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S1E89 – Blix on Packrafting

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Inmn is joined by Blix, a river guide. They talk about the utility of packrafting, the joys and travails of river travel, the state of waterways in the western United States, and how river guides might have the best names for the worst things.

Host Info

Inmn can be found on Instagram @shadowtail.artificery.

Publisher Info

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


Live Like the World is Dying: Blix on Packrafting

**Inmn ** 00:16
Hello, and welcome to Live Like The World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m Inmn, and I’m your host for today. Today I’m being joined by my friend Blix, who is a river guide, and we’re going to talk about something that I’ve been really entranced by but know nothing about and I’m a little terrified by. And that is, traveling on rivers with boats and why it might be a good or bad idea during different emergent disasters. But first, we are a proud member of the Channel Zero Net of anarchist podcasts and here’s a jingle from another show on that network. Doo doo doo doo doo doo [Singing the words like an upbeat melody]

**Dissident Island Radio ** 01:08
Listen in to Dissident Island Radio live every first and third Friday of the month at 9pm GMT. Check out for downloads and more.

**Inmn ** 01:58
And we’re back. Thank you so much for coming on the show today. Could you introduce yourself with your name, pronouns, and what you do in the world? You know, not in an existential sort of way, but what is your connection to packrafting.

**Blix ** 02:19
My name is Blix. I use she/they pronouns. I am a river guide in Dinosaur National Monument on the Green River. I like to do more things than just river stuff. I’m really into cycling, and gaming, and anything that gets me outside, but river stuff recently has been my main hobby and passion at the moment. Yeah, what was the last one? What is my "what?"

**Inmn ** 02:49
What do you…What is your existential purpose in the world [laughing/joking]

**Blix ** 03:02
[Stammers while laughing] I’d like to survive. Yeah. The last one was my connection to packrafting. So initially, I got into river…I mean, I’ve been doing river stuff since I was a kid. I grew up in northeast Iowa, which is not known for anything river related. Or I mean, there are rivers there, but not in the sense that…not the big water and rapid stuff that you typically hear about with river travel or river hobbies, but I grew up kayaking and canoeing. And then I got a packraft four years ago and I’ve done a couple pack rafting trips since then. Overnighters. And yeah, I think that was kind of the gateway craft that led me to wanting to be a guide.

**Inmn ** 04:02
Yeah, it’s funny. I can tell if you were being sarcastic about Idaho rivers

**Blix ** 04:08
No, Iowa, Iowa. 

**Inmn ** 04:10

**Blix ** 04:11
Yeah, no. Idaho is very well known for rivers. Yeah, no, Iowa is not…You don’t think, "Whoa the rivers in Iowa are amazing." But Idaho, definitely.

**Inmn ** 04:25
Yeah, there is–maybe it’s not Iowa that I’m thinking of–that it’s bordered on each side by rivers. Is that true?

**Blix ** 04:35
There’s the Mississippi on the east and then on the west I think there is a river but I can’t remember… Maybe the Sioux River.

**Inmn ** 04:45
Yeah or something. Because there’s the…I only know this because of going on bike tour and encountering this bike bro who let us sleep at his house. He just saw us on bikes and was like, "Come over, fellow bike tourists." And we’re like, "You know, we need showers." And he told us about something called like, Ragbra…

**Blix ** 05:05
Ragbrai. I like Ragbra better. Yeah, yeah. RagBrai is riding from the west side of Iowa to the east, and it changes…the route changes every year. But, I’ve actually never done it. 

**Inmn ** 05:23
It did not really sound fun. Very drunken.

**Blix ** 05:25
No, I think it…Yeah. As someone who does not drink, it sounds like my worst nightmare. So,

**Inmn ** 05:32
Yeah. But anyways, what…So what is packrafting?

**Blix ** 05:38
Yeah, packrafting…So, it’s a very specific type of craft where you can deflate it and it’s pretty much…the way that I’ve used it, I’ve strapped it to the front of my bike. You can shove it in backpacks. It can be made very small, and then when you inflate it, some models of pack rafts, you can take your gear and shove them inside the tubes of the craft so you don’t have like a pile of gear on your boat. 

**Inmn ** 05:51
Like inside the inflatable part of it? 

**Blix ** 06:15
Yes, yep. So I’ve had friends who’ve done the Grand Canyon in packrafts–which is nuts and also very impressive to me–but yeah, you can put stuff in the tubes. When you want to get it out, you have to deflate it, obviously. But, you put it all in there, inflate it, you can take it downriver. I know people who’ve carried a ton of gear, like 50 pounds. I know people who’ve gone hunting with them. You can obviously, I’m sure you’ve seen, you can strap your bikes to the front of them as well.

**Inmn ** 06:50
This was actually my first question is if you can strap it to your bike, can you also somehow take your bike down river?

**Blix ** 06:58
Yeah, yeah, it’s…I have a lot of opinions about taking bikes–I think it depends on the river and also your bike. The thing with attaching a bike to a water vessel and then floating down a river is it’s really exposed to all the elements. And, bikes and water don’t…Like, you don’t want to submerge your bike in water. There’s a lot of issues that can arise from that. So, it’s really hard on your bike. And also it makes the packraft hard to maneuver–obviously because you have this big heavy weight in the front–but you can take the front wheel off your bike, put it on top of the frame, and then you can use straps, and they have strap loops, and–trying to think the word of it–they have places where you can take straps and like loop your bike around so it is fully attached to your packraft.

**Inmn ** 07:51
Cool. My first impression from hearing about packrafting is, one, that is exactly what I was hoping it would be. But, I guess some questions within that are that it seems highly versatile or mobile. Which, the the thing about boats that I’ve always thought is boats are really cool and they’re really big and you’re kind of tied to a boat, and you’re stuck on that body of water where the boat is. But, with this, it seems like you can pretty easily be on the river and then decide to leave the river and take the boat with you?

**Blix ** 08:35
Yes, yep. And I think that’s why they’re so popular. I think they’re also more affordable. But, it’s a multimodal way to navigate places. And yeah, they’ve exploded in popularity. And it’s kind of funny because packrafts themselves–like there’s always been smaller crafts like kayaks and inflatable kayaks–but the packraft is kind of this new concept that’s come about where you can pack your gear in the tubes and it packs up super small. Whereas kayaks are this big hard thing of plastic that you have to lug around. You know, same with canoes or even inflatable kayaks. Like, those don’t deflate to a point where you’d want to carry them in anything. They’re so heavy. So packrafts are kind of this ultralight thing that’s come on to the river scene and a lot of parks and monuments–at least the monument I work in, they’re not sure what to do with them. They’re very particular about…like if you go pack rafting down the river, you have to have a bigger support boat. Like you can’t just take your pack raft down the river because it’s a single chamber. So, it’s just like one…When you inflate it, the whole thing inflates. Whereas, normal rafts…I have another bigger raft. It has four different…or excuse me, mine has two chambers. Giant rafts, like 18 foot rafts, have four chambers and then the floor that inflates. So, the thing with packrafts is if you like pop it or tear it, it’s going to be a bad day. And that’s, I guess, my only issue with them. But, everything else is great, like how light they are. The trips I’ve done with packrafts and bikes and anything else, it’s really nice to not be lugging around a gigantic raft and all this gear. And, it keeps you from overpacking.

**Inmn ** 10:26
Yeah, how small is, "small?" and how light is, "light?" Like, does this fit in your hiking pack?

**Blix ** 10:34
Yes, yeah, it could fit in a backpack. Like my handlebars on my bike, it fits in between the grips. Like that’s how small it is. I think it packs down to like 8-10 pounds. Like it’s, it’s still a heavy piece of gear but nothing like a huge 2000 pound raft. You know, to me, I’m like, "Wow, this is very light and small." And then as far as like when you’re sitting in it, they make different lengths. But, when I’m sitting in my packraft my feet go all the way to the front of it. And I can’t think of how…They would probably be like four feet? Three feet? I don’t know. I guess I’ve never measured mine. I just know that I fit in it. I’m not really a dimensions person. I just know that it’s light and it’s small. So like really specific stuff–I guess I do know how long my big raft is…But, yeah, with packrafts it’s just you in the…Like, there’s no room really to put other gear. You can shove stuff up by your feet and behind you, but the main idea is you’re putting all of it in the tubes.

**Inmn ** 11:40
Yeah, okay. Yeah, I guess hearing that their downfall, I guess, or thing that makes them maybe not a great idea is that they can get punctured. Is that something that’s likely to happen. Like, can they get punctured easily? Like, how durable are they?

**Blix ** 12:00
I guess the story that comes up is that I went on the Salt River this past spring. That’s a river in northeast Arizona. There’s like a–It’s not the tubing section that everyone thinks about. It’s like–whenever I tell people that, they’re like, "What? You went whitewater on…" And I’m like, "No." There’s an upper section that’s a solid class 4 river–which, I suppose I should explain classes maybe after…If you’re curious. But yeah, okay. But, basically, the story is we were portaging around this big rapid because I didn’t feel comfortable running it. It was the end of the day. And portaging is just finding a route that we’re able to walk and carry all our gear. Which, wasn’t easy because we were in a very steep narrow canyon. But yeah. Someone dropped their packraft on a cactus, which, you know, you’d think–they popped bike tubes–but, their packraft had multiple holes that needed to be patched. Whereas my…I think the rafts are made of different materials…Like, my raft compared to a packraft…Because the packraft is so light, I don’t think they can use as heavy duty material. I know people–and from my own experience–one of our packrafts has like gotten rubbed from paddling. Like the paddle rubbed the side and the side could get rubbed raw and then start to leak air. And I do know a lot of folks with packrafts that have a lot of patches. But, I also know…like this is where it comes into play that you need to be good at not just knowing how to paddle a raft but how to like read a river and know how to navigate water and know what hazards are, because, especially in a packraft, it’s such…Like you don’t want to tear it. Like even in my raft, I don’t want to have a tear, but if you puncture your packraft in a significant way it’s gonna sink or just be in a really bad spot. And you’re going to be…because it is a single chamber and all your gear is in it…Like, that’s a huge risk. 

**Inmn ** 14:11
So you might just lose every… 

**Blix ** 14:13
You might lose everything. And, I think you would have to mess up significantly for that to happen. But, just knowing certain hazards that I’ve encountered on rivers and things I’ve heard from other people…The material my boat’s made of is this hypalon. It’s really thick. Like. I’ve rammed it into rocks and like, it’s been fine, but I also know if you hit things a certain way the like…like it’s almost like a knife has cut through your boat. And I just think yeah, it would just be really…I would be really nervous and a packraft because of the single chamber aspect where if it pops, the whole thing is deflating. Whereas with my boat, if one of my tubes pops, I still have another tube that will stay inflated and I could maybe keep getting down the river…and not lose all my gear.

**Inmn ** 15:03
Yeah, yeah. And so I guess with inflatable kayaks, are those usually more durable? Or like have more chambers?

**Blix ** 15:13
They have…Each side is a chamber and then the floor is a chamber. The packraft floor is also…Wow, sorry, I usually take my big boat out, so I’m trying…I haven’t taken my packraft out in a minute, but, yeah, it’s just a big single chamber. But, I know that they’re making very sturdy packrafts that can go down class five, like really intense whitewater, that are super durable and capable boats. And I think the technology is getting better because it’s becoming so popular.

**Inmn ** 15:16
That makes sense. Yeah, I imagine in most things, there’s the really dinky one that for maybe nothing more than casual water.

**Blix ** 16:02
Yep. No. And it definitely depends. Like, even different companies within the packrafting world use different material. And you can tell just by quality, what’s going to be more durable than others. But, inflatable kayaks they are…like you can…We call them duckies. I’m not actually sure why we call them duckies. I’ve never actually thought about that. Inflatable kayak duckies. But they’re very–you can’t pack anything in them. So it would just all be shoved at the front of this massive pile. So I think–and also duckies, I don’t…They just don’t navigate the water as well because they’re so long. They just are very awkward to sit on.

**Inmn ** 16:46
So, what is involved in planning a river trip, whether that’s–I guess specifically in a packraft–but in any kind of river transit with camping situation?

**Blix ** 17:01
Yeah, I think it’s very similar to backpacking and bike packing in the gear you would take. You can’t bring anything super bulky. You have to think about what you can fit in your tubes. A big thing that I look at when I’m planning a river trip are rapids, if there are any, what classes they are. I look at predicted flows of the river, and at what point is it flood stage, and at what point is it too low for me to run it. And this is, I think, more specific for rivers out in the West that are very susceptible to flooding and flash flooding and drying up. And then, I mean, I’m looking at the weather too. Like, do I need to bring rain jackets or food. I don’t know. It’s really similar to backpacking is the only way I can think about it, where I’m bringing sleeping bags and normal things that I would bring on a trip like that. I think the only difference is water. Like, you’re on it so you can just bring some type of treatment to treat it. And then, figuring out where to camp along the river can be complex and complicated as well if there’s like private land or, I think again,  this is river dependent, if you’re in a canyon there’s only certain spots you can stop. So, you have to be aware of like, "I have to go this many miles today. I have to," because there are no other places to stop. And, also paying attention to water temperature and how that’ll dictate if I’m wearing normal just active clothes or if I’m wearing a dry suit or a wet suit. And then, if it’s a multimodal trip, which is if I’m bringing my bike or if it’s just solely a river trip to be a river trip. I think also, I mean, you have to bring poop tubes. Like, you’re not really allowed to…

**Inmn ** 17:10
Poop tubes? [Confused]

**Blix ** 19:00
Poop tubes. Like a PVC…You can do it yourself, but you can make one out of PVC pipe. Have one enclosed so you can pack out your poop. 

**Inmn ** 19:15
Okay. [Realizing what a poop tube is]

**Blix ** 19:16
Yeah, sorry. You have to poop through a tube. [Joking] No, that’s not what’s going on. But, with bigger rafts and bigger trips we bring something called a Groover, which is this big, basically, toilet so you’re packing all that out. Because, if you’re all going to the bathroom on like the same beaches and campgrounds and there’s not many of them, it turns into a litter box and it’s really gross. 

**Inmn ** 19:41
I see. I’ve heard of this on–and maybe it seems like more…Curious on your perspective. So, I’ve heard of this on especially popular hiking trails and especially multi-day hiking trails that there are spaces where they’ve literally just become large toilets. And there’s so much human shit around buried. It’s a big problem ecologically. 

**Blix ** 20:12
No, I think I’ve read a study where I feel like in a lot of national forest and parks the ground is just…they test soil and it always includes human feces, which is deeply disturbing to me. But, I honestly think–and maybe this is a hot take–I think river folks and people who are on the river are really good at packing out feces. And with…Only because–especially in canyons–and maybe this is different out east–but again, there are only these small little spaces that can be used for camping. So again, if somebody shits everywhere, for some reason, people are going to know. And also the National Monument, at least where I work, keeps track of who’s camping–because they assigned campsites to people where they can go–so they would probably know the party that like pooped everywhere. And also, they won’t let you on the river unless you have a Groover or a way to pack out your feces. Like, they won’t let you. They check your gear list. So, it’s a highly regulated and permitted activity. For now. That could change. But even then…I…Yeah, you just have to pack out your poop. And then we all pee in the river. That’s just what you do. But yeah, I think typically river folks are better than hiking and yeah…There’s emergencies, but we’re always carrying Wag Bags too. 

**Inmn ** 21:49
Wag Bags? 

**Blix ** 21:50
It’s basically like a dog bag for your own poop, right? Yeah. Yep.

**Inmn ** 22:00
Wow. The river community is certainly, I feel like, better than a lot of other niche sub groups at naming things.

**Blix ** 22:09
Oh, yeah. I think it…Even like rapids where I’m like, "Really? This is…this is what this rapid is called?" Like… 

**Inmn ** 22:19
Like what? 

**Blix ** 22:22
I think a lot of them are just intense names. But, like one of them’s called Schoolboy or like Fluffy Bunny Rapid or whatever the hell. And, it’s like this is…Yeah, I don’t know. We have, I feel like, nicknames for a lot of stuff, but…I guess it separates us from the other people? [Said unconvincingly] But, I think guides and river folk also get a bad rap for being adrenaline junkie, like really intense, obnoxious people. So, I won’t say that it’s a perfect community by any means because it’s not, but it’s definitely creative.

**Inmn ** 23:03
What are some of the dangers of river travel in general, but I guess, you know, specifically we’re talking about packrafting or camping as you raft.

**Blix ** 23:13
Oh, man. Yeah, there’s a lot. I’m trying to think of what I talk about in my safety talk of things we need to be aware of as people on rivers. I think, in general, with any outdoor activity there’s the risks of cuts and bruises and broken bones and infections and just things that can happen day to day even if you’re not on a river. So, like camp dangers. Which, I think a big thing with rivers that I see are like injured feet with people taking their shoes off on beaches and then running around and running into the water and getting a stick up their foot. [Inmn makes a horrified reaction noise] Yeah, or cutting their foot on a rock. But, river specific dangers, my own standard is I never want to be in the water. Like, out of my boat in the water. I don’t enjoy swimming whitewater. It’s a personal project I’ve tried to work on this past summer by forcing myself to swim in rapids. But, hazards that I think of for packrafting is the same with any other–like even if I was in a big raft I’d be thinking about the same thing–but, Keeper Holes, which is a funny…So think about a huge boulder or rock in a river and there’s water pouring over it. There’s certain…We call them holes because it creates this like giant space behind the rock where the water is kind of…it can recirculate. And if you fall in, or not fall, but float or are getting carried downstream into one of these, there is a risk that you will not be able to swim out of it where you’re just getting recirculated underwater.  

**Inmn ** 24:59
I see, yeah. 

**Blix ** 25:00

**Inmn ** 25:01

**Blix ** 25:02
Yeah. And, I know you said you have fears about rivers. I don’t want to freak you out, but…

**Inmn ** 25:11
No, please. 

**Blix ** 25:13

**Inmn ** 25:14
Yeah, I have an utter fascination with water and water travel and also a, you know, horrifying fear of water, which is weird because I’m a triple water sign, but moderately terrified.

**Blix ** 25:28
I think it’s okay to be afraid of rivers, because when things go wrong, they go wrong very quickly. And you also are on a timeline if someone is in the water, if that makes sense. But, another thing that I think about for hazards is something called a Strainer. So that’s when…

**Inmn ** 25:29
Y’all are really good at naming things.

**Blix ** 25:29
I know, I know. It’s terrifying. So, it’s when a tree or log falls into the river. And, the way I describe it in my safety talk is when you use strainers at home and you dump the water through, the water goes through, but the noodles get stuck, right? 

**Inmn ** 26:10

**Blix ** 26:10
We are human noodles. 

**Inmn ** 26:12
Oh God. 

**Blix ** 26:12
So, when there’s logs or sticks, they tend to pile up in the river and create this huge entrapment hazard. So, if you get flushed into one of those, it’s pretty difficult to get out. Like, you will probably get trapped. Another thing is something called foot entrapment, which happens when rivers are shallower. And this is when you’re in the water and you can feel the bottom of the river and you’re thinking, "Oh, I’m gonna stand up to stop myself." So, you stand up. There’s tons of rocks and sticks under the water. Your foot can get stuck under them and push you underwater because you’re still…like the pressure of the water is still coming on to you. Does that makes sense? [Inmn makes an affirmative sound] So, you don’t ever want to stop yourself with your feet.

**Inmn ** 27:01
Okay, that would be my first instinct.

**Blix ** 27:04
Yeah, don’t do that. Yeah, that’s a huge hazard. It’s super easy to avoid. For me, that would be the scariest thing that could happen hazard-wise on a river, as my own person. And…because your instinct is "I’m gonna put my feet down to stand up." Yeah, but I’ve had close calls with foot entrapment. And, if you have even one of them, you will never do it again, just because of how quick the water will push you under. Super scary. Another hazard…[Laughing. Overwhelmed] I’ll just keep going?

**Inmn ** 27:41
Please tell me all of the ways that I can perish on the river. Which will definitely mean that I will try packrafting. [Dry and sarcastic]

**Blix ** 27:49
Yeah. I think you should. It’s super fun. I think, again, being aware of these hazards and knowing what to do in situations or read the river. Reading rivers is going to empower you. And I think fear is just a lot of what we don’t understand or know, right? And on rivers like–I mean, there’s also very legitimate fears of like, "This is fucked."–but, rivers, usually if I can see a log in the river, I know to not go near it. If I’m in the water, I know not to stand up and put my feet down to stop myself. But…

**Inmn ** 28:31
No, that makes sense. That is the line that we keep saying on this podcast is preparedness is all about preparing for things that you’re afraid of so that you don’t have to think about them anymore because you have a plan. And this seems to just be that. 

**Blix ** 28:48
Yeah. No, and I’m terrified of all these things, but I should know what to do if that happens. Yeah, there’s… I’m trying to think. Other hazards are like Sieves where it’s like rock fall and it funnels you through a really tight space and you can get jammed in there. Undercut walls or rocks is when the water erodes away the space underneath it and creates a pocket for you to get sucked under and into. [Inmn makes noises of terror] I’m so sorry.

**Inmn ** 29:24
You all can’t see me obviously. But, I assume I have this look of just visceral terror. 

**Blix ** 29:31
Yeah, that’s all right. That’s…Usually when I give a safety talk, everyone’s faces turn from excitement to complete terror. Or, sometimes kids start crying and I’m like, "Okay, let’s go have fun on the river today!" Those are kind of the big ones that I can think of off the top of my head besides drowning. Drowning is…You know, cold water is a huge one where if you’re In the water and it’s freezing, your body is gonna start shutting down. I think you have 10 minutes to like figure it out. 

**Inmn ** 30:07
Ten minutes!?  

**Blix ** 30:07
Yeah. I think sometimes even less time.

**Inmn ** 30:10
In like what temperature water?

**Blix ** 30:14
Um. Oh geez. I feel like 50 degrees, maybe 60? I think it also is body dependent and how well your body is insulated or able to keep warm. Yeah, there’s definitely…Like, the start of my season, I’m wearing a dry suit. Which is…Are you? I guess I could explain? 

**Inmn ** 30:38
Yeah, a dry suit keeps you dry. Wetsuit keeps you a little bit wet but in a way that is insulative and warm?

**Blix ** 30:45
Yeah, so like wetsuits work by, you get wet, but the water close to your body, that’s contained in the wetsuit, warms up to your body temperature. So, it’s keeping you–at least that’s how I understand it–so, it’s keeping you somewhat warm. Dry suit is a suit you wear that has gaskets over your wrists and neck and your feet. You’re completely enclosed in this goretex super suit. You look super cool. But nothing…You could wear street clothes underneath and they would stay perfectly dry.

**Inmn ** 31:17
So you can go LARP [Live Action Role Play] in your like "Dune" LARP? 

**Blix ** 31:22
Yeah,basically, it’s like a…What is it, still suit? But the opposite. It’s not keeping moisture in. Just keeping you dry and warm, hopefully. But yeah. Those are like the hazards I can think of off the top of my head.

**Inmn ** 31:39
And then there’s the obvious ones, like anything related to camping or being outdoors?

**Blix ** 31:43
Yeah. And, you know, you probably want to wear a helmet when you’re rafting because of impacts with rocks or…You know, like, there’s a lot of things that can go wrong once you’re in the water, depending on what kind of rapid you’re in or anything like that.

**Inmn ** 32:03
Yeah. And there’s a thing called swiftwater rescue?

**Blix ** 32:11
Yep, um, I am swiftwater rescue certified. And I think if anyone is doing any type of river activity that you should definitely take the class. I don’t know. It’s expensive, but the knowledge you gained from it, I think, just keeps not only yourself safe as you can be on the river but everybody else around you. And it teaches you things like wading correctly, you know, throw bag techniques, if you wrap a boat, or how to unpin a raft that’s wrapped around a rock potentially, techniques for helping people who are like in a foot entrapment situation, which isn’t great, swimming out to people, how to swim in whitewater, or try to swim in Whitewater, how to, if you can’t get away from a strainer, what to do if you are coming upon logs and sticks in the water. I will say my swiftwater class kind of terrified me because it just made me hyper aware of everything that could go wrong and then what I would possibly have to do to help somebody. But yeah, super intense class physically and mentally. And, yeah, it taught me a lot. But I do feel like I would be able to help in a rescue situation instead of just being some random person who’s like just panicking and being like, "I don’t know what to do!" So, that feels good. But I would probably still panic to a certain degree.

**Inmn ** 33:52
That makes sense, because the principle of any kind of first aid or rescue is, "Don’t become another patient." 

**Blix ** 34:02

**Inmn ** 34:03
And so, if you’re not trained to rescue someone from one of those situations,  it might be just more dangerous to try to rescue them.

**Blix ** 34:13
Yeah. And it’s frustrating. It makes me think, like, I take a lot of families down the river and there’s, you know, small kids. And, parents always make the comment, "Well, if my kid goes in, I’m gonna jump in after them," which is, you know, then me as a guide, I have to figure out in that scenario, possibly, "Am I saving the parent or the kid?" 

**Inmn ** 34:14

**Blix ** 34:14
If I can. Obviously, I want to try to save both but…and I always tell parents, "Hey, if you’re not trained in swiftwater rescue, I would not recommend jumping out of my raft to help your kid. You’re more help to me in this raft than you are in the water trying to help your child."

**Inmn ** 35:02
Yeah. Do you ever just tell them bluntly, "If you do that, then I will be in a situation where I have to choose between which one of you to save."

**Blix ** 35:11
Yeah, no. Yeah, I do tell them that if they’re being very serious about it and I also try to remind folks that untrained first responders have a very high mortality rate. Which, it’s like, you know, I don’t understand because I don’t have children, but I’ve seen people I care about swimming in rapids and of course I want to help them but jumping into whitewater is never a good solution. But yeah, I do tell them, "You’re gonna make me have a really hard decision to save you or your child, possibly." So. Yeah, it just makes it more complicated.

**Inmn ** 36:02
To switch gears a little bit, you know, away from all the grim horror… 

**Blix ** 36:07

**Inmn ** 36:08
…And into some more but differently contextualized grim horror. So, one of the big reasons I wanted to have someone on to talk about packrafting is that we have a lot of…I think knowing different ways to travel is incredibly important and, you know, coupled with my fear of water but also my fascination with water and boat travel, is when I saw "Fellowship of the Ring" when I was ten all I could think about was boat travel, boat travel, boat travel.

**Blix ** 36:49
As one does when they watch that movie, more so than anything else in that movie. [Laughing]

**Inmn ** 36:53
Yeah, they really…They really made a fun choice…or Tolkein when writing that and they’re like, "And then they got on boats," and it’s like holy crap. Incredible. How do I get a boat?

**Blix ** 37:05
How do I get a boat that looks that cool? 

**Inmn ** 37:09
How do I get a boat that looks that cool? And, you know, I feel like the boats that they have in that book are, they’re made by elves, and so they’re kind of packraftish in that they’re abnormally light. 

**Blix ** 37:24

**Inmn ** 37:25
And so they like do–I’m going to use a fun word that I just learned, I think–portage. 

**Blix ** 37:30

**Inmn ** 37:31
They get the points where they’re like, "Yeah, that’s a waterfall. I guess we’re gonna pick up the boat and carry it around."

**Blix ** 37:37
Yeah. And it’s a super light elf boat, so it weighs nothing. I’m sure that one person could carry it, knowing the elves.

**Inmn ** 37:43
Yeah. But, the part that was really interesting to me, too, is the reasons why they took to the river and why I’m interested in learning about packrafting, which is, you know, the big reason that they did that was to sneak past the orcs ,which…or the enemy who had all the roads watched, they had the woods patrolled, and they were suddenly in the situation where they were like, "Well, we got to get there somehow."  And so, they took to the river. And so, the thing that I…The piece that I want to bring into the context now is from a situation of preparedness, whether that’s preparing for road closures due to the malicious setting of checkpoints or the road is destroyed due to some other kind of disaster…You know, these disasters could be that a right-wing militia has taken over your state, and you’re trying to leave that state right, to a more environmentally related disaster has destroyed some kind of key infrastructure, and you are looking for an alternative means to get somewhere. And yeah, I’m curious…I’m wondering if you have ever thought about this and if you have any opinions if…would packrafting help you? Could packrafting be a useful thing in your preparedness kit?

**Blix ** 39:18
Yeah, I’ve definitely thought about this. I think it…Well, it depends. I think in Arizona, we don’t have a ton of rivers that we could–and they all for the most part are like…you know, there is an endpoint. And they are going literally…Like, once you’re on the river, you are stuck going that way. I do think because of…Getting to the entry point–I’m just thinking of the Salt river because it’s the river that we have here. Also, you could do the Grand Canyon, but that’s really intense…

**Inmn ** 39:59
And like maybe our context out here in the west in Arizona is like…It’s not specifically what I’m thinking of.

**Blix ** 40:06
Yeah, just in general.

**Inmn ** 40:07
Where, there’s obviously other places with much more dense and spread out waterways. 

**Blix ** 40:13
Yeah. I think it would be a very quick and efficient way to travel if you had a specific place you’re going to along that route because you’re not encumbered by like…Like, if people are backpacking or biking, you can’t just start cutting…Like, backpacking you could cut right into a forest. But, if I was on a bike, I couldn’t just turn my bike off the road and just start riding through a forest. Like, that would be super slow. I’d probably be walking my bike a lot. Whereas with river travel, you can go–I think it’s, again, river dependent on the speed of the water and a lot of that stuff…But, I don’t imagine that people would be patrolling waterways the way they would do with roads. The only thing I think about is if you’re on a river anywhere, you’d have to think about when I need to exit before I get to go past a town or go under a bridge, because I think bridges would be huge points where people would post up at, or entry points into a certain area. So, you’d have to think about when I would need to get off to avoid those places. And then how would I get back onto the river? Can I get back onto it? Is there an access point? I’d be thinking about, you know, are their dams on the way? But yeah, honestly, if I could find a way to get onto the Salt River, I would try to post up in there for a while. Especially during the initial fallout. Because I think, if I can anticipate that and get to the river, I could stay in there with enough food in my packraft to be there for maybe two or three weeks because I have unlimited water for the most part, if the Salt’s flowing, but it’s a very steep narrow canyon that people can’t access very well. But, I do wonder if other people would have the same idea with like, "There’s water there. And it’s hard to get to."

**Inmn ** 40:14
Yeah, like, that’s the interesting thing about it is it provides these weird little–not like short cuts–but these fairly easy routes through a lot of places that could otherwise be hard to access, but you’re also then stuck on it. So yeah, it seems like a double-edge sword.

**Blix ** 42:16
It is. And I think, especially with really remote rivers, like even the rivers that I guide on, there’s pretty much one way to get in, and then you’re in a canyon for a really long time, and there’s one way to get out. And like there’s a few evacuation points here and there that we’ve used–they’re not great to hike out of–but, I would worry that those sites would also be…Like, would people think to have guards there or set up there to catch people coming down the river? You know? Like, possibly. You know, who knows? I also just…I don’t think like…Like, when I think right-wing militia, I feel like they all have jet boats. So, they’re not going to be thinking about these little streams and stuff that you can take a packraft on.

**Inmn ** 43:37
Yeah, and there’s so many weird small water arrays. You know, not here in Arizona, but…

**Blix ** 43:41
Right. Well, I’m just thinking like Minnesota, there’s tons of creeks and rivers and lakes and there’s islands in the lakes that are…Like, think places you can get to that you could like…If it’s only accessible via water, you could have stashes there that other people couldn’t get to.

**Inmn ** 44:02
Yeah. So, a weird dream that I had as a 20 year old oogle. 

**Blix ** 44:10
Yes. Perfect. [Laughing]

**Inmn ** 44:15
Was to set up funny little like–I didn’t realize that I was thinking about this like being a prepper–I was like, "I want to set up all these like little caches. Like, I want to build these weird sheds with bikes and little like inflatable rafts and food stores underneath them. And so you could just, you know, ride trains or whatever and just end up at the weird little safe house, bunker ,like whatever, cache. I got weirdly obsessed with it. I wish that I had been cool enough to have actually done it, but I absolutely did not. Only fantasized about it. 

**Blix ** 44:54
No, I think…I do think it’s a great option. I don’t think it’s the end-all thing that you should completely stick to. I think it should be like a multimodal thing. I think, honestly, backpacking and packrafting is like the best combination. Because, I think about with just backpacking, like what if there is a river you need to cross? Or, a body of water that you have to cross and you don’t want to swim with a huge backpack? I don’t know. I just…And I don’t think people…Like, they’re gonna be traveling by road, bikes, cars, like I don’t think packrafts are well known enough, currently, that people would be looking for crafts in water, especially in smaller waterways.

**Inmn ** 44:54
Yeah, yeah. And I feel like that is exactly what the Fellowship of the Ring thought.

**Blix ** 45:50
Yes. Yes. I also think…One thing is like, what if the orcs just went to the river edge? They could just pick them off. Like they’re moving fast, but I also think you could shoot arrows at them?

**Inmn ** 46:09
So, they did at some point. They only traveled at night to make it harder for them to shoot at them.

**Blix ** 46:14
Yeah, Right. Right. No, it’s okay.

**Inmn ** 46:17
But, you know, we do have this dissimilar…We’re not on an equal playing field with like bows and arrows in the dark vs the kind of technology that people have access to now with guns and things like that. That would be my first thing is like, if I was going down a major waterway in a canyon, like I would probably not choose this as a way to escape a militia. Like, you’re on a canyon wall with a long range gun…

**Blix ** 46:47
Yeah, for sure.

**Inmn ** 46:48
…And I’m a tiny slow moving object out in the open…

**Blix ** 46:51
Right. No, It’s something that I also think about where it would be so easy to just put yourself in a really bad spot if you chose the wrong waterway to go on. Like, I would never be like, "I would use a packraft to travel the Mississippi in those types of times," because I think people would just be near them. I do think though, like, hard to access canyons are still…Like, if you needed to just lay low for a while, would be the place to go. Because, I think the amount of effort it would take to post up on a canyon edge in some of those places is astronomical. Like, no one, I feel like, is going to go–unless you’re someone who was really important for people to get to or–like, no one’s going to put in that effort, especially in the desert with water being so scarce and like…Yeah.

**Inmn ** 46:52
Yeah, Always fun to think about these, you know…Like, "fun." ["Fun," said in a dry sarcastic and questioning way] These terror fantasies that we might be encountered with in the next decade or…currently of far-right violence and having to figure out creative ways to escape it. But, also always want to think about more environmentally related disasters. Like I think…It’s like there’s things that I…I get really scared here in the desert. Like, one of the big things that I am scared of is getting physically trapped here if there’s like gas and energy crisis.

**Blix ** 48:33
Oh, right. Yes. Yeah.

**Inmn ** 48:34
Figuring out alternative ways to leave–which like, packrafting is not the solution to do that–but thinking about in other places, like, you know, if we’re not expecting…like, if our main threat model isn’t far-right violence, could packrafting or river travel in general–and maybe we’re graduating to the larger raft at this point–could river travel be a helpful thing during other kinds of disasters?

**Blix ** 49:06
I think, well, I think of forest fires, like escaping to a body of water or a canyon is a great way to try to mitigate being trapped in a forest that’s literally on fire. Because a lot…hopefully nothing’s going to catch on fire in the water. That’d be wild. 

**Inmn ** 49:06
Stranger things have happened.

**Blix ** 49:06
Yeah, I know. So yeah, I think as a means to escape forest fires is great. I think the one thing I think about, especially here in the West, is where our water is going to go. And as someone who guides on a tributary to the Grand Canyon, and the Grand Canyon obviously feeding into Lake Powell and Glenn Canyon and all that stuff, people are constantly talking about water and water rights. And, you know, my fear is that we’re…People are going to start hoarding. And by people, I mean, companies and government, they’re going to hoard water in these giant reservoirs. And, they’re not going to release any to fill up canyons and river beds because it’s just going to be such a critical resource. And my thought is that when it gets to that point, they are going to shut off the reservoirs from releasing water and they are just going to keep all of it. 

**Inmn ** 49:44
Oh no.

**Blix ** 50:18
And, I don’t know that river travel will be feasible in the West, except if it’s on an undammed river, which there’s only…I think the Yampa River, which is a river I guide on, is the last undammed tributary to the Grand Canyon. It is like one of the last wild rivers, which is super susceptible to floods. So, that’s another disaster. Whereas with climate change, we’re getting these more extreme…Like, they had almost record breaking snowfall in Colorado in the area that feeds into this river. So, the river was flowing at this…It was fine at like 22,000 CFS, which is cubic feet per second. And the way I describe this to people, it’s like if I threw a rope from one riverbank to the other, and every second 22,000 basketball sized amounts of water is flowing by. 

**Inmn ** 51:35

**Blix ** 51:35
Or you could say baby-sized. 22,000 babies are floating by every second. So, it’s a ton of water, which being on a river that has that…And so it can be up to, you know, I think the highest flow the Yampa has ever been is like 30,000, which is…I can’t even fathom how scary that river would be. But, it can go all the way down to no flow at all. So like, if you can’t…if people take out river gauges there’s no way of knowing what the flows are going to be for rivers. You would have to show up there with your watercraft and be like, "Well, I hope there’s water for me to escape," which I think river travel in the east or a place where there’s more water is a better solution than river travel out here in the West. But, as far as natural disasters go and things that could happen, like, if you’re trying to escape somewhere due to that, I think we’re in a pretty not great place here. Like, the only river I can think of would be going down the Grand. Which is really big water. It ends in…you know, like…You know, like, it’s so dependent on…and especially like what if they blow up dams? What if they blow up the reservoirs? Which, what if you’re camped along that canyon and someone upstream blows up the reservoir? This is again, all things I’ve thought about, where it’s like, you’re gonna get washed away.

**Inmn ** 53:11
Yeah, very true. They did just do that in Ukraine. Russia blew up the largest reservoir in Europe.

**Blix ** 53:20
Oh, wait. Yes. Yeah, I did see that. Yep. So that’s something…I mean, it’s something I think about where I think people would blow that up, especially if people downstream needed water.

**Inmn ** 53:34
Yeah. Yeah.

**Blix ** 53:38
Sorry this is…[Both making sounds about how grim this all is] But…I know…But, I also think the river lends itself to…You know, like, there’s fish. You can eat fish, you can…There’s lots of food and really fertile soil that can grow along rivers. So, if you had to post up and figure it out, like, I would want to be close to a body of water.

**Inmn ** 54:03
Thank you for bringing it back to hope and why this could be helpful.

**Blix ** 54:05
Yeah, right. And I think a thing with river stuff as well, and why I love it so much, is it’s not an activity that you necessarily want to do alone. In fact, I would like recommend that no one do any river activity alone. But like, you want to be with a community of people on the water, like setting up safety, and sending someone downstream to check that there’s no river hazards, and then like having people come through, and you’re working as a team constantly. And, you can have people…Like, if someone is injured, someone else could take more gear and like it’s…You can carry more things in a pack raft than you could on your back because like–I mean, eventually I think you’d have to carry them on your back–but the water is going to help you with that weight. Or, you can even pull another empty packraft behind you with more gear. Yeah, I think I would very much want to be close to a body or water or a river of some kind.

**Inmn ** 54:07
Cool. Um, I think I…One of my last questions is–I’m expecting the answer to be grim again [Blix makes a disappointing groan]–but I’m curious as someone who like works on waterways in the West, how are they? What are they like with climate change?

**Blix ** 55:26
Oh, yeah. River or the canyons or the water itself?

**Inmn ** 55:33
Everything. Yeah, water and canyons in the West. Yeah, I’m terrified to hear the answer.

**Blix ** 55:42
So, I think I notice…Like, when they had to fill up Glen Canyon, I think it was last year, they did a big dam release from the Flaming Gorge dam, which is up river where I guide. So, I’m kind of hyper aware of when shit is bad downstream because they have to do these big releases. But I know this year was a really good year for rivers, especially the ones I guide on, because of the large snowfall that they got in Colorado. Like, we had really high nice water forever. The rivers were all really healthy. But, I think I’ve…Two years ago I took a group of politicians from Utah down the river. They were like Congress people. Because my company did it. I wasn’t like, "I want to take these people…" No, I would never be like, "I want to take these people down the river." But< the point of it was to show these–they were all men–to show these men that the rivers were worth saving, and not like damming up, not drilling for oil and everything in this area. And the moment we got back in the vans to shuttle back, they started talking about canyons they had seen to dam up along the route we had gone on. 

**Inmn ** 57:04
Oh my god. 

**Blix ** 57:07
But, I think it’s because all the water that I guide on is already owned by somebody downstream.

**Inmn ** 57:18
Okay, like, “owned by” because it gets used?

**Blix ** 57:21
Yes. Like, the Green River gives water to 33 million people. But, it’s bizarre to think about water as being something that’s owned?

**Inmn ** 57:40
I thought it was like that one thing that wasn’t for a while.

**Blix ** 57:43
Same. No, it’s coming to light that it has been. Yeah. But, we mention that to a lot of people we take down the river that all this water belongs to somebody else. Like, this is not ours. This is not like our collective water.

**Inmn ** 58:00
Yeah. It’s not here for our collective survival.

**Blix ** 58:03
Yeah, no, it’s for somebody downstream. Which, I mean, they need water too. But I think it’s…honestly the rivers I guide on–and maybe this is again is a hot take–but I am not hopeful that they will flow within the next 10 years. I think as water rights and like water wars become more prevalent, I think states are going to start withholding. Like, I think Flaming Gorge is mostly in Wyoming and they could decide to just not–I think it would have a chain reaction if they decided to not leave water let water out. Because all the farms downstream would die. Blah, blah, blah. People would be without that. But um, yeah. But, I’m also, with climate change, it was odd. Like, the first year I worked there, there was no water, there was hardly any water coming down the river. It was super low. Our boats were getting stuck. And I just became hyper aware of how fucked stuff was for some reason. But then this year was so good for water that I was like, "Oh, maybe it won’t be so bad." But then I keep…You know, like I think it really…Who’s to say? If they dam up more rivers, which I think they might start, then I think that’s going to change the game a lot for river travel and it’s going to be really dependent on how much water we have access to.

**Inmn ** 58:03
Yeah, yeah. Which, that’s one of the big key problems is not necessarily there being lack of water, but rather that water is being mismanaged or hoarded.

**Blix ** 59:46
Yeah, I think it’s a combination of all of that. And where I guide it’s desert, but then the valley after the canyon is all alfalfa fields, which is a really water intensive crop.  So then and I…Like, they flood their fields. And it’s just like this disconnect of this is not like an infinite resource. And, it’s interesting to me that that is this…Yeah, there’s a whole lot to unpack with water rights and water usage. And, I think that could even trickle to out East. You know, because who’s to say that they won’t suffer droughts and experience creeks and rivers drying up? But…I know that is kind of a grim answer. But…

**Inmn ** 59:47
The name of the show is Live Like the World is Dying. 

**Blix ** 1:00:46

**Inmn ** 1:00:47
Okay. Well, that’s about all the time that we have for today. Is there? Is there anything else? Is there anything that I didn’t ask you that I should have asked you or that you would really love to bring into the conversation? Or have any last words of hope for the river? Or just like why…Is packrafting fun? Is it just fun?

**Blix ** 1:01:13
It is fun. Yeah, I really want to encourage anyone who’s curious about going on rivers or river travel, I love it. Because, I think I mentioned, it’s such a community oriented activity versus backpacking and bike packing and other stuff I do that’s very, "You’re the individual out there fending for yourself," for river stuff I really love because you’re always working as a team. You’re always trying to keep everybody safe. You learn a lot about yourself. Learning to read rivers, I think, is like a superhero skill. Like, I feel like a tracker. Like, I feel like Aragorn, like, "Oh, I can read this like little miniscule thing that maybe other people missed. And I know…" Like, it’s a really cool thing to look at a river and being able to tell what is causing certain waves or currents. Understanding that, I think is…Even if you’re just someone who has to cross a river every now then, whether you’re backpacking or bikepacking, like being able to figure out the safest place to cross is an important skill to have. But, river river travel and rafting and all that is super fun. Yeah, I would love to have more friends who do river stuff. So yeah.

**Inmn ** 1:01:22
Cool. Well, thanks so much for coming on. And good luck on the river.

**Blix ** 1:02:38
Thank you so much.

**Inmn ** 1:02:43
Thanks so much for listening. If you enjoyed the show then go packrafting with your bike and then please tell me about it or invite me along to live out my "Lord of the Rings" fantasies. Or, you can just tell people about the show. You can support this podcast by telling people about it. You can support the show by talking about it on social media, by rating, and reviewing, and doing whatever the nameless algorithm calls for. And, you can support us on Patreon at Our Patreon helps pay for things like transcriptions or our lovely audio editor, Bursts, as well as going to support our publisher, Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness is the publisher of this podcast and a few other podcasts, including my other show Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. I’m trying to see how many times I can say the name of the project at one time. But, that is a monthly podcast of anarchists literature. And then there’s the Anarcho Geek Power Hour, which is a good podcast for people who love movies and hate cops. And, we would like to shout out some of our patrons in particular. Thank you so much. Perceval, Buck, Jacob, Catgut, Marm, Carson, Lord Harken, Trixter, Princess Miranda, BenBen, anonymous, Funder, Janice & Odell, Aly, paparouna, Milica, Boise Mutual Aid, theo, Hunter, S.J., Paige, Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea, Staro, Jenipher, Kirk, Chris, Michaiah, and Hoss the Dog. Thank you so much. We could seriously not do any of this without y’all. And I hope that everyone is doing as well as they can with everything that’s going on and we will talk to you soon.

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S1E88 – Woven Ends on Death & Dying pt. II

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Inmn is rejoined by Wōen and Roxanne from the Woven Ends Collective to talk about death, dying, and the work of death doulas.

Host Info

Inmn can be found on Instagram @shadowtail.artificery.

Publisher Info

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


Live Like the World is Dying: Woven Ends on Death & Dying pt. II

Inmn 00:15
Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m your host today again Inmn Neruin and I use they/them pronouns. We’re back again this week to finish up our chat with Wōen and Roxy from the Woven Ends Collective to talk about death and dying. I’m not sure exactly where the episode got cut in half, but today we’re probably going to hear a lot more about caring for people who are dying and the work of a death doula. Like last week, we’re talking about some heavy stuff but in the spirit of building more resilient communities that can prepare for the end times together in all ways. And again, we hope that conversations like this can help shift how people talk about death and dying. And, we don’t want to bring this stuff up to either romanticize death or to incite fear of death. It’s just going to happen. And I know I would like for my circles to have all the resources that they need when I die. And oh please, god, don’t embalm me. I really, really, really want to rot. Does this count as a power of attorney? As we learned last week, no, it does not. Content warning again. At some point we talked about the idea of choosing to die from the perspective of being terminally ill. But before we go into it, we are a proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchist podcasts and here’s a jingle from another show on that network. Doo doo doo doo doo [Singing the words like a melody]

Molotov Now 01:48
Yeah, welcome to Molotov Now, a podcast about taking action.

Molotov Now 01:59
In Molotov Now, we analyze and discuss news articles and stories of resistance from around the globe and connect them to our struggles here at home in Aberdeen, Washington.

Molotov Now 02:09
In the spirit of building solidarity between the rural and the urban, we hope to inspire direct action in the face of oppression and to light a fire to find each other in the darkness.

Inmn 02:29
So what is kind of the pathway from like, say that I die tomorrow–I die in a hospital–like what is the pathway between like, I die in a hospital and my friends bury me in our home cemetery? Like, how does the possession of my remains work? Like, in Little Miss Sunshine, are people gonna have to pay to get my corpse? Like, can they get my corpse? Like, how does that work?

Wōen 03:04
Yeah, so you don’t…you know, whoever is the designated person, so either the next of kin legally or the legally designated healthcare power of attorney who was also your power of attorney over your disposition, they will have the rights to your body, and you do not have to…If you die at a hospital, you’re not going to have to pay to have the body released to you. What normally happens is the hospital will give a family a list of funeral homes, and then from there you’d call the funeral home, then the funeral home will do all the transportation. And then, you often won’t even see that exchange from the hospital to the funeral home. You’d go to the funeral home and make arrangements and go from there. But, as the person with the rights, you can do all of that yourself. You can go pick them up and drive them to where they need to be. It’s–and this is where like educating around things like bodily care and home funerals is really important–because there are logistical things you need to think about with transportation and caring for the body at home. And so, it can be a little daunting to do on your own, but, you know, if there’s a lot of people supporting you, it’s actually not very hard. Like, the intimidation factor is the hardest part. And, you know, having a vehicle that can get you home and a space where you can do the burial, those are really the next parts. And we all kind of know inherently how to do these rituals. Like once you enter into that space, it’s really beautiful like how people just like fall into these different roles that they feel really confident in. And, yeah. So I would say, you know, if you’re not going on that normal mode from hospital to funeral home to cemetery, like having a lot of people involved to care for the process is…Yeah, it’s very doable and beautiful.

Inmn 05:52
Cool. Will–this is a weird logistical question, but I feel like this is kind of, you know, what we’re here for–like, say, if I die, and I die in a hospital and like, say my family, chosen family, support network, which, you know, whoever it is, and we’re trying to do like a home burial and they’re not ready to, you know, take possession of my body, like will the hospital hold on to it for a little while? In like a refrigerator? Like, what if they’re not ready for it? What if they like…you know, obviously, I just died. Maybe they need a week to deal with it. But, they don’t want me embalmed and want to take possession of my remains.

Wōen 06:54
I can’t say the exact timeline, I think it’s probably a different state by state, but there is a limit on how long a person can stay at a hospital morgue. So that’s a good thing to know where you are. But, another good thing to know is that often you can work with funeral homes to just do transportation or cold storage to give you time. And so I think that would be the best pathway is like, "Okay, we’re not ready. Let’s call a funeral home and just get them to pick our person up and put them in cold storage. And that will give us time to breathe and figure out what we need to do. And then from there, like you can ask them to, you know, transport them to where they need to go or you can pick them up from the funeral home. You can chip away at what the funeral home is offering. And some, you know, sometimes it’ll be met with a little resistance. But like, you can have people tasked with advocating, and having more people to negotiate with different parts of the process is really helpful.

