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S1E116 – Tav on Waterways

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Tav and Inmn talk about the utility of waterways and the ways that industrialization has changed our relationship to waterways. Inmn learns new terrifying things about river rafting and how river guides really come up with the scariest things to name potential dangers.

Guest Info

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 www.tangledwilderness.org, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at www.patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness.

Transcript

Live Like the World is Dying: Tav on Waterways

**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 Inmn Neruin, and today we’re going to be revisiting a subject that we’ve talked about before which is paddling on water. And we’re going to talk a lot about rivers and we’re gonna talk about—a little bit about planning trips and just generally the importance of getting to know your local waterways, with some specific contexts on places that are really cold. But first, we are a proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchists podcasts, and here’s a jingle from another show on that network. Doo doo doo doo doo!

**Inmn ** 01:43
And welcome back. Thanks so much for coming on the show today. Could you introduce yourself and tell us just a little bit about what you—what you do in the world and what you’re excited to talk about today?

**Tav ** 01:59
Yeah, I’m Tav and I’m a, I guess broadly a wilderness guide from so-called Canada. Yeah, I’ve worked everywhere from the East Coast to Newfoundland, up to the Yukon. And yeah, I’m mostly a paddling guide, so everything from whitewater rafting, to sea kayaking, to canoeing, but I’ve also been known to guide hiking trips, and yeah, pretty much that’s what I do.

**Inmn ** 02:32
Cool, cool. That’s—I feel like, you know, we’ve had people come on and talk about like, like arctic hiking, or hiking, or paddling, mostly in the desert, and I feel like—maybe this is just me having a very not understanding of all of these things for the most part. But what—I’m curious about, like, what kind of changes, like, in places where it gets super cold and you’re having to be in the water? Which sounds cold. It sounds very cold to me. 

**Tav ** 03:06
Um, yeah, I think the main thing is that it really depends on what—well, first of all, what time of year it is and, like, what exactly you’re doing or planning on doing. So if you’re going to be running rapids, you’re certainly going to get wet. And so we have these things called dry suits, which are, well, it’s kind of exactly what it sounds like. It’s a suit that keeps you dry. They have these rubber gaskets on your wrists and your neck. So it, like, suctions completely to your neck and your wrists and the rest of its waterproof, including the feet. And you usually have, like I have these, call them river boots, and you just put them on over the suit. And then you’re nice and protected. And you can wear warm stuff underneath if it’s super cold out. But personally, I run hot. So generally, I find that like, just a base layer underneath is good enough for me. Because as soon as, like it really traps in all that air, so you stay pretty, you stay pretty warm. Even if you’re in like really freezing water. But in other times of year, like to be honest, in the summer here, it gets pretty hot, like people—people don’t really think of it. It’s not like it’s frozen year round. Obviously the waters running at a certain point and, especially these days, the summers can get up to, you know, like 30 degrees. And yeah.

**Inmn ** 04:40
Cool. I’m gonna pretend I know what the conversion is on that. Wow, that’s hot.

**Tav ** 04:46
Yeah, I mean, it is pretty—it’s probably not hot for you coming from the desert actually. But yeah, I think, I think broadly the biggest thing is always, at least for me, dressing as if you’re gonna fall in the water. Unless it’s really hot out. If it’s really hot out and you fall in, it kind of feels great. But, but if it’s chilly, you always dress like you’re gonna go in the water, and not like you’re just gonna have a nice day on the river. And yeah.

**Inmn ** 05:25
Well, I guess like, I’m curious about, like, what the kind of preparedness like like, what—like, what do you what do you do if you fall in the water? What do you do if you fall in the water and you get wet? Like, what’s—and your dry suit doesn’t keep you dry? These scary questions that I have about being in the wilderness and being cold and wet. 

**Tav ** 05:50
For sure. Definitely, I mean, so the first thing that’s gonna happen it—and again, it all really depends on where you fall out. And like, because rivers are a very dynamic environment, actually, as one of my coworkers put it to me. He was more on the hiking side of things. And he told me that like paddling really scared him, because if something goes wrong on the river, you’re still moving down the river as this thing is going wrong. So you have to like deal with the problem, but also maybe deal with a hazard that’s like right in front of you. And then it’s always about, like, figuring out what the best course of action is in regards to, like, dealing with the hazard, but also, you know, saving the person, and making sure everybody else who’s still in the boat is safe. But I think broadly, what I tend to tell people if I’m taking them on a trip that’s going to involve whitewater, is: the safest place on the river is in the boat. And if you’re not in the boat, you should be on shore. So if I’m gonna, like, enter a bunch of rapids—and the other thing is actually, before I say that, you need to know, like, how to swim if you’re gonna like be in whitewater. They call it a defensive swimming position. And you kind of sit back like you’re in a lawn chair, and put your feet forward. And that way, if you like smashed into a rock, it’s not your face that smashes into a rock, it’s your feet. And you just kind of, like, you should have a lifejacket on. So that’ll keep you floating. And, and then there’s also, like, an offensive swimming position, which I wouldn’t normally teach somebody, that’s, yeah. Anyways, so yeah, so if I’m about to enter a bunch of rapids, I’ll tend to tell people like, hey, if you do fall out, and for whatever reason you can’t get back to the boat, you need to swim to the left shore or the right shore. Because sometimes it might not be safe to swim a certain direction and people don’t know that and they’re just gonna panic and swim whatever way seems the best. But if you let them know beforehand, like, hey, swim left, if something goes really wrong, I don’t know, then they’ll at least know the safer way to swim. Yeah. And then other than that, like, we have, I guess, a couple tools in our arsenal—and this should be the same with rivers everywhere. We’ll have throw ropes, which are just some buoyant rope. And it’s in a bag, and you throw it at people. And they should hopefully grab on to it and then you can pull them in to safety. And then there’s obviously, again, like, as with all things, it can get more and more complicated depending on what the problem is. Actually, this one place I worked—I wasn’t on this trip, but there was a person who got stuck on a piece of debris in the middle of a rapid which is, like, absolutely horrifying, especially because we’ve run that river—or that section of the river, like, a million times and that’s never happened. So there was well, so—this is kind of insane, but there was a an old mill there, like a lumber mill. Or maybe it was a paper mill. I don’t know, it was some industrial thing. And rather than, like, you know, when it went out of business, disposing of all the waste properly, they just decided, hey, there’s this big river right there. Let’s just throw the whole factory in the river. Why not? So there was all this big machinery and like metal under the water, and a lot of the rapids are actually created by that like big hunks of metal and stuff. But anyways, we had no idea that that, like, was there. And maybe it was just like the water level was perfectly right that day or perfectly wrong that day. But yeah, this person got like caught on their swim shorts, like, right on the piece of metal. And they were stuck in the middle of a rapid. So I cannot imagine what my friends went through trying to rescue that person. It must have been pretty terrifying. But yeah, so in situations like that, it would be like a much more complicated rescue than just like throwing a rope at them and hoping for the best. So yeah.

**Inmn ** 10:23
Wow, that is—you unlocked a new fear for me. I thought that Blix had like gotten all of my fear out of me, you know, in horrible things that can happen in a river, and new fear unlocked. Thanks. 

**Tav ** 10:39
Yeah. 

**Inmn ** 10:43
What do you—I guess I’m curious—I guess my guess is, because boats, you just—I didn’t know, boats are super interesting to me because, like you said, it’s like the boat keeps moving down the river. And so it’s like, I want to be like, okay, like, what, like, you know, what do you do if there’s an emergency? What do you do if someone needs to be like, medivaced from an area like that? And I guess I’m expecting the answer is: put him in the boat and keep going. But—which is like a cool one interesting thing about boats, is they keep going? 

**Tav ** 11:20
Yeah, for sure. I mean, again, it really depends. Like everything is situational, right? 

**Inmn ** 11:26
Yeah yeah yeah. 

**Tav ** 11:27
And you really have to assess the situation and figure out what the best course of action is. Like, the best thing to do might be to like pull over and call EMS and hope they can land like a bush plane or a helicopter near you, or get to a place where they can land it. I had this one evac where a lady actually had a stroke on the river. 

**Inmn ** 11:53
Oh no.

**Tav ** 11:53
Yeah, I was pretty terrible. I was the only person there with, like, you know, decent medical training. I’m not like a doctor or anything, but I have my wilderness first responder and all that fun stuff. And yeah, so it was just like me and these other guides, who had, like, some training, but not as much as me. And my coworker—love this guy, he’s amazing—but he said that she had a concussion. And I was like, this is not a concussion. This is a stroke. Yeah. And so, so yeah, so what ended up happening is we had to take one of the boats and—honestly, mad respect to my to my coworker for this—he got her down like a 45 minute section of river and like 15 minutes. We were just lucky because we had a raft there with an oar frame on it. And those, like—an oar frame is just like, you know, like a rowboat—

**Tav ** 12:51
—with like, the two oars and you’re like rowing it. It’s that, but you like, it’s a big metal frame, and you like strap it down to the rafts. So instead of—like, if you have less than the ideal number of people, you can just have one person paddle the boat. So in that case, it was actually my group, where I only had like two people. So I just ended up strapping the warframe on because it’s easier than having them paddle. So anyways, my coworker took that boat and just, like, ripped down the river faster than anybody ever has probably since then. So, so yeah, I mean, in that case, like, it was a serious medical problem, we couldn’t deal with the problem, you know, you need to like, get that person to definitive care as fast as possible. And in that situation, we were close enough to the end, that the best thing to do was to just call EMS, get them to bring an ambulance to the takeout and get her there as fast as possible. But you might not be in a situation where that’s, you know, plausible, you might have to call a bush plane or something like that. Or, even worse, like a bush plane can’t come and you’re stuck for like days with somebody with a serious medical problem. That can happen, unfortunately. Yeah.

**Inmn ** 12:51
Oh okay. 

**Inmn ** 14:18
Yeah. Yeah. I feel like—and I think this is a topic for another time—but I really want to—folks listening out there. This is my plug to our audience. I would really love to talk to someone at some point about like, like we have this idea in, like, wilderness first aid, response, etc. I have like an expired wilderness EMT. I haven’t done that work in a very long time and my brain has totally fallen out of it. But like, interested in this conversation of like, long term care in, like, when definitive care is very far away, you know, like, how to troubleshoot situations where it’s like, yeah, definitive care is days away. Definitive care is a week away. And I’m like really interested in talking to someone about that. So if that feels like you, Tav, or ambient listener, then send us a message.

**Tav ** 15:31
Yeah, I can’t say that’s exactly my area of expertise. I can offer like, an anecdote from a friend of mine, who—

**Inmn ** 15:41
Oh yeah. Love anecdotes.

**Tav ** 15:43
—it’s pretty, it’s pretty grim. I’m not gonna lie. This guy is friend of mine, he’s much older than me. He’s been doing this river guide stuff for his whole life. And he’s had lik three people die in his arms. 

**Inmn ** 16:00
Oh my god. 

**Tav ** 16:01
Yeah. But like that’s, unfortunately, the reality of the situation where, if you’re that far away, and someone’s not getting there, and there’s a serious problem, and you can’t deal with it, that’s what happens. Right? That’s the unfortunate fact of existence. And it’s pretty horrifying to realize. Also from a somewhat selfish perspective, like, if I continue along this career path that could very well be me telling another young person and a few years like, oh, yeah, this one horrible thing happened to me. And yeah, like, I’ve definitely seen my fair share of, like, pretty intense situations that could have gone pretty badly. Thankfully, I haven’t had anybody die on any of the excursions I’ve been on. But be I’ve had some pretty close calls there. So yeah. It is it is something to always consider, like, when you’re heading off on a trip that’s going to be far away from a hospital or civilization, I guess. That, yeah, like you are far away, and you need to have a certain level of confidence in yourself to deal with the situations that you might need to deal with. But also, in that, like, for me, it comes with a certain level of, like, risk acceptance. And like, everybody has a different level of risk tolerance. You might not be the person who’s going to go, like, on a month long trip through the wilderness. That might not be okay with you. And that’s fine, it’s not for everybody. You know, in my case, the way I tend to look at it is, like, if there’s a problem I can’t deal with—pretending I’m alone in this scenario—like, if there’s a problem I can’t deal with myself, and it’s so serious that I’m gonna die, like, in a few minutes, then like, I just accept that, like, that’s what’s gonna happen. Like, if I can’t deal with the problem, and I can’t call for help with the problem and it’s that bad anyways, then I’m alread—can I swear on this? Is this a no swearing show?

**Inmn ** 18:31
Oh, yeah, you can, yeah.

**Tav ** 18:32
I can swear? Okay, I was gonna say, I’m already in a lot of shit if that’s—if that’s happening. So for me, my risk tolerance, I mean, it might be higher than others. But I don’t know—it’s just like, something you have to accept when it comes to taking risks. I mean, you can be prepared and informed and know everything and still an accident can happen. And then you just have to accept that, yeah, accidents happen, and it might be a really big, bad accident. So, so yeah.

**Inmn ** 19:06
Yeah. Yeah, that’ very true. I feel like—I feel like there’s a lot of aspects of our societies that have kind of—have had our, like, brains adapt to this idea that, like, that there is always a solution to something. And I feel like this was like a big thing with, like, with COVID, like, for a lot of people, was the expectation that there was a solution to something, and a lot of people, like, getting to the ER and being like, oh, there actually isn’t a solution right now—or there isn’t like a one 100%, like guarantee that this problem can be fixed. And yeah, I don’t know. It’s—I think that’s the thing that I’ve been thinking a lot about, is how our societies have kind of expected there to always be a guaranteed solution to something that there might not be a solution to. And I think that’s like—I think that’s getting more extreme as things in the world change more. There’s—when we are used to certainty, there is now more uncertainty. That is an articulate thought, I’m gonna stand by it.

**Tav ** 20:42
Yeah. No, I mean, definitely. Like, I could see that in society at large, actually, now that you mentioned it. But like, yeah, I mean, with regards to wilderness travel, I think anybody who does this sort of thing, like you have an understanding of the risk involved, and like what—you know, there’s things that you can deal with there and there’s things you can’t deal with. And, yeah, like, but I mean, okay, you know, I also don’t want to scare people. It’s not—like, yes, you have to kind of look within yourself and accept that something bad might happen. But at the same time, I’ve done, like, I don’t even want to know how many 1000s of hours of paddling in my life. And I, yeah, I’ve had, like, some problems. But I think a lot of those kind of stem from the fact that it’s my job. And I’m taking people out there who aren’t necessarily prepared for what they’re going to—like, they go online and they’re like, oh, I want to go on a guided paddling trip. And they Google, whatever, paddling in the Yukon. And then they find this company and they book a trip and they go. And that’s all the preparation and thought that they put into it. Where—and that’s exactly what they’re paying for, I guess, if you look at it from like a service perspective. They’re paying for somebody else to do all of that thought. And what I’m, what I do, like, independently—like if somebody listening wanted to go out paddling, if you just, like, talk to somebody who knows what they’re doing locally—like join your local paddling club, a lot of places have those, or like find a group online—and like, learn from people or learn from the Internet. We have a lovely resource of, like, all of the information anyone could ever want. So, yeah, it doesn’t have to be dangerous. I think most of the danger, and most of the dangerous situations I’ve been in, happen simply because it’s my job to take unprepared people out into the wilderness. And, like, that kind of sucks. I—that’s why I’m not actually working as a guide this summer. One of the reasons is because I’m pretty tired of dealing with unprepared people in the wilderness because it’s stressful. It’s really stressful. And yeah, so I mean, I guess the the main point is, like, it doesn’t have to be dangerous as long as you’re prepared. And I think that’s a pretty great theme, considering this show.

**Inmn ** 23:43
Yeah, yeah. And it’s—I don’t know, like, I totally understand the outlook of someone who’s like, yes, I want to pay someone else to be prepared for me. And it’s like, you know, reality is very different from, like, adventure tourism. But like, it’s funny because it’s a thing that is like a little antithetical to preparedness in general. And I’m divorcing adventure tourism and preparedness, like, because they’re different things. 

**Tav ** 24:21
Yeah.

**Inmn ** 24:21
But, yeah, it’s like, that is the thing that we’re always trying to talk about on this show is, like, if in our own lives, like, if we are all more prepared than it—then like your prepper friend has to, like, do less when stuff goes wrong because everyone’s a little bit prepared. 

**Tav ** 24:41
Yeah, for sure. 

**Inmn ** 24:44
I kind of want to switch tacks a little bit though and talk about this other thing. So I’m curious—I guess in, like, in the Yukon specifically, like, there’s places where I live that I’m, like, okay, yes, that is a less accessible place via like roads and things like that. But I’m curious kind of like what the Yukon and, like, that whole area is like in terms of, like, history of transportation and stuff like that. Because, like, waterways have played kind of like a pretty large part in that from what you’ve told me before this—and now I sound like it’s something I already knew. 

**Tav ** 25:27
Yeah, for sure. To be honest, it’s not just the Yukon. Throughout this country we call Canada, if you actually look at all of Canadian history, like, Canada’s like three companies in a trench coat. Always has been. And it was founded on fur trading. Right. And how that was done is basically, like, white people came over, and then they met the ndigenous people. And they were like, wow, these people move pretty far and they have some neat boats. And then they kind of co-opted those boats. And of course, Indigenous people and Metis people took part in the fur trade as well. A very large part, to be honest, in making sure a lot of white people didn’t just die in the wilderness. Yeah, but like throughout this entire nation’s history, every single place is really connected by water. Like that’s just how people got around. Everywhere from, like, the far north, the Inuit had kayaks and—actually dogsleds. ou know, when the sea froze in the winter, they had greater mobility, because—I mean, and they’re still moving over water, it’s just frozen water, which is kind of like land. But it, yeah, so every single place in this entire so-called country is connected by water in some capacity. And I think that really forms the way that I look at places now. Because yes, we use roads to get around now. But very likely, there is another way to get anywhere you want to get. Because all of these settlements are built on rivers, on lakes, on the ocean, and the way people got there is probably on a boat, and not on a car because we didn’t have cars 400 years ago. So yeah, I guess I just, I think it’s really important to recognize that and recognize that it’s still very very possible to go extremely long distances. And, you know, reach inaccessible, quote/unquote places with relative ease, to be honest. So actually, something that’s pretty insane to me—it’s mind boggling, to be quite honest: the longest river system in the country is the Mackenzie River. And it’s technically, like, if you go by names, it’s a bunch of different rivers that are connected. But it’s really, like, from source to sea—I don’t actually remember how many kilometers it is. But you can go from Alberta, like, around Jasper, if anybody knows where that is, all the way to the Arctic Ocean on a single river. And you can do that in like a single summer, too. And throughout that whole river, there’s a bunch of towns. And a lot of them are not accessible by road, but they are very easily accessible by the river. So if you really think about it, like, in my mind, they’re not inaccessible places. They seem inaccessible because of our modern transportation infrastructure, which, you know, makes anything that doesn’t have a road seem like it’s impossible to get to and you have to spend thousands of dollars and fly or whatever. But really, all it takes is, like, one person in a canoe and you can just go anywhere you want. Yeah.

**Inmn ** 29:31
Yeah, that stuff is super interesting. It’s like the—I don’t know, it’s like, I get on some level that, you know, cars are convenient. I love being able to drive somewhere. But it’s like, I don’t know, obviously cars are also terrible and we need different—we need something different before the planet dies. But It’s like also this thing that, like, it’s like car—I imagine that like switching over a transportation system to be, like, based on moving around on the river versus based on, like, driving around on some roads that demolish a bunch of shit. It also, like, divorces us from nature and like any connection that we have to, like, the natural landscape that we are using. And, like, used to be on the river and now it’s put the remains of petrified trees in your thing and blast around on concrete or whatever. I don’t know. It’s just funny.

**Tav ** 30:43
Yeah. Yeah, no, I mean, I definitely—cars are—I wish I could just live out of a canoe. But that, I can’t do that. I mean, I live in my car right now. So I get their convenience. But I do think that as, like, as things progress and the climate gets worse and worse, and I mean, even now, this is probably going to mean absolutely nothing to you—Oh, you know what, actually, I was in Alaska, like, the other day. And it’s actually a bit cheaper than here. But the gasoline that I purchased was $5.50 American per gallon, which I think is $1.67, or .68 per liter. What I normally—like in the Yukon, it’s like 1$.80 to $1.90 per liter right now, which, it’s getting pretty unaffordable to go large, long distances in a in a car. And I think that like as this progresses, like—they’re not getting—these prices are not getting cheaper, inflation is continuing, and it’s quickly going to become really hard, I think, for your average person to go anywhere in a vehicle when it’s costing them, like, over $100 to fill a single tank. And that’s, I think, where we have to return to what we did historically, which is travel on rivers. And I mean, it’s not even just returning to, like, historical transport, I guess. Like we can still use road infrastructure, a lot of people bike everywhere. And you can go pretty long distance—like actually, it’s super common in the Yukon to see people biking the entire Klondike highway, or the entire Dempster highway, like all the way to the Arctic Ocean, which is pretty awesome.

**Inmn ** 31:27
Whoa. 

**Tav ** 32:03
Yeah, yeah, I see them all the time, actually. Yeah, so—but anyways, the point being like, as we’re getting, like, priced out of these things that we once took for granted, we’re gonna have to understand that, like, people think about collapse and preparedness from really local perspective. And I think that’s great. Really, I think getting more local is awesome. But I think what people also forget about is the fact that, like, we still are really an interconnected species. And we always have been, even before modern globalization. Like people really were traveling very far to go trade or whatever, on rivers or on the sea. And I think it’s important to recognize that we probably should still be doing that because it does strengthen everybody’s community. Like, just, I don’t know, checking in on the community next door, or, you know, a few kilometers down the river is important too and, you know, sharing, I guess. Like, I guess there’s inter-community preparedness and then intra-community preparedness. And I like to think that, like, using the environment and more specifically the waterways to like stay connected, even when we can’t drive everywhere, is is pretty important.

**Inmn ** 34:15
Yeah, I don’t know. We live in a—we live in a strange world now. Um, I, you know, I didn’t know this for a while and finding it out kind of blew my mind in a funny little way. But um, as far as like the eastern half of the United States is, like, someone told me that it is technically an island because you can circumnavigate the, like, eastern half of the United States and a boat. And this has, like, always kind of blown my mind. Like I’m not going to remember what the actual waterways all are, but it’s like you can go from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi—whichever one of those lakes connects to the Mississippi—and like take the Mississippi down and then, like, get out into the Gulf and like sail around Florida, and like sail up the Atlantic, and then, like, through—it might be through a series of rivers and it might require using a canal, but you can like, get right back into the Great Lakes system. Like the Hudson Bay, or something. And—

**Tav ** 34:50
—probably the same. I mean, if I was gonna do that I’d do the St. Lawrence River.

**Inmn ** 35:47
But cool. Yeah. I don’t actually know what these waterways are.

**Tav ** 35:52
Yeah, for sure. I spend, like, way too much time of my life, like, I’m looking at a map and being like, okay, where does this river lead, and I’m, like, follow the river, like, all the way to its source. And then I go, like, all the way to the sea. And I’m like, okay, that’s how far I can get there. But what if I portaged to this lake, and then I take that lake to this river. And like, anyways, I have, like, a whole folder have these like map files of just, like, random paddling routes that I’ve planned out. And I probably won’t get to do all of them. But, yeah, I just, I am kind of a nerd in that I just like to go figure out, like, how I can get around places. Yeah. It’s really crazy. Like, once you start—once you realize, like, your mind is opened up to the fact that, like, you can travel, basically anywhere on a boat, all you have to do is look at the blue lines on a map and trace them and figure out how you get from point A to point B using them. And I think it’s also actually important to note that, like—so in a context of—yeah, like, in a context of a world where we’re not able to use our highways and stuff. Like that, following a river or a creek, even if you don’t have a boat, is a great way to make sure you know where you’re going. Because, yeah, like, I mean, it’s like a really obvious landmark. And you can just follow it the whole way. Especially in places where rivers are super seasonal, like, part of the year, it might literally just be like a bit of gravel, and you can just walk on it all the way to where you’re going. Yeah, so I think that’s also important to mention, that they’re not—it’s not just boats, it’s just that they’re very convenient ways to traverse a landscape, especially one that’s, like, heavily forested. There might not be like a lot of other clearings nearby, so yeah.

**Inmn ** 38:01
Yeah. Um, have you—so this like folder of, like, wacky routes—I’m gonna call them wacky routes—have you gotten to—could you tell us about a creative, like, trip that you took via waterways. Or, like, what’s like the longest that you’ve traveled in like—I don’t have words for the things that I’m asking you…

**Tav ** 38:28
Yeah. Honestly, like, the longest trip I’ve ever done is unfortunately with my job, and that would be about a 10 day trip on the Yukon River. But—and that’s just, it’s mostly like a time thing. Like I said, you know, I—it’s—we live in this cold place, and the water’s only running for, like, a certain amount of time. And unfortunately, I’ve made it my livelihood to, like, spend my entire summer taking other people on trips. So in terms of my, like, crazy, wacky trips, I haven’t gotten to do, like, any of the big ones that I want to actually do. Because, you know, they take, like, a month or more. And I just don’t have a month because I need to make money. 

**Inmn ** 39:17
Yeah.

**Tav ** 39:18
But I’m hoping that will change this summer. I’m planning on a very long trip at the end of August, and it should be awesome. 

**Inmn ** 39:28
Cool.

**Tav ** 39:29
But yeah, so. So yeah, I guess in that respect, I haven’t done any of those like ones that I concoct that are kind of wild. But I do like to just go and explore, like, little waterways and figure out, I don’t know—I just like find a river and I’ll go upstream. Or, actually a few days ago I did—I went just downstream and I I literally walked back to my car at the end, it was just a day thing. And that kind of sucks, being alone, because you’re like, oh, cool, I did this river. And now I’m gonna just like walk back to my car and drive and pick up my boat. But yeah, I wish I had more cool stories of me on my own doing things that I want to do, but capitalism exists and all my fun river stories are with tourists that I’m taking. So.

**Inmn ** 40:31
Yeah, that makes sense. What is this trip that you’re planning gonna be like?

**Tav ** 40:40
Yeah, so actually I have a couple different options in that regard, and it is kind of gonna depend on, like, what’s on fire and what’s not on fire. So, but my main route that I want to take is, basically, it’ll be I think 1000–1500 kilometers. And, yeah, and it’ll be from this place called Eagle Plains, which is, like, in the Arctic—it’s like right kind of on, slightly below the Arctic Circle, on the Dempster highway. And I’ll start on the Eagle River, and then go through a series of other rivers. I’ll reach Old Crow, which is the furthest north settlement in the Yukon. And then I’ll take the Porcupine all the way across Alaska—I’ll cross into Alaska. And that’ll take me down to the Yukon River. I’ll hit up a couple towns on the Yukon River in Alaska, and then I’ll get off at the last point where there’s road access. That the trip that I’d like to do if the fires allow me.

**Inmn ** 41:58
Yeah, yeah. Um, what—are there—I guess like, when planning—when planning a trip that is not, like, a super pre established, I guess, route or something, are there any things that that are important to consider or important to, like, prepare for?

**Tav ** 42:19
Yeah, for sure. The first thing is, I wouldn’t recommend doing a non pre established route unless you kind of know what you’re doing. But the second thing is that, like, basically, my strategy is: I figured out the route. I map it out. And then I scour the internet for information on any of these rivers. So in this case, all of the rivers—it’s actually very likely somebody has done this route before. Like, I’m definitely not the only person to think of it. At the very least, some Indigenous people did it, 100%, before I did.

**Tav ** 43:01
Yeah.

**Tav ** 43:02
Yeah. But yeah, it’s a pretty obvious one, as far as routes go. It’s just a bunch of rivers, and they all kind of feed into each other. There’s no, like, crazy portages I hope—there shouldn’t be any crazy portages or anything like that. I have heard one of the rivers runs pretty low sometimes, so I might have to, like, drag my boat along. But um, yeah, so. So yeah, and that—like I met people who’ve done the route up to Old Crow before. So I know that—I’ve heard about that portion from a couple of people that I know. And, yeah, other than that, I look online. And, like, you just have to kind of incessantly Google until something comes up about the river you want. And like, it’s probably going to be some like, weird, obscure blog from 2006 where someone’s like, I paddled this river with my friends and it was cool. And like, it might not even have, like, all the information that you need. But, like, to me, a lot of the time I’m like, okay, cool, if someone did it, that means it’s probably fine, right. And that’s kind of my strategy. Like, you’re not gonna get all of the information you want. But you can get a lot of information just by, like, scouring the internet. And actually, go to your local bookstore. If you’re going to like plan a river trip near you, go to a bookstore—or not your local bookstore if it’s not near you. Go to the bookstore there and look for maps, because they probably have maps of local places. And if they don’t have maps, you should ask them where to get maps, because they probably know where to get maps. I know in Canada, though, you can go on natural resources, Natural Resources Canada, and they should have like topographic maps of the entire country if you need, like, that kind of math. But you can also just, like, go on Google. But, um, but yeah, I guess mostly it comes down to getting information from wherever you can get your information from, whether that’s people who’ve done it, the internet, or your local bookstore. And the second thing is, if you’re doing a route you’re unfamiliar with, especially if you’re alone, you have to be cautious, and you have to know what to look for. And you have to be able to react really quickly to situations. Actually, literally a couple of days ago I was paddling this river in Alaska and the water’s really low because of the time of year. And I was coming around a bend and there was a sweeper right across the river. And what happened is the river really, really narrowed, like, in this section. And it just, like, it went right for the sweeper—a sweeper is a tree that’s like right across the water. So if you think about it, like, a broom, it’ll be like right over up the surface. And then there’s all these like branches on the way. And I think there was like a log and there’s like other stuff underneath the sweeper. It was not a fun thing to be like hurtling towards really quickly. And yeah, so I was alone. And I, like, swung my boat around and, like, jumped out—because like, it was really low water so that it was shallow, which made it much easier to just, like, jump out of my boat as fast as possible and, like, drag it on shore. But like, it’s stuff like that, where you’re not necessarily expecting it and then you’re like, oh shit, like, I need to deal with this right now. Get out of the way. And I actually lost my paddle it went down—I got it. It’s fine. That’s why you always have a spare paddle. That’s the moral of the story. Have two paddles. 

**Inmn ** 47:09
I feel like the moral of the story is: river guides continue to come up with horrifying names for dangers in the river. I thought I had heard the worst but "sweeper" is—sorry this is uh, this is a call back to Blix telling me about, like, just the—I forget what they’re—I feel like one of them was called a "blender," and I—

**Tav ** 47:35
Blender? I dunno about a blender. Maybe American river guides have different names for stuff. I don’t know. I don’t know. To me, the most horrifying feature on a river is an undercut. And it’s unfortunately something that comes up a lot in places where the rivers freeze. So what will happen is like the banks will be covered in ice. And if you’re—and if you’re paddling at that time of year, there’ll be undercuts along the whole riverbank, like the whole way down the river. And an undercut is basically just where the current goes like underneath a ledge right? At the worst case, it can be, like, a recirculating current under there. So like you get sucked under in like basically an underwater cave. And then it just, like, like, circles you around underneath and like an underwater cave and you just, like, sit there and die. 

**Inmn ** 48:30
[Quietly] God.

**Tav ** 48:30
Yeah, so that’s what an undercut is. And then like the ice undercuts and kind of terrifying, something to be aware of if you’re going to be paddling a river during spring or fall. Yeah, those are—to me, that’s the most terrifying thing. Because like a lot of other stuff, there’s like a way to kind of get around it or, like, you know, figure it out. But if you get sucked into an undercut you’re kind of boned. Like you’re pretty—there’s not a lot you can do.

**Inmn ** 49:03
Yeah.

**Tav ** 49:04
Especially if you’re alone. There’s other people—I’ve heard of someone who got sucked into an undercard on the Ottawa River actually. And, like, there’s this—I don’t remember the name of the rapid, but there’s this one part that’s like this crazy undercut. And someone got sucked in there. And they got a rope on them somehow. And they had a truck, like a pickup truck. And they were pulling them out of the current with a pickup truck and the rope snapped. And, like, the pickup truck couldn’t even go against the current. Like they were just stuck under—that person didn’t live. But yeah, like it can be pretty—those are—yeah, again, that’s like the most extreme horrifying thing I think to me, but…

**Inmn ** 49:50
Stay away from—I know we’re just—we’re talking about our rivers are cool, but everyone’s stay away from rivers. Golly. That’s not my actual advice.

**Tav ** 50:02
I think it—no—they’re definitely—like that’s the thing, right? They’re definitely a force of nature. I always like to tell people: you will never win a fight against a river. But that doesn’t mean you should be afraid of going on the river always, like, yeah, I feel like I’ve been talking about a lot of negative bad things that can happen. And I don’t want to freak people out. Rivers are really nice and cool, and they help you get places, and it can be really fun. It’s not all whitewater. Like, the Yukon River is a giant—like it’s a highway. It’s like, huge, flat river. It goes like 10 kilometers an hour or something crazy. Like, you can paddle it super fast. And there’s, like, basically no hazards. Like, there’s like some log jams and like stuff like that, but they’re very easily avoided. And it’s, yeah, as far as, like, as far as rivers go, if you want to go a long distance and not have to worry about any of that scary, complicated stuff, the Yukon river is fantastic. Actually, every year there’s a race called the Yukon River Quest, where people paddle from Whitehorse to Dawson City, it’s like 730 kilometers, and yeah, people are doing that in like, three days. Well, less than three days actually. Like they’re times because you have to like stop-there’s a mandatory rest point where you have to sleep for a certain number of hours, and they don’t count that towards the final time, but basically the the race lasts like three days. That’s like paddling nonstop. But to be honest, if you think about the fact that you don’t have a motor, and you’re not in a car or anything like that, and you’re traveling 730 kilometers in three days, that’s crazy. And there’s like no hazards. It’s so crazy.

**Inmn ** 50:18
That’s really cool. 

**Tav ** 50:32
Yeah, you can go really fast and get places on certain rivers.

**Tav ** 51:21
Cool. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Okay, that sounds fun now. Now that sounds fun. 

**Tav ** 52:09
Yeah. 

**Inmn ** 52:12
Um, we’re kind of coming up to the end of our time. Is there anything else you want to say about waterways, or paddling, or any questions that I didn’t ask you that you’re like, golly, why didn’t Inman asked me about this. 

**Tav ** 52:29
Yeah, um, I guess mainly just—I think I didn’t get to talk about oceans as much as I would have liked to. But, like, I think the main thing I would hope people can take away from this is that it’s really important to learn about the water near you, if that’s the ocean, if that’s a river, if that’s a lake. You know, learn about whatever boa, the Indigenous people in your area use to travel on that water, because it’s probably really well suited for it, to be honest. And yeah, just learn about your local waterway, learn about the ecosystem. I didn’t get to talk about that as much too, but—because I’m really into traveling rivers—but they’re also sources of food and just, like, life for everyone, you know. So learn about what animals live there, learn about how to help your river, and—or the ocean. And just learn about your local water and have some kind of relationship with it, whether that’s, like, paddling or, like, picking blueberries on the riverbank. I think it’s just important that everybody is aware of water and the life that it brings us and how it connects all of us. Yeah. I think that’s that’s it. 

**Inmn ** 54:00
Cool. That seems like a great—that is a better place to end on than the blender—the sweeper—whatever that terrifying name was. Is there anything that you want to shout out, whether it’s places people can find you on the internet where you would like to be found, or projects, or just anything you want to plug or shout out? 

**Tav ** 54:25
Um, yeah, like, I guess I have a tiny YouTube channel that like doesn’t have really much—it’s mostly just my music, if anybody cares at all. It’s, um, I’m birchbark online. You can find me there. That’s whatever. But I think the main thing I want to plug is: go have a nice day by the water and be nice to yourself.

**Inmn ** 55:00
Cool. That’s a great thing. I’m going to go find water. I think there’s water here right now. 

**Tav ** 55:08
Awesome.

**Inmn ** 55:08
I will try. Cool. Well, thanks so much for coming on the show.

**Tav ** 55:14
 Yeah, for sure. Thanks. Thanks for having me.

**Inmn ** 55:21
Thanks so much for listening. If you enjoyed this podcast, then go learn more about your local waterways. And also come up with a new and terrifying name for a river obstacle so that I might live in fear of water forever. But also, if you liked the show, you can support it. And you can support it by telling people about the show, or doing stuff that involves an algorithm. I don’t actually really know anything about any of that. But there is stuff that one can do. Also, if you would like to support the show, you can support it financially. And you can support it financially by supporting our publisher, Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. You can find us at patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness. And you can sign up for different tiers. There’s a super basic tier where you just get discounts. I mean, not just you, you get discounts and you get access to digital content. And there’s another tier where you can get a zine that we send you every month, and it’s a really cool zine. Sometimes it’s a short story, sometimes it’s poetry, sometimes it’s an essay about something. And they’re all really cool. And you can listen to those features in audio form on our other podcast, Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness, and you can listen to interviews with the author, it’s really cool. And in all of the ways that you support our publisher financially, it goes towards paying our audio engineer, and paying our transcriptionist, and maybe one day paying the hosts and the guests of the show. And, yeah, that’s all that. We would like to give some special shout outs to some of our patrons who support us at the acknowledgement level. And just to plug how cool the acknowledgement level is: If you give us $20 a month, which goes towards us doing really cool things, then you can get us to shout out, acknowledge, or thank an organization, yourself, someone that you love, or a fictional and theoretical concept on all of our shows—except for things like, you know, if you ask us to think the Empire, we’re not going to thank the Empire. So don’t try. But we would like to give some special things to these folks: Thank you, Amber, Ephemeral, Appalachian Liberation Library, Portland’s Hedron Hackerspace, Boldfield, E, Patolli Erik, Buck, Julia, CatGut, Marm Carson, Lord Harken, Trixter, Princess Miranda, Ben Ben, Anonymous funder, Janice & O’dell, Aly, paparouna, Milica, Boise Mutual Aid, theo, Hunter, SJ, Paige, Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea, Staro, Jenipher, Kirk, Chris, Micaiah, and Hoss the Dog. Thank you so much for making this show and so many other projects possible. Thanks so much for listening, and we hope that everyone’s doing as well as they can with everything that’s happening in the world. And we’ll see you next time.

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

S1E115 – This Month in the Apocalypse: April, 2024

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Brooke, Margaret, and Inmn talk about some news from Gaza, the climate, hurricanes, University occupations, Texas’ latest attempt to become a mini fief, abortion laws that are older than states, an update on an Arizona gun law, Taylor Swift, and TikTok.

Host Info

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

Publisher Info

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

Transcript

Live Like the World is Dying: This Month in the Apocalypse: April, 2024

**Margaret ** 00:15
Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. Oh, wait. Brooke, you had a better… You wrote us a new jingle to sing, right? Why don’t you do that right now? 

**Brooke ** 00:26
[Singing] I wrote us to do jingle to sing. Bling, bling, bling, bling, bling, bling, bling.

**Margaret ** 00:36
And that’s now our jingle forever. that doesn’t even include our name in it. That’s what happens when…  Right before we hit record, we were like who’s going to record the intro. And I was like, I’m going to record the intro because I have an idea. And my idea was to make Brooke come up with something to sing off the top of her head, because I’m a good person. But who’s not a good person…. Wait, I’m not introducing the bad stuff yet. More good stuff. Also a host today is Inmn. Hi, Inmn.

**Inmn ** 01:06
Hello, hello. I hope everyone is doing as well as they can in our in our great times.

**Margaret ** 01:15
Statistically, at least one of you is punched a cop in the last week. So that’s pretty cool. And also, we’re a proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchist podcasts. And here’s a jingle from another show on the network. [Singing] This is a new jingle for a show on the network. It goes like this.

**Margaret ** 01:46
And we’re back. So anything happened in the world this month, Inmn?

**Inmn ** 02:22
Nope. Not at all. 

**Brooke ** 02:24
Everything was good. Bye, yall!  

**Inmn ** 02:26
Absolutely. Absolutely nothing has happened. Only sunshine. 

**Margaret ** 02:29
What if we just did updates about like the things that we saw on TV? I guess that’s a different kind of podcast. It’s the wildest thing. Velma got the Scooby Doo gang together… Anyway. 

**Inmn ** 02:43
We do This Month in the Apocalypse, but it’s only it’s only from the fictional worlds that we spend too much time inhabiting. [Everyone lauging]

**Margaret ** 02:52
I conquered the entire world for my god.

**Brooke ** 02:56
My child has been watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer because she’s been curious about this show that was like my formative high school experience

**Margaret ** 03:05
Aw, to like connect with you, watching old people shows like Buffy.

**Brooke ** 03:09
Right? So that’s what’s happening in the world right now in my world. Yeah. Wow.

**Inmn ** 03:14
You know, every once in a while it lines up though. Because, you know, I was recently watching, as part of my delve back to things I watched in high school, which is the Gilmore Girls, the family that I grew up with on TV. And they actually talk about Palestine quite often in the show. Or like they mentioned that… They mention that that stuff is happening, which lines up politically with like when the show was on the air and there was also a lot of bad stuff happening in Palestine. And but I don’t think the show’s creators were… They were kind of like adopting a neutral but mostly support Israel thing, which is, you know, it’s–

**Margaret ** 04:07
Not our line here.

**Inmn ** 04:11
Which is not our line here, but is… How much can you expect from mainstream TV? Like I wasn’t surprised to rewatch it and discover this.

**Margaret ** 04:24
So what’s our Gaza update?

**Inmn ** 04:27
Yes, this is my very funny segue into Gaza stuff.

**Margaret ** 04:31
No, it’s good. 

**Inmn ** 04:32
Yeah, so… Which, I mean, there’s nothing absolutely nothing funny about this. But so there’s like a big… There’s like big kind of like ceasefire talks happening right now, which I feel like this is something… You know, obviously people have been wanting there to be ceasefire talks for a long time and they they sort of happen and then Israel’s, like, "We’re not doing ceasefire talks. Fuck everyone." But they’re… In this more recent round, while people kind of like imminently await a ground invasion of Rafah, which like the last little southern piece of Gaza that pretty much everyone who lives in Gaza has been forced into. And Hamas has responded to a call for ceasefire negotiation talks, saying that in order to start negotiations, they need for there to be a ceasefire. And part of part of what they’re asking for at this point is like, yeah, we’re willing to talk about hostage stuff, because I think they are still like 130 hostages, or something– 

**Margaret ** 06:03
Which is sort of–like from a pure detached point of view–like kind of impressive that they’ve still held on to these hostages, as the entire region falls?

**Inmn ** 06:16
Yeah, yeah. And–

**Margaret ** 06:20
Like, tactically impressive.

**Inmn ** 06:25
Yeah. And they. So, kind of what they’re asking for is like, yeah, we’re willing to play ball. We’re willing to do… like, we’re willing to release hostages. But what we what we need is for Palestinian people to have  basic human rights, and to not get bombed, and for there to be a ceasefire. And what do you think Israel’s response to these like, pretty, pretty basic requests were?

**Margaret ** 06:56
Did they build a time machine to kill all the peoples’…. No, they probably already did kill all those people’s parents. Nevermind. Something really disproportionately, impressively evil. That’s my guess.

**Inmn ** 07:12
Yeah, well, it’s kind of like…. So you know how this thing happens in politics, sometimes, where people kind of talk up a response as being much more internally conflictual than it actually is? The same things kind of happening in Israel were awaiting Netanyahu’s response, like all of the like defense, prime ministers and stuff have been like, "If you don’t continue with a ground invasion, we’re abdicating and your government’s going to fall apart." And Netanyahu was has vowed multiple times that regardless of whether negotiations happen, or there is a ceasefire, that a ground invasion of Rafah will happen. So it’s kind of like fake strife, like fake internal strife. You know? Cool. And, yeah, that’s kind of the state of the ceasefire talks. And something… This is just a piece that I’ve been trying to learn a little bit more about, which is a topic on a lot of people’s mind, which is like, "Jey, Egypt, what’s up? Why aren’t you letting people into Egypt to escape genocide?" And there’s kind of a few different factors at place. And one interesting development on that is that Egypt has started to build a buffered wall zone. Like a border between the border kind of thing. Which is just like a giant concrete pen that can fit about 150,000, people that they’re building in anticipation of the border between Rafah and Egypt rupturing during  Israel’s ground invasion of Rafah, which they’ve… which Israel’s all but announced is imminently going to happen. And likepart of what Egypt has said about this is they have been saying like, "Oh, well, we don’t want to let people cross over into Egypt because we don’t want people to then not be allowed back into Palestine when the war is over." It’s kind of like this farcical idea that Israel’s gonna do a war, take care of Hamas, and then just like peacefully leave Palestinians to like go about their lives.

**Margaret ** 09:47
Yeah, I mean, like, it is true that… It certainly seems likely to me that Israel will not let anyone back in after they leave because Israel seems pretty clear that their goal–and has been their goal since 1895. Can I tell you a thing I learned about this? Sorry.

**Inmn ** 10:05
Yeah, absolutely, please.

**Margaret ** 10:09
I’m not sure when this podcast comes out. I just recently recorded, and it’ll be out around the same time, an episode of Cool People Who Did Cool Stuff about Palestinian resistance to the British Mandate of Palestine, basically the period between 1917 and 1948. Well, technically, the Mandate kicked in, in 1922. But after the British control started, right? And in that I learned a little bit more–like maybe a lot of the listeners already know this stuff–but everything that’s happening now was in the diaries, and often public statements, of all of the founders of the State of Israel, down to very specifically like, "No, we are going to absolutely remove all of the–" they would never use the word Palestinians. They wouldn’t even use the word Arabs. They specifically only said "non Jewish people" when they refer to the people who are already living in Palestine. And it’s just really, blatantly clear that since the beginning, the project of Israel has been not just to create an Israeli State–or sorry, a Jewish state–but to remove non Jewish people.

**Inmn ** 11:24
Yeah, yeah. And it’s–yeah. Which it’s like part of that, that makes it really confusing to see Egypt’s response–

**Margaret ** 11:35
I mean, I’m sure they’re still doing it because they’re bastards. But that part about like, oh, well, no one would be allowed back. That’s probably true. 

**Inmn ** 11:45
But it’s probably true regardless. And like Egypt not wanting people to go into Egypt, I think is probably more based on Egypt’s fear of being drawn into a military conflict with Israel or, as they’ve also stated, Hamas kind of like migrating to Egypt and like taking up the fight in Egypt. And so it’s… they’re kind of adopting a "tread on no one’s feet and just kind of not let anyone in" kind of situation, all while saying that it’s for the… it’s better for Palestinian people to be trapped in the city. You know? 

**Margaret ** 12:30
Can I do one other random history interjection about all this because it’s on my mind. 

**Inmn ** 12:34
Totally. 

**Margaret ** 12:36
Okay, so there’s this huge revolt in 1936, where all of the–especially the Muslims and the Christians fought–against the Zionist takeover of their land, you know? And, and their main military enemy at this point wasn’t the Israeli settler or the Jewish–the zionist settlers–it was the British, right? Because the British were in control. The British used human shields. The British invented the fucking Mad Max car. 

