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S1E97 – Eleanor Goldfield on “To the Trees” & Forest Defense

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Eleanor Goldfield comes on to talk about her film, "To the Trees," a documentary that highlights forest defense tactics in Northern California. The film is meant to call into question our current relationships to nature, how we might reframe them, and why that reframing is vital to our survival and having a livable future.

Guest Info

Eleanor Goldfield (she/her) is a filmmaker and journalist who works to highlight different movement and struggles. You can find her work and her film "To the Trees" at tothetreesfilm.com and artkillingapathy.com. Eleanor can also be found on Twitter @RadicalEleanor and Instagram @RadicalEleanor

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: Eleanor on "To the Trees" & Forest Defense

**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 I use they/them pronouns. Today we are talking to a filmmaker about a really beautiful film called To the Trees. And I’m really excited for you all to hear this conversation. We’re going to talk a lot about logging and forest defense and just kind of like the extraction industry in general, and then just about some, you know, cultural or psychological paradigms that we have around resource extraction. But first, we are a proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchists podcasts. And here is a jingle from another show on that network. 

**Inmn ** 01:40
And we’re back. Hi, thank you so much for coming on the show today. Could you introduce yourself with your name, pronouns, and a little bit about your background, and what you’re here to talk about today? 

**Eleanor ** 01:55
Sure, thanks so much for having me. My name is Eleanor Goldfield. She/her. I’m a queer creative, radical filmmaker, and journalist. And I’ve been doing frontline–I hesitate to say activism–I’ve been doing frontline actions and journalism since 2010 together. And before that I’d been doing organizing and community organizing since about 2003, before the second Iraq War. And I’m here today to talk about my latest offering in the film domain, which is called, "To the Trees," and it’s about forest defense tactics in so-called Northern California and also about our relationship to nature and the necessary shift that that must take for us to have a livable future.

**Inmn ** 02:50
Cool, um–I mean, not cool that a film like this needs to get made but cool that a film like this now exists and can teach people a lot of really awesome things. I highly encourage everyone to go out and watch the movie. It’s really wonderful. It’s really beautiful. But could you kind of give us just like a recap of the movie.

**Eleanor ** 03:17
Sure. Yeah, and the films available at ToTheTreesfilm.com. And all of my work is also available at ArtKillingApathy.com. So kind of a general overview of the film is that I went out there to do…. This is kind of how I work. I ask folks if they need any support–and I’m ground support, by the way, because I don’t do heights. Although, I did climb a redwood when I was out there, which was a terrifying experience. And I’m never doing it again.

**Inmn ** 03:49
They’re so big, 

**Eleanor ** 03:51
They’re ginormous. And that was my first…that was the first tree I decided to climb because…yeah, whatever. And it took me 45 minutes. And it’s 200 feet up in the air, and I was terrified. And it took me like 15 minutes to get up the courage just to step off the platform. And the tree sitter, they were like, "You just step up," and I’m like, "What do you just step up? I’m gonna die," and they’re like, "No, you’re not. You’re gonna be fine. I swear" and I’m like, "Oh God, this is so terrifying." And they’re like, "Yeah, maybe you are ground support."

**Inmn ** 04:20
Ground support is crucial.

**Eleanor ** 04:23
It is crucial. Yes. And it’s very much…. That’s very much me. I was built to like just be grounded, I think. So I went out there basically saying, "I would love to help you all and do support and also, if it’s cool with you, I’ll bring a camera and I’d love to just hear some of your stories." And so folks were cool with that. And so there I go, traipsing into the woods. And it’s a beautiful tree village. And the redwood forests, if folks have never seen them, I mean it’s like Narnia. You know the forest floor is Like this plush, you know, soft and welcoming space. And then you look up and it’s like the trees are so tall that you can barely see the crowns. It’s just kind of like this green haze above you. And so I just started talking to folks and talked to a couple of tree sitters. I also spoke with somebody who does more of the judicial side of things, like trying to get forest…or like logging companies in court and how that kind of works with tree sitters. And then I also spoke to an indigenous woman, Marnie Atkins, who is a member of the Wiyot tribe, spoke to her a lot about perspectives on what’s going on in these forests and the paradigms that are different between her people and the colonizers who came. And so it’s kind of a…. [trails off] I call it at the end, I have this, I have this slide that says, "To the trees: It’s a dedication, a call to action, a promise, and a militant apology." And I wanted folks to feel that, that it’s an offering and it’s also an invitation, not just to act in whatever ways we can but also to question the way that we think about these beautiful places, whether they be the redwood forests or whether they be the the ecosystems that are outside your front door.

**Inmn ** 06:42
Yeah, yeah. And it’s…. I feel funny that this is one of my first questions, but it was one of the pieces of the film that kind of really got me–it’s like always knowing that Capitalism uses things for really silly things–but learning that the main use of redwood trees is to just turn them into kind of crappy decks. Is that right?

**Eleanor ** 07:12
Yeah, yeah, it’s based on market forces. The best use of a redwood tree is decking. And not only that, but redwoods can be 2000 years old. And of course, if you were to chop down a 2000 year old tree–which by the way, there’s no law against it in California or anywhere else in the in the United States–if you were to do that, yes, that deck would last a while–it wouldn’t last 2000 years–it would last a while. But the way that they cut down trees at the rate–because of course, no one’s gonna wait 2000 years–they cut down these trees in their infancy. So the strong heartwood of the tree has not had a chance to develop. And so you’re cutting down these trees, you know, destroying any future that they might have to rebuild an ecosystem, and you’re turning them into a deck that is not even going to last like a decade because it’s just not made of wood that has had a chance to mature. And so you’re literally destroying burgeoning ecosystems for the sake of a deck that is going to last less than, you know, the length of a Britney Spears’ single. It’s just…it’s ridiculous.

**Inmn ** 08:35
Yeah, yeah, I feel like that’s one of the harder things that I struggle with when really thinking about industrial Capitalism is just the…it’s like the cost of what it…like what it costs to do to the planet versus what is gotten from that. And it’s not even like, oh, you’re gonna get something that’s like, "We cut down this tree and it’s gonna last this family multi-generations," you know, it’s like a piece of shit that’s gonna rot and fall apart in a decade. 

**Eleanor ** 09:12
And that’s the whole, you know, that’s one of the primary issues with Capitalism is that it treats things that are finite, like trees and clean air and clean water, as if they’re infinite. And it treats things that are infinite, like ones and zeros on a computer, as if they’re finite. Like, "Oh, we don’t have the money." And, I mean, it’s like–I can’t remember who it was– maybe it was Alan Watts, who said, "That’s kind of like saying, ‘You don’t have enough inches to build a house.’" Like that doesn’t make any sense. Like of course you have more money because you just make it up. It’s all a fairy tale. Whereas the things that we can’t just make up like a 2000 year old tree or a clean river, you treat as entirely disposable, and that is one of the primary issues with the paradigm of Capitalism and thereby colonialism, which was the battering ram of Capitalism.

**Inmn ** 10:08
Yeah. Yeah. I’m wondering if you could tell us a little bit about what are the life cycles or growth cycles or logging cycles like in places that are being [testing words] harvested? Destroyed? Whichever word. 

**Eleanor ** 10:34
Yeah, that’s that euphemism, right? "Oh, we’re just harvesting." No! So, basically, there are several different cycles that can be used. I think one of the shortest ones for redwoods is 45 or 50 years. So if you clear-cut and then you–and redwoods are actually one of the few trees that can sprout, like from a stump. Like it’s self…I can’t remember what it’s called. Self-sprouting or something? And so you have to wait 45 or 50 years. Now, whether they always do that or not, is up for debate, especially depending on what they’re hoping to get from the products. But it’s 45 or 50 years. Some will say, "Oh, we’re gonna leave this plot for 100 years," or whatever. And again, whether that’s done or not, is up for debate. And it’s also difficult because industrial logging has only been around since like, you know, 120 years or so. So when we talk about the amount of time you really need to grow these forests, it’s like we’re going back to a time before this was even a conversation because you couldn’t possibly tear down the forests that quickly. And so we’re in this kind of odd liminal space where people are talking about, "Oh, we’re gonna have to let this grow again for 100 years," but 100 years ago this wasn’t even a contemplation. And so the cycles are based on, again, like the market forces. LIke, okay, well, at 45 or 50 years these trees will be ready to be harvested and then can be used to do whatever we want with them, you know? Truck them off to the sawmill. And that, again, is it…. Well, I could go off into so many different tangents, but I’ll pause.

**Inmn ** 12:36
I do…. We love tangents. We love rants. So this wasn’t surprising to me, but I’ve spent like a little bit of time in the coal fields of West Virginia, and it seems like there’s this kind of similar thing in logging where there’s a strong guidance to preserve the cardboard frame of what things look like from a road or something, you know, so it’s like the devastation appears a lot less impactful. I am curious what kind of lengths or strategies logging companies go to–or the State goes to–to make it seem like nothing all that bad is happening?

**Eleanor ** 13:25
Yeah, absolutely. And it’s funny you brought up West Virginia because my first documentary was actually about West Virginia. And I talked a lot about the coal fields. And I actually did a flight above them because you can’t–I mean, to your point–you can’t see it from the roads. And you can really only see the vast devastation if you’re up in a plane. Or if you have a drone or something like that. So in California, they call it the ‘visual impact’ or commonly called ‘the beauty screen.’ And it’s this idea that, particularly Inmnorthern California–because Northern California, unlike West Virginia, which is very proud of its coal, Northern California doesn’t want you to think it’s proud of logging–it wants you to think that it’s super proud of the trees, which is really twisted.

**Inmn ** 14:21
Yeah. Yeah.

**Eleanor ** 14:22
It’s like being a serial killer and then being like, "I have a human rights organization." So they will…. Right before you get to a lot of these THPs, that’s timber harvest plans, you’re driving through, for instance, the Avenue of the Giants, which is part of a redwood forest, Redwood National Forest, and it’s gorgeous, right? And you would never think that just a few miles up in the hills there are these vast bald spots. And so they want to ensure that that stays the case, right? So you just keep driving and you keep driving up the one on one and you just see trees and then the Pacific Ocean is over here and you’re like, "Oh my god, California is amazing!" 

**Inmn ** 15:06
"We love trees!"

**Eleanor ** 15:07
Right. But it’s being destroyed. And you can’t see that. And it’s very important that you can’t see that because the companies that own this land–because most of it is privately owned logging land–and the companies have this like…one of the guys in the film says, "This eco groovy PR campaign and this facade." And they want you to think that everything is done respectfully and sustainably when, of course, you can’t clear-cut sustainably. So they want to make sure that you can’t see it because that would fly in the face of their ‘eco groovy facade.’ And part of that is also that they have a certification, which is called FSC, Forest Stewardship Council certification. Which if you’ve ever been to a Home Depot or Lowe’s, oftentimes FSC wood will be more expensive because the idea is that it’s sustainable. And so you get to feel good about yourself, you know, like, "Oh, sweet, this isn’t from a clear-cut," but it is. And the Forest Stewardship Council, even if it started with honorable aims, is a complete…it’s just a rubber stamp for the logging industry. And there’s been a long list of horribleness, including stealing indigenous land, clear-cutting old growth forests, and you know, and yet they have that little FSC stamp. So people think, consumers think, that this is done sustainably. But of course, it’s not. And so this is all part of that greenwashing campaign, whether it be the ‘beauty screen’ or the FSC stamp, it’s all part of that push to ensure that the consumer remains in the dark and thinks that, particularly, Northern California is sustainably harvesting their, in quotes, ‘harvesting’ these trees and ensuring that they will be around forever.

**Inmn ** 17:09
Golly, yeah. And I imagine people also…like the consumer on the end of like…they, you know, they go into Home Depot, or they’re hiring a contractor to build their crappy deck, I’m sure they’re really ecstatic that they have this…are getting this redwood deck. Like, I feel like it’s just the name, you know, "Redwood," it sounds so majestic. It sounds so like, "Wow, this is gonna last me a really long time."  Is that kind of like part of it too, do you think? 

**Eleanor ** 17:44
Yeah, I think it sounds…. You know, I was in bands for years, and people used to talk about the wood that went into their instruments like, "Oh, it’s mahogany neck." and someone’s like, "Oh! It’s a mahogany neck."

**Inmn ** 17:57
It’s an electric guitar…like it doesn’t matter.

**Eleanor ** 18:01
And sure, I mean,as a former audio tech, I can be like, okay, I’ve heard the difference in acoustic guitars where you’re like, "Okay. That. Yes." But it is also pretty…. I mean, mahogany is not endangered in that sense. But still, it’s pretty twisted to be like, "Yeah, the best way to use this tree is to turn it into an instrument or a deck or whatever. It’s that like, again, in Capitalism, nothing has inherent value in and of itself. Nobody’s like, "Oh, wow, an oak tree! That’s super cool!" Everyone’s like, "Hmm, what can I do with that?" It’s like, maybe you could just leave it the fuck alone. I don’t know, Maybe that could be a thing? But nothing in Capitalism has inherent value in and of itself. So it always has to be twisted and contorted into something. And that carries with it a certain status, right? Like, oh, if you have this deck made out of redwood or if you have that guitar made out of mahogany, it becomes a status symbol. And so that is also part of like the poisoning that is Capitalism, psychologically, I feel. 

**Inmn ** 19:06
Golly, I wish–I know, this is a recurring theme on the show–but if only our lives were more like those of hobbits. I mean, they just have a Party Tree, and that’s a community resource. And they’re like, "We need a party tree. It needs to be like 3000 years old and that’s a party tree." If it’s not 3000 years old. It’s not a Party Tree. Or, yeah, the forest on the edge of town that everyone’s like too afraid to go into.

**Eleanor ** 19:40
Yeah, well, and this is actually something that I think is funny, too, that we have so many stories, whether that be through, you know, Lord of the Rings, or like when I was growing up, I partially grew up in Sweden, and there’s so many stories still today about the Forest and its power. And I feel like that’s also an interesting relationship that we have with the forest is that we are a little bit afraid of it. And that also…that also pushes us into this relationship where, okay, well, I’m gonna conquer my fears, right? As opposed to the stories–and there are these stories even in European cultures–that talk about the beauty of the forest and what the forest gives us. But that’s also an interesting dynamic between a lot of Indigenous stories that I’ve heard where, yes, there might be like some being that lives in the forest that you don’t want to interact with. But a lot of it is also about how, "Oh my gosh, look at all of the beauty and the life that we get from the forest," as opposed to, "Woods are terrifying. Don’t mess with them at all. Just don’t go there." It’s like, but that’s also going to dictate how you feel about cutting down a bunch of trees.

**Inmn ** 21:04
Yeah, it’s wild that fear of the forest means we have to destroy the forest. It’s a bad mentality. As much as I love a story about the Dark Forest, you know, and wish that that was like a more sustainable option, growing a more deep connection to the forest is probably a more sustainable way to go about things. Did you ever see Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind? 

**Eleanor ** 21:33
Yes, I did.  

**Inmn ** 21:34
Yeah. Incredible movie about a toxic forest that will fucking kill everyone who comes into it. Because it eventually was like, "No humans. You can’t. No, I can’t take anymore. Here’s poison."

**Eleanor ** 21:50
Don’t blame it really. 

**Inmn ** 21:52
Yeah, and it’s like, "No, I need several thousand years to recuperate from the harm that you’ve done and eventually I’ll be a forest you can come in again."

**Eleanor ** 22:04
Right. Right. Well, and I think… We talk about that in mutual aid spaces, or in organizing spaces, like, okay, if harm has been caused and there needs to be time to recover then possibly we can get to the point where we can be in community together with that person who did the harm…. It’s like, we do that as humans. And it’s necessary, right? And that is exactly what ecosystems need too. Like, the idea of–this is also how we fuck it up in terms of the Capitalist mentality–the idea of like, "Oh, we’re going to leave that to grow for another 45 years before we cut it down again," that’s not allowing a relationship to recuperate, right? That is, once again, treating something in that violent way, like the violence of ownership versus stewardship, right? Like, ownership is a violent relationship–I mean, just look at slavery–but stewardship suggests a respect. And I think there’s also space for fear there, too, right? I think that, you know, when I was a kid walking through woods, I would feel a little…maybe a little scared, but I would also feel safe, like, "Oh, I’m safe within the woods." So I think we can carry both of those at once. And I think that sometimes when you have a deep respect for something, there might be a moment where you’re like, "Oh, that’s, that’s creepy." But there’s also this feeling of like, "I’m safe here." And I think that, you know, I think that carrying multiple truths at the same time and multiple thoughts is just beneficial. But yeah, I think that the idea of allowing places to recover is super important, while also recognizing that we have a role in that. And that’s something that Marnie talks about in–and actually one of the tree sitters as well–talks about in the film is this idea that the relationship we need to have with nature is not removing ourselves from nature. And I always think of…I spoke with somebody who does work in Africa with the Maasai, and she was saying that the Maasai were removed from their ancestral lands in order to create a conservation park. But what happened with the ecosystem when they were removed is the ecosystem started to fall apart, because the Maasai were an integral–and had been for 1000s of years–an integral part of that ecosystem. And so it belies that notion that we are somehow outside of ecosystems. No, we are super reliant on them. And I think that kind of that kind of thinking is also super important to remember that like, you know, Indigenous peoples have used, for instance, wildfires, as a way to steward the land, because they’re not the wildfires that we see today. They were wildfires that were able to replenish the soil and the land, get rid of invasives, and things like that. So the idea that humans are a part of these ecosystems, and that we have to learn those ways of being and rid ourselves of the notion that we can somehow be outside of, and other than, the ecosystems.

**Inmn ** 25:29
I mean, it’s like, it’s…. I feel like, it’s the same thing with most struggles out in the world is we have the tendency to want to remove ourselves from those things. And it is usually detrimental to those causes for us to think of ourselves as outside of everything–which, you know, obviously, there’s struggles that we should send our specific voices around and that we should…like certain people should like not make about themselves–but like, for the most part, we are entrenched in all of in all of the thing. And we have to be an active part of them to fix them.

**Eleanor ** 26:13
Totally. And I think that, you know, the idea of like, we should always be a part of these struggles, and not make them about ourselves, right, like the struggle to defend redwoods is not about us. It’s just that in our own space, we can have these conversations about what it means for us humans to be in the struggle, just like I think, you know, right now, I’ve been in conversation with several fellow Jews about what’s going on right now and what what we’re dealing with as Jews. That is not something that I want to put out into the world like up on, you know, I don’t want to spend a lot of time on it because it takes the focus away from Palestine. But within our Jewish community, I think it’s an important conversation to have. So it’s like…It’s that…It’s that way of being in the struggle. And then if you–just like I think white people need to have conversations with each other about what it means to…like what does Black Lives Matter really mean? And what does dismantling racism really mean? Don’t do that at a Black Lives Matter protest, okay. That is not the time, but in our own space and time. So I think, again, you can hold both of those, and I think it’s important to. 

**Inmn ** 27:29
Yeah, golly, to go tangent for a second on that, like, I don’t know, I read this article yesterday, I think, about this…. It was an interview with this Palestinian man who was talking about being asked about antisemitism and like his response to it was like, Israel is…. Israel as a State. Israel displaced Jews living as Arabs in Palestine. Like, Israel is bad for Jewishness and Jewish people. 

**Eleanor ** 28:15
Yes, thank you. 

**Inmn ** 28:16
And this is like all part of this, like colonizing myth, and any colonizing myth, is to create these others to create a "side," or whatever. I don’t know.

**Eleanor ** 28:29
Yeah, that’s so true. Israel is the greatest threat to Jews in the world right now, I think.

**Inmn ** 28:37
Um, too…. Not that I don’t want to talk about this stuff more but to veer back towards the movie, I am curious about the collaboration between different…like attacking the problem from different angles. And in the movie, there’s kind of this triple-pronged approach that is presented as there’s people on the ground doing stuff in the trees, there’s people doing legal work, there’s indigenous people doing stewardship, and then there’s people coming in to make movies about it. And I’m wondering if you could talk a little bit about how, like, all of these things interact and like help each other.

**Eleanor ** 29:32
Sure. So, it was actually Tom Wheeler, who works at Epic in California, who said that we exist in an ecosystem with each other, which I liked. And he was talking about how–and he works on the legal side–and he was talking about why the tree sitters are important. And I really appreciated that because I think a lot of times we get, you know, the classic saying that like, "When anarchists meet, we meet in a circle. And that’s also how I do firing ranges." And unfortunately, like it’s true–not just with anarchists, it’s just that my anarchist friend happened to say that. I think it’s everybody on the left, regardless of what…if you have a title for your preferred angle. But I think it so often is the case that it’s like, "No, my tactic is the most important. If you don’t want to do my tactic then you’re wrong and you’re an asshole and you’re standing in the way," and it’s like, but not everybody can do the thing that you’re doing. Like, I can’t climb–I mean, I can climb a tree, but I won’t, there’s like, you know, the floor is lava or some shit–and not a lot of people have the ability to get up into the woods, to take that space and time. And a lot of people don’t have the expertise to do legal battles. You know, we need a lot of good lawyers out there. I think the Lakota Law Project taught us that. Look what’s happening in Atlanta. Like. you need good lawyers. So I think instead of getting on people’s cases, about tactics, I think it’s really important that we recognize that whatever your passion is, whatever your expertise or your drive is, there is a place and a need for that in our movements and in whatever struggle. And so I really appreciated that about the folks that I spoke with, is that they all were complementary and understanding of the other people in the struggle and understood that the goal was the same, was to protect these spaces and protect them out of this feeling of love for these spaces. And I think that’s the other thing that’s really important is that nobody was doing this for the, you know, the Instagram likes or because they thought it…because it paid the most money or because anything like…they were literally like, "Because I love these spaces," either because I have a strong ancestral connection to them or because I’ve just fallen in love with them from being around them. And so I think that that’s the other thing and that this diversity of tactics is necessary when confronting something so vast and so disgusting as colonialism and Capitalism. We have to do whatever we can. And these folks are doing whatever they can. And Pat, one of the tree sitters, actually talks about this too in the film, like, sit wherever you can, do whatever you can in the ecosystem that you know, in the ecosystem that you love. Like, it doesn’t have to be in a redwood. Cool if it is, but we don’t have to choose the most superlative ecosystem or the most superlative place to do this. All ecosystems are worthy and Inmneed of our collaboration and protection. And again, in whatever ways we can.

**Inmn ** 32:57
Yeah, yeah. It’s really disheartening to watch spaces kind of rip themselves apart in being upset that everyone is not doing the tactic that they want. And that is something that I’ve always really appreciated about, especially, forest defense campaigns or like other kinds of extraction industry defenses–I can’t think of words right now–is just the recognition that we need a lot of different kinds of people to do this work. And, you know, I feel like maybe part of that is people maybe having gone and done things and then gotten in a lot of legal trouble and being like, "Oh, fuck, we need lawyers," and then like, realizing like, "Oh, lawyers are really cool!" But, yeah, that’s something I just really appreciate about those campaigns. Um, yeah, I don’t know, maybe this is a funny question. Say I’m some random person–or not random–just I’m a person listening to this podcast who’s been like curious about forest defense and doesn’t really know where to start or how to get into that. Like, I want to…. I’ve never done forest defense and I want to go get involved in a forest defense campaign, either one that’s near me or one that’s, maybe, far away. Do you have any advice for someone like that?

**Eleanor ** 34:48
Sure. I mean, I think just start digging into folks who have the knowledge that you’re interested in. So like Inmnorthern California, there’s the tree sitters union, I think they’re on Instagram @thetreesittersunion. There’s also, like down around where I am, close to Appalachia, there’s Appalachians Against Pipelines. Greenpeace does a lot of like trainings, like climbing trainings and things like that. And those are also spaces where you might be able to meet folks that are like minded. But honestly, like in terms of getting started on a campaign, like…. You know, in the film, again, they just say, just, you know, I" walked up…we walked up and we saw that there was a chainsaw at the bottom of this tree And were like, ‘Oh, I guess we’ll sit in this tree.’" I think people feel like there has to be this, you know, there has to be the war room where you got all the plans and you got the poster board and you got paper clips and all that. But you don’t! Like yes, plan is good so you have water and shit, but it doesn’t have to be this really elaborate. campaign to start with. And earlier this year, I was in Germany because I was doing a tour of my film about West Virginia coal in the coal regions of Germany. And I went to this tree village that is absolutely gorgeous. And folks were still living there, even though the campaign had kind of moved on, and I was asking them, like, "Okay, so what’s the story here?" And it was the same thing. It was like, "Well, we just didn’t want them to cut down this forest." I mean, it really is that simple. Like, I think, again, there is this…there’s kind of this mystique to the idea of frontline defense. And, yes, it can build to something where you’ve got several tree villages or you have, you know, a resistance camp blocking a pipeline that’s also like a food forest. Like, sure it can become that. But you don’t need to start with that. You just need to start with yourself and some comrades, and this, again, this feeling of love for this place that is threatened. And again, like looking for organizations or like minded folks–and the ones that I mentioned are good places to start–but there are definitely others that I don’t know of personally.

**Inmn ** 37:14
Yeah. I’m having…I guess having witnessed campaigns in a lot of different places, I’m curious about this. Are there any kind of differences that you noticed between forest defense campaigns here in the United States, or like Turtle Island, versus in Europe, or any kind of like other places that you’ve been? Either in terms of repression, tactics, or just like how people organize?

**Eleanor ** 37:52
So, I’d say in terms of the repression tactics, I mean, people in Europe–I can only speak to, currently, Germany and Sweden–but people were very shocked and disgusted at what happened to Tortuguita and what happened down in Atlanta in terms of facing terrorism charges and Rico charges. But there is also, I mean, in Germany, earlier this year, the cops brutally beat people who were trying to save a small town, Lützerath, from being destroyed for an open coal pit mine. So in terms of the direct pushback, the violence, they’re not getting shot, but they are getting the shit beat out of them. And so there’s absolutely that understanding that, you know, fascism is on the rise across the globe. And neither Europe nor the United States have to look very far in their history, or their present really,to find ways of emulating the fascist state that they are moving towards. And so, in terms of repression, I think it’s mostly like the legal battles that are the main difference between the US and Europe. And I think in terms of organizing, I do see a lot of similarities, basically, because it’s the same story. It’s people who were like, "Actually, you know what, no, you can’t fucking do that. I’m not gonna let you ruin this." And I do find a little bit of the same problems in terms of organizing. Like, for instance, Inmnorthern Sweden–which a lot of people don’t know that Sweden, Finland, and Norway have indigenous peoples that were then colonized–so the Sami are the indigenous people of the far-north and their ancestral lands blanket across what is now Norway, Finland, Sweden, and parts of Russia. And that’s also where a lot of forests are. And it’s up in the Arctic Circle. And there’s a lot of still culturally important practices, like reindeer herding, that happen there that are being disrupted by deforestation and mining. You know, like Sweden announced recently that, "Oh, we found lithium in the north." Oh, great! 

**Inmn ** 40:24
Oh no. Leave it there!

**Eleanor ** 40:26
Yeah, exactly. Don’t tell Elon Musk. So, yeah, there’s a push to protect these spaces but also this difficulty of like, okay, how do we, as non-indigenous people in Sweden make these inroads. And the Sami are historically very reticent of working with Swedes–I don’t blame them–or Norwegians or what have you, because of what’s happened in the past. And I noticed that here, too, right. It’s difficult sometimes for people who are not indigenous to make those connections in indigenous communities. And so I see a lot of that struggle as well. But at the same time, again, when you are coming at it from this place of, "Well, I too want to protect this out of love. And not because I’m looking for some kind of accolade or whatever," that I think that you can make those connections and you can make that struggle collaborative, as long as you’re coming at it from that space. And, so I do see that happening in places outside of the US and I think it’s rad.

**Inmn ** 41:43
Hell yeah. That’s really great. Golly, this is a really weird question, but, you know, my brain’s always on a tangent. Are there any forest defense influencers? Is this a thing in the internet and the internet world? I’m imagining the person who’s just there for, you know, Instagram likes, or something, and I’m like, is that real?

**Eleanor ** 42:10
So like, not like the straight up forest defenders, but there’s definitely like the Sierra Club type that are like…. You know, so, again, it’s like this kind of gray area–I’m a big fan of recognizing nuance–it’s like this nuanced space where the person cares and doesn’t want to see it destroyed but also wants to virtue signal to people that they care. And that gets all gummed up in the whole Capitalist shit show. So yeah, it’s a gummy area.

**Inmn ** 42:48
Yeah, and this is–golly, whatever, I love funny questions–so I’m curious about this from, you know, I’ve had my own experiences with different with different organizations, but is there any kind of  tension or like problems that you do see between on the ground direct action campaigns versus these larger NGO or like nonprofit structures like the Sierra Club or Greenpeace? Yeah, I don’t know. I’m not asking for a shit post about these groups or anything, just some of the nuances or complications that can come up? 

**Eleanor ** 43:38
Yeah, I mean, again, Capitalism fucks everything up. There were a couple of organizations that I reached out to when I was in California, and they were first happy to talk to me, but then when they realized that I was there supporting and speaking to tree sitters, who are, by definition, breaking the law, because it’s private timber land, did not want to speak to me anymore. And I think that’s very clearly–like whether they personally wanted to or not is not the point–but as an organization, I think they realized, "Oh, well, our donors are, I don’t know, some rich asshole over here. And if we do that, if we engage with people who are very overtly breaking the law, then that’s not good for our bottom line. And we need our bottom line in order to keep protecting the forest.: So in their mind, they were doing that so that they could continue to protect the forest. But of course, this creates that splintering that is so useful for the system. In reality, they should be working with the tree sitters. Like, you have the ability to work together to protect these spaces but because you have to make sure that you get the foundation money or these rich donors or whatever, you can’t. And so I absolutely see that and I think that’s also a global problem because a lot of this does cost money, you know? Like, rope is not cheap. Just making sure that people have supplies and food and things. Like shit costs money. And it’s not like tree sitters get paid. So it is difficult, but I tend to–I shouldn’t say…I don’t want to be prejudiced ahead of time, but I’ve I find that I often am–be prejudiced against a big organization that says, "We are protecting the forest." It’s like, are you? Or are you doing like forest walks and shit–which is cool–and like picking up trash. But that is not the same thing as standing between a chainsaw and a tree. And that’s not to say that like, "I’m more radical than you." It’s just a necessary context, I think, for understanding, again, this ecosystem that we’re a part of. Like, we need more people to be the ones standing in between the trains on the tree. And I think we need fewer people being the ones, you know, typing up newsletters about this forest walk where you can plant a sapling or some shit, just in terms of what we need. That’s what I would say.

**Inmn ** 46:25
Yeah. Yeah, It’s weird how similar the idea of an NGO or something being getting donors to lead a forest walk…. It’s the trap of building an organization that gets too big and has too many dependencies on Capital to sustain itself. It’s, yeah, it’s…. I don’t know. I think about this a lot with different projects that I’ve been a part of. Like I’m part of this community theater group and I’m like, we can’t get too big or it’s gonna cause huge problems. We can’t be too successful or else it all falls apart. Yeah, I think that would be my biggest thing with some larger NGOs is it’s cool if y’all’s thing is like bringing in money, that’s cool. But it seems like the real problem is an organization like that’s inability to accept a diversity of tactics or donors to really look past–and maybe this is a shitpost–but the idea wealthy donors who want the experience of like donating to an environmental nonprofit and want that experience of like bringing their kids on the forest walk, this is the same thing as getting a like, quote, "heirloom redwood forest timber deck that is sustainably ‘harvested’" Like it’s the same thing.

**Eleanor ** 48:15
Yeah, it is very twisted. And of course I think that’s the problem is that there’s no such thing as money without strings. And so when you have these big donors–and I know this from just other spaces that I’ve organized, even outside of the environment–okay, well, so-and-so is gonna give this much money, but then they also want us to build the website this way or they want us to make sure that the action looks like this. And it’s like, but also these people don’t know anything about organizing. So then their ideas are shit and you’re like, "Look, the whole entire campaign is falling apart because you want this sign to say something completely stupid," and it happens all the time. And that’s why, unfortunately, we as organizers have to have this balance of like, "Okay, we need this much money, but if we just get it from one or two donors, what do they want in return for all of this cash?" And there’s always going to be something. They’re not just going to be like, "Hey, really happy that we can support you in whatever you’re doing," like, that’s never the case. So yeah, it sucks. But yeah, until we can just, you know, pay rent in good deeds or something, that’s gonna be the problem.

**Inmn ** 49:35
Or like shift our cultural mindset beyond like…you know, if I’m a wealthy donor or something, then the important thing is that the people have the money and resources to do the work, not that I get anything in return from it.  I don’t know, I feel like–and maybe this is my bias, having not traveled much outside of the States–is that we have this very individualistic mentality around everything, and that that extends to forest and extraction resource defense and like…. I don’t know.

**Eleanor ** 50:15
It is a…. And one of the people in the film Marni, a member of the Wiyot tribe, talks about this individualistic paradigm that has perpetuated, that we as children of Empire have, because it’s been passed down to us. And even those of us who have been radicalized, I like to say that there’s no way that you can ever be like 100% AntiCapitalist. Like it’s a daily struggle, just like you have to be antiracist everyday and antifacist. Like, there is no like, "Got it! No, I’m done." So she talks about this like this–and you know, to go back to Lord of the Rings–

**Inmn ** 50:18
The real goal podcast, right? It’s not. But…

**Eleanor ** 50:27
It all has to do with Lord of the Rings. She likens it to Gollum. And if anybody listening has not read Lord of the Rings, first of all, please do so. But secondly, Gollum is not a character that you want to emulate. Like, that is not how you’re supposed to read that. Like, oh, Gollum is cool? Like, he is literally driven to mental anguish and dismay and physical like breakdown because he’s so obsessed with this one ring. And that is not a good thing, right? It’s not something where you’re like, "Yeah, Gollum!" and he loses like all his community. Like, he’s just by himself. And yet, we have built an entire system on the paradigm of Gollum. Like be by yourself. Fuck community. Care only about the thing that you can own and that can thereby, of course, own you in return. It’s so fucked up. And yet, that is like the foundation of Capitalism. And so of course, when we step into a forest…and is one of the lines that I have in my first film about West Virginia is "How can you look at a mountain and think ‘mine.’" Which is, of course, a double entendre. Which, I’m a sucker for those. But it’s like, that’s what we do. We’ve been programmed into stepping into these beautiful spaces and thinking, "Oh, I wonder how much this would be worth if I destroyed it?" Like, what kind of fucked way is that to look…. And it happens, you know, I have a toddler and people will kind of laugh when I’m like, "We go outside and we hug trees together," and they’ll laugh. And I’m like, "So that’s kind of weird that you think it’s funny in like a derogatory way, because wouldn’t it be more fucked up if I had like a toddler axe, or some shit, and I was teaching him how to destroy these things? Like, why do we have this paradigm where it’s weird to teach your kids to love nature but totally cool to give a five year old a hunting rifle or something. Like what in the hell? And I’m not saying that you shouldn’t hunt. But we hunt for fun. Like we don’t hunt because we need food. We hunt because it’s fun.