Inmn 08:18
Yeah, cool. That is good to know. So I feel like we keep going back to this power of attorney. If I get a medical power of attorney, does that extend to my remains? Like does who has my medical power of attorney also have the rights to the…to my disposition, or?

Wōen 08:50
Yeah, the answer is yes. And, it’s important to get a good Advanced Directive. Some Advanced Directives don’t have a section for disposition and it’s important to get one that does. Because if it doesn’t, then that is a situation where there could be like…Yeah, where if it’s contested on who has rights, the advance directive could fall short. So, knowing that your Advanced Directive has that part, that section, in it is really important. Not all do and it sucks. So, figuring out that you have the right kind of Advanced Directive, and a lot of them do, but some of the popular ones–like the Five Wishes, which is really popular–it doesn’t have that section in there. You can write it in yourself. But, if you’re doing it and don’t have guidance and have never done it before, that part can be missed. And then yeah. And then you could lose that right if it gets contested or there’s a situation. Yeah.

Inmn 10:18
It’s so weird that I think that this is like so–and maybe this is part of it is that in my head all of these decisions are these weird legal red tape or I’m like…I’m surprised to hear and, you know, grateful to hear that my friends could just get my body and do whatever…like, do what–not whatever they want with it…Like, hopefully do what I want them to do. [Everyone laughing] But, it’s dispelling this myth that I have died and the State owns me, that the State owns my body and the State determines what happens to it. Like, I had this question for y’all where I was like, "Okay, but how do I get my…like…How do I get the name that I go by, and that people know me in the world by, on my tombstone instead of my legal name?" And it’s like…it’s…because in my head the Social Security Administration is who sends the form to the stone carver to make that and I’m like, "Why do I have these these weird myths in my head about, like, who owns my body?"

Wōen 11:40
I mean, because we live in…Like, when we’re, you know, quote unquote, "healthy," we’re dealing with that every day. Like people owning our time. You know, the Capitalist…Yeah, the Capitalist greed has infected all parts of our body. Yeah, it’s really easy to assume that it will affect us after death too. Yeah. And on your note about your stone, like a headstone, yeah, you can put whatever you want on it, honestly. Like, it’s up to you and the stone carver and the cemetery. There’s no law or regulation around that. It’s whoever has the rights of disposition.

Inmn 12:35
Yeah, yeah. And I know, Wōen, that you have to go in a second, so I just have this one last question. And, you know, maybe this is more of a Roxy question or…I don’t know. So, I can have a home burial. Can I? Can I die at home? Are there complications to me–like legal complications for my friends–to like…Say, I’m having some kind of medical emergency, and my friends know in my power of attorney that I don’t want anything done, that there are interventions that are…like that I’ve like excluded, like CPR or anything, and I’m in a situation where I need CPR. If they watch me die, is that legally complicated for them?

Roxanne 13:30
No, actually. Well, I mean, it could be in the way that there would have to be a lot of proving different things. But it’s not illegal to die at home. It’s also not illegal to choose death. So maybe slight content warning, you know, it’s not illegal to choose to die. And, you don’t put other people at risk for any kind of weird legal things for being present when, for example, if someone chose to die and you were there, that’s not a legal issue.

Wōen 14:20
Yeah, yeah. Just to, you know, be mindful that if there isn’t a doctor involved or, you know, ongoing palliative care, like hospice, it’s considered to be unexpected in a way. So, whenever, like, say you die at home, whoever finds you or that’s there, they need to call emergency services, EMS, and usually, you know, you can tell them to come quietly with their lights off, but they’ll need to come. And if there isn’t a clear, you know, reason or like you can’t, you know…Often the medical examiner, or always the medical examiner, will need to be there if there isn’t a doctor involved. And then that often means that police can be there too. So it’s, you know, if you have the choice to plan on that, just everyone involved, you know, in planning, like create a complete safety plan around that. Because, that will be the response that EMS will need to come and sometimes the police too.

Roxanne 15:53
And the situation really varies. Like in Washington State, I volunteer doing medical aid and dying support. So I go and sit with people who have a terminal diagnosis that have been given six or less months left to live and they ingest a medication that ends their life. So like in those situations, you know, doctors have signed off on it. People know. But, folks are absolutely dying at home. And, we have loose terms around what "home" is in that case. But yeah, and in those situations, for example, maybe a patient did have hospice, we’ll call hospice. Otherwise, you know, we’ll call the medical examiners or you like…You have to notify someone. But yeah, dying at home–and honestly, I know that this can also be like an issue of resources, and this could be a complicating statement–but I feel like if it is possible, and you feel safe to die at home, and the people that are in your home feel safe with you dying at home, that to me, that is a really ideal scenario and is a really comfortable and safe and nice place to no longer have to exist in.

Inmn 17:32
Yeah, yeah. Do you have to go, Wōen?

Wōen 17:35
I do. Thank you so much.

Inmn 17:38
Yeah. If there’s any kind of last things that you want to say before you go or like anything you want to plug…But also, we didn’t really get into this as much and I would love to have you back on to talk about this, but would love to at some point have you back on to talk more about grief and like mourning. If that’s something that you want to talk about. Not now but at a later situation.

Wōen 18:09
Totally. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I think we both would have a really awesome perspective on that. Probably different. It’s all different. So. Yeah, that’d be sweet.

Inmn 18:27
Yeah. Great. Great. Well, thanks so much for coming on.

Roxanne 18:31
Yeah, yeah. Hope you have a beautiful day and that it’s not too hot. See you.

Inmn 18:41
So I wanted to kind of double back on this question that came up before and it’s…Yeah, I guess that it’s a little unrelated to this, but we keep going back to the medical power of attorney. I feel like this is like the golden point of the episode is get a power of attorney.

Inmn 19:08
And does my hospital debt also pass on to my power of attorney or does that? How does hospital debt work? Like, if I die and there are unpaid hospital bills like what happens? Where does that go?

Roxanne 19:08

Roxanne 19:44
Yeah, that’s a great question. I don’t fully have the answer to that. It wouldn’t just go to someone because they’re your power of attorney. That would be more like the person who has control of your assets. So, yeah, in those scenarios, the person who has financial control would be the one that would then, you know, is supposed to settle up. But I, honestly, that’s not my powerhouse. So I’m not totally sure. Yeah. Yeah, I don’t have the answer to that. I’m so sorry. Oh,

Inmn 20:46
No worries. You know, I’m here to…I love bringing up questions even if it, even if there’s no clear answers to them

Inmn 20:55
I was thinking of the situation where, you know, I do love my family. I don’t think I want them controlling my remains, which is…I don’t think my family listens to the show. So, hopefully, they didn’t hear that. But, let’s say I, you know, if I, you know, if I hated my family, then, I’m imagining this situation where I’ve given my medical power of attorney and the rights to my disposition to, you know, my chosen family. And then…but, financially that my assets are still tied to my next of kin. So, I could give all the good parts to my friends and then shirk that debt off on my piece of shit family. Which, you know, that’s a hypothetical. I love my family. All my families.

Roxanne 20:55

Roxanne 21:57
Yeah, that’s a spicy…That’s a spicy suggestion/question. I like it.

Inmn 22:05
Yeah. Or, I don’t know. It makes me think about like, I had a friend who–this was years and years ago–and I think we were all 22 or something, and they were like, "Oh, I have to go sign these weird documents today." And I was like, "Oh, why?" And they’re like, "Oh, my friend is making me the trustee for their life insurance policy." And I was like, "Oh, a 22 year old is getting a life insurance policy?" And they’re like, "Yeah, So, if this person accidentally dies, like, I will get a million dollars." And I was like, "Yeah, that is…Okay. Yeah. How do we,"–not how do we scam death because that’s not what’s going on–but like, I’m wondering, thinking about how do we set people up for if something does happen to us, that instead of inheriting debt, they’re getting money or something? I don’t know.

Roxanne 23:09
Definitely. And there are people thinking of that. And I think it’s so cool. And yeah, I think that that could be a really great way to resource a community also, you know? Being like, okay, death is inevitable. Some of us are going to die younger than others. As many of us as we possibly can, like, maybe we should be all throwing together and have kind of like a big mass life insurance thing pool where everyone…You know, to make sure everyone can get a policy. And within that you can, you know, ask that those funds go into whatever community project or, you know, or to people that, you know, that could really benefit from that resource. Yeah, I think that that’s really smart. And the cool thing, too, is, you know, obviously, depending on state and depending on the policy, it covers all different kinds of death, including chosen death. And that’s not always true. But, there are many cases in which that is true. You just have to have the policy for a certain amount of years or, you know, there’s circumstances in which that’s also the case, which I think is good to remember.

Inmn 24:41
Yeah. Which it’s like, obviously, I would…I’m gonna put all of, as many resources as I can, into people in my community not dying. But…

Roxanne 24:52

Inmn 24:53
But, we are, you know, like you said, we are all going to die and unfortunately we do live in a rapidly changing world, and a world that has always been, you know, very dangerous for queer people, for trans people, for people of color, for disabled people, for, you know, all of these different kinds of people. And I…It’s like, I never…I just never want…I never want to see a mutual aid or crowdfunding request for extreme funeral expenses, you know? And, because it’s like that…it’s obviously important to be able to mourn someone and celebrate someone in the ways that they want it or in not rushed ways or in ways that aren’t financially ripping people’s lives apart. Yeah, I don’t know. Yeah, just some things to think about.

Roxanne 26:05
Totally. Yeah, definitely.

Inmn 26:09
To switch gears a little bit, you have spent a lot of time hanging out with people while they’re dying, and I’m wondering if you wanted to talk about that a little bit. I feel like I don’t have any super specific questions around that. But, it’s something that I’m…something that I’m very unfamiliar with and wish I–I mean, I don’t wish that people that I was close to were dying–but, you know, I always want tools for navigating those experiences when they do happen.

Roxanne 26:49
Yeah. So I feel like getting to spend time with people in their last few moments is such a special and specific form of intimacy that can’t really be recreated. You know, I feel like death workers tend to–and I’ve also been guilty of this myself–just talk about, like, how beautiful the, you know, this process is and what a gift it is to get to be in the space. And, I believe and agree with all of that. And, I also know that for grieving people, it doesn’t always feel beautiful to watch your loved one…You know, maybe their body looks different than you’re used to. Or, you know, like to watch someone go through this, sort of change, this metamorphosis. doesn’t always feel special and beautiful to people when they’re grieving. So I don’t…I don’t want to negate the heaviness of it. But, I think, you know, in a way, it is really beautiful and it is really special. And, you know, they say that hearing is the last thing to go, so something that I always urge family members, when they’re in the room with someone who seems like, you know, like they can’t interact with you, they’re just breathing and, you know, you can’t really like have much interaction with them, is just to talk to them and tell them the things that either, you know, last words that you wish that you could tell them or I think oftentimes dying people want permission, want permission to die. And, you know, if people can, I really encourage them in those last moments, those last bits, to just like, you know, to release someone from this, from this Earthly existence. And I don’t, you know, I have…I am not going to speak to whether or not we just die, whether or not there’s an afterlife, or, you know, that’s not my wheelhouse, but I do know that it feels so nice to know that someone is letting you know that it’s okay to go. You know? And, that, you know, people are going to be okay. Like what a relief and what a gift that can be to someone. Yeah. And the whole point of all of this, including, you know, the Advanced Directives and having your disposition stuff figured out, all of this is just to set us up to be able to provide the people that we love more time and space to grieve in ways that feel appropriate for them. You know, the more decisions we make for them about how to deal with the fact that we’ve died. That’s just offering up so much space. And then, people get to really be in their process if, you know, if they can. Sometimes it takes people years to grieve. But, you know, as much as we can set them up for success, I think that’s the best case scenario.

Inmn 31:07
Yeah. Yeah. I feel like I know the answer to this, but just to vocalize that as a question, like, is it important for a death doula to be close to the person that they are providing end of life care for? And…Or how would, how would you phrase those words, What terms? What terms would you use?

Roxanne 31:34
I guess I want to make sure that I understand the question. Like, do you mean physically close? Or do you mean, is it important that the death doula be in relation and community with that person?

Inmn 31:50
The latter. Yeah.

Roxanne 31:51
Yeah, definitely not. I think that that is a wonderful scenario. And when that can happen, like, what a beautiful gift and the depths that you can go to together in like figuring out this process is just like, even better. But I think, you know, sometimes people really want someone who’s kind of removed. Because, some of this, sadly, is our transactional decisions. And sometimes it feels a little too close to home or someone can’t be fully honest with someone that they know really well and they want sort of…kind of like a stranger buffer, kind of like why some of us choose therapists, you know? Like, you want this kind of like outside resource that you can reflect and say things that you might not want to say to someone that you really love, you know? I think that it can be a similar thing. So, you know, I think it’s great when it can happen, that it be someone that you’re close to. And I also understand why some people want it to be a stranger. There’s benefits to both.

Inmn 33:25
Yeah. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. It’s…I feel weird to bring this component into it. And I don’t really remember these books. And I’ve also heard that the author is questionable, like a lot of people in the world. But, there was this concept that, you know, I’m half remembering from a book. Have you ever read "Speaker for the Dead?" [Roxanne makes a sound of negation] It’s this book by Orson Scott Card, who…Yeah, I don’t know, maybe there’s questionable things, I don’t know. But it proposed this, you know, this concept of this person who was this speaker for the dead and this person’s role was to go around and facilitate these rituals or these processes around people who had died and, you know, they’re pointedly like, not even necessarily part of that community. And, you know, they’ve maybe never…they’ve probably never interacted with even like the living person. And I, you know, I found that concept super interesting and alluring when I was 12 and reading these books, which is ultimately not really what that book was about, but the concept of a "speaker for the dead" or like…that’s maybe not even necessarily like what a death doula is…It was just super interesting and intriguing to me.

Roxanne 35:09
Yeah. Yeah, that sounds really cool. The thing that I thought of when you said that was just thinking about like feeling cautious around some of that, like as a white person, making sure that you are not walking into communities of color and trying to tell them how to grieve and what a funerary process can look like and things like that. So yeah, I think it’s interesting to think about, like, the outsider piece. And also, yeah. Sounds like that’s not what the book was saying. But that’s what it brought up for me. Just thinking about…Yeah, I know, I keep mentioning how death work and birth work are so similar, but I think both things have historically been, you know, really white washed, and have been given to more privileged communities, you know? Like, many good forms of care are saved for extreme privilege. But, hopefully we’re changing that.

Inmn 36:44
Yeah, yeah, totally. Um, one kind of like, I guess, you know, post-life death mourning celebratory experience–flailing for words–Turns out our culture doesn’t have a lot of words for talking about these things. Maybe that’s part of the problem. Yeah. But like, one thing that I’ve heard about–I’ve never experienced one–that I was always like…that sounds amazing. And, you know, I’m not part of this culture. So, you know, I’m not gonna have one or anything. I just think it’s beautiful, is the idea of second lines, which are a thing in New Orleans. I don’t know if they’re specific to New Orleans. Do you know much about second lines? I feel like I’m bringing up a concept…

Roxanne 37:34
They’re so beautiful. Yeah. I don’t feel like it would be appropriate for me to really explain it, because it’s also not my culture, but I think that it’s such a–I have seen second lines–and I think that it’s such a beautiful and, you know, joyous way for community to come together and mourn and grieve together and dance and scream. And yeah, it’s such a beautiful ritual. That is what I can say about it, is that it’s absolutely such a beautiful ritual. Yeah, and I hope that, you know, we can think of and create more and more beautiful rituals as we go along on ways to both celebrate and grieve at the same time, because those two things really, you know, joy and grief really love each other. We often treat them as opposites, but they are…Because of one, we have the other. And, it’s such a beautiful blend.

Inmn 37:35
Yeah, yeah. I feel like this is getting into a territory that I absolutely want to talk about more, but I also really want to have y’all back on at some point to talk about mourning and grieving and kind of like post-death experiences.

Roxanne 39:12
Would love to do that.

Inmn 39:14
Wonderful. So yeah, I don’t want to get into it too much. But um…Yeah, are there any other kinds of things about kind of like death doulaing…death–being a death doula, that you want to bring into this into this conversation? I’m sorry, I don’t have any…I’m super intrigued by it, but I don’t have any super specific questions.

Roxanne 39:39
Yeah, totally. You know, the thing that I think I would talk more about but I don’t exactly know how to really get it going is to talk about "Death with Dignity," sort of. Like, "Right to Die," stuff, because it is really changing in this country right now. And, it’s really exciting. And, there are definitely aspects of it that are contentious. But, I feel really privileged to be someone that has gotten to experience this pretty extreme form of autonomy and self-direction that I find really inspiring and intense and brave. And, I don’t really know…You know, it’s like my role and capacity as someone who sits with people making these choices isn’t as a death doula. It’s just as a volunteer, a member of a community, who deeply believes and advocates for the fact that people shouldn’t have to die alone. And I think because of this specialization thing that we’ve touched on a few times, people don’t feel confident dying or sitting with people while they die, or, you know, all…pretty much all of the things that we’ve been talking about in this episode. And I think the more that we’re educating each other, the more that we’re talking about these things as a community, asking questions, the more confident we will be in approaching these situations and making autonomous, and educated, and self-directed decisions for ourselves. And, that’s really the point here is autonomy and self-determination. And as a queer, as an anarchist, you know, like, all of the things that that feels like such an important place, that we’re not just trying to figure out the things in our life, but that we’re also figuring out those things in our death.

Inmn 42:22
Do you–God, this is a weird question–but do you have any tips for people who are…who are sitting with people who are dying, or holding space or like caring for people who are dying, who, you know…people who aren’t death doulas? Like say, that person’s friends and loved ones.

Roxanne 42:46
Totally. Like someone sitting with their grandmother, for just an example or something like that, you know, ask questions, if at all possible. If verbal communication is a possibility, I would ask questions. Touch. Touch each other. I feel like that’s such a powerful gift and tool that we can use. You know, I think because we lack the confidence in death and dying, you know, it’s almost like, "Oh, somebody just died, Like, I’m not allowed to touch them," like it becomes a crime scene or something. And that’s not the case. When my father died, I absolutely climbed into bed and just laid next to him for a long time. And, that felt like such an important part of my healing process. And that might not be true for other people, but yeah, I really encourage people to really, as much as they feel comfortable, to be hands on, ask questions, and if it seems like, you know, if this is a consenting situation. You know, I recorded my dad breathing a lot. Just so that way I could have something when I felt like I really needed that, that I could go back to and listen. And yeah, I think…Yeah, asking questions, inviting vulnerability where you have capacity for, and asking for help. If you need help, that’s okay. And I feel like sometimes, you know, sometimes we feel like, "I’m the only one that can handle this." I feel like so often in grief, we really feel like we’re the only ones that have been through a situation. And there might be specifics to what we’re going through that are specific to our individual situation. But, the more and more people you talk to about this, you know, like, most people have lost someone, have been through some kind of stage of grief. And even if we feel alone, we’re not actually alone. And when we find the capacity to open up and let other people into that space of grief with us, you’ll find that there are so many people that can share similar experiences with you. But you know, that’s all when people are ready.

Inmn 45:27
Yeah. Yeah, totally. I like…I’m gonna have a weird moment of vulnerability and honesty with…the world. But, you know, like, I, when I’ve had people who I have been close to die, like, I have noticed that I like…I shut down a little bit. And it’s hard for me to understand how to interact with someone, I think, you know, because of this, like this weird divide that we have around death, this thing where it’s like, "Do we do we talk about it? Do we talk about this person dying? Like, you know, with that person?" And I think this thing that I always wonder is I’m like, "What do people want?" Like that…What have you found people want when they’re dying? When they’re sick? When they have terminal conditions that everyone is aware about? Like? Yeah, what? What do people want? What I imagine they don’t want are these awkward conversations where no one’s really talking about it or people are hyper focusing on it. And like, I get caught in the…Like, where’s the middle ground between those things? And like, personally, I’m like, I don’t know, I can be–not like blunt–but just like super willing to talk about awkward things that are in the room. Yeah, I don’t know. That’s a weird, broad question. But yeah, what do people want when they’re sick? Or?

Roxanne 47:08
Yeah, I think that’s a great question. And obviously, it’s gonna depend person to person. And because of that, I think really just, you know, use your active listening skills and follow their lead. It’s absolutely okay to ask questions. I feel like, in some instances, people really want to talk about what’s going on with them, or the things that they’re scared of, or resolving some aspects of conflict. And sometimes, people want to act like it’s not happening at all, you know? And sometimes…And a part of that is people holding out, you know, some form of hope that at the, you know, at the 11th hour, something’s gonna come in and change their situation. And there’s a lot of different reasons for how engaged people do or don’t want to be. But, I think it’s always okay–You know, people are so worried about saying the wrong thing. And I don’t really think that that’s…I don’t really think that that’s possible. I think that as long as you’re approaching someone with love, and compassion, and you’re not pushing anything, if you get the impression, or someone says that they don’t want to talk about something, let them be the guide and don’t push it. But, I think oftentimes, you know, people might not want to, you know, constantly be harboring on, you know, the terminal cancer that they have or something. So, you can ask them about aspects of their day that brought them joy, you know? It doesn’t have to be–just because someone’s dying, that’s not the end of their life, until they die. So, you know, there’s still a lot of room for joy, and connection, and intimacy that has nothing to do with the inevitability of their situation. And, you know, I think that’s true for for grieving people too, which maybe we’ll touch on in the future, but I feel like when someone has someone close to them that dies, you know, people might not–oftentimes people don’t talk to them about that because they’re worried about, you know, bringing up something that feels hard or, you know, they just don’t–people are scared of not having the right thing to say. And I think that, you know, asking questions and allowing people space to communicate their needs and desires. And, you know, for me, when I’m sitting with patients’ families after they die, one of my favorite questions is to ask them about a story or like to ask them to tell me something that they really loved about that person. And that’s, that can be like a really special moment because people, you know, we all like to brag on our people and bring that softness into the room and give people the opportunity to just really express gratitude and joy around the thing that they’re, that they’re gonna miss. Yeah.

Inmn 50:43
Yeah, yeah. It feels like this isn’t, you know, too much of a surprise, but from everything that you’ve just described, it seems like the best way to interact with people is to continue treating them like a person and having these humble and inhuman interactions in ways that you, you know, in the ways that we hope that we’re interacting with or treating loved ones in all parts of our life already.

Roxanne 51:18

Inmn 51:20
But, it’s like when death is suddenly a factor, when sickness is suddenly a factor, it’s like something changes. And I don’t know, does that, does that feel true? Or, I guess, that’s something I experience, so I guess it’s true. But like, yeah, what do you have to say about that?

Roxanne 51:46
Yeah, I think it can change. And I think that keeping our eyes on how those things are changing, you know, is important. Like, maybe you have a close friend who’s dying. So, obviously it feels like something is changing. But again, like, as we just said, like treating those people like people, asking about their day, you know, the more kind of mundane things, and yeah, I guess, like…I guess what I was thinking is like, questioning, like, you know, potential for internalized ableism around how things are changing, or why they’re changing, and making sure that we aren’t projecting that change on to someone unnecessarily. Because things are changing, all the time, every day, in every situation, for all of us. Whether we’re facing an imminent life ending situation or not. Yeah, maybe that’s not exactly the question that you were asking, but…

Inmn 53:09
Oh, no. Yeah, I think that definitely covers it. I thought of this other thing while you were talking about that that was, I feel like, it’s like, maybe the thing that changes sometimes is like, when someone, when we know that someone is sick or going to die, or likely going to die, or it’s a question in the room, it’s like a–this is not the word that I want to use, but I don’t know what other word to use–It’s suddenly like they are like…God, I really don’t want to use this word. Really gonna try to think of another one. Not like a pariah, but like, it’s like they’re like…It’s like a–I can’t think of another word to use, so I’m just going to use it–and obviously this word has like different contexts–but it’s like almost like an othering experience where like, this person is suddenly just something else. And–or like an alien. That’s also not the word but like…

Roxanne 54:24
Fragile? Is it fragile?

Inmn 54:26
Yeah, maybe fragile?

Roxanne 54:28
Yeah, I think, you know, giving space for the potential of fragility makes sense. But, I think it’s also really important to not treat people like they’re fragile just because they’re dying or just because they’re extremely sick, unless they have signified to you that that is a way that they want be interacted with. You know? I think I’ve definitely heard that a lot, especially from, you know, I was an oncology nurse for a long time. And I feel like I heard that a lot of my oncology patients were just being like, "Yes, I have cancer. Yes, I’m fucking dying. No, I don’t want to be treated like I’m, you know, suddenly incapable of making decisions for myself or like everything is gonna hurt me or…" you know? Like, yeah, they’re the–I think that it is really, you bring up a really good point about the othering aspect, and I think that that’s like, from my understanding, a lot of what disability justice stuff is working on, is trying to shift the narrative of that othering. And, because…

Inmn 56:02
Yeah, because that’s like, that’s a big thing for disability communities in our society is that they kind of get othered in this way or like…

Inmn 56:15
I don’t know, is that…We don’t have a ton of time, but I would love to, if you have anything to say about bringing kind of that lens into this conversation of death, dying, and the conjunction with disability. It could be a larger conversation…Yeah, it could be an entire…

Roxanne 56:15

Roxanne 56:36
It could be its own…That is a very very large conversation. But, I think as far as how we treat each other, just yeah, really following people’s lead and believing them when they say how they do or don’t want to be treated. And that’s true for all forms of living. That’s true for all forms of dying, you know? Just making sure that we’re checking ourselves, not projecting our own sense of urgency on each other, and just letting those people–meaning in this situation, people that are dying–you know, direct how things go. And yeah, there’s really so much that can be said on that topic. And I’m so happy that you touched on it.

Inmn 57:35
Yeah, I feel bad just touching on it. But it’s kind of like where the conversation ended up flowing. But, which…Yeah, I guess. Yeah, I guess what I would just love to say about in this more brief context is that it seems like a lot of things that are applicable to the world of death and dying are things that disabled people have been talking about for a very long time already and like doing a lot of work around. Obviously, they’re not the same things, but they’re, seems like there’s similar things that come up in both of these situations. And yeah, we should do a different other episode about that whole conversation.

Roxanne 58:34
Yeah, there’s so much to be said. And this is a really important thing to talk about. So yeah. Mhmm.

Inmn 58:43
Yeah. Um, with that, we are kind of coming up on the end of our time for this, what turned into a two-parter episode, as much as I would love to make it a three parter episode, I probably can’t talk for another hour. But yeah, obviously, I would love to have you and Wōen, and or like other people from Woven Ends to come back on and like talk about grief and mourning and celebration even. Yeah, and I just want to mention this because it’s a piece–obviously, we could do a whole episode about this too. There’s so many things to talk about. But, so you used to do a workshop about death and dying. And, that’s actually what got me interested in doing this episode is that I went to one of these workshops, you know, years and years and years ago. And, as we’ve been doing this podcast, it’s been this constant question in my mind, is like, "How do we prepare for death as a community?" And you know, maybe we can do an episode in the future that’s just about that. But, there’s this little piece from it that I just want to bring into this conversation that I, you know, probably could have gone in a different spot of the talk. But, obviously, we need to…The important thing is to have conversations as a community about death, about dying, about preparing to die, or preparing to get sick, or preparing to have some large life changing thing happen. And one of the things that that brought up for me was this idea that like, you know, a lot of people, especially queer and trans people, have some amount of separation between their lives and their biological family or the family that raised them, and these worlds can look very different. Like, a lot of us can build these separate worlds where we’re these two different people depending on how out we are to our biological families or families that raised us. And, it brought up this big thing for me where I was like, "Oh, one big conversation that I need to have with my friends and my chosen family is how to talk to the people that raised me and my biological family, like two groups of people that I love, but two groups of people that I have very different and separate relationships with. And, you know, for other people, thinking about things like, does your…if your chosen family and your biological family, if they have to interact, does your biological family or the people that raised you, like, do they know what name you go by? Do they know that you’re queer? Do they know that you’re trans? Do they know that…Like, what gaps in information are there and having conversations with your friends now about like things that they might have to deal with if you get sick or die, in having those conversations with people who might–Like it might be great and civil and wonderful and everything goes really, really well and it’s really joyous. Or, it might be incredibly conflictual and difficult. And, yeah, not really a question. Just a piece that I really wanted to bring it into the conversation.

Roxanne 1:02:43
Yeah, definitely. And like, yeah. I think as much information as you can give your chosen family about how you want those interactions to go, you know. Some people are, you know, out to their community, but aren’t out to their family and would like to remain not out to their family. And, that’s okay. And, I think as a form of respect, you know, people need to use names and pronouns that are consistent with what someone is asking for in those situations. And, again, that is one of the many reasons why these conversations are so important. And again, just to keep plugging Advanced Directives, is why Advanced Directives are so important. And, you know, if we can write down even–if for some reason you don’t feel like you can have those conversations with your family or your community, you know, you can write it down and, and give someone a sealed envelope that’s like, "In case I die, please read this. This is how I want things…This is how I want to be talked about. This is how…" you know, because I believe and really trust at the end of the day that people want to honor you in the ways that you want to be honored and do really want to respect you and make decisions that are good and safe for the individual as well as the community.

Inmn 1:04:33
Yeah. Yeah. Cool. Well, do you have any other last last things to say, anything that we didn’t talk about, any questions that I should have asked you that I didn’t?

Roxanne 1:04:46
I don’t think so. I just want to thank you so much for opening the space. I know that it is really a hard thing for people to talk about. You know, when we talk about death, generally, it’s hard not to think about death, specifically, in our own circumstances. And, dealing with the fact that other people die means that we have to deal with the fact that we’re going to die. And yeah, it just feels really special to be in communication with you about this. And yeah, I just, I feel really grateful that y’all were willing to open the space and this dialogue. And yeah, I just, I really feel like it’s important. And, yeah, special. And I feel so grateful. Thank you so much for this.

Inmn 1:05:46
Yeah, totally. Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure. I love talking about these things. And I’m so glad that there’s people doing so much really amazing work around opening up these spaces and maintaining these spaces. And yeah, yeah. I don’t know. Obviously, the work that you’ve already done to do that has made it so that I want to bring these conversations into this space of community preparedness. So yeah, thank you.

Roxanne 1:06:22

Inmn 1:06:23
Is there anywhere on the internet that you would like to be found or that Woven Ends would like to be found? The answer can be, "No. Don’t find me."

Roxanne 1:06:39
Currently, no for Woven ends, and honestly, no, for me too, I do have an old death doula Instagram account that I used to refer people to, but I don’t really use it. It’s not a good resource tool. So, no.

Inmn 1:06:59
I love it. I love when people can’t be found and shouldn’t be found on the internet.

Roxanne 1:07:05
But if people have dire questions–Gosh, we really should have some kind of email or something. Maybe I can send that to you?

Inmn 1:07:18
Yeah. Yeah, we can put some stuff in the show notes.

Roxanne 1:07:21
Some sort of way for people. Yeah. Because I don’t. Yeah. If people want to, I don’t have a quick like, "Here’s my Twitter handle."

Inmn 1:07:35
Thank God. Yeah. Got it. Yeah, if you have anything, send it to us. We’ll throw it in the show notes. The episode is not going to come out for a couple weeks, probably. Yeah. Cool. Thank you so much for coming on. And we will see you and Wōen back, hopefully soon, to talk more about this.

Roxanne 1:07:58
Definitely. Thank you. Have a good day.

Inmn 1:08:07
Thanks so much for listening. If you enjoyed this podcast, please live like you will die. Because we all will. But more importantly, talk to your community, your families, your friends, your ancestors, about death because having these conversations doesn’t have to be scary and having them now can really make a difference in other’s lives and for our end of lives. You should also tell people about the show, you can support this podcast by telling people about it. You can support this podcast by talking about it on social media, by rating, and reviewing, and doing whatever the nameless algorithm calls for. Feed it like a hungry God. But, if you’d like to support us in other, sillier ways that don’t involve feeding a nameless and mysterious entity, you can support us on Patreon at Our Patreon helps pay for things like transcriptions, our lovely audio editor, Bursts, as well as going to support our publisher Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness is the publisher of this podcast and few other podcasts, including my other show Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness, a monthly podcast for anarchist literature, and the Anarcho Geek Power Hour, which is the podcast for people who love movies and hate cops. And, we would like to shout out a couple of our patrons in particular. Thank you, Carson, Lord Harken, Trixter, Princess Miranda, BenBen, Anonymous, Funder, Jans, Oxalis, Janice & O’dell, Paige, Aly, paparouna, Milica, Boise Mutual Aid, theo, Hunter, Shawn, SJ, Page, Mikki, Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea, Cat J., Staro, Jenipher, Eleanor, Kirk, Sam, Chris, Michaiah, and the eternal Hoss the Dog. We could not do this without y’all and I love how wacky and long this list is getting. I love it so much. Thank you so much. And I hope that everyone is doing as well as they can with everything that’s happening. And I hope that this conversation, I don’t know, gets you talking with your community or just instigates some stuff, some good conversations about something that is weird and scary. Take care, and we’ll talk to you soon

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S1E87 – Woven Ends on Death & Dying Pt. I

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Inmn is joined by Wōen and Roxanne from the Woven Ends Collective to talk about death, dying, death work, and everything from how to determine who gets to make decisions about your end of life, to how to have your remains dealt with in the manor that you would like, to how to bring community collaboration into death. Next week, they continue the conversation, focusing mostly on the work of death doulas.

Host Info

Inmn can be found on Instagram @shadowtail.artificery.

Publisher Info

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


**Live Like the World is Dying: Woven Ends on Death & Dying Part I **

**Inmn ** 00:15
Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m your host for today Inmn Neruin and I use they/them pronouns. Today we’re talking about something that we sort of reference all the time on the show, and that is death, a thing that we should all live like is going to happen someday. Because it is. I wanted to have Wōen and Roxy on to talk about this because I found myself thinking about it more and more as things change evermore rapidly in our world. And, I think it’s cool to talk about because it’s just another form of community preparedness that we can all engage in to make our end of lives easier for ourselves and for the people that we care about, and in general, just demystify the topic as we figure out how to leave this world, whether that pertains to navigating funerary industries, medical industries, legal logistics, medical interventions, the choice to die at home, how to have home burials, how to care for the dying, and how to have these conversations as a community. A content warning, obviously, we’re going to be talking about some heavy stuff, and we approach it with some amount of levity, but we do talk at some point about the idea of choosing to die from the perspective of terminal illness. But before we get into it, we are a proud member of Channel Zero network of anarchists podcasts, and here’s a jingle from another show on that network. Doo doo doo doo doo. [saying these sounds like a song melody]


**Inmn ** 02:43
And we’re back. Thanks, y’all so much for coming on the show with us today, especially to talk about a subject that I feel like is like a little bit more grim than we usually talk about. Or, I guess we kind of always always talk about it, but we never actually talk about it. So yeah, would you like to introduce yourselves with your names, pronouns, and kind of like what you do in the world?

**Wōen ** 03:17
My name is Wōen. I use he/him pronouns. I work in grave care, so burial, and generally any rot-honoring practice that I can help with.

**Roxanne ** 03:41
And my name is Roxanne. I am a nurse and have been doing end of life, and death doula sort of work outside of that, for maybe 15 years or so. Yeah.

**Inmn ** 04:01
Cool. And y’all are part of a collective that kind of specializes in this kind of work. Would y’all want to introduce that now or we could talk about it later?

**Wōen ** 04:17
Yeah, no, we can introduce it now. Our collective is called Woven Ends. We’re more recently becoming more outward facing. We’re a collection of death care practitioners and community members who are interested in helping the community. We are focused on combating the domination and alienation in our world through making our death rites and the care for the dying more autonomous and a lot more intimate.

**Roxanne ** 05:08
And accessible.

**Inmn ** 05:12
Cool. Um yeah, it’s weird how much the State is like intertwined in death. And that’s like not…I feel like that’s not something I ever realized until I realized it and then I was like, "Oh, like can you die without the State being involved?"

**Wōen ** 05:35
Like the bureaucratic storm is also guided by the industry and a lot of the rituals that we have now and the way that death operates is it’s a contrived effort, the funeral industry, to deal with all aspects after death. So, it’s a really troubling, difficult thing that families and loved ones navigate.

**Roxanne ** 05:35

**Roxanne ** 06:14
Yeah, it’s pretty devastating. It’s like Capital will take hold and commodify any and every aspect of our life possible and not even our life but our afterlife as well. Like yeah, it’s hard to believe in true freedom sometimes, but that’s why we’re here fighting for it.

**Inmn ** 06:38
Yeah, I feel like…Whatever, I’m gonna take like a pretty like light hearted and like whimsical tone today because we’re talking about something grim, but I feel like we have these ideas that like, "You know, the State’s got me in life, but at least when I die I’ll be free," and it’s like maybe? I mean, your body won’t be.

**Roxanne ** 07:14
Sadly, no. Eventually Yes but initially, no.

**Inmn ** 07:22
Yeah, I feel like that is a literal nightmare of mine. Could y’all kind of break down like what is death work? Like what is a death doula? What is the Woven Ends collective kind of like do in like a material or emotional way?

**Roxanne ** 07:50
Well, I can speak towards death doula work. What a death doula is, is a little undefined. And there are powers that be that are trying to make it more defined and kind of like more commodified. But basically, a death doula is someone who helps a family or a loved one sort of like go through the process. So that could look like, before someone dies, helping come up with some like legacy project, some things that people want to leave behind, or how someone wants to be remembered. So, that could be like, you know, if a 40 year old who has three kids dies, kind of legacy work you could do with someone in that situation is like, you know, help them record videos for their kids’ future birthdays, you know, stuff like that so that way when their kids get older, like hit those milestones, they can have this video from their parent that has been gone for a while. So yeah, just kind of like, you know, one aspect is focusing on legacy work. Another aspect is just kind of like emotionally helping people with the grieving process, whether that be the person who’s actually passing away or the family sort of like talking through the process of all of that with them. And then, you know, other aspects could be more helping set up funerary services, trying to help work on community aspects of disposition. Yeah, death doula is…It’s sort of that the individual does different things. And I think if someone’s interested in having a death doula, I would really ask questions about what specific services they provide.

**Wōen ** 09:59
Yeah, And I can speak more to like our collective. We definitely, we try to connect the right people to help different community members. So, that could be a death doula or even a grave digger. So, a lot of what we do is like guidance around the whole process. And we definitely want to like expand our scope completely to be able to care for the whole process. But most of what we’ve been doing in the past, and currently, is helping folks with finding burial options that are accessible and hopefully free. And we’ve been able to create a network of free home burial grounds where we live. And it’s been really awesome to be able to provide this for free. And it usually is in tandem with a lot more care going on with death doulas and generally the radial support that happens when you’re trying to create a more autonomous situation.

**Roxanne ** 11:28
I would also say that a part of the sort of intentional death work thing is to really help communities and individuals kind of like shift narratives towards death. We live in a really deathphobic society. And it is a thing that I think…you know, like, even in our introduction, we’re like, "Okay, so this is a really grim topic," but it’s interesting, because it’s one of, you know, aside from being alive, it’s the only other thing that everyone is going to experience, like the one thing that even if you have nothing in common with somebody else, the fact that you’re going to die is a thing that you have in common. And so I feel like there’s a lot of room for connection there. And, a part of the sort of work is to try to like, you know, find connection, find community, and sort of shift the narrative around this very natural and inevitable thing that’s going to happen, and open up room and space for there to be beauty and transition in that instead of just fear. Because I think oftentimes, people don’t actually…They’re not scared to die. They’re scared of being in pain. And those are very different things. So I think, yeah, just like…death workers offer a space for us to really intentionally look at that and say, like, "Okay, you’re feeling scared? What is it that you’re scared of?" You know? And really helping shift that narrative and also hopefully providing a space where nobody has to die alone. You know, sometimes that’s just going to happen, but if at all possible, making sure that we can provide space–unless someone wants to–but they don’t have to die alone.

**Inmn ** 13:32
Yeah, we do live in a really deathphobic society. And I…you know, obviously it’s a sad and hard and difficult thing, but I feel like I have always wished that there…that we as a culture did have different attitudes or different ways that we deal with it, or grieve, or like mourn, or whatever. I don’t know, I’ve just had a couple kind of funny funerary experiences, where I was like, "Are we celebrating this person’s life? Or are we mad at them because they didn’t tell anyone how sick they were?" And that just like…Yeah, just like a lot of funny experiences like that. Whereas, I wish that we were, I wish we had, that we had a different attitude towards this right now because I’m not sure if this attitude is like helping anyone.

**Roxanne ** 14:43
Yeah, definitely. And I think you bring up a good point too, where because of deathphobia but also because of our obsession with what we consider health, sometimes people are so scared to admit that they’re sick because there’s so little support and resource around that. And people don’t want to be, you know, a burden to each other. And instead of being angry at our friends because they wouldn’t tell us how sick they are, it’s a great time to, you know, take a moment and be like, "Okay, why do we live in a world in which someone that I loved very much could not tell me how sick they were? And like, how do I fight that world instead of my friend?"

**Inmn ** 15:37
Yeah, yeah, totally. You mentioned earlier–I just want to like hit on this before we get too far away from it–but there being some effort to make being a death doula more of a defined thing? And I’m–I know, this is subjective–but is that a good thing? Is that a bad thing? Is that a complicated thing?

**Roxanne ** 16:01
I mean, in my personal opinion, I’m not for that. I feel like the way…like I understand and respect people wanting to figure out how to do this work and still…Like, it makes sense to me that people want to do this work in a permanent way in this world that we live in, this society of capitalism, like people need to get paid for their time in order to survive. Like that makes sense to me. But, I think that there can be a kind of predatory nature to it. And these…It’s like the commodification of the death, dying, death doula world is really similar to what happened in the birth community. And I think that’s kind of interesting that the link between the two, because people have been doulaing each other since people were…were born about how to do these things. And, if we lived in communities where we were interacting with birth and death in more tangible ways then we wouldn’t need sort of outsiders to tell us how to do these things. But yeah, I think that the certification process doesn’t make sense. I think it’s just another platform of institutionalization and commodification that isn’t necessary, you know? It’s like, okay, a lot of these certification organizations are offering education, which is amazing, yes. Like, education is so important. But the real education–and I feel like I learned this in nursing school, too–like, you can learn all the ins-and-outs of things, but where you’re actually going to learn is through experience. So like, you want to learn how to be a death, doula? Go volunteer for hospice. Like, go watch people die and you will learn so much just from having that experience or like, you know–and not just hospice. You know, there’s a lot of ways that people can sit with people at the end of their life. But, you know, like you don’t need to pay someone to teach you how to be an active listener.

**Wōen ** 18:37
Yeah, and I think…Like in the realm that I work in–which is what they call green or natural burial–like it’s all the same pattern of pushing towards professionalization and specialization, and it’s being co-opted by the Capitalist system. Even though a lot of these cemeteries that are providing this like really beautiful practice, they didn’t intend on that and they structured themselves as a nonprofit. So they just continued to fall into the trappings of what happens when you professionalize something. And now there’s overarching regulatory institutions and it’s just…It makes it really hard to get into the process and start a cemetery and…Yeah, and they’re walking hand-in-hand with the rest of the funeral industry, so, like annually increasing prices for these rituals that were supposed to be a lot more accessible and ecological, but they’re not. They’re not accessible.

**Roxanne ** 20:07
Totally. And I feel like this…Yeah, this focus on specialization really, you know, negates and alienates the fact that we have inherent wisdom as to how to handle these situations. And then when we can’t accept or like don’t have–courage isn’t the word that I’m looking for–confidence in our own, you know, kind of inherent wisdom, then we feel like we need a specialist to tell us what to do, but it’s all right there inside of us in information that we can pass down with each other through, you know, actually having a relationship with death, and dying, and disposition, and all the things. So I feel like, yeah, the more we can be connected and like with death, honestly, the better we can be with life also.

**Wōen ** 21:11
Yeah, and when we say, "disposition," we mean burial, cremation, you know, being eaten by birds, everything. It’s a general term.

**Inmn ** 21:27
Yeah, yeah. I feel like…it’s fun to use this as the thing to compare it to, but, you know, I think it’s important for us to like have, you know, guides through hard times or like people to…people who are very familiar with or versed in leading these experiences or facilitating these experiences, and it’s…like, what you were just describing of kind of like what the Death industry is, it reminds me of a like boutique coffee shop or something. Yeah, like turning death and ritual into a boutique coffee experience that is just another strange industry that maybe people feel better about, but, yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know how much actual connection or like community building that is doing?

**Roxanne ** 22:36
Totally. Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. Yeah, it’s a similar thing. Yeah. And again, they did that with the birthing community too. It’s, yeah, it’s sad.

**Wōen ** 22:50
Yeah, and, you know, like with organic foods.

**Inmn ** 22:57
Yeah. To kind of switch gears a little bit, why is it important to think about this stuff now? Like, why is it important to think about dying? Why should we be having these conversations as a community?

**Wōen ** 23:16
Yeah, I mean, I think it’s always been important when you want a culture that renews itself, and especially now when we’re facing intense upheaval, developing a deeper intimacy with death, it helps us claim a place, and claim ancestors, and develop a deeper resilience to the chaos in our world. Like when thinking about movements and how under the regime of alienation, and the lack of intergenerational connection, and especially like connection to our ancestors, like, things can really be thwarted without those connections to place or to the people that came before. Yeah, and so being able to be with the unexplainable and unknowable aspect of like…

**Roxanne ** 24:47
I think now, as Wōen was just saying, it’s so important because we are living in pretty devastating times. It’s pretty obvious, I think, to most people with what’s going on with the climate, you know, with ecological destruction getting worse very viscerally year by year and not just in one place but all across the world where people are really…You know, you live in Arizona…Wait, maybe I shouldn’t say that…

**Inmn ** 25:33
I’ve said it multiple times.

**Roxanne ** 25:38
Yeah, well, for example, you live in a place that in the summer if someone accidentally tripped and fell, they would burn themselves on the ground and potentially have to go to the burn ICU. Like, that wasn’t true five years ago and it’s just only going to become more true for more places across the world. And I think, yeah, just really taking inventory of the trajectory that the world is on right now means that we’re…When you’re living on a dying planet, you’re gonna have to deal with the fact that we are a part of that planet and not separate from that. And I think also, you know, the question of "Why now?" is, like, both a societal question and then also kind of an individual question because I think…You know, I am 39 years old. I think most people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, even 50s aren’t really thinking, and hopefully, you know…People even younger than that obviously, need to be thinking about this stuff, too. But I think that, you know, often the more like normative stance–which is also partially a bliss–is just to be like, "Oh, you know, if I have a fine bill of health then why should I be concerned about these things?" And we all know people die unexpectedly. We all know our relationship to health, and all the different forms that that can look like, can change at any moment. We all know that life isn’t just inevitable. And so I think really thinking about these things and really starting to prepare for these things is one of the best things we can do to help not just, you know, those around us when we die, but also to help inform how we live our lives. No matter what age you are, I think it’s important to be thinking about and talking about. I’ve been having conversations, for example, with my mom about the fact that she was gonna die since I was like five years old. And then at some point, I was like, "Oh, wait, if you’re dying, that means I’m dying too. Shit, I’m gonna have to think about this."

**Inmn ** 28:23
Yeah, what does? You know, this is the fun moment where we get to say the name of the podcast in a question, but how does one live like they’re dying? Like, what does that mean?

**Wōen ** 28:40
I mean, I think it’s understanding that ecologically and spiritually the dead make the world. Our ancestors are not just like our [uninterpretable. "In our dirt?"]. They’re what came before use. They’re everything we eat, and breathe, and even conceive of, and dream of. So, it’s fully opening our minds to understanding the deep cycle of life.

**Roxanne ** 29:17
Yeah. And, you know, some intentionality, recognizing that the things that we do and how we treat ourselves and each other do matter, you know? Like they do matter because we are people experiencing each other. Or, they don’t matter in the way that we are tiny pieces of sand floating around on this huge rock in this ginormous atmosphere. You know? It’s like it’s both. Both things are happening at the same time. We are a multitude it turns out? Both how we are and who we are matters and also doesn’t at all. But I think just like really honoring the fact that it’s a limited resource, that life is actually a limited resource, and that the time that we spend together is also limited, and trying to really love people while you can, to be brave enough to really love the people in your life while you can.

**Inmn ** 30:32
Yeah, I feel like we have such a…our culture has such a focus on the concept of "later" and the future that like…And you know, this is maybe obvious because a lot of the society that we live in is founded on this idea of…or like founded by people who are informed by a religion that embraces an afterlife that…and something I’ve really appreciated about–I’m not necessarily an atheist–but like something I’ve always appreciated about atheism is that it is weirdly pro life and pro living in this way where it’s like, "Yeah, there’s nothing after this so you gotta do what you want to do now, not later.

**Wōen ** 31:32
Yeah that’s kind of…I mean, I think the Christian worldview is inherently disassociating from your body? Yeah. Not a good place to start.

**Inmn ** 31:53
Yeah, just to switch gears a little bit, I want to talk a little bit more about the logistics of death. So, something that I think about a lot is like, if, you know, if I get sick tomorrow, if I get in an accident tomorrow and like my condition suddenly changes like rapidly, and I have feelings about how I want…like what interventions I want taken or how I want…Let’s start with interventions. And then we’ll move on to other bits, but how do I prepare for that? How do I prepare for getting the…having the interventions that I want taken or not taken? Or, how do I get to choose who gets to make those decisions when I’m no longer able to?

**Wōen ** 32:59
So, the simplest answer to that would be to complete an Advanced Directive that’s legally binding. And so this designates the person who will be your advocate legally, to make choices at the end of life and after death. Yeah, and this ends up…Yeah, this supersedes the legal next of kin, which without designating the power of attorney, will be your biological family. So this is really important if you don’t want them to be in charge of what you want to happen to you at the end of life or after your death.

