Latest Posts

S1E26 – adrienne maree brown on Emergent Strategy

[audio src="https://pinecast.com/listen/473ed173-c412-4df7-90ec-13dc7d998b81.mp3" preload="none"]

Episode Notes

The guest adrienne maree brown can be found on twitter @adriennemaree and instagram @adriennemareebrown. The book we are discussing the most is Emergent Strategy.

The host Margaret Killjoy can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy or instagram at @margaretkilljoy. You can support her and this show on Patreon at patreon.com/margaretkilljoy.

Transcript

Margaret 00:14
Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m your host, Margaret Killjoy. I use she or they pronouns—and I’m sorry that it’s been a minute since an episode has come out and it’ll probably stay a little bit slowed down for a little while, it might be an episode a month for a little while. It’s not that I’ve run out of people to interview or subjects that I want to cover, it’s that it’s hard for me to get anything done right now, which I think might be something that might—you might identify with, as well. I’ve kind of said that the only thing I’ve managed to accomplish so far in 2021 is talk shit on the internet and not die. And I’m doing very good at both of those things. I’ve have honed my talking shit skills, and I’m reasonably good at not dying. One thing that people don’t talk about enough with off-grid life and things like that, I spend an awful lot of my time just maintaining the systems that sustain me. I spend a lot of my time trying to fix broken water pumps and learning that—the thing is, when you do everything DIY and you’re not particularly skilled, the first time you do something you probably do it good enough, but good enough often means that it will fall apart before before too long. So I’ve rewired my electrical system probably seven or eight times. It seems to be holding good now. My plumbing system, I’m going to be crawling under my house and rewiring my plumbing system a lot. I’ve had a lot of things freeze and break. And there’s just a lot of—a lot of uphill learning curve, especially to do alone. This week’s guest is Adrienne Maree Brown and I’m very excited to have her on the show. We talk a lot about—well, about Emergent Strategy which is a conception of strategy, of political strategy, that embraces change and embraces the fact that, well, you can’t have one strategy now can you? And we also talk a little bit about her work as a podcaster with the podcast How to Survive the End of the World, which is, yeah, as she points out that maybe the closest thing there is to a direct sister podcast or sibling podcast to this show. This podcast is a proud member of Channel Zero Network of Anarchists Podcasts, and here’s a jingle from another show on the network.

Jingle 02:48
One two one two, tune in for another episode of MaroonCast. MaroonCast is a down to earth black radical podcast for the people. Our host, hip hop anarchist “Sima Lee The RBG” and sex educator and crochet artists “KLC” share their reflections on maroons, rebellion, womanism, life, culture, community, trap liberation & everyday ratchetness! They deliver fresh commentary with a queer, TGNC, fierce, funny, Southern Guhls, anti-imperialist, anti-oppression approach. “Poli (Ed.) & Bullshit”. Check out episodes of MaroonCast on Channel Zero Network, Buzzsprout, Soundcloud, Google, Apple, and Spotify. All power to the people, all pleasure.

Margaret 03:40
Okay, so if you want to introduce yourself with your name, your pronouns, and then I guess kind of a brief introduction to you and your work, especially around Emergent Strategy.

Adrienne 03:51
Okay, my name is Adriennne Maree Brown, I use she and they pronouns. I am based in Detroit and I’m the author of five books including Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds, and almost everything I’ve written is in some way inspired by Octavia Butler or in touch with Octavia Butler, including Emergent Strategy. So, yeah.

Margaret 04:18
Yeah, that was one of the—one of the many reasons I wanted to have you on this show was that if there’s one book that keeps coming up over and over again on this show—and pretty much anyone vaguely on the left who cares about what’s going on in the world—it’s a Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. And one of the things that really struck me about your work with Emergent Strategy the—not just the book, but the kind of the concept of emergent strategy that I want to talk to you about—is basically, the thing that I loved—I mean, I loved a lot about Parable of the Sower and Parable of Talents. But the idea of creating this essentially religious way of interacting with chaos and change and like embracing those things and learning to use them as our strengths, whether because it’s nicer or because it’s our only choice, it really appealed to me. And then learning that someone was taking that out and developing it further into essentially a strategy both for like political change, but also personal development. I got really excited about it. So I was wondering if you could kind of introduce the basic concepts to listeners who might not know what the hell I’m talking about.

Adrienne 05:31
That’s great. Yeah, so Emergent Strategy is, it’s rooted in many, many things, I think it’s the way that the world works. I feel like it’s strategies for getting in right relationship with change. And once you understand that change is constant, and that you can either be thrown about by change and see it as a, you know, wild chaos that you can never get your footing in. Or that you can partner with change, you can begin to shape the changes that happen in your life or in the era that you live in. Emergent Strategy is for people who are ready to be responsible for shaping change around them. And some of the key lineages of it are the scientific concepts of emergence. So emergence is the way patterns and the way—like basically all these patterns arise out of relatively simple interactions. And they’re very complex patterns, but each of the interactions or each of the relationships are relatively simple. So I think of like a flock of birds, a huge murmuration of birds, moving through the air, avoiding predation. And it looks like the most complex, choreographed, beautiful thing. But it’s actually this simple system where each bird is paying attention to the five to seven birds right around it and following the subtle cues that they’re sending each other: it’s time to move, left, dip, rise, move, right. One of the core questions of Emergent Strategy was, what would it look like if our movements and our species could move in that way? What would it look like if we could murmur it together? How would we have to trust each other? So adaptation is a big part of that, is what does it look like to adapt with intention. Not just react to the chaos, but really adapt in ways that keep moving us where we want to get to. And then there’s a lot about interdependence: what is the quality of relationships between each of the parts of our systems? Between you and my, between the people in our communities? How do we attend to the relationships? How do we think about decentralization? And I feel like one of the big lessons I’ve had, both in recent years and in looking back at movements throughout history, is that those that centralize are those that are not able to live as long as they need to live in order to do their best work. The centralization—something about gathering everything around one mind, one idea, one way of being—actually weakens us as a species. And nature shows us the biodiversity and creating more possibilities is actually the way to survive. And so now I think that’s a lot of my work is, what does it mean for us to be biodiverse in a fucund and world? What does it mean for us to decentralize how we hold power and how we hold responsibility for what happens in our communities? How do we adapt well?

Margaret 08:28
I love all of it. I just eat up all this stuff. I’ve been thinking a lot about what you’re saying about murmurations and the way that—the way that animals move in nature and the way that, you know, flocks move, and things like that, I was thinking about—I’ve been having some conversations with a couple people around the riot or the insurrection or whatever the hell people call it on January 6 at the Capitol, and the way that the rightwing crowd moved. And it’s so funny to me, because like, there’s like jokes on Twitter where it was like, we know it wasn’t Antifa because there wasn’t, like, a group of gay folks handing out sandwiches. And like, there wasn’t a medic tent set up and stuff. And people present it kind of as a joke, but I realized I was looking at it and I was like, I’ve been terrified of people being trampled at demonstrations. I’ve been in militant demonstrations a lot of times, and I’ve never seen it happen. And watching that happen, I was trying to figure out what it was. And I think it has to do with what you’re talking about, about our side at its best embraces interdependence and chaos and change and, like, and isn’t there as a group of individuals. Like people talk about—sorry, this is something I think about way too much recently—

Adrienne 09:40
Yeah, no, go off.

Margaret 09:42
People have been talking about—I grew up being told the left is like The Mob. It’s like the big mass action where everyone loses their individuality and it’s bad chaos and everyone gets hurt. And then that just hasn’t been my experience at all in large demonstrations. And then I look at what the right wing does when they all gather to go try and do this thing, and that’s what I see. So I don’t know. Yeah, I just, I’ve been thinking about that emergence stuff a lot as relates to that.

Adrienne 10:10
Yeah, I think that your—what you’re speaking to is, like, extremely important distinctions which is, when a group comes together who have all been deeply socialized and have bought into their own supremacy, right? Supremacy is a disconnecting energy. It’s like you can belong, as long as you play along by these rules, which are that we are better than everyone else and we’re constantly reinforcing that betterness. But better, you’re—then you have to constantly be reinforcing and finding new ways to be better than, better than, better than—even to the point that like, I’ve got to get to the Capitol door before you do, even if that means stepping over your body in the street. And you pair that with capitalism which is also the constant growth, constant bettering, constant one-upping, right? Constant showing what you have. There’s so much—trying to think if you have—what the word is—like that sense of, like, this is just ours. This is mine, this is—you know? And I feel like when you go to spaces that the left has organized, there’s such a care at the center of it. Like we’re there not because we’re just, like, I’m here to fight somebody, or I’m here to dominate, but we don’t even necessarily believe it’s like our way is “the right way.” It’s more like, we want to find a way to be loving and caring with each other. We don’t think we’ve ever gotten the chance to experiment with that at scale, as a species. At the current scale that we’re at, everything we’re doing is constantly trying to defend ourselves and care for ourselves under the conditions of oppression. And it means that when we come together—I always see the same thing. I’m like, are we going to be safe? But then people are taking such care of each other, from the street medics, to the people who are watching after the kids, to people who are like, I brought for extra signs so everyone would have something to carry. People—I always notice is that people bring extra water and extra food and, like, one of my favorite things, and one of the reasons why I’ve always been such a stan for direct action is that those spaces tend to be such active spaces of love and care and precision and, like, let’s attend to each other and attend to the work we’re up to. And, you know, we can go overboard with how attentive we are to everything. Because I think is part of our responding to the trauma of living in a society that’s so actively does not care for us. And so watching those people who actively don’t care try to come together and assert themselves as victims and, you know, it’s not funny. It’s actually quite sad, you know. It’s just sort of like, you have so much power, you abuse it—so much so that you end up abusing yourselves and you’re you’re continuously cutting yourself off from what is the best part of being alive, which is the nature of togetherness. That’s what I want to study is like the scholar—I’ve called myself a scholar of belonging. What does it actually look like to belong, to be part of something larger than yourself, of ourselves? And in that belonging, to take responsibility for our survival, for how we do—how we be with each other?

Margaret 13:20
I’m so glad I brought this up, then because you just managed to finally articulate this thing that me and my friends have been trying to wrap our head around for—since we saw it happen on January 6th. So you mentioned trying to—trying to do this at scale, and how that’s something that’s somewhat unprecedented by human society and that—go ahead. I just want—how do we—how do we do that? And one of the things that really interests me about your work and about the work that I care about, is that it’s embracing diverse strategies, rather than saying, like, this is the one way that we do it. So obviously when I say, how do we do that? I don’t mean because you are our leader, but you know, instead—yeah, like, how do we—how do we learn to weave different strategies, different ethical systems, different ideas about how to change things? How do we weave that into a coherent force?