**Inmn ** 53:17
Or for the trophy.

**Eleanor ** 53:20
Right, for the trophy, which you can say is the same with the redwood deck. It’s a trophy. It’s something to show off to people. You don’t need it. Like you could, you could stack stones and have a deck. Like, you don’t need the fucking redwoods. And she also made…Marni makes this point in the film too, like, of course, people have used wood for generations, to use  for firewood, to widdle sculptures, to build things. And she’s like, "I totally get that, but you can’t do it at this scale. You have to have this relationship with nature so that you only take what you need and make sure that there’s enough for the next time," and you see this throughout indigenous cultures. You know, Robin Wall Kimmerer talks about it in "Braiding Sweetgrass," the idea that–and I don’t remember if it was her tribe or another one that she’s talking about–would go out and get fish, but then they wouldn’t get all of the fish. They’d just get the ones that they needed, right? And they would know that there’s all these fish ‘getting away’–in the white perspective–but they’re not ‘getting away,’ they are surviving so that you can go fishing next time. And so again, it’s like this…it’s a very short sighted paradigm that is totally individualistic and totally destructive, that doesn’t…. And again, like Gollum is totally destroyed but he doesn’t see it himself. It’s only people on the outside that are like, "Oh, God, that guy’s not doing well." And yet again, we don’t, we don’t see it from the inside. And so I think that’s why it’s so important to step outside of that programming and just see the logic or the illogic of these situations and allow ourselves to fall in love with nature and question why that sounds corny when we say it out loud. Like, why is it corny to fall in love with a tree or a river or what have you. I mean, like, that is actually really beautiful. And it is necessary if we are to get to the space where we can say, "Defend what you love." Because if you don’t love something, you’re less likely to defend it, right? Like, you know, of course, that’s why parents always defend their children because you have this natural need, like you love your child so much, or your partner, or your friend, or what have you. You’re less likely to defend a total stranger. It’s just like a human thing, or an animal thing. And so if we don’t love these places, these spaces, then we’re less likely to be moved to defend them.

**Inmn ** 56:01
Yeah. Golly, so don’t be like Gollum. Don’t hoard ultimate power and destruction. Be like a hobbit and enjoy the 3000 year old party tree because it’s a beautiful tree. 

**Eleanor ** 56:19
Amen. 

**Inmn ** 56:23
Well, this seems like a great place to kind of tie it off, and because we’re also almost at time, but do you have any final thoughts or questions that I didn’t ask you that you wish I’d asked you? And then after that, anything that you want to plug?

**Eleanor ** 56:43
Just, I mean, it was something that I included at the end of the film, my good friend Carla Bergman co-wrote a book "Joyful Militancy," which I also recommend to everyone.

**Inmn ** 56:53
Oh, yeah. We had Carla on not too long ago.

**Eleanor ** 56:57
I love Carla so much. So one of the things that they talk about in that book, Carla and Nick, is this idea of rigid radicalism and the need to be fluid but not flimsy. And I think that that’s something that…that’s another practice that I’m trying to get more into, because I think a lot of times when we have a stance or when we have a perspective, we can get stuck in it. And then, we can let it weigh us down. And I think it’s really important, no matter what fight we’re fighting, to be able to be fluid because it will allow us to confront the next struggle, the next shitstorm, the next fire, or whatever. But if we are too rigid, we will get caught up in the flood or the flames and be carried away. And so I think it’s important to stay fluid but not flimsy. And yeah.

**Inmn ** 57:59
Sick.  Are there any places that you can be found on the internet where you would like to be found or where your work can be found? I know you plugged stuff at the beginning but we’ll throw stuff in the show notes.

**Eleanor ** 58:14
All of my work is at artkillingapathy.com That’s where my films are, my music, my poetry, and journalism. This specific film To the Trees is at tothetreesfilm.com and I am on Instagram and Twitter @RadicalEleanor.

**Inmn ** 58:32
Wonderful. And are you working on anything? Got anything coming up soon that you’re working on?

**Eleanor ** 58:38
I think I’m going to work on some of the footage that I got in Germany as kind of like an addendum, or a compliment, to my first film about coal regions in West Virginia. I have footage from coal regions in Germany that I think I’m gonna put into something.

**Inmn ** 58:58
Great. Well, thanks so much for coming on the show today.

**Eleanor ** 59:01
Thanks so much for having me.

**Inmn ** 59:08
If you enjoyed this episode, Defend the Party Tree. You can also tell people about the show. You can support the show financially by supporting our publisher, Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. And you can find us on Patreon at patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness. You can also go to tangledwilderness.org and check out some cool books that we have for sale, because we are a publisher. We put out books, we put out zines, we put out podcasts, obviously. And we’re working on all kinds of really fun stuff. So, go check it out and get a cool book. We also do this zine of the month club where for like 10 bucks a month, you can get a zine version of our monthly feature mailed to you anywhere in the world. You can also listen to the feature for free on our other podcast Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness, where we do interviews with the author And that’s really it. We would like to have a special shout out to a few of our Patreon supporters. Thank you, Patoli, Eric, Perceval, Buck, Julia, Catgut, Marm, Carson, Lord Harken, Trixster, Princess Miranda, BenBen, Anonymous, Funder, Janice & Odell, Aly, paparouna, Milica, Boise Mutual Aid, Theo, Hunter, SJ, Paige, Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea, Staro, Jenipher, Kirk, Chris, Macaiah, and Hoss the Dog. Thank you so much. And we will see everyone next time.

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

S1E96 – Elizabeth on Small Scale Farming

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Elizabeth talks with Brooke about running a small scale farm, including what goes into feeding over 700 families year-round, the importance of community accessible farm space, how climate change continues to mess things up, and how taking care of the soil really matters.

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: Elizabeth on small scale farming

**Brooke ** 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 Brooke Jackson. And today we’re going to be talking with Elizabeth Miller, a farmer, about her work in having an organic farm and some really cool stuff that she does that’s worth all of us learning how to do a bit of. But before we get into that, we’d like to give a shout out to another one of the podcasts on the Channel Zero Network. So here’s a little jingle from one of our friends. Doo doo doo doo, doo doo. [Singing a simple melody]

**Brooke ** 01:29
And we’re back. So as I mentioned in the intro, I have with me today, Elizabeth Miller, a wonderful lady who owns a farm. And Elizabeth, I’ll hand it off to you to tell us a little bit more about yourself.

**Elizabeth ** 01:46
Thanks for having me. I’d love to talk about farming and my community. I’ve been running Minto Island Growers for about 16 years here in South Salem. My husband Chris and I started the farm way back when. We were passionate about environmental science and community food systems when we met in college, and I grew up working on our family farm and it was the kid who always wanted to come back and work with plants. And when Chris and I formed our partnership we were ready to come back here, in 2008, after working at a farm in California and really building a community based organic farm. And I can delve more into what that means to me. But one of our primary works that we do on our farm is centered around our CSA program, which is an acronym for Community Supported Agriculture that’s practiced in lots of different ways all over the world, really. Every farm does a little bit differently but you have a subscription based weekly produce box. And we do a main season and a winter season for that. And I can, again, talk more about that if that’s of interest. And we have a farm stand where we also do lots of food: woodfired pizza and berry milkshakes and salads, things that we hope reflect all the beautiful abundance and diversity that you can grow and eat here in Oregon. And it’s also just a wonderful community hub for families to come and gather and join and connect with nature and really connect with the earth. That’s what I firmly believe food can do for us and feed our souls and bodies in all the really most profound ways. We do organic plant starts and we do mint propagation and we used to do native plant work that were projects that I grew up doing, but we don’t do any of that anymore. And that’s a short summary. And I’ll stop talking so we can get into more detail.

**Brooke ** 03:46
No worries, thank you. Now listeners, you’re listening to this and you may be wondering why we’re having a farmer come on and talk and we’ve definitely talked a lot about gardening, at home gardening, growing your own garden. We’ve talked a little bit about community gardens. And what intrigues me about what Elizabeth’s doing and what I think is useful to us is that she and her farm operate on a fairly small footprint. They grow an incredible diversity of food. And it’s a fairly small staff. And when I think about the future and climate change problems that we’re having and the number of food chains, food supply insecurities that we have, I’m concerned a lot about how we grow food to feed a community. And I feel like what Elizabeth does with her farm does feed a large community and there may be parts of that that are replicable for the rest of us. So if we find ourselves in a time in which our supply chains have broken down or we can work together to develop a farm, there’s a lot of insights from what she does that would help create those kinds of things and replicate them in other places, because she’s not a large scale industrial farmer and is not mono-cropping. And really does, like I was saying, a lot on a small footprint with a small staff. So. Elizabeth, would you tell us a little bit more about some of the specifics of the farm like how much land do you farm? How much food do you produce? How many different crops? What’s your staff size? Some of those kinds of things to fill in the details of what I was just saying,

**Elizabeth ** 05:46
Sure, happy to. We lease about 29 acres. A lot of that encompasses non-production areas where we grow our plant starts and have our washing station and a commercial kitchen that supports the food cart. So in any given season, we are probably cultivating between 8 to 12 acres of land and that also includes lots of fallow fields that are either not in the rotation that year or hopefully are being cover cropped to add more nutrients and organic matter to the soil and to just practice good rotation. And one of the most amazing things about growing in the Pacific Northwest is the huge amount of diversity that you can grow here in this temperate climate, even with climate change. And that’s going to stay true even within a climate change context. And I feel like having a diverse…a business model based on a high level of diversity can provide a lot of resilience within, you know, socio-political changes, climate change, context environmental extremes, you know, that…. Even though diversity is challenging, because it means you have to have a greater skill set per crop. And the complexity, the number of successions, and the complexity with the number of crops makes it difficult to run as lean and efficient and profitable of a business, it still provides a lot of resilience and it’s really what our business model is based on. So we grow, you know, about 30 to 40 different crops and within that, over 100 different varieties. You know, just with pepper, eggplant, and tomato alone there’s probably 30 to 40 varieties there, which is a little bit insane, but it’s also incredibly exciting because there’s so much diversity out there. And as a farmer, you know, it’s just…it keeps…it’s just exciting to delve into the world of diversity within varieties. And we do that both for fun, to expose our customers and our eaters and for ourselves to more options and things you don’t get in the store. That’s one of the fun things about gardening at home or working on or buying from a small farm is just getting access to more interesting varieties. We do that also because there’s a lot of great plant breeding that goes on and can–depending on what the breeders are focusing on–there can be more resilience within a variety. That’s especially true with the hybrid brassicas. So, you know, we love the seed saving. We love open pollinated varieties and heirloom varieties. But as farmers who rely on growing food for our economic living, we do buy hybrid seeds–nothing GMO, of course, because we’re certified organic and we wouldn’t do that anyway. But we do see it with certain crops like the hybrid brassicas–like the heading brassicas, like broccoli, cabbages, etc–having options with hybrids is really important for just vigor and yield and consistency. And even with tomatoes, we love growing the beautiful diversity of all the open pollinated heirloom tomatoes but, you know, now that we’ve been farming for over 16 years, we’re seeing diseases we hadn’t seen before, especially with the extreme…. Well, we had already seen late blight in our tomatoes, but I’m sure that it would have been…. Our very, very wet spring we had last year, we saw a bigger increase in fungal and bacterial diseases and we’ve seen resistance to those things in different varieties. So that’s been an interesting thing we’ve observed in the last couple years. So yeah, our CSA model, it’s changed a little bit over the years but essentially we do 22 weeks of a main season. And then we do about 7 weeks of a winter season. And our main season is June through the end of October and winter being November through February. And we could easily do a year round CSA in terms of what we’re able to grow. It’s those bridge months, we call them, from like February March, April, May are challenging but we have farmer friends who are really successfully do a year round CSAs because you can grow so much diversity here, especially if you utilize covered spaces really strategically, like hoop houses or even lower tech stuff like caterpillar tunnels–which are also important in a climate change context, even more so than then they have been in the past. So we do a combination for our CSA program of pack [unsure of spelling] shares, where we decide what goes in those shares. and we do two different share sizes to make it more…give more options to the community. And those get delivered to drop sites still relatively, you know, the farthest…. We used to go to Portland and then we realized at a point that we could fulfill all of our CSA shares here in the community. And so we decided to just deliver into the Salem area, which is so much better for many, many reasons. So the farthest we go out is Kaiser. But many of our drop sites are really pretty close to the farm. A few are five minutes away. Some are 10 minutes away. And that’s because we really do cater to our local Salem community. And we are so proud of the relationships we’ve been able to build with our community over time, which I can talk more about because it’s really its own thing to discuss. And then we do a market-style option, which again, different farms define this and do this in different ways. But for us it means setting up our produce at our farm stand two nights a week from four to seven. And we have a combination of fixed and choice items. And so the fixed items allow us to just have a little more reliable crop plan and make sure that we’re still getting that good level of diversity out to our customers. People have to try to eat bok choy at least once a year, not five times a year, but once a year. It justifies us growing it too, which is good, you know. You want that diversity. It’s good for our bodies. It’s good for the soil. It’s good in many, many ways. And then they get their choice items which they get to choose amongst. And like we’ve found that market-style option to just be incredibly popular, both for our customers and for us as a farm. It gives us so much more flexibility. It allows us to…. It justify us growing more specialty crops too because we can pick those really small amounts of like a specialty crop fully and put it out for market-style choice and we know that it’ll all get taken and chosen versus like not being sure that that would all get enjoyed in our packed boxes, because we want to make sure that folks are really enjoying their CSAs. One of the big pieces…the most consistent piece of feedback we’ve gotten over the years, and many other CSA farms we hear this too, is that folks aren’t able to fully utilize everything that’s in their share. And they’re usually joining a CSA because they value that local produce so much. And so trying to find ways to fit different people’s needs within the CSA, you know, do the combo and fix and choice and also not…still grow specialty items but not have to grow huge quantities of it, you know. We’ve really fine tuned our model quite a bit over the years in the options that we’ve created. And then the winter season’s every other week with a bigger break in the winter. And that’s a combination of storage crops, but a lot of crops still coming from the field, which is really one of the things I love to talk about when I do tours is talking about just the amount you can still eat fresh from the fields where your nutrient density is still so high because things are fresh. You know, you lose a lot of your nutrients when things are picked and sit on the store shelves or, you know. They can be…not all frozen things are bad, you know. You can capture nutrients with certain types of processing techniques. But if it’s not being processed in a certain way and it’s just fresh, sitting on the shelf, you can lose a lot of your nutrient density that way. So the winter CSA is a really fun eating because it’s still very, very diverse. And a lot of it’s still really fresh. And there’s some folks that just do that CSA. They might be really avid home gardeners, but they either don’t have the scale or the storage capacity but they still want to eat a seasonal diversity and eat local and fresh. And so they’ll come to our farm just for the winter CSA which is really neat. Yeah.

**Brooke ** 14:13
And you do garden, or excuse me, "garden…" you do farm year round basically. It’s not that you’re…you’re not working throughout those months when there isn’t the CSA, right? Your farmers are still quite busy.

**Elizabeth ** 14:29
That’s very true. And yeah, you had asked to talk about our staff. So we–

**Brooke ** 14:34
Yeah, hold on, let me back up before you get into the numbers just because I want to review. Okay, so you’re operating on eight or nine acres a year generally. And you’re growing how many different crops, not including sub varieties?

**Elizabeth ** 14:48
I’d say 30 to 40. I haven’t encountered the actual list in a few years, but it’s definitely between 30 and maybe 45.

**Brooke ** 14:58
30 to 45 crops. 8 or 9 acres. You’re sort of actively actually farming and yielding stuff from May/June through winter.

**Elizabeth ** 15:10
Well, with our covered spaces, honestly, it’s almost February now. February or March through…. We had a really big success last year in growing a much greater amount of food fresh from the soil but in the covered spaces with the addition of the caterpillar tunnels. We were harvesting quite a bit starting in early March.

**Brooke ** 15:32
You didn’t say numbers on the CSA, but I just happen to know that it’s about 250 families that sign up that get that weekly produce box through the summer. Plus, you still have a farmstand that people come and buy fresh at. Plus, you have wholesale. Do you know how much food you produce? Like I don’t…. You know, I know sometimes I hear about tons of this or that, but….

**Elizabeth ** 15:54
You know, I don’t know the statistics and I really should. We keep them all in our harvest spreadsheets for our own record keeping and for Oregon Tilth for the organic certification. And I should know some of those stats because it’d be really…. What I really should know is per acre and by crop, you know, per bed-foot yield. But it’s changing. I mean…. I have two really talented…. Shoutout to my two head farmers, my harvest manager, Arabella, and my field manager, Justin, are in their fifth and sixth year of farming on our particular farm, which is important to say because you have to really learn how to farm a particular farm. You can be a talented grower, but knowing a particular farm’s soil, experiencing multiple seasons of variations, both in disease, pests, cropping patterns, weather patterns, learning that level, you know, you have to know a lot about many different crops. It’s a huge breadth of knowledge that you need. And so you only really get that depth by farming many seasons. So they’re just at the peak of their game in their trajectory this year. And so many crops statistics that they have reported have been double or more. I mean, just…. And it was a quote, unquote, "normal year," you know, with no big climate extremes. No, you know, heat dome. No raining for the first three months of spring so that, you know, the soil tilth was so much better than last year, for instance, where we had one of the coldest, wettest springs on record. And we saw the effects on crop health, and especially disease, but just crop health generally because of the tilth of the soil. The roots…the plants just were never as healthy, especially the one-time plantings that you would have to establish in the beginning of the year when we were so pressed to get things in the ground. So this year has just been so incredibly positive and more bountiful than normally even so. It’s really turning my head of what’s possible growing wise, you know, because there’s so much variation within a crop year-to-year. And you know that with a large level of diversity, you’re never going to grow each crop perfectly. There’s always going to be something that’s going to have a challenge or be better than expected or have some unusual circumstance. That’s the challenge but also the wonderful curiosity of farming is you’re always learning something new because soil systems and ecological systems are so complex. So I should…I’ll get some of those steps under my belt for the next time I have a conversation like this.

**Brooke ** 18:39
Well and that diversity, you know, another example of why that diversity is so important is that you’re going to have some kind of crop failure or problem going on, right? Okay, so the CSA feeds something like 750 families. So if you had to take a guesstimate with, you know, Saturday markets and farmstand and wholesale, what do you think…. Like how many additional families worth of produce do you suppose that you put out?

**Elizabeth ** 19:12
Oh, gosh, I mean, I’d say there’s, you know, probably 700 to…. I don’t know if we should say 1000 family units that come through the farm. You know, some people come to just have a milkshake with their kids and play on the playground, which is wonderful. My single biggest driving factor in starting the farm was that I wanted to continue a deep, and deeply important to me, and long family tradition of working within natural resources in Oregon. But most importantly, I wanted to keep the soil productive and in agricultural production so that it could be farmed for a few generations because we will need that soil and once…. If you can’t afford to keep land in agricultural production and it’s developed, you can never really go back from that. And two, was to give people the same opportunity to connect with the land that I had, you know? My family happens to own it. But of course the white people took all the land from the Native Americans and have abused it in many different ways over the years. And thankfully, the family tradition I was raised in, generationally it shifted, of course, because we’ve learned so much more about how to treat the land well. But there was always a history, like when my family was in timber. And that’s where my family got its start was, you know, getting to take advantage, in some sense, of Earth’s, you know, capital that it had grown for hundreds of years. And that’s given me, in some way, the opportunity to have. But there was always an ethic of conservation and stewardship within my family’s relationship to the land or to the natural resource that they were able to have the privilege to get to interact with. And I believe firmly that I’m so passionate about the Earth because I had the opportunity to connect with it. And so many people just don’t have the exposure. They don’t have the opportunity to either be out in nature or to have a garden. And of course, many people, you know, encounter that and experience it and find inspiration on their own. But it’s hard…it can be hard to find that connection and that care for the earth and that perspective if you don’t have the opportunity to interact with nature and with the soil. And food is such a fundamental way that we can all do that. And it connects us all. We all have to eat. So I just felt that our farm at Minto needed to be a community farm. People needed access to it. They needed to be able to connect to it and we needed to be able to connect to each other through that mechanism of growing and eating food. So that’s always been a driving principle of our farm and our business.

**Brooke ** 22:08
Yeah, and I’ll say, you know, as an indigenous woman, how proud of you I am and how grateful I am for your ongoing…. You know, and you don’t shy away from the awareness of the privilege that you have and where it came from and then the commitment that you have and have had towards land preservation and restoration and the way you take care of this piece of land. Yes, it is a business. But I think you would do things that would help the land and hurt the business because of your priority structure. Not that you would generally have to make that choice. But like if that’s…if it came down to a decision between the two, I know that you’re always going to take care of the land and make sure that it’s healthy and strong and sustainable for generations. And that’s really important culturally to me. So I’m, I’m grateful for that and to be a part of it.

**Elizabeth ** 23:05
And thank you for that comment. I have so much learning to do. But I am so thankful for my family and especially my father for giving me that opportunity. He’s my greatest hero and we share the same passion for plants and for soil and really the idea of stewardship that we just happen to be lucky to be able to have this relationship and that it’s, you know, really…. I really wanted to examine what the idea of ownership is…. It’s never made sense to me that we have the ability to own land, you know, and so there’s so much more soul searching and seeking of…questioning of what that means. But I definitely see it as there’s a huge responsibility when you do have the opportunity to try to do the best you can. And I’m thankful that my dad’s been able to learn from me too. He still thinks we’re crazy with all the amount of work that we put in. But he also understands. He sees how responsive the community has been to it. Because I believed…I knew that the community would come for this because it’s just so fundamental. It’s so fundamental to our wellness to be connected to the earth and to each other and to do it through food. It’s like you can’t really argue with it. And I am not…. This is not a discovery I’m making. This discovery has been fundamental to how we’ve interacted as a species since we’ve been evolving, you know? So um, yeah, so back…. I didn’t really get to talk about the team that that makes it all happen because I–

**Brooke ** 24:53
Yeah, you must have a massive staff to produce this much food and be working this long and year round and so much land that you’re doing. It must take an army to get that out, right?

**Elizabeth ** 25:06
Yes, I simultaneously feel that it’s huge and tiny and huge. And you know, my conception of it, my concept of it, expands and contracts depending on how I’m looking at things. But I just want to say that the people who choose to work on organic…small organic farms–or any farm really–are just some of the best people around there. They’re in it because they’re passionate about plants and soil and feeding their community. They’re not in it because they’re trying to make a bunch of money and they’re sacrificing. Agriculture is often a lower paid profession. And there are very few farms, unless they’re in a nonprofit structure or have figured some things out that I’m really trying to figure out, but there’s usually not a benefit package to support, you know, these worker populations. And so it’s just, it’s a labor of love, the people that choose to do this work, and I am so humbled and proud to work with them every day. So we have a team of year-round managers. That’s about four or five. And then we have a seasonal staff that expands quite a bit and quite a bit more so even this year to about between 20 and 30. But that encompasses all the farmstand staff and food cart and our perennial crew. And I haven’t yet spoken about the fact that we grow blueberries and strawberries and we also have a neat tea project. Camellia sinensis is the tea plant and all the types of teas, black, green, oolong, ect… come from that one plant. And my dad has a real innovative approach to plants and agriculture, always has, so he, with a partner, in the late 80s planted tea, and so I’ve gotten to try to move that project forward. And so we have managers that kind of head each part of that farm. We have a CSA manager. We have a CSA logistics person. We have a field manager. We have a perennial manager. We have a farmstead manager, a food cart manager. And often those folks will take on many other roles too on the farm or have done other…. So, it’s a small but mighty team. And since we do farm year round, that core managerial staff is often working in the winter still, which is wonderful but also challenging because they work so hard during the main season that then to continue to work when it gets so much colder and wetter and muddier and everything is hard and you can’t necessarily warm up and recharge your body during the day, it’s…. I’m at a crossroads with our business where I’m really trying to build longer term sustainability. And we’ve been doing this for 16 years, so that’s quite a long time and some big lessons learned and there’s still a lot of resilience needed in our business model to keep going. And our managers are really the heart of the farm. I can’t physically do all the work as a mother of two younger kids. My husband, Chris, now works as a mint breeder and he still is able to work from the farm but for a totally different company. And he really supports my ability to keep farming because the economics are really challenging with small farms. So I’m just trying to think very creatively with the newer perspectives I have of how people can do this work year round, long term, and what they really want to do during the winter. I think it’s an incredible niche for other folks that are interested in this as a business model. There are some beet firms that only do winter farming because so many fewer farms there do it and you can do so much. But I’m thinking of different options and different models for our farm, but that’s probably a level of detail we don’t need to go into today but it’s…. Yeah, I’m really looking at our business model from all angles to try to build in long term resilience, just in terms of the model. Yeah.

**Brooke ** 29:24
Well, I might love to have you back sometime and talk about some specific things like winter farming or maybe…. I would love to do a whole thing on potatoes and I don’t know if you want to come back for that but….

**Elizabeth ** 29:35
Well, I might stop throwing them so I don’t know if you want me to. Not fully. Not fully. But if there’s one crop I know we lose money on its potatoes.

**Brooke ** 29:47
Wow. Okay, that’s really interesting because potatoes are–

**Elizabeth ** 29:49
I’m not sure. My numbers will tell me this year but…. Yeah, we could do a deep dive on potatoes, even later in the episode if we have time, but…. People love potatoes, though. So that’s a thing. There’s like…. You want to grow what people love and you know they’ll use. And they’re nutritious. And they store. And they’re so versatile in the kitchen. But….

**Brooke ** 30:12
Nutrient dense.

**Elizabeth ** 30:16
Yep. But we’ve had such a difficult time growing them consistently well. Last year, we doubled our yield from the previous year, and grew them better than we ever had. And then this year, it’s kind of back down to, "Ehh?" normal yields. We’re like, well, did we learn anything? What were the factors, you know. Sometimes there’s trajectories in crops and trends and you’re like, okay, I’m steadily getting better at this. I’m learning things that I’m applying to a consistently better outcome. Potatoes are not one of those crops. There just seems to still be so much uncertainty and variation in the end yields. And to me, you know, I like to think about what is really unique about a locally grown vegetable. And often there is something really special, whether it be a variety or the fact that it doesn’t store well or it’s super delicious, or it’s more perishable, or, you know, many, many things. Potatoes, in my mind, unless it’s a really interesting variety and it’s a new potato, to me, potatoes are almost…. There’s not that many distinguishing features that make a fresh, locally grown potato that different in comparison to everything else we grow. To me, it’s more of a commodity type thing. Same with onions, but I love growing alliums and I will never stop growing them. But I could deep dive into those specific crops if we wanted to.

**Brooke ** 31:43
Yeah, I think I’ll save that for probably another one. But that is really interesting to know. And some of our audience members are going to have some strong feelings about not growing potatoes. And I understand that. And we’ve done episodes around…. Well, I don’t know if we did it. I know Margaret, who’s one of our other hosts who originally started the podcast, has certainly done a deeper dive on potatoes on one of her other podcasts. Anyway, sorry. If you said it, I guess I missed it, you talked about your management team but then like the harvest staff you have kind of at the height of your season, how many folks do you have?

**Elizabeth ** 32:25
Yeah, I’d say six to eight. I mean, you know, on a…Tuesday is our biggest harvest day, and there’s probably, you know, six to eight people out there. Some of the managers come in to do half days, but you know, on a Wednesday, that’s the second biggest day of our CSA, we’ll have four or five in the morning and then three in the afternoon. So it really…it really varies.

**Brooke ** 32:50
So less than one person per acre? Not that that’s how…. That’s not a great measure. But, you know, if you’re growing eight or nine acres, you have–

**Elizabeth ** 32:59
It’s difficult to talk about the stats because you’re growing…you have to do…. There’s so many steps that go into the full execution of a crop. You know, onions, for instance, your crop planning in November. You’re starting the seeds very, very early, actually. We used to do it in February. Now it’s March. Because they’re relatively slow growing and you have to grow quite a bit. You know, one onion plant is an onion versus a potato plant grows multiple potatoes. Same with a kale plant. You know, so lots and lots of seedlings, many, many flats. And then they are in the greenhouse for a long time. Then they get transplanted out and they grow all season long. They don’t get harvested for storage until…. Of course we’re taking spring or fresh onions out of the field starting in maybe July, but the bulk of the allium harvest isn’t until August/September. And then they’re stored all winter. So the labor that’s spread across that whole…. You know, it’s almost…. I mean, we have onions year round so sometimes an onion will be a seedling or in storage for almost an entire year. So it’s difficult to fully, accurately allocate your labor across an acre or crop just because–

**Brooke ** 34:15
Sure. Yeah,

**Elizabeth ** 34:16
You know, but yeah, in peak season from June through September, I would say that there’s six to eight people on average that are full time growing those crops. Growing, harvesting, delivering, etc…processing, delivery, ect…

**Brooke ** 34:36
And that’s what it takes to grow enough food to feed more than 250 families a weekly box of produce, six to eight folks.

**Elizabeth ** 34:43
It probably could be quite a bit more. I believe, you know, with better farming techniques and, you know, I don’t know if we want to go into no-till philosophy and practices on this episode, but from the learning we’ve been doing about some of these no-till farms that have been in operation for quite a long time. Singing Frog is one in California that’s pointed to a lot because they’ve been farming for so long. The yields that they’re getting per acre, it’s almost like double or triple or even quadruple sometimes what even the best, you know, organic producers are saying they’re getting. So I believe on our footprint we could be growing a much higher density of food per bed foot or per acre than we even are now, but it’s very labor intensive. It’s a very…. Which I think is good and challenging economically. But it’s good that there is the opportunity for people to grow food for a living as their job. It’s extremely enriching and gratifying on many levels. I think the economics are the hardest part. And I believe farmers should be making as much as doctors are making. I mean, maybe, yeah. Ehh, maybe not a specialist surgeon, you know, but you know what I mean? It’s a very undervalued profession, especially for the crew position versus a managerial position. It’s incredibly important and incredibly difficult. And food prices in our country, and across the world, it’s just the way that we perceive food value is challenging. And affordability is incredibly challenging too. But there’s just many things that should change in our food system to value, you know, to value food better. Not necessarily that it should cost more money for people, but the way that that work and that product is valued, there’s a lot of improvement that could be made in that and you know, we could talk all about government subsidies and policy and all that another time. But I believe there’s a lot…. I believe the federal government should be subsidizing small to medium diversified organic farms, not just large scale commodity farms growing GMO soy for a stupid faux green biofuel, you know? I mean, there’s just so much wrong with our agricultural policy. But, again, another episode in the making maybe?

**Brooke ** 35:06
Yeah, there’s so much to get into there. And that’s interesting. So you’ve had 16 years of learning and growing and it’s a nonstop process, it sounds like. Partly with just because some crops are fickle and because of climate change. So, I want to rewind for a second all the way back to 16 years ago when you and Chris first started and compare, you know, what your staff size looked like, how much of the land you were farming, what kind of yield you were getting in those first few years as you were learning and developing.

**Elizabeth ** 38:04
Again, I don’t have those statistics. They’re all anecdotal at this point. The big context for when Chris and I started the farm was that we were both more steeped in native plant and restoration work. Chris did, you know, he did Environmental Science at Colorado College and I was on that track as well but switched to more social sciences and music and…. But, you know, that’s what I grew up primarily working with on our farm. We had a native plants nursery, and my dad did forestry research. And you can still see some of the cottonwoods, the native and the hybrid cottonwoods on the farm, which are an interesting thing that isn’t active really anymore. But you know, those woody perennials and their kind of environmental uses, you know, from both just standard restoration to bio energy and phytoremediation, like toxic metals and wastewater clean up. And Chris and I were really interested in green roofs and urban use of plants, you know, and that…. So when we started the farm, we were passionate about food systems and we started a small CSA. We started with five people, five shares. And LifeSource was actually our first sale of Romaine. I still have the receipt framed. We sold them some romaine. And we’re not currently selling to them right now. But we have sold them quite a bit in the past. And Marion Polk Food Share is currently our large wholesale account. But yeah, we started with five members, one who is still an active member of our CSA, which I love. And we actually had a largely Latino crew. Pedro and Maria were husband and wife. Pedro used to work with my dad doing the hybrid poplar harvest. And Maria and her sisters and her nieces were our core crew for quite a long time. And they are amazing people who I miss on the farm. And that’s another whole topic, of just agricultural labor and how that’s changed so much. But it’s interesting to think back to that because that’s a very different population of people. And they are such skilled agricultural workers. And I miss so many aspects of that on the farm. And currently most of our worker population are young students. It’s a lot of Willamette students, other students, people who are transitioning to other professions, people who are going into horticulture, you know, who are plant and science based people all mostly in their early 20s or 30s. It’s…. How to do this work into your 40s, 50s, and 60s, and 70s is a whole nother thing that I’m thinking about quite a bit now as I’m entering my early 40s. But yeah, very different demographics of people who were working on the farm. And Chris and I were doing so many native, woody plant-based projects at that time. We were in mint propagation, and that was both really positive because we were really passionate about that work and it’s really interesting work, and Chris had been working at a living roof ecological restoration company down in California before he moved up to Oregon. And it also spreads really, really thin across the farm and across many projects. And it didn’t…we didn’t have the…. Now, in hindsight, I realize it. Doing too many things just doesn’t allow you to really focus in and hone your skills and get your discipline, especially with the economics, in your key project areas. And so we grew our CSA model and the direct-to-farm model really quickly. I think we said, "Yes," to everything. Like "Yes, we’ll do the Wednesday farmers market. We’ll do the Salem public market, we’ll do the Salem Saturday market. We’ll do the Tuesday OHSU farmers market and then oh, while we’re up at the Tuesday OHSU market, they want to do wholesale for their institutional bid at OHSU, and they need a new CSA farm for all of their drop sites. And I thought, well, what an opportunity. They’re one of the largest employers in Oregon there. They have an in-house nutritionist who is incredible, who’s still there and still passionate about food systems, and what an amazing opportunity. And it was. I mean, I don’t know…. It felt to me at the time it was, but really, it just, I think, spread us too far and wide and thin. And so that’s one of the biggest hindsight reflections I have at this point of just…. And I encourage anyone who’s interested in this type of farming model is t to make this model successful, to actually not burnout with an injury, to burnout psychologically, like my husband, Chris did, and physically doing this work, to not get into debt, you know, to have a good business plan, and to be disciplined about your numbers, you just have to plan well, and you have to be diligent about your expansion. And I think we just…we had so much enthusiasm and so much demand for our products, so we just grew really fast without really understanding the economics of that growth. And so there was a mid period where our first really…. Tim, who’s now a farmer in…he was a Willamette student and now a farmer in New Orleans. And a very wonderful farmer himself, now. He and his partner, Madeline, also a really talented farmer, they’re both from Willamette. But Tim was our first kind of longer term staffer who became a manager. And he really…. He and Lindsey, another wonderful Willamette student, they were so gung ho about scaling up our CSA, and also doubling our market sales at the Saturday market, you know. They had these personal professional goals that they brought to the business. And we had never before had the capacity for that kind of growth because we hadn’t had folks that were like, you know, quote, unquote, "like" Chris and I, that kind of had that same bird’s eye view perspective and were really interested in the business side of things and the strategy and we’re kind of doing the business planning with us and really had the capacity to take on that growth. And so they wanted to expand the CSA by like 40 shares one year and they were in their fourth year of farming. They had the capability. They’re both incredibly bright and incredibly hardworking. And they were also young. They had that 20 year old energy. It’s really something and it’s unique, you know? And so those were some of those mid years of growth, really came from those strategic managerial staffers that really when I look at the peak, the growth spurts that we’ve had over the business as the business has expanded and also gotten better and more efficient and gained the knowledge and depth, it’s because of these…it always has coincided with the peak of these managerial staff that have come into their third and fourth and fifth seasons. And they go in cycles. And they eventually have to cycle through because they want their own farms or they can’t physically, they don’t physically want to do the work anymore, or, you know, there’s a combination of reasons, but it’s always a cyclical thing. And that’s a pattern that is now known to me, but it also is still a vulnerable pattern. So those are the patterns I’ve had, yeah, the kind of patterns I’ve been able to recognize at this point. Yeah.

**Brooke ** 45:49
So if people are doing this model, either for business or, you know, in the context of trying to develop a small farm like this for community support and perhaps a climate collapse situation, knowing that sort of rotation that people will go through and helping make sure that, you know, whoever’s…. Even if you’re collectively running the farm and everyone sort of equal partners, knowing that there is sort of that learning and burnout cycle to be aware of and, you know, having the members of your community that are doing this together supporting each other and taking some turns with it over time, like that sounds really important.