**Inmn ** 34:00
Do you have something to add to that Roxy?

**Roxanne ** 34:02
I do. I think that I just wanted to add that making choices around your health care power of attorney, like who that person should or could be, I think sometimes there can be a lot of pressure from people that are close to you that just because you’re close with someone that they should be the one to help make those medical decisions for you. But, I would like to argue that maybe that’s not always the best person. What you want in these situations is someone who will follow the directive that you lay out, because just because you have this document stating how you would like for things to go, at the end of the day, the healthcare power of attorney actually gets to make the final call. So maybe you say, you know, "CPR is okay. But I don’t want to be intubated." At the end of the day, if your healthcare power of attorney decides, "I want them to be intubated," despite what your paperwork says, they can intubate you. So you really want to pick someone who can…who you think will follow what you’ve asked for and also someone who, even if they don’t have the information themselves, will educate themselves or ask the right questions to make decisions that they think you will want. And it’s also I think good to think about, you know, if, for example, you think your partner is going to be so worried and like so in a process of grief, that maybe they’re not the one to choose because maybe it’s better for them to just to get to be in the grief process and not having to make these big decisions. I’ve seen so many times in the hospital where the family feels like if they choose to, quote unquote, "Pull the plug," that they’re the ones that killed their loved one, not whatever, you know, situation their person was in or just that the bodies can only handle so much. And I think that, yeah, giving someone healthcare power of attorney is–I’m not going to say it’s a burden–but there is definitely the potential for weight behind that and it is a serious question. It’s not…it’s not a popularity contest. It’s not about who you like the most. It’s about who you really think can help make the decisions when they need to be made or who’s going to be brave enough to call it when it needs to be called.

**Inmn ** 37:24
Yeah, yeah. That makes sense.

**Wōen ** 37:27
Yeah, I think that just kind of reveals the need for, you know, models of anarchist mutual aid where we all support each other. And it’s like, being able to have these conversations and support each other outside of these really normative pathways of the nuclear family. And yeah, breaking that prescription on…

**Roxanne ** 38:04
I guess I just wanted to add that, for sure, if you want to make sure, as as close as is possible…If you wanted to make sure as much as what’s in your capability that your wishes are going to be met with interventions, having an Advanced Directive is the only real way to do that legally. So, if you don’t feel like, as Wōen was saying earlier, if you don’t feel like you fully trust your family to do the things that you would want to do, you have to have that written down. You have to have it notarized. You really have to go through that process. It’s really important.

**Inmn ** 38:45
Yeah, and then it seems what is kind of equally as important is having those conversations with your community and with whoever you’re designating as your power of attorney, so that like…Yeah, it’s like, I’m imagining in this situation that you’ve built where like, your partner might not be the best person, so you make this Advanced Directive and you designate someone, who’s maybe not your partner, as the power of attorney, and then it seems like you have to then have conversations with that person, or with your community as a whole, about what you want. And then…Like, I’m imagining this situation where you do that and then it’s like–so it’s not entirely falling on one person–maybe one person has to legally make those decisions, but like other people can support them or like it can be a little like network of support that like kind of helps hold people to like what your best wishes were? Does that kind of make sense?

**Wōen ** 39:53
Absolutely. And it’s like…an Advanced Directive is not all encompassing. Like, being able to guide the types of rituals you want and…Yeah, like, every little detail that you want, you should be able to have, but you have to have those conversations and they have to be on going with as many of your loved ones as possible. So, the Advanced Directive is kind of a way to safeguard against the powers that be from taking control of your life and your death. But, it [hard to tell, but probably "lasts"] like a lot of other guidance that relies on being able to talk about it.

**Inmn ** 40:42
So, this is something that I was kind of thinking about with this is like if…So, say maybe that in this hypothetical that I don’t have like the best relationship with my parents, or say I have a fine relationship with my parents who are still alive, but I don’t think they would make the best decisions, so I designate someone from, you know, my chosen family network to be my power of attorney. But then, you know, I get sick. I get into an accident. And suddenly, my family, my biological family and my chosen family, are in the same room. Is there? I imagine those situations can get pretty contentious, especially for my biological family to find out that they do not have the power of attorney. Like, I guess, obviously, you should maybe have those conversations with your family, but like I…You know, I would rather…I would rather not have that conversation with my family where I’m like, "Hi, I have taken away your medical power of attorney over me." But I also don’t want to like necessarily entirely pass that off to my friends to deal with. Like…I don’t know, have you like seen situations like that that were contentious, went well, or like, do you have any tips for navigating that?

**Wōen ** 42:24
Well, I mean, in different forms I’ve seen it. I think it’s important to say, once you have your power of attorney designated the family no longer have…like, they don’t have control. The power of attorney does. And so like in a situation like you’re describing, I think, the idea of communal care comes in, where you can have…Like, maybe the person who is your health care advocate isn’t necessarily the one who is negotiating with the family or mediating. Just having more people involved to take care of the situation, I think is the best advice I can give.

**Roxanne ** 43:20
Yeah, I would say, you know, I always push towards tending towards collaboration when possible. So if someone’s family is just absolutely unwilling to work with, you know, the chosen family or the person who has power of attorney then honestly that situation actually just hurts them more. So, I think as much as people can collaborate, the better. And recognizing and appreciating the fact that everyone in a situation is going through some kind of fear and grief, and we don’t always behave our best in those situations. So, trying to be generous with each other and give each other time and space to–you know, I’m not saying you have to deal with someone using abusive language towards you or anything like that–but just, you know, recognizing that this can be a real space of grief and that collaboration might not seem possible at first and then it is. I’ve had situations where collaboration seemed really possible. And then the friend’s family member flipped out and tried to get us all kicked out of the hospital. This is before I was a nurse and was just a really kind of traumatic situation for everyone but ended up–like this is actually the situation that really got me on the tip of like, "Oh, we have to have Advanced Directives. This is like imperative." But yeah, I think, as Wōen already said, as much as people can work with each other and collaborate, even if you’ve been told stories throughout your whole friendship with someone about, you know, what a monster their parent is, or whatever, just like focus on the task at hand, which is helping your friend get safe, and accessible, and good care for as long as they can. And if you need the family to be a part of that, great. And if a family has to go–because sometimes the family’s gotta go–you get to make that call. And it’s like, if they gotta go, they gotta go. But hopefully that won’t be the case. I think it’s just…like from a harm reductionist standpoint.

**Inmn ** 46:02
Yeah, yeah. Does a family have any legal recourse against a power of attorney? Like, I can imagine a family believing that they have some kind of legal recourse, but like could they sue people? Could they challenge it?

**Wōen ** 46:22
I mean, I’m gonna say, no. I know that that happens like a lot of legal challenges happen. But in the moment, I think, what should guide is that health care and funeral services will honor the healthcare power of attorney. So yeah, I think that that is a risk in a really contentious situation, but it is not likely that the healthcare system or the funeral professionals will dishonor the Advanced Directive.

**Roxanne ** 47:12
And it might be a situation, like in a hospital sort of setting, it might be a thing where they kind of set up a mediation with an ethics board sort of thing. But at the end of the day, the legal document is the legal document. Yeah.

**Inmn ** 47:30
Yeah. And, I’m imagining that the answer to this is along a similar lines, but like, in the reverse situation, if I don’t have a power of attorney designated or an Advanced Directive, but I have, you know, my friends that I’ve had these conversations with about this or I have a journal entry or something about this, I’m guessing that doesn’t have…like, at the end of the day, it’s the the family or the next of kin, whoever has been legally designated has all of that power to make those decisions?

**Wōen ** 48:07
Yeah, and again, that’s where a united community who can help, you know, maybe approach the family to be able to negotiate or collaborate. Yeah, that would be the right place to start. But also, if that’s not possible, knowing that you can still hold space for your grief as a community even if you’re separated from the actual process of dying and death, and that you can enact the depths of meaning that you need and connection with each other. Yeah.

**Roxanne ** 48:07

**Inmn ** 49:02
Um, to kind of switch gears a little bit, this is a weird question. God. How much does it cost to die? Like obviously, you know, if you do die then that expense is not going to be your responsibility, but I’m imagining this situation like from–I don’t know if y’all have seen that movie Little Miss Sunshine. [Roxanne makes an affirmative noise] But like, the grandpa dies, and they’re like, "It’ll cost this much money to get the body," and they’re like, "We don’t have that." So, they steal the body. Yeah, how much does it cost to die and have your remains something or anothered? I don’t know what…I don’t know what a good word is.

**Wōen ** 49:55
Yeah, yeah. I mean, I can definitely speak to after death. I think the national average has risen, but like a few years ago it was around $8,000 to do a really normal funeral service like burial. More and more people are choosing cremation because it is cheaper, even though it is getting more expensive. And the average cremation cost is anywhere from $1000 to $3000 based on what type of package you buy from the funeral home. There’s a lot of ways that funeral homes can be predatory. Not all funeral homes are predatory, but the vast majority are. And every year it gets more expensive. So yeah, it just depends on your form of disposition. So like, if you’re doing cremation it’s gonna be a lot cheaper. But often people choose that because it’s cheaper, not because of thoughts of that’s exactly what they wanted, you know? They’re thinking about the financial situation of the family, and yeah, it shouldn’t be that way. They should have the type of ritual and disposition that they want. Yeah, it’s a pretty horrifying situation. Yeah.

**Inmn ** 51:28
And, like, what happens to…You know, normally when you go to the hospital there’s a bill, but if you die, like who has to pay for the care that you received?

**Roxanne ** 51:44
Yeah, your family will get that debt as far as I understand. They’re a next of kin kind of situation.

**Inmn ** 52:00
So, when I think about my own wishes around my remains, you know, one of those fantasies or ideas is that I would love to, you know, not be embalmed. I would love to have my body rot in the ground. Is that possible?

**Wōen ** 52:16
Absolutely. To start, the only federal law around death is that you don’t have to be embalmed. It’s a strange, actually good law as kind of a response to an exploding funeral industry I think around–I don’t exactly remember–decades ago. And so a lot of advocates pushed for that to happen. Yeah, so you definitely don’t have to be embalmed even if you go to a funeral home. And if they say like, "This is the only way," they’re lying. But luckily that’s happening less and less because natural burial, or what they call green burial, is getting a lot more popular. And it’s, I think in all states now in this country you can find a place at least within like 100 miles. But, I would advocate that if you have access to land in any way, you should do a home burial, even if that means you have to go through some bureaucracy and like create an official cemetery. You should do that because you’ve now created a burial ground that others can be buried at in the type of way that you want, to honor rot, to honor the ecosystem. Yeah, so definitely what you want is very possible.

**Inmn ** 54:15
Cool. Um, yeah, can–I’m sure it’s complicated state by state–but like, can you if you own land, or you know someone that owns land, they can just designate part of it as a cemetery and then people can get buried there? Is that like? What is that process like?

**Wōen ** 54:39
It really is county by county. Yeah, county by county. Yeah, it’s really…I would say where we, where I am in the southeast, as a general statement, in any rural area it is widely practiced still and it’s very easy to do home burial. And as another general statement, you just…you can’t do this within city limits. And I think that, for good reason, because, you know, they are hubs of capitalism with land turning over and…Like, from where we’re sitting even, you know, half a mile down the road, they’re desecrating a Black cemetery that they just unearthed that had been paved over at least twice. So it’s…I think, like, yeah. So, being able to be outside of the city limits is the best option and most accessible. I know some states are more difficult. And there’s more…like there’s more red tape. I would say to research where you live. Yeah. And really think about doing this for your community.

**Roxanne ** 55:59
What a gift. We live in a time where land and space is becoming–I mean, has been, is becoming–such an intense battlefield for resources. It’s just like a really, really intense thing to have is land and space. So being able to provide that for people for free, even just to put their body in is such an incredible resource.

**Wōen ** 56:34
Yeah, I know there’s…I know there’s a lot of kind of…I’ve heard of some wild ways to have your remains dealt with that…Maybe just to add a little bit of fun levity to the situation. But uh, I’ve heard you can get turned into diamonds now?

**Roxanne ** 56:58

**Inmn ** 57:00

**Wōen ** 57:00
You can get turned into a bowling ball.

**Inmn ** 57:03
You can get turned into a bowling ball? I feel like this is a plot to a movie from the 90s.

**Wōen ** 57:10
Yeah, I mean, it’s…Yeah, you can do a lot with cremated remains. Pretty cool.

**Roxanne ** 57:18
Mushroom soup.

**Wōen ** 57:19

**Roxanne ** 57:20
I’m really into the soup, personally.

**Inmn ** 57:22
The mushroom soup?

**Roxanne ** 57:24

**Inmn ** 57:25
What is the mushroom soup?

**Wōen ** 57:27
What the mushrooms do. I would say it is a little…there needs to be more research on this mushroom soup. But, fungus is a late stage decomposer and this mushroom soup is something you’re supposed to be buried in. That’s what they’re proposing. But often initial decomposition is way too hot and will eat up fungus. And so, it’s a little bit not completely thought out. Yeah, so I wouldn’t advocate for the mushroom soup, but I would advocate for, you know, creating an aerobic environment to be buried in so you rot really well. And you don’t have to worry, the fungus will be there. They will be there to eat up your bones and all your desiccated tissue. Yeah.

**Roxanne ** 58:30
I’m picturing like ground lasagna, you know, where there’s like dirt, and worms, and things, and then like a layer of mycelial…input.

**Wōen ** 58:47
Yeah, that makes the world go round.

**Inmn ** 58:51
Yeah. And you can, like on a similar vein, I’ve heard in Oregon you can get composted?

**Wōen ** 59:03
Yeah, I think now it’s legal in eight states. It started in Seattle. They call it human composting or natural organic reduction is another term they use. But basically, they’re accelerating the decomposition of your soft tissues. I think it’s a really awesome thing, especially for folks who don’t have access to land because you become soil really fast. And I think a lot of them partner with forest areas where they’ll spread your soil. Yeah, I think it’s awesome. And I really hope that they make it accessible, you know, like the rest of the Green Death movement. It remains to be seen. But, I hope that that happens.

**Inmn ** 1:00:14
Thanks so much for listening. This turned into a much longer episode than we thought it would, which is great that there’s just so much to talk about around this topic. So, that’s the end of part one. If you enjoyed the show, please go talk to your community about death and tell us about it. And, think about filing an Advanced Medical Directive and power of attorney. We will be back next week with the second half of this episode where me and Roxy will talk a lot more about what it means to be a death doula. I know these topics can be hard and scary, but I think talking about them helps us to not worry about them as much and offers a lot of hope to our communal resilience. If you enjoyed the show, please go tell people about it. You can support this podcast by telling people about it. You can support it by talking about it on social media, rating, and reviewing, or doing whatever the nameless algorithm calls for, as much as I don’t want that to be something that’s true. You can also support us in a financial way by following us on Patreon at Our Patreon helps pay for things like transcriptions or our lovely audio editor, Bursts, as well as going to support our publisher, Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. We put out a few more podcasts including my other podcast Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness, a monthly podcast of anarchist literature, and the Anarcho Geek Power Hour, which is the podcast for people who love movies and hate cops. And we would like to shout out some of our patrons in particular. Thank you Carson, Lord Harken, Trixter, Princess Miranda, BenBen, anonymous, Funder, Jans, Oxalis. Janice & O’dell, Paige, Aly, paparouna, Milica, Boise Mutual Aid, theo, Hunter, Shawn, SJ, Paige, Mikki, Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea, Cat J., Staro, Jenipher, Eleanor, Kirk, Sam, Chris, Michaiah, and as always, Hoss the Dog. Thanks so much. We seriously couldn’t do it without you. I hope that everyone is doing as well as they can with everything that’s happening and we will see you next week for the second part of this episode.

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S1E86 – Riley on Building DIY Spaces

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Riley talks to Margaret about building DIY spaces, how to plan events, and how to build a culture around your events of inclusivity and solidarity.

Guest Info

The Pansy Collective can be found on Instagram @Pansy.Colletive.

Host Info

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

Publisher Info

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


Live Like the World is Dying: Riley on DIY Spaces

**Margaret ** 00:15
Hello and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m your host, Margaret Killjoy. I have just found out that my co-host, Inmn, has a voice that’s similar enough to mine that people don’t know which one of us is hosting. So, you can tell it’s me because I am charming and perfect…Shit, so is Inmn…Okay, so that’s not really what matters here. What matters here is that today, we are going to be talking about–a lot of people have written in and been like, "But I don’t have community. You talk about community preparedness all the time." And obviously, subculture isn’t the only type of community, but it’s one of them. And we’re going to talk about subculture. And we’re gonna talk about DIY subculture. And we’re gonna talk about fucking doing shit yourself. And we’re gonna talk to someone who has a lot of experience of doing that at the intersection of marginalizations and not just reproducing cis white hetero stuff. So, 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. Doo doo doo doo doo. Doo. [Singing a simple melody with words]

**Margaret ** 01:34
And we’re back. Okay, so if you could introduce yourself with your name, your pronouns, and then why you think I’ve brought you on this podcast.

**Riley ** 02:06
Hey Y’all. Yeah, my name is Riley. He/him pronouns. You brought me on this podcast because we’re friends. And also because we’ve played some shows together and done some things together. And I’d like to think that we have some shared affinity and maybe even that we are in community together. So yeah, yeah. I think that’s kind of why I’m here.

**Margaret ** 02:36
Okay. Well, you have experience…When I was like, trying to think I was like, "Who do I know who has experience building DIY scenes and like punk scenes and musical "subgenric" scenes. That’s definitely a word. Don’t look it up. Do you have experience doing that? What’s your experience doing that?

**Riley ** 03:00
Yeah, you know, I do have some experience doing it. You said "a lot." I would say "limited." But, I organize with a collective here in Asheville, North Carolina called Pansy Collective. We call ourselves the "benefit booking collective" because a lot of what we do is book DIY shows to raise money for either trans people’s surgical, or medical, or just living expenses, and also for grassroots projects that don’t get funding any other way. Yeah, so we book shows, we throw parties, we also organize popular education and workshops and kind of use the concept of DIY community in a punk way to push people further to the left.

**Margaret ** 03:56
I, I really liked that. I think…I don’t know if it was the first time I met you, or just the first time I saw you play, was coming on 10 years ago now. And you were playing this playing this show. And the thing that just like really immediately struck me was how much it felt like…When I first got into when I was like a teenager, I didn’t give a shit about punk because…I don’t know, the punk on the radio was fine, but it just…Like I liked Sisters of Mercy instead. Well, at the time I probably like Marilyn Manson instead, but we’ll pretend like I only ever listened to Sisters of Mercy. And then when I like fell into anarchism and I started going to these like basement shows in Baltimore and there was this shared sense of like urgency to change the world, and that this is a thing that we are doing collectively and a thing we’re doing from direct action, even if it just meant that the five foot tall singer was screaming, "I’m going to break a 40 on the motherfucking Nazis face!" or whatever, right? You know, it’s like, you like believed her, right? Cuz she was telling the truth. Like, she probably got arrested for that. Well, yeah. And like, a 17 year old from that scene caught 27 felonies for beating up Nazis like two months later…and beat all the charges. She beat all the charges. And so this is what struck me, is that when I went and saw you play, it was like one of the times I really felt that again. And it felt like there was like something there. And I’m wondering if you want to talk about like…well, I guess like punk and about what draws you to it, what keeps you there, and what you’re excited about DIY scenes for? Or any of that shit.

**Riley ** 05:43
Yeah, I mean, I can’t pretend like punk music wasn’t a facet of what radicalized me, right? And, I think exposure to–I mean, I wasn’t a punk when I was in high school. And I was into riot girl feminism, specifically, was like a really point–and I feel like almost embarrassed to talk about it now, but let’s own that for a second, right?

**Margaret ** 06:10
Yeah, whatever.

**Riley ** 06:11
Or, what brought me into that was also another facet of radicalization, which was seeking resources for being sexually assaulted at a young age, right? So I’m like, getting politicized through finding feminism and having these kinds of first moments of…You know, I grew up in real rural North Carolina. There’s not scenes where I’m from, right? There’s not even punks where I’m from. And kind of ideas of resistance, even ideas of bodily autonomy, and that what may be happening to you isn’t your fault, and that maybe it’s okay to be queer, you know, like, these were like, really groundbreaking ideas as a teenager. And so I’m finding these bands that are kind of espousing these ideologies, and carrying energy that I had no outlet for–or maybe just had really unhealthy outlets for–before I started listening to punk heavily. And then, really moving to Asheville as soon as I turned 18 because in this area, the queer and trans people from rural spots are told, "If you want to go somewhere to find where the other gay people are, go to Asheville." And so I just listened to that and went where I could. And I mean, I had some really pivotal moments, both good and bad, you know, and I’m in really this kind of naive idea that like, "Oh, you know, I’m coming into this from a feminist lens, so punks must be not misogynists, right?" [Margaret laughs] And then I learned that that wasn’t true really quickly because I started having shitty experiences in mosh pits and, you know, getting groped, and my friends getting groped, and, you know, just having, I mean, just unsafe experiences that also really, you know, pissed me off because it felt so not…like this is inherently against the ethos of what this genre is in my mind because, you know, I know this is what this is, like not even knowing that there’s just a whole slew of apolitical [punks]–or people who, you know, who’re here for different reasons–you know, but it really…I saw a space that was missing. And it wasn’t just me, it was, you know, an entire group of young-really-fucking-pissed-off-with-a-lot-of-trauma-and-something-to-prove-about-it queers who enacted a little bit of a takeover in, I don’t know, like the early 2010s. And so, the punk scene in Asheville shifted from really…I mean, dude centric, to suddenly there’s like, it’s just like, these young mad queers who are wearing pink pink studs. And this is like, a few years before G.L.O.S.S came out but I feel like that era just really, yeah, there was a takeover that we both participated in.

**Margaret ** 09:24
I kind of…I kind of watched it, but I really appreciated it and I…Yeah, okay. So I guess one of the things that people mention to me a lot when I, you know, when I talk about individual and community preparedness, right, all the time, and usually people are alienated by one of those two words. And either people are like individual community preparedness is just preppers doing nonsense. And then, or, community preparedness doesn’t resonate with people literally because a lot of people don’t have community. We live in this very isolated and isolating culture, right? And so one of the things that people say, you know, the reason that I…I was driving and I was like thinking about this problem, I was thinking about how people write this to me and I’m always just like, "I don’t know, just fix it." And I’m like, that’s not a useful answer to provide to people. And I was like, who do I know who perpetuates a subcultural space–that’s funny. Usually, when we say "perpetuate," you mean something bad. But like, in this case, you know, "makes continue" is actually sometimes a very good word, if it’s a good thing being perpetuated. [And I was like, who do I know who perpetuates a subcultural space and] Makes the subcultural space happen and happen on a DIY level. And so I was really excited to talk to you about it. But, so, the core of my question is like, you talked about how there’s not really scenes where you’re from? So what do you do? I mean, I guess in this case, the answer is you move to Asheville and then take over the scene, but that’s not a bad…

**Riley ** 10:53
Yeah. If in places where there’s not…I mean, there’s a particular context here because it’s a small town, but it has a long standing history of punk activity, right? But thinking about the community I’m from, which I’m going to be moving back to pretty soon because I can’t afford to stay in the town that I’m in. So, you know, I think about starting small and finding who is around and building with them because deep…Yeah, the way that artists, like rural artists, and the kind of freaky performers that live out in the woods, the way that they move in this area is by finding finding the, you know, the few people around them that they can build with and going from there, even if it’s just one, even if it’s just one person, or connecting to the internet. But, yeah, I mean, the way that we kind of worked to hit that mark and strive to support everyone is, one, by just casting a wide net. And that’s, you know, thinking about how a lot of times, to find, whether it’s just connecting with other queer people in a rural area, I mean, you gotta travel far. And so casting a wide net to people who maybe are outside of the friend groups, or maybe are outside of the social networks, and really specifying what your actual affinity is. Like, I see you at shows all the time, but what do we actually have in common? And build from there.

**Margaret ** 12:33
I like that because, actually, one of the next questions I wanted to ask you is about how I know other people who are not interested in punk because they feel like punk is like cool kids, right? And they’re not cool. So, they clearly don’t belong. And, that’s…I’d love to be like, "Oh, it’s just not true. Punks are all totally welcoming." And like, you know, you just described a bunch of experiences of punks not being welcoming. My first…The one punk in my high school got really mad. He decided I was becoming a leftist, which actually wasn’t true at the time. I was a nothingist. Not in a cool way. I was just a kid. But, he like pulled me aside and he was like, "You have to listen to this." And he put like punk music on my headphones. But it was right-wing punk. And the only thing I remember is–I haven’t actually bothered to look up a band that says this–but it’s "Down on your…" I remember this very clearly. I was like 16 at the time and it’s, "Down on your knees with a gun to your head. You’re better off dead than fucking red." And so it’s like Nazi punk shit, right? He wasn’t a skinhead. He had a big mohawk and like…And I was like, "Man, this was not interested in me at all. Like, what the fuck?" But okay, so punk isn’t always welcoming to people. But how do we make it more welcoming to people? Two questions: One, if you’re already in the scene, how do you make it more welcoming to people, and two, if you’re listening to this, and you’re like, a 16 year old or a 35 year old or a 73 year old, and you’re like, "This has interested me, but I don’t feel…I don’t know whether this is the kind of space I can get into." Like, how do you get into it? Or how do you help people get into it? Kind of a tangential question, sorry.

**Riley ** 14:07
I think about…I don’t want to say, "Just be fucking nice to people," but maybe maybe part of it is like be fucking nice to people. And don’t reenact the high school lunch table drama-trauma of whatever everyone is holding. Yeah, I think about getting kind of like cornered by these kind of like gatekeepy dudes when I first moved here like, you know, it’s kind of this typical like, "Oh, do you know this band, do you know that band? Do you even know what you know…" I remember this guy.

**Margaret ** 14:48
[Laughing] People really did that to you?

**Riley ** 14:50
At a show that I booked! Being like, "Do you even know what a mosh pit is?"

**Margaret ** 14:55
[Incredulously] No, what’s that?

**Riley ** 14:58
No, no, I don’t. Sorry. [dry] I actually said, "Is it like this?" and then punched him…Right in the Pensacola. But yeah, I mean, if you’re in a position of power, in a position of, you know, some sort of…Like, maybe you know the people around you and you’re seeing people that don’t, or…Yeah, just engaging people and, you know, making a point to make people feel welcome is a really easy start. And if you’re feeling unsure, I…Yeah, I don’t know what to say. Because I don’t…I think that attending shows and going out to social things, especially in this day and age, is such a small, small sliver of what DIY community feels like now. And so I’m also pushing back on the bounds of what even counts as a DIY event anymore? I’m like, how about that? How about that workshop? Or how about the trans woman’s picnic? Or how about… yeah, the firestorm book club, I’m thinking about so many other spaces that count in my mind under this DIY punk ethos umbrella.

**Margaret ** 16:23
That makes a lot of sense to me, especially as someone who doesn’t…My write up about the anarchist bookfair I just attended and played was, "This is great. Why do shows start so late? Some of us are old. Why are there kids on my lawn? Why did I have to walk uphill both ways to get here?" But, what you’re saying about like just like being nice to people, it’s funny how that sounds like an easy answer, but it’s like actually the easy answer. And it’s actually not that hard. Like, I think about…I’ve spent a lot of time in like nerd spaces subculturally. Like, I’ve spent a lot of time at like nerd conventions of various types, right? And like, one of the things that is a cultural norm that people are trying to normalize at science fiction conventions and shit is that if you’re like standing in a circle of people and you see someone standing at the periphery of the circle, to open up the circle, and so that that person is now standing in the circle. And even if they don’t say anything, they’re now standing in the circle the same as everyone else, right? And, you know, and you don’t have like necessarily as literal of a thing, because like science fiction conventions, there’s literally people standing around in circles all weekend. Like, yes, it’s kind of…

**Riley ** 17:40
Like, I mean, people have a lot of drama on the other side of it about taking people, taking strangers in, you know. Who is this stranger in the wilderness? You know, I’m thinking about how people have been like, you know, "Who is that new person standing over there looking like they’re trying to account for something," you know? "That person’s a cop, probably!" you know? Or like people start doing all of this in your head speculation and I feel like, you know what’s a really good way to try to figure out if someone is a cop or not? Go up and say, "Hi." Go up and have a little conversation. It’s really easy to tell really quickly versus just mean mugging the shit out of somebody, you know? You’ll never find out anything that way. But yeah, I think people have a lot of trauma on both sides. Like, I don’t know that person. It’s like, put yourself out there. Or don’t. You also don’t have to talk to anybody at the show. [Laughing]

**Margaret ** 18:41
Yeah, that’s true, too. Okay, so you’re talking about like what DIY feels like now and how it’s different, right? And, I really appreciate that as, you know, as someone who like…I’ll go to shows forever. And I’ll ideally, play shows forever, but it’s not as much what I’m interested in engaging in. And so with Pansy Collective, do you put on a lot of different types of stuff? Or do you just feel like the larger community that you’re part of like you put on lots of stuff? Like, what are some of the things that people could be doing?

**Riley ** 19:11
Yeah, I mean, we…I will say that My only interest these days is booking benefits. And my only interest is, you know…Back in pre lockdown times, we would set up shows for bands that are rolling through town, we would organize a fest specifically for rural queer and trans independent artists of all different, you know, way different genres. And nowadays, most of what we do is just trying to fund our struggling community anarchist projects by booking parties. And it’s all over the place. I mean, we recently did a cake sitting benefit where we had someone bake 20 cakes and people sat on them and it raised a bunch of money for the book fair. You know, just like it varies from random, gay, pervy dance parties to punk shows to workshop series. We give the people what they want. But, it’s kind of like it’s either a gay dance party or a punk show, is kind of what it boils down to.

**Margaret ** 20:25
I think I’ve been to a like–I don’t know if it was you all that put it on, seems like it would have been–like a wrestling competition?

**Riley ** 20:34
Yes, the lube wrestling competition. That was a fun one. That was definitely a pre-lockdown party for sure. But yeah. I mean, something I think about too with booking benefits is you want to hit a good like…So I think about what it takes to book a benefit that is both accessible to our community, who is broke as fuck, and also will raise money for whatever projects. And I mean, the projects that we’ve been funding lately have been the queer powered prison books project here in Asheville that sends free books to incarcerated queer and trans people.

**Margaret ** 21:18
Is that Tranzmission?

**Riley ** 21:19
Yeah, Tranzmission Prison Project,

**Margaret ** 21:21
Which people can look up and support if they would like. It’s been around for decades at this point and often has been one of the only projects doing this work at a time when it’s incredibly essential. Anyway…

**Riley ** 21:35
Yeah, they get so many letters in and really just rely on community support to get the books out to people. So yeah, we’ve been supporting projects like that. And I think about what it takes to, you know, kind of hit this mark of like, okay, we want this event to be accessible to everyone and we also want to make sure that we raise enough money to support the project and pay artists well, right? Because at a certain point, we realized that if we want to book the artists that we want to book, they need support getting…You know, like, booking especially–and we kind of learned this lesson through co-organizing with some Black trans performers and promoters from Richmond in 2019–like, if you want to book Black and brown artists, you need to pay people well because at the end of the day, if you’re just asking artists to donate their time and labor to perform a benefit then only the people who have the privilege and access to be able to donate that time and labor end up being able to perform, and those people are, by and large, white people. So yeah, we really shifted our values to like, just because we’re booking a benefit doesn’t mean that artists aren’t going to get paid well. Everyone. And on top of that, hitting the mark to make sure that, you know, the community project gets a little something too, it’s a hard mark to hit. But, you know, I think about going back to that lube wrestling event, which was truly iconic, and you know, charging five bucks at the door and five bucks to enter and making everything always, "If you don’t have the money to donate it, don’t worry about it."

**Margaret ** 23:29
I think…This is really interesting to me. One thing that’s changed a lot from like early aughts anarchism, which is as far back as I can speak to personally, was, you know, this culture of, like now we pay people. Like now it’s like not bad to get paid for the work that you do. And in retrospect, it almost seems odd, like the whole thing is we come out of this like working class movement, you know? But, I also understand why we had this like, volunteerism thing, right, you know? But, I also…I’m glad we moved out of it. But one of the things that’s so interesting to me about like benefits, right, is that it really points out, it highlights to me that there’s two points to benefit. One is to raise money. But the other is–well, there’s three points. You’re raising money. You’re raising awareness about the issue. And you’re also building community and you’re tying the community to activism directly. And when I think about how to fund a project, like the Empire Records model has never been accurate. Like you’re never just like, "Oh, we got to save the struggling, small business run by a white guy. But, we are gonna do it, and we’re gonna throw a party, and now it’s saved because we raised so much money." And that is not the right attitude about benefits. But instead, because I think if I’m like, man, if I really want to fund a project…Well, historically–and I would never recommend this. Anarchists usually do crime in order to fund projects–but, usually people just go out and like are either like get yucky tech jobs, and then just like one person is going to throw down as much money as like the next 50 people who come to the benefit. And that’s great. And that’s good. And that is a good thing to do and people who have access to work to get a bunch of money should put those resources into the movement, but it doesn’t build community the way that a benefit does. And to me these seem like they go really well together.

**Riley ** 25:28
I think so too. Yeah, I think it’s…you know, it serves the purpose of, yes, us getting together. And I’m really thinking in this kind of specific queer and trans lens. Like us just getting together is a radical act. And also, to push that a little bit further, we’re getting together to support people that are behind bars, that we’re trying to break down this barrier and break down these walls, and part of how we can do that and kind of, you know, disintegrate the myth that there’s any difference between our queer and trans siblings on the inside versus us is by just naming it every chance we get, and normalizing that conversation and really bringing it to the table because there probably are people in the room present who maybe haven’t decarceralized their ideologies, or maybe just haven’t had a chance to think about it. And I don’t think that, I don’t know, college classrooms or, you know, on the internet are the only places that we can kind of have these conversations or draw this awareness, you know?

**Margaret ** 26:37
Because there’s also podcasts.

**Riley ** 26:38
There’s also podcasts. Or, just listening to me drunk ramble at you at a party. I don’t know. I’m sure that I’ve single handedly turned at least two people onto our side that way.

**Margaret ** 26:56
That rules. And if they all turned two people on by drunk ramblin to them at a bar then…

**Riley ** 27:00
Keep going!

**Margaret ** 27:01
Fuck yeah.

**Riley ** 27:06
I mean, and also I think about, you know, as a promoter, I feel like I need to qualify after saying that I’m drunk rambling at people, that setting up a fucking table with a bunch of harm reduction supplies and just leaving it, setting up a bunch of free shit at a show and just leaving it. If you’re thinking about like I want to way to radicalized the party spaces in my town without having to lean in too far, or don’t want to be there the whole time, show up with a bunch of zines, and Narcan, and condoms, and leave them on a table and scoot.

**Margaret ** 27:45
No, see, this makes sense to me. And it also is like, as someone who’s like fairly…I don’t think I’m anti-social, especially since anti-social implies, like, against people hanging out having fun. Although at various points I have been against people having fun. That’s how I got the name Killjoy. Right. But, you know, as someone who doesn’t go to parties as my like, hobby, right, tabeling is perfect. Tabling is…like going to the space and being like, "I have a purpose. There’s a reason I’m here." And, you know, if you’re someone who’s listening, and you’re like worried about how to be…yeah, how to be contributing, like especially if…A lot of people I think struggle to be just an attendee, right? And so yeah, if you set up a little harm reduction distro, or a zine distro, or a combination of the two, or whatever else, you can set up and leave, or you can set it up and hang out and be like, "No, it’s cool. I’m supposed to be here. I’m sitting behind a table. That’s why I’m not dancing. Everyone thinks I’m not dancing, because I don’t like dancing, but it’s actually because I’m stuck. behind a table."

**Riley ** 28:49
I have an important job to do.

**Margaret ** 28:50
Yeah, totally. I would definitely be dancing and enjoying dancing, but I’m stuck behind this table. If anyone identifies with that.

**Riley ** 29:00
Exactly. I just I want to push like, one no-fun-insurrecto listening to this to go to like one dance party and have a couple conversations with people. And I want to have…I want to challenge one listener who’s constantly at the dance parties to like, I don’t know, go to a gun range or listen to this podcast or something. Yeah.

**Margaret ** 29:20
And actually, because you talked about how like punk rock radicalized you, right? And sometimes when I talk to people and people are a little bit dismissive of that, you know, or usually about their own stories. I’ve never heard anyone be dismissive of other people getting radicalized that way. But you know, it’s like people are like, "Oh, like Green Day got me in," or whatever, you know? And I’m like, well, one, Green Day–I don’t know if they still do, but they throw…like when the AK Press ware house burned down, they threw a benefit and this is well after they were famous as fuck–but, I think that actually there’s like something to the fact that subculture carries the flame when larger social movements have gone away. I actually think that this happened in the 1940s. Sorry, everything I do now has to tie into history because it’s what I do, is read history books all day. But, like, there’s like this dead period in anarchism and actually most leftist stuff that isn’t like purely Bolshevism or whatever, right? After World War II, a lot of us died. And the people carrying the flame were like art movements, and anarcho pacifists in New York City, and Jewish anarchists, who were primarily focusing on the cultural things that they were reproducing in their own culture. And, I think that the same is also true of the like 80s and 90s, that punk and other subcultures carried the flame, not just of anarchism but a whole lot of radical ideas through this very dead period. Obviously, a ton of shit was happening. But overall, there wasn’t as much radicalism in the United States as there is more recently. So, I think subculture’s a brilliant way to get people in. Yeah, I don’t know.

**Riley ** 31:05
Yeah, and the internet, I think, has really played a big role in this too because we think about aesthetics, and social media, and how…Yeah, I think about how Covid and the internet usage in the cultures that kind of arose when everyone was, you know, really not able to get together. Punk aesthetics has maybe been like a unifying point. And that that can be a point of radicalization too. It’s like, okay, we’re getting together for this. And like, if it’s the right people engaging, right, it’s like, we’re coming together for this need to belong, and kind of unifying around a common interest, a common hobby, a common sound, whatever it may be, right? And it’s bringing that, you know, the ethics, and the core values, and the core tenets back up and kind of, you know, passing along, if we’re carrying the torch, we’re also passing it along, right?

**Margaret ** 32:00
Setting people on fire, you mean? [Joking] Okay, so, what does it look like to throw a benefit? Just like, run me through it. I want to throw a benefit. What do I do?

**Riley ** 32:15
Yeah, first thing you need to do is identify when and what the goal is. So if you, you know, you say, we have this action going down. We want to do this thing. It’s going to take this much money. It’s going to be on this date, so we need to have a thing say that’s gonna happen a month away. We’re gonna book thing. I mean, I would encourage people to not start planning an event within one month of when they plan on executing whatever event it may be. Find a location. Things that I encourage people to consider are just general access of that location. If it’s a bar? Or is it going to be an all ages type thing? If it is a DIY space, what does the accessibility of that space look like? Think about physical accessibility, whether or not there will be like an open outdoor space or if it will be enclosed. Whether or not you’re going to ask people to wear masks at the space, just kind of general accessibility concerns. Once you have your location locked down. And, you know, there’s other things that maybe you’d consider. Maybe you have a connection with somebody who has a space. Maybe it’s someone’s basement. There’s a…Maybe it’s under a bridge somewhere. I mean, you can do anything anywhere. Whatever it takes. And the more DIY you want to go, and by that, I mean, like, if you want to say throw a party under a bridge, identify your people that are going to help you because you cannot do that on your own, right? And so if you…say you and I are now just throwing a party under a bridge, that’s what we decided on. Identify what you need and that’s going to look like…

**Margaret ** 34:13
So we need a generator…

**Riley ** 34:15
Find your people who are going to perform. What is this going to look like? Is it going to be…Are we throwing a goth rave and Nomadic Warmachine’s is going to play? Great. Okay, so now we communicate with our artists in the totally professional and respectful way.

**Margaret ** 34:32
Promised him that it starts at 7pm and is over by 1am.

**Riley ** 34:36
Yes, yes. Or you don’t and you don’t hold to that at all. [Joking] Yeah, communicate well with your artists. Figure out what their rate may be. And then, once that is secured, then you have your artists, you have your location, you have your date. You need to make your promotional materials and you need to secure your speakers, PA, fog machine…I don’t know, whatever you decide that you need. And I mean, I really encourage people to do whatever they want. So, get your lube and giant pools for your lube wrestling party. Whatever it is. But, I don’t know, Asheville loves a gimmick. So, we’re always throwing a gimmick in there. You know, I also like…Encourage people to figure out what the people around them like. But yeah, so we’re at the point now where we have our artists, and our location, and our venue, and we have a flyer, and we have a PA secured. And then, you just put the word out there. I love to hit the streets with a staple gun. And I think that that is a perfectly fine thing to do. And social media is great as well. We promote online, and we promote in the streets, and we pass out handbills at other events. And that’s my three main modes of promoting. Maybe you have a listserv in your community that you can let people know. Maybe you can ask the performers to promote it on their networks as well. Maybe your friends with one of the performers with a podcast who can mention it on her podcast. It’s about reaching out. I mean, always, always communal over individual when it comes to doing anything, I guess, but doing this as well. You know, reach out to all of your networks and make it less about who it is and more about what it is and what brings us together. And then you do it. And, I mean, unfortunately, we have to take safe…pretty serious safety considerations into the parties that we throw because of threats of violence in the past. Yeah, Margaret and I have both been doxxed after various things that have happened in Asheville that were just fun little events. And so yeah, maybe there’s…and again, this is like where I go to collectives and the people you know and the people you trust because we aren’t cop callers. And if something were to go down at one of our shows, we put pretty intentional consideration into safety planning, having a medic there in case someone, you know, breaks their leg at lube wrestling, or if, you know, if something really hits the fan, just having having safety plans in place feels important too. What is the evacuation plan if the cops bust up your under the bridge rave? And how can you make sure that everyone is accounted for and that, you know, the marginalized people present are not just left to, you know…that people have each other’s backs. And building that culture does start, I think, with the people who are hosting the event.

**Margaret ** 38:07
No, that makes a lot of sense to me. Every part of that. And one of the…to the not leaving people behind thing, one of the things that I think actually really behooves experienced…People have experience in the streets and have experience with conflict with police. I have a pretty strong sense of self preservation. And I tend to know the best exit at any given point. And I’m pretty good at getting out of situations. What actually behooves me in crises is to use the fact that I have that experience to not be the first one out. But instead, to help the people who don’t have that experience to get out. The more experienced people should be the people who are taking a higher level of risk. The organizers should be the people taking a higher level of risk. The organizers will be more in the know. They’ll be more aware of when police are coming, you know, blah, blah, blah. And it’s a time to be brave. Most, you know, obviously most DIY shows and stuff have nothing of the sort, you know, like but no, I really like….

**Riley ** 39:16
Yeah, I’m just thinking about a time, I’m thinking about a time that some gay college kids here in Asheville threw a house party and some random dude that was a neighbor wandered up on the party and he was being weird. So, he got asked to leave. So he came back with a gun and he fired off a round into the ground, but he was obliterated wasted. And, I mean people people handled it…They responded quickly and handled it as well as they could. But, you know, after that happened, some anarchist homies came through and did porch sitting on their porch for a couple of weeks, but also sat down with them like, "Hey, let’s let’s make some safety planning for if this happens in the future," and that actually brought like probably 15 or 20 people that I would have never thought they would show any interest in community safety work, you know? And this goes back to just discounting people or not being maybe kind of people like, consider the Yes….

**Margaret ** 40:24
These like apolitical party kids…

**Riley ** 40:27
These a political party kids could be on our team with one…It takes not…you know, it’s maybe they already are, you know? And that was a really powerful experience because I think…We felt very grateful on both sides. And there was no, there wasn’t really a both sides, which we all really kind of knew each other. But, you know, there was a divide. Oh, those kids aren’t really with our shit. Oh, those people aren’t really, you know? And it was a really unifying moment. Like, yeah, now these party college kids are really down with the struggle and will show up to do porch sitting for others if they need it, you know? And it sucks that it takes a near tragedy for that to happen. But, what came out of it was we safety plan for everything now. You know what I’m saying? Like, we’re running scenarios like it’s…you know? I mean, because that’s what makes me feel like at the actual event, I can relax, because I know, "Well, if something goes down, we have a plan for it." And actually, I mean, the queer and trans events are not getting any safer, not because of anything we’re doing but because of increased violence. So, I don’t know what…I’m not gonna stop being with my people. So, at the very least, I can increase safety for them. And for myself. And you can do it for me, like, it’s not just… Yeah, we work together for that.

**Margaret ** 41:59
No, I love it. And the ethos of, "We keep us safe," we just have to like actually mean it and we have to actually think about what it involves. No, this ties in so well to one of the things that I talk about a lot on the show where I’m like, one of the reasons I have a go bag is because I live in the woods and wildfire is a thing that exists. And so I prepare for that. And now I don’t worry about it all the time. And what you’re talking about, like yeah, I was recently at the Asheville Anarchist Book Fair–I don’t think this is a surprise to anyone. I’m not doxxing myself by saying this, I did a talk, played a show. It was very fun. You all did a great job. Yeah. And, I didn’t worry incredibly about my safety because of that, because I knew that there were people there doing security. I knew that they were not power hungry type people. If anyone listening is like thinking about doing community defense, that’s amazing and beautiful and essential, and takes a certain mindset, and it takes a certain calmness, and it takes a certain…the kind of person who is not looking to exert power over other people. You know? Anyone who thinks in their heart is a petty tyrant, you should be the person to distribute condoms for free and instead, which is also essential. And now don’t go up to everyone who’s distributing condoms and decide that they’re a petty tyrant. Unless they’re not letting you have condoms. Unless they’re like, "You don’t need a condom, you’re not getting laid," then you should be opposed to them.

**Riley ** 43:32
Flip the table.

**Margaret ** 43:34
That’s right. Fuck your safer sex. We live danger…[Joking tone] I don’t…No, that’s like…I really like how much this immediately ties into all the preparedness stuff, because this is what community preparedness is, is building culture, building community. Because the other thing, the way you’re talking about this, this is community organizing. [Riley makes an affirmative sound] And like people, I think sometimes think of subcultural spaces, whether it’s queer dance parties or punk shows or raves or whatever, as being outside of…people think subculture is distinct from culture, but there is no culture. There’s no mainstream culture. You ever talk to a normal person. They’re not normal. Like, they may dress as normal as they want, but everyone’s got something. You’re like, you’re talking to someone and then they’re like, "And the aliens…" and you’re like, "Huh."

**Riley ** 44:29
I thought you were into a thing by the way you dress, but you’re into a thing.

**Margaret ** 44:34
Exactly. And like, we just have a myriad of intersecting subcultures and we shouldn’t be…I don’t know. I think that building subculture and especially intersecting subcultures, and like…Like I love that at the book fair, there was a lot of different genres and there was a lot of different things happening. It wasn’t just punk, right? And I love punk, but not as much as I love goth, and you, you know, like, I don’t know, those weren’t the only two genres. I’m just…Yeah.

**Riley ** 45:07
Yeah, we had a really great time. And I am thinking more about this safety and what the role of, you know, I think about what my asks are as a promoter of people who are willing to show up to do some role of safety at our events. And I’m back at it again, be nice to people. Like that is one of my main asks over and over again, like, the main energy, I mean…it’s a really…And I can usually from talking to someone for a few minutes, gauge to some level, what their ability to do deescalate a situation is. And just like you said, if someone is coming in hot with something to prove, it’s like, "No, you’re going to be serving beans and rice because that is not the energy we need," you know? And that is…I just have to honor the de-escalation training and the safety trainings that I’ve received that taught me that, you know, we don’t need to reproduce militancy, or ugly masculinity, or yeah…There is no aspect of that, that keeps us safe. And I have been able to do more with my gay voice, and my demeanor, and my just looking someone in the eyes and smiling at them and asking them and like, you know, trying to build points of affinity to de-escalate a situation have been able to accomplish more that way than I’ve ever been able to accomplish by like, trying to get buck with somebody and trying to like…I’m doing something on a camera that people can’t see…

**Margaret ** 46:55
Just imagine, just imagine. Riley. Fist up. Head side-to-side. Shoulders also side-to-side…

**Riley ** 47:03
It looks like I’m doing a bird mating dance.

**Margaret ** 47:09
Well, no, and I, I like that too. Because it’s like, it’s also like, because most of it is that and then sometimes a bunch of people sit on your porch all week with guns. And while doing that, are not not macho, are communicating, are friendly, are friendly with neighbors, aren’t walking around with long guns. I mean, obviously, there are situations in this world where that is necessary. But that’s not usually what we’re talking about. You know, usually we’re talking about people who have specific training that is, especially in medical and like keeping people safe, but also includes like, concealed carry and all of these things. You know, that is a…Whenever non Americans listen to some of the stuff that I talk about, people are like, "Well, fuck, y’all are in trouble." And I’m like "Yeah, we’re in trouble!"

**Riley ** 47:58
We really are.

**Margaret ** 48:02
It’s the "I’m in danger," meme, but it’s like, but it’s okay. Like, that’s the other thing that you’re talking about being like…you know, you don’t go to a movie and you’re like, "Why are they showing us the fire movie, the fire exit movie." I guess they don’t do this anymore. When I was a kid, you would go to the movie and it would show you like, "Please note the nearest exits." You know, it doesn’t mean that the fucking movie theaters gonna burn down. It means that it might and you should know what to do. You know? And, so like bad things happen. Still, probably driving to and from things is more dangerous than doing things like that is…I remember I was reading about like wolf attacks, and like bear attacks, and shit, well camping, and everything was like, "Yeah, you know what the most dangerous part of camping is? Driving to the camping spot." And I say that not because it’s like, everything’s safe, but rather we clearly do accept danger. That is part of living.

**Riley ** 49:13
Yeah, I just want the danger to be like getting consensually kicked in the face during one of your friends sets in a pit and not like someone throwing punches and calling you slurs outside.

**Margaret ** 49:26
Totally. And if I want…if that happens, everyone to know that the plan is to beat that person into the ground and no one talked to the police about what happened.