**Inmn ** 13:11
Oh my god. 

**Margaret ** 13:12
They actually invented it in Ireland where they strap a guy…. They invented it by, you take an Irishman and you strap him to the front of a car and now the other Irish are afraid to fucking shoot the car or blow up the car because they don’t want to kill their own guy. And there’s photos of this. There is a photo in Palestine of the British in an armored car with like kind of a… It’s not like a guy crudely lashed to the front Mad Max style like totally, but it is instead almost worse. It’s like they went and manufactured a little cart that sticks in front of the car with two guys tied up on it. Anyway, there’s the whole like, every accusation is a confession thing, and I think no government in the world has ever been more guilty of that than Israel.

**Inmn ** 14:05
Yeah, yeah. That’s very, very true. But yeah, that’s kind of the state of things in Gaza right now. And just because I was curious about this, I looked it up and like, for a lot of folks who are raising money for people to, for families, to get elsewhere from from Rafa, it’s like those current… It’s like that that is something that is possible to happen but it kind of involves…it involves a lot of bribing and involves a lot of waiting for a long time and a lot of just finagling political situations, and it costs anywhere from like 5000 to like $10,000 per person. So it’s very expensive, but but it is something that’s happening, but it’s mostly available to rich people right now.

**Margaret ** 15:02
And there’s a lot of fundraising going on. And I wish I had a link more directly in front of me. There’s people who have collected together spreadsheets where they keep track of all of the families that need to get out, and like what their specific fundraisers are and stuff like that.

**Inmn ** 15:17
Yeah. But Margaret, what’s kind of been happening with people’s responses to stuff going on in Gaza here in the States?

**Margaret ** 15:29
So one of the things about the way that we do the show is that there is a lag between when we record things and when we put things out, so don’t… So we’re not going to like do like the news about the occupation movement that’s happening now in the US, we’re going to kind of really briefly touch on it. But I’m guessing most of you all are more familiar already what’s happening with that than this show, which will be a little bit out of date by the time you hear it. But there is a huge movement across the US, especially this week, as we record, of–maybe even more so in the future, you know, who knows, every social movement goes different directions–of students taking over their universities and demanding that their universities divest from Israel. And it’s really shattered a lot of the…. The more pro-Zionist elements of the mainstream media are still touting the like, "And these are anti-semitic protests." But that line is failing more and more on…. Like, people aren’t hearing it anymore. People are like, "That’s so clearly not true. The people at the front of this are the Jewish Voices for Peace," like, you know? It’s like more and more people aren’t falling for it. And so there’s a big culture war thing that’s happening. I got really lucky in that I was scheduled to speak at the New School anyway last week, or something–I lose track of time, all the time–to some students who had read one of my books, and then the occupation had kicked off. So instead, I was sort of invited–like anyone from the occupation was invited to come–and we talked, instead of talking about my book, we talked about the directions that social movements go and how they succeed and fail. And I don’t know, maybe we’ll do a episode about that at some point. But those movements are fiery and interesting. Anyone who’s listening who’s part of them, don’t let the fucking liberal sell you out, and don’t let the fucking authoritarians take you over. And that’s what’s involved. And don’t let the cops divide you into "good protestor, bad protester." Those are the ways that people try to sell you out. And you can not get sold out until you, at the very least, get the demands of divestment. And as we’re recording, this is the stuff that might change. As we’re recording, I think it’s Brown University is starting to enter negotiations about divesting from Israel. Whereas Colombia, where a lot of this started, is promising suspensions. And everyone’s like, "You don’t understand. Stopping this genocide is more important to us than our stupid–" you know, like, I think people don’t get…. And then in the right-wing, and even some of the Liberals, are all like, "I don’t get it. This isn’t even a war that’s happening in the US?" and everyone is like, "Basic fucking empathy? Like what the fuck is wrong with you?" Another kind of protest that happened that I actually only found out recently is that around 50 Google employees were fired because of a non-violent protests that they took against a Google contract, a project called Project Nimbus, which is an AI that has been used by the Israeli government that was developed by Google. Google denies certain parts of their claims around project Nimbus. But the 50 employees are currently suing, I think through the Labor Board, to get their jobs back. And so there’s other ways that people are standing up about this. And we’ve been, of course, seen some other ways all across the US for the past six months and all across the world.

**Inmn ** 18:58
Yeah, and just to like shout out this thing real quick because I thought it was really cool. It’s this trend of people kind of like…it’s like fighting in any possible way they can to do something for people in Palestine. And like outside of university encampments and stuff, it’s like finding ways to act in solidarity with those struggles or to just find other little gaps in the armor. But shout out to the bus drivers union in New York City for utterly refusing to transport a bunch of people who were mass arrested at at a demonstration. They’re like, "No, no. We’re not letting the NYPD commandeer our buses and make us their accomplices," and they just refused to transport people. 

**Margaret ** 19:57
I think this is a really important part of why…. Like,  labor organizing fell out of style until–well, about five years ago picked back up again–but overall, there’s this idea that like, "Oh, class, reductionism. And like, you know, it’s boring. And that’s the old way of doing organizing and shit." And there’s like some problems with the way that labor organizing has been done, especially in the middle of the 20th century, when they created a bunch of corrupt organizations–that were still better jobs–but, you know, they lacked the fiery interestingness of early 20th century and late 19th century unions. But sorry, who knew I was just gonna talk about history this whole time. But this is the other thing about what unions are, is like in order to…. This is what is involved when we talk about building workers power, like building power among the people who actually have to work for a living versus the people who can make money off of the fact that we work for a living, like having the bus the union be like, "No, we’re not transporting prisoners." and they can say that because they have power within their own workplace, even though they don’t own their workplace, which is like the next step. That’s what you want to build to after you build a union, you know? But anyway, unions. Fucking cool. Y’all ready to talk about climate?

**Inmn ** 21:14
God, no. 

**Brooke ** 21:16
Never.

**Margaret ** 21:16
Well–I know this is the thing I keep coming back to–this is the thing that always slips through the cracks of even radical news because it is easier to wrap our mind around things that feel incredibly direct and present. And that is not to say that these direct and present things don’t deserve our attention. They absolutely do. But keeping in mind the climate context that we all live in, I think is important. So I’m gonna tell you some stuff about it. Almost the entire continental US is forecast to have a hotter than usual summer, surprising nobody. The only exception to this is basically North Dakota and some of the like areas that like–nature doesn’t really care about our borders– that might be the same. Everywhere else is expected to be hotter. In particular, the swath cutting across Eastern Oregon and Montana and then cutting all the way down through all of Texas, kind of at an angle, that is the huge swath of the country that is like extra expected to be way hotter. And southern Alaska is the only place in the US on the map that I saw–Hawaii wasn’t on this map–where it might be colder than usual. But most of Alaska will still be warmer than usual. The Rocky Mountains are expected to be dry. And the East Coast, especially the South, is expecting a wetter than normal summer. The actual wildfire prediction map for this coming summer is mostly normal–new normal, so bad–but mostly new normal. With the Sierra Nevadas in Southern California, like LA and kind of that surrounding area, are actually less fire likely than normal. And then the more likely fire than normal is Idaho, like southern Idaho into Nevada and Utah.

**Brooke ** 23:10
Was gonna say that a lot of Idaho has had a lot of fires a lot of years.

**Margaret ** 23:15
But it’s like this map is like not totally the map of where you look and expect wildfires, which is not to say there’s not gonna be wildfires everywhere. It’s just that’s the current anticipation. The National Weather Service has put together a heat risk website that does a daily forecast and a weekly forecast that also shows like where people are more at risk for heat problems. And it takes into consideration the wet bulb temperature and access to all kinds of stuff. There’s actually a fair amount of adaptation that is happening by scientists and some of our infrastructure to try and figure out how to handle…. Because like some people are taking climate seriously and some of those people have access to weather data and shit, you know? April, as of this recording on the last day of April, was probably the 11th straight month of the hottest of that month on record across the world. Which means that if we pull it off next year, every single month for a year will have been the hottest ever. There is a 55% chance that this year will top 2023 as the hottest year on record. The reason that we might not beat last year–I know everyone’s rooting for us but we might not pull it off because the other side will be like "Well they had us in the first half." We’re expecting a slightly cooler than normal fall and stuff because of La Nina weather patterns hitting. However, La Nina weather patterns are gonna fuck up a whole bunch other stuff. And okay, I know you all are ready to root for America, number one. so you want to hear something else that we are number one about across the world? 

**Brooke ** 24:57
No. 

**Margaret ** 24:59
Economic impact of natural disasters. Doesn’t that kind of surprise you?

**Brooke ** 25:03
What? Say more.

**Inmn ** 25:06
I’ve heard a little bit about this.

**Margaret ** 25:09
We are number two in our spending related to per capita wealth, but we’re number one in total spending on this kind of stuff. It costs us about point .4% of our gross domestic product every year to take care of natural disasters. This is twice China and four times Canada. And, I mean, it’s just because we suck and Capitalism sucks, is the is the reason why this is happening. Home Insurance went up 21% between 2002 and 2023. A ton of people are just going uninsured because they can’t afford it anymore. Also, insurers are jacking up prices and/or entirely pulling out of certain areas. And now a lot of countries just kind of say, "Well, we kind of just can’t build where there’s fires and mudslides all the time." But America is like, "No way. This is our country. You can build wherever you want." And so there’s also like fewer building codes and stuff around how to make houses that makes sense in your area in terms of disaster and climate and things like that. So that’s something we’re really good at, is spending money that we shouldn’t have had to spend. There’s been a whole bunch in the past couple months. In April there’s been a whole bunch of tornadoes that have moved through Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and north Texas. However, we are currently lower than normal by a little bit on tornadoes. However, they’ve been a little bit more deadly than normal, I believe. And overall, this is expected to be a fairly more active than usual tornado season coming up. So if you’re in the Great Plains and the tornado lands, which is of course, as I think we’ve talked about before, the tornado belt is like slowly moving east because of climate change. Speaking of the American South, it is facing some of the most rapid sea rise in the world. We, once again America is number one–I don’t know if we’re number one. We’re actually not number one. But we’re doing… We’re doing pretty good. We have twice the worldwide average in sea level rise. Isn’t that? Anyway…

**Inmn ** 27:15
Which means that there’s going to be a lot new beachfront property.

**Margaret ** 27:22
I mean, a lot of the old, a lot the old beachfront property has gone away. Or rather, people are like struggling to hold on to it. A lot of places across the American south have already gotten four, six, or eight inches of sea level rise since 2010. The highest is Galveston, Texas with 8.4 inches. And the results of this, of course, are wetlands are drowning, which leaves areas more vulnerable to storms. We’ll talk about the hurricane season in a second. Septic systems are backing up and contaminating waterways. Insurance companies are just dipping out entirely. And roads are now below high tide in plenty of places. People are periodically cut off. Why don’t we hear about this more? Well, because the people who are affected are Black. That’s why. Environmental racism is a real thing. A lot of these areas have had specific redlining policies in place, or used to be in place, or whatever. The economic landscape is such that people of color, and especially Black people, are living in the flattest areas that are the lowest to sea level and in the most risk, and it is largely poor places that people have already not cared about because this is where a lot of like pollution happens, you know? Other fun news… The kind of thing that like…. I feel like every week there’s something that should have been big enough news for us to entirely overthrow the world order, but a whole bunch of–

**Brooke ** 28:51
I’m concerned about what you call fun, Margaret.

**Margaret ** 28:54
You take it where you can find it, ya know? Okay, so I’ll explain my idea of fun. The very beginning of the movie Gladiator, right? I don’t give a shit about the rest of the movie Gladiator. But there’s this is one scene where the Roman army, who are somehow the good guys in this situation (they’re not the good guys), they’re attacking the Goths. And obviously, the Goths are good because they’re goths. 

**Inmn ** 29:20
Yeah, we love that. 

**Margaret ** 29:20
And at one point, the barbarians come out of the woods and they’re like holding the Roman messenger’s head and then they all grab their axes and run screaming into the Roman army. and to their own death–

**Inmn ** 29:34
Which is how no army ever fought ever. 

**Margaret ** 29:36
Yeah, I know. It’s also not a very good way to fight, specifically, the Roman army. nd at least in the movie Gladiator, they all die horribly. There’s a certain honesty to that. There’s a certain honesty to just being like, "This isn’t about winning or losing. This is about like, ‘Can we fucking do this?"" But we can’t because we don’t have…. We’re not in a revolution and individual actions don’t…. This is the sketchiest thing I’ve ever said on the show. So anyway, a slew of documents came out, showing that oil companies in their private correspondence are like, "We’re not going to bother meeting any of the Paris agreements. Why would we do that? There’s nothing in it for us. We don’t care." And they’re just ignoring it in their private correspondence, while of course, they’re all publicly like, "Oh, we’re so committed to it." And it’s just like, and the…. You know, and this isn’t like weird conspiracy stuff. The Democrats introduced this in Congress, you know? And it’s just like one of these things where it’s just like, well the oil companies shouldn’t be allowed to exist anymore. That seems fucking obvious, right? Anyway, I don’t have a better tactical idea. And that didn’t work in Gladiator. So I don’t recommend it. Flash floods killed at least 169 people in Kenya in April. About 150,000 people in the country have been displaced by the rains. More than half of the country is facing intense flooding right now. Dubai got two years’ worth of rain in one day at the end of April. It was 10 inches in 24 hours, the heaviest it’s had in the past 75 years. The more center and center-right media is like, "Oh, it’s because they’re doing cloud seeding. They reap what they sowed." But the Washington Post article I read about this was like, "It wasn’t fucking cloud seeding. It was fucking climate change." And that makes sense to me. Hurricanes. I promise you hurricanes. Colorado State University researchers are predicting a very active hurricane season this year. They’re guessing there will be 24 named storms. And the way that we like named storms is that there’s like 21 letters of the alphabet that we use. I don’t know why it’s 21 and not 26. I didn’t bother looking it up. And then they’re like, "Oh, fuck, we’re out of things. And then they like do other shit, you know? Because when they first started naming hurricanes and tropical storms, they didn’t really imagine that there would be more than 21 of them in a year. But now this is the third or fourth year. There’s been like three years in the past couple of years where they’ve run out of names. And this one, they’re expecting probably 24. They’re guessing–again, this is all forecasting and this is not certain–that starting June 1st with hurricane season they’re guessing it’ll be about eleven hurricanes with five of them being major because the accumulated cyclone energy in the…mother of storms–it probably is a science name, but Mother of storms is cooler–is twice normal. And this is bad. It’s like only a little bit worse than the new normal. So it’s like bad, and the new normal is bad,  but what I’m not saying is "2024 year is gonna be the worst ever, and we’re all gonna fucking die in hurricanes. And everyone needs to leave New Orleans." is not what I’m saying. Although, maybe? But it’s just the new bad and a little worse than usual, a little incremental.

**Brooke ** 33:05
Maybe they need to give those four-five sidelines letters a chance at being part of the naming process and then–

**Margaret ** 33:14
What five letters is it? I bet it’s like X–

**Brooke ** 33:17
Yeah, and Z. Give X a chance.

**Margaret ** 33:21
What about Xereses? Does that start with and X?

**Brooke ** 33:24
There we go. Zeus. 

**Margaret ** 33:26
Well, Xerxes is probably not in the Roman alphabet anyway. We can transliterate things however we want.

**Inmn ** 33:36
It’s kind of like the emergence of the new category six, the theoretical–we talked about it earlier this year–but the theoretical category six hurricane, which we might see this year. 

**Margaret ** 33:48
Cool. 

**Inmn ** 33:52
New albums about to drop!

**Brooke ** 33:58
But Taylor Switft already put out a new album. What are you talking about? Oh, that’s my news clip for the month. That’s all I need to share.

**Margaret ** 34:05
Oh, yeah.

**Brooke ** 34:06
Taylor Swift put out a new album.

**Inmn ** 34:08
I wonder… I wonder how many of our listeners are Swifties? 

**Margaret ** 34:14
I bet a good amount. 

**Inmn ** 34:15
Yeah, not a condemnation. Just a curiosity.

**Margaret ** 34:18
I think about a quarter of my friends really like Taylor Swift. But the thing that I have said on Twitter that has been the most controversial and the thing that has most people thinking I’m a liar is when I said I cannot name a Taylor Swift song and would not be able to pick her out of a lineup. 

**Brooke ** 34:35
What? 

**Margaret ** 34:36
People think I’m lying. I’m not lying. 

**Brooke ** 34:38
I think you’re lying. 

**Margaret ** 34:40
I’m not lying. 

**Inmn ** 34:41
I do not think Margaret is lying. [Laughing] 

**Margaret ** 34:44
If you put three 30 year old blonde, white singers in front of me, it would be a…I’d have a 33% chance of fucking picking Taylor Swift. Now, I’m certain I’ve heard some Taylor Swift songs, but I would not know they’re Taylor Swift songs. And this is not like…. I’m not even saying this as a a point of pride. I mean, okay a little bit because I’m a fucking contrarian asshole, but that’s not something I’m proud of. I’m not proud of my own pride about this.

**Brooke ** 35:13
This is now going to be a Taylor Swift episode. Goodbye to the news. Hello to me singing Taylor Swift songs to Margaret.

**Margaret ** 35:21
But then do like one of them that’s not a Taylor Swift song in the middle and see if I can tell you which one it is. 

**Margaret ** 35:26
Totally. Yeah. 

**Margaret ** 35:29
[singing] "Where have all the flowers gone." That one’s not her.

**Inmn ** 35:33
That is not Taylor Swift. [Brooke singing unknow (presumably) Taylor Swift song in the background] 

**Margaret ** 35:37
Wait, we don’t want to get sued. And I don’t want to hear Taylor Swift. Oh my God, no, I actually am a bad person. There’s nothing inherently good or bad about being interested in pop culture. Alright. But speaking of hurricanes, the East Atlantic’s warmth is three months ahead of schedule for the average of the past four years. Not for the old average but for the new average. The East Atlantic’s warmth is, on April 2nd it was as warm as July 2nd is on the average. And then there’s one other piece of bad news. But then I have positive news. Or, then I have like neutral news. The one other piece of bad news is that, as of this recording, King Charles III has not died of cancer. [Disappointed grons] I also wouldn’t be able to pick him out of a lineup. That’s not… I don’t know if that one’s true. 

**Brooke ** 36:37
70 year old white man. Yeah, no. Yeah, probably not. At least not if he’s in normal clothes.

**Inmn ** 36:43
Um, well. Yeah, I absolutely believe all of that. Weirdly in…. I’m gonna say a controversial–

**Margaret ** 36:51
I thought you didn’t believe me about Taylor Swift.said you believedno, I, I 

**Inmn ** 36:53
What? Margaret I believe you.

**Margaret ** 36:56
Oh, that’s right. It was Brooke that didn’t believe me. 

**Brooke ** 36:58
Inmn trusts you about everything.

**Inmn ** 37:00
I feel like I’m one of the few people that just very much knows this to be true in a real way.

**Margaret ** 37:09
That’s true. Inmn has seen me live in an off grid cabin in the middle of the woods.

**Inmn ** 37:17
But, so, like, Arizona… I’m going to talk a little bit about Arizona. Arizona weirdly has been like, like we just had one of our wetter springs ever. And cooler springs. To the point where, there’s like a big outdoor thing that happens in the last week of March every year, and we were scrambling to find new places…like an indoor venue for it because it was raining and we were all like, "When the fuck has it ever rained at the end of March?" 

**Margaret ** 37:49
Yeah, you’re supposed to only get rain in the monsoon season in like what, Fall or something?

**Inmn ** 37:56
It’s in like July-August. And then like, we do have a winter rainy season. It’s just hit or miss. But March? March is weird. Like it rained like four times in a week in March. And I was like, "What’s going on?" And like, just because it was a big outdoor performance was the only reason I was like that asshole who’s like "Why the fuck is it raining in this desert?" you know? [Everyone laughing]

**Margaret ** 38:24
"I moved here for one reason: I hate water."

**Inmn ** 38:27
Yeah. But I have some other updates from Arizona. Shout out to…. Shout out to Logan, who is a bud who always texts me like weird, really in-depth updates about headlines that we touch on and then is like, "Inmn, the story is so much bigger than you thought it was!" And I’m like– 

**Margaret ** 38:48
That’s cool.  

**Inmn ** 38:49
Please keep sending me these updates. So on a previous This Month, we talked about this expansion of kind of like Castle Doctrine in Arizona, which is like aimed at like, you can defend your…you can like essentially shoot and kill people without repercussions for trespassing, not only into your house, but on your property. And Logan was telling me that…. So the reason that this law was being pursued–you know, there’s speculation about it being very anti-migrant–and it was actually in response to this criminal case where George Alan Kelly, who lives just north of Nogales, encountered some people crossing over his land, right near and along the Border, and he, suspecting them of being migrants, just held up an AK-47 and started shooting at them from 100 yards away. And he killed one of them. He killed Cuen-Buetimea, who was a 48 year old man who lived in Nogales. And some of the people in the group, who were then witnesses in the trial, attested to just, you know, crossing for work. And the person who was killed has two adult daughters who live in Nogales. And they were trying to pass this law ahead of the trial so that George Allen Kelly would not be accountable to wildly shooting a gun into the air and killing someone. But George Allen Kelly was…there was a mistrial due to jurors not being able to come to a unanimous decision. And it does not appear, as of right now, that prosecutors are going to try to refile charges. So yeah. Some other stuff going on in Arizona is…. So this is kind of like good news, bad news. And it’s gonna start with some bad news. On April 9th, the Arizona Supreme Court made a ruling upholding an 1864 law that declares a near-total ban on all abortions, carrying a two to five year prison sentence for doctors who perform abortions except to preserve the life of the person giving birth. And yeah, so this is like from…. Prior to this, Arizona was a 15 week abortion ban. And currently, as we wait, we’re like still waiting for this law to go into effect in like June, I think. But, so in June there will be a near-total ban on abortion in Arizona. But the Arizona House just passed a bill that would repeal this law from 1864. And this is a law that was passed before Arizona was a state.

**Margaret ** 42:15
Yeah, that was like the first thing, when someone was like…. I didn’t reshare this when I first came across it because I was like, "Arizona didn’t exist. This is…" Because it’s always like people come up with this horrible thing that’s happening. And about half the time it’s true and half the time it’s not. Yeah, I totally didn’t believe this one at first, because I was like, "There wasn’t a state called Arizona. There was a territory and they had their territorial laws."

**Inmn ** 42:16
Yeah. And the Arizona Supreme Court has somehow upheld this law. But the House just passed a bill to repeal it. And we’re recording this on Tuesday. As of April 30th, tomorrow, Wednesday May 1st, the Senate is expected to pass the bill that would repeal this 1864 law.

**Margaret ** 43:09
Didn’t even Trump come out against that law?

**Inmn ** 43:13
I don’t know.

**Margaret ** 43:14
I think I watched a video of Trump kind of being like, "Maybe that one wasn’t the move." 

**Inmn ** 43:21
That would be wild. 

**Margaret ** 43:23
Because that one I think, was bad enough that I think that there’s  bipartisan anger at it.

**Inmn ** 43:31
Yeah. Which is kind of how…. That’s like how stuff has progressed in the House and the Senate is like it… It required bipartisan agreement in the House. And it will require like two Republican senators to get on board for the Senate vote, which there are two that are expected to vote for the bill that would repeal the ban. 

**Margaret ** 43:54
They’re just trying to not get up put up against the wall. Anyway, Margaret’s in a weird mood today.

**Inmn ** 44:01
Yeah, and, you know, one last kind of bad world thing–bad politics–in the realm of some Republican-led states really trying to be their own little mini fiefs and like testing state-federal stress test, whatever shenanigans. So, Title IX regulations were just updated. And they were updated…. They were amended to include specifically protections against discrimination based on sexual-orientation and gender identity. Whereas previously, it was just based on being a woman, essentially. And for folks who don’t know, Title IX regulations are for educational institutions that receive federal funding, they have to abide by certain regulations in order to receive that funding, which is, you know, most public schools. And big surprise, guess which three states? Florida, Tennessee, and Texas are all essentially either instructing their education systems to not listen to, to not uphold the regulations, or just straight out suing the Department of Education over it. And the rallying cry around that is, big surprise, sports and trans athletes. Surprisingly, the new Title IX regulations say absolutely nothing about sports. So it’s like they’re rallying around something that the new regulations have not even codified.

**Margaret ** 45:55
I mean, literally, the only time that these people pay attention to women’s sports is when they’re worried about trans women existing. So it doesn’t surprise me that, you know.

**Inmn ** 46:08
Yeah. But Margaret, you have some maybe good things to tell us?

**Margaret ** 46:15
I got neutral stuff first. TikTok has been officially… The law passed that TikTok is now–not immediately–banned in the United States. TikTok has been…. Its parent company, which is based in Beijing, has nine months to sell it. And so by any realistic standard, it’ll be about a year before TikTok would do any disappearing. And then of course, obviously you can ban software. But that’s not a easy thing to enforce. It would get taken down off of like the Google Play Store and the Apple Store and stuff like that, but people who had it still would have it. And then it would get buggier and buggier or in shittier and shittier as updates are unable to go out, unless people use VPNs to get from another country, etc, etc.

**Margaret ** 47:02
There’s ways around it? What? [Sarcastically]

**Margaret ** 47:06
I know. It’s also completely possible that since every one involved is a capitalist, they’re probably like, "Alright, well, we’ll sell the fucking thing. Like, who cares?" You know? That’s like my guess. I don’t know, I could be wrong about that. I would be surprised if TikTok ends up going away because of this. However, the actual thing that I think ties into this is there is a bipartisan bill that people are working on, called Kids Off Social Media Act, which wants to say that kids under 13 should not be on social media, and pass all kinds of like things about how like algorithms can’t focus on anyone 17 and under. And just like lots of like, "social media is bad for kids." And now I think social media is probably bad for everyone. However, to me….  I haven’t given us a lot of thought. It seems like a basic free speech issue. And also, like, old people fighting the future and screaming at clouds kind of moment. And the idea of banning TikTok, I’m like…. Okay, I’m not accelerationist. I don’t think things should get worse before they get better. But the idea of some fucking 80 year old liches in Congress being like, "I don’t like the tocks ticking around like that." And then like, it’s like, incredibly popular. I think about half of Americans have a TikTok account. Like, telling half of Americans they can’t do a thing sounds like a way to get people really mad. And I know I get really excited by the idea of like…. They have their bipartisan tyranny, and there’s this idea that maybe one day we’ll get over this fucking culture war and we can fight back in the class war that is waged against us. And like, if TikTok is the thing that brings it, I’m fear for it. I’m too old for TikTok. I have an account. I don’t know how to use it. I’ve never uploaded a video. TikTok doesn’t need me. But like, whatever anyway. But actually, I’m kind of curious, not having a child, Me–I’m the one without a child–Brooke, do you have thoughts on this no social media for the kids thing? Like am I…am I totally off base? Is it just protecting…. Like, I don’t know. What’s up? 

**Brooke ** 49:28
I mean I get where they’re coming from with it, and all the research that’s shown how negative social media is for–I mean, they’ve done particular studies for kids and how it affects them–but turns out it’s actually bad for all human beings, the way social media has come for us and the atmosphere is it creates. So, I get where they’re coming from with it. As a very involved parent, you know, my solution is always to pay attention to and engage with your children, which is not a reasonable thing for all people to have as much engagement as it would take really to have healthy social media interactions. But then, you know, the anarchist side of me says, "No, you don’t get to ban things ever."

**Margaret ** 50:18
Well and also like, I don’t know, a lot of people are rumbling about how TikTok is why a new generation of people supports Palestine and doesn’t buy into the myths about the Zionist project being a thing that represents all Jews, for example, right? And then anti-capitalism is spreading and being pro capitalism is 100% bipartisan for the ghouls who feed off of the youth and somehow live too long. This is the most ageist shit I’m ever going to say. Some people are capable of performing their jobs well into their later years and gain wisdom. The people who run this country are nightmare men. 

**Brooke ** 51:00
I feel like it’s, you know, the same kind of things they’ve said about all new technologies that have come out over the last,, you know, whatever, 30 years.

**Margaret ** 51:09
And like the only person who said this stuff, and was right, was a little man who had some bad strategic and ethical ideas, but wrote that "industrial society and its future have been a disaster for the human race." At least be consistent.

**Inmn ** 51:31
I was researching this for another episode once, and I didn’t end up talking about it because it was hard to learn too much about, but some of the lawmakers have specifically cited youth information spreading about Palestine as a reason for the TikTok ban. It’s like a specifically listed reason from lawmakers. And the other thing about the Kids Online Safety, whatever it’s called, is it’s heralded as a way to protect children from pornography and from the proliferation of child pornography, which is the thing that lawmakers say all the time, and pretty much all these human rights organizations who are, you know, much more aptly trying to protect children from shit are like, "This is most asinine bullshit we’ve ever heard this. This bill is utterly absurd." And it has other implications, which are that it’s trying to herald in this idea that you could no longer be like anonymous on the internet, and that the government has a lot more to…has a lot more agency to track your goings on on the internet. So it would…. It’s like the bill would require you to essentially show a driver’s license in order to engage with a lot of things on the internet, which I think is just trying to…I think it’s capitalists’ attempt to really make a thing like the internet something that is like more of a interacting with the government process and less a whatever the internet is, you know. 

**Margaret ** 53:24
That makes sense to me. and yeah, 

**Inmn ** 53:26
And it kind of falls in line with the our futuristic hellscape of like the "One app," for example. Like, you gotta scan your fucking fingerprint to log into Instagram or do anything on the internet.

**Margaret ** 53:43
It’s funny because sometimes they use a VPN just as a basic practice and sometimes I use a VPN that’s set in Europe. And when you browse the internet as a European, every site you go to is like, "Hey, do you want us to track you?" And you’re like, "No." And it’s like, "Okay, fine." Because the EU has some good internet laws, you know? About restricting the tyranny part of it instead of the like…. Whatever. Okay, I’m gonna do my vaguely positive news at the end. Y’all ready?

**Inmn ** 54:18
Yeah, what’s good? 

**Margaret ** 54:21
People are sleeping more than average than before.

**Inmn ** 54:25
Yay. I’m not. But good for them.

**Margaret ** 54:28
25 minutes more on average for the same people–not like the same individuals, right. Because how often you sleep is dependent on how old you are and also very heavily dependent about whether you have children. But people are sleeping about 25 minutes more on average than they were in 2002. And the best guess is that it started picking up a lot recently because of remote work and a lower percentage of people commuting. The biggest cool thing, the FTC, the Federal Trade Commission, has banned non-compete agreements. 30 million people have been freed from non-compete clauses.

**Brooke ** 55:07
Oh, nice.

**Margaret ** 55:11
The EPA is banning most use of methyl chloride, which is a paint stripper that has killed like 88 people or something in the past couple of years and it’s just bad. The EPA is actually, for the first time in a while, starting to get like…they’re trying to stop forever chemicals. And there’s like some shit that they’re actually trying to do, right? They also–do you want to guess when asbestos was finally banned in the United States?

**Margaret ** 55:39
It was late. It was like the 90s.

**Inmn ** 55:41
Was it last week?

**Margaret ** 55:45
March 2024. 

**Brooke ** 55:47
Oh, shit.

**Inmn ** 55:50
I was right, sort of.

**Margaret ** 55:52
Yeah, Inmn was closest. There’s about six types of asbestos and one of them had been sort of…. Enough people, enough industries had been like, "But we want to use it." And so for the past 33 years, this particular type, people have been trying to ban. Because the 90s is an accurate assessment of when I think most of the others got–I don’t know, I’m making that part of it up–all I know is that for 33 years, they’ve been trying to ban this fucking asbestos and they finally succeeded in March of this year. Also, the FDA did an emergency approval of pre-exposure prophylaxis for COVID called Pemivibart, which is a dumb name because it rhymes with farts. And nothing should rhyme with fart if it’s a drug. And it is for the immunocompromised. So you would take this before, you know, if you’re going into a situation where you’re worried about getting COVID. And it’s an emergency approval like the original vaccines were so it’s not through all of testing, but it’s important enough that they feel like it’s safe enough. Also, recently passed phase three trials is a vaccine to pretend prevent UTIs, or urinary tract infections, which is the kind of thing that I never would have occurred to me you could run it against because it’s usually, I believe, bacterial infections. But it’s a really common problem. And that’s cool if we can fucking solve it.

**Brooke ** 57:22
And some people are super prone to them just based on, you know, bodily health or genetics or whatever. Like it’s a thing. They have ongoing, chronic UTI kind of thing. So fuck yeah.

**Margaret ** 57:37
It’s kind of like when they finally got an HPV vaccine through and it was just like, oh my god, this is actually pretty fucking game changing, you know? I wish they would give it to fucking assigned male people. But yeah.

**Brooke ** 57:47
And then conservative Christian types that were like, "Oh, we don’t think that our children should have to have this vaccine." 

**Inmn ** 57:54
Any kind of person can get the HPV vaccine.

**Margaret ** 57:57
Oh, interesting. Good to know.

**Inmn ** 58:00
Yeah, it’s a different vaccine, I think. But anybodied person can get it. 

**Margaret ** 58:07
That’s good to know. And hopefully, next time, we’ll have different news about King Charles III and cancer. But who knows? But that’s This Month in the Apocalypse, which you have now listened to, or participated in if you are named Brooke or Inmn or Margaret. Unless your named Brooke, Inmn, or Margaret and you’re not on the podcast, in which case you didn’t participate in it. You just heard it. And then probably have a different kind of parasocial relationship with us if you share our names, especially if you’re Inmn. Like, there’s not a ton of you. And like, Inmn’s pretty cool. So do you have like a different…. Please write in, Inmn’s in the audience. Pretend to be our Inmn and we’ll read a prepared script from you next time as if you’re our Inmn. This is not true. I’m lying. 

**Margaret ** 59:08
But what I’m not lying about is that if you want to support this podcast, you can do so by supporting our publisher, which is Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. And you can do that by going to patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness. And if you do, we put up zine and podcasts. We do a lot of fucking stuff. We are your source for all of your anarchy culture. And another way you can support us this week of all weeks, if you are listening to this during May Day week, like the first week of May in 2024. Although if you listen to it in a different May Day week. It’ll probably be true again. We are doing a 50% sale off of everything on our website. And that includes stuff that’s really expensive, like the hardcover of Penumbra City, which is a $50 book, but now it’s only $25 book. And you use the code MAYDAY24 at checkout and get 50% off because we fucking love May Day and we care more about our stuff getting out there than anything else about it. And if you support us on Patreon, we might even shout you out like we’re going to shout out allium and Amber, Ephemoral, Appalachian Liberation Library, Portland’s Hedron Hackerspace, Boldfield, E, Patoli, Eric, Buck ,Julia, Catgut, Marm, Carson, Lord Harken, Trixter, Princess Miranda, BenBen, anonymous, Janice & O’dell, Aly, paparouna, Milica, Boise Mutual Aid, theo, Hunter, S. J., Paige. Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea, Staro, Jenipher, Kirk, Chris, Micaiah, King Charles III–What?! And Hoss the Dog. 

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

S1E114 – Colin on Flood Plains and Water Damage

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Colin and Brooke talk about flooding, water damage, and how to avoid having your home damaged by those things.

Guest Info

Colin (he/him) is a carpenter, industrial electrician, and backpacker.

Host Info

Brooke can be found on Twitter or Mastodon @ogemakweBrooke.

Publisher Info

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

Transcript

Live Like the World is Dying: Colin on Flood Plains and Water Damage

**Brooke ** 00:15
Hello and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m Brooke Jackson, your host for this episode. And today our friend Colin is joining us again, this time to talk about flooding and dealing with water damage. But first we’d like to celebrate being a member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchist podcasts by playing a little jingle from one of the other podcasts on the network. Doo doo jingo here!

**Brooke ** 01:40
And we’re back. Colin, thank you for joining us again today. And this time to talk about dealing with floods and water damage. Would you remind your pronouns, where you hail from if you want, and a bit about your background?

**Colin ** 01:52
Yeah, my name is Colin, he him. I’m from Pittsburgh. And I’ve been a contractor sort of on and off for the last about 20 years, as well as working in the power plants and industrial electricity, and sort of in and around industry for about the second half of my life. And, yeah, it’s, I’m glad to talk about floods, because it’s one of those things we’re seeing more and more. And unfortunately, it’s probably going to happen to pretty much everybody who’s listening to this podcast at some point in their life in one form or another.

**Brooke ** 02:27
Yeah. And we’ve talked about flooding on the podcast before. I don’t know that we’ve ever done a whole episode on it by any means. But it has definitely come up as we’ve talked about news and other major events. And you and I even talked about it when we did our first episode, a little bit. So I think it’s—itll be good to dig into, you know, a nice reminder of what to do and not to do in a flood. And then also, I don’t think we’ve ever talked much about flood recovery. So I’m excited to learn and teach more about that today. I wanted to share one of my own stories about flooding, if you don’t mind me kicking off with that before we get into all the do’s and don’ts and how tos.

**Colin ** 03:12
Yeah go for it.

**Brooke ** 03:13
Okay, cool.

**Colin ** 03:14
Everybody’s got one of those stories.

**Brooke ** 03:16
Seems like it. Well, when I was growing up in the 90s, there was a major flooding event where I live. My hometown. It was built around a river, which of course is true of most older cities, right, because access to fresh water is critical for survival. And then there are also a lot of creeks that run through my town and feed into the river. And I live in the Pacific Northwest and it rains a whole lot here. So we’re kind of accustomed to having occasional sudden and heavy downpours and the possibility of some rainwater pooling or briefly flooding. It’s not uncommon. But this particular event when I was a teenager was something else. It was a really complicated set of weather events that led to it. But the important part is that, so the creeks that are all over town are overflowing. And then the river, it doubled its level on the first day of the heavy rains. And then within the next two days had crashed at its banks, and then for three days after that remained at flood levels. So the city’s downtown area, for instance, it’s fairly flat, it’s right along the river, and most of the homes there have basements. So in addition to streets flooding, the basements flooded, filled with water. There were houses that got washed off their foundations, of course cars got washed away. And then even in other parts of town where there wasn’t, you know they were more on the hills or what have you, there was so much water in the ground that it caused foundational issues to a lot of houses because the pressure of the water pushing on home foundations are running around it. And there had been an ice event right before the rain started that had caused his damage to a lot of pipes. So there were pipes that were bursting and breaking because they’d been weakened or already had broken because of the ice storm. And it led to all this flooding. And it’s interesting as I’ve grown up in the town and come back to it as adult, that the damage of this event, the way it’s imprinted itself on the psyche of the city, even my mom, when she comes back to visit will drive around, she’ll go, oh, you know, such and such creek looks a little high today. You know, this creek is, you know, she always looks around at all the creeks to see where the waters levels are kind of this caution about how high is the water. Like, are we in danger of having some kind of event again. And anyone that lived here, you know, had or knew someone that had some kind of really severe damage or loss because of that flood. So that’s really imprinted into my psyche because, of course, I was still a young person at the time this happened. And it’s really impactful to me. So when we talk about flooding, it’s like, oh, yeah, that was one of the major traumatic events of my youth, at least collectively in my society or my, you know, my town.

**Colin ** 06:13
Yeah, that’s actually a really common situation you describe, of having an ice event or cold weather and then a warm front comes through, drops several inches of rain onto frozen ground, there’s nowhere for it to go, and it just goes straight into rivers. Like you’re seeing that more and more and that’s actually exactly what I was gonna open with is that, with climate change, even if you’re not living in someplace like Charleston, or Miami, or one of the other low lying areas that everybody knows is at risk for flooding either from rising ocean levels or because you’re in a major floodplain. Just having these wild swings in temperature and rainfall makes flooding a much bigger issue. It’s like living in Pittsburgh, it seems like we don’t get mild old rains anymore, we either get four inches right now, or nothing. So it’s not the, like, nice, gentle soaking rains that I remember from being a kid, it’s like everything comes in a burst. And when that happens, dry ground does not soak up water nearly as well as slightly damp ground. So dropping lots of rain onto parched ground, you end up with lots of run off, and even though it’s very, very dry, you end up with massive flooding.

**Brooke ** 07:35
Yeah, one of our cohosts and one of the collective members was—we were talking about it and she was describing, like, if you go to water your garden and you haven’t watered your garden in a while, and like the first water that you put on, it kind of rolls off. It takes it a minute to actually, like, settle and sink in, and then it’s easier to water the ground. And it’s the same kind of thing with these flooding events which I, you know, had never thought about but can picture in my mind how that, oh yeah, how that happens, how that works. So it’s, you know, we’re at risk of flooding for so many different reasons than ever we were before because of super dryness or, you know, I feel like we’ve seen more atmospheric rivers in the news as well. Maybe I’m just paying more attention, but that seems to becoming more common too.

**Colin ** 08:26
Yeah, and with the big events, like, there is a definite limit on how much you can really do to prepare yourself short of just moving to someplace where these things don’t happen, you know. Somebody told me, water always wins.

**Brooke ** 08:44
Ah!

**Colin ** 08:45
You’re not going to beat it. It’s heavy, it’s powerful, and if it wants to come into your house, you’re gonna have a really hard time stopping it.

**Brooke ** 08:56
Okay.

**Colin ** 08:57
You know, you can fight back against the inch or two, but if nine feet of water comes knocking at your front door, you’re not gonna win.

**Brooke ** 09:06
Sure, but surely there are some things that we could do that would, you know, maybe help prevent the smaller amounts of water or help make it less bad, yeah?

**Colin ** 09:16
Oh, yeah, definitely. And especially if you’re in one of the areas like sounds like you are, or like I am in Pittsburgh, where there’s enough terrain that I’m not worried about a flood filling up the valley nine feet deep, because if that happens, you know, we have bigger problems. The issue is more, you know, an inch or two of water flowing along the surface running down the street, coming across the yard and down to the basement steps. Like that kind of stuff you can defend against, and it’s really not that hard to do. But it takes a lot of preparation and, particularly if you’re in an area where this has simply never happened before, it’s very easy for that to catch everyone off guard. Sounds like that’s the situation with the floods you described was this was what used to be a what they call, you know, a 100 year storm.

**Brooke ** 10:07
Uh huh, uh huh!

**Colin ** 10:09
Now the 100 year storms are happening every six months or so.

**Brooke ** 10:13
Yeah, well, we haven’t, you know, had another one quite like that since the 90s. But also, I know that a lot of, you know, houses and whatnot are much better setup for it, you know. For instance, the downtown houses that got basements flooded so badly, a lot of them—I want to say all of them, but that might not be true—had sump pumps installed after that. And, you know, I would hope that many of those houses have done a good job of maintaining those pumps. Which, you know, I think probably wouldn’t prevent the kind of flooding from the storm that we had back in the 90s, but would certainly help, you know, mitigate a smaller storm or recover from it more quickly. Whereas they didn’t have them before that that wasn’t a common thing.

**Colin ** 11:04
Right, and it doesn’t really take very much water in a basement to cause major problems. You don’t need three feet of standing water in your basement to ruin your day. Just an inch or two is enough to really mess things up, especially if it happens to an entire town and everyone is dealing with it at the same time. The disaster recovery services that’re around to help out when that happens to one or two people can’t handle it when it’s suddenly 5000 people that all have the exact same problem. There’s just not the capacity and you’re going to be more or less on your own to at least get through, you know, a few days to a week before they can get around to helping you out. Again, with the idea of triage, like just trying to buy yourself a little bit of time before all the services come back online.

**Brooke ** 11:53
My former husband worked for drain plumbing company that went around and did a lot of those installations of sump pumps and it was, like, a couple of years he worked for them and that was basically what he did. And it took, yeah, that long to get them installed in that many houses. It was a long—and that wasn’t even just the recovery from the flood, but that was helping, you know, prevent it with things in the in the future. But yeah, a very long time. For sure.

**Colin ** 12:28
Yeah, so just to kind of dive right into it.

**Brooke ** 12:30
Yes please!

**Colin ** 12:31
The first step in trying to prepare yourself a little bit better than you are is to just walk around the house and take a quick assessment of sort of where and how water can get in. Four big ones: the obvious one is rain. Things like, make sure your roof is intact, make sure your gutters work.

**Brooke ** 12:55
Windows? Doors?

**Colin ** 12:55
Windows, doors, but they’re usually fine. Water hits those and runs off, and if water is trying to come in your door, you’re already—it’s already too late. Then surface water this is things like grading around the house to make sure that the water doesn’t get too close, and any water that does get close goes away. After that is below grade water, so this is, you know, what you’re talking about, where the ground was so saturated the pressure of the water in the ground pushing against foundations damaged the foundations. And then you also mentioned the last one which is one that gets overlooked which is burst pipes. You have water in your house all the time, it’s just normally it stays inside the pipes where it belongs, until those pipes freeze, and then it ends up places that you really don’t want it.

**Brooke ** 13:44
Yeah. Can the pipes break from flooding, like that water pressure that damaged foundations, I imagine that could also damage then piping—pipe systems.

**Colin ** 13:59
Yes. When the ground gets soft and has more flexibility in it—usually not just the water in the ground itself, but because the ground is softer—if you live in an area that has lots of hills, you end up with a higher risk of landslides and things shifting and that will definitely break water mains.

**Brooke ** 14:17
Okay.

**Colin ** 14:17
That happens a lot in California.

**Brooke ** 14:20
Okay.

**Colin ** 14:20
Where you get—you get heavy rain combined with landslide and now you have additional, either just people not having water because the mains are broken, or you have the mains flooding a section of a town because there’s spewing water out.

**Brooke ** 14:35
Yeah, it’s not just the dirt that moved, it’s all the shit that’s in the dirt, like the pipes! [Laughing]

**Colin ** 14:43
And that’s another thing complicating factor with floods is that usually flooding is not a disaster that happens by itself. It comes with loss of electricity, loss of water, loss of gas, because all these things are buried in the ground.

**Brooke ** 14:58
Yeah. Okay, now, you must and floods and we have said this several times on this podcast and we’ll say it many more: don’t go into the water. If it’s flooding, stay out of the floodwater.

**Brooke ** 15:09
I’m glad to hear that your puppy is joining us again on this episode.

**Colin ** 15:09
Yes, that was my very first point before we even got into talking about any of the, you know, how to deal with things like rain surface water is, like I said before, you know, when you’re in a disaster, there’s always a way that you can make it worse. So don’t don’t get sick and don’t get hurt. Floodwater is full of mud, trash, sewage. It’s usually cloudy and turbid, so you can’t see what’s down there. The risk of you stepping on something or kicking something is really high. So just don’t go into it if you don’t have to. And if you have to wear rubber gloves, wear boots, try to keep it off your skin as much as you possibly can. Most people probably have some kind of rubber boots in their home, I would hope. If you don’t, they’re cheap, I’d recommend keeping a pair around. The one thing that people probably don’t think about is rubber gloves—even dishwashing gloves are fine for keeping the water away from your skin, but they’re not very sturdy. So if you’re doing work in floodwater, put on rubber gloves, and then put on some kind of regular work glove overtop of that to protect the rubber, and make sure that barrier stays intact. Just the inexpensive knit work gloves from like Harbor Freight or something like that, that are $1 a piece. It’s all you need. All you’re trying to do is keep that robber from getting cut by sharp things in the water when you’re handling them. [Dog barking]

**Colin ** 16:40
Yes. There’s somebody outside that doesn’t belong there, clearly. It’s probably the mailman

**Brooke ** 16:46
That’s all right. We are dog friendly on this podcast.

**Colin ** 16:51
Okay, so, rain is probably the easiest one to keep out of the house. It’s the one that everybody is aware is a problem because you see on a fairly regular basis. And for the most part, it’s not that hard. You know, it’s, make sure that there’s no holes in your roof, make sure your gutters actually drain the way they’re supposed to and don’t get clogged. And the one part that people occasionally overlook is: make sure that your downspouts discharge far enough away from the house. You’re not pumping water back in against the foundation.