**Elizabeth ** 46:29
And trying to build structurally into the business ways to prevent that burnout. So even this next season that I’m looking towards, where those two key managers are moving on, and we’ve known that and we’ve been planning for and they’re going to help us transition at the beginning of the next season, thankfully, but we’re looking towards, you know, training a new set of managers. The expectation for that new set of managers is going to be completely different. I want every manager to be able to go on vacation during the peak production season for at least like a week or a long weekend, a Friday, Monday, or four or five days. They need that. They need that physical and psychological break. They need that recharge. Everybody needs it, everyone deserves to go on vacation and to not work, especially farmers. And there was never that…. Our previous managerial staff, they’re just, that isn’t a common expectation on most farms. You’re just sort of expected to to work your ass off, excuse me, and you will anyway. So, it’s up to the owners, or to the collective leaders, to find ways to build that structure of balance into the structure from the beginning, but this is the advice I would give. Because the work is hard no matter what. It’s some of the most challenging work you’re going to do no matter what, especially in a climate change context. The extremes are here. They’re not predictable. You might have experienced one extreme, but you don’t know what the next extreme is going to be like or what it’s going to do in your ecological system. So you can’t even really plan for it. That’s the challenge of farming in a climate change context is these extremes. I’m sure there’ll be some similar ones. Perhaps we’ll be able to apply lessons learned. But that’s been the biggest challenge of experiencing these climate extremes over the last five or six years is that it’s been a new extreme each time. And so the learning curve is immense and it’s stressful and it’s costly and there’s so much uncertainty. So that’s a challenge.

**Brooke ** 48:35
So really quickly then as our last thing on this, before we wrap, you’ve mentioned some of the climate issues that we’ve had, and I know I’ve mentioned these on other episodes of the podcast too, that, you know, for instance, last year, we had a really long, cold wet spring that went well into the first part of the growing season and it really screwed a lot of things up in a lot of different ways. And then two years ago we had some really extreme heat in that summer or a couple times over temperatures that have, you know, record breaking heat temperatures here. And so now we’re looking ahead at the world and we know that there will continue to be climate issues and to some degree, you can kind of predict for your own area what’s most likely to happen and what’s somewhat likely to happen and what’s not very likely to happen in terms of your individual climate extremes. Is that something that you actively work into your plans or is it something you deal with as it comes up? You know, how much are you looking ahead and planning for that and practicing for that on your own farm?

**Elizabeth ** 49:43
Yeah, I think that we’re planning for it to the extent that we can, you know. Like you’ve said, there is some predictability and now that we have experienced, you know, the heat dome…. The wildfires were so, just almost a completely totally different scenario, because you could hardly be outside safely, you know, but you we had to keep…some crops had to continue to be harvested or else it would make them unharvestable for a period after. You know, farms like ours, you have to continually harvest many crops. And then flooding has been really…. Wet and cold is always something we dealt with, but the extremes of last year were just far and above. And then flooding has been also greater and at times that we had never experienced before. Like we had some really intense flooding in April. I think that was like six years ago now. And so, yeah, ways that we’re adapting and planning for that, you know, where we have floods…we have fields that are more flood…that are more…. All of our farm fields are in the floodway, actually. It’s a pretty extreme flood plain designation from the Army Corps. But some of our fields are lower and they farm, you know, almost every winter. And so to the extent we can, we plan our rotations so that our winter crops are now, like I mentioned before, we had some crops, some of our first crops of the season in April, flood. So to the extent we can, we try to be cognizant of where that flooding might happen and try to put more vulnerable plantings in higher fields. But that’s difficult for us to always do, but we try our best at it. Season extension, you know, through covered spaces is something that farmers have been doing all over the world forever, because it just gives you more flexibility, extends your growing season, and you can control your environment better. Sometimes you have less…you’re less prone to pests. Those diseases can be much greater risk. So,you know, we had never had a huge amount of covered spaces. They’re expensive to put in. And they’re more difficult growing environments. I always like to say that they kind of expose all your weaknesses. And so since we’ve been spread so thin across so many projects and so much diversity and probably more scale than we should have expanded to too early, we have not always been the greatest hoop house or covered space growers. But our team’s really improved in that area in the last few years. And so we’ve really benefited from partnerships with the NRCS. They administer the organic equip program and they give dollars towards conventional and organic farmers, the organic equip program specifically for organic farmers for many projects like cover cropping, restoration projects, hedgerows, and, most impactful for us, hoop house infrastructure. So all of our hoop houses and our caterpillar tunnels, including two more that we bought that haven’t been put up, were all partially funded by the NRCS, which is really, really great use of our tax dollars. We can all at least maybe feel good about that for the use of our tax dollars. Yeah. And so that’s…. Those spaces have been really instrumental in our bridge season growing, would you like to call it, especially the early season. Like, we all know Oregon springs can be cold and wet in a normal year and relatively unpredictable, and so because we are building our farm model on a CSA that starts in June, which actually really isn’t that early, and people are really ready to eat seasonally from the farm in June. They’re coming to us in April and May like, "When does the CSA start?" Like they think it should just all be available. And yeah, certain crops are. But to have the level of diversity and scale in June to feed that many people does take quite a bit of planning and land space. And so having just those extra covered spaces so that we can just fine tune our planting schedule and our planting mix in those early months, has been really key. And then methodologies that were even kind of pre a climate change context but just for better spring farming, like there was a practice that we were following, many farmers are doing, with preparing beds in the fall, tarping with silage tarps, and then that allows you to just pull back those silage tarps in the spring when you have a couple days of dry out. And then you can direct seed and transplant right into those beds, as opposed to having to wait for a one or two week dry window and leaving soil uncovered without a cover crop, which you don’t really want to do anyway. So that completely changed our spring growing. And then adding in extra covered spaces this year was what allowed us to have such a wonderful early diversity. And then pushing, being pushed more towards no-till and regenerative practices that are, we feel, can just provide even more resilience in a climate change context, and in any in any context, you know, when you’re building up the quality of your soil with the microbiology and organic matter. And from what we’ve researched and seen, the potential for healthier, happier crops that are produced with less fossil-fuel-based equipment and don’t release carbon because of tillage, and just myriad other benefits that we’ve been seen and been hearing about, we were motivated to start our own no-till experimental plot. And so we had our first crops on that this year and they did well. And the soil–we didn’t know how our heavier clay content soil would respond to no-till practices and from what we’ve read and understood, really the benefits of no-till don’t take in massively so until years three to five. It takes a while to do your weed control and for your microbiology to get in there and add all that soil health. It just takes a while for the soils to adjust. Yeah, it’s like how to…. How I say this to kids on tours is like, “How do forests feed themselves? How do those big old growth trees get so big? Humans aren’t coming in and fertilizing those trees. It’s just decomposition and micro organisms and all those amazing nutrient relationships between the micro organisms.” It’s like they’re just all working in this beautiful, and even more so we know now, because of these really cool scientists that are doing forestry research showing how these forest communities are this huge interconnected network with the root systems and the fungi and bacteria. It’s just so much more complex and interconnected than scientists ever even thought. And so it’s the same principle applied to annual or perennial farms. So we’re only in…this will be year two. But we were already interested in those practices and some folks on our staff, Garabella, had studied that in college at Willamette and was already really passionate about it. We’d been doing some experiments with it, but this was our first year really biting the bullet and saying, okay, this is our no-till plot. And we’re really, really enthused by the results and how well the soils responded. It’s hard to break that addiction to tillage. I love tillage. I love tractors and PTO shafts and rototillers. But it’s also really disruptive. SO it’s breaking those habits. Yeah.

**Brooke ** 57:11
And I know you can talk about this literally, for the rest of the week, but we should probably wrap it up here for now. It’s been really great having you on and I do hope that we can have you again to talk about some more specifics of this and other things so we can continue to learn how to develop some of this in our communities and encourage the farms that are doing it.

**Elizabeth ** 57:35
Thank you so much for having me and exposing and educating our community.

**Brooke ** 57:40
Absolutely. And, you know, also to the world over because we have listeners internationally as well. And we love you all very much. Elizabeth, is there anything that you want to plug or promote here before we say goodbye?

**Elizabeth ** 57:57
Just in relation to our conversation earlier, just really taking many, many steps back and looking at the communities of people that had a relationship to this land for generations before us. And there’s an awesome nonprofit here in Salem run by Rose High Bear, and it’s called Elderberry Wisdom Farm and they’re an indigenous based nonprofit. And I’m not going to get their mission statement right. But they’re educating about indigenous plant communities and knowledge bases and practices of those communities in relation to land. And I’m looking forward to learning more from Rose about their work. And obviously, they’re working specifically with the elderberry plant but also indigenous youth. And so if you’re in the Salem community, check out their work and support them.

**Brooke ** 58:47
Wonderful. Okay, thanks so much for that, Elizabeth. We also want to say thanks to all of our listeners who check out our podcasts. If it’s something that you are enjoying, please like it, share it, let others know about it. That’s how we reach more voices and help more folks. If you want to comment at me about any of this you can find me on Mastodon @ogemakweBrooke. Brook with an E. Especially if you have any follow up questions for Elizabeth because she’s pretty easy to get ahold of and likes talking about her farm and so I will probably try to drag her back around. So if you want specific questions answered, I’d be so happy to share those with her. This podcast is brought to you by Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness publishing collective that produces podcasts, zines, books, posters, comics, and many other forms of educational leftist media. You can check us out at Tangledwilderness.org You can find all of our latest publications there. And if you really love our work and want to help us continue, especially with the podcast production, you can support us on Patreon. We do a monthly zine mailing to our Patreon supporters. That’s a really wonderful mix of stories, politics, and poems. It’s a different thing that comes out every month. And we especially want to give thanks to some of our patrons who support us at the $20 month level. And those wonderful folks include patolli, Eric, Perceval, Buck, Julia, Catgut, Marm, Carson, Lord Harken, Trixter, Princess Miranda, BenBen, Anonymous, Funder, Janice & O’dell, Aly, paparouna, Milica, Boise Mutual Aid, theo, Hunter, Paige, SJ, Dana, David, Nicole, Chelsea, Jenipher, Kirk, Staro, Chris, Micaiah, and as always, Hoss the Dog. Thank you so much.

S1E95 – Sam and Amadeo on Sheep, Wolves, and Climate Change

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Margaret talks with Sam and Amadeo about their experiences shepherding in the Swiss Alps. They talk about the problems that shepherds are facing in Switzerland with wolves, climate change, city mentalities, and right-wing propaganda.

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: Sam and Amadeo on Sheep, Wolves, and Climate Change

**Margaret ** 00:16
Hello and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the times. I’m your host today, Margaret Killjoy and this is an episode about sheep…and sheep farming. Shepherding, I believe we might want to call it, in the Alps. I’m really excited about it. We’ve been planning this episode for a while, because we are going to be talking to two sheep farmers in the Alps about climate change and about the return of wolves and about ecology and about why the right-wing picks all the wrong talking points and a bunch of other stuff. But first, we are a proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchists podcasts. And here’s a jingle from another show on the network. 

**Margaret ** 01:52
Okay, we’re back. So if y’all could introduce yourselves with your name…your names, your pronouns, and I guess just a little bit about your background with shepherding.

**Sam ** 02:05
All right, Hi, I’m Sam, my pronouns she/her and we are in Vienna right now. And yeah, I’m an artist and also a bit of a writer, filmmaker. I do a lot of that kind of stuff. Lately I have been working a lot with metal and smithing And yeah, I went with Amadeo on a sheep farm and Alps in Valais in Switzerland. And we want to tell you a bit about our experience.

**Amadeo ** 02:38
Yeah, my name is Amadeo. He/him. I’m 38. Actually, I started to work as a teacher now. I teach biology and some other stuff, politics, and so on. And yeah, This was my third year…third summer, not third year, third season to work as a shepherd but the first time with sheep, actually. Before that I worked with cows and milking and so on. Yeah, and for me it was also the first time with sheep and the first time in this area of Switzerland. I’m Austrian. But the payment in Austria is really bad so we went to Switzerland. So we are also the working migrants. Or what do you call it in English?

**Margaret ** 03:31
Migrant workers, I guess. 

**Amadeo ** 03:34
Yes. 

**Margaret ** 03:36
Okay, so what brought you all to sheep farming or to farming in general as like the thing to go do with your summers for work? 

**Amadeo ** 03:47
Should I? 

**Sam ** 03:48
Yeah, you can.

**Amadeo ** 03:50
So, I had this experience in 2020 and 21, I think, and I really liked it in a way. It was very hard work back then, but I learned a lot. And we met after that, actually, and decided we would like to go together. And then we just hit up the internet and looked for work and places to go and then we found this place that sounded pretty ideal for us because it was sheep farming and no milking, which is nice. I didn’t want to do the milking job and do cheesemaking and so on again, I wanted to stay outside mostly, like the whole day under the sky and not in the staple. And yeah, we found this place where you don’t need your own dogs, which is nice. We were working with blacknose sheep, they’re called. It’s like a breed that is only bred in this area. Or not only but traditionally there. And yeah, we tried to get the job and we got it.

**Sam ** 05:08
I guess we also got in because Amadeo also already had a lot of experience. And yeah, they were looking for two people there and without dogs. And yeah, I also got…I was really lucky that I was with Amadeo because, you know, like some very daily stuff, he already was prepared for this job. Like, you need a lot of some equipment and know what to take. And yeah, I was really….

**Amadeo ** 05:36
The thing was that, of course, the owners of the sheep, they want someone who has some experience because it happens often that you think, "Oh, it’s nice. It’s in the mountains. It’s beautiful." And then people after two weeks, three weeks, they say, "No way. I can’t work here. It’s way too hard." I mean, it’s like pretty hard work. It’s outside all day. With rain, with snow sometimes. And you work from sunup to sundown every day, seven days a week. And many people underestimate it because there’s like, I don’t know, this idea drawn of what it’s like to work in the mountains and it’s always beautiful. And it is. But it’s also very hard work, actually.

**Margaret ** 06:22
It seems really hard. It wouldn’t immediately occur to me that I could just go run out and become a shepherd like tomorrow. But I have two questions. And they’re related. And one is, what does an average day look like for a shepherd in an Alpine Valley? And the second question that’s related is, do you get a shepherd’s crook?

**Sam ** 06:42
Yeah, well, the day starts with sunrise. Around five was when the summer started. We got there in mid of June. I stayed till mid of September. Amadeo had to leave a bit earlier. And the day ends with sunset. And yeah, you bring the sheep back into the night pen. You say, "pen," huh? Like a space where there is electricity on. Pen? [Said with air of not being sure if it’s the correct word]

**Amadeo ** 07:15
Do you know what that is? Or, did we get the right word? 

**Margaret ** 07:17
Like an animal pen? Or is it a barn?

**Amadeo ** 07:19
Yeah, it’s like it has no roof. It’s not a barn. It has no roof. It’s just a fence. An area fenced. A fenced in area with strong electricity because of the wolves.

**Margaret ** 07:35
Oh, yeah. Okay, it has an electric fence. Yeah,

**Sam ** 07:37
yeah, exactly. And yeah, we would move every two weeks to a new pasture with the sheep. And there were 12 farmers or sheepherders. They’re not all farmers. They also have another life. Most of them have another job. They work as bus drivers in heavy industry. And yeah, they also are doing a lot of work. So they’re working with us there. We were there most of the time alone, but they come on weekends. They bring us food. They set up the pastures, lines, the fences too. Yeah. And so then we stay out with the sheep all day, any weather. And yeah, also, when we moved the pasture, they came for help because it’s hard to change the pasture. You sometimes have to cross a river. And….

**Margaret ** 08:29
Wait, how do you cross the river? Do you just like drive them through the river?

**Amadeo ** 08:33
Yes. 

**Margaret ** 08:35
Like , "Go swim!" 

**Amadeo ** 08:38
It was not such. It was more like a stream than the river. A river sounds bigger than it was. 

**Sam ** 08:48
It was like this, like we always make a plan in the evening. Even a drawing. We were five people planning this. And then it always ends up in pretty much chaos and completely different. And in the end they were screaming, "Sam! Go! Go!" And I was like, I even had shoes on and the first sheep I was pulling, just one sheep, with all my strength through the river. And then all the sheep follow.

**Margaret ** 09:14
Okay, okay. I have friends who keep sheep but in the city. And they just keep like six of them or something. And it’s just a very different thing than like a free ranging sheep. And so it’s hard for me to conceptualize. 

**Amadeo ** 09:30
We had 400.

**Margaret ** 09:32
Yeah, that’s more than six. I’m good at numbers. That’s amazing. Okay, cool.

**Sam ** 09:38
So part of the daily routine is also to do the basic medical care. So we were introduced to that. Sometimes they have claw problems. [Claws are sheep toes]

**Amadeo ** 09:38
Problems with the claws. 

**Sam ** 09:39
Problems with claws. So this was a regular thing. And sometimes using antibiotics against….

**Amadeo ** 09:58
Yeah, and we had to clean the pen every day, which was like three to four hours of work for one of us. Like shoveling shit.

**Margaret ** 10:09
Yeah, okay. But you didn’t answer the second question. Did you have a shepherd’s crook? Do you know what that is? [Laughing]

**Amadeo ** 10:17
Not a real one. We had like umbrellas. Big ones that were very useful against the sun. And so preparedness thing number one, if you stay in the high alpine areas, the altitude of the higher pastures were 2500 meters [8,200ft], you need something to cover you against the sun and against the rain. So big umbrellas were pretty handy.

**Sam ** 10:46
And also the sheep have horns so it’s easier to catch them. You have to learn this also, but you throw yourself on the sheep and then you tackle them down. I got really good at this. And also the blacknose sheep in the valleys, they have very long hair. And, I mean, it’s breeding, right? They do it for breeding, the sheepherders. So the wool, it doesn’t get any money. It’s nothing. It’s not worth anything anymore. But for the beauty contests that the sheep go to it’s really important. It’s a tradition. And they let it grow….

**Amadeo ** 11:26
They have very long face hair so some of them are basically blind. Most of them have like, how do you say something that rings? What is it? A bell? Yes. 

**Sam ** 11:39
Yeah, but they get lost because they don’t see anything and our job was also to make them hair ties and to tie the hair. And also the sheepherders would come to do this because we could not do this for 400 sheep. Yeah, so that was also part of the job, Yeah, it adds up. There are some different tasks. And yeah, since we would move with the sheep, maybe also that.  So also the moving is part of. You’re always packing your stuff. You need to think, okay, how much food we need to…how much will we eat and how much do we need to take to the next hut. So organizing this is part of it. And then we had a small hut that was flied in with a helicopter. It was…

**Amadeo ** 12:12
Flown in. Flown with the helicopters for the most remote places where we would stay with the sheep because otherwise you would have to walk a long way, like 45 minutes to the cabin every day. So they brought in a tiny hut for one person, actually. 

**Margaret ** 12:47
For you all? 

**Amadeo ** 12:49
Yeah, yeah. Flown with the helicopter so we could stay next to the sheep. 

**Sam ** 12:55
But it was so small. Like one was sleeping on the floor, the other on this little bed. And also you always need to organize this hut when you come with very wet clothes. You have no space in there. We had a little solar panel. So this was doing…. We had a fridge at least. Very high tech. I guess 20 years before, we would not have a fridge. And some light even in the cabin and a stove. A wood stove. It got crazy hot because it’s so small and yeah. So organizing this hut was also not so easy. And we were lucky because there was a lot of water in this valley. Like it’s full of water. And so we would get water from the…

**Amadeo ** 13:43
From the springs around.  Wells? How you say?

**Margaret ** 13:48
Well, I mean, a well is a hole dug in the ground and then a spring is usually a natural spring or it’s like a pipe stuck in the side of a hill that the water comes out of.

**Amadeo ** 13:57
Yeah, it was a natural spring. No pipe, though. Just some moss and it was nice.

**Margaret ** 14:04
And so you can just go straight from that or do you have to filter it?

**Amadeo ** 14:08
It depends. We had, at some points, we could just drink it from there. We didn’t filter it. At the cabins we had covered springs, wells. Or springs? So we could…it was okay. But the open ones, we had to take care of where the sheep were. If the sheep can go around then it’s not so good. It was better if it was higher up where they wouldn’t go.

**Sam ** 14:42
Yeah also good that there were a lot of springs so the sheep would get water. They need to drink. And sometimes there were pastures where they could only drink one time in the day, so they also learn when they have to drink in the morning because we had really hot days also where these blacknose sheep with all the wool, they really get hot. And yeah, then also we learned how the sheep walk in every pasture. They have the same kind of routine that follows the sun also. And you kind of learn their ways. And also maybe when it’s time to act to get the sheep back, I mean, without a dog. Yeah, you need to learn this also, I guess, when it’s time.

**Amadeo ** 15:33
I always said, if you want to move against their will, you are the dog, you have to run around like crazy. They have their rhythm and they have their ways, you know?

**Margaret ** 15:46
So, did you all use dogs? Like also? Or is it sometimes dogs, sometimes no dogs?

**Amadeo ** 15:54
No, we had none. The thing is that this kind of race [breed of sheep] is very used to people and they’re not moving that far. So you can walk with them. It’s okay. It’s just the problem is you can have two kinds of dogs, right? You can have dogs to protect against wolves, for example. Then they live with the sheep. They’re inside of the flock all the time. But it’s a problem with hikers and so on. Because they attack everyone that comes near, right?

**Margaret ** 16:33
This explains a little bit about my dog. 

**Amadeo ** 16:36
Yeah, and so you can really have them there because it’s also like a recreational area. This area, like a lot of people go hiking there and so on. So you can’t have dangerous dogs. And the other thing would be like dogs that help you move the flock. 

**Margaret ** 17:01
Herding dogs? 

**Amadeo ** 17:02
We didn’t really need it, right? Because we would have not…. I mean, it was big areas but still we would stay in one area for two weeks and then we would move on to the next area. So you didn’t really need dogs to guard them the whole day.

**Sam ** 17:23
But it’s really a calm…. The blacknose sheep are really really calm sheep. We learned this also because like certain sheep breeds, you say, right, they run way more. They run all day. And you really need dogs there. Yeah, so we….

**Amadeo ** 17:40
But with the blacknose, no, they are kind of calm. Yes. And they have a long…during the day they have a long break time. 

**Sam ** 17:48
Resting time.  

**Amadeo ** 17:49
Yeah, because if it’s getting hot up there, the sun is very strong. It can be like, I don’t know…. Like I mean the degrees don’t get up that much like in the flat areas but the sun, how you say…the sun rays are really strong.

**Margaret ** 18:11
Yeah, because when you’re at a higher altitude there’s less atmosphere to protect you, right? I know what I mean. But I don’t know the words for it.

**Amadeo ** 18:22
Yeah, the sheep have some…if it’s a hot day, they rest for four hours during midday. They try to find, you know, shady spots and just rest. And so at that time, you can also rest. If it’s rainy, you can’t rest because then they are moving too. Yeah.

**Margaret ** 18:48
It makes me…the no dog thing, I’m like…. My dog was bred to have a million different jobs. My dog is just a complete mutt of a lot of different working breeds. And so Rintrah, my dog, is never quite sure whether he’s supposed to be herding, or chasing, or retrieving things. He just wants to do all of it all the time. And one of the proudest things I’ve ever had, my proudest dog mom moment, was staying with my friend who has goats and sheep and one of the baby goats just got out of the pen and was running around the yard. And so Rintrah just herded it into a corner and then like calmly barked to inform us that he had trapped the goat. And I was just like, no one taught you how to do that. He wasn’t a year old. He just was like , "This is what I do." And so like, I imagine how happy my dog would be as a sheepdog, a herding dog, which isn’t necessarily true because he has adhd. This is a complete tangent. I just like talking about my dog. But you all, one of the reasons I want to talk to you, you talked about how a lot of this ties into preparedness and how it feels you’ve learned a lot about preparedness that you’re like taking into the rest of your life by having done this work. I was wondering if you wanted to talk more about that. As a complete, look how expertly I tangented…pivoted from one topic to another.

**Sam ** 20:11
Yeah, yeah, actually your podcast was really a bit with us in this time. It was cool, the topic of preparedness. And yeah, for me in this way, thinking about preparedness, what’s also weighed in with this work was to get somehow familiar again with the conditions of doing this work, of ways of living in this open environment, of existing there with the sheep and in this non-human environment. And also, maybe, in this threatened environment that somehow you would…. And also the organization structures, how this work is possible, that it needs a lot of people and it needs a lot of people who do this. I mean, there’s the farmers or sheepherders, they do this because they love this work. Because they have done this all the time. It’s tradition. And yeah, that they somehow save something.

**Amadeo ** 21:17
I mean, to talk about the practical side, if you stay outside the whole day, every day, seven days a week, you learn a lot of what you really need and what you don’t need. I think that was big. Yeah, it was like very valuable to me to see what I really need. And I remember listening to your podcast, and you talk a lot about being prepared in a way, like having podcasts on your phone, for example. Because if you have to stay with sheep for 10 hours a day, you need to…you had a lot of time to think. And I loved having a good book because I could read and then think for hours about it and have like, I think, yeah, more time than in the city where you are distracted from one topic to another. So this really is good to have more, I don’t know, space in my head. This was a good thing. And yeah, I think looking at, how you say, like, being outside in nature everyday and witnessing all these little changes from day-to-day. This was very, very, very special. And I think I learned so much about life and also about survival because all the animals and the plants there, they are…like, they have to survive in a very harsh environment with very short growing period, for example. I mean, lots of snow during…. Winter lasts, I don’t know, for 10 months, or like, let’s see, nine maybe? You know what I mean? Like when we came mid June, there was still snow. And in August before we…the end was the 16th, I think, of September, but we had to leave the higher pastures at the end of August because it was starting to snow heavily. And yeah, it’s like very different too. 

**Sam ** 23:30
But still to also learn about the fears and the sheepherder have. And also, yeah, it’s an environment that’s threatened and that will change through climate change for sure. Like it is changing. And I thought also on some days that it gets hotter and hotter every summer. And also last year, the grass was really dry. So the sheep would get this disease called, in German, Lipinkin [cannot translate], which is little bit like herpes. Yeah. And yeah, they had to be treated, every sheep, and give some….

**Amadeo ** 24:05
Some cream. But do that for 400 sheep, man.

**Margaret ** 24:11
Yeah, that sounds like it would take a while. 

**Sam ** 24:14
Medication for 400 sheep. So yeah, they have struggles they face. And then the wolf, of course, is a new topic. And yeah, they have to deal with a lot of stuff. Yeah.

**Margaret ** 24:27
Well, let’s talk about wolves. Let’s talk about–you all mentioned beforehand when we were getting ready to talk about how wolves have maybe either been reintroduced or are coming back in that area to a certain degree and how that threatens this way of life but like not as much as climate change does and how it all ties into the right-wing and I kinda wanna to hear about it.

**Amadeo ** 24:51
Yeah, since a few years, since I was like…. 2020 was really when I was first introduced to this life, to these people in Switzerland. First of all, I came from the city and I didn’t know that it’s such a big topic already. Because in Austria, we have a few wolves. But not to mention, you know, maybe a dozen. But I learned that in Switzerland since the last, I don’t know, 20 years, from a dozen they now have, I think, 250. Around 250. And, like, I don’t know, 25 packs or something, or something like this. Which doesn’t sound so much, but it’s like…it’s not such a big country. And they are a lot in these areas. For example, in Valais where we stayed, we knew that the nearest wolves are just two kilometers away. And they have offspring. So for them, they need meat and so on. And I mean, the sheep are puffy, you know. It’s like, go get them.

**Sam ** 26:01
Also, on the other side of the mountain, actually, there was another shepherd with a, I think, also around 400…. Fuck, I don’t know exactly how many sheep. And there the wolf came. And he killed, I think, seven sheeps. And also one of his dogs was attacked. So it was really close. And also the fear that we might face an attack was also really with us. And also there was a guy who takes care of the area. 

**Amadeo ** 26:34
A ranger. 

**Sam ** 26:35
Yeah, and he came and told us, "Hey, you really have to watch out. They’re really close." So yeah. 

**Amadeo ** 26:42
But the thing is, the crazy thing for me is that, of course, this threatens, in a way, people that are used to putting their cattle, putting their sheep just in a meadow and leaving them, you know. Have a look once a week or something. Of course now with the wolves, it’s not possible because a wolf would kill many. They start to, you know, get into like…. If they can they kill 10 and then just take one, you know. They just…. If they [sheep] don’t run away and they don’t run far, you know, 100 years of, I don’t know, living with humans and being petted and so on, they don’t have–you know what I mean? They don’t have it in them anymore to really run. Because normally, if a wolf attacks a  deer, for example, the pack can’t find any deer for another week or something because they’re all alert. They’re alert as soon as there is an encounter. With the sheep, it’s not so much. So now it’s a problem, of course, but there would be solutions. You just, you need to adjust. You need to change the way it works. Yeah, you need protection. You need people to look after the sheep and so on. And for many areas, this is really hard. Because if you have an alpine pasture that is very remote, steep hills everywhere, you know, it’s so hard to really fence it off or something. It’s not possible. So I can understand it for the farmers. It’s hard. And when we talked with them about it, they were always like, "We have to kill the wolf," you know? And it’s now protected. It’s under national protection. You cannot just shoot them. Even if they kill some of your sheep, you can’t. And there was a big–in Switzerland you have more, how you say, basic democracy. So many of the laws are decided by a vote of everyone. So there was a big vote about if the protection status of the wolves should be loosened in a way. Not that you can just hunt them but loosen in a way that you can, I don’t know, shoot some if they’re attacking cattle or….

**Margaret ** 29:11
Can you shoot them if they attack you?

**Amadeo ** 29:13
No, we had no gun. I mean, they won’t attack  humans but…

**Margaret ** 29:20
I’m an American, so I’m like….Okay, so like, I think about this a lot. Okay. I’m really…the wolf thing is so interesting to me for a thousand reasons. And one is that the destruction of wolves is such a emblem of civilization. It is such an emblem of the conquest of nature, right? And you have, for example, the no wolves in Ireland thing. You know? And that the British were very into killing all the wolves in Ireland and part of that even…. Like, so you even have the Irish rebels who would be to a certain degree, would be like, "Oh, we are the wolves. Like we are the people that they’re trying to conquer," because it’s like they are the unconquered, you know, wild folk, or whatever fucking bullshit colonial thing that gets thrown at them, you know? But at the same time, it’s like…. So I’m kind of rooting for the wolves here with what you’re describing, right? I like sheep. I don’t specifically want the sheep to die. And where I live, we have coyotes, right. And we don’t really have wolves where I live, but we have coyotes. And they kill, you know, they kill livestock. And they also kill dogs, right? And I have a dog. And I very actively want my dog to not be killed by coyotes. And apparently coyotes will do this thing where they’ll befriend a dog, and be like, "yeah, totally, come hang out with us," and then kill and eat that dog, right? And so I have a neighbor who oversees about 400 acres. And he’s from France. And he carries around a handgun. And he’s so confused by this. He’s like, "I came to America and now I have to carry around a handgun." But he carries around a handgun in case he’s attacked by coyotes. Right? And it’s like, interesting to me because it’s like…. The urge to be like, "Oh, we should kill all the wolves so we can happily raise our sheep in peace," like fuck that, right? That, to me, is like the example of a negative form of peace, where you have conquered and like flattened everything. Sorry, it’s a little bit of a rant, but I’m going somewhere with it. I promise. And then, but at the same time, there’s this balance, right? Like, I’m not going to let a coyote kill my dog. Or if I was around wolves, I wouldn’t let the wolves kill me, right? I mean, whatever I…as much as I can control that, you know? The coyotes are kind of on the other side of the hill. So I don’t carry a gun around my property. But that would be a thing that I would need to consider in certain circumstances. So, it’s just really interesting to me that, like, I get why the sheep farmers are like, "Oh, we got to get rid of all these wolves." But I’m also like, "Whatever. Fuck you. Let the wolves be." But then I’m also like, it’s complicated. And I get why you have to defend the sheep. But I don’t know. Anyway, that’s where I’m going with it. I guess I wasn’t going anywhere with it after all.

**Sam ** 32:15
Yeah, no, I think it’s a really complex situation. Yeah, there is not an easy answer to like kill the wolf or…. Yeah, I’m also pro Wolf. And there needs to be a different solution. And yeah, like to see what the sheepherders really face, what kind of struggles they face with this was really interesting. And also, I think the problem is that it’s super instrumentalized [wonders if that’s the right word]…instrumentalized by right-wing people politically. 

**Margaret ** 32:55
Weaponized? [Offering a different word]

**Amadeo ** 32:58
Yeah. In a way. I mean, the thing is, it also turned in Switzerland, for example, into a city versus countryside. Because at the vote, most people from the cities would vote for the wolf for what keeps the protection. But many people in the countryside, with also more like conservative political beliefs–and the conservative parties–said, "No, no, no, we have to change that because it threatens our way of living around in the remote areas in the countryside. And so this is somehow so stupid because….

**Sam ** 33:37
Yeah, that’s also covering certain other threats, right, like climate change. They don’t talk about climate change. The only thing they speak about is the wolf and the wolves. And yeah, that’s really…. So it’s somehow a weird thing that it’s so taken over by this discourse, which is, yeah….

**Amadeo ** 33:57
Yeah, you can shoot climate change. That’s the thing. It’s easy to say, "Oh, it’s all the wolf. We have to kill the wolf. And then we get rid of this problem." But on the other hand, climate change…. [interrupted]

**Margaret ** 34:11
I can think of some ways to solve climate change with guns, but…. Anyway….

**Amadeo ** 34:16
I mean, I got so sad up there because it’s so special. I mean, this area was a natural reserve too. And it has golden eagles. It has vultures, it has marmots, it has like….

**Sam ** 34:35
A lot of marmots. Everywhere. [Laughing]

**Amadeo ** 34:38
And some protected bogs, some plants that are really like really rare, like at the brink of extinction. And I know, I stood there and I saw this, I don’t know, this beauty and I know in 50 years from now it will be gone. Probably. It’s very, very likely. Because…. I mean, some species can move…. Like, seen on a global level, they move north because it’s getting warm. But on the on fucking mountain, there is an end. There is no moving more up. Because at 4000 meters or something, it’s….stops, you know? Like there’s nothing there. And all the farmers there, for example, if you ask them, they see these changes. They witness it. They say, "Yes, it’s so much different than it was when I was a kid." And the glaciers, for example, in Switzerland–I read about it–there were since the 70s, 800 glaciers are gone. And there is still 1400 glaciers in Switzerland. And they say 2100 [year], they will be probably most of them, like 95%, will be gone. And it’s so sad. But still, if you say something like, "Climate change," even those farmers there, that witness it every fucking day, they say like, "Well, you know, I don’t know if you can call it that." It’s ridiculous. And it’s because the discourse, the political discourse, is framed by conservatives mostly. And they say, "Your problem is the wolf. We can shoot the wolf." So…. [Margaret starts talking and apologizes] No, no, it’s, I’m, I’m done with ranting.