**Riley ** 49:37
We saw nothing.

**Margaret ** 49:37
We all talked to lawyers instead.

**Riley ** 49:40

**Margaret ** 49:42
No, no. Okay. I like this. This has me excited. Every now and then I’m like…most of the time, I’m happy that I live in the woods and don’t do anything. And sometimes. I’m like, wait, sometimes I miss the fact that I did all of these things and I will do these things again. Okay, so you hinted at it a bunch of different times and you talked about different ways to be inclusive, including accessibility of the space for people of different mobility needs, accessibility of letting people know what the Covid risk is, and even like letting people know what the accessibility is, right? Like, own up to it if your space is not wheelchair accessible. And actually, hopefully, by owning up to it, you’re kind of like slowly pressuring yourself…Tell me if I’m going about this wrong, but in my mind that you like then kind of slowly pressure yourself to be like, "Oh, I really hate saying that it’s not wheelchair accessible, maybe we should…"

**Riley ** 50:30
Right, like, maybe I should find a wheelchair accessible place. Even, because that’s something I’ve really processed. I have to give it to a local group DIYabled to really push for accessible spaces within the DIY community here in Asheville. Because I really assessed it with this person, her name is Priya, who kind of runs that group. Like, I want to find these spaces that are accessible, but it’s, you know, it’s…We live in the mountains. There are…a lot of them just aren’t. And, you know, I feel, you know, all this guilt about that. And she’s like, "No, like, disabled people greatly appreciate you just saying it. Like, no shame, no shade, like, just let people know so they’re not haulin ass all the way out there to find out when they get there, or having to ask first." Like, yes, it does put that pressure on. And even if you aren’t like, I really want to find them accessible space, and the space just simply isn’t accessible, naming it is increasing access because it’s not forcing someone to travel to a place that they can’t actually get into, you know? So, no shade at all, if you can’t find that kind of space, but…

**Margaret ** 51:47
And that makes sense. And then like one of the things that I think about…I’m someone who, you know, I’m very Covid careful, let’s say. And, like, I really appreciate when places are like honest about like, you know, "Hey, masking is going to be encouraged," or, "Hey, masking…" Like, like, the thing that would make me sad is if you go to a space that’s like, "Masking required," and then like the organizers aren’t wearing masks and no one’s wearing masks. I’d rather you just didn’t put that on the flyer at that point, right? Because then you can make…I can make my own decisions around that. And, you know, I’ll…And so like putting on the flyer, like, "Outside space is available," you know, or whatever, right? Like, no, that’s interesting. And so, okay, so I’m wondering what other inclusivity, not just accessibility, but like inclusivity things are. Like you mentioned, for example, about paying people. Like that helps remove barriers of access, you know, for Black and brown folks and for people who suffer from class oppression as well. What are some of the other hot tips for inclusivity with Riley? [Said like it’s the name of a talk show segment]

**Riley ** 53:04
Let me think about that for a second, because I think that at the end of the day, it just boils down to like who is…Maybe it doesn’t boil down to who is organizing, but um…Yeah, I wonder like, who is the event actually for and what is the goal? What is the goal? You know, because I think about, you know, how different Pansy Collective might look if the intention was to book queer artists but we weren’t in ourselves queer. Or, if I was just like a punk promoter who was like, "I want to make my shows better," but wasn’t actually gay. I don’t know if it would feel differently. So I’m just like, actually, maybe part of it is…us? We got to be the ones doing it.

**Margaret ** 54:05
You mean, like, doing it ourselves like it is in the name?

**Riley ** 54:09
It’s almost as if we’re doing it ourselves. They should call that something do

**Margaret ** 54:15
DO. We’ll call it DO. [Both are laughing at the dry joke]

**Riley ** 54:18
I actually do remember at some point writing something about Pansy Collective and I like closed it off on this line that I was so proud of that was like, "We call it DIY, but really it’s DIT, doing it together." And that rings fucking true. I mean, it’s a little doing it together…

**Margaret ** 54:41
That’s a little ditty [Makes "Eh, eh" noises to affirm it’s a joke]

**Riley ** 54:43
Yeah, exactly. I think about taking the ego out of it. Or I’m like…Yeah, revisiting the…From a promoter aspect, the thing that I really hate to see from promoters, and the thing that we were able to kind of try our best to circumvent as a collective, was this, you know, we don’t want it to be about like who it is that’s doing the thing, you know? And for a long time, we try really hard to make the face behind who Pansy Collective was anonymous, for safety reasons, because I don’t know, I’ve named this a little bit already, but at the time in 2016 and 17 when we started organizing together, the block was really hot. And white supremacists were told to start keeping an eye on Asheville. And so there was a lot of attention on what we were doing. So, we tried to stay anonymous, partially for safety reasons, but partially because it felt less like…yeah, like a cool kid club, ego stroked. You know, this is me doing this. And instead it’s like, "No, this is, this is a collective and this is this collective is you, and it’s me, and it’s everyone, and it doesn’t matter who it is, because it’s about the thing. It’s not about who’s booking it. I think about that approach from a promoter standpoint as a way to circumvent the "cool kid shit" that makes spaces feel really unwelcoming. Because if you’re not in it then you’re not welcome. And it’s like, well, yeah, if it’s nothing to be in then we’re all here together. And we’re all on the same level.

**Margaret ** 56:34
No, that’s interesting. So what brought you to move away from that?

**Riley ** 56:36
Um, I don’t think that…Well, I got less scared of…I got less..After getting doxxed, I got less scared, I guess, because it’s…You know, it’s just like, "Oh, y’all aren’t gonna fucking bust a grape. Like what?" You know, and like this the…our biggest fear happened. And then we…

**Margaret ** 57:04
And then nothing happened.

**Riley ** 57:05
And then we took a concealed carry class together. I mean, I don’t know. Can I say that? Can I name that we did that?

**Margaret ** 57:11
I’m out about…I’ve talked about how after getting doxxed, I got my concealed carry. Yeah.

**Riley ** 57:15
Yeah. And so like, I mean, I was with Margaret on that. I mean, it was probably like 20 or 30 of us, and big props to the person that helped organize getting us all together for that. But yeah, I mean, we really responded like, alright, like, if y’all wanna fuck with us, we’re gonna up our defense and keep rolling, and we did and it’s fine. And so I got less scared because I’m like, "They don’t want any smoke with us." Like, what, you know, blast our dead names. Do whatever. I don’t give a shit. We’re really not…We’ve really been putting up with this shit for our whole lives. So it’s not that big of a deal.

**Margaret ** 57:59
Like when they’re like, "Oh, we’re gonna tell your parents that you’re a queer anarchists." And I’m like, "Oh, they know."

**Riley ** 58:05
They know. They already hate me for it. Don’t worry.

**Margaret ** 58:10
That’s either happened in a good way or bad way already for everyone.

**Riley ** 58:16
Yeah, no, exactly. It’s like I’m sorry that you lost your job for being a Nazi–No, I’m not–but it doesn’t really work, like what you’re gonna tell my leftist coffee shop job that I’m part of antifa? That got me a raise actually.

**Margaret ** 58:30
Yeah, and even like, you know, one of the people who was doxxed who worked at a coffee shop didn’t even have a good relationship with the owners of the coffee shop, and the coffee shop was like, "What? That sucks fuck them." You know? Like no one’s like mad. Yeah, it’s not samie-samie. They think it samie-samie, but they live in a weird bubble where antifa is bad and everyone is aware that Nazis are bad.

**Riley ** 58:55
Everyone knows that Nazis are bad. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, that is very well said. So I mean, I still you know, I still feel like it’s important that at whatever event I’m really impressed by organizers, not even just at an event in the streets too, you know. I mean, it’s very off putting, and you can tell very quickly if somebody is–my partner calls it "All up in the videos dancin."

**Margaret ** 59:27
Like people who are clout chasing?

**Riley ** 59:29
Yeah. Are you here to, you know, are you here to make a difference? Or are you here to be seen as a good person? You know, and that doesn’t run as deep at a party because it’s like we’re all here to do something. It doesn’t matter. But yeah, playing a role, whether it’s running sound, doing security, handing some artists some money, working behind the table, whatever. Taking the ego out of it makes the event more accessible for everyone, including you.

**Margaret ** 1:00:03
Yeah. No, that makes sense to me.

**Riley ** 1:00:06
I mean that for artists too. Like, I don’t want to book people who are more about themselves than about the community they’re playing with.

**Margaret ** 1:00:16
Yeah, totally. Because then it’s like, I want to celebrate people within my community doing something amazing. But not in this way that makes me think that they’re amazing and I’m not, right? When we put people on stages–I mean, obviously, sometimes stages are useful for literal accessibility, actually, so that everyone can see and things like that–but when we elevate people metaphorically, like, this is what I like about punk, the thing that really got me about punk and why I started liking the music more was the sense of like, someone from our crowd has emerged and shown and been, you know, and it could be about their name, it can be about the thing that they’ve done, and then they come back into the crowd, and then they are of us, and they’re coming from us. And I really like that because then we can celebrate what makes us each individual and exceptional, but not in a way that says that these people are better than us, you know?

**Riley ** 1:01:16
Yeah, definitely. And I mean, that’s why I also never want it to get any bigger than it is, right, right? You know, I love when punk projects keep it to a certain size, you know, I don’t want to be working with large venues, I don’t want to be working with tens of thousands of dollars. I don’t want to be working with green rooms. And yeah, there’s just…I am of a particular…I don’t even know what it is. I just want to do all that, you know? I feel more comfortable in somebody’s hot basement or in a shitty dive bar or under a bridge, I guess?

**Margaret ** 1:02:00
No, it makes sense. I think of like…I think of it as like, are there ways where if we get…because I think Chumbawamba rules, right? They did their sell out thing, they got a ton of money, they financed all of these projects, and it was always a compromise. And it like, wasn’t an easy thing, right? And then they like blew their, you know, celebrity and like went back to doing DIY shit. And like, that’s fucking great. And like, so I think that like…I think we sort of need both. I actually do think we need the stadium stuff. Because if the stadium stuff is also like, financing us? But it’s not building the DIY culture. It’s kind of like the tech bro who gives tons of money, rules and is great and is amazing, and it is a sacrifice that someone is making to spend all their time working if they are capable of producing…like someone who’s capable of getting a lot of money by working I actually think it’s like a really good idea for them to do that so they get a bunch of money and give it to things you know?

**Riley ** 1:02:00
Yeah. I’m not mad at that at all.

**Margaret ** 1:02:02
Yeah. I think it’s funny. I think Chumbawamba would have…like I think people would have been so much less mad at them if it had happened now instead of…or maybe I just say this because now I get paid to podcast? [laughing] I don’t know, maybe I have a bias here…

**Riley ** 1:03:21
Maybe you get knocked down, but then you get back up again. Maybe it’s that.

**Margaret ** 1:03:24
I know. Never gonna keep me down. Well, okay, so is there any like standout question that I didn’t ask you that I probably should have or do you have any like final words or?

**Riley ** 1:03:40
No, I…Let me think about that for a second. I don’t know. I think I just want people to get out there and do it. Yeah, start that project. Put yourself out there. Share it with us. Come through Asheville. We’ll book you.

**Margaret ** 1:04:05
Hell yeah. Yeah, the secret is to really begin. Do the thing that you want to do. That’s what’s so great about DIY is that it actually doesn’t matter if it sucks. Like, just do it. And then if you don’t like it, do it better next time. And if you do like it, and no one else likes it, just keep doing it. Fuck it. Whatever. Eventually the people who think what you’re doing is cool will show up. I never thought there would be a goth night at an anarchist bookfair but I’ve been in a lot of goth bands and finally I got to play an anarchist bookfair so it all works out. Okay, well how can people either find you or your projects?

**Riley ** 1:04:44
Y’all can check out Pansy Collective on Instagram. It’s Pansy.Collective. Um, that’s kind of it. Thank you, Margaret.

**Margaret ** 1:04:52
Yeah, thank you so much.

**Margaret ** 1:05:00
Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this podcast, you should go out and start a band or start booking benefits or go to an event and make friends with people or don’t make friends with people or don’t be a cool kid at the thing if you’re already in the in-crowd. Or, you can financially support us because we don’t pay–at the moment we don’t pay the hosts which is fine–but we do pay the transcriptionist and the audio editor because they’re doing the like completely thankless work. And so, thanks, by the way, both the transcriptionist and audio editor who have to hear me say this. You can support us by supporting us on Patreon. It’s We send out a zine every month to our backers at $10 or more. We have another podcast called Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness where we do a free audio version and an interview with the person who has recorded the zine or who wrote the zine…Put the verbs in the right order on your own time. And in particular, we would like to thank Carson, Lord Harken, Trixter, Princess Miranda, BenBen, anonymous–that’s a good choice–Funder, Jans, Oxalice, Janice & O’dell, Paige, Aly, Paparouna, Milicia, Boise Mutual Aid, theo, Hunter, Shawn, S.J., Paige, Mikki, Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea, Cat J., Staro, Jenipher, Eleanor, Kirk, Sam, Chris, Michaiah, and Hoss the dog. Thank you Hoss the dog and everyone be as well as you can and we’ll talk to you soon.

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S1E85 – This Month in the Apocalypse: August 2023

Episode Summary

This time on This Month in the Apocalypse, Brooke, Margaret, and Inmn talk about everything that happened in August, from the apocalyptic weather, to the wild fires in Lahaina, to some recent and incredibly tragic queerphobic violence. But also there’s some hope.

Host Info

Brooke can be found on Twitter or Mastodon @ogemakweBrooke. Inmn can be found on Instagram @shadowtail.artificery. Margaret can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy or instagram at @margaretkilljoy.

Publisher Info

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


We have a delay on the transcription for this episode. Check back soon!

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S1E84 – Michael Novick on Antifascist Struggle

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Inmn is joined by author and activist, Michael Novick. They talk about just how horrible fascism really is. Thankfully, there’s a simple solution, antifascism. Michael talks about their work with Anti-Racist Action Network, the Turning The Tide newspaper, and his newest book with Oso Blanco, The Blue Agave Revolution.

Host Info

Inmn can be found on Instagram @shadowtail.artificery.

Guest Info

Michael (he/they) and The Blue Agave Revolution can be found at
If you want to take over the Turning The Tide newspaper, find Michael at antiracistaction_

Publisher Info

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


Live Like the World is Dying: Michael Novick on Antifascism

Inmn 00:15
Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m your host Inmn Neruin and I use they/them pronouns. This week we are talking about something that is very scary and, in terms of things we think about being prepared for, something that is far more likely to impact our lives than say, a zombie apocalypse. Or I mean, we’re already being impacted by this. It is actively killing us. But, if I had to choose between preparing for this and preparing for living in a bunker for 10 years, I would choose this. Oh, golly, I really hope preparing for this doesn’t involve living in a bunker for 10 years, though. But the monster of this week is fascism. However, there’s a really great solution to fascism…antifascism. And we have a guest today who has spent a lot of their life thinking about and participating in antifascism. But first, we are a proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchist podcasts. And so here’s a jingle from another show on that network. Doo doo doo doo doo. [Singing the words like a cheesy melody]

Inmn 02:00
And we’re back. And I have with me today writer and organizer Michael Novick, co founder of the John Brown Anti Klan Committee, People Against Racist Terror, Anti-racist Action Network, the TORCH Antifa network and White People For Black Lives. Michael, would you like to introduce yourself with your name, pronouns and kind of…I guess like your history in anti-racist, antifascist struggles and a little bit about what you want to tell us about today?

Michael 02:34
Sure. Thanks, Inmn. So yeah, Michael Novick. Pronouns he or they. I’ve been doing anti-racist and antifascist organizing and educating and work for many many decades at this point. I’m in my 70s. I got involved in political activism in kind of anti-war, civil rights, student rights work in the 60s. I was an SDS at Brooklyn College. And I’ve been doing that work from an anti white supremacist, anticapitalist, anti-imperialist perspective. And I think that particularly trying to understand fascism in the US context, you have to look at questions of settler colonialism. And, you know, people sometimes use the term racial capitalism. I think that land theft, genocide, enslavement of people of African descent, especially is central to understanding the social formation of this country. I was struck by the name of the podcast in terms of "live like the world is ending," because for a long time, I had an analysis that said that the fear of the end of the world had to do with the projection of the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie feels that its rule is coming to an end and therefore thinks the world is coming to an end, but the world will get on fire without the bourgeoisie and the rulers and the imperialists. Except that because of the lease on life that this empire has gotten repeatedly by the setbacks caused by white and male supremacy and the way it undermines people’s movements, the bourgeoisie is actually in a position to bring the world to an end. I think that’s what we’re facing is a global crisis of the Earth’s system based on imperialism, based on settler colonialism, and exploitation of the Earth itself. And so I think it’s not just preparing for individual survival in those circumstances. We have to think about really how we can put an end to a system that’s destroying the basis for life on the planet. And so I think that those are critical understandings. And the turn towards fascism that we’re seeing across the…you know, Anti-Racist Action’s analysis has always been that fascism is built from above and below and that there are forces within society. I think particularly because settler colonialism is a mass base for fascism in this country, as well as an elite preference for it under the kind of circumstances that we’re looking at, in which, you know, as I said the basis for life itself has been damaged by imperialism, capitalism, and its manifestations. And so the need for extreme repressive measures, and for genocidal approaches, and exterminationist approaches are at hand. So, I think that, again, I think that the question of preparation is preparation for those kinds of circumstances. I think we’re living in a kind of low intensity civil war situation already, in which you see the use of violence by the State, obviously, but also by non state forces that people have to deal with. So I think that that’s the overall approach that I think we need to think about. And that comes out of, as I said, decades of doing work. I think that there are a few key things that we have to understand about this system, which is that it’s not just issues that we face, but there is an enemy, there is a system that is trying to propagate and sustain itself that is inimical to life and inimical to freedom. And that if we want to protect our lives and the lives of other species and if we want to protect people’s freedom going forward, we have to recognize that there’s an irreconcilable contradiction between those things and between the system that we live in. So that’s kind of a sobering perspective. But, I think it’s an important one.

Inmn 06:20
Yeah, yeah, no, it is. And it’s funny, something that you said, kind of made a gear turn in my head. So, you know, normally, yeah, we do talk about in preparing to live like the world is dying, we do usually come at it from this context of that being a bad thing that we need to prepare for bad things to happen. But, the way you were talking about like fascism and empire and stuff, I suddenly thought, "Wait, maybe we should live like that world is dying and like there is something better ahead." Because, you know, we do like to approach the show from…I feel like we like to talk about the bad things that are happening and could happen but also the hopefulness and like the brighter futures that we can imagine.

Michael 07:15
I think that’s right. And I think it’s really important to have both of those understandings. I think that, you know, people do not actually get well organized out of despair. I think they do, you know, you want to have…You know, there used to be a group called Love and Rage. And you have to have both those aspects. You have to have the rage against the machine and the rage against the system that’s destroying people, but you have to have the love, you have to have that sense of solidarity and the idea of a culture of not just resistance but a culture of liberation and a culture of solidarity. And I think that, you know, there’s a dialectic between the power of the State and the power of these oppressive forces and the power of the people and to the extent that the people can exert their power and to the extent that we can free ourselves from the, you know, the chains of mental slavery is…[Sings a sort of tune] you hear in reggae, you know, that actually weakens the power of the State and the power of the corporations. And they [the State] understand that sometimes better than we do. So there is, you know, there’s some lessons I feel like I’ve learned and one of them is that every time there is a liberatory movement based out of people’s experiences and the contradictions that are experienced in their lives, whether it’s the gay liberation movement, women’s liberation movement, or Black liberation and freedom struggle, there’s always an attempt by the rulers to take that over and to reintegrate it into, you know, bourgeois ways of thinking. And, you know, people talk about hegemony and the idea that ruling ideas are the ideas of the ruling class, and I think that, you know, I’ve seen it happen over and over again with different movements. And so, you know, I was involved with the Bay Area gay liberation in the 80s and, you know, one of the things that happened there is that you saw very quickly a different language coming up and different issues coming up. And so suddenly the question of gays in the military was put forward, or we have to be concerned about the fact that gay people have to hide when they’re in the military, and the question of normalizing gay relationships in the contract form of marriage came forward. And those were basically efforts to circumscribe and contain the struggle for gay liberation and to break down gender binaries and stuff within the confines of bourgeois conceptions of rights and bourgeois integration into militarism and contractual economic relationships. And you saw that over and over again in terms of the Women’s Liberation Movement, and then all of a sudden you’ve got bourgeois feminism and white white feminism. And I think that that’s really important to understand because it means that there’s a struggle inside every movement to grasp the contradiction that…and to maintain a kind of self determined analysis and strategy for how that movement is going to carry itself forward in opposition to what the rulers of this society–who rely heavily on, as I say, white supremacy, male supremacy, settler colonialism, and its manifestations–to try to contain and suppress insurrectionary…And you see the same thing within the preparedness movement. There’s the dominant politics of the preparedness movement I think that I’ve seen over many years are actually white supremacist. They’re maintaining the homestead of settler colonial land theft. So you have to understand that that’s a contradiction in that movement that has to be faced and overcome and struggled with. I think having an understanding is critical to really trying to chart a path forward that will kind of break…create wedge issues on our side of the of the ledger, so to speak, and begin to break people away from identification with the Empire, identification with whiteness, identification with privilege. And, you know, one of the issues I’ve had over a long time, for example, what I struggle for is people’s understanding about the question of privilege. You know, I come out of the…as I said, there were struggles in the 60s and early 70s about what we called white skin privilege. And I think that it’s critical to understand that privilege functions throughout the system all the time. It’s not a burden of guilt, it’s a mechanism of social control. And anything you have as privilege can be taken away. Privilege is a mechanism of actually obtaining consent and adherence to…You know, parents use privileges with their kids to try to get their kids to do what they want. Teachers use privilege with students to get the students to do what they want, Prison guards use privileges with prisoners to get the prisoners to follow the rules and stay incarcerated. And so, you know, that’s a mechanism of Imperial domination, of settler colonialism, and certainly within that context. So, it’s not an illness or a…It’s not something to be guilty about. It’s something to contend with and deal with and understand that if there are things you have as privileges that you think are used by right or by merit, you’re deluding yourself and you can’t actually function facing reality. So when you understand that they are privileges, you understand that they’re there to obtain your consent and your adherence, and your compliance, your complicity, your complacency, and then you have to actually resist those privileges or turn those privileges into weapons that you can use to actually weaken the powers that be. And I think that that approach is important to understand that, you know…I used to do a lot of work with people in the Philippines struggle, and they talked about the fact that, you know, on some of the…outside the US Army bases that were imposed in the Philippines, there was a rank order of privilege, like where people could dig in the garbage dumps of the US military to get better quality stuff that was being thrown out by the military. And so that kind of hierarchy and sense of organizing people by by hierarchy, by privilege, is how the system functions at every level. In the workplace they find different privileges that people have to try to divide workers from each other and get people to struggle for privilege as opposed to actually struggle for solidarity and resistance and a different world. And I think that having that understanding begins to free people. Steven Biko was the leader of the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa that really helped propel it moving forward. One of the things he said is that, "The greatest weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the minds of the oppressed." And, you know, I think to the extent that we can start to free our minds of these structures, we can actually begin to weaken the oppressor and strengthen the struggling and creative powers and energies of people to really build a different world.

Inmn 14:00
Yeah, yeah. Sorry, this is gonna seem like a silly question because it feels very basic. But, I love to kind of break things down into their base levels. But, what is fascism?

Michael 14:11
Yeah, good question. I think that an important analysis of fascism that I came across is from Cesare Amè. And what he said is that, "Fascism is the application in the metropole (of the colonizing power) of the methods of rule that have been used in the colonies." I think that that has a critical understanding because, as I said, the US is a separate colonial system, so elements of fascism have always been present within the political, economic, and social structure of the United States because they’re internally colonized people and stolen land. So, if you’re looking at elements of fascism, there’s hyper masculinity, there’s hyper nationalism, there’s obviously slave labor, there’s incorporation of a mass base into kind of a visceral identification with a leader. And all of those things really have manifest themselves in US history before we used the term, "fascism." And so, the US is based on land theft, on genocide, on exterminationist policies towards the indigenous people, the enslavement of African people, and also on the incorporation of a mass base based on settler colonialism and the offering of privileges to a sector of the population to say, "Okay, you know, we’re going to participate along with the rulers in this system." And so I think that it’s important to get that understanding because people often think that fascism is an aberration or it’s a particularly extreme form of dictatorial rule or something like that. But I think that it’s really a way of trying to reorganize people’s personalities around their role within an empire and within, you know, it’s trying to control the way people think, and control the way people see themselves in relation to other people. And so, you know, that’s why I think that idea that fascism is built from above and below is important because we do see fascist elements that have some contradictions with the state. And we’ve seen, for example, in January 6th. You know, the government has gone after certain of these elements because they have moved too quickly. Or, the same way that there were premature antifascists during the World War II period and they went after the people in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Sometimes there are sort of premature proto-fascist in this society that have contradictions with the State, and they’re operating somewhat independently. So, you know, I think that it’s important to understand that and that there are elements in the State and within the different sections of the State that have their own operative plan. So, you know, when you look at the question of police abuse and police brutality, there’s one approach to it that certain elements in the State take, which is about command and control. They want to make sure that they control the police forces and that individual officers are not acting independently but are carrying out cohesive state strategies. At the same time, there are elements within law enforcement that are trying to organize individual cops for organized white supremacy. And, it’s the same thing in the military. And so there are contradictions there that we have to be aware of, but at the same time, they’re operating within a framework of settler colonialism, of organized white supremacy, So, one of the things that’s come up recently, for example, is this idea that there…how can there be non-white white supremacists? And, you know, I think it has to do with the fact that it’s not just your identity, or your racial identity that’s there but who do you…What’s your identification? Are you identifying with the Empire? Are you identifying with the bourgeois? Are you identifying with the settler colonial project that has shaped, really, the whole globe over the course of half a millennium? Or, are you identifying with the indigenous? Are you identifying with the struggling people? And it’s less a…It’s not a question of your particular skin color but which side of the line are you on?

Inmn 18:12
How does attempts by the State or by society to kind of like assimilate various oppressed people into the Empire? Like, how does that kind of factor factor into this?

Michael 18:24
Well, if you look at the history of, let’s say, Central America is one case in point, that there were fascist forces in Central America and their base was not really within their own society. Their base was within the Empire. And so, you had death squads operating, you had mercenaries operating, you had contras [counter revolutionaries] operating in Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, carrying out genocidal policies, in many cases, against indigenous people and people of African descent within their own societies. And so, you know, that’s not exactly fascism in the same way, but it certainly is aspects of police state and death squad activity that has to be resisted. So I think that, you know, when you see Enrique Tarrio and some of these people that are, quote unquote, "Hispanic," operating as proto-fascists with the Proud Boys or these other formations in the United States that’s a manifestation of the same thing, that there are people who have identified themselves with a system of white supremacy and a system of domination, a system of exploitation, and they’re trying to make their own individual piece with it and they have collective mechanisms that reinforce that. And they see…So, you know, I think that the fascism has presented itself at times as a decolonizing element in Latin America and Asia and other places where…For example, when the Japanese Empire was trying to strengthen itself and formed an alliance with Italian fascism and German Nazism, they also presented themselves in Asia as liberators of Asia from European colonialism. And, you know, then they carried out atrocities of their own in China, Indochina, and Korea. So, I think that nobody is exempt from this. It’s not a genetic factor. It is what ideology…What’s the organizing principle that people are operating under to form their society and generate their power? If that’s militaristic, if it’s hierarchical, if it’s exploitative, then regardless of what the skin tone of somebody carrying that out is, it can be fascistic in its nature.

Inmn 20:44
Yeah, I like something that you said earlier, which I think is an interesting frame. So, I feel like people in the United States, you might hear people like, talk about the rise of fascism, or the like, emergence of fascism, as if it’s this new thing, you know? And I like how you read it, in the formation of the United States as a nationalistic identity with this idea that fascism has always been here, fascism has always been a part of the settler colonial project of the United States.

Michael 21:27
Well, I was gonna follow up that is if you look at the countries in which fascism came to power in Europe, they were mainly countries where they felt they were not adequate empires in their own right. In other words, Spain, even Portugal, France, England, you know, had empires. Germany came late to imperialism. And even to the formation of a German state, the German bourgeoisie was not able to really unify all the Germans into a single nation. Same thing with Italy. Italy was, you know, a bunch of kind of mini states and city states and came late to the formation of a national sense of Italy. And so I think that fascism presented itself as a overarching ideology that could galvanize a nation and launch it into an imperial mode where it could compete with other empires. So the US context is a little different because, as I say, from the very beginning it had that element of settler colonialism and cross-class alliance in which not only the bourgeoisie but even working people could be induced to participate in that project of land theft and genocide. There’s a famous book called "How the Irish Became White" by Noel Ignatiev who talked about, you know, how white supremacy affected Irish workers. And what he didn’t really look at was that there was some Irish involved right from the very beginning and trying to overturn the land relationships between settlers. They wanted, you know, there was a land theft and a land hunger that they had, and so, for example, even before the question of relation between Irish workers and Black workers came up, there were Irish in the United States that wanted to overturn the agreements that had been reached in Pennsylvania between the Quakers and the indigenous people in Pennsylvania. The Irish wanted land and they wanted to participate in taking that land from the native people. And then that had repercussions back in Ireland itself because that the US Empire and those land thefts then affected the consciousness of the Irish within Ireland itself and weaken the Irish struggle for independence from British colonialism because there was a safety valve of the US Empire. And so I think that it’s critical to look at these things because it gives us a sense of what is at stake at different times and what’s at issue. And I think that looking at the question of decolonization, looking at the question of solidarity and unity, is the flip sides to this. If we only look at the power of the bourgeois, if we look at the power of the fascists, it can be intimidating or overwhelming or depressing. And I think that that’s the…You know, when you talk about preparedness and some of these things, you’re talking about what are the generative powers of the people themselves because Imperialism and Capitalism are based on a kind of parasitical relationship. They’re extracting wealth from the Earth itself and from the labor of people and turning it into a power over the Earth and over the people. And I think that understanding that actually all that wealth that the system has, all the power that the system has is actually coming out of the people who are oppressed and exploited in the land gives us a sense of what our own powers are and what our own capacity to be creative and generative are. To the extent we exercise those, it weakens them. And I think that that’s a critical understanding.

Inmn 25:16
Yeah. Are there ways that fascism is currently manifesting that feel different from say, I don’t know, like 40 years ago?

Michael 25:29
Well, I think the whole phenomenon of social media and the way in which they very effectively organized these Neofascist forces through the gaming…hypermasculine gaming stuff and, you know, I think…We talked a little bit about the..I think the reason that people approached me to do this podcast had to do with my essay in "¡No Pasarán!: Antifascist Dispatches from a World in Crisis." And so that’s a piece where I talked about, you know, some of this history of different struggles and how they…what lessons to extract from them. But the other book I’ve been working on and put out recently, is called "The Blue Agave Revolution: Poetry of the Blind Rebel." This was a book…I was approached by Oso Blanco, an indigenous political prisoner here in the United States who was involved with actually robbing banks to support the Zapatistas in Mexico, and he was getting "Turning the Tide," the newspaper I’ve been working on for many years that we send free to prisoners, and he approached me. He wanted to work on a book and he said he wanted me to work on the book with him. And he had…"The Poetry of the Blind Rebel" is a story arc and poetry arc of his work that is a story about the Mexican Revolution of the early 20th century, the 1910s-1920. It’s kind of magical realism. But, he asked me to write some fiction. And so I wrote kind of a short story cycle of a three way fight between vampires, zombies, and humans. And the vampires are basically–I mean, it’s Dracula–but, you know, there’s one point where there’s a woman who has been trying to grapple with this and she forms a cross with two wooden tent stakes and he kind of laughs and says, "Oh, you bought that old wive’s tale. We totally integrated into the church and into the State," you know. Basically, the vampires represent the bourgeoisie because they [the bourgeoisie] are vampiric and parasitic and they have powers. The zombies in this story are a group of incels that have captured a vampire and they think that they can create a potion from vampire blood that will give them power over women and make them…you know…And instead, they turn themselves into zombies. And so then there’s a sort of three way fight between the bourgeoisie on the one hand, these vampires, the fascists from below, these sort of incel zombies that have to eat brains, and then the humans who are trying to deal with both of them. And I think that that’s an important understanding that, you know, there are contradictions between the vampires and zombies but they’re both our enemy. And so, I think that that’s an approach that we have to understand that they’re….You know, it’s not a simple linear equation that’s going on. There’s a lot of things happening. I think that the fascists from below have contradictions with the fascists above, and we can take advantage of that. And then…but, we have to understand that their, you know, it’s not…I think there are weaknesses…[Trails off] Let me go back to this. You know, historically, people have talked about antifascism and anti-imperialism, and there’s been an element in both of those of class collaboration. A lot of people in the anti-imperialist movement think, "Oh, well, there’s a sort of a national bourgeoisie that also doesn’t like the Empire and wants to exert itself. And we have to ally with them. And a lot of people in antifascist movements have thought, "Oh, well, there’s, you know, bourgeois Democrats who also hate fascism," and I think that those have been weaknesses historically. And also the contradiction between people who concentrate mostly antifascism, the people who concentrate mostly on anti-imperialism has weakened people’s movements. I think having a kind of overarching understanding that fascism is rooted in Empire, particularly in settler colonialism, and that there isn’t a contradiction. We have to find the forces of popular resistance that will overturn both fascism and imperialism…and capitalism. And, that we have to, you know, have a self determined struggle for decolonization and recognize people’s self determination in their own struggles and their own capacity to live in a different way and to begin to create, you know, the solidarity forever, we say, you know, "Build a new world from the ashes of the old." And, I think that in terms of my own work, I’ve tried to–although, you might think I’m aging out at this point, but I’ve been involved at every point that there’s an upsurge in struggle. I’ve tried to participate in that as part of Occupy LA. And more recently, I’ve been involved with some of the dual power organizing that’s going on. And I don’t know how much your people are familiar with that, but it is a conception related to, let’s say, Cooperation Jackson, in Mississippi, where they’re trying to figure out ways of organizing themselves economically and also resisting the power of the State. And so I was at the Dual Power Gathering that took place in Indiana last summer and there’s one on the West Coast that’s coming up in the Portland area.

Inmn 31:06
Yeah, could you explain what–for our listeners–what is dual power?

Michael 31:11
Yeah, so dual power is the concept that we have a power and we can exercise that power, and within the framework of this contemporary society, which is so destructive, we can begin to generate and exercise that power, and that there’s, as I said, a kind of dialectic between the power of the people and the power of the State, and the corporations, and the power of the fascist, and that the different prefigurative elements of the kind of society we want to live in in the future can be created now. And, that as we exercise that power, it weakens the power of the State. It weakens the power of the bourgeoisie and the power of the imperialists. I went to that Dual Power Gathering in Indiana–I mean, it’s not my bio region, but I did used to live in Chicago–and I felt some affinities with it. You know, they were…To talk about the idea of, you know, what’s the relationship between dual power and our three-way fight, with a different conception with what the three-way fight is, that we are having to contend with two different enemies, you know, these fascists from below and the fascist from above, the State, and corporate power, and then also right-wing elements. And I think that in terms of both of those, we have to understand what are the powers that we have to organize ourselves to, as they say, to apply the generative and regenerative powers to…So that people have a sense of what they’re fighting for. It’s not just anti-this and anti-that. So for example, the newspaper I’ve worked in for many years, "Turning the Tide," originally, we called it the "Journal of Anti-Racist Action," or "Anti-Racist Action Edcuation & Research," and then we changed the subtitle a few years ago to, "The Journal of Intercommunal Solidarity," in the sense that you have to say what you’re fighting for? What are we trying to build? What are we trying to create? What are we creating? And how does that give us the capacity to continue to resist and continue to shape the future, not just react always to what they’re doing but actually have a proactive, generative stance. And so, you know, people’s creative cultural expressions, people’s capacity to do permaculture in urban environments or many other things like that, that say, that we want to restore the biological diversity, you know. We want to restore the capacity of the soil. We want to restore the clarity of the water and the air in the process of struggling for our own liberation. And that, you know, those are things that can happen and must happen now. We can’t wait for some revolution that will happen in the future in which you know, we’ll create a better world. We have to start in the context and the interstices of the system in the place that people are being pulverized. And so, you know, in Los Angeles, people are involved in various kinds of mutual aid work and working with the homeless, working with people being evicted to take over homes and restore them. And I think all those manifestations, that’s the question of dual power there. We’re looking at the incapacity of the people ruling this society to actually meet basic human needs and we’re trying to figure out how to meet them. So, I think that’s where it coincides with this question of preparedness is that I think that is a sense that people have to rely on their own resources, their own energies, and understanding that there’s a contradiction between the system, the way it functions, and its implications and impact on us. And it’s incapacity, its powerlessness, to really protect people from the kinds of calamities it’s creating, whether it’s flooding, or firestorms, or, you know, all the other manifestations of this global crisis of the Earth’s system that is growing out of Capitalism. We have to deal with that now. We can’t wait, you know, till sometime in the future when we have, you know, "power," quote unquote, you know? We have the power to start to deal with it.

Inmn 35:17
Yeah, and, I feel like there have been different ways that people have tried to do exactly that in the past. And I don’t know, like, I’m thinking of a lot of the stuff that the Black Panthers were doing, like creating communities that they…like, declaring that they had power and that they had the power to build the communities that they wanted and to preserve those communities. And then they faced an incredible amount of repression, like, as much for arming themselves as for giving kids lunch and breakfast. And I’m wondering, in what ways does the State try to like…or in what ways has the State tried to destabilize dual power movements in the past? And what can we kind of expect them to do now? Or what are they doing now? Does that make sense?

Michael 36:35
Yeah, I think there’s always a two-pronged approach by the state. And, sometimes it’s referred to as, "The carrot and the stick." You know, it’s co-optation ad coercion. And so they always attempt both to control as they modify people’s thinking and try to create bourgeois alternatives to liberatory thinking and liberatory organizing. And then simultaneously, they have the repressive aspects, the criminalization of those efforts. And so in relation to the Black Panther Party, for example, they were simultaneously pushing what they called Black Capitalism, and saying, "Oh, yes, you know, we’ll give you, you know, we’ll find the sector of Black community that can integrate into the system." And then, along with that, they were carrying out COINTELPRO, which was a war strategy of creating contradictions inside Black Liberation organizations, setting one against the other, trying to execute and/or incarcerate people who were not willing to compromise their principles. So I think we have to be aware that you’re seeing the same thing go on around policing issues. You know, they constantly want to put forward different reforms and accountability measures and ways that people can participate in civilian oversight mechanisms that really don’t do anything. And at the same time, they’re, you know, attacking people who are doing Copwatch or groups like the Stop LAPD Spying Network, which has exposed a lot of stuff about this constantly being targeted. So, I think that those, that the two-pronged approach by the State is something we have to be very aware of. It’s not only coercion and criminalization and repression, but it’s also co-optation and, you know, giving people individual solutions and mechanisms that are…they call it the nonprofit industrial complex, you know, this whole mechanism of structures that are set up to get people involved in grant writing and looking to philanthropists to somehow support them in their work. And I think that trying..You know, one of the things the Black Panther Party did was it had its own self generated funding by going to the base community they were trying to organize in, talking to small shopkeepers, and talking to churches, and trying to integrate that into these Liberatory efforts. So, I think that, you know, looking at that model, when I started doing, for example, People Against Racist Terror, there were a lot of small anti-racist groups around the country and a lot of them ended up going the route of looking for grants and looking for nonprofit organizations that they could fold themselves into, and I think that that kind of denatured them. They became, you know…As opposed to being grassroots, they became board and staff organizations, and individuals would create careers out of it. And I think that that mechanism of transforming popular movements into nonprofit organizations or nongovernmental organizations that accommodate themselves to existing power structures, existing economic realities, is one of the things that we need to try to avoid happening in this current period.

Inmn 40:18
That makes that makes a lot of sense. Yeah, it’s, it’s funny, because I feel like I’m seeing a lot of groups involved in mutual aid, who are, I think, taking that lesson of the nonprofit industrial complex but are also trying to access larger swaths of money than the communities that they’re part of can provide, like this model of, it’s important to involve your community base in those things and to generate those things ourselves, but there is this problem sometimes of like, you’re passing the hat and the same 20 people are kicking into the bail fund. And I don’t know, I think maybe this is just me being hopeful, but I’m seeing a lot of mutual aid groups kind of dip into grant writing or dip into utilizing nonprofit statuses more so than structures in order to access funding and things like that. But what I’m seeing is people coming at it from like, hopefully, what is a different perspective of taking these lessons of the past and being like, "Well, we don’t want to become some horrifying, large nonprofit, but we do want the State to give us 10 grand so that we can build infrastructure. Like I guess my question is, are there ways to responsibly interact with that? Or is this a trap?

Michael 41:57
I guess I’d have hear more details. I think it’s imperative that it has to come from below and from the grassroots. I think that, you know, I’ve been involved with the opposite, for example, Pacifica Radio, and Pacifica is listener sponsored radio and is a constant struggle about how much can we accept cooperation of broadcasting funding. They cut us off some years ago and we’re trying to get it back Or, there’s struggles about trying to get some underwriting. It depends who you’re accountable to for the money that you’re getting. Are you accountable primarily to the funder? Are you accountable primarily to the people who are using that money and the people who are self organizing for community power and community sustainability, and, you know, some of the things we’re talking about of self determined strategies. And, you know, I do think that what happened to a lot of the 60s movements is that there was an ebb in the mass movement. And then people made their separate peace. People were like flotsam and jetsam as the tide of people’s power movements were negatively impacted because of white supremacy, male supremacy, COINTELPRO, and an inadequate response to deal with it. Then, you know, people ended up in labor unions where they were doing some good work, but basically they became part of a labor bureaucracy where they ended up in government social services/ They were doing some good work, but they became part of that mechanism. So, I think the critical thing is trying to keep control of what’s going on in the hands of the people who are actually organizing themselves and their communities.

Inmn 43:55
Yeah. No, that makes sense. What are strategies that we should be embracing for countering this current current escalation in fascist tendencies?

Michael 44:10
Well, you know, I’ve done a lot of work over the years, and as I say, "Turning the Tide" is a newspaper, we send a couple of thousand copies almost every issue into the prisons and we’re in touch with a lot of stuff that’s going on in the prisons. And I think that that’s a critical place to look for some understanding about how to deal with this because we do see under what are essentially very naked fascist conditions of domination inside the prisons, which are very hierarchical. There’s a lot of negative activity within the prisons themselves. There’s the power of the guards and the wardens in the system and yet you find struggles going on against racism, against sexism, for solidarity against the solitary confinement of people who have been victims of torture are organizing themselves. And I think that understanding of that capacity and looking at that, those are some of the leading struggles in the United States. There have been hunger strikes, there have been labor strikes, the Alabama Prisoners Movement [Free Alabama Movement] here in California and elsewhere. And I think that sense that people under the most severe repression are actually capable of making human connections among themselves and beginning to actually, in a self critical way, look at how they incorporated toxic masculinity and racism into their own approach to reality, and by beginning to purge themselves of those things, they can begin to create multiracial solidarity among all prisoners to actually resist the conditions of incarceration and resist enslavement. So I think that that’s very important to look at. I think that here in Los Angeles, there are, as they say, organizations like LACAN, that are working among homeless people and with homeless people to organize themselves to have street watches. They have a community garden on the roof of a building. They have cultural expression. They have theatrical groups…coral…You know, it’s like all those things connect people’s love and rage, as I say, people’s ability to generate creative cultural expression and to use that to strengthen their solidarity and their unity and their ability to resist the coercive power of the State or the police sweeps or to expose what’s going on and begin to put out a challenge to the way that society is organized. So I think that those are some critical things. I think that having the capacity to defend ourselves, both physically and also legally is very very important. I think that if you look at stuff like the Stop Cop City struggle that the escalation of repression and the use of charges of terrorism on people that are obviously not terrorists is indicates that the State sees this as a very, very serious threat and is trying to eradicate it and is trying to intimidate people. And I think to the extent that we can turn that around and use it to say to people, you know, "Is this the kind of State you want to live in? Is this the kind of society you want to have?" is a way to begin to change minds and hearts of people who have been going along with the system. I lived through a whole period where we freed many many political prisoners. We freed Bobby. We freed Huey. We freed Angela. And, you know, even the Panther 21 in New York, you know, it’s like the jury met for about 30 minutes and acquitted them all because the power of those organized forces affected the consciousness of the jurors. And I think that understanding that we actually have the power to begin to shape not just own consciousness, to ways that struggle with people, to, "Which side are you on?" and to give people a sense that there is a side that they can identify with and become part of, and transform their own lives, and transform society in the process of doing that. So, I think, you know, for example, the stuff around preparedness is vital that, you know, we’re living in a world in which there are incredibly destructive wildfires, floods, tornadoes, and it’s very clear that the state is incapable of even dealing with it after the fact, let alone preventing it. And so I think that gives us an opening to talk to very wide sectors of the population in cities and in rural areas as well. I think that, you know, for example, Anti-Racist Action Network in its heyday had hundreds of chapters around the country in small towns because young people were, in their own high schools and music scenes, were suddenly faced with this threat of fascism and said, "Hey, we have to get organized." And so I think that, you know, we need to see these things as opportunities to really very massively begin to engage with people and begin to offer an alternative way of thinking about the world that gives some hope and some prospect of dealing not just with the crises and the repression but a way forward for people.

Inmn 49:48
Yeah, yeah. And that kind of ties into–I love that you use this phrase. We’ve had this phrase come up lot with Cindy Milstein, who we’ve interviewed on the podcast before and who we’ve published their newest book last year, "Try Anarchism For Life," and they talk a lot about prefigurative organizing and prefigurative spaces. And I think this kind of ties into what you’re talking about, but I was wondering if you could kind of give us your take on the importance of building prefigurative spaces?

Michael 50:31
Yeah, I think that we have to find ways to bring people together and to give people a sense, as I say, of our own power and our own creative and generative capacity. So I think that that says that whether it’s free schools, or it’s breakfast for children, or any of the things that the Black Panther Party did and that many other people of color movements did in a certain period are here at our disposal. I know that, for example, there’s a crisis in childcare and child rearing that’s going on and so organizing people into childcare collectives and people jointly taking responsibility for each other’s children and creating trust relationships that make people feel comfortable with that would be one example of that. In food deserts, organizing people to break up some sidewalks and grow some food and I think they’re…One of the things that I’ve come to understand from doing this work for a long time is we live in a kind of fractal or holographic world in which the same contradictions are shot all the way through the system. It’s at any level of magnification in fractals. If you look at the coast of Norway, something in the fjords, you know, it’s the same pattern is reproduced at every level. And, you know, in a holographic image, any piece of the hologram has the whole hologram in it. So, I think that any area that people want to choose to struggle in, I think as long as they understand that they’re struggling against the entirety of the system in that area and that there’s an enmity built into that relationship between the system and we see what they’re trying to do, I think that’s the critical understanding. So if people are engaged in, you know, community gardens, as long as they understand that that’s a piece of a larger struggle to create a world in which nature has, has space to reassert itself, and that people can eat different food and better food. And any area that you know, whether it’s the struggle over transgender, nonbinary, or anything else, once people see that it’s the same system throughout that they’re struggling with, it lays a basis for solidarity, for unity, and for a struggle on many fronts simultaneously that says, you know, sort of the "War of the Flea," [A book on guerrilla warfare] the system is vulnerable in a million places because the system is in all those places simultaneously and, you know, they have a lot of money, a lot of power to deal with that, and they’re organized in these systems of command and control and artificial intelligence and all the rest of it to keep track of everything, but we’re in all those places simultaneously as well because we’re everywhere. And trying to coordinate those things, I think, is very important.

Inmn 53:51
This is a little bit of a backup that I remembered that I wanted to ask you about it. So, like, we’re currently seeing like a pretty horrific and intense wave of legislation against against trans people and against queer people, and nonbinary people. And, yeah, I’m wondering what your take on that is as a kind of indicator, if we have to imagine like fascism as a spectrum of where we could be going, like what is that kind of legislation and repression an indicator of?

Michael 54:38
Yeah, you know, I think that obviously fascism always tries to target the people they think are the most vulnerable. And also, as I say, I think they want to create what they see as wedge issues that they can use to divide people and segment people off. And so I think, to the extent that we can reverse that and we can try to unite people around a different conception. You know, one of the things that struck me is that you saw that they sort of had this victory with controlling the courts and overturning Roe v. Wade, for example. And, what that revealed was actually how narrow that really was, the forces that were pushing for that. Because then, you know, Nebraska and Kansas and these various states suddenly had electoral reinforcement of abortion rights happening. And I think the same thing can happen here. I think that there’s so many families that they’re concerned about their own kids or…and the parental rights. It reveals that these fault lines go through the whole system. That’s what I’m trying to say is all of their power is based on repression and exploitation, and to the extent that people begin to see that and how it impacts on them, it opens up the vistas of possibility to say, you know, if you’re concerned about your child’s right to get the medical assistance they need, why is the State coming in to prevent you from doing that? And what are the interests that are trying to pick this as a threat to the stability of society?

Inmn 56:46
And, yeah.

Michael 56:48
So, you know, I think that since every crisis is an opportunity, I think the other thing I did want to talk about a little bit was the whole Covid pandemic, you know, going back to the prepper thing. I think you saw, again, you know, a lot of right-wing exploitation of that issue. And I think that the extent that we can get out ahead of that and look at…Okay, for example, in a society like Cuba, which had a completely different relationship to this because they’re organized in a different way and, you know, they actually have a public health system and they actually created their own vaccines, not the ones from big pharma here in this country, and begin to get people to think about that and why Cuba is stigmatized by this society? Why are they embargoing Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, all these countries? You know, the connection to a global sense of what are the possibilities in the world? What are the prefigurative formations that are happening inside imperialism by countries that are actually resisting it? And so, if you look at, you know, the medical care system in Cuba, for example, you know, they have…Every neighborhood has a doctor that lives in the neighborhood–and nursing staff and other people–and [the doctor] works door to door with the people in that neighborhood to be concerned about their health and their well being not just, you know, responding to a particular medical crisis, and they have that systematized and they…So in that context, they were able to vaccinate people, not through coercive measures but through trusted people that were part of their community that could reassure them about the fact that they developed the vaccines themselves and that the Cuban pharmaceutical industry came out of their effort to deal with chemical and biological warfare by the United States. The US was like putting in swine fever as a way to destroy pigs that every family in Cuba had their own little pig to raise and, you know, supplement their food. And so they developed animal vaccines first to protect those animals and then they work their way up from there. So I think that that sense of, you know…I had a good friend recently who passed away from complications of diabetes and the Cubans have developed treatments for diabetes and to prevent amputation of limbs and other stuff. And all of that is unavailable to us because of the US imperialist embargo on Cuba and blockade. And giving people a sense that, you know, there actually are people living in the world in much better conditions. The United States is number one in incarceration, number one in many social ills, number one in overdose deaths, and, you know, on and on and on…number one in evictions. And we can begin to, you know, really give a sense to people that this system has nothing to offer them but destruction and that we have the capacity to create something different.

