than feeling completely overwhelmed by hopelessness or rage. And I think that in general, like, when people have a sense of agency in a situation–whether it’s a situation in their own personal life or in a protest scenario or what have you–if you feel like, there was something I could do, I could participate in some way, I had some agency here in how I chose to respond, we know that sense of agency reduces the sort of like, permanent traumatic mark that that makes on us. And how we recover psychologically from witnessing or experiencing those things has a lot to do with what we felt we were capable of in our response in that moment. And I think that, for me, having this skill set around first aid, just makes me feel more empowered and able to act and I think that is like, good for my brain.

Yeah, yeah. So like, obviously, it’s good for there to be people who know a lot about first aid or a lot about responding to emergencies, like people who have extensive training in doing that but why is it important for everyone to have a basic understanding of how to respond to emergencies? Like why, if we have this zine, if there’s, like, you know, if there’s just people running around who have 80 hours of training, like what is reading a zine about it going to do for me?

Yeah. I love this question. Because we…just because someone’s running around with 80 hours of training or more or is a professional, doesn’t mean that other people have to rely on that person. Like, we should not be recreating the hierarchies of the medical industrial complex within our movements or within our communities or within our personal lives. Like, the more that we can sort of like decentralize information, we’re also decentralizing that power that people feel like they have to support themselves, to support the people around them. And like, yeah, it’s freaking awesome to be able to call up someone who’s an expert. Like, I use, different herbs. I’ll take tinctures or use salves, but I don’t actually know shit about herbalism. And it’s really useful to be able to call up a buddy and be like, “Hey, this is what’s going on, like, what would you recommend?” but I also want to be able to have my own little apothecary, and like, make my own little stuff that I do feel comfortable with. And, I don’t want to have to rely on someone else for all of my interactions with that, and I think that sort of like general first aid is a similar thing. Like it’s great to have people with more experience around, but we should all know how to clean a wound and recognize signs of infection, or like when to be worried about a head injury, or how to help someone out who’s like gotten too hot or too cold, or get fucking tear gas off someone’s face and mucous membranes.

Yeah, yeah. And there’s actually…there’s a funny thing that I want to ask you about because I feel like I see it get…like it’s something that is not covered in the basic first aid for emergency zine and something that I see get talked about less but I feel like is like wildly important and applicable to most people’s lives. So like, you know, your experience of having a concussion and not realizing how dangerous it was, like, I think we can all relate. We’ve all like got…a lot of us have gotten into a bike accident and then been, like, “Oh, I’m fine, except I did hit my head, but I was wearing a helmet. So I’m probably fine.”

All of us here have crashed our bikes, right?

Or like, you know, hit your head on something like or had a friend who hit their head on something. And what are the important things to keep in mind when someone has hit their head and they’re unsure about whether they have a concussion? Like, when is the…when does it go from “I’m okay,” to, “I have to seek, like some kind of higher level of care for what’s going on”?

Yeah, totally. Well, like, the basic thing that we’re worried about with head injuries is swelling to the brain because there’s just not much room inside the skull for the brain to swell at all. And right, like something that gets injured, like if I like, twist my ankle, that ankle is going to swell. There’s plenty of room for it to do that. There’s not room for the brain to swell up without like, creating some more serious problems. And so that’s like, generally what we’re worried about. And you can bump your head, you can bump your head pretty dang hard and not get a concussion, like not get a head injury. If you hit your head and you’re like, “Oh, yeah, it hurts where I hit my head. And maybe I’ve got a little bit of a headache from that bonk.” We’re not worried about that. But if you hit your head, and you’re like, “Oh, now I feel kind of dizzy. And I actually feel kind of nauseous, or I can’t really remember that like moment of impact, or like my vision is affected, maybe I’m like seeing stars a little bit or a little bit of blurriness,” then you might be looking at sort of a mild head injury and you just want to take that pretty seriously. You can go get checked out at a at a clinic, if you are able to access that resource. And in general, you just want to like monitor those symptoms and make sure it’s not getting any worse. And rest. With head injuries we need cognitive rest as well as physical rest. So, there used to be all this stuff about like, “If someone gets a concussion, don’t let them sleep. Wake them up every you know, 10 minutes with this, like secret passcode they have to remember,” and like we do not do that anymore. Like if someone has a head injury, actually they like really need to rest. And like sleep is great. And we want to let people sleep like please.

I feel like that was the unfortunate plot of like so many like 90s sitcoms was like, like kind of torturing someone into staying awake while they’re concussed.

Yeah, but if you’re experiencing that stuff, and you’ve had some kind of blow to the head, like definitely consider going to get checked out. Concussions are complex. They get worse, the more times that you’ve had one. You become more and more sensitive to concussions, even from like a minor head bump. And there are also…there’s like a long recovery period from a concussion, like it can be like many, many months of recovery, so it helps to get checked out. And then if it’s a serious head injury, you want to like get to, like get to a clinical setting, like whether that’s the urgent care emergency room or like whatever, like you want to get there right away. If you’re having things…if someone has a head injury and they are getting like…they’re having like personality changes, like they’re becoming really irritable, combative, they’re like disoriented, they’re having like a really bad headache, they’re getting super sleepy or lethargic. If someone has a head injury and then has a seizure. If there’s any bleeding from like, the nose or eyes or ears or like other fluid coming from the ears, this person needs to get to like a higher level of care as fast as possible.

Yeah, yeah. And maybe you mentioned it and maybe you didn’t, but is is vomiting also a strange sign?

Oh, yeah. Well, okay, with head injuries, everyone gets like one free vomit. And then if there’s like more vomiting than that then we would consider that that might be like a serious head injury. I’m not sure exactly of like the physiology there of like why there’s this vomiting, but there is…yeah, there can be like a lot of vomiting or even like projectile vomiting from from a serious head injury

Yeah. Listeners, you might be noticing that I’m asking Bex a lot of like kind of leading questions. This is, this is partially because I have a fair amount like medical training as well, and–all of which is like horribly lapsed–like, I kind of got out of practicing as like a person who does medical stuff except like casually to myself and my friends a while ago.

We’re both lapsed wilderness EMTs it turns out,

yeah, yeah. Cool. Well, yeah, thank you, thank you so much for that little explanation. I feel like it is a…you know, obviously, if anyone is worried about something then they should, you know, go to urgent care or go to the emergency room. But I feel like there was a lot of, like, in between things were we’re like, “I don’t know.” And like going to the ER or the urgent care casually is like, not something that people can, like, always afford to do.

Yeah, but we do want to pay…like, I would urge people to be very cautious with head injuries. One thing that we’ve learned from the great sport of American football is that head injuries are very serious and do get worse and repeated head injuries…like if your brain is just getting pummeled all the time that can add up to really serious cognitive, emotional, and like, even like personality impacts. And it’s just not…it’s not good. It’s not good to hurt your brain. So, being like really careful, making sure that someone is getting rest, getting checked out if they’re having these symptoms is great.

Yeah, yeah. And yeah, again, listeners, like, you know, we are…this is not medical advice. This is…

This is not a medical training.

This is not a medical training. But we are trying to kind of cover some basics for people to think about, but highly suggest if you want to learn more about these things to go out and attend more extensive trainings on how to assess these things. So Bex….


You have been involved in this world for quite a while now, right? Like the world of first aid and responding to emergencies.


I was wondering if you wanted to kind of talk about like, just, like, kind of like, experiences or like stories that you might have of, responding to emergencies, providing first aid in like various contexts, like…yeah, do you have any kind of like, notably interesting things? This isn’t a leading question?

I mean, I feel like, like running around as a street medic, you see all kinds of things, you know, a lot of like, flushing chemical weapons out of people’s eyes, definitely have supported people with head injuries, sometimes from police munitions, and working with people who are like, “Oh, I’m bleeding from the scalp, but I don’t want to go to the hospital.” And then you’re just like, “Okay, well, how about your friends that are with you, like, here’s this list of things to watch out for, like, here’s how we’re going to take care of this person.” or I feel like, like, notable moments for me have often been like, when I can, like, empower people to like, look after themselves, or like look after the people that they’re with, and I can like, do what I can to support someone, but I’m not like therefore positioning myself as like, “And now I am the expert and I’ve like taken you over and I’m gonna like tell you what you have to do now,” or whatever but. Definitely, like one really eye opening moment for me–and I talked about this more in the Live Like the World is Dying gunshot wound episode was like responding to someone with a gunshot wound at a protest. Which at the time, I think it was like 2016 or something, at the time. I was like, that was not what I was expecting to see at a protest. And it really threw me. I like didn’t really feel prepared to deal with that sort of like extreme of an of an injury. And since then, now, I feel like the like gun violence in a protest setting is super common. And there have been many demonstrations or actions that I’ve been at where people have gotten shot. And, it’s like a really, it’s a really scary thing to witness. And it’s also scary the way that it has become such a sort of, like, predictable part of like, the landscape of kind of like radical movements and demonstrations. And, one thing that I remember was like being at a demo and seeing someone get shot and then, you know, I’m there like trying to pull out my, like, pull out my, like trauma response stuff from my medic fanny pack. And before I even can, like, get those things out, there’s like a bunch of street medics who are like supporting this person. And I’m like, “Hey, I think I like… it’s possible that I’m like, recognizing some of those people from like a medic training that I helped to run a couple of months ago.” And that moment, like, even in that moment, that was like extremely scary and traumatizing being like, “Oh, like the transferring of information and the like, sharing and like broadening of like this knowledge base is very much like changing the outcomes that people are having in really bad situations because there’s all these people who know how to respond. And especially I think, like in 2020, like, everyone started like running around with like, a tourniquet strapped on their belt, you know, because we’re just like, seeing so much gun violence in those spaces in a new way. And I think that like that, that is great. And that, like, if nothing else, like knowing how to respond to like, really major life threatening things is… and having the tools to be able to do so is awesome.

Yeah. Yeah, yeah, it is really amazing to see that. It’s funny, I have like, kind of a, like, personal story of where I was incredibly relieved that there were so many people who had training around, which…it’s a vulnerable story in that, like, I don’t love how I responded, but like, it was a good learning experience for me of like, I had been doing like street medic stuff for like a long time and I’d been doing…like I was a wilderness EMT at this point, and–but you know, I’d never worked as an EMT before–and I was at a thing and I watched someone get run over by a car. And spoiler alert is that this person was like, fucking miraculously fine. Like, literally nothing was wrong with this person. Like, which was incredible. But at the time, like, I was the closest person. And I, like I froze. And because I’d never witnessed something like that before and that’s not what I was expecting to have to deal with and like…but, you know, I went over, and I started to try to assess what was going on and then like, three other people swooped in, all of whom had a lot more experience than I did, to which I was so grateful, because I was like, “Hell yeah, there’s a more qualified person here to bottomline this situation, I’m just gonna, like help with creating a perimeter around this person so that we can make sure that they’re okay.”

Yeah, totally. Yeah, that sounds extremely intense. And I’m glad that…I’m glad that you were there. I’m glad that those other folks are there. And, you know, I guess like, in…like, as a street medic…or, like, I’m not into like, “Yeah, I hope I get to go out and like, see something gnarly so I get to, like, respond to it, so I can have some experience, like some personal experience of like, getting to do something.” That is not what I’m in it for or like a mentality that I am at all interested in engaging with. But, like in that situation, if those other people hadn’t shown up, like, yeah, you were overwhelmed, maybe scared. This like wasn’t what you were expecting to see. But, you like, had your assessment tools and you like, had those skills, and if no one else had been there, you would have been a great person to have responded to the situation, even though you had that sense of relief of like, “Thank God, there’s someone else here,” or whatever. And I feel like moving from a place of like, “I just saw something happen to somebody or something happened to me and I have no idea what to do, like don’t even know where to begin,” or being like…like moving from that place to like, “Damn, this absolutely sucks. And I wish it wasn’t happening, but like, I guess I could figure out how to deal with it.” Like, that is actually like a really big difference. And I want to support people in moving in that direction, you know, even if it sucks to have to see shit like that. I don’t know.

Yeah, if I’m, if I’m going to a….if I’m going somewhere where I expect there to be like a higher probability of like someone being injured–whether that’s to a demonstration or whether that’s to a youth hardcore show where people really like to like throw elbows–I hope that I’m not going to see anyone get injured, like if I’m providing medical care, like, either as like, “I am here to provide medical care” or is like someone who’s just there and like has a little first aid kit–because that is a smart thing for everyone to have–then like, I hope that I never have to use it. I hope that no one gets injured. That would be a better day for everyone. But, it is like part of the like ritual of being prepared that we like learn how to deal with these situations even in small ways. Which, brings me to my next question for you. What are…what are…if you had to give like a short little blurb to people about like, if people want to learn more about first aid in like a small way, say they’ve read this zine, like, what is the next step for people and what what situations should people like focus on whether they’re like at a demonstration or it’s just like, another piece of like–saying normal doesn’t feel like the right phrase–but like, part of their normal life, you know?

Yeah, their everyday life. Um, there’s a lot of different types of trainings that folks can seek out starting with, like CPR. A CPR, training is a great place to start. And now you can do, you can even like get CPR trained online and just like watch a bunch of videos. It’s better to do like hands on practice, I think that’s where we really like, can start building muscle memory around these skills. But, there’s like CPR training. Places like the Red Cross offer a basic first aid training. And then there’s also these like street medic trainings. So, if you have a street medic, group or collective in your area, like, seek out a 20 hour street medic training, or there are different organizations that offer Wilderness First Aid trainings that are, you know, definitely have some overlap with the street medic training in that both of these things are like you’re in an environment where you can’t just call 911 and expect that an ambulance is going to be able to like roll up in the next five minutes, either because you’re like in the back country, or you’re like behind the police line, or what have you. And then there’s bigger trainings on the wilderness side that you can pursue like a Wilderness First Responder, Wilderness, EMT. A lot of counties, especially like rural counties that are having trouble staffing up their EMS, I know some folks who have been able to get an EMT training, like a three month EMT training, totally paid for by their county if they agreed to like, volunteer with the fire department for a year or something like that. So that’s another way to get like a lot of training for free if you are willing to interface with the like, often shitty hierarchical structures that put you in the role of being like the sort of like, dehumanizing disembodied medic, but you can like bring to that, you know, you can try to like, bring a better, like, approach to that situation. But yeah, all kinds of things like that. And to go back to your point of like, being prepared for things every day and not just like when I’m like going out to a demo, but kind of like, yeah, what we do on the daily to like, prepare for different situations, I’ll say that I keep a like a tourniquet and a trauma response kit in my car at all times, just like in a fanny pack strapped to the back of the headrest, in case I come across like a car accident while I’m just like cruising around. Or if, you know, like in today’s fucking modern society like your like just as likely it feels like to respond to like gunshots when you’re like like passing by a shopping mall or like outside of fucking school or something like this because there’s like, there’s just so many shootings. There’s so much gun violence. There’s so many like mass shooting situations that I think that like a Stop the Bleed training that different like organizations offer, even like that on its own is something that might be useful for folks that hopefully they’ll never have to use but

Yeah, yeah. I mean, that is that is what we hope. Yeah, I feel like personally, if I had to recommend like two lower barrier things that everyone should go out and do it is learning about CPR and a Stop the Bleed training because these are like two pretty, like, easy to access trainings that can make huge differences in whether somebody survives an injury.