**Brooke ** 17:23
Yes,

**Colin ** 17:25
I work in houses all the time, I see the downspout that comes straight down off the roof and dumps on to the ground six inches away from the wall. And just like, that’s just going to end up straight in the basement. So.

**Colin ** 17:37
Yeah.

**Colin ** 17:38
This is something—a lot of the things I’m gonna talk about, you really kind of need to be the homeowner to do, but moving downspout discharge further away from the walls, even if you’re gonna rental, that’s something you can do. Get a piece of plastic pipe, anything to just move it as far from the house as you possibly can.

**Brooke ** 17:56
Yeah. That’s a cheap, that’s a cheap and fairly quick fix that can make a world of difference. And even if you don’t have a basement, just the water pouring into the foundation at one consistent spot over and over and over again can, you know, damage that part of it and cause a much bigger problem.

**Colin ** 18:17
And the biggest one, if you are the homeowner, is take a look at the grading around your house. This is something that, at least in the area that I am, I would say 75–90% of the houses that I see have inadequate drainage. You’re supposed to have ideally 10 inches of fall in the first 10 feet away from the house. Six inches is the bare minimum, but 10 is a lot better. In most cases I see no fall at all, or even the yard slipping back in towards the house. When you have that means that any water that lands in the yard is gonna try to come into the house. It doesn’t take a whole lot of elevation change to really dry out a basement.

**Brooke ** 19:08
So those who aren’t construction nerds like the two of us, when when Colin’s talking about grading here he’s talking about the incline or decline, the direction that the ground is going towards the house, away from the house. That’s what "grading" means. Just in case somebody needs that.

**Colin ** 19:24
Yes, you are 100% correct. This is a thing that is—it’s labor intensive, but it’s actually fairly cheap. I don’t know what dirt costs on average across the country, but where I am it’s around $50 per ton for just—you don’t need topsoil, it doesn’t need to be good quality. It just needs to be dirt, and does not require any skill at all. If you can wield a shovel, you can fix the grading around your house.

**Brooke ** 19:58
How would they check the grading, Colin?

**Colin ** 19:59
For that you need a level—it can tell you, you know, when something is level. If you own a cell phone, you already have one, because cell phones have accelerometers in them that can tell the phone which position it’s in. That’s how it knows how to change your screen from one orientation to the other when you move the phone. So there—are there are apps that are just a visualization of a physical bubble level. All it’s doing is telling you, you know, how tilted is the phone? They’re not the most accurate thing in the world, but for grading dirt, we’re not going for high precision, you just need to know more or less where level is.

**Brooke ** 20:37
Yeah, okay. All right. So you mentioned like buying dirt. So if people have a spot in the yard that’s higher than the where the foundation is, are you—are you saying they should put dirt between the high spot in the house to make it level? Or go the other way? Are there other ways to solve it? Sorry to get so pedantic.

**Colin ** 20:58
No, no, it’s a very good question. And that’s why the rule of like, you know, 10 inches in the first 10 feet or 6 inches in the first 10 feet, if you can’t manage that, is a rule of thumb. But you kind of have to look at your yard. And unless you have a perfectly flat manicured yard, you’ve got humps here and there and some parts are higher than the other. Having one or two high spots near the house, not really a big deal, as long as the water is generally going to go away from the house. And this is one of those things that you kind of just have to look at it and eyeball where downhill is. If nothing else, you know, you can take a five gallon bucket of water, dump it on the ground, and see where it goes. If it heads towards the house, hat’s bad. If it heads parallel to the house and kind of away from the house, that’s probably fine.

**Brooke ** 21:53
Yeah. Okay, so solution might be taking away dirt. You might buy dirt to regrade, or you might need to dig out some dirt and haul it some place.

**Colin ** 22:03
You can have a very, you know, lumpy yard, you can move dirt around. Really what you want is just to pay attention to that 10 feet immediately around the house. And make sure that’s as high as you can possibly get it. If you can’t get it high enough, there are other options like French drains and building drainage swales and berms. Those get more complicated. They’re still well within the capability of the average homeowner, but you kind of need to see a demonstration of it. So that’s what YouTube is for.

**Brooke ** 22:36
Got it. Okay, sorry to spend so much time on that.

**Colin ** 22:38
Those are fantastic questions. I can go on and on about drainage swales for the rest of the hour, but—

**Brooke ** 22:43
[Laughing] Yeah, how about we not. Now tell me about some other ways to keep the water out.

**Colin ** 22:52
Okay, so the one that everybody knows about and has seen and news and movies are sandbags. And they’re okay in some situations. But the problem with them is that sandbags leak.

**Brooke ** 23:09
Yeah.

**Colin ** 23:10
So no matter how good your sandbag wall is, it’s not going to stop the water, it’s just going to slow it down. And once the water is on the wrong side of your wall, now you have to get it back out. And that means using a pump of some kind. And as we’ve already said, if you’re in a flooding situation, there’s a good chance that you’re going to lose power. So relying on any kind of active pump to keep your house and your basement dry is not ideal. So your comment about people having sump pumps in their basement, that’s fantastic for average storms and normal amounts of rainfall where you just have a trickle of water coming into the basement and nothing is really going that wrong. But when you get to the point where, you have, water sheeting across the ground several inches deep, lots of water coming into the house, most sump pumps aren’t going to be able to keep up with that in the first place. And even if they are, the risk of you losing power at some point and now you have water in the basement is too high. So that’s why I’d normally recommend, if you can do it, do it with grading, do it with dirt. Keep the water from ever getting close enough to the house to be a problem. Don’t rely on being able to block it with things like sandbags.

**Brooke ** 24:30
Yeah, okay. That makes a lot of sense. So should people not use sandbags or just…?

**Colin ** 24:37
Oh, no, they’re fantastic when you have, you know, things like hurricanes where you have a lot of water coming in a hurry, and you’re just trying to keep the entire house from going underwater. Or if you have an area where you have water sheeting across the yard towards the house and overall your drainage is fine, ou just need to deflect the a little bit. So you can build temporary wall of sandbags just to kind of get the water pointed in a better direction. Relying on them to actually totally barricade the house is not going to work.

**Brooke ** 25:12
Make sense? So this there’s some limitations.

**Colin ** 25:14
Yeah, the last one that almost nobody thinks about is what’s called backflow prevention. And this refers to the sewer line that, ideally, you want your poo to go into the sewer and away from the house and not come back.

**Brooke ** 25:34
Always.

**Colin ** 25:35
When the poop comes back, you’re gonna have a bad day.

**Brooke ** 25:40
I want that on a sweatshirt now. Whoever’s listening, somebody make us a sweatshirt design—a tshirt or something with that. I want that. When the poo comes back, you’re gonna have a bad day. Okay.

**Colin ** 25:54
This is something that, if you live in an area, if you’re in a floodplain, if you have a high water table, where there’s a risk that the sewer system is going to flood at the same time as the ground floods, look into this. It’s a very complicated topic, and I am definitely not qualified to talk about it. This is the thing that, you know, you need a PhD to understand the exact, you know, flow of everything. The poo flow It’s very complicated. It’s not that expensive, but beyond what a homeowner can do by themselves.

**Brooke ** 26:31
Do homeschool you have some kind of backflow prevention, or is that not common?

**Colin ** 26:35
It depends. If your house is older than I’m gonna say 50 years old, it’s very, very unlikely that you have it if you haven’t installed it yourself. In Pittsburgh where I am, we have what’s called a combined flow sewer system. Which means the sanitary sewer from your toilet and the storm sewer from the drains in the street all go into the same set of pipes.

**Brooke ** 27:04
Okay, yes, so do mine.

**Colin ** 27:05
Yeah, it’s, again, not uncommon in older systems. But it means that every time you get heavy rainfall, all that water has to go into the sewers, and it overloads them. So in Pittsburgh, every time we get more than about a half inch of rain, we just end up with sewage flowing straight into the rivers and they put out an alert, you know, don’t go into the rivers for a couple days until everything has a chance to clear out. But when you do that, it also means that the risk that you’re going to overflow the sewer and cause backflow into houses that are lower down on the sewer system goes up. So if you happen to be one of those houses, look into getting a backflow valve installed on the sewer where it leaves the house so that the poo stays on the correct side.

**Colin ** 27:52
So once the water gets in, the first thing to know is you’re probably not going to get it back out by hand. I have occasionally seen advertisements for the little tiny, like, siphon hand pumps at Home Depot, the other big box stores, advertising: you can use this to pump out your basement. No. Just no.

**Brooke ** 27:52
Yeah, geez louise. The shit we do to our rivers. [Laughing] Alright, so keeping the water out, check. We’ve got some methods for that. Okay, what about after the water gets in.

**Brooke ** 28:29
Why not?

**Colin ** 28:31
Water weighs—I’m gonna say 64 pounds per cubic foot.

**Brooke ** 28:37
7 pounds a gallon, roughly.

**Colin ** 28:37
Yeah, 7 pounds a gallon. And if you have even a small house, say like 20 by 30, and you got a foot of water in your basement, that’s something like 19 tons of water—

**Brooke ** 28:38
Oh my gosh, wow.

**Colin ** 28:50
—that you have to lift up 6 or 8 feet to get it high enough that it’s above ground, and then move it out of the house.

**Brooke ** 29:03
Okay.

**Colin ** 29:04
You’re not doing that by hand. There are—there are really big pumps that are designed for places where there’s no power and you have to get water out of mines and things like that. They work very well. They’re also I want to say between $5,000 and $10,000.

**Brooke ** 29:20
Oh my gosh.

**Colin ** 29:21
So you’re…

**Colin ** 29:24
Not practical. So sump pumps: fantastic as long as you have electricity, but if you don’t have electricity, you’re gonna be in trouble. You’re probably going to have to wait until the water level goes down and it’s able to drain back out on its own. So you’re not gonna be cleaning up 3 feet of water in the basement. You’re going to be dealing with the last inch or two that doesn’t make it over to the drains and out of the house on its own. So for that your two best weapons are honestly a good old fashioned floor squeegee, and a wet/dry vacuum with what’s called a dust separator. It looks kind of like a 5 gallon bucket with a cone on top of it. And it works by pulling the air into the cone and spinning it like a cyclone. So all the water gets flung to the outside, the air goes up the center and the water falls down into the bucket. The advantage of those is you can work kind of like a bucket brigade, because it’s just a lid that goes on top of a five gallon bucket and that way your shop vac never fills up.

**Brooke ** 29:24
Not practical.

**Brooke ** 30:40
Oh! I was just picturing using my shop vac for this because I know it can do water. And then it’s like, oh yeah, and then we’re talking about the weight of water just now. I have to stop, unclick the lid, you know, take it out or hand it out or whatever, wait for them to go dump it, bring it back in, put the lid back on. So, but man, something that attaches to a 5 gallon bucket which is like such a common thing to have around. That’s awesome.

**Colin ** 31:02
The first time I saw one of those it was revelation. I was like, oh my god, I need one of these. And then, yeah, it means you have, you know, one person vacuuming, filling buckets, and the other person running them outside and dumping them. It dramatically speeds up the process. And they’re—I wanna say they’re between $20 and $50 depending on where you get them and what the exact design is. You don’t need anything super high quality, all you need is a way to separate the water and the air so that you can get the water back out of the house as quickly as possible. And then the floors for squeegee can move a lot of water in a hurry, assuming you have a working for drain. And also really good for getting mud moved around because it kind of scrapes the floor as it goes. Again, that’s the thing that is not very expensive.

**Brooke ** 31:51
Yeah. Cool. I was just just—for price purposes, I just quickly looked on like Amazon for—and it looks like the— no sorry, not the squeegees, but the cyclone dust thing is maybe starting about 50 bucks and going up from there.

**Colin ** 32:06
Okay, they’ve gone up a little bit since I bought mine.

**Brooke ** 32:07
Yeah.

**Colin ** 32:08
It was a few years ago.

**Brooke ** 32:09
Yeah, if you’re doing some community emergency preparedness, and if you work with friends or whatever to collect and have some of these tools—I’m trying to do more of that in my own life so that we don’t all own every single tool you might need. Might be a good one to go in on together and, you know, somebody stores or keeps track of it or whatever.

**Colin ** 32:30
Yeah, definitely. And a lot of the preparation for construction-related disasters is tool and equipment heavy. And there’s no reason for everybody in your social circle to have duplicates of all the tools, because you’re also going to need lots of hands helping out. So as long as one person has the tool that you need, everybody has access to it.

**Brooke ** 32:56
Okay, awesome. I’m just adding one of those to my wish list now to look at some more later. Okay, so that’s some of the ways we get the water out of that. And I assume that, like, if you’re in a basement, and you’ve got stuff in your basement, you probably want to like get your shit out of the basement and then start attacking the water, right? Like get your belongings to dry ground before you do that, or, you tell me.

**Colin ** 33:24
Um. It depends on sort of, you know, do you have a place to put all of your belongings or are you going to need to move them out into the front yard once the rain stops? So it’s kind of a judgment call as to whether you can deal with water first or get your belongings out of the house first. It’s whatever you have time and space and energy to do. As long as you are making progress on one of the fronts, it’s all going to have to happen at some point in the next, you know, 24 to 48 hours. The exact order that things happen doesn’t matter all that much.

**Brooke ** 34:03
Nobody’s sleeping for a little while after the disaster, and that’s okay.

**Colin ** 34:06
Yes.

**Brooke ** 34:06
I mean, it sucks, but.

**Colin ** 34:10
So yeah, that is the next point is dealing with all your belongings. And step one is just separate the wet and dry things. Anything that has managed to avoid the water, get it out of the basement and get it out of that damp room as fast as you possibly can. Because once things get wet, your next big issue is going to be mold. Even if you have things sitting in the basement that didn’t get wet with the floodwater, they’re now in a damp space that has been contaminated with all sorts of wonderful biological material for mold to grow in, and basements tend not to be the best ventilated places in the house.

**Brooke ** 34:53
Yeah.

**Colin ** 34:54
And your mold spores are everywhere all the time. You can’t avoid them. All you can do is try to make a environment that mold does not like to grow in. And once the house has been flooded, mold becomes very, very, very happy.

**Brooke ** 35:09
Okay. Yeah, a lot of moisture.

**Colin ** 35:12
So get everything out of the basement, dry things can go upstairs, wet things need to be moved someplace away from the dry things so that they don’t contaminate those as well. So if it’s—ifyou have things that are totally soaked, furniture, carpet, things like that, they’re not going to get any worse by just chucking them into the front yard. So you can put down a tarp to keep them out of the mud. But once they’ve been soaked, the damage has already been done, just get them out of the house, that’s easier. Throw a tarp over it to, you know, keep the worst of the weather off. But your big concern is getting the space emptied out. And also, mold does not like UV radiation, and we have a great source of radiation outside in the form of the sun.

**Brooke ** 36:04
Hey!

**Colin ** 36:04
So just parking things out in bright light is going to help slow down that mold.

**Brooke ** 36:08
Yeah. And so even if you’ve got an apartment or what have you, you know, if you can put things out on a porch. If you’ve got things that are really soaked, you could take them into the bathroom and you can put things in the in the tub or the shower. And, just as the initial, like, letting some of that water run off, while you then go deal with other issues, or sending them in a sink—not for long term but, like, short term places to stick things if it’s still raining outside and you’ve got wet stuff.

**Colin ** 36:38
Yeah, put them someplace where they can drain and start to dry out a little bit. Your most important thing is keep the airflow going. Because if you’ve got good airflow, that’s going to slow down the growth of mold.

**Brooke ** 36:52
And even cold air flow, right? Like—

**Colin ** 36:54
Even cold air flow.

**Brooke ** 36:55
—blowing a fan even if it’s, yeah, okay.

**Brooke ** 36:57
Okay, but what about if it was like brief flooding in your carpet—like this is not quite we’re talking about, but if a pipe burst—a waterline burst in my basement and gets everything wet? I get that turned off and dried back out.

**Colin ** 36:57
So once you have your belongings out, take a look at the walls and flooring. And pretty much anything that is wet and porous, like drywall or carpet pads., if it’s wet and porous, it’s probably trash. It’s not in most cases worth salvaging carpet that has been totally saturated with floodwater because you’re never going to get the mud and all the sewage back out of that carpet. Now you have your antique oriental rug, that can be salvaged. But just regular old wall to wall carpet and the padding behind it, it’s going to be cheaper to replace that than it is to try to salvage it.

**Colin ** 37:56
Yeah, that is salvageable. For that you don’t need to trash it. I was thinking more along the lines of, you know, muddy, sewage filled water in your basement. But no, if you just have—if you have clean water on a carpet, as long as you can get it dried out before the mold starts, you’ll be fine.

**Brooke ** 38:13
Okay.

**Colin ** 38:13
And again, this is where that shopvac and the dust separator really shine, because you can suck the water out of the carpet. And that means there’s a whole lot less work for the fans and the dehumidifier to do to try to get that carpet dried back out before the mold starts.

**Brooke ** 38:30
Okay. So the type of water matters a lot. Like if you’re basement window, the seal breaks and you’ve got maybe your downspout water is going into the basement. That might be salvageable, again, if you don’t have mold and stuff, right?

**Colin ** 38:45
Right. If it’s clean water and you can get it dried out, you’re fine. But once it has been contaminated with groundwater, think long and hard about how important it is to salvage it. Because, again, once you have stuff like sewage and mud into the carpet and into the backing, the odds that you will develop mold problem later on if it gets wet again are significantly higher, because now you have all that food for the mold to grow on.

**Brooke ** 39:14
Yeah, and then that mold of course, you know, ongoing health issues can be caused, you know, mold sucks. But yeah, it’s not just that mold sucks and it’s gross and smelly. It’s like literally bad for you.

**Colin ** 39:31
You’re two best weapons, in addition to air and light, are honestly vinegar and borax. Both of which are available at pretty much any grocery store. They both work by the same mechanism but at opposite ends of the spectrum. Mold needs a certain pH to be able to grow. Believe it’s between 4 and 8. But it can go as far as between like 3 and 9. And vinegar is just outside that range on the acidic end, and Borax is just outside it on the basic end.

**Brooke ** 40:10
So I should pour vinegar on my carpet,

**Brooke ** 40:12
Oh, okay.

**Colin ** 40:12
You can do that.

**Colin ** 40:13
Yeah, just use full strength vinegar, put it in a sprayer or, you know, slosh it around, you know, spread it out the squeegee. But if you—

**Brooke ** 40:21
Full strength do you mean the normal, like 5%, white vinegar at the store?

**Colin ** 40:25
5%, yeah.

**Brooke ** 40:25
Okay, because you can buy, in case folks don’t know this, 10%, 20%, 30% vinegar at department stores that works well as a weed killer.

**Colin ** 40:35
Yeah, that’s actually what I keep around for cleaning because it takes up less space, and if you have the 30% vinegar, you just dilute it with water to get it back down to 5%. And now you have—

**Brooke ** 40:45
Just don’t spill it on your skin.

**Colin ** 40:47
Yes.

**Brooke ** 40:48
I’ve done that.

**Colin ** 40:49
Coming back to the safety issue. You do not—like, even regular strength vinegar, I’ve used for cleaning walls in a basement before and walked back into the room after I had a chance to off gas a little bit and walk right back out again because I couldn’t breathe. Vinegar is pretty safe, but it’s still an acid and your lungs don’t like breathing it. So open the windows, wear gloves, keep it off your skin, and by all means keep it out of your eyes. Same is true for borax. As chemicals go, they’re pretty safe, but you still don’t want them in your eyes. Safety glasses, chemical goggles if you have them. Again, Harbor Freight, 2 bucks for a pair of inexpensive plastic goggles is all you need.

**Brooke ** 41:39
Hopefully at this point, a lot of us have respirators, you know, post COVID and protests and whatever. You probably don’t need to go that hard, but you can, right?

**Colin ** 41:51
Correct.

**Brooke ** 41:52
Yeah.

**Colin ** 41:53
So it’s just the full strength vinegar, the 5%, on anything that is going to take a long time to dry out or you don’t have time to deal with. So if you have a pile of soggy bedding, and your washing machine doesn’t work because you don’t have power, just go ahead and dump vinegar all over that. Vinegar is fine for most fabrics. And as long as it’s acidic, as long as the clothing is too acidic for mold to grow, it can sit there for a week and it’ll be probably fine.

**Brooke ** 42:26
So you could like, put them in your sink, stopper it, and pour some vinegar over the top of the bedding or the clothes or whatever it is that you need to soak. Do they need to be like, do they just need to be damp with the vinegar, or do they need to like sit in vinegar?

**Colin ** 42:40
It depends on what you’re trying to do. Vinegar will kill mold, but it takes a long time as chemical methods of killing mold goes. You figure, most people know, like, bleach will kill mold in a couple minutes. Full strength vinegar can take an hour or more depending on the surface. So if you’re using it to disinfect a surface, it needs to stay on there for a long time. Usually with fabric if you just dunk it in vinegar and hang it up to dry, by the time the fabric is dry, the vinegar has been on there long enough that anything that was on there is now dead. So even if your clothes aren’t clean, dunk it in vinegar, hang it up outside on a clothesline, let it dry, and the vinegar will keep any mold from developing in the time that it takes the clothing to dry.

**Brooke ** 43:32
If bleach is so much faster and more effective, why not use bleach to clean the walls, clean the carpets, all of that kind of stuff.

**Colin ** 43:42
You can do that. Bleach, as everybody knows, is a little more dangerous. Not good to get on your skin. Not good to breathe. And bleach bleaches things. So if you use chlorine bleach on your, you know, vintage clothing, you’re going to be in the market for some new vintage clothing.

**Brooke ** 44:05
Yeah, okay.

**Colin ** 44:06
Vinegar is—if you read online, there are articles of clothing and fabric that you’re not supposed to use vinegar on. But I can attest to the fact that you can get away with using it on pretty much anything, including—the friend of mine that I’ve mentioned, I think last time, that had the apartment fire was using vinegar to clean a lot of like vintage suede. And it wasn’t happy about it, but it survived and it came through it.

**Brooke ** 44:37
So you can use bleach, it just comes with more caveats and dangers and you’re less likely to maybe screw something up if you’re using vinegar as your agent.

**Colin ** 44:47
Right.

**Brooke ** 44:47
It sounds—that’s what I’m hearing, is that accurate?

**Colin ** 44:49
Bleach will definitely work. Vinegar is nice because almost everything, you can just dunk it in vinegar and let it dry and it’s not going to do that much damage to it. I used it on furniture, leather clothing, silk, everything. Even things that you’re like, oh this should be dry cleaned only. Eh, vinegar is generally okay. It’s not gonna love it but it’ll be fine.

**Brooke ** 44:51
[Laughing] Gotcha.

**Colin ** 44:52
Borax is, you know, you’ve probably seen it in your grandmother’s basement as a laundry booster. Borax is a—

**Brooke ** 45:27
White powder

**Colin ** 45:28
Yeah, white powder, sodium metaborate, I think? It’s a caustic alkaline salt. So it has the advantage of being persistent where vinegar is not. So once the vinegar dries out, it’s gone. Which is nice because your clothes will not smell like vinegar forever, you know, after a week or two, the smell totally goes away. Borax, it’s like table salt. Once it dries out, you’re left with a white powder on everything.

**Colin ** 46:00
Which is probably not what you want for all of your possessions because you don’t want them covered and white powder. The advantage it has is that it does stay around. So if you are trying to get mold off of the walls and the joists in your basement, if you spray them with borax, once the water dries that powder is still going to be there and it’s still going to prevent mold from growing. So the borax, once you put it down, will continue working until you clean it up. Yeah, so if you have a basement that has a major mold problem, just coat everything with borax, you can leave it on, there even when you put drywall and insulation everything back up, it’s not going to hurt anything.

**Brooke ** 46:00
Okay.

**Brooke ** 46:42
Okay. You’re wet clothing that’s at risk of molding. Can you dust that with borax? Does that work?

**Colin ** 46:47
You can. That would work just fine if you happen to have borax not vinegar. So the vinegar I like just because it doesn’t leave a residue on things. You can use it on everything. So when you have a giant pile of belongings, of some clothing, some furniture, or some antiques, just hose everything down with vinegar and sort it out later.

**Brooke ** 47:08
Yeah, I was imagining a circumstance where it’s, you know, I can’t get to the store, the store is out of things, and I have half a gallon of vinegar and half a jar of borax and, you know, Dollar Store tiny container of bleach and, you know, what can I use where and what can’t I use where and how would I spread out what I have available?

**Brooke ** 47:30
Why not? Sounds like fun!

**Colin ** 47:30
You should not mix the vinegar and the bleach, that’s the first thing. [Laughing]

**Colin ** 47:35
For some definition of the word fun, yeah. It’s exciting. In general, don’t mix anything with bleach because bleach is a sodium hypochlorite I believe is the chemical? There’s different versions of it. But anyway, it contains chlorine. And when that chlorine breaks three of the things that are holding it to the rest of the molecule, you now have chlorine gas in your house, and that makes it really hard to breathe, and it’s a good way to put yourself in the hospital. So if you’re going to use bleach, do not use anything else. Vinegar and borax, they can actually be mixed. If you do that, the downside is that because vinegar is acidic, and borax is alkaline, you pull the pH a little bit closer to the center and it’s not going to be as effective against mold. But then when the vinegar disappears and evaporates, the borax will still be there to help prevent the mold from coming back. So there’s no harm in mixing them. And a lot of websites that talk about mold cleanup will actually recommend it because the Borax is persistent and the vinegar will generally be enough to kill them all quickly and the borax keeps it from coming back. But for the purposes of just trying to inhibit low growth immediately after the flooding event, either one is fine. You don’t need to mix them to get the best effect and you’ll be able to cover more of your possessions if you’re not using both products on everything. So vinegar on some, borax and others, there’s no reason to hit them double strength.

**Brooke ** 49:18
Right. Yeah, so I’m imagining, like, I might bleach spray the walls, dust some powdered borax on the carpet, soak the clothes and vinegar. Again, this is like, if I don’t have enough of one thing or a couple things to do everything that needs to get done, you know, what benefits the most from each thing or how can I use each one individually most effectively. But yeah, very good, important thing about mixing chemicals. There’s another one too I think ammonia and bleach you’re not supposed to mix, it also has a bad chemical…? Yeah.

**Colin ** 49:48
Ammonia and bleach does the same thing. It’s still—the chlorine is the ones gonna get you. Chlorine gas is nasty nasty stuff.

**Brooke ** 49:54
Seems like they use that at one point and like did bad things to people with it.

**Colin ** 49:58
Yeah, yeah, we don’t like chlorine gas. It’s not fun.

**Brooke ** 50:01
Yeah, I’m not a history person but boy, that sounds familiar.

**Colin ** 50:04
Speaking of gases, one of the things that people may see, as far as mold abatement goes, is the use of ozone.

**Colin ** 50:12
And I have used that. I actually have an ozone generator, and it does a fantastic job of getting rid of the, you know, the few mold spores that are in places where you can’t get to them. But I will say, in general, for anybody listening to this, don’t bother.

**Brooke ** 50:12
Oh, uh huh.

**Colin ** 50:30
Oh, okay.

**Colin ** 50:30
The ozone generators that you can afford are not going to be big enough and powerful enough to take care of like an entire room. And ozone is maybe not quite as bad as chlorine gas, but it is still a nasty toxic gas. And it can cause both you and your possessions serious harm. The reason it works is because it has—it’s O3, so it has an extra oxygen atom or molecule—attached the molecule. That makes it very, very active, and it tries to oxidize everything that it comes in contact with. Which if it’s coming in contact with mold that you want to kill, that’s fantastic. If it’s oxidizing all of the plastics and all of your synthetic fabrics and turning them into, you know, various nasty compounds like formaldehyde, that’s not so good. And I’ve read horror stories about people getting, you know, small ozone generators off Amazon and saying, well, you know, this is not powerful enough to get the levels up high enough in an hour, so I’ll just let it run for three days.

**Brooke ** 51:41
[Laughing] That’s three days, that’s not an hour.

**Colin ** 51:45
Yeah, when you do that, it’s sort of like the difference between baking something in the oven at 150 degrees for 8 hours versus searing a steak at 500 degrees for 5 minutes. They do very different things. And letting everything just kind of stew in ozone for a very long time is not a good idea. You do not want to do that. And I would just say steer clear of those. Leave that to the professionals. Save your money. Buy more vinegar and borax.

**Brooke ** 52:19
Okay, that’s good to know. And if you want to learn more about chemical combinations, I created a board game for children. That’s totally an aside thing. Okay, I want to go back to one thing here and I’m sorry, I’m risking going long, but um, we talked about removing like walls and carpet and I sidetracked us and talking a lot about carpet. You mentioned briefly about, like, taking out what drywall material, right, if there’s water damage. And with the carpet I had asked about like freshwater versus, you know, sewage water. Does the same thing go for removing walls? Like if I have a pipe burst and it’s, you know, just fresh water that person got the walls wet. Can they be recovered? Or is that a situation where, sorry, it got wet, you pretty much got to take it out? Um, I don’t know I’m asking.

**Colin ** 53:12
It depends on how wet it got. If it’s just a pipe that burst in the ceiling and it sprayed a little bit of water on the wall, that’s probably fine. That’s salvageable. If you have a pipe burst inside the wall and it saturated all the insulation and soak the drywall through, that needs to come out. Not because the water is necessarily going to damage the drywall, but now you have created a damp space with no airflow inside the wall. And if you can’t get that opened up and dry it out, you’re going to end up with mold.

**Brooke ** 53:45
Can you dry out insulation? Like if you take out a piece of wet insulation and put a fan on it and dry it out, can you put it back in or does it get ruined?

**Colin ** 53:56
With fiberglass insulation, you could do it but there’s no reason to.

**Brooke ** 54:02
Okay.

**Colin ** 54:02
The cost of replacing the insulation is going to be less than probably the cost of trying to get it dried back out and salvageable.

**Brooke ** 54:11
Okay. Okay.

**Colin ** 54:13
And a lot of houses have insulation that has already been contaminated somewhat with mold over the years. Usually when insulation comes out of walls, it’s not perfectly clean. It already has some mold and things in it just because temperature fluctuations, you know, that’s why you have the insulation there is to help slow down the temperature changes. But that means that the insulation is constantly going up and down in temperature. It has a small amount of condensation in it. Over time, little bits of organic matter and mold start to grow on it. It’s not a huge problem until it gets soaked and now it takes off. So basically once installation gets wet, it’s trash. And along those lines with drywall, another thing that I’ve seen a lot in basements that have had some water damage is either the homeowner or the contractor that they paid to do the recovery was trying to be as…

**Brooke ** 55:12
Cost efficient?

**Colin ** 55:13
Cost efficient, yes, that’s a good way of putting it, as possible. Fake cost efficiency. And they pull out the bare minimum of insulation and drywall, basically the only things that came in direct contact with water, and they put new drywall back up, and six months later you have a mold problem, because there was still moisture higher up in the wall that was not addressed. So once a wall gets wet, you want to remove the drywall to, I’m gonna say, a good foot or more above the waterline at minimum. If you want to take out the entire wall, that’s probably overkill but it’s not the worst idea. But, you know, minimum of a foot above the waterline. And then for any insulation in the wall, reach your arm or up inside the bay as far as you can and get out anything you can possibly reach. The more space and the more airflow you get inside that wall, the better off you’re going to be in the long run. And coming back to the borax, if there’s any doubt about whether or not you’ve gotten anything, hose some borax water up inside there, let that dry out, and now you have something that’s going to inhibit mold growing in that space for the remainder of the life of the house.

**Brooke ** 56:34
Okay, now I know this is going to be probably beyond the average homeowner’s ability to to judge, but what about the framing, the studs, you know, the the wood that’s in the walls that your your drywall is attached to and your insulation runs between? Any tips on being able to tell whether or not that needs to be replaced? Or is it just a, sorry, you got to call a contractor at that point to figure out if that needs to get redone.

**Colin ** 57:04
It’s probably going to be fine. I’m sure there are exceptions. But, you know, wood is used to being outside. And as long as it has a chance to dry back out after it’s gotten wet, it’ll be fine. If it’s sitting in water for weeks or months, you may have an issue. Your biggest problem honestly, with wet wood, is that it attracts termites. So you don’t want to have damp wood. But as long as it gets dried back out, again, not too much of an issue.

**Brooke ** 57:37
Okay, that’s really great. Okay, I feel like I am much better prepared to deal with flooding, hopefully make it happen, less things to look out for. And then definitely after it comes, knowing what I should do immediately and fairly quickly in that process. And that’s awesome. I like learning things. Is there anything more you want to say about dealing with flooding and/or water damage that we haven’t talked about?

**Colin ** 58:10
Oh, the one thing I didn’t didn’t get to was the burst pipe.

**Brooke ** 58:13
Sure.

**Colin ** 58:13
So let’s run through that real quickly.

**Brooke ** 58:15
Okay.

**Colin ** 58:15
This is something pretty much everybody’s gonna experience at some point in their life. I don’t know of anybody that has not had to deal with leaking pipe or burst pipe at some point, even if it’s not during a disaster. It’s just like, sometimes it just happens because pipes get old and they break. So we talked about, you know, in the triage episode, the know where your shut offs are, and hopefully you can just run them down to the basement and shut the water to the house off, and then you have as much time as you need to deal with the broken pipe. If that doesn’t happen, because you don’t have a working shut off or you can’t get to it, there are these brand of plumbing fittings called SharkBites which don’t require any real skill to use. Sort of like, if you are capable of using a can opener and putting a cork in a bottle of wine, you can use a SharkBite fitting. Go on YouTube, there’s good demonstrations of how to use them. And all you need is a set of cheap tubing cutters for cutting through the pipe, and either a valve or cap to go on the pipe after you cut it. I recommend, if you’re going to keep one thing around, keep the tubing cutter and a valve. Because if you have a valve, you can use that for capping off a pipe that is under pressure. So if you can’t shut the water off in your house, and you have a leaking pipe, you’re gonna have a mess on your hands. But what you can do is cut through the pipe, open it all the way up. Now you have a pipe spraying water everywhere, and if you try to put a cap on that, you’re fighting against the pressure and you can’t do it. But if you’ve a valve, you can put the valve onto the pipe in the open position. So the water just flows through the valve and you close the valve and the water stops.

**Brooke ** 1:00:10
But that’s—that whole set’s only going to be true if you have like a PVC or PEX pipe, right? If you have—

**Colin ** 1:00:17
No, they work against copper too.

**Brooke ** 1:00:20
Okay, but you need a different tool to cut—well I have like galvanized steel I think it is or, you know, much older pipes than that that are metal.

**Colin ** 1:00:29
Cast iron.

**Brooke ** 1:00:30
Yeah.

**Colin ** 1:00:31
That’s a different story. But if you have PEX or copper or PVC, the little cheap tubing cutters that will kind of like a C clamp with a little blade, and you just clamp it down and spin it in the circle until the blade cuts through, one of those and a 90 degree shut off valve is going to get you through a lot of problems because it works against pipes that have pressure in them. And again, there’s demonstrations of how to do this on YouTube. It’s kind of hard to explain an audio format. But once you see it, you’re like, oh, yeah, that’s really easy.

**Brooke ** 1:01:02
Yeah, I’m visualizing it really well, only because I’ve built water systems with PEX pipe, and I’ve used shark bites and all of that. So it’s clear to me, but no sense of if it translates if you don’t know that. But um, yeah, okay, that’s really great. But just the caveat, it doesn’t work on all types of pipes. Most types, apparently, I didn’t realize the copper also. So that’s pretty great.

**Colin ** 1:01:24
No, so yeah, it’s—watch the videos, familiarize yourself with how you do it beforehand so that you know what to do. But it’s really, really simple. And it’ll buy you plenty of time until the plumbers can come out and fix the right way.

**Brooke ** 1:01:38
Cool, great. And again, that’s only if you can’t get to the shutoff valve because that would be your first choice in handling that, is to get to the shutoff valve rather than trying to cap the pipe off flowing.

**Colin ** 1:01:49
Yeah, cutting into your plumbing is the last resort. Hopefully you can just turn it off, but…

**Brooke ** 1:01:54
[Laughing] Just wanted to make sure we say that one twice.

**Colin ** 1:01:59
[Laughing] Yeah, that should be the last resort, not the first resort. Excellent point.

**Brooke ** 1:02:04
Thanks. All right. Colin, thank you so much for joining us today. I have learned a bunch of stuff and I’ve had a really great conversation with you. And I’m so happy that you’re willing to do this with us again. Do you have anything that you want to plug or promote or otherwise share in closing?

**Colin ** 1:02:22
Nope, that’s it.

**Brooke ** 1:02:27
Okay, that’s it, folks. To our listeners, thanks so much for listening. If you enjoy our podcast, please share it. Feel free to drop a comment on any of our social media pages or Patreon account. We do read all of your comments and we talk about them collectively. And personally, I love engaging on these subjects further with you all when you reach out to me. I can be found on Mastodon @OgemakweBrooke, that’s Brooke with an E. This podcast is produced by the anarchists publishing collective, Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. We are on Twitter @tangledwild and also on Instagram. Plus, we have a rad website at tangledwilderness.org where you can find our extensive list of projects and publications. This podcast and much of the work of Strangers is made possible by our Patreon supporters. If you want to become a supporter, check out patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness. There are cool benefits at various support tiers on Patreon. For instance, if you support the collective at just $5 a month, we mail you a monthly zine. There are special Patreon supporters that support us at $20 or more a month and we give them a shout out and all of our podcasts and publications. So I want to say thanks to Eric, Julia, Patoli, Staro, Theo, Boise Mutual Aid, Princess Miranda, Jenipher, Micaiah, Dana, Buck, David, Janice & O’dell, Thunder, Percival, Lord Harken, Marm, Hunter, Milissia, Kirk, SJ, Anonymous, Chris, Nicole, Carson, Paige, Aly, CatGut, Trixter, Chelsea, paparouna, BenBen, and an always, Hoss the Dog.

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

S1E113 – Tyler on Dark Winter Concepts

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Margaret and Tyler from Dark Winter Concepts talk about homesteading, preparedness, prepper culture, and focus on inclusion of marginalized communities within these spaces.

Guest Info

Tyler (he/him) can be found on Instagram @Darkwinterconcepts

Host Info

Margaret (she/they) can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy or instagram at @margaretkilljoy.

Publisher Info

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

Transcript

Live Like the World is Dying: Tyler on Dark Winter Concepts

**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 today I have a guest on that I’m excited about. You might have been noticing that I haven’t been hosting as much and that’s because I burned out really hard. And not on this subject, but just in general. But I’m trying to get back into it. And part of the reason I’m getting back into it, I’ve been really excited to have Tyler on, who we’re going to be talking to in a minute, because I’m really excited about what’s going on in the preparedness space. And it’s rare that I get to bring someone on who’s just also in the preparedness space and has similar ideas. I think you all will be really excited. And so–well I was gonna say, "Without further ado," but there is more ado. This following ado is that we’re a proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchists podcasts. And here’s a jingle from another show on that network.

**Margaret ** 01:42
Okay, and we’re back. So if you could introduce yourself with your your name, your pronouns. And then I guess just a little quick introduction to what you do.

**Tyler ** 01:51
Yeah, so my name is Tyler. I am started a company called Dark Winter Concepts. Pronouns are he/him. Basically, what I have started doing is I noticed there was a huge void in the prepping homesteading space when it came to making it accessible to newcomers or anyone who’s just in a marginalized community. And it’s really just so, so important for me to take all the stuff that is natural to me, just from my upbringing, and just make it accessible to people who actually need it, the people who are under pressure in society already.

**Margaret ** 02:27
Hell yeah. Do you want to talk about. . . I have this question here of like, "What got you into it?" But you’ve already said it’s how you grew up. But do you want to talk about that a little bit more? Like what got you into preparedness and homesteading.

**Tyler ** 02:41
It’s kind of a funny story/full circle with the name. So I grew up in very rural Pennsylvania and grew up on a farm, but moved around a lot afterwards, working and all that sort of stuff. But then I was kind of coming into wanting to be able to use all the skills that I learned growing up. And then I had a weird gateway experience playing the video game The Division, where the idea of a personified trained individual could use their skills beyond just like, you know, tactical combat–all this sort of stuff–that could use all these technical engineering and other skills to maintain stability in communities after a disaster. And that checked a lot of boxes for me that a lot of other games of that type just really don’t. And so that kind of triggered an interest as kind of exploring, "Well, where, where could I be applying these skills? Like how could I be doing this?" And as time went on, I started to explore it more. And once we got out to West Virginia, where–I mean, losing access to resources is pretty common here anyways–it kind of just became a part of life. And then obviously, COVID happened, which, I mean, thankfully, we had kind of already started because that made it a good wake up call, but we were much less affected than a lot of folks were. But after that, we got serious about it and, you know, started developing those skills, had space to practice them and decided that, you know, someone with the privilege to have that space to practice skills, to try out things, that I should be using that privilege to share and to share that learning experience and failures–because there’s been plenty of those. But I just felt like with with the privilege that I had, it was really my responsibility to share as much knowledge of my own journey as I could.

**Margaret ** 04:36
Okay, so I find this really interesting. I really like…you know, framing it around as "having the privilege to have the space to try out these things," and it’s interesting to me because–I mean, obviously in preparedness space living rurally is generally looked positively upon. I actually don’t think there’s an intrinsic. . . It’s not necessarily better in rural or suburban or urban. I think they all have advantages and disadvantages. I clearly like rural. But the idea. . . I hadn’t heard of this phrasing before, thinking about it like "the privilege of the space to try things out," like, you mean in terms of how you can actually be like, "Oh, I want to try and build a thing. Well, no one’s gonna yell at me if I build this. I don’t have to go do it in the parking lot behind my apartment building." Is that kind of what you mean?

**Tyler ** 05:24
Oh, yeah, that, and then I mean, when you get down to things like learning fire starting, I can literally step outside my house and start a fire if I want. And that’s not. . . I don’t have to worry about a cop driving by. I don’t have to worry about upsetting neighbors. Like, I can just go do that. I can go walk out of my house and go into the woods and learn to forage and learn about the plants that are in my space. Just. . . Yeah, the ability to have space where I don’t have to plan a camping trip to go be outside in nature–which, I mean, is obviously part of my prepping, being in nature because this is where I’m located–but to have space to try out survivalist skills, to try construction skills, to, you know, do more defensively minded capabilities and practices on my own time and not have to arrange a range day or anything like that, it’s a privilege to have this much space. And it’s something that I’ve been trying to make the most of.

**Margaret ** 06:21
Now that makes sense. I think about. . . I sometimes get. . . I think everyone knows this. I’m also in West Virginia. It was actually part of why I was really excited to talk to you. But I tend to think about like what I currently don’t have access to, right? Like, I have access to space. And it’s really nice. And I actually need to remember to focus on that. I think about how I don’t have to plan to go learn camping things, I have to plan to buy anything I can’t get at Walmart, you know? [Tyler affirms] That’s the main downside I’ve run across. I mean, that said, I mean, I know where to buy gravel near me and if I lived in the city, I might not know where to buy gravel, but I wouldn’t need to buy gravel if I lived in a city, so. . .

**Tyler ** 07:09
Yeah. And I think that comes down to…like, when you live rurrally, yes, you do have space and space to cultivate your own resources, but you do have to really plan where you’re getting other resources from. And I mean, one of the biggest things for me is you have space but it’s harder to find people to connect with as a community. And that’s something that you have to be really diligent about because it is really easy to just stay out here in the woods and not go anywhere ever. But it is something obviously, as long term prepping plans, needs to involve other people at some point. So it is something you have to be really intentional about it. It’s not just going to happen very naturally.

**Margaret ** 07:54
You ever seen…you ever seen that show, is it called Doomsday Preppers or Preppers or Doomsday? That fucking reality TV show? Do you know I’m talking about?

**Tyler ** 08:03
Yeah, yeah.

**Margaret ** 08:05
There’s this thing that they always have in it–I mean, it’s basically a how to guide about how not to prep. At least the–I’ve watched like three episodes–but they all live in the suburbs of the city. And they’re all like, "This is my bugout plan. This is the property I’ve gone and bought in the backwoods," or whatever, you know? And it’s interesting to me, because I think about it–you mentioned the community thing–and I just think about how my current crisis plan involves leaving my rural space to go to a specific place to connect with specific people. And then, depending on the situation, come back here. Right? But it’s like, I have a get out of the rural area plan, you know? Because it’s like…well, I care about people, right?

**Tyler ** 08:56
Right. Yeah. And that’s, something we’ve talked about as well. Like, our main plan is for other people to come to us. Because I mean, even if we run out of space in the house, we have space for tents. We have space for people to sleep in their cars. Like that’s. . . We can can accommodate a lot of people. But there is absolutely contingencies for someone who may not be able to get out. Maybe we need to go and collect someone and their stuff and their pets or whatever. And that’s a huge consideration that you can’t leave for last minute. You don’t have to have a plan for it that everyone’s aware of.

**Margaret ** 09:34
Yeah. Okay, one of the things I wanted to ask you about: one of the one of the pieces of feedback I get or things that people are nervous about is people of different marginalizations talking about a fear of rural areas and rural living. And I actually think West Virginia has a particular reputation around this. Which is funny because from my point of view West Virginia is specifically the better Virginia in that it did not fight for the Confederacy, and that’s why West Virginia exists. But it’s not a utopian place in a lot of ways. And I can speak about gender, you know, and I can speak about my situation. But I have. . . You know, when my friends who are people of color, and especially a Black folks, are nervous around rural areas, I don’t know what to tell them. Because anything I say, is like, well, there’s, you know, Black people in the town nearby, but actually, where I live for example, a lot of Black people live in town and not as many Black people live out in the hills around the town, you know? And I wanted to ask you about your experience, both your experience living where you do and like what you would say to someone who–not be like, everything’s fine–I’m just like, genuinely curious how things are and like what you would say to other folks who are racially marginalized about rural areas and rural living?