Inmn 1:00:13
Yeah. Thanks. I have only to say that…yes. Yes to all of that. We are nearing the end…of the recording, not of the world. [Said as a dry joke] And, yeah, is there any any kind of last things that you want to say before–I’ll ask you to plug anything that you want to plug at the end–I mean, that was such a beautiful wrap up, I feel like. But, if there’s anything else you want to talk about, that we haven’t talked about?

Michael 1:00:45
Well, you know, years ago, I was part of a group in Berkeley that took over the California College of Arts and Crafts to create an anti-war poster making facility during the Vietnam War. And out of that group, there was a singing group called the Red Star Singers, and they had a song called "The Power of the People’s the Force of Life." And I think we really have to have that sense. It’s, you know, it is a dialectic. That’s what I think the main thing I want to try to convey is that, you know, to the extent that we can build the people’s power, it actually weakens that system. And, you know, just that sense that all the power that they have is actually derived from their exploitation and oppression of people. And that’s our power, you know, manifest that against us. And if we take our power back, it actually does weaken them and increases our possibilities of struggling to for a different world. So, I will do the plugs. I, for 35 years, I’ve been working and I actually wanted to sort of break the story here. I’m looking for a collective that will take over "Turning the Tide." I’ve been putting it out for a long, long time. Volume 35 # 2 is just about to come out. It’s up on You can reach me at antiracistaction_ But, you know, like I say, I’m 76. I’m currently the interim general manager of KPFK radio in Los Angeles and it’s a huge time commitment. And I want I want to see the paper, you know, become, in some way or shape, institutionalized, to continue to meet, you know, send out the 1700-1800 copies to prisoners. And so, if anybody’s interested in taking over that project and fulfilling that commitment, I’d love to hear from them. And then, as I say, I have a chapter in "¡No Pasarán!: Antifascist Dispatches from a World in Crisis" edited by Shane Burley from AK Press. And I contributed a lot of material archival stuff and was interviewed extensively for "We Go Where They Go: The Story of Anti-Racist Action" from PM press. Two really, really important books and well worth reading. And then I did, self published and co-authored "The Blue Agave Revolution: The Poetry of the Blind Rebel" with Oso Blanco, Byron Shane Chubbuck. And you can get that again from Anti-Racist Action. So it’s PO Box 1055, Culver City, California 90232. And online, just

Inmn 1:03:27
Wonderful, in "The Blue Agave Revolution," is that Is that where we can find your short story about the three-way fight between vampires, zombies and humans?

Michael 1:03:37
It’s a kind of a novella. There’s about seven chapters of a longer thing. And there’s also a shorter one about a group of teenage mutants called Black Bloc, that they have these kind of minor powers. One of them can, you know, it’s Jackpot and Crackpot. Crackpot can kind of break out of anything and Jackpot can just affect the odds slightly in their favor and a bunch of other young people, nonbinary and so on. But they’re also some different essays of mine in there and a lot of poetry and, yeah…Just the mathematics of the enormity of social economic inequality. People don’t understand exactly what it is, but essentially, about 45% of the US population has the equivalent of 50 cents in assets. You know, people don’t understand exactly what the class divide and the contradictions inside the society are, you know. We’re we’re duped into thinking that this is the richest country on the face of the Earth and the most powerful, you know. There’s an enormous, hidden social cost and pain behind that and we have to figure out how to galvanize that into the power that actually those people possess and the creativity that they have.

Inmn 1:05:03
Yeah. Great. Well, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. Yeah, of course. And I’ll we’ll drop links to all the things that you mentioned in the show notes for people to find. And yeah, thank you.

Michael 1:05:23
Okay. Take care. Have a great day.

Inmn 1:05:25
You too.

Inmn 1:05:26
Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this podcast, then go out and live like the Empire is dying. And then tell us about it. And if you’d like to support this podcast, you can do so by telling people about it. You can support this podcast by talking about it on social media, rating, and reviewing, and doing whatever the nameless algorithm calls for. But, if you’d like to support us in other sillier ways, you can also support us on Patreon at, which is our publisher. Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness is a radical media publishing collective that puts out this podcast as well as a few other podcasts. Our Patreon helps pay for things like transcriptions or our lovely audio editor, Bursts, who is the host of The Final Straw, as well as going on to support Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness and a few of the other podcasts we put out like our monthly anarchist literature podcast Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness, as well as the Anarcho Geek Power Hour, which is a podcast for people who love movies and hate cops. And we would like to give a very special shout out to a few of our Patreon subscribers, Princess Miranda, BenBen, Anonymous, Funder, Jans, Oxalis, Janice & O’dell, Paigek Aly, paparouna, Milica, Boise Mutual Aid, theo, Hunter, Shawn, SJ, Paige, Mikki, Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea, Cat J., Staro, Jenipher, Eleanor, Kirk, Sam, Chris, Michaiah, and the infamous Hoss the Dog. Thank you so much. We could not do this without you. And I hope that everyone out there is doing as well as they can right now with everything that’s going on. And we’ll see you soon.

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S1E83 – Shane on Distillation

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Shane comes on to teach Margaret about distillation and all of the things that one could produce through distillation, like distilled water, hand sanitizer, fuel alcohol, essential oils, and alcohol for drinking. They talk through the science and dispel some myths around the process.

Host Info

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

Publisher Info

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


Live Like the World is Dying: Shane on Distillation

Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times…and it especially feels like the end times at least as we record this. I don’t know when this is gonna come out, but we just had the hottest month on record. Maybe we’ve just had the hottest month on record when you hear this in October. I don’t fucking know. I’m your host. I’m one of your hosts. I’m your only host today, Margaret Killjoy, and this week we’re gonna be talking about something that I’ve wanted to know more about for a long time, although I’m absolutely terrified to have anything to do with it besides on informational and when-the-apocalypse-comes level because this week we are talking about distillation, the thing that should not be anywhere near as illegal as it is…or complicated legally. It’s not always illegal. It’s complicated legally. And we’re gonna be talking about distillation. We’re gonna be talking about distillation of alcohol for like…Well I guess all of it’s distillation of alcohol, but we’re gonna be talking about it from a like medical point of view and like having a good time point of view. And…obviously…don’t do any crimes that you can get caught for. And, this podcast is a proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchists podcasts and here’s a jingle from another show on the network. Ba buh bub bub. [Making noises like a song melody]

Okay, we’re back. And if you could introduce yourself with your name, your pronouns, and then just a little bit of your background about what we’re gonna be talking about about distillation.

My name is Shane, pronouns are he/him. I’m a hobby distiller. I’ve been doing it not for that long, but I’ve been doing a ton of research. I’ve been learning a lot about it, and yeah…

What kind of….what kind of stuff….Let’s point out that you live in Canada where the crime is a different one. Which isn’t to say…I guess it’s like…Well, obviously don’t do any of the illegal stuff. But it seems like Canada has a very different attitude about this as the United States does. Wanna talk about that?

Yeah. So where I am, it is illegal. It’s mostly illegal under our tax laws because they don’t want you making it and selling it out of your basement or whatever. It’s not really enforced if you…Don’t take my word for that. Like, this is always gonna be a risk, but it’s not really enforced if you’re just doing it for yourself.

Yeah. That makes sense. Is worth pointing out–I’m going to reiterate this way too many times on the show–that the ATF in the United States has a very different attitude about home distillation. And obviously, people still do it. And before we started recording, we looked it up and it looks like it is federally illegal, but not every state has it illegal and like some states that specifically illegal, I believe. Which, just gets into that weird thing in the United States where there’s like some things that are federally illegal but are actually fine state to state.

Well I believe the ATF is a federal organization. So you know, it’s still a risk if you decide to do that.

Yeah, exactly. And I know for my sake, like, I’m literally not going to–usually, I’m like, like…I’m just, I’m not actually going to end up setting up a still. Even though I’m like very curious about the process, just because the cost-benefit analysis isn’t going to work for me, but everyone’s going to do their own cost-benefit analysis and it’s information that I think is very practical and useful for situations in which you don’t live under the United State’s jurisdiction, whether because you live in a different country or because the United States has a collapse, which is one of the main things that we talk about on the show. So probably no one’s gonna be surprised that I think that that’s possible. So with that out of the way, what’s distillation?

Basically, it’s taking everything that’s not alcohol out of the alcohol and throwing it away. So, you’re just usually heating it up, collecting the steam, cooling the steam down before it escapes your system, and turning it into liquid alcohol.

The steam is the liquid alcohol? Or the steam is that not liquid…is the everything else?

The steam is the liquid alcohol. You want to…ideally you want to collect that as it comes off your still, run it through some sort of cooling sleeve or condenser of some kind, and then collect what comes out the other end.

Okay. I like…Whenever someone says like, "And then throw the other parts away." I’m like, "Wait, but tell me about the other parts." Is there like? Can you make like? If you make brandy out of wine, can you have like non alcoholic wine at the end too? Or like, is it just gross weird shit?

It’s kind of gross, weird shit. There is some uses for it. I believe you can–you may want to look this up, if you have animals before you do this–I think you can mix it with your animal feed to add some nutrition or some calories to that. I’ve heard of some people doing that. I think you can–well, I know one thing you can do with it–there are certain traditions around making rum that actually keep that and put it into the next batch. Sometimes they put it in a pit and let it rot to add flavor. So, be careful with that. [Margaret laughing] But that is something you can do with it.

So much like–this has come up on all the fermentation and brewing episodes–like there’s so much stuff that’s just weird magic– [interrupted]


–involved in food. Like, "Oh, yeah, you put it in the pit to rot. And that makes it taste better." And like, I remember once I was picking grapes for wine at a–like someone was just like paying me eight bucks an hour to pick grapes for wine or whatever at a vineyard–and they were…I was like, "Do I pick the moldy ones?" And they were like, "Yes, that’s part of the flavor." And I’m like…I’m probably still gonna drink wine, but I’m going to think more about it as I do it.

There’s a lot of weird magic stuff in distilling to, actually. So like this…one thing that your fermentation episode, the the magic spoon thing reminded me–or that was not the bread episode, I can’t remember–But…

I don’t remember.

This is just folklore, but there was a thing in Scotland where when a big distillery would get a new still, they didn’t really know how the flavor worked, all the chemistry of it yet. They would get a new still, but they wanted everything that came out to taste like the old one. So, in an effort to coax the spirit out of the old still, they would beat dents into it to make it looks like the old one.

Hell yeah. [Laughing]

And it…that…weirdly enough, that does work. It does, like the shape of the still does affect the flavor. They didn’t know why. But that’s what they told themselves.

It is so…I’m so glad I’m not a perfectionist. If I ever like am home brewing or whatever. I’m not going to be like, "I am going to recreate Guinness." I’m just going to be like, "Hell yeah, I made beer."

I’m the same way.

Okay, so like um…what are some of the things…You know, when you when you pitched this episode to me–I was very happy to hear from you because this is something I’ve wanted to talk to someone about for a while–you talked about how there’s a couple different things that one might want to make with a still. I mean, you’re making alcohol, right, but for a lot of different purposes. Do you want to talk about what some of those purposes are?

Yeah, well, first of all, even if you’re not making alcohol–and this is part of the way that stills get sold in the States and why it’s still usually state by state legal to own one–you can make essential oils with it. You can make purified water. That’s actually a huge survival benefit of having a still is being able to make distilled water. The alcohol can be used to make fuel which I believe is legal in some states. But besides that, like I said, the fuel alcohol, alcohol for tinctures, you can make any spirit you can drink, like vodka, whiskey, rum, etc. You can make hand sanitizer. I know that was a big deal around the start of Covid when hand sanitizer was selling out everywhere. People were, both big distilleries and some moonshiners in some areas, were kind of coming out of the woodwork and saying "Oh, by the way, I have a still. Here’s a bunch of free alcohol to sanitize your hands with."

That’s cool. That makes me really happy. Like both sides of that.

It’s actually one of the things that made me want to get a still was the capacity or the capability to be able to do that…And the obvious reason, but…[Trails off]

Yeah, I mean…which is funny because I know that…When I used to, I used to shoot tintypes and one of the stages involves heating the tintype over an alcohol stove. And so in order to buy alcohol for that it had to be denatured, and that’s when I learned that…I’m going to get the different types of alcohol mixed up. Ethanol is the drinking one and methanol is the one that you can’t or something maybe?

And isopropyl alcohol is the other one you can’t.

Okay. And so, Denatured alcohol was alcohol that you can use as fuel. But they specifically add poison to it in order to make it so that you can’t drink it, so that it can only be used for fuel? Is that…does that match?

That’s right. So that started around prohibition. You used to build by ethanol by the barrel for almost nothing. But, they started requiring by law that you add methanol to it because people still needed alcohol for industrial purposes, but, you know, they added methanol specifically because it was damn near impossible to separate it out. And it’s extremely deadly as well. So…

We’re gonna save people from the vice of drinking by murdering them if they drink this alcohol.

And it murdered a hell of a lot of people.

God. Thanks, Protestants for prohibition. [Said with dry sarcasm]

I think a lot of places are actually moving away from that. So now a lot of alcoholic is denatured with bitterants instead, the same bitterants they put in air dusters. Don’t take that as a reason to go buy some industrial alcohol and drink it, [Margaret laughing] because I’m sure many places are still using methanol. But yeah. Also, it’s gonna taste bad if you do. So…

Okay, so let’s talk about like…I want to talk about the non alcohol…the non drinky stuff first. Like you mentioned fuel alcohol. What what do people…like to sell our preppers on fuel alcohol. What are you fueling with fuel alcohol?

Well, the first example–and one of the things I thought of when I was gonna get a still–I do a lot of camping and I currently use one of those isobutane stoves with the big expensive, disposable isobutane tanks. I’m considering–I haven’t done it yet–but I’m considering making one of those can [like tin can] stoves, which is just a small alcohol stove that cost nothing, weighs nothing, to replace that. Cooking is one big thing you can do. You did mention using the store bought alcohol stove for tintyping. I believe there are alcohol engines, at least very small ones, but I don’t know much about that. I know you can add ethanol to gasoline to make it a little bit more efficient, but I wouldn’t recommend doing that with what comes out of a home still. Because I’m sure that whatever comes out of your home still is going to have some water in it. I wouldn’t recommend combining that with gasoline.

Oh, yeah, that sounds bad. Okay, so it’s not like what you’re going to put in your tractor. But, it could be what you’re cooking off of. I suspect that there’s ways…I suspect that there’s like home heaters that can run off of it or ways to use it to heat homes, probably in very sketchy ways and possibly safer ways as well.

Actually, one thing I’m thinking of there is alcohol heaters are…You can actually make them with a mason jar. I’ve heard of some people, making them as like a mutual aid thing and giving them to people who are stuck in tents during the winter.

Oh, yeah, there’s the ones that–you’re right–where you take the copper tubing and you do a little loop and you…Those are cool. And they’re not fake like the…There’s this thing where people are like, "Take a tea light and put it under a pot, and now you’ve heated your tent." People have done a lot of tests about this. It is not more efficient. It is not a very good way of heating and also it’s a fire danger because the melting point…the flash point of wax is lower than the amount of heat that the terracotta pot can eventually put out. And so, you can you can start a fire that way. So actually, ironically, this like…Yeah, no, that’s right, heater block. I need to have them on at some point talking about how people use these things.

They’re also fire risk, but I imagine less so than a camp stove going off in your tent. So…People have made chicken wire cages and stuff for them as well.

What is the like raw material that you’re going to be using? Well, let’s just talk about how you…How do you distill? Let’s use fuel alcohol as like the main–because it’s like the neutral one, right? It’s not about flavor. It’s just a, "Let’s make ethanol." How do you make ethanol?

For making ethanol for fuel, if flavor doesn’t matter at all, you basically want to find the cheapest source of sugars you can find. If you’re already into home brewing, I imagine grain, malted grain, is probably one of the cheapest sources. If you don’t have any equipment for dealing with grain, your best bet is probably buying the cheapest sugar you can find at a grocery store, combining that with some yeast nutrient, and some yeast, and fermenting that. That’s what I’ve…That’s what a lot of people will do when they start distilling. If they’re trying to make a neutral like vodka or fuel or something, they’ll make what’s called a sugar wash.

So a sugar wash is basically just fermented sugar with no added flavoring?

Yeah. And well…People will add things that are, like I said, nutrient. And one of the more common, more popular ways of doing it, if you’re trying to preserve flavor, is using tomato paste as most of the nutrient. Because if you’re adding a very little, very small amount of it, then it’s not affecting the flavor when it’s all said and done.

When you say nutrient, I presume you don’t mean nutrient for the end drinker. Is this nutrient for the yeast or something?

This is nutrient for the yeast.

So they need more than just sugar to survive.

Yes, like us, they can’t survive on sugar alone.

But I’ve tried.

Yes. We all have.

It’s so cheap.

You put that into a bucket, probably the biggest container you can find, with some water. Obviously, don’t just try to ferment the sugars alone. And leave that for about a week. If you do have a lot of the home fermenting equipment like hydrometers, and things like that, you can get a little more scientific about it. You probably don’t want to go any higher than 1.01 gravity. Which is…Because beyond that, the yeast doesn’t really like to be there. If you’re trying to preserve flavor, don’t go any higher than 1.0…or 1.007. I might be misremembering how to read these.

Wait, but then why when you make beer, you’re like, you’re going way higher than 1%, right?

Not 1%. Sorry, when I say the starting gravity, you’re measuring the amount of sugar, that’s when you get that little thermometer looking thing and you float it in your ferment. So, you actually want to go to about 10 to 12%. So you can do the math to figure out how you want to get there.

Okay, so the basic…Is the basic idea of distillation…the basic idea is you make a low alcohol thing, like beer, or wine, or just a sugar wash…You make some…alcohol, right? And then you’re concentrating it by pulling out everything that isn’t alcohol out of it in the still by–I think you already said this–by evaporating–I assume alcohol is a lower evaporation point than everything else is like the reason it works or something–and then you like run it through some cooling and then you end up with alcohol on the other end? That’s the high percent alcohol? Okay.

So if you want to get a little more into distillation theory, it is a bit more complicated than that. But essentially, yeah, it is just because alcohol boils at 70 degrees instead of 100. The alcohol is gonna boil off first.

Is that Celsius?

Yes, sorry.

Great. No, we can use Celsius. Yeah, just wanted to…Yeah.

Especially when it comes to anything distillation related, I tend to default to that. Canada is one of the…kind of like the UK where we have a mix of units. But uh…

Yeah, I think Celsius is better for science stuff and Fahrenheit is better for like how cold it is outside stuff, personally.

Especially if you’re talking about boiling points of liquids. So…It’s kinda made exactly for that.

Yeah, that is I guess that is Celsius’ main thing, yeah. Okay, so you make your sugar mash. Okay, let’s just..To run through it, you’ve made your sugar wash, not sugar mash, sugar wash. Now, what are we…now what are you doing?

Mash is usually…If you’re making it with grains, you’ll call it a mash. But, after that, you will take all that and put it in your boiler, so the part of your still that’s actually supposed to eat. You’ll seal everything up, make sure there’s no leaks. You obviously want to keep an eye on that. So one quick safety note: The most dangerous thing coming out of your still is vapor alcohol. Ideally, you don’t want any vapor coming out at any point. That’s why you have the condenser to cool everything.

Oh shit. Yeah, because it’s explosive.

It’s very flammable. It’s far more flammable than just a pool of liquid alcohol sitting there.

Oh shit.

Unless you are…unless you have terrible terrible luck and you’re in a closed system, it’s not going to explode. But, it could cause a pretty bad fire. So I keep a fire extinguisher next to my still at all times. Anyway, so like I said, you want to seal everything up, make sure your water is running through your condenser, if using that kind of condenser and turn on the heat…

What’s a…just tell me what a condenser is.

So a condenser, because you don’t want any steam coming out because it’s hard to collect, it’s kind of…All the steam will go through your condenser. The condenser will cool it all down, condense it back into a liquid, and liquid will come out of the other end.

This is the like…wrapped copper pipe or some…tube?

Yeah, so there’s a few different kinds. If you’re looking at like a moonshine still, you’re gonna see a copper tube coiled up through a bucket. I personally, I’ve had one of those. I hate that style. Because unless you’re doing it outside by a river, it’s kind of hard to control how much water is going through it and prevent it from overflowing. The kind I’d recommend, if you’re going the DIY route, is a Liebig condenser, which is…You can look up easy plans online. So, you have a smaller copper pipe, a larger copper pipe on the outside of that with water running through it. So you’ll have two, like an inlet and an outlet, and the hose or something running through that. And that’s usually enough to cool down however much steam is coming out the other end.

Okay, so like the big…When people talk about distillation, right, the big things people worry about is the government, obviously, but then also safety, like the food safety level of it, right? How dangerous is it to make ethanol? Are you going to go blind if you drink it? Is it safe to make fuel alcohol, dangerous to make drinking alcohol? Is it all overblown? Are there certain things that people can do? Please, whoever’s listening, don’t assume that you know how to do things just because you heard about it on a podcast. See this as like an overview and an overall interest.

Well, like I said, the main danger is fire safety. It’s very flammable. Especially in the olden days, when they would do this on a propane fire or a wood fire or whatever. If you can avoid it, don’t run your still over an open flame. I know your great grandfather probably did. But don’t,

So don’t use the fuel alcohol to make more alcohol. [Laughing],

Preferably no. Unless you’re outside and you’re away from anything flammable.


But as far as food safety goes, there is a tiny amount of methanol whenever you ferment something. The methanol is the thing that makes you go blind, apparently. But the thing is, you’re not getting anything out of your still that wasn’t in the wine, or sugar wash, or beer that you put into it. There’s not really any risk of methanol poisoning unless you really screwed something up with fermenting, in which case you would also get it from drinking whatever you drank, whatever you made from, whatever you fermented. There is this myth that popped up around prohibition because…So moonshiners would make their moonshine and they will try to increase their yields a little bit by adding industrial alcohol. That is where the myth of going blind and methanol poisoning comes from. It’s not from people running their still in competently, it’s from people trying to pass off industrial alcohol as safe.

Okay, so like denatured alcohol got it in the mix?

Yeah, exactly. And sometimes there was never even a still involved. It’s just some unscrupulous guy bought a bunch of industrial alcohol, threw some juniper berries in it, and called a gin.

Okay. I’m half convinced that–I’m not from where I live right now, right–I’m half convinced that the person around here who gave me some moonshine, I’m like, half convinced that they just gave me some like,fucking vodka with food flavoring in it, and were like, "Yeah, that bitch isn’t gonna fucking know the difference." But, yeah, I do…I like to think that I that they didn’t do that, to me.

There’s a big trend of you can just buy moonshine in alcohol and liquor stores now. But it’s…a lot of people kind of don’t consider it real moonshine because it wasn’t made in the backwoods in an old copper still.

Yeah, I mean, in my mind, moonshine means illegally manufactured alcohol that’s very alcoholic.

Sorry, back to the like, the safety thing. There is one note. So, a lot of people will tell you when you’re running you’re still, that first thing you have to do is take the four shots out. And that’s the first ounce or so that comes out of you’re still…

What’s that called, the four shot?

Four shots. So that’s a bit outdated. It comes from….So, basically a bunch of people were dying from from methanol poisoning and moonshiners were–the honest ones– were scratching their heads trying to figure out what they were doing wrong. And so they thought, "Well, the methanol has a lower boiling point. So we can just take off whatever comes out first and throw that away," right?


Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Methanol and alcohol have very similar boiling points, and they come off throughout the entire run. You’re not going to get rid of all the methanol by getting rid of the first shot. But what you…So, you don’t really need to take four shots, but when you’re distilling for drinking purposes, you’re not going to drink the first little bit anyway. So you’re going to take your cuts, so your four shots, the first section of cuts, then there’s the heads, which has some acetone, some fruity esters, some nasty stuff in it that you don’t really want, and you’re gonna throw all that away.

Can you use it as fuel alcohol or no?

Oh, yeah, you can still use that as fuel alcohol.


That’s right. I shouldn’t have even said throw it away. I don’t throw mine away, personally. I use it when I start fires.

I’m sure it’s the way people talk about it. I just have a weird like, "Throw something away?!" But I’m a hoarder…I mean, uhhh, preparedness. Okay. Yeah.

The four shots thing is a bit outdated but that is…some people still do it as sort of a "just in case" or superstition more than anything. But that’s the…The main thing is in the heads, there are things that aren’t good for you. But like I said before, those things are going to be in your beer or your wine that you’re fermenting anyway. The worst thing they’re going to do is give you a worse hangover if you drink them.

Oh, okay. That…I’ve always wondered why different…I’ve had some homebrew that has caused everyone in the room to blackout.


So, I’ve had some…I’ve had some homemade moonshine, also, that caused everyone to blackout. So it was probably heads or just like poorly made or something.

There’s a another bit of like folklore. So there’s another type of distilling you can do–this is a bit of a tangent–called a freeze…fractional freezing, where you take your–this is commonly done with apple cider–you take your cider, you put it in the freezer, you let it freeze, you scoop out all the ice, and what’s left is a higher proof, higher strength.

Wow, that’s cool.

So, that was considered one of the first distilled beverages people would drink because it was called Applejack. And the hangovers from it were so bad that they gave them its own name Applepalsy because you couldn’t take cuts when you’re doing that. People would get completely sloshed on Applejack and they would…they probably woke up wishing they had methanol poisoning.

So because you’ve talked about how all the like methanol and acetone and all that stuff is already in your homemade beer, right?


But it seems like maybe the distillation process…like Applejack sounds like kind of was giving people a worse time than the apple cider was, is that because it’s just a higher concentration, right? It’s the literal amount of acetone, but there’s like…it’s just distilled?

It’s mostly because people were drinking more of it and they’re drinking it faster. So, if you take like a 500 mil, or a standard bottle of cider, and you drink all of that, it’s not going to hurt you any less than if you distilled that and then drank everything that came out of it. But, you know, it’s easier to get drunker on spirits than it is on cider.

Yeah, that’s true.

No. I also…the one thing I definitely wouldn’t recommend, I wouldn’t recommend taking all the heads and just drinking that because then you are getting a higher concentration of the acetone and methanol and…

Right, so most people are getting rid of their heads also, and then only taking–what’s the the opposite? Tails? What comes after heads?

Wait, why are you watering it down? Wait, I’m a little confused. What does, "take your cuts" mean in this context?

Tails is the last bit. You don’t really want that either. Hearts is the good stuff in the middle. [Margaret giggles] So when you’re taking your…typically, when you’re running to still, you’ll run it into mason jars, or any other small jar or whatever you can collect a lot of, and you’ll just, you’ll taste as you go, and you’ll just swap out the jars as they fill up. And then the next day, when you got a fresh palate, you’ll look at everything, water it down, taste it, and see where you want to make your cuts.

Take your cuts is when you figure out where your heads are, like where the nasty acetone, sickly sweet stuff is. And you water it down because you don’t want to be like tasting 70%. You’re not going to get much out of that. So you’re figuring out what’s your heads, what’s your heart, the good stuff, and what’s your tails, which is where it starts smelling a little weird, wet dog ish?

Oh, I see. So it’s not like, "The first third is this. The second third is this." Instead, you take all of it, and you keep it like all lined up so you know what’s what. And then you’re like, "Alright, jar three, it’s starting to get a little bit less nasty. Jar five, it’s smelling…it taste good. Jar nine, it tastes bad again."

Exactly. So unless you have a really well established recipe and you have a very consistent still, you’re never gonna base it on how much has come through, or what temperature it’s at, or what proof it’s at. You’re gonna base on taste. So, if you’re running an industrial pot still, you’re probably running off of an established recipe that your boss made for you. And so you’re you’re measuring, okay, so the alcohol is at 65%. We’re going to start our heads…or our hearts here and separate that out. But if you’re running a home still, you’re not gonna be able to do that usually.

Okay. Alright, so I have questions. Is there a way to test for methanol?

Not at home that I know of. But again, if you are the one who fermented the product, and you’re the one who put it in your still, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. It’s…Like I said, it’s going to be in your cider or your beer or whatever. Anyway. It’s almost impossible… [Interrupted]

If you’re willing to drink your beer, you should be willing to drink your whiskey.

Yeah, it’s damn near impossible to get a lethal amount, or even a slightly dangerous amount, of methanol and your spirits.

Okay. All right. My other question is, what are the variables? Like you talked about, like people in Scotland were like, denting their stills? Or maybe they’re fermenting for beer? I don’t remember what they were denting.

It was the stills. Yep.

Okay. So it’s like, does the taste and all of that change based on how quickly it came to a boil versus how quickly it didn’t? Is it? Like, like, what are the…I assume there’s just like a million variables and that makes it fun. So I kinda want to hear about them.

There’s so many variables that this is like an active area of study in like industrial distilling. We don’t know all the chemicals that are in like whiskey, for example. I’ll use whiskey as an example because that’s where flavor matters the most for a lot of people. Like when you’re fermenting something, what kind of yeast you use matters a lot, what kind of grain, how much of each grain. And yeast doesn’t just produce alcohol. Depending on how–people use the term stress–depending on how stressed out the yeast is, like how perfect the environment is for the yeast is going to produce different chemicals.

How its day at work was and stuff.

Yeah, basically. If you ferment at a different temperature, or if you have too much sugar in your wash, that’s going to affect the flavor. And if you use a different species of yeast, etc, but…And then, when it’s in the still, all those different chemicals that that yeast made, and there’s a lot of them, and also putting things that were just in the grain, not even things the yeast had anything to do with, all that comes off at a different temperature, at a different time. Some of it will come off in the heads. Like, I mentioned, acetone. There’s also some…fruity tasting compounds that will come off in there that the yeast made or that were in the grain. The variable there is the fermentation, I guess. The next one would probably be…So you’ve probably noticed that most people make their stills out of copper.

Yeah. I think so. I knew the pipes were but yeah.

That’s okay. It seems like we’ve kind of…fuel alcohol was a good base for now.

The reason for that, aside from the fact that that’s probably what you can get at a hardware store when you’re making moonshine, is there’s also some sulfur compounds that kind of give the spirit a weird taste or smell, and copper supposedly does a pretty good job of stripping some of that out. So the more copper contact the vapor has in your still, the better. For flavor, at least. We’re kind of getting away from few alcohol here. But that’s for…

For fuel alcohol, you want to run it as high proof as you can. Ideally, don’t put anything more than 40%. in you’re still if you’re running in your kitchen because for safety reasons. You just want to get as high proof as you can. That’s the main thing. You want yield. But, for flavor, the amount of copper contact, the shape of the still matters because of something called reflux or passive reflux.

Oh, I get that…Sorry, that’s a joke about heartburn. Anyway…

I mean, it’s similar in a still, weirdly enough, but like if you want to get more into the difference between the pot still and reflux still later, we can. But basically, a reflux still is something that does this on purpose. A pot still, depending on the shape of it and the temperature around you when you’re distilling, some of the…As the vapor is going up, and before it even gets to your condenser, some of it is going to condense and fall back down. And some of it is going to condense and stick to the side of your still. And that’s going to interact more with the vapor. That changes what chemicals come through it. Usually the more volatile chemicals will come through when that happens.

So y’all are nerds, I’m guessing.

Oh, yeah.

That’s cool. I love that hobbies have like weird deep divy shit. So people like care about what percent of their vapor is coming down the sides and stuff because of how it changes the taste and other things?

Mhmm. And like I said, people didn’t know how this worked before. They would literally just say, "Well, that I know that still makes some really good stuff. Let’s just beat up this still so it looks like that one." And it works. So. No, you also don’t have to get this nerdy with it. You can just buy a cheap Amazon or even there’s….

There’s a good company called Still Spirits that makes a home still. You can buy one of those, throw your sugar wash in, mix it with some flavorings, and you got booze. If that’s all you want to do. But..I’m a nerd about it. So yeah.

Like a cheap water purifier?


No, I mean, it seems like the kind of thing where like…I always go at things at two levels. I like first just like do it. And I like don’t want to get nerdy when I first start. I just want to like, "Fuck yeah, I made some…" Well, I don’t want to do this because…whatever. But like, I made some rum or whatever, right? I just want to do it and then after that, that’s when I want to like do it the same over and over again or like compare the different things. And, so a lot of the variables and stuff aren’t going to matter if your goal is to just have rum and you don’t care if the rum is consistent because you’re not a commercial thing.

And it’s more about it being fun to try and create the consistency?

You may still want to get nerdy with the cuts, though, because….

Because you don’t want to drink acetone. you’re not perceived. Acetone

Not for safety reasons. Even if you’re just make…even if you just want to get some rum made and try it. If you don’t bother taking cuts at all, it’s going to taste awful. So at least put it in the jars and taste it and see what’s best. So that’s as nerdy as you want to get for your first go. That’s what I did. That’s as nerdy as I got my first run.

What um, what was your first run? What would you recommend if they’re different? What do you like making?

Honestly for your first run, just do a sugar wash because you’re gonna throw that away or use it for fuel anyway because you want to do a cleaning run. If you got your still on Amazon or if you made it yourself, you want to make sure you get anything that could dissolve in alcohol out of there, like any fluff solder or whatever. And also make sure you using plumbing solder not leaded solder, that sort of thing. But…After that, the first thing I did was rum, because it was kind of easy. All I had to do was just figure out a way to ferment molasses. And I live not too far away from a place that makes molasses. So, it was really cheap for me to get a big jug of it.

Hell yeah. Can I get some molasses?

But for your first go, you’re probably going to do a sugar wash anyway. And I’d recommend turning it into gin because it’s not gonna taste great on its own.

Yeah, I was going to ask. Okay, so like…in my head, every hard liquor is like, the distillation of some soft liquor? But why is it called hard liquor? There’s no other…All liquors hard liquor? Is that? Wait…

If it’s distilled, it’s hard, I think. I don’t know. Different legal definitions.

Yeah. So, like, in my mind, whiskey is like, beer that you take too far. Brandy has wine that you take too far. Not too far. But further…But maybe I like run out because I actually don’t know what rum is…It’s apparently made from molasses. Is vodka?

Anything. Any sugar cane product. Technically a sugar wash, I think, is rum. So, sugar cane…the easiest way for me to get sugar cane concentrate is in molasses from the store. So.

Molasses is just burned sugar, right?

Molasses is just concentrated sugar cane juice. So fancy molasses is that Blackstrap stuff. They boil it to get all the sugar out of it and what’s left over as Blackstrap molasses. So it’s like a byproduct at that point, basically.

That’s kind of cool. I like weird byproducts that people have probably figured out by now. Okay, what’s vodka? Is it potato liquor?

Vodka. A lot of people think it’s potato liquor. It’s really just neutral grain alcohol. So, it’s basically, pretty much anything you make out of a grain…Potatoes are used for a lot of, in a lot of places cause it is what they have a lot of. But it’s just anything that you’ve distilled up to above 95 or as high as you can go and then you water it down to drinkable 40%. So you’re trying to get rid of as many impurities as you possibly can and make it as neutral as you can. That’s vodka.

Okay. Alright. Then what’s whiskey?

You’re pretty much on the money when you say it’s just distilled beer. You wouldn’t want to put hops in it because it won’t taste very good. And you don’t need to preserve it anyway. But it’s any anything that’s…any distilled, fermented grain. So, whether it’s corn, or wheat, barley, whatever.

Is there like a secret distillers only alcohol that you like can’t get in the store? I guess moonshine is this. Okay, well, what’s moonshine?

It depends. A lot of different people have different definitions. Like I read a thing about this on the home distillers forums–there’s a whole hobby forum for this–their way of saying is whatever you consider moonshine is moonshine, because it’s just any illegal alcohol. Traditionally, I think it’s just an unaged corn whiskey. So just fermented corn, basically, and then distilled.

Okay. But like, okay, so, in my mind, there’s got to be like, a type of…Like, you know, if you like…People who grow food, often eat different kinds of foods that you can’t get in the store, right? Or, like, people are like, "Oh, there’s all these fruits that you don’t even know exist," you know, because you go to the store and there’s like only certain things. Is there like a hidden liquor? Is there like a distillers’ liquor that–I mean, I guess moonshine is the closest to this–but like…

Well, probably the only one and it’s more for because it’s cheaper than anything but Sugar Shine. No one…like big companies aren’t making sugar sugar washes mostly because, at that scale, grains are cheaper and sugar. But yeah, Sugar Shine is probably the closest thing to a secret distillers only. So it’s like I said, that’s when you take a sugar wash, you just fill it out. And it can be kind of good. It. It tastes like a sugar bowl smells. Does that make sense?

It seems like it’d make a good mixed.

Yeah, oh, yeah. It’s basically a vodka at that point. If you’re doing it right.

Is there an overlap or like a hatred between the groups of hobby distillers and the people who are really into like mixed drinks?

No. Mostly because anything you…Anything that comes out of a home still, you’re probably mixing into a mixed drink anyway.

Yeah, okay.

It’s not…my long term goal is to make something that is good enough to sip neat, like to sip just no ice, just out of a glass. I haven’t gotten there yet.

Alright. How…the stuff that you’re making, how headachy, hangovery, blackoutty? Are you doing like pretty good on that level.

I’m doing pretty….It’s no worse than the commercial stuff, for sure. There’s a couple things that aren’t exactly distillers only, but they’re less common for people who aren’t alcohol nerds. One of them is absinthe.

Yeah, okay, what’s absinthe made out of? I know there’s a wormwood in it. That’s all I know.

So absinthe is…So it’s a neutral spirit. You mix some wormwood and anise, usually, some other herbs and stuff in it. And you then you distill it again after it’s been soaking in that for a day or so. And then you color it with more wormwood or fennel or something to give it a green color, or you can just leave a white if you want.

Alright. My other question is, how much work is it? Like how much like raw stuff to make a little bit…Like you mentioned that people distill maybe flower essences or some other essential oils. Is that what you said?


I know that essential oils are an incredibly like…like, you got to grow a field of lavender in order to make a vial of lavender essential oils, right?

Essential oils is a very different process that I haven’t gotten super into. But from my understanding of it, you’re really just using your still to boil water at that point. You’re using the steam to extract the oils. So that you’re getting a very little product, I imagine. For alcohol, if you make a standard batch that you would make for like a beer or wine like a 23 liter, or I think 6 gallon, you’re probably gonna get two or three bottles, like standard sized bottles out of that.

Oh, well, the standard like…

Like 750 milliliter bottles.

Okay. So you can either have 24 beers or 2 bottles of liquor?

Yeah, basically. And that also depends on how strict you are when you’re taking your cuts and stuff. And whether or not you’re taking the cuts…Oh, one thing you can do with the cuts, by the way, I forgot to mention this earlier, if you’re doing a pot still, you can take that and put it into the next batch to get a little bit more of the good stuff out of it. So you’re gonna increase your yield as you go, basically.

And if you make whiskey…if you make like flavored alcohols, can you still use them as fuel alcohol? Or is it like, not so good?

As long as you don’t water it down. Yeah, sure. I think you want to keep your alcohol above 75% if you’re using it for fuel. But if you’re just…if you’re drinking it, you probably don’t want it to be 75%, in general.

And how do you measure the alcoholness, the gravity? Is it still the same, you still use a hydrometer, or whatever, even though it’s like super alcoholly?

You have to get a different hydrometer. It is the same thing. But you have to get a hydrometer that’s made for measuring proof. And this hydrometer will not work in your beer. You can’t proof out your beer using this because there’s particulates in the beer that will affect your measurement. But if you’re putting it in a spirit, that’ll work.

I, every now and then, get really annoyed at living in the United States. And this is one of those moments. I’m like, this sounds fun. It just doesn’t sound cost-benefit fun.

Yeah, so I do enjoy the cheap alcohol aspect of this. But only if I don’t think about how much time I spend on it.

Oh, yeah, no, totally.

It takes like an entire day to run the still. It’s just like an eight hour day.

To get your like two bottles?

Yeah. So, it’s not not even worth it from that point. But, it’s a hobby, not a not a job. So that’s why if they ever come accuse me of selling alcohol, I’ll just show them the math. It’s not worth it.

Okay, now, is it fuel efficient, right? Like if you…I know that you shouldn’t do it over and open flame, but it’s the apocalypse and you have to. Do you have to spend…Do you have to burn more fuel alcohol to make…Like, do you get a net gain of fuel alcohol? Or do you get a net loss of fuel alcohol?

I’ve never tried to run it over and open flame, so I don’t know.

Yeah, don’t do it. I’m just curious.

I will say, it does take a fair bit of power. So I don’t know if you’d actually get a…like, back in the day, they used to do it over like a wood fire. I imagine probably because they probably don’t want to take their moonshine and pour that in a big bucket and light that on fire to use that instead.

Yeah, that makes sense. I guess there’s other things that people like to burn more than…okay. I think that like answers most of my questions about distillation. Is there something amazing that I’m missing or anything that you like?

Do you want to give people some more practical information on like, where they can…Where or how they can get this stuff if it’s legal in the area?


I’ve done a little bit of, I’ve pulled up a few things on this. So, one of the common things that people will get is a still from Still Spirits called a Turbo 500. It’s like a somewhat modular, cheap ish–It’s like $550–still. It’s kind of an all on one set. You just kind of plug it in and go. For the most part. You gotta have water running through it, but if you’re trying to…

Oh, it’s electric?

Yeah, it’s electric.

So you don’t have to like put it on a stove. That makes so much sense and it never occurred to me when you were like, "Oh, you don’t have to put it over open flame anymore." I was imagining putting it on my like electric stove top. No, great. Okay.

Oh, I have done that with my first still. It’s a little bit of a pain in the ass. I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s a bit fiddly on a typical coil stove because you got to balance everything on top of the little coil.

Yeah. Okay, so anyway, so Turbo 500…

Yeah, so that’s a fairly common model. It’s under $1,000. If you live in an apartment and you just want to have the ability to do this, should it ever come up, if you need some sanitizer or just want to make a small amount of vodka, or if you want to use it for its intended advertised purpose and purify water, you can get a air still for under 100 bucks, usually.

What’s an air still?

So you don’t even need water for this. You put…I’ll actually describe what you’re supposed to do with it. You fill it with water, your tap water. You plug it in, it’ll boil that water, and it’ll use a fan and an air cooler on the top to condense that back into water. So, it will distill water. And it’ll do the exact same thing to alcohol if you let it.

Okay, if you use it against its intended purposes, like if you were to use a bong to smoke weed instead of tobacco…

Exactly. So yeah. Now, some people don’t like them because there’s a lot of plastics in making them and people are iffy about having alcohol vapor touch plastic. Understandably. Yeah, but, you know, if you just want to…if you’re making hand sanitizer or fuel, it’s a great option to have. Like it fits under your counter. It’s the size of a coffee maker.

Okay, and you can put, "For tobacco use only," on it, and then people will…

Yeah. And then people will try to put tobacco in your air still and be really confused. [Laughing] Okay, so that’s…and then the option that if you’re getting really into fermenting, you’re probably going to end up getting at some point, an all-in-one grain brewing system is what they’re called. So it’s…Have you ever seen those like big coffee carafes they have at like churches and like food banks and stuff or soup kitchens and stuff. Like the big cylinder, stainless steel cylinder for coffee?

Yeah. Like it looks like one of those robots from Doctor Who. It looks like a Dalek.

Kind of, yeah. Okay. The T-500 is also very similar to that, but it looks like one of those. It comes with like a filter and stuff to filter out your grains from your beer before you turn it into beer. And a lot of the companies that make those will include little clamps on the side so that if you wanted to, you could go buy, whether it’s a T-500 condenser, so you could buy the condenser separate or make your own condenser, you can slap it on top of that, clamp it down, and now you have a still. So that’s actually…If you’re getting really into fermenting, I’d recommend you get one of those anyway, because if you’re going to be doing any beer, any grains, you’re gonna want to have that. And if you ever decide you want to make a still, you’ve already got your boiler. Those can be a bit expensive, but I think they’re worth it. Especially if you’re making a lot of beer.

Yeah. Yeah, I mean, every hobby starts at the $100 level, and then immediately goes to the $3,000 level, once you want to do it well enough, you know,

You can get these all grain brewing systems for less than $1000 as well. And also, if you want to make whiskey, you’re going to be working with grains anyway. So it’s this exact same sort of thing. You’re making a beer up until the point where you put hops in.

Okay. Is the Turbo 500, is that what you use?

No, I went over the route of getting the grain brewing system. Initially, I went the route of getting the cheapest still Amazon had, hating it, modifying it, throwing all that away, and getting what I just mentioned.

Yeah, that’s how I would do it too.

I got a couple of neat things out of the stove top still, but I eventually wanted to get something a bit bigger and a bit safer. So yeah, I went that route.

Yeah, imagine. Are the cheap ones just like are they just like pressure cookers with some like copper coming out of the top?

They’re essentially just pressure cooker stills with a coil and a–like the coil condenser that I mentioned I hate them–so my first modification was getting rid of that and replacing it with the Liebig condenser. So I made my own Liebig and it worked, but it wasn’t…I had to tie it to my cupboard to keep it from falling over.

So it’s kind of…There’s only one real object that people need. I mean, there’s like ways to do it modularly, right, but there’s not like a lot of different little…

Well, there’s also, importantly, two different types of stills.

The reflux and the pot.

Yeah, the reflux in the pot. So I’ve been talking a lot about pot stills. The T-500 is a reflux still, although you can modify it to be a pot still if you want. And you can also get some cheap modular reflux stills, which is what I got to put on top of my grain brewing system. If you want to make vodka, if you want to make something that tastes very neutral, or if you want to make something that’s a very high percentage, you need to reflect still.

Oh, interesting. Because it’s, kind of re…It’s like multi…It’s doing like almost like multiple passes of a distillation at once, basically?

Exactly, yeah. So, you could sit there all week and just run your product through a pot still 20 times or you can put it in a reflux still, once. Yeah, that sounds better. Okay. It’s also safer, because I don’t know exactly why this is the case. But the hobby communities rule of thumb is nothing more than 40% in the pot. Okay, so the highest you’re gonna get out of that is around 70 or 80%. Which is

Yeah, that sounds better. Okay.

It’s also safer, because…I don’t know exactly why this is the case, but the hobby communities rule of thumb is, "Nothing more than 40% in the pot." So the highest you’re gonna get out of that is around 70 or 80%.

Which is higher than I normally imagine wanting alcohol anyway. Like, I’d be watering down anything over 50% anyway, personally, but…

But if you want to make gin or absinthe or anything that starts with a neutral, or a vodka, for example, you’re going to want to go up as high as you possibly can, which the highest you can go is about 95. Because the higher the higher you go, the less flavor you’re getting out of it.

Yeah. Which actually…It’s suddenly making me think of Everclear. And like, the reason that I keep Everclear in my house is for like preservation and like herbs and tinctures and stuff, you know, which is something that I hadn’t even…We didn’t…Maybe you mentioned it in the list of things, but I’m only just now thinking of is like one of the other reasons that it’d be really useful for people to have access to make alcohol.

That’s actually the reason I got it. Where I am, I actually can’t buy Everclear because, you know, to protect us, I guess.

Half the states are the same way.

But the thing is, I wanted to make orange liquor, is one of the first reasons, first things I thought of when I got into this. I wanted to make orange liquor, but I couldn’t find Everclear Yeah, so I had to make my own.

That’s cool. That seems like that would be even more rewarding. Like I feel like trying to like learn how to make like a signature whiskey would be like fun, right? But what seems rewarding is making some 95% proof stuff that you can use as a mixer, or use to preserve things, and make medicine, and make things last a long time. But I’m also obsessed with making things last a long time.

And you can make sanitizer and medicine and stuff like that with what comes out of a pot still, but it’s gonna be more effective…Well, it’s gonna smell less bad on your hands, I guess, if you’re making hand sanitizer, but you actually do want to water it down to 70 anyway, so…

Oh, interesting. Yeah, and is making hand sanitizer basically just make 70% alcohol and then you like put that on your hands? Or is it like…are you using like…Do you like gel it up? Like, what do you do?

I mean, if you’re just trying to get something, get some cheap sanitizer, yeah, you just make 70 or 80% alcohol and put it on your hands. You could mix aloe vera or lotion or something in there to make it, you know, less harsh, but…

Okay. Well, is there any any last thing we’re missing? Or a question that I should have asked you?

I don’t think so. The last detail I wanted to get in there was make sure you don’t try to use 100% or 95% alcohol sanitizer, because it doesn’t work as well. I think a lot of people learned that around Covid, though.

Okay, and then one weird thing I know about hand sanitizer is that hand sanitizer is very good for certain things. But if you live off grid and you put it in your outhouse or whatever, it doesn’t do any good there. Hand sanitizer is effective for…My doctor friend will be mad at me if I don’t get this exactly right. It’s not good for the fecal oral transmission route. It is good for like stopping colds and stuff.

Now, I didn’t know that because when I go camping, every outhouse I see has hand sanitizer in it.

Oh, yeah. And you know what? It’s great. It stops other stuff that is unrelated to what you just did. A good thing to have.

A false sense of security there, I guess.

Yeah, exactly. And you know, and if you have other safety practices in place for your off grid bathroom then you should be good in terms of distance from your kitchen. But more importantly, like, if–this is completely just a PSA–if you’re setting up some kind of like outhouse space for a lot of people and your camping or whatever, you’re going to want to set up a hand wash station that use soap and water because that is what stops transmission of things along the fecal oral route. And I don’t remember what the thing that, the word for what hand sanitizer does is, but I think it’s the breathey-iny-type stuff is what hand sanitizer is good for. I hope I got that right. And if not, do your own research. Don’t listen to some girl on the internet who’s interested in everything and not good at any of it.