Absolutely. I’ll also say that like, I feel like I’ve like talked a fair amount of smack, as is appropriate, on like, the medical industrial complex and like the shitty hierarchies within sort of like clinical emergency medicine or like hospital settings. Those are these like, really like dehumanizing, disembodied environments that really take away patient agency in a lot of cases. But, within those systems, there are a lot of like, really, like, deeply radical badass, like incredible people working within those systems. And if you are interested in like getting involved with a medical practice professionally, or if you are already in that world, you’re a med tech, or a nurse or a doctor or, you know, whatever, a paramedic, and you want to find other radical people who are interested in approaching that work together, there are people who are doing that. There’s actually–by the time this airs, it probably will have already happened–but there’s a really cool convergence happening on the east coast this month in May, that’s the Health Autonomy Convergence that’s for people who are working within the medical system but are coming at it from a anarchist, anti authoritarian, abolitionist perspective. And finding networks like that, like ways to decentralize our knowledge and skills and like, connect with other like radical folks who are interested in this is just so exciting to me. It’s very cool.

Yeah, yeah. I just want to say that, like, a real good reason for everyone to learn about first aid and for everyone to learn these basics is that, one, as we’re seeing things change in like how police violence or like violence from other sources of fascism occurs, like, we can’t even rely on these kind of like networks as much for like, every situation and like, it is helpful for everyone to have some understanding of what to do in an emergency. One, because it like, takes pressure off of those other groups and also because like, it means that like, you know, the best resource that we have are people and so like another person to know how to do this thing or to like, not need as much like care from someone is a great thing. Like, we yeah, we should all be learning basics of these skills because it makes everyone’s lives easier.

Yeah, and supporting each other in it. Like if you…like, the number one tool that a street medic has in their kit is a buddy. You always go with a buddy. You don’t go alone because it’s easier to keep a cool head and have good decision making, and stay sort of like oriented and situationally aware and like know what’s happening if you are running with another person, and you both have like, even if you have different levels of experience or training, like you’ve got another person there to help navigate that situation with. And we can can offer one another like so much strength and resilience just by like being present and like tuned in to the same stuff together. One time my medic buddy that I would always run with was like out of town and there was like something happening in the city where I lived and I was like, “I’ll just go by myself. It’s like no big deal. Like I don’t need a buddy. I’m sure it’ll be fine.” And I was like, such a huge mistake. It ended up being like a fairly like traumatizing experience for me where I was like, “Oh, wait, actually like being in this alone and being like, ‘I’m trying to like respond and be prepared,’ and like I don’t have someone with me who’s going through that with me and like tuning into this with me,” was…I wouldn’t do it again.

Yeah, yeah.

So, find a pal. Find a pal who’s interested in first aid and fucking skill up together. It’s like extremely fun. And you can practice your patient assessment on each other. It’s great.

Yeah, yeah, learning is fun. And, you know, the more that we learn these skills now, the less overwhelming they will be, if we are ever faced with an emergency that we have to deal with. Like, yeah, learn it now so it’s less stressful in the moment.

Yeah, and like learn from sources that are reliable. Like the materials that Riot Medicine has available, like this zine is super tight. I haven’t looked through all of their other materials, like in depth, but it’s like very legit, or like going to a street medic training, or another training so that you know that your skills that you’re building are coming from some sort of reputable source and you don’t end up as like, the wacky chaos medic that everyone dreads who’s like, running around in like head-to-toe camo with gallons of milk swinging from their belt. And, you know, like, don’t be the chaos medic. Like, learn some real skills that are like based in…that are scientifically based and like vetted and bring calm to the situation.

Yeah, yeah. Speaking of calm… [interrupted]

Take your chaos elsewhere. Your chaos has a place and it is not in medicking.

Speaking of calm. So, real quick, we have this last little segment since this is the Strangers podcast, even if you’re hearing it on the Live like the World is Dying feed. We have a quick word of the month where this is a word that I learn a little bit about the origins of and then asked people if they know anything about it. And I’ve maybe given you a clue. But, Bex, do you know anything…Do you know the word anemone?

Like a sea anemone.

Yeah, like I sea anemone. But, there are other kinds of anemones as well.

Like the sea anemone of my enemy is my friend-enenomy?

Yeah, that’s that’s absolutely the origin. You just guessed it.

Tell me more.

Do you have any guesses as to like what the word anemone means? Or, where where it comes from?

Anemone, anemone? No, I do not know. But it really sounds like enemy.

It does. It does. So, anemone. So there’s sea anemone, but then there’s also like, there’s a plant that’s called anemone. And interestingly, this plant is used to…it’s used for a lot of different things medicinally and, how I’m familiar with it is that it was…someone recommended it to me for like panic attacks. And in very low doses. Very, very low doses. This is a…

Consult an herbalist.

This is a…this can be a dangerous plant. So, flowering plant anemone comes directly from Latin “anemone,” and then from the Greek “anemone,” which comes from two little pieces. There’s “anemos” and a, you know, “feminine” suffix. So, “anemos” means wind. And so anemone literally means “wind flower” or “daughter of the wind.” And some people think that…or like, you know, one one attribution to that name is anemone blooms only during a storm. And it’s like…interestingly, its petals are attached to seed pods. And so when the wind blows, the flower opens, and it rips it apart. And the petals are like each attached to a little seed pod. So that is like…the flower is like destroyed and propagates by getting caught in the wind. But interestingly–and this is this is where I think it gets really fun and interesting–is there’s a cognate in Latin “anima” or shortened to “ane” which means to breathe. And anemone, as we just learned, is a plant that you can take when having a panic attack to help you breathe.

Dang. That is very cool. And that’s like a very beautiful image. You have like, that description of the flower being like ripped apart in a storm, but like that propagating, and I feel like that really resonates with me in terms of like, the things that we face that like feel like this huge destructive force, whether that’s like things happening like emotionally or psychologically or also like the literal violence that people witness and experience. And like, how can you like harness that, like, violence or destruction and like see where they’re like seeds of beautiful things that will like, be planted or like can grow from that, even if like the destruction itself is like the loss of something beautiful, it doesn’t mean it’s the end of beautiful things coming.

Yeah. And like first aid, we can bloom and show and spread, unfortunately, sometimes through turbulent times. And this ended up being a very appropriate word that I kind of picked at random to be part of this episode. So, I know you’d have to run, but real quick, Is there anywhere on the internet that people can find you that you would like to be found? And the answer can be “No.”

No, there’s nowhere to find me on the internet. But, you should check out Riot Medicine, which I legitimately am like definitely not a part of or have anything to do with, but it is very cool. And Oh, one other thing I’ll just quickly say here for folks who have listened to the gunshot wound episode of Live Like the World is Dying, I would like to make a little amendment. When I recorded that episode, I had some outdated information about tourniquets. And in that episode, I described tourniquets as really a tool of last resort. And what we actually know is that tourniquets are a really safe intervention to use. You can, if applied correctly and if it is a sort of like legitimate tourniquet like the CAT gen 7, the combat application tourniquet, these can safely be left on for a really long time. There have been recorded incidents from our long history of global capitalist imperialist warfare. We’ve learned a lot about combat medicine. And there have been incidences of like a tourniquet staying on for up to 48 hours without that limb being compromised. Do not be afraid to use a tourniquet. Check out that episode if you want more information about specifically Stop the Bleed stuff. But, just take this little amendment to the tourniquet section.

Great. Thank you so much Bex for coming on the podcast.

Thanks for having me.

Yeah, stay well.


Thanks so much for listening. If you enjoyed this podcast, please go take a first aid training, and then tell us about it. But also tell people about the podcast. You can support this podcast by telling people about it. You can support this podcast by talking about it on social media, rating and reviewing and doing whatever the algorithm calls for. Feed it like hungry god. But, if you would like to support us in other sillier ways that don’t involve feeding a nameless entity then you can check us out on Patreon at Our Patreon helps pay for things like transcriptions or our lovely audio editor Bursts, as well as going to support our publisher, Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness is the publisher of this podcast and a few other podcasts including our monthly feature podcast of anarchistic literature, Strangers and a Tangled Wilderness, which comes out monthly, as well as the Anarcho Geek Power Hour, which is a great podcast for people who love movies and hate cops. And just to give you an idea of some other stuff that Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness is up to, we are also getting ready to put out a new book To the Ghosts Who are Still Living by Ami Weintraub. The stories of our ancestors call to us from across time asking to be remembered. In retelling our ancestors experiences of love, tradition, loss and sorrow we not only honor their lives, but we come to understand our own. The trees whisper to the ones who will listen, “Come home.” To the Ghosts Who are Still Living is a collection of essays by Ami Weintraub, coming out August, 2023 through Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. The preorder starts July 1st. And we would like to shout out a few of our patrons in particular. Thank you Princess Miranda, BenBen, Anonymous, Funder, Jans, Oxalis, Janice & O’dell, Paige, Aly, Paparouna, Milica, Boise Mutual Aid, Theo, Hunter, Shawn, S. J., Paige, Mikki, Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea, Kat J., Staro, Jenipher, Eleanor, Kirk, Sam, Chris, Michaiah, and Hoss the Dog. We seriously couldn’t do this without y’all. And I hope everyone out there is doing as well as they can with everything that’s happening and we’ll talk to you soon.

Find out more at

S1E72 – Penumbra City Playthrough


This time on Live Like the World is Dying, we’re talking about something crucial to surviving the apocalypse: playing games with your friends. And Killing God Kings. That’s right, we have an actual play recording of us playing Penumbra city, the TTRPG that we’ve been working on over at Strangers for…a very long time. We are sharing this session of us playing the game in order to get you excited about our KICKSTARTER for the game, which is currently live. Right now! Unless it’s no longer June 2023. So, before you listen to this recording go to

Join a Doggirl, an Occultust, a Rat King, and a Patchworker as they investigate a string of disappearances including someone’s missing date. 

Find your friends. Live like the God King is dying.

We will have a normal Live Like the World is Dying episode out this week as well.

Guest Info

Margaret Killjoy: World Designer. On Twitter @magpiekilljoy or IG @MargaretKilljoy
Jamie Loftus: Host of Ghost Church. On Twitter @JamieLoftusHELP of IG @JamieChristSuperstar
Bea Flowers: The Voice of Penumbra City. On IG @Crimebrulee
Robin Savage: Game Ilustrator on IG @Missrobinsavage
Inmn Neruin: Game Designer on IG @shadowtail.artificery


This podcast is published by Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at or on Twitter @tangledwild. You can support this show by subscribing to our Patreon at

Our Kickstarter for Penumbra City can be found here:


The Host is Inmn Neruin. You can find them on instagram @shadowtail.artificery

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S1E71 – Sabot Media on Rural Organizing

Episode Summary

Margaret talks with Sprout and Charyan from Sabot Media and The Blackflower Collective about organizing in rural areas and how that can be different from organizing in more urban areas. Sprout and Charyan talk about the different projects that Sabot Media and The Blackflower Collective work on, supporting unhoused people, the importance of having a music scene, and the unfortunate state of fascism.

Guest Info

Sprout (they/them) and Charyan(they/them) work with Sabot Media and The Blackflower Collective. Those projects can be found on Twitter @Blackflowerllc, @Aberdeenlocal1312, or Instagram @Blackflower.collective or @Aberdeenlocal1312, or on their websites or They can also be found on Mastodon @Aberdeenlocal1312.

Host Info

Margaret 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, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at


LLWD – Sabot Media on Rural Organizing

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’m excited to talk this week about a subject that is very near and dear to my particular heart. And it might be near and dear to your particular hear or it might just be a subject of idle curiosity. I have no idea. I don’t know where you live. You’re in my head. I’m in your head. Something. Today we’re going to talk about rural organizing, and we’re gonna talk about some of the differences between rural organizing and urban organizing, and we’re going to be doing that with Sprout and Charyan from Sabot Media and The Blackflower Collective and we’re going to talk about that. First, we’re gonna talk about the Channel Zero Network of anarchists podcasts. And here’s a jingle from another show on the network. Bah duh duh duh dah [Margaret makes melody noises like she’s singing] Okay, so if you all could introduce yourself, I guess with your your name and your pronouns and then like maybe a little bit about what Sabot Media and The Blackflower Collective are.

Sprout 02:32
Yeah, hello, I’m Sprout. Pronouns are they/them.

Charyan 02:37
I’m Charyan. They/them.

Sprout 02:40
We’re here to talk about our new project in Grays Harbor County called The Blackflower Collective. And we’re here also representing Sabot Media and our podcast Molotov Now.

Margaret 02:55
Where’s Grays Harbor?

Sprout 02:58
It’s on the coast, Western Washington. The main town is Aberdeen where most people have probably heard of it is because that’s where Kurt Cobain was born and grew up.

Margaret 03:12
Oh, one of my favorite trans women in history. That is my contentious belief. Anyone who’s ever wonder that. Yeah,

Charyan 03:24
I’ve heard the theory.

Margaret 03:26
Yeah. One of my friends was friends with Kurt and was like…and when I first started coming out was like, “Wow, you talk about your gender the same way that Kurt did.” And so that’s why I hold on to this particular theory so hard. But I’m not trying to…no one has ever been more mad at me on the internet as people were when I said this once on Twitter. So whatever, I’m not trying to specifically claim or not claim dead people…whatever. Anyway, that’s definitely what we’re here to talk about today. So, I guess really quickly, like what is Sabot Media? What is Blackflower Collective?