**Tyler ** 11:02
Oh, yeah. My experience. . . I mean, there’s a few things that I would recommend. If, by some situation, you are moving out and you do… like, you find a place rurally and you go out and you’re someone who is just not white, one thing that I found that–and one thing that I prioritize really early on–was just like meeting my neighbors, and introducing them, like, "Hey, I am supposed to be here. I’m supposed to…like, I live right over there." [Margaret chuckles] Like, because I mean, at any point I might be out on the backside of our property in the back of the woods and, you know, be seen by a neighbor who wouldn’t see me coming out to the mail–like completely different areas. And so making sure that the people that are around you kind of like know that you live there, as much as it might feel kind of dehumanizing to have to do so. Prioritizing your own safety is really important and not focusing on the, you know, how it should be. So making sure that the people around you know that you moved in, that you’re supposed to be here, that you live there. And then past that, my biggest experiences have been primarily positive. My biggest thing, I think, for people moving, if you’re moving to a rural area for the first time, and you’re a person of color, the biggest thing I think that will potentially trigger a negative response is more so about how you behave than how you look. And that is to say, not that people should kill a part of themselves and hide and like that sort of thing, it’s more so–especially if you in West Virginia–do you act like you’re from the city? Are you pushy with customer service people? Are you really fast paced and, from a rural perspective, do you feel impatient and pushy? You know, because how you would act in the deli line in Manhattan is going to be way different than how you should act in Tudors Biscuits in West Virginia. You’re gonna have very, very different experiences, depending on how your…how your rhythm meshes with the people around you, basically. Because I mean, even being out here, for where I am I’m very–far as I can tell very much the only person of color on my road for sure. But like, there’s a Black guy that works at my Tractor Supply. And like, everyone loves him because he’s super charismatic. You can tell he probably grew up reasonably well around here. But that’s kind of the big thing is that, you are not–probably not–going to get too negative of an experience because of how you look, if you’re a person of color, as opposed to how people perceive your behavior, which, again, is in many ways unfair because if you’re just from a more vibrant culture than rural West Virginia and that vibrance is part of who you are–I certainly don’t want to encourage people to like, you know, hide themselves–but just to be kind of self aware as to how their behavior may affect other people and how it may draw a reaction from them and just understand that that could be a possibility. But I think overall, my experience has not been bad. Like I have not had really any bad experiences related to race out here. Growing up, I definitely did. But since being out here, really nothing overly negative to speak of. You know, overall, I think West Virginia, especially. . . Like there are obviously a lot of remnants of the people who are, as you said, West Virginia didn’t fight for the South but there are a lot of people who are kind of resentful of that fact, like people who wish that they had.

**Margaret ** 11:04
Yeah. Like

**Tyler ** 11:27
Those people definitely exist. But I think like a lot of seemingly emboldened racists, transphobes, a lot of folks are very different in person than they want to be perceived online, which is where we perceive them, especially if you don’t live in a rural area. Like you see like the Facebook post, the TikToks of how people are projecting their hatred, right? It’s been my experience that, most of all around here, like people just want you to kind of go about your business and let them go about theirs. Like, they’re polite, they’ll, you know, chat with you if you’re sitting at the local coffee shop. Yeah, like, I really don’t have any overly negative things to say other than just, I mean, you just need to be careful, you know? Because there is the possibility that the person that you meet at the bar, and maybe divulge a little bit too much about where you live to, there’s the possibility that that person is a bad actor or knows someone who is and is willing to share that information. So being a little bit more guarded about–I mean, similar to how you act online. Like, you don’t give out the street that you live on or that sort of information.

**Margaret ** 16:23
Right. Cause both of us actually live in Southeast Ohio, but we’re pretending like we live in West Virginia to throw people off.

**Tyler ** 16:29
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, it’s just being aware and guarded, it’s being just aware of how your behavior here will be received differently than how it is in a major city where there’s obviously just so many people from so many different backgrounds and everything that there’s no like one that stands out or that people react poorly to in that sense, where cities are more of a melting pot. It’s just being aware, it’s being a little bit more alert than maybe normal or event is maybe fair to be.

**Margaret ** 17:05
Yeah, no, that’s actually…that’s interesting to me how much it maps to my experience as a queer, white person living here where it’s a very similar thing, where I’m more guarded in a lot of ways living here. I’m more careful about. . . Yeah, I don’t necessarily tell people exactly where I live or I often don’t tell people exactly who I am, right? About half of the people around here I’m specifically out to as trans and, but I’m, you know, to the people I’m not out as trans, I’m walking around with bangs and braids, but I’m also walking around with bangs and braids, and a Carhartt coat, but I’m also wearing a fucking mask. And that’s not normal around here. You know? And it’s like. . . And my experience has been that–I’ve probably talked about this on the show before–but my experience has been that once people got the sense that I wasn’t trying to change the neighborhood culturally, like I. . . You know, they’re like, "Okay, well, that weird, queer person has guns and a pickup truck and isn’t trying to tell us that we can’t have those things." you know? [Tyler affrims] Like, it’s been more okay since then, you know? And. . . No, it’s interesting. It makes sense to me. Okay, then my other, I remember I was reading…I was reading Reddit about this issue, and someone was like, "Hey, we’re a mixed race couple. And we’re thinking about moving to West Virginia from California," you know, because of some family thing and a house or whatever. "Are we going to get shit for that?" And everyone in the Reddit comments in R/West Virginia or whatever was like, "No, you’re fine. Oh my god! Wait, you need to change your license plates. Change your license plates as soon as possible."

**Tyler ** 18:59
That is the absolute first thing I thought of was like they’re gonna get a way worse reaction to the license plate than anything else.

**Margaret ** 19:07
Yeah. Okay, well I want to transition. . . Okay, I want to also talk about another space that you are in is that you’re in the prepper space and you’re in the prepper space in kind of a–at least in my observation of it–in the kind of homesteading, tactical corner of prepper space. But from this point of view of specifically, being someone who’s inviting people of marginalization and or people who are just new to that space, like being the opposite of a gatekeeper, being an usher into that space. And I’m wondering, kind of what brought you into that space in particular, because that space is the…it’s the like forbidden zone of prepper land, right? It’s the one that we think as the most right-wing.

**Tyler ** 20:02
Yeah. Honestly, it kind of happened naturally. So basically, I kind of started–I mean, everything kind of started–on Instagram with an account there, which I really just created to try and just like meet more people, just connect and network with people because I was living in relative isolation, sort of. . . was moving my way politically left at the time and was just moving kind of further into isolation in that way as well, and just trying to find people to connect with over guns that weren’t, you know, going to bring their like laser engraved Trump revolver or anything like that. [Margaret laughs] I really just started looking to connect with people and then the more that I shared about what I. . . like what life is actually like here, stuff that I was doing, projects I was working on. Like I just. . . it was. . . I guess, again, kind of from a point of privilege where like, all that stuff is just like completely unremarkable, and part of natural life to me, but people were really interested in it. Like they wanted to learn, like, "Oh, Where’d you learn how to do that? I’d love to do something like that someday." And just kind of the thing I just started realizing that a lot of these people who are asking are people who are in marginalized communities, especially marginalized and impoverished communities, so people who are looking for ways to build things because they can’t just go out and buy the ready made version, right? They can’t just go out and buy the $800 chicken coop from Tractor Supply. Like they want to learn how to build something on their own. And kind of the more I started connecting with people and just realizing that there’s all these people with so many good intentions, like so much they want to do in their neighborhood and in their community and they just don’t know how yet. And it just seems, to me, is something that’s so natural and easy. But I can see that there’s this huge knowledge gap for people between what they want to accomplish and what they know how to accomplish. And the only real difference was just access to the resources to learn how. Because it’s something that I’ve. . . that’s something that I’ve been really driven about is making sure that I’m not trying to create a centralized like, "Oh, you need to come to me to learn this." Like I’d much rather be like, "Oh, here’s this YouTube channel that you can learn everything you need to learn about woodworking from here. You can learn everything you need to know about like blacksmithing from here," and sharing the resources that I’ve been learning from because I mean I’m very much a. . . Like, if I’m finding a project difficult and I seem to like learn how to do a thing, I’m still the type of person to pull up a YouTube video and watch it one to one and do the thing. But it could be as easy as just sharing that instead of making everyone go on that same journey of finding the resource to learn from. And yeah, so it kind of grew from there until it kind of. . . people started to start asking about the more prepper things in which case I kind of tied it into like, you know, prepping for me is a way of life where it’s just a continual, small, marginal process. Like it’s not a big going out and spending thousands of dollars to get stuff. It’s something you can develop into just your weekly budget, your monthly budget, whenever, and just building out a plan that’s as approachable as you need it to be, even if it’s only picking up….spending four extra dollars when you go to the grocery store and getting four cans of beans to stick away in your pantry. Like that’s something. That’s something that week over week compounds. And getting people connected to that mindset, I think, makes prepping seem much less crazy, much less like crazy hoarders. And this shows like, you know, there’s something that everyone can do. You don’t need to be someone in the woods with a bunch of space and property. There’s little things that anyone can undertake to just be a little bit more secure. And for me, the people who need that the most are marginalized communities who are really regularly either directly pushed away from people who are sharing this content or are indirectly pushed away just by the rhetoric that that person uses in their YouTube videos or whatever. Like everyone deserves a safe space to learn. That should be like the most basic thing in society.

**Margaret ** 24:36
No, I really like. . . It’s been a while since I’ve seen someone making content in this space–there’s a lot of good people making content in this space–but I just specifically like right away was really impressed by your attitude around this stuff. And I’m saying this partly to anyone who’s listening if you haven’t already checked out. Dark Winter Concepts on whatever platform you, you really should. I think the first stuff that I ran across from you–I’m not 100% certain how I first started writing across you–I think it was through Yellow Peril Tactical, who’s been on the show before too. But you had a bunch of posts that were slideshows of, "Hey, instead of buying another redundant gun…" And do you want to talk about that series? And I am really curious about, one, the kind of ideas behind that, and maybe say that to the audience, so the audience can learn it too, but also how people have like, reacted to that content?

**Tyler ** 25:36
So that content was. . . I mean, that was the kind of the transformative content for my channel. Like that was what really kind of took off and what I saw huge interest in. And so what we did, and this is, honestly, because of Yellow Peril Tactical, because they post so much about like, "don’t buy redundant guns. Buy training. Buy–or don’t spend your money. Just train and get good with one that you have." And so I kind of took the next step and decided, you know, what are some other things within–I mean, some of the items are a little higher–but within the range of what you would spend for, you know, the latest optic or whatever tactical thing you want, like, "Here are nine things you could buy to better enhance your food preps," or "Here are nine things you could buy to better enhance your ability to conserve and filter water," or first aid supplies or tech upgrades that you can make that just will upgrade your life more or make your life a little bit better and provide more value to you and your community than to just buy another gun or to buy another level up better optic or, you know, the stuff that, if you’re getting into guns, then you know that it can be an absolute money pit of continual upgrades and the coolest thing that you need to get. It’s just like, once you get a setup, stop dumping money into it, learn how to use it, and spend that money on things that provide more value in the long term. Then we kind of just…I kind of just push that idea out till I kind of ran out of topics to suggest people spend their money in. But I mean, there’s definitely been a few more. There will probably be some more series like that coming out. Or extensions on them. Because I mean, when you get into medical gear, there’s so many things that are better…or good to just keep collecting and building up. There’s so many more items that people could discuss. So there may just be part twos to every original series.

**Margaret ** 27:41
Okay. Yeah, the money pit of the gun… Recently, I wanted to change the stock on one of my rifles. And I didn’t…it wasn’t a fancy thing. I just wanted to–it was actually in many ways a cheaper stock, right? And I was like, okay, I got this thing. And then I was like, oh, in order to get this thing, I now need to get a new sling mount. And in order to get this new sling mount, I need another different sling mount for this sling mount to attach to. And people always refer to like the AR as like the "Lego rifle." But it’s like if the Lego blocks were made out of solid gold, because the sling mount is $15. It’s a nut. That’s what it is. It is a nut and a bolt. And it is $15. And that’s not high end, right? I don’t have high-end equipment. I’m not, you know. . . I. . . Firearms aren’t my primary interest. They’re something I got into because Nazis told me where I lived and that they wanted to kill me. You know? And, yeah, it’s a money pit. That’s just all I want to say about that.

**Tyler ** 28:48
Yeah, I mean, it absolutely is. I mean, then you get into like. . . Like, I got my first suppressor for one last year, which was already a big enough.

**Margaret ** 28:59
Congrats. Like a

**Tyler ** 29:01
Thank you. So excited. Like, obviously that’s already a big enough expenditure. And then from there, I was like, oh, yeah, now I need to get a muzzle device that takes suppressor. And I was like, oh, man, I got the suppressor because I have two ARs of the same caliber of like different setups. And now I need a muzzle device for both of them. And then it just, it just spirals. Everything just has so many supporting assets. And it’s something you really have to plan out, which that’s actually another series that I’m hoping to do, which is like if you’re buying a gun for the first time, like don’t just look at the sticker price of the thing that you’re looking at at the store. Here all these other things that you should be budgeting for as well because as soon as you get this thing, everyone’s going to tell you you also need a red dot on it and all this other stuff. Just provide a little bit of a price, like like if you’re planning to invest in this, here’s kind of what you should be budgeting for long term at least.

**Margaret ** 30:00
I think that some of that stuff is like. . . I think overall most of the people who are sort of first into this kind of space, like, you know, Lefty community. . . or defense. Community and individual defense type people, right? The people who are excited to do it right now when it’s not specifically a crisis will tend to be people who enjoy figuring all the different pieces out. But then there’s also people who are doing it because they’re like, "Well, you know, Nazis with rifles keep coming to the drag show, and I need to be a non-Nazi with a rifle outside the drag show before someone dies," you know? And then it’s annoying, because like, let’s say you want to be that girl but you don’t want to spend the next six months of your life learning the names of clips that go on your plate carrier to attach the–I don’t even remember what it’s called–the thing on the front of your plate carrier to the plate carrier itself. You know, I had that specific problem, right? I was like, "Oh, I need this thing. And I don’t even know what it is. Does this exist?" you know? And I had to go track down this like clip. And I actually think there’s a really good role, and I think it’s something that you do really well–this whole episode is just basically me talking about how great your stuff is and how everyone should check it out–but I think about how we need quartermasters. We need sometimes people to say, "Here is a basic loadout–" I actually think Yellow Peril Tactical does a really good job of this too–where you’re like, if you are choosing to build an IFAK, an individual first-aid kit, instead of like, everyone having to watch 16 YouTube videos and figure out exactly what to do, it’s nice to just be like, "Here are the eight things that you need in your IFAK," or even, "Here’s an IFAK," you know? And the same obviously with like. . . I mean, I think it’s true for rifles and armor and these, you know, these sorts of things. but it’s also true for water filters and other really basic things.

**Tyler ** 32:13
Yeah, absolutely.

**Margaret ** 32:17
I don’t know what the name of those clips were. And if I needed them again, I’d be a shit out of luck.

**Tyler ** 32:21
Yeah, it’s um. . . I mean, that’s. . . I think that is one of the. . . like, beyond firearms and all the accessories and all that stuff, I think getting into nylon gear is an even bigger–I mean, it’s not as high of a spend–but it is more excess of a spend because you get something and there’s nowhere you can go to try it on. Unless you have friends who already have them. Like there’s nowhere you can go to like pick it up like at Cabela’s or whatever where you can feel a handgun and see how it feels, you just order a plate carrier from somewhere, try it out, and it does not feel good, or you give it a good go and it like doesn’t feel good. Then you try out some new pouches and the balance doesn’t feel right. You set it up just like that YouTuber that you watch and it doesn’t work for you. And now suddenly, you just have all these pouches. And they don’t work. And you see another pouch that and it’s like, "Oh, that one’s a little bit smaller, and that one would work, but it’s like 35 bucks.

**Tyler ** 32:21
What a steal. [Sarcastically]

**Tyler ** 32:23
Yeah [laughing]. And it’s really complex. . . It’s such a complex and not very talked about thing unless you know the people to go to who are already talking about it, like people at Yellow Peril Tactical and a few other accounts.

**Margaret ** 33:39
Yeah.

**Tyler ** 33:40
I think the more more people with that can talk about that stuff in detail in different communities–like I have a different audience then Yellow Peril Tactical does because I have more of the homesteader side and people who are looking to do community gardening and that sort of stuff. And so to be able to talk a little bit more about like my own setup. I posted that the other day. Judge it. Tell me what’s wrong with it because I’ve had it in isolation for too long. But also an opportunity for people to ask like, "What is like that pouch under your arm? Like what is like this and that?" And it’s an opportunity to kind of talk people through and show in detail how it is actually set up, is something I think isn’t done enough.

**Margaret ** 34:22
Well, okay, talking about having a slightly different audience than say, for example, Yellow Peril, I want to ask about that. I remember at one point you posted something about carry Narcan and how Narcan is an important part of everyday carry. And I think that this is true, I can get kind of slack on it myself. But now I keep it in my vehicle–though if you keep it in your vehicle, you have to refresh it way more often because it doesn’t like temperature extremes. Like think about it like if you travel with condoms. Think about it like condoms. You have to change them out if they’re in places that are not climate controlled. And you said that you got a lot of pushback or like at least some people were like piping up. . . Like you clearly. . . Yellow Peril Tactical antagonizes the right wing and speaks very clearly to the anti-authoritarian left, right, because they also antagonize the–this is part of why I love them–they also antagonize the authoritarian left. And your content is more broadly faced. And I actually really like that about it. But I’m curious how…like how much pushback you get when you even say things like–because it’s like, it’s like secretly a leftist thing to say "Carry Narcan. It shouldn’t be, right? It shouldn’t be a political statement to say like, "Hey, you call yourself a fucking sheep dog. That sheep is overdosing. What are you doing?" You know? Anyway, I’m just curious how navigating that space is going for you, being in a more wider-facing audience?

**Tyler ** 36:04
It’s been, I mean, overall really positive. There’s definitely a little bit of pushback on. . . I mean, Narcan was the like most pushback I’ve ever gotten on anything I’ve ever said on social media. Like people just jumped into the comments like, one, people saying that they should ban production Narcan because it just enables the "druggies," and just all of the most just heinous unempathetic shit that people say because they have been so dehumanized. I mean, people who struggle with addiction have been so dehumanized for this entire political area, that people view them as disposable. And I mean, thankfully, I mean, there are a couple of people that I jumped in on, but then there are other people who came into the comments who are like. . . yeah, kind of did the work for me, which is great. Like, I love to be able to like, "Yes. Fight, Get them." Yeah, it’s kind of just good relief of like, okay, I’m not completely alone out here. But overall, it has been really intentional to keep it open ended, where I don’t…I don’t put labels on my beliefs. I’ve pretty rarely verbally defined myself as a leftist, just for the sense that I think most of the people that we have the opportunity to pull more left are people who up to this point have been, you know, they have lived comfortably, liberal or kind of actual–I say centrist as being like someone who’s in between just being a Democrat or a Republican. I know, that’s still well right of center. But kind of people in that area, like they’re not. . . they haven’t fallen off the far-right cliff, but people who are starting to wake up to the fact that the world is not in a great spot, that society isn’t invulnerable, that their position of comfort is not invulnerable, and they’re starting to just reach out for answers. And I see it as a huge opportunity, which I mean, one, being in a leftist space and not verbalizing that I don’t come off as a radical or anything. I try not to be putting off in that way. And just like bringing people into the ideas, because, I mean, it’s one of those things where if you, if you describe anarchists, like their actual beliefs to someone, like in a lot of cases they’re like, "Oh, yeah, that makes a lot of sense." But then as soon as you tell them that you’re an anarchist, they’re like, "Oh well, I could never," like you know, it’s the label that scares them. And so, keeping it a little bit more open, getting people just into the ideas, into the topics when they reach out is huge for me, because, I mean, you’ve probably seen it on the other side of the prepping community. It’s like a whole meme about like, laughing when someone says that they’re going to come to your house when shit hits the fan. Like, that’s why I’m. . . that’s why I’m prepping, so that people know they can come to my house when shit hits the fan. Like, that is my biggest motivation is to be able to help people who weren’t as prepared, who didn’t have the privilege to be as prepared as I am. And so it’s an opportunity where the right is pushing people away, and we can welcome them with open arms and, you know, actual education and be as welcoming as possible and through that kind of sprinkle in some ideas of community involvement and some general kind of anarchist overtones, autonomous collectives of community and being responsible for our own resources. And people can usually get on board with a lot of those things and it just sprinkles in. . . It plants the seed. And then if they stick around, if they find other people that I follow and other stuff that I share, it just starts the process of radicalization.

**Margaret ** 39:58
No, no, yeah. I think about my place within that funnel all of the time. And I, I think about it in some ways positively. And I also think about it cynically, right, because I’m not. . . I don’t. . . I’m not like. . . I don’t wake up in the morning being, like, "Time to do my propaganda," right? You know, like. . . I think about how my goal is to, like, help people survive things and take care of each other, you know? And, and I think it’s useful to bring people towards. . . You know, it means less like about bringing people towards, for me, anarchism, right? And it’s more about breaking the conceptions that people have about what must be involved in being a leftist. You know? Like, in some ways, my like, "No, I don’t fuck with authoritarianism" is the more important part of my politics when I’m talking to people. You know, I think about how around here, the way I would describe myself to most people is that I’m just like, "Look, one of the reasons I like living where I live is that overall, the vibe around here is you leave each other alone and you take care of each other. And I know it sounds contradictory, but everyone I know who lives out here, this is not a contradictory thing. Like, we by and large stay out of each other’s business, but my neighbor noticed when I was out of town and there was a big windstorm. "Hey, do you want me to go check to make sure no tree fell on your house?" you know? And like, that person doesn’t have a political label and if they do, it probably wouldn’t agree with mine. But like, yeah, I don’t know. But the the basic ideas of "take care of each other and leave each other alone" I mean, like, to me that’s what I like about anarchism is that you’re like, "Oh, well, the individual and the community" and what you’re saying about [long pause]. When I found that thing, the joke’s in the right-wing prepper space about like, "Oh, anyone who comes over to my house is getting shot," you know, imagine how. . . I feel sad for them because their entire social community is people saying "We’re only friends until the buzzer starts," you know? It’s like, they’re all trying to play Hunger Games and they’re being buddy buddy with everyone else who signed up to play Hunger Games. And like, what a terrible and sad thing. I don’ t know.

**Tyler ** 42:29
Yeah. It lets you know, kind of, how lonely a lot of people really are, like how little they actually care about other people. Which I mean, is its own form of loneliness beyond like, you know, spending time with people, blah, blah, blah. But if your first instinct for a disaster is to lock the doors board up the windows and, you know, sit there with your can of beans in the corner and, you know, shoot anyone who knocks on the door, then what does that mean for like the rest of your life? You’ve literally built no connections with other people that you value beyond your own immediate needs. Yeah, yeah. It’s very sad.

**Margaret ** 43:20
Have you noticed. . . [trails off] And maybe it’s just because some of the bigger online spaces like the Reddit R/prepper or R/preppers, or whatever it is, the main one, have been more community focused lately? I’ve been noticing this thing where I actually think that the prepping community is now no longer right wing. Or rather, no longer far right and values. both individual and community preparedness. Like it feels like that’s a fight we’re winning culturally. Like I have no interest in making prepper share my politics. I have interest in people realizing that community preparedness is a big part of preparedness. And it seems like we’re kind of winning there, maybe?

**Tyler ** 44:09
Yeah, I think that that has come with prepping becoming so much more mainstream. I mean, the response, even with the movie "Leave the World Behind"

**Margaret ** 44:16
Is that the Obama one?Yeah,

**Tyler ** 44:16
Yeah.

**Margaret ** 44:16
I like that one. Which if

**Tyler ** 44:25
Which if you watch it, I thought it was really well done in the way of just like the absolute hopelessness of people who in no way prepared or even conceive that something could go wrong. And there were a lot of people who were like, "So I just watched this movie. What do I need to buy? I need to go bag. I need like. . . " like they just kind of woke up to like, even in like the early part [of the movie] before all the crazy stuff happened, like the invasion or whatever, like just the disaster of like two days without cell phones and people are realizing that like, "Yeah, that’s like kind of happened to some people yesterday, literally." You know, that’s something that is waking a lot of people up and waking them up to the idea that prepping doesn’t have to be Doomsday Preppers reality show, right? It can just be having a radio, it can just be having extra food. And so people were looking out and expanding. One of my–and I honestly just found it– a Reddit thread, R/2xpreppers, which is a prepping community that prioritizes the voices of women. And it’s so wild how drastic the concerns are, like drastically different. Where the biggest conversations are around like, how do you prep when you have kids? Like how do you prep. . . Like, what’s your go bag look like when you have to like, also bring their stuff? Like actual like family-oriented things rather than like rugged individualism. Like I found that the conversations over there have been so much more based in reality than a lot of other ones. It has been really cool. And again, cool to see that like, again, from a community standpoint, people are connecting, people are looking for other people who know things. People are looking for people to help. And they’re realizing that they can’t do it alone.

**Margaret ** 46:29
I admit. . . Okay, so the name to 2xprepping makes me sad, but not not sad as in they inherently hate trans women. I would guess–I’ve never really looked at this subreddit, I’ve only heard about it very recently–I would guess that it is not a group of people who’s like taking a stance against trans women as much as like, cis women organizing and the overwhelming majority of women identify as having 2x chromosomes. No one’s actually looked at their chromosomes, but like, you know, karyotyping does not does not happen to kids. But–and then I get sad when I think about it, partly because I’m like, "Oh, that conversation will be very hard. It’ll be very hard to have that conversation in a way that won’t make those women defensive." Or not necessary all of them. I’m sure some of them will be. . . You know, I don’t know, whatever. I just get. . . But that’s a separate topic about how currently sad about the slow creep over from England of anti-trans rhetoric within feminist spaces. [Tyler affrimitively groans]. But like–and I’m not making any–like, again, it sounds like an amazing resource. And just they picked a name that absolutely made sense to them. And then I’m like, "Oh, this is gonna be awkward. It’s gonna be one of those conversations that’s hard and annoying to have."

**Tyler ** 47:55
Yeah, I will say, it very much seems that they made the community like, whenever you open it up, there’s the note that you read before you like go down the thing and it’s like, "Men, read this first." And is just basically guidelines like "Don’t come in and like talk over the people who are talking here." Basically, don’t act the way that the stereotypical right-wing prepper man acts in the prepper space. And it’s really good guidelines for like, basically allow people to talk and discover and discuss and don’t try to be the dominant voice in this channel.

**Margaret ** 48:28
Yeah, no, that’s cool. Okay, wait, what were the other things I wanted to ask you about? Okay. So, we’ve talked separately and unrelatedly to anything else about how we both play video games and that’s not. . . and then when you were mentioning about how you plan to help people, like you plan to prep in order to take people in, you hope that people come over. I’m curious. I just want to run something past you basically. One of the things that has made me realize that–I mean, I’ve never had a particularly strong bunker mentality, it’s never been my approach to anything-but one of the things that’s like really reinforced my belief in community preparedness is the lesson of I play strategy games all the time. And in strategy games, you like, you want more. . It’s okay to have more resources, but what you want is more things that generate resources. right? And that’s people. So I can’t imagine. . . Like, small countries don’t have as high gross domestic product as big countries because people are what make things. Like the idea that I alone or with my immediate family, that that’s a useful unit to approach the apocalypse, it doesn’t make any sense to me. And I don’t know. Where am I going with this? It’s like, people think of, "Oh, you want to let people in and eat your stockpiles. That’s you showing weakness. And they’re gonna see your weakness and take advantage of it." But everything I’ve ever learned about strategy says that it’s actually a strategic plan. I mean, it’s also basic empathy. But like, I don’t know. I just want to run that idea past you if you have any thoughts on it.

**Tyler ** 50:32
Yeah, yeah. This is something I actually talked about really recently, which was that, one, in most scenarios, the right wing has painted the idea of a leftist prepper as like walking down the street throwing food to the masses, like just giving away all your stuff. And that’s not the plan at all. I mean, with being able to bring people here, it’s because. . . I mean, currently, I have way more space than I could ever reasonably cultivate food on. And I can certainly cultivate a lot. But if people were to show up and, you know, need food, and need a place to stay, that is, again, like you said, a strategic–like a strategy game–is like recruiting people to your town to put to tasks and to be able to exchange, you know, your resources that you’ve been collecting in exchange for some of their time, and if they’re going to be staying there and just like to contribute to the community as a whole. Because when it comes down to it, I mean, if you’re going even down the rabbit hole of defense, I think a lot of people have talked about how you need more than your immediate family to just keep watch. Like, you need someone who can like keep watch at night while the other people sleep. But, you know, it’s like the more people you have, the more. . . it’s a force multiplier I think. It’s a force multiplier because you can just generate so much more, so many more resources, build your infrastructure up so much faster with those additional people.

**Margaret ** 50:32
Yeah, no, totally, and it like. . . And then I think the other thing that I run across a lot is that a lot of people don’t think that they have anything to offer. And I actually think that one of the things that behooves us in our process of like anti-gatekeeping is helping people realize what they have to offer, which might not be physical labor, right? Like some people for various reasons can’t do physical labor, right? But there’s like. . . It seems like the overwhelming majority of people have something that they can offer. And then if there’s every now and then people who don’t have anything to offer, well, you know what, that’s fine. Like, okay. Like, if one person out of 50 can’t contribute anything, well, great. You can still stick around, because overall, bringing people in. . . Because it’s like less about like, oh, you come in and now you’re going to be like you slot into this role and now you’re the person who goes and gardens all day. Or I play enough video games where I’m like you’re not the person who carries the thing from the garden to the kitchen or whatever, right? But instead, you know, people always. . . like the right wing always talks about how like, "Oh, well, hungry people will do anything to fix that problem." You’re like, yeah, one of the things that they’ll do is productive labor. One of the things that you can do is you can all wake up in the morning and be like, "These are the problems we’re facing. How can we confront them?" And get people to volunteer to do the things because that works, because if people know that it’s that or go hungry, they will do it. And not because you’re going to make them starve but because. . . I don’t know. Whatever.

**Tyler ** 53:46
Yeah, that is something that I actually feel really, really strongly about with making people feel included in communities–not making people feel included–finding ways to include people. It’s not about making them just feel good, but giving them actual, an actual place within your community, even if it’s not, like, quote/unquote, "productive" or labor. Like, there’s always something that someone can do to help, whatever that may be. Or if they are someone who, you know, their primary role, you know, if there’s someone who just has an extreme disability, you know, like physically they cannot like, quote/unquote "contribute" having people around or having people who are around who are different from you is incredibly valuable. I always look at it from a perspective of even if my neighbor has no construction skills, no like…no hands-on skills, like no labor potential. You know, they are disabled, but they work as a remote project manager. Like, being a project manager when it comes to organizing a bunch of people on to tasks, like that’s wildly useful. Or if you are just like, oh, I work in communications, learning how to like communicate ideas that like. . . I’m really good at coming up with ideas. It’s much harder for me to distill them down into verbiage that someone who doesn’t have extreme ADHD can understand–

**Margaret ** 55:24
Shout out to everyone listening to this at 2x speed. Sorry, go ahead.

**Tyler ** 55:30
No yeah. Like that’s really it. Also if you’re not. . . like you don’t know what role you’re in, you don’t know what role you can do, you don’t have to look at it from the perspective of "you need to have a function." Like maybe your function is just to help other people do their function. You know, maybe it is just bringing water to people who are laboring outside. Maybe it’s just kind of reading the recipe to someone who’s cooking for everyone else. Like there’s always something that can make other people role easier. And again, like you said, for the people that they just can’t. They can’t contribute in that way. That’s also fine. Those are the people that the rest of us need to be contributing to take care of. There are people who just need support. They need help. And that’s what community should be all about. It’s not about meritocracy.

**Margaret ** 56:25
Absolutely. Well, I want to have you on to talk about so much more. But for now, is there anything that, you know, questions you wished I had asked or final thoughts around these particular topics or even if you just want to talk a little bit about something you have coming up with [interupts self]. Oh, also, where’s the name Dark Winter Concepts come from? I have no idea. You mentioned some game maybe. So that and then any other final thoughts.

**Tyler ** 56:54
So the name Dark Winter Concepts is related to The Division. But it is something that happened in the real world. Operation Dark Winter was a simulation that the United States government ran in partnership with John Hopkins to simulate a bio weapon attack in, I think, Oklahoma City in 2001. Basically, to run a simulation like this happened. This is how it’s spreading. I think they used smallpox as the example. And then use John Hopkins as hospital response, medical response, like emergency to show how do we respond to this in real time, basically. And we failed, like really bad. Like, it fell apart really, really fast. And as we saw 20 years later, we learned nothing from that failure as we once again we’re faced with a viral incident. And as a nation–or as a national response, not as the people within–the National Response fell flat, you know a day late and a buck short. And so I wanted to pull on that with the concepts, which is really just about providing the ideas and information that people can then take to help bridge that gap. You know, to help bridge the gap between, you know, when things go wrong, when there’s a disaster, you have to kind of expect to be your first responder, you know, expect to self-rescue or whatever. But basically, you can’t rely on an immediate government response to help. You need to be able to cover that two or three days or a week until, you know, the National Guard can come in or FEMA is there or whatever. Just to stay alive and keep other people around you alive long enough to get the help that will hopefully come. Hopefully. And so that’s kind of where the, the motivation for for the name came, which was just recognition of like, we’re still not going to learn anything, even after 2020 and everything else I would fully expect the same thing to happen next time. It’s all. . . all of our systems are going to be run bare minimum. They’re not able to. . . The specific note from Operation Dark Winter was the Healthcare System’s inability to scale to meet the need, was like the big failing point. Hospitals were not able to scale because they are all chronically understaffed. They are all chronically underfunded. They do not have. . . Excess medicine isn’t just being made because it’s the right thing to do. Like, that’s not something that has been fixed and doesn’t seem to be a priority to be fixed.

**Margaret ** 59:30
And that’s. . . You know, when I talk about how individual community preparedness are not in opposition but directly related and synergize. I never use the word synergize. But I’m gonna use it right now. That to me, is such a clear example of it, right? Like the expect to self-rescue, the expect. . . Like, I’m not a hospital, right? I am a squeamish person who drags myself into medical workshops kicking and screaming, but I still do it every now and then, right, because I’m like the more diffused this knowledge is, the more that the super specialized people can focus on that. I talk a lot with one of my friends who’s a medical professional, a a physician’s assistant, and he talks about how he– oh, now I’m combining a couple different in my head, a couple of my different medical profession friends–and they talk about how like, now that they like work in hospitals, they’re less likely to do street medic stuff, partly because they’re like the part of their brain that is used to helping people gets used up when they’re like sawing people’s legs off and like doing this higher level of care work where walking around and giving people sunscreen and reminding people to drink water and maybe being around to like flush someone’s eyes out is–don’t get me wrong, like shout out to all the nurses and doctors who still do street medic stuff–but the more people can pick up that slack so that the people who specialize in the thing can do the higher level of care thing. And then my squeamish self can still handle most level of wounds that I can do to myself, you know? Like, I’m sure. . . If I chain saw deep enough into my leg, I need a higher level of care. But overall, the average wound that I do to myself in the course of my life as doing woodworking, or whatever, I can handle because I learned this stuff. And so I’m just rambling about the. . . No, I really liked this. I like the. . . I like what you’re talking about. Okay, well, how can people find you if they want to learn more? Is there any like specific kinds of support you’re looking for? Anything like that. So

**Tyler ** 1:01:49
I am just Dark Winter Concepts on Instagram and Tiktok primarily Tiktok a little bit more heavily just due to engagement over there right now. But any platform. Over on YouTube as well but not as much. There will also be a website that by the time this airs should be live as well, darkwinterconcepts.com My day job is a brand designer. So the ability to actually like design show that I care about was just an opportunity, but it’s also something that like. . . I don’t want people to buy a shirt that they don’t like just because they want to support me. But there will be some cool original shirts and mugs and flags and stuff that’s just all my own designs, or just all my own stuff. If people want to promote what I’m doing, if people want to support through the shop or just come and engage on any social media platform that is by far the most rewarding thing if people just drop into an Instagram post and leave a comment, ask a question. Answering the individual questions is the most rewarding part of any of this. So Dark Winter Concepts on Instagram, Tik Tok, YouTube, Facebook even. Yeah, all around.

**Margaret ** 1:03:03
Hell yeah. Well, thanks so much. And we’ll talk to you soon. Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this podcast, go check out Dark Winter Concepts. And also if you want to support this podcast, you can do so by supporting us on Patreon. Or you know, telling people about it is really good too. But you can support us on Patreon through our publisher, which is Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. We put out a lot of different stuff, including two other podcasts you might want to check out. One is called The Spectacle. We renamed Anarcho Geek Power Hour to The Spectacle, which is probably a better name, I’m willing to admit, even though. . .whatever. And also the podcast Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness, which is we put out a new zine every month, and if you want that zine–and ends up on the podcast–but if you want that zine in the mail, you can support us on Patreon at patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness. Oh, and then anyone who supports that the $20 a month level, not only will I read out your name, but I’ll also read out kind of whatever you tell me to within some limits. And so often we are going to be shouting out a couple projects that support us. And so yeah, that’s a thing that you can do. We want to thank Amber, Ephemoral, Appalachian [pronounces it App-a-lay-shun". Appalachian [App-a-latch-un]. They specifically made a note about how you can’t say App-a-lay-shun. And I was like, I would never do that. I didn’t grow up saying that. But I was looking at that note when I started reading it. I’m so terribly sorry. Appalachian Liberation Library. Portland’s Hedron Hackerspace, Boldfield, E, Patoli, Eric, Buck, Julia, Catgut, Marm, Carson, Lord Harken, Trixter, Princess Miranda, BenBen, anonymous, Funder, Janice & O’dell, Aly, paparouna, Milica. Boise Mutual Aid, theo, Hunter, S.J., Paige, Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea, Staro, Jenipher, Kirk, Chris, Mic Aiah, and of course, the immortal Hoss the dog. Alright, I will talk to you all soon and I hope you all are doing as well as you can with everything that’s happening.

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S1E112 – Dean Spade on Mutual Aid as Preparedness pt. II

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Margaret and Dean continue to talk about the ways that mutual aid helps communities prepare for disasters that are already here and disasters that have yet to come. They talk about what things like hope and success can look like even as the world crumbles around us.

Guest Info

Dean Spade is an American lawyer, writer, trans activist, and associate professor of law at Seattle University School of Law. You can find Dean’s work at Deanspade.net, and you can read the article that Margaret and Dean talk about, "Climate Disaster is Here–And the State Will Never Save Us" on inthesetimes.com. You can also find Dean on Twitter @deanspade or on IG @spade.dean.

Host Info

Margaret (she/they) can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy or instagram at @margaretkilljoy.

Publisher Info

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

Transcript

Live Like the World is Dying: Dean Spade on Mutual Aid as Preparedness pt. II

**Margaret ** 00:15
Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m your host, Margaret Killjoy, and this is part two of a conversation with Dean Spade. So I should probably listen to part one, but I’m not your boss. 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.

**Margaret ** 00:42
Okay, I have a kind of final-ish question, I think. And it can be "ish" on the final part. But at the beginning of this, you said that your politics have been moving towards anti-statism, or, you know, possibly anarchism, or whatever. And I’m wondering if you want to talk about that. In some ways, I feel like you’ve implied a lot of maybe what has drawn you more towards those politics, but I’m really curious about the kind of route you took–not like where you’ve landed, and what labels you want to throw on things–but what has led you towards those politics?

**Dean ** 01:56
I just talked with somebody yesterday who I know from the anti-Zionist Jewish world who was talking about the. . . about how he feels like people haven’t thought. . . that he hasn’t thought a lot about anti-State or anarchist politics, and he was like, "Why do you think some people haven’t and some people haven’t?" and I was like, "Oh, I think people just come to our politics. Like, we just kind of stumble into them." It’s like, if somebody stumbled into a punk scene in 1999, they probably found anarchism sooner than me. I stumbled into all this queer, anti-police stuff, and we were doing a lot of identity-based work, and people weren’t talking about political tendencies in the same way–in part also, because it had been really divisive, at certain points, in our movements where people had gotten so obsessed with their ideology that they’d been able to work together and got really insular. So there was a lot of, I think, push away for some people from that. I think, also, we have lived in times for the last, at least 100 years, that are so deeply reactive anti-anarchist, in particular, because of the history of anarchism in the US and elsewhere. There’s a really great piece by William C. Anderson that came out a while–like not that long ago–after the Atlanta indictment about how policing in the United States itself developed through policing anarchism, that I highly recommend. But anyway, I think a lot of us also just haven’t gotten. . . Like, it’s like you were told, "Anarchists are just people who want chaos and who are dirty white people," or whatever. There’s a lot of things that erase the contributions of anti-colonial anarchists and anarchists who aren’t white in all these things. Anyway, Or, anti-State tendencies that aren’t anarchism in the European sense. But for me, I think what happened is that I’ve been in movements that have been benefiting from a range of genealogies, including women of color feminism–specifically Black feminism–and other political knowledges and methods that have been anti-institutional, in really great ways have had critiques of the borders and the cops and the military have also had a focus on practices of collectivity and horizontality with us, you know, inside our movements, which are very. . . You know, that really parallel with a lot of anarchist methodologies like "Let’s not have a boss in this group," you know? And so all of those things really dovetail with anarchism, but I wasn’t ever studying anarchism itself. Some people who were in groups I was in maybe identified as anarchists, but it didn’t seem like an essential thing for me to study for a number of years. And I didn’t think a lot about whether or not that was my position, because also I just had the same caricatures in my mind that other people did. And I also was like, "Do anarchists think that people shouldn’t get welfare?" I don’t know. I had some of my own, you know. As somebody who grew up on welfare, I had some questions about that, that I didn’t have resolutions to. And then over time, especially doing abolitionist work, it just was so clear to me more and more not only that everything I was already doing dovetailed with anarchism: my interest in mutual aid, my interest in horizontal tactics inside our groups, and building group culture where we learned how to share with each other, and not boss each other around, and all that stuff. But also, the ways in which, I think, abolitionist frameworks are just. . . like, they’re so deeply anti-State. It’s like, ‘Yeah, don’t build a better cop. Don’t build a better jail. Don’t build a better prison. Don’t build a better social services framework that’s actually still a cop," or you know. And, that you can’t have a country without cops, borders, and military. That’s what a country is made of, you know? You can’t have a Capitalist economy without a boot on everybody’s neck making us participate in it. So I just came to realize like, I’m not only–I always knew I was against the United States settler colonial slavery project–but I was like, "Oh, my God, I’m against countries. I’m against that." And then I did start actually reading about this stuff and I was like, "Oh, my God, they’re a recent invention. They don’t need to be able to organize themselves. That’s not how people have always organized themselves." And I also started to see how it actually makes a difference in our tactics about what we’re going to do today, if we know this about ourselves, right? Like how we’re going to get basically co-opted by projects of "Oh, let’s let’s do a let’s do a million local elections and try to take over a city council ‘thing.’" A lot of that work steals the oxygen out of local movements really intensely. And I’m not gonna say it should never ever be done, but I just feel like so much of it actually has a lack of a conversation about what can happen in those spaces behind it and then is incredibly resource intensive and doesn’t lead to the things I think people hope it will lead to, like, "Oh, we’re gonna have an abolitionist prosecutor and abolitionist city council person or mayor and it’s gonna change everything," right? And then not seeing that happen. I think we’ve seen that it’s played out. Or the, you know, I think this is even sharpened for me with the period of the "Defund [the police]" work–which I care a lot about, trying to defund the police–and seeing the fights inside city councils and how deeply impenetrable–like even when you supposedly, in 2020, get the whole city council saying we want to defund the police and there’s so much effort on that side–it’s like our cities are run by real estate developers, chambers of commerce, and police departments. And the entire apparatus of the city councils–which is in some ways more accessible than any other level of government, of course–is still unmovable. Like you can’t. . . you can be right all day long. You can do every kind of research. You can show you can turn up with all the people every single time. And as soon as they can turn around and reestablish their nonstop march to constantly increase the police budget, that’s what they’ll do. And that is what they have done since 2020 after all this amazing work by so many people. So I think I’m just continually evaluating "Wow, where are there still parts of my own approach to politics that are assuming we can convince governments of things?"–even while I want to get rid of those kinds of governments–and why do I ever think they will voluntarily put down their weapons? And why do I think about getting any different people inside there, inside that machine? I don’t believe that about the military. I’m not like, "Well, maybe if Margaret Killjoy was the general, it would all be fine." I know, that’s not true. So why do I, and where have I still. . . And I, you know, I forgive myself and all of us. We’re all just trying shit our whole lives. And there’s so many things I’ve been involved in that I think were not that generative, but you know, we couldn’t have known that. Or, where there was a backlash so that the thing that was generative for a while stopped or, you know, was turned on us in a way that undermined our hopes. But I think that for me it’s just an ongoing deepening with different anti-State frameworks, an ongoing deepening of reading history, and understanding why different revolutionary projects that then took on State forms became authoritarian, trying to understand what this kind of insight–which is very hard, because it’s about letting go of a lot of hope and a lot of tactics that people are putting a lot of effort into–like, what it directs us to do to most immediately support people’s well being, and take down the apparatuses that are hurting us that are, honestly, just like continuing to grow. Like they’re all. . . Like the level of surveillance we are under right now compared to five years ago. Like, the capacity for political repression that the State has right now compared to five years ago. I don’t know if you saw this, but like– maybe it was this week–Georgia is going to outlaw bail funds, is going to criminalize bail funds. Tennessee’s trying to do the same thing. Like, tiny things we have in our movements to try to support people facing repression, even those they are directly going after. So, yeah, it’s really hard to face these conditions. And also, I see a lot of people working really hard on the ground blaming themselves for the effects of the conditions like "Oh, why can’t we? Why can’t we do a better job stopping these homeless sweeps in our city?" It’s like it’s not because you’re not doing a really good job trying to. There are a lot of really bad conditions. And I think that it goes back to this humility, like, "Okay, wow, things are so dire. What if I let myself know this so that I could talk with my friends about what’s possible–given how things actually are–and let go of some of the fantasies?" I think I talked to you briefly before we started the podcast but I recently rewatched those two videos that Naomi Klein and Molly Crabapple–both of whom I really, really respect–made a few years back. They’re both videos about what the world could be like after the Green New Deal and after many wonderful uprisings. And they feel so, so misleading to me, watching them right now. Like they imagine a world in which people just protest a lot. And then everyone has things that are better. And also, we still have countries and jobs. It very weirdly doesn’t get rid of Capitalism or the nation state. But it’s like, there’s a kind of like. . . I think that it’s very dangerous, those fantasies, that we can do certain kinds of tactics and our opponents will just turn over. And I think those are inside a lot of people’s–a lot of very wise people’s–messages. And I just increasingly, when I encounter them, feel much more concerned about what they teach us and how they mislead us.

**Margaret ** 11:00
I just think that we have to always look clear-headedly at what our actual threats are, at what’s actually happening, and then make our decisions based on how to actually address that, rather than being like, "I want to become just like this person I read about in history, so I’m going to do whatever they did." And this could be true of, "I want to be a principled pacifist and get arrested just like Gandhi," or whatever, right? You know, it could also be, "I want to be just like the following anarchist in the 1880s who decided it was time to start shooting people," you know? We just need to actually look at what’s happening and make our decisions based on that. And it’s hard, because what we’re facing is different from what anyone else has ever faced in history. Not necessarily worse–although the overall ecosystem is worse than anything minus whenever all the. . . you know, before humans evolved, and various other mass die offs that have happened or whatever. But it’s different and it’s bad. And we just need to look at it and then come up with solutions. Or even some of this is, "How do we solve this problem?" And some of it is like, "How do we live with this?" Not accept it but accept that it’s going to have consequences on us and that fighting it isn’t going to be easy and we might not win. But what are the best tools by which we can fight it, and/or what are the best tools that we can use to live meaningful lives in the process? You know, so that when we inevitably die, at 103 or 33, we can be proud of who we were. You know, and obviously, there’s theological or metaphysical considerations into exactly what that process looks like that’ll be different for different people. But, you know, I think that that’s what to do.