Adrienne 14:17
Yeah, I mean, this is the question of our lifetimes, I think, you know, is like, how do we do this thing? This is why I’m, you know—when Walidah Imarisha created that term visionary fiction I was like, “Yes, that’s what I’m about is trying to figure out how we do everything that we’ve never really experienced in our lifetimes.” The best I have so far is what I witnessed when bringing people together for the Emergent Strategy immersions, or bringing people together for a process of, like, how do we do community together? Beloved community. Like, what does it actually look like to practice that? And some of the elements of that are that people are really invited to bring their whole selves into wherever they are. That there is a sense of organized care. That we don’t just leave it up to, you know, hoping everybody just figures it out. But there’s a—there’s a real ability to name, here are the needs in this community: the access needs, the food needs, the water needs, the timing needs—we need breaks, we need gender-liberated bathrooms—here’s all the things that we need in order to fully be here. And then we have to let people unleash what they have to bring to the table. And this is where I think, you know, when I started writing Emergent Strategy I was onto something that I’m not sure I even had articulated fully to myself. But it was my critique of how movements and Nonprofit Industrial Complex was playing out, which is, we were often trying to bring people into space where only a portion of them was welcome. And where we weren’t asking them to truly bring their offer. Like we were like, “Can you just come be a number in the strategy that we’ve already figured out? Or can you come play your position?” Like you show up in the debate exactly as we expect you to, and we’ll say what we expect to say and we’ll move forward with the lowest common denominator of a solution, which no one’s actually passionate about, and like, nothing will actually change. Philanthropy will keep paying us. It’ll go on and on forever and ever. And for me, I was like, I’m really not interested in playing the game anymore. I really want to see what happens when you unleash people to come together. And what I see is—what I’ve witnessed is people very quickly are like, how do we hold really authentic, effective accountability processes in real time together? How do we offer each other the rituals we need to really relinquish harm and trauma that has built up in our community? Here, we have tons of ways to care for each other. We created this exercise—and when I say we, it was one of the groups that was participating created this exercise that became something we did at everything else we ever did. And it was healing stations, where we just said, everyone gets 10 minutes. Go to your bag and pull out whatever you find to be healing, and create a healing station with your small group. And 10 minutes later, the room would have transformed into this place that felt like we can do anything, because we’ve got vibrators and cigarettes and Tarot decks and incense and medicines and tinctures. And like, anything, you know—and I was like, y’all just walk around with everything you need. So many books, you know, so many ways that people are like, this is how I care for myself and I want to offer it, I want to leave it here for other people to access and have contact with. That kind of—those moves, watching how quickly community did know, not only how to take care of itself, but how to hold each other accountable, and how to stay together. I was blown away. So I think a lot of the answers, we need to actually be willing to get into smaller formations and really practice being with each other. And let that proliferate, right? I think so often we’re oriented around, like, how do we build a mass movement that’s all thinking the same way to strike and to have this impact. I really love the idea of united fronts where people are all in their political homes united around some common organizing principles, but allowed to be their own weird, magical way of being and care for themselves where they need to. So that’s why I identify as a post nationalist because I do think that the American experiment is literally at a scale that doesn’t function. Like there’s, it’s—the scale is too big for there to be any kind of real, you know, something that’s not just a brand of togetherness, but that’s an actual practice of togetherness. You know, 70 million people or whatever are committed to voting for white supremacy in the country.

Margaret 18:50
Yeah.

Adrienne 18:50
Like, that’s not, you know, that’s not a viable strategy for how we move forward at this point. I love the idea of secession radical secessions. I love the idea of the Zapatistas claiming territory within territory with indigenous leadership would be like, a dream come true to me. I love, you know, people who are living off the grid and finding ways to divest from the American experiment already. So, you know, I think all of those are some of the ways.

Margaret 19:21
Yeah.

Adrienne 19:21
And I think right now with the pandemic unfolding, I think a lot more of us are like, “Oh, I do need, like, literal community.” Not social media community, not conference community, but I need, like, literal people I can call on, that I could walk to their house, that I can count on to hold boundaries around safety. Like, we need those things. And I think that’s the answer. I always think community is the answer.

Margaret 19:47
No that—that makes sense. And that’s one of the main focuses on like, the—one of the main points of this show is to talk about how preparedness is more of a community thing than an individual thing.

Adrienne 19:56
Absolutely.

Margaret 19:56
So one of the things you were saying about—

Adrienne 19:58
Yeah, cuz individually, we just hoard.

Margaret 20:00
Yeah no, totally. Yeah. One of the things you’re saying about—because earlier pointing out that direct action is a really good way to create a sense of belonging. And that’s something that I’ve been watching happen in a lot of people who’ve been kind of radicalized to the left within the last year, since the uprisings last summer started. And what you’re talking about, about creating these moments of belonging, I definitely, I think for my own experience, it has been those moments of, you know, facing down a very powerful force together and the way that—the way that you figure out who has your back when, like, literally—just to tell a random bullshit story, at one point I was, like, part of some march and, you know, the cops wanted to arrest me because I may or may not have been burning an American flag and things like that. And I thought all my like—yeah, I thought all my, like, punk friends were going to protect me. And then half of them were just gone. And then all of these people I’d kind of written off as like—this is a while ago, I was young—I’d kind of written off as hippies. Like some of the, like, older—I was like, oh, they’re probably liberals or whatever—just surrounded me and were like, “Hey, just so you know, we’re here to physically protect you from the police arresting you. They’re definitely talking about arresting you.” And it was just this nice moment of, like, realizing that in moments of conflict or even not unnecessary conflict, but moments of tension, you find out what community looks like. And maybe that’s what COVID is unfortunately doing for all of us about how we have to suddenly develop mutual aid networks at a scale that we never did previously in the United States.

Adrienne 21:40
Absolutely. I absolutely agree with that. And I think that Octavia Butler taught us this. In all of her works it was like, you’d never know who you’re going to be in the apocalypse with. Like, you have plans, you think you know what they look like and feel like, but you really don’t know who’s going to have your back under that pressure. And in some ways, I think it’s because people don’t even know themselves if the—what they’ll be capable of under the pressure. And, you know, this pandemic has revealed for people so much about what they’re like under pressure, because some people under pressure have really turned inward and disconnected from community and are, you know, really in a deep, lonely, isolated place. And I see that happening with people that I didn’t expect it from, you know. And then I see other people who are really finding ways to weave themselves into community. And there’s not a right or wrong here. It’s just very fascinating to see who turns towards others and who doesn’t. And what we need, right? I thought—I was like, I’m a loner, I like to be by myself you know, I’m a—that part of Octavia Butler’s life always appealed to me because she just was by herself, like, just chillin and writing sci fi. But I spent a few months all alone. And I was like, I don’t like this, I want to be with the love of my life, I want to be with my friends, I want to be with my parents, I want to, like, be with people who can lay hands on me when I’m sick. And, like, have my back, you know, physically rub my back.

Margaret 23:08
Yeah.

Adrienne 23:09
I just was like, I—that part, physical touch felt so important to me. And I’m watching our communities now. I’m like, there’s mutual aid but there’s also just, like, the need of being a body alive in this time. And like, what do we—what are the very fundamental needs? Which I also love about Octavia’s is writing. Like, what—there are some very fundamental human needs that we share. And then there are beliefs, destinies that pull us forward. And what you’re looking for in your community is the folks who can balance those two things, who are like, we can find ways to attend to the very non-negotiable physical needs. And we can align ourselves around a destiny. And it doesn’t have to be a perfect alignment where we all say the same words and we’re all coated out. But there has to be substance of like, oh, I want to be in communities that hold each other accountable. I want to be in communities that are abolitionists where we’re not trying to dispose of or lock anyone away. I want to be in communities that really love the earth, like, at a primal, this is home level, you know? And so on and so forth. And I’m like, I meet those kinds of people, actually, more often than you think. And writing books has been my way of, you know, go “Hoo de hoo!” Like, who is out there that is potentially my people? I feel very excited right now by, like, just—I’ll say this: the other day was Valentine’s Day. And I often, like, ignore that completely, capitalism, whatever. But this time I was, like, you know, there’s a lot of lonely people out there. Let me just try something. And I had a dream about it that was like posting a “looking for love” post but it was basically like for Emergent Strategists anP pleasure Activists and people who, like, really are like riding on this like Octavia way, right? And it was like over 1000 people wrote in and they’re like, “I’m looking for love and those are the kind of principles I want at the center of it.” And it made me so excited because I was like, this is what we—there’s enough people now that are at least looking at each other, like, I may not, you know, stamp Emergent Strategy on my forehead, but I do want to be in right relationship with change, and I want to be in accountable relationship with pleasure, I want to claim, you know, my power in this lifetime, I want to take responsiblity for community. I’m like, there’s enough of us now that we can fall in love with each other and, like, have, you know, radical families, and like, all that kind of stuff. Just, you know, we are a generation too. Like, we come from generations that held the ground for something outside of capitalism, something outside of nationalism, something outside of colonialism, militarism, all those things. And now we’re that generation. It’s just articulating ourselves again, and again, and again. Like, we’re here, we love each other, we’re taking care of each other. And as this added—you know, I think our folks are so brilliant, because they’re like, this is not the first pandemic. This is not the last pandemic. You know, like, we have our folks who came through the HIV AIDS pandemic and are now here and teaching us inside of this moment, and we will teach people the next one and—

Margaret 26:12
Yeah.

Adrienne 26:13
Right? Like, we keep going.

Margaret 26:16
Yeah, one of the things that people I’ve talked to have brought up a lot that I’ve been really excited about is—excited about is the wrong word—but the fact that, like, the apocalypse isn’t an event as much as like this cycle, ongoing process, thing that comes and goes, like, you know—and actually, I mean, even just to talk about Octavia Butler’s work again from a fangirly point of view, like, one of the reasons that her work was so important was, in my experience, I’m not incredibly well read, it was the first slow apocalypse in the kind of still recognizably an apocalyptic story of people leave their homes and go on the road and figure out how to start a new society. But it was a slow apocalypse. And that’s something that I think we need more of just out of—one of the hardest things that I’ve struggled with, in my personal life is—and this is awful, because I sound like Chicken Little—but it’s trying to convince people that we are in an apocalypse. Like we are in a slow apocalypse right now.

Adrienne 27:17
Exactly. We’re in it.

Margaret 27:18
Yeah. And people are waiting for the bomb to drop. So they’re like, “Oh, it’s not the apocalypse.” And I’m like, well, but what—what do you need? Like, failed infrastructure? You know?

Adrienne 27:31
How badly does it have to be? Yeah.

Margaret 27:33
And I’m actually curious.

Adrienne 27:35
Yeah.

Margaret 27:35
I’ve been meaning to try and ask people—well, actually, no, I want to bring it back to the Octavia Butler stuff and then—you also write fiction, and you also focus on—I’ve seen a lot of your work around trying to present visionary fiction and present futures. And that’s something and‚I’d like to hear more about. I’m just always trying to ask people about—because obviously it’s very close to me personally—but how do you—

Adrienne 28:03
Well you write them.

Margaret 28:04
[Chuckling] Yeah. What it—like, what is the—what is the importance of writing futures? Like, what is the importance of imagining futures?

Adrienne 28:15
Yes. You know, I just listened to—I got to read a bunch of Octavia Butler’s work for this NPR Throughline podcast. And they include a lot of interview with her. And she’s talking about how important it was for her to write herself in. She was like, “I wanted to write myself into the narrative, into the story.” And I think for so many of us, when we look back, we can see either stories of our trauma or stories—or like the gaps, the erasure, where our story should be, and they’re not. And I live in Detroit, and Detroit, you drive around and if you know what you’re looking at, right, if you’ve seen like maps or pictures of what it looked like 40 years ago to now, you can see that it’s a city full of gaps, full of spaces where there used to be homes. Like literally on a block it’ll be like, “Huh, this is kind of random. There’s just two houses on this block.” It used to be seven, right? But time and the economic crisis and other things disappeared those homes and I feel like history can look like that for those of us who are queer or trans, Black or Latino, Indigenous, etc. can look back and be like, “Where were we? Where were we?” And white supremacy and nationalism, other things, errased the full story of us so that we are left with just the trauma that we’ve been able to unveil. And so writing futures—writing ourselves into the future—is to me a way that we go ahead and stake a claim. Like, we are here now imagining ourselves. And in the imagining, we are creating room for something different to exist. And whenever I am engaging in fiction writing as a practice, I really feel like I am up to something that—the biggest thing maybe that I’m ever up to, is understanding that the whole world that we currently live in came out of someone’s imagination. All of the constructs, the way that I experience my own gender, the way that I experience my skin, the way that I experience my size, the way that I experience my desirability, my worthfull—worthiness, you know—there’s so many fundamental aspects of myself that are just miraculous, because that’s what everyone is. But they’ve been so complicated, and I’ve had to fight to feel like I deserve to exist. And that fight is because someone imagined that I did not. And they imagine that, you know—I was this morning thinking about all the Black children that we’ve lost to police violence, and like, they’re all dead because someone imagined that they were dangerous, you know. Imagination is a very, very powerful drug, a very powerful practice. And, to me, I’m like, if we want something new, we have to actually imagine, what does it look like? When I say defund the police, what am I imagining happens when there’s a domestic violence incident on the street? And does that mean—am I imagining myself willing to go down and intervene? Am I imagining myself calling community mediators to come on over right now, something’s going on? You know, what do I imagine happens? Because if I can’t imagine it, I’m definitely not going to be able to invite tons of people who are used to the putative system to come join me on another path. The imagination to me is how we create the future that we want to be, and how we make sure that we’re not absent from it. So—and I have to give a lot of props here to Disability Justice communities because I feel like I’ve just now starting to understand how much I learned from Disability Justice communities around this. But they’re like, if we’re not in the room and y’all plan something and it doesn’t have a wheelchair ramp, and it doesn’t have an accessible bathroom, and it’s like chemical scent overload or whatever, it’s because we weren’t in the room. So you didn’t even imagine us there. You didn’t not imagine us, you just didn’t think about us at all. We were just not part of it. And as a facilitator, the number of times that happened was like, “Oh, I’m sorry, like, I just didn’t.” And it’s like, no, that’s not acceptable. Like, now I’m like, how do I make sure that people are in the room where imagination happens? How do I make sure that they’re in the pages where imagination happens? And because then you end up with a future that is accessible, that is equitable, that is pleasurable, and is sustainable, right? Because we’re all there dreaming it.