**Margaret ** 36:40
No, this is so interesting for a thousand reasons. And one of them is that we always…. It goes back hundreds of years that leftists will be like, "Oh, the countryside are all right-wing. Fuck them." And this is not true, right? This is like…. The most interesting leftist revolutions have generally involved also the rural folks, right? I mean, like, famously, the fucking Russian Revolution was all rural people. And to be fair, Marx was…. I think he owned up to getting that wrong, because he was one of the people who started this myth that "The peasant is not the revolutionary subject, only the proletarian worker in the city is," right? "And the peasants are always reactionary." And I think he owned up to, when he looked at Russia, he was like, "Oh, I got that one wrong. Okay, cool." You know. It’s true if we let it be true, because you have this thing where…. I think it is actually a flaw that we have to be careful with in democracy–and majority rule in general–is if people in the cities make the rules for the people in the countryside, and they don’t understand the people in the countryside and they don’t understand their way of life. And so it’s like, really easy–even though I’m still on the wolf’s side–I see it as complicated. Whereas it’s like really easy to live in a city and be like, "Whatever. Fuck it," you know, because it’s not their livelihood, or dog that is being threatened, right? And so I feel like, to me, it’s this thing where we can’t cede that ground to the right-wing, you know? And I really, I think it’s cool that you all…. And that’s one reason I want to talk to you about it is that there’s like all of these…. It doesn’t have to be this inherently conservative space to be in the countryside, to be in a rural area. And then the other thing that I was thinking about with what you’re talking about, about mountains and how things retreat, is that mountains are so interesting to me because they’re always where people run to, right? And you look at…. I mean, you look at Switzerland as a country and as the history of the country is people fleeing there in order to–well, I don’t know enough about how Switzerland was formed–but in World War II, every time I’m like reading about Dutch revolutionaries, or whatever, they’re like, "Fuck!" and they all run over to Switzerland and climb up the glaciers with their bare hands, or whatever the fuck. I don’t know. I clearly know what I’m talking about. And in the United States, you have. where I live in Appalachia, that is the place that people would retreat to. That is the place where people losing wars against the conquest of the United States would go to. And it is. It’s that weird thing where you’re always free in the mountains, but there’s only so far you can run. And that’s just so heartbreaking to think about, you know? There’s only so far up the mountain that these plants can migrate. On the other hand, I have a feeling that’s what we’re all going to be living. We’re all gonna be in Antarctica. Antarctica bloomed this year, I think. I think we’re being on Antarctica and on the mountains. So… 

**Sam ** 39:39
Yeah, but it’s interesting how it’s idolized and romanticized. I mean, we had like…and how extreme, actually, the weather really changes. I really didn’t know. I had never lived for three months so high up. And yeah, but also, they’re so romanticized. There’s this huge hype around survivalist shows, at the moment on TV, which is also really interesting and comes with this. And on the opposite for me the…Yeah, the question was how does being there in the Alps, what does this really change with me and what does it do to experience this? And yeah…. 

**Amadeo ** 40:20
Yeah, what does it do? 

**Margaret ** 40:23
We’re asking.  

**Sam ** 40:23
It’s still settling in. And it’s about reconnecting and really realizing what it takes to do this work. And I have a lot of respect…. Also, to be in a very patriarchal space where the shepherds were only older men. Yeah, they have their ways of acting. They have their ways of being. And for me, this was really difficult. Yeah. And still, somehow to not say, "Hey, I won’t enter this space," but to go there and…. Yeah, also see what community they have, you know. Yeah, to also go beyond this, I think, that they have their tradition and they have to face this, but yeah, it was also…. [Interrupted]

**Amadeo ** 41:11
Maybe you can maybe explain a little bit this, I don’t know, this group of people we worked for, because it was actually pretty interesting because it’s a conservative area, but they were very working class and very, very nice to us. I think. They treated us really respectfully. And I know, in my other place where I worked as a shepherd, it wasn’t like that. I was treated, actually, a little bad. And that’s…I don’t know.

**Sam ** 41:45
Yeah. And to see how they are with the animals. I mean, for them, that’s…they are their life. And it’s this encounter. 

**Amadeo ** 41:50
They love them.

**Sam ** 41:51
And for us, to get to know every sheep personally, it’s really interesting what connection you get. You watch them all the time. You learn, hey, they are totally different. They have totally different characters. 

**Margaret ** 42:09
Yeah. Okay, my question to you is how do you, when you’re working with people who are seeing this climate change happen, how do you–but but can’t acknowledge it–do you have any insight or thoughts about how to connect with people about that, about how to talk to people, you know, who want to focus on the wolf instead of the bigger wolf, the climate wolf? What’s the name of that wolf that’s gonna eat the sun and Germanic paganism? Wow, how do I not remember that.  Anyway, whatever, at the start of Ragnarok. Someone’s gonna get really mad at me for not knowing this. Fenrir!

**Amadeo ** 42:51
I think we had some very good discussions at times. Right? With the guys…. Sorry? [Margaret interrupting]

**Margaret ** 43:01
No, no, no, I was just…I remembered the name of the wolf that eats the sun and starts Ragnarok. It’s Fenrir. Anyway, or Fenris? Oh, God, no people gonna get mad at me. Anyway, please continue. Tell you something. 

**Amadeo ** 43:13
I think also, even though some of them were a little bit panicky about wolves, and so on, I think the system with the night pens and with having shepherds like us, since a few years, to look after the sheep, day and night, basically, it works pretty well. I mean, they told us they have one to five, maybe, sheep per year that are getting killed by the wolf. But that’s okay. I mean, they’re realistic about it, right? And when we talked about climate change, of course, it was–I mean, for me, it’s not much different–I mean, they acknowledged that things are changing. They didn’t use the, I don’t know, scientific vocabulary or whatever. And they acknowledged in a way–or some of them at least–that there are new problems that we have to face. For example, it’s too dry, and so on. Water issues.  Dying out of certain plants, animals in certain areas, and so on. They all see this. More avalanches in the winter. All of this. But, I mean, they were a little helpless. And I mean, we are also often a little helpless, because it’s getting individualized. How should you react? Not drive a car? Great. I mean, we have to, you know, rise up and change all of the economy, you know, and this is hard to do.

**Sam ** 44:53
But I guess, I mean, I also came there with my artistic background and as an artist and I also was filming a lot–more some of the sheeps but also us–and I think for me to show as someone coming there with a city background, but also with our backgrounds as biologists and artists, and showing how this encounter happens maybe from us as city people with also another perspective in encountering this world. I think I find this really interesting. Also showing some part of this being not exactly in this. I think that’s an interesting perspective, also, for other people to see. And yeah, I’m probably cutting a bit of a movie out of this. And I think it can…. Yeah, it’s good to go to this place and to show our perspective. 

**Amadeo ** 45:53
I mean, I’m so grateful for what these people taught us, right, and that we were accepted and we did this job. And I think we did a good job. But also they trust us, right?

**Sam ** 46:06
And what the sheep teach us. 

**Amadeo ** 46:08
Yeah, the human and non-human individuals that trusted us. And it was, I think…. I’m very, very grateful. But on the other hand, also, for them, I think it was kind of interesting to have unorthodox people there, people who didn’t grow up around the corner with animals, and sheep, and so on. Because for them, they all grew up with this. They inherited this from their parents and grandparents. And we came…. Actually it was a meeting of different worlds, right? We came…. 

**Sam ** 46:45
And I want to show this, also, this discrepancy that there is some dialog or some encounter that needs to happen. And I mean, many people are so disconnected to this world and don’t know. They have lived in Switzerland all their life and they don’t have so much connection to this work. Yeah. And it’s cool to…. 

**Amadeo ** 47:05
I think, yeah, it was really…like we came from 1000 kilometers away. But even what made more of a difference was that we live in a city of 2 million people and they live in tiny mountain villages. But we came. We had a good time together, right? They were like helping us. We were helping them. It worked out. And I mean a lot of prejudicism, I had also, as a young radical from the city, dogmatic, and so on, about people back in the days. I mean, it changed over the years, but more and more when I encountered these, I don’t know, social places, I have to say, yeah, they were very social with us and very helpful and very, I don’t know, cool. Very cool also. Even though they have like strange habits like drinking coffee that isn’t coffee but…. [Laughing]

**Margaret ** 48:04
Wait, what do they drink that isn’t coffee?

**Amadeo ** 48:07
It’s called Lupinion. It’s made out of Lupin, I think. I don’t know the English word, like some grain. And it has no caffeine at all. And they always say, "Let’s have a coffee and then they drink this."

**Sam ** 48:21
But with a lot of schnapps. 

**Margaret ** 48:24
I don’t drink caffeine. So I’m like, I want to drink that shit. That sounds great.

**Sam ** 48:28
That would be the place for you to go. 

**Amadeo ** 48:32
They put Apple booze inside like apple schnapps instead. 

**Margaret ** 48:38
Okay, well, are there any last things that we didn’t cover that you wish we had? Or things that you’re really excited to say about sheep and climate change? Oh, does it make you want sheep? That’s my…that was like the question. Like, are y’all gonna get sheep? Do you have a yard? I don’t know where you live.

**Amadeo ** 49:00
We live in the city. But we are planning to move in the coming years. And actually, I would love to have some sheep. 

**Sam ** 49:10
Maybe not 400.

**Amadeo ** 49:16
Some 20 or something? 15.

**Sam ** 49:18
Or we will continue doing this work. It’s cool to also work with them and then for a long time be with them. I guess we’re…. And then also say, "Hey, gratz [congratulations], that was the summer." . And give them back.

**Amadeo ** 49:35
Yeah, like sometimes it’s nice to play with kids but having your own kids it’s kind of a different cup of tea.

**Sam ** 49:42
Like co-parenting. [Laughing]

**Amadeo ** 49:45
Maybe some sheep co-parenting? Yeah. Right.

**Margaret ** 49:51
Alright, well, is there anything that you want to plug, that you want to direct people towards, either your work or something else that’s going on that you want to draw attention to. 

**Amadeo ** 50:01
I wanted to say, because I always said while I was there, that it needs more people to help the little farmers deal with the wolves, because if we don’t help them then they will always tend to the parties that say, "Oh, let’s just get rid of the wolves." And I found out that there are some NGOs to do that, that come from an environmental side. There’s one group called Au Pair. I think they’re in the French speaking part of the country, mostly. And they actually sent volunteers to alpine pastures where there are wolves nearby, to help, to guard, and also monitor the wolf activities. So it’s for research and also to help the farmers. And if I can’t go next year to work as a shepherd, I will volunteer there. And I think it’s a great, great thing and somehow a solution for how ordinary people can get in touch with the small farmers and help with maintaining the alpine pastures that are also so important for biodiversity. Yeah. And to help save the wolf from people.

**Margaret ** 51:22
Yeah. No, that’s so good. Because instead of just abandoning people to being like, "Whatever, the wolf is good and you suck," just being like, "Hey, what will it actually take? Like what resources do you actually need in order to be able to continue to do your work in a world full of wolves?" That’s cool.

**Amadeo ** 51:40
Yeah, I think it needs a lot of growing together, the countryside and the cities, in understanding and talking and like supporting each other.

**Sam ** 51:51
Hey, thanks for having us, Margaret. 

**Margaret ** 51:54
Yeah, thanks so much. And good luck next year with the sheep season. And I’ll talk to y’all at some point soon I hope. Thanks so much for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, go try to convince sheep and wolves to be friends. No, that’s not going to work. Hang out with sheep and then separately hang out with wolves. Actually, you probably just shouldn’t even hang out with the wolves. You should probably leave them alone. That’s pretty much what we want. But that’s what you can do. You can also support this podcast. You can support this podcast happening by helping us pay our transcribers and our audio editors. I say this is if there’s a plural of each, but there’s actually one of each. And thanks to those editors. And thanks to everyone who helps us do that. And the way we do that is through Patreon. This podcast is published by Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. We have several other podcasts, including one called Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness, as well as one called Anarcho Geek Power Hour. And if you support us on Patreon, we’ll send you a monthly feature that we put out. We’ll send it anywhere in the world. And if you pay us $20 a month, I’ll read your name out right now. In particular, I’d like to thank Eric, Perceval, Buck, Julia, Catgut, Marm, Carson, Lord Harken, Trixter, Princess Miranda, BenBen, Anonymous, Funder, Janice & O’dell, Aly, paparouna, Milaca, Boise Mutual Aid, theo, Hunter, S.J., Paige, Nicole, David, Dana Chelsea, Staro, Jenipher, Kirk, Chris, Machaiah, and of course, Hoss the Dog. I hope everyone is doing as well as you can and don’t let the people divide us along cultural lines because we just shouldn’t let that happen. Talk to you all soon.

S1E94 – This Month in the Apocalypse: October, 2023

Episode Summary

This time on This Month in the Apocalypse, Brooke and Inmn talk about revenge, strikes, bad decisions about water, the economy, interesting victories around water, and funny things about tanks.

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

Live Like the World is Dying: This Month in the Apocalypse: October

**Brooke ** 00:14
Hello and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. This is your monthly installment of This Month in the Apocalypse, where we talk about the shitty news from around the world.

**Inmn ** 00:28
But also some cool stuff. and some funny stuff.

**Brooke ** 00:32
And some funny stuff. I am one of your hosts today, Brooke, and with me is….

**Inmn ** 00:40
I’m Inmn and my brain is in a horrifying state today, which only comes from researching heavily about, unfortunately, mostly bad things that happened but also some cool things that happened in the last month.

**Brooke ** 00:58
Alright, let’s talk about those. But first, let’s give a shout out to one of the other podcasts on the Channel Zero Network of anarchist podcasts to which we also belong. But here’s some words from some of our friends. Doot doot doo duh doo doo dooo. [Singing the sounds like a simple melody]

**Brooke ** 01:54
And we’re back. Welcome back. So many fun things to talk about. I’m sorry you’ve also had to spend the morning reviewing all sorts of terrible events in the world.

**Inmn ** 02:30
You know, I ran into a friend last night and they made a joke, they were like, "Oh, what have you been up to?" And I was like, "Oh, I dunno, mostly just work, you know, doing podcasts and things." And they’re like, "Oh, yeah, you’ve you’ve really like professionalized doom scrolling. [Both laughing]

**Brooke ** 02:54
Yeah, that sounds about right. Sounds about right.

**Inmn ** 02:59
Yeah, I don’t know if I felt good about that or not, but….

**Brooke ** 03:04
It’s complicated, right? Like, I don’t want that to be my job. But also, I guess it’s nice that somebody does it.

**Inmn ** 03:11
Yeah. And I just want to shout out for like a lot of people who have sent us messages fairly recently about enjoying these segments, which I think we were on the fence about them for a little while, I think, about whether we liked them or whether they felt useful or whether they just like inspired dread and despair and a lot of…. Thanks everyone who’s reached out to be like, "No, no, I really like these segments, and they do the opposite of despair." So thank you, everyone.

**Brooke ** 03:46
Yeah, I’ve got something that’s the opposite of despair.

**Inmn ** 03:49
Oh, really? What is the opposite of despair?

**Brooke ** 03:53
Revenge travel.

**Inmn ** 03:55
Oh?

**Brooke ** 03:56
Do you know what this is?

**Inmn ** 03:58
No, I have no idea what you’re…

**Brooke ** 04:00
Okay. So if I say the phrase to you, revenge travel, what do you assume? Like what would you guess that I’m talking about?

**Inmn ** 04:08
Um, I think what my assumption is–I feel like it is related to remote work. Is it related to remote work?

**Brooke ** 04:18
No, it’s not.

**Inmn ** 04:20
Okay. I have no idea what it is then.

**Brooke ** 04:23
Okay. I saw it in the headline. And then of course, it was wonderful clickbait and I had to click on it. And I assumed it meant traveling to get revenge on somebody. Either like taking a trip to spite them or like, going somewhere to exact revenge. I don’t know. Like, I’ve never heard this phrase before. But apparently, it’s travel that people have done since covid because they weren’t able to travel during the worst of the pandemic.

**Inmn ** 04:23
Okay, I see.

**Brooke ** 04:27
I know, it’s way less exciting. And like the article that I read about it mentioned revenge travel multiple times but it never specifically explains it. I had to like glean that from the rest of the text of the article. So it’s not the fun thing that you think it is but maybe we should make it a fun thing. Revenge travel.

**Inmn ** 05:15
Oh, okay, so now that you say that, the thing that it reminds me of is–which I’m totally guilty of–have you heard of bedtime revenge procrastination? I think that’s what it’s called.

**Brooke ** 05:31
I can guess what you mean, but I have not heard of it.

**Inmn ** 05:36
Bedtime revenge procrastination is when you stay up late even though you have to wake up very early because…. It’s due to a sense of lack of control over the autonomy of your time. It’s called bedtime revenge, meaning that you’re revenging yourself upon time, but the cost is still your time and energy because, you know, you get less sleep.

**Brooke ** 06:08
I psychologically understand that, you know, resting control thing, but at the same time I’m a person who really needs my full night of sleep consistently or else I quickly deteriorate and also become a horrible human being so I also can’t imagine doing that to myself. Because that sounds awful.

**Inmn ** 06:27
Yeah, I did it to myself for like the entirety of high school because I had an absolutely unreasonable schedule. Like, I got on average five to four hours of sleep a night for like the entirety of highschool.

**Brooke ** 06:46
Wow, I feel bad for young Inmn.

**Inmn ** 06:49
Me too.

**Brooke ** 06:50
Sorry, you did that to yourself. Okay, well let me finish saying this about revenge travel. It’s nothing major, mostly the headline’s hilarious and the phrase. But there was a huge boom in travel and 2022 as covid restrictions eased and people were able to travel again. So, they were taking their, I guess, revenge against covid, maybe, is what they were taking revenge on? Or just revenge on not being able to travel. Anyway. And that continued to get into 2023. But the boom seems to have slowed and we’re kind of back to more normal pre pandemic levels, especially places that do surveys of consumer demand to figure out, you know, people’s intentions to travel and their plans for it. And people are sort of back to normal, i.e. pre pandemic levels of intention to travel, so.

**Inmn ** 07:39
Okay, golly, can I do a little mini rant about that? I’m replacing Margaret’s rants today.

**Brooke ** 07:50
Okay, good. What would this episode be without a rant or two?

**Inmn ** 07:57
It’s just like the…. I don’t know, like I remember after, you know, like the summer in the northern hemisphere after mass vaccination occurred and people feeling like they could move around, travel, and do a lot more in what felt like a safer way to do that. And I don’t think–this isn’t targeted revenge travel as much as it’s targeted at a lot of people’s mentalities throughout COVID were like being upset at like things the government or being upset at like society for making them like be cooped up in their houses or whatever, or making them have these like lower modes of travel. And it felt really weird to hear it from a lot of people, like people who were like, really angry about it. And it’s like, I get it, it was hard, and it sucked for a lot of people but like, I don’t know…. I remember when lock down started that I was like–you know, I’m never thrilled for a government imposed lockdown–but what I was thrilled for, I was like, people just have the chance to like–or, you know, some people–just have the chance to chill a little bit and have some space from their lives. But like, I’m not upset that we were doing the right thing by slowing down. You know?

**Brooke ** 09:39
I feel like in that first couple of weeks too, you know, there was at least a couple of weeks that pretty much everyone stopped doing everything and we all got to slow down for a minute. And there was something special in that time before all of the, you know, rage and conflict and conspiracies and everything blew up. But there was a brief moment, I think, for pretty much everyone. Maybe a little bit horrible but also special.

**Inmn ** 10:00
Yeah. And, you know, obviously it’s way more complicated than that, but I’m like, I’m never upset that like, yeah, it was a hard year and a half and it continues to be really hard for so many people and I’m thrilled to have been doing the right thing.

**Brooke ** 10:25
Yeah, for sure. No, I hear you.

**Inmn ** 10:28
Anyways, you know, who doesn’t do the right thing?

**Brooke ** 10:32
Oh, boy. Do you want a list? Should I? Or should I just do a whole rant here on? Maybe you should just tell me. There’s too many options.

**Inmn ** 10:43
Okay, so, hypothetical situation, you’re faced with a problem. So here in Arizona,

**Brooke ** 10:51
Who you gonna call?

**Inmn ** 10:55
Here in Arizona, there are weirdly not that many regulations around groundwater usage and stuff.

**Brooke ** 11:04
That’s wild to me.

**Inmn ** 11:05
It really is wild. But, if you lived in a town that had halted new construction, new development, but you really wanted to build a mega city, what would you do?

**Brooke ** 11:24
Oh god, I’m a billionaire, aren’t I? Aren’t I? I’m a billionaire in this scenario.

**Inmn ** 11:30
In this scenario, no, you are actually not a billionaire. Although, there’s a weirdly similar thing happening with a billionaire.

**Brooke ** 11:39
Okay, well, then I would do the right thing if I’m not corrupted by having way too much money.

**Inmn ** 11:45
Okay, would you but would you consider building a 1000 mile pipeline to the Missouri River?

**Brooke ** 11:53
Oh, fuck. No, because? No, no. [Laughing]

**Inmn ** 12:00
Or would you…

**Brooke ** 12:01
Water is sacred. It should not be forced to travel like that. That’s wrong.

**Inmn ** 12:08
Okay, so your other alternative is to build a 200 mile pipeline?

**Brooke ** 12:13
Nope.

**Inmn ** 12:14
To the Gulf of California.

**Brooke ** 12:16
Nope. It’s also not…. The water’s not supposed to travel that far. We go to the water. The water is not supposed to be made to come to us. That’s how it works.

**Inmn ** 12:28
I’m waiting for a Qanon person to comment, What about rivers?" [An uncomfortable silence]…. Anyways, so the town is…

**Brooke ** 12:31
I’m just going to sigh in anger and sadness for a while. I’m gonna mute myself and just sigh for an hour while you explain. [Audibly sighs]

**Inmn ** 12:50
Okay, so this is where normally a rant about the city of Phoenix would occur. But this is a rant about a city that is literally adjacent to Phoenix, which some would argue is actually a part of Phoenix, but is really hell bent on not being a part of Phoenix because they want to be their own mega city. And this is the city of Buckeye, Arizona. And Buckeye, it’s basically a suburb of Phoenix and they hope…. Their population’s like, I think it’s like 170,000 right now. And they aspire to grow the population to over 1.5 million, which is about what the population of Phoenix is.

**Brooke ** 13:43
I was gonna say, that’s a lot of people.

**Inmn ** 13:47
Yeah. Yeah. And it seems to be just because the local politicians and city council, or whatever, want to be like big deals. Like they just want…

**Brooke ** 14:01
I’m sorry, if your city is called Buckeye, I think there’s not hope for you. You need to start by rebranding the name of your city if you want just a chance in hell. But Buckeye, Arizona, I think is never going to be No, just the name, just that’s it. It falls flat on its face on the name.

**Inmn ** 14:20
Yeah, but they, for some reason, want to grow their city. I think it seems to be wrapped up in like those local politicians wanting to be big deals.

**Brooke ** 14:29
Capitalism and ego.

**Inmn ** 14:31
Yeah, but they can’t. They’re…. So the state has kind of halted construction, like new construction, or new development, in those areas because the groundwater use has hit a limit. And this comes after some developments in Phoenix were halted because of a lack of water security. So, there’s very little regulation about groundwater in Arizona, but there is this thing where water has to be guaranteed for 100 years in order to build a new house, for example. So like if a new housing development is going up then water has to be guaranteed to be at that house for 100 years.

**Brooke ** 15:17
That sounds great, but I have a lot of follow up questions for Phoenix and Arizona and how that actually maths out. But do go on.

**Inmn ** 15:24
Yeah, yeah. I mean, how it maths out is that, you know, Phoenix heavily relies on the Colorado River for water usage. And the city of Phoenix–which to put in proportion to what the city of Buckeye is aspiring to do–is the city of Phoenix uses about 2 billion gallons of water a day. Like a new fun thing–because the more that we talk about water on the show, the more I’m like trying to visualize what water looks like–what do you think 2 billion gallons of water looks like?

**Brooke ** 15:25
I’m trying to imagine some body of water that I am familiar with in order to conceptualize that and I’m wondering how big Crater Lake is because that’s maybe…. Wait, wait, well, wait while I inefficiently Google things. Okay, that’s way too much water. Okay. Tell me. I can’t.

**Inmn ** 16:37
It is one inch on Lake Mead. One inch of water is 2 billion gallons of water.

**Brooke ** 16:43
Okay, I don’t have a good reference for how big Lake Mead is but I hear you.

**Inmn ** 16:47
Yeah, you know, that lake that everyone references when we’re talking about water scarcity in the West is the constant depletion of Lake Mead. It’s weird how that has become the gauge, it’s like our gauge for fear and disparity is what the water levels in Lake Mead are. But do you want to know a fun thing about Lake Mead?

**Brooke ** 17:13
I do.

**Inmn ** 17:14
Um, Lake Mead, the water has…. There was like this crazy low point in 2022. And this is actually a fun thing, but the lake has risen 23 feet since that low point in 2022.

**Brooke ** 17:29
I mean that’s normal, right, because of the season that we’re in?

**Inmn ** 17:33
Yeah, yeah. And after like, you know, a recent pretty dry spell this summer, in August, due to record snowfall, I guess the previous winter, the lake rose 13 inches in seven days. Which, is like, you know, 27 billion gallons of water sounds like a lot.

**Brooke ** 17:58
Yeah, that sounds a lot. Like a lot, a lot.

**Inmn ** 18:03
But to like put that…. 27 billion.

**Brooke ** 18:07
Like a foot and stuff? No, two billion is one inch? Is that right?

**Inmn ** 18:13
Yeah, two billion’s one inch.

**Brooke ** 18:14
And 13 inches, a foot. A footish?

**Inmn ** 18:17
Yeah, right. A footish. Which is only like seven days of water for the city of Phoenix.

**Brooke ** 18:24
[Laughing] Okay, I’m like a foot of water in the lake is a lot. And then yeah, you say…. Just kidding! Do go on.

**Inmn ** 18:38
No, yeah. Sorry. The city of Buckeye story is jumping all over the place. But in one of the more weird moves that they’re considering is they want to build a pipeline from Puerto Penasco in Mexico to Phoenix, which it’s about a 200 mile pipeline that would be built. And it would go right through the Organ Pipe National Cactus Monument.

**Brooke ** 19:12
No big deal. National monuments, no big deal.

**Inmn ** 19:20
But this is being heavily pushed for not just by the city of Buckeye but by a contractor company called IDE, which is an Israeli company, who thinks it’s a really great idea to build this 200 mile pipeline between Puerto Penasco and the city of Buckeye. And it’s part of this like growing, seemingly growing, trend of instead of like, instead of dealing with water resources on a, you know, a local level, or any kind of resource, on a local level, we’re in this age of industrialization of like, "Well, they have this other resource 1000 miles away or whatever, what if we move to that resource so that we can sustain this absolutely unreasonable population growth in…." And not like a natural population growth. Like the city of Buckeye is like, "We want to grow the population." This is not what the city’s naturally doing, you know?

**Brooke ** 20:29
So they’re bringing in water to support and…. You know, sorry, I want to go off on a whole side tangent because I have many questions about Buckeye, but I’m going to stop and we can talk about it another time. Sorry, I’m just so curious.

**Inmn ** 20:44
But yeah, so some of the bigger problems with the pipeline are that it would…. They don’t have a plan for dealing with…the desalination plants, they don’t have a plan for dealing with the salty material that they remove from the water, except to dump it back into the Gulf of California.

**Brooke ** 21:09
Oh, my God.

**Inmn ** 21:11
You know, people in Mexico are not stoked about this because it will destroy ecological centers in the Gulf of California. Oh, okay. I remember the other bit. So IDE, the Israeli company that’s building…who wants to build the pipeline, they also build desalination plants in Gaza.

**Brooke ** 21:32
And that’s where the money is.

**Inmn ** 21:38
And yeah, it’s just…it’s a very strange idea. They want to put it through the Organ Pipe National Monument, which, like, there’s a lot of pushback because that’s a national monument. It’s this federally protected wildlife area. And there’s a lot of pushback from an environmental perspective. Do you know what else is in the Organ Pipe National Monument?

**Brooke ** 22:05
Besides the cacti?

**Inmn ** 22:07
Yeah.

**Brooke ** 22:08
Let’s see. Are there birds? Flowers?

**Inmn ** 22:10
What is a great thing to have near a federally protected wildlife area?

**Brooke ** 22:18
Oh, wildlife that needs special protection?

**Inmn ** 22:22
A bombing range.

**Brooke ** 22:23
Oh, shit! I see. You were being sarcastic. Here, silly me. I was trying to guess the real answer.

**Inmn ** 22:35
Yeah, It is a bombing range.

**Brooke ** 22:38
Of course. Of course it is. Yes. That’s what Arizona’s for is blowing shit up.

**Inmn ** 22:44
Yeah, blowing shit up. And….

**Brooke ** 22:49
I just saw Oppenheimer, sorry.

**Inmn ** 22:51
Okay. It only gets worse because the other thing that goes on in the Organ National Monument is that it’s like a heavily trafficked corridor for migration between the US and Mexico for, you know, for animals and for people. And it is also one of the most deadly corridors along the US Mexico border for undocumented migrants coming from Mexico, South America, Central America, like up through Mexico and the US Mexico border. And so it represents this strange thing where the government, or people, or like whoever, they have large problems with things like a pipeline going through somewhere, but they have–and Organ Pipe National Monument as like an agency–has no problem with ramping border militarization or a bombing range that’s like right next door. So.

**Brooke ** 24:00
Man, I will never make sense of people’s priorities.

**Inmn ** 24:05
Anyways, that is a very long rant on city of Buckeye,

**Brooke ** 24:10
That’s more attention than Buckeye deserves, ever. But here we are.

**Inmn ** 24:17
What else is happening in the southwest? There’s some stuff that happened in Vegas.

**Brooke ** 24:23
That’s right. There’s some looming…there’s a looming strike in the hospitality industry in Vegas. I don’t know how well known this is amongst people but Vegas has a very strong union for various hospitality workers. It might be multiple unions. Forgive me for not knowing exactly. But your housekeeping workers, your bartenders, your food servers, all of those service industries that are so central to the hospitality industry, which is central to the economy of Vegas, and a lot of Nevada, have very strong unions there that do a great job representing them and getting them fair wages and those kinds of things. So one of the major contracts expired in June of this year, 2023, so negotiations for new contracts started back in April. They did not reach an agreement in June. So they extended the contract deadline to September and that has now expired, and they are still negotiating. But the union has voted to authorize a strike if necessary. The union is asking for higher wages, more safety protections, and stronger recall rights, meaning rights to return to their work. So on the issue of safety for the union’s, abuse of hospitality workers is on the rise in the US and particularly in Vegas. And I like to think that all of our listeners are the kind of folks who have had a service industry job at some point in their lives and would never ever throw something at a housekeeper.

**Inmn ** 26:10
Oh, God.

**Brooke ** 26:11
But, you know, just in case it needs to be said, If your room is really dirty and you’re upset about it, don’t throw things at the housekeeper who’s just trying to clean. It’s not…it’s not a great way to go.

**Inmn ** 26:23
Yeah, don’t do that.

**Brooke ** 26:27
Yeah, there’s increasing reports of housekeepers getting yelled at, having things thrown at them, being threatened with abuse. Because there are–it’s a complicated thing–so this also ties into the recall rights that they’re asking for. Hotel workers, hospitality workers, saw significant decline in the number of people doing those jobs during the pandemic, partly because there was significantly less travel and then also restrictions on how many people you could book on a floor or in a hotel, or etc, etc, etc. So, hotels, you know, laid off a lot of their workers. And then, like many other places, have had a hard time rehiring. So they’re not back up to the staffing levels that they used to be. So there’s fewer people spread around, you know, a wider workload. And then part of that, the reason for the lack of rehiring, was because they didn’t have recall rights. So, there was no reason for people to assume that they would be able to go back to their jobs or get their jobs back. So they, you know, left…stayed or left the industry or what have you. So, there’s fewer workers to do the work, especially cleaning work. And then also, consumers are demanding less frequent cleanings for the most part in their hotel rooms. I don’t know about you, when you travel, or the last time you went to a hotel, I am the kind of person that does not want housekeeping at all during my stay, whether it’s one day or five days. I put out my Do Not Disturb sign. And I guess that’s true of about 40% of hotel guests, they choose not to have housekeeping. The downside of that is that when housekeeping does come in after someone’s left, the rooms are usually messier than they would be if they had a daily cleaning so housekeeping asked to do a deeper clean and they don’t necessarily have–because they’re short staffed, and it’s a deeper play than they would plan for–they don’t have the time to really turn over the room as thoroughly as they should. That difficult contrast between trying to get all the rooms at least a little bit versus doing a few rooms and doing them well and then not having some rooms. Yeah. So that’s the other thing, if you’re a person like me out there in the world and and you’re staying at a hotel and you don’t like to have housekeeping, do try and do them the kindness of whatever bits of cleanup you can on the way out so it’s faster for them to turn over the room. Anyway, so they are continuing negotiations, but the union has…the union workers have authorized a strike or intermittent work stoppages if needed, and, you know, we fully support them doing that if that’s what they need to do. Yeah, yeah, they would not be the only ones that have done that even in the last year or even super recently. Kaiser Permanente, you may have heard about this, had a three day walkout at all of their locations, appointments canceled. That kind of thing. So the Kaiser Permanente Health care workers went on strike and they’ve reached a tentative deal. And also somewhat recently, but a little bit longer ago, was the Writer’s Union in Hollywood went on strike. And they were on strike for quite a bit. But they are back to work, having gotten a lot of what they wanted. The United Auto Workers Union is in negotiations for contracts with the major….sorry, with the major car manufacturers in the US. They have had some work stoppages throughout the negotiation process and may have a full stoppage or full strike at some point as well. So, yeah, lots of worker strikes going on, or have gone on and have been successful, in recent times and we support those workers, not only in their right to strike, but also in treating them well when we are traveling. And encouraging others to do the same.

**Inmn ** 31:03
This kind of relates to my mini rant earlier about, like, you know, things shutting down or being less available, which is like, one of the really cool things that I saw out of the Writers’ Guild strike was people whose like, you know,–whether it was talk show hosts, or like, whoever, who were like, during the strike, and then like, after the strike, are like, "Yeah, it was hard to not do the show for however long, but like, what is far worse and much harder, is that these very simple demands were not met before the strike or on day one of the strike." And like, I don’t know, just like…it’s like shifting this mentality from like, I’m sad that the new season of Stranger Things is on hiatus with that these strikes are very important and these people’s lives matter and them getting the things that make them able to continue doing their work and surviving is like, incredibly important. And that’s more important than my desire to see a fucking TV show, you know?

**Brooke ** 32:24
Yeah, and it was really great to see, you know, a lot of actors and so forth, who weren’t necessarily striking but were standing in support of, you know, their fellow Hollywood workers going on strike and getting their demands met. It was really cool.

**Inmn ** 32:41
Yeah. Is there some other stuff that got shut down recently?

**Brooke ** 32:46
No, the government talked about it, like they do.

**Inmn ** 32:51
They always talk about it.

**Brooke ** 32:54
Yeah, and we talked about this last month, and we said, hey, if it happens, we will follow up and talk more. At the last minute a continuing resolution was passed right before the deadline of when the government would have shut down. And I’m being overdramatic, because it’s fucking every single time, basically, with very few exceptions. The downside of the continuing resolution form of passing a budget is that it’s basically like buying them another 30 days, or however long the continuing resolution was for. So they still haven’t passed a budget. They’ve just agreed to continue operating based on the old budget for a limited period of time. And I think their next deadline, I want to say, is mid November or so. The whole situation is complicated a little bit by the fact that they outed…the Republicans outed their speaker of the house. They don’t have one. But they did pass this continuing resolution without having a speaker. So it is possible, it’s just that they’re dealing with the other chaos of trying to elect a new speaker and they have, at least, their fourth person that they put up for a vote, is up for vote. So they’re focusing on that a lot rather than dealing with the budget issues they need to deal with. So I still, you know, I continue to say the same thing that I have said about this, which is that the government shutdown is very unlikely. If it does, it’s likely very short. And even if it is very short, it probably won’t affect very much because they have plans and programs set up to automate a lot of their stuff for at least a short period of time. It’s only a major problem if there’s a longer term shutdown like we saw back in 2019, which is very unlikely. And if it happens, we’ll talk about it.

**Inmn ** 34:48
Yay, talking about stuff.

**Brooke ** 34:52
So that’s about them not shutting down. I hear you have some good news, though, that we can talk about.