Sprout 04:09
Well, Sabot Media is a media project that we started because we saw a need for our own reporting of certain stories around the homeless and the mutual aid efforts that were going on in our town. The local paper record the Daily World and the other local stations out here were just not covering the stories at all that needed to be told. And so we stepped up to start talking about that stuff in our own community. We’ve got a website on No Blogs., where people can go check out our articles. We’ve got comics, we’ve got columns, we’ve got a podcast as I mentioned. Yeah, so The Blackflower Collective was born out of another project here on the harbor that’s been going for a couple of years Chehalis River mutual aid network. And the organizers for that project did a lot of talking to the community and discussing internally about what needs there were and how to meet those needs. And the solution came out as The Blackflower Collective. So our goal there is to have a piece of land, just outside the city limits, where we can have a sustainable ecovillage to house low income and unhouse…currently unhoused people, as well as pairing that with a social center and makerspace where we can have a business incubator and people providing social services.

Margaret 05:53
That’s really…Okay, one of the things I got really excited about when I first heard about this project that you all are working on about it is because I think about how much…how impactful social center type spaces can be in smaller communities. Like it just seems to me…like off the top of my head, at least I think of like…I mean, a makerspace and, you know, social center space and stuff like that in a big city rules and is great, and I’m really excited when they exist, but it seems like a much higher percentage of the town’s socializing or something…like it seems like a bigger deal in a smaller place. Am I like…Am I off base about this? Like, what are your kind of aspirations around that?

Charyan 06:34
Not at all. That’s actually kind of one of the dichotomies that we talked about in our article. And on our interview on It Could Happen Here is like the modes of socialization feel a lot different from big city and large population big city communities and, you know, smaller rural towns and whatnot. For example, like in the bigger city, the way you meet people is like, you know, you have your job, or, you know, you go out to the club or, you know, what have you. There’s lots of different groups and classes you can take part in. Like you walk into any building or storefront and there’s going to be a wall filled with fliers for different events and classes and all sorts of stuff. A place like here in Aberdeen, you have to hunt and dig for that kind of stuff. And even when it does happen, you’re more than likely not even going to hear about it. The mode of socialization in smaller places is usually through friends and family you already have. You know, you’re hanging out at somebody’s house and somebody comes to the door. It’s like, “Oh, hey, here’s my buddy, Paul,” or What have you.

Margaret 07:44
Yeah, it always sort of occurred to me that, you know, living in a small town–I’m probably not going to do it, but I’m like, “Man, if I opened a punk venue, it would be the only place to go see music,” you know? But that’s also…maybe no one would come because there’s like a tiny handful of punks in this town, you know.

Sprout 08:04
Well, that’s actually what we’re thinking about starting to do with Blackflower to raise some funds and get our name out there is hold some benefit punk shows. There’s, again, there’s just not really much in the way of music venues out here. And so what we’re doing is just trying to find needs and then meet them. And that’s a huge…you know, coming from a city–I wasn’t born here, I moved here from a big bigger city area–so, you know, having a music scene was huge. That’s what got me into political organizing in the first place. So, I think it’s a good subculture to cultivate to try and get people on board.

Margaret 08:47
No, that makes sense. I mean, around where I’m at, like people go, people drive a long way to go to the punk show in the small town in the mountains, you know, that happens to be throwing that particular punk show or whatever thing it is. People go a long way to see live music because you have to. On the other hand, like, do y’all have the phrase “Country close?” Like where it’s like, to go anywhere takes about 45 minutes, right, because it’s all back country roads. I just think about how far people have to go to go get to places

Sprout 09:20
Yeah, no, I haven’t heard that term. But I know the concept for sure.

Margaret 09:24
Okay, so the other thing I was thinking about when you were first talking about this is, you know, homelessness and mutual aid in a small town, you know, you’re saying that the the mutual aid network is kind of what you all grew out of–or in response to or something like that–that’s not something that people hear about much. And, you know, we hear about homelessness in big cities and stuff, but I have a feeling that people who don’t live rurally might not be aware that this is also a presence in small towns across the US as well as like, you know, people living in tents and trying to make ends meet down by the river and stuff. So that’s like…when I say problem, I don’t mean the problem is that there are homeless people around I mean the problem is that they don’t have homes. You know, that is like a big issue where you all are? [Inflected as question]

Sprout 10:15
It’s a huge issue, especially in Aberdeen. It’s kind of the confluence for the county wherever one goes. It’s the only town in the county with like state social services. So, if you’re homeless, you’re going to be living in Aberdeen. There’s a lot of conservatives who seemed to think that it is a big city problem, that everyone is being sort of imported from bigger cities or sent here from bigger cities, but a lot of who we talked to on the streets were born here and grew up here.

Charyan 10:52
Yeah, not only all that, but homelessness has been integral to the area that we live in as long as settlers have been coming here to be part of this area of Western Washington and the Pacific Northwest in particular has always been kind of the end of the line as people were coming out here because they had no place else to go. They came out to try to, like, you know, build new build new homes, not having to pay for stuff back east. All the draws of settler colonialism at West. It’s…[Interrupted]

Sprout 11:31
Well, the homeless camp that the city evicted off the banks of the Chehalis River in 2019 had been there probably since the turn of the century in one form or another. Vagrants and poor people just living along the side of the banks of the river.

Charyan 11:52
When the port dock was still a thing before–the old one from the back like 1930s and stuff before it was finally tore out–during the days of like Billy Gohl. It was…

Margaret 12:07
I have no idea who Billy Gohl is. Sorry.

Charyan 12:09
Oh, just a local legend. And they tried to frame him as like a serial killer. But he was getting blamed for all the deaths from people in the mills and the factories and stuff. And the bosses would dump the bodies in the river. And they blamed them on this guy because he was a labor organizer.

Margaret 12:27
What’s his name? Billy Gohl.

Sprout 12:29
Billy Gohl. Yeah.

Margaret 12:30
That’s so metal. I know that that’s not the takeaway I’m supposed to get from here. Also, I interrupted you. I’m so sorry. Okay.

Charyan 12:37
You’re fine. There’s a…If you want to learn more, there’s a labor historian, Aaron Goings, who did a book recently called “The Port of Missing Men” if you’d like to learn more about that. Okay. But yeah, it was common practice for for workers, or vagrants, or whoever to get shanghaied here, you know. You go to the bar, they slip something in your drink, and then you’d wake up the, you know, out in the ocean thousands of miles away from home.

Margaret 13:06
Cool. That’s so great. That’s such a good system that is totally consensual for everyone, and a good way to build society. [Said with a lot of dry sarcasm]’

Charyan 13:17
It’s Aberdeen.

Sprout 13:18
So yeah, it’s definitely something that’s existed here since settler colonialism showed up.

Margaret 13:27
I think it’s really interesting how all different parts of the country or the world have these different types of darknesses to them. You know? And like, hearing about like, okay, yeah, this is the end of the line for settler colonialism heading west and things like that. And then you have workers dumping bodies and rivers and people that have Gohl [pronounced like “Ghoul”] are running around getting blamed for it. And then everyone’s getting…It’s like, I don’t know, it’s just like, really interesting. Not in a good way, but an interesting way. So, okay. One of the one of the reasons that I wanted to have you on to talk is you all recently put out an article about the difference between rural organizing and urban organizing, and that’s kind of the core of what I want to ask you all about, pick your brains about is what are some of these differences between rural organizing and urban organizing? And also, what’s the article called and where can people read it? Sorry.

Sprout 14:18
Oh, yeah. It’s called “The Dichotomy Between Urban and Rural Political Organizing.” You can check it out on our website

Charyan 14:27
You can find it under the co-conspirator section under the Harbor Rat Reports

Margaret 14:33
Cool, and Sabot is spelled with a T for anyone’s listening at S-A-B-O-T.

Sprout 14:37
Yes. So, some of the dichotomies that we highlight are the police in the city, the relationship between those entities and activists, the need for and difficulty in obtaining anonymity in a small town while you’re organizing, and as Charyan mentioned already, the sort of modes of socialization that happens between rural and urban organizing, and just living in general. And then, there was a presentation to the National Association of the Rural Mental Health Association, rural mental health, that we highlighted, in which one of the professors for Minnesota State University laid out two general approaches to community organizing, one that he found was most applicable to urban organizers and one that was most applicable to rural organizing.

Margaret 15:41
Well, let’s start there. What is it? What are these two modes? What is the difference?

Sprout 15:47
So, he proposed two general approaches to community organizing, the Alinsky model and the Eichler method. Saul Alinsky had a conflict theory and model, in which community power focuses on people, with underserved communities rarely having enough money to fight power but usually have strength in people. These are called the have-nots. And in order to gain power, the have-nots must take power from the haves. It’s aggression oriented and it focuses on people as the agents of protest and creators of conflict. This is primarily the attitude seen in urban organizing, with large protests riots and police resistance actions framing the debate around who has power and trying to seize that power over others for oneself. In contrast to that, Mike Eichler came up with a consensus theory and model that was informed by Alinsky but focused on identifying consensus points between divergent groups. It sought opportunities to strengthen relationships between different groups’ interests. It was more collaboration oriented and focused on each group’s best interest in establishing trust, mutual agreements, and compromise. And then each method has its own list of rules.

Margaret 17:03
Okay, is Saul Alinsky the one who wrote Rules for Radicals?

Sprout 17:06

Margaret 17:07
Okay. This is so interesting to me because like, one, when you describe those things side by side, my thought is like, “Oh, the second one’s better.” and like, maybe that’s not true. And also, probably when I was younger, I certainly didn’t act in that way. Right? So what makes the second one not just better?

Charyan 17:28
The way I kind of view it from what I’ve read is it’s kind of like the offensive and defensive arms of the movement.

Margaret 17:37
Yeah, I guess that’s the other thing is that, like, whenever I see a dichotomy I want it to be false. And so I’m a little bit like, “Why not both?” Sorry, go ahead.

Charyan 17:43
So like, with…I forget exactly what where…how it shakes out. I’m certain they can expand more about in a second. But, it’s kind of kind of like a yin-yang thing where like, rural communities will focus on one with a kind of a dash on together while urban communities would focus on the other one with a dash of…a little bit of both with…. [interrupted]

Sprout 18:12
It’s not so much like one is better than the other, it’s more like one is more likely to arise in a small rural area, and the other one is more likely to arise in a in a dense urban environment. I think a lot of that probably has to do with this main dichotomy that we highlight in the article between police and the city in a rural environment versus in an urban environment. A lot of what you see in big cities is the importation of officers from surrounding areas so that no one serving on the force in say, Oakland, is actually living in the city of Oakland. They’re generally imported from the surrounding suburbs. So you get a sort of like invading force sort of feel. And here, majority, if not all of the officers live in the community. So while they’re all police and they all have the same social functions, it looks a lot different. And the reactions…like the activists’ reactions to those are a lot different.

Margaret 19:26
Okay. Yeah. I think about like the difference between…a really bad thing happened near where I live–that I don’t want to talk about for sort of just general content warning type stuff–and of the police that responded to this bad thing, you know, the state police were how I’m used to cops acting where they were like, not so nice, right? And the sheriff treated everyone at the scene like a human, right, like, they treated everyone at the scene like they had just seen something horrible because that’s what just…something horrible had just happened, right? I feel bad being so vague about this but whatever. People can deal. And yeah, because you can see in the state police…you know, where as the sheriff is like, well, the sheriff grew up with everyone who’s involved in this. And so it’s really interesting to me because you get this thing where it’s like…I often wonder, I’m like, well rural culture is so into being outlaws, they’re so into like–they do at least as much crime as anyone else if not more–you know, why are so many center-right rural communities, especially more recently, all bootlickers. And like, I guess if you generalize your idea of the police as being like, “Oh, well, that’s Joe. He happens to be the sheriff,” as compared to like, these storm troopers walk down the street and like kick everyone’s heads in every…once a day or whatever, you’re gonna have like really different conceptions of them. Am I completely off base about like kind of…I probably should have just asked….[Interrupted]

Charyan 21:02
Yeah, cause like in smaller towns right around here, you definitely get like that Andy Griffith kind of vibe from some cops, or at least from people’s perceptions of the local police. Our local police definitely have their share of dirty dealings and unreported abuses and whatnot. I’ve known people personally who have been murdered by our local police department and it just…but it doesn’t get the attention that someone in the bigger city might.

Sprout 21:32
We found that the police here have largely shown if not ambivalence, like tacit support for the mutual aid that happens here.

Charyan 21:43
We’ve gotten like the…what’s the word I’m looking for? Like, thanks but a different word.

Margaret 21:51
A nod?

Charyan 21:52
Yeah, we’ve definitely received words of like appreciation and thanks and whatnot from the handful of officers or whatnot at like the meals when they drive by checking on people or whatever.

Sprout 22:03
And that’s the officers as distinct from the city. The city would definitely shut us down in a heartbeat if they could, but the officers have no desire to do so.

Charyan 22:15
Some of them anyway,

Margaret 22:16
That is interesting. Because, yeah, very often in an urban environment, a lot of the elements of the city often support a lot of the mutual aids. Not always but like the police are more likely to be the primary antagonistic force. This might just be showing that I haven’t lived in the city in a long time. But that is like my understanding. And it is interesting, though, because in both cases, the police are not part of the democratic existence of the society, right? Like, one of the things that I found so interesting that we saw more boldly during the past few years is police departments just straight up being like, “I don’t care what we’re supposed to do. We’re not going to do that. And you can’t make us do it.” And then having the city back off and be like, “Oh, well, I guess we can’t make them.” And you’re like…it was a good moment for people to realize that like the police are completely not democratically controlled or not controlled by the people. They’re not, you know, they’re just a wholly separate thing. So, it’s still interesting that they’re like, doing it in the good way. And that’s probably why rural outlawy people tend to like the so-and-so cop because that so-and-so cop lets them get away with driving home drunk from the bar or whatever.

Sprout 23:29
They have a lot of discretion.

Charyan 23:29
Yeah. Like, the whole politics between the population as compared to the police is reversed or, you know, one of those dichotomies, where like, in the smaller town we have more liberal “chill” police as compared to a reactionary base, the reactionary population that shows up to the big city protests to mow people down in trucks and stuff like that, versus in the city where you have that more larger liberal population and outright fascist cops

Sprout 23:57
It does make it hard to push the “all cops are bastards” sort of rhetoric, right, when you have that sort of, “Oh, here’s officer so-and-so helping this grandma across the road,” kind of Facebook posts. Whereas if you’re in a big city and you, like you mentioned, you have these sort of shock troop looking people coming in and beating people in your neighborhood up every so often, it’s a lot easier to make that argument that “Oh, look at these police, you know, we need to abolish the police.” But out here, the argument is still the same. We believe…we’re not saying that we shouldn’t abolish the police just because, you know, they’re helping old ladies with groceries, but right it’s a harder argument to make.