Margaret 32:37
Yeah, the—this happens sometimes when I interview guests and I’m like, instead of having like a good—especially my year of reasonable isolation, I’ve lost some of my social skills. So people say things, and I’m just like, thinking about it. You know? Instead of having like, an immediate response.

Adrienne 32:52
I’m like—I would love to do a study on the social skills we’ve all lost.

Margaret 32:56
Yeah.

Adrienne 32:57
Because I just like, yeah.

Margaret 33:00
Yeah. [Laughing]

Adrienne 33:01
I’m also having—I have that experience all the time these days where I’m just like, everything moves slower now.

Margaret 33:06
Yeah.

Adrienne 33:06
And I’m thinking about it.

Margaret 33:07
Yeah. And then, you know, in some ways I’m, like, glad because I’m like, well, I don’t have an immediate response to what you’re saying, because I’m just thinking about it. I’m like, I just want to sit with that. Like that’s, you know, that touches on something that I’ve thought about before, but I haven’t—and I’ve tried to address in my own work, but I haven’t succeeded at yet. And I haven’t given enough attention to.

Adrienne 33:28
Yeah.

Margaret 33:28
To talk about something else. I very embarrassingly, after I named my podcast Live Like the World is Dying, googled—I was like, “Well, what if I called it something like How—” Because I always do things that are like “how to” or like, you know, whatever. Yeah.

Adrienne 33:42
How To… [Laughing]

Margaret 33:42
And um, do you want to talk about your own podcast with a very similar title?

Adrienne 33:47
Yes. I mean, our podcasts are definitely siblings in the territory of content.

Margaret 33:51
Yeah.

Adrienne 33:53
Yeah. So I have a—I have two podcasts. Actually now I have three podcasts.

Margaret 33:56
Oh wow, okay!

Adrienne 33:57
I’m an unstoppable podcast machine. So I really love the art of podcasting. You know, there’s something beautiful about just sitting and having a conversation, listening to a conversation. So my first podcast, my longest running one, is called How to Survive the End of the World. And it’s with my sister Autumn. And we’re both just obsessed with Octaviam obsessed with apocalypse and like how do we turn and face the fact that we are in apocalypse, and that we have been through many, and that apocalypse is actually a moment you can harness for change. And it’s actually quite a powerful portal if we harness it that way. So there’s a lot of philosophy and theoretical conversations mixed in with, like, hard skill offers. So that one is is kind of a blast, you know. It—for me it felt very liberating to just turn directly and face apocalypse and just get to be in conversations that are all, like, related to what is. And then I do the Octavia’s Parables podcast with Toshi Reagon where we’re reading the Parable of the Sower chapter by chapter. We just finished that first season. Now we’re going to head into the Parable of the Talents, and then we’ll keep going with Octavia’s work just—we’re like, even though only two of her books are called parables, they’re all parables in a way so. And then Emergent Strategy Ideation Institute just last week launched our podcast, which is the three kind of core collective members take turns interviewing different people who are, what we see is like living Emergent Strategy in the world. And we’re just examining, like, building basically a set of audio case studies for people to listen to. Like, what does it look like to practice Emergent Strategy and all these different realms of movements?

Margaret 35:46
Okay. I admit the How to Survive the End of the World one—people have been, you know, that—more and more, I think, people—for some strange reason everyone’s really into prepping right now. It’s hard to figure out why. But I actually—

Adrienne 36:04
No idea why. Mysterious.

Margaret 36:07
And I like that there is—that there is other stuff out there. And I was wondering if you had—

Adrienne 36:13
Oh, yeah.

Margaret 36:14
—your own thoughts about, like, where people can find stuff about whether individual community or social preparation? Or like, how else people can get—

Adrienne 36:23
So we have brought on a series of guests. Last year, I was away on sabbatical and my sister did, I think, the best episodes of the entire podcast without me, which were—it was apocalypse of survival series. And each of the guests are people who have their own work and their own lives. But there’s a group called Queer Survival—Queer Nature. They basically blew our minds. Blew our minds. And it was just very tangible stuff on, like, how do you think under the pressure of crisis? And they do trainings, they do offerings. And then Leah Penniman came on from Soul Fire Farm and was really talking about, like, how do we reorient our relationship to food? Because, you know, what happened when the pandemic went down. Everybody was like, run to the store, buy everything frozen and canned, stick that in your house. And like—I’m like, so basically, you’re prepared to give up even having access to any organic, fresh food. And that’s your plan for how you’re going to survive. Like, what does that mean? Right. And I feel like, listening to someone like Leah Penniman, it’s like, what is it instead look like to begin to organize ourselves around farms, around food growth, around the cycles of planting and gardening and growing. I’m hoping that that becomes one of the next iterations that emerges from this pandemic crisis is that people are like, okay, we were not fully ready to actually be growing and thinking about food as a community. That’s something we want to be orienting ourselves towards. I know that for me that’s something I’m thinking about is, do I have the first clue about how to grow my own food if I wanted to? [Laughing, inaudible] How would I do that? You know? So I just started, I’m now growing cilantro and lavender, which is not something I could survive on but it is, like, a move in the right direction. And I have aloe and I have other things. But I’m like, what does it look like to actually, like, think about a season and put things in the ground? And how much food would it take for me and my partner to live? How much will we be able to contribute? One of the things I love, that I feel like I learned from the conversations with Leah, but with other farmers, Black farmers—Derek Cooper, other folks—is like, everything that we grow is actually immediately abundant. If you’re doing it, if you’re in right relationship with whatever it is you’re growing, you end up with more than you could ever need. And that’s why so many farmers end up doing all kinds of cooperative efforts of sharing their food out to other people, because you get so much. I love that as a problem and as a challenge for us. It’s like, could we deal with the abundance that would come if we actually all gave a portion of our time and attention to growing food directly from land? So that’s one of the things I’m—that’s like one of my next horizons is, like, inspired by this Soul Fire Farms community is, like, what does it look like to actually get our hands dirty in a different way.

Margaret 39:23
Cool. Yeah, I um—when all this happened I was like, I live on land that is technically a farm. And I consider myself to not have a green thumb at all. And—

Adrienne 39:36
Yeah.

Margaret 39:37
—and I’ve like, you know, the few times I’ve tried to grow food, it’s failed. So I’ve convinced myself that I will never successfully grow food. And so—

Adrienne 39:43
You’re like, see, I can’t. [Laughing]

Margaret 39:44
Yeah, exactly. Which is funny because I think that I’m capable of, like, almost anything because I’m so obsessively DIY that I like—I’m, you know, in a house I built and I’ve learned plumbing and electrical since the pandemic started so that I could make my house meet my needs and, and all of these things. But I’m like, I’m convinced that growing food is entirely just magic that is beyond me. And what I’ve decided to do personally is I’m going to start mushroom cultivation because I’m like, well, this fits my like, “I live in the forest.” Everyone else lives in, like, you know, elsewhere in the sun. And I’m like, “I’m in the forest, everything is dark and rainy.” And, you know, trying to play to my strengths while still—but then there’s the thing where it’s like, I don’t even envision—as much as I talked about my isolation, I still live with land mates, right? I’m, and I imagine that, come crisis, we continue to help each other. And so I’m like, well, I live with people who know how to grow food. So— I will focus on learning how to fix the rainwater catchment and things like that.

Adrienne 40:36
Exactly. Exactly. Like there’s a way to be of use. And I mean—well, two things are happening right now. One is, I have my first mushroom log out on my deck. So we, you and I are mycelium familia. And I’m very excited about it. But same thinking is just like, I can grow mushrooms, like, I’m in a place where, like, there’s enough condition for mushroom growing. And then I feel the same way, right? That I’m like, even if I never get great at growing food, if I’m in community with people who do grow food, but I have other skills to bring to the table, then that’s great. And one of the things I’m always worried about is like, is my only skill talking? Like, do I still do I have other—you know, like—and then, you know, like, no, facilitation is a skill. Mediation is a skill. That’s something you can offer to a community. I do doula work, that’s a skill. But I’m always looking at like, you know, I’m of value in the current conditions, how would I be a value in future conditions. And I want to make sure that whatever I’m developing myself, I would be a community member that people would be like, “you’re of value to us.”

Margaret 40:44
Yeah. Yeah.

Adrienne 41:47
And not just because of what you do, but how you show up how you are, right?

Margaret 41:50
Yeah.

Adrienne 41:51
Like, I would love to have such value to my community that even if I can’t do anything—because I have arthritis that it’s just getting worse and worse and worse and worse—so Toshi and I talked about this often that, like, if the community all had to run for it, we wouldn’t be running for it. So we would be like, okay, we’ll sit and hold down the fort and, like, distract them and point them in another direction and that’ll be our usefulness. Or whatever it is, like, you know—but be—I think everyone should be thinking about that question. How can I be of use in community? How do I understand my usefulness? How do I understand the relationships I’m in? Not transactionally, but in a sense of mutual aid and a sense of, we all need, we all have to give, how do we do that well with elegance, with grace? Yeah.

Margaret 42:34
Yeah, the usefulness question, it comes up so much when we talk about disability and the apocalypse, like you’re talking about, and I really liked the way that you phrased—you phrased it, how you come to interactions is also part of our usefulness. And, you know, and—and then there’s even stuff around like, you know, I’ve friends who, through like, sort of, like no fault of their own, or whatever, have… let’s go spiky personalities. Right? And yet, we—I think it’s like, partly it’s a challenge to figure out how we can be useful, but it’s also partly a challenge to figure out the usefulness—like, what people around you bring to you. And so like, for me, it’s like, okay, my friends who are, like, maybe really hard to get along in a facilitated consensus meetings because they’re opinionated and angry. And like, often because the world has done horrible things to them. And yet, like, for me, I kind of secretly enjoy, like, learning to help those people point themselves. Be like, ah, you have all of this anger. Here’s this institution that needs destruction. How would you go about destroying it? You know.

Adrienne 43:09
Like, how would you do it? I love that, Margaret, because I—I just turned in the final draft of my next book, which is called Holding Change, the Way of Emergent Strategy Facilitation and Mediation. And there’s a whole section on there, like, quote/unquote problem participants. And one of the things I was noting in there is like, every single person who shows up in the space as a problem—whatever kind of problem they are—if you can harness the energy that they’re bringing in, they’re often the most effective people. They’re coming to the space. Right? You should be able to harness and move that energy somewhere. But particularly the grumpy, grouchy, curmudgeonly, flat, you know, this isn’t working. Often those are the most visionary people in the room. And what’s happening is that they are hurt by how it’s all going down. You know, they’re like, why are we not free yet? Why is it going like this? Like, why aren’t we doing a better job? And like, harnessing that energy could free and save the world, right? So I always keep a couple of curmudgeonly, grumpy people close by. [Chuckling] Just keep me honest and to keep me like motivated.