**Inmn ** 35:00
I do have some good news. But I kind of have like a question about the economy for you while we’re like on the subject,

**Brooke ** 35:11
Give it to me, baby, you know I love talking about economics.

**Inmn ** 35:14
I read this article this week about this growing trend, which is not surprising to me because it’s like seeing…because it’s something that a lot of us are just seeing in the world, but–or experiencing ourselves, depending on where you live. But there seems to be this big growing trend in large cities, especially like, you know, the Bay area where there’s been a huge, huge housing crisis for a very long time, which is driven by the tech industry being horrifying. Um, but I read this article recently talking about this thing where it has reached such a crisis that cities like Santa Barbara, and like some cities in Oregon, have opened up parking lots that are there for people who live in their cars. And it’s catering to like a very specific like demographic of people, which is like people who make too much money to apply for government assistance, like housing assistance, food assistance, anything like that, or even Medicaid or Medicare–I always forget which is which–but they do not make enough money to afford rent. And it’s this growing thing in the economy where like, like…. And these are people who make like $72,000 a year at government or state jobs who can no longer afford to live somewhere. And so they have to live in their car. And that is, yeah…. That’s less of a question and more of a what’s going on? What’s going on?

**Brooke ** 37:20
Yeah, that level of problem where someone is making that much and still can’t afford is definitely more specific to larger cities and places where housing costs are significantly higher. And housing is expensive everywhere right now. It’s out of control. But you do have some places like the Bay Area, LA, parts of Seattle, where it is just ridiculously inflated. So yeah, making $70,000 a year is definitely way too much money to be getting any kind of assistance. You’re well above the poverty line, even in your allegedly high income area, but it’s nowhere near enough to afford a housing payment for how much houses cost right now. And I think there’s always been some amount of people that live in that strange margin place of above the poverty line, can get little or no assistance but below what it takes to afford where they’re living. That’s not an entirely new phenomenon. But it’s definitely much larger than it used to be. You know, because we’ve seen this astronomical increase in the house of pricing…in the price of housing. And inflation, overall, has increased the price of a lot of other things as well making it harder to afford all aspects of life and living.

**Inmn ** 38:47
Yeah, and, you know, it’s like this…. It’s the thing where it’s horrible to me that it’s something that people are paying attention to now that it’s something that is affecting middle class people. Where it’s like this, you know, this has been a lot of people’s like realities for, you know, decades and decades, is living in this nebulous zone of like, for whatever reasons, not qualifying for government assistance or for qualifying for government assistance but that assistance not being enough to actually change anyone’s life or get them housing or things like that. And that’s more what interested me about the article, was like less than that this is like a newer growing thing and more that it’s something that is starting to shift up the wage scales and stuff, from something that has always affected lower income people and is now starting to affect people who like would have not considered themselves low income before.

**Brooke ** 40:01
Yeah, the poverty line, what the government defines as being, you know, what they call the poverty line and then they use that to measure, you know, how far above or below it you are and then different services say you qualify based on your income relative to that position, that poverty line does not change rapidly. The government does not make big changes to that. They make very small changes to that. But meanwhile, we’ve seen in the last few years very rapid changes to the cost of living. And it costs so much more for so many basic things right now but that has not been accurately reflected in a higher poverty line, particularly with houses.

**Inmn ** 40:42
And wages. But yeah, I don’t know. I feel like my hope for articles like this are more hoping that it like increases the amount of empathy and compassion that like more people have for other houseless populations. Which it sucks that it takes…. It sucks that that’s what it takes for people to have empathy, but we live in a hell world.

**Brooke ** 41:18
Yeah, we do.

**Inmn ** 41:19
But you know, sometimes in this hell world that we live in, cool things can happen too.

**Brooke ** 41:27
Are there wins sometimes?

**Inmn ** 41:28
There are wins sometimes.

**Brooke ** 41:31
Like union workers winning and also…other things winning. What are they? Give me hope.

**Inmn ** 41:36
Hope. So this was a fun thing that I came across this month. And this has been less like this month and more like a thing that’s been happening for over two years. So in 2021, in O’ahu, in Hawaii, there was a fuel leak from, you know, naval bases.

**Brooke ** 42:02
Wait, I was there in 2021.

**Inmn ** 42:05
Oh, yeah. Well, depending on where you were 93,000 people had jet fuel laced water introduced into their homes and their water drinking supplies.

**Brooke ** 42:22
I feel like I would have known that when I was on my little vacation there, if that was when I was there. But damn.

**Inmn ** 42:28
Yeah, the symptoms for ingesting it were people having migraines and nausea and vomiting. And while for a lot of people, those were short term symptoms, for like huge amounts of the people who were affected by it, a year and a half to two years later people are still experiencing symptoms and complications from having ingested jet fuel laced water. And some of those symptoms include severe anxiety and depression.

**Brooke ** 43:08
Maybe I did ingest some. Wait, I already had those symptoms, but they’re worse. Okay, go on.

**Inmn ** 43:14
Yeah. And this sounds like it’s grim, but there was recently a victory, which is that this initiative led by, I think it was like the Sierra Club and O’ahu Water Protectors have been waging this battle against the US military to drain these fuel reservoirs, which it’s like miles of tunnels underneath O’ahu that are like filled with jet fuel, you know? So it’s like the possibility of leaks are just astronomical. Like, it’s so easy for it to…for that shit to leak.

**Brooke ** 43:55
I’m gonna guess they were rapidly built in World War II or something like that as well.

**Inmn ** 43:59
Yes, they are World War II era jet fuel tanks. That after like an extreme period of inactivity are finally being drained. And this this was a quotation from someone from the O’ahu Water Protectors, who said, "We got here not because the US Navy woke up one day and said, ‘Oh, we’re gonna do the right thing,’ we got here because of the collective voices of the people who are calling for a shutdown." Which is like, you know, time and time again, the thing that we find in these situations, is like if there’s an environmental catastrophe that is also a human catastrophe, it’s like…it’s not…the government isn’t like, "That’s bad. We should do something." It takes like it takes thousands of people for two years like screaming and yelling at people and fighting for a change. And this is like…you might think too, that people exposed to jet fuel laced water who are having like pretty severe reactions to those things, that the local government might offer–or the US military–might offer some kind of help with that immediately, you know?

**Brooke ** 45:27
No, come on now.

**Inmn ** 45:29
It took a year and a half for the Navy to set up a clinic to treat people who had been exposed to these chemicals. And, you know, it is 100 million gallons of petroleum.

**Brooke ** 45:47
Holy shit,

**Inmn ** 45:50
That is sitting in these tanks. That wasn’t the size of the leak, but like…. And like, yeah, two years later residents are having their water in their houses tested. Because a lot of people’s houses weren’t flushed, the system wasn’t flushed. It was never really dealt with. And so like two years later there’s these low but persistent traces of these chemicals in people’s water. But hopefully, that is…. At least the larger threat of another leak is hopefully not going to happen because of this victory from indigenous water protectors in O’ahu to like, get the fuel tanks drained. And unfortunately, you know, they’re not just like…. I’m happy for O’ahu, but they’re just moving the fuel to Singapore, the Philippines, and San Diego. So.

**Brooke ** 46:51
So, yeah, it’s just gonna spill somewhere else. I mean, what do you do though? Is there a safe way to dispose of it? Probably not. Use it up, create more carbon emissions? I mean, yeah, lose-lose. Lose, lose, lose. Pour it down a volcano? What could go wrong? Pour jet fuel into a volcano, I’m sure that’ll be fine. I do. I just want to say I never trust the federal government when it comes to drinking water and people. I just don’t. That’s one of those important things that we, you know, as we live like the world is dying here, that we all have to prepare for and plan for on our own and collectively. Do not ever trust the government to keep your water supply safe and consistent. It’s just not going to happen.

**Inmn ** 47:47
Nope. Yeah, we protect us. It turns out.

**Brooke ** 47:53
Turns out. Alright, other water things: El Nino. So this is funny to me–I’ll tell the shortest version of the story that I possibly can–when I was growing up, there were heavy rains in 1996, in the town that I–well, not just the town but this whole occupied Kalapuya territory that I live in, suffered from extreme rainfall. It’s the Pacific Northwest, so we have a lot of rain anyway, so when I tell you there was extreme rainfall, that tells you something about how much rain there was. And lots of flooding, lots of water damage. There was a point when it rained for, I don’t know, like, I think it was 16 days straight or something like that. Just…anyway. And it was ascribed to El Nino weather events. And so for most of my life until like the last few years, you say El Nino and I think lots of rain. That’s all I understood about the El Nino weather events. But we’ve been talking a lot about it this year because globally, we have been in one since the springtime. And it actually has to do with water temperatures in the Pacific and airflow and stuff. And actually has very diverse effects on weather patterns around the world, really, especially right now in North America and parts of Europe, too. So we may be heading into a winter that is colder for some and warmer for others. And it was really funny in reading the reports on this that came out from NOAA and then were disseminated by others with input from this or that meteorologists, climatologists, whatever, about what was going on. And it’s…you look at the maps and it’s like, "Oh, the northern US is going to be much warmer or it’s going to be slightly warmer. It’s going to be in the Northeast. No, it’s going to be the Northwest. The southern US is going to be colder in the southeast. No, in the southwest. No, actually it’s going to be close to average. So all that I’m really getting from any of this as I read multiple sources is that we really don’t quite know what the winter is gonna be like. No one is being consistent. And we’re also in the middle of…we still have a polar vortex that’s pushing cold air down from the Arctic. But also average temperatures are on the rise globally because of climate change. And this year, we’re higher than average for much of the year. So all of that is to say, who knows what winter weather is going to do? Whatever winter weather prediction you’ve read, it might come true. But there’s another one out there that will say the opposite thing. And, you know, who knows?

**Inmn ** 50:36
Golly, yeah,

**Brooke ** 50:39
Just funny things. So many headlines about it. And then they’re all being totally contradictory. Yeah. Except that possibly, the central so-called United States of America–not like what we call the central US but if you literally draw a swath through the middle of the country–that seems to be consistently predicted to have roughly normal winter temperatures. So Kansas…Kansas, everything is probably going to be normal for you and maybe Colorado too. I don’t know about the rest of us.

**Inmn ** 51:14
Hell yeah. I’m excited.

**Brooke ** 51:17
Isn’t that great?

**Inmn ** 51:18
It is. To kind of get towards the end of the episode, I did remember this other thing that I wanted to tie in, which was we talked a little bit about like border militarization and like how that relates to this water pipeline, and this is in no way a new thing but like just to build this larger linkage. So, I, you know, I live here in Arizona and like border militarization is absolutely ridiculous. It’s terrifying. And I was thinking about this thing that I’ve encountered a lot. And people who live here have encountered a lot, which I realized a lot of other people might not know about, which is that one of the big defense contractors that the US military uses here in Arizona is Elbit Technologies, which is this Israeli defense company. They designed shit for the IDF. And they, you know, a long time ago at this point, they started to build this virtual wall here in Arizona. And it’s this…it’s this series of fixed towers that build this AI controlled map of the entire border in Arizona. And the development on this is that we used to, in doing humanitarian aid work out in the desert,we used to joke that the towers that monitor infrared and shit would get set off by a cow or a hot rock or something. And since the development of AI technology, that’s shifting. So they are now plugging into these monitors a lot of AI technology. And I think the effectiveness of it, which like at different points was laughable, is going to change a lot soon.

**Brooke ** 53:41
Okay, that’s a lot.

**Inmn ** 53:43
Yeah, it is. It’s just wacky and terrifying. And it’s like a thing that’s being felt especially by people on the Tohono O’odham Nation who have these towers completely covering the reservation. And, that makes people who…. You know, these are people who also faced large amounts of government repressio, becoming fearful to leave their homes and shit. Because they’re like, "Well, I can’t go to that place that I normally go to. Because all those towers are there now." All of this is to connect this thing that we aren’t…. We’re not going to talk a whole lot about it, but as I’m sure everyone knows, Israel recently invaded Gaza and…. Or, you know, their continued invasion of Gaza has reached new and horrifying levels. And, we’re not going to talk about it too much, or we didn’t cover it too much, because there’s so much information. And there are a lot of really great sources to get a lot more information than we can responsibly provide on a segment on this show. I have been reading stuff from Jewish Currents and I’ve been reading some stuff from the Palestinian Youth Movement. And those have been really awesome places to see more like…. Like if you want updated timelines and things like that of events, or like ways to support people in Palestine through this genocide then highly recommend people like learning more about this and finding any way that they can to support people on the ground in Palestine. But some kind of cool things have happened because of it. Like, in Eugene, over the weekend, there was this big pro-Palestine march.

**Brooke ** 57:04
Eugene, Oregon.

**Inmn ** 57:05
Yeah. Eugene, Oregon. There was this big pro-Palestine March. And this guy and a fucking Guy Fawkes mask gets out of his pickup truck in the middle of it and pulls out a handgun and, you know, starts firing it into a crowd. And then two antifascists come up with their own handguns and to like successfully deescalate and disarm this person.

**Brooke ** 57:33
Awesome.

**Inmn ** 57:34
You know, without shooting him. And,you know, it was later revealed that the gun this person was firing was like a…. it was not a live ammunition gun. It was called a splatter gun or something. But if you see the pictures of it, it looks like a fucking hand gun. So like, hell yeah to the people who intervened in that situation to like, hopefully prevent, to prevent something that’s become a horrifying regularity.

**Brooke ** 58:06
Yeah, it could have been a real gun. Yeah, we protect us. Yeah, speaking of war and conflict, can I tell you a funny thing from war?

**Inmn ** 58:19
Yeah, you have another funny thing. O, you know, these previous things weren’t funny. But let’s end on a funny thing.

**Brooke ** 58:26
Well my first thing was funny. Okay, I hope this will brighten up everyone else’s day too. So, of course–this is not happy–there’s a war going on against Ukraine right now. We’re at, you know, 20 months, 22 months, getting close to two years on it. Ukrainians are continuing to fight and be bad asses and still doing things stealing equipment from the other side, including tanks. I don’t know how much that they’re still doing that, but we heard about that a lot in the beginning that the Russians would abandon tanks and Ukrainians would take them. So there was a Ukrainian officer, this was earlier this month, early October, who was driving around in his captured tank and started having technical difficulties with it. So he took it to local experts, whatever that means, and they weren’t able to fix what’s going wrong with it. It had some oil leakage and it was doing some other things. So he called the manufacturer of the tank, which is a Russian manufacturer, and he called them–and they’re in Russia where they make them–and they called the Russian people for tech support. And they answered. And the person tried to help him problem solve the problem going on with the tank. He just called up and said, "Hey, I’m driving, you know, I’m involved in the war and I’m driving such-and-such type of tank and I’m having these problems." And he was…he was generally having the problems with a tank but the call to tech support was just to troll them. I mean, he didn’t really expect them to answer or get help, but they did. And then they were trying to help problem solve through the issues that he had and let him file a complaint about the issues with the tank. And also passed him along to a manager at the manufacturing plant so he could further discuss the problems that he was having with this stolen Russian tank.

**Inmn ** 1:00:19
Oh my god. Did he get the…did he get the tank operational?

**Brooke ** 1:00:24
It doesn’t sound like it because I think that really wasn’t his end goal. He was really just, like I said, trolling them. And yeah, so he ended up talking to a manager about it. And then, you know, finally let them know, "Oh, by the way, I’m Ukrainian. I’m fighting against you guys. This is a tank that we captured, you know, earlier this year, that’s giving me trouble. Thanks."

**Inmn ** 1:00:48
Oh my god. That is one of the biggest, hilarious, you know, whatever, modern technology society things that I’ve ever heard.

**Brooke ** 1:01:02
Yeah, and you know, he’s speaking Russian. They have no idea. It’s just great. It’s really…. So there you go, troll the bad guys. When all else fails, just maybe, maybe troll them a little bit for the lols.

**Inmn ** 1:01:19
Okay, well, I think that about wraps it up for This Month in the Apocalypse. Thanks, everyone for tuning in.

**Brooke ** 1:01:32
Yay October! What joys will November bring us?

**Inmn ** 1:01:37
So many more.

**Inmn ** 1:01:44
If you enjoyed this podcast then live like the world is dying. Because it probably might be. Um, but you can also tell people about the podcast. You can support us in a bunch of other sillier ways, but you should really just tell people tell people about the podcast and talk to people about like, you know, if stuff like this happens where you are, if you are affected by any of these things, like figure out ways to deal with it as a small community that can help your larger community. And you can also support the show by supporting the publisher, Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. Strangers is a media publishing collective. We put out books, and podcasts, and zines, and a bunch of other stuff, and zines [said to rhyme with "dines"], and you can find us at tangledwilderness.org And you can support us on Patreon at patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness. And that money goes to paying our audio editor. It goes to paying our transcriptionist. And it goes towards supporting the publisher so that we can do lots of other cool stuff. And in particular, we would love to thank these folks. Thank you, Patolli, Eric, Perceval, Buck, Julia, Catgut, Marm, Carson, Lord Harken, Trixter, Princess Miranda, BenBen, Funder, Janice & O’dell, Aly, paparouna, Milica, Boise Mutual Aid, theo, Hunter, S.J., Paige, Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea Staro, Jenipher, Kirk, Chris, Michaiah, and Hoss the Dog. Thank you for growing this list to such an extent that I’m out of breath by the time that I am done saying it. We hope that you’re everyone’s doing as well as they can with everything that’s going on and we will see you next time.

S1E93 – Last Born in the Wilderness on Anarchist Public Health

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Margaret and Patrick talk a lot about covid, public health, the role of anarchism in public health, and the weirdly similar origins of the names of two projects.

Guest Info

Patrick (he/him) can be found hosting the Last Born in the Wilderness podcast. You can find it at www.lastborninthewilderness.com or wherever you get podcasts. You an also find Patrick on Instagram @patterns.of.behavior or on Twitter @LastBornPodcast

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

Last Born in the Wilderness on Anarchist Public Health

**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. I say it that way because there’s other hosts now and I’m very excited about that. But sometimes, apparently, we have the same voice. And so people think that we are each other, but we’re not. We’re different people. And you can tell because my name is Margaret Killjoy and Inmn’s name is not Margaret Killjoy. It is instead, Inmn. But that’s not what we’re talking about. What we’re gonna talk about today … Well, we’re gonna talk about a lot of stuff today. I’m really excited about it. We’re gonna be talking with the host of a podcast you should probably be listening to if you’re not already called Last Born in the Wilderness. And it’s like the [laughing] smarter thinking version of this show. And so we’re gonna talk about that. And first, here’s a jingle from another show on the network, which is … the network is Channel Zero Network, which is a network of anarchists podcasts, and here’s a jingle. Buh buh bah buh buh bah [singing like a simple melody]

**Margaret ** 02:09
Okay, we’re back. Okay. So if you could introduce yourself with your name, your pronouns, and then kind of maybe introduce this other podcast, this project that you do.

**Patrick ** 02:18
Yeah. Thanks for having me on. My name is Patrick Farnsworth. Pronouns are he/him. I’m the host of Last Born in the Wilderness. It’s a podcast I’ve been hosting for quite a long time now and I … I don’t know how to describe it. Someone described it once as a podcast about death and dying, which sounds rather bleak. It’s an interesting way to describe it. I mean, it’s, uh, you know … I certainly come from a radical leftist and anarchist, or as someone else has said about me, "anarchistic adjacent perspective." I’m talking about collapse. I’m talking about the implications of global climate change, climate disruption, the so-called sixth mass extinction anthropocene, like these kind of big, heady, huge global subjects around, you know, extinction and mass extinction events and so on. And I kind of also explore the history of settler colonialism and issues around whiteness, or I should say, white supremacy. I talk about a whole bunch of stuff. And I think the point of it is to really get at the question of: what are the roots of these kinds of broader biosphere crises that we’re in the midst of? Why is it that human beings, or the dominant culture of human beings that we are part of, producing a mass extinction event? And what does that portend? What does that lead to? What can we expect to happen in the coming decades? And kind of wrestling with really deep … "Deep." [said with an introspective laugh] I mean "deep" in the sense emotionally and spiritually with the question of what does extinction mean for our species? And how do we grapple with that? It’s a big question. So yeah, that’s more or less what the podcast is kind of addressing.

**Margaret ** 04:03
Yeah, no. Okay, wait, so with extinction, do you run into this thing …. Okay, well, no, first I’m gonna ask about your name, then we’re gonna come back to extinction. Where did you get this sick name? It’s such a sick name. It’s obviously … As someone who is part of a project called Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness and then has a show called Live Like the World is Dying, I’m clearly a fan of this slightly long and poetic style of naming. But Last Born in the Wilderness is a sick name. I’m curious about its background.

**Patrick ** 04:28
Sure. I mean, the name itself came–it’s a funny origin story really–when I came up with the name, I was homesick and I didn’t know what to call this thing. I didn’t even know what I wanted to make. But I was thinking about what my father would call me because I’m the youngest of this large Mormon family. No longer LDS but grew up in this LDS family, LDS environment. He would call me his "last born in the wilderness" because being kind of … he’s kind of a lovely but very quirky man who would have these very strange nicknames for his kids, including me being the youngest, being the, quote, "last born the wilderness," meaning he was paraphrasing from the Book of Mormon. There’s a verse in the Book of Mormon about this family going through the wilderness and something about being the "last born in this wilderness of mine afflictions." Like it’s really dramatic kind of bleak Mormon scripture stuff and it’s weird. So, I don’t know, I guess I thought of my dad, I thought of that, I thought of my history, I thought of … it sounded like it could have multiple meanings. And it does because as I did the podcast more and more I started to really think about the other layers of it, of, "Okay, are we the last generation?"  Like is this the end of this idea of wilderness. Wilderness itself is kind of an interesting idea. And the kind of colonialist notion, the dualism of civilization versus wilderness, and that in and of itself is a problematic idea. Like, there’s a lot of layers to it that I’ve discovered, which is actually what I love about really cool names or titles of things is when you name something and you realize over time that it actually has other meanings that kind of come up, and you’re like, "Oh, that actually means this as well. I did not know that." So that’s where it comes from.

**Margaret ** 06:13
Okay, I really like that for a thousand reasons. One of the things you talked about …  I’ve been reading more and more stuff that’s critical of the idea of "wilderness," right? Because you’re creating an artificial distinction between humans and everything else, right? As if, like … I mean, we’re not capable of doing things that are not natural because we’re literally, natural beings, right? 

**Patrick ** 06:33
Yeah, exactly. 

**Margaret ** 06:35
And the idea of untouched wilderness as this very colonial concept where it’s like, actually, a lot of forests are managed by people and we’re …. And it gets humans off the hook if we treat ourselves like we’re bad, like, inherently, right? 

**Patrick ** 06:51
Yeah. 

**Margaret ** 06:51
Because like, "Ahhh, well, we’re human, so of course we clear cut." And we’re like, "Well, that’s not true. A lot of people lived here for a very long time and didn’t clear cut everything," right? 

**Patrick ** 07:02
They didn’t. No. 

**Margaret ** 07:03
Okay. And then the other reason I like it, it’s kind of the same background as Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. 

**Patrick ** 07:09
Oh, really. 

**Margaret ** 07:10
I was once, when I was a weird "look at me, I’m so strange, oogle kid" running around and pulling books out of the trash, I dumpstered the Christian Science holy book. I don’t know what it’s called. And I just started cutting it up to make new assemblages of words and things, right? And one of the pieces that I cut out of it and then put on this piece of art I was making just said "strangers in the tangled wilderness." And I really liked it. And so I named my first zine I ever made like 20 some years ago–well not the first zine–but the first zine that I called Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness because that’s how I felt is like this wander, right? And then but since then I’ve learned, I think, I’m not an expert on Christian Science, although I can claim, my great grandmother was raised that way and then she was like, "This sucks," and then she just became an agnostic atheist pagan person. She was cool. It was like 100 years ago. She applied to college and she got so mad that they asked her what her religion is and she wrote "Sun worshiper," on the thing, which is complicated. But for a woman in the 1910s, I’m fucking into it. Anyway, the next line in it is "strangers in a tangled wilderness, wanders from the parent mind." And so it’s using wilderness as a negative conception, I believe, in the traditional thing. And so yeah, it’s like this interesting thing where Christianity … Like, okay, so this "last born in the wilderness" seems to be implying this negative conception of wilderness. Which is this very negative version of Christianity producing such a thing. I don’t know. That’s what I’ve got.

**Patrick ** 08:46
Yeah, I think the wilderness in scripture and Christian literature, or whatever, it’s very much this …. Like, if you’re wandering the wilderness, you’re not in a good place. You’ve kind of either been banished or God is leaving you alone, giving you distance to figure your shit out for a while. Like, there’s good things and bad things with that. But I think that the wilderness can …. Yeah, there is this implication in it of it being symbolic, or whatever, of it being not the best place to be in. You’re not in paradise, that’s for sure. You’re not in the Promised Land, that’s for sure. You’re maybe on the way there, but you’re not there. Yeah. And certainly, in that passage, if I remember, it’s like, "In the wilderness of mine afflictions." Like, it’s very, it’s not … you know, it’s not a good place to be. But they were on their way to the Promised Land, I guess, in that scripture. So …

**Margaret ** 09:42
Okay, so you’re like the last one before we reach paradise or whatever? 

**Patrick ** 09:46
I guess. I don’t know

**Margaret ** 09:47
Like you’re the last people who have a concept of wilderness and everyone else is going to live underground growing their food in very controlled environments because everything’s hard.

**Patrick ** 09:55
I guess so. I mean, yeah, I don’t know. I think that certainly the world as we know it, the world that you and I were born into, is like kind of no longer here and we’ve entered into a new earth, which is not one that is hospitable to human, or much of the more than human life, unfortunately and it’s gonna get progressively more and inhospitable. So, being the last born is really … it’s not a … it’s all of us. It’s not like ….  You’re not the last man on the Earth, or whatever, or the last person on the Earth. You’re one of a generation, or several generations, that really remembers what it was like before the climate was completely chaotic and everything was on fire and everyone was coughing in your face with a plague. You know, that was a nice time. Remember that? That was cool. And now we’re in this new place, or this seemingly novel place for us at least, of, kind of, amplifying crises. And it’s …. Yeah, so anyway, sorry, that’s rather bleak. But it’s a little bit of what I talk about, I guess, or bring up in the podcast. The overarching sense. 

**Margaret ** 11:04
No, no. Okay. Well, let’s talk about coughing in people’s faces with the plague. [Laughing] One of the topics that we wanted to talk about was kind of a little bit of where we’re at with Covid. And not just a like, "Hey, there’s a new wave coming. And there’s new … or here." And there’s also like, you know, "Time for your yearly booster," and there’s the non MRA [struggles with the letters]

**Patrick ** 11:27
Non MRNA. 

**Margaret ** 11:28
Yeah, thank you. Vaccines that just got approved and like all this other stuff. But, more about, I want to kind of ask you about what you’ve learned through your work about the fact that we are living in this place where community care has been left to individuals and smaller organizations, by and large, with some larger institutions trying to do good, while the, at least, federal level care and things like that have largely abandoned us to fend for ourselves.

**Patrick ** 12:00
Yeah. You know, it’s weird. This has been a disillusioning period, I think. Pandemic has been really rough for a lot of reasons. And I think I’ve talked about it a lot through a variety of lenses. I think there’s a baseline of trust that’s been lost among myself and a lot of other people. Like, I feel like to kind of continuing to keep up precautions and to avoid catching Covid is really a difficult thing at this time. And it’s weird because there’s been a normalization on such a broad level. And there’s people on the left who really have given up and don’t really care about it anymore. And seemingly, it sort of seems like we’ve kind of turned a corner. It feels like culturally, socially where it’s kind of unacceptable to continue to care about it in this way. But I think if you are a leftist, in the broadest sense, not just a radical anarchist, or whatever, you really need to kind of get the facts straight about what Covid is and how it’s still impacting people. How many people are becoming effectively disabled as a result of Covid infections? And then normalizing it is really fucked up. It’s eugenicist, frankly. It’s ableist. It’s wrong. And I was just thinking, I don’t know if I want to call …. I don’t want to …. I don’t know. I was thinking recently about how my partner and I moved up to Canada. Actually, we’re in Victoria, BC right now, the city that is called Victoria, on Vancouver Island. There was an anarchist bookfair here. No mask requirements at this fair. And I think at other book fairs around, I don’t know if around BC or just in the US in particular, masks were a requirement, like respirators were required. It’s just a basic thing I think we need to kind of do now as leftists or anarchists is just to have, if we’re gonna have a public event, these types of things just need to be kind of there. Like we just have to do them. Because there’s a lot of people who are immunocompromised or disabled that just can’t show up because this is not a safe, "safe," these [unhearable word] words, but like literally, it’ll harm their bodies.

**Margaret ** 14:09
Yeah, it’s like full of spikes that are shooting out of the ceiling. You know, it’s not…

**Patrick ** 14:14
Yeah, exactly. So I think just the act of community care on that level–I mean, you don’t have to be an anarchist to do this of course–but I think particularly for anarchists that are supposedly about communal acts of care and mutual aid, like this is a really basic one, a pretty easy one. It’s interesting how it’s not– you know for anarchists, there’s no like … I don’t know if there’s a global anarchist Federation that has doled out some kind of guidelines. That would never make sense. But it’s interesting how in every place around North America there’s different kinds of cultural temperaments, or certain attitudes, around certain things and particularly around Covid. It’s interesting how in Canada, how maybe anarchists in Canada don’t maybe care as much about it. I don’t know. I guess I can’t speak for them, but it’s an interesting thing to experience the ways in which the normalization of Covid has affected different regions. And it’s … Yeah, so anyway, I just wanted to kind of bring that up because we are still in the midst of this thing. I can get into reasons why it’s still a problem, why it is still a threat to people’s health, but it shouldn’t be. I don’t know. I just think it’s really imperative that anarchists kind of get with the program if they haven’t already.

**Margaret ** 15:26
Yeah, and like, I’ve been fairly proud of the fact that overall I’ve found anarchists and punks and different sorts of subcultural folks and political folks to be more on top of it than the average person or place, but not …. I haven’t been blown away either, you know? And we have had …. Most of the book fairs that I’ve been aware of or gone to, or whatever, this year have had some kind of masking requirement. Sometimes it’s a rigid requirement. Sometimes it’s like, here’s the masks at the door, and someone’s going to kind of be like, "You should really wear one of these," but not like kick you out without a mask. Like, I …. Shout out to the anarchist space called Firestorm in Asheville, North Carolina that during COVID, they actually moved into a new building, and part of why they picked the building, as far as I can tell, is that it used to be an auto shop so the doors open all the way, like one wall is open. And they still have a mask requirement inside of the store because they’re like, "Well, they’re still a pandemic. So you should wear a mask. This isn’t complicated," you know? And like …. Okay, have you ever seen the TV show The 100?

**Patrick ** 16:42
I think I’ve heard of it.

**Margaret ** 16:45
I watched the first two or three seasons a while ago. And I …. But there’s this thing that I think about all the time. It was not a particularly important TV show to me. But there’s one thing that seemed kind of hackneyed at the time where basically almost no one can live on the Earth because there was a pandemic. And a lot of people live in space. And then some people come back down from space. And then there’s people who have "lost their minds" and "lost civilization" who, you know, have adapted. And then there’s these people who live inside a mountain. And they’re like, "Oh, we can’t go outside the mountain except with, you know, full suits that protect …." I forget the word for this, like the chemical suits or whatever. 

**Patrick ** 17:23
Like hazmat suits or something like that. 

**Margaret ** 17:25
So yeah, you can’t go outside without a hazmat suit and a gas mask. And like, you know, when you come back in you have to go through decontamination and all this stuff. And I remember watching it and being like, you just sort of take it for granted. You’re like, yeah, you know, if there was a thing in the air that killed people or made people disabled, people would like, take it seriously, you know? And then now I’m like, "Man, that was a utopian piece of fiction right there." Like, within the first week someone would be like ‘Fake news. There’s nothing in the air outside," and then the whole mountain would have been destroyed. 

**Patrick ** 18:00
Speaking of like pop culture …. Like, sometimes it is. I watched that film Contagion a while ago. It came out before Covid. It’s like what, a Stevens Soderbergh film? Whatever, it doesn’t matter. It came out. And it was like "What would happen if a really, really dangerous, very contagious virus just started spreading? Like, what would the agencies do? What would the CDC do? What would global world governments do?" Whatever. And, you know, it was fairly …. It tried to be realistic while also being kind of dramatic. And it was a really nasty virus. Everybody is locked down, quarantine, blah, blah, blah. They make a vaccine, they do a lottery, people get it at the end, and it’s over. Like, that’s the end of the movie. Everybody gets the vaccine. Everybody gets the vaccine, everybody’s happy to get the vaccine. And no, you know, I mean, yeah, certainly …. Covid is in this weird, I feel like it’s in this weird space. And I’ve said this before on an interview with somebody, this epidemiologist, I was saying it’s this weird space where it’s like, it’s obviously really, really bad to get it, but it’s also like a lot of people get it and it doesn’t seem to affect them that much. They kind of feel like, "Oh, it’s kind of like the cold or kind of like a flu." It isn’t, though. I mean, looking at the actual virus and how it affects the body, it is not like those viruses. So it’s very different. But the fact is, is that, you know, percentage wise, you know, most people get it, they don’t die from it. So what’s the big deal? So, I think it’s in this weird space where it’s a very contagious, very nasty virus, but it doesn’t have the mortality rate of like Ebola or something so people aren’t going to take it seriously. So, it’s weird. It’s a weird thing. And we’re, you know, almost four years into this thing. So, people are obviously quite weary. We’ve been talking about it. So yeah, it’s hard.

**Margaret ** 19:53
No, totally. And like, I mean, it’s funny because it’s like I also get the … I get why people are over it and have to live their lives. And I think I talked about this in a recent episode, I can’t remember. I was talking to someone about it. I no longer have real conversations. I only have podcast conversations. It was like, okay, we can’t not have live music as part of our human experience of the world, or whatever, right? But to me it’s all about looking at these cost-benefit analyses. And by and large, with exceptions, like if someone’s doing hard manual labor all day I can see why wearing a mask is particularly hard, or like, you know, there’s complicating factors. But, overall, it’s just not a fucking big deal. Like to–Covid is–but to wear a mask–

**Patrick ** 20:38
Yeah. 

**Margaret ** 20:39
–for, I think, most people in most situations, And I think the main reason people don’t wear masks is because of the social aspect of it. Because they are afraid of being the only person wearing a mask. And I just like ask us to not act out of fear. I ask us to do what’s right. Or I think we are asked by being alive. I think that we are asked to be … to do what is right, not what is popular, or whatever, right? And, so that’s what’s so disappointing to me about it. And I mean, this is part of why everyone gets so mad at people who …. Because I also try not to be like …. You don’t really like gain a lot when you tell people like, "What the fuck? What’s wrong with you? You can’t do that." It’s not a very effective strategy, you know? And so I do think it’s like, overall, I really appreciate a lot of the phrasing that I’ve seen about being like, "Hey, even if you stop masking, here’s like a good reason to start again."  And like, you know, there’s no harm in just mea culping and just starting to mask again,

**Patrick ** 21:46
 Yeah, no, for sure. And I don’t know, there’s a lot of other things going on too. When you …. It really is fascinating to be like …. You obviously want to be like, you want to encourage this level of care and I think what’s sort of hard is there is a real lack of public …. Like, good public health messaging has been terrible. So, it’s an interesting dynamic. I feel like anarchists are people who are more on the ground organizing at grassroots levels. At a grassroot level, you are trying to fill a void, which is the government doesn’t really want to fucking deal with this shit. They just don’t want to deal with it. They have, they’ve learned enough. And they know that they can move on warm, more or less. And so they’re not going to do anything about it anymore. And so you have to take care of yourself, The rich are taking care of themselves. They have all the tools, They know exactly how to run a Covid-safe event. They’ve been doing it for a while now. And they have really good like …. In the way that you would pay for security or catering at an event, they pay for Covid Safety coordinators. Yeah, they’re really good at it. And if they’re doing that, and they understand this, then we should be doing it for ourselves because we as the poors, we need to take care of each other, take care of ourselves and learn basic information that unfortunately a lot of people don’t have. And actually …. I understand that by doing my podcasts or doing this kind of work that I am able to delve into some of these subjects more closely. So, I might know a little more about Covid than the average person. And honestly, the more I learn about it, the more I don’t want to get it and the more I would encourage people to avoid reinfection more than anything. If you’ve had it before, you don’t want to get it again. There’s so many intersecting issues here. I guess I just, I just really want to emphasize community care is the most important thing right now in regards to this. Need to really get on top of that, if we haven’t already. And a lot of people are. It’s amazing, actually, how many people are doing it, like mask blocks. There’s all kinds of people organizing around this subject. And they don’t have any particular, seemingly political ideology that’s animating it. It’s just they’re doing it because it’s right. 