**Dean ** 13:06
It’s also about not trying to feel better. I think there’s just something so intense about how people are like, you know, "If you talk about collapse, it makes me feel bad." And there’s an assumption that that will demobilize me. And it’s like, actually, Capitalism is like, either feel bad or feel good, you know? And that’s not how life is. Life is like, fuck. . . For example, you have a terrible loss and you live with grief. And you also still enjoy this beautiful meal. And you’re still grieving. And you’re in pain. And being willing. . . or–I see a lot of my students–they’re like, "Oh, my God, the things I’m learning in your class, I’m so worried about these terrible things in the world that I didn’t know we’re going on. This is so awful." And they want to instantly know what to do to feel better. And I’m like, I can’t make. . . I don’t want you to do things feel better. I want you to do things to try to be part of something and you’ll never know if they worked or not. Because that’s the nature of it. You don’t know what our opposition’s next countermove is or whether we’ll regret some parts of it, but it’s the trying stuff, it’s the listening to feedback about what didn’t go well or how it hurts somebody else. The goal is connection and belonging with each other and experimentation. And, you know, it doesn’t always feel good to receive negative feedback, but often it’s like incredibly growthful. It’s like feeling good can’t be the goal. Feeling, Yes. And sometimes feeling good. And pursuing pleasure, absolutely. But not like, "I want to have a pat" happiness where I don’t have to worry or be concerned or be critical. Like of course nobody who sees themselves as radical should be wanting that, but I still think that craving–when it comes to conversations about collapse–where it’s like I want the one thing that will make me feel better. Or, people feel that about Gaza. Like, "Oh my God, I just found about about this horrible genocide that’s happening. I’ve not known about this before. I want to be able to go to one action and feel I did something and to then be better and post it on Instagram. And it’s like, A) love them for waking up to what’s happening in Gaza. I love, love any moment where people become more interested in the wellbeing of all people and stopping violence, and we have to be willing to take in how overwhelming this is, how unmovable the war machine feels, and still take action against it, but not because we’re guaranteed that what we did today works, or something. You know what I mean? Like that feels–that simplicity–really cheats us of the really complex position we’re actually in, that if we can let ourselves be in it, might allow discernment towards better action, hopefully, you know?

**Margaret ** 15:30
No, and I like how you tie that to the way that capitalism makes us think that happiness is the goal. Like, I like happiness. But my goal in life is not specifically to lead a happy life; it’s to have a meaningful life and to have as complete of a life as–I mean, every life is complete. And, you know, when you look at. . . Anyone who’s ever known a child who’s died has had to come to terms with the fact that every life is complete, you know, is a thing that I’ve been dealing with because of some stuff. And, you know. . . Yeah, the idea that you’re just supposed to be happy is some fucking McDonald’s shit. You know? And don’t get me wrong, seek happiness. Do it. It’s great. You know? But yeah, sometimes you just need to accept. . . Like, I want to live a beautiful life and I think that is a different thing, you know? And maybe because I’m like a goth, or whatever, I find a lot of different things beautiful than some other people. But. . . No, I. . . I like that. And it does. It helps get people beyond the like, "Oh, good, I can sleep at night because I went to one protest," you know? And instead, like learning to sit with the discomfort of all these things happening and understanding where we do and don’t have agency and. . . Imean, don’t get me wrong, people should be going to these protests. You know, if nothing else that are good ways to find the other people who care.

**Dean ** 17:04
Yeah, meet other people and try stuff. I mean, I want to live in reality. I want to know that. . . I want to. . . If I’ve been working on a strategy for 10 years and it has actually not been helping, it’s been hurting people, I want to know. I don’t want to keep doing it just because my ego is attached to it, or my paycheck. I’ve seen that a lot in the dilemmas with the [uninterpretable] movements, you know, where I want to. . . Yeah, absolutely, I’m like, be promiscuous about the stuff you try. Go to all the protests. Go to anything. Try anything. But it’s that willingness to keep open the possibility that I’m going to get feedback or learn that. . . learn the impacts, or learn my position on the world, or learn how the clothes I’m wearing impact people who made them, or what. . . I just like, I just want to be in reality, and that includes the reality of how unbearably beautiful being alive is, how the entire… how my entire body was structured to receive pleasure from this incredible landscape. That reality too, which is Capitalism also shuts down and tells me to only be entertained by video games and chips, or whatever. You know, I want to live fully in the reality of how beautiful and abundant and gorgeous this life is and how heartbreaking and devastating these systems are, and how little control I have over them. And then, the moments when I do feel a connection, or am of service to something in my community, like how that is–like all of that, you know? But not through the filter of liberalism, that’s just like, "I need to find out that I’m a good person. TM [trademarked]," you know?

**Dean ** 17:04
Okay, so in that vein, to bring it back to kind of some of the preparedness stuff that you’ve been writing more about and engaging with more, I was wondering if you want to talk about, like, what do you what is preparedness looking like for you right now? Or, you know, how is it affecting you as much as you feel like talking about anything personal? Like, how is it affecting the kind of decisions that you’re making about how you want to live or how you prepare?

**Dean ** 18:55
That’s such a good question. I mean, in general, my study of collapse is affecting a lot of things for me. I’m thinking a lot about the ethics of the fact that I travel on planes and how to reduce that or eliminate it. And also I don’t want to get stuck somewhere really far away from my people when things are bad. So I’ve been thinking a lot about shifting and changes around that. I’ve been thinking a lot about how much I want to work a job. What are the other options here? You know what I mean? Just like when will I know that I don’t want to do that? Or whatever. I’ve been writing a book for 10 years that’s kind of like a relationships self-help book for radicals, you know, kind of thing, because I’ve spent so much time in our movements watching people, you know, tear each other in our groups apart with our own unexamined relational patterns that are very, you know, the pattern across the culture. So, I’ve been writing a book about that. And part of me is like, "At this point, I just need to recognize I’m writing this for pleasure. Like, I don’t know that there’s time for this to be of any use to anyone," you know what I mean? That’s an interesting move to shift from thinking the, you know, probably totally ridiculous fantasy any of us have when we write anything, that people will read this and it will help them do something, and be like, "Or not?" Or I’m just really working on a book for 10 years, just for me…because that’s what I did with those 10 years of my life. Okay. Like, that’s an interesting move to let go of outcomes even more than ever. And I don’t think I ever thought that I would have been terribly impacted by even the little hope of that.

**Dean ** 18:55
Yeah, I think just to. . .just to gas you up really quick. I’ve seen your cultural impact for years now, and it’s always been positive. So I appreciate it. But please continue.

**Dean ** 20:44
I mean, I think about whether I want to live in the country, whether the cities will be the hardest places to be. And I have friends who have moved to rural places and like really cultivated deep relationships with people, even across political differences in the places they’re living. And I’m like, "Huh." And then I think about some really, some really, you know, detailed specific things. Like, if I’m going to live in the country, in the Pacific Northwest where I live, how can I live less near all of the scariest…you know, right-wing neo-Nazis and closer instead to some of the rural people who are a little more like fruits and nuts, you know? So I asked myself that question. I think about what that would look like, you know, off grid? You know, I’m not somebody who can like buy a vacation house or something. So like what kind of off-grid small sort of thing can I do with anybody I know who already has a land project. I think about that. I think about. . .I think I’ve been thinking a lot about–I think maybe I mentioned this to you–of thinking a lot about doing something like go bag parties even in subcultural scenes in my own town. Like doing things to get more people to talk about disaster and collapse, you know? And if they want to think about it as an earthquake go bag, awesome. That’s a danger in Seattle for sure. If they want to think about it like that. You know, like, having people just, I was thinking about, like, how do you make those parties fun? Like, you know, having there be giveaways, having there be like. . . having people bring. . . You know, is it also a clothing exchange? Like, is it a sex toy exchange? Like, I’ve been just imagining different, you know, what would that look like for my queer-er friends versus what will it look like for people on my block, versus what would it look like with my students? Like, just kind of what would be different. . . what would help different people try it and then also think they could put one on, you know? Like, just how to really–especially because I feel like this podcast is very user-friendly in that way, so I’ve been really inspired by some of your episodes to think about what are the ways I could take what I love about mutual aid organizing, how I love meeting people, and I love making an event happen, making it welcoming, having people make new friends, and how can that be oriented towards people thinking about preparedness? And how much–some of the questions I’ve asked myself are–how much would there be any talking and programming at such an event or how much would it just be like, "come and grab this stuff. And here’s some printouts of things you could have in your go bag. And here’s a pile of bags. And there’s a pile of, you know, emergency blankets. And here’s a pile of whatever," right? So I’ve had those kinds of questions about how to do. . . I think that’s what’s next for me is to actually try on some of that organizing with some people that are actually interested in that.

**Margaret ** 23:10
When you do that, can you come back on and talk about how it went? I feel like people will learn from that a lot.

**Dean ** 23:15
Yeah, and I’d love to, if other people have tried it–I’m curious–please reach out to me. Curious to hear their experiences.

**Margaret ** 23:21
Me and one of my friends who does this kind of work too, we put on a day of preparedness. We did a, you know, where you get. . . There were a bunch of different talks by different people who lived in that area who came and they talked about the projects they’re working on. There was someone who was like, "Oh, I’m really into mesh networks." And someone else is like, "Oh, I’m doing things like water collection and rainwater and things like that." And there were multiple. . . There were, I think, a total of maybe about six events at. . . So you could pick between two at any given point, like the way that conferences work, or whatever. And it was, you know, a local food. . . a local food distro did lunch that was free for everyone. But then dinner was a giant potluck. And I’ve actually never seen a giant potluck work so well as the one that I went to. It was cool. And then there was a big talk that was everyone and it was more in the evening. Some people only came for that. And it was, you know, we used me as sort of a keynote-ish person but then it was. . . Immediately from there. It was a facilitated roundtable of the people who live in that town talking about their needs and how to meet them. And I’m now thinking maybe I talked about this before on the show. I have no idea. And then at the very end, we made a long term food bucket. You know, a mylar bag, rice, and beans thing, which is way easier to do if you buy it all in bulk. And then it was kind of fun. And it was. . . My favorite part about it was that theoretically I was organizing it. And I know how to make the bucket. But I don’t know how to necessarily make the 15 people figure out how to make sure that all the food goes evenly to these different buckets or whatever. And people were like, "How do we do that?" and I was like, "Figure it out. I don’t know." And then everyone’s self organized it and it worked perfectly fine. And then like everyone felt more invested, because they were…everyone was in charge and figuring things out together. And it was like a nice little microcosm of those, those nice moments in so many ways. And, you know, and then it was. . . I would say a good third of the people didn’t have any money–and so didn’t pay for their buckets–and a good third of the people were like, "I can easily pay twice as much as what this bucket cost," you know, because those buckets, if you make your own are only like 20 bucks. If you buy them at a prepper store–if you buy them at a reasonable prepper store, they’re 50 bucks–if you buy them from Alex Jones and all that shit, then they’re not very good and they’re way more than that. And so that worked, that model works really well. And we’re hoping to replicate it. And so, but I really like the way that you’re talking about it. I really like the idea of like, yeah, how would it be different? How would the go bag party be different for your block versus your students versus your queer friend group, but I’m fascinated. I want to hear how it goes.

**Dean ** 26:07
Yeah, I love what you said about people having to figure things out. I noticed this a lot when we had that police free zone in Seattle during the 2020 uprising, how many people who showed up who’d never done anything political in their life. they’ve never, ever, ever, and they like to come to it. Like they’re coming to the movement. And they arrived at the field, at Cal Anderson Park, and they wanted something to do, you know? They wanted to do part of an art build, or they. . . Like people don’t want to just sit and watch, you know? And then once you are a part of doing something, you’re helping move a barricade–whatever–then you’re like, it’s like a transformative. Like, "I was there and I was part of it. And I was important to it." It lets you have it be your…it’s your identity, instead of "I went and watched the movement," you know? Whatever it is, I just thought that moment, when you said–"agency" is the word you use earlier–I feel like that you can. . . that can happen anywhere. But part of the way it happens is not like overly babying, you know, everybody. You know, yes, making things accessible and trying to make it really welcoming, but also putting people to work if they’re up for it helping coordinate, you know?

**Margaret ** 27:11
This actually goes full circle to something we were talking about at the beginning. We were talking about how we talk about disasters with people, right? And the note, the words that I wrote down in my notes that I take while I’m interviewing people, is I wrote down "disaster fatigue," because that’s the. . . like the way that I think about it, you know, the. . . The way that I. . . A long time ago, I did forest defense and I would go sit in trees and fight against clearcutting and stuff like that. But I, I actually avoided going to West Virginia and fighting mountaintop removal for a long time, even though I knew it was happening, because it was too much of a problem. A clearcut is something that is a horrible crisis. And you can wrap your head around it even as people kill ancient trees. The Appalachians are like older than air, or something. I don’t even know. They’re old as shit. They are some of the oldest mountains in the world, right? And, the fact that people were clearcutting the mountain, like blowing up the mountain, was just too much. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. And so I just didn’t think about it. And I think that overall, that’s what people do with climate change. There’s big, major things that are happening, that are really big. And I’m not trying to say that other crises that are happening aren’t really big. Climate change is the mother of all crises. You know? It is the most existential threat to all life on Earth that has existed since there was sentient life. And I’m not just including humans in that, you know? And, so people don’t want to think about it. And I think that makes sense. And I think that the people who put in the work to be like, "Hey, come to Mountain Justice Summer Camp, or Spring Break Camp or whatever, and made these spaces where people could show up and learn about what was happening and get engaged. I think that maybe climate change. . . Yeah, it’s the. . . Have people show up and give them something to do or tell them that work needs doing and that they can figure out what to do, you know? But we kind of, as a movement, a little bit too much are like, "I don’t know, just figure it out." Because then the current people who like making. . . There’s actually some people doing amazing work. There’s a lot of people fighting pipelines and there’s people fighting extraction. And I’m not even like mad at the people who like throw food at paintings or whatever, but it’s not something that invites a lot of people in–from my perspective. I’m not. . . Honestly, I try not to talk shit on tactics. I try to be like…I try to do the "more stuff" model of critique where instead of talking shit on their tactic, I should do a different tactic. And what am I doing? I mean, whenever. I’m running around trying to help people get prepared. I actually think I’m doing a lot. But anyway. I just got excited about what you were saying.

**Dean ** 30:11
Yeah, that thing. I mean, it’s like. . . I think a lot about how the Young Lords said–you know, who are. . . they’re fighting Puerto Rican liberation in the 1970s and modeled themselves after the Black Panthers. And they said in their early texts, you know, that they believed that their own people seeing their people fight in the streets with the cops would radicalize people. So that like having escalated tactics–and this is similar to the Ireland story you told–escalated tactics, confrontational tactics, liberals will tell us we’re going to alienate people. . . What did you say?

**Margaret ** 30:44
Setting fire to trash on the streets. I really like the Young Lords.

**Dean ** 30:47
Yeah, like, escalated tactics don’t alienate people, they bring a lot of people in. And the people who think they’re alienated from them might feel scared of them and stuff, but the cultural shift and change that they produce still brings people along. In the end, they’re like, "Oh, no, no, I’m not racist," or whatever, you know? It’s like it moves everyone. It moves the needle. And so I think we need escalated tactics and we need invitations and inroads. And for a long time, I’ve said I think mutual aid is one of the best on ramps, and historically has been one the best onramps for movements.

**Margaret ** 31:16
Absolutely.

**Dean ** 31:17
Most people get involved in movements through trying to immediately help somebody, you know, because that’s what. . . when you’re fired up, that’s what you want, or because they got help through a mutual aid project of some kind and that’s what politicized them. They’re like, "Who are these people who are giving away this thing that I need that I can’t get anywhere else," you know, "Who are not mean to me and who tell me it’s not my fault, and that, actually, the system’s fucked, huh? What are they saying? And they’re right," you know? So that, I believe deeply in the mutual aid onramp. And I also think that moments like riots and stuff can be an onramp when people are like, "I’m joining in. And now I’m burning a cop car," and that feeling that kind of power. And then, "I want to learn more about who these people were, who I met in the streets," or whatever. And for some people, the on ramp is that they first encounter. . . I mean, I have a friend who’s a really incredible anarchist organizer who does really massive mutual aid projects, and is just so brilliant, and told me that they’re. . . they first were like. . . they joined the Bernie campaign. And then we’re really involved in the Bernie Sanders campaign and then we’re like, "Wait, I don’t know if this is really working," you know? But like, everyone comes in somehow, you know? And so part of it too, is that we should be in all those places trying to encourage people to learn more about movement history or horizontal tactics or bold tactics that are. . . I just went to an amazing event at an anarchist space in Seattle called Pipsqueak. The event was surrounding. . . they had collected all these accounts of kind of sabotage and vandalisms and shut-down types of actions related to opposing the genocide in Gaza. So many stories I hadn’t heard, you know? They collected this huge amount. They had this really wonderful hour of like, you could come and read this zine they’d printed out with all this stuff and think it through, and then a really, really well facilitated discussion for an hour and a half. And I was like, that’s like. . . Like, making sure people can find out about the rad stuff that’s happening, that’s not going to be reported in the news. That’s so cool. And also then people got to discuss all their dilemmas about tactics. Like, "Oh, my gosh, I’ve been going to all these kind of more, you know, media spectacle events about Gaza. I thought these things about that. What’s it like to learn about these other things people are doing?" You know, people get to have those juicy conversations about what they think about the tactics they’re using.

**Margaret ** 33:28
I love it. And we talked about twice as long as we thought we were going to and now this is two episodes. So you all listening had to wait an extra week to hear the other half of the conversation. Do you have any kind of last thoughts on preparedness, mutual aid, how your thinking has shifted, all the topics that we’ve been talking about today?

**Dean ** 33:50
Well, the thing that’s spurred us having this conversation was that I wrote that piece for In These Times that was about my experience of reading two sci-fi–cli-fi novels–one is "Ministry of the Future," and one was "The Deluge." And I encourage people to read that piece if you want to hear my thoughts on those books. But one of the things that happened from reading those books and then writing about what I thought was a failure of different aspects of those books was how now–I did think about this because you are an amazing fiction writer–like how part of what happens to me now when I read almost any speculative book, any book, that’s fiction that takes place somewhat in the future, is I am like, it feels instantly conservative because it never includes collapse, right? Because inevitably they’ve got us 50 years ahead and there’s some AI. Or there’s been some disruption from climate stuff. Like, it’s never as bad as it actually is. And that is fascinating to me, you know? And they always have all this intense tech development in such books in ways that I like–I really recommend people actually listen to Kelly Hayes podcast episodes about AI. Really useful for me in trying to understand the hubris of the tech sector, and the way they talk about AI and the way they’re making people afraid of or hopeful about AI, and how off base it is, and kind of what the deal really is. But anyway, I just want to say that I have historically found speculative fiction to be a vital place for trying to help myself think about crisis and collapse and also now I feel so strongly because I–I think I may have mentioned this to you, once–I’ve been very moved by this person Jem Bendell, who’s like this. . . in many ways, he does not share all of our values. And it’s coming from a very different place. But he’s this academic kind of whistleblower about how bad climate stuff really is. And he. . . I find myself often like, I find myself going into my own denial about what’s happening and retreating from what I know and then I listened to the introduction to his book, "Breaking Together," again to remind myself about the stakes of what I’m living through. And I feel like in some ways I used to use–and I still somewhat use speculative fiction in that way–but I’m just increasingly like. . . even most speculative fiction is telling us the wrong message about how long the systems we live under are going to last and how much they’re going to flourish with the technologies that I just don’t think is real.

**Margaret ** 36:12
You know, what’s funny, some of this–a little bit of it–is baked into a problem of writing fiction where if you. . . I’ve actually gotten–not in trouble with–but I’ve had editors take out dates in my writing before, right? Because I’ll write a short story about a sort of collapse-y world or whatever and I’ll be like, "After 2022, when the. . ." because I wrote this in like 2018, or whatever, because I was trying to write on a realistic timeline where I was like, "Oh, the world’s not gonna be the same in 2022." And I feel like I was pretty accurate about that, right? But they have to future proof their magazine, right? And so, you know, you don’t want to make certain types of claims about the next three years because you want your story to be…to have a shelf life of that long. And so some of it is baked in as a problem in publishing and in science fiction writing. And that said, I think most people. . . Did you ever read that book "Desert," the green nihilist book. . .

**Dean ** 37:12
Yeah, I’ve read like half of it.

**Margaret ** 37:15
I haven’t read it in a long time. I remember reading it and being like, "Well, this is naively optimistic." [Laughing]

**Dean ** 37:23
That’s the one where they’re like, "7/8ths of people are gonna die."

**Margaret ** 37:27
Yeah, I can’t even remember exactly.

**Margaret ** 37:28
But yeah, it was like climate change isn’t going to be stopped, and we have to re-address how things work on a fundamental level. And because where I’ve been at. . . I don’ t know. I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m with you on. . . like, when I read stuff about the future, where it’s like, "And then it’ll all work." I actually still really like "Ministry for the Future," and maybe actually should have you on just specifically to talk about "Ministry of the Future" at a different point. But it. . . you know, because it’s a complicated. . . It’s a caveated, "I like this book," you know?

**Dean ** 37:28
It’s intense.

**Dean ** 38:02
That’s how I feel about "The Deluge." It’s like, I like "Deluge" even though I think it also has the same problem.

**Margaret ** 38:06
I haven’t read "Deluge" yet.

**Margaret ** 38:08
Oh, there’s no character development in "Ministry."

**Dean ** 38:08
I think it’s really worth reading. I think it’s way better character development than "Ministry." It’s way better.

**Dean ** 38:14
Oh god, yeah. "Ministry" is so dry.

**Margaret ** 38:17
Kim Stanley Robinson does not write people. Kim Stanley Robinson writes ecosystems.

**Dean ** 38:21
Yeah, and "Deluge" really ropes in a lot more of rise in fascism with climate crisis and has characters that are more different class, race, gender than "Ministry" and is just like. . . it’s way more compelling, unfolding, even though in the end it still imagined that states will turn around and like fix things.

**Margaret ** 38:47
Well, I think there’s plenty more we could talk about. And I hope we get to talk about it soon at some point. But in the meantime, how can people find you or your work? Or what would you like people to. . . or if you want to shout out any specific projects that you want to draw attention towards whether they’re yours or other people’s.

**Dean ** 39:07
Mostly everything I do I put on–I mean, I’m kind of bad at it–but I’ll put a lot of things at deanspade.net, which is my website where I collect the things I write and the videos and the many things. So that’s a pretty good source for the backlog.

**Margaret ** 39:23
If people want to read the specific article that we’ve been talking about, if you just. . . it’s called "Climate Disaster is Here and the State Will Never Save Us." But also if you type in–the way I found it just now while we’re…when I was trying to come up with the title–I just typed in "Dean Spade, Kim Stanley Robinson," personally, and it came up, you know. But, okay. Anything else?

**Dean ** 39:47
Thanks for having me.

**Margaret ** 39:48
Thank you.

**Margaret ** 39:54
Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, then you should run around screaming that the sky is. . . No, don’t do that. You should make bug out bags for your friends or do whatever you want. You should think about. . . Whatever we already told you what we think. But you can also support this show. And if you want to support the show, you can do so by telling people about it. And you can support the show by supporting us financially on Patreon. Do not feel obliged to do it. This is a free show. However, we’re incredibly grateful because people’s donations are how we manage to pay our transcriptionist, which is very important to us the show is transcribed, and then also our audio engineer. And one day–I keep promising this but we don’t know when this day will come–one day, it’ll pay the hosts or the guests. But for now it doesn’t. And that’s okay because, you know, the world works the way it works. You can support us on Patreon by supporting our publisher, which is Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness at patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness. And in particular, we would like to thank Ephemeral. Oh, there’s new names on here. That’s really exciting. Ephemeral. Appalachian Liberal Liberation Library. And they wanted to specifically point–I would never make this–but they specifically pointed out it’s Appalachian [App-a-latch-un], not Appalachian [App-a-lay-shun]. That’s in the description of how we’re going to read this. Portland’s Hedron Hackerspace. Boldfield, E, Patoli, Eric, Buck, Julia, Catgut, Marm, Carson, Lord Harken, Trixter, Princess Miranda, BenBen, Anonymous, Funder, Janice & O’dell, Aly, paparouna, Milica, Boise Mutual Aid, theo, Hunter, S. J., Paige, Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea Staro, Jenipher, Kirk, Chris, Mic Aiah, and, as always, the immortal, Hoss the dog. And when you support Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness, you’re supporting this show and you’re also supporting a show called The Spectacle. We renamed Anarcho Geek Power Hour to The Spectacle. And you’re also supporting the podcast called Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness and a whole bunch of other projects. So that’s that thing where I do the outro and I hope you all are doing as well as you can, and we’ll talk to you soon.

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S1E111 – Dean Spade on Mutual Aid as Preparedness pt. I

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Margaret and Dean talk about the ways that mutual aid helps communities prepare for disasters that are already here and disasters that have yet to come.

Guest Info

Dean Spade is an American lawyer, writer, trans activist, and associate professor of law at Seattle University School of Law. You can find Dean’s work at Deanspade.net, and you can read the article that Margaret and Dean talk about, "Climate Disaster is Here–And the State Will Never Save Us" on inthesetimes.com. You can also find Dean on Twitter @deanspade or on IG @spade.dean.

Host Info

Margaret (she/they) can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy or instagram at @margaretkilljoy.

Publisher Info

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

Transcript

Live Like the World is Dying: Dean Spade on Mutual Aid as Preparedness

**Margaret ** 00:24
Hello and welcome to Live Live the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m your host today Margaret Killjoy. And today, I’m gonna be talking to Dean Spade, and we’re gonna talk about so much stuff. We’re gonna talk about so much stuff that this is going to be a two parter. So you can hear me talk with Dean this week and you can hear me talk with Dean next week. Or, if you’re listening to this in some far-flung future, you can listen to it both at once in between dodging laser guns from mutants that have come out of the scrap yards, riding dinosaurs. I hope that’s the future, or at least it wouldn’t be boring. 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.

**Margaret ** 01:53
Okay, we’re back. So if you could introduce yourself with I guess your name, your pronouns, and then maybe a little bit about how you ended up doing the kind of work that led you to be on this show talking about mutual aid and collapse and preparedness?

**Dean ** 02:10
Totally. Yeah, I’m Dean, I use he/him. And we could start anywhere. I became politicized primarily, like in the late 90s, living in New York City. You know, Rudy Giuliani was mayor/ There was a really vibrant, like very multi-issue, cross-class, multiracial kind of resistance happening to his range of anti-poor pro-police politics happening in the city; people, you know, in the fight around immigrant rights, in the fight around labor, sex workers being zoned out of Time Square. You know, there was just. . .it was a real moment. And I was part of queer nightlife. And people were experiencing a lot of intense policing. And a lot of us were part of work related to, you know, things that had spun off of Act Up, like a lot of direct support to people who were living with HIV and AIDS and trying to get through the New York City welfare processes, and dealing with housing. So a lot of mutual aid in that work from the get, and a lot of work related to that overlap between criminalization and poverty, from a queer, trans, feminist perspective. And that work was also tied into like, very, you know. . . a broader perspective. Like a lot of people were tied to the liberation of Puerto Rico, and the fight against the US Navy bombing Vieques, people were tied into the fight around Palestine. So it was very local–hyperlocal–New York City work, but it was very international because New York City is a very international place, and those politics were very international. So that really shaped me in a lot of ways. And I went from there to becoming a poverty lawyer and focusing on doing Poverty Law for trans people, you know, really focused on people in jails and prisons and welfare systems and immigration proceedings and foster care and stuff like that; homeless shelters. I did that for a number of years, and then increasingly felt like I. . . I just felt the real limits of doing that work as a lawyer and really prefer unpaid organizing and not being do not doing that to kind of the nonprofit and sort of like social services, legal services frame. And so my job, for now 15 years, has been that I’m a law professor. It’s like a really great job that’s not like. . . you know, it’s not a nine to five, and that’s wonderful. You don’t have a boss really, and things like that. And so I teach to kind of pay my bills and what my life is really about is, you know, a lot of. . . it’s been a lot of local abolitionist stuff. Like, you know, site fights around different jails and other facilities or police stations or whatever and mutual aid work and, you know, tied in for years with various aspects of like Palestine movement, especially around trying to push back against pinkwashing. And like writing stuff and making media and collaborating with artists and and, yeah. So, that’s like that’s that same. . .I’ve always think I’ve stayed the same, but also, I think my ideas have changed a lot over time. I’ve gravitated more towards anarchist or anti-state thought. And thinking a lot more in recent years about the ecological crisis and collapse and just kind of like what that means for the tactics and strategies we’re all engaged in kind of all these different movements spaces.

**Margaret ** 05:41
I think that that’s probably–that last point–is kind of the core of what I want to ask you about and talk to you about, because while you were talking, I was thinking about how like, you know, all of these things that you’re talking about–the activism you’re doing in New York, for example==I mean, it’s all preparedness, right? Like us, helping each other out is being. . . like, aware of actual threats and working to mitigate them? And that’s what preparedness is for me, right? And, I actually think activism is a very good, solid place to come from for preparedness, right? I’d rather have a bunch of activists and organizers around me than specifically people who like, know how to skin squirrels. I like people who can do both to be honest, but you know, as compared to the traditional assumption of what a prepper or someone who’s involved in preparedness, what their background would be. But I also. . .okay, so it’s like I want one, I kind of wanna talk about the activist-preparedness pipeline. But the thing that I’m really excited to talk to you about is kind of the opposite, is the thing that you just brought up. What does awareness of ecological crisis do to our activism? What does it do to how we make decisions around what to prioritize? How to live? Like, for me, the thing that started this show was that I was like, "I’m very aware of this coming ecological crisis. I feel a little bit distant from other people because I feel a little bit like I’m running around screaming, ‘the sky is falling.’ Because I could see it and I don’t understand why no one else can see it," you know? And it was basically like, how does this inform the decisions we make? Right? Which is where the title sort of literally comes from. But I think you’ve done a lot of work around this, around how awareness of ecological crisis impacts how we choose to be activists. And I’m wondering if you could talk about how it’s impacted you or how you’ve learned to help communicate this to people. Right, because that’s one of the biggest scary things is how do we not Chicken Little while needing to Chicken Little? You know, we need a little bit of Chicken Little–a little. Yeah, okay. I’m done.

**Dean ** 08:05
I want to come back to the pipeline later. Let’s remember to do that. But one thing that your question brings up for me also is just, I just want to talk–and I’m curious about your experiences of this–I want to be real about how much denial there is like. And I think this is really interesting. Like, I find an extreme amount of denial about the level of the crisis, even amongst people I know who are incredibly radical and spent their lives trying to end denial around other things they care about. Like we spent our lives trying to be like, "Look what’s happening in prisons and jails in our society," or "Look at what poverty is," or "Look at what the war machine is." But then when it comes to like, "Hey, y’all, I think that, like, collapse is nigh, and that might affect our strategies." People are like, "I don’t want to hear about that." Literally, "Don’t talk to me about that," because it’s so scary, and there’s so much stress. And then I get like a certain set of like really common denial reactions like, "Well, the world has ended before." And it’s like, yes, every time colonialism is happening a world, a way of life, a way people have been together is ending. Absolutely. And there is something unique and specific about this particular mass extinction event. And it’s okay to say. . . it doesn’t mean that those things didn’t happen or aren’t happening. But they’re. . .but that feels to me like sometimes a phrase people use that’s just like, "I don’t want to think about this anymore." I’m like, let’s think about that and this because actually, they’re all happening together. Right? Like, obviously, colonization is ongoing and it determines who is feeling the heat fastest, you know? That, I get that one a lot or I get like, "Well, humans are bad and maybe the world should just end," kind of thing. Like, let’s hasten it, or like, you know, maybe not, "Let’s hasten it," but like, you know, that feels really messed up to me. That feels like skipping over and denying how much meaningful suffering we want to acknowledge and recognize and also try to prevent, and it ignores the fact that not all humans have made this happen. Actually, most humans who ever existed have fought against extraction and states and wars, and it’s like just elites running state formations that have made this happen. Like that feels really not right and unjust, that kind of frame. I just get a lot of autopilot denial statements from people when I try to talk about this, that are from people like who I love and who really share my other values. And I’m just like, what’s going on? How can I get people to talk with me about this in a way that’s not–I’m not trying to just kick up fear and terror. And also, it’s probably reasonable to feel fear and try to hold that with each other, because that’s a reasonable response to the fact that I’m. . .I feel very certain that my life will end earlier than it likely would have ended because of the collapse of systems that I rely on–all of which are like terrible systems of extraction that I wish I didn’t rely on to live, but I do. Like, I want to talk about that with people I love. And, you know, I think it makes such a big difference in our political movements because we’re so often in conversations that are about unrealistic timelines of change by trying to persuade people, trying to. . . you know, let’s persuade Congress, let’s persuade. . . like, I don’t know, these are kind of moral persuasion, long-term frameworks for transformative change that are dubious on many levels but also are just really unrealistic with what we’re staring down the barrel of. So to me, potentially, awareness of the level of crisis that’s happening, would allow us to be very humble and pragmatic about immediate needs and preparation, as opposed to being invested in…. One other thing I’ll say about denial is I think one of the things that produces so much of this denial is there’s so much fake good news about climate. It’s like "This person is developing this cool thing to put in the ocean," or it’s all tech-based and it’s like tech is gonna save us somehow. And it’s those kinds of, "I feel good because I read one good thing about how one species is on the rebound." That is a whole news machine telling us not to be worried and also that experts have an under control, and someone else is going to fix it. And don’t look around at the actual overwhelming evidence of, again, living through another hottest year on record, you know? And so I guess I’m just–I’m sorry I’m all over the place–but I just, I really feel strongly about what would it take for the people in our communities who are so. . .who dedicate our lives to reducing suffering of all living beings, to let ourselves know more about what’s happening, and see how that would restructure some of our approaches to what we want to do with this next five years, you know?

**Margaret ** 12:50
I think that that’s such a. . .it’s such a good point because one of the things that we. . .one of the mainstream narratives around climate change–you know, I mean, obviously, the right-wing narrative is  that it’s not happening–and then the liberal narrative–and it’s the narrative that we easily fall into, even as radicals and progressives and anarchists an ect–Is that, "Hey, did you know that we’re in trouble by 2050?" You know, and we’re like, "We better get our shit together in the next 30 years." And I’m like, "I’m gonna be dead 30 years from now and not of old age." You know? And, I, maybe I’m wrong. I hope I’m wrong. I’m often wrong about this kind of thing, right? But I need to take into consideration the very likely possibility that that is going to happen. And I need to–and there’s certain things that I can do to like mitigate the dangers that I’m facing–but overall, it’s the same thing that you do by being born, where you’re like, "Well, I’m going to die," right? And so you’re like, I need to make decisions based on the fact that I’m gonna die one day. And so I need to choose what’s important to me and, like, do my YOLO shit. I don’t think anyone says YOLO anymore. But, you know, I need to, act like I know that I might die at any moment and make my decisions based on that. And people are like, "Yeah, by 2045 It’s gonna be so much trouble." And I’m like, "2030." You know, this year, last year, two years ago, COVID," you know? And we just need to take it into consideration. All of these things that you’re bringing up is a really interesting me. I took a bunch of different notes. I’m going to talk–I’m going to also kind of scattershot it. And one of the things that came up recently, we do a This Month in the Apocalypse and we do a This Year in the Apocalypse or "last year in the apocalypse," and the last year we did Last Year of the Apocalypse– whatever the episode we did recently about last year–you know, we got some feedback where people were like, "Y’all were a little bit more cynical and doom and gloom than you usually manage," and it’s true. And I try actually fairly hard with the show, because if you’re completely doom and gloom all of the time, it’s pretty natural to just shut down and eat cookies and wait for the end or whatever, right? And that’s like, not what I want to promote. But on some level, I’m reaching the point where I’m like, "Yeah, no, this is. . . it’s bad. The asteroid’s right there. We can see it. It’s coming. We need to act like that’s happening, you know? And there’s only so many times and ways you can say that. But the thing I…. Okay, one of the things I really like about what you brought up, is what that timeline does. In some ways it disrupts–including radical projects, right–like, one of my projects is social change and cultural change and one of my projects is to help people–and especially next generations of people–operate in a more egalitarian way, you know, in my mind a more anarchic way but whatever. I honestly don’t give all that much of a shit about labels with this, you know? And that’s like, a lot of my work, right? And then I’m like, I wonder how much that matters? You know, right now. And I wonder how much–and I think it does in kind of an…. I think this comes from the Quran, "If the world were ending tomorrow, I would plant a tree today." You know? I always saw it as like the cool activist slogan. And then eventually, it was like, "Oh, that, I think that’s a Quranic slogan." And that’s cool. And so as an anarchist that influences my thinking, right? About like,, okay, this slow cultural work has a point but isn’t necessarily what we’re going to do to save us–as much as "saving" happens. But it also really disrupts–and I think this is what you kind of mentioned–it’s really interesting how much it disrupts the liberal perspective of this. And I remember having this conversation–I don’t want to out this person as a liberal, [a person] that I love dearly [and is] an important part of my life, is very much a liberal–and when we’re talking about, "Oh, I wish we would have a green New Deal, but it just, it won’t happen. There’s no way it’ll get through Congress." And so at that, this person throws up their hands, they’re like, "Well, what would save us is a green New Deal and it’s not going to happen. So okay." And it’s just, to me, it’s like, well then what? You know? And you get into this place. And I think overall, I think anarchists and some other folks have been kind of aware of this for a while, where revolution is actually less of a long shot than electoral change on something that has a timeline, like mitigating the worst effects of climate change. And revolution is a shit fucking record, just an absolute garbage record. But it happens faster–but electoral change also as a garbage record and is slow as shit.

**Dean ** 18:04
Yeah, and also, if everything’s falling apart…. So like, I think that the systems that we live under, like the food system and the energy system in particular, are, you know, I think we saw this with COVID, the supply chains breaking down really quickly. Like the whole global supply chain is already like a shoe-strung, ramshackle, broken, messy, really violent thing and it falls apart–it’s barely patched together–and it falls apart quickly when it’s disrupted. And there’s no reason to think we wouldn’t have more pandemics soon. And there’s no reason to think we won’t have other major disasters, both resulting from political stuff and from ecological stuff and from economic access. So, if we know that the things we live under are falling apart, it’s not like. . . It’s like it’s not even like a revolution like some people topple something. It’s like things are just cracking, toppling unevenly across space and time across regions. And how do we want to be thinking about our lives? I like that you brought up that "YOLO," sharpens your own priorities, like who do I want to be near? What do I want? Who do I want to be with? How do I? What kind of person…skills would I like to have when that comes up? This relates to the kind of activist-prepper pipeline thing. Like, learning how to facilitate a meeting with a lot of people who are different from each other is really useful. Like my beloved, beloved, dear friend lived through Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. She lived in a really big apartment building that’s part of a complex of two really big apartment buildings. And she was like, "The thing I really wish I’d known how to do would be to facilitate a great meeting for that many people–even if everyone didn’t come." People were already supporting elders in the building, trying to help each other in every way possible, but she wished there had been big meetings to help facilitate that more. So those kinds of skills, knowing how to help people share stuff, knowing how to help deescalate conflict, knowing how to…what to do when intense men are trying to take things over, you know, and knowing how to organize around that. These are things that a lot of activists who are in any number of movements know how to do. So like knowing those skills and then also knowing it’s going to actually be really…like it’s going to be really local. There’s going to be a level of just like, "Do people have stored water on my block? How much? What stored water do we have to share? If I get more people on my block to store more water now, then when the water stops flowing we’ll have more water on the block." I think a lot about something you said in one of your episodes about how it’s more important to have a tourniquet than a gun. Like just things that you can share. Partly, it’s like, if more people are carrying tourniquets or Narcan or any of the things we know are about how I’m then a person who doesn’t need that and I’m a person who could share it. So just that aspect of preparation, that’s already what works. You know, we already live in a bunch of crises. Like, lots of our community members are in prison, people are living outside. Like, we live with so much crisis. We already kind of–if you’re working on those things, you know a bit about what that’s like, what you want to have in your bag, what kind of things would prepare you for the fight that’s likely to break out or emotional crisis people are likely to be about to fall into or whatever. So I feel like that kind of thinking, it’s like when we get to this level of awareness about the crises we live in and we’re like, "It’s not 2050. It’s already happening/it’s the next pandemic, which could be much a worse pandemic and start any day now. Or it’s the next storm coming to where I live or fire or smoke," or whatever. Like when we accept that more, which is like this whole difficult process about accepting our own mortality, accepting that things change, accepting. . . ridding ourselves of like, nationalism that tells us the United States is forever and will always be like this, you know, all these illusions are like so deep in us, like when we do that, it just clarifies what this short, precious life is about. You know what I mean? It gives us a chance–and there’s a lot of heartbreak. It’s like, wow, I won’t be with all the people I love who live all over the country or all over the world when this happens. I don’t know when this is happening. I don’t know how it’s gonna unfold. There’s so much powerlessness. And, what are the immediate things I want to do about appreciating my life right now and setting things up as to the extent that I can–I mean I can’t prepare to prevent it–but I can be like, "Yeah, I’m gonna store some water," or "Yeah, I would rather live closer to this person," or whatever it is, you know? I feel like people deserve a chance to ask those questions of ourselves and then, politically, to stop doing tactics that are based on a lie, that things are going to stay this way forever or even for a while. Because that feels like. . . I’m like, I want to stop wasting our beloved, precious time, you know, on shit that’s too. . . It’s on a timeline that’s not real. You know?

**Margaret ** 22:45
I wonder if it’s like. . .To me–I don’t talk much about my romantic life on the podcast, but I’m polyamorous–and one of the things that distinguishes a partner versus a sweetie is that I make my life plans incorporating partners, you know? Not necessarily like, oh, we’re gonna live together or whatever. But they’re like, these are the people that I like, from a romantic point of view, and being like, I am going to make my decisions absolutely, including these people. It’s like we need to date the apocalypse. We need to just accept that the apocalypse is our partner. Like, we need to make our decisions incorporating the uncertainty and. . . the uncertainty about what’s to happen, and the likelihood that what is coming is very different than what is currently–or certainly than what was 10 years ago. I mean, even like. . . I don’t know, talking to my friends who I’ve been friends with for 10-20 years, I’m like, we’ll talk about 10 years ago and we’ll be like, "That was a different world politically," right? It was just a completely fundamentally different world. And, you know, the future is going to be really different. And that is, you know…. For me, the biggest decision I made was around preparedness–and everyone has a different relationship with their families–I moved a lot closer to my family. I moved within one tank of gas to my family and back. And, you know, that is the single biggest step that I took in terms of my preparedness, and you know, that’s far more important to me than the, probably, about nine months’ worth of food, my basement. But, you know, I live in the mountains and have a lot of storage.

**Dean ** 24:41
Yeah, I think there’s a piece of this about getting to divest. Like, I mean, so much of what liberalism is and what nationalism is, is it tells us that if you’re mad about what’s happening, where you live, you should appeal to the people who govern you and you should further invest in their system and show up and participate in it. And maybe you should even run for office. It’s all about going towards, because that thing is going to deliver you what you want or not depending on how well you appeal to it. And when we’re like "That thing," you know, "first of all is rotten and is never going to deliver us anything but war and destruction and that’s what it was made for. That’s what it does." But also, like, even those of us who know that, even though those were like, "Yeah, I hate the United States. I’m not trying to improve it or fix it or make it into a wonderful…. Even those, we still, you know, we’re still very invested. Like, you know, I have a really mainstream job or there’s people I know, who want to own a home, all these things that we’ve been told will make us safe, it turns out they won’t? It turns out already they didn’t and haven’t for lots of people for lots of reasons for lots of times, you know? See 2008 crash, see, you know, hurricanes did taking out all-Black property and displace Black people. All the things. All the uneven, horrible, terrible violences of Capitalism and crisis. But it’s really a dead end. You know, when people ask me all the time about going to grad school and I’m like, "I don’t know, do you want to spend the last–possibly the last– few years of your life doing that? Will you enjoy it? Like will it let you do art and activism and whatever else you want or will it be a slog that you’re just putting in this time because you think in 10 years, you’ll have the job you want? In which case, no. Like for me that kind of invitation to divest from things that I don’t really want or believe in any way or to really be like, ?Why am I saying yes to this? Why am I saying no to that?" is one of the liberating aspects of accepting how dire things are that I want people to get to have. Because it’s about letting go of stuff that doesn’t work and that was never going to work, but like really, really, really. . . Like the Green New Deal. Like if I dedicate my life to passing and Green New Deal and Medicare for all in this political climate with this time, like, it’s not gonna happen, you know? And even I think many people who are liberals know that, but it’s like, what would happen? Like, do I really? Do I want to produce my own abortion drugs and hormones for my community out of my basement? Do I want to. . . Like, what do I want to do that is immediate support to people I love and care about instead of deferred, you know, wellness, "hopefully,"–if we can convince elites?

**Margaret ** 27:19
I like that idea. And I’m going to think about that more. I really liked the perspective of just specifically divesting, and I even. . . It’s one of the things I sometimes try to convince the liberals in my life is that the way that incremental change happens isn’t from people asking for incremental change, it happens when you’re like, "Oh, we don’t need you anymore. We’ve created our own thing," then the State is like, "Shit, shit, shit. No, we can do it too. We promise!" You know? And make them rush to catch up with us. And to compare it to something with my own life, when I when people ask for professional advice in a creative field, one of the reasons I like pushing DIY as a good intro–and even as someone who, you know, I do the show, which isn’t quite DIY, it’s collectively produced, but I’m one of the collective members, but started off DIY–and then I also have a corporate podcast, right, where, I get my salary from doing a podcast. And the way that you do things is you do things so well that the people who gatekeep look for you to invite you in, rather than going to them and begging for access. You declare that you’re too cool to go to the club, and then the club asks you to come in, you know? And in order to do that, you have to genuinely be too cool for the club. But then sometimes when people give you salaries, it’s fine and you can use it to fill your basement with food and give it to people and shit. And I think about that even with the Green New Deal stuff, it’s like, well, that’s not going to happen–probably at all–but it would need to be them co-opting a successfully organized wide-scale, decentralized movement, you know?