Margaret 44:47
I think we’re running up on time. How can people find out more about your work?

Adrienne 44:55
You know, go to akpress.org to buy the books there. I prefer people buy them straight from AK, which is an amazing people’s press. And I’m on Instagram, that’s where I’m like a person, you know, on social—the place where I—I mostly put pictures of things that I think are beautiful or cool. And then I have a website, adriennemareebrown.net, where I blog and I keep an archive of the interviews I do. So this will eventually live there. Yeah.

Margaret 45:31
Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, or any of the other episodes, please tell people about it. Like, first and foremost, the way to help the show is to tell people about it in person or online. And, you know, I always go on about the algorithms that run the world and how we can influence them. And, you know, and that’s kind of shitty to just sit around and try and influence algorithms. But if you like, or subscribe, or post about this, or review it, or whatever, on whatever platforms you listen to it, it helps far more than it should. It helps bring it up into other people’s feeds and it helps people more find—more people find out about it. And all the support that I’ve been getting for the show, especially seeing people post about it on social media and things like that. And, you know, people I know telling me that they like it is kind of the reason that I’m continuing going with it right now. I’m very low energy these days, and that’ll swing back around, I’m sure. But hearing that it’s useful to people is—matters to me and it makes me feel like I’m not wasting my time. So thank you all. And also you can support the podcast more directly by supporting me on Patreon. My Patreon is patreon.com/margaretkilljoy. There’s not a ton of stuff that you get, like, that exclusive, except that I do ostensibly a monthly scene that I mail out to people. It’s also very far behind. I point to, you know, the world, and hold that up as my excuse which is getting kind of old for myself, but so it goes. And I do try and post up there as much as I can and also try and send out presents to my Patreon supporters as much as I can. In particular though I would like to thank Hugh and Dana and Chelsea and Eleanor, Mike Satara, Cat J, The Compound, Shane, Christopher, Sam, Natalie, Willow, Kirk, Hoss the dog, Nora, and Chris. I—I’m overwhelmed by the amount of support that I’ve been getting. And I’ve been able to use that to hire a transcriptionist. And now also potentially get more help, like the show might end up collectivizing, who knows, we’ll see how it goes. In which case, me having bad mental health times won’t be as much of a hold up. And that’ll be good for everyone. And so thank you to my supporters for helping that make—helping that look like it might become a possibility. Anyway, I hope you all are doing as well as you can with everything that’s going on and I’ll talk to you soon.

S1E25 – Cici and Eepa on radio

I talk with Cici and Eepa from the Javelina Network about communicating across the globe using autonomous radio.

We’re All Preppers Now

We’re all preppers now. Whether we want to be or not. It’s hard to think about, but we’re just in the opening credits to the apocalypse movie. As I write this, we’re in the calm before the storm. This is your moment to get ready. We can get through this. Remember: most people survive the collapse of their way of life, most of the time. The end of the world isn’t always, or even usually, the uh… end of the world.

S1E24 – Philip on Security Culture

I talk with Philip about security culture: the idea of creating a culture of security so that activists and revolutionaries don’t get caught.

S1E23 – Dibs on Fitness for Every Body

[audio src="https://pinecast.com/listen/8e82ffbb-be8b-47ed-8687-01eaeb91d256.mp3" preload="none"]

Episode Notes

The guest, Dibs, runs a website called dibsfitness.com and can be found on Instagram at @dibs_pt.

The host, Margaret Killjoy, can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy, instagram @margaretkilljoy, and on Patreon at patreon.com/margaretkilljoy.

Transcript:

Margaret 00:14
Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast where it feels like the end times. I’m your host, Margaret Killjoy, and this week I’m going to be talking to Dibs who is a personal fitness trainer in Montreal. I’m going to be talking with them about personal fitness, obviously, I guess that’s the name of the episode that you clicked on. And they have a lot of really useful and concrete tips for how people with different relationships to their body can engage in personal fitness and training. And of course, well, it’s worth pointing out that this episode does come with a content warning. We do talk about eating disorders, and we talk about relationships to eating and fitness and the way that they can become obsessive. So—and that that question is pretty clearly marked. It doesn’t come out of the blue. This podcast is a proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchist podcasts. And here’s a jingle from another podcast on the network.

Jingle 01:12
Gooooood morning slaves! Looking for relief from the steaming hot plate of bullshit served up on the daily by the mainstream media? Are you thirsting for solid and reliable information to escape the mind-numbing vortex of corporate news and Trump tweets? Are you ready to check out every time you hear a despacito on the radio one more fucking time? Then tune your dial to sub.Media, a mouthwatering hub of infotainment and subversion that’ll make you want to quit your job and join the motherfucking resistance. Dive into our newly designed website and gorge yourself on one of the 500+ videos and audio tracks from our vast library of anarchist films, hip hop, and riot porn, or choose from one of our original shows like Trouble, Burning Cop Car, A is for Anarchy, Video Ninja Reports, and the Stimulator. Fuck Netflix, watch sub.Media.

Margaret 02:07
Okay, and Dibs, if you would like to introduce yourself with your name, which I guess I just said, and your pronouns and any, you know, what you do for work, any political or organizational affiliations that make sense with what you’re going to be talking about today? Also maybe, like, your identity as relates to some of what you’re going to be talking about today?

Dibs 02:26
Sure, so I’m Dibs, my pronouns, they/them, I am a certified personal trainer or fitness instructor some might call it, so I have my certificate 3 and 4 in group fitness and one-on-one training. I identify as transgender, and I have ADHD, and I am sort of still recovering from an eating disorder. So I guess that’s relevant to probably what will come up, maybe?

Margaret 02:57
Yeah, that actually-that is a lot, like-and that’s actually something I’d love to talk to you about what we’re talking about this is like food and our relationships to food. So I wanted to have you on because I spent a while looking around, I was—I wanted to get someone on who is a personal trainer. And, of course, one of the problems with personal trainers, not personal trainers themselves but the fitness industry, is that it is very ablest, very centering of cis people, very centering of like thin people, and also centering of the weight experience, and just has a lot of problems. And then you came highly-recommended through our mutual friend as a personal trainer who specifically works to kind of counteract that stuff. And the reason I want to have someone on is talking about personal fitness: one is just sort of selfish. I’m like, “Oh, I’m getting older, and I need to worry about this stuff more.” But you know, it’s like—okay, it’s a weird tangent to start with. But the first time I really ever thought about this stuff was years ago I was playing accordion and Amsterdam and a friend of mine walked by, and he was this older, like, super tough anarchist guy. And, you know, maybe in his 40s or something—actually might have been much younger than thatb ut when you’re young, everyone seems old—and he said, “Oh, what are you doing?” I was like, “Oh, I’m playing accordion.” And he said, and I said, “What are you doing?” He said, “I’m coming home from the gym.” And I was like, “Why are you at the gym?” Because I was an idiot. And he was like, “Well, because we want to have a revolution and we need to be stronger than the police.” And I was like “Shit.”

Dibs 04:34
Great answer.

Margaret 04:35
I’d never thought about it from that point of view.

Dibs 04:38
Yeah.

Margaret 04:40
And that’s kind of where I’m coming from personally about a lot of like fitness goals. And I think that a lot of people are looking at this, as the world becomes more conflictual, they might be more interested in personal fitness. As the world gets a little crazier, they might be more interested in personal fitness. Would you be able to talk about your own experiences where you’re coming from about personal fitness and kind of what got you engaged with it?

Dibs 05:04
Yeah. I mean, I’ve always been an active kid. I definitely have, you know, some symptoms of ADHD just have many hobbies, try all the things, like, as a child in like primary school, I did everything from like tap dancing, to soccer, to softball to netball to guitar lessons. Like, I always had, like, something that made me need to want to move. And then, so I played team sports for a while. And then when I left school and I became an adult, that’s sort of when I looked at the gym for exercise. And at the same time of leaving school is when I started to think about my gender. And I’ve spoken about this to many people with, like, how my sort of gender dysphoria and body dysmorphia is very much intertwined. And so I don’t know, you know, what led me more down the path of wanting to lift weights and stuff. But, you know, wanting—having—being transgender and wanting to change your body. Before I started HRT, and before I had top surgery or anything, like, my only option or what I saw was to train so I started doing weightlifting. And then my dad passed away when I was 19 from heart disease. Suddenly, just one night, he went to bed and didn’t wake up. And that scared me.

Margaret 06:29
Yeah.

Dibs 06:30
And I was like, well, I, you know, I want to live longer than 44 maybe. I mean, now I’m not so sure. But, you know, I was like, okay well, these are the things that led to that for him. What can I do to change my lifestyle? And yeah, and then I went from gym to gym, and I’ve done the fad, you know, lose nine kilos in six weeks, I’ve done those dumb challenges a couple times. And I’ve done—you know, and then I became a personal trainer and I found a gym to work at and that was a whole—that’s a big story itself. It was very culty and so toxic and weird and straight and suburbian—suburban, sorry. But uh, yeah. So that’s sort of where my journey—my fitness journey in a nutshell.

Margaret 07:20
No, that makes sense. And it brings up a ton of things that I’m really curious to ask you about. Because I’ve had some of those same experiences of like, you know, when I would go and study martial arts, I would go and study martial arts like, “Hello, fellow cisgendered men,” and like, it would never really work, you know, like, people couldn’t quite figure out what to make of me. And usually, I didn’t get along very socially in any of the martial arts gyms that I’ve trained in. So, for listeners who are just starting to want to get into personal fitness, I guess, where do you begin? And I know that obviously, like, hiring you, for example, would be a good way to start. But that isn’t going to be available for everyone. And, you know, like, how do you begin? How do you assess where you’re at? How do you start building program that works for you?

Dibs 08:19
Yeah, it’s, uh, it’s tough. Like, I think the overwhelm is in the choice because anyone can go on the internet and look up, you know, “home workout program,” or “three day home workout program,” or whatever. And there’s so much free stuff out there that’s just copy and paste, cookie cutter bs that, like could work for some people, but it’s not going to work for the majority of people. So I guess, like, start—there’s a lot—there’s so much on social media right now that’s for queer people and for people of all different bodies and abilities, especially like on YouTube as well, you can find little communities of people who were various abilities and various backgrounds showing what you can use with just your body or like very cheap pieces of equipment. So, you know, using the internet is great, but then where do you start? And then if that’s overwhelming you, I guess like, if you’ve done something in the past and you’ve sort of fallen off the wagon, you can go back to that thing. So like did you use to cycle? Did used to swim? Did you used to play team sports? What about that sport did you like or what muscle groups did you like working the most, you know? Like, was it your agility and your hand/eye coordination if you’re playing tennis, and what can you sort of relate that to? That’s another thing that you can start practicing if you don’t necessarily have a tennis court near where you live in, you know? So it’s like, you have to be—start slow and be really kind to yourself to not expect too much too soon. And the act of just making something a small habit that you maintain through, you know, half the year or year is a massive goal in massive achievement in itself. So, you know, if you don’t know—if you really want to learn how to squat or do a push up, you can—there are so many articles on working your way up to a push up or working your way up to a chin up or something like that. Everything can be broken down into much smaller steps in fitness. But my sort of mantra is—what I what I like to promote to everyone is joyful movement, and you find the movement that brings you joy, and you’re going to do it, and it’s not going to be like that daunting task that hangs over your head.