**Margaret ** 23:57
Yeah, totally. One of the things you were saying about realizing like the government has abandoned us, so the government has moved on and things like that. It’s one of these … at the beginning of Covid, it actually kind of challenged, in some ways, it challenged a lot of my own anarchist thoughts, right? Because I try not to assume I’m right. I try not to look at a problem and say "What’s the anarchist solution?" I try to look at a problem and say, "What’s the solution?" I have a bias that lends itself towards non state, non capitalist solutions. But I try to earnestly look at every problem and say, "What is the best solution?" and so far in my life the answer is usually nonstate, anti capitalist, anti oppression, right? Well, and some of those things are also moral, you know. But at the beginning of Covid, you start being like, "Well, shit, someone needs to …. This needs to be organized on a massive scale, right?" And then, now what we actually saw instead gave me the opposite, whereas at the beginning of Covid mutual aid groups popped up everywhere, you know, and mutual aid groups like stepped into the void of what was not being met. Because people were locked down, they were like, not able to meet a bunch of other needs, and a lot of them, in the US, at least, we have, you know, we got stimulus money or whatever. And it wasn’t enough for most people. And, but I think that it becomes really clear that you look a year on and as soon as Covid  is over, you’re like, "Oh, you’re running some cold math about dead people in the economy, or disabled people in the economy, and you are deciding that getting people back to work makes the country more money even though a bunch of people will die or become disabled as a result," you know? And so it’s like one of those things, to me, it just lays bare the reality of government, that governments exists to make this kind of cold calculation, not take care of people.

**Patrick ** 25:57
Yeah, no, I think at the beginning there was a lot of ambiguity. We didn’t know what this would really be. So obviously lock downs–or what we would call lock downs but really just kind of stay-at-home orders–or just tell people, like, "Please just avoid social gatherings for a while." And then the masks came into the picture and things like this, that was implemented just because there was, you know, there was a lot of ambiguity. We didn’t know everything we know now. And once the, kind of, the cold calculus really came in, and there’s a lot of other things too, but really when that came in and it was like, "This is hurting the economy. This isn’t gonna work. You know, we have to really focus on jobs over, you know, everything else, over our lives. So, yeah, let’s just get back to work." And I don’t know. But I think it is kind of an interesting thing, though, because the anti-mask thing is very much an aesthetic choice. It’s not as much a practical, irrational thing, because we could have jobs and all this stuff running exactly as before but people are wearing high quality respirators. Sure, we could have all kinds of things implemented. It would take an investment. From a cold capitalist perspective, it’s rational to put an air filtration, it’s rational to have people wear respirators, and yet from …. I don’t know what it is, but just the idea of actually providing public health infrastructurally on that level is just not possible at this point for some reason. It’s just not feasible. I was thinking about the kind of origins of public health, as it were, and like John Sn–I think his name was John Snow in England–he kind of figured out where the cholera outbreaks were coming from. And that really helped kickstart this movement to, you know, kind of figure out how to provide clean water for people on a massive social scale, on the scale of a city, right? It took a long time and a lot of deaths for something to finally change. And now we just take for granted that when you turn on a faucet in most places around, say, North America, you’re gonna find you’re gonna have clean water. Like it’s pretty not always the case, certainly, but, you know, it’s kind of taken for granted that that’s almost like a right that we have. But clean air has not really entered into that same, that level of feeling like an entitlement that we have as human beings for a quality of life issue, that this is important. So, I don’t know, it’s interesting to witness how this has been playing out and also sort of an anarchist, or whatever, thinking about it from that level of like, if we want to move away from States and governments, how would an anarchist society deal with this issue? How would non-Statist, anti-Statists deal with this? And it’s interesting. I don’t know yet. I haven’t really figured that out. And, I was kind of thinking because you do a history podcast as well. And I’m wondering if there was anything you came across as, you know, kind of radical leftist movements that were like, "How do we apply the values of public health and health care from a maybe communal collectivist sense that does not rely on the institution of states and bureaucracies? Like, I don’t know, I wonder about this because we’re trying to just fill the gap of what the State isn’t doing. It’s almost reactionary, right? What would it look like to be proactive in that sense? I don’t know. I don’t have an answer to that. I just think it’s interesting.

**Margaret ** 29:26
Okay, no, that’s interesting. From a history point of view, there’s a piece that I read right near the beginning of pandemic–that I haven’t read in a while and I don’t remember as well–this Italian anarchist, Malatesta, wrote a piece called like something like "Anarchists and the Cholera Outbreak," and it was about anarchist public health responses to a late 19th century health crisis. But I also know that anarchists have been doing a ton of stuff on public health since the beginning. I think that like …. I mean, you can look at like … it’s anarchists who, at least in the US, pushed birth control and pushed information about sexually transmitted diseases and like sexual health. And it’s like, people are like, "Oh, yes, early feminists," and I’m like, "Yeah, they were early feminist anarchists." I mean, there’s some exceptions to that. And then of course, you have bad examples where Margaret Sanger, who founded Planned Parenthood, was, like, a "complicated figure" who embraced non-racialized eugenics. And that is bad. But it is spun to mean that she was different, that she believed in something different than what she actually believed. And, but it’s still bad. And she started off as an anarchist. She, actually, by the time she was really doing the eugenics because a lot of like–a lot of eugenics, you kind of need the State for, right, especially like the evilest parts of it or the like who gets to decide who has babies are whatever, right, and all that shit. But Margaret Sanger was an anarchist when she first started doing a lot of the birth control stuff. Emma Goldman got arrested a ton of times. The person who’s at the longest in jail in US history for advocating birth control was this guy–I just did an episode about this, I don’t normally have all these facts in front of me–was this guy named Ben Reitman, who was mostly an anarchist. He spent most of his life fucking around with the anarchist scene. But the anarchists scene didn’t like him because he was super horny and he kept cheating on Emma Goldman, which is impressive because they were in an open relationship. Yeah, but he still managed to sort of piss her off with how many people we slept with, even though it was supposedly okay. He spent the longest of anyone in history, in US history, in jail for advocating birth control. And he was also a … he was a hobo doctor. He was a doctor who went to medical school, became a physician, specifically so that he could treat STIs in the poorer classes and people who didn’t have access to public health. And so a lot … As far as I can tell, I see this thing, this pattern happen a lot where things come from the bottom up and then the top is like, "Okay, cool, we got that." And you can see this benevolently where you’re like, "Oh, it comes from the bottom up and then the State comes in and takes charge and everything’s okay." And, and there’s some advantages that have come up through that, but overall, I think it is to the detriment of these systems. And I think that… I don’t know, I guess I’m like, I think that decentralized networks that have some forms of centralized information sharing, are very capable of doing these sorts of things. Also, sorry, I’ll stop spitting out anarchist history in a minute.But the legalization of abortion, the first Western European country… Soviet Russia was the first country to legalize–I could be wrong about this–was one of the first countries, if not the first country, to legalize abortion in Europe. But then Stalin was like, "Just kidding. You must make babies," because he’s a bastard. Then Federica Montseny, the woman Minister of Health in revolutionary Spain, who was an anarchist–which is really complicated and there was a lot of arguing at the time about whether Federica Monseigneur and some of her peers should have joined the coalition government–she legalized abortion. And so it’s like, funny. So even the State idea of public health came from an anarchist who was part of the State, you know?

**Patrick ** 33:30
I don’t know, I think that it’s this thing where when we’re thrust into these big crises, like a pandemic, we start to really… we do have to reevaluate our ideological stances a little bit like. Because for me, you know–I think this is something we talked about when you were on my podcast like three years ago, or whatever–something about, like, it’s not our position to tell people how to do things. Like, if it’s another country and other people they’re going to figure out how to solve their problems in their own way. And, you know, I think a lot of revolutionary movements do lead to certain types of, obviously, State kind of action or States…. It’s directed towards the State or the State itself’s kind of response to it in a way that is actually beneficial to the people. But that’s not because the State is good. It’s just under enormous amounts of pressure. It’s just…. It’s complicated. I don’t think it’s one thing and I think that it’s a good thing that the government was able to mass produce or help mass produce vaccines, but I also think it was really fucked up that it was then decided that that was the end of the pandemic because everybody was vaccinated. It’s kind of this… It’s this thing. It’s not one thing. It’s very complicated. But I do think overwhelmingly, absolutely, if public health is being administered on this sort of ground level where the feedback between the actual public and the sort of people administering public health, if that feedback loop is shorter, where you’re able to actually hear what people are saying and you can actually see what’s going on in the ground, there’s an actual connection and it’s done democratically and collectively then you actually can administer public health in a way that is going to help people and not being imposed on people. Right? So yeah, I think there’s been, for me, a lot of questions and lessons learned from this pandemic up to this point. So, and also, I don’t know, I just throw this in there, they’re not necessary anarchist, but like the Black Panthers and the Young Lords, you know, they were very much about health care and administering health care on a community level and did forward a lot of things that even today…like I think it was something like the Young Lords were really pushing for patients having access to their own… like that the doctors had to explain to them what….Is that right? 

**Margaret ** 35:44
Yeah, they introduced the Patient’s Bill of Health that has since been used internationally.

**Patrick ** 35:51
So you know, and they were radical, you know, they took over hospitals, they occupied, you know, they did a lot. So, yeah. Anyway, I just, I think in regards to the pandemic, right now, whatever major breakthroughs that we’re gonna have in regards to dealing with cleaning the air or, you know, actually making sure that people have access to resources and information, it’s gonna have to come from the ground level, in pressure from the ground level because it ain’t good right now. It really isn’t.

**Margaret ** 36:22
No, and that, I really liked that. I think that’s a really good point. And when I think about it, the Young Lords are the perfect example of this. And they’re, you know, yeah, they were Marxist Leninists, but they were doing something from the bottom up and forced the city of New York City to take action. Like, for example, in the neighborhood that they lived in–they moved all over the place, but they first started in, I want to say, the Upper East Side in a Puerto Rican neighborhood in Manhattan–and no trash was coming. No trash pickup was happening there, partly because of some racism of some white labor unions and the trash union and partly due to just systemic poverty and other forms of racism. It wasn’t all just the trash workers problem…fault. But, you know, they just started dragging trash in the middle of the street and setting it on fire. And they did it in the parts of their neighborhood that rich people have to drive through. They did it in the through fares. And it worked. Trash pickup became a major issue in the next mayoral election. And then trash pickup, like they like, revolutionized how trash is picked up in New York City. And it was this major health issue. And then the other things that they would do is they would go door to door to do tuberculosis screenings. And they would also like–they’re so fucking cool. At one point, they hijacked an X-ray van that was going through these neighborhoods to like X-ray people for tuberculosis but wasn’t going to poor neighborhoods of color. And there’s like some arguments about whether that was because of what time the schedule was and didn’t work for people’s jobs or if it was a straight up, like, "Nah, we’re just hanging out in the white neighborhoods." But what happened was the X-ray technicians, they were like, "Sick, we don’t give a shit. We just want to fucking help stop TB." And that’s what’s so interesting to me about government workers versus non-government workers is that the people doing the shit, whether it’s for the government or not, they just want to get the shit done. They don’t care which system is doing it. Like the X-ray technicians were like "Sick, fuck yeah, we’re still getting paid. Like, it’s a little weird that you came in with guns, but whatever, it was necessary. You take us up there." And then they started. And they ended up with a fucking X-ray van parked outside the Young Lords headquarters several days a week, paid for by the hospital. And so it…. I got really worked up.

**Patrick ** 38:37
Yeah, no. It’s cool, though.

**Margaret ** 38:38
But I think that these questions about anarchist public health, one of the things that is so interesting to me is that it’s like systems allow things to happen but people are who do it. And so often people will ask, will be like, "Well, how will an anarchist society produce insulin?" or whatever. And like, well, part of the answer is, I don’t know how we make insulin now, but that’s probably how we’ll make it then too, right. You know? And so like, anarchist public health can look, in some ways, really similar in terms of like, well, we’ll have people who know a lot about public health directing these things, you know? Because it’s not the government that regulates things, it is people who design the systems of regulation. And anything that people can do, we are people, and also I’m not trying to disclude those people from my society. And I just want it to happen in a system that is actually anti-oppressive, that is horizontal, that is anti-capitalist, you know, that is all of these things. And so yeah, so what if instead of we build shit from the bottom up and the government swoops in and then kind of makes it shitty and watered down, we build things from the bottom up and then keep building and just keep those buildings that we make horizontal and keep them like…. Yep, I got totally worked up.

**Patrick ** 39:51
No, you’re good. No, you’re right, though. That’s exactly it. Like, there are, at every stage of the way, I think…sorry, I’m also kind of worked up…. I feel like health and healthcare is actually is a core and central component of any sort of revolutionary movement because it is so integral to everyone, obviously, our health and well-being is such an integral part of everyone’s lives. So how we treat disabled people, how we treat people of all age groups, how access to care is affect…you know, people’s sort of demographic that they exist in, the racial system that we have, it affects how people have access to certain types of care. I mean, all of this is so…it intersects with so many things. So, I think the pandemic has highlighted a lot of this. And I think it’s been a very upsetting and difficult time. And I think people kind of need to…they’ve tuned out. They need to kind of tune back in and I get why they tuned out, but they just need to try to tune in tune in a bit because it’s going to–I’m sorry, it sounds bleak and this is kind of my thing–it’s gonna get worse unless we make it better. And I think there’s an assumption that somehow got better and it really hasn’t. And again, this is just because I am, I mean, I am doing this sort of collaborative series right now. But also, I’ve just learned as much as I can about how Covid is affecting the body and it’s a nasty virus. It’s causing really wild complications in people’s bodies. It is a very strange thing. So, you know, it’s not enough to just tell you as an individual, "Please do this thing," or "Please do that." We need actual systems of care that really accommodate everybody. So yeah, to me, it is…and I know, we were kind of discussing how this, you know, what my podcast really addresses is a lot of it’s around climate and the implications of climate change. How we deal with Covid is indicative of how we’re dealing with…it’s like a Russian doll, you know, nested within itself. It’s like, "This is how we’re dealing with this? Well, this is how we’re dealing with ecological crisis and the climate crisis as well." How we adapt to the changes that are coming from this pandemic is how we are choosing or not choosing to deal with the changes that are coming from a rapidly changing climate system. So, this is all related. And I think, again, as radical leftists, you have to catch up with that and to kind of recognize that part of it in my opinion.

**Margaret ** 42:31
No, that makes sense. There’s kind of…one of the things that I do, I do a lot of crafting as my main way to decompress and stuff like that, right, and one of the things that I’ve like been learning as I get older is a random maxim, that’s a cliche, which is how you do one thing is how you do everything. And it’s not literally true. But I think about it when I want to cut corners. I think about it, when I like… I finished, you know, I’m making my raised beds and I’m like, "I’m going to not sand that corner. It doesn’t really matter. I’m not going to see that part" right? You know? But those all build up and more that by learning the discipline of handling things and taking things seriously, it puts me in the position for the parts that do matter, to not cut corners, to go at things systematically, to make sure I do things right. And I kind of liked this, this presentation of how we handle Covid is how we handle climate change. You know, they’re not the same problem. They’re related. They’re part of the interwoven crises we are facing. And so we shouldn’t freak out about either because that literally doesn’t do us any good. But we should probably be more alarmed than overall we are about both of these things and looking soberly at the problem and what solutions are and running cost benefit analyses but not cost benefit analysis for what saves the economy but what costs benefit analyses feed people. And to be fair, the economy is part of what feeds people, but there’s other methods of feeding people, which the government knows and that’s part of why they’re like "Shit, we got to make sure that we stay feeding people because otherwise people are gonna figure out communism." 

**Patrick ** 44:17
Yeah. [Chuckling]

**Margaret ** 44:18
But…No, I like this framework. I like this idea that we should…. You know, I mean, it’s a thing that I think I’ve talked about before on this show where I’m like, well, we should just be installing better HVAC systems. And even if you want to have…like, there’s certain things that are not conducive to masking, right? An inside restaurant is not conducive to masking. And personally, I just kind of avoid them because it’s not a big part of my life. I live in the middle of nowhere and I make all my own food. But that’s me and I can’t get mad at other people for making different decisions around that. But–well, I mean, there’s certain decisions I can get mad at people about but whatever. But at the very least, you can look at being like, "Okay, we have a restaurant, how are we going to build it for HVAC? How are we going to build it for, you know, cycling the air as much as possible, for keeping windows open, for patio service, for whatever. And this is still within a very not changing that much about society framework. I would prefer greatly to consider larger frameworks. But then again, a lot of things that we talk about within larger frameworks… like when I imagine how I think society would work is that personally, I’d be like, "Well, a lot of food is like people cook at home and eat with their family and friends and stuff, but also, you can just go to the big free restaurant that’s kind of probably a food line and they put food on your plate and then you eat it. And it’s great. You hang out with everyone. And I’m like, well, how the fuck do you do that in a Covid world? And it’s hard to know. And it changes what is possible and what is safe and what is good that we live in this different world. I’m done. This is the end of my rant.

**Patrick ** 45:51
Yeah, no, it’s…. I think, you know, while I do, admittedly, succumb to sort of bleak and sad and depressed attitudes around a lot of things, I actually think what you said there is interesting because it’s actually…you know, people look at it like it is a–what do they call it–a foreclosing of possibilities, right? And it is on some level. You are foreclosing the possibility of…like, for instance, I miss going to just coffee shops and chilling out and drinking coffee and working on my computer, reading, or whatever, and hanging out with people. And there’s this whole like social aspect to that particular thing. But it is also a business where people are probably getting paid too little and being treated like shit by entitled customers. And, you know, I’ve worked in the coffee business long enough that I know exactly what that’s like. That said, that is very much related to the restaurant business and all these other types of businesses and industries that people exist in where they’re exploited regularly and people don’t really, if they don’t have to deal with that type of labor and do that themselves, they often don’t really care. And so they just want that experience again, right? They just want to go back to being served again in a restaurant. That’s so cool. If you, of course, have a more, I mean, anti capitalist laboratory attitude, you’d be like, "Well, how do we have that experience without it being so fucking shitty for a certain group of people," right? And how do we also make it so that it’s Covid safe so that people don’t catch awful plagues sitting around and having fun together? And eating, you know, and drinking coffee or wine or whatever? It’s like, how can we imagine the restaurant/coffee shop experience without it being through this sort of…as it being a sort of capitalist enterprise? And that’s…I think, through crisis, or through this sort of thing of a pandemic, we can reimagine it in a way that is safer and better for everybody that isn’t exploiting everyone, or certain groups of people. You know what I mean?

**Margaret ** 47:48
No, absolutely. I…I don’t know, I agree.

**Patrick ** 47:53
I think you just said something that kind of brought up something for me because I have this tendency, and it comes through in the podcast that I do a lot, which is I am not a particularly optimistic person. And so I can tend to fall into a…. I mean, there’s certain things I’m just always going to have this attitude about, but you know, I think…. My partner laughed when I said that. [A third voice laughs in the background] I…I have the tendency, but I think I can kind of…it does foreclose possibilities and sort of radical action and things that can be done right now and can alleviate some of the suffering and misery that I and others are experiencing if we kind of just…I don’t know, it’s…I don’t know. I guess I just appreciated what you said because it just kind of opened a little door in my head where I kind of forgot, like, "Oh, yeah, like, actually, I don’t have to be that way all the time. Okay. Cool." 

**Margaret ** 48:47
I think it’s really funny that I took the name Killjoy and now I’m basically a professional optimist. I mean, I want to be a realist. But I’m like…. Well, like, I don’t know, one of things I learned from cognitive behavioral therapy is they’re, "Well, what’s the worst that could happen?" and you’re like, "Well, I could die." And they’re like, "Okay, what then?" and you’re like, "Well, then nothing," you know, and they’re "Okay, well, what do you want?" Like, you know, and it’s kind of like all this really terrible stuff is happening that’s absolutely true. We need to take that seriously. But like, well, we’re all gonna die anyway, you know? So…

**Patrick ** 49:22
Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, there’s even something about..I think that what I’ve learned from doing my work is that, you know, I do get these responses from people that say, like, "I really appreciate that you’re saying the thing. You’re not looking away from it. You’re just talking about it. There’s actually a comfort in it." Because I think people feel kind of–and this word’s overused–but gaslit where there’s sort of this normalization of stuff that just feels like people aren’t quite…like there’s a glazed look in their eye when you bring up certain subjects and they’re kind of bothered…you know, it’s like…Um, it’s a difficult thing, and I guess I’ve always been one to want to talk about those types of subjects. And, yeah, death, if death is the worst possible thing that can happen then, you know, what else? You know, then what? Right? 

**Margaret ** 50:12
Yeah, what else you got? Like?

**Patrick ** 50:14
Yeah, exactly. So. But, I mean, Frankly, you know, I mean, you know, some of the subjects I deal with in a broad sense, you know, are about extinction and are about the implications of climate change. And that is a heavy thing. And I do think that it weighs on the minds and hearts of people. And so I don’t know if there’s answers…There’s no answer to how to like…. There’s no therapy that will fix that, right? There’s no like…You can’t go to a therapist to fix this problem. It’s just, it is what it is. And so then what? And that’s… I don’t have an answer, but at least I can talk about it.

**Margaret ** 50:49
Absolutely. Well, we are running out of time, but I’m wondering if there was anything that I should have asked you on this particular topic and then if not, or after that, I’m wondering how people can find your work to engage with it.

**Patrick ** 51:06
Yeah, well, I mean, I’m glad we could talk about Covid and it did kind of open some things up for me, so thank you for the discussion. I don’t know, I guess there’s a lot to say. I guess I would ask people, if you haven’t been masking, start masking again. We are in a wave. Learn more about that. It’s actually quite fascinating. So just do that. That’d be cool. It’d be good for your own health and the benefit of others. There’s a lot to say, I don’t know, I guess I guess we could have talked more about some other aspects of my work. But this is fine because I’ve been obsessively learning about Covid, so that’s probably on my mind more than anything. Yeah, no, I mean, I guess people can learn more about my podcast. I have my website lastborninthewilderness.com. Everything is there. You can listen to it wherever you listen to podcasts. You can support my work on Patreon. All that stuff. I have that…. I mentioned I’m doing a collaborative series with, his name is Joshua Pribanic from the Public Herald. He’s a journalist and filmmaker. And we’re doing a collaborative series on long covid specifically, so that should be…. We haven’t quite figured out exactly how that’s gonna play out. But we will have that out in the coming weeks or months, starting to release those episodes. So I would ask people to look out for that.

**Margaret ** 52:18
Hell yeah. Alright, well, thanks so much for coming on. And I have a feeling…yeah, there’s so much more that even was on our list of things we’re going to talk about, so I have a feeling I’m going to try and drag you back pretty soon. 

**Patrick ** 52:29
Okay, good. 

**Margaret ** 52:34
Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this podcast then take public health seriously. [Said with a skeptically questioning tone] It shouldn’t have to be on us. But it kind of always does because everything is always on us because we’re all actually equals in this society that we all collectively build. So think about that, I guess, and listen to the Last Born in the Wilderness. And if you want to support this podcast in particular, you can support it by telling people about it, you can do…. You can tell machines about it. Just go to a computer and write on it with a sharpie and say like, "I like Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness, and then whoever’s computer it is, hopefully doesn’t run as fast as you, and then after that, you can also support us financially by supporting us on Patreon, by supporting our publisher, Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness, whose province of name you now know. Because I was cutting up holy books like a jerk. And you can support us on Patreon and it’s patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness. If you support us at $10 or more a month, we send you a zine every month. But if you support us at like $1 a month, you’re still helping this podcast have a transcript and you’re helping this podcast be edited. Those are the people who get paid currently. And one day it’ll pay the hosts and that’ll be sweet because I like eating food. But I’m not trying to pressure you about that. Also, if you don’t have any money, don’t give it to us. Just fucking spend it on your own food. Like whatever. From each according to ability to each according to need. It is a slogan that predates Marx, so don’t worry. But now I don’t remember who said it off the top of my head. In particular, I would like to thank a list of people. I would like to thank Eric and Perceval, Buck, Jacob, 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, Michaiah. And as always, Hoss the Dog was a very good dog. I’m not gonna tell you where Hoss lives, but I’ve met Hoss. Hoss is great. Okay, I hope everyone is doing as well as you can despite the fact that everything’s ending

S1E92 – Tom Doig on Prepping Subculture

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Margaret and Tom talk about talking about preparedness and how subculture can work within those communities.

Guest Info

Tom (he/him) is a nonfiction writer and disaster journalist who writes a lot about climate disaster. He is the author of The Preppers Next Door, The Coal Face, and  Moron to Moron: two men, two bikes, one Mongolian misadventure. You can find more of his work at Tomdoig.com.

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

The transcript for the episode will be available soon!

S1E91 – Elizabeth on Preparedness as a Family

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Elizabeth talks to Margaret about coming into preparedness as an urban PTA mom, building family preparedness, teaching kids about disasters, and flipping the prepping narrative to focus on building inclusive communities and resiliency.

Guest Info

Elizabeth Doerr (she/her) is a writer and parent. You can find her work at https://www.elizabethdoerr.com or her newsletter on Substack at https://crammingfortheapocalypse.substack.com or on Instagram @crammingfortheapocalypse or on Twitter @ElizabethDoerr

Host Info

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

Publisher Info

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

Transcript

Elizabeth Doerr on Family Preparedness

**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 this week, Margaret Killjoy. And this week, I have Elizabeth Doerr on to talk about her journey into preparedness. And, I think y’all are gonna get a lot out of this conversation. I’m really excited to have it. I first talked to–I guess I’ll get to that later during the actual interview. But first, here’s a jingle from another show on the network Channel Zero Network, which is a network of anarchist podcasts. So here’s another one. Dah dah duh dah duh dah [singing the words like a simple melody]

**Margaret ** 01:31
Okay, and we’re back. Okay. So if you could introduce yourself with your name, your pronouns, and then maybe like, how you got started on your preparedness journey? 

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 01:40
Sure. Um, Hi there, my name is Elizabeth Doerr, and my pronouns are she/her. And, I got started on my preparedness journey mainly because we moved to Portland, Oregon in 2016 where there is going to be a huge earthquake that can devastate the city. And, then subsequently had my son and became–and had already been concerned about climate change, but then that fear of climate change really kind of ratcheted up a lot more with having a kid. And so, over the last few years, I’ve really been trying to do more to prepare, not just for the earthquake but really for climate change in general, and trying to figure out what that means just in terms of society, in terms of the way we can–not just in personal action–but how we can really just change the entire system altogether. And, so that has turned into a Substack called Cramming for the Apocalypse, which is also going to be a book eventually, as well. But, for the last year, it’s been in newsletter form. 

**Margaret ** 02:54
Do you ever have this thing where you’re like, "But you have to hurry up and make it a book because what if the apocalypse happens before you get the book out?"

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 03:01
Well, it’s funny because my agent was kind of…she’s like, "It’s an evergreen topic." But she’s like, "It always feels so urgent. I want to get it out as soon as possible." But then also at the same time it’s like … yeah, I know. Yeah, exactly. I do have that pretty much every day. But, also it takes forever to write a book. So it’s…yeah. But, it’s amazing even just in traditional publishing how long it takes to get a book out into the world, and it’s like, "Well, in three years, what could the world be like?" So, yeah. 

**Margaret ** 03:34
I think about this all the time. I actually–because of the 2016 election and stuff–I, for a while, stopped writing books and started focusing more on music because everything felt so immediate in crisis that I was like, "I don’t have time to finish this book, take a year for my agent to find a publisher, take a year for them to publish it, take a year for people to read it and care about it." Like, I just need to make music that people hear tomorrow because, otherwise, what am I doing? And then it turns out, we had more than three years, so it’s fine. [Laughing]

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 04:10
And I love that. I wish I had that skill and ability because that would be so…And I actually think that with like, I wish I was a really good artist too because friends who are excellent at, you know, drawing and art–or at least visual art, that is–I’m jealous because it’s like, that’s something you can see now. I mean, you can do with writing too but it’s just a little more visceral immediately. But yes, totally. 

**Margaret ** 04:37
No, that makes sense. Okay, so one of the reasons I wanted to have you on, one, is that you were working on an article that we might talk about later, and reached out to me, but one of the things that I’m really excited to talk to you about and that I think that people might get a lot out of hearing from is you’re like…you are not the stereotypical prepper in the traditional sense, and you’re also not necessarily the stereotypical, like, what people might imagine when they imagine the leftist prepper, right? Which might look more like me. I don’t know. I don’t know what people have in their minds. And, you know, when I asked you how to how to describe this, you were like, "Well, you’re a white middle aged urban mom who has progressive values, who is learning…is getting more and more interested in anarchism and more radical values beyond that, but you exist within the mainstream culture. And then also you’re a PTA mom, for example," right? I’m really excited to talk to you about all this shit. It’s like, this is the stuff that like…like people who like…I really love that you found–Well, I guess I want to ask you more about how you found your way into radical politics from this, like you mentioned that like your study of preparedness has like led you to being like, "Oh, what if we, what if we need to structure society differently?" Like, what has that journey been like for you?

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 05:53
Yeah, I mean, I guess the question is how far back to go? I mean, so I, you know, it really…I mean, I’ll give you a little bit of a snapshot kind of like before this whole journey, but I, you know, it started as, I was a Peace Corps volunteer after I graduated from college. And, so I lived in Malawi, in southeastern Africa. And I had gotten in with a very, like traditional, like, I guess, liberal views about what international development being good for, you know, developing countries and then came out of it with a vast nastily different perspective, that actually, you know, that’s a part of imperialism and we’re doing harm. And it’s, you know, it’s just a, you know, it’s just a holdover from colonialism, and that I still, you know, a belief that I still hold. But I had a really hard time, I guess, articulating what that was until I went to graduate school for International Education Policy at University of Maryland. And it’s pretty radical…I didn’t know this going into it, but it was like the perfect program for me, because the way they viewed international development was very much aligned with the kind of critiques that I had.

**Margaret ** 07:06
Oh cool. was, 

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 07:07
Yeah, so like it was more…I would say they took a more like, Democratic Socialist view of it.  I don’t think that they had[unhearable] …. That’s my perspective that, you know, we needed more community based solutions happening and that kind of stuff. And so that really started that on that path, and I worked in higher education, working in social justice education. And at that time, had really–and still I think I have some of these…you know, that’s when I kind of started calling myself a Democratic socialist  and probably, you know, in theory would call myself that now, although it’s a little blurrier. But yeah, and so, you know, so and then it’s, you know, I think becoming a parent actually radicalized me even more, because, you know, I just, especially with what’s going on in the US about how our school choice system really perpetuates segregation, racial segregation. And I really didn’t want to be a part of that. And, but it’s also like, you know, especially like being in my role as a PTA, like a middle aged PTA mom, with my kid going to public school system, it’s like a conversation about, you know, "Which school should I send my kid to?" as being kind of this constant, yet nobody points out how racist it is. And so that’s a big part of it. And then, these are all values that have really been a part of me in most of my adulthood.  So it really was, as I embarked on this whole process, like anti racism, social justice, you know, these kinds of radical values, were always going to be a part of this project, that Cramming For the Apocalypse art project. I think I wasn’t completely prepared for all of the things that I was going to learn, which I love. Like, it was really new to me. You know, I don’t think I ever really questioned the kind of, quote "definition" that everybody, you know, every mainstream person in society from left to right deems anarchists, as, you know, being a kind of chaotic force, whereas as I was diving into this project, I was like, I started to realize that, one, that we have the definition completely all wrong. 

**Margaret ** 07:07
Yeah. 

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 07:09
I’d say the majority of people in society still get it wrong. Even just hearing it in, you know, from quotes on the news, I get kind of triggered. [Margaret laughs] And then also knowing that I was like, "Oh, well, there are aspects to this that I really think could be the solution, and especially the solution to things like climate change, or at least get to, one, averting climate change but also in just recreating a completely different society that can thrive in that post apocalyptic environment. And I, do you want me to talk a little bit more about my kind of like–you know, because as we were talking about this, I have this kind of like…I live in mainstream society. I’m very much a PTA mom. So like, I think that I hold this interesting role because I, you know, I’m very active in our PTA. I mean, we are a PTA that’s pretty social justice oriented, very diverse. My kid goes to a school with majority kids of color, which can be unusual in Portland, Oregon. But then also, I don’t know, like, I like, you know, I like to do things that the average white American middle-aged mom is like, "I like to go to drinks with my friends…"

**Margaret ** 11:00
Do you like to eat brunch? So that’s the only cliche I can come up with.

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 11:06
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. I mean, yes. Yes. I love brunch.

**Margaret ** 11:10
I’m sure it’s great. Yeah.

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 11:14
Although, with a kid, it does make it a little bit more challenging to do like Sunday morning, Saturday morning things that are not soccer related. Yeah. Soccer mom. There, that’s another cliche. 

**Margaret ** 11:27
I could have led with that. Yeah.

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 11:29
Yeah, I know. I didn’t even think about that. I should have. But anyway, I think that what’s been kind of cool about it is that it makes me relatable in that way to people who might be questioning, you know, who exist in this mainstream environment, but also I’m also really vocal. I’m a very loud person. And I don’t have much to hide. And so I’m like…. So a lot of people know my values. And so, you know, I’ve had friends who will text me being like, "Okay, how do I approach this situation? How I approach that situation?" and that kind of stuff. And so I think that that…and that’s actually why I think this book and this newsletter can be really useful in that, like, you know, people who might be really questioning what’s happening in the world, really worried, but they can see themselves in me and my journey and know that it doesn’t have to look one way and that you can do these really weird things. Like, weird to like this environment to me, like learning how to hunt when I haven’t ever seen a gun in real life.

**Margaret ** 12:37
Yeah. So, no, okay. So this is like…there’s so much here that I’m really excited about. But okay, so to start with your newsletter, Cramming For the Apocalypse, you just hit a year of it, right? 

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 12:52
Yeah, yeah. 

**Margaret ** 12:54
Okay, so what are some of the–besides the sort of political angle–what are some of the directions that it took you that you didn’t expect? Or like, what are some of the things that you’ve learned by writing about preparedness from your perspective for the past year?

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 13:07
Oh, gosh, yeah. I feel like I should have better formed thoughts on this.

**Margaret ** 13:13
It’s okay. Whenever anyone asks me, like, "So, what books do you like?" I’m like, "I’ve never heard of a book." 

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 13:19
God, I know. 

**Margaret ** 13:19
"What’s a book?"

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 13:23
I know. Well, you know, I think that…. Okay, well, I can say that…let me just say that I started the newsletter because I had been working on the book project, still trying to get it out to publishers–I have an agent now, which is exciting–but I really…I was doing so much and I wanted to just get the journey out there in some way. I needed to be writing about it. And so I…and it’s been…I mean, I…. What has been really interesting to me is that…. I mean, my idea of what a prepper is has changed. I mean, I think I had preconceived–I mean, a lot of mainstream media and all of us in society probably have a preconceived notion of a doomsday prepper–and, you know, I had already pushed past that a little bit by the time I started the newsletter, because that’s the whole reason…I mean, that was the whole reason of doing this book is really kind of flipping the narrative of what a prepper is or could be, but I still think that, I realized how much I had to learn about what that even means. And, you know, I mean, we could talk about this too, the story that that I interviewed you for, for The Progressive. That kind of shows a little bit of where I kind of have come through with this is that, you know, I think that we…you know, prepper exists…. The term "prepper" exists in a variety of different ways that just might not be called "prepper." I mean, I think that the idea–or prepp-ing–you know, talking about mutual aid and even, you know…. And even you, I think, really helped me see this too even more, is that we have a lot more in common with those kind of on the right wing who are prepping than we might think. And, you know, there’s a way to find common ground. There’s a way. You don’t have to…. 