**Dean ** 29:11
And the Green New Deal is like the prior New Deal, it’s a deal to try to save Capitalism and extraction. It’s very drastically inadequate for anything that would. . . I mean, so much of what’s happened environmentally is not preventable at this point anyway, you know–in terms of what’s already been set in motion–much less the idea that something. . . I mean, it’s all based on the idea of maintaining a Capitalist job framework. I mean, it’s just, it’s really, really, really, really, really, really inadequate. And the United States is the world’s biggest polluter ever and has. . . The US military is the most polluting thing ever for reasons. It’s not just gonna be like, "Oh, you know what, those people those hippies were right, let’s stop." You know what I mean? Like, the idea that our opponents are gonna just change their minds because we tell them enough. You know? It’s just so. . . It’s like, we’ve been told. . . And it’s so like. . . We’ve just we’ve been given that message so relentlessly that if we’re just loud enough, if there’s just enough of us in the streets. And I think a lot of people saw Occupy and saw 2020 and see like, "Wow, this is so. . ." you know, Standing Rock, see these moments where people really, really show up and put everything on the line and are incredibly disruptive. And our opponents just right the ship and suggests that we don’t live in a democracy–and we never have. They’re not persuadable. Like, it’s not going to happen through those kinds of frameworks. And yet, I think that the kind of like brainwashing or the fiction version of the Civil Rights Movement that we’ve been given is so powerful. Like people really are like, "If I go to a march then. . ." I guess one of my questions at this point in life, too, is how can we bring new people into our movement, because more more people are like unsatisfied, miserable, terrified for good reasons, wonderful mobilizable. How do we bring people in and have ways that we engage in action together that help people move towards a perspective that isn’t liberal? So help people move away from love, just thinking they need to get their voice heard to like, "Oh, no, we actually have to materially create the things we want for each other." We have to directly attack our opponents’ infrastructure. And we have to have solidarity with everybody else who’s doing that instead of getting divided into good protesters and bad protestors, and all that stuff that you see happening, you know, every day. That to me, that question, like, what’s the pedagogy. . . What’s a pedagogical way of organizing that helps people move out of those assumptions, which are so powerful and are really in all of our heads. It’s just a matter of degree. Like, I feel like it’s a lifelong process of like trying to strip liberalism out of our hearts and minds, so to say. As they say. As liberals say. 

**Margaret ** 31:55
I really liked that way of framing it. I think about how one of my friends always talks about the way to judge the success of actions–and I don’t think that this is the only way. I think that sometimes, like "Did you accomplish your goals?" is a very good way. But I think that one of them is, "Does this tend to give the participants agency? Because I think that agency is–I mean, it’s addictive–but it’s in the same way that air and water are addictive, you know? The more you experience agency–and especially collectively produced agency–the more I think that people will tend to stay in the movement, even as their ability to express that agency, like even when the movement ebbs, right, people who learned. . . You know, there’s this thing that I think about with 2020, and 2020 has been memory hold completely, but on some level, everyone in 2020 who had never before seen a cop car on fire or never before seen the police retreat, I remember really clearly the first time in my life I saw the police retreat, because it never seemed like it was a thing that could happen. I’ve been doing direct action protesting for like eight years before I saw that police retreat, because the way that US tactics tended to work in protest didn’t tend to do things that made the police retreat. And that protest where I saw the police retreat, we did not win our strategic goals, right? But it’s part of why I am still in this movement is because I can’t forget that feeling. And so, yeah, I think that for we people are systematically stripped of agency, learning to invite people into space to collectively create agency is really important. But that said, I do think that actually–especially sort of anti-State leftism, which tends to be less structured, which I actually don’t think is inherently a positive or negative thing about it–is that I think one of our biggest stumbling blocks is we’re bad at bringing people in.

**Dean ** 34:13
Yeah, the insularity of some of the more insurrectionary work is, I think that is exactly it. It’s like yes, you can have your little cell that’s going to go into an amazing sabotage action or an incredible, you know, deface something or, you know, make something about the more machinery of the prison system or something harder, but how do people join? How are people? And also how to take those steps from like, "Wait, I’m really mad at what’s happening in Gaza," or  "I’m really pissed about what’s happening with the environment," or "I’m really scared about how the police are," or whatever, to finding what’s most available to find, which will often be organizations or groups that are doing a good job recruiting new people but maybe using not very bold tactics. How do we have those groups also be in better. . . You know, I was just reading Klee Benally’s book and one of the things Klee talked about is de-siloing the above ground from the underground, like having there be more solidarity is something I’ve been very concerned about, especially since the recent indictment of the forest defenders and in Atlanta. How do we not have people be like, "Well, the ones who were just flyering are just good protesters, and the ones who, you know, did sabotage and lived in the forest are bad." How do we build such a strong solidarity muscle–which means we have to break ties with like the pacifism narrative–how to build the strong solidarity muscle so that people can get recruited into our movements wherever they get recruited, whatever interests them, whatever tactic they first stumble upon, and then can take bolder action and take more autonomous action, cause there’s also kind of passivity in our culture. Like, wait for the experts to tell you. Wait for the people at the nonprofit to tell you. Wait for the group that organizes protests to tell you when to go home, instead of like, "What do me and my friends want to do? What do I want to do? Where it’s my idea to go, go off and do something else that’s potentially very disruptive to our opponents?" So how to have people get what you’re calling agency, or what I might call a feeling of autonomous power and inventiveness and creativity and initiative that isn’t just "I’m waiting to be called to come to the march once a year," or once a month, or whatever. But instead, like, "Yeah, I might go to that, and I also then met some people there, and they’re going to do this wild thing, and I’m gonna do that," and then how good it feels the first few times you break the law with other people and don’t get caught. Like having those joyful feelings–people talk about the joy of looting a lot and after 2020 there were a lot of great references to that–you know, those feelings of like, "Oh, my God, this entire system is fake. I can break the rules in here with others, and we can keep each other safe, maybe. And we can see that we don’t have to abide by this rigid place we’ve been fixed," you know? All of that, I think does–like you were saying–it keeps people in the movement or it feeds us. Given how difficult. . . I mean, you know, it’s not like anybody’s doing something where they’re like, "Yeah, this is totally working." So you need a lot of. . . You gotta get your morale from some kind of collaborative moments of pleasure and of disobedience that can like. . . You know, including hating our opponents and hating what they’re doing to all life, you know?

**Margaret ** 37:22
I really like the way that you talk about these things. I’m really. . . There’s like, so much more I’m gonna like to keep thinking about as I go through this, but one of the things that makes me think of is, you know, what does it take to take ourselves seriously, right, as a political force? I think that there’s this. . . Either, some people take themselves too seriously, but are not actually providing any real threat. Right? I would say that the sort of–don’t get me wrong, I’ve worked for nonprofits before and I don’t think nonprofits are actually inherently bad–but like the nonprofit, activisty, professional activism world, right, will often take themselves very seriously, but not present any fundamental threat or accomplish systemic change. And some of the people who actually do present a real threat, don’t take themselves seriously. They’re like, "Oh, we’re just kids acting out," kind of attitude. You know, I mean, like, well you’re 30, what are you doing? You know and they’re like, "We’re kids acting out," and like I’m like, okay, whatever you can, you can call yourself kids as long as you want. I remember one time I was hitchhiking when I was 26 and I was like, "Oh, yeah, we use the word ‘kids’ instead of like, the word ‘punks.’" You know? It’s like, "I’m gonna meet up with these other kids." And the woman who gave me a ride hitchhiking was like, "You’re an adult." And I was really offended. I was like…I’m an adult, that’s true.

**Dean ** 38:36
I’m not a square. I’m not a square. 

**Margaret ** 38:38
Exactly. And one of the things that I think about, I remember. . . Okay, there’s two stories about it. One was I was I was in Greece 10 years ago or 12 years ago, shortly after a lot of the uprisings that were happening in Greece, and after that kid, Alex, I believe his name was was. . . a like 16 year old anarchists kid was killed by the police, and then half the nation, you know, rioted around it. And I remember talking to this older anarchist about it, and he was saying that there were people who did studies and they were saying that the average person in Greece basically believed that the police and the anarchists were equally legitimate social forces. Like not like each. . . I think some people were not even like they’re both. . .they’re all the same. We hate them both. But instead, people being like, "Oh, well, the anarchists, that’s a perfectly legitimate thing that these people are trying to do, right, as a legitimate social force. And usually when people use the word "legitimacy" they mean squareness and operating within the system, and I’m not trying to use it that way. I haven’t come up with a better word for this. But I think about that a lot. And then because of the history research I do, I, you know, spent a lot of time reading about the Easter Rising in the early Irish Revolutionary Movement. And, you know, I haven’t gotten to read Klee Benally’s book yet. I got to start it. Someone had a copy of it. But it was sold out for obvious reasons. Although, by the time you all are listening to this Klee Benally’s book, which is–what’s it called? Sorry. 

**Dean ** 40:16
"No Spiritual Surrender" 

**Margaret ** 40:17
"No Spiritual Surrender" should be back in print from Detritus books. And anyone who’s listening, we talked about it before, but Klee Benally was a indigenous anarchist who recently died and had been doing movement work for a very long time. Might have actually hated the word "movement work," I’m not entirely certain. But, you know, the de-siloing of the above ground and the underground, I think that the more successful movements do that. And I think that, you know, the Easter Rising, one of the things that was really interesting about this thing in 1916, or whatever–you can listen to me talk about for literally, four hours if you want because it’s a four part episode–but one of the things that happened with it, that I didn’t realize, it gets presented most of the time in history as like, "Oh, well, there was a big. . . Everyone agreed that we should have this revolution." That is absolutely not the case. Absolutely the–I think it was called Redmond-ism, or something. There was like a guy and he was basically the liberal-centrist and vaguely wanted some a little bit of more freedom from England. And that was absolutely the political position of the average person in Ireland at that time. And then these crazy radicals, some of them nationalists and some of them socialists and some of them complicated other things, threw an uprising. And they threw that uprising, and it just fundamentally changed. . . That political position, that centrist position ceased to exist almost overnight. And I’m not suggesting that that is the way it will always work. But there is a way in which you say, "We are not embarrassed. . ." like sometimes you have to do things underground because you don’t want to get caught, right? But instead of being like, "Oh, well, I know this is unpopular," instead being like "I’m doing this, and it should be popular, because that makes so much sense." You know, and I actually think that the Atlanta folks in the US are some of the people who have been doing the most work about doing above ground and underground work in a movement that is like. . . These are all the same movements. Sorry, that was a long rant.

**Dean ** 42:24
I thought it was great. It made me think about how–and I really will listen to those episodes. I love that you’re doing history. It made me think about how sometimes I feel tension–I’m going to be overly simplistic right now–but between the parts of. . . In all the movements I’m in, there’s a part that’s more nonprofitized, and where people, I think, don’t know whether they’re interested in taking over the State or not, but because they are not sure and I’m not thought about anti-State politics there, they tend to actually accidentally be statist or some of them are more explicitly really trying take over the State or believe in that fantasy. And so that set of people, when you when you have a belief like that shaping what you’re going to do and you imagine yourself and you’re like "We’re going to run the FDA, or we’re going to run. . ." you know, when you imagine the scale of the nation and then you think about your people trying to get it, even though you know your people have never had it and aren’t anywhere near getting it, and maybe want to get rid of some parts of it altogether. Like maybe you want to get rid of the Border, get rid of the cops or something, that is not a non-humble framing. And it often includes a distrust of ordinary people and a sense that they still need to be managed. And those I think are like subtextual beliefs inside the work that is often happening at the more legitimized nonprofit side of our movements. And then more scrappy, you know, sometimes anarchist or less institutionalized parts of our movements are often much more humble. Like, could we stop one of these sweeps? Could we feed a hundred people in the park tonight? Could we. . . They’re very like, it has less of a like, "We’re going to take over and make a utopia out of this whole joint," which I think is a very unrealistic and also dangerous framework for a number of reasons, including to look at who else has tried that, you know? I think the idea of running other people in that massive way is just very dangerous and leads to different kinds of authoritarianism, honestly. But also, I think, for me, what happens when I really take into account the crises we’re living in and that are mounting and the unknown intense kinds of collapse that are coming soon, it really points me to that kind of humility. Like what’s doable here and now with what’s going on now? And what would I do if that were my focus? And it really leads to things like direct attacks, like sabotaging, like direct attacks on our opponents, like making their jobs harder. It leads to immediate mutual aid efforts to support people’s well being and preparation for things we know are about to happen. Like, what would make this less dangerous when this thing is about to happen? Like, that’s the stuff. Yes, it makes sense to just have masks now because more pandemics are coming, and the current one is so bad. You know, it makes sense to have certain things around or it makes sense to build certain skills and not to be overwhelmed. I think some people get really overwhelmed by the idea of, "Oh my God, I’m such a turn my whole life around, become a hunter, become someone who can farm tons of food," I know that’s not gonna happen for me. I’m not going to become an expert farmer and hunter. I’m not going to have the skills of somebody from the 1800s in the next few years. It’s not what I built my life to do. My body wouldn’t be good at it. But what is within reach that’s. . . How does it reorient me towards these very humble things that are both humble and that have a little more faith in other people? Like a little more faith that if we stored more water on my block–I don’t need everyone on my block to become interested in this–but if a few more people in my neighborhood were interested in this, we could store some more water. And if it feels. . . I just need to find some people who are interested. I don’t need to have every single person be interested. And I don’t need to convince everyone this is happening. But I also shouldn’t just do it by myself. Like somewhere in the middle. And this relates also to the pipeline question, like why are people who’ve been involved in organizing and activism often good at prep? One of the things is like–as I think your podcast does a great job showing–prep should be collective and not individualist. It shouldn’t be about "How can I have the biggest gun to protect my horde?" And instead, it’s like, how do I care about people even if I don’t like them. And that is something that our movements are about. It’s like, how do I care about people, even if they’re annoying, even if they don’t speak all the same kinds of terms, even if they don’t have my exact identities? How do I care about people because they’re around me and they’re thirsty? And that skill, that’s also going to be about "Who do I want to be in the end times?" Like, I’m living through a very, very hard time in human history, what kind of person do I want to be? I hope I’m generous. I hope I’m thoughtful. I hope I am oriented towards attacking things that hurt life and caring for life. And it’s not easy to do those things in this society. And so what would I want to change about what I’ve learned and what I know how to do to get a little closer to that. I’m going to die either way. Like we’re all gonna die even if we’re totally wrong and there’s no collapse and everything’s great. We’re all going to. So these questions aren’t bad to ask even if things turn out totally fine. 

**Margaret ** 47:28
No, I, I really liked this, this way of framing it. And it is. . . One of the things I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is I’ve been thinking about my own cynicism. And I don’t feel like. . . I feel like misanthropy is not the right word, because everyone I know who’s like a misanthrope is kind of an asshole about it. You know? But it’s like, once you realize that everyone is disappointing, you no longer have to judge the disappointing people as much, because then you realize that you’re disappointing, right? You know? And I’m like, "Oh, everyone kind of sucks." And then you’re like, "That includes me. I’m not better than everyone else. So now I should look after these people who kind of suck." And like, all of a sudden, I no longer have this thing where I’m like, oh, queers or anarchists or queer anarchists are the enlightened people and all the cis people are terrible and all the straight people are terrible. And I’m like, look, there are systems that privilege people of certain identities over certain other identities, right? But there’s nothing about being a lady who likes other ladies that makes me a better person than someone else, you know? And like, and so then I’m like, okay, well now I care about everyone because I dislike everybody. This is not what I actually advocate for other people to do. But this is kind of where I’m at a little bit personally. I really like this idea of pointing out how we care about people that we don’t necessarily like? And this is the thing that’s always felt strongly about communities. Community is the people who you’re doing a thing with or like to live near or, you know, whatever, rather than the people where you all agree about the current way to define the following word. And that said, I mean, there’s people who are like, "Well I might live near them, but they’re a racist who wants to hurt my friends." You know? But then again, I’ve also seen people–I know it’s controversial–but I’ve seen the people do the work of be like, "Hey, white person to white person, don’t be such a fucking racist. What the fuck is wrong with you?" And I’ve seen that work. Or, I’ve been part of a queer land project in a rural area where the neighbor starts off a little bit like, "What? What’s a pronoun?" you know? And then it’s like, "I don’t really get it, but you can use my tractor."  And I’m like, "Great!" Now we’re on the same side in terms of certain important decisions, like should we all starve to death when the food system collapses. 

**Dean ** 50:00
And safety can include–I think we see this a lot with people who’ve been working around domestic violence and intimate violence in our communities–where you’re like, "Yeah, there’s a guy who lives down the block and he has a lot of guns and he’s really, really reactive and he’s someone we all need to be aware of." It’s like not everyone is gonna move towards us. And so preparedness can also be about how we are currently supporting anybody who’s living with him? And how are we preparing to support us all in regard to him if that need be? Like that kind of just frankness, you know? Like just being clear with ourselves about. . . But that’s different. I do think that one of the downsides of social media has been–for me–like doing activism for many years before it started and then how it exists now, because it gives us a feeling that we could reach anyone–which of course, isn’t true. Most of us just reach people that are in our own little silos or a lot of nobody looks at it at all. It’s like there’s a fantasy that I could find my real people and I could have a real set of people who really understand me as opposed to just these jokers I’ve been stuck with on this block or in this school or in this job or whatever and actually who we are stuck with. That fantasy that we have. . . It’s true that it’s beautiful when we find people to share ideas with and that some of that happens over the internet, and I love all that. But ultimately, nobody gets to live in a little world of people who perfectly understand them. And when you think you’ve found those people and then you actually hang out with them, it always ends up that there’s actually tons of still intragroup differences and struggles and patterns. And so moving away from hoping to find the right people or climb to the right space where people will be truly radical–not that we don’t stop looking for our people everywhere–but also just be like, "Well, who’s here now? And what would it be like to learn how to care for those people? And also protect myself from them–to the extent that I need to.  And also try to make them more into what I want by showing them the cool ideas and hoping they come along?" You know, all of that, but not being in a fantasy that if I could just get these other people, then I would be happy. Like, that’s Capitalism just telling us to claim everything, you know?

**Margaret ** 52:00
I like that sometimes you’ll say the thing and I’m like, "No, I just agree with you. That makes a lot of sense. And I got to think about that." And like, I like it. Okay, I’ve got kind of a final question, I think. . . 

**Bursts ** 52:15
[Interrupting] But oh dear listeners, it was far from her last question. Stay tuned for the hair-raising conclusion of Mutual Aid with Dean Spade next week, on Live Like the World is Dying.

**Margaret ** 52:40
Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, you should tell people about it. And all of the things that I always tell you to do, like hack the algorithms by leaving me. . . I hate anything that I say that involves me making that voice. I’m terribly sorry. I will never do it again. However, leaving reviews does tell machines to tell other people’s machines to listen to this. And that has some positive impact on the world that is falling apart. And I need to tell you that that’s what I do all day, is I tell you about the world falling apart. But you can support us as we try to alleviate it. We are saving the world, and if you don’t support us, it is your fault when people will die. That’s what I’m trying to say. That’s "not" what I’m trying to say. Put your money towards whatever you think is best. If what you think is best is putting it towards Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness so we can continue to produce this podcast, pay for our audio editor, pay a transcriptionist, and one day pay the hosts, then you can support us on Patreon at patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness. That supports all of our shows and all of our different projects. And in particular, we want to thank Amber, Ephemeral, Appalachian Liberation Library, Portland’s Hedron Hackerspace, Boldfield, E, Patolli, Eric, Buck, Julia, Catgut Marm, Carson, Lord Harken, Trixter, Princess Miranda, Ben Ben, anonymous, Funder, Janice & Odell, Aly, paparouna, Milica, Boise Mutual Aid, theo Hunter, SJ, Paige, Nicole, David. Dana, Chelsea, Staro, Jenipher, Kirk, Chris, Mic Aiah, and Hoss the Dog. Alright. That’s it. I’m done recording. I’m gonna go play with my dog and I hope that you can do whatever makes you happy between now and the end of all things which might be a long time from now. Maybe. Talk to you soon.

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

S1E110 – Colin on Structural Triage After a Disaster

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Colin talks to Brooke about how to asses damage to structures after disasters, what you can do when you’re stuck in a building after a disaster, and ways to make your situation easier and safer.

Guest Info

Colin (he/him) is a carpenter, industrial electrician, and backpacker.

Host Info

Brooke can be found on Twitter or Mastodon @ogemakweBrooke.

Publisher Info

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

Transcript

Live Like the World is Dying: Colin on Structural Triage After a Disaster

**Brooke ** 00:15
Hello and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for it feels like the end times. I’m Brooke Jackson, your host for this episode. Today I’ll be talking with Colin, an experienced construction and trade worker, about how to prepare for and perform structural triage after disasters. But first we’d like to celebrate being a member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchist podcasts by playing a little jingle from one of the other podcasts on the network. Doo doo doo, doo doo.

**Brooke ** 00:48
And we’re back. Colin, thank you for joining us today to talk about structural triage after disasters. Would you introduce yourself? Let us know your pronouns, where you’re from if you want, maybe some of your background in the construction industry.

**Colin ** 01:19
Yeah, I’m Colin, he/him. Lived in around Western Pennsylvania pretty much my entire life—mostly in the Pittsburgh area. I picked up carpentry right after college just as a way to earn some money. Been in and out that for a while. I worked as an industrial electrician in the power industry for about seven years, and then decided I’d had enough of that and went back to doing carpentry.

**Brooke ** 02:10
Okay, so is your—is your background in those trades the reason that you’re interested in this topic, or was there something else that sparked you or made you kind of get into learning about it?

**Colin ** 02:23
Actually, the impetus for this was a little over—actually, seems like ages ago, but actually less than a year ago, a friend had an apartment fire right after Christmas last year. And it’s still that big cold snap. And fortunately, we managed to get them recovered from that, but it was only due to the fairly heroic efforts of a lot of friends. And after that I started thinking about, you know, like, what are the ways that, you know, if you don’t have people looking out for you and willing to come bail you out, what can you do if you’re stuck in a damaged building for a few days while you’re waiting for utilities to come back online, first responders to work through a backlog? Just, how can you make things easier in the immediate few days after disaster?

**Brooke ** 03:14
Nice. So is this something that you then have you had to put into practice, or other people around you have put into practice? Or are we mostly theoretical at this point and haven’t tested all these things—not that we don’t trust your experience here.

**Colin ** 03:31
Yeah, no, I have done some of these things more in the context of camping and backpacking, just like, there are things you can do that will make the situation easier and safer. Also, a lot of my background in working in power plants involved constant safety trainings about how do you do things safely? What do you have to look out for? What are, you know, things that you just need to be aware of when you’re in dangerous situations? And I’m continually surprised at how many of those applied to everyday life, and how much of that stuff we just don’t have to think about when we’re living in a house that has already been designed to be safe. But when you have a disaster, obviously things break. And suddenly, things that are—things that normally have the engineering and safety built into them no longer work the way they’re supposed to, and suddenly, you have to take care of all of that on your own. It’s not that hard to do, or even that expensive. You just have to do the planning and preparation before it happens. Because once you find yourself in that situation, it’s too late.

**Brooke ** 04:46
Yeah, that makes sense. And we’re gonna get into those details in a second. But for the listener, I just wanted to share that Colin had reached out to us with this really great list of different things we could explore on this topic. And as I said to him, the the part that stood out most to me was he was talking about how to shelter in place in a compromised building and how to do structural triage and first aid that can make the eventual recovery easier. So we may get into a lot more than that today, we may have a second episode at some point to talk about other things because Colin has a lot of great info to share. But that was the part that really struck me and the areas that I wanted to focus on. And so right before we get into the details, another question I wanted to ask you was, how broadly is this applicable? Like, you know, there’s all kinds of different disaster situations, right? We’ve got floods, fires, earthquakes, tornadoes, unnatural disasters. Do you have different tips for different scenarios that we’re going to talk about, or is a lot of this like works across multiple possibilities?

**Colin ** 05:50
It’s some of both. A lot of the things you need to be concerned with sheltering in place, or just being aware of what are the things that change when systems go offline. So when you don’t have power anymore and you’re relying on batteries or a generator, or you lose your gas, now, suddenly, you’re relying on kerosene heaters or lamps. All of these things change how you have to think about your safety in a house. Obviously, people have been living with fireplaces and wood stoves and oil lamps for a very, very long time. It’s not that hard to do. But if you’re used to being able to flip a switch and have the lights come on, you’re going to have to make some changes. And if you don’t do those things, you can cause yourself serious problems.

**Brooke ** 06:38
Okay, so let’s talk about the first part of that where work. Let’s say we’re in a situation where we’ve just had a disaster, we’re in a compromised building—whether it be like—I guess mostly we’re talking about homes, or maybe your apartment complex too, not necessarily, like, work structures. So let’s say we’re in that in that situation, we’re in this compromised building right after a disaster, what’s one of the first things that we need to do?

**Colin ** 07:01
So the very first thing is always keep yourself safe, because there’s no disaster that you can’t make worse by getting injured. And this is especially true—

**Brooke ** 07:12
[Laughing] That’s a good line, yeah!

**Colin ** 07:12
That’s especially true when you have, you know, something like the ERCOT disaster down in Texas and 2021, and you have an entire city that is struggling, and your first responders are overwhelmed.

**Brooke ** 07:28
Was that when they lost power?

**Colin ** 07:30
Yeah, they lost power for I want to say a week or two? I don’t think it was continuous. I think it went off, and then it came back on, and then it went off again. The estimated death toll from that was like somewhere between 250 and 700 people, which is—that’s like 10 times the number of people that die from an average hurricane season. And most of it was due to things like hyperthermia and carbon monoxide poisoning. Just because people were trying to stay warm and making bad decisions either because they didn’t know any better, or they didn’t have the tools they needed. Most of it could have been avoided. But obviously that was a terrible situation, and Texas is still recovering from that. So yeah, you’ve got to keep yourself safe. Couple parts of that. The easiest thing is the personal protective equipment side. Because that’s just a matter of throwing a little bit of money at the problem, and it doesn’t even take very much money. This is stuff like have worked gloves around so that you can protect your hands. Keep safety glasses around, because getting an eye injury will make life real bad and real tough right now. Earplugs. Disasters are often loud, and even if they’re not, things are going to sound different. So having earplugs can help you sleep better. These are, like, not—things that do not cost a whole lot of money. But the most important thing is just to look at the situation and take a beat and figure out what has changed and what you need to do to stop the problem from getting worse. So the first part of this is anything that is broken or not working the way it is supposed to needs to be shut down. So like, do you need to get the power turned off? Do you need to get the gas turned off? Do you need to get the water turned off so your pipes don’t freeze and burst? These are things that the average homeowner can do: turning off the power, as long as you have access to the circuit breaker, it’s a matter of flipping a switch. Water should just be a matter of closing a valve. The problem is a lot of times the shutoff valves for water don’t work the way they’re supposed to because they haven’t been maintained. I have run into that a few times. And—

**Brooke ** 09:42
I know I know at my own house, shutting off the water is a much bigger deal than it should be.

**Colin ** 09:48
Right and most of the time that’s fine, until you have pipes that are actively spraying water, and suddenly it’s not fine. Getting the gas shut off. Usually, again, just matter of going outside with a wrench and turning the valve at the meter. But you have to have the right size wrench and you have to know where that valve is.

**Brooke ** 10:09
Okay, so here’s a neat—sorry to interrupt you. But I’ve had—for a long time I’ve had—I don’t know if this is good, so you tell me. I got a wrench that’s like specifically for shutting off your gas, it’s this bright red one, and you zip tie it next to your gas main. And then if there’s a disaster, you should have to go cut the zip tie and use that wrench.

**Colin ** 10:32
Yeah, that is a fantastic idea.

**Brooke ** 10:34
Okay.

**Colin ** 10:35
I would suggest maybe string or something that you can just yank to break it loose, because having zip tie on there that you have to cut, that’s one more tool you have to find before you can get to the wrench. Zipties are fantastic because they are very secure. Sometimes so secure that you can’t get them off.

**Brooke ** 10:50
So I might have to replace the string once in a while, but string would be better.

**Colin ** 10:53
Or, the meters normally magnetic, you can put it on a magnet, you can just have it—

**Brooke ** 10:58
Oh, yeah!

**Colin ** 10:59
—duct taped to the side of it. Something you can get off without tools. And it’s always there. And then periodically, every six months, just check and make sure it’s there. And, you know, a raccoon hasn’t stolen it. But no, that’s a fantastic idea.

**Brooke ** 11:13
Okay, so that’s a good planning ahead. But if you haven’t planned ahead, then, you know trying to find a wrench is generally the tool you’re going to need, right, to shut that off if you have gas?

**Colin ** 11:22
Yeah yeah. Then if you live in an apartment building, usually you will have access to your electrical panel, but not always. You may not have access to the main water shut offs for your apartment. You can probably find out where in the building those are. You’re not going to be able to tell if they’re working the way they’re supposed to before something happens. But have a plan for how to get into whatever room the shut offs are in. If you have to go through a door, this may mean keeping a sledge hammer or pry bar around so that you can get through to the shut offs in the case of an emergency. And yeah, your landlord is probably going to be unhappy and you may lose your security deposit, but it’s better than having your apartment burn down.

**Brooke ** 12:12
Yeah, seems like it.

**Colin ** 12:13
Yeah.

**Brooke ** 12:14
Okay, so step one is, like right after the disaster, donning some protective gear and then going around to shut off compromised utilities.

**Colin ** 12:24
Right, anything’s not working, get it turned off so that the situation stops getting worse. Once everything’s shut down, then you can take your time and figure out how to make things livable until systems start to come back online. The other thing to do with preparation is make sure all your smoke alarms are working, and make sure you have fire extinguishers. Because, again, fire when you don’t have first responders available is very, very bad. So hopefully everyone has these things to begin with. But if you don’t, I highly recommend going out and getting some as soon as possible.

**Brooke ** 13:01
Okay.

**Colin ** 13:02
So you now have everything turned off, you have your fire extinguishers, you’ve dealt with the immediate problem. Now you’re faced with, how do I make the structure minimally safe for the next few days? If you have broken windows, damaged roof from storms, things like that.

**Brooke ** 13:25
Okay, so it’s assuming your residence is still some amount of livable and/or you just don’t have anywhere else to go and you kind of have to stay.

**Colin ** 13:35
Yeah, as long as you have a roof and three walls, you’re gonna be fine most of the time.

**Brooke ** 13:44
What about—what about the fourth wall? Why don’t we get a fourth wall here, Collin?

**Colin ** 13:48
I mean, four walls is great. Three walls is enough to keep the roof up.

**Brooke ** 13:55
That’s a really good point though, no, genuinely.

**Colin ** 13:58
If a tree comes through the front of your house, you can still deal with that. It’s gonna suck, but it’s not the end of the world. And the things that you need to make the situation better than it would be? Not that complicated. It basically boils down a lot of times to having some plastic sheeting or tarps and a staple gun. If you can get something over your openings to keep the wind and the water from entering the house, that’s going to buy you a lot of time. If you’ve ever been driving through, you know, the back roads and rural counties and you see the houses that have the plastic tarps over their roofs that have obviously been there for many years, those houses are still functional. They’re still standing. A lot of times people are still living quite comfortably inside those houses. Doesn’t look very good, but it’s gonna work for a while. And oftentimes, that’s all you need.

**Brooke ** 14:50
Yeah, that’s one of the reasons you see tarps up there for so long is that they’re doing what they need to do and they don’t need to do more than that. For folks that don’t have that kind of stuff sitting around, I imagined that maybe grabbing some sheets or blankets or something and throwing those over the opening would still be better than just leaving it open?

**Colin ** 15:10
Yeah, even the bed sheet over the window is going to stop rain from blowing in and my dogs barking in the background. I apologize.

**Brooke ** 15:19
That’s okay. We are a puppy-friendly podcast.

**Colin ** 15:25
A staple gun is something that you should definitely own if you don’t, because that’s the easiest and fastest way of getting any kind of sheet, whether it’s cloth, or a tarp, or trash bags with plastic sheeting attached to walls really fast. A staple gun will set you back maybe $20 tops, and makes life a whole lot easier when it comes to covering openings. If you don’t, if you don’t have that, duct tape will also work. However, it doesn’t work as well as you would expect, especially when the weather is cold or if surfaces are wet.

**Brooke ** 16:01
Sure. Yeah. Thumb tacks if you have those sitting around.

**Colin ** 16:06
Thumb tacks. Hammer and nails.

**Brooke ** 16:08
Yeah.

**Colin ** 16:09
Anything to do to secure a sheet. At that point, you’re not really worried about damaging the house because the damage has already been done, and fixing a few nail holes is peanuts compared to trying to fix, you know, several hundred gallons of water that have been blown in by high winds.

**Brooke ** 16:25
Okay, so we close our openings to protect from water, from cold temperatures, probably from other elements too, right, if—blocking the sun?

**Colin ** 16:36
Yeah, sun. If you’re in a hot area—this is a totally different topic on its own. But trying to keep the sun out of your house, if you’re in a hot situation is just as important as trying to keep the heat inside the house if you’re in a cold situation. If you lose power and you’re relying on air conditioning to keep your house livable, the best thing you can do is get all of your windows covered as soon as you possibly can. Because solar gain through glass will drive up the interior temperature really quickly. Doesn’t matter what you have. Again, plastic bags will work. Anything, just block the amount of light that’s coming through the glass. Cardboard, sheets, blinds, you name it?

**Brooke ** 17:24
All right. So we’ve covered up our holes. What do we need to do next?

**Colin ** 17:30
Covered up the holes. Things are shut down, turned off. Now you have to start worrying about how am I going to actually get back to living inside this damaged structure for as long as I need to until help can arrive and start doing major repairs that need to happen? And a couple of things you want to look at, the—obviously we’re coming up on winter. So the first thing to talk about is how do you stay warm? Hopefully you have blankets and sleeping bags and things that will keep you warm overnight. But you can also look at how you can take a single room and the house and make that one room more pleasant for the duration. So like, if you are struggling to keep your house warm because either you’ve totally lost power or your furnace can’t keep up with the temperatures, shut everything down except for one room—preferably a room that has water and power in it. So you have all of your basic necessities in one spot. If you have a bathroom basement—or a bathroom in the basement is ideal because it’s usually going to be interior walls, you’ve got water, you’ve got power, and if you throw, you know, a pad down the floor you can even sleep in there. You’ve got all your necessities in one spot.

**Brooke ** 18:56
Now are basements fairly safe places in the face of most natural disasters? Are there times when you wouldn’t want to hang out in the basement?

**Colin ** 19:03
It depends on the disaster.

**Brooke ** 19:04
Okay.

**Colin ** 19:06
Obviously if you’re dealing with a flood, the basements not where you want to be.

**Brooke ** 19:10
[Laughs] Sure. What about if there’s been fire damage to like the upstairs of your house?

**Colin ** 19:20
That depends on how stable the structure is. If there’s fire damage, usually you don’t want to be directly over or directly under the damaged section.

**Brooke ** 19:31
Hm. Okay.

**Colin ** 19:32
So that if it collapses, it doesn’t land on you and you don’t go through the floor.

**Brooke ** 19:37
Okay. Makes sense.

**Colin ** 19:38
So fire—like talking about a fire damaged structure is probably beyond the scope of what I’m qualified to do, and beyond the scope of most of the people listening to the podcast because it requires you to be able to look at the damaged structural members and evaluate, you know, how compromised are these? Is this floor burned but otherwise stable, or is this going to collapse in the next five minutes? And that’s a skill set entirely on its own.

**Brooke ** 20:11
That’s a good point.

**Colin ** 20:12
If something looks burned and unsafe, just don’t go near it.

**Brooke ** 20:18
Yeah, and of course, you know, burned structures and objects can be very carcinogenic too.

**Colin ** 20:26
That’s also true.

**Brooke ** 20:27
They can really impact your health. So that’s a really good point that a lot of this maybe is really not applicable to the situation of having been in a fire.

**Colin ** 20:35
Now, that said, if you’ve lost half of your house to fire, and you have a few rooms that are still relatively untouched on one side of the house, and you can seal off the burned section of the house, again, using plastic, just so you don’t have the smell of the burned material getting into the living area as much as possible, you’re still better off inside the house in that situation overall, if you don’t have anywhere else to go, then you are trying to, say, camp out in the backyard. Because solid walls and a solid roof offer you more protection and better insulation, even when they’re damaged.

**Brooke ** 21:16
Okay, yeah, that makes a lot of sense. If you have a really bad kitchen fire and lose your kitchen, that doesn’t mean you have to move out of the whole house necessarily. Okay.

**Colin ** 21:24
Correct. Yeah. And obviously, the best thing to do is leave and go someplace else if you can. But this is: your stocking place because the roads are impassable, or you literally have nowhere else to go.

**Brooke ** 21:37
Yeah. Okay. All right. So moving into the basement, a good idea if you can, but in general is secluding yourself in part of the house. And to throw in a personal anecdote, we had this ice storm here in Kalapuya territory in Oregon—it was almost three years ago now. And most of the town lost power. And it was one, two, three days, a week, seven days, ten days for some folks—long time. And, I kind of without knowing any of this, just sort of instinctively moved us into the living room where a fireplace was because we had lost power and we lost it for a week. And we all just camped out, you know, slept, ate, played in the living room, because the only source of heat was the fireplace. So that’s what we gravitated to. Anyway.

**Colin ** 22:27
Yeah. And if you have a fireplace, if you have a room that’s already set up for that kind of thing, like a living room, that’s fantastic. I mean, there’s no reason to hide out in the bathroom, if you have a place with a working fireplace. Yeah, good, go for the fireplace room.

**Brooke ** 22:42
Yeah. On the downside, we had to pass into the, you know, 40 degree, 30 degree weather in the rest of the house to get to the bathroom. One in the back of the house. But, you know, for everything else, we were cozied up and warm in our one little room. Which, you know, we drove each other crazy. I will say that too being trapped in the one room together. But it was the only place that we be worn for that week.

**Colin ** 23:06
Yeah, like having just a contained place that you can keep as warm and comfortable or as cool and comfortable as possible is your best option. Don’t worry about trying to keep your entire house up to temperature, whether that be warm or cold. Because that takes a lot of energy to do and it’s just probably not gonna be possible in most situations.

**Brooke ** 23:28
Okay, here’s a scenario question for you: Let’s say same set of circumstances, like, that I went through, but something crashed through my big living room window, and we have to tarp over it. Is it? Is it? Is it better? Like, if I have to stay in my house at that point, is it better to still be in the living room with the fire in the tarped up window, or should I try and move to a different room and figure out some other heating source?

**Colin ** 23:54
I would probably still stay in the living room. If your concern is keeping yourself warm and you have a fireplace, that’s going to be your best option.

**Brooke ** 24:06
Okay.

**Colin ** 24:06
The issue of the window being broken and the tarp—the one problem with tarps is in high winds, they tend to flap a lot and they’re just kind of annoying. The easy solution to that is back it up with cardboard. Cardboard does not like to get wet, but as long as it stays dry, it’s a fairly good insulator and it’s solid. And it’s cheap. You can—everybody has a pile of cardboard boxes and their front hall from Amazon waiting to go out in the recycling. So take some of those boxes—

**Brooke ** 24:37
I’m just gonna close this door behind me…

**Colin ** 24:41
Take some of these boxes, break them down, put a few layers of cardboard on the inside just as a backup to the tarp so that your plastic is keeping the water out, but your cardboard is blocking more of the wind and keeping the plastic from flapping quite so much.

**Brooke ** 24:57
Okay got it. So staying close to that the best heat source is still the way to go.

**Colin ** 25:03
Yeah, it’s always gonna be a judgment call as to what that is. But if you have a fire, and you are comfortable using it, and you have a good wood supply, that’s almost always going to be your best bet.

**Brooke ** 25:16
Okay? Makes sense. All right, so let’s see, where are we even at not in our to do list here?

**Colin ** 25:24
Okay, so we have a warm place to stay. And, assuming you have a fireplace, we’ve got that taken care of. The trickier situation is when you lose power and suddenly you’d have no heat at all. And even if you’re relying—if you use natural gas for your heat, pretty much every furnace these days has an electric blower unless you have one of the, like, direct vent wall mounted furnace units that are basically just a gas flame that’s passively heating. But if you’re using forced air, it’s using gas for the heat source, but you need electricity to move that warm air through the house. So if you lose your electricity, you lose your heat, even though you still have a fuel source. And that’s something that a lot of people don’t think about, especially in winter, they’re like, oh, it’s not a problem. If you lose electricity, big deal, I have gas. Well, that’s not going to help you.

**Brooke ** 26:25
That was my circumstance. Gas furnace, but needed the electricity and we didn’t have that.

**Colin ** 26:30
Yeah. So if you can get yourself down to a fairly small room, a bathroom, a small bedroom, even a large walk-,in closet, it doesn’t take a whole lot of energy to keep one of those spaces warm. You can get the small, portable, like, propane heaters, little buddy heaters. They don’t cost a whole lot, but then you have the issue of combustion in a confined space, which is a good way to end up with carbon monoxide poisoning or asphyxiation or, yeah. It can be a very bad scene. So if you’re going to do that, be sure you have a portable carbon dioxide alarm. Just go to Home Depot or wherever, pick up another one of the nine volt battery powered smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and keep that in whatever space you’re running that portable heater. It doesn’t matter if you have smoke alarms and carbon monoxide heaters or detectors throughout the house. Those aren’t going to help you if you have sealed yourself off from those alarms so that you can try to keep the space warm.

**Brooke ** 26:41
Makes sense.

**Colin ** 27:22
And actually, my recommendation, even more than one of the small portable heaters, is a kerosene lamp or propane lamp of some kind. A lot of the old ice fishers for heating their ice fishing huts in the winter just used Coleman lanterns. One of the propane Coleman lanterns will put out almost the same amount of heat as a 1500 watt electric space heater.

**Brooke ** 28:11
Oh wow!

**Colin ** 28:12
They are very, very warm. Now also, it’s still combustion. So you have to be aware of that. And they do get very hot. So you need to have a place to hang it to keep it away from fabric and other things that can catch on fire. But they will make a room surprisingly warm on their own. And then that also gives you light source, which is another thing that you’re going to need if your power is off.

**Brooke ** 28:39
Now, what if—what if it’s a reverse circumstance. You’ve lost power and it’s very warm climate. You’re in, you know, hot temperatures. Are you still trying to stay in one room? What tools do you have to get cold?

**Colin ** 28:55
That is a much more difficult situation. There are some things you can do, but it’s going to require more tools and more planning. If you’ve ever seen the giant black tubes coming out of pit toilets, usually like a national parks, what those are doing is pulling a draft on the underground part of the toilet by using a thermal chimney. That black tube gets hot in the sun and hot air rises, you’re pulling the hot stinky air up from out of your bathroom, and pulling fresh air in. So you can do the exact same thing with a house by having some kind of large black chimney. You can do this out of pipe or even black cardboard if you live in a very dry area. But this is something you’re going to have to know how to build and plan for in advance. It can be done, but it’s probably going to be on—be beyond the scope of what most people can do in an emergency. So really, in the situation where hat is issue, the best thing you can do is stay out of the sun and try to move as little as possible. Outside if you can, like wherever you can get fresh air, any kind of breeze, air movement, is going to keep you cooler than sitting inside.

**Brooke ** 30:24
Yeah. If you know how to make like a swamp cooler kind of thing—let’s say your water, you can still get coolish water coming out and you’ve got—well I guess you need electricity for the fan. Damn.

**Colin ** 30:36
You can use the swamp cooler, you can build a passive swamp cooler. Again, it relies on that thermal chimney to create the draft. But those do work, assuming that you’re in an area that is dry enough that you have evaporation. I live in western Pennsylvania, and usually in the summer if it’s hot enough to need air conditioning, it’s also about 95% humidity and swamp coolers do not work.

**Brooke ** 31:02
And I think they can even be dangerous, right? Making it—because they can make it too humid—unsafely humid?

**Colin ** 31:09
Yes.

**Brooke ** 31:12
Sorry, you’re getting outside your realm.

**Colin ** 31:17
No, no. So the swamp cooler, you know, for listeners who are not aware of what this is, it’s a—basically the same thing as a wet rag that the moisture on the—in the cooler evaporates and evaporation requires energy. So you’re pulling heat out of the air and using that to evaporate water. And what you end up with is air that is cooler than it was before, but also more humid. So obviously, before that can work, you need to have air that is dry enough that it can absorb some amount of moisture. If you already have close to as much moisture in the air as it can possibly handle, you’re not going to change the temperature significantly by evaporation.

**Brooke ** 32:03
Okay. Make sense. All right, so we we’ve gotten ourselves down to one room, we figured out a way to heat ourselves, and we’re hunkered in and it’s gonna be a few days that we’re in this situation. So what now and what next?

**Colin ** 32:22
So now you have to think about, you know, the basics of survival. You need food and water. Food, hopefully you have some stores around. If not, you know, at least in the United States, getting food is not that difficult most of the time, it may not be good. But you’re probably not going to starve if you’re in your house.

**Brooke ** 32:52
Even if you’re iced in and can’t—can’t literally get out of your house, you probably have something in your pantry, it might not be what you want to eat, but there is calories available.

**Colin ** 33:02
Yeah. You have calories. They’re maybe not the best calories, but their calories. Water is trickier. Hopefully, you have at least a little bit of a stockpile, but not always. And if you have lost your water supply, or if there is damage to the mains—like again, using Texas as an example. Once your water mains freeze and the pressure in those pipes drop, you start having issues with groundwater making its way into the water mains, and that results in a boil order. So it’s entirely possible to be in a situation where your taps still work, water comes out, but you can’t drink it. And now you’re faced with a problem of, like, how do you make this water supply drinkable again? And if you have a small water filter like the Sawyer Mini, it’s popular with a lot of backpackers, a LifeStraw, anything like that, those are great. If you don’t have one of those, the reason it’s called a boil order is because you can always boil the water. Again, assuming that you have a heat source with which you can get the water hot. If you have a gas stove, most of the time natural gas is not disrupted by natural disasters with the exception of earthquakes. But if you’re relying on electricity, if you’re cooking like a lot of people do and you lose electricity, now you’re kind of out of luck. So you need to have some kind of way of boiling water. If you have that Coleman lantern or a kerosene lantern, a lot of those get hot enough that you actually can boil water in a small container over one of those lanterns. It’s not ideal. My recommendation is actually just one of the old school Coleman propane two burner backpacking stoves. They are absolute workhorses, indestructible. My brother just inherited the one of my parents, which I think is pushing 50 years old and still works just fine. You cannot kill those things, and you can pick one up off eBay for somewhere between $20 and $50, depending on what kind of condition it’s in. And the other great thing about propane is that it has an indefinite shelf life. So if you have one of those stoves sitting around and you have one of the green one pound cylinders of propane, that you inherited from your grandparents, plug that in. It doesn’t matter if it is twice as old as you are, it’s still going to work just fine. Same is not true of gasoline and a lot of the other fuels. They’re hard to store, they smell, they have other issues. But propane is fantastic. So you can buy it, you can stash in your basement, you can forget about it, and it’ll be there when you need it.

**Brooke ** 36:01
Now a complicating factor to be aware of ahead of time, of course, is that you can have a big propane tank like you might use for your barbecue, and then you can have those little green ones. And they’re not—they don’t necessarily all hook up into the same canisters, you know, the camp stoves versus barbecues, right, so you might not have the right size of—like if you’re—if you have a camp stove and you’re like, I can hook my barbecue propane tank up to it, that’s not going to work with what you normally have, right?

**Colin ** 36:31
With what you normally have. There are adaptor hoses that are designed to do exactly that. And a lot of times if you have outdoor events, they will use those two burner stoves but they will hook them up to the barbecue tanks because the little one pound cylinders get expensive if you’re relying on those for a large amount of propane. You also can’t refill them like you can with a barbecue tanks.