Margaret 10:35
So rather than like, you know, screaming, “I’m doing this for Sparta!” and then doing like 50 pushups every morning or whatever, like…

Dibs 10:43
Yeah, like—because yeah I know, like so many people, like, “Oh, I just do 20 push ups and 50 sit ups before I go to bed every night.” And that’s—like, my mom says that. She’s like, “I do my 20 sit ups before bed and like 20 squats, and that’s how I’m gonna keep my belly fat away.” And I’m like, oh my God. Like you don’t—and that’s not fun for her. She doesn’t like doing it. She just thinks that’s what she has to do to look hot for her boyfriend. And, you know, like you—but now she plays—or well, before the pandemic—she played adults all-gender soccer. And she—that was what she was what she thought was fun, because she played with some people from that she worked with so she got to see her work colleagues, she got to, you know, have fun in a non-competitive teamsport environment. Like, yeah, basically—I mean, I know, even if we are doing this for serious business, because we want to, you know, fight off police and survive the apocalypse. You can still, while the world is still [inaudible] have fun. Find the thing that brings you joy and, you know, make light of it. Because that’s the only way you’re going to commit to it before the end times when you’re like, “Oh, shit.” You’d rather be prepared—this is the whole point. Yes. You’re preparing now.

Margaret 12:01
Yeah. Oh, that’s actually that’s really interesting because I, you know—um, before COVID and things like that I would go boff, I would run around in a park with foam swords and shields and—actually turns out that learning how to fight with sticks and shields is way more of a life skill than I expected. But, um, but you know, that’s not happening right now, because of COVID. And a lot of, like, team or group exercise stuff obviously isn’t happening right now. And what are some ways that people can find joyful movement in isolation or in greater isolation?

Dibs 12:40
Yeah, so I guess if you’re one of those people who is really just not leaving your house at all for—unless, you know, you need groceries, or even then you’re just getting someone else to send you stuff and you’re stuck at home: I’ve been leading online aerobics dance classes, which are quite fun. Or, you know, if you can’t find one of those and you don’t know—if the time is not good for you—like, put on some music and dance because cardio is so important, like your cardiovascular health is gonna—that’s what’s going to help you run and keep running and not stop. So dancing for, you know, an hour non-stop, like, that is a hardcore workout. People who have gone to raves, I’m sure you know how sore your body is the next day. Like, dancing is really, really good for you and it’s going to help you build stamina. So that’s one thing. Just putting together a little routine at home is quite easy. I like to tell people, there’s a form of exercise routine called an AMRAP: as many rounds as possible. And so I say, you know, find five exercises that you know, you’ve been taught before, do 20 of them all in a row as many times as you can in 10 minutes, or 15 minutes, or 25 minutes. So say you’re doing 20 squats, 20 push ups, 20 mountain climbers, 20 burpees, 20 lunges, and then go back to the top of the list and keep going, top of the list, keep going, work your way through until your timer goes off on your phone, and boom! You’ve done a workout. It’s—there’s so many different ways that you can do it and to keep you motivated and to remove the thinking out of it. You don’t have to make it complicated. It can be quite simple. And, you know, if you can’t do push ups, do them on your knees. If you can’t do knee push ups, lean against the wall and do them on the wall or the door until you build up your strength or lean on your kitchen counter or your couch or something. There’s so many things you can do just at home to-you know, or follow along YouTube workouts. If you just type on YouTube “follow along workout.” I know they’re not the best because they’re always just demonstrated by people who were ripped in bikinis. I’m gonna try and put some out online to try and show some diversity. But, you know, there’s different ways at home that you can find-or like find your favorite person on the internet. Copy what they’re putting out. But yeah, like, dancing is my favorite. And then creating your own routine and, you know, maybe put on a podcast where you’re doing it or put on music that you like and work through your 15 minutes, and then you’re done.

Margaret 15:12
Okay, that makes sense to me. That’s, um, that’s like stuff that I feel like, on some level, is like what I was subconsciously drawn to when I was trying to become more in shape. I was like, “Oh, I’ll just, I’ll dance more, you know, while like working at a standing desk I’ll, like, play music and then, like, walk away from the computer or something.” But then, as I find myself being like, “No, I must be serious about fitness” instead, I kind of find myself moving away from that kind of stuff and more back into the, like, you know, “I must do yeah, 20 squats every morning” or whatever.

Dibs 15:45
Yeah, yeah, it can come in whatever shape you want. Because even within dance, you know, if you’re dropping it low, you’re doing a squat. Like, there are many ways to do the typical fitness movements like the patterns that you use, like a push, a press, a squat, a deadlift—there’s so many ways to do that, that are not, like, regimented and formal in everyday life, like when you’re cleaning or you’re gardening. Gardening is great exercise, as long as you keep good posture and you’re not hurting your back. Like, that’s another way to get those movement patterns in.

Margaret 16:22
So that’s—that brings up something that I think about a lot. Most of my exercise at the moment—obviously, everything—I think about everything through the lens of myself, but whatever, that’s totally normal, you know, it’s not like people listen to this. Um, okay, so like, most of my exercise comes from construction and building and crafting, right? Because I live, you know, in the woods alone. And so, like, I feel like most of my exercise is like carrying heavy shit up the hill to my house, right? And I often wonder to what degree I’m like getting exercise and to what degree I’m just like hurting myself. And, like, when you’re talking about gardening and being good exercise as long as you maintain good posture, like, it seems like maybe that’s useful across the board is like—where is the line between getting stronger and more fit and wearing yourself down?

Dibs 17:18
Yeah, it’s—that’s a hard one, especially if you’re doing something out of necessity, like, if you’re building stuff and you need to get the materials, you know, before it rains or whatever, like, you’re not going to stop when when you reach that limit, you’re just going to keep going. So then you just have to know how to look after yourself afterwards. Like, the line is different for everyone depending on, you know, depending on what you’ve built up before and you’re—like, I love that that’s how you get your exercise because I love functional fitness. I’ve been, you know, rummaging through curbside trash way more often than the last three months that I have in my entire life. And I’ve been—I’ve found four cinder blocks in the last four weeks and I’ve carried them home like four blocks to my house because I wanted to make a bench seat out of them. And like, you know, I—by the third one that I found, I figured out the correct posture and the way to hold it that wasn’t going to make my biceps feel like this snapping off. So sometimes it’s trial and error. But, you know, and sometimes you pay for it afterwards and you just have to make sure you rest or stretch correctly. But the—it is such a fine line between totally wearing yourself out. But I guess, if you’re doing something functional fitness-wise and it’s taking you the whole day, like, you know, people who do landscaping and they’re just slugging it out for six hours, eight hours, all day. And a lot of them have bad backs. But you can avoid that if you’re using the right tools, like if you have things that help you lift and wheel things like a wheelbarrow or dolly or whatever. You just have to make sure you’re taking breaks intermittently, like think—stop and think. “How am I holding this? Like, where’s the weight? Where can I feel the most strain? Is it in my back? Is it in my biceps? Is it in my core?” You really want to feel things in your abs the most when you’re holding them rather than your back. And then, you know, if one bicep is straining more than the other change the bottom arm and the top arm so you’re evening yourself out. Cuz you just have to be more attuned to your body and take time and do a little scan and think, “Where am I feeling this?” I know it’s hard because when you’re in the moment and just want to get stuff done, you’re not going to stop, but I find that difficult as well. And then maybe when I get home I realized that I was carrying it wrong. But to people have a much better attention span than than me, that’s something that you can do is stop, scan your body, where am I feeling this? Can I readjust? Can I change hands or or change my stride somehow or change my posture? Do I lift it closer to my chest? Do I hold it down below my legs? Do I lifted it up above my head with my elbows locked out if it’s light enough to give my back a rest? Those—you just carry things in a different way each time to give different body parts the load.

Margaret 20:02
Okay. Yeah, it’s funny, I have—there’s sort of a joke that, you know, if you’re like punk past 30 you have to like pick between your options and it’s like CrossFit, or knitting, or whatever. And I didn’t pick either of those, I guess I picked podcasting and that’s probably on there too. And sometimes my friends who do deadlifts and stuff, I’m kind of jealous because I’m like, “Oh, I should probably know how to do that really well because I like, later today I’m going to go have to drag my 50 pound generator to a different spot and hook it up to a 20 pound propane tank to get enough power to, you know, edit this interview. And I don’t know, this is like cliche, right? But what I was like younger, I didn’t really think about this stuff. And now I’m, like, I always make sure I put down heavy things, not on the ground but have thing’s at about waist level.

Dibs 20:56
Yeah

Margaret 20:57
You know? And am I like, am I doing myself a disservice by doing that? You know, like, am I reducing my ability to learn how to deadlift? I don’t know.

Dibs 21:07
I think you’re saving your back in a long time. Because especially like, deadlifts are really good, they’re an amazing full-body exercise. But if you’re having something with an awkward shape that prevents you from doing it with the correct form, then it’s not going to be good to do so I think you’re correct in putting it up higher so you don’t have to go all the way down if it’s a weird-shaped thing.

Margaret 21:27
Okay. Cool. Glad to hear my laziness is good. You mentioned food and eating disorder stuff. Is that is that okay to talk about?

Dibs 21:38
Yeah, we can dig into that.

Margaret 21:40
Um and, you know, content warning for anyone who’s listening, obviously, we’ll talk some about eating disorder stuff and I know that that can be very hard for a lot of people. So how does one—one of the things that I also worry about as I do this, right, um—again, to just use myself as the example for everything—I didn’t think a ton about food until I came out as trans. And now I think about food way more than I would like to just because of the way that my body puts on weight being in a sort of masculine way, right? And both the combination of aging and suddenly holding myself to like feminine beauty standards are—is a wonderful one/two punch to deal with. But it’s hard because I also want to become more fit. But I also really don’t want to fall into what I can really easily see as disordered eating and just obsession about food. And I’m wondering how you manage or how you would recommend to people to manage dealing with fitness and as relates to food and how awful our society is about food and body image?

Dibs 23:01
Yeah, it’s pretty terrible because, you know, a lot of the things out there are all about eliminating a certain either food group, or food source, or whatever. And it’s all about eliminate, eliminate, eliminate. So the way I reframe it is don’t think about what to cut out thinking about more about what you want to add to your diet to help you either feel fuller, or to help you get the nutrients that you need. So, you know, if you’re a person that doesn’t drink any water, start by adding an extra glass of water to your daily intake until that becomes a habit then add another until you’re drinking, you know, at least 2-3 liters a day. Yes, good job drinking your water. So (laughing) she takes a sip. Yeah, so, you know, adding things like that. So it doesn’t have to be food, it can be water. It can be, you know, if you’re someone that only eats two colors, brown and white, maybe start adding a yellow thing or a green thing or a red thing to your plate. So, you know, add a sweet potato if you really hate vegetables, I know mushrooms are also black and white and brown, but there a vegetables so you can add mushrooms to your plate. I, you know, I used to hate sa—I probably only started eating salad when I was like 18, maybe 19. I used to never eat any vegetables and then I realized the certain ways that I like them cooked or prepared that will make me eat them more. So, you know, add—when I have now my bacon and eggs for breakfast I will put, like, a handful of baby spinach on top. And, you know, the way that that tastes is delicious is because it’s smothered in bacon juice. Sorry, the vegan. But, like, that’s how I deal with it and that’s how I add my vegetables in so when you’re thinking about like food and eating for your body type, like, there’s a couple of TED Talks out there actually that are that are titled, you know, “The Perfect Diet,” or “What is the perfect diet?” And I quite liked them. I watched them all because I wanted to see what they, what dumb stuff they said. But it’s actually quite good because at the end, they’re all like, “The perfect diet is the one that feels the best for your body or like what makes you feel the best.” Because the Mediterranean diet’s not everyone, keto is not for everyone, intermittent fasting is just dumb—unless, you know, unless you are experiencing food scarcity and then, you know, of course, you’re going to not eat for 12 hours, and then you have your little window of eating time or whatever. But you know, a lot of us try all these things that were just not made for us. And instead of listening to what someone else’s is spouting on the newest Instagram trend of the newest juice cleanse or whatever, like, just listen to your body more and think, “Okay, do I feel bloated when I eat beans? Do I feel bloated when I eat dairy? Do I feel bloated when I eat this? Like, do I have diarrhea or gas? Or like, what is this food making you feel?” I realize I get real gassy and I get an upset tummy when I have dairy, so I try and reduce that. Like it’s—if you stop—and stress is something that helps you hold weight too that is—prevents you from digesting properly, right? Because you’re in fight or flight, you’re not going to digest your nutrients and absorb them. So if you’re stressing less about, “Oh I can’t eat this, or I can’t that,” and you’re just, you know, you’re not being too hard on yourself, that’s also going to benefit you because you’re going to be more calm. So I like to go at it thinking of what can I add? What’s something easy, just one thing at a time, to add to my routine, to add to my grocery list or when I go out dumpster diving, what’s the ingredient I’m going to add—you know, add a new vegetable a week, or whatever, a new legume or bean or whatever to try if you need to color your plate, and then pay attention to what foods make you feel like crap.