Charyan 24:51
Yeah, we’re gonna be expanding on that too here soon in a article we’re gonna be releasing soon and a episode of Molotov Now that we’ll be discussing that article called “The Problem with Good Cops,” trying to dive into this idea a little bit more.

Margaret 25:08
That’s a really good idea and kind of an important thing because we need to, you know, I believe ACAB, right? I believe that the police are the worst. But, I also recognize why like, that’s not going to be my main talking point around here, or like not my main starting talking point around here, partly because it is a more subtle bastardry because it’s less obvious like, “Well, that person hits people for living,” even though they still do, right? They exist to enforce violence. And, you know, one of the proudest strange moments of my life is I got a cop to quit once.

Sprout 25:48

Margaret 25:49
Yeah, it was a weird…I don’t think I’ve told the story on-air before. I wasn’t…It wasn’t solely me. But basically, I was like, at a nerd convention and I was like, complaining about police. And this one person was like, “I’m a police.” And I was like, “What?” And then they were like, “But I’m a good police.” They didn’t, but they were like, “I’m good at…” you know, and we talked….

Sprout 26:12
They knew they had to make that argument.

Margaret 26:13
Right, totally. But then even from that context, I was like, “Well, you throw people in cages for living for breaking laws that aren’t immoral like having weed.” And they were like, “Well, I choose not to throw people in jail for weed,” and I’m like, “Oh, so you support the system that allows this to happen,” you know, and it’s like, and I saw them at another convention–and I don’t know if it’s solely this conversation–but some other another convention and they’re like, “I quit.” And it’s like, I think the ACAB…It’s like the rural ACAB is a little bit more of a like it–depending on, I mean, some rural police are just as fucking awful and terrible as any other cop in a very obvious way–but you still have like…it’s this…The role you are playing in society is bad. And your choice to participate in that role is bad and has negative consequences versus just like, “That guy’s a piece of shit,” you know?

Sprout 27:12
Well, and it’s bad for the officers themselves as human beings.

Charyan 27:16
Yeah, there’s a YouTuber, That Dang Dad, they do some videos. They’re actually an ex-cop who are fully ACAB police and prison abolition now. They do a video kind of talking about how being a cop like messed with their mentality and mess with their mind because of the way that they do the training and the way that they’re expected to act. And it does nothing good or healthy for them. Their channel isn’t really like the ex-cop channel. They have a lot of other really good content as well, but they do have some good videos on those subjects.

Margaret 27:53
That’s cool.

Sprout 27:54
So probably the most beneficial thing that we as abolitionists could do for police is to get them to quit their jobs.

Margaret 28:02

Sprout 28:03
You know, because it’s not good for anyone. I often make the argument with people when I’m talking about the, you know, the wider social revolution, that it’s desirous for everyone including Bezos. You know? I don’t think that he’s got a life that he’s enjoying living, you know, a whole lot more than anyone else. I think that this system brutalizes and emiserates everyone and it’s even those at the top who can benefit from having their social position taken from the hierarchies having being abolished.

Charyan 28:34
Yeah, and all this stuff requires us to do the same kind of organizing and the same kind of things that we’re already talking about doing. Say, like, you know, preparing for a strike, for example, in the workplace, though, like, it’s all the same stuff we would need to do to help cops be able to quit their job, you know, make sure that we’re going to be able to feed their families, making sure that their house is going to be warm, you know, all these same kind of support structures that we’re building for ourselves. We need to offer to these people but with the pretense of like, “You gotta stop being a cop.”

Margaret 29:08
Yeah, totally. It’s like, they’re kind of like…Like, Bezos is like the person I’m like, least concerned about the well being of as relates to all of this. But I have always…I’ve gotten in arguments with people about it, where I’m like, “No, I want there to not be billionaires, by force if necessary but ideally, without force, you know? Like, I don’t think that they like, need to be punished. Like, I don’t believe in vengeance and punishment. I believe in problem solving, for me as an anarchist, like I believe…and sometimes that might look like stopping people by force, right? Like it’s not…I’m not saying like, “Oh, we need to like think about the cops’ feelings while they’re in the middle of hitting people or whatever.”

Sprout 29:52
But sometimes, the best thing you could do is to stop them by force.

Margaret 29:58
Yep, totally.

Sprout 29:59
For everyone, you know, so.

Charyan 30:01
Before you can convince someone to stop punching someone in the face, you kind of got to grab their arm.

Margaret 30:06
Yeah. And frankly, if you can’t convince them to stop punching them in the face, you might have to punch them in the face harder. You know? Like, but that’s not the ideal. The ideal is…

Sprout 30:18
It’s not coming from a place of revenge, it’s coming from a place of understanding that their actions need to be stopped.

Charyan 30:26
in solidarity with the rest of your community.

Margaret 30:29
Yeah. No, that’s interesting. And this ties into what you all were talking about about the difference between Alinsky and Eichlers’ models, right, this sort of…a slightly more confrontational one that’s more urban and slightly more touchy feely one that is more rural. Okay, why is the more touchy feely one–I know it’s not the most polite way to phrase it–why is it the more appropriate one for rural places. I can imagine, right, because you have these more deeper connections with the people around you? Or like, what’s the deal?

Charyan 31:01
Well, I would definitely say it starts with like, the modes of socialization, where things are just a lot more personal in a small town. Everybody tends to know each other. There’s a lot more deeper roots. Where in a bigger city, you’re probably going for more of an appeal to the masses kind of tactic or whatever, but especially with like rural community, where we’re wanting to make things community focused or whatnot, that is definitely going to be your biggest testing ground or incubator for building community, having those personal connections, which to be able to have that community, have those personal connections or whatnot, you actually have to, you know, put that work in. We need to be talking to people, we need to be having the conversations, we need to be, you know, not just going up to people and tell them like, “Hey, you’re wrong. Here’s how we need to be doing things.” But we’re saying, “Hey, what kind of problems are you facing in your life? What can we do to work together to solve those?”

Sprout 32:05
Well, and it’s also a function just literally of the size of the groups. When you have a smaller group–like I know, our crew here is, is pretty tight–and when you have a small group like that you have to take into account everyone’s thoughts and feelings a lot more than if you have to, like a General Assembly or something where there’s a couple of hundred or fifty a hundred people, not everyone might get their personal opinion heard in that setting. Whereas if you’re with five people, ten people, you know, you just kind of have to listen to everyone and come to a more of a consensus model. So it’s kind of the environment itself that imposes the different modes of organizing,

Charyan 32:50
Yeah, and another aspect of that, too, is like, you know, in a bigger city, you’re more than likely going to find more radicals. You’re going to find more people who are already on board, you know, the like, “I’m for all the social justice issues, I’m all in for, you know, getting rid of capitalism, and all these things,” which helps you like, avoid a lot of those harder conversations. And, it makes it easier to have that specialized group versus places like here, where we’re having to do more work and finding the sympathetic liberals who are on that edge, bringing them in, and helping pull them the rest of the way left.

Margaret 33:30
Okay. And is the way that that usually happens is that you’re working on an issue together and then they see, they end up sort of assimilating to the sort of like leftist values of that group and realizing that they’re appropriate to the problems that they’re facing? Or like, what does that look like, pulling people further to the left?

Charyan 33:48
Definitely its own tug of war. There’s a lot of active work that needs to be done to keep groups from being co-opted by more liberal ideals or opinions and whatnot, which is always going to be a constant struggle.

Sprout 34:09
There’s also an effect that we mentioned in the article, there’s a study out of, I think, Washington University in St. Louis, that they found that it was actually the geography that dictated whether people would lean more towards certain political labels. But, it wasn’t the…which kind of sounds like what you’d expect. But what they found digging deeper into the research was that it wasn’t actually the underlying political beliefs of the people that changed. It was really just the labels that they used. So what you can find is a lot of the similar sort of libertarian tendencies that you might expect out of like a more social left kind of as we would conceive of it individual but being labeled as conservative or, you know, something on the right. So, there’s a lot of like mislabeling, and that happens here in this country uniquely I think and sometimes deliberately where political ideologies are mislabeled.

Charyan 35:27
Libertarian is a big one. That means not what it means here everywhere else in the world.

Sprout 35:34
But, you’ll find a lot of people who are calling themselves one thing. And if you don’t dig into that, you just think, “Oh, they’re conservative. I know what that means.” But if you dig into it, you find, “Oh, well, actually you think, you know, people in your community should have their needs provided for and people should take care of one another. And you believe all of these actually sort of like leftist values.” And it’s interesting that it’s actually, again, it’s like the environment itself that imposes these differences and not like any underlying individual traits.

Charyan 36:09
I saw this guy at the bar recently. He was claiming to be like an anarchist, or whatever and this is unprompted, him having his own conversations when I got here, so I’m like, “What do you got to say about that?” And he started talking about Michael Malice. I’m like, “Alright. I’m finishing my drink. I’m leaving. I’m done here.”

Sprout 36:27
Yeah. And then you have that in the bigger cities where everyone is like, oh, using the same exact label, but you find actually, you think something completely different from me.

Margaret 36:35
Yeah, you have the like, Democrats in California, who are–I’m not trying to be like, all people in California–but like the politicians and shit who have all of the same policies of like fund to the police, sweep camps, enact the war on drugs, like whatever.

Sprout 36:52
The law and order liberals.

Margaret 36:53
Yeah, exactly. And like, at the end of the day, there’s not an incredible amount of difference besides like, what they like…I had this experience that I really appreciated lately. It’s very rare that you could start a sentence with, “I was in a gun store talking about a conspiracy with the guy behind the counter, and it was cool.” But that’s…but it happened to me recently in this small town, and I’m like talking to the guy and his conspiracy was–and I agree with this. There’s very few things that…he was like, “Yeah, I think that gun companies lobby anti-gun stuff constantly in order to spike sales.”

Sprout 37:35
Oh, yeah.

Margaret 37:36
Yeah. And that’s what…when I told someone this earlier they were like, “Oh, where is she going with this?” And they say that and they’re like, “Yeah, no, yeah, of course,” you know, like, we’ve got these, like, run on guns like, Y’all are in Washington. I, you know…I mean, in this case, it’s–I dunno if valid is the right word–but, you know, Washington is poised to pass an assault weapons ban and so there’s this run on guns in Washington. And that might be like…I mean, those are actually being banned. So if you go and get them now, it’s legal. But as compared to like, federally, right, where Congress or whatever is talking about how they’re going to pass an assault weapons ban, like, they’re not. Like, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe. Whatever. But they’re not. And it’s like…and it seems like the reason that they do that…I don’t know if it’s actually the reason or not, and that’s the…but the effect of it, is that everyone runs out and spends thousands and thousands of dollars on firearms.

Sprout 38:36
That’s funny. That’s, that’s where my mind jumped to when you brought it up before we started recording. I was like, “Oh, well, they’re gonna sell some guns with that.” I mean, there are conspiracies. So.

Margaret 38:48
Yeah, no, totally. And, this one is a good example where it like literally doesn’t matter whether it’s a conspiracy or not. Like I also think that a huge reason as to why the Democrats don’t actually ever do anything to solidify Roe v. Wade in law is so that they continue to use Roe v. Wade, hold people’s right to choose over their head, hold bodily autonomy over people’s head to blackmail people into voting for them. Right? Because as soon as it’s solidified into law then you’re not as freaked out and need to go run for the Democrat, vote for the Democrat every time.

Sprout 39:22
And no one’s gonna vote for a Democrat unless there’s a life and death reason.

Margaret 39:27
I know, because they’re the least interesting political party that…All they’ve ever been able to do is be the lesser evil. Yeah. Have you all had the experience of having people explain about Trump being the lesser evil?

Sprout 39:41

Charyan 39:43
Yeah. Unfortunately.

Margaret 39:46
It’s so fascinating to me, because I’m like, this is just literally the conversation I keep having with liberals. This is so wild, you know, only inverted.

Sprout 39:55
When Trump was very first sort of running…. [interrupted]

Margaret 39:59
Nah,this was recently.

Charyan 40:00
I think it falls in with like, in line with the… [interrupted] I think it matches with this wave of like patriotic socialists and mega communists and all that other weird online Twitter shit.

Sprout 40:03
Well was like, “I’ll just throw a brick. We’re just gonna throw this brick in the window and burn it all down.”

Margaret 40:15
Yeah. Yeah. Well, okay. My other question then is how much does the weird…How much does the culture war in your experience filtered down to the actual people that you’re around? Like, I know that you all are in one of the most polarized states in the country. It’s a deep blue state with like pockets of deep red, right?

Sprout 40:40

Charyan 40:40
That’s definitely our area here.

Margaret 40:42
Is one of the pockets of deep red?

Charyan 40:44
Yeah. Our whole city council is pretty much far right. We have maybe one or two allies, quote unquote. And that’s it.

Margaret 40:53
Yeah. Is that causing, like specific issues around the issues of like, are people getting harassed for wearing masks? Are people getting harassed for not wearing gender appropriate clothing? Are people of color being harassed? Like, I mean, obviously, these are…the answer, of course, on some level is going to be yes to all of these things because people are everywhere and stuff, but I’m just curious how much it is impacting people there, the culture war shit.

Sprout 41:18
There’s been a little bit of the whole drag, anti-trans drag fear mongering but far and away the biggest thing on their plate is the homeless? Or I guess just poor people in general because it’s hard to tell out here who’s homeless sometimes and who’s just wearing a real baggy coat because it’s always wet. But they’ve been pushing that issue for going on five years really hard. And by they, I mean, Save Our Aberdeen Please is our local fascist contingency.

Charyan 41:58
Yeah. And so they recently tried to do a protest against like a drag show that they were doing for Christmas fundraising here recently. It was turned into a whole thing. But, ultimately, nobody ended up showing up. They got freezed out by the fog and the rain. And the property is also set back a ways from the road so there was no place for them to effectively protest at, but here last year or the year before–I’m bad with my time and dates–But there is a huge protest outside of a local Star Wars shop with a big anti-trans protests that resulted after a trans council woman that we had, at the time, had called out a local shopkeeper, the owner of the Star Wars shop, for some transphobic signs that he had displayed front and center at the business. It turned into a whole thing. They brought Proud Boys to town. It was a big ordeal.