**Brooke ** 36:54
Right. So it’s so frustrating.

**Colin ** 36:55
Yeah. So if you have a bar—if you have a barbecue grill already, then, you know, there’s your heat source. You have to go outside to use it, but you can put a pot of water on your barbeque grill and bring it to a boil, it’ll work just fine. Or if you have one of the little two burner backpacking/camping stoves, they make the hoses to go from the barbecue tank to that kind of stove. And now you can bring your propane tank inside as you need. Again, under normal circumstances don’t do this. But in a disaster you can. And run the propane inside.

**Brooke ** 37:35
Check your venting, check your C02 levels…

**Colin ** 37:38
Again, there’s a very good reason that they tell you not to do this. And if you’re cooking inside with a stove that has not been designed to do this, you need to have your fire extinguisher, you need to have your carbon monoxide alarm, and as soon as you’re done with it, get that fuel back out of the house, because obviously propane is flammable.

**Brooke ** 38:00
Alright, so we’ve got a way to get some water, hopefully, and to warm up some food or cook some food if we need to. So we’ve got those basic elements that we can survive and subsist for however long we’re gonna be stuck in this compromised building in this disaster.

**Colin ** 38:18
Yeah, so the next part is, don’t get sick. This means how to have a way to keep yourself clean. [Everyone dissolves into a fit of giggles] Hot tip! Don’t get sick. Life is better when you’re not sick.

**Brooke ** 38:21
[Laughing] Yes.

**Colin ** 38:40
Keeping up with sanitation when you don’t have running water, especially when you don’t have hot running water, is hard. If you don’t have water, you also probably don’t have a functioning toilet anymore. And that’s going to be a problem sooner than—real quick. Takes about 24 hours, possibly less, and suddenly it’s unpleasant. So have a way of dealing with all that when you don’t have running water. The easiest solution is a five gallon bucket and something for urine. You want to try to keep those things separate because you’re in, you know, you can take it outside, you can dump it in the grass, it’ll be fine. The same is not true of feces. You need to at the very least compost that. You can get fancy composting toilets that will set you back several thousand dollars.

**Brooke ** 39:41
Yeah

**Colin ** 39:42
They worked really well. They have fans and tumblers and everything else. But for the van that I use for camping, my solution is a five gallon bucket with a gasketed lid and plastic bag full of chopped straw, and it works just fine. It doesn’t smell that great when you open it. But honestly, it’s not terrible. As long as you keep the feces covered with a layer of either chopped straw or peat moss or something else that will absorb all the excess nitrogen is really what you’re after. You’re fine.

**Brooke ** 40:21
A brief segue as we talk to Colin’s husband/wife/romantic partner. How do they feel about the shit bucket?

**Colin ** 40:30
Not a fan. On the other hand, given a choice between the shit bucket, and going outside, when it’s pouring down rain in the middle of the winter, and we’re camping? [Laughing] The bucket is better. It’s not ideal, but when you need it, you’re really glad that you have it. And it’s something that you can keep around, it’ll set—it’ll cost you maybe $10, and throw it in the basement. Hopefully you never need it. But if you do, it’s there, and it will get you out of a bad situation. And it doesn’t require you to put a whole lot of thought or effort into dealing with it. And then once everything is back online, and you have trash collection, again, if nothing else, seal the bucket up, put it in the trash can, and let the whole thing go to the landfill. Composting it is great, that’s what I do. But if you just don’t want to deal with it, put the entire bucket in the trash.

**Brooke ** 41:28
Or an even poor man’s version of this, you can put a plastic bag in a trash can and put your business in there and then tie up your plastic bag, set it outside. And repeat, if you forgot to get a bucket ahead of time.

**Colin ** 41:43
Yes, that also works just fine. The nice thing about the bucket is then you have a sealed lid so it keeps the odor inside, and you can keep it in the house where it’s warm and dry. Because there’s nothing worse than having to poop in the middle of the night when it is sleeping and five degrees outside.

**Brooke ** 42:03
Yeah, that’s pretty awful.

**Colin ** 42:05
Food waste and trash are two other big things. Trash collection, we take for granted. But if you’ve ever had a couple bags of trash sitting in your garage for a week because you forgot to put them out on trash day, they get real unpleasant real fast. So again, if you’re in a situation where you know you’re going to have to be living with this stuff for an extended period of time, try to keep your food waste separate from your trash that doesn’t stink. So plastic bags, solid stuff that will be dry and relatively odorless in one bag. Food waste, again, can go in a sealed bucket, or in a smaller bag, you can keep further away from the house. If you’re familiar with Bokashi, I think that came up on one of the episodes about composting. It’s not, it’s not composting in and of itself, it’s a bit more like fermenting—kind of like making sauerkraut, but with food scraps—and basically does the same thing. You just get a bucket with a sealed lid, put your food in there, let it sit and it will slowly ferment on its own. And it can take pretty much anything. Even things that normal compost can’t. So it can handle small amounts of meat and protein, cooked food, things like that. We have a bucket of that just under our sink that all the food scraps go into. And it probably gets emptied maybe once every two weeks, so that we don’t have to have any food going into the trash. And yeah, it’s—it’s funny, like I will occasionally go to people’s houses now that are just using trash cans the way people do where everything goes in the trash can. And I walk into the kitchen. I’m like, why am I smelling, like, food waste? Like I smell rotten food. What’s wrong? It’s like oh, right, it’s because you’re putting in the trash can where it sits and rots. So if you can just keep those two things separate. It will make the situation a lot more pleasant. That’s a great tip. And yeah, just, you know, as much as you can, wash your hands and do all the things you are supposed to do. Brush your teeth, floss, things like that nature. Just take care of yourself and try to keep yourself together for as long as you possibly can. The situation will improve if you can just avoid making it worse. Human body is amazingly tough. All you have to do is sit and wait and most situations disaster-wise will improve on their own because the pressure on first response yours and utilities will ease up and things will start to come back online, as long as you can make it through that first critical period.

**Brooke ** 45:08
Okay, do you mind now if we shift to talking about structural triage and things that we do to our actual residences, dwellings, things to look out for and know in disasters, and sort of that aspect of it?

**Colin ** 45:28
Yeah, definitely. Did you have anything in mind in particular, where you wanted to start, or?

**Brooke ** 45:32
Well, we talked about, you know, turning things off, of course. And then closing up holes. There’s lots of other things in the house that can get damaged, in, you know, different scenarios, earthquakes and tornadoes and floods. So I’m curious, like, if there are other structural indicators or things to look for, you know, that, you know, from sort of your construction perspective that, like, oh, that’s a sign of this thing is unstable, that you might not know just as a normal person.

**Colin ** 46:09
Yes, generally when you get into questions of structural stability, like is this house going to fall down? If you have any doubt, the best thing to do is vacate the structure. Because actually looking at structures from an engineering standpoint, and determining when something is safe and when it’s not, is beyond the scope of most people, myself included. I know what structures are supposed to look like and I can tell you when something is damaged, but I can’t necessarily tell you how close it is to falling down. But the big things to look for are just like, do you see cracks in the foundation that weren’t there yesterday?

**Brooke ** 46:54
Okay,

**Colin ** 46:55
You’re probably familiar with, with how your house looks. If you see something that looks unfamiliar. investigate further, as much as you possibly can. This is kind of the best advice that I can give.

**Brooke ** 47:08
Okay, what about things like crack new cracks in the wall? Like, is that is the wall crack itself a sign? Or was that—would that be like, okay, now and go look at the foundation and see.

**Colin ** 47:18
If you’re talking about cracks in interior plaster walls, those are not necessarily an issue by themselves. Because buildings can have a fair amount of flex to them before they fall down. Like you look at the number of houses that have an alarming lean to them and have been standing for two hundred years. Like, structures are remarkably resilient until they’re not.

**Brooke ** 47:45
Okay.

**Colin ** 47:45
But if you have any doubt, the best thing is, get yourself out of the structure.

**Brooke ** 47:50
Okay. I guess I’m also thinking about it from, like, the opposite perspective of something you might see and worry about and think you need to leave, but then actually it’s okay and you could stay. So that’s, you know, like the wall cracks, that might not actually be a big issue if you’ve suddenly had a crack on the wall.

**Colin ** 48:10
Yeah, so the best thing you can do is try to get yourself into part of the house where you have as little as possible above you and as little as possible below you. So if you have a three story house, you don’t necessarily want to be on that second floor for any reason. Because that’s kind of the worst of both worlds, because you could go through the floor or the roof could come down on you. The best thing you can do, again, is get yourself into a small space where the only thing above you is the roof and maybe some insulation, and the only thing below you is concrete slab. Still not a guarantee that you’re safe.

**Brooke ** 48:54
Sure, yeah.

**Colin ** 48:55
But you’re gonna be better off there than in a multistory structure.

**Brooke ** 48:59
Right. Yeah. We talked about how, you know, things might come through the windows or the walls, but as long as you’ve got your three walls in your roof, you’re okay. What if you have four walls and a hole in the roof? Like things come through the roof.

**Colin ** 49:13
Yeah, if you have a damaged roof, the best thing to do is get up on the roof and patch it from the outside. But that’s not always possible. Especially if you have a multistory house and you don’t have an extension ladder that can get you up to the roof, which is true for a lot of people. So then you’re stuck with, how do I deal with this hole in my roof from the inside? Sometimes, assuming you have access to the attic, you can get into the attic and if you have, you know, a gaping hole where say a meteor came through your roof and punched a big hole in it. [Laughing] You can feed things in from the outside and then pull them back down against the roof. So you can build your patch and feed it through and pieces. Reach up from the inside, lay it down on the outside. And it’s not gonna be a perfect seal, but it will keep at least some of the water and weather from getting into the house. Usually when you have that big of a hole, if you can’t patch it from the outside, things are going to end up leaking and you’re gonna be faced with situation where you have to try to catch the water once it comes into the house and get it back outside the house where it belongs. Again, the key for this is a staple gun, and some plastic sheet. So just, if you can hang plastic underneath the area that is leaking, or tarp to catch the drips, and then divert that water to a collection point, whether that is a bucket if it’s a very slow leak, or a improvised funnel if it’s a faster leak. It’s not hard to make a funnel, if you have a garden hose and a two liter bottle, the garden hose thread is close enough to the spread on two liter bottles, that you can literally just screw the bottle onto the garden hose. And if you cut at an angle, cut the bottle at an angle, you can make something that is big enough that you can make a channel in your tarp, they will direct that into your two liter bottle funnel into your garden hose which you can then, you know, run down out of your attic and out of window.

**Brooke ** 51:35
That’s really cool, I might need to do something like that—not for disaster reasons, but just for gardening stuff this summer.

**Colin ** 51:44
The two liter bottle to the hose connection will probably leak a little bit.

**Brooke ** 51:49
Shhhhhh, kill my dreams.

**Colin ** 51:51
Duct tape will fix that. Or if you have any of that self-fusing silicone tape they sell for emergency plumbing repairs, that works too. But honestly, as long as the water that’s flowing through the bottle and into the hose is not under any pressure, the leak is probably going to be slow enough that it’s not gonna be an issue.

**Brooke ** 52:14
So roof damage is not necessarily something to run away from.

**Colin ** 52:19
Roof damage is not the end of the world. It’s bad, especially if you can’t get up on the roof to fix it. But there are things you can do to keep it from totally destroying the house, the first thing to do is just figure out how you’re going to keep the water from getting in. And if you can’t do that, figure out how you’re gonna get the water that’s inside the house, back outside the house.

**Brooke ** 52:44
And is that one of the biggest risks in the in any kind of natural disasters is water damage?

**Colin ** 52:49
Water Damage is the hardest and the most insidious, because once water gets into the house and things get wet, now you have issues of mold to deal with. Once you have mold that can render a structure uninhabitable in a matter of days. As long as things are dry, they can last a very, very long time. But once they get wet, you’re in trouble.

**Brooke ** 53:15
Okay, what about the opposite side? Fire damage. We talked about that a little bit. But you know, let’s say you had a kitchen fire destroyed the kitchen. Is there anything you can do in the aftermath of a fire that’s going to do anything to help you save structures or objects and make the recovery easier?

**Colin ** 53:36
Assuming that the fire was put out with water, you’ve got the same issue.

**Brooke ** 53:41
That’s a really good point! [Laughing] No, I didn’t think about that. That’s a really good point.

**Colin ** 53:45
Dried back out. If you put the fire out yourself, you probably use a dry chemical fire extinguisher. So you have a giant mess to clean up, but it’s not soaking wet. If the Fire Company had to come and put it out with hoses, not only do you have the fire damage, everything you own in that immediate area is now soaking wet and covered with soot and just generally filthy. That was the situation that we had with the friend that I talked about earlier with having the apartment fire, that it was kind of a blessing that it happened in the middle of winter because we were able to just go over there and get everything out of the apartment and throw it in our backyard and it just stayed frozen for a week until we were ready to deal with it.

**Brooke ** 54:32
Ah, right. Because your winters are snowy and icy, not rainy, like here.

**Colin ** 54:35
Yeah, it is generally rainy her. But it just happened to be in the middle of cold snap. So it was in the 20s for the most part, dropping down to single digits for about that entire week. So we just had bags and bags of wet clothing, wet furniture, sitting in the backyard under plastic so they stayed frozen and didn’t grow mold. Because once things are wet, you’re in trouble. So if it’s not frozen, the best thing you can do is get fans on it, keep that air moving, and try to get it dried back out as soon as you can.

**Brooke ** 55:11
That makes sense. I guess I’ve never thought about this, but it makes sense. The fire department, if they come in and they take a host of things, they don’t come back and dry it out for you. Right, you’re left to handle that part on your own.

**Colin ** 55:24
You’ll have to handle that part. And usually, they have broken windows in the process, because that’s how they get the hoses in and that’s how they control the flow of the smoke and the fire through the structure, is making holes in walls. Generally, once you have a fire, you also have other structural damage to deal with.

**Brooke ** 55:43
Yeah. Okay. We’re kind of get down to our last few minutes. I know there’s a lot more that we could talk about and go over with all of this. But I want to make some space here for any other sort of critical things that you really want to talk about, teach and share with this episode.

**Colin ** 56:01
I think we’ve covered most of the critical things. Again, the biggest one is just keep yourself safe and don’t make the situation worse. No matter how bad it seems, take a minute, breathe, look at it, and think. I know, again, other episodes of the podcast, they’ve talked about the, like the threat onion from the military, which is the same basic idea as the layers of safety that they talk about in industrial design. And all these things say step one is your design and your engineering controls that make it safe. So the good analogy for that is things like antilock brakes in the car. You don’t have to do anything for those to work. They’re just there. They don’t require any thought. Seatbelts and airbags are also great. Seatbelts, you have to remember to use them, and they only help—they only help after the accident has already occurred.

**Brooke ** 57:06
Right.

**Colin ** 57:07
A seatbelt does not prevent an accident. So when you’re in a bad situation, look at what you’re about to do, think about the situation, figure out which of those engineering safety controls have gone out the window as a result of the disaster. So you had a fire in the kitchen, you’ve lost your stove, you’re gonna have to rely on your little tiny Coleman backpacking stove. That’s great, it’ll work. But you no longer have that automatic ignition, you’re going to have to use lighter to light the stove. You don’t have the combustion controls to make sure that the flame has a pilot light, that the pilot light turns off when the gas goes out. So you can have the gas from one of their stoves leaking if you fail to turn the valve off all the way when you’re done with it. All these things that are part of normal everyday life that you just don’t think about, no longer work the way they’re supposed to in a disaster. So just look at what you’re doing, and see what you’ve lost, and figure out how you can get that safety back on your own.

**Brooke ** 58:22
Okay, that is really great. And I am wishing we had more time because I just feel like there’s so much more that we could say and get into. But I think this has been a really, really great, you know, just kind of primer and information that would help people get through, you know, the first two or three days after a disaster for sure. So, I really appreciate that you joined us today on the podcast and share this info with us. Is there anything else that you want to plug or promote or share?

**Colin ** 58:56
No, I think that was pretty much it.

**Brooke ** 58:58
Okay, well, thanks again for being here.

**Colin ** 59:00
Thank you very much.

**Brooke ** 59:05
To our listeners. Thanks so much for listening. If you enjoy our podcast, please give it a like, drop a comment, or review. Subscribe to us if you haven’t already. These things make the algorithms that rule our world offer our show to more people. This podcast is produced by the anarchist publishing collective, Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. You can connect with us on Twitter @tangledwild and also on Instagram. Or check out our website at tangledwilderness.org where you can find our extensive lists of projects and publications. This podcast and much of the work of Strangers is made possible by our Patreon supporters. If you want to become a supporter, check out our Patreon at patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness. They are cool benefits various support tiers on Patreon. For instance, if you support the collective at just $5 a month, then we will mail you a monthly zine. Those contain essays, stories, poems, art, all kinds of great stuff. We’d like to give a specific shout out to some of our most supportive Patreon supporters. Thanks to Aly, Paige, Jenipher, Eric, David, Staro, Patoli, Chris, theo, Kirk, Princess Miranda, Milica, Marm, Catgut, Janice & O’Dell, Dana, Carson, Buck, Lord Harken, Nicole, paparouna, Funder, Perceval, BenBen, Mic Aiah, anonymous, S.J., Trixter, Hunter, Chelsea, Julia, Boise Mutual Aid, and as always, Hoss the dog.

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

S1E109 – This Month in the Apocalypse: March, 2024

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Brooke, Margaret, and Inmn talk about the environment, how a Boeing whistle blower died suspiciously, Abbot’s newest attempt to make Texas a mini fief, and remember the lives of 3 teens. They also talk about hope and some nice things that happened for a change.

Host Info

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

Publisher Info

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

Transcript

Live Like the World is Dying: This Month in the Apocalypse: March 2024

**Margaret ** 00:15
Hello and welcome to Cool People Who Did Cool Stuff your podcast. . . I did the wrong. . . Did I do the wrong one? Should we keep it?

**Brooke ** 00:23
[All laughing] I love you so much.

**Margaret ** 00:26
Hello and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, the other podcast that I’m one of the three hosts of. I’m Margaret killjoy, and with me is

**Brooke ** 00:37
Brooke. Hi. 

**Inmn ** 00:38
And Inmn, who can’t tell if this was a bit or not,

**Margaret ** 00:41
Let’s pretend it was a bit. [Sarcastically] I have functional memory. I’m not on podcast recording number five for the week. I don’t know what you’re talking about. And this is Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. And welcome back. We’ve been on a break because we were all a little burned out and we wanted to catch up because we didn’t want to. . . We thought through our options, we could either have gone off a weekly schedule, but we’re like, "Well, we like having a weekly schedule." So we took a break. And I don’t remember whether we told you about that break, but it’s over. Don’t worry. It’ll never. . . It’ll totally happen again. And whatever, you like watching TV shows that have season breaks, you can. . . I’m sure you all figured it out. Anyway, it’s This Month in the Apocalypse, only this time, we’re going to be a little bit messy because it’s been a little bit. So it’s like this month and a half in the apocalypse. So you get an extra. It’s like 1.5 as much apocalypse as usual. Y’all are so lucky. But first, this podcast is a proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchists podcast and here’s a jingle from another show on the network. 

**Brooke ** 01:14
Okay, so it just occurred to me that if we’re doing half of March, we’re at some point going to have to do half of March. So we’re either going to have to have half a month in Apocalypse or do half of March and April, and then there’ll be another month and a half. So maybe we should call this 45 Days in the Apocalypse? I’m just saying.

**Margaret ** 02:52
I’ll just continue to messily not exactly keep track of "Oh, that happened on this date instead of this state, so it can’t come in." But I’m open to it. I can be convinced. So I want to talk about some stuff. One of the things I want to talk about is how I would never say Boeing assassinated a man. But I would say that everyone who pays attention to the following news story comes to the inevitable conclusion that the private company Boeing, which manufactures an awful lot of the planes in this country, has been having a lot of problems lately. A lot of people think they assassinated a man. There was a man named John Barnett. He was a Boeing whistleblower and he was found dead on March 10th. And the news can’t say, quote, "he was assassinated." So instead, they’re dancing around it, doing things like putting "self-inflicted," in quotes, when they talk about the gunshot wounds that this man had to his head. I honestly. . . like this one, it’s like, it’s like one of those things where it didn’t surprise me, but it still surprised me. I don’t know how to describe this. It’s a very common feeling these days were something absolutely horrible happens, where you’re like, "Oh, of course that happened." But you’re still a little bit like, "I can’t believe that happened." John Barnett was a quality control manager at a Boeing plant in South Carolina. He worked on the 787 Dreamliners. And he had been pretty upset about a lot of the quality control that was going on. There’s been a lot of conversation recently about Boeing and its lack of quality control, because their planes are literally falling apart in the air. And of course, there were two crashes a couple years ago that killed hundreds of people, that had to do with some faulty technology that caused the planes to go into nosedives that the pilots couldn’t correct.

**Brooke ** 04:52
And John Oliver just did a longer piece on Boeing too. So that brought it out in conversations.

**Margaret ** 04:57
Yeah, well, and then the main thing that brought it up I think is that in the US it actually happens to US people. So people noticed. An airplane had the plug in the side of the plane blow out. And it was before it had gotten up to cruising altitude and it would have gone a lot worse if it had happened a little bit later. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured and the plane was able to land. And from there, it’s just been this cascading thing. I really recommend John Oliver’s The Last Week Tonight about Boeing and what’s been going on with the planes. Anyway, John Barnett, quality control manager, and he was in Charleston to give a deposition against Boeing because he was suing them for retaliation because of his whistleblowing, and then they were like, "Hey, how come he didn’t show up in court?" And so they went to his hotel and they found him dead in his pickup truck, having a quote unquote, "self-inflicted" gunshot wound. He was 62 years old. And rest in peace. And I have yet to meet anyone who has heard this news and not been like, "Yep, Boeing killed a man."

**Brooke ** 06:15
Sure seems like it. 

**Inmn ** 06:16
That’s what reasonable people would come to the conclusion of because it’s what’s happened in the past.

**Margaret ** 06:27
And, you know, I mean, there’s also. . . Sure there’s technically a version of the world where he was like, "I’m just so sad about. . ." No, he was. . .whatever. Anyway, Okay, so then I’m gonna talk about environmental news. 

**Brooke ** 06:42
Do that. 

**Margaret ** 06:44
Don’t worry, it’s worse. 

**Inmn ** 06:46
Oh, no. 

**Margaret ** 06:48
So let’s see. This was the warmest February in Earth’s history. This is the ninth month in a row that we have been in the warmest of this following month on record. The time we beat this time, for February warmest, was 2016 was the previous warmest month of February in history. And charts are literally being recalibrated to show the excessive heat. If you look at a lot of these charts, the lines from this year don’t even touch previous years, you know? Next, there’s the warmest winter on record in the United States. This month, the average global sea surface temperature was the highest it’s ever been in the recorded history of the Earth for any month at all. The average global sea surface temperature was 69.96 degrees Fahrenheit. And we’re very likely to have a very active hurricane season this year in the Atlantic because of the fact that. . . We actually might not have a hotter year this year than last year because the–I get El Nino and La Nina mixed up–but overall we’ve been–I’m pretty sure it’s like El Nino is the thing we’ve been in and it’s the thing that makes it warmer and La Nina cools things down a little bit. And so that’s like, cool, right? We’re like, "Oh, all right, we could definitely use some cooling things down a little bit." However, people have guessed. . . "Guessed" is the wrong word. Scientists who study this shit have looked and been like–you know, or climatologists have looked–and been like "Well, this slight cooling coming at this particular way that all this heat is working we’re very likely to have a very active hurricane season."

**Brooke ** 08:27
Do you know what that starts? 

**Brooke ** 08:31
I don’t live in a hurricane zone, so I. . . Like I know it’s always summer and early fall that it’s crazy, active , busy and the worst of it, but I feel like I don’t know when that season quote unquote, "starts."

**Margaret ** 08:31
No, I don’t. 

**Margaret ** 08:43
I can’t remember that I don’t live in that area anymore. But speaking of seasons not being what they used to be, there was a study that showed that–it’s not just in your head–spring is indeed on average 13 days earlier in the United States than it was in 1981 There’s a chart up you can look at–the Washington Post actually has a pretty good article about it–that shows, it’s kind of a U shape of the country, is having way earlier springs, whereas some parts of the the Upper Midwest are a little bit later springs than usual, although not this year. But–and especially on mountain ranges–Spring is remarkably earlier, which made sense as I was walking my dog today in the middle of March and looking at the flowers blooming and thinking to myself, "Ah, yes, April showers will bring those flowers to me in May." [sardonic]

**Inmn ** 09:42
It’s early.

**Margaret ** 09:43
Yeah, so that’s not just in your head. It’s a thing that’s happening. Texas saw an incredibly destructive wildfire in the past month or so. It’s the most destructive in Texas history, is the Smoke House Creek Fire. It burned more than a million In acres. And Texas is primed for more fires. That, actually, that fire came earlier than the usual fire season, which is March and April. In the panhandle of Texas there’s a lot of basically dry grasses. And there’s specifically ways where it’s like when it comes out of freezing, it is more primed for these fires–I think the way that the grass breaks or something in the freezing. And so that is part of why the. . . You know, obviously, it’s like things are getting warmer on average, but we’re also seeing all these crazy weird cold spikes, you know? And this fire killed at least 3600 animals. I believe that it means cows in this case, and the fire was started by power lines. However, it’s unlikely to affect your beef prices this year, so don’t worry. However, the meat that you will have trouble getting this year for a reasonable price is crawfish. The crawfish population is dropping rapidly in Louisiana, and it’s fucking up the harvest like wildly. I actually care more about the ecosystem than the harvest of crawfish, personally. But I also recognize the importance of crawfish to traditional dishes and things like that. And, you know, in Louisiana, a combination of drought heat and saltwater intrusion up the Mississippi followed by a hard freeze has fucked up the harvest enormously. It is an estimated $140 million in losses. And crawfish meat has gone from $3-5 a pound to $10-12 a pound. And a critically endangered fish called the Small-tooth Sawfish has been washing up dead in Florida. And it’s funny because it’s like 20 or 30 of them have washed up, but this is a very endangered fish. So when one of them shows up, it’s a big deal. And scientists are trying to figure it out. And they’re ruling out all of these different, you know, bacterial causes. But the sort of fish going crazy and then dying is a thing that is happening. We’ve talked about more on the show before. I think Inmn talked about it. Almost positive environmental news, there is a plan in place from the Biden administration to limit drilling and cattle grazing on a fuck ton of BLM land. And as part of a plan to save the Greater Sage Grouse, adding restrictions to 67 million acres on drilling, adding drilling restrictions to about 67 million acres across 10 states. And this seems really good. And it is really good. It is. . . What actually happened, Obama passed a law limiting a bunch of drilling, and then Trump was like, "Nah, we don’t need that. Drill, baby, drill." That’s a slogan from the 80s. And so that got reversed. So Biden is like, "Well, what if I half reversed it?"

**Brooke ** 12:52
So reinstating some of it? 

**Margaret ** 12:54
Yeah, bringing back some of it.  It’s not as strong of a bill as the Biden [meant to say Obama] administration did, which sort of shows the like, constant rightward drift of American politics.

**Brooke ** 13:07
As soon as you said that the Biden administration had passed a bill, I was like, there’s a caveat coming into this. I was also like, I wonder if someone else is the President next, are they just going to undo the whole thing?

**Margaret ** 13:20
Well, considering the next president will almost certainly be Trump. I continue to hold by my theory that the next President will be Donald Trump unless Donald Trump or Biden dies a natural death. If any of them die–well, and obviously if Trump dies an unnatural death, he won’t be the next either–but if Biden dies an unnatural death then Trump is the next president, and if. . .anyway. Whereas if anyone else runs–this is my theory. Okay. Anyway, so it’s sort of actually positive. . . Well, I guess we’re gonna save the positive stuff for the end. I’ll save this positive thing for the end. That’s my environmental news. And the one other thing that I wanted to talk about before I pass it off, is I want to just sort of. . . I suspect that a lot of people already have been following what happened when an anarchist and active duty service personnel person named Aaron Bushnell killed himself by setting himself on fire while saying, "Free Palestine." I think that’s something that people are already aware of. And so I don’t want to go into it too much. But I just feel like that is a thing that needs to be on our mind that happened on February 25th this year, and, I don’t know, "Never let them say that you curse the darkness instead of lighting a candle," Aaron Bushnell. Inmn, what do you got?

**Inmn ** 14:51
Only happy things.

**Margaret ** 14:55
You’re lying.

**Inmn ** 14:56
I’m lying. You know, it’s like, to kind of put it in perspective. . . I mean, this is a perspective that we and I’m sure all our listeners already have, about just the severity of what is happening in Gaza. And this is not a new thing, but it is a thing that is taking particular note right now in Gaza, we had something that people are calling the Flour Massacre in the last like month or two. And the Flour Massacre occurred when an aid convoy was announced in Gaza City. And so you know, thousands of people showed up to receive food, receive aid, and Israeli forces used it as an opportunity to kill 118 people. Literally just shot into the crowd as people were scrambling to get flour, bread, you know, basic stuff to stay alive. And these are people who have been experiencing very long periods of malnutrition– because Israel cut off most aid from coming into Gaza–and these are super basic things that are keeping people alive. Since then, there have been another string like this. Like this big one happened and then it’s been a repeated tactic by Israel over the last month or two is attacking aid convoys, or using aid convoys as a way to gather and then attack a lot of people all at once, people who think that they’re showing up to receive food and instead are getting killed. I think of like, right now, they’re like. . . A couple days ago, there was another instance of this where like 20 people were killed, who had shown up to a supply convoy. And like another 150 or so were injured. And to make things worse, I have a story kind of about–well, it’s three. It’s three stories. It’s three very different but similar stories about three teens who died in the last month or so. And the first one is connected to Palestine as well. We have Rami Al Halhouli, who was a 12 year old Palestinian boy who was killed by Israeli border guards in the Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem on the third night of Ramadan. Rami was out in the street playing with fireworks with his friends. And they were just shooting fireworks up in the sky and a Israeli border guard–whatever the fuck they’re calling them–shot Rami three or four times. And the way that–one of the disturbing things about this is the way that it’s being talked about in some media sources–and especially by Israel–is that if you read the Israeli reports, you might imagine a night of rioting, you might imagine a wall of people encroaching upon the border guards–whatever they’re called–and you might imagine people throwing Molotov cocktails at lines of soldiers. And you might imagine Rami standing out in front of them shooting a bottle rocket at border guards. This is the media narrative that Israel, and you know, consistently conservative news sources, want people to believe. In actuality, there’s video footage leading up to Rami getting shot and it shows like three or four kids playing in a vacant street and next to them, you see, like 100 feet away or something, you see the giant border wall and you see watch towers in the distance. You see a line of parked cars and you see no people in sight. And that is the scene that we have for Rami and his friends playing with fireworks on the third night of Ramadan, and Israeli forces just rolling up and shooting them for playing with fireworks. And so they’re. . . It’s like. . . They’re, you know, there’s all these, there’s all this media narrative build of "There were riots. There were disturbances–" as they’re being called. But there’s no, there’s no proof of any of that happening. And there’s literal video footage showing a few kids playing on a secluded street with fireworks. One of the security Prime Ministers of Israel was then. . . People were following him around being like, "Yeah, what the fuck? Like, what happened?" And he’s. . . there’s all this video footage of him congratulating the soldiers who shot Rami. And he then like, eventually, he eventually makes a statement, where he condemns the child as a terrorist and praises his soldiers who he’s calling warriors for killing a "terrorist." Basically being like, you know, calling for the extermination of an entire people based on this myth of terrorism. And it’s just, it’s just supremely fucked up. I had a quote prepared for something that this Prime Minister–whose name I can’t remember or find and I truly hope is lost to time, and that no one remembers him ever. And I’m not gonna say it because it’s just, it’s just too fucked up. And we can all kind of imagine what it sounds like. But it reminded me of a similar story from the Southwest United States where in 2012, Lonnie Swartz, a border patrol agent shot Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, who Swartz said threw a rock at him through the border wall. Jose was on the Nogales, Mexico side of the border wall and was just throwing rocks at the like 60 foot wall, you know, and Lonnie Swartz shot at him 30 times through the wall. Swartz was later acquitted of all charges and Jose’s family was blocked from suing him.

**Margaret ** 22:56
It’s pretty cool that you can just kill people in other countries.

**Inmn ** 23:00
Yeah, yeah, it’s pretty. . . I can’t even make this joke.

**Margaret ** 23:08
Okay.

**Inmn ** 23:08
So yeah, that is a story of one teen who was killed for playing with fireworks. Next, we’re moving back to the United States and I want to talk about Ryan Gainer. Ryan Gainer was a 15 year old black, autistic teen living in Apple Valley California. And, Ryan–this is the report that I’ve read–Ryan was having a dispute with his family that turned destructive and. . . Because people experiencing different realities, different needs, were having a destructive outburst and a family member called 911 for help because they didn’t know what to do for someone having this experience of a very–like a fairly mild thing turning into a destructive outburst. And police, instead of psychiatric services or something, showed up and within 30 seconds of the police showing up, they had shot Ryan three times. The officers say that Ryan, when they found Ryan, Ryan was wielding a garden hoe and the officer ran from him and shot him while running from him or something. And family members who, you know, were immediately, they were like, "Oh my God, wait, you shot my kid?" had maybe been expecting officers to come and–or you know anyone–to come and just like help them calm their son down. And instead the police shot him within 30 seconds of being there.

**Brooke ** 25:20
This is why we don’t call the cops. This, among other reasons, but it’s a good. . . It’s not good reminder. It’s a terrible reminder.

**Inmn ** 25:31
Yeah, it is a grim, grim reminder that any one who believes that calling 911 will help someone, especially people experiencing either like a break in reality or just having different communication needs,  the police will not help you. And they will most likely harm your loved one. And this is not me throwing any kind of blame on Ryan’s family. Yeah, but it is a grim reminder. The last person that I want to talk about is Nex Benedict.

**Brooke ** 26:20
This one hits real hard.

**Inmn ** 26:22
Yeah, it’s a hard one. Nex Benedict was a 16 year old nonbinary Choctaw teen living in Owasso, Oklahoma. Nex loved nature, drawing, reading, and inventing new recipes. On February 17th, Nex was involved in a fight at school in a bathroom and Nex was very badly beaten up by three older teens. And, so much so, that Nex had like, you know, raccoon eyes. Meaning like visible contusions around the eyes from head trauma, from having like–I’m actually not going to describe it. And Nex, I believe, went to the hospital after that and then the next day, Nex collapsed at home and was brought to the hospital and pronounced dead. And there’s kind of these two waves of media around this. One was right when Nex died, and one was just within the last few days when a medical examiner ruled Nex’s death as a suicide because of a like blood toxicology report. And it’s like, the way that the media is kind of spinning this is like, "Oh, Nex. . ." Like, people are exacerbating what happened, like "Nex wasn’t beaten to death. Nex. . ." 

**Margaret ** 28:10
Was just beaten into suicide. 

**Inmn ** 28:12
Was just beaten into suicide. 

**Margaret ** 28:14
That’s totally different and better, somehow. [sarcastically] 

**Inmn ** 28:17
Yeah. And that’s a lot of the media going around is like it’s trying to absolve blame from the people who bullied and beat Nex up so badly that they killed themself. Or, they took a lot of drugs and either meaning to or not, died as a result.

**Brooke ** 28:47
And the lack of care and support. It was after Nex went home and talked to the family that the family took Nex to the hospital. The administration, the school teachers, counselors, looked at what happened and didn’t call in medical professionals to help at the school.

**Inmn ** 29:10
Yeah. And it kind of raises this point of like you know, suicide in the queer community that if people are living in such like desperate and violent measures that people are driven to self harm or driven to like any of these things, whether intentional or non intentional death, like that is the fault of society. And yeah, if you bully someone so badly, that they self harm and die as a result, you killed that person.

**Brooke ** 29:51
Yeah. And I don’t know why I found this particular detail so disturbing, but I read that it was three teenage girls that had beat Nex in the bathroom. And I don’t know why the fact that it was girls that, you know, caused this that was so. . .It was just like an extra layer for me. You know? Like, I guess I did not expect, but when you talk about bullies and physical violence–maybe it’s just from my own childhood or life experience–you expect that to come more from men, boys. Like they’re the ones trained to have more physical altercations. So the fact that it was three girls was just, I don’t know, it’s extra weird to me.

**Inmn ** 30:43
Yeah, this one hit especially hard for me and just being someone who was like, you know. . .Like, I didn’t know I was queer when I was a teen, but it seems pretty obvious now. And like the things that I was heavily bullied for were things that, looking back, I’m like, "Oh, yes, I was bullied because I was queer. Like, this is pretty, pretty obvious to me." And it’s like, the amount of stress that you can experience from like, the daily reminder and like daily fear of being bullied is horrifying. 

**Brooke ** 31:23
And yeah, well, you know, there’s someone else out there who’s a real big bully and has a lot of power. . . 

**Inmn ** 31:31
Before we segue, I just want to wrap this into like, that these are, these are three very different and very similar stories at the same time of teens who were killed for being Palestinian, for being autistic, for being queer. And like, they all happened in the same month. And I don’t know. I think. . . Obviously, these are systemic problems and systemic and individual and personal problems in our society of like people, not knowing how to. . . not knowing how to and being aggressive towards these identities. And I don’t know. That’s just bad. And some more bad things. So, I’ve been talking on the show for a little bit now about how Abbott has kind of turned Texas into like a little mini fief via these like. . . like testing of power with the power of the Texas governor and the power of the federal government. And in the newest series of that, we have Texas, SB4. Texas SB4 is a law that was passed last year, which would allow Texas law enforcement to detain, arrest, and prosecute suspected migrants. And this is in. . . so if this seems like what normally happens, the difference between this and what normally happens is that Border Patrol is the agency that arrests people. And this would allow any Texas law enforcement to detain suspected migrants, arrest them, and prosecute them under Texas law, not under federal law.

**Inmn ** 33:15
This is like, you know, you can stop every brown person and check their papers law, right? 

**Inmn ** 33:47
Yeah. Or, sort of. Yeah,

**Margaret ** 33:51
Well the, "suspected migrant" I assumed, made it specifically around some racial indicators.

**Inmn ** 33:57
Yes, yes. Yes. Yeah. Yeah, it’s that one. And the sentences that people could have from it, for the first time, it would be a misdemeanor, and you could get six months. And for repeated prosecutions, it would be a felony carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years. And this is what’s interesting is like, this is the exact same sentence sentencing procedure for Operation Streamline, which is the court that does this at a federal level. So it’s like, it is the same sentencing that already exists. This would just grant Texas the power to do it as a State rather than at a federal level. And it is specifically aimed at circumventing asylum procedure. Yeah, so that people who are presenting for asylum can just be arrested by Texas law enforcement and prosecuted for illegal entry instead of going into asylum proceedings, and that is one of the bigger deals about this bill. And it is a bill that passed, but the Supreme Court has put a pause on it. And that pause has been recently increased until like March 18th, or something. But it seems like the Supreme Court is probably going to shut this law down.

**Margaret ** 35:28
You all listeners know, and we don’t know.

**Inmn ** 35:32
Yeah, yeah. And another legislation aimed at migrants and people seeking asylum, the Castle Doctrine in Arizona is trying to be expanded. And this is around like, you know, home defense with HB 2843. And this bill would expand the Castle Doctrine to not only include the use of lethal force to protect your home–someone from trying to break into your home–but for merely trespassing on the land that you own.

**Margaret ** 36:13
Oh, interesting. Okay. Yeah.

**Inmn ** 36:16
It doesn’t suspend any need for there to be the presentation of fear of your life, you know. It just kind of expands the area. And it’s like, caused this thing, which I think is really indicative of politics right now, which is politicians bickering with each other over like, I don’t know how to say it, like schoolyard antics, where, the Republicans are like, "Democrats are blowing this out of proportion. And they’re spreading misinformation that this law means that anyone can just shoot anyone for trespassing on their land. And that’s going to get…that’s going to get good people prosecuted for murder, because Democrats are spreading misinformation about the harm of this bill." 

**Margaret ** 37:10
Oh, okay, because they’re like. . . I have a feeling that no good person will shoot someone just for being on their property. I have to admit that like, I mean, I’m a gun rights supporter, right? And, overall, like the concept of Castle Doctrine, I’m not inherently opposed to Stand Your Ground laws and all those things. Like, obviously, they’re used, like every law, in horrible, racist and classist ways. But I am like, you know, if someone…if I’m out walking my dog on my property, and someone’s like. . . Well, I guess like, it’s so weird, right? Because then it’s like, well, what’s the difference? Because if I’m walking my dog anywhere, and someone pulls a gun on me and tries to kill me, I’m allowed to shoot, unless it’s his property or something, I guess. I am allowed to defend myself, right, from the threat of lethal force. And like, I guess it’s like. . .No, it’s just interesting. Because people shouldn’t be able to shoot people just for being on their property. And same as you shouldn’t be able to shoot someone just for taking your TV. But there’s also like…it’s fairly understandable that someone breaking into your house, in the middle of the night, can be perceived as a threat to your life. To me, the problem here is not the gun rights of the house owner. To me, the problem is the systemic poverty that has led someone to a life of stealing TVs, you know, and I don’t know, I need to learn more about this one. And I’m sure it’s being used in horrible ways and stuff, but. . . I don’t know.

**Inmn ** 38:48
Yeah. Because it’s like, it’s just an expansion of protecting people who are defending themselves, you know, right? And it’s like, in the goodest sense, in the goodest situation, it protects people. But the intent that it’s being crafted for, is to provide more protection for ranchers and farmers to shoot migrants for trespassing on their property.

**Margaret ** 39:20
Yeah, yeah, I see what you’re seeing.

**Inmn ** 39:22
That is the intent with which the bill is being explored.

**Margaret ** 39:26
No, I believe you. Yeah, that makes sense.

**Inmn ** 39:30
Yeah. That’s…that’s all I’ve got.

**Margaret ** 39:36
Well, that means it’s time for good news. Good news with Brooke

**Brooke ** 39:43
Are you two ready for some good news? Ready to cleanse our palates and feel joy again?

**Margaret ** 39:49
I’m sure I’ll come up with some way where the good news is not actually all that good. 

**Brooke ** 39:53
Whatever, you’re our Pollyanna. Madam positivity. Margaret, we look to you for hope.

**Margaret ** 40:04
Yeah. Okay, what do you got?

**Brooke ** 40:06
Alright, good things that have happened. Okay, so in February, the country of Greece legalized same sex marriage,

**Margaret ** 40:17
And they invented democracy. [Sarcastically]

**Brooke ** 40:20
That’s right. By a pretty good margin as well, much more than two thirds majority. So that’s cool. That’s wonderful. And then, kind of related, although, wow, maybe it’s not, but it’s like related in my mind, because, you know, leftist stuff. France became the first country in the world to put abortion rights into its constitution.

**Margaret ** 40:52
Okay, so they probably did it because they looked over across the ocean, and we’re like, "Oh, God, we should probably enshrine this." 

**Brooke ** 41:04
Right, which it’s been legal in the country since the 70s. But they, you know, putting it into their constitution is the thing, but yeah, first, and I mean, you know, France has written and rewritten their constitution more than once.

**Margaret ** 41:20
They’re pretty prone to revolution, traditionally,

**Brooke ** 41:23
Right? And like, willing to fucking edit the Constitution, like "What we can do that?"

**Inmn ** 41:29
Wait, you can decide that something wasn’t a great idea and then change it? You’re not beholden to things that happened. . . 

**Margaret ** 41:37
I hate defending the US legal system, but we have amendments. We have a system for this. It’s happened. How dare you put me in a position of defending the US government.

**Brooke ** 41:55
But we act as a society like it doesn’t happen. Like that’s what we do.

**Margaret ** 41:59
It’s true. And there’s that word like necrocracy, like ruled by the dead. And, and what’s funny is you’re like, "Ah, ha, ha, that’s like a fantasy thing." We’re a necrocracy, like, we’re ruled by laws made by dead people every single day. The Constitution was written by people who have been dead for a very long time.

**Brooke ** 42:22
Okay, I see you trying to ruin this good news, but you’re not going to do it, Margaret. No, no.

**Margaret ** 42:29
I have nothing negative to say about them enshrining abortion in their constitution. Great.

**Brooke ** 42:34
That’s great. So all the rest of the world, let’s go ahead and follow suit there. Thanks, as a woman and a queer. Good news coming out of Europe. Another bill that France is working on passed half of its legislative body, and they’re working on trying to curb fast fashion. Which I don’t know if y’all are familiar with fast fashion. Right. So yeah, you know, basically, that’s what it sounds like. It’s very wasteful and polluting. And the slightly sad part about it is that France is looking at doing this, so working on it, because they want to protect their high fashion industries from the influences of the fast fashion world. But as a fashion leader, the choices that they’re making here are, you know, have impacts on the fashion world in general. And it’s, you know, it’s an important statement to make too, and is ultimately good for the environment. If they can move that forward and slow that trend. That’s good. Yeah. So always look on. . . [singing]

**Margaret ** 43:46
No, so that is actually the perfect song to sing. And that’s because that song is most famously sung by people who have nails through their hands attached to boards of wood and are going to die. At the end of the Life of Brian, when they’re all being crucified, they sing "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life." This is not a visual medium, but the face that Inmn is making right now is truly for the history books.

**Inmn ** 44:13
I’ve never seen Life of Brian so I was like, "What the fuck are they talking about?"

**Margaret ** 44:19
Yeah, like one of the other crucified people is like, you know, "Just got to kind of think about it, just think about different ways," which is really just cognitive behavioral therapy in a nutshell, you know?

**Brooke ** 44:29
Find that YouTube clip of that. It’ll be the really highest bright side at the end of this episode.

**Margaret ** 44:37
Alright, anything else?

**Brooke ** 44:39
Yeah. Two more happy things in the world.

**Margaret ** 44:42
And then I got something to stick on at the end too. 

**Brooke ** 44:44
Yeah, you do. Okay, Japan has a program for child care support that has existed for a while and prioritizes, currently, the children of working parents, but starting in April, they’re expanding that program to a large portion of the country for childcare access for all, basically, kids that are between six months and two years having free childcare options available. It’s limited in the number of hours that people can get with free childcare. But it is open to working and non-working parents. And the long term goal is to, over the next couple of years, actually roll that out to the whole country. And long term, also expand the number of hours that people can access that. So as a parent who formerly had a small child and knows what a nightmare child care is, I am very happy to hear that they’re working on this. Thank you. Thank you, Japan for that program and for where you’re going with it. And in broader news, just an overall fun note about millennial parents, specifically dads, millennial dads doing a better job than previous generations, in many ways, like changing more diapers than ever before, taking more paternity leave. . . 

**Margaret ** 46:13
Doing the dishes without being explicitly asked to. That’s a really major one, right?

**Brooke ** 46:19
I don’t know about that. I was reading about parenting, but hey, that’s also…that’s great. That’s wonderful. And of course the, you know, the highest portion of stay at home male parents in modern history amongst millennial parents. So, millennial dads, thanks for stepping up and doing a good job. Yay, families.