Margaret 26:57
Okay, I like that idea of the adding and sort of—that’s—it’s one of those things that probably should have been obvious. But, I mean, I spend a a not tiny amount of time like—I mean, I do the same thing that I think a lot of people do where I kind of go through a, “Oh crap, I’m out of shape, I better go figure out what will suddenly make me better,” and then get into it for about three weeks and then drop it. And so I’ve, clearly, I’ve read a lot of fitness blogs and diet blogs and things like that as a result. And I haven’t run across that and it seems so obvious. One of the things, you brought up dumpster rain, and I was thinking about how I actually ate better back when I dumpster dove for more of my meals then when I stopped dumpstering. I stopped dumpstering personally because of anxiety, I have a lot of food anxiety issues. And—but then what would happen is I didn’t have much money and it’s really hard to prioritize greens, it’s really hard to prioritize things with no caloric content to speak of, right? You know, when I—if I have $8 to spend at a restaurant or something like that, there’s no way that I’m buying the $8 salad, I’m buying the $8 burrito, you know. And it’s interesting because that habit stayed with me after I no longer have the same, like, financial issues. Yeah, it was only very recently that I was like, “I’m ordering a salad at a restaurant.” And it was very, it was a—a whole new world.

Dibs 28:27
Delicious?

Margaret 28:28
No, it was—it was good but it was like I still have kind of this, like, yeah, but if I’m paying at a restaurant, I want to be stupidly full. Like I want to, I want to look at the last bite of food and be like, “Can I do it?” You know? And I don’t know maybe that’s just from, like, food insecurity. I’m not sure.

Dibs 28:49
I’m like the opposite. I’m like, “I’m paying for the salad. I must eat all of my vegetables. I have paid for it.” But uh, yeah, no, I get what you mean about that habit and you want to you want to spend your money on what’s going to make you feel the most full, which is totally fine. And, so hot tip to anyone who has minimal income to spend on food and wants to feel full: potatoes, white potatoes are the most satiating food on the planet. I’m sure you’ve seen [inaudible] this fact. Probably many times.

Margaret 29:17
I haven’t. No, go ahead.

Dibs 29:19
Yeah, well, fun fact: most satiating food on the planet like per gram, what you put in your mouth is it fills you up more than anything else. So you’re—I mean, they have a decent amount of vitamins and minerals in them but, you know, you want to mix it up. If you want to, like, if you find potatoes or buy potatoes, and then you find other green things like zucchini or asparagus or bell peppers, capsicums, whatever you want to call them. I call them capsicums. You North Americans very strange. “Peppers.”

Margaret 29:51
I was thinking that your accent didn’t sound very Canadian.

Dibs 29:54
Yes, I’m from Australia. I now live in Canada. Mysterious So, you know, you can mix that potato with other things and then hopefully it still comes out tasting like potato because obviously that’s going to be the most tasty thing in your meal. But I like to just heat up a skillet, grate some potato, and then grate some other veggies on top. And then you’ve got this big mishmash of delicious, mushy—or crispy depending on how you cook it—vegetables to put in your facehole. And, you know, it’s—so if you want something to feel full, like, don’t feel—be ashamed of not eating that many green things, but have your base, you know, starchy carbs that’s going to make you feel full like beans, or rice, or potatoes, or pasta, and then throw some green things on top. Like it doesn’t occur to many people when they’re making pasta to do more than just the pasta and the sauce, like, you can throw baby spinach leaves in your sauce or you can throw like chopped up asparagus or mushrooms or whatever other vegetable to like, fatten it up, you know, make it really chunky and more filling. And then you’ll—the pasta won’t sustain you for that long, but the vegetables will help you keep—stay feeling fuller for longer. So you want to eat things that are full of fiber, right, that’s what’s going to make you full. If you go to, like, a juice bar. And, you know, you order a tropical juice, whatever, they’re going to put things through the juicer, they’re going to remove the skin and you’re basically getting like the sugar from three apples and a banana and a pineapple, half a pineapple, or whatever. And none of the fiber or the really good chunky nutrients that are gonna fill you up. If you actually eat—physically eat an apple and bite into it—you can’t eat more than like one and a half, two apples max before you feel like you’re gonna explode because you’re super full. Because you’re getting all the fiber and you’re getting the gut, like the guts of it. You’re getting the meaty part of the fruit. So it’s—that’s another hot tip is don’t juice things, like, you want the skin you want the flesh, that’s what’s going to feel you—make you feel awful.

Margaret 31:59
Okay. Yeah, I like that. It seems like a lot of food stuff comes down to, like, eating simpler—like not eating like less things, but eating like—not like raw food, but like, closer to—like less, I dunno, less processed.

Dibs 32:15
Less processed. Yeah, I mean, I know it’s not easy for everyone to find that, to do the, you know, no processing. Like, some people want to get a $2 burger from In and Out Burger or A&W or whatever because that’s what they have access to and that’s what’s going to be their meal for the day and that’s fine. But, like, if you—you know, dumpster diving, or you have a local grocer, or a local farm, veggie and fruit distributor down the road from you, and you want to spend a couple bucks, like, that’s the best way to do it is, like the closer—the less stages from earth to you to your mouth the better, right? If it’s fall off a tree, it’s grown from the ground, it’s come straight off an animal’s back, like, eat it. Fantastic. It’s going to fill you up and it’s going to be cheaper than if you’ve gotten something that’s been picked from a tree, put on a truck, gone into a factory, run on a conveyor belt four times, got put in packaging, got on another truck, and onto a shelf, and then into your hand. You’re going to be paying more for it and you’re going to be getting less nutritional benefit from the thing.

Margaret 33:21
Okay. So in the meals that you’re describing, which are very similar to the meals that I eat, but they don’t have a lot of protein in them, as far as I can tell. And I’m curious your take on the—you know, I ran across the idea that you’re supposed to eat, what, half your body weight in protein every day or something? Well, not half your body weight…

Dibs 33:41
Yeah, there’s a formula where you measure your body weight and then divide it by 2, and then there’s—you times that by 0.8 grams, and that’s the amount of protein that you—that is a minimum, quote/unquote, “minimum intake.” And that’s, you know, if you’re like lifting weights, if you’re trading. So obviously it’s going to be different depending on your hormones, because estrogen and testosterone do affect us differently and how our body deals with proteins and how it synthesizes muscle and stuff like that. So it’s going to change depending on your hormones, it’s gonna change depending on your weight, how much weight is muscle, how much of your weight is fat, what exercise you’re doing. So like, those calculators are sort of helpful for trainers as a base level so you can look at your client and—but then you have to put in all these other factors around that. So I’d say for the average person looking at that calculation, don’t worry about it. We—there’s so much protein—like I’m not advocating veganism, vegetarianism, or being carnivore or whatever, like, whatever you have access to, it’s great. I’ve tried so many different diets, like, I’ve tried all those things. And right now I just eat what I can get my hands on and what’s cheap. Um, because that’s what works for me. But you can get, you know, there’s so much protein in a handful of spinach or, like, you know, peanut butter or eggs—eggs or protein and fat. So if you just survive on eggs, like, I used to have a 5 egg omelet every morning. Like, if you can get your hands on meat, you don’t need that much, like, I used to—when I was doing like that stupid “lose nine kilos in six weeks challenge” like, what we’re eating every day was like 160 grams/180 grams of cooked meat. So like, one quarter has been removed, like 180 grams cooked meat and then 2 cups of veggies for 3 meals a day. And then, yeah, of course you’re going to get thin because you’re not like eating. And there was like no carbs. They were like, you have like a pinky-sized pile of mashed potato or whatever. Like that’s, you know, of course you’re gonna get skinny if you’re not eating any carbs and you’re and you’re in a calorie deficit so. But you can survive on not much protein and you can also build muscle on not much protein. Like, there are so many vegan bodybuilders out there and vegan athletes. And you can—there are many sources of protein and I think we don’t get taught enough about where our food comes from and what’s in our food in school. You know, I think there was a video—a viral video that went around of kids being asked, you know, “Where does the potato come from? Or where does this not come from?” And they couldn’t tell you whether it was a tree, the ground or, you know, they’re like, “The shop? I don’t know.” So I think we—it’s definitely important to learn more about food and what macronutrients are and what micronutrients are. So macros are your protein, fats, and carbs. Micronutrients are all the vitamins and minerals that are inside food as well. So it’s important to learn about that and to know what you’re getting from each different thing because you need, like, you know, life’s all about balance. You want—and your body craves variety. That’s why, you know, when you stop yourself silly with your main meal, your brain’s, like, “Hey, you still got room for dessert.” Because that’s a different nutrient for your body to absorb, its sugar. So you’ve just filled yourself up with, you know, some vitamin A, some vitamin C, some carbohydrates, like blah, blah, blah, and then you body’s like, “Hey, but you haven’t had that sugary, milky thing over there.” Like, that’s why we can still eat something different when we feel so full, because your body knows that you need a variety of different nutrients to keep yourself going. And it sees the benefit in all of them. So, you know, eating as many different things as you can is always better than, “This is my one food that I eat every day all the time.”

Margaret 37:49
Mmhmm. That’s something that I’m very bad at and I have inherited been very bad at. At one point my dad who I don’t think listens to this podcast, I’m not sure—went to the doctor and was like, “I don’t feel good.” And the doctor was like, “What do you eat?” My dad explained exactly what he eats. And the doctor said, “Every day?” My dad was like, “Yeah.” You know, it was very carefully thought out thing. It wasn’t like, he wasn’t eating junk. You know?

Dibs 38:12
Yeah.

Margaret 38:14
And I have a similar habit that I have to fight the desire to just eat the same thing every day.

Dibs 38:22
Well, because it’s easy, right? Like, that’s why a lot of people do it. And I used to do it and a lot of people with anxiety do it too because it’s something that you can control and you know it doesn’t make your stomach upset, you know, you can be full on it. Yeah, do you, how many meals do you have a day?

Margaret 38:40
Two and a half?

Dibs 38:43
More in the afternoon? Or do you like wait a bit after you wake up?

Margaret 38:48
Yeah, I mean, okay, so—I eat a Builder Bar for breakfast or some other protein bar, which is another long standing habit of sloth, I guess. And then for lunch, you know—or sometimes a bowl of cereal or something. And then for lunch I’ll eat—if I’m feeling fancy I’ll cook like, you know, potatoes and some greens or something. But usually it’ll be, I don’t know, oatmeal or something like that for lunch.

Dibs 39:19
Yeah.

Margaret 39:19
And then dinner is like the meal that I’m like—I can’t be fucked to cook. And the worst thing about—well can’t be fun to cook for myself. Like I enjoy cooking with other people, but I have a very hard time convincing myself that like I’m worth the effort of, like, taking an hour out of my day, like, three times in one day.

Dibs 39:41
Yeah.

Margaret 39:42
Just to like eat food when there’s this packaged thing that will make me not hungry that says it has all the things I need in it. And obviously this is sustainable for the long term. Oh…

Dibs 39:56
Well that’s where, like—you know, speaking of long-term prepping, short-term prepping comes in handy. So like, you know, cooking more rice than you need and then having it in the fridge and then, you know, you can have rice as your side for the next three or four days with your dinner. Or when you make a big salad or you make a big tray of roasted vegetables in the oven, make enough so you have, you know, enough for your sides for the next three or four days. So that’s something that you can do to help combat the time spent so then it’s like, “Okay, this one day, I’ll spend an hour or an hour and a half prepping and then tomorrow, the next day, the next day, I’m gonna thank myself because I’m gonna have to do is put it—warm it up somehow or a eat it cold.” And it’s done.