**Margaret ** 15:28
Depending on where they’re coming at it from, you know, but yeah.

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 15:31
I mean, I would say not everybody. Like in the political realm, that, I think, is maybe not where we’re going to be finding common area, but I do think that the values of: you just want to have…you want to protect your family, you want to be safe, you want to have community. Everyone wants community most. And so, how can we find common ground about that? And I think that’s something I’ve been really trying to come around about is like not to be too judgmental off the bat when that, you know, when somebody expresses these views that might shock me at first, but I mean it’s still tricky when you get down the political realm and the humanity of all humans.

**Margaret ** 16:16
Yeah, exactly. It’s like, when someone’s being bigoted, that’s different than when they think that different laws should apply to rural people about gun ownership than or, like, you know? Like, there’s different takes on different things, you know?

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 16:33
Exactly. Like, yeah, I’m not gonna be debating the humanity of other people. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So, I think that’s one big one. You know, and this is like, I feel like this kind of gives away some of my book, but it’s alright, people can still read it. But the idea of it is that it’s, you know–and I don’t think this is a secret–but it’s less about the skills than–because, you know, I started this because I wanted to learn how to do things like grow food and, I don’t know, fix things in my house, just practically speaking, because my husband and I are always joking about how I’m going to die in the zombie apocalypse because I don’t know how to fix anything. And, um, but, you know, what I’ve also discovered is that it’s not just the things you’re learning how to do, it’s the people that are around you and the community that you’re building, and the collective gifts that everybody has, and that we all have something to contribute. Which, of course, is something that can help you survive an apocalypse, but it also is just a better way to live in community and that maybe we can strive for that now and not wait until the world is over.

**Margaret ** 18:00
Yeah, yeah. No, that’s what… I feel like when we do anything right, like anything for the future right, it also makes our present better, you know? And I’ve been enjoying getting better at cooking and growing food and stuff, right? You know, and it’s like, if all I care about is making sure I don’t starve to death in the apocalypse, I can just keep buying dried rice in buckets, you know? 

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 18:29
Totally. 

**Margaret ** 18:30
But I’m like…no, it’s really nice to like…I finally made bread for the first time a couple months ago. And now like every week or two I make a couple loaves of bread and it just feels amazing. You know? I haven’t figured out how to make it so that it freezes well, because my favorite store bought bread, when you like freeze it and then you toast it, it’s really amazing. I really like that. If I was gluten free, I’d be in trouble. But okay, but to go back to what you’re saying, one of the things that I’ve been thinking about a lot while I talk to people for this show, and also the history podcast that I run, I think a lot about how stuff gets done. And it’s organizing. Nothing gets done unless someone organizes and makes it happen. And so,  like even just like oh, okay, you might not know how to fix a toilet, but you know how to run a PTA meeting.– [Both laughing] I don’t know fuck all about PTAs. But like you operate in a volunteer organizational situation on a regular basis and that’s an incredibly useful skill, you know?

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 19:31
Yeah, totally. Yeah. No, I mean, that’s…. You’re right. And I think that that’s something that I’ve also like played out, or is going to play out in the book as well, is that is my superpower is bringing people together. It’s also like, I mean, I can’t even tell you since my son was born how many Facebook groups I’ve created based on certain shared interests or whatever. I mean, some have continued, some have not, but, even, I’m a co-founder of an organization for moms who write and so we’re having a retreat pretty soon. And so it’s like things like that, any small thing people have this idea to rally around and I think that that is something that I’ve especially appreciated in the last year in that like I do…. You know, I don’t have to bring my terrible gardening. Although, they have gotten better. It is working. And I have grown way more tomatoes this year than I did last year.

**Margaret ** 20:33
[Laughing] I was gonna guess tomatoes. It’s the easiest….

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 20:40
Well, last year was a failure. I decided to grow–I mean, I know this is a tangent–but it was a funny thing. But I grew only heirloom tomatoes. And I mean, they don’t…they don’t…. Like, they grow so slowly. So I did not get tomatoes until almost November. It was like late October.

**Margaret ** 21:03
Which means that there’s no sun on them because you live in cloud land.

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 21:07
Well, yes, but last year was like a crazy….

**Margaret ** 21:11
Oh, that’s right, the rains didn’t come till really late. 

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 21:14
But I got 15 tomatoes that were just okay. But this year, I grew different kinds and I have had abundance. So I’ve learned my lesson. That lesson at least. Yeah. So I do think that I bring…I bring different kinds of….  I think that another value is that soft skills and hard skills are equally as valuable and we need to honor those as well. And that’s kind of the evolution of how I see the book going is that it starts with the hard skills, but then it really gets into the soft skills. And then also, you know, re-envisioning society, how do we do that?

**Margaret ** 21:16
Yeah. Okay, but are you gonna do the opening chapter where it’s gonna be, when you finally go out and hunt, right, and it’s gonna be like, the blood and the thrill and the not sure how you feel about it, and then the like, grizzled, you know, anarchist lady who’s handed you the rifle. Like, it’s gonna be a really good opening chapter. If you do this. 

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 22:16
Yeah, that’s gonna be a good one. I don’t know if it’ll be the opening chapter. But it will definitely be in there. I have to bring some blood in there. I haven’t done the hunting yet. Which part of… 

**Margaret ** 22:25
I don’t hunt yet. Yeah. 

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 22:26
Yeah, well, and part of the reason is that the hunting season is so short that I keep missing it. And I’m like, okay, I’ll wait until I have the book deal. Then, I can hunt.

**Margaret ** 22:38
Yeah, okay. Well, like, so one of the things that you’re talking about like building the mom’s who write thing–and in some ways that seems unrelated to preparedness–but one of the things that–and I’m kind of curious…this will be a different question that I’ll ask later about what kind of questions you get from people–but one of the main things that I get from people is people being like, "But I don’t have friends," or "I don’t have community," or like, you know… And I actually think a lot of the preparedness that focuses around you and your family and build your bunker and blah, blah, blah, sometimes it comes from a reasonable place where it comes from a place where it’s like, "I don’t…. I am alienated by our capitalist society and I don’t know how to interact with other people." And so, I mean, it’s funny, because when I lurk on center or right wing preparedness spaces, all of these people are building community with each other. But, they’re building a community about how as soon as everything goes bad, every man for himself and like, "No, you can’t come over to my house. You’re gonna be a, you know, mooch off of all my stuff," or whatever, you know. And I’m like, y’all were so close. You’re like building community. But when I think about having a moms who write retreat, you know, you’re talking about people who are alienated by their position in society–and, you know, moms have a very specific role within capitalist society that alienates you–

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 24:02
Yeah. 

**Margaret ** 24:03
–and getting together to build this thing. And it’s like, the communities that I find that are the strongest and most interesting to me aren’t necessarily politically focused communities but instead, communities that are focused on something else that then have a shared political vision–or even if it’s not a like ideologically labeled one–overall, you can have kind of a like, "Well, we build a community where we take care of people and where we, you know, hate the fact that there’s murder buoys in the rivers on the southern border." And, you know, without it being about that…. I don’t have a question. Yeah.

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 24:38
Yeah. I think I got what you were…. Yeah, well, and just to put a little plug in, we’re called Scribente Maternum, which is the writer moms group. And we…. Yeah, I think it’s worth actually noting when we formed our group we had–my friends who I co-created this with, Carla Duprey, who’s in Baltimore, and Rachel Burkeshearer, who’s in Minneapolis, we had known each other before, but it really started because of the pandemic. And a lot of that like alienation as mothers because so many of us, you know, took on the extra child care roles left, you know, when schools closed and when daycares and childcare closed. And, you know, we…. I mean, all of society really lost a lot of like women and moms from the workforce because of that. And so, we were like, you know, we so started these as virtual retreats and now we’re doing it in person because it’s safer to do so. But yeah, you know, and that has been so transformative and valuable. And last year, during our inaugural retreat in Baltimore we knew it was gonna be great, but it was like–I don’t think we realized how much this community of people was craving this. And it was transformative. Like, it really felt like just… We all needed to be in a space that acknowledged those really important identities that we had. And I should note, too, that we have kind of–I guess it’s like political–but we’ve been very focused on ensuring inclusivity, too. And so like, we say, "moms," but it’s kind of, you know, it’s an inclusive… You know, it’s inclusive of, you know, gender and also of role. Like sometimes aunts take mom’s roles. And there are some people who can’t become moms, you know. And so it’s just like…. And that also was part of the ethos that we bring to it. But it really…like sometimes you just need somebody to create it. And sometimes you didn’t know that you need it until it’s there. And you’re like, "Oh, my God, where has this been my whole life?" And I don’t know if I would have created it by myself. I created it because there were two other, two friends of mine, who also saw this need, and we were like, "We can do this. We can do this together." And I think that that…. But yeah, to find that…. I mean, I think it really is–I mean, and I’m an extrovert so it’s really just more natural for me to be in these spaces, but being married to an Uber introvert, I know the need for anybody, regardless of the community that they have around them, to have that connection with other people. And so sometimes you just need somebody to kind of create it and also find you. And that…. I mean, that’s hard, because it’s kind of out of your control a little bit. But like I do think that that…. I mean, I guess maybe it’s an advocacy for like, if you are the kind of person that is good at creating these communities, do it, and find the people who need to be found. I don’t know.

**Margaret ** 28:12
No, that all makes so much sense to me. And it’s funny because it even ties into…there’s this sort of anarchist cliche, "The secret is to really begin." And it’s an impetus to direct action. It’s an impetus, if you have a problem, figure out what needs to be done and start doing it. And I like that this is a…I mean, this is a life skill. It’s not just a go get involved in the following conflict kind of thing. You know, it’s…. And yeah, I guess that is, like that kind of almost answers the question when people are like, "Well, how do you build community?" And the answer is, like, well you find people based on like, a similar level of interest, or whatever, like, a specific interest. And then you do in person things together and you organize making that happen. And one of the things that I’ve found, if you’re the kind of person who goes to events and you don’t know how to talk to people at events, like if you’re an introvert and you are going to these events, if you get involved in the organizing, now you have a reason why you’re there and now you are talking to people, you know? Instead of fly-on-the-wall, you can just go and be part of it. And even if it’s like, if you go to a thing and you volunteer–a lot of the activist type things I’ll go to have like a kitchen, right–And you know, everyone gets fed. And like, if you don’t know how to cook, just go prep cook or even just go wash dishes and then by volunteering into this organization, or even if it’s a temporary organization, this thing that is existing is a really good way to meet people.

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 29:38
Yeah. Oh, I think that’s such a really good recommendation. I think that that’s something I’ve struggled with, like you know, being an extrovert, like seeing it from the side of introverts. It’s less awkward when you’ve volunteered for the kitchen or… And also that relates to the climate activist and writer, Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, she has this venn diagram of climate action that I think about a lot where it’s like, "What needs to be done and what gifts do I have that make me feel good?" And like, it’s such a simple thing, but it really is profound because you don’t have to legislate at the policy level, or you don’t have to do certain things that feel really out of your realm of comfort, but you can do things that are something that makes you happy and you’re good at and also needs to be done. Like I’m a writer. That’s my form of climate action is this book and this journey that I’m on, that I’m really good at sharing things about myself. And so this is the climate action that I’ve chosen. I mean, I do other things, too. I work with climate justice organizations here as well. But like, it doesn’t have to be one thing. And I think that that’s the same thing with finding community and also finding your place and community is that it doesn’t…you don’t have to be the leader. You don’t have to be…or the fly on the wall even. You can find your place in that.

**Margaret ** 31:15
Yeah. Okay. It reminds me of a different Portland writer who I care a lot about, Ursula Le Guin, the science fiction writer that used to live there.  

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 31:23
I love Ursula Le Guin.

**Margaret ** 31:25
 I interviewed her when I was 26, or something like that, and it changed the way I think about a ton of stuff because I interviewed her about anarchism and fiction. And I was trying to find my place as a writer. I was moving more and more into being a writer after having been just like a direct action, protest organizer, and squatter, and all these things for years. And, and what she said was basically, she was like, "I like hanging out with people who let me do what I’m good at, which is being a writer." But then she also talked about how she was like, "Don’t get me wrong, I still will stuff envelopes for Planned Parenthood and go to every peace March that I can," you know? And it was like, oh, that’s the perfect…you’re like, I feel like you have your like organizational level skills, or like your main thing you bring, and then there’s like grunt work, and you’re not excused from the grunt work because you’re like… Like, the really amazing musician still has to like wash his own dishes, you know? 

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 31:27
Yeah, exactly. 

**Margaret ** 31:30
But maybe the really amazing musician focuses on being a really amazing musician and doesn’t figure out how to structurally develop the dishwashing system, you know? 

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 32:37
Yeah, like, totally. 

**Margaret ** 32:40
Yeah, no, no, I just, I really liked that. It’s been a really useful thing for me as I’ve tried to figure out like…

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 32:47
I love that. I love Ursula Le Guin. And actually her book, "The Dispossessed" was really, I think, what transformed my ideas of anarchism the most because it’s the most coherent and clear and comprehensive description of an anarchist society that, you know, you can find anywhere that really gets you to actually understand what that is. But also on a personal level with Ursula Le Guin, I had…I wrote…I read a book and I interviewed the author of–actually her biographer–It’s called "The Baby On the Fire Escape" by Julie Phillips. And so Julie does a really beautiful job of talking about the motherhood and the identity of various authors. But Ursula Le Guin was pretty fleshed out because she’s also her biographer, which is pretty cool. But she, but what was real…but like, kind of, I think what I relate to Ursula Le Guin is that she was like, you know, a soccer mom of her era. 

**Margaret ** 33:50
Yeah. 

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 33:51
And like, she really had this similar identity that I feel like I have now but like, was really radical in her beliefs and expressing it in the way that she was doing it. And so I feel really like connected to her in that and also I live in Portland. I don’t know. 

**Margaret ** 34:07
Yeah, no, she’s really…. We really, we really lost something when she passed and like… 

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 34:16
I’m so jealous that you got to interview her. That’s so cool.

**Margaret ** 34:20
Yeah no, and honestly one of the reasons I’m so grateful to her is that by giving me attention, she helped my career substantially, literally just by being like, "Oh, yeah, no, this person seems cool." You know, and talking to me, and we did a talk together at Powell’s a million years ago. And it completely changed the course of my life. And I really will be forever grateful. And I like to think about that a lot when I’m like…just like small acts of kindness that change people’s lives and like…. No, I think…I love the way she writes about anarchism. I love that she talks about the marriage of responsibility and freedom and how they go, you know. And then one of my other…it’s been a couple years since I read "The Dispossessed," but I just like, I think about this a lot. One of my favorite parts of "The Dispossessed" is the love story, because it’s a love story about why monogamy is totally chill in a polyamorous world. And basically, this refusal to have these two forces be antagonistic to each other. And instead be like, "No, like, free love includes choosing to be like in this…" And so like, I only once watched her interact with her husband but it was just so beautiful to me. There was a point where–uh, now I’m just, whenever, I think about this all the time–there was a point where, you know, someone was coming up and being like, you know, "Oh, let me get the microphone set up." And she was like, "We’re not doing anything until my husband has a comfortable place to sit." And then so they like, switched all their priorities to make sure he has a comfortable place to sit. And then she was like, "Okay, great. Now, what did you need for me?"

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 36:02
Oh, my gosh, I love her. I love that. That’s a really good point. It’s something I remember thinking about when I was reading it, but I don’t know if I really processed it because there is so much to process in that book. I need to–I mean, it hasn’t been that long since I read it, but I want to just go back and read it again because I, you know…I don’t think I knew what I was getting into when I started reading it. And then we’re like, yeah.

**Margaret ** 36:29
Well, she didn’t know what she was getting into when she started writing it. It was like the thing that kind of made her more into an anarchist, was writing that book. 

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 36:35
I love that. 

**Margaret ** 36:36
So

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 36:37
Well, and also same. Me. What made me more of an anarchist was reading the book. So there we go. 

**Margaret ** 36:44
Okay, wait. So, to back up one step, you’re talking about, like, for example, your role as an extrovert–and I know that we are going to have all these other things talk about but I want to talk about this building community thing and ways of including people because this is one of the things that comes up so much. I think I pointed that out. And like one of the smallest things that I’ve seen people do, there’s like a culture…. I go to a couple different types of gatherings with very different types of people. And one of them is science fiction conventions, and specifically the ones for like writers and stuff, and there’s this culture that’s been developed where if you’re standing around in a circle of people talking, and there’s someone kind of just hovering at the back who’s like doesn’t know whether or not they can come in and join, you open the circle up. And it doesn’t matter if anyone there knows them. They are now part of that circle. And like, obviously, then sometimes people get really annoying and they talk too much and whatever. But like, it’s a culture of introverts. And so they’ve developed these like habits about how to take care of it. And the reason that I wanted to bring this up and ask you about it is that I’m kind of curious, how do we anti-gatekeep? How do we invite people in? Because one of the things that you’ve talked about is by being in the position you’re in, you’re able to talk to people about ideas. And so I actually, I guess, I’ll ask this about specifically preparedness to kind of bring things back to what we’re supposed to be talking about. How do you work to help people feel welcome in preparedness communities? Or like preparedness…concepts or something?

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 38:20
Yeah, well, it’s hard because I don’t know if I really have a ton of experience in that because I feel like I’m still pretty new in the preparedness circle, which I think is part of what makes me kind of accessible in that area. And so what gave me my–I mean, I’m still, you know, even though I’m an extrovert I get really nervous going into spaces that I’m not originally a part of. And so, you know, anyone from introvert to extrovert is going to feel out of place in new scenarios.

**Margaret ** 38:59
I thought you all just have these superpowers. Extroverts have the power to talk to people.

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 39:05
No, no, no, but I get nervous too. And sometimes to a fault. But at the same time, I’m…. But what I do is like, I think…. Gosh, I don’t know if I can answer that as far as preparedness goes, but I can tell you how we do it in other things. And then maybe I’ll get back to the preparedness part. But yeah, so I mean, this is a thing with our writer moms retreats. I mean, one of the things that we really have been grappling with–I mean, because it’s a retreat and it kind of falls into that wellness industry category, which is really white and affluent. So how we’ve done it is really just, especially in particular, reaching out to moms of colors and just trying really hard to create partnerships with communities of writers of writers of color. And trying to really, you know…. Last year we did get some funding to support five Black writer moms. And I think that that was a big starting point to that, but we didn’t have that this year. So I don’t know, I think that’s one. That’s kind of an inclusivity thing. But also, regardless of who came, nobody really knew anybody coming into that. So, I think there was such bravery on the part of these people to attend something that they’re like, "I don’t know anybody." But kind of like with the science fiction community is that we created, you know, we facilitated it in the way that it’s not…you don’t need to know anybody to get something out of this. And like, you know, circling up, like making it, you know…and creating an environment where we have small groups where you can really make individual connections and that kind of stuff. And I think that like that is… I mean, that comes from like my…. I was in higher education. I was in higher ed doing social justice education. And so I kind of employ a lot of these facilitation skills where we’re creating experiences that are good for extroverts and then some that are good for introverts. So ones that let you think before you have a conversation, or have one-on-one interactions before having a group discussion with everybody where not everybody’s going to feel comfortable sharing. So as far as like–let’s see if I can bring this home to the prepper thing. I mean, for me trying to like kind of get into this and like…. I mean, I guess part of it is I don’t know if I really found myself in traditional prepper circles yet. I think in some ways I’m kind of…. Like, what I mean by "traditional preppers" is I mean kind of from the stereotypical, the stereotype, that we would think, but…. Yeah, but coming at it from an individual skill level has been useful because everybody has a different reason for being in the place that they are. And so, kind of remembering that when I go in and being like, "Okay, you know, everyone’s here for their own reason and maybe your goal is to find out what those reasons are." Yeah, I get nervous, even if I have a friend with me, I get nervous every time I take a new class, because it’s like, not something that I…. But I have felt really welcomed so far because the communities that I have sought out are people that are really excited to share the skills that they have and really don’t care where you’re at with it. And so I think for me, it’s like, and I think that maybe is…. I, that’s what I would emulate is like that excitement for the skill and not necessarily looking for a type of person to be joining these circles. It’s really like I’m excited to share this idea. I’m excited to share this skill because it means something to me. And so I think for somebody who’s creating a group or creating an environment for that, that’s what has helped me feel a part of it. And with each class I take, the less scared I am for the next one. Although, I haven’t gotten to any gun related things yet. So we’ll see. 

**Margaret ** 43:27
My  recommendation, I try not to be super–let’s say gender essentialist or something–my recommendation is that some of the more macho type skills that lean towards machismo, getting people who aren’t cis men to be your teacher can be really useful. And there absolutely are a lot of women and other folks who train in firearms skills. And I’ve even had this experience where even when someone…. It’s not even necessarily the fault of the instructor sometimes. Like I’ve been…. Like, I’ve taught a decent number of people how to shoot firearms and sometimes the other co-trainer who often is the more knowledgeable person for fine tuning skills and things will be a cis man. And, you know, and I will find that I have…. I’m so great is what I’m trying to say. I find that sometimes people have an easier time learning from me than learning from the other person who’s teaching about specific parts of it. And it’s not even like a mannerism difference. It’s just kind of like…there’s a… You know, when you’re used to a culture of being like, "Oh men are gonna gatekeep this skill from me," you know, or like why is exactly the following thing happening? And like I think about like–well, I used to think…I used to pretend to be a boy for a very long time–and so I would go to these climbing camps when I used to do more forest defense and I’d learn how to climb trees and stuff. And then, and I wasn’t particularly good at it, right. And I like learned it. And I kind of, you know, I’ve treesat a couple times successfully and haven’t died. So, I feel like I’m doing alright. On the other hand, I think–I don’t know what percentage of the trees I’ve sat in are still around–but, you know, forest defense is a heartbreaking task. And then I went to, you know, there’s this group called TWAC, Trans and Women’s Action Camp, and it’s forest defense skills taught–and it’s an exclusive space where cis men are not allowed, right. And exactly what that looks like has changed over the years as our terminology and understanding of different things has changed, right? But I could climb so much higher there because instead of like…instead of people…because I would get up to like 20 or 30 feet and then I’m like, "This sucks. I’m scared. I’m coming down now." You know? And when I would do it around men, I’d be like, "Oh, I don’t even want to climb the tree anymore." You know? And instead, it’s just like, all these women being like, "You can do it! Or maybe you can’t do it, in which case you should come back down."

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 46:12
I know. "We’re here to support you in whatever you decide!" I know, I mean, that’s actually the thing that I’ve really…. And I had to kind of make that decision early on too, about what kind of spaces that I want to be in for this. And I really, I was, like, I am gonna stay true to my progressive values. And I really just don’t–I mean, and that doesn’t mean I can’t interact with people who have different values–but I don’t want to be…. Yeah, I want to actually learn these skills. And that’s not going to happen if I’m feeling emotionally threatened. And so I really have been trying to seek–and I still don’t know if I’ve found the right search terms, [Margaret laughs] especially for like hunting and that kind of stuff. But like, you know, so you know…. And part of that comes out with reaching out to people who I trust that can kind of give me recommendations, like you, you know, that know where I’m coming from. It’s easier with things like foraging than it is for hunting. Because, like, you know, it skews a little bit more lefty, but not always. Not always. But yeah, no, totally. I think that that’s…. Yeah, I’m a different person depending on who is gatekeeping and then being just aware of that in myself. And maybe that’s just, you know, the age, when we get older and want to actually, you know, exist in the world, we’re like, "Okay, how do I do that in the best way I possibly can?" And that’s being surrounded by people that make me comfortable.

**Margaret ** 48:00
Totally. And, you know, there’s lots of ways to do that. And I would also just say, like, okay, cis men, if you want that kind of experience, you just have to do it. You know? And I’ve seen folks do it, where they’re like, "Oh, it’s okay. We can all do this together. And like, you know, I’ve seen good, positive…. But I’ve also, even in otherwise good spaces, I’ve seen people being like, "Oh, we don’t have time to like, stop and put on sunscreen." And you’re like, "Why?" How can you teach a first aid class then? Like, what are you doing?

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 48:35
Yeah, I mean, it’s funny…. 

**Margaret ** 48:36
And if you’re the person that I’m accidentally saying this about, I believe you that you heard me when I had this upsetness and I think you’re doing better and I’m not mad at you at all. Yeah. Anyway.

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 48:49
You know, it’s funny, I keep bringing up the writer moms retreats, but my friend was at one of our–she was at an event advertising it–and she kept getting these, like, "Well what about the space for writer dads?" And she’s like, "Well, one, you can create it. And second, that’s everywhere."

**Margaret ** 49:09
Yeah, no, totally. Yeah. It’s like…. You know, and they might need it. And that’s great. They can do that.

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 49:17
Yeah, but that’s not my job to create that for you.

**Margaret ** 49:20
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Okay. Well, I have one main other topic I wanted to ask you about. You know, you’ve written about a lot about parenting and preparedness and we’ve talked about it sometimes at different times on the show in different ways. But, I kind of wanted to talk to you about talking to your kids about preparedness, like creating a family plan. Like I’m kind of asking for almost–not hard skills–but like some like how-to-ish stuff. Like, how do you create a family plan? How do you talk to your kids about disaster and uncertain futures? Not a small question.

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 49:58
No, it’s not but it’s an important one because we have to. And, I mean, so I…. I’ve written about it and I struggle with it kind of constantly because it’s like talking to…. Any parent…. I have a six year old son and he, you know, he’s his own person and has his own desires. And so it’s such a fine line trying to talk to your kids about big topics that we’re…they’re, you know, they’re going to…. If you drone on about it, they’re gonna get bored and just walk away. Or, you bombard them too quickly or are like too intense about it, they’re, you know, you’re going to develop this pattern where they’re not going to want to talk to you about certain things. And so it really is a challenge. But I’ve done a lot of, you know, since he was little, I’ve listened to a lot and read a lot about also talking to kids about race, especially white kids who don’t have to worry about it because the world is built for them. And, that, I think, the tools are similar to talking about race, and racism, and systemic racism as climate change. And so part of it is that you…. For me what has worked–and and I’m not saying this as like I’m a perfect example because I’m still learning a lot–but is that putting him into an environment that prompts a discussion about it. So, like going to a racial justice protests, and we’re talking about racism. And, you know, he will bring up the questions that kind of leads the way. And if we’re talking about climate change, it’s the same thing. So, I took him to–we live in the– our science museum OMSI, which is wonderful and they have an orca exhibit, which talks about climate change and talks about healthy oceans and a lot of other things. And, you know, I took him there and we had some conversations there, but then as we’re driving home, he was asking some really specific questions about climate change, questions about like, "Okay, well, you know, why can’t we stop it? Why can’t we do this, this and this?" and all of these kinds of things. And, you know, he asked questions for like…we had this conversation for about a half an hour, which is a long conversation with a six year old because usually they’ll move on to something else. And I think that like that, at least for the age that my son is, is that really is the best way to prompt these conversations. Like you want them to lead the way but you also can’t avoid it. So like, you know, books are a really good way to have these discussions, too. I don’t know if he’s ready for this, but just because I was doing my own research on what books would be good for kids but the YA novel. "Two Degrees" is a great one for young, for preteens and teenagers to read and like something that you can do with your kids, is read. But, the other thing that I have learned from also talking to your kid about racism is really teaching them not to be racist, really. What actually…. Like, those conversations are essential and you need to have them. But what they learn the most from is your actions. So, it’s really, you know, going to, for in our case, going to protests, both climate protests and antiracism protests or racial justice protests. It’s going…showing, you know, or talking about it. Like I do this. I’m writing this book about this. And, um, you know, it was, as far as like, preparedness goes, I struggled with this early on when I was trying to, when I was writing the book proposal, about how much I would involve him in the preparedness part of it, because, you know, I was like, "Oh, I’ll sign him up for Scouts and he can learn all these skills." And there’s a great place here that teaches bush skills to kids, which is cool. And he’s done a couple camps, but like, I can’t…. I was like…I had to be like, this is my journey. Like, I can’t…. Like, he’s into dragons. Like, if he doesn’t want to, you know, go bushwhacking then like I need to be okay with that. And so, you know, I think that that’s where it comes in where you can kind of…it’s really that showing, being the example. I mean, I still am gonna sign him up for some like one-off camps, but he didn’t want to do the year-long apprenticeship and I had to be cool with that. And also, you know, it helped to not have to pay for yet another thing. But, I think that’s, I think, the challenge for a lot of parents for any kind of skill that they want them to learn. And so it is…. So as far as the like family plan goes, you know, it’s funny, I don’t know if I’ve actually involved him in that because ours has–I have to say that we have a pretty basic plan. I think of it in terms of the earthquake because it’s easier for me to…. It’s very familiar. Like, we have a river that bisects the city and my husband works on one side, and we live and my kid goes to school on the other. And the bridges are all gonna go down.

**Margaret ** 55:46
So you need the "How does your husband get home?" 

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 55:49
Or like, if I am at a meeting across the river, who gets the kid? And so, this is how I’ve said to my son is like, you know, if something happens, I have–I’m very lucky to have family nearby–so my sister, I will just text them and be like, "Hey, I’m going to be across the river." And they’re not like, weirded out by me being like…

**Margaret ** 56:13
Because they’re used to you?  [Both laughing]

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 56:15
They’re used to me and like…. Yeah, and that’s the other thing, I’ve had other friends who I’ve had this conversation with too, is that they think about it all the time but they haven’t employed anything. Yeah. And so just talking about it has helped them be like, "Okay, if I’m at a meeting across the river, I’ll text so-and-so be like, ‘Okay, you’re on. If there’s an earthquake that happens, you’re on for child duty.’" So, you know, like, kind of stuff. So yeah, but yeah, I think it’s like involving him in that kind of stuff. And really having…. And having the conversation about like, okay, if something happens, like, these are the kinds of things that can happen. And he knows about the earthquake and we talk about that. And then he, obviously he knows about climate change too, but it’s tricky because that’s, you know, that’s a series of multiple climate disasters versus like, you know…. So it can be…. And actually maybe that is, that is actually a tool too, is to really think about what is the most likely disaster that could befall your community and your home? I mean, here, earthquakes are one, but wildfires are a constant threat every summer. And smoke is, you know, always there.  And so, use that as like a frame of reference to have these conversations with your kid and also to make your plan because it’s just easier to do than be like, "It could be anything."

**Margaret ** 56:39
Yeah. If aliens come down, this is what you’re doing. Yeah. [Laughing]

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 57:46
Exactly. Zombies. Yeah. So, if we end up in The Last of Us, what’s going to happen?

**Margaret ** 57:53
Okay, if dragons come and attack…

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 57:56
Oh, yeah, he’ll be really into that. 

**Margaret ** 57:57
Yeah, no, it makes sense. There’s like some level of preparedness where…. Because I feel like everyone I know who does preparedness has people involved in their preparedness plans who don’t care about it and roll their eyes at it, right? And so like, I just put food in my parents basement. And my mom doesn’t listen to the show, so I can say that. And like, but I’m able to also like…. Sometimes with people who are gonna roll their eyes at it, you’re like, "Okay, well, you’re gonna roll your eyes at it, but we’ll have made a plan." You know, you could just be like, "Hey, if the following happens, here’s the plan." And everyone’s like, "Okay, whatever." Mostly just to shut me up. But I’m like, great. No, it’s in place. We know the thing. We know the plan, you know? Yeah. 

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 58:46
Yeah. Yeah, no, totally. Well, and this is something we kind of talked about before is that like when I started this project, there are a lot of people who were like, "What are you doing?" My mom was really worried. She’s was like…. I really just….  She was more worried about the perception that people would have about me, that I would be seen as this, you know, kind of a wacko, And I was like, "You know, but, I’m a writer, mom," Like, this is how you like change the narrative is by being very specific about what I mean this is. And she’s really come around to it in this conversation and is like–not to the extent that they’ve made decent preparations–but you know, it’s like…. You know, but also like, I think that that’s, that’s something I wonder if I should have…. And now I’m thinking out loud, like should I be putting…how do you get more people in your immediate community to actually do something. They think it’s good that you’re doing it, but they’re not doing it themselves and….

**Margaret ** 59:52
I find it’s like…. I mean, honestly, what I used to do is I just made emergency kits and I gave emergency kits to probably 50 or 60 people. And just was like, it cost me a grand or so. Which is, you know, not…it’s a lot of money. But I’m like, you know what, that was one of the best $1,000 I ever spent. And every now and then someone messages me like, "I was at a protest and I really needed the Advil that was in my emergency kit. Thanks!" You know, and it’s like, everyone I give it to rolls their eyes like, "Alright, whatever." But then like, you know…. It’s just like, whatever. It’s, my peace of mind is why I just like…

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 1:00:29
Totally, I love that. That’s a brilliant idea, actually. Yeah, that’ll be my Christmas gifts this year.

**Margaret ** 1:00:36
Oh, yeah. Okay, the trick that you have to do is–because I give my family preparedness stuff every year for Christmas– you have to give them other stuff, too. It actually means you have to give them more stuff than you would otherwise give them. You know? Otherwise, they’re like, "God dammit, why did….?"

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 1:00:52
To be prepared.

**Margaret ** 1:00:56
Yeah, they’re like…. You’re like, "Here’s a mug that made me think of you and the LifeStraw that you can put in your car. You could just put it in the truck or your car and forget about it. And you’ll probably never need it." I don’t know. Okay, well, is there any major thing that you wish I’d asked you, or like final thoughts, or anything like that?

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 1:01:20
No, I don’t think so. This is really fun. I yeah, I guess maybe just the plug. Yeah, follow my newsletter at CrammingForTheApocalypse.substack.com.

**Margaret ** 1:01:32
Cool. Okay. Well, thank you so much for coming on. And whenever your book comes out, we’ll have you back on to talk about it more.

**Elizabeth Doerr ** 1:01:38
Thank you so much, Margaret. This is really a pleasure and always fun talking to you. I’m glad we had the time to do it. 

**Margaret ** 1:01:43
Yeah, thanks.

**Margaret ** 1:01:44
Thanks so much for listening. If you enjoyed this podcast, well, obviously, go follow Cramming For the Apocalypse and slip food into people’s basements. But, it has to be rodent proof. Otherwise, you’re actually just doing them a disservice. And then everyone would be really mad at you because you’re the one who left dried bread in their basement and now there’s rats everywhere. Unless the people become friends with the rats, in which case it’ll all work out. But that’s usually not how it goes. If you want to support this podcast, you can do so by supporting our publisher, Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness on Patreon, which is patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness. Your funds pay the people who do the thankless work, the grunt work as we were talking about before. It pays the transcriptionist and it pays the audio editor. And we, you know, value trying to make sure that our podcasts are as accessible as possible. So, yeah, and you can support us there and also we send out free zine–not free, you have to pay us, that’s how it works–we send out zines every month, but we also do free other podcasts, including a podcast called Strangers in a  Tangled Wilderness, which is a free version of the zine that comes out every month. So I wasn’t lying to you. And as well as a podcast called Anarcho Geek Power Hour, for people who hate cops and love movies. And in particular, I want to thank some of our patrons. I want to thank Eric and Perceval, and Buck, Julia, Catgut, Marm, Carson, Lord Harken, Trixter, Princess Miranda, BenBen, Anonymous, Funder, Janice &O’dell, Aly, paparouna, Milica, Boise Mutual Aid, theo, Hunter, SJ, Paige, Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea, Staro, Jennifer, Kirk, Chris, Michaiah, and as always, Hoss the Dog. All right, well, thanks everyone for listening and I hope you’re doing as well as you can

S1E90 – This Month in the Apocalypse: Sept. 2023

Episode Summary

This time on This Month in the Apocalypse, Brooke, Inmn, and Margaret talk about food insecurity, genocide in Armenia, a storm in Libya, battles for abortion care access, the government shut down, the state of water, and how everything can tie back to Lord of the Rings.