Also, one last note. The same for this stuff. Don’t listen to this podcast and then immediately buy a still. There is a lot of information, like hobby information online. There’s the Home Distillers Forum. There’s a couple of Youtubers that make content about this. So get your information from more than one place.

Well, is there anything you want to shout out or plug either something that you do or something that you want other people to pay attention to here at the end?

Beyond what I just said, No. I don’t really want to be found. So, don’t have anything to plug. I just wanted to make this information available to people.

Well, I really appreciate it. And thanks so much for reaching out. And thanks for coming on.

Thanks so much for listening. I hope you enjoyed this episode, if you didn’t, why did you keep listening? Was it that you set it on in the background and then went about your day and have been like sort of angry the whole time that you’ve been walking your dog or driving that you’re still listening to it and you wish you’d been listening to something else? If so, don’t tell me about it. But if you did like listening to it, you should tell other people about it. You should tell people, "Live like the world is dying!" and then people will be like, "What?" And you’ll be like, "Sorry, it’s the name of a podcast I like. Don’t actually do anything different about the fact that the world’s ending. Just go about living your life," and then people will be like, "You’re exactly the kind of reason that we don’t like listening to doom say…" Okay, so if you like this podcast, you can support it by telling people about it. That’s the single biggest thing that you can do. You can also support it by supporting us financially on Patreon. Our Patreon is, because this podcast is put out by Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness, which is an anarchist publishing collective that puts out podcasts as well as books, and zines, and a bunch of stuff. And we’ve been around for almost 20 years. We haven’t been doing podcasts that whole time, because there weren’t podcasts when we started. Instead, it was mostly zines for a while. But in particular, I want to thank, first and foremost and always, Hoss the Dog. And I want to thank Michaiah, Chris, Sam, Kirk, Eleanor, Jenipher, Staro, Cat J., Chelsea, Dana, David, Nicole, Mikki, Paige, SJ, Shawn, Hunter, theo, Boise Mutual Aid, Milica, Paparouna, Aly, Paige, Janice & Odell, Oxalis, Jans, Funder, Anonymous–names are getting really interesting more recently–BenBen, Princess Miranda, Trixter, and Lord Harken. Sorry, just a silly way to pronounce that. I think. All right. I’ll talk to you soon. I’m gonna go eat fucking dinner because I’ve been recording all day. Jesus. Which was months ago now by the time you’re listening to this. Why are you still listening to this? You should hit stop. There’s not any like big secrets that I’m going to reveal if you keep listening. I’m just going to tell you what I ate for a snack, which was that I air fried some frozen potatoes and thought to myself, "I wonder if I can make my own frozen potatoes. I wonder if that’s what I can do with old potatoes before they go bad, if I don’t eat them in time. I wonder if I can cut them up into little shoestring fries and put them in a freezer bag and then put them in the deep freezer and eat them later?" Are you still listening? Bye.

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S1E82 – Pat on Working Outside

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Pat talks to Margaret about working outside for a living with the National Park Service. They talk about gear, preparedness while hiking, search and rescue, how to prevent needing to be sought for and rescued, and the unfortunate realities of climate change.

Guest Info

Find Pat on the trails. Do not find them on the internet. They cannot be found there.

Host Info

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

Publisher Info

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


Live Like the World is Dying: Pat on Working Outside

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 today, Margaret Killjoy. And this week…Okay, so you know sometimes I have these shows and it’s basically like I find people who talk to me about the things that I’ve decided I’m really interested in that week. Well, this is one of those examples! And so I’m really excited about it. I think you’ll all be excited about it too because this week I am talking to Pat who works outside for a living and he gets to do search and rescue and help people access parks because he is a backwoods…person…at a national park. And yeah, I don’t know, I think…I’m excited for the conversation. I can’t tell you what’s gonna be in it because I haven’t done it yet because I record these before I do the interview instead of afterwards. But! 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. Baba Baba bu ba baa ba ba baaa. [Making noises like a song melody]

Margaret 01:51
Okay, and we’re back. Pat, so if you could introduce yourself with your name, your pronouns, and then just like a little bit about the work you do?

Pat 02:02
Yeah. So I’m Pat. He/him. I am a back country ranger for the National Park Service and I’ve been doing it for about 10 years. So I basically just hike around to talk with people, help out with search and rescue, clean toilets, do whatever needs doing. Yeah.

Margaret 02:24
Hell yeah. Okay, I have one question up front.

Pat 02:26

Margaret 02:27
Okay, once when I was doing this forest campaign in a national forest–so not the Park Service, but, you know, the National Forest Service–there was this pit toilet. And–because he brought up toilets–there was this pit toilet and it had a door. And we would prop the door open to avoid it smelling. But then the Ranger came by and yelled at us and says that it works better…The like ventilation system is built on the door being closed. But then other times, I feel like I’ve seen ones that say, "Leave the door open." What’s the deal?

Pat 03:00
That is…I’m going to chalk it up to every toilet in the back country is different. So maybe one of them was like designed in such a way with specific ventilation systems, because they get pretty high tech. We have some that have like little solar powered computer fans that will like vent air out and bring fresh air in to try to dry them out. It’s kind of neat. It’s a huge part of the job.

Margaret 03:25
This was like 20 years ago I think…Probably didn’t have a solar panel

Pat 03:27
Probably not solar powered then. [At the same time as Margaret says above

Margaret 03:28
I just couldn’t figure out whether she was like fucking with us because she didn’t like us or whether she was just like annoyed at these idiots who thought they knew about the woods but didn’t.

Pat 03:41
Well, the reason they gave may have not been like 100% accurate. Like one thing that comes to mind is–it really sucks–but you know, critters find their way down into there. And so if the door’s open like, you know, a raccoon or something may climb down there and like it really sucks because oftentimes they get down there and they can’t get out. And you know, at my park, we shovel all of that waste out into buckets and hike it out. [Margaret makes a "pee-yew" noise of disgust] And sometimes you know little chipmunks and stuff are in there. It’s really sad.

Margaret 04:12
Yeah, Is there like a back entrance where you can go down and access the pit? Or do you have to just literally like drop buckets and like it’s a terrible well?

Pat 04:24
Oh, no, those structures are literally just…like you just you just like rock them and move the wooden structures off. They’re not secured to the ground. and then you put a hole in the ground with just like posthole diggers.

Margaret 04:44
That’s fun. I’m glad that this is the first question I asked you. [Laughing]

Pat 04:48
It’s part of the job. Sorry, gonna turn all the listeners away.

Margaret 04:52
No, no, no, no, I asked. And I think that that’s like….Okay, I mean, that even gets kind of…Um, when I would do any kind of forest defense or anything that involves living in the woods, I feel like one of the main signs of like a newbie in a bad way was people who didn’t dig a hole before they took a shit.

Pat 04:53

Margaret 04:54
You know? And so the stuff that when you’re like in houses and stuff that you sort of take for granted, you can’t take for granted when you’re not. So it sort of makes sense that shit is the defining characteristic.

Pat 05:28
Yeah, it’s kind of fun.

Margaret 05:29
But, speaking of shitty jobs…Hehe, I had to make the pun at least once. I’m very sorry. What got you deciding that you want to work outside?

Pat 05:41
I feel like I was kind of like destined for it. Kind of a weird way to put it. I was basically…my first backpacking trip was before I could walk. My dad put me on his shoulders. And I was out in the woods when I still in diapers. I grew up doing Boy Scouts so I was backpacking basically once a month. And so I just continuously did that essentially my whole life, and then, weirdly enough, in college kind of fell off for a bit. And then, you know, I graduated and decided to volunteer and have been doing it ever since.

Margaret 06:17
Okay, and you moved from volunteer to now this is what you do professionally, right?

Pat 06:20
Yeah, that’s kind of the primary path to get in. If you’re not coming from some sort of military background or something, you kind of have to volunteer or do an internship or something like that. It’s a pretty small community. So getting your foot in the door and learning the lingo is kind of important. And having a name that a hiring manager can call for a reference check that’s like in the system is kind of an important deal.

Margaret 06:49
That makes sense.

Pat 06:50
Yeah. Kind of a small community.

Margaret 06:53
What do you like about it? Like, I think that a lot of people listening…So the reason I wanted to had you on, part of it is about search and rescue stuff–which I want to talk to you about in a bit–But part of why I wanted to have you on is I think that a lot of the listeners, a lot of listeners do either work outside or spend…Like I actually work inside, but almost all of my hobbies–and I make it this way on purpose–take me outside. And then I often sort of live outside. I don’t currently, but I have at various points. But I think that a lot of people are looking for ways to get outside and don’t like their current work or don’t have work at all or whatever. And so I guess I want to ask you about what you like and don’t like about having a job that has you outside all the time?

Pat 07:43
Yeah. I mean, it’s…I love that my job like requires me to be out there. It’s like such a huge boost for mental health and everything. It’s nice that I don’t have to, like take time off for my family to go out and get those experiences. So that’s really huge. Yeah, the outdoors is like a…I’m sure a lot of people that go out regularly have the experience where it’s…even if you’re not religious or anything but it’s kind of got a spiritual element to it where you’re just like out in it in the wilderness by yourself or even with a small group, and it’s just refreshing, you know. It fills you up. So that’s huge that I get to do that and I get paid for it and I get to–I think most of all–I get to help people get out to get into it, pointing out trails, conditions, things that. Yeah, it’s really cool to have a job where I can, like materially help people on a day to day basis, you know? Like when I recommend a day hike and someone comes back like all sweaty but smiling and thanks you for it. You know, it’s a good feeling.

Margaret 08:52
Yeah, yeah. So you’re like the human Alltrails[.com]? Is that what you’re saying?

Pat 08:57
Yeah, I’ve got a little bit of a beef with Alltrails. But that’s maybe another conversation.

Margaret 09:04
Wait, I want to hear because I’ve been using Alltrails

Pat 09:07
I, and maybe this is just me, but I dislike how Alltrails chunks everything down into like little specific trails. So like, people come in and ask about like this one trail and it’s got a name that I’ve never heard of and I’m like, "Oh, you’re talking about like this section of the trail going up to here." Like, I’m much more like destination based. But that’s just me, you know. People like it. And it’s really great for finding new stuff. You have the maps right there, which is really great. Although I don’t think it’s as robust of a GPS tool as some of the other apps. But yeah, it’s got some weird stuff with like…Some of the information isn’t always accurate. So don’t trust it 100% is what I’m getting at.

Margaret 09:54
Yeah, I have noticed that, that it never takes me to the right place to start a trail…

Pat 09:59

Margaret 09:59
Which, i feel like it’s just trying to keep me honest. It’s trying to make sure I learned how to read maps right. Because it takes me to the wrong spot. But it doesn’t do it when I’m like in the backwoods as much, right? Like backwoods is an exaggeration of the kind of hikes I do. Okay, no, no, I mean, because one of the things that I almost dislike about it when I started using it is I’m like…It’s kind of like when I’m driving, and I used to drive without a GPS, and drive across the country and all that. And now I drive with a GPS and I know exactly how many minutes are left in my drive. It’s a little weird that I have brought that into my hiking life I admit. But, I do like that there have been a couple times where I’ve been hiking and I’m like, "I don’t know where this fucking trail is. Where the fuck am I?" And it’s been like, "You’re in the wrong place." And I’m like, "Thank God."

Pat 10:56
Yeah. Good job, mapping tool.

Margaret 11:01
Yeah, exactly.

Pat 11:03
It’s amazing now how the phones have replaced so many tools in my back country pack. You know, it’s like, my camera, it’s my GPS, it’s, you know, I listen to podcasts when I’m hike. It’s…Yeah, it’s kind of cool. Very Powerful.

Margaret 11:19
Yeah, no, I like it too. I used to hike around with an SLR [Big camera]. And I’m glad I don’t anymore.

Margaret 11:20
That’s a lot of weight. Yeah.

Margaret 11:32
Yeah. Okay, so how does it affect…You talked about like…One of the things that you said about working outdoors that actually seemed really interesting to me that seems really cool is that you don’t have to take time away from your family to do it because it is the thing…You’re combining the thing that you want to be doing and the thing you do for work. How else does it affect your life, working outside or even specifically working for the park service?

Pat 12:00
Yeah. So you know, I have a family. I have a wife and kid at home. So…but where I work is, you know, it’s a good couple hours away from where my wife and kid are. So it can be a little bit challenging at times. And I’m really lucky that I’ve got the situation that I do because my wife has a decent job with all the benefits and everything and I’m a seasonal employee. So I’m working May to October, and then I get like…and so in the winter months it’s kind of worked out where I’m able to be a stay at home dad and take care of my kiddo. Yeah, it’s pretty…It works out really well. And as she’s starting school, I’m just transitioning to homemaker, which is kind of working out pretty nicely. I just get to bake bread and do the laundry and all that fun stuff. It’s pretty great. Yeah, it’s a good setup. But in the summers, I ended up being away from my family. I go home on my weekends. But, you know, I spend four days at a time out here in the back country and in the office. And, you know, it kind of stinks, but I’m out in the woods and I get so much family time in the actual winter that it it kind of evens out. Yeah.

Margaret 13:17
No, I mean, it sounds like it has advantages over almost every office job. Like even though my parents came home every day, both of them worked easily 12 hour days most days. Yeah.

Pat 13:32
And my wife’s job allows her to travel in the summers. So they go and visit family. Like they’re off doing stuff. So you know, the couple months where they’re off doing those kinds of things, you know, it’s not terrible. It lets me go off and do my own thing on my days off. So it works out nicely.

Margaret 13:49
Yeah. What would you say for like…I’m obviously…I presume you can only speak specifically to the park service or whatever. But do you know much about like other outdoors jobs or like what kind of like…What would you say to someone who’s like thinking about working outdoors?

Pat 14:06
Yeah. So I’ve worked closely with some forest service stuff, forest service people. I shared an office with them for a couple of years. So, you don’t just have to work for the government to work in the outdoors. You know, there are a variety of jobs working for federal or state agencies. You know, there’s wildland fire. There’s jobs that take you outdoors if you’re interested in like biology. You know, there’s people that go out and survey frogs and that’s their whole…Their whole job is they spend the summers at alpine lakes just like doing frog surveys, which is pretty cool. But, there’s also some of the non government jobs,. You know, there’s guiding services. They’re the folks that take people up those mountains like Denali and Rainier. They’re private companies. That’s a job that you can get in there. And also–it’s not necessarily in the outdoors but adjacent to it–you know, all those national parks have concessions, you know, private companies that run the hotels and the shuttle services and all of that stuff. So you don’t even necessarily like have to be a park ranger to like work in Yosemite or something like that, you know? You can be like a line cook and still live in the valley and be able to go day hiking in those gorgeous places on your days off. So…

Margaret 15:30
Okay, so I actually first ran across you because I put out a call saying I’m interested in talking to people who work with search and rescue. And I had initially thought of–and I’ll probably interview some other people about this, and who knows what order they’ll come out, so maybe you’re hearing this after I’ve already put out some other ones–But I was originally thinking about volunteer search and rescue, right, and the the groups that do it in different regions, but you do search and rescue as part of your work. And I wanted to talk to you about that, about what search and rescue is like. And just to…the reason I got really interested in thinking about this was I was thinking a lot about how search and rescue is a form of mutual aid that our society puts together and how there’s been like–I guess every now and then people try and charge people for search and rescue services and then everyone gets really upset about it. This is like something I’m completely outside of. I just read articles every now yeah and then. So I kind of wanted to ask you about the field of search and rescue and your work with it. And what that’s…What’s been involved?

Pat 16:31
Yeah, um, I am kind of…you mentioned it, pretty lucky in the search and rescue world in that I get a paycheck for what I do. The Park Service is unique in that it’s part of like our enabling legislation to provide for the safety of our visitors. So most other places, it just goes to the county sheriff. That’s just the default, the County Sheriff. They don’t have the budget to have a paid search and rescue team. And there’s always, always always volunteers, people willing to step up to help. Which is, yeah, kind of amazing. And yeah, it’s pretty great. We don’t ever charge for anything. My park owns a helicopter and we don’t charge for pulling people out of places and lifting them everywhere. Yeah, it’s a pretty cool setup that we’re able to just purely help and not at all worry about money or anything like that. It’s pretty great. It’s interesting because you see it a lot just in everyday like back country interactions with, you know, non search and rescue personnel to where, you know, you get injured in the back country and complete strangers are going to help you no matter what. Like, you see someone on the trail, they will help you in pretty much any sort of issue you have. I do love that about that sort of wilderness aspect is that like, everyone helps each other. It’s kind of great.

Margaret 18:08
That is a…I think that’s a really important point. We had a guest recently who’s a wilderness guide in Arctic regions and how that work actually led him to understanding anarchism and non-hierarchical organizing was that realization of like, of some of the things that come up in the back country. And so this thing that you’re talking about, about how everyone helps you when you’re in the backwoods, I think about…Like, I’m a real weird looking person by most of society’s standards. And if I am in most…If I’m in the back country, if I am on a hike anywhere other than kind of like a weird city trail or something, no one looks at me weird. Everyone just like nods like they do everyone else. And it reminds me…[Interrupted]

Pat 19:02
Everyone says hello…

Margaret 19:02
Oh, go ahead.

Pat 19:03
I was just…Yeah, it’s amazing. People just say hi. They wave. It’s…You drive a dirt road and everyone waves. It’s interesting.

Margaret 19:12
Yeah. And it reminds me a little bit about what I hear about, and what I’ve had minor experiences of, of what happens in disaster, which is, you know, the main theme of the show, right? And I wonder whether it’s just because when we’re far away from civilization and like we…the alienation of society, or civilization, or whatever the fuck–I don’t know what we call this–but, you know, the alienation drifts away when we’re in these places that don’t have as many structures in place or like…What do you think it is? Why is it…If someone’s passed out in the street in a city, everyone walks by them, and it’s like, "Oh, that person didn’t take care of themselves. So fuck them." right?"

Pat 20:00
Yeah, it’s…You’re absolutely right. It’s an interesting phenomenon. I think it has something to do with when you’re away from that safety net of society, when you’re away from like, "Oh, an ambulance is just a 911 call away. Someone else will do it. Someone else has done it." When you’re out there and you’re…You know that, "Oh, I haven’t seen anyone in two hours and here’s this person who’s injured." You know that like you are the only one. I think that’s part of it. And also like maybe a sense of, "Well, I would want someone to help me in this situation." And I you know, when we’re in the woods we we see ourselves potentially in more risky situations. I don’t know. It is…

Margaret 20:48
No, that that bystander effect….Go Ahead.

Pat 20:50
No, I’m just, you know, it’s that or it’s just, you know, when you’re away from all of this modern everything we’ve built, people just are how they naturally are, which is helpful and kind.

Margaret 21:04
Yeah. And, and that’s what’s so interesting to me about it is that like because people talk about like–a lot of preppers, especially like the center-right preppers and things–will talk about backwoods skills as the most important prepping skills. And overall, I don’t think that that’s true. Although, I think backwoods skills are great and I’m personally trying to work on mine. But maybe it’s like, they’re getting the wrong things out of it, right? Like, I mean, it’s cool to know how to hit squirrels with axes and skin them or whatever. But knowing how…Like returning to this, "We take care of us" thing, returning to this sense of like, "We’re in this together," maybe that’s the more important backwoods skill.

Pat 21:52
Honestly, it’s wild. You have, you know, just the interaction you have when you’re just far enough away, where you’re not, you know, close enough to society. Everyone’s…everyone’s really friendly. Yeah, it makes my job really easy.

Margaret 22:16
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Yeah. I always have…Like, when I talk to park rangers of various types, they’re usually fairly happy and not like smiling because they have to for work.

Pat 22:28
Well, it’s like a customer service job at its core, but you’re talking with the crowd of people that are–like we were just talking about–gonna go out into the woods and say hi to every person they see. And they’re like, going off and they’re spending their free time to go do this. Like it’s a very specific crowd of people. And it’s very like, okay, yeah, it’s gonna be…[Audio distortion with missing words] Very rarely do I ever have difficult interactions with people.

Margaret 22:55
Yeah. So with search and rescue, I have a couple questions about it. Okay, one, the least…the most specific–sometimes I like to just ask the most specific question that’s on my mind. Which is, so I carry…like when I hike I carry a Garmin inReach Mini 2. I carry an SOS device and a satellite communicator, right. And it’s the most expensive thing on my fucking pack. It probably costs as much as the rest of my pack, but I like having it because I hike by myself. I hike by myself…well, with my dog. And this seems like overall a very good thing. I’m very glad I have it, but I keep wondering, especially like when compared with like smartwatches that can send SOS’s and like now phones can send an SOS, are you all like buried under fake SOS calls now?

Pat 23:46
So no. Not really. We haven’t…I feel like it’s just that like new iPhone I think that does that SOS, but I don’t think we have enough of those out there just yet to really see a lot of that. But, the inReach is our–my goodness–like gold standard. Those things it’s an absolute wonder how those streamline the search and rescue process and get people to the care that they need quick. Yeah, like there’s numerous situations I can think of off the top of my head where an individual would have potential…would likely have have died if they didn’t have an inReach. Yeah, that…I’m sold on those things. They’re just the absolute best. And there’s a different brands, not inReach specifically. There’s a couple other varieties, you know. I’m not here to sell Garmin products or anything, but anything that you can press a button and call 911 is huge.

Margaret 24:51
Right. They haven’t sent us one for free. Okay, yeah, it’s funny because ever since I bought the Garmin inReach I am on their like mailing list and so I get the like…like once a month they send a story of like, "This man survived because he…on a ledge for six hours because of his Garmin inReach 2." Yeah. And it’s like clearly sales propaganda. But it’s also true in this case.

Pat 25:18
Just last year, we had an individual who was experiencing heat stroke, was getting like combative with the rescuers. They were in such a bad way. And if they had not had the inReach, they were like 15-20 miles from the nearest road. If they had not had that inReach for us to be able to get a helicopter there like quickly, it would have been a much different mission for us. So yeah, it’s…Yeah, those things are amazing.

Margaret 25:49
Yeah. So if you’re listening, Garmin, send us free ones to give to our listeners..

Pat 25:59
Garmin kind of stinks because you have to pay a fee, like the monthly whatever, in order to pay for it. Like the best…The only like real benefit it has over some of the other ones is that you can send messages. But the other ones, I think Spot is a simple one, you just buy once and you don’t have to pay things. You just like jam a button and it’s good. Also most boats have them, so if you have access to a sailboat, you could probably find one

Margaret 26:24
Okay, now that actually, that’s funny. I mean, one of the things, the only thing I’ve ever used my Garmin for, right is the text communication and the…So for anyone who’s listening, it’s a small device. It’s like, it looks like a miniature walkie talkie. It’s smaller than my cell phone, but it’s like chunky and it’s a satellite communicator. I pay a monthly fee. I think it’s like 10 bucks. You can pause it whenever you want. So, if you’re not gonna go anywhere for six months, you can stop. And it gives you like basically a phone number that you can text anywhere you can see the sky in the world. And then you’re paying, you know, 25 cents a text or I’m making that number up. I don’t remember how much money it is. It’s around that. And yeah, and so it gives you an SOS button, which calls for help and tells people where you are, or initiates communications with the responders. And it also just lets you…like it Bluetooths to your phone, or you can very slowly and annoyingly type on this like weird thing. It doesn’t have a touchscreen. And so, one of the reasons I actually do like that model is that like, I don’t want to interact with authorities unless I absolutely need to, right? And I absolutely will press the like "Please save my life button," right. But, there’s a lot more situations where it’s just like, "Oh, I’m gonna go be off grid for a week. It would be really nice to know…" Like, recently I was off camping in the backwoods. Well, not really the backwoods. I’m playing myself up. I was fucking…I was at Joshua Tree. I didn’t have cell service and my aunt was in the hospital and I just wanted to know if anything happened to her. And so it was nice to know that I was able to be reached.

Pat 28:20
Yeah. Yeah. And that’s, that’s huge. You know, I do a lot of solo travel too. And so it’s nice to be able to–just because you can send your track as well. So you can send like, "Oh, this here, you can follow me on the website." And so like, you can just send a link and initiate your tracking. Like, "I’m gonna go off trail and scramble up this little peek here. Like, go ahead and follow along." It’s kind of nice, nice reassuring, at least. But then you’re connecting with that outside world, which takes away that part of the wilderness a little bit.

Margaret 28:55
I know. I was gonna say that part of it. And I feel bad saying it, but like…

Pat 29:00
It’s true.

Margaret 29:01
Everywhere has cell service now and I’m like not always glad.

Pat 29:06
It’s nice when you can’t be…[Talking over each other]

Margaret 29:10
Okay, well…Go ahead.

Pat 29:11
I was just saying it’s nice when you can’t be reached.

Margaret 29:12
Yeah. For anyone who is listening is wondering why the conversation…We both have shitty internet. So there’s lag and that’s what you all are listening to. Which, is the fun thing about two people in a rural situation and trying to record a podcast together. And so okay. So you go and you do search and rescue and I have two questions about that. I have more questions about that. Garmin was my like weird specific one. What are people doing? What are the main takeaways that you’re learning that you see hikers or campers or all vehicle, all-terrain whatever…offroaders. Whatever. Like, what are people doing that puts them in these situations where they need rescue. Like what? What lessons can you impart to our audience from having seen people both live and die in bad situations in the woods.

Pat 30:05
I think the biggest thing…So it kind of depends on where we are. If we’re talking about like the close in day hiking trails, the folks that are just out for a vacation and like maybe doing a hike in flip flops. For that, we’re looking at a lot of the basic like, you know, the dehydration, twisted ankles, things like that. You know, people that don’t hike a lot are going out and suddenly doing a, what may be for them, a really strenuous hike. And so those sort of like, broken ankle dehydration, whatever medical issues, you know. Grandma doesn’t really hike and she’s suddenly climbing up some switchbacks and, you know, has some some sort of condition that that causes her to go down or something like that. So that’s what happens kind of in the front country. In the back country, when you’re like really a little bit deeper out into the wilderness, oftentimes, what gets people into the most trouble is they are overextending themselves. They are pushing past what they are really kind of capable of doing. Oftentimes, you get a lot of like the weekend warriors who maybe haven’t done a ton of hiking, who really decide like, "I want to do this one hike, because I saw it on Instagram. And I’ve got to do it because it looks really cool." And it’s way above where their skills are at. They maybe go on too hot of a day and they don’t have enough electrolytes. And so we still get a variety of, you know, the whole gambit of issues that can arise when you’re out in the back country. But usually, it all stems from pushing themselves beyond what they should do for their capabilities. Yeah, and then the occasional like, whoopsie daisies breaking an ankle.

Margaret 31:57
So it’s actually kind of the same thing as the front country?

Pat 32:00
Yeah, I mean, you’re right in a sense. I don’t…Yeah, it’s just more of…Yeah, you’re right. It ultimately comes down to just going beyond what you’re, you know, expecting yourself to go do more than what you’re actually able to do. Yeah.

Margaret 32:15
Yeah. Alright, so are the majority of things heat related and ankle related?

Pat 32:22
Oh, yeah, those are the two big examples. Those are honestly, kind of the most often are lower leg injuries, you just you step wrong, and you mess up an ankle, and then dehydration, and like heat illnesses. That’s like, probably a solid like 80% of what we see on a day-to-day basis. And those are all easily resolved. You know, they’re the quick in and out a couple hours and it’s done. Go in. Bring some electrolytes to someone. Bring them back up and you just walk out, make sure they’re okay. Or if it’s an ankle, quickly pop up there, and if they’re close enough, give them some crutches and help them get out. Get into a litter and wheel them out if you need to.

Margaret 33:06
Okay, so the reason that I’m like…the ankle thing. I watch way too much like hiking YouTube. I wear–just because I’m an old punk–I wear boots all day every day. I used to wear big stupid steel toed boots and hike in them. And now I wear like tactical boots because they have side zippers and they’re lighter. And I like them more. Not aesthetically, honestly but for my life. But but all the hikers I know are all obsessed with trail runners. And everyone is like, "No one actually rolls an ankle. What are you talking about?" But you’re telling me that people roll ankles?

Pat 33:45
Yeah. The people that roll ankles are usually in boots, surprisingly enough.

Margaret 33:51
Oh, shit. [Laughs a little manically]

Pat 33:53
Yeah. If you’re like using trail runners, oftentimes, you’re like strengthening your ankles and allowing that movement in your ankle, you know, because like the trail runners usually coincides with lighter pack weight as well. So, you have less weight, less risk. We’re able to actually like move with you rolling an ankle. So like, yeah, like I occasionally like step weird. My ankle twists. But like, I’m not locked into something where now all of my body weight is going to be over that. I can quickly adjust and like, be fine. But yeah, it’s usually the boots that you’re seeing the ankle injuries with. But like if it works for you, hike your own hike. I try not to judge people for their gear. But yeah, the trail runner cult is real and for good reason.

Margaret 34:45
Yeah, you’re a trail runner guy. Okay. Okay.

Pat 34:48
I only wear boots in snow.

Margaret 34:49
I mean, everyone I know who’s actually an outdoors person.

Pat 34:52
Yeah. That’s trail runners.

Margaret 34:55
Okay. Yeah, I mean, at least like, you know, I…my friend Carrot was on talking about ultralight hiking and thru-hiking and you can hear in that episode me slowly getting sold on light weight hiking. I’ve always been like a maximalist. Yeah. And then in my defense I’m like, well, I used to live out of a backpack. I like know all about carrying weight many many miles. I was 25 when I lived out of a backpack I am. There’s that meme from Aqua Teen Hunger Force, "I’m a full 30 or 40 years old and I don’t need this anymore." Yeah. Okay, okay.

Pat 35:44
Join the future.

Margaret 35:45
So you would overall suggest that lighter pack weight and trail runners might be a safer method than making sure that you carry everything that would be in a Dungeons and Dragons adventuring pack?

Pat 35:59
Yeah, um, honestly, you know, people aren’t used to usually carrying like 40 pounds on their back. Like, it’s not something humans normally do on a day-to-day basis. Like 20 is like not that much different. And most people can move pretty much the same way if they’ve got 20. But with 40, you’re like, you’re lumbering. Much more prone to the trips and falls and not being able to place your feet quickly and nicely. So…But, okay, ultimately, it’s, you know, there is a trade off of like you’re carrying less stuff, probably less robust stuff, you’re relying on doubling things up, multi-use stuff. So that’s kind of like…It’s a trade off.

Margaret 36:48
No, and that’s really interesting to me because like what we were talking about earlier about people taking care of each other in the backwoods, I was thinking about how camping and hiking and outdoor stuff, in a way, is like making a hobby out of a little apocalypse. You’re going somewhere where you can only rely on what’s around you, the people around you, and the stuff that you’ve brought, right. And so that leads me towards my like, vaguely maximalist…Like what I do now, is that like, my pack is a weird lightweight maximalism. I like still want…Like, I carry P-cord, right? And that’s like not in an ultralight hike pack. But, I’m also not throug-hhiking. So I’m kind of like, whatever.

Pat 37:39
Who cares?

Margaret 37:42
But I don’t carry like 50 foot of climb line, you know? And like, I’m not set to repel. I could repel in an emergency with my fucking p-cord. And it would be bad idea, but I would do it if I had to, right.

Pat 37:56

Margaret 37:57
Yeah, no, I would double it up and then be terrified. Don’t do…No one should listen to me. That’s why I have experts on.

Pat 38:04
Don’t ever do that. [Laughing]

Margaret 38:07
Okay, got it. All right. Everyone makes sure to repel with P chord. If you’re not, you’re not ultralight. So. Okay, so I expected the answer to be like, "What goes wrong in the back country?" I expected it to be like, people aren’t prepared, right? Because I have this like, tendency to think like, "Preparedness!" and like… But what you’re saying is that it’s a different kind of prepared. People are overestimating their capacity rather than running into a problem that they don’t have the wand of magic missiles that can solve or whatever.

Pat 38:47
Most of the issues we see are not solved by some like gizmo that you carry. It’s usually like your preparedness, your like physical ability, things like that, you know. Some little tool in your pack, like for the most part isn’t going to prevent the issues that we see.

Margaret 39:10
Right? Yeah. But sometimes they’re fun. Like a walkie talkie.

Pat 39:15
Oh, yeah, they’re great.

Margaret 39:22
Okay, okay. So while we’re…Is most of what you’re doing like day-to-day hanging out at a back country office or the office of…What do you do in your day-to-day? I should just ask that.

Pat 39:39
So like about half of my days, I am behind the desk in the front country just chatting with people, pointing out day hikes. I issue permits for backpacking things like that. And I have my, I always got my SAR [Search and rescue] pack there ready in case something pops off that I can quickly go hustle up trail to help with. And then the other half of my time I am in the field, in the back country, hiking around, chatting with folks, making sure that they’re not feeding the bears, and I get the point out cool flowers and frogs to people. It’s pretty cool. Explore new routes. Try to find shortcuts into places for quick access for search and rescue teams. It’s a cool job.

Margaret 40:24
Does your back country pack include a full SAR setup?

Pat 40:29
It does. Yeah, so I…But a full SAR setup isn’t…I should correct that. It does not have a full SAR setup because I don’t carry a helmet with me when I’m in the back country. And whenever we’re on SAR, we’ve always got helmets.

Margaret 40:46
Like, like the Team Wendy Bump helmets?

Pat 40:48
Yeah, like climbing helmets because we’re often like, doing off trail stuff in the dark in weird weather and they were getting way too many search and rescue personnel getting like head injuries. And the last thing you want out there is to like bonk your head on a tree. You know, head injuries bleed a lot. They’re not usually scary, but like a cut on your forehead is like…looks scary. And so it’s just too much to deal with in the back country. So we got to wear helmets, even when we’re hiking for SAR. It’s kind of silly.

Margaret 41:20
So all hikers should wear helmets at all times. [Joking tone]

Pat 41:23
Yes, that’s what I’m saying.

Margaret 41:25
Cool. Maximalism, that’s what you’re here to promote. So, how heavy is your back country pack?

Pat 41:36
Yeah, um, I actually got it loaded up right here because I’m heading out after this. But it is…Right now. It’s probably about 25 pounds-ish. And that’s loaded for three days with overnight gear, food, extra SAR stuff. SAR stuff isn’t that much more in addition. It’s just a little bit more robust things. Like I carry a bunch of like hand warmers. I carry just extra radio batteries, a big heavy duty like tarp emergency blanket, and then just enough layers where I can like stand outside all night long and not need shelter. Other than that, eye pro, ear pro, gloves. [Eye and ear protection] Not much different that you really need. Any like specialized equipment is coming to you. Or you would start out from the trailhead with it.

Margaret 42:36
I see. So it’s not like you’re carrying the larger first-aid kit?

Pat 42:41
No, I mean, I’ve got a decent sized firstaid kit, but most of the time my first-aid kit is for me. And when I’m treating, when I’m helping someone, I’m using their first-aid kit, and I’ve got some extra stuff for like bigger injuries. But for the most part, I’m like if you’re injured on the trail, I’m finding your first-aid kit and I’m going through that first. So it there’s like a cool specialized band-aid that you like, make sure that you put that in your first-aid kit.

Margaret 43:15
Okay, everyone needs a full suture kit. And everyone needs at least three Sam splints. [Joking tone]

Pat 43:25
Sam splints are great, but they’re just so big.

Margaret 43:28
I know, they’re never in my pack and I always sort of wish it was, but it never is. It doesn’t…Even my maximalism doesn’t put my Sam split in my my pack, but I’m not like a medic.

Pat 43:41
It’s funny you mentioned that suture kit. I actually have a story about someone carrying a suture kit in the wilderness and it working out well.

Margaret 43:49
Oh, okay. [Surprised]

Pat 43:50
They…It was in Boy Scouts and we were out hiking and one of the adults with us was a dentist and like way maximalist over packed. He had like an 85 pound pack, but he had a full suture kit. And lo and behold, someone fell and like gashed their knee open like incredibly deep. It was like a big bleed. There he was, sewing right up on trail.

Margaret 44:13
Hell yeah.

Pat 44:14
it was pretty cool. But I don’t know if it was worth all of that extra weight. I mean, it was I guess but…

Margaret 44:21
Yeah. I am so…I love talking to people about this because I’m so torn between my…like I mean the main pack that I carry, I just go day hiking most of the time right now and car camping. Currently, I used to basically backpack for a…not a living, but you know I lived out of a backpack, right?

Pat 44:44
You’re a professional backpacker.

Margaret 44:47
Yeah. And now I just have like a day hiking pack and it has, you know, it probably has more stuff than I need, but I’m not pushing myself super hard on how long I’m hiking. I have a dog with me who provides a natural limit into how much I can hike. I can’t push myself too hard. I actually don’t go out too much in the summer, frankly, because my dog does not like the heat. He is a cold weather dog who loves the snow. I have bad news for him about the coming world. But, I am a little bit maximalist. And so I try. I’m trying so hard to pare it down. And it’s so hard. But okay. All right. So….Oh, I have so much more I want to ask you about SAR. Do you know much…Like do you all ever work with volunteers when you do SAR? Like, do you have like…Okay, so most of the SAR calls you get are like someone like calls in and it’s like, "I fell. My ankles fucked. I can’t walk home," and whether it’s someone on a switchback in the front country, or whether they’re 20 miles in or whatever, do you like? Like, how often is it? It was…I mean, I don’t know, it’s almost like…I mean I’m not going to put this in the title, so it’s not clickbait. But like, how often is it like, "Oh, shit, we have to get there in time, someone’s dying, or like, you find corpses or all the gnarly intense stuff?

Margaret 46:21
Okay. So, only hike with a helicopter. Bring a helicopter with you in your maximalist pack. [Dry joking]

Pat 46:21
Usually…usually every day, there’s something small happening. Small meaning like, "Oh, someone twisted their ankle a quarter mile trail from the visitor center." Every…it’s usually probably three or four every summer, big ones, that have a big outcome, like where it ropes in a lot of folks and ends up being a kind of a big incident. Usually at three or four. But they can also resolve incredibly quickly too. So you can have a major thing that is from the time of knowing about, it’s within an hour, it’s completely resolved. You know, if you have a helicopter around and someone’s like impaled with an ice axe or something like that, we can quickly get them out to a hospital like within an hour if we have if we have a rush. Yeah.

Pat 47:27
Yes. Bring a helicopter. [Dry joking]

Margaret 47:33
Okay, and then okay, so I want to ask–I guess I asked a version of this–but it’s like okay, so you’re mostly saying like, bring electrolytes and don’t push yourself too hard. Are there other things that people like get wrong or even sort of get right about about backpacking or about just like spending a bunch of time in the outdoors whether it’s day hikes or not?

Pat 47:56
Yeah, I think what people can get wrong is that like tunnel focus on the destination of like, "I have to get here because Alltrails says that’s a cool hike. And it says it’s moderate. So I have to do it." That’s the same light vein of thinking of like people pushing themselves. Where people get right is folks usually have like their ten essentials like people usually have like a backpack, and like a water bottle, and some way to treat water, or something like that. Most folks these days have like the navigation. They’ve got Alltrails on their phone. They’ve got ways to get away like get around. So we don’t see too many folks getting lost these days, at least in my current park, which is kind of nice.

Margaret 48:44
Yeah that’s cool. Because I only read…Like I read some article about how the ski slopes have like…Local cops near a ski slope have stopped responding to the like Apple Watch "This person fell."

Pat 49:00
Oh, gosh.

Margaret 49:01
Because there’s like something about skiing that sets it off on your watch or something, you know?

Pat 49:09

Margaret 49:10
And so I like have mostly read about the like, here’s how technology is like, making some things like more complicated and worse, but it makes sense to me that…Yeah, I don’t know. It’s easy to…I don’t get lost anymore. My phone tells me where to go. I mean the closest I’ve come right as you you go hiking and you’re like, "Shit, I didn’t charge my phone enough," or like or I always assume that in my day pack, I have a spare battery. And then like one day I was like, "I apparently didn’t bring my battery in my pack," you know? So I died. No, I clearly didn’t. But no, it’s cool to hear that people are getting lost less. And even I think that that also even applies to the like outdoors as mini apocalypse type thing, is that it helps to like know that there’s certain…I mean, obviously we rely on certain technologies that may or may not work in different situations, right? Like if we’re entirely reliant on cell service and cell service is no longer available or whatever. I am trying to think of what the, what the other thing is…I feel like there’s…Okay, well, one, I want to ask you what water filter you use, what water treatment system you use?

Pat 50:34
I use a Sawyer. Sawyer Squeeze. Put it right on my little water bottle. I like literally have my pack right here.

Margaret 50:44
Yeah, no, I got really excited when you said that because I…I like, I make fun of how like preppers always, like, nerd out about gear. But it’s just impossible not to. If you get involved in a hobby, or an interest, at some point, you’re going to be like, "But what did you use?" Like, you know? So…But having a way to do it. Yeah, like Sawyer Squeeze…Sawyer is what I use when I lived off grid at the beginning of the pandemic and needed to filter all my water.

Pat 51:16
They’re great. They’re cheap. Can buy them in any outdoor store. Kind of nice.

Margaret 51:24
Yeah. All right. The sad question. Maybe the answer isn’t sad. How have you seen, working at one place for 10 years…I assume…Whatever. I think you’ve been there for 10 years.

Pat 51:36
I’ve worked in two different parks. But yeah, ten years.

Margaret 51:39
Okay. How has climate change affected? Like you see the outdoors every year? What’s been changing? And what are? What are people around you saying and thinking? Like, how seriously are people taking it? And what’s that?

Pat 51:58
Yeah, we all kind of collectively acknowledged that, especially like the group of seasonals that are like that I’m like working with, we all kind of acknowledge that, like, "Yeah, we get to be frontline watching these places go through the changes for, you know, climate change. We’re going to be like, documenting these in our patrol reports of like, how the snow melt is different from year to year and what the new normals are. And it’s kind of a weird, like, yeah, like, somebody’s got to document it. And so we’re, we’re here for that. And it’s yeah, it’s, it’s sad. It’s like a collective like, "Oh, shit, we’re gonna see this place, these places change. And we’re going to, we’re going to be documenting that, and recording that, and being that that data collection," at least from like, firsthand accounts, so…You know, it’s tough when we’re just, you know, we’re just little patrol Rangers. We don’t have really much power other than just communicating to people. That’s one of the things I like to talk about. And I like point out things on a map is like, "Oh, yeah, do you see this, like this glacier was here. And now it’s way up here. And it’s receding this much every year." Yeah. So we have that power to communicate with people. But it’s, it’s a tough part of the job. Let’s put it like that.

Margaret 53:25
Yeah, it…I don’t know. Climate grief is a….At some point we need and episode on climate grief. Because it’s something that like we all sort of avoid thinking about, even when you’re like doing preparedness. Like part of the point of doing preparedness, from my point of view is to like avoid thinking about like how things might go. What have been people’s responses, like, do you run across…Are most people….? Because if you hang out on Twitter, anytime someone says, "Hey, this is the hottest day ever. This is a problem." You have like 50 blue checkmarks, who may or may not be real people, being like, "Everything’s seasonal, you idiots." Like do you run across those people in like a 50/50 to regular….people who actually understand what’s happening.

Pat 54:11
No, the vast majority of people that I talk to about that stuff….First off, I’m talking usually to backpackers. So it’s usually like a certain crowd of people, and like National Park backpackers as well. There’s also like a selective crowd. And so most people are like acknowledge the reality of climate change and recognize like, "Oh my gosh, this is a changing landscape now." Occasionally, though, I get the person that is like, "Oh, climate change. That’s…These glaciers, they always grow and shrink. What are you talking about?" And it’s, it’s a delicate manner, you know, to talk my way out of that one because I’m in uniform and everything.

Margaret 54:58
Yeah, you don’t just like pull a gun and chase them out of the park? [Joking]

Pat 55:04
That’d be nice. I’d be like, "What are you doing here? Why are you here? Go away!" No, I have to be friendly and I don’t know, show them pictures of wherever glaciers used to be.

Margaret 55:16
No, that makes sense. No, it actually, I mean, I actually…I think if anything is gonna get us out of…Well obviously, there’s no stopping climate change, right? Like there’s mitigating the worst impacts, both in terms of the level of change and how that change affects us. But like, we’re well past the like…We’re like, actually in it now. You know? But I do think still that like getting people…Like changing people’s minds, it still actually matters. And it’s still actually…You know, there’s this counter inflammation program that’s designed to destroy the fucking Earth and we have to counter it. And okay, but I have a non climate change related question. And it’s the last one I have on my list and then I’m gonna ask you if you have anything that I should have been asking you. What can folks…You deal with a lot of different people coming in, and you talked about different people overestimating their levels of ability and stuff. And sometimes, when I run across like outdoorsy stuff, there’s like this macho culture of like, who can do the most vertical feet? And who can, you know, walk the furthest in the worst climate? It’s actually almost cool that the weird macho thing about gear is to have us be lighter instead of heavier. But..which is the opposite of what I what I would expect it, you know? But, how can people of different levels of ability…like one of the things I like about…We didn’t really talk about the problems at the Park Service. I think that that’s just a thing?

Pat 57:06
That’s a whole conversation.

Margaret 57:11
Right? You know, the Park Service comes from a very bad place. And so does all of the United States, right? And…

Pat 57:19

Margaret 57:19
You know, like, you talked earlier about like private versus public. And, you know, and it’s like, is giving yuppies a safe taste of the wilderness for a private company like more ethical than working for the federal government? I don’t actually think so. I think everyone has to do different things in order to survive. But…Well, actually, I guess I’m now bringing that up. If you have anything you want to say about that we could talk about. You don’t have to.

Pat 57:38
I don’t mind. Yeah, it’s it’s tough. You know, I love these places. It’s not my land, though. You know, I’m on indigenous land. This is where I work. And it’s, it is a tough aspect to kind of try to reconcile because I love my job. And these, I’m happy these places are protected. But also, like, I don’t know, if…Like, you know, I’m white. Like, I don’t know, if I should be the person in the back country telling people not to step on the wildflowers, you know? I’ll do it because the job is there. And honestly, I couldn’t imagine doing something else. But if that land got returned to the indigenous tribes, tomorrow, I would be all for it. You know, it’s, it’s at the edge. It’s a tough one to reconcile. And they’re starting to make moves. You know, just the other day, got to go through all of our little laminated maps and sharpie out one of the names for a lake because it used to be a really offensive name for Indigenous women. And now, it’s not that anymore. It’s like a local indigenous word for grandmother. And it’s like, "Wonderful! I get to cross this out and write in the new name on this map." Like, that’s fun. But also, you know, it’s still not the tribe’s land anymore. So, I don’t know. It’s tough.

Margaret 57:44
No, it makes sense. And I mean, when I think about the National Park Service, I think about a lot of really negative things and then I also think about how like as when I was doing forest defense, the National Forest Service is part of the Department of Agriculture and national forests exist federally not to be protected but to be harvested. And any like people use, or nature use that–and people are nature but you know–that comes along the way is like a byproduct.

Pat 59:05

Margaret 59:09
You know? And yeah, that’s the…It’s weird because the park services are like, parts of them and more some of them more than others, are like theme park for nature. And there’s like all kinds of complicated things. But it’s also like…I remember at one point, I was in Yosemite, and I was like on a raised walkway to go see some falls. And I’m like, "You know, it fucking rules that these falls are wheelchair accessible." Like, that’s cool. And it’s interesting to me that there are people working to try and figure out how to balance, access and preservation. And so even though it comes from the….I don’t know, whatever. I’m not trying to be like, "The park service is great," right? But it’s just like, it’s fucking complicated.

Pat 1:00:44
Yeah, exactly. It’s, you know, you make the parks really accessible and then that degrades the quality of the resource in the that solitude in that wilderness aspects if there’s a parking lot with 1000 cars, or you know, 200 people on the trail. But also, like, it’s great that people can get out to these places. That is the…Yeah, give a park ranger a beer and ask them, "How do you balance access versus preservation?" and that’s a that’s a whole podcast series right there.

Margaret 1:01:18
Yeah, no, I would totally listen to a podcast series that both talks about the weird fucked up place that the parks come from, and like the way that they do all this bad stuff, but then also, they’re complicated, like…I remember being in a national park run cave and this little kid was like, "Why can’t we go in that part of the cave?" And the Ranger was like, "Because there’s a bat sleeping." And the kid was like, "Well, what if I want to go in anyway?" And the Ranger looks at this like little kid and is like, "If it’s between you and the bat, the bat gets the cave and you don’t." Like, watching the entitlement strip away from this little kid’s eyes and I’m like, yeah…I don’t know. Well, okay, and this actually gets into the thing that I was going to ask as my question, which is, um, what can people different levels of ability do? Right? If you try to get involved in, in, not necessarily working outdoors but like, engaging with the outdoors and you’re not like, totally able to just immediately–I mean, I can’t fucking hike like I used to. I’m not trying to fucking go…Like, I walk seven miles and up 2000 feet, and I’m like, "I am fucking done." And my dog is like, "We are done." You know? But like, what can people do? Like…how make more accessible?

Pat 1:02:44
The best way to really get started if you don’t have that experience and really want to avoid that pitfall of like, "I’m going to do this hike because I saw a guide book that says I should do this hike. So I’ve got to do it." It’s just be completely flexible with not getting to whatever the destination of the hike is, you know? Choose something small to start off with, you know, and only do a couple miles, and set a time to like turn around. Say like, "I want to hike for two hours and turn around in one hour," regardless of if you get to the destination or not. And really try to change your mindset from the point of the hike being to get to the viewpoint or to get to the cool cave or whatever, to being the point of the hike is to like stop and see the little things along the way. Some of favorite days are like cloudy, rainy days because I’m not looking for views on those days. I’m like, focused down on like how the rain and the water makes the moss look different or changes the coloration of the wood grain and things like that. You know, rocks look a lot cooler in crummy weather. So I think like changing your mindset to like, "I’m not hiking to get somewhere. I’m hiking to be in nature," can really change like your mentality of, "I don’t have to push myself to get to that place. Because just around the corner, there might be a cool thing to look at," and like really sit and explore and like look closely.