**Margaret ** 46:50
Okay. So, Elon Musk has this Gigafactory in Berlin. I’m going with something positive here. 

**Brooke ** 46:58
I know, but then you say, "Elon Musk!" No, but then. 

**Margaret ** 47:01
But bad things are about to happen to him.

**Inmn ** 47:03
Yeah, it’s a cool thing.

**Brooke ** 47:04
Speaking of bad dads.

**Margaret ** 47:08
Well, he’s not amillennial. But he acts like. . .No, he doesn’t. 

**Brooke ** 47:12
But his partners are. 

**Margaret ** 47:14
Yeah, that’s true. Okay, so, Elon Musk has this Gigafactory five kilometers outside of Berlin in a forest. And it is for building Tesla’s, and people don’t like it. And it builds most of the Tesla’s…or more Tesla’s than anywhere else in Europe. And people don’t like it for a lot of reasons. One, Elon Musk is at war against labor unions in Europe and keeps running across that Europe actually has some decent labor union culture built into it right. And on March 5th, the entire Gigafactory was shut down for several days by an arson that targeted its electrical grid substation. Basically, someone burned an electrical pylon that connected it to the grid. The arson was claimed by the eco-anarchists group, Vulkangruppe, or volcano group, which has been doing eco-sabotage attacks since 2011. And their statement said, "Our fire stands against the lie of the green automobile. And it’s funny because like most of the news articles are like, "Well, that must be confusing because the automobile that’s green is the green one. It’s painted green. It has lithium batteries. Don’t pay attention to where the lithium batteries come from." But people in Europe, more than in the US, there’s obviously still a culture of cars there, but more people are kind of aware of that, like, actually, you can get around with trains and stuff really well. And that the idea of greening the automobile in the way that we’ll all get around is by having these individual multi-ton machines that take us places is not what’s gonna lead us into the future. Well, it is, but it’s gonna lead us into the bad future. But if we were imagining a good future, it would not be built around cars. Whether or not it would have cars is a totally separate question, but it would not be built around it. So this stopped work for several days, this fire, but also the next morning the stock price of Tesla dropped 4.5%, which is an awful lot of financial damage. Elon Musk himself flew out there and then made snarky comments on Twitter about things like "Oh, they are clearly mistaken because actually I care about the environment." And also there’s an occupation in the nearby forest that the Gigafactory is set to expand into and you can read an interview with those people on Crimethinc.com. If you go there you’ll find a discussion around the Gigafactory and resistance to it. And I also just want to kind of shout out that in the United States, or anyone listening to this, my default advice to people. . . When my friends are like "I don’t really know what to do with my life right now." Like, my default advice isn’t: go back and try and get another degree or a degree at all. My advice is go to the forest and join a forest defense camp, because eco-defense when you do–I’m not talking about volcano group stuff, I am talking about going and joining like thee sets and stuff–you join a community that needs volunteers and you join a community where you become empowered to make decisions and advance a thing as part of a collective process. And, and it’s kind of an all-consuming thing. It’s actually hard to dabble in sometimes, right? Because often people just go and live there. And there are a bunch of different action camps that I couldn’t immediately come up with, in the 10 minutes that it occurred to me right before we recorded that I should do this particular shout out, that are happening across the US at any given time. 

**Brooke ** 50:40
There’s one in Alabama.  

**Margaret ** 50:45
And there’s also a lot of resistance to the Mountain Valley Pipeline, the MVP. And a lot of people are  doing really amazing blockades where people are climbing into the pipelines. Inmn’s laughing. Did I get something wrong?

**Inmn ** 50:57
No, sorry. Just MVP. Most Valuable. . .Pipeline. Sorry. 

**Margaret ** 51:03
No, that’s okay. The other day on a different podcast, I said MVP, and then I was like, I think kids these days say, "GOAT", but then I didn’t say that in the podcast. That would be embarrassing to say a "kids these days thing," so I don’t worry. I didn’t. Totally didn’t say it now. Anyway. Okay. So my other big piece of good news is something that I’ve been watching happen, and was like thinking, oh, I think this is happening. And then I read a news article that was like, "Yes, this is happening." Prepper culture has reached a tipping point. Like we did it, y’all. Like not us three. But like, everyone listening. We did it. Prepper culture is no longer an overwhelmingly right-wing phenomenon. There’s a an article from Routers. Routers? From the news. Writers. [Pronouncing it differently] Reuters. And it says that the number of preppers has doubled since 2017. People who self-identify this way are up to about 20 million people in the United States. And much of that growth is coming from marginalized communities and progressives and leftists. And so there’s like, you know, it’s obviously not like, "Oh, hooray, everyone who’s listening. And if you’re marginalized, you can go to the prepper thing, and no one is going to be weird." Like, I can’t promise you that, right. But I can promise you that there are other people who are experiencing similar marginalization or have similar values as you. And for example, the subreddit, R/preppers. . . So Reddit is not like, where I immediately think, like, oh, everyone here is gonna be like, really not weird. But that subreddit, it’s great. I mean, it’s not totally lined up with everything I specifically believe and, you know, whatever. But it talks extensively about community preparedness. And it often kind of makes fun of the people who are like, "I can’t wait to have my bunker full of beans and bullets," or whatever, you know. And so that’s my favorite, final little good thing is that, compared to where this podcast started–as I say, three years ago, but it’s been four years, I just lost track of time–I wouldn’t have expected that to happen. And it is happening and the number of people who have bags and are like. . . You know, like my whole big thing is that, if you’re just starting, you should have a go bag, you should have about a five gallon container of water, depending how many people you live with, you get about about a bucket of food that lasts a really long time, and then slowly kind of build out your pantry a little. The number of people who do that basic stuff has just gone up so much. And it makes such a massive difference. Okay, I have one more. It’s the Margaret rants time of the podcast, apparently. I’ve been watching what’s happening in a lot of places that are in more immediate crises like Gaza, right? I mean, think about all the journalists who have been killed. There’s, you know, more journalists killed in Gaza than all of World War II, or whatever the fuck that statistic is, right. And you reach the point where you’re like, you could just go through your whole life and be like, I’m a doctor and learned all these doctor skills, but then you don’t even have a chance to use it. Because if the crisis kills 80%…or 20% of the people that you’re around, it could kill you. And then you’re like, "Oh, I spent all this time getting prepared. And then I died. So what good does that do?" Right? And that’s when I realized, individual preparedness almost isn’t good for the individual. The thing that individual preparedness is good for is [stress on "is"] community preparedness. Because, you know, a lot of people they’re like, "Well, I don’t want to get prepared because if I fill my house full of beans and bullets, and then the world ends and I’m alone, I don’t really care and that sucks and I don’t really want to go on anyway." Or, you know, "Oh, well, I’m just gonna die when the nuclear blast hits," or whatever it is, right? But when we think to ourselves, "I am part of a community, so me having basic medical skills means that if everyone is doing that, everyone is individually prepping, and I am hurt, someone around me is going to have basic medical skills. And so by getting myself individually prepared…I don’t know, I don’t quite know how to frame all of this yet. But this is this kind of epiphany where I’ve been like, "Oh, this is why individual preparedness doesn’t make sense to people, is because it’s not good for the individual." So if you’re hating on individual preparedness, it’s because you’re secretly being individualistic. And the best thing that you can do for the community is get your shit together. And that’s, that’s my final rant for the month.

**Inmn ** 55:50
Okay. Do you want to hear a really cool little story about some people who got their shit together and prepared their community? 

**Margaret ** 55:59
They built a house out of brick instead of straw. But they didn’t let their friends get eaten by the Big Bad Wolf, because they actually hung out in the brick house because they’re like, "Yo, wolves coming, and the guy wasn’t like, "Well, you gotta stay in the fucking house that’s made out…" Oh, you’re telling a story and I’m ranting. Go ahead.

**Inmn ** 56:15
I loved it. Proverbial tale. So I couldn’t. . . So I challenged everyone to come up with a good thing, because I think we should be talking about cool things that happened too, instead of all the doom and gloom, and then I failed to find a cool thing that happened over the last month. Not because a cool thing didn’t happen but because I just couldn’t find something that spoke to me. But I did come across this little blurb about this really amazing group that I didn’t know about, and it feels very, very relevant to stuff we talk about on the show. Y’all ever heard of the Chrysanthemum Flower? Like the group? Not the flower.

**Margaret ** 57:02
Wait, it sounds familiar. But no, let’s just go with no. 

**Inmn ** 57:07
So the Chrysanthemum Flower was a secret feminist organization in Palestine that resisted Israeli occupation in Jaffa before the 1948 Nakba. The organization was started as a community mutual aid group, which was formed by two sisters, Mohiba and Nariman Khusid. And what they did was they started this secret feminist organization whose goal was to organize their community. They bought weapons and relief supplies for their community. It transformed into an armed organization, when Mohiba watched a child get killed by a British sniper, and she’s quoted as saying, "That day I returned home and decided to take revenge." Nariman, at one point, led an attack at night where after, you know, a lot male squadrons were like, "No, don’t go do this attack." She was like, "We’re going to do this fucking attack." And she led an attack where they rolled up on this Israeli Zionist force squadron and she shot the commander, killed him with one shot, and then the entire squadron just threw down their weapons and surrendered to this group of armed women. It’s so fucking cool. They, the Chrysanthemum Flower, defended Jaffa when it was being invaded. And the group unfortunately ended when the city fell and the ethnic cleansing of that part of Palestine began. Mohiba was literally driven to the sea. But she eventually escaped to Egypt, where she settled and returned to teaching. And she died of natural causes in 2000. And yeah, a shout out to the Chrysanthemum Flower for preparing their community for devastation. And yeah, I don’t know, everyone go out and do that.

**Margaret ** 59:26
Yeah, or whatever. And shout "Wolverines!" while you do it, because the real Red Dawn was the Nakba.

**Margaret ** 59:41
Well, that about does it for This Month in the Apocalypse. Catch us next month when we talk about. . . the apocalypse. And in the meantime, catch us every week where we talk about how to live with the apocalypse with all of our usual content. And if you want to support this Podcast, you can do it by supporting Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness, which is our publisher. We put out a bunch of different stuff, including a bunch of other podcasts, including a podcast called Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. It comes out once a month and includes our featured zine that we’ve put up on our Patreon. As well as The Spectacle. it used to be called Anarcho Geek Power Hour, but then people were like, "But The Spectacle is better." And then it changed because that’s the kind of. . . because we didn’t have to amend our constitution to do it. You like that callback? And if you like nerd stuff and dislike the Constabulary, then it’s possible that The Spectacle is for you. And you can support us on Patreon. You can support us on patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness. We pay our transcribers and we pay our audio engineers. And we all hold out the long held dream of getting paid as hosts. But we’re not there yet. But, your support makes so much possible. And if you don’t have any money to support us there, just don’t. That’s fine. Just keep listening to our shit. Tell people about it. Or don’t. Do whatever you want. But in particular, we would like to thank Amber, Ephemeral, and Appalachian Liberation Library. Portland’s Hedron Hackerspace, Boldfield, E, Patolli, Eric, Buck, Julia, Catgut, Marm, Carson, Lord Harken, Trixter, Princess Miranda, Ben Ben, Anonymous, Funder, Janice & Odell, Aly, paparouna, Milica. Boise Mutual Aid, theo, Hunter, S.J., Paige, Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea, Staro, Jenipher, Kirk, Chris, Mic Aiah, and the immortal, the deity, Hoss the dog. That’s it and hope you all are doing as well as you can with everything that’s happening. 

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

S1E108 – This Month in the Apocalypse: Feb. 2024

Episode Summary

This time on This Month in the Apocalypse, Brooke and Inmn talk about volcanoes, fires in Chile, rivers in the sky, storms of new magnitudes, the war in Ukraine, the ICJ ruling on Israel’s genocide, how the immigration bill is confusing and bad, God’s Army descending on Eagle’s Pass, and how charitable bail funds are under attack. Live Like the World is Dying will be taking a break until sometime in March! Stay tuned!

Host Info

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

Publisher Info

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

Transcript

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

S1E107 – Ben on Communication After a Disaster

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Ben and Brooke talk about communication systems during a disaster. They cover basic communication infrastructure and equipment as well as what kind of information is vital to be able to communicate when cell phone towers go down. They also cover just how awesome amateur radio is.

Guest Info

Ben Kuo (he/him) is an amateur radio operator. Ben can be found on Mastodon @ai6yrr@m.ai6yr.org

Host Info

Brooke can be found on Twitter or Mastodon @ogemakweBrooke.

Publisher Info

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

Transcript

Live Like the World is Dying: Ben on Communicating After a Disaster

**Brooke ** 00:15
Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m Brooke Jackson, your host for this episode. Today I’ll be talking with Ben about communication and sharing information after disasters. But first, we’d like to celebrate being a member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchist podcasts by playing a little jingle from one of the other podcasts on the network. Jingle, Jingle jingle goes here.

**The Ex-Worker Podcast ** 00:45
The border is not just a wall. It’s not just a line on a map. It’s a power structure, a system of control. The border does not divide one world from another. There is only one world and the border is tearing it apart. The Ex-Worker Podcast presents "No Wall They Can Build: a guide to borders and migration across North America" A serialized audio book in 11 chapters released every Wednesday. tune in at crimethinc.com/podcast.

**Brooke ** 01:29
And we’re back. Ben, thank you so much for joining us today to talk about communication and information sharing after a disaster. We’d love to know a little bit more about you if you’re willing to share your pronouns and where you hail from and anything else that you want to say to introduce yourself? 

**Ben ** 01:49
Sure. My name is Ben Kuo, and I am in Ventura County, California. My pronouns are he and him. And my background in disasters is I have been very involved in responding to disasters, providing information on social media, and making sure that people, you know, get the information they need to stay safe and stay healthy and help other people.

**Brooke ** 02:17
Nice. Was this something that you got into because of a disaster that happened? Or was it something you were interested in before…before it became useful in this context? If that makes sense?

**Ben ** 02:28
It’s interesting. I really got involved in this in 20–I believe it’s 2018–when Hurricane Maria hit, and hurricane Maria was a category five hurricane, and I am…one of my hobbies–and I have many hobbies– but one of them is amateur radio. And for folks who have never heard of amateur radio, what it is, is a hobby where you learn how to use the radio and to communicate with people. And that is locally, you know, with people in your area, that is internationally. And you can talk to people all across the globe using just a radio, a power supply, a battery, and an antenna without any of the world being up. So that’s no internet, no telephone, no power supply, no power grid. And you can communicate with people all over the world. And it’s fun. And I started because it was a lot of fun. But it ends up being very, very, very useful nowadays with the increasing pace of disasters. And so I became an amateur radio operator partially because of the emergency aspect of it. There’s a big community around it. But also just because it’s a lot of fun for the technology and playing with the technology. So the big story of how I got into the disaster is Hurricane Maria was bearing down on the Caribbean. And it is…I don’t know if you’ve seen the trend in recent years but hurricanes have been spinning up much faster and much more intensely. And it’s called rapid intensification. And because of that you don’t have quite the warning that you used to with hurricanes. And so people go, "Oh, we can watch this. And we can react." or "Oh, it’s gonna be coming in a week." And that’s not happening as much anymore. So what happens is someone says, "Hey, it’s a tropical storm. We don’t have to worry too much." And all of a sudden, it goes from a tropical storm to category five hurricane. This actually happened only a few months ago in Mexico. A tropical storm, everyone says, "Oh, it’s just going to be a tropical storm." Even the expert of the National Weather Service said, "Oh, it’s just gonna be a tropical storm." And it went from a tropical storm to category five hurricane. And it totally decimated a resort area in Mexico. 

**Brooke ** 05:16
I had no idea. And it’s interesting because I feel like I seem to hear about them going the other direction so often. Like, oh, there’s a hurricane off the coast and it, you know–especially on our coast here on the West Coast–and then it dissipates into, you know, just a tropical storm or what have you. So I wasn’t aware that we’re seeing an increase of them going from tropical storm to hurricane. That’s really interesting.

**Ben ** 05:40
Yeah, I think the scientists say, you know, it’s an outgrowth of warmer oceans and with the climate crisis and all that, you have more energy. So it hits a warm spot in the ocean and all sudden, you know, it becomes quite crazy. So how I got involved is–I was not involved very much with emergencies and disasters, until hurricane Maria–and I was, you know, monitoring things here and there. And I learned that amateur radio was the only way to get to the…there’s a little island nation called Dominica, it’s not affiliated with any large country. It’s kind of its own country. And they were cut off from the world by hurricane Maria. So they had, I guess they lost 90% of the roofs. They lost…they had no power system. They lost their telephones. And interestingly enough, everyone thought they were okay, because they didn’t hear any messages from Dominica. They were like, "Oh, category five, it should be fine." And no one called for help. [Brooke exclaims incredulity] I got on–the amateur radio operators had already been active. There’s an active Amateur Radio Group on the island. And I stumbled upon them and discovered they were in big trouble. And they were just begging for help. And so I stumbled in here–I’m all the way in California–and using the magic of amateur radio was actually talking to these folks in the Caribbean. And actually also using the internet kind of to bridge some of the parts of it. It’s interesting, all the technology aspects. But the important thing ended up being that they were in a lot of trouble. There’s no one to help, and they just needed to get information about what was going on. And I started relaying information to the amateur radio operators there in the region on what was going on, what help was on the way or not on the way. In the meantime, they actually had…the amatory operators actually arranged a rescue of the Prime Minister of the country. And that’s like, you know, rescuing the President of the United States. Yeah, they rescued the president of Dominica, the Prime Minister. And they had…they were laying information back and forth like, "Oh, we need this. There’s a problem here. People here need dialysis. How can we get help from these people? These people are trapped." At one point, I relayed information from them about someone who had been…who was able to–I guess there’s limited cell phone coverage within the country–where they were able to tell somebody else that they were stuck underneath the house. And that got relayed by amateur radio operators out of the country, and I got it and it went back into the country elsewhere. And I rescued somebody. And in fact, I ended up relaying information from the US Embassy. And they actually were sending in…they actually sent in an entire warship, the USS Wasp. It’s an amphibious carrier. And they were airlifting US citizens out of the country. And they would actually go in and, you know, drop people off and pull them out of the, you know, whatever vacation villa they’re staying at and have them evacuate. It was a big operation. No one…no one really heard about it here. But that was kind of my introduction to the fact that amateur radio was very, very useful in really, you know, like a worst case scenario. And I learned a lot of lessons there, for sure, about how to deal with it. And eventually after Hurricane Maria hit Dominica, it actually hit Puerto Rico. 

**Brooke ** 09:37
What year was this by the way? 

**Ben ** 09:39
It was September of 2017. And it first hit Dominica, but then the hurricane curved up and it hit Puerto Rico. And I was involved in that. There’s a huge…Puerto Rico also had no communications. And the only communications was amateur radio for a good two days I believe. And I was really relaying information back and forth there. And how this ties into social media is I was collecting all this information, relaying it back and forth. And I said, "Hey, I’m listening to all this, I can see what’s going on and I might as well post it up on Twitter." And I did that. And I also put up a YouTube stream of all the radio communications that were happening….

**Brooke ** 10:25
Back when Twitter was good and useful and we loved it. 

**Ben ** 10:29
Yeah, back when it was a cause for good as opposed to what it is now.

**Brooke ** 10:33
Sorry, go on. Mourning the loss of Twitter.

**Ben ** 10:38
Yeah, exactly. It’s actually quite a thing. So interesting…that would have been it for me. I was going to delete my account. But shortly after that, there was a fire in my own county. And it’s actually between Ventura and Santa Barbara County, the Thomas fire. And I said, "Oh, I’ve got a social media account." And one of the things about amateur radio is you learn how to listen to what’s on the radio. And not…this is not broadcast radio. But this is police and fire channels, official agencies, people talking back and forth about what’s going on the ground on the scanners. And I was relaying what I heard there. And my followers went from, I think, you know, a few thousand to, you know, 50,000 people because information was so useful to know. So, you know, if you think about what you see on network TV, you’ll see the same, you know, Hillside burning the whole newscast, no context. Where is it? What’s going on? And when you listen to the Police and Fire Radio, you can say, "Hey, I know that that is in this neighborhood. The fire is moving in this direction. We need to get people out and to safety." And, "Oh, hey, we heard that there’s an evacuation here." And it takes…it takes, you know, a couple hours sometimes for the firefighters on the ground to say, "We need to evacuate this neighborhood," to actually, you know, you getting that on your phone or the press picking up on it. So that’s kind of how I got into the disasters. And, you know, it kind of has kept on going because, as I mentioned, you know, I think the pace of disasters has increased. I think they just saw…there’s just a report this week that said we had the largest amount of billion dollar disasters in the US in 2023 on record.

**Brooke ** 12:40
Wow. Like the largest total dollar value amount or like the largest number of disasters?

**Ben ** 12:48
Yes. Total dollar amount.Yeah, and so, you know, it’s just an ongoing, increasing need in the world.

**Brooke ** 12:55
Alright, interesting. So I want to talk about what we can do to prepare before a disaster but I think it would help if we talk about, really quickly, what you lose communication wise in the beginning of a disaster because I think that’s going to help make it clear why you need to prepare, if that makes sense.

**Ben ** 13:16
Yeah, you know, I mentioned, you know, we are so used to having a smartphone with us. We have a phone with us all the time. It is our way of getting information. It’s our way of communicating with people. We text people back and forth. We may use Snapchat or Instagram or whatever your social media is. And people don’t realize how much we rely on that today. And what happens during a disaster is the first thing that goes down is the cell phone network, right? Your cell phone network goes down. The cell towers only have so much battery before they fail. And then all of a sudden you don’t have a way to say "Hey, is my you know Aunt Marge, okay or not?" right? It’s, "What’s going on? Where should I go? What should I do? Where can I go?" This was brought home really…. A really terrible example of how we are depending on this and what goes wrong when it fails is Lahaina Hawaii.

**Brooke ** 14:22
And I don’t know if you listened to it, we released, just a couple weeks ago as we’re recording this, I did an episode about Lahaina and kind of reviewing what happened and where they are right now.

**Ben ** 14:39
Yeah, and so you’re familiar with the fact that, you know, the warnings went out too late. And then the cell towers went down. So no one knew what was going on. And so you were down to, I believe there’s a video of some guy without a shirt, you know, bicycling down the street yelling at people to get out. You know, that is your early warning system because your phones don’t work. And, you know, if the cell phone network goes down, you know, that cell phone that you’re holding is, you know, as good as a rock. You could throw it at something I guess, but it’s not going to do much good.

**Brooke ** 15:20
Yep. Yep. That’s right.

**Ben ** 15:22
Yeah. And, you know, I don’t think most people think about how much we depend on communications for all the things we do, especially in a safety situation, you know. Should I be evacuating? Where’s the disaster? Where’s help? Where should I not be going? That is all information that when you lose communications, you’ve lost, and it can be fatal. So that’s why, you know, as much as people often say, "Hey, well, you know why are you doing this amateur radio stuff? You know, we have cell phones now. We have the internet. Why do we need this, you know, old fashioned stuff?" It’s not really old fashioned. But, you know, that is the struggle that I often have with people thinking about disasters. And the other problem that we have is–and not obviously listeners of your podcast–but we live in a world where everyone thinks that it will never happen to them. And people don’t want to prepare. They say, "Hey, I, you know, this is never going to happen to me. I don’t want to think about bad things." And if you don’t do that, then you’re in a much worse spot when it does happen.

**Brooke ** 16:33
For sure, for sure. Okay, so when it happens, you know, we lose…we lose our phones. That’s one of the biggest things and basically all of the ways that we’re used to communicating. So what do we do before a disaster to get ready for that scenario? What kind of things do we need to have on hand or need to know how to do? Please teach me?

**Ben ** 16:57
Yeah, so. So some basic things you should do is have an alternate communication plan, or at very least someplace you can meet people. So say you don’t have, you know, a radio or anything like that, you say "Hey, if we have a disaster, here’s the plan," right? "This is where we go if there’s a fire or a flood or whatever it is. What are we going to do?" Okay, and that doesn’t require you to have communications. It just means you have to pre-plan what you’re doing. But, you know, the first level up–and this, you know, there’s kind of levels of how much you want to invest in communications–but, you know, you can buy off the shelf radios at sporting goods stores, which, you know, they’re called FRS radios or GMRS radios.

**Brooke ** 17:47
Is that a special radio then? Or is it like the old school radios we grew up with?

**Ben ** 17:50
Yeah, so it’s different. So, a lot of people are familiar with CB radio. And that’s an old technology. And people still use it. But it’s not really used a lot for this kind of thing, mainly because it doesn’t have very long range. You can’t go very far. But FRS and GMRS radios do have a little bit of range. And in radio, the key is something called line of sight, which is how far you can see. So if you are standing on top of a mountain, you can talk a very long distance. If you are in the bottom of the valley then you’re not going to get very far. And so most of those handheld radios that you can buy don’t require a license, you just have to pay your money and get them. You know, their range is probably–they say 20 miles–but really, practically, it’s about two–five miles. And those are great for your family group. Or if you’ve got a group of folks that are in your neighborhood and you want to communicate then that is kind of the first step and you have now…. Now, you can say instead of all of sudden everyone’s lost their phones, no one knows what’s going on, everyone can turn their radio on–as long as it keeps it charged and knows how to use it–they can go "Hey, Jill, you’re down the street. How are you? You know, are you okay?" "Oh, yeah, we’re okay. You know, there’s an earthquake. Oh, yeah. Everyone’s okay. We’re outside, right." So, you know, that’s something that’s very easy to do. It’s off the shelf there. They’re actually sold in blister packs at the sporting goods store. And it’s a level one. It’s like, oh, do you have a plan to at least communicate with your family and people in your neighborhood?

**Brooke ** 19:40
Okay, that sounds so much like walkie talkies that we had as a kid but like a higher end farther distance thing.

**Ben ** 19:48
Essentially, it is a walkie talkie. And that is what they are and, you know, they sell them as kids toys, but it’s a first level of basic communications that you may want to consider, especially for your family. It’s like, even if you look at some of the…if you see people fleeing from fires and from disasters, you know, see these videos of people, they can’t talk to someone else in another car when your cell phone network goes down. And you can with a little walkie talkie. So that’s, you know, you may have two people, one person in one car, another person in another car, and you can at least talk and say, "Hey, you know, this is what we’re doing. This is where we’re going."

**Brooke ** 20:26
Do those–I’m getting into the weeds here but I’m just so curious to those–like, if you buy a set from the store and somebody else buys a set from the store, I’m assuming those must like cross traffic with each other?

**Ben ** 20:41
Yeah, as long as you buy the ones that are licensed in the US. It’s called FRS and GMRS. radios. GMRS actually requires a license, which is I think it’s $25 for 10 years. But no one’s checking on those. It’s kind of the Wild West. I would advise getting a license, but they saw them everywhere. And a lot of people don’t. 

**Brooke ** 21:04
Okay, so if you get those planning to use them to communicate with loved ones and neighbors you may have other people using theirs that you’ll have cross cross talk.

**Ben ** 21:16
Yeah, for sure. For sure. And those are the same frequencies that, you know, the kids down the street. So you’ll turn it on and go, "Oh, there’s little kids playing cops and robbers." They are shared frequencies. Yeah, so your next level up is–and I advocate for this because I am an amateur radio operator–is to actually get a license. And in all the countries around the world, you can get an entry level, amateur radio license and you can use a lot more frequencies and much better gear even at a very basic level. And in the US, there’s, I think it’s a 25-30 question test. And all the answers are pre published. So you can actually go and, you know, cram for this thing and get it in a week if you’re…if you so desire.  And so that actually can get you much, much farther. And so in the US it’s called a technician license and you can actually…. With those, I’ve talked to someone 50 miles away direct. So that is, you know, nothing in between. And there’s also things that are called repeaters that sit on top of hills, and you can talk to people hundreds and hundreds of miles away because they’re all linked together. And there’s actually…and there’s an interesting tradition among the amateur radio community, which is they have groups that work on doing communications and they focus on, you know, those kind of bands on VHF, UHF, those things are all local. So you have a group of people…. In our area, they actually have people, you know, you’re on a list, and they say, "Hey, who’s on the list?" They’re all licensed. And this is licensing in the US by the FCC. And they actually check to say, "Who’s here? Who’s not?" And it’s a practice, right, to see whether or not. So it’s a good thing to do, at least in our area. And I’m in California. It is, you know, men and women and kids and that sort of…anyone who can get a license, and, um, it’s definitely something to think about.

**Brooke ** 23:46
Okay, so anything else kind of on that part of things you can do before the disaster to help get ready with communication and information sharing?

**Ben ** 23:58
Yeah, so the, you know, the other thing to do is I found that you need to know who is out there in the community that you are going to communicate with. And I think too many people do not think about it. You need to know who you’re talking to and whether you trust them or not, and have your resources lined up. And I saw this in hurricane Maria where people were asking for help, but no one had ever met the folks, didn’t know them, didn’t trust them. And so, it was a very different thing, right? You’re…. When you’re talking to someone, communicating with someone, you need to have a pre-existing relationship with them. And, you know, I think in this world, you know, you’re asking for some kind of mutual aid but you kind of want to have an idea of who it is or what group it is or do you trust them or not? And it’s good to have that stuff kind of thought of, to, you know, think of think of that stuff beforehand, right? Who are the resources In our area if we had a disaster? Hey, you know, the folks in the next city, we’ve got to…you know, we’re okay here. Do we need to bring some of them in? Do they have, you know, the resources? And would they help us if there’s a problem? There’s a lot of stuff that needs to be, you know, thought about, which is beyond the communication but more the organization.

**Brooke ** 25:20
Yeah. Is it devastating if you haven’t built out those networks yet prior to?

**Ben ** 25:26
It’s not. It’s just hard. I think it’s just harder.

**Brooke ** 25:29
Yeah. Makes sense. Alright. Other things to prepare before your disaster hits?

**Ben ** 25:38
Yeah, the other piece of it that I run across is because the communications folks tend to be very good at communications if they don’t cover the basics, right? So you need to think about all the basic disaster stuff first, before the communications, which is, "Hey, do I have the basic food and water kind of things? Have I got, you know, all the safety stuff for myself, my family. And, you know, for yourself first, before you even think about, "Oh, do I even have a way to communicate?" 

**Brooke ** 26:10
Yeah, okay. That makes sense. 

**Ben ** 26:13
You’re not useful in that role of communicating if you, yourself are no longer able to help. You know what I mean. 

**Brooke ** 26:25
Alright, okay. Alright, shall we move into talking about, you know, you’re in the aftermath of a disaster and you need to communicate and share information?

**Ben ** 26:36
Yeah, yeah. So, you know, the things that happen after a disaster is people are looking for ways to get information to family and friends. And the number one thing I find is people either have to ask for help, because there’s a medical issue or they need to be rescued or something like that, or the other big thing is people…I don’t think people understand how much people miss knowing what’s going on. Right? So if there’s a disaster, there are thousands and thousands and thousands of people who go all sudden, "Hey, is my grandmother okay? Is my grandfather okay? Is my friend okay? What’s going on?" right? And it is…. A lot of times people say, "Hey, if I call somebody in such and such an area, maybe they can go find, you know, whoever is missing, or whatever, or something like that, right? So this…we saw this during the Lahaina, right? There’s people, you know, thousands of relatives going, "Oh no, I know somebody in Lahaina. Are they okay?" And the lessons I’ve learned from so many disasters is there’s no way to get information into a disaster zone. Not very efficiently.

**Brooke ** 27:55
That’s a really good point. 

**Ben ** 27:56
Yeah, so information can come out of a disaster zone, but it doesn’t go into a disaster. And so, if you…so for example, if you’re an amateur radio operator, generally, you could get a message out saying, you know, "Help me. I’ve got a problem." Or you can say, "Hey, I’m okay. Let someone know that I’m okay." If you are just someone with a smartphone, and no communications, you are just out of luck, unless you can find someone who can lay that information. And there’s a lot of these systems, and I hate to…I hate to criticize some of the nonprofits that exist in the world for these things, but they have "Oh, hey, check in safety." It’s like, they say, "Yo, check in on Facebook that you’re okay." It’s like, well, you have no way to get on Facebook. There’s no internet, there’s no power. How are you supposed to do that, right? Yeah, and even even the case, there’s a system by a big aid organization that has a red symbol and it says, "Oh, it’s a safe and well if you need to know someone’s okay." And two things. One is, if you try to ask for someone’s information, they say, ‘What was their phone number and their last address?" And you go, "Well, how am I supposed to know that? You know, I just know that they’re in this town," and whatever. There’s a lot of stuff like that that’s like, "Oh, do you have their social security numbers?" It’s like "No, I don’t have their social security." So there’s a lot of stuff in the way of that. And it’s a lot easier, and I found all these disasters, if someone’s able to get out themselves. So like I said, the amateur radio operators can relay information to other people. So if you’ve got a neighbor who’s an amateur radio operator, they can go "Oh, hey, I’m gonna call somebody up." This happened actually after–famously after Katrina–Katrina. Hurricane Katrina took down took down communications and there was a lot of communication out by people relaying information to other amateur radio operators they knew. So they said, "Hey, you know, this is where the Smith family is. We’re at this street. Can you let somebody know at our family that we’re okay." And they would pass on a phone number to call or someone to text or something like that. I did that a lot in Puerto Rico. So a lot of people who are in Puerto Rico, they have family somewhere else, they have no way to tell them that they’re okay and they really don’t need anything, but people are worried, right? Imagine your family is in the middle of a hurricane or something like that, or wildfire, and how do you let people know you’re okay.

**Brooke ** 30:45
Yeah, that makes sense. With the amateur radio networks and whatnot, you know, I know you just mentioned a few times about how you can relay information through those. And I’m curious if they’re sort of existing networks of communication at all. I mean, obviously, there are folks that know each other. But do you guys have any kind of, I don’t know, pre existing…. Like, do you already know where some of your people that you talk to live? Like if you had to get information to, I don’t know, Montana–random example. 

**Ben ** 31:27
Yeah, there’s an established network to do that. I have my own opinions on how effective it is or not, but they do have a…. It’s actually one of the reasons amateur radio exists in the US. It was very early in the 1900s when there were disasters, radio was the only way to get out information. And so they actually started doing that back in the days of Morse code, believe it or not, when they were relaying it. And that’s part of the reason why the hobby has such a strong tradition in the communications and emergency area. And so, you know, I mentioned I was doing a lot of stuff online about, you know, wildfires and hurricanes on Twitter and what’s going on. And a lot of what I do and have done is stuff that the hobby, as a whole, has been doing since its beginnings.

**Brooke ** 32:22
I didn’t think about how deep those roots are. But that’s kind of cool to think about going all the way back to, you know, using Morse code to relay the information.

**Ben ** 32:32
Yeah, well, in fact, you know, if you think about it, you know, everyone knows SOS in Morse code, right? Did, did, did. Dot, dot, dot [making noises like someone speaking in Morse code] All that came from–an amateur radio started around the same time as all that kind of communication was going on, you know, like the Titanic or whatever else like that. So, that is, you know, a long standing tradition. And before the internet, before we had phone networks, we had radio networks. So that’s kind of the long tradition there.

**Brooke ** 33:06
Yeah, that makes sense. So you said you have some opinions about the efficacy of the system of relay that they have now and it sounds like maybe you’re not entirely happy with the way that works. I’m curious to know what you think there are and why? So, you know, if there’s a limitation that we need to understand.

**Ben ** 33:29
Yeah. So they have a very regimented way of sending messages. And they try to pass messages…they try to do it the old fashioned way, which is you get a message, you know, here and then you pass it. Say I want to send something to Boston. Well, they may send it to somewhere in between. And then it goes through the neighborhood and then eventually, at some point, it gets there.  And nowadays, I think it’s more effective to just get out of your disaster zone and get the message there. And so, you know, for me, what happens is during the hurricane issues that I had, trying to use that network didn’t work because I said, "Hey, I just need…I have a real disaster here. This is not pretend. This is not a simulation. I have people who need to know that their family’s okay." I had a text on my phone from people–it was actually relayed from a boat after a hurricane–saying, you know, "We’re docked here. We are okay. We just want to let someone know. And so this is the boat name. This is our location. And here’s the neighborhood. Here’s our relative. We need to let them know that we’re okay. They don’t need to send the Coast Guard." and trying to send that through a network which is used to passing it by hand, it’s like can someone just call them? Like, we don’t need to do this. It’s great practice. But when it comes to a real disaster, why are we doing all this stuff when we can just call them up? The first person who’s on a cell phone network can call them up and say, "Your relatives are okay." 

**Brooke ** 35:04
That’s a good point. And, you know, the children’s game of telephone that you’re practically doing with passing it from one place to the next place to the next, you know, is not ideal, as we all know, for many reasons. 

**Ben ** 35:22
And I think that’s their legacy is they don’t use it as much as they ought to. And maybe they’re using it more now with the disasters we have. But there’s a lot of experts in the world who’ve never applied their knowledge. I find that also the case in just disaster preparedness in general. You have a lot of people who are disaster preparedness experts and they’ve never had to deal with a disaster. And the worst is that people sometimes they’ll say, "Hey, you’re a prepper. Blah, blah, blah," and I go, "No, the preppers don’t have any concept of actually reacting to a real problem." The pandemic was the big one that I saw. All these folks who said, "Hey, watch out for the zombie apocalypse, we need to, you know, stock our homes with guns and MREs." And then when there’s an actual, you know, pandemic, they go, "We’re not wearing masks. We aren’t gonna get vaccinated." You’re going, "Oh, my gosh," you know? So there’s, you know, there was a miss, a complete miss, because they’re just not…you know, they call themselves one thing, but they don’t have…they didn’t have the experience or the right mindset going into it.

**Brooke ** 36:40
So I’m curious about the types of information that we need to share. You know, we talked about after a disaster, you know, being able to relay that, you know, this person is okay, you know, finding so-called missing or unknown people and figuring out what’s going on with them. But what else…like what other kinds of things do people need to relay that this network could be useful for after a disaster?

**Ben ** 37:08
Yeah, help. Help is number one. So life threatening information. So if somebody is trapped or needs help, medical help. And, obviously, you have to know where to get it to. But in most cases, if you can get that information to the authorities, somebody is going to come and help you. And they just need to know it, right? So your local fire department, right? Or, maybe it’s a search and rescue team or something like that. You need to be able to get that information to them. And so that’s definitely a big one with communications. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen that 911 systems go down in the US all too often. 

**Brooke ** 37:53
I have heard. 

**Ben ** 37:54
And if you don’t have 911, you have to be able to call for help, right? And so we haven’t seen that a ton where people have used radio to do that. But it is one thing. So if our 911 system here goes down, I know that I can call somebody else who can get to, you know, fire and rescue or whatever it is. So, help for sure. And the other part of it, the communications, is for your community, is helping out in the community, is knowing more situational–it’s something called situational awareness–what’s going on? Where are the issues? What’s happening? And, you know, that’s not just for you to communicate. It’s another thing to listen. So, you know, the nice thing about radio is you can both listen and also communicate. And being able to listen to know what’s going on is a huge piece of it. So you’ll find that even if you’re not somebody who’s on the air communicating after a disaster, you can at least listen and hear what’s going on and know what to watch out for. Like, hey the freeways shut down, so don’t go that way. Or, you know, the fire is in this area. Or, you know, in hurricanes, hey, you know, this is where the aid center is, or whatever it is, or this is where someone’s distributing food, you know? So there’s all that information. It is really helpful as a part of a disaster plan is how do you know what’s going on and where things are happening. In the amateur radio community, which is something that everyone should do, you know, they actually share information. So there’s people all around town and they go, "Hey, no one said this on the news. There’s no information about this. But you guys can’t go there. The bridge is down." 

**Brooke ** 39:42
That makes sense. So, escape route, maybe for lack of a better word, but just like, you know, communicating infrastructure issues. That’s really interesting. Other things that you can think of that are, you know, types of information that people need that can be useful in sharing, if any? If not, that’s okay.

**Ben ** 40:09
Yeah, yeah. Well, you know, I think it’s the general awareness. And this is a tool, you know, the radio stuff I talk about is just a tool for what’s going on. And, what I’m sharing on social media, it’s not just the radio stuff, although it’s a big part of it, but it’s things like, you know, where do you get information about evacuation zones, right? Where is–during fires we can see maps of where the fires are. You can look up… You can look up evacuation centers. You can get maps of flooded areas. There’s a lot of information sources. And I think on the communication side, even if you’re not cut off, there’s a lot of things that just letting people know about–and that’s what I do–is what is this situation? Where are the issues? What’s going on? I mean, today, I’ve been sending out messages about flooding. And I don’t know if you know, but there’s huge waves off the coast of California right now. And they’re parts of Santa Cruz, there’s parts of the Pacific Coast Highway that are underwater because of these big waves. And just knowing about that stuff is useful in that general awareness. And this whole area of communications, you know, the situational awareness is something that in disasters, you know, it really does make a difference. And I’ve had people say, "Hey, you know, we knew, because you were paying attention to what’s going on with the fire, that we needed to get…we needed to take our horses and get them evacuated," And it takes a while to evacuate horses, right? And, "Oh, our house, we knew that our house was in a threat area. We needed to get…we needed to get our aunt, you know, to safety." And it’s just that time, that information, you know, you don’t want to be the last person to know that something’s happening in your neighborhood. And this whole part of the aspect of listening to the radio helps with that in just the general situational awareness.

**Brooke ** 42:11
There’s, you know, kind of a component after the radio, because not everyone’s going to have the radio, you know, if then, you know, if you are the one who gets the information via the radio, then how you go out and disseminate it. But that’s maybe kind of another topic, unless you want to get into it. But, you know, do you put up posters? Like, you know, letting other people know, "Oh, I found out that such and such bridge is down. How do I communicate that to folks that don’t have a radio? How do we spread that wider?

**Ben ** 42:41
Yeah. And that…I don’t think we’ve solved that problem in general, you know, just how do you get the information faster. I, you know, I talk about the rate just because that puts you on the knowing side of things versus the not-knowing side of things. And it’s just…it’s just one of those things in disasters, having that awareness–even if you can’t communicate out–knowing what’s going on gives you an advantage to you know, safety and health and all that. It is really helpful.

**Brooke ** 43:12
Yeah, okay, I’ve got one last question for you, I think. I think, unless something sparks in my brain here. But is this useful in all types of disasters, natural disasters, emergencies, whatnot? Or are there ones that this tool would not be useful or effective for?

**Ben ** 43:34
Yeah, that’s a good question. Um, I think it’s actually useful in most cases. It’s very used during hurricanes. It’s used a lot during wildfires. It is used a lot in earthquakes. Most of the folks that I know who are licensed here in my area, who are older than me, are, were licensed because of the Northridge earthquake. They all said, "Hey, we…" you know, the typical problem was, "Oh, I was at work. And my wife was one place and my kids were somewhere else and we could not communicate." And they said, "How do we fix that problem?" And so they said, "We’re gonna get licensed as an amateur radio operator." And so earthquakes are a huge driver in California. But I think in general, I found it useful in all sorts of situations, whether it’s an emergency. So yeah, and even interesting enough–and maybe it’s more of a social thing, because there’s a social group built in–but even with the pandemic, we we had a group who started out on the radio. And it’s…maybe you could have done this on Zoom or on the phone, but there’s a bunch of folks on radio who started talking every day. And you knew what’s going on and you were able to trade information. Even today, now I go, "Oh, hey, there’s a big outbreak of COVID," because, you know, three of the people on the net–we call them net like, it’s like a round table or networ and people check in–and someone goes, "Oh, you know what, our whole family just caught COVID." And you go, "Oh, you know, I haven’t heard that for a while. So maybe something’s going on." You know? It is interesting. It’s just another way of getting information about what’s going on. And it gives you a little bit of a network. And that network also operates…. You know, the nice thing about what we do is that operates when all the power goes. In California, they’ve been shutting down power during high-wind events. And that often takes down cell towers. They’re supposed to…. They’ve got some laws in now and they’re supposed to put them back up, but it’s not there yet. And so they shut things down. No one knows what’s going on. They hop on the radio, they go, "Hey, I got a blackout here. What’s going on?" Somebody who’s outside of the blackout looks it up and says, "Hey, they shut down your whole part of town because of the wind danger," or whatever it is. So, it is useful.

**Brooke ** 45:57
Yeah. And going back to our Lahaina example, that’s a thing that would have been helpful in preventing some of those fires, if they had shut down power lines with what was coming in. And that is, unfortunately, because of the age of our power system and the lack of maintenance we’ve done on a lot of our infrastructure. Shutting off the power is one of the things that power companies are doing more often as a safety measure.

**Ben ** 46:29
Yeah. And you know, some of that is…is liability, because of the number of fires that have happened and all that. And some of it, interestingly enough–and this is a climate issue–is some of that damage is just happening much more often than it used to. And, you know, some of the things I didn’t talk about, but, you know, part of what we do as amateur operators is you don’t just have the radio, but you also have to consider how am I going to charge it? How am I going to do that? Do I have a battery bank that works? Do I have a solar panel? There’s a lot that goes into that, you know? It’s kind of a general resiliency thing, which is…is very relevant in that case, right? Your power goes out and your cell phone tower is now down, how do you know what’s going on? Most likely, somebody who’s an amateur radio operator has a battery-backed up radio and knows what’s going on. Because you know, and it doesn’t matter. I can talk to Brazil when none of my neighborhood has power just for fun because it’s there and running.

**Brooke ** 47:42
Yeah. And before anybody asks me about it, I am not trying to say that the power company shutting down the power is a good thing or a bad thing, only observing that it is a thing that is happening and it has benefits and costs to it.

**Ben ** 47:59
Yeah, for sure. Yeah. And it makes sense. I mean, most of the…many wildfires here have been caused by power lines. So, you know, the converse thing is when they shut down the power the, you know, like I said, the cell phone tower doesn’t work anymore. And that’s what happened in Lahaina, the power stopped working and you lost the cell phone towers and then all of a sudden you’re in trouble. 

**Brooke ** 48:21
Yep, yep. Alright, I think that brings us to a conclusion on this topic for today. So Ben, I want to thank you so much for reaching out and offering to have this conversation with us and making the time to sit with me and talk about it. I have learned some things today and I’m excited about that. Is there anything else that you would like to say? Anything that you would like to plug, social medias, charity groups, anything like that?

**Ben ** 48:51
Yep. So um, I am nowadays on Mastodon. So if you want to follow my disaster emergencies and random musings on life, I am ai6yrr@m.ai6yr.org. So that’s my…that’s actually my callsign, my radio callsign, ai6yrr@m.ai6yrr.org. And, you know, as much as I talked about the disaster part of the hobby is there’s a lot of fun stuff too. We can talk to astronauts in space. We have our own satellites. There’s all sorts of science stuff you can do. And it is really quite a…it’s not just for disasters and emergencies. It just happens to be a useful part of it.

**Brooke ** 49:43
Well, thanks for putting that in. I appreciate it. You can also find me on Mastodon @ogemakweBrooke, that’s Brooke with an E. And Ben again, I just really want to thank you for coming on today and talking with us. Yeah,

**Ben ** 50:00
Hopefully someone learned something. So thanks a lot.

**Brooke ** 50:06
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