Margaret 43:01
This offends my nerd heart very deeply. Nerd culture has always been one of the safest places for gender marginalized people.

Charyan 43:12
Yeah, and this guy was anything but safe. He was a groomer. He let his kid deal heroine out of the back of the shop. Just nothing but bad from this guy.

Sprout 43:27
Yeah, but this small group of old ladies who were just trying to pick up trash somehow coordinated like 50+ Proud Boys to show up for that event. So…

Margaret 43:41

Charyan 43:42
It also appeared on Stormfront before any local news. It went straight from local Facebook drama to Stormfront.

Sprout 43:50
Yeah. And then it was a part of the Right-Wing Outrage Machine for about 24 hours.

Charyan 43:56
They brought Matt Walsh to town. He put something about based grandpa in that fucked off documentary, whatever you’d call it that he made, the “What is a Woman” shit?

Margaret 44:08
Yeah, cuz he’s never met one. So that’s why he made that. It was the only to get women to talk to him. [said sarcastically]

Charyan 44:15
I saw Lance from The Serf Times talking about him and the crew from Daily Wire, about how none of them know how to operate a fucking washing machine. And it was just hilarious.

Margaret 44:24
I was thinking that shit. Imagine telling people that you don’t know how to do your own laundry. Imagine thinking that makes you look strong.

Charyan 44:37
Yeah, and proud of it.

Margaret 44:40
Nothing makes it more clear that they believe that they own the women in their lives than the fact that it’s like…because they’re like all into…the right wing mythos is all about self reliance and shit, right? But it’s like, “Well, I don’t have to be entirely self reliant because I own this wife.”

Sprout 45:00
Yeah, that’s my wife [said sarcastically]

Margaret 45:02
and fucking…You all will be shocked to know that I don’t like misogyny. God, imagine being proud of it. I can’t. It’s just doesn’t make any sense to me like there…Okay, this is a kind of a question too, right? Because it’s like, there’s people I can talk to with different values than me, even values that like matter a lot to me, where you can kind of be like, “I see where you’re coming from. I disagree strongly with your desire to protect women all the time, or the women, the girls sports team,” or whatever fucking weird shit people are on. You can like, see where people are coming from…And then you have the fucking Nazis, where you’re just like, how can anyone look at Matt Walsh and be like, “There’s a man I can relate to?” I can’t imagine anything he’s saying.

Charyan 45:56
He’s like, the most boring guy too. Like, all his content, like it…For all the inflammatory stuff, he says, like, there’s no flavor to it, it’s just the most boring monotone…

Margaret 46:14
And how do you deal with that? I mean, like, honestly, okay, as a question like, how do you deal with like, talking to people around you? This is one of the questions we get a lot, actually, on the show, is people are like,” I live in a place–you talk about how part of preparedness is communicating with your neighbors, getting to know them–how do I talk to people, you know, in ways that are safe? How do I talk to people who are steeped in culture war, or might be steeped in culture war?” Like, and there’s gonna be like, limits to this, right? Like, I’m not gonna like, go knock on the door of the person with the Confederate flag in a dress and be like, “Hey, bud, what’s up?” Right? But I’m like, curious how you all navigate as organizers, because my…I just hide from everyone. My immediate neighbors know me, but I just hide from everyone, because I’m not an organizer. Like, how do you all handle that?

Charyan 47:06
Well, I have no solid answers. But one thing I definitely would say, it probably is a good start, is like finding the people who are closest to you, or at least closest to your immediate circle, and just do all you can to like help out, make yourself an asset to them in a way that you guys can start getting closer on some sort of other level. And once you’ve gotten to a point where it’s like, alright, they care about you, and they care about how things affect you, at least, you might be able to start making that bridge, like, “Hey, here’s something that affects you, here’s something that affects me. This is shitty,” but it’s going to be different for everybody in every situation. That said, I don’t really have any hard fast answers.

Sprout 47:55
No, I mean, when we’ve found the best approach has been to just ask people what they need and start there, and then don’t over promise, you know, if they need more than you can provide. Let them know that. But, consistency, you know, showing up, and doing what you tell someone you’re gonna do, those those can help build a reputation, you know, something that’s going to generate respect regardless of your political views is you just being out there in your community helping people meet their needs. And, how you can do it as an anarchist is that element of asking what their need is and not going in as charity, saying, “Here’s a bunch of blankets. I didn’t call ahead to see if that’s what you needed.” But you know, like, going in saying, “Hey, what do you need?” And then helping them get that without judgment. That’s pretty much what we’ve done and it’s taken us this far. So, I’m pretty proud of it.

Margaret 49:05
Makes sense. Well, the main thing that y’all are currently working on we haven’t talked too much about, but kind of here at the end, I’m wondering if you want to talk about your…you know, Blackflower Collective, you’re talking about getting this space, right? How’s that going? Like, what…what are y’all running into as things that are helping or not helping as you work on that?

Charyan 49:26
Well, our main obstacle and our main goal right now is finding land, being able to have property in the hand is vital for our project because between the hostile political environment in town, and all the other problems associated with renting property, we need to have a property that we can own to get this off the ground. And with property values rising and skyrocketing and us pretty much essentially starting from zero to get this off the ground, we are head focused on trying to figure out how we can do fundraisers, how we can launch some side businesses to help fund this project because we’re looking at pretty much anywhere between $300,000 and a $1,000,000 we’re going to need to raise for this property.

Sprout 50:17
Yeah. Right now we’re focused on getting the word out because it’s just a brand new idea and a brand new project, and starting to generate some sources of revenue. So we have Blackflower Bookkeeping, if there’s any radical businesses that need bookkeeping services, hit us up. We also have Blackflower Permaculture. So, we’re starting to do some design work around permaculture. And so those are two sources of revenue that we’re trying to open up, as well as the–as I mentioned before–the benefit shows, which not only would serve to start to cultivate sort of community around the project but would hopefully be another fundraising effort.

Margaret 51:07
Yeah. Okay, so with the bookkeeping thing. One of the things that’s come up a bunch of times…I’ve met people who’ve been like, “I want to be an anarchist.” But people think that they’re like, get kept out of anarchy because they’re not like punks, or they’re not like…their skill set is not like, organized…depending on what they think of anarchism, either they’re not a punk, their skill set is not antagonizing cops, or their skill set is not organizing or whatever, right? And I’ve met people who are like, “Oh, I’m only good at spreadsheets. I don’t know how I could be of help.” And I just like, want to shake them and be like, “Every group I know needs a spreadsheet wizard.”

Charyan 51:48
So, for a message for all the boozy radicals that are listening that are looking for their entrance into radical spaces, and anarchist spaces, and whatnot, we definitely could use a lot more of those skills that are removed from a lot of lower income people and whatnot. Like, for example, I need a fucking anarchist lawyer. Get me a Saul Goodman. Someone, please, come through for me.

Margaret 52:20
We’ll talk after. There are good anarchist lawyers.

Sprout 52:25
I mean, we need every skill, you know, when you think about it. So yeah, there’s no wrong place to get involved. That’s the thing is, you don’t have to be out on the front line throwing yourself at a line of police. You can do anything. Just do it for the revolution.

Margaret 52:45
Yeah, yeah. Fuck yeah. Well, that feels like kind of a good end note. If people are interested in supporting you, or hearing more about the stuff that you’re doing, do you want to talk about your pod…Like, where can people find your…well, people can find your podcast where are they found this podcast. It’s called Molotov Now. But, you want to plug any of the stuff you’re working on?

Charyan 53:09
Well, if you want to find more of our projects from Sabot Media, you could find our website at Or check us out on your social media platform of choice @Aberdeenlocal1312.

Sprout 53:28
Ideally at Kolektiva’s Macedon server. So, for Blackflower, the website is And that has all the information about where to donate and what the different projects that we’re trying to get off the ground are. And any information that comes up about new events or shows anything like that we’ll be putting on the website as well.

Margaret 53:58
Awesome. All right. Well, thank you all so much, and I can’t wait to hear more about what you all are getting up to.

Charyan 54:07
Thank you. It’s been great talking with you.

Sprout 54:09
Yeah, thanks for the opportunity.

Margaret 54:16
Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, you can go and start a rural organizing project. Don’t call it that. There’s already a rural organizing project called Rural Organizing Project. Oooh, I should have them on too. But, you can go organize, or you can just be lazy and tell people about this podcast. Or, you can rate, and review, and do all the algorithm stuff. Or, you can support us financially. Supporting us financially pays the people who transcribe and edit these episodes. One day it might even pay the hosts of this episode, wouldn’t that be cool. Or the guests. I guess should probably pay the guests first. But you can help make that happen by going to patreon.comstrangersinatangledwilderness. Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness is an anarchist publishing collective that publishes this podcast and a bunch of other stuff, including the podcast Anarcho Geek Power Hour, for people who like movies and hate cops, the podcast Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness, which includes our features zines that we put out every month. And, if you want to know more about our features zines, you can go to…I already said that part. But, you get sent those zines if you’re part of our Patreon, and if not, you can look at them for free by going to our website, which is And it really is the Patreon that that makes all of these things happen. And I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who supports it. And in particular, I’m grateful to Jans, Oxalis, Janice, Paige, Aly, Paparouna, Milica, Boise Mutual Aid, Theo, Hunter, Shawn, SJ, Paige, Mikki, Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea, Kat J., Staro, Jenipher, Eleanor, Kirk, Sam, Chris, Micaiah, and Hoss the Dog. And if you want to hear your name listed in this list, you just head on over, and I can’t do the…I can’t do that voice. I’m not very good at the non earnest voice. But, it really it means the world. It also means the world that so many of you listen to this show and tell people about it. It’s what makes it worth it. And take care

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S1E70 – Margaret on Go Bags Part II

Episode Summary

On this week’s Live Like the World is Dying, Margaret and Inmn finish their talk about go bags. They talk about important documents, knives, tools, sleeping systems, shelters, coping with isolation, food, water, firearms, specific situations you might need a go bag for, and of course, DnD.

Host Info

Margaret can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy or instagram at @margaretkilljoy. Inmn can be found on Instagram @shadowtail.artificery.

Publisher Info

This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at


Live Like the World is Dying: Margaret on Go Bags Part II

Inmn 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 Inmn Neruin, and this week we’re continuing to talk about go bags. We have the second part of an interview with the founder of this podcast, Margaret Killjoy, where we continue our conversation from last week at literally the exact place that we left off. But first, 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. Doo doo doo doo doo. [Making noises like a song]

So Margaret, we’ve gone through hygiene kit, survival kit, and… I immediately forgot the third part of it.

Margaret 01:39
First aid.

Inmn 01:39
First-aid kit. And so that wraps up kind of like an emergency pack?

Margaret 01:44

Inmn 01:44
What what what else goes in a bug out bag.

Margaret 01:47
So, now that we get to the bag itself, I would say the next most important thing is a water bottle. Specifically, I like–and I give to all my friends–single wall steel canteen style water bottles. And the reason that I like these is that you can boil water in them. The double wall vacuum sealed canteens, they rule for a lot of purposes, like actually, they’re really good for like putting hot soup in your bag. If you’re going out hiking for the day and you get to the top of the mountain you get to–as if I’ve ever climbed a whole ass mountain. By my standards where I live, the mountains are very short. And so when you climb up a whole ass Appalachian mountain, you can have your warm soup up at the top even when it’s snowing and shit, you know. But overall, I use 32 ounce steel wall canteens. I like them a lot. And then you’re also going to want to make sure that you have food in there, protein bars and other snacks. So that’s the core. But then for the bag itself, it’s really going to depend on what you’re doing. So, I guess I’ll go over the not camping stuff first, the kind of like…the stuff that is like…Okay, because there’s all the camping shit. And that’s really useful depending on your situation. But, things to put in your go bag: your passport. If nothing else, if you don’t want your actual main documents in here, you’re going to want to put photocopies and digital copies of your stuff in here, which is of course somewhat of a security risk. If someone steals your bag, they get this stuff, right. But for me, the threat model is that my passport is more useful to me in my backpack than it is at home in a safe when I’m 1000 miles away. So, your passport, which I would push anyone who was capable in the United States of making sure that they have an updated passport, especially these days. You want your important documents backed up. This could be some of your medical records. It could be your dog’s medical records. It could be your children’s medical records. And, you might want the deed to your house. You might want some of the vehicle registration stuff. You want your like stuff–not necessarily the originals in this particular case–but you want the documents of it in case you’re like coming back later and need to prove some shit. You know? Because a lot of crises might disrupt a lot of the institutions of bureaucracy. And you would think that in times of crisis, bureaucracy will be like, “I guess we kind of get in the way of human freedom.” But no, in times of crisis borders will still be like, “Oh, I don’t know about you. You don’t have the right document. I don’t care that the road you’re on is literally on fire.” or whatever the fuck you know. Another way to back these up is to literally just to take pictures of them on your phone and have it on your phone. But I think it’s actually a good idea to have a USB stick with these documents as well and you might want to consider encrypting that, which I don’t know if all computers can do easily but at least my computer can do easily. And you probably want…you might want more of an expanded first-aid kit in this. I guess I gets into the other thing thing. And then the other thing that I think you’re gonna want in your go bag is you want fucking entertainment. Like this gets over overlooked so much. But, when when Covid hit, the way that my mental health works I was very isolated, right? I could not put myself at risk to Covid because of my mental health. And so, I lived alone in a cabin without much electricity. And the best purchase I made was something called a Bit Boy, and I highly recommend it. It is this tiny…it looks like a tiny Gameboy and it has all of the Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, and everything else games like on it. And it uses almost no battery. It’s rechargeable. It’s a little finicky. If you like turn it off it like fucks it up because it’s like a it’s like a $30 thing full of pirated shit, right? So it’s super finicky. But, I swear that this thing had a better mental health effect on me then like almost anything else during that time. And the other thing that got me through it was I had legally purchased downloads of TV. And so even though I didn’t have internet, I once a week, once a day, like sat down and ate my cold soup and watched fucking Steven Universe, and that she got me through it. And so like a USB stick full of like movies, TV, also, specifically, a USB stick full of like survival guides and information about how to build things, fix things, all of that shit. I think it’s a super useful thing for a bug out bag. And I leave it up to…

Inmn 06:32
It’s funny because I feel like this episode is something where we’re covering a lot of stuff that–and I just want to start flagging things–we did a whole episode on how you can build a mesh network essentially to have things like libraries of entertainment, or Wikipedia downloads, or like survival bits. So, if you want to learn more about that then go check out that episode. I believe it’s called Andre on Solar Punk.