Margaret 1:04:19
Yeah, okay.

Pat 1:04:20
That’s my advice is to treat it like a walk in the woods before a trek. And you’ll eventually get better and more fit and more experience to be able to push on and do more extreme stuff.

Margaret 1:04:36
I like that a lot. Okay, well, that’s, that’s my questions. Is there like a question you wish I had asked you or like final thoughts or anything?

Pat 1:04:44
No, I think the biggest thing is that folks should get out and hike and push yourself, but have a backup plan and make sure that you don’t get in over your head. Drink your electrolytes. It’s hot.

Margaret 1:05:06
Yeah. What electrolyte do you rep? What do you pack?

Pat 1:05:12
The gold standard is the that Liquid IV brand, just because it’s like four times as much electrolytes than the other stuff. It’s also really expensive. So like the knockoff store brand version of that, I’ve found it like a Safeway has been…It’s been okay. Yeah, okay.

Margaret 1:05:34
Alright. Well, everyone go outside, or don’t, but probably do. See the world while it’s still around? I gotta admit, that’s been a big part of it for me is I’m like, "But I haven’t seen everywhere."

Pat 1:05:53
Yeah, I want to see it before that doesn’t happen there anymore. Yeah, it’s tough. Go touch really faraway grass.

Margaret 1:06:08
Yeah. Well, do you have anything that you want to promote or push? Or do you want people to follow you on the internet or support any given program or thing?

Pat 1:06:20
I wish I had thought about this before recording, but I don’t…I don’t like having an online presence. So don’t try to find me online. You can’t. But yeah, go for a hike. And touch some grass that’s really far away. That’s my advice. That’s what I’m gonna plug.

Margaret 1:06:41
Hell yeah.

Margaret 1:06:47
Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, please tell people about it. Word of mouth is the main way that podcasts spread. The other way is algorithmically. And, you can influence those algorithms by liking and subscribing and commenting and doing all that fucking bullshit that makes me very sad to have to point out is true. You can also support making this podcast happen. Several people make–well, not their living. It doesn’t don’t come out well enough for that. But several people make some part of their living by making this happen, including our audio engineer and our transcriptionist. And we really appreciate your support. And you can support us on Patreon at, because this is published by Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness, which is an anarchist publishing collective that puts out podcasts, and zines, and books, and all kinds of stuff. In particular, I want to thank Lord Harken, Trixter, Princess Miranda, BenBen, Anonymous, Funder, Jans, Oxalix, Janice & O’dell, Paige, Aly, Paparouna, Milicia, Boise Mutual Aid, theo, Hunter, Shawn, S.J., Paige, Mikki, Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea, Cat J., Staro, Jenipher, Eleanor, Kirk, Sam, Chris, Michaiah, and Hoss the Dog. Always Hoss the Dog. And there’s like new names on that list since the last time I read that and that makes me really happy. There’s a lot that we are trying to do as a collective that your support allows us to do and it will be cool. And you’ll be glad. Maybe. I hope so. Anyway, good luck with the apocalypse. I hope you all are building resilient communities and/or learning how to make hard tack. Maybe both. Talk to you soon.

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S1E81 – This Month in the Apocalypse: July, 2023

Episode Summary

On This Month in the Apocalypse, Brooke, Margaret, and Inmn talk about a lot of really bad things that happened in July, from the intensifying heat, to floods, to medicine shortages, to Antarctica’s ice melting, to grain shortages, to terrifying new laws. But also, there are some hopeful things that happened, and as always the group finds ways to stay positive and for communities to prepare for what’s to come.

Host Info

Brooke can be found on Twitter or Mastodon @ogemakweBrooke. Inmn can be found on Instagram @shadowtail.artificery. Margaret can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy or instagram at @margaretkilljoy.

Publisher Info

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


This Month in the Apocalypse: July, 2023

Margaret 00:14
Hello and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m Margaret. Now one of you says, "Hi."

Brooke 00:22
Hi, Margaret.

Margaret 00:26
No, you say "Hi," like you say who you are.

Brooke 00:29
Oh, hi, who I am. Brooke.

Inmn 00:32
And I’m Inmn.

Brooke 00:34
Did I do good? Was that good? Alright,

Margaret 00:37
Y’all did great. I’m joined by Brooke and Inmn today for another episode of This Month in the Apocalypse. And this is an extra special extra apocalypsey month that we’re going to be talking about because we’re talking about July, 2023, the hottest month in the history of humans being alive. Unless you’re listening to this in August, in which case maybe you’re like, "July that was some fucking amateur hour shit." But for now, hear us at the end of July, hottest month ever. And you know what else is hot is the Channel Zero Network, the network of anarchists podcasts. There’s nothing wrong with this comparison. We are a proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchist podcast and here’s a jingle from another show on the network. Da da da da duh daa [Humming a melody]

Inmn 02:12
And we’re back. And to start off today, we’re going to talk a little bit about global temperatures and the heatwave that we are in the middle of experiencing right now. So this July was quite possibly the hottest–or I mean, definitely the hottest month on record in, you know, a recorded historical way–and possibly one of the hottest months on the planet in a very long time. So I live in Arizona, and in Phoenix, the ground temperature…There were daily record breaks in the in the heat where the hottest day on record was…it was 117 degrees. And then the next day it was 118 degrees. And then the next day, it was 119 degrees.

Margaret 03:09
They won’t even make it to that 20. Like come on. Just give us the round number.

Brooke 03:15
No, no, don’t. Stay less.

Margaret 03:19
Oh, interesting. Okay. [dryly sarcastic]

Inmn 03:21
There is I learned, a really horrifying thing that happens at 120 degrees. So I really hope that it doesn’t get to 120 degrees. Do y’all know what happens when the ground temperature reaches 120 degrees in the sun?

Margaret 03:35
Does Mothra break out of the cracked Earth and fight Godzilla?

Inmn 03:41
Sort of. Propane tanks spontaneously combust.

Margaret 03:49
That’s bad.

Brooke 03:51
Oh my gosh,

Inmn 03:53
It’s really bad. So in actuality, the temperature did reach 120 degrees because an enormous propane tank near the Sky Harbor International Airport exploded along with a bunch of like five gallon ones and it caused this huge fire. A bunch of cars were destroyed. And yeah, which you know, is by itself not like some huge world ending thing. But if you live anywhere where it might be 120 degrees on the ground, possibly in Arizona, take your propane tanks out of the sun because they might explode.

Margaret 04:35
Normally, I would say don’t put them inside because in general that’s a really bad idea. But, it’s probably better than like popcorn kernels in your yard.

Inmn 04:46
Yeah, yeah. And I say this for people who like, you know, if you have a grill outside that just has the propane tank attached to it and it’s not in the shade or anything. Um then, yeah, it could just explode and destroy your house.

Brooke 05:06
But only if it’s 120 degrees. If you’re at 119, you’re perfectly safe. Leave those propane tanks just right out there in the middle of the sun on the asphalt, right? [sarcastically]

Inmn 05:16
No, don’t do that. [laughing]

Margaret 05:18
Place them near the following people who run the following companies.

Brooke 05:29
Do you want to know about the the average overall temperatures in the month of July in Phoenix while we’re talking about Phoenix?

Margaret 05:36
I mean, no, but tell us anyway.

Brooke 05:39
Okay, for the month of July, in Phoenix, the average high temperature, daily high temperature, was 114 degrees. And here’s the really fun one, the average low temperature like the coldest it got was 90 degrees.

Margaret 05:56
There was also a new low warm record. There was a night in Phoenix where it didn’t get below 97 degrees.

Inmn 06:04
Oh, golly.

Margaret 06:06
Which is too hot.

Inmn 06:08
It is too hot.

Margaret 06:09
And, I didn’t write this number down because I forgot. Massive..Like there was also a record for the most electricity the city of Phoenix has ever drawn because everyone was running their air conditioners, for good reasons. This is not a "Don’t run your air conditioners," this is more of a, "There is a limit to what the grid can handle."

Inmn 06:31
Yeah. And just to, since we’re hyper focusing on Phoenix, in the last, I think–I don’t think this was last month– but in the last couple of months, the governor did halt a lot of new housing developments that were getting built due to concerns over the future of water in Phoenix.

Margaret 06:57
And it seems like there’s two ways to read that. There is the like…I am notably on the record of feeling like people who are…That Arizona is in trouble. I am on the record for that. And I don’t want to get into specifics. But the more kind way to read the lack of expansion is that it was less like these places are out of water and more that, I believe in Arizona, or in the Phoenix metro area or something, you have to be able to prove that there will be water access for the next 100 years in order to build. And so it is a little bit less like these places are out of water and more like, "We cannot guarantee this water." I think that’s the kinder way…No, not the kinder…That is one way to read that. The other is that Arizona is in fucking trouble.

Inmn 07:55
Yeah, and you know, it stems from these like larger issues of the Colorado River having these like all time lows in water flow, and just due to Phoenix being this like huge, sprawling place that is like under constant development. Like I think it’s where…Outside of Phoenix is where Bill Gates is trying to build some like new smart future city. Which is really confusing.

Margaret 08:27
Has fucking Elon Musk gotten into him or something?

Inmn 08:29
Yeah, like it’s supposed to be this like huge self contained smart city that’s outside of…it’s in the larger Phoenix area, but like is separated from Phoenix. And my first thing that I thought was like, "Why? There’s no…Where are you going to get water from?" Which I guess if you’re really…If you’re Bill Gates, you maybe have to worry less about where your water’s coming from. But…

Margaret 08:57
I mean, eventually. Other heat stuff from this month, let’s see, we had…I was looking at a bunch of maps of where all of this heatwave stuff hit right, and overall, the hardest hit places were the coastal south, the southwest, of course–Phoenix gets a lot of the attention and for good reason–the coastal South got an awful lot, and then actually in terms of it being way hotter than usual, it also affected the lower and middle Midwest. The Pacific Northwest and central Appalachia–aka the two best places in the country based on the general disbursement of the three people on this call–were the least affected. And last weekend–sorry last week–thousands of people across the US went to the hospital for heat related illnesses. Only six states have laws protecting workers that say things like "You actually can’t make people work when it’s too hot out or they’ll die." Only six states actually have laws that are like, "You have to provide like shade, and rest, and water for people working outside." I read a heartbreaking story about a young man who died laying cable trying to send money to his mother and work his way through school and all that shit. The federal government is working on a law about, "Maybe you shouldn’t let people work where it kills them in the heat." That law has not..They’ve been working on it for years and nothing has happened. Yep. Got any more heat heat or move on to wildfire?

Brooke 10:41
Capitalism is so ridiculous. The fact that we have to come along and legislate like, "Hey, maybe don’t work people to death in the heat." Like that shouldn’t have to be a law that anyone has to have because we are fucking human beings. And yeah, we should treat each other better. Yeah, yeah, sorry. It’s upsetting. So, the United States is not the only place that’s super hot. Europe’s going through another massive heatwave like they did last summer. And last summer’s heatwave, you may recall from the news, was breaking record temperatures and was quite severe. And one report I read said something like 60,000 Europeans died last year due to the heatwave. Their average temperatures are currently much higher than they were last summer even…or are getting to high temperatures earlier in the summer than they did last year. That’s what I really mean to say. And it’s affecting lots of things. For instance, Greece is experiencing wildfires on a massive scale, which I guess they’re somewhat prone to wildfires already like the Pacific Northwest. But, the amount of acreage burning right now is two and a half times the average that they’ve experienced this time of year. Particularly the island of Rhodes, which is a Greece Island. Greek. Greek island. [The island] has had to evacuate tens of thousands of people off the island due to the wildfires. There’s something like 90,000 acres of wildfires currently burning in Greece, which is a really significant size of wildfire. And it’s weird how much perspective shifts on this, especially being from somewhere like the Pacific Northwest where we’re kind of prone to wildfires. And if we get one that’s like 10,000-20,000 acres, I’m like, "Meh [disapprovingly]." I mean, that’s huge. But at the same time, in the last few years, we’ve had ones that are at 90,000-100,000 acres. So, you know, perspective shifts on what a severe wildfire is, but 90,000 acres is just massive. So yeah. Greece is…Greece is not having a good time with the fires right now.

Margaret 13:03
And then, right before we hit record [on the episode], I was reading about how today, there’s a third 300,000 person city in Sicily, whose name I forgot to write down, that is largely without water or electricity today because the 46 degree Celsius which I want to say is like 118 [Fahrenheit], or something like that, melted asphalt and fucked up all the infrastructure underneath. So no more electricity and water in a town of 300,000, that is also like experiencing a ton of wildfire. Apparently like the city is also surrounded by wildfire, but maybe that was a different city nearby.

Brooke 13:45
You know when you say that, Margaret, it does…I distinctly remember us talking last summer about the heatwave and how a lot of European towns, countries, aren’t built for the high heats and things were melting like that. Like the asphalt and stuff.

Margaret 13:59
And then, yeah, I remember. And you had England, you had like the tarmac, which is the British word for asphalt, I think. I don’t know. They don’t do anything. Right. And then, speaking of places that Europe hasn’t done right, Northern Africa is also completely fucked by the current heatwave. And in particular, wildfires. Algerian wildfires are fucking everything up. Like, as I’m…Like, as we’re recording, unfortunately, they’ll probably get worse by the time this comes out. Algerian wildfires, so far, have killed at least 38 people, including at least 10 soldiers who were doing wildland fire duty. More than 1,500 people have been evacuated from 97 fires around that country. Tunisia is also having some fucking times because, actually, it turns out that national borders are nonsense. And Algiers, the city of Algiers, had a fun 120 degree day. This I believe last week. And two years ago, Algerian wildfires killed 65 people in one week, including, a lot of those people are the people who are like, bravely fighting those wildfires. And I don’t know, those people are fucking heroes and martyrs to climate change.

Brooke 15:17
Is the heat causing other kinds of problems in the world, Margaret?

Margaret 15:21
You mean the Antarctic ice that isn’t there? Well hear me out. It’s actually a solution because we’re all going to move to Antarctica, which will be green. And there won’t be any Lovecraftian temples with strange writing…in the mountains of madness. Someone’s gonna yell at me about Lovecraft. Anyway. Antarctica is like having some real interesting times. I don’t know if people have seen the news this week. Every now and then like climate change people like post the deviation from norms charts, where the like waves go up and down and stuff. And this year’s, they’re just not. Usually they’re like, "Check it out. This wave is a little bit different. It’s pushing the envelope. It’s got some new records." There’s no Antarctic ice. That’s an exaggeration. That’s hyperbole. Antarctic ice is lower than it’s possible for people to easily conceptualize right now. It’s winter in Antarctica right now. It’s…When we talk about the hottest year on record, and we’re like, "Oh, well, it’s summer. Of course, it’s hot, right?" Where I’m at, the hottest year in the fucking world, half of the world is in winter right now. Right? But, sea temperatures are rising, which actually are going to…Fuck I forgot to write this down..I was reading about right beforehand. There’s a new study saying that the Gulf Stream, the thing that like cycles the fucking goddamn waters of the world, will likely stop somewhere between 2025 and 2100, with the average guess being about 2050 but as soon as two years from now. Which will have all kinds of changes. Ironically, one of them is that Europe might get colder. It’s that movie, The Day After Tomorrow, is based on this concept of the Gulf streams disappearing.

Brooke 17:10
Oh, that movie.

Margaret 17:11
Yeah. That beautiful, wonderful movie. I barely remember it. We snuck into the theater. And I was like too paranoid the whole time. I was like afraid we’d get caught because we were like, really obviously dirty punks. And it was just like, so obvious. But, we didn’t get caught. And I don’t really remember much about that movie besides it’s cold, and that people are willing to walk a very long way for their family, which is very sweet. So this event is, this is a historic low of ice following the previous all time lows of 2016, 2017, and 2022. But this is a five to six sigma event. Five to six–not like cool guys who’d go their own way–but five to six standard deviations away from a normal event, which is a meaningless thing. I had to spend like 20 minutes reading about what the fuck that means to try and explain it to people because you’re just like, "Oh, it’s a lot, right?" It’s a lot, a lot. Statistically, a four sigma event, four standards of probability standard deviation thing, is now you’re talking about something that is functionally 100%. Right? This is now so far…Basically, it’s like imagine stuff is on a bell curve. The far edges of it are the sigma, are the standard deviations away from the norm, the norm is the center. When you get to the…When you get to like four, you’re at functionally 100% of things don’t don’t fall into this, right? Or something that happens functionally 0% of the time, it’s not actually 0% of the time. So it is…but it’s often seen as statistically insignificant. For example, if you were to flip a coin 100 times, the odds of that coming up heads all 100 times is one in 3.5 million. That is a five sigma event. Right? The standard deviation, this the amount of Antarctic ice that isn’t there this winter when it’s supposed to be coming back, is more than that. It is about twice that. It is a one in 7.5 million year event, which isn’t to say this happened 7.5 million years ago. It didn’t. That’s the odds of it happening randomly any given year. So it’s really funny because scientists have to be very exact, which is part of what causes a lot of like climate change confusion, because if you ask a scientist like, "Is this man made?" a scientist has to be like, "We cannot to 100% certainty, certain that," right? Because they’re like, because they’re not certain, and science is based on an uncertainty. And so like a lot of the articles they’re like, "Look, technically we’re not sure. It’s just really, really unlikely that it isn’t." And I remember–one time I asked one of my science minded doctor friends–I was like, "What are the odds I am going to have the following health problem that is too personal for me to explain on-air?" He was like, "Look, that is possible. That is a possible risk vector. It’s about as likely as you getting eaten by a shark, today, in Asheville, North Carolina." Which is to say, it was possible but not worth fucking worrying about. And this is the opposite of that. This is worth fucking worrying about. And ice decrease, of course, obviously, it makes the water get bigger, right, because it’s not in ice form. But also, ice reflects back an awful lot of sunlight. There is a chance that the ice will be back next year. There is a chance that it won’t. I was not able to find…I was able to find scientists being like, "We don’t fucking know." I was not able to find scientists giving statistics. This is…I think..So I’m gonna go on a rant. I warned everyone–not you all the listeners–but I warned my co-host that I’m gonna go on a little bit of a rant today.

Brooke 20:58
And that was it.

Margaret 20:59
No, no, we’re just getting started. Sorry.

Brooke 21:05
Let me buckle in for this. We buckle in for this. Okay, yeah, ready to go.

Margaret 21:07
Alright. So I think…I try really hard to not be like, the-sky-is-falling girl, right? I talk about preparedness and possible bad futures. Semi professional–actually, I don’t get paid for this–but like, I do it a lot. It’s like one of the main things. It’s like, what I do with my time. And I try really hard to be like, "Look, we don’t know. Don’t put all your eggs into your savings for the when-you’re-80 basket. But also don’t put none of them in, right? Because the future is unknowable. And that is true. I think that this month marks a turning point where we can no longer in good conscience, talk about climate change as a possibility or even as like a certainty that’s a little bit away. And we don’t know how bad it’s going to be. I think we have to talk about things from the point of view that this is happening. And this is really bad. And this is going to stay bad no matter what we do. That is not to say we can’t do anything. And that’s not to say we can’t mitigate it. But I think that we need to just like…I know I will at least have to stop hedging some of what I say. And I think that this month is the most clear that we are in a really bad time–I don’t wanna say "apocalypse," because it’s a sort of a meaningless word–since we’ve been having the show, with the possible exception of March, 2020. And so I just like really quickly–and we’ll get back to our regularly scheduled talking about some stuff–I want to talk about some of the stuff we can do really quickly and like what I think is really useful. And overall, what I believe is useful, is that we need to start working together in communities to build bottom-up solutions, not necessarily just to climate change–although that’s true–but to preparing for and weathering the impacts of climate change. I don’t believe that top-down solutions are coming. Prove me wrong government handler assigned to listen to this show. Prove me fucking wrong. I will turn in my anarchy card if you fucking stop global warming. Maybe. I might thank you and then still try to end you. But…

Brooke 23:25
Weather. Weathering climate change.

Margaret 23:31
I believe that working to create small, medium, and large scale communities that work from the bottom-up, that are horizontally organized, that work in federation with other groups to organize on as large of scale as is necessary, is our best bet going forward for how we can mitigate the worst effects of this, both in terms of our survivability, and in terms of having a culture that directly confronts fossil fuel infrastructure, that directly confronts, you know, the people who are doing this, right? There’s that old, I think Utah Phillips quote, "The Earth isn’t dying, it’s being killed. And the people who are doing the killing have names and addresses."

Brooke 24:22
I’m gonna put that on my wall.

Margaret 24:24
I believe that we can build the kind of resilient communities that can allow more of us to live as long and healthy lives as is possible, considering what’s happening. And I believe that the time to start thinking about that and doing that is now. I think that it is time for people to talk to their neighbors. It is time for people to work at like whatever your local community center is that is most aligned to your values. If you don’t have one, fucking start one, and start having skill shares. Start prioritizing this. I think that people should make their decisions about where they want to live based on climate right now, and not just move away from the bad–obviously, that’s going to happen–but also like where you want to live when/if the structures that currently provide for us are no longer able to do so. Like for myself, I didn’t pick "I’m moving to where I think is going to be the least impacted by climate change." I moved to where my family is. Because that is a priority that I will make above my own personal safety every time, you know. But everyone’s going to make those decisions differently. And then the other final thing is that I think that we have this problem where Al Gore government type people are like, "This is your fault because you didn’t use fluorescent light bulbs, you used incandescent light bulbs," right? [Brooke laughs] To date myself to like 20 years ago when that was like a way that we were trying to get blamed as individuals, like, "If you don’t recycle then like the world’s gonna end." And it’s like, "Oh, the world’s ending. It’s clearly because I didn’t recycle enough." Like one, recycling is mostly fake. Although it shouldn’t be. And I think it’s still good practice for people to think about their waste, right? But, and so individual like so…[tails of and start over] So there’s this problem where corporations are like, "Ah, individuals, that’s the solution. We don’t have to change anything," right. But we can accidentally fall on the other side of that. And we can say like, "Oh, well, since this isn’t my fault. And my individual choices don’t necessarily change things. I’m off the hook." And we the way we talk about the hook is wrong. There is a difference between fault and responsibility. It is not your fault, dear listener, that this is happening. Right? It is not your fault that you once got drunk and threw a car battery in the ocean. I have no idea why everyone uses throwing car batteries into the ocean as the example of horrible pollution that individuals can do. But it like comes up all the time. So, if you…[interrupted]

Brooke 26:58
I have ever heard that example before.

Margaret 27:00
Then you have different DMs than me. When you wanna talk about climate change, people are like, "I’m gonna throw my car battery into the ocean." I don’t get it. If someone wants to explain it to me, you can send it to me by my DMs and I won’t look. And but there is a difference between the fault and the responsibility. It is not your fault, right? But it is our–not your–our responsibility because no one else is going to fucking do it. Rather, the people whose fault it is, are not going to fucking do it. And we need to figure out how to do this because we’re running out of time. And I think that…It’s essentially liberalism in a bad sense. It is both liberalism to blame the individual, right? But it’s also liberalism to be like, "Well, it’s not my fault. So I don’t have to do anything about it," because like, when you’re being oppressed, right, like…For example, I, to use myself as an example as like a trans person, right? It is like not my fault that people hate trans people. But like, I don’t want to be oppressed. So, I need to look at doing that. I need to look at solving my problems even though it isn’t my fault. And it is a delicate balance to walk when we talk about this because we need to not blame victims. But we need, as collectively the billions of victims of climate change, to figure out our own power and work our way out of this. I think that’s the end of my rant.

Brooke 28:31
Actually, I really appreciate that, Margaret, especially the end part there, just because like I, in my own personal life, have been struggling with a little bit of that lately, especially with the heat this summer, and that feeling like, you know, there’s nothing I can do, this isn’t my fault, so fuck it, I want to turn down my AC some more or something like that. And I haven’t, but that like the mentality that I’m struggling with sometimes right now. So I really appreciate you saying that.

Margaret 28:59
Yeah, and like use your AC. Like, I mean when there’s like…Sometimes you get these like warnings–there are individual structures that are currently top-down that I don’t think are bad–like when they send out a text being like, "Look, if everyone could kind of lay off the power a little bit so we don’t all have brownouts, that would be really good." Like you know, that’s when we can all like pitch in. It sucks that we’re all expected to pitch in while they still fucking clear cut, and drill, and burn everything in the goddamn world.

Inmn 29:29
Yeah, it’s like the…Like this came up in Texas. Was it last year or like the year before with like the huge power outages in Texas? They were due to…There was like a huge heat wave. And the thing, one of the things that the grid collapsing was blamed on was people cranking their ACs because it was like 115 degrees outside. And which, you know, probably probably the ACs are not actually what caused the grid to collapse. It’s like, the normal strain of the grid is supporting so many unnecessary and ridiculous things. But like, people were asked to turn off their air conditioners, right, during a heatwave so that the grid wouldn’t collapse because the grid is not managed well and it’s owned by private companies and they don’t manage it well. And so the grid collapsed. And then people were like…People were getting heat sick. People were dying. And it’s like, we can rely on things like ACs to cool ourselves. But we actually can’t because of the mismanagement of utilities and stuff like that could be what causes grids to collapse, not because it is the individual’s like fault, but that there’s all this other mismanagement and strain from Capitalism, etc.

Margaret 30:57
Totally. And like, I think it’s a good example too where, at the same time, it is not the people who want to turn up their AC’s fault, right? But I want to be alive more than I want to not be at fault, right? So it’s like, if I…[interrupted]

Inmn 31:15
Just because it’s not our fault, it still might cause it.

Margaret 31:20
It’s our problem. You know, someone else caused a problem. Like, the person who’s hitting me with a stick, it is their fault that they are hitting me with a stick, but they’re clearly not going to stop. And the AC example is like, if I get a text that’s like, "Turn down your AC or everyone’s power is going to go out. I’m going to turn down my AC because I don’t want everyone’s power to go out." And it’s not because I’m like–I mean, it is a good like, we’re all pitching in together to not die thing, right–but it’s also like…It’s hard, because it then becomes easy to blame people to be like, "Oh, you didn’t turn down your AC. So it’s your fault." It’s like, "No, it’s the people who fucking…" I mean, Texas is that brilliant example, where it’s like cut off from the rest of America’s grid because it’s like, "We got to be Texas." And that’s like, why it’s so–and that and all the privatization–is why it’s so precarious. And so we just build resiliency. It’s like, I don’t want to be pure fault. I want to be alive. And so like, I want to say like, "Okay, what will I do to keep cool if my AC goes out?" You know? Anyway.

Brooke 32:29
Can I point out that it’s weird how we talk about AC because we talk about turning down the AC, which makes me think like turning down power. But actually, what we mean is turning down temperature. Yeah. And then I say, when I say like, turn up the AC, that means make it, I’m making it hot–in my mind, in my mind–if I turn up the AC. Anyway. Yeah, it’s difficult. Yeah. Floods!

Margaret 32:54
All right.

Margaret 32:56
That would be really bad if there’s more than one disaster at once. Can’t wildfires be enough? Or have there been floods?

Inmn 33:02
There have also been floods. And I’m going to focus in on a couple of kind of specific floods that have happened this month in the United States. But there is this…It points to this larger problem and some of the things that I learned after digging into the floods in Vermont, kind of highlight some key issues that I think are worth exploring. So, the flood in Vermont that happened on like July 10th or 11th or something, where essentially two whole months of rain fell in two days. There was like nine inches of rain, which, I was curious how much water that is because, you know, we hear like, "Oh, one inch of rain, nine inches of rain." Like what does that mean? And nine inches of rain over like, over 20,000 square miles–which I don’t actually know how big Vermont is, but this is the statistic that I looked up–is like two and a half not trillion but the next number, the next magnitude. Quadrillion?

Margaret 34:24
I don’t really know what’s above a trillion off the top my head.

Inmn 34:26
Yeah, it’s like two and a half quadrillion gallons of water, you know. It’s so…I hope I don’t get at’d about this math, but…

Margaret 34:35
No, it is quadrillion. That is the…Well, you at least got the word right. I looked at that.

Inmn 34:41
Great, great, great. Yeah, it’s like…It’s that much water. So like when we think about like, "Oh, one inch of rain is falling." Like one inch of rain falling in one day as a lot. You know, like where I used to live flooded over an inch and a half of rain, you know? And so to put that in perspective, nine inches of rain fell in Vermont over a two day period. And in the first 24 hours, the river–and I am not going to pronounce this right–the Winooski River, it rose 19 feet in 24 hours. And then on the next day, in a couple hours, it rose to 40 feet. And they’re measuring this on a 170 foot dam. And are there any guesses as to how high the water rose on that dam?

Brooke 35:41
70 foot damn. Water had nine inches….

Margaret 35:47
I’m just gonna be wrong. Seven feet.

Brooke 35:50
Oh, I was gonna guess like 50 feet.

Margaret 35:51
Yeah, I just figured I’d be wrong.

Inmn 35:54
It rose 169 feet.

Margaret 35:58
Nice. I mean…

Inmn 36:02
It came within one foot of the dam breaching, which it like, this dam sits over Montpelier, which is like one of the only cities in Vermont, and so the dam came within inches of breaching and…

Margaret 36:16
Oh, jeez, it would have flooded the city.

Inmn 36:19
Yes, it would have. Like, this already huge catastrophe would have turned into something several magnitudes higher if the dam had been breached.

Brooke 36:31
As an indigenous woman. I’m like, "Fuck you, dams." But at the same time, like I don’t want them to break like that and kill a bunch of people.

Inmn 36:40
Yeah, and yeah. And so the dam did not breach. There was only one recorded death in the incident.

Margaret 36:50
A lot better than Pennsylvania did this month for floods in terms of deaths.

Brooke 36:55
But, wait, what happened Pennsylvania?

Inmn 36:56
Wait, wait, sorry. I got more. I got more. So, one of the other big concerns, and I think this ties in well to kind of preparedness, is locally, there were a lot of people worried about a rather large houseless population that was turned out of COVID housing, like a COVID housing program that ended in June, and so in July, there were like, a lot more houseless people kicking around areas–and houseless people, as some may know, love to congregate around like rivers and stuff because those are usually pretty chill places to hang out and like access resources and stuff. And so like, one thing that’s noted is that like a lot of people experiencing housing insecurity tend to congregate in the most flood prone areas because those are the areas available to people to congregate. And so one cool thing that did happen is there was this shelter network, that when they heard about the severe storms, they immediately went and started doing outreach to people living by the river. And actually, they were able to do in evacuation of people on a bus. The bus actually ended up getting caught in floodwaters and was destroyed. But the people on it were not harmed. And people were able to like evacuate by other means. But yeah, just as like a wonderful thing you can do if you think your area might experience a flood is doing outreach to like houseless communities who might not know about the danger and might not have the resources to escape it themselves. Yeah. One of the other big things was that in Vermont–this isn’t quite as true as in a lot of other places, but it’s something specific to areas like Vermont, or like West Virginia, or like other mountainous areas–like they have that phrase like, "Well, it’s only three miles as the crow flies, but it’s going to take an hour and a half to get there on the windy mountainous roads." Well, Vermont has a lot of windy mountainous roads, and almost all of those roads became completely undriveable because of roads washing out, mudslides, and these like huge floodwaters. And so the populations of Vermont were largely left trapped in their homes unable to escape if things had gotten worse. Like people described being completely cut off on these little, you know, mini islands in floodwaters. And yeah, just things to think about if you live in these, if you live in mountainous areas, is like having these kind of early warnings to leave places because as much as you might be able to fortify your house as like a bunker for preparedness, if you get trapped in it and it floods then it didn’t save your life.

Brooke 40:14
That goes back to what you [Margaret] were saying about community building earlier.

Margaret 40:20
As someone who often lives in the mountains, and currently lives in the mountains, and this is like…Mountains flash flood really bad. And a lot of mountainous areas, like in the mountains, people often build in the hollers in the lower areas between, you know, in the valleys between different pieces of the mountain and stuff. But…And usually it’s like the town actually floods sometimes more than some of the rural houses outside of town. Not necessarily, right. But it’s like, because you put all…If you have a bunch of houses, you put them in the low lying area. But, if you’ve got like two houses, you can put them up on the ridge. And there’s like unfortunately…If you’re randomly being like, "Man, I want to move to the mountains," you should think about buying one of the houses and that’s up on a hill instead of down in the valley for that reason. And then the other weird random thing that I was like reading about is that apparently in a lot of flood prone places–this isn’t like…this isn’t gonna save everyone–but people put an axe in their attic because one of the ways that a lot of people die in floods is that they go higher and higher in their house. And so then, as it gets up to their second floor, or whatever the fuck, they then go into their attic. But if you go into your attic, you can’t get out in a flood. And so some people keep an axe in their attic. I don’t know whether that’s…I’m reading about it in a book, but in a fiction book, you know?

Inmn 41:43
Yeah. Yeah, that is…that is weirdly relatable. Like me and Margaret used to live somewhere that was prone to flooding. And I remember the first time that we got a really bad flood, like this was when our eight foot wide stream turned into like a 70 foot wide moving current of water that was up to your chest…

Margaret 42:10
And bringing all kinds of shit down from…

Inmn 42:14
Yeah, and yeah, there’s like trees floating by. And there’s all these, you know, tiny houses and structures and stuff, and nobody there was all that concerned about it I think, except for me. Like, we were running around trying to save tools, and equipment, and like stuff like that, and make sure the cars were up on the highest ground possible. And I was like, "We have to leave because we might not be able to if we wait too long." And like, thankfully, I was wrong. But like it worried me how unworried people were about the flood in this like mountainous area that we could have easily become trapped in.

Margaret 42:59
I was a little bit like, "My house was on the hill." So I went down to help. Why don’t we put our houses on the hill, which is not very community minded of me.

Inmn 43:12
No, that’s fine. But sorry, just to speak to one other thing real quick. So another thing to think about with flooding is that–and I’ve never thought about this until I was reading about it to prepare for this–but if you grow food, either in a garden or on a farm water, like when there’s these huge floods–especially when the wastewater management facility gets like flooded out like it did in Vermont–all of the water that is in this flood water is very dirty. It’s filled with like…It’s filled with raw sewage, like a stupid amount of raw sewage. It’s filled with like oil, and like contaminants, and like chemicals, and like anything that was swept up in the floodwaters. And so, if you grow food and your garden gets flooded out, you can’t eat any of that food, even if it’s like root vegetables Like pretty much like all fruit and vegetables that get contaminated by floodwater are like completely inedible and like unsafe to eat. So, it’s something that, you know, in a local area where a flood happens, it can cause a lot of problems for people and then like globally, it can also cause huge problems with food insecurity. Yeah. And, talking about another food insecurity thing that’s connected to floods, so, in Ukraine this past month, a dam, like one of the largest water reservoirs in Europe, was blown up. And you know, a lot of people are like, "Oh, the Russians did it because they’re in control of it." And the Russians are like, "We didn’t do it, but the dam did mysteriously blow up". And it…

Margaret 45:10
Derek Jensen was running…Someone in a raccoon sweater was seen running from the crime, screaming about how trans people are bad.

Inmn 45:17
Yeah. And so like this…the water in Kherson rose 20 feet, and it destroyed all of these like irrigation systems. And it is expected to affect 600,000 hectares of farmland that produce over 4 million tons of grain and a huge amount of the world’s vegetable oil.

Margaret 45:48
Okay, I was reading about how there’s a vegetable oil shortage is expected. But I didn’t get to the why. That explains that.

Inmn 45:55
Because a dam exploded in Ukraine.

Margaret 45:59
Because of the war that is currently localized but will eventually spread.

Inmn 46:04
Brooke, are there other things going on with food insecurity?

Brooke 46:07
Never. But maybe. I don’t think I have anything on food insecurity.

Inmn 46:14
Oh, oh, sorry, I read the notes wrong.

Margaret 46:16
I made these notes ahead of time for everyone. And I put them in the chat. But then they lost all their–just so everyone knows behind the scenes and all the cool insider information–I put in the chat an agenda of what we’re going to talk about, but it lost all of the formatting when I pasted it in. So, it’s basically incomprehensible. But, I will tell you about medication insecurity. Ehh? That will make everyone happy. Because that’s not one of the…Okay, just to be clear, like medication is obviously one of the things that people will get the most concerned about when it comes to preparedness and stuff, right? Because of the way that medication is gate kept–sometimes for good reasons, sometimes for bad reasons–It is not necessarily available to people to do anything sort of like stockpiling and things like that, right? And we rely on a lot of medications for very good reasons in our society. Tornado Alley. You’re like, "Oh, obviously it’s related to tornadoes." Tornado Alley is the alley…It’s the the part of the US where tornadoes are sort of expected and normal, as if they’re not fucking terrifying. Jesus Christ. There’s very few natural disasters I’m more like… Because I feel like a tornado could just be behind your back and you wouldn’t know. It’s like a horror movie. You’re driving down the road, and then everything turns green, and then all of a sudden there’s this death machine just like, "Baaaah!" [makes a ‘scaring someone noise] and it’s coming at you–and it makes exactly that noises and sticks his tongue out. And people are like, not excited about tornadoes. At least I’m not.

Brooke 46:19
And they’re green and have tongues.

Margaret 47:35
Yeah, well, the sky does turn green sometimes before a tornado. Anyway, so Tornado Alley is expanding thanks to climate change is the point of this. And there’s been more and more bad tornadoes further east than there used to be. A tornado in Rocky Mount North Carolina, which is outside of previous Tornado Alley, at least according to the article I read. I’ve been in North Carolina when there have been tornadoes, but they weren’t like, "This is totally normal." It was like kind of a bad thing. Well, do you know that there was one 1.4 million square foot Pfizer a manufacturing plant that was responsible for 25% of all of Pfizer’s medications that it sends out to hospitals?

Brooke 48:24

Margaret 48:27
Did you know that one tornado destroyed the entire fucking thing this month? A tornado of 150 mile per hour wind speeds–I wrote down the like classification, but then I deleted it because I didn’t feel like looking at all the classifications and trying to explain it…A tornado. It was a bad tornado. And it fucked this thing up. It destroyed 50,000 pallets of medication. And more specifically than that, it stopped the ability for this plant to produce the medication. It was an injectable sterile medication place, so, a lot of anesthetics, so things that make you unconscious, and I think also some antibiotics, and other stuff that goes into like IVs, and stuff was destroyed and the capacity for Pfizer to make more of it was destroyed. The one silver lining is that the article used to have it wrong and say, "25% of the US’s injectable medication." That was only Pfizer’s percent, which is probably a lot still. Pfizer’s a really fucking big name in medication. So medication shortages were already, before this, the worst that they’ve been in 10 years. In 2014 there were medication shortages about as bad as now. At the end of June, again before the tornado, there were 309 specific like named drug shortages in the United States. A lot of them are related to like chemotherapy and all kinds of stuff. So that’s bad.

Brooke 49:52
I didn’t realize the medication shortage was worse now than it was like during the height of the pandemic and the end of it because I feel like you don’t hear about it.

Margaret 50:02
Yeah, I mean, well the pandemics over. So no one has to worry about anything anymore. [said sarcastically] I feel like this is the kind of thing where it’s like, it’s so hard because it’s like…Well, it’s like, as we talked with…Like, This Month in the Apocalypse is just a fuck ton of bad shit, right? Like and we’re talking about or like some posi like little silver lining, like I saw cute monkey, kind of style stories, you know. Like, he’s on roller skates. And, and it’s like, it’s hard to spin fucking this shit. It’s hard to spin. Too much of our…I don’t even want to tell them they’re making drugs wrong. I don’t know how to fucking make insulin, you know. But, obviously, there’s some problems with centralization when there’s tornadoes around, which I guess was like my Mothra-Godzilla thing I was talking about earlier. And I don’t know, I mean…but it’s the kind of thing that I wish we stayed more aware of. And I think it’s the kind of thing that people mostly don’t want to think about because we like to imagine that even if we’d go into debt to do so, if bad things happen, the existing system will be there for us. And, I don’t want to knock the people who work really goddamn hard to make the existing system work, and the nurses, and doctors, and all the rest of the staff who work endlessly to make this shit happen. And so Pfizer is trying to move that manufacturing to other plants. But they haven’t been able to yet. And they’re basically like, "Look, it’s not actually easy. You would be talking about moving…" None of the employees were hurt is the one upside of all of it. There’s 2000 employees at that plant. And that’s all I got. Besides…Are we ready for headlines like do do do [makes type write noise] headline time?

Inmn 51:49
I think Brooke has something about a murder wall.

Brooke 51:52
I know, but I don’t want to talk about it anymore. Because it’s so depressing. I want to talk about happy headlines.

Margaret 51:59
Should we just shout out that there’s a fucking murder wall and it’s bad.

Brooke 52:04
The great state of Texas. Yeah, that wonderful place, and it’s a dictator du jour, Greg Abbott, decided to roll out some new measures in order to try and stop immigration across the border. So they got a whole bunch of buoys. Buoys are things that float in the water that are like wrecking ball size, which I actually don’t know how big a wrecking ball is, but I assume they’re massive,

Margaret 52:31
Bigger than a breadbox.

Brooke 52:38
Like the size of a car maybe? I actually don’t know. Somebody, somebody comment and tell us how big wrecking balls are. I don’t know big. Anyway, they got a shit ton of them and floated them out into the Rio Grande River and anchored them to the riverbed to basically create a floating wall in the middle of the river that’s currently about 1000 feet long and make it longer. And then they also went through…As part of that project, there’s lots of little islands that are on the Rio, and they tend to have grasses, and shrub brushes, and stuff like that. And they had the the Texas military go in and basically bulldoze everything off the top of the islands. So, they’re just like dirt mounds in the middle of the river, and also,

Margaret 53:25
Some World War I shit is what’s happening.

Brooke 53:27
Yeah, yeah, they bulldozed down the riverbanks on the United States side so that they could put up barbed wire along sections of the river there to, which you know, the river is at its low part right now because we’re in summer, so I’m sure that taking away all of the vegetation and root systems won’t have any problems with the waters rise later in the year. [Sarcastically]

Inmn 53:53
None at all. [Also sarcastically]

Margaret 53:54
Well, you know, it’s just worth the trade off to economically destroy….Even if even if I was a fucking capitalist, I would be against the border wall. Like what the fuck? Like?

Brooke 54:04
Yeah, it’s…There’s several things that are wrong with it besides just the really obvious, you know, ethical wrongness of the whole fucking thing.

Margaret 54:14
The murderness.

Brooke 54:14
And, you know, as an indigenous person, I have really complicated feelings about that because borders and migration anyway, but like it was the state of Texas that did it. They didn’t talk to the local cities and municipalities about the work that they were doing. So they just, you know, rolled up destroying this shit. And then it’s also technically international waters because it’s a border between two countries and they didn’t talk to Mexico about it either or the federal government for that matter. So you know, Mexico is threatening to to take action against Texas, and the federal government has sued the state of Texas, and local governments are super pissed off. So fun on so many levels.

Margaret 54:59
I’m glad people are pissed off about it. So that’s the one…I’m glad that murder wall has been a step too far for even some governments.

Inmn 55:09
Yeah, I mean, it’s like, Arizona did a similar thing last year before the governor…Like when the governor realized that he was not going to get reelected, He started building this giant shipping container wall along the border. And he was actually ordered by the federal government to stop doing it. And he just didn’t. And there were…But there were all these like interesting things that happened where there were local sheriffs and stuff who were enforcing that law against the governor, like the people building the wall. And then there were all these wild disputes about it, where it became very like a the US government versus the US government like situation.

Margaret 55:57
I don’t hate that. I’ve played enough Risk. I know that when my enemies are fighting, it’s time to sit back.

Inmn 56:04
Yeah, but a really cool thing that was able to happen was that a lot of people were, because it was not a legal thing, were able to stage some pretty large scale defense against the area by going and occupying the area to stop construction, but no one was going to arrest them because it wasn’t legal for them to be building it.

Brooke 56:25
Oh, this river section also hosts a large annual kayak race that now can’t happen because the buoys are in the way, so like a Republican kayaker guy who’s like, you know, super into anti-immigration, is like, "But now that, you know, we can’t do our kayak race here, I’m super pissed off about it." So like, even more reasons that people are angry about this that are ridiculous, but hey, let’s, you know, let’s be angry.

Margaret 56:55

Inmn 56:56
Yeah, golly. Is it time for headlines?

Margaret 57:00
It’s time for headlines. Is that our wait, we got to come up with….[Brooke makes type write noise] Yeah, there we go. Alright. What I got. Okay, you know how there’s this thing that like COVID and the flu and shit were all hitting and then there was also RSV, which like mostly comes up for kids, and adults…In adults who aren’t old. I don’t know how to phrase this. Without, okay, whatever. In some people, it just manifests as a cold and other people it is really bad, right? RSV I don’t even know what it stands for. I didn’t write down enough. This is my supposed to be my headlines. And now I’m contextualizing…They have an injectable antibody that the FDA just approved called Beyfortus. And it’s the first time that there has been a good specific thing that is like a preventative for RSV that has become available. And so that’s promising. I’m curious to see how that goes. Because I know RSV was like fucking over a lot of people I know. Apparently, cement is one of the biggest causes of climate change and damage. It is the 12th biggest cause of climate change. It beats out air travel, apparently. And it…And cement overall puts out more carbon than the entire country of India does. One company is working on a carbon negative cement that is just like manufactured very different from Portland cement. Portland cement is like the main way that people make cement, which both involves a lot of burning of carbon in order to create it because you need kilns. And also then it is slowly off gassing carbon for like, a very long time with the concrete. And so they’re working on, and they’ve proven it to be like structurally sound, and who knows whether this will act…[interrupts self] I know that it won’t see widespread adoption because there’s no incentive for it because capitalism is the economic system that runs the world. But someone has invented a concrete that actually absorbs carbon. It just sort of passively brings it on instead of putting it out.

Brooke 59:15
I don’t know if this is the same project, but I worked for a nonprofit a couple of years ago, or right before the start of the pandemic, that was doing research into this very thing. And they were putting really tiny amounts of wood fiber, cellulose, into cement and they were…They weren’t doing it. They were funding, because it was a charity organization, they were funding the testing of this. And I wonder if this is maybe the next stage of that or even the same company.

Margaret 59:41
This company is called Brimstone, which is funny. They might be evil. They might not be. But, they’re named Brimstone and we don’t live in a boring world. And then my final little posi note is that some agricultural workers have been like…Well, some agricultural workers have been dying in the heat. And so another agricultural woman, agricultural worker woman, developed a cooling vest and has just been doing a lot of studies about like, just specific ways about like, how people who are working outside and are stuck working outside beat the heat with these hot new ideas. But it’s like…It’s one of those things where it’s like, well, what if people just didn’t have to do this fun work outside in the goddamn heat? But, it’s still good for us to develop these systems. And I love that it is coming from people who do this work themselves. So, I think it’s like kind of a swamp cooler style vest. It’s like…And they just did a lot of studies about like, if a worker drinks water, versus a worker drinks electrolytes, the person who drinks electrolytes is going to have a substantially lower risk of hospitalization and heatstroke. And then even like, wearing a wet bandanna makes a huge difference. Obviously, like anything that relies on swamp cooling is going to be different based on your humidity levels. If you’re in the southeast, it’s going to be way harder to use passive cooling from water than if you live in the southwest. But that’s what I got. Anyone else? De de deet deet, de de deet deet [making typewriter noises] Hot off the Wire.

Inmn 1:01:22
I have a bunch of headlines. They’re not good. One is interesting.

Margaret 1:01:30
You’re fired. I’m not actually capable of doing that. Okay.

Inmn 1:01:36
In the great state of Florida this month, it was declared by Rick DeSantis that middle schoolers will be taught about the personal benefits that slavery had for individuals as part of DeSantis’ "War on Wokeness." He also was quoted as saying that he was really upset about the ways that–and he meant this in how Democrats are doing it–are criminalizing political differences, which is interesting because he’s like the forefront of criminalizing political differences.

Margaret 1:02:16
So, it’s almost like it’s illegal to advocate the eradication of people based on their race.

Inmn 1:02:21
Yeah. And he passed some wild laws in Florida this month. This one, this one is…Like by itself, you might hear it and you’re like, "Lack of sympathy," but like contextualizing it with other stuff that Rick DeSantis is doing is important. So, he passed a law that allowed for the death penalty in child rape convictions despite the Supreme Court having ruled otherwise. Which, you know, when I hear that I’m like, this is another Roe v. Wade situation of states like trying to get laws passed in the hopes that when federal rulings are overturned that they have these laws on the books.

Margaret 1:03:03
Yeah, I mean, this is so that he can kill gay people and trans people.

Inmn 1:03:06
Yeah, so then interestingly, in Texas last month, a lesbian couple was arrested for kissing at a mini golf course. And they were charged with "sexual harassment of a minor." So like, if we contextualize these things together and DeSantis’ like war on trans people, we can sort of see where this is going is that he does probably want to make it legal to enforce the death penalty against trans people. He also signed a bill to end unanimous jury requirements in death penalty sentences.

Margaret 1:03:46

Inmn 1:03:48
Now you just need an 8-4 in favor, which is a huge, huge spread. You know? Yeah, this is gonna go great. He was also involved in a car accident this morning in Tennessee and he was…not hurt.

Margaret 1:04:08
Dammit. That’s fucked up.

Inmn 1:04:10
Right. In some other fun headlines, Robert Kennedy claimed at a press conference that COVID may have been ethnically targeted to spare the Jews in a absolutely absurd brand of conspiracy theories against Jewish people. Student debt forgiveness: people will be expected to pay back their refunded payments according to the student debt forgiveness being repealed.

Margaret 1:04:47
Have they met the blood and the stone? The ability to withdraw one from the other…

Inmn 1:04:57
Supreme Court ruling was like kind of…Not like overturned but an old ruling was over…like, not used in a case right now around stalking, where it’s going to be a lot easier for people who are stalking people, especially on the internet, to not get in trouble for it. And it kind of boils down to this idea there that the more deluded the stalker, the more protected the stalking will be.