Margaret 40:38
That makes sense. But um, it’s also a reason that I need to expand my solar bank to get a freezer.

Dibs 40:45
Yeah.

Margaret 40:46
At the moment, I have a very small fridge. And because it’s winter, I don’t even really successfully have a fridge because there’s not enough solar power. So now I have a cooler on my porch, which is perfectly good for vegetables, but I don’t know whether I would trust cooked rice to it.

Dibs 41:04
Not sure. Maybe, I’ve always wondered that because it doesn’t get that cold in Australia. So I’ve come here and I’m like, “Wow, my outside is cold that my fridge. Do I need a fridge? Can I can I rent out my fridge in winter to someone else I just use outside for myself?”

Margaret 41:19
Yes, but then it’s harder to keep it from freezing. The cooler on my porch is actually—at the moment it exists to keep my stuff from freezing, not to keep my stuff… Yeah, it’s interesting.

Dibs 41:29
Yeah. But yeah, like it’s—then it becomes hard because if you don’t have storage space, or, you know, if you live with a bunch of roommates, it’s hard to put put things in a fridge for yourself. But yeah, you just have to pick the thing that’s small and easy to put in a little container and just pick one thing to prep that takes the longest time and then cook the other things the day of or whatever.

Margaret 41:51
No, that makes sense.

Dibs 41:52
Yeah.

Margaret 41:53
Um, so you talked about how hormones affect your body differently, right—or different hormones will affect bodies differently. And I was wondering if you could talk about that, because I think that a lot of people who are listening are trans or have other reasons why they take hormones or hormone blockers. And not all trans people take hormones, I actually personally don’t take hormones. And I’m wondering if you could talk about how different hormonal systems affect your decisions about fitness and how to, how to work to the advantages of of any given hormonal system.

Dibs 42:33
Well, so I’ve also trained myself before I started testosterone, and I was training when I was on testosterone, and now I’m off it again. And so I’ve experienced what training is like with all the different hormones—hormonal combinations. So you know, testosterone will turn you into a furnace, and so you’re burning calories a lot quicker then someone who runs on estrogen. Your—you build muscle a lot quicker as well. You know, lucky bastards. But, uh, so you need more food generally. So someone on testosterone is going to have a higher caloric intake to just maintain and it’s going to be easier to put on muscle. But the actual training regime, or like the exercise selection, should be exactly the same. You shouldn’t have any need to do a specific type of exercise or type of training because of your hormones. So a lot of—that’s why I think it’s such BS to put like gender on intake forms for gyms or trainers or whatever, because, like it actually doesn’t affect the training that much. If you’re giving someone nutritional advice, yes, you’re going to need to know that. But for the exercise prescription, we can pretty much do the same thing depending on your time available and your energy levels, you’re just maybe going to be lifting a different weight depending on how much experience or how much practice you put in. And, you know, I hate that standard barbells now, standard Olympic barbells, are categorized into the men’s barbell and the women’s barbell, because they have a 5 kilo difference—weight difference.

Margaret 44:21
Lord, just…

Dibs 44:21
If you’d—like it’s so silly. If you’ve ever watched like, you know, a CrossFit competition, those women very strong, can probably lift more than a lot of cis men who don’t work out. So like, really, strength depends on how much time you put into it. Like if you’re someone that’s lifting a lot, doesn’t matter what hormonal makeup you have. Strength is about your body weight and, you know, how much practice you put in. So that’s why like powerlifting competitions are broken up into weight classes because it’s all about your power to weight ratio. It’s not fair if you know a 300 pound person is lifting against a 500 pound person because they’re gonna have just different power to weight ratios naturally no matter how much they practice. And so, as a, you know, as a trans person, and even as a cis person, you don’t have to worry about what trainings for men and what training so women or what trainings people on testosterone or not. It is does affect, you know, the amount of calories you’re burning at rest. And it’ll affect your progress timeline a little bit. But you don’t really have to take that into consideration when choosing your exercises. Like I always say, the perfect exercise is the one that you do, and the one that doesn’t injure you. So if you’re like, “Oh, I must do this specific type of training,” but you’re on the couch every day because you’re dreading doing high intensity workout. Obviously, that’s not the one for you, because you’re sitting on your ass. If you’re like, “F yeah! I’m gonna do boxing today because I love boxing, like, I’m gonna do some sparring or some shadow boxing,” and you get up because that excites you, then that’s the exercise that works for you. But yeah, like, hormones are really such a small player and, like, they choose—they decide where your body fat is, is the biggest thing that they do, right? So like, if you are a trans person not on hormones, and you want to make your chest look bigger, then you’re going to just do exercises that workout your chest. If you want to make your ass look better, you’re going to do exercises that target you butt. You cannot target where fat comes off your body. That’s just not a thing we can decide as human beings, it just happens randomly, just depending on your genetics. But you can decide where you target the muscle growth because you do exercises for those muscles and the surrounding muscles—the surrounding like assisting muscles. Okay. Yeah, one time I was—before I came out as trans even to myself, but I, you know, it was maybe one of the first really obvious signs—I was doing weightlifting and I stopped because I started having veins in my arms.

Margaret 47:07
You know, like, muscle—like, in my, like, vein sticking out of my muscles or whatever. And I was like, “Oh, no, that is not an acceptable thing for me. I would definitely rather be a little bit weaker than have my veins popping out.” So I just stopped weightlifting. Probably should have just start eating more fat maybe? I’m not sure. But it wasn’t really the—I mean, okay, so that actually ties into something that I want to bring up is that—and I guess I’ve been kind of trying to—in the same way that obsessing about food can be really bad, ut does also seem like obsessing about fitness can be really bad. When I think about, personally, probably the time that I was physically healthiest was the time that I was mentally the least healthy, where I was incredibly obsessive about what I ate and about exercising, but it was absolutely obsessive. And I’m wondering if you have ideas about preventing fitness from being obsessive and like maybe, like, understanding like realistic goals or something? I don’t quite know how to phrase what I’m trying to get at.

Dibs 47:07
Yeah. Well, that’s a hard one. Because, you know, that’s what happened to me and I don’t know if there was any way to prevent it, but at some point you catch yourself and I think it’s just one of those rock bottom moments where you’re like, okay, yeah, this is a problem. I’m—you know, because I had the similar thing to you as when I was at my physical peak and I thought I was looking great and I was trading all the time, but I was obsessing over what I was eating. Like, I ended up going to hospital with a stress condition that affect my guts. And I had—I was at a festival over a New Year’s and I missed the countdown, I missed the New Year’s Eve party, because I was in like excruciating pain and couldn’t get out of bed because I had, like, a gastro problem of like, cramping, like, all in my entire torso. It was like, terrible, because I was eating the wrong makeup of food and I was literally just stressed all the time because I was—it was—I was also working a really intense, demanding job which was in the gym. And so you have to have that moment where you’re like, “Okay, cool. Well, you know, I’ve missed this socialization with my friends, or I’m not going to parties, or I’m, you know, I’m stressing about pre-packing food to a wedding because I don’t know what they’re going to serve.” Like when you get to that point. Like, seriously, like, that’s what I was doing. Like, I was, you know, you don’t want to go out because you know there’s going to be cake and someone’s gonna offer you at the end and you’re gonna have to deny it, like say no, like, you shouldn’t get to that point. And that’s when you know, things have gone too far. So like, I mean, it is really hard to avoid that but you need to just go into any sort of exercise routine or nutritional change thinking that—or knowing that it could be sustained thing, or maybe you’re gonna try this and it’s not going to be for you, and that’s okay. And it’s totally fine to not have fitness, you know, not have your life revolve around fitness. Because, like, I like to come at it as a holistic thing, like, fitness is not gonna work on its own. If you’re smashing yourself in the gym six days a week, or you know, you’re going for runs every day, or you’re doing your home workout six, seven days a week, that itself is not going to help you holistically if you’re then not sleeping because you’re stressed, or you’re not sleeping because your body is ruined because of all the work you’re doing. You’re not hydrated, you’re not stretching, you’re not—you just can’t be calm because your heart rates always elevated because you’re always moving or, you know, cooking or whatever, like, it has to be a holistic thing for your body to be working properly and for you to make it sustainable. So if—something’s always going to give, you know, if you’re sacrificing too much for this fitness lifestyle or this diet that you’re following, it’s not going to be sustainable. And then it’s going to cause you problems in the long-term. So you want to think about, okay, well, I’m smashing all this protein powder and all these like supplements all the time. What about when your, like liver, it gives out later? Or what if, you know, you end up getting heart disease or you have a heart attack because you’re always stressed? Like, you have to think about long-term, what’s going to put the least amount of stress and strain on your body and your internal organs.

Margaret 51:34
Okay. Yeah, I’ve always found—it’s funny, because I end up using like muscle building, for example, as an analogy when I think about different—the way that different systems work. About, you know, as far as I understand it, you need to like work out the muscle group until you damage it a little bit, but not a lot a bit?

Dibs 51:52
Yeah.

Margaret 51:53
You know, in order to trick your body into building it back stronger. And it seems like a lot of mental health stuff for me has been that way. Where like, you know, cognitive behavioral therapy, the behavioral aspects of it with like exposure therapy will be like, well expose yourself to the thing that makes you anxious, but not go overboard with it, right? Because if you go overboard with it, you just make it worse. And that’s how exercise feels like, is like, you know, you could be like, “Oh, I need to get stronger.” So you could damage yourself versus like, I don’t know, it’s an analogy I use for way too much of my life.

Dibs 52:30
I like it. No, it’s good. Yeah, you need it—you need to challenge yourself a little bit, but not too much. Yes, I guess, that.

Margaret 52:38
So one of the things that I want to talk to you about because I think that—one of the things that I’ve run into a lot when I talk about, you know, the end of the world and fitness—and obviously, anyone who’s listened to many episodes of podcast knows I’m not necessarily talking about, like, the nukes drop and everyone runs around in Mad Max cars or whatever. But actually, you know, I’d argue that we’re dealing with a version of the apocalypse right now, in that it is the possible death throes of a system that has currently sustained some of us and not others of us. But a lot of people feel like anything that talks about like disaster preparation excludes them because of especially disability. And also, things around fitness I feel like tie into both disability and like size-ism. And I really want to like separate out the two because I don’t believe that size is like a disability, you know, like being fat or whatever. But both of those things seem to come up a lot in fitness discussions. And I’m wondering if you have opinions about how to navigate this—how to navigate fitness from the perspective of someone who’s been basically told fitness isn’t for them or feels personally that fitness might not be for them.

Dibs 53:53
Yeah. Well, yeah. And that’s something I’m really passionate about and I’m trying to get more into with the content that I’m putting out on my social media channels is to target those audiences who feel like, you know, the fitness industry is against them. But there is, you know, there’s a tiny mini little fitness industry revolution happening right now. And there are certainly people in my in my circles who I follow who are fat trainers, who are trainers with disabilities, who are, you know—or who are then specifically targeting those minorities and saying like, “This is for you. This is your time, like you can do this, we can all do it together.” And it’s not that hard to change, you know, if you have a class of people of different abilities of different sizes, like it’s not hard to accommodate those—that mix group as a trainer. And, you know, a lot of trainers—to be fair, like, these days, you know, a lot of degrees you just pay for, right? So it’s not hard to be a personal trainer. There are so many people out there who are a fitness conditional, like, you know, it’s—so a lot of them don’t know, they don’t have the ability, that haven’t been taught, or they haven’t tried to think for themselves, “How do I include these other types of people in my class.” So then, you know, a few people from those memories have gone and gotten their certification and have been, you know, the role model for everyone else. So, I like to, yeah, say that I—my tagline for my businesses is “fitness for every body,” as in every

S1E22 – Walidah Imarisha on Envisioning the Future

[audio src="https://pinecast.com/listen/a3555a3c-e351-40f8-8a3e-bf3d0fe8bcff.mp3" preload="none"]

Episode Notes

The guest Walidah Imarisha can be found online at walidah.com. Her books referenced in this episode are Angels With Dirty Faces and Octavia’s Brood, both published by AK Press.