Margaret 07:08
Oh, yeah. I forgot we talked about some of the mesh network stuff. That shit’s fucking cool. And yeah, so have a library with you. You know, keep a download of Wikipedia on your computer. My computer bag is an example of the kind of bag that theoretically I should be a little bit smarter and kind of keep next to the bug out bag when it’s not in use, right? Because I’m going to throw my laptop into my bug out bag if I’m running, right? And so it’s like people are like, “Oh, but where’s your like giant knife.” and like, don’t get me wrong, I have a giant knife on my bag. But. I also now have a Nintendo Switch in there, which is an upgrade from the Bit Boy. And like, I am proudest of that of all of the things in my bug out bag. I see that as the most likely for me to use. And I remember before Covid, I remember thinking to myself as I was preparing a library hard drive. And as I was preparing–well I didn’t have the Switch yet–but I was like, “Man, what kind of Apocalypse leaves you with free time?” And I’m like, “Oh, Covid.” or the next pandemic or fucking hanging out in a refugee center for trans people in Canada or whatever the fuck horrible shit we’re gonna have to deal with, you know?

Inmn 08:24
Yeah, and just sorry, just to clarify, free time for a lot of people and an incredible amount of not free time for a lot of people.

Margaret 08:33
Well, yeah, no, I I think I mean more about isolation. It’s not like I like…maybe I’m just being defensive. But it’s like at the beginning of the pandemic, my cabin did not sustain life. And so I had to put all of my work into plumbing it, solaring it, you know, washing all my clothes by hand, like doing all this shit, right? But, I think that especially in times of isolation there’s like downtime that people don’t expect. And I could be wrong, but I suspect that this would be true almost no matter the crisis is that there’s like downtime you don’t expect where turning your…where not thinking about the crises that are happening is incredibly important. No, it is funny. You’re right because I think in my head there’s like the beginning of Covid a lot of especially middle class people were like, “Oh, fuck, I’m stuck in my house and bored.” Right? Versus a lot of working class people who are like, “Well, now I’m still working in the middle of this nightmare,” you know? I think that like…but I would guess that…I dunno, whatever I’ll stop being defensive.

Inmn 09:41
Yeah, sorry, less of a push back and more just a bringing in this other piece of the piece of the context. But, you know, there were also overworked doctors who were separated from their families. And so, I imagine they also did have probably this weird amount of downtime where It’s like, “Well, I’m not at work, but I’m not with my family. What am I doing?”

Margaret 10:04
Yeah, and specifically for me, games are a really good anti-anxiety because I definitely hold by the, “Busy bee has no time for sorrow.” But then you’re like, “Well, it’s dark out and I don’t have lights in my house. Fuck am I gonna do?” You know? Okay, so that’s some of the stuff from a bug out bag point of view. That’s the kind of…like;, documents and things like that matter a lot. You’re also going to want anything that you need for taking care of other loved ones and or animals that you might have to do. Like, my dog has a smoke mask. He does not like it. If we were in a wildfire situation, he would deal with it. You know? And so there might be like different stuff like…I should probably get a muzzle for my dog. I do not. I do not muzzle my dog on any kind of regular basis. But, I could imagine a situation in which like, everything is so stressful that it would be necessary, right? And you’re gonna know better than us what specifically other other stuff you need. But I guess we’ll talk about more of the expanded survival stuff that a lot of people are gonna put in their bug out bags, if that makes sense?

Inmn 11:20
Yeah, totally. And sorry, just to keep flagging some things. So folks, if you want to learn more about other little pieces of this topic like how to prepare for needing extra medications in a world where like medication systems kind of break down, we do a whole episode on it. I’m blanking on what the episode title is. But I believe it’s called “Taking care of your medical needs.”

Margaret 11:50
That sounds right.

Inmn 11:51
And I forget who the guest was. But yeah, I love that we’re having this go back conversation now. Because I feel like we can really tie a lot of larger topics that we’ve talked about before into it, which I’m really loving.

Margaret 12:08
Yeah. And then maybe we’ll go through, you know, kind of some more of this checklist type stuff and then talk more about the different situations in which one might need to go bag. How does that sound?

Inmn 12:18
That sounds great.

Margaret 12:19
Okay. So, for the bag itself beyond the emergency kit, you’ve now added your documents, you’ve added your water bottle, you’ve added snacks. And for snacks from my point of view, I recommend snacks that you don’t like because otherwise you’re going to eat them beforehand. If you’re me. [laughs] I used to keep Clif Bars and not Builder Bars as my snacks because I didn’t like Clif bars, but I ate so many builder bars as part of my regular life as being an oogle that now I’m kind of sick of them. So now it’s like reversed. And Clif Bars are my regular protein bar and Builder Bars are my my snacks I throw in my bag, you know. And, everyone’s gonna do this a little differently. And then that stuff is like…most of the stuff in here is…Like I also pick things that don’t really expire, but food expires. And also so does that medication, although the medication tends to just lower its efficacy rather than become dangerous. Other things I keep in my bug out bag: a collapsible plastic water canteen. These are useful for a bunch of different things. Like if you just need to hold more water for a while, you might want one of these. I also have moved to a hydration bladder. A lot of people move away from them. I’ve recently moved towards them. People kind of go back and forth in the hiking world about hydration bladders. As an oogle, I never used them. As a hiker, I really like them because you can hands free or like minimal effort drink as you go, you know. And, you know, more water good except for the weight part of it, you know? And you’re also going to want, to keep talking about water, you’re going to want to filter in water. And I think that this is true in most circumstances. I think that this is like…you know, some of this like survival stuff is very back woodsy, but a lot of the survival stuff also applies to cities. And it applies to cities where like if you got to boil advisory… like I don’t know, anyone who’s not had a boil advisory where they live at some point or another, right? You know, every now and then they admit that the water isn’t drinkable in your area, and also a lot of like urban survival stuff is like…whatever, I’ve like slept on a lot of rooftops in my life and shit, you know? Like shelter from the elements is often easier to find in a city but not necessarily a lot of other stuff. So for myself, there’s a lot of different water filters. A lot of them are designed for backpacking and those tend to be pretty good. I use a Sawyer water filter. They’re these little tiny ceramic water filters and they have a bunch of different attachment sense to them. I used one of these at the beginning of Covid for all of my water because I didn’t have a great water source. And, I was just like basically like…I set mine up to a five gallon bucket system where I put water in the five gallon bucket, and then it goes through a hose into the Sawyer filter, and then it gravity drips into a five gallon jerrycan. That’s like a stationary kind of thing. For a go bag, you use the same water filter, but it has like one bag of dirty water and one bag of clean water. You can also just rely on chemical filter…not filtration but like purification. Some people like the UV filter chemical things. I’ve never used one. I don’t totally understand them. I mean, I understand the concept, but I don’t…I can’t attest to them. It seems like most people are picking ceramic water filters. There’s also a LifeStraw. And a LifeStraw is a perfectly fine thing to have. I keep one in my hiking day bag. These are these cheap water ceramic filters–like 15 bucks often–and you just drink through it. Usually I go up to the stream and you stick this thing in it and you drink out of the stream.

Inmn 16:09
It acts as a filter but also you can’t get viruses or stuff?

Margaret 16:14
Exactly, it’s a ceramic filter that…Yeah, all of these filters are designed to take like mountain stream water and make it potable. Actually, the thing that they’re bad at is filtering large stuff like mud. And these can get like clogged up. It’s the biggest downside of a ceramic filter. What a lot of people do is they take their bandanna or their…if you’re an oogle you use a banana. If you’re a military bro, you use the…I forget what they’re called. They’re the like, giant bananas that…Folk…I can’t remember the name of them. Folks in the desert and like, you know, Southwest Asia and stuff tend to use, I think. You use one of those. And then if you’re a hiking bro, then you use your…what did I decide they were called? Buffs?

Inmn 17:11

Margaret 17:13
So, you filter all the water through that if you want to keep the ceramic water filter lasting longer. I haven’t done as much like hiking filtering, I usually just bring enough water because I don’t go on really long hikes. But, I mostly have used the ceramic water filter in a stationary sense. So that’s like my personal experience with it. But, that’s what I carry. You can also add, if you would like, you can add these more ready-to-eat food besides just like bars and stuff. They make these…it’s basically Lembas [like in “Lord of the Rings”] bread. They make these like military rations that are like vacuum sealed and are good for five or ten years. And it’s just like oil and flour. And it tastes like nothing. And it’s just calories. It’s just like a block of calories. And your body can go a fairly long time without food compared to water, right? But like, for peak efficacy–and also to not be a grouchy asshole–you want to at least put calories if not nutrition in your body. A lot of the survival food isn’t really focused on nutrition because like it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get your vitamins for a couple days.

Inmn 18:21
Yeah, but obviously everyone has different, you know, body needs or like food requirements.

Margaret 18:27
Yeah, totally.

Inmn 18:28
And so this is like maybe a good time for folks with diabetes or just any any other kind of predisposition that requires to have more food around.

Margaret 18:39
Yeah, and different types of food. And I think it’s actually worth having a variety of types of food also for the people around you because I think a lot of this is going to be based on sharing, because greediness in times of crisis, people are like, “Oh, that’s when you got to be greedy.” And I’m like, “The single most useful tool you can have is another person.” Like I can’t imagine something I would rather have in a time of crisis than someone else. And so like, yeah, having a variety of types of foods, I think is great from that point of view. No, yeah. And like, yeah, everyone’s going to need different things. Okay, so next, fire. In most people’s day to day life, fire is not a big component of it. And honestly, most random overnight…like, when I was in oogle, I didn’t like fucking stop and make a fire in the woods most nights, you know? And if I did, it was kind of like a celebration type thing, you know? However, from a survival point of view, there’s a lot of situations where being able to have a fire is really useful specifically mostly for warmth, also for other like, you know, signaling purposes and for like…you know, if you make a wet fire, it’ll smoke more and things like that. And for both boiling water to…another way to, you know, purify your water or whatever. And also for cooking. It’s kind of a morale thing for cooking a lot of times. A lot of foods you can just eat them cold and that’s especially the kind of stuff you might want to keep in your bag. But for fire, you might want to have additional fire methods, but you’ve already got a lot of them going on in the rest of your kit. The kind of thing that I always sort of made fun of, but now I understand, is the big fuck-off knife. I mean, you’re a knife maker. So you probably think about knives more than the average person. But…

Inmn 20:39
It’s true and I think I’m curious what you have to say about the big fuck-off knife mostly because I’ve kind of worked my way back from it, because I used to have a big fuck-off knife all the time. Like when I was an oogle, I was that oogle with the big fuck-off knife.

Margaret 20:57
The big fuck-off knife has two purposes. One, is to get people to fuck off. It’s not even about drawing it, it’s about fucking open carrying it. It’s just about being like, “Yeah, I’m in a miniskirt. And I have a like seven inch knife on my waist.” Like, people just fuck with you less when you have a big fuck-off knife. And so that’s like one of the purposes. But then, bushcraft. I didn’t understand why survival knives were big because I was like a big knife…I’m not a knife fighter. I think anyone who is a knife fighter is not thinking about how long they want to live. Like, that’s why I mean having a big fuck-off knife is to make people leave you alone, not to like fight them with it. But just to like fucking get people to leave you alone. But the giant knife is really useful for bushcraft. It’s really useful for processing wood especially if you don’t have a hatchet or something with you. That’s what I’ve like come to understand as to why survival knives are big and how specifically they’re bladed on one side with a wide–you’re going to know these words better than me–like spine. [Inmn mummers affirmatively] And they have a wide spine so that you can split wood with it. You can take a stick and you can put it on it on the end of the stick and then you can hit it with another stick or a rock. And you can push the knife through the thing. That’s [Inmn interrupts]

Inmn 22:18
Can I?

Margaret 22:19
Yeah. You know more about knives than I do.

Inmn 22:21
Yeah, yeah. Just to offer a little bit of re-contextualization. So you know, I’m not a bushcrafter by any means. I wish that I was. I’d be. God, I’d be so much cooler. But I do know knives pretty well and I’ve been asked to make bushcraft knives before and so you know, I did a bunch of research about bushcraft knives. And what I found was that and then what I found from use is that like the big fuck-off knife is not actually great for bushcrafting.

Margaret 22:58
Oh, interesting.

Inmn 23:01
Yeah, most Bushcraft knives are like they kind of max out at six inches. And a lot of people err more on the like, you know, four and a half to five and a half range. And what that gives you…because for bushcraft, it’s like–you described batoning earlier–if you’re batoning your knife through wood to reduce it you don’t need a big knife for that. You need a sturdy knife for that. And with a smaller knife, you kind of get a lot more manual dexterity so you can do all of your other tasks. I love knives, I love big fuck off knives. I agree that the purpose of a big fuck-off knife is for people to fuck off. And, you know, I can imagine like survival knives are often longer because you might need them for heavier, larger tasks. But I’m honestly a fan of having a belt axe for that purpose because it’s does that thing better. Sorry. That’s my that’s my segue into knife world

Margaret 24:06
No, that makes a lot of sense. And if you ever want to lose a lot of your life–and I feel like you might have also–read people talking about survival knife versus axe versus saw versus machete, about what you’re supposed to bring into the woods, you know?

Inmn 24:27
Yeah. And what you’re gonna learn is that knives…there’s no single knife. That’s good for everything just like there’s no single bag that’s good for everything. You need to pick the things that you’re comfortable doing. And you need to pick the tasks that you need done. And then find the right tool for it.

Margaret 24:48
No, that makes a lot of sense. I will say in terms of saws and knives and all that shit, I have found that the little wire saw is sort of bullshit. Have you seen these?

Inmn 25:01
I always wondered.

Margaret 25:03
But yeah, I think…and the one…I haven’t used that much. I think I tried to use one once. The pocket chainsaw is not bullshit, which is basically a chainsaw blade with two loops on either end, and you loop it around a limb, and then you like, saw back and forth. You know, I think those are not bullshit. Although I think, personally, I’d rather have a folding saw. But they’re bigger. So.