Margaret 1:05:31
It’s like pleading insanity, kind of?

Inmn 1:05:34
Yeah. Being like, "This person was unaware of the impacts that it could have had on this person."

Margaret 1:05:40
Classic thing that should inform the law.

Inmn 1:05:48
It’s weirdly situated like that to protect people like at protests, who might scream like, like, "I’m gonna fucking kill so-and-so," you know, in like a heightened state, and then that being weighed against that that person probably didn’t mean that. But, it being used like that to protect people threatening to kill people on the internet while stalking them is, you know, clearly, clearly these things aren’t the same thing.

Brooke 1:06:25
Laws are bad.

Inmn 1:06:26
Puberty blockers in England were disallowed on a large scale outside of exceptional cases. So like, trans kids in Europe will no longer be allowed to access puberty blockers.

Margaret 1:06:43
You mean, the UK. Technically no longer Europe, thanks to their right wing move to separate themselves. Yes, does not make it any better for the UK kids. I’m sorry. I’m being a pedant. I apologize.

Brooke 1:06:54
Yay, terf Island.

Inmn 1:06:59
Putin signed new legislation on like this past Monday, I think, which marked the final step in outlawing gender affirming procedures. So basically, you can’t get any gender affirming, like surgical procedures in Russia any more. And the bill was unanimously approved by the Russian Parliament, which bans any medical interventions aimed at changing the sex of a person as well as changing any one’s gender marker on their documents. The only exception will be for medical intervention to treat congenital anomalies, which I think probably refers to like, assigning intersex people genders. It also annuls marriages in which one person has changed their gender and bars, transgender people from becoming foster or adoptive parents. And yeah, so Russia is even more terrifying.

Margaret 1:08:03
Starting to not like Russia.

Brooke 1:08:07
Starting to?

Margaret 1:08:08
I don’t know. Putin starting to seem like kind of a…I’m starting to develop a negative impression. [sarcastically]

Inmn 1:08:17
Yeah. And, you know, just to give people in the United States an idea of where we’re headed, this was all in the name of "Upholding traditional family values." That was the main cause for this legislation.

Brooke 1:08:31

Inmn 1:08:34
And my last little headlines, which I wanted to connect to talking about heat wave stuff earlier, a nine year old migrant died after having seizures due to heat related illness in Arizona. This past month, there were at least 10 recorded migrant deaths in southern Arizona due to heat related complications. But, Border Patrol claims to have rescued 45 people from the scorching heat of the desert. But interestingly, in Ajo, Arizona, which is like western Arizona, there was a…It was like 114 degrees outside and border patrol had 50 migrants in custody who they were keeping in an outdoor chain-link pen with like, no shade or anything. So, they have the people that they rescued then put in life threatening conditions,

Margaret 1:09:40
Starting to not like the United States Government either. Yeah, starting to feel on par with Russian governments. I know you’re supposed to pick one or the other party. Yeah, it’s bad. Everything’s bad.

Inmn 1:09:56
Really bad. And I want to get more into the southwest and border patrol and this issue another time. But…Stuff’s really bad right now. So yeah, that’s my headlines.

Brooke 1:10:11
Margaret, you’re the optimistic one today. What do we do? What do we do in this terrible world,

Margaret 1:10:17
We build resilient communities, network them together, teach each other things, try to limit the amount of gatekeeping we do within those communities. We value conflict resolution as high as we can. We value survival skills and more traditional forms of preparedness, and we support a diversity of actions against all of the negative things that are happening in the world, whether or not we believe those actions are strategic. We support any action that falls within our bounds of ethics, including people who are like annoying church liberals, or people who are like taking things too far with the gasoline and the timers made out of kitchen timers. We support the wide range of it and we try to live our lives as best we can. We recognize that winning is not a condition. It’s not like a win state, right? There’s not a state in which we win. But instead, there’s a reason we say, "Winning at life." We don’t say, "Won at life." We say that we are in the process of winning. And when we fight, and when we build, and when we love one another we win. We live the best lives that we can despite everything that’s happening and we work really hard to help other people live the best lives that they can. Was that a rhetorical question? I’m not sure.

Brooke 1:11:34
No, I do feel a little bit…No, honestly, I feel a little bit better now. I really do. Love wins. We win with love. Love and care. And the thing that goes on if me being me as a nurturing, loving person.

Inmn 1:11:50
In living like we’re preparing for the world to die, should we also live like the Empire could be dying?

Margaret 1:12:02
Yeah. Yeah, I mean, like, capitalism has proved a sturdy beast, but it can certainly be slain. And if anything can slay it, it is the nightmare that is coming that we will all figure out how to come together to handle. Yay. Good. That a good end note? Anyone got more headlines?

Brooke 1:12:34
No? Well, no. I’m too sad.

Margaret 1:12:42
Well, if you enjoyed this podcast, you can tell your friends about it. And you can more than that, get together with your friends and talk about what the fuck we’re gonna do, right? Because it is a good idea for us to get together and talk about what we’re going to do because you’re talking heads on the radio podcast land can’t tell you what to do. You. You and your friends decide what risks are appropriate based on what’s happening, and what you all want to do with the time that is available to you. But, one of the things you can do with the time that’s available too, is support this podcast by supporting us on Patreon at We put out new features every month. And we have multiple podcasts, including one called Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness and one called Anarcho Geek Power Hour, and one called Live Like the World is Dying, which you probably know is the one that you’re listening to right now if you made it this far. And if you become one of our like super special $20 month backers you–I mean, all of the backers make this fucking possible, right? They pay for the transcription, so we can try and keep this as accessible as possible. They pay for the editing, which allows us to actually come out weekly. And it helps get all of the interviews out that we can because what some of us have chosen to do with this time is to try and spread this kind of message, right? We don’t currently get paid for coming on here and talking. I’m not opposed to us becoming paid. But in particular, we want to thank Lord Harken and Trixter. Let’s just go back to Lord Harken really quick. That’s a sick name. And Trixster. And Princess Miranda–these are all such good fucking names–and BenBen, and Anonymous–Can’t go wrong with Anonymous–and Funder–which is funny–And Jans, and Oxalis, which is a plant, and Janice & O’Dell, and Paige–I’m going to run out of things to say about these things, these names–and Aly, and paparound, and Boise Mutual Aid–thanks for being a mutual aid organization–Milicia, and theo, and Hunter, and Shawn, and SJ, and Paige again, and Mikki, and Nicole, and David, and Dana, and Chelsea, and Kat J., and Starro, and Jenipher, and Eleanor, and Kirk, and Sam, and Chris, and Michaiah, and of course, here’s our longest term funder, who is a pit bull, Hoss the dog.

Inmn 1:15:08
Thank you Hoss, the dog,

Margaret 1:15:10
And we’ll talk to you all next week. Bye bye for now.

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S1E80 – Glia on 3D Printing Medical Devices

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Inmn is joined by Carrie and Korin from the Glia project to talk about some of their projects and specifically to talk about why 3D-printed medical devices are really cool and how they help get medical devices to places where they are not otherwise easily accessible. They talk about Glia’s work on 3D-printed tourniquets, stethoscopes, otoscopes, and dialysis machines. Also, please give them $5 million. You won’t regret it.

Host Info

Inmn can be found on Instagram @shadowtail.artificery.

Guest Info

Glia can be found at or on Twitter @Glia_Intl

Publisher Info

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


Glia on 3D Printing Medical Devices

Inmn 00:15
Hello, and welcome to live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m your host Inmn Neruin. And this week we’re going to be talking with Glia, a rad organization that designs 3D printed medical devices so that no matter where you are, you can access basic and quality medical devices. But first, this podcast is a proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchists podcasts. And here’s a jingle from another show on the network. Doo doo doo doo doo. [Singing a simple melody]

Inmn 01:17
And we’re back. Thanks so much, y’all, for coming on the podcast today. Would y’all like to introduce yourselves with your name, pronouns, nd what you what you’re here to talk about or what your role is in Glia.

Carrie 01:45
Okay, I’ll go first. My name is Carrie Wakem and she/her and my role at Glia is executive director. It sounds very flashy. It’s not. We’re all team players here at Glia.

Korin 02:00
My name is Korin, my pronouns are she and they. I’m a volunteer with the Glia project, particularly focused on the tourniquets, and specifically with regards to manufacturing instructions and quality control documentation.

Inmn 02:13
Cool. And would you want to kind of introduce what Glia is?

Carrie 02:20
Absolutely. So Glia is a medical device manufacturing company. We do lots of research and we build and research devices that are considered high quality, open source, and at cost. And that’s sort of the stuff that we do.

Inmn 02:42
How did Glia come to get started? Also, does Glia stand for anything? Is it an acronym? Or is it just a fun word?

Carrie 02:50
Everybody asks that question about the acronym and how we became Glia or where the name came from and really there’s no interesting story behind it. I think the original team on the Glia project just basically said, "What should we call this?" Somebody throw it the name Glia. And then it stuck as far as I know. But that was before my time. I can absolutely speak to a bit of the history of Glia and how it came to be. So, our founder Tarek Loubani is in emergency medicine physician in London, Ontario in Canada. And he works frequently in the Gaza Strip. And quite a few years ago he was there during the war and he was responding to a large amount of casualties. And he was in a room with a whole bunch of patients that needed to be seen. And when he looked around, he saw that there were only two stethoscopes being used in that room and one of them was around his own neck. And literally people had blood on their ears because they were putting their ear to the chest of patients to hear if there were heartbeats. And it occurred to him that some other places in the world don’t have access to even basic medical tools like stethoscopes. And then after that trip, he was home and he was playing with one of his nephews and he was using the little toy plastic stethoscope doctor kit–I think Fisher Price used to make one when I was a kid. Anyway, that’s who made one. I’m sure there’s a lot of knock offs now. But, they have a little toy stethoscope. And he put it to his ears and he was listening and he was like, "This thing actually works. You can actually hear a heartbeat through this plastic toy." And he just had an interest in 3D printing at the time and he thought to himself, "I wonder if I could create a stethoscope using a 3d printer that would be more accessible, lower cost, and hopefully as high a quality as the Littmann cardiology iii, which is what our stethoscope now compares to. So Glia does have a 3D printed stethoscope today. It was our first product that was developed and it’s based off of that experience of our founder.

Inmn 05:00
Cool. Is that is that…[incoherent starting and stopping and stuttering] That makes sense how that would prompt an organization like Glia. But it is…That’s really grim that that is how these organizations start.

Carrie 05:15
Yeah. Unfortunately. Though, those are the stories that probably motivate people to do something about these scenarios, right? So, you see a problem and you want to solve it

Inmn 05:27
Is Glia, like, I guess….So from there, this person started 3D printing stethoscopes and then how did the larger structure of Glia kind of start from there? Was it like people just being like, "Oh, that’s really cool. Could we also make this other thing?" or?

Carrie 05:43
Um, yeah, so a lot of what we’ve done…There’s parts of it that’s have been strategic and parts of our projects that have been organic. The first stethoscope, I believe, was developed in 2014. I didn’t come into the project full time myself until 2017. So this is a little bit before my time. Stethoscopes were the thing that we were sort of working on, at the moment that I joined Glia myself. And we started with the stethoscope specifically because it’s an iconic device, right? Like everybody recognizes it. So, there was some strategy into picking a device to get started on the topic of "How can an open source stethoscope really changed the world? How can that provide better access to quality health care?" It’s a talking point and it still is to this day. From there, though, it was the experiences of the people that were working or associated with the project–collaborators, we’ve had a lot of collaborators, a lot of volunteers over the years–that sort of drove the direction of some of these projects. And the one that Korin mentioned at the beginning when she introduced herself was the tourniquet project. And that was actually originally developed by the engineers that were working for Glia back in 2017, a group there. And they saw a need for tourniquets in the Gaza Strip. They just couldn’t access this type of device. And as we know in Gaza, there’s constantly the threat of war. So, they needed to be able to come up with something that they could get access to. And so they designed this tourniquet–and we can probably get into that a little bit later–but that was something that organically happened from our remote office. Other projects like our otoscope. We have a 3d printed otoscope. This project was literally designed by a guy that was attending audiology school. So a gentleman that was in his early 20s had a fondness again for 3D printing and he was sitting in class going, "Why does an otoscope cost $400. I’m a student. I’m on a student budget. I can’t access this general piece of equipment." And, and we’re not talking about the Welch Allyn otoscopes that are attached in your doctor’s office. We’re talking about just you know, a plain handhold regular tool to look into somebody’s ear. And so this guy, his name’s Frankie Talarico, he actually sought us out and he was like, "I want to make this otoscope. And I want to just design it quickly on some software. And I want to make it open source so that anyone else can access that source code and copy it from anywhere else in the world." And he looked out to see who else was doing things like him. And it just so happened, we were in the same exact city, literally like a 10 minute drive from each other. And he reached out and he said, "I have this device that I’ve been working on. I want it perfected. You guys seem to be a little bit more ahead of of the game in terms of open source medical devices. How can we help each other?" And so he brought this idea, this concept, this design. We had it, you know, sort of perfected in a couple of different versions. And now what you see on our website is working a portable otoscope for…It’s $100 for that device and we’re hoping to improve our manufacturing process in the next year when we have people like Korin involved to help those processes get a little bit more efficient, we can lower the price even further. So its cost right now is 1/4 of what it does for the comparable gold standard model on the market.

Inmn 09:35
Wow. Yeah, that is…I mean, that’s a significant difference. If someone downloaded it and printed it themselves, would it be cheaper for them to print it themselves then?

Carrie 09:49
Yeah, so yeah, in a sense it would be. So there’s…So what Glia does is we take our designs that we make–all of our medical devices are located in our public repository on GitHub–and people can access those files and make them themselves. So there’s no, you know, limit to what people can do with these things. They can redevelop them and make them better. That’s what we really love is when people come into our feedback cycles and we see improvements for devices. That’s one benefit of having it open source. But people certainly can take the device and make it. And in fact, if somebody copies what we’re doing, that is a success to us. That’s what we want to happen here, which is probably much different from many of the other medical device companies you think you might know. We measure our success based on how much it’s replicated. And so somebody can take that device, they can make it on their printer. It really does cost cents to print with the plastic that we’re using. There’s a few electronic components and batteries. There’s a lens that you need to source. So that might be you know…You could get that somewhere between $5 and $20 USD, to get a lens that goes into this. Not very expensive pieces. And then it’s your time of putting it together. But I must say, the one caveat in all of this being, is that if you are building and replicating medical devices and using them on patients, you have to have proper compliance in your area. So Glia holds a Medical Device Establishment license, which is a Health Canada license that we have to make sure that all of our devices that are going out are safe to use on patients. And we would encourage anyone else to do the same thing if they were really making these things to use on patients, to sell to others to use on patients, etc.

Inmn 11:47
Yeah, I was gonna ask, not in like a skeptical way or anything, but like in a….How do the devices that y’all make compare to professional medical devices that are produced in factories? Which I mean, this is just…Yeah, it doesn’t seem all that different, just a different means of manufacturing….

Carrie 12:10
Great question. I love this question. So what Glia is trying to do is to make our devices as close in functionality to the gold standard devices that you would see. So we don’t compare ourselves to cheap plastic shit that’s built elsewhere, or knock offs, or crap that you can find all over Amazon, you know. We want to make sure that we are building high quality devices. So we do real research backed by real institutions on that. And then we publish real papers in reputable journals about the research that we do. So, the idea here is to make something in a different way that lowers the cost, increases the access, but does not touch the standard of quality. So quality is number one for us. And then alongside quality is safety. So that’s where the question of compliance sort of comes in. We encourage anyone that’s producing medical devices to make sure they understand proper compliance in their area. And really in the world right now there are four main places to get compliance. One is Health Canada, which is where we…our home offices is in Canada. There’s also the FDA. There is one–and I’m not sure of the exact name–but there’s one for the European Union that qualifies. And then I believe there’s one in Australia as well. So for the countries that don’t have these types of governing bodies, where often these devices are needed most, they would follow compliance from one of those other countries that provide that service. And if they are then you could trust that you’re being safe with what you’re doing.

Inmn 14:03
Cool. Cool. Yeah. So in contrast, y’all are producing these medical devices for very little money, but it is without the sacrifice of quality and so it’s…like, is that kind of…[starts over] Does that offer a good alternative to if people are like, "Oh, I need cheap medical supplies. I will go buy them on Amazon."

Carrie 14:33
Yeah, I wouldn’t recommend doing that specifically, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t good quality medical devices on Amazon. Okay, so I can just say that for sure. The difference…So the point of this all is to make a sustainable business model where people get paid fair wages to build build high quality devices. And the point here is not to gouge people that need these devices to improve their health. What Glia is trying to do, and say, and change in the culture of the way our health system operates today is that nobody should be making money on the backs of people’s health care. And so we should charge what it costs to produce these devices. That’s what the customer should pay at the end, not that price plus investments–like paying off investors–paying off people so that they can have their Lamborghinis and their yachts and go out and do all these things, right? Like, this is not the place for that. If you want to make a designer t-shirt and sell that to someone and they want to pay, you know, $500 for a t-shirt, that’s up to them. That’s not something they need. But people need access to health care and there’s a lot of inequity in our world today with accessing even these simple devices as I said in my very first example of how the company came to be. Like why is it in 20–I believe that happened in 2012–why was it in 2012 that stethoscopes weren’t available in a place in this world? Like quality stethoscopes. And that just doesn’t make any sense. And the three of us, we may have had enough privilege to be able to understand what a stethoscope was from the minute we could walk or talk–thanks to Fisher Price too–but also, you know, like it’s not an issue for us to really get some simple tools, but that’s not everywhere in the world.

Inmn 16:54
How then do devices make it from y’all to places like Gaza? Or anywhere where people who need to be able to access them? Yeah, how does that that flow path work?

Carrie 17:11
This can happen in a couple of different ways. Our preferred method is for people to adopt what we’re doing and do it themselves. You know, this is…I was talking a little bit about the measurement of success for Glia and one of those things is getting people to replicate what we’re doing. And so if they decide, "I need access to a particular device, anywhere in the world," it really, for our devices right now, the way they stand, it’s mostly about having access to a quality desktop printer, and having the source code, having a little bit of expertise, proper compliance, and you’ve got the recipe to start building your own devices. So whether that be 100 devices or 100,000 devices, you can really do that based on this model. It is scalable. I mean, but it’s not meant to be massively scalable, right? It’s about keeping the decentralized manufacturing model alive and only filling the need in communities as they need things, not over producing. You know, like, we don’t want to throw a whole bunch of crap into the landfill. That’s not one of our objectives. Our objective is to fill the needs of the people who need what they need. Now Glia…That doesn’t mean that Glia doesn’t ship things. You know, like we will…Some people can’t, or don’t have interest, or don’t want to, or it’s not feasible. An example of that is sending tourniquets over to Ukraine for some response there. There are…We also had an initiative–we’re working on it again this year–but a couple of years ago we sent out 200 stethoscopes to medical students graduating from their class. So fourth year medical students still did not have access in Kenya and Zambia to a simple stethoscope. So, we worked with a group over there called Myka Medic–or sorry, they’re in the UK–and we collaborated with them to send these stethoscopes over. They weren’t necessarily interested in that moment in starting their own lab, getting proper compliance, you know, getting all those tools. But getting that conversation started by sending over a couple of hundred units means that we can talk about those things in the future. Now we have these stethoscopes And now, when something happens to one of these stethoscopes, how do we repair it? Right? And that’s what’s beautiful about the model if you actually do, you know, invest in a $1,400 (Canadian) printer and teach somebody a little bit about what we’re doing, give them the access to be able to build it themselves, and then they can go ahead and make more, repair what they have, you know? It just makes it just makes sense.

Korin 18:29
You mentioned a little bit about Gaza, specifically. Those are produced in Gaza. And the reason for that was because there was a dire need for them. And attempting to get medical supplies through that blockade is very difficult without paying exorbitant fees. They would cost…To get a CAT tourniquet here in the US cost about $30 and to get it into Gaza would be about $40 USD even if you’re buying in massive bulk quantities.

Carrie 20:23
For a single tourniquet?

Korin 20:37
Yeah, about $40 each.

Inmn 20:52
Oh, my God,

Carrie 20:53
Yeah, that’s, a lot of money in Gaza to pay for medical devices. And not only that, but there’s another huge issue we can bring in, if it’s time to do that, which is talking a little bit about donation culture and how a place like Gaza, especially, deals…I mean, I’ve learned a lot about this, especially in the last year, but the health system in Gaza right now is reliant on donations so much so that it’s hard for them to steer out of any other path. And they can’t even, you know, fathom the idea sometimes about being empowered to build their own stuff because they’re so used to receiving basically other people’s secondhand items. But what this does is it creates this dumping culture where devices will get dumped into an area because another place doesn’t need it. So they’ll say, "Oh, who wants this? We don’t want to throw it away. So let’s go put it somewhere where people can’t have access." So there’s a whole bunch of problems with that system, especially in Gaza. One of the things is they get a lot of stuff they don’t need or don’t want. They can’t store it. They have inventory crisis constantly because of all of this dumping that happens of things they don’t need or don’t want. And then they become reliant on something. So for example, one of the ideas that Glia has down the pipeline is creating a dialysis machine. And we don’t really want to reinvent dialysis. What we want to do is to take an existing type of dialysis machine and build an adapter to fit on that existing machine that will speak to any one of the disposables that may be used for the purpose of dialysis. So right now, those things are manufactured in a way that if XYZ company makes it, you have to get XYZ disposables to be compatible with that machine in order to use it. So, what’s happening in Gaza is that there is literally a gymnasium full of dialysis machines that are unusable and another gymnasium full of disposables that are unusable because those two units are not compatible. So Glia’s idea for a device–now this is going to be a $5 million project and you know, if any of your listeners have access to that type of cash, we would absolutely love to begin this project–but, you know, we want to build an adapter that will speak to those two pieces so that people can actually use the stuff that is donated to them, that is given to them, because it…And you can imagine, so now they have storage issues and they become reliant on these people that are feeding them the donations, right? So it’s just there’s so many problems with that. Now, if you look at what Glia is trying to do, we have an office in Gaza. We have an office with several printers running. We build our own turkeys locally there. So we build our own medical devices there. So they’re already there, you know, and people can purchase or use what they need. They don’t need to rely on somebody else’s handouts to get them in there. And there’s a lot more that we could do there as well. But it’s difficult. It’s difficult to even negotiate with those governing bodies that make those decisions in Gaza because they’re so used to dealing with these donations and that’s kind of the system they’re relying on right now.

Inmn 24:33
Yeah. I cannot imagine being a medical practitioner in Gaza and being, "Well, we need dialysis machines," and having an entire gymnasium full of dialysis machines that you can’t use that. Wow, I hope that y’all get to start that one soon.

Carrie 24:52
And like Korin was saying, it’s extremely difficult to get things in. I worked on a project in 2016 I want to say–yes 2016– where I moved 10 dialysis machines from Northern Ontario. So for your US listeners, Ontario is in central Canada and northern Ontario is somewhat remote. Okay. And this is going to fill all the stereotypes that people think of Canada right now what I’m going to say. Where I moved these, I work with a nephrologist and he wanted me to take–he did some work in Gaza–and he saw that there were some machines that were at this northern Ontario hospital that were compatible with some of the disposables that were already in Gaza. And they weren’t being used by us. So he said, "Let’s pay to get these 10 machines that are basically obsolete for Canadians." Okay, "Let’s move them to Gaza." This project took me nearly 12 months to get these in. They had to come from this hospital via Ice River, onto a train, onto another train, onto a plane, and then perhaps a ship–I can’t remember, it was a while ago–I don’t know if we had it on a ship to get across. But then of course, it had to wait. To get this in through the blockade was terribly difficult. But we were able to get the Ministry of Health in Gaza on board and, you know, they let them in eventually. It also cost us $10,000 Canadian in shipping. So, what are we doing here, folks? This makes no sense. And all just because "Oh, somebody donated some disposables and they don’t talk to any of the machines we have here. So let’s dig out these ones out of the basement of northern Ontario and move those over." You know, it’s just so frustrating because think about how far $10,000 would have gone in terms of buying any type of medical device if they had the market to do so in Gaza. It would be…It’s just there’s nothing that can can really be said about that. It’s…

Inmn 27:15
Yeah, that is maddening. I know that…I mean, not to relate things back to things in the United States, but I remember when, you know, early, early COVID times, there was a serious lack of ventilators and all the car companies were going on strike to have the car company factories make ventilators instead. And I don’t really know where I’m going with this, but just maybe for people in the United States to think about a comparable or semi-comparable situation of like absurdity that we have all these means of production and we’re using them to make cars or we’re using them to make stuff that people don’t need instead of getting basic medical…having basic medical supplies be accessible to people who need basic medical supplies. I don’t know, it just it hurts my brain a lot.

Korin 28:30
Not to, again, not to directly compare these two things because they are different, but even here in the US, you know, glucometers, the things that are used to measure your blood sugar, the the strip and I think the lancet and the unit itself, same kind of razor and blades model where one does not work with every other type of glucometer. So, it’s exactly like manufacturers just love to do the whole razor and blades thing with people’s health because at the end of the day, if it make some money, they will do it.

Inmn 29:07
Yeah, yeah. And that is the wild thing too when I think about it, is that all these medical industries, they exist to make people money not to necessarily get people medical supplies.

Carrie 29:23
Yeah, yeah. It’s sadly true. And so…So I guess the question is then what can you do about that to change that culture? And to start thinking about this in a way that’s more about sharing what you know versus holding it tight to your vest to serve yourself? How do you really serve other people with the information that you have? And so that’s what Glia is really trying to do is just to show that there are…there’s a different business model for this, folks. It doesn’t mean that people need to be making no money or that it needs to be charitable. There’s a system that could be in place where people just get paid to build stuff fairly. Maybe even just add a little bit to that so it’s a nice cushy job, you know, like, give them extra vacation time, or give them just a couple of extra bonuses per year for just being great people. And you can do all of that and not gouge people at the end for all that that upfront R&D (Research and Development) that’s done at the beginning. Because that’s kind of, you know, fluffy, in and of itself, all of the R&D. We really don’t need to redo R&D every time we do it if we just share the information we learned the last time we did it. Right? So why are we reinventing the wheel? Like really why did Glia have to come in and take a device like the stethoscope–that has seen no improvements since the 1970s in terms of its functionality, or design, or anything–and say we have to start from scratch and build this? Because, you know, like we took something that was off patent and looked at that design and replicated it. But why are we hiding behind patents here? You know, like it doesn’t…it doesn’t really make much sense when people need health care. Okay, I have an example. I will share a personal example. I talk about this sometimes when I give presentations. So, my personal experience isn’t actually about medical devices, it’s about pharmaceuticals. And I think the thing is, is that people in the US and Canada…There’s a difference between the relation for a lay person in the US and in North America, especially, probably other places in the world, too, but I know here. I know our neighbors here. And everybody in North America has a relationship with pharmaceuticals, whereas not everybody in North America has a direct relationship with medical devices. Medical practitioners do. Medical administrators do or people that are making decisions on purchases, or people that are building these things. But not necessarily. Like my mother doesn’t have any personal connection to a stethoscope, even though I’m sure her physician uses it on her every time she goes and sees her. But I think the thing about pharmaceuticals is that everybody’s accessing this. So we all know about how much of an upcharge there is on certain medicines. And so for example, I have a sister who has a very serious heart condition, and she needs to take medicine in Canada that it costs $40,000 a year for her lung health. And without that she wouldn’t be here. So because of where we live in the world, she’s able to access that through a community, like through the Trillium program that’s in Canada that supports people who, who can’t afford it. And she can’t, you know, she’s on disability here in Canada because she can’t work because of her condition. It’s quite severe. And without this life saving medication. But $40,000 a year? How on earth would anyone without a health care system like we have in Canada be able to live? You would die. You would die, right? So what are we doing when we don’t have working dialysis machines, you know, that are not talking to each other. People need dialysis or they die. A lot of people need dialysis. And so the thing is is that the technology exists, the manufacturing of these things can exist. This is not like brand new science. This is stuff that people can do now. We’re not talking about building a dialysis machine on Mars. We’re talking about just building it here on Earth. And then the problem here is that, you know, but this one has to be compatible with that one. Anyway. It’s it’s just a mess.

Inmn 34:18
I know that a big project that y’all have currently is tourniquets. And corn, I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about that project.

Korin 34:28
Yeah, the Glia tourniquet, I believe, started in Gaza as well. And that was due to necessity. This happens very frequently, where Israel will start waging war on on the Gaza Strip and that causes a lot of casualties. And due to the blockade, it’s very difficult to get like commercially manufactured tourniquets in and so the solution that came up–and this was before I joined the project–but the solution that happened there was to make this tourniquet that can be 3D printed and sewn together with locally available materials. And that’s…It works. Yeah.

Inmn 35:10
That’s awesome. And I know you’re saying the price comparison of like If you wanted to buy one, it’s like $30-40 bucks and then like to get it into Gaza, it would be a lot more?

Korin 35:24
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, getting it in there, from what I’ve heard from Tarek, it’s about $40 US if you have a bulk order to get it into Gaza and the time that that would take is variable. Depends on a number of factors. Here in the United States, you can get them for about $30 give or take. Some models are more expensive, but that’s about what you’re looking for. The Glia tourniquet, I think we’ve run the numbers a little bit. Depending on where you source your materials, how you do it, in theory, you could manufacture it for about $7.50. But that is before any compliance or overhead. That’s just materials and assuming you have the equipment ready to make it.

Inmn 35:24
Yeah, cool. I guess beyond the obvious of like putting the means into people’s hands to produce their medical supplies, like why is tourniquets a big deal?

Korin 35:43
So just in general, what they’re used for, I guess, for folks who don’t know, it’s basically a big strap that gets tightened around a limb and it occludes all blood flow to that. So in the event of like a massive hemorrhage, a massive amount of bleeding, these can save lives. These have been gaining popularity over the last, I want to say about 20 years, I think it’s largely due to the forever wars, unfortunately. That’s where a lot of trauma medicine winds up coming out of. And so there’s been a huge resurgence of interest in them. And at this point, they are now very popular and they’re very much used to stop massive hemorrhage. For non military applications, there’s any number of them here in the US. We have to contend with a large number of mass shootings. So aside from mass shootings, there’s a number of other situations where you might need a tourniquet. You can have accidents with cooking, accidents with knives, or power tools, lawnmowers, chainsaws, things of that nature, natural disasters, which are unfortunately becoming more common. Those are all situations where folks might need tourniquets,

Carrie 37:25
I would also add to that industrial accidents and a lot of back country activities. So things like your friends in the north doing a lot of snowmobiling, those types of people, a lot of those types of sports have been reaching out to us with interest in the tourniquet as well. So it’s becoming an item that really should be in every first-aid kit. And one of Glia’s goals in the next, let’s say year to two years, is to start diving in a little bit more into the US market with these items and making sure they’re in every public space. So for example, every school needs one of these tourniquets in the US. Every mall. But even in Canada, where we don’t have as many mass shootings, these things are useful for all those other reasons. If you work in a facility–lots of people still work online, so you know, machines are doing stuff for us, but there’s a lot of people doing factory work–tourniquets need to exist there.

Inmn 38:27
Yeah, yeah. I remember seeing this kind of shift. As you know, in 2020, when there was a lot of gun violence happening at large protests and stuff, and just like seeing people…everyone had tourniquets strapped to their belts and stuff, but I also remember talking to people who were like, "Oh, I’m maybe not going to go to the thing because I don’t have a tourniquet and spending that much money on a tourniquet right now sounds overwhelming.

Carrie 39:08
That’s so interesting. Yeah, so it’s becoming way more commonplace I think, with tourniquets, and it’s becoming something that your regular EMS isn’t just carrying because the other big issue with tourniquets and why the hill is so steep for Glia is not just all of the R&D, and the manufacturing, and the governing body approval–which I think we might get into a bit–but you know, all the certifications and things that you might need for these types of devices, or what you would assume you may need, aside from all of those tricky things, the steepest hill for us is that lay people don’t know how to apply tourniquets properly. So, unless you’re a trained person in the use of tourniquets, then it’s hard to just put a tourniquet in a public space and know how to use it. So, part of Glia’s endeavor is never just to make a device and be like, "Oh, we made our device. That’s it. Here you go." No, no, no, we have to do the full package. So likely, you know, we might seek out educational companies that are interested in open source as well and provide educational material to people so that you can become fluent in using a device like this.

Inmn 40:28
Cool. Korin, I know we were talking a little off-air about this, but you mentioned that–I guess maybe the right word is compliance–for civilian grade tourniquets doesn’t really exist or something?

Korin 40:49
There is no standard for a tourniquet. So the way I actually got into the project was Tarek Loubani did an interview on It Could Happen Here, where he talked about 3D printed tourniquets. And I said, "Well, that’s very interesting." And so I go, when I look through the GitHub and look through all the resources and couldn’t find like, ‘What standard does this meet? How is this being tested?" And after some further back and forth and discussion, it turns out, there isn’t a standard for tourniquets. That does not exist. ASTM, which is a standards making body, is I think, working on one, but it’s not released yet. And it’s extremely new, if that ever does come out. There literally just is no standard that you can say, "Well, I’ve done this. And so therefore, it’s a good tourniquet." Yeah. And, the way you kind of determine whether or not your tourniquet works is, I think, largely by comparison. And there is some testing that’s done, but it’s by comparison to what’s being used currently. And does it work as well as that?

Carrie 41:56
Yeah, I was just gonna add to that again, like Glia doesn’t just stop at like, "Oh, let’s take a medical device and reproduce it or build it again." We have to do…we have to go to all the lengths to make sure that this thing can get out there and people can use it safely. So one of the things we needed to do was to partner with somebody that was willing to design a tester for the type of tourniquets that we were making. And that’s been a massive project. And actually, it was designed by the Free Appropriate Sustainable Technology Research Group at Western University. And they just published the tester that they developed to test not only the Glia tourniquet, but any tourniquet that works in the way that the Glia tourniquet works. So now we can start developing some sort of standard because when you make a device like this and then you realize that the only thing that really gave it any clout was some panel that decided that these particular tourniquets were the one we were going to use and then because of mass production built a reputation, even though, you know, the CAT tourniquet, actually, in the field is only something like 55% effective when it’s applied. And it’s the most well known gold standard tourniquet out there today on the market that people trust the most. But you know, half the time you’re going to put that on, it’s going to fail. So you, Glia dives into, like, why does it fail? What is the test being done on that? Is it actually the education of the user? Does the user know how to apply the tourniquet? You know, we don’t we don’t just stop at, "Oh, here’s the device now for the market. You can buy it. Do what you will with it," you know, like all those other checkboxes are applicable.

Inmn 43:47
Yeah. Yeah. Is like…I guess, because…Is the CAT VII, is that the tourniquet that like the military uses, or do they?

Korin 43:58
I think this is maybe a good time to explain what COTCCC is if that?

Korin 44:03
Yeah, okay, there is this panel called COTCC, Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care. It’s a military panel. And I’m actually gonna quote from their website, it says, "The Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care is the pre hospital arm of the joint trauma system for the Department of Defense." So what it is, is it’s about 40 something folks who are various types of medical professionals, or some doctors, surgeons, nurses, combat medics, special operations medics, things like that. And these folks, at some point, some years ago–I don’t have the exact article here in front of me–they evaluated some number of tourniquets, and they said, "Okay, here’s, based on what we’ve been using in combat, and based on our examination of them, we recommend the following tourniquets," and they had the Combat Application Tourniquet generations Six and Seven by North American Rescue, that’s the CAT by NAR. There was also the SOF-T-Wide by TacMed Solutions. And there was a third one that’s a pneumatic tourniquet that we don’t need to talk about. And so for the longest time, just those two tourniquets were the only ones that this this panel said you should buy. Now, that makes plenty of sense. They’re a military panel. They are interested in serving the military. They’re interested in military procurement systems. So, they want to go to a company who can produce an enormous quantity of them and certify that they are good and will work and supply them in bulk. That’s what they’re interested in. They are not so much interested in civilian applications. That’s not their concern because they serve the Department of Defense, right? So, that’s their concern. That’s why they had only those, like those three tourniquets because that’s all they needed. Now, more recently, they released another journal article in which they–which when I say more recently, I mean, it’s still several years ago at this point–where they expanded that list of recommended tourniquets substantially. But they don’t evaluate every single tourniquet on the market. A lot of their recommendations are based on combat experience. So, if the tourniquet hasn’t seen combat, they’re not necessarily going to recommend it. And there’s no other things like that. At the end of the day, they are still a military panel interested in making decisions for and about the military.

Inmn 44:03
Oh, yeah.

Inmn 46:37
Yeah, yeah. So Glia is kind of offering like a much better alternative for civilian use tourniquets than currently exists?

Korin 46:49
Yeah. And that’s actually one of the design criteria in the Glia tourniquet was that it works better on children. From the experience of folks, medical professionals in Gaza, they found that the CAT tourniquet didn’t necessarily work as well on people who had very small limbs. So young children in general. One of the design criteria that then came out of that was that it works better on children. So some of the design decisions on the Glia tourniquet, particularly the separation of the backplate and the clip, came as a result of wanting to make the tourniquet work better for children.

Inmn 47:29
Can I ask you all a kind of, I guess, maybe a little bit funny, like kind of a theoretical question?

Carrie 47:35

Inmn 47:36
Cool. Or just some things that are going through my head when I think about, like Glia’s project and open source pharmaceuticals and open source medical equipment in general is that if we start seeing more parts of society, kind of like collapse or breakdown or like infrastructure breakdown more, is this open source medical equipment something that is going to be useful for people like in, I don’t know, in 10 years–God, I hope it’s more than 10 years–when the North American governments collapse and we’re in some kind of hellish civil war and people are like, "Oh, medical…like the military has stuff. And that’s it."

Carrie 48:27
Yeah, I mean, I think the nice thing about the model that Glia is developing is that it’s really adaptable by many different types of scenarios. So it’s as relevant for what you’ve just said, and what you’re just talking about now, as it is for some refined medical school somewhere in the world where they just want to do some good, and they want to lower costs, and they want to build their own medical devices and send them out to all their students for the incoming class that year. You know, we can set a lab up here in London, Ontario at our medical school that exists here and have those students build their own medical devices and have proper–as long as they have proper compliance. I’m not going to stop saying that–as long as they have proper compliance, then they can build their own devices. And the thing that’s beneficial about that is that then you get up-and-coming medical practitioners thinking about their medical devices in a different way than they currently do today. They can make…they can see that they can customize, make modifications, be innovative, have a say, so they do not get into vendor lock-in with any of the products that they purchase. So I think that’s one applicable scenario. And then you can go to some war-torn country, someplace that’s desolate, and all they need is solar energy–which by the way, our Gaza office completely powers all of their printers with solar energy–and you can use a solar power energy in the middle of the desert and if you just are able to tent in that unit and get proper humidity under control then you can start building your own medical devices wherever you need them. And I mean, we’re talking about stethoscopes, tourniquets, otoscopes…Glia also has a pulse oximeter coming down the road. We have a portable electrocardiogram that’s coming out very soon. It’s just entering clinical trials this summer. So there’s lots of different types of devices that could be in these scenarios that you may need, like in something that’s somewhat remote. And so it doesn’t matter how remote the community or how vast and vibrant the community is, these devices can be used anywhere, and the process is applicable in all of the communities. Like really we should be making all our devices like this everywhere. Like why are we transporting shit halfway across the world anymore? It makes no sense. It makes no sense.

Inmn 51:19
No, no, it truly does not.

Korin 51:20
You asked in the context of societal collapse and there’s a lot of areas even today where we can see that, for example, the wildfire smoke that’s blanketing areas of Canada and even in the US. And I know that Margaret Killjoy, along with Robert Evans over at It Could Happen Here talked a bit about this and building Corsi-Rosenthal boxes, which are basically air filters made out of box fans and furnace filters. And so those boxes are a very good example of devices medically–we can call them medical supplies–that people right now may want to come together and make. Those are also a particular kind of device that lends itself to this kind of ad hoc, in the moment, production, where if everyone doesn’t stick around and everyone kind of breaks off and goes and does their own thing later, that’s completely fine. There’s some medical devices, which are a little bit more critical, that have to be approached with a little bit more intention. But there’s a number of things all across the spectrum that you could do right now, to things that maybe you should only do in an emergency, to things that we should start building the infrastructure for now so that we can use that later.

Inmn 51:22
Yeah, yeah. And y’all have talked a lot about this, about compliance. And, I guess I’m just wondering, if you could explain for listeners, like what is involved in compliance? Like is it like testing it, the device, to make sure that it works? To make sure it works properly? Like, what goes on for compliance?

Carrie 53:01
So proper compliance. Yes, we’ve mentioned it a whole bunch of times. It’s very important. What that looks like in Canada is four different class levels. And it depends on what types of devices you’re manufacturing as to which type of class level you fall into. So currently, Glia is only manufacturing devices that fall into class one. It’s a fairly simple license for class one and it’s very similar with the FDA, their class, one license looks a lot alike. It’s a little bit more expensive to get a class one license from the FDA than it is in Canada. It’s actually about double the price. But if you’re selling multiple devices, or you have some pool of money to draw on from to get this. Usually these licenses last for a year, so you have lots of time to set up a manufacturer, learn what you need to do. The process is fairly straightforward. You often tend to learn things in North America after the fact. So you know, we set up our license, we got our approval, Health Canada said, "We trust you," and then they came knocking on our door and said, "Hey, by the way, we have an audit for you." And that’s very common, you know, and especially for people that are doing stuff in their home basement labs, which at the time, that’s what we’re doing. So, you know, the point being that it’s fairly straightforward. The most important thing to remember about compliance is that it’s for the patient’s safety. And you have to make sure that if for some reason there’s a problem with what you’ve created, that you can issue a recall. And so, you know, recalls aren’t just, "Oh, somebody was poisoned because they ate this bad bag of kale." It’s also with medical devices. If there’s a problem in that manufacturing process, we may distinguish that there’s an issue and we need to take back those devices and inspect them. And it’s important that you have a process to do that as swiftly as possible. So you know, sometimes depending on how dangerous the situation could be, you may have to initiate a recall within 48 hours of discovering the problem, and trying to retrieve those devices very quickly. So, it’s about knowing those processes really well and protecting the patients, they’re health and safety and life.

Korin 55:28
And kind of going back to a little bit about what I said about there are some things where we might want to stand up the infrastructure now so we can use it later. If we’re talking about a situation in which we think the government is going to break down or not function at all, some kind of collapse or a civil war or what have you, the FDA may not exist. And so in that case, if I’m making tourniquets, for example, then how do you know that these are actually well made and that they’re going to work? And so having proper quality assurance processes in place is extremely important. And that’s something you don’t need a license to develop, I’m not recommending you go make these devices and distribute them without one. But when it comes to other things, you could do a trial run with Corsi-Rosenthal boxes and try and serialize every single one and send them out if you wanted. And that gives you some practice with with doing this because it is, as Carrie mentioned, extraordinarily important. You determine later, "Oh, oops, we sewed these tourniquets together with the wrong thread. Oh, we used the wrong plastic." I’ve seen these things happen in commercial environments, for not medical devices but for other things. That is absolutely critical that you have this relationship established with everybody that you might be giving these tourniquets to, or passing them along to, that you can contact them and they know you and you know them. And we’re not just making a bunch of medical supplies, dumping them into a community and then disappearing and then hoping that no one gets hurt because that’s just reckless.

Carrie 57:13
Yeah, absolutely. And the other thing is, is people shouldn’t be afraid of proper compliance. You know, it’s not something to run from. Like any system, and especially as large as some of these systems we’re talking about in terms of where to obtain proper compliance from, they’re all going to have their pros and cons. But at the end of the day, this really is about making sure that companies are doing things in a safe manner. What I see a lot is that there’s a lot of engineers out there that want to engineer things, right. So they want to build stuff. People love building. People love designing. People love adding their little flair to whatever it is they’re doing. They want to contribute in that way. And then when it comes time for the paperwork, they get super bored. And so that’s why they don’t pursue these things. But, I can tell you from experience, I came into this job, I knew nothing about compliance, and I am now probably the expert on compliance in our group. And I had to figure it all out just on my own while doing a whole bunch of other things for the project at the same time. So, it’s not impossible to figure out these systems. But also in addition, remember, I spoke earlier about how Glia doesn’t just put the device code out there and say, "Here’s the device world do what you will with it." We do the whole package. So you may not find all of our compliance records on our GitHub right this minute, it may not be there today, but it is our intention to make those things public so that people don’t have to have that uphill struggle and figuring out how to do these systems because that’s part of the issue, right, is that these systems are made to be somewhat convoluted and difficult to discern. And if you have a bit of an example of somebody else that did this for a tourniquet, and you want to go out and build some other type of device and innovate that and then get the compliance so you’re doing it, you can come to Glia and say, "Oh, how did they do it with this device? Oh, this is what they did. Here’s the roadmap for doing that. Okay, now I just have to put in my company name, copy these systems exactly. And off we go. I’m doing everything safe," you know, and they’re not going to give you a license unless they think you’re doing it safe. So you have that back to follow on. But why do you have to start from square one even with compliance? It’s not just about building and innovating the device, it’s the whole entire system that comes along with getting those devices from materials to actually treating patients.

Inmn 59:50
Yeah, yeah. It’s almost like y’all trying to build like a large community of people who are invested in each other’s well being regardless of profit or something, which is really cool.

Carrie 1:00:05
Yeah. And in terms of the societal breakdown scenario too and having compliance not really exist in that moment in the way that we see it today, I mean, that’s already happening in the world, right? Like a lot of really amazing places and countries don’t have these governing systems. And they have to go and borrow the roadmaps for that type of compliance from somewhere else. But there’s likely no one in their own countries even governing that. So then, so then what are they doing? Are they being safe? Are they not being safe? You know, so making these processes as clear and transparent and accessible as possible makes sense because at the end of the day, we want to save people not kill people, right? Like, that’s the plan here. Yeah.

Inmn 1:00:57
Yeah. And I’m just going to retrospectively change the question that I asked, which is, yeah, what do we do when the compliance for these organizations don’t exist or are not accessible? And I’m gonna pretend I asked y’all that and that we just got those lovely answers. Cool. Well, that about brings us to time. Is there anything else that y’all would like to say before we wrap things that we didn’t talk about?

Carrie 1:01:32
Well, I’m pretty sure I want to mention a call to action. So often when we meet people and people come to Glia…So Glia., first of all, I probably didn’t explain this earlier on, but Glia has a very small staff. But in my time, in the last six years of being in this position, I’ve seen about 300 volunteers from all over the world get involved in many different ways. And our volunteers are really what fuels our company and what pushes things forward. Korin is a perfect example of somebody who comes in and becomes quite dedicated to the work that we’re doing. And often, when we’re talking to volunteers or people that are interested in Glia, they want to know how they can get involved and what they can do. So if you don’t mind then I’m just gonna share those points.

Inmn 1:02:30
Please. Plug. Plug the things.

Carrie 1:02:31
Yes, yes, we have to plug Glia. That’s something I can’t go through this whole interview without.

Inmn 1:02:39
Yeah, the end is always for plugs.

Carrie 1:02:41
That’s right. So of course, visit our website at You’re gonna find out about all of the projects that we’re working on, and it doesn’t stop with device work. We do education in 3D printing, we do other things, we’ll come and we’ll do a seminar for you, we’ll talk to people about any of the topics that we cover. Of course, this project cannot run without funding, which is always kind of the thing that hurts me the most to have to say, but cash is king. And if you are willing to make a donation, you can do that through our website at

Inmn 1:03:20
Especially if you have $5 million to give them so that there can be dialysis machines.

Carrie 1:03:23
Yes, absolutely. If you have access to $5 million, I promise you, we will make it work and really Glia is the most frugal project I’ve ever seen, you know. People are really good at wasting lots of money. We are very good at having the lowest budgets possible and making the most happen. So I mean, please trust me, I will make all of your dollars go as far as I possibly can stretch them. We always do that. We want to see our work continue into the future.

Inmn 1:03:54
Cool. And are there ways for folks to get involved with? Like, I don’t know, like, if they have, if there’s listeners who are in places where people might have a hard time accessing medical supplies and they have 3D printers, is there other ways for those people to connect to y’all?

Yeah, we have a GitHub page. That’s GliaX on GitHub. But all of that can be found through the website as well. So,, click on the products that you’re interested in, and you will find the links to take you to all the information to get all of the roadmaps to be building these things yourself. And certainly if you cannot find those answers there, just reach out to us. We’ll help you along the way for sure.

I also want to mention, all one word, all spelled out, There’s a number of plans and a lot of information about, as you would expect, open source medical supplies there. So that that may be helpful.

Carrie 1:05:00
Yeah, absolutely.

Inmn 1:05:03
Wonderful. Well, thanks you all so much for coming on today. And someone out there, please give them $5 million. Please.

Carrie 1:05:14
Thanks so much for having us. Thank you.

Inmn 1:05:16
Thanks so much for listening. If you enjoyed this podcast, 3D print a stethoscope and then tell us about it, but also tell people about the podcast. You can support this podcast by telling people about it. You can support this podcast by talking about it on social media, by rating, and reviewing, and doing whatever the nameless algorithm calls for. Feed it like a hungry god. And you can support us on Patreon at Our Patreon helps pay for things like transcriptions, or our lovely audio editor, Bursts, as well as going to support our publisher Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. We put out this podcast and a few other podcasts including my other podcast Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness, a monthly podcast of anarchist literature, and the Anarcho Geek Power Hour, which is the podcast for people who love movies and hate cops. And we would like to shout out some of those patrons in particular. Thank you Trixter, Princess Miranda, BenBen, Anonymous, Funder, Jans, Oxalis, Janice & O’dell, Paige, Aly, paparouna, Miliaca, Boise Mutual Aid, theo, Hunter, Shawn, S.J., Paige, Mikki, Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea, Cat J., Staro, Jenipher, Eleanor, Kirk, Sam, Chris, Miciahiah, and Hoss the Dog. We seriously couldn’t do this without y’all. I hope everyone is doing as well as they can with everything that’s happening and we’ll talk to you soon.

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