The host Margaret Killjoy can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy and on instagram @margaretkilljoy. You can support her and this podcast through her patreon.

Transcription:

LLWD – 22 – Walidah on Envisioning the Future
1:21:45
SPEAKERS
Margaret, Walidah Imarisha

Margaret 00:14
Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m your host, Margaret Killjoy, and this week I’ll be talking to an author and activist and poet and just a historian—I’ll be talking to will Walidah Imarisha who is, just, I think is absolutely wonderful. And that’ll probably come across way too much in this episode. But I’m talking to her because I’m interested in talking about—well, this week is a little bit of a departure from usual, instead of just talking about the end of all things, right, we’ll be talking about envisioning better things. And we’ll be talking about how important—how necessary it is—to be able to imagine better things in order to make those better things real. And so we’ll be talking about the importance of fiction, but we’ll also be talking about what it means to envision a world, say for example, without police and prisons and how we can move towards that. And, yeah, I’m just really excited for y’all to hear this episode. 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. Duh da duh daaa…

Jingle Speaker 1 01:28
Kite Line is a weekly 30 minute radio program focusing on issues in the prison system. You’ll hear news along with stories from prisoners and former prisoners as well as their loved ones. You’ll learn what prison is, how it functions, and how it impacts all of us.

Jingle Speaker 2 01:39
Behind the prison walls a message is called a kite—whispered words, a note passed hand to hand, a request submitted to the guards for medical care. Illicit or not, sending a cadence trusting that other people will bear it farther along until it reaches its destination. Here on Kite Line we hope to share these words across the prison walls.

Jingle Speaker 1 01:55
You can hear us on the Channel Zero Network and find out more at kitelineradio.noblogs.org

Margaret 02:06
Okay, so if you could introduce yourself with your name, your pronouns, and then like political or organizational affiliations that kind of concern what you’re going to be talking about, or maybe like the books that you’ve written that are about what we’re going to be talking about.

Walidah 02:22
My name is Walidah Imarisha, she and her pronouns. I am a writer and an educator. I have done a lot of work on science fiction and social change, culminating in co-editing Octavius Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements. I’ve also written the creative nonfiction book Angels with Dirty Faces: Three Stories of Crime, Prison, and Redemption.

Margaret 02:46
Oh, the fact—I’ve been telling people for years that my favorite book against prison is Angels with Dirty Faces. And I actually have a really hard time reading nonfiction, which is kind of embarrassing because I’m an author. And the fact that you describe it as creative nonfiction really helps explain part of why. For anyone who hasn’t read it yet Angels with Dirty Faces is like, um… it’s talking about prisons, but it’s talking about prisons from the point of view of, like, several specific people who are in prison and, well, your interactions with them. So the reason I have you on this, like, community and individual preparation podcast is—the important—I kind of want to talk to you about the importance of actually, like, envisioning something better. And because it’s this kind of cliché that, like, we know what we’re against, but do we know what we’re for? And sometimes I kind of hate when people ask—I actually almost always hate when people ask that—because my argument is that if you’re being hit with a baseball bat, you don’t actually have to articulate what you would like society to be like without someone hitting you with a baseball bat before you can get someone to stop hitting you with a baseball bat. But yet at the same time I do personally want a much better society and I know that you’ve done this work also, yeah, with Octavius Brood, which is just labeled visionary fiction. Is that right?

Walidah 04:13
Yeah.

Margaret 04:14
Um, could you talk about visionary fiction? And could you talk about what draws you to that? And what draws you to painting better worlds and resistance?

Walidah 04:24
Sure. Yeah. I mean, I feel—I agree with you. And I think it’s a, you know, it’s yes/and. And so, I also think it’s really important who’s asking these questions, right? Are we asking these questions of each other or people from outside being like, “Well, what do you want then?” Like, I don’t really owe you anything if you’re coming with that tone. Um, you know, for me, “visionary fiction,” I started using that term to refer to the intersection of science fiction or imaginative fiction, fantastical art, and social change. It’s deeply steeped in, you know, radical organizing, in thinking and building liberated futures. It’s not a utopian project, it’s really more about how can we imagine the futures we want to figure out new ways to build them into existence. So we’re never going to get to those perfect futures because as science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler said, we’re not going to have a utopia until we have a few perfect humans and that seems unlikely. So we won’t reach utopia. But I think the practice of utopia is the useful one. And really, I mean, that is what organizing is, is thinking about this world around us and how we actually want it to be and, you know, that’s the foundation of Octavia’s Brood, which I co edited with Adrienne Maree Brown. The premise is all organizing is science fiction. And we believe that anytime you imagine a world without the ills we fight against, without borders, without prisons without police, that is science fiction because we haven’t seen that world. But we can’t build what we can’t imagine. And so Octavia’s Brood is fantastical writing, visionary fiction, specifically written by organizers, activists, and change-makers, the folks who are, you know, in the world trying to make it a better place. And I think that intersection of imaginative spaces and social change is not just useful, but it’s absolutely imperative for us to build something other than this world around us.

Margaret 06:50
No, that makes sense. I really like the quote that you just had of, we can’t build what we can imagine. That—I don’t know. I like that a lot. It ties into a lot of what I what I think about with my own writing. And so this is a weird tangent, but okay, so like, so you’re saying it’s not a utopian project, right, even though it’s sort of in some ways about envisioning utopia. And utopia has this like really mixed reputation, right? And I think some of your work, you’ve talked about how Oregon was developed as a white utopia, for example. And, you know, I remember doing a talk—I think I’ve even said this on the podcast before, I’m not sure—I was doing a talk about A Country of Ghosts, an anarchist utopian novel that I wrote. And I was doing it at Táala Hooghan, an Indigenous info shop. And someone who was there was like, “Yeah, you know, that white people with utopian ideas destroyed everything, right?” And I was like, “Yeah, no, you’re just right. I don’t have a counter argument. Like, you’re just correct.” And so I’m wondering if you could talk a little bit about that, about like the idea—maybe the difference between like utopia as a thing that you’re specifically trying to create versus utopia as like a direction to walk or something like that? I don’t know. I don’t know how to phrase this.

Walidah 08:21
No, I think that’s I think that’s a really useful differentiation. I think the idea—the sort of arrogance and audacity to think that we could create a perfect society, I think is rooted in, you know, everything that is against what we are wanting to build. It’s, you know, it does result in, you know, in these projects, I mean, you know, Adrienne often quotes Terry Marshall talking about, you know, that we are in an imagination battle, that we are living in someone else’s—specifically as black people—living in other people’s imaginations. And this is the result of that— of us, you know, the world being manifested through this white supremacist imagination. And I do think it’s important to talk about utopias because, I mean, so much of the goal of white supremacist hetero patriarchal, you know, capitalism has been to create their vision of utopia and to, you know, impress upon it, and press it upon the rest of the world. And so I think it’s important to talk about that as utopia because it complicates the notion of utopias you’re talking about, but I do think the sort of thought exercise of utopia is useful. I often quote, Eduardo Galeano and his quote of saying, “What is the purpose of utopia then, it is to cause us to advance.”

Margaret 10:03
Yeah.

Walidah 10:05
Yeah, I think if we frame it in that way it becomes incredibly useful. Because as a thought experiment, to me, it roots very much in, you know, in Ursula K LeGuin’s The Dispossessed, the subtitle of which is “An Ambiguous Utopia.” The foundation of that ideas is these folks think they have built the perfect, you know, anarchist society and then realize, you know, the liberation we want is not a destination. And if we ever think we have reached perfection, that is the very moment that we begin to replicate the very systems of dystopian domination that we fought and give our lives for. And so I think it’s important to continually think of this as, you know, as a process and a practice rather than a destination. And to continually get to ask the question, “What is our ideal world?” knowing that we won’t reach it, but we will continually not only better ourselves and society, but we will create space to reimagine what we consider to be utopia. I mean, we’re all growing. I’m growing. We’re all messing up every day. We’re all learning how to do better every day, hopefully. And, you know, so to imagine that the destination that we set at some fixed point in the past is the destination we want to go to today is—it actually does a disservice to ourselves, because it stops us from being able to grow and to continue to imagine beyond what we’re told as possible.

Margaret 11:52
Wait, I thought we were just following the blueprints that Bakunin laid out. Is that not? Like? Yeah, no, I really like that. I really like this idea of that—I mean, for me, it’s one of the reasons why, you know, personally, I’m an anarchist but I’m—just in general anti authoritarianism appeals to me is because to me it’s this, it’s a little bit clear to say like, no, no, no, no, there’s not a “perfect.” There’s not a like, a system that you create, and then enforce on everyone, you know? It’s a—instead it’s always gonna be messy, it’s always gonna be this process.

Walidah 12:31
Yeah. I mean, it’s rebelling against the tyranny even of our past selves really. Right? Like, the plan that I laid out for myself when I was 20, you know, is certainly not the plan, you know—And even if the destination of this—even if I’m heading the same way on the horizon, certainly the lessons that I’ve learned along the way have deeply impacted, shifted, and changed. And if I don’t allow myself the space to do that, then I’ve locked myself into a moment that has then become just my life.

Margaret 13:06
Yeah.

Walidah 13:07
But we do that with our movements every day.

Margaret 13:11
I like this idea. So—because it’s like, we need the plans. We just—to even think of it like in terms of the individual, like you were saying, like the plan of what you were going to do when you were 20. It’s like, we always need to have these plans so that we can do anything, right, otherwise—like, if I didn’t have an idea of like, what I want it to be and what I wanted to do, I wouldn’t make any progress. But yeah, no, that makes sense to be able to, like completely readdress it at any point.

Walidah 13:39
Well and just recognize that, you know, I mean, that the world is so much larger than we imagined, that the sky seems vast. And one point on the horizon that seems like the end point, when we reach it we recognize, oh, there is a whole infinity of sky beyond that. So why would we just stop when we’ve reached that point if our goal was to just continue exploring and seeing and experiencing and doing as much as possible.

Margaret 14:10
That’s so good. I like, I love all that shit so much. Okay, so why then fiction? Why choosing to express that specifically through fiction, as you all did with Octavius Brood?

Walidah 14:31
Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, I think again, for me, visionary fiction is about creating possibilities and as many entry points. So, you know, I think fiction is one way to do it. I think you can do it in any genre and whatever messy intersections between genres, the infinite intersections of

S1E21 – Petra on Camping Equipment

I talk with a wilderness instructor about what people ought to know before heading out on a long hike, about what camping equipment she likes, and about what skills you do and don’t need to study ahead of time.

S1E20 – Deviant on How to Let Yourself In

I talk with hacker and lockpicker Deviant Ollam about bypassing physical security and why and how he believes in community preparedness. Did you know most construction vehicles use the same few keys?

S1E19 – Moira on Know Your Rights

I talk with anti-authoritarian lawyer Moira Meltzer-Cohen about why you should shut up, how you should shut up, and if she has any other advice for encounters with law enforcement, like shutting up. We also talk about the stages of encounter with law enforcement, what encounters with the feds often look like, and how to get involved in supporting radical legal work.

S1E18 – The Basics, pt 1

[audio src="https://pinecast.com/listen/0fd6c921-1e34-4f52-a5d4-36510ca8e648.mp3" preload="none"]

Episode Notes

On this episode, host Margaret Killjoy ruminates on the philosophical ideas of how and why to get involved in prepping from a non-individualistic point of view. She also answers questions!

You can follow Margaret on twitter @magpiekilljoy and instagram @margaretkilljoy or support her on patreon at https://www.patreon.com/margaretkilljoy