Inmn 25:30
Yeah, yeah. And that’s the key thing here is like if you want to build shelters, use the saw. Don’t…You could use your knife for some of it. But yeah. You don’t want to build a structure with like hacking 10,000 sticks into something. Get a saw.

Margaret 25:51
No, I think you’ve convinced me. Because I’ve been like, I’ve been pondering my–I have a survival knife on my bag–and I’ve been pondering its actual usefulness versus its weight and stuff, you know? And like, besides the like, I keep it on the outside of my bag and it’s a little bit of a like, leave me alone, you know? I think that I have been seeing…Yeah, like, yeah, I think I want to fuck with this more. Redefined my own…Because the knife that I use on a day-to-day basis is my folding pocket knife. You know? It’s what I use for almost everything. I’m not going to baton wood with it. Well, I would. It just wouldn’t do a very good job of it.

Inmn 26:27
Yeah. And, you know, I say this as someone who is always going to have a big knife, probably. And I don’t have a purely rational reason for that. But yeah, it makes me feel more comfortable.

Margaret 26:45
No, and it’s like, and I think it’s telling that backpackers don’t tend to have large knives. They don’t tend to have survival knives at all. Backpackers also tend not to have axes or saws because they’re not really…they’re focused on getting somewhere and camping, not like building large fires or building structures and things like that. Yeah. And then like, I think more and more, I think fighty type people have been focusing more on smaller knives anyway. Like the karambit is a popular fighting knife or whatever and it’s not a big knife.

Inmn 27:19
Yeah, yeah. And if you see the…like a lot of the like, original from…I actually don’t know where karambits come from. But, where they were developed, they’re incredibly small knives. They’re like inch and a half long blades. They’re incredibly tiny.

Margaret 27:36
It’s Indonesian. I just looked it up. Yeah. Yeah, no, yeah. It’s not a like…Like don’t fight a bear. Like a general rule. Don’t live your life in such a way where you’re fighting bears. And then, if you are then use bear spray. If you’re not using bear spray, use a 10mm handgun. Like, you know? Oh, we haven’t really talked about firearms.

Inmn 28:06
Anyway. Sorry. Derail into knife world over.

Margaret 28:09
No, no, I think that…I’m really…It was useful. I learned some. It’s probably worth carrying some kind of knife sharpener. If you suck like me, you can use the pull through style–that Inmn is probably going to be disgusted that I use because it destroys the initial original bevel. If you know how to sharpen a knife properly, you can bring a whetstone. It’s a little…

Inmn 28:31
But, whet stones are heavy.

Margaret 28:33
I know. And it’s also…or you can also bring a little diamond sharpener stick and stuff like that. Yeah, what would you…Okay, what would you suggest? What would you suggest as your portable knife sharpener? Light and transportable?

Inmn 28:45
Yeah, so you know, a knife doesn’t do much good if it’s not sharp. And most people’s knives are not very sharp. I would say that it is a great skill to invest in is learning how to sharpen a knife. There’s a lot of stuff…

Margaret 29:06
I’ve tried it so many times. I don’t believe in it. I don’t think it’s real. Anyway, yeah, let’s continue.

Inmn 29:13
And yeah, like, you know, like what I have at home are these big series of benchtop whetstones. There’s a million grits and…but one of the better things that you can have is a strop. Just a leather strop, which is just some like full grain leather. You want it to be fairly thick and use some green polishing compounds that you rub on it and you strop the edge, which helps maintain the edge. And, but as far as pocket sized sharpening devices, the strop doesn’t sharpen the knife, the strap like helps redefine the burr on the edge. And there’s a million different little pocket sized whetstones. But, the important part is that you want something coarse and you want something fine to like refine the bevel. And so like if I had to build a little to-go kit, I would get a little miniature like 400/1000 combo stone. That is probably not something ceramic because it’s heavy. But, they make a bunch of different things. I’m actually less knowledgeable about these pocket things. Yeah, but you want something coarse and you want something fine. 400/1,000 are great grits and then a strop to kind of like polish out the edge with. With that you can’t go wrong. Well, you can go wrong…

Margaret 30:48
Yeah, I will go wrong.

Inmn 30:49
I don’t know enough to tell you how to go wrong.

Margaret 30:51
No, I will successfully go wrong. I’ve been trying to sharpen knives my whole life. I will continue to do it. I can kind of do it. I actually use a little all-in-one pocketstone, a little bit larger than the like stick ones, and it’s a longish yellow piece of plastic with two sides. And then also has a little fold out part that can be used for filing in the saw parts. And it has kind of a guide, has a little bit of an angle guide built into it, and that’s the most useful part for me. So that’s the only time I’ve been able to sharpen knives to where they like can shave.

Inmn 31:28
Knife sharpening is is a skill. Don’t…That would be my advice is don’t think that you’re going to…don’t rely on learning how to sharpen your knife for the first time when you’re in an in an emergency. Practice that now.

Margaret 31:40
And I will say as someone who has used all knives for almost everything over the years, it’s like, it’s all right. I mean, it’s not as good. But, I can still cut a cord with a shitty knife, you know?

Inmn 31:54
Yeah, well, you know, the old knife making adage, “A dull knife…” or sorry, the old kitchen worker adage, “A dull knife is a dangerous knife.”

Margaret 32:02
Yeah, so live dangerously. Cut… Cut paper with your knives and never sharpen them. Yes. Okay, let’s talk about sleeping systems.

Inmn 32:06
Live dangerously? [laughing] Sleeping systems! Thank you for indulging my derailment.

Margaret 32:20
It’s what we’re here for. And some of this we might kind of like…some of the like camping stuff we might not dive as deep into. We’re already on episode two of what was going to be one episode. So, I believe in the sleeping bag. And that’s leftover from being oogle. I would say that the one thing I would carry in any kind of bag is a sleeping bag. This is not always true. I don’t always carry sleeping bag. But, it’s like almost a comfort item. It’s a like no matter what I’m warm kind of item. I believe in sleeping bags with a good stuff sack. I personally don’t use down. Backpackers tend to use down. It’s lighter. It compacts more for the same warmth. However, it doesn’t insulate once it gets wet. And that is a big deal from my point of view, from a survival point of view. When everything is fine, I prefer a non down one. They’re also cheaper. And that might be why I have that preference. And also, I don’t know anything about how the birds who produce down are treated. So, sleeping bag super important. A lot of backpackers have now moved to backpacking quilts. And then a lot of old timers will actually just use like wool blankets and stuff like that. I love a sleeping bag. You’re gonna want to get off the ground. However, that said, in an urban environment you can use cardboard. You just need to layer it a lot. And it’s not as good as a sleeping pad. But it is still useful. And you’re going to need a sleeping pad that is appropriate to weather and desired comfort. If you want to hear me learn more about sleeping bags and tents you can listen to me talk to Petra a year and a half ago. I don’t remember the name of the episode besides Petra being the guest. And that’s where I learned that the combo move of an air mattress and a foam pad is is often really good. For shelter, the sort of three choices kind of is a tent, a bivy, or a tarp. This is not necessarily in a lot of bug out situations. It is necessary in my bug out situation and it might be in yours. And the advantage of a tarp is that it is like only one object. It is light. It is kind of easier to hide in a lot of ways. And I actually, when I’m sleeping in dangerous situations–like a lot of oogle life is like trespassing–I don’t like tents because tents, you can’t see out of them. Like it’s like a little bubble. It’s why people do like tents is that they want to be in their little bubble and I totally get that. And I’ll probably be a tent person moving on because it’s like comfortable, and safe, and stuff. But when I was younger and everything was well, not easier, my life was fairly hard. But like whatever. It was easier for me to not bother with a tent so I used a tarp. And then the other option is the bivy. And a bivy is like a…It’s like a waterproof sleeping bag. And there’s like ones…like I have one that has like one pole, just to keep the head of it off your face, you know. And these compact really small. This is what a lot of people who are rucking, who are doing military shit, tend to prefer are bivys. They’re not popular among backpackers. The kind of closest equivalent is hammocks. A lot of people also use, but that involves there being good trees in the right place. However, hammocks can be light, and good, and stuff, too. And these are all gonna be preferences. And the reason I no longer fuck with bivys is I have a dog. And he’s coming with me. And so I’m now probably a tent camper. Because if I’m sleeping outside, I’m just leashing my dog to a tree. But, I don’t want him to get rained on. I want him warm. So I’m probably going to be a tent camper from now on. And then some tents now, a lot of backpackers are moving to these tents where you use your hiking poles to keep them up and then they’re super lightweight and they’re actually kind of cool. And they’re a little bit…like some of them are like almost halfway between a tarp and a tent. And…

Inmn 36:06
I love as like camping technology evolves it just like…I feel like it gets more old timey and more oogley but with you know, fancy stuff.

Margaret 36:17
The $700 oogle tent. Yeah. Some of these tents are like fucking $600-700 and made out of like, space material or whatever. Yeah. What’s your favorite shelter for camping?

Inmn 36:32
So this is funny. I once bike toured across the entire country. From the west coast to Chicago, I built a tarp tent every night.

Margaret 36:47
Like an a-frame?

Inmn 36:50
Yeah, I built like a little tarp tent every night, which I had to get really creative in the West. As you know, there’s not a lot of trees everywhere it turns out. And then when I got to Chicago, I went out and bought the Big Agnes ultralight backpacking tent, which is like sort of halfway between….Yeah, it’s halfway. It’s like…It’s not a bivy, but it doesn’t have a much larger footprint than a bivy. And it was the best thing that I’ve ever spent money on. I’m embarrassed to say that I spent money on it.

Margaret 37:28
Whatever. Whatever.

Inmn 37:29
But, I did.

Margaret 37:30
I’m revoking your oogle card. You didn’t scam it from REI dumpsters? I can’t believe you. Yeah, yeah. Fuck yeah.

Inmn 37:41
All right. Yeah, but I love that thing. But, I would love to move to a bivy. Yeah.

Margaret 37:45
Yeah, I think that..Yeah, honestly, like, I’ve only…I haven’t slept a ton in my bivy. But I was like, “Oh, this works.” The other downside of a bivy is that your bag doesn’t fit in the tent with you. And so if you sleeping in a bivy in the rain, you’re going to need to work on waterproofing your bag. But that is something that like as a backpacker, you’re probably trying to do anyway. The main ways that people do it is 1) a pack cover that goes on the outside. And then 2) people often either put things in dry bags, or just like fucking contractor bags, like trash bags, inside their bag and let the bag itself get wet. And if you’re, if you’re bivy camping, you’re accepting that your bag is getting rained on and you just need to work around that. Which, is I think part of why it’s the tactical person’s choice or whatever. Because you’re like, “Comfort doesn’t matter. Surviving to get where I need to go shoot somebody is what matters.” or whatever, you know. Or not get shot or whatever. Which actually, you’re going to have to take into mind when you when you choose what kind of color for all of these things you want. I personally would lean towards the camo type stuff for my…I live in a red state. I could imagine having to leave.

Inmn 38:49

Margaret 38:50
I’m gonna like I’m gonna like speed run the rest of the camping stuff. You might want a poncho or a raincoat. Some people like ponchos because you can also turn them into shelters or whatever, but I think sometimes it’s a little bit just fucking carry what you like. You want additional socks in your go bag no matter what, no matter what you’re…Even if it’s not a camping go bag, put some fucking socks in there and some other…change of underwear and possibly like better soap, like camp soap, like more hygiene type stuff. My go bag has a fucking battery powered Waterpik so that I can floss with water at night because I have spent a lot of money on my teeth. They are not in great shape and water picks rule. I also have a portable battery powered electric toothbrush that I fucking love. You might want an emergency radio. If you’re like good at radio shit, you might want a Baofeng. It’s like an all channel and it can send as well as receive. It’s called a transceiver. It’s really easy to accidentally break the law with a Baofeng because you’re not allowed to actually use any sending signals on it most of the time. But they’re very useful crisis if you know what you’re doing. On the other hand, I would just say get one of those like, your little battery powered weather AM/FM radio. Have and put it in there. At home, I keep one of those like hand crank solar panel everything survival radios or whatever. But they’re like a little bit bulky and a little bit cheap. And so, I like don’t quite trust it in my bag, but I keep one at home. But, other people feel differently. I like having a monocular or binoculars in a go bag. I like this because looking at shit is cool. And sometimes also, I could imagine there are situations where I would want to look at and see what’s ahead and not go there. If I had money, if I was a money person, I would have at least a thermal monocular if not full on like night vision shit. But that’s money. You want the rain cover, the dry bag, you want to beef up your first-aid kit a little bit. You probably want an ace bandage at the very least. There’s some other stuff like moleskin and other things for like long distance walking that you might want. I’ve heard good things about leukotape–and I haven’t used it yet–but as like…people use it as a replacement for moleskin for covering blisters and shit. You might want cooking stuff, which I’m just not gonna get into cooking stuff here. And you might not. You can also like cold soak your food and just like put it in like a peanut butter jar with water and fucking have it turned into food. Whatever. You might want hiking poles. You might want a solar charger. You might want, as we’ve talked about, a folding saw, a hatchet or machete. You might want more light. Like some people like the collapsible LED solar lanterns. They’re not like a great bang for your buck in terms of like, I mean, they’re actually really light and shit, but like, you know, you can use a headlamp just fine. But, like sometimes if you’ve got like a family and shit, it’s like nice to have like a little bit of ambiance and niceness or whatever. Especially like maybe if you’re in like a building right when the power’s out, you know, like that’s the kind of thing that like is a little bit more likely and is useful. You probably want a plastic trowel of some type for pooping outside or a little aluminum trowel for digging a hole so you can poop into it. And alright, guns really quickly, and then…My recommendation is only carry firearms if you train in them. Unlike everything else. Carrying something you don’t know how to use is fine if you know you don’t know how to use it and you get someone else to use it, like your first-aid kit. Like, my IFAK for gunshot wounds, If I’m shot in the belly, it’s for someone else to use on me if at all possible. You know. I am trained in how to use it, but so guns are the exception to this. Do not carry a gun unless you can keep it secure at all times and you pay a lot of attention to the ethics and also the legality around firearms. Those have been covered a lot more in other places on this show. Specifically, my current recommendation that I’m a little bit this is like do what…Whatever, I haven’t yet mastered this. The handgun that I keep near my bed in a safe, in a quick access safe, would go into my bug out bag in a moment of crisis or be on my person. And then in the bug out bag is additional magazines with 9mm ammunition. 9mm is by far the most common ammunition besides like .22LR, which is a survival round meant for hunting small animals. But, for a self defense point of view, I believe a handgun 9mm. And if you are the type who wants long guns, if your whole thing is you’re gonna be surviving in the woods or whatever, you might want to consider some type of backpacking .22. They make, I think it’s the AR-7 is one type of survival collapsible .22. And then the other one is a 10/22 with a backpacker’s stock that folds. What I personally plan on carrying if it was a get out past the militia checkpoint the US government has fallen scenario or whatever is a folding 9mm carbine, which is a rifle that shoots nine millimeter rounds. A lot of people don’t like these from a tactical point of view. It’s not nearly as effective at long range stuff as say an AR-15 or other rifles that are meant to shoot larger rounds, right, or not larger but more powerful rounds. But, the ability to use the exact same magazines that I already use for my other gun and the exact same ammunition makes it worth it for me for specifically a bug out bag scenario. I don’t have enough money to do this yet. That is why I don’t have that. My only bug out bag gun is my handgun that is also my home defense gun. And now everyone knows what I have at home. Anyway, that’s my firearms.

Inmn 44:30
They know one thing that you have at home.

Margaret 44:32
Yeah, totally. Or do they!? They think I have a 9mm but really I have a 10mm. Whatever. Oh, and then the other thing. Randomly. Okay, if your other threat model, if you’re in like fucking Alaska or some shit, you might want a 10mm, but you already know this if you live in Alaska. 10mm is a round that’s better at shooting really big animals. It doesn’t really have any like particular advantage against people in it and shit, right, but like against grizzly bears and shit. One, bear spray more effective. There’s a bunch of studies, bear spray is more effective at stopping a charging bear than any gun that exists. Whatever, I mean maybe like a bazooka or some shit, I don’t know whatever. Oh, poor bear. And then also, you don’t kill the bear. It’s just trying to fucking scare you and live its life. Yeah, yeah, that’s my bug out bag. Do you feel ready? And or do you wanna talk about, really quickly, like some some scenarios?

Inmn 45:35
Yeah, I feel a lot more informed. I feel overwhelmed,

Margaret 45:40
I should address the overwhelm. And I should have led with this. I’m so sorry everyone. You don’t need all this stuff. This is the “I’m building a bug out bag. And I have all the time.” You slowly build the bug out bag. You slowly get prepared. There’s no one who’s entirely prepared for all things. And the purpose of a bug out bag from my point of view is to ease your mind. When I first made my bug out bag and my cabin in the woods, I was able to say to myself, “If there’s a fire in this forest, I know what I will do. And now that I know what I will do, I am not going to worry about a fire in this forest anymore.” And so the first little bit that you get is the most useful. You get diminishing returns as you spend more money and more size and things like that. Massively diminishing returns. The everyday carry, your cell phone is the single most important object. You know, the pocket knife, the pepper spray, the the basic shit is the most important. If you have purse snacks and a water bottle, you are more prepared than almost anyone else. Yeah, I should have led with that.

Inmn 46:57
Yeah. Oh, no, no, it’s okay. I feel like, you know. We eased into it then it got real complicated. And I’m, grateful to think about the overwhelm afterwards. But, Margaret, so in thinking about a lot of these things, there’s like…I’m like, okay, like, if I’m in real life DnD or if the literal apocalypse happens then I could see needing these things. But why else might one need a bug out bag? What is some threat modeling kind of stuff to think of?

Margaret 47:42
Yeah, I mean, like, again, it’s gonna depend on where you are. If I were to pick where I’m at, I can imagine gas supplies running out, right? I don’t think…or like getting interrupted in such a way that, you know, suddenly, there’s a lot of limitation to the amount of fuel that you can have, right? I could imagine grocery store stuff. I could imagine like, you know, supply chain disruptions. We’re seeing supply chain disruptions. People might have to leave because of earthquakes. People might have to leave because of fires. Like, natural disasters is like probably the number one thing, right? And where you live, you will know what the natural disasters are. Where you live, personally, I would worry about drought. And I would worry about water war. But, and I would focus my prepping around rain barrels and you know, keeping five gallons of water in my truck or whatever. I didn’t even get into the shit you should put your vehicle. Some other time will the vehicle preparedness. And but yeah, I mean, like there’s scenarios where like…it was completely possible that January 6th type stuff could have happened on a much larger level, right? They tried to have it happen on a much larger level. We could have had a fascist coup in the United States, because they tried. And in that scenario, you might need to leave the country or you might need to move to a safer part of the country. Or you might need to move to a place so that you can prepare to defend. God, defend the country. But like, fight fascism, even if that means being like, “Alright, it’s us and the Democrats versus fascism,” or whatever, you know? Like, I can’t imagine like the partisans in Italy were like, “Oh, no, you’re a bourgeois capitalist. I’m not going to fight the Nazis with you.” You know? Like, I mean, actually, that probably did happen.

Inmn 49:46
Yeah, or how there’s…there have been tons of anarchists who are fighting in Ukraine.

Margaret 49:52
That is a…Yeah. Yeah, totally. And like if we were suddenly invaded by Russia, there would be like us and some patriots next to each other fighting on the same side, and it would be real awkward. Right? Real awkward, but like, you know. Okay. And so I think that it was entirely possible, at that moment, that my threat model included, “What if I need to get out of the south?” you know? And if I need to get out of the south, yeah, I’m driving until I hit the points where I start thinking that there’s gonna be militia checkpoints. And then I’m in the woods, you know? Yeah. And like, so. It’s not nearly as likely as other things. But, most bug out scenarios, yeah, are like, “I need to go spend a weekend somewhere.” It could even literally be like, a go bag is like, if I got the call that my dad was in the hospital and I just need to get in my fucking truck and go see my dad, right? Like, nothing else bad is happening in the world. It’s still real nice to have the bag that I am grabbing and walking out the door. You know? Yeah. Yeah. What are some of the scenarios that you imagine that you would worry about?

Inmn 50:01
There’s kind of, there’s kind of a lot. I mean, there’s, you know, there’s a lot of scenarios, and I’m wondering if this is the potential for like, future episodes is like…You know, where I live, I do think about drought, I think a lot increasingly more about militia checkpoints, because I live in a–I mean, I feel like everyone lives in a place where there could suddenly be an active militia–but I think about those things. This is a whole episode that we should do. But, I think about friends who live in places where it floods, I think about friends who live in places where there’s hurricanes.

Margaret 52:01
And a go back is also getting to go…If you need to go help someone who’s in a tight place of crisis, you know, like having your truck–don’t drive your truck into standing water ff you don’t know how deep it is– but like, if you needed to get into a disaster zone to help people, if you’re more prepared, you’re more able to do that.

Inmn 52:22
Yeah. Oh, and actually, could I suggest an addition to to go bags? Just as a thing. Yeah, I would love to heavily urge people to have in their go bags or to have this as a separate bag in your emergency kit is, you know, something that we’re learning a lot from harm reduction communities and organizing right now is harm reduction supplies. Yeah, Naloxone or Narcan, fentanyl testing strips, drug testing stuff in general. And, you know, even if you don’t use drugs, then I would suggest having stuff in case other people who do use drugs and need them to some extent or have complicated dependency around them, having that kind of stuff for someone else could be life saving to someone else.

Margaret 52:29
Of course. No, everything I said is the only stuff you can use.

Inmn 52:41
That is a really good point. Alright. Well, that’s some stuff. Is there anything else we should talk about go bags. It’s cool to have a go. That’s what I’m gonna say. Don’t let the right wing have it. It’s fucking cool. Being prepared rules. People are gonna think you’re cool. They used to make fun of you, but now…now they don’t. I have two kind of silly questions, because I love rooting these discussions in humor and light heartedness. There’s another word for it.

Margaret 54:14
I famously hate joy.

Inmn 54:16
Yeah. Okay, so we’ve just gone through this big list of stuff and do you remember Donny Don’t from Crimethinc? Yeah, what is the Donny Don’t of go bags?

Margaret 54:33
Donny Don’t is a, just so people know, it’s the don’t do with Donny Don’t does. And what is the Donny Don’t of go bags? It’s probably the like crazy overkill versions. Like I probably don’t need an ice axe in my go bag. Now that I say that I’m like, I mean, if I had to cross into Canada on the East Coast I would actually need an ice axe. So, but like, gear obsession, I think that and letting go bags be an endless bottomless non fun thing. If it is fun for you to geek out and find the the version of the thing that’s two ounces lighter, do it–as long as you give away the old one or like, you know, maintain it in such a way that it’s useful to somebody else. But yeah, I think that Donny Don’t is the overkill, like a bag that you can’t carry. Unless, I mean, some people can’t carry certain amounts of weight that they would need and then they need assistance and things like that. That’s actually okay too. But like, but overall. Yeah.

Inmn 55:42
Cool. Yeah. And actually, that is my retrospective answer for which knife to bring is the knife that you will carry.

Margaret 55:49

Inmn 55:49
Is the knife that does not that does not impede you from caring it. And then my other comical question because I can’t do a single interview without talking about it is: So in Dungeons and Dragons, you have the adventuring kit and what is the 50 foot of hempen rope, which every single adventurer uses at some point, and what is the like climbing like…not crampons. Pitons. What is the pitons thing that no one has ever used. If you use them, please tell us about it.

Margaret 56:32
Everyone uses the the eating stuff. The spork, the utensils. Everyone uses…Yeah, the stuff that everyone uses is the tiny light cheap shit. You know? It’s the fucking BIC lighter. And know what what no one uses is the magnifying lens to start the fire, which I didn’t even include. I actually include tiny little magnifying lenses in the kits because they cost like five cents, like little Fresnel lenses size of credit card. But, it’s mostly so you can read small stuff. And that weighs nothing. I like throwing it in. But the magnifying lens. That’s the Yeah.

Inmn 57:21
The piton thing.

Margaret 57:25
Yeah. Whatever it is.

Inmn 57:29
Cool. Thank you. Thank you for indulging my silly questions. Well, it seems like maybe we should do some more…Talk about this more some other time.

Margaret 57:41
Yeah, you should ask me about vehicle preparedness sometime. And home preparedness.

Inmn 57:46
Yeah, vehicle preparedness, home preparedness, like specific disaster preparedness. Yeah. Like, I know, we’re gonna…we’re planning on doing a hurricane thing at some point.

Margaret 57:58
We’re just gonna throw a hurricane. Inmn’s a level 17 Wizard.

Inmn 58:07
And, you know, maybe we like…do we eventually started talking about…Do we just throw you, Margaret, into situations and say, “How would you deal with this issue?” Like as an episode concept?

Margaret 58:22
I thought you meant physically. Like, while I’m on tour, be like, “Sorry, Margaret, you’re suddenly survivor lady.” And I’m like, “Wait!”

Inmn 58:32
No, no, I’m thinking of like, this funny episode concept where we come up with situations, almost like roleplay situations, but real life, and you tell us how you would prepare and deal it.

Margaret 58:46
Okay. Yeah, we should do that sometime. I guess I’ll have to get good at this. Usually, because I’m like…Well, my whole thing is I’m not quite an expert. At this point. I think I do know more than the average person. But my whole point was like, I’m not an expert. I find experts and ask them things. But, I guess at this point, there’s a lot of this shit that I either sometimes have hands on experience and sometimes I just fucking talk to people about it all day. So. Yeah, sounds good. Well,

Inmn 59:12
Well. Thanks so much for coming on this, what ended up being a two parter episode of your own podcast that I am a weird guest host of right now.

Margaret 59:24
No, it’s our podcast. It’s Strangers’ podcast at this point.

Inmn 59:29
Yeah. Do you have anything that you would like to plug?

Margaret 59:34
You can hear me on my podcast, Live Like the World is Dying, it’s a community and individual preparedness podcasts published by Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. You can also hear me talk about history. I spend most of my time reading history books and talking about it on a podcast called Cool People Who Did Cool Stuff on Cool Zone Media. It’s very confusing that one of my podcasts is on CZN and one of my podcasts is on CZM, but that’s the way it goes. And my most recent book is called “Escape from Incel Island.” You can hear me talk about a shotgun that I used to really want, the Celtic KSG which is what Mankiller Jones carries. It’s no longer that shotgun I lust after. Now I want to Mossberg 59A1. But, you know, I don’t know whether I want to change what they’re carrying. And I’m on the internet. @MagpieKilljoy on Twitter and @Margaretkilljoy on Instagram and you can also follow…I’m now trying to make people follow our social media, Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. You can also follow us on social media @TangledWild on Twitter and then at something on Instagram. I’m sure if you search Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness it will come up. Do you know what it was? What is our Instagram?

Inmn 1:00:48
It is @tangled_wilderness on Instagram.

Margaret 1:00:51
We did a really good job of grabbing all the…we’ve been around for 20 years and we didn’t fucking grab good Instagram handles at the beginning. Yeah, that’s what I got.

Inmn 1:01:00
Great. Great. Well, we will see you next time.

Margaret 1:01:04

Inmn 1:01:11
Thanks so much for listening. If you enjoyed this podcast, please go make a go bag and then tell us about it. But also tell people about the podcast. You can support this podcast by telling people about it. You can support this podcast by talking about it on social media, rating, and reviewing, or doing whatever the strange nameless algorithm calls for. Feed it like a hungry god. And, you can support us on Patreon at Our Patreon helps pay for things like transcriptions, our lovely audio editor, Bursts, as well as going to support our publisher Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. Strangers and in a Tangled Wilderness is the publisher of this podcast and a few other podcasts including my other podcast, Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness, which comes out monthly and is usually our monthly feature of anarchist literature or something. We also put out the Anarcho Geek Power Hour, which is the podcast for people who love movies and hate cops. And we would like to make a special series of shout outs to some of our patrons in particular. Thank you Anonymous, Funder, Jans, Oxalis, Janice and O’dell, Paige, Aly, paparouna, Milica, Boise Mutual Aid, Theo, Hunter, Shawn, SJ, Paige, Mikki, Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea, Kat J., Staro, Jenipher, Eleanor, Kirk, Sam, Chris, Michaiah, and Hoss the dog. I love that this list just keeps getting longer and longer and longer. And seriously, we could not do any of this without y’all. So thank you. I hope everyone does as well as they can with everything that’s happening and we’ll talk to you soon.

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