Host Info

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

Publisher Info

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

Transcript

This Month in the Apocalypse: September, 2023

**Inmn ** 00:15
Hello and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying [Brooke cheers] and this is our extra fun This Month in the Apocalypse section in which we talk about, unfortunately, most of the horrible things that happened in the last month. I’m one of your hosts today, Inmn, and I have with me some other folks. 

**Margaret ** 00:36
Hi.

**Brooke ** 00:36
The indomitable you.

**Margaret ** 00:40
Brooke is Brooke. I’m…I’m Out-mn [like Inmn, but out] Margaret,

**Brooke ** 00:45
I’ll be Margaret, you be Out-mn.

**Margaret ** 00:49
The inverse of Inmn. [Brooke laughing] Or, I’ll be Margaret. And then Inmn can be Brooke.

**Inmn ** 01:02
I don’t know nearly enough about math to be Brooke, but I will try.

**Margaret ** 01:07
Okay, we’ll just switch each other’s scripts and so that we each read what the other has researched. And y’all can go  with my shitty notes.

**Inmn ** 01:17
Yeah, right. You know, that sounds great. But before we get to all of that, we are a proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchists podcasts and here is a jingle from another show on that network. Bah doo boop doo [Singing the words like a simple melody]

**Inmn ** 02:21
And we’re back. And, to start off the show, we have harped a lot on how horrible of a place Phoenix, Arizona is a lot this year. 

**Brooke ** 02:38
Oh, I’ve definitely talked shit too, so…it’s at least an "us" and not necessarily a "we." 

**Margaret ** 02:42
I really appreciate you making this a "we" instead of me just talking shit on it.

**Inmn ** 02:48
Yeah, no, I mean, it’s the place, famously, where propane tanks explode because it’s too hot and people fall on the ground and get burned. And, where they’re trying to build some giant super future city that Bill Gates wants to trap us all in…or something. But a listener got a hold of me and told me about the history of the name, Phoenix, because it got brought up on the show. And, what he had to tell me about it was that Phoenix is named so because it was built from the ashes of a Hohokam civilization that was literally burned to the ground by white settlers. [Brooke boos] And they wanted to inspiringly build a city in its ashes. [laughing in a horrified way] So yeah, the surprising but not too surprising history of Phoenix. 

**Margaret ** 03:58
It’s more like the spell Animate Dead where you bring someone back to life but as a mindless zombie who serves you instead of their original purpose. 

**Inmn ** 04:04
Yeah, totally. Yeah. 

**Margaret ** 04:08
Brooke, what were you gonna say? Sorry. 

**Brooke ** 04:09
Oh, just that I think that, as an indigenous person, we should go ahead and re-Phoenix, Phoenix. [Everyone laughs] It’s time. 

**Margaret ** 04:18
This is just a terrible transitional state that I was in before…

**Brooke ** 04:21
I mean if it rises from the ashes, let’s burn that motherfucker down and give it back to its proper people.

**Inmn ** 04:29
It might do that on its own. The way the city is running it, it might…that might happen regardless of intention.

**Brooke ** 04:38
Excellent. I’m glad to help, though. I will help the city towards that goal.

**Inmn ** 04:44
Yeah. But, in a hopeful note for Arizona, I did find out that other cities in Arizona, not Phoenix, do weirdly have a pretty robust aquifer system. Like the city of Tucson, for example, only relies on the Colorado River for like 5% of its water, and otherwise, it’s all aquifer driven and there’s a lot of cool programs in place for–this is me defending that Arizona is a fine place to live.

**Margaret ** 05:18
I know. And I’m going to talk about groundwater later [Laughing] and how aquifers are all drying up all over the country.

**Brooke ** 05:24
Thank God, because I was going to insert some shit about there right now. So, I’ll leave that for you, Margaret.

**Inmn ** 05:28
Great. Well, to start us off today aside from Arizona…

**Brooke ** 05:36
Phoenix getting burned down.

**Inmn ** 05:36
…Aside from Phoenix getting burned down. There are some bad things happening in the world. I know this is a shock to all of our listeners who came here for a list of joyful things about the apocalypse, right? But, so there’s a new wave of activity in the Armenian Genocide from Azerbaijan. And, what’s been happening is that on September 19th, Azerbaijan   launched a full assault on Nagorno-Karabakh targeting mostly civilian infrastructure. There have been–you know, this was as of September 19th–200 casualties so far. But, there are 120,000 people who are completely cut off from any kind of external supplies or aid. Nagorno-Karabakh, it’s been contested for a really long time. It’s been the subject of a lot of past conflicts. And, both sides have–there’s been a, you know, an unsteady…"peace" isn’t the right word, but, you know, non-attacking-each-other time. And both sides are kind of accusing each other of a military buildup. And while there’s a lot of physical evidence that shows Azerbaijan amassing troops and building military infrastructure, the same cannot be said of Armenia, who has–there’s a local defense army in that area. Because, the area is sort of technically part of Azerbaijan, but is controlled by an ethnically Armenian population. And, so, part of this big military buildup is that there was this blockade put on, essentially, the only route in and out of this area, was just put on full military blockade. And there was a big humanitarian response to it because they’re like, "You’re cutting off 120,000 people from all external like food, and medical, and, you know, any kind of supplies, and, in some instances, water. And, there was this big mass starvation happening in this area. And, humanitarian aid convoys that were trying to go into the area were literally being shelled by Azerbaijan. Which eventually culminated in this full assault on September 19th. And, as it stands right now, there’s…literally 120,000 people have gotten into their cars and are attempting to leave the area since the…

**Brooke ** 05:37
That’s a lot of people 

**Inmn ** 05:38
Yeah, yeah. 

**Margaret ** 05:41
There was a ceasefire or something, right? 

**Inmn ** 05:44
There was a ceasefire, which called for the unconditional surrender of the defense army. So, it’s now a completely civilian population. And, there has been a call for the reintegration of the Armenian population, which locally is being viewed as a death sentence to pretty much everyone. Because, in the past, reintegration attempts by Azerbaijan have resulted in things like mass torture and rape of civilians and POWs. 

**Brooke ** 09:22
Wow. 

**Inmn ** 09:23
Yeah. And, to complicate things even more, there’s like a…You know, it’s in the world view right now. And people are like…Like, other countries are like, "Oh, should we do something?" And weirdly, Russia has been the peacekeeping mediator between the two.

**Brooke ** 09:43
What? 

**Margaret ** 09:44
So, it’s not good. They’re not doing good things. 

**Inmn ** 09:47
No, they’re not doing good things. And, a lot of people suspect them of playing this double game because Russia has publicly supported Armenia in a lot of the disputes, but they are the main arms supplier to Azerbaijan. So, there’s obviously a lot of strange conflict. They’re essentially…the world at large is viewing them as playing one side against the other. So…

**Margaret ** 10:19
So, I don’t know as much about this part. I’ve only been learning about some of this stuff recently. But, Russia, in general, has its own kind of equivalent of NATO, like its power-block type thing. But, Armenia is basically being slowly, kind of, shunted out of it or given less and less say in it, is the impression that I’m under. And, so there’s a lot of tension of how Armenia is a little bit more looking to the west or whatever in a way that Russia isn’t stoked about. That’s the–I’m not 100% certain about this–that’s the understanding I’ve been kind of learning.

**Inmn ** 10:58
Yeah, yeah. And so, kind of, one of the big pressing issues right now is what is going to happen to this mostly ethnically Armenian population that is…Like there’s a 70 mile line of cars trying to flee the area. And like, yeah, yeah, obviously…

**Brooke ** 11:22
Where are they headed towards?

**Margaret ** 11:25
Armenia.

**Inmn ** 11:26
Yeah.

**Margaret ** 11:27
They’re in the border region. 

**Brooke ** 11:29
Going into Armenia? Not going out of Armenia? 

**Margaret ** 11:31
Yeah. No, into. Because, what it is, is there is a border area and that border area, most of it is now controlled by Azerbaijan and was taken, I believe, during the conflict a couple of years ago. However, several of the cities, or several of the population centers, are primarily Armenian even though they’re now technically part of Azerbaijan because of this conflict, right? And so they need to get the fuck out because they’re going to be genocided. And, they’re very aware of the fact that they are going to be genocided. And a lot of the rhetoric that is coming up is genocidal. And, Armenians are being like fairly blunt that, like, "If the world doesn’t do something right now, we’re going to die." Like, hundreds of thousands of people are going to fucking die.

**Inmn ** 12:22
Yeah. 

**Brooke ** 12:23
Wow. 

**Inmn ** 12:24
Yeah, it’s…it’s really bad. Yeah, but yeah, that’s all I have on that. Brooke, I have heard that there’s also some pretty bad things happening in India and Libya?

**Brooke ** 12:41
Yeah, well, I can tell you about India, anyway. Well, we talk a lot about, of course, climate events going on. And there’s been a lot of stuff that we’ve talked about this summer with various climate catastrophes, wildness, unusual behavior. And I think it’s pretty well known that we’re in an El Nino situation right now. One of the countries that has been affected by climate catastrophe this year is India, especially in the northern regions where they do a lot of growing of food. And they have had really unpredictable rainfalls. In some places there’s been severe flooding, and other places, there’s been less rain than usual, which overall is leading to a lot of problems with a lot of crops. So, some of the food staples in India have seen significant increases in prices. Tomatoes and onions are things popularly used in Indian cooking, and they’ve seen a five to six times increase in the price for them. [Margaret goes "phew!"] Yeah, yeah, massive increases. And then, and this is then also related to war in Ukraine and wheat and grain prices. The chicken feed has gone up significantly, and chicken is a pretty common meat in a lot of dishes. But, then the chicken has become too expensive–to buy chicken. And to have chickens and feed them and butcher your own chickens has also become too expensive. So, that big source of protein is kind of off the menu in a lot of places too. So, some families are eating, you know, just mashed up vegetables is their whole meal for the day. Other places, they’re making just–it’s not naan but it’s breads that are…roti. Roti breads. They just make some roti bread in the morning and that’s all the family has to eat for the day is just bread. A lot of lower income families get a wheat subsidy from the government. They get so many pounds of wheat every month. But, it’s not enough to last through the whole month. And of course they’re not able to get enough wheat from other sources to even keep up with the levels of demand that people have in the country. So, inflation is making it much harder to buy goods. And, it’s due to the climate catastrophe. And in fact, India has gone so far as to ban some exports like rice and sugar. Yeah, they’ve banned exports on those, which, of course, all of the places that might turn to rice as a grain source when wheat runs out then can’t get the rice that they would usually get. Not that they’re interchangeable, but, you know? And, in fact, India is looking at importing some things that it historically never has to import, like tomatoes from Nepal. They’re looking at having to import those. So, yeah, you know, it’s already a very impoverished country. So, India is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, having some trouble with the food staples there. And, not gonna get, you know, better anytime soon because, of course, they’re crops that you harvest and that you store. So, rice, you know, being a big one, they’re pulling in a smaller rice harvest. There’s not enough to go around right now. And then everything that they would usually put in a long term storage, they don’t have enough for that. So, there’s going to be even more food insecurity down the road, unless they’re able to find ways to import some of that and do it in a way that they can afford to do.

**Brooke ** 16:58
One more component of that whole foods situation–it’s not like the food supply-but speaking of Ukraine, is that India imports fuel from Ukraine. And I can’t remember the kind. But, they haven’t been able to get as much fuel as they usually would, and so people that use that for cooking, don’t have don’t have the ability to do as much cooking because they can’t afford it or they can’t get the fuel that they need in order to cook.

**Margaret ** 17:37
It’s funny because one of the things I’m sort of hoping we can start doing with a lot of things–obviously, we can do it with all things–is to sort of talk about how to mitigate these problems or how to help with these problems, you know? And there’s like two different parts of it. And one is like, you know–and I don’t have the research and I’m just like thinking about a way to try and do this–but it’s, you know, we don’t have a way to necessarily impact food prices in India and so then it’s like, "Oh, well, there’s the things that we can do here." And then it’s like, well, overall, not entirely, but, overall, the average person in America is a lot more privileged. But then it’s like…just things like how tomatoes and other crops are also being threatened a lot in the United States right now, and we’re probably going to see food prices on a lot of these staple crops, like vegetables and things, go up–not to the same degree, not five or 6…you know, 500%, or whatever, in one year. And it’s interesting because there’s some of these things that are easier to grow at home, as compared to staple crops. Like, large copper hydrates, corn, wheat, rice, can be grown at home, but very…it’s way more complicated. And, you’re also very unlikely to have a climate where you can grow all three of those things instead of just one of those things.

**Brooke ** 18:54
Yeah, in my heart, I’m like, "Oh, yeah, the solution to this is, you know, everybody should plant a garden." But, that’s such a privileged thing to say, to assume that they have space, resources, good soil, you know, with a thousand things that actually tries to do that.

**Margaret ** 19:12
Yeah. Yeah. Well…

**Brooke ** 19:15
But, if you can garden, you should learn how to do something, plant something.

**Margaret ** 19:22
No, I mean, even as a as a prepper, sometimes when something goes wrong for one of my friends, I’m like, "Oh, I’m gonna get the thing that helps me if that goes wrong for me." I mean, I try and help them out first, right? But, you know, driving with someone and the muffler or the whole tailpipe detaches from their car, and they’re like, "Oh, I need this metal strapping instead of, you know, I had like P-cord or something, right?" And now I have metal strapping in my car because why not? It’s tiny and cheap and light, right? And that’s not…this doesn’t apply on a global level. I’m sorry everyone who’s listening who’s like, "Shut the fuck up." You’re right. Okay, so we decided what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna do like foreign–foreign… [questions the phrasing] Whatever, international shit before we do shit that’s like a little bit more…the shit that we already…the shit that’s closer to home. So, the other big thing that I have from this year…from this month–Jesus Christ, it’s been…this year…it’s just not even…. [Pauses to rest] In Libya, the…Okay, there was a storm called Storm Daniel. And, it was the deadliest storm in the Mediterranean in recorded history. And, it happened on September 11th. Way higher count of dead people than anything–well, then the famous thing that happened on September 11th in United States. I don’t know as much about the coup that happened on September 11th years ago. But, Storm Daniel, it’s like…it’s not a tropical storm because of like, it’s not from the sparkling Champagne region of France or whatever…[Brooke laughs, getting the joke] Like…You know what I’m saying? [Affirmative noises] Like, in order for it to be a tropical storm it has to exist in this very specific way. But, it’s like…it’s a tropical storm, like in terms of its impact. Like, it’s a sparkling nightmare. And, you know, so it’s legally distinct. But, it hit a ton of Mediterranean countries, and it fucked a lot of things up. And, it most notoriously killed a fuck ton of people in Libya because there were these two aging dams outside of the city of Derna that broke on September 11th. The death toll is anywhere from 4,000 to 11,000 people with 9,000 people that are still missing, even though it’s been several weeks. I believe that that 11,000 number includes those missing people. That’s the best guess I can get. And, just basically a third of the city fucking washed out to sea. I’m being slightly hyperbolic. A third of the city was damaged and a fuck ton of it washed out into the sea. And…Yeah, the morgues were overfilled. Bodies were laid out in the main square on sidewalks. Eight people, eight officials have been arrested already over this, which is funny because it’s better than what the United States would do, you know? And, we’re all like, "Oh, look at these terrible, idiotic countries," or whatever. Like, no, they…So far, as of yesterday, as of recording, they’ve arrested eight people.

**Inmn ** 22:32
Like on…because of…because of like what? Like preparation?

**Margaret ** 22:36
Because they didn’t fix the damn thing. Yeah, sorry. There are these two dams that for decades scientists…The dams were built in the 70’s by, I want to say, a Turkish contractor. No, I’m not sure. A contractor from a different country. And, they’ve been showing signs of aging and they’ve just been unmaintained for like 50 years. And, in 2012-2013 $2 million was appropriated, like sent to fix them, but Libya has not been an incredibly stable place, and that money did not fix them. And so, yeah. Everyone was like…Scientists were sitting there being like, "There’s a crack in this dam that’s over the town. We should do something," and everyone’s like, "Oh, yeah, totally." [In a tone suggesting they won’t fix it] And, you know, I mean, that’s, government for you? Like, like, you know? But, on the other hand…Whatever. Glad that people are at least trying to take it seriously.

**Inmn ** 23:45
Sorry. Do you have more on that?

**Margaret ** 23:47
No, no, let’s talk about things in the Western world.

**Inmn ** 23:50
Oh, yeah, I’m first. We’ll start with the bad, unfortunately. So, the newest battleground for abortion access in Texas is that Texas is…There’s this group of lawmakers who, you know, it’s the same people who authored the Heartbeat Bill, who are trying to…Instead of making large state or national laws to target abortion, they’re trying to target abortion on a very small level–which will have a huge and devastating impact–by building this network of what they call like "Sanctuary for the Unborn" cities. [Margaret scoffs] Yeah, no, it sounds pretty bad. And, so what they’re doing is they’re going to small towns, especially in West Texas, to try to get those towns to pass local ordinances that would create criminal penalties for traveling through those cities to access abortion care in states where abortion is still legal, like New Mexico. And, this is particularly impactful in West Texas because a lot of–there’s a handful of new abortion clinics that have sprung up on the border of New Mexico and Texas specifically to serve people going from West Texas to New Mexico to access abortion care. And, two cities have passed the ordinances so far with as many as 51 cities who are thinking about it. And, the one currently in the news right now is Llano, Texas, which sits at an intersection of six different highways, including a pretty major highway, highway 87, which is a road that a lot of people who are going from Austin to New Mexico might use. And then there’s a bunch of cities along I27 that have ordinances brewing for…similar ordinances. And, largely, though, what’s interesting about this is that although two cities have passed this so far, there’s a lot of conservative apprehension about passing these laws. 

**Brooke ** 23:53
Really?

**Inmn ** 24:23
And, this comes from…I think this comes from the intersection of like…these are probably more libertarian-minded people who think that it is an overreach for the government to create penalties based on travel, because they’re worried about other ways that travel could be limited and for other reasons that travel could be limited. So, it’s libertarians and conservatives who are not like…who are probably antiabortion, who probably support abortion bans, but they think that this kind of larger infrastructural travel thing goes way too far. So, there is a lot of conservative pushback from it, which is interesting.

**Margaret ** 28:53
Okay, about abortion. Obviously, the State should not use–well, the State shouldn’t exist–but, the State shouldn’t use the Church or religious teachings in order to determine health care. I think that’s a fairly understandable thing. However, if you, the listener, are religious in a Christian variety or if you want to argue with these people, this whole concept of being against abortion as a Christian is pretty fucking newfangled, is one of the things. The Church, the Catholic Church–which is a minority religion in the United States and is not a like primarily powerful force in the United States political sphere–the Catholic Church has only been against abortion since 1869. For almost all of the church’s existence, abortion was only a problem during the third trimester after the Quickening, the Ensoulment, right, is what people want to argue about is like when a human gets a soul or whatever. And, until the late 19th century, the Ensoulment happened…people would argue either like…Most Jewish religious teaching, I believe, is that the Ensoulment–that’s…I don’t know if they use the word "Ensoulment”–but, the first breath of life, right? "You get your soul when your fucking born," is a very common traditional teaching. Also…Or, you get it at the Quickening, which is the fucking…like 24 weeks into pregnancy. And so, this whole idea of life beginning at conception is god damn new. All the people that the Catholics venerate didn’t fucking believe that shit. And then, more than that, evangelicals, who are the main people pushing antiabortion shit, they didn’t get into the shit until the 1970s. And they were like…basically were like, "Oh, how else can we be shitty?" And they were like, "Oh, we can be shitty by hating women. And so we’re gonna fucking all of a sudden decide that we’re against the following type of health care." I don’t have as much of the facts about that in front of me, about exactly how that went, but basically, they joined…It used to be only the Catholics who were the people running around being shitty about abortion. And, I don’t know. I, for some reason, I think that this matters…Like, just even in terms of like when you’re talking about…Because people act like it’s this like, "Well, I’m a Christian and therefore 2000 years of hating abortion," like that’s just not the fucking case.

**Inmn ** 31:17
Yeah, and even there was this one person in Llano, who was quoted as saying like–it was like a council person–who was like…she was like, "Yeah, I’m personally not in favor of abortion. But, I remember giving a friend, like picking up a friend from an abortion clinic in high school and like I didn’t support it, but I picked them up. And, under this new law, I would be a criminal." So, what is interesting about this overstep to me is that it offers some ground for people to talk about things in a way that might not have been in the forefront before where like…Which is interesting. It’s like the more that the government, or, you know, crazy far-right conservatives, overreach, it does have the potential to create these funny little fissures with, you know, just normal everyday people who are like, "Well, whoa, whoa, wait a second. Wait a second. I was against abortion, but this is looking more like Fascism." And, I think that is creating fissures, which is interesting. But…

**Margaret ** 32:37
No, and it’s good. That side should have fissures and we should make them…we should embiggen those fissures. There’s a different word here. 

**Brooke ** 32:46
I love it.

**Inmn ** 32:51
But, yeah, that’s mostly it for Texas. In a related note, Idaho recently became the first state to impose criminal penalties on people who help a minor leave the state for an abortion without parental consent, just as another wave of the war against abortion access.

**Brooke ** 33:14
You know, this wasn’t on my talking list, but, if I may, speaking of Idaho and abortion, I was reading about a lot of OB-GYN providers who are leaving Idaho in noticeable numbers, especially people who are specialists in like NICU care [Neonatal Intensive Care Unit] or early birth tiny baby death problem kind of things, those sort of high-level baby specialists, because they feel so at risk in Idaho that if something happens to a baby in their care, that they could be criminalized for it. I mean, they’re taking jobs in other states and fleeing in such numbers that it’s recognizable. And, there’s some places that have–hospitals–in rural areas that have shut down their maternity wards.

**Margaret ** 34:06
It’s just so awful.

**Inmn ** 34:09
Well, if state-by-state Christian nationalism bothered you, do I have some bad news, because recently it was unveiled that this horrifying thing called Project 2025, and it is a thousand page, essentially, playbook for conservative lawmakers to dismantle the federal government as it stands. And…

**Margaret ** 34:40
Why do they always try to do the cool stuff? [Laughs at the dry joke]

**Inmn ** 34:42
I know. I know. And, most of what they’re looking at doing is completely dismantling the EPA and a lot of similar jobs that pertain to environmental regulation. But…

**Margaret ** 34:54
Yeah, the stuff that we want to have keep happening once we have an organizational system instead of a government Yeah, I’m sure they’re gonna keep the fucking cops and Border Patrol. Fuckers. Yeah.

**Inmn ** 35:06
Yeah, it’s pretty disconcerting. It’s like trying…People view it as trying to pave the way for whatever the…whoever the next Republican president is to essentially become, you know a dictator in a more literal sense. 

**Brooke ** 35:27
Well, the federal government is trying to fuck itself currently. 

**Inmn ** 35:30
Oh, yeah? 

**Brooke ** 35:31
If I can transition into that. Because, we are facing another federal government shutdown risk. [Makes an enthusiastic noise]

**Margaret ** 35:42
Once again, they’re gonna shut down the wrong parts of it, aren’t they?

**Brooke ** 35:44
Oh, yeah. Uh huh. They’re gonna keep essential services, which is apparently not shit like OSHA, and Food and Drug inspections, and air traffic control. Those are not essential services. [Margaret laughing]

**Margaret ** 35:58
I’m sure it’s the goddamn Border Patrol and making sure poor people pay taxes and rich people don’t.

**Brooke ** 36:05
Yeah, shit like that. We talked about it one other time, government shutdowns on the show together, and in that context, it was talking about the debt ceiling, the government’s self imposed limit on how much money they can borrow. And so, they were at risk of having to shut down because they weren’t in agreement about being able to borrow more money. Well, this is the…now, we’re facing the most beloved refuse-to-agree-on-a-budget federal government shutdown and fucking every time they have to redo the budget, it’s always in the news, "Oh, it’s gonna be a federal government shutdown!" And, sometimes it’s more serious than others. So it’s super hard to take it seriously. It hasn’t really happened very many times that there’s been a government shutdown. There was one that was back in like 2018-2019 that was 35 days or there abouts. And that one….

**Margaret ** 37:00
Which is the longest one in history? 

**Brooke ** 37:02
Exactly. And that one was actually long enough to have an impact that mattered. If they have one right now, it’s, you know, they probably won’t have one there. And, if they do, it’s going to be one of these stupid two or three day kind of things. It’s really, really unlikely, because they just don’t have the circumstances to have that long one happen again. If it did happen, and it goes on for a long time, then you get a lot of backups in the federal government. You have subsidy programs that won’t send out payments, like SNAP benefits and Social Security benefits and housing assistance and financial aid for students. But again, it has to be a shutdown that’s closer to a month long, because they’re set up to do all of those payments, you know, for the next month. So, if they shut shut down today, October is all set to go and would automatically do its thing, and then November would be fucked if they stayed shut down. So, most likely not going to happen. If it does happen, probably a minimal one and longer interruptions. I guess if it happens and we’re looking at a long one, we can talk about it some more and I can tell you all about what’s actually going to go on and all the fucked-up-ed-ness. But, if you’re seeing it in the news, it’s just because this is the thing that the news likes to pick up right now and talk about this time of year. Yeah, don’t stress out about it. Like, they fucking take the exact same article from the previous year and and, you know, move the paragraphs around.

**Margaret ** 38:27
Well, it’s like…it’s like…Okay, it’s like Covid. It’s like…When Covid was first coming up, it was gonna be like another bird flu where we were like, "Oh, no, this thing that won’t actually materially affect us that’s just a news cycle panic thing." And then it’s like every now and then it’s a Covid, you know? And, eventually, it might be a Black Death and we’re fucked, right? But, most of the time, when there’s like…Like I still…Like, even as I was skimming there was some like, "new superbug" in such-and-such place and I’m like, "I’m not worried," right? Like, it’s either…It’s either gonna be real bad or it’s not. But, there’s a new one of those to worry about every fucking month. And, so, that makes sense about government shutdown being that it could be real fucking bad, but it usually isn’t. Yeah.

**Brooke ** 39:19
The worst that it’s ever been still wasn’t really that bad. I think things got really fucked up for, you know, about a month after they got back online. And then there were some other things that had delays, you know, applications and shit that they didn’t process and then had like a backlog of and whatever. But, the biggest thing that could be an impact, that could, even if it’s a short one, could be air travel, because the TSA doesn’t get paid. And the last time they had a long one, the TSA agents were like, "No, we’re not gonna stay here and work for free." And, they fucked off and went and drove Uber. And whatever.

**Margaret ** 39:53
Yeah, I mean, there was a whole constitutional amendment about how you can’t make people work without giving them money unless they’re in prison.

**Brooke ** 39:53
The government begged them and they’re like, "Please, please. We know you’ll…We’ll figure it out. Please do it for free? You’ll get back pay!" 

**Margaret ** 40:08
And they’re like "Nah, we fought a war over this."

**Brooke ** 40:09
People are like, "I don’t need back pay. I need money now."

**Margaret ** 40:11
Yeah, if the economy wasn’t trashed it wouldn’t be a big deal. Everyone’s paycheck-to-paycheck, even the fucking middle class, so what the fuck are you gonna do?

**Inmn ** 40:22
Yeah. Which is…This is a whole thing. But, um, did you know that billionaires are putting a huge amount of energy and time into trying to figure out how to keep security forces loyal to them when money doesn’t exist anymore?

**Margaret ** 40:38
I think we’ve talked about this, haven’t we? 

**Inmn ** 40:39
I think a little bit. We’ve touched on it. 

**Margaret ** 40:41
Maybe I just talk about it all the time. It just comes up at every dinner.

**Inmn ** 40:47
Yeah, yeah. It’s wild. It is a huge thing on billionaires minds right now is not getting killed by everyone when the…when civilization collapses.

**Margaret ** 40:59
Yeah, specifically, how to get to their security…Yeah, how to get their security guards to like…In their doomsday shelter where they’re like, "How will I still be in charge of my doomsday shelter when there’s no outside world?" Like, well, you won’t. You’ll be dead and everyone will be glad.

**Brooke ** 41:14
This is why I say "Start early and eat the rich." I’ve got a solution for India.

**Margaret ** 41:21
Also, it’s vegan to eat the rich because…Because veganism is a relationship to power, right? And so it’s not actually…It’s like you can’t be speciesist against humans, right? So, you are not oppressing oppressed animals if you eat billionaires.

**Brooke ** 41:41
Thank you. I feel even better about that.

**Margaret ** 41:45
It might not be vegetarian, but it is vegan. [everyone laughing]

**Inmn ** 41:50
Brooke, do you have any other things to tell us? [Nervously laughing]

**Margaret ** 41:56
Before it goes over to me? [Laughing]

**Brooke ** 41:58
My one other thing to say to you is "Don’t talk to cops." Okay, go on.

**Margaret ** 42:02
Okay, let’s see. I got some bad stuff, some good stuff. Well, in good news, it was the hottest August on record all across the world.  So, get your bathing suits ready, including in the other hemisphere where it was supposed to have been Winter, but it wasn’t. Everyone’s like, "Oh, yeah, hottest August. I mean, it’s fucking August." Like, no, you motherfucker, it’s Winter somewhere when it’s August. 

**Brooke ** 42:28
Margaret, do you know it’s September though? Like just checking.

**Margaret ** 42:34
I’ll take your word for it. The leaves are turning where I live. Okay, so there’s like, we had the hottest August, we had the hottest July, and we had the hottest June. We also had five months in a row of the hottest global surface sea temperatures, like each month it hits a new record that is hotter than the one previously. Overall, our August was 2.25 degrees Fahrenheit, like 1.25 Celsius, I think, over the 20th century average. 

**Brooke ** 43:03
We did it! 

**Margaret ** 43:04
Yeah, exactly. But, don’t worry, all of this rising sea temperature actually will make tropical storms, and sparkling storms, rarer. This surprised me. It’ll make them rarer. But, it’ll make them more powerful. So hurricanes, more common. But, tropical storms and sparkling storms, less common because a higher percentage of them will destroy things in their wake.

**Brooke ** 43:33
Okay, but on net because there’s less of the other kind, we should just average out to be fine, right? That’s what I hear you saying, one’s worse, ones…not.

**Margaret ** 43:37
Yes, absolutely. It’s a good time to get a yacht. And I know who has yachts. They are people who you can eat, ethically. And, if you want to get to the ocean to get some yachts, you can go down the Mississippi River. Except, did y’all hear that? It’s not in the fucking national news at all. Did you hear that New Orleans is having a water crisis? 

**Brooke ** 43:40
No, I didn’t hear about that. 

**Margaret ** 43:44
They’re gonna have to be shipping in millions of gallons of water to New Orleans for people to drink. Because–and this is not certain. This is looming. This is today’s news, like past couple days news. All of the drought that has been happening this year has the Mississippi so fucking low that there’s basically backwash from the sea coming up into it. And, so all of the saltwater is going to fuck up southern Louisiana’s plumbing, right? And, also fuck up–and you can’t, you can’t boil advisory saltwater. Off the top of my head, if you are stuck with saltwater, your best bet for desalination is building a solar still or some other kinds of still. Be very careful. If you purchase a still. You can buy them on Amazon. Most of the things you can do with stills are incredibly illegal and will get the ATF paying attention to you. However, I don’t know, if I was in New Orleans right now, I’d probably buy a fucking still. Just in case. Because, you can distill water and then the brackish water stays in the bottle. Whatever. Anyway, people can fucking do their own research about that or listen to us talking about this on this very show. So, New Orleans is trying to head this off. And, one of the things that’s worth understanding is that there are people who try to stop this stuff and they are worth celebrating, even if they’re like the federal government or whatever, right? Like, the US Army Corps of Engineers just built a 25 foot underwater levee to try and stop the backwash of saltwater into the Mississippi. It is not enough. Right? As of this morning’s news anyway, it’s not enough. 

**Brooke ** 43:44
Wait, how much of a levy [misheard levee as levy] was it? Did you say in price or volume? 

**Margaret ** 45:45
25 Feet.

**Brooke ** 45:46
Oh, feet.

**Margaret ** 45:48
The height of it. Yeah, it’s 25 feet from the river bottom up levee. 

**Brooke ** 45:55
And that’s not enough? 

**Margaret ** 45:57
No. Yeah. And, okay, so that happened. And that’s one of the ones that like…Yeah, I’ve been struggling to find anything about it besides hearing from people in New Orleans. But, it’s a big fucking deal. Because, we also within the United States have these places where people don’t pay attention. One of the other places that people don’t pay attention to is the border. We sometimes pay attention to the border because we care and we’re aware of this monstrous humanitarian crisis caused by the United States government and its policies that’s happening at the border, you know? And all of this cruelty and racism that’s happening. But, one of the things I want to talk about–because no episode could be complete without some micro rant. And don’t worry, my weird thing about theology is not going to be my micro rant for this week. Although, this one’s actually probably shorter than my one about fucking theology. I’ve had a weird month of research. So, all of this bad shit’s happening at the border. We are still in a border crisis. There’s a lot of families that are trapped between two walls at the southern border. And, these are people who are trying to come as refugees, trying to do the thing that right wingers are like, "Well, if they just came properly like my great grandparents, who totally came before there was even fucking immigration policies, then it would be totally fine." Because, P.S., if you’re white, there’s a very good chance that your ancestors came before there was any kind of immigration. They probably literally just got off a boat. Anyway. So, there’s all these people and there’s all these people fucking trying to…not trying to. There’s all these people feeding and clothing and providing phone charging services and shit for these people. And, what’s kind of cool, is I’m aware of three groups that are doing this outside of San Diego right now. And, they kind of run the gamut, right? You’ve got the Free Shit Collective, whose logo has 1312 in it. And then you have the American Friends Service Committee, the Quakers. And then, in the middle, you have Border Kindness, who are another group. And so, whatever your flavor of mutual aid is, you fucking go support it. I say support all of them. And let’s continue to build good interconnectedness between all of the people who are trying to do good right now. Because, much how even though Gondor did not come to Rohan’s aid, it was still very important for the Riders of Rohan to show up to support Gondor when Mordor was attacking them. And, even the Ents, who also had been not treated well by the humans, and the dwarves, and the elves, you know, all come together, right, to fight against the United States government, which is Mordor. And…

**Inmn ** 48:49
I’m so excited to transcribe this.

**Margaret ** 48:54
You’re the only transcript person who will be able to spell any of these things. And so, to that, I want to say, okay, because I was thinking about how we’re always like, "Oh, God, we’re gonna go talk about a bunch of bad shit." And I know people who listen to our show but don’t listen to this episode every month, right? And because it’s a series of bad things. And, the thing that I’ve been thinking about that is that I’m like, but there’s all these good things that happen. But, most good things that happen aren’t like, "And then there was 100 years of peace and everyone had happy, idyllic lives," right? That is a rare, random thing that some people are lucky enough to live lives of peace, you know? But, that is not what the average human experiences. And I refuse to believe that the average human experience is negative because bad things are always happening. And what makes our lives good, is how we choose to act against that bad. May we view ourselves as lucky that we are born in these times. May we view ourselves as lucky that we can join in the Rider of Rohan and, "A red day, a blood day. Death, death, death!" Although, that’s actually…that’s actually…I hate when the movie gets things better than the books, but that’s a fucking sick speech andonly parts of it are from the books. And, also Tolkien totally cribbed this way older Norse poem about like, "Shields will be splintered…" Whatever. Anyway. "Wolf Time?" I…Fuck, I can’t remember the name of it. Anyway, bad things are always happening,

**Brooke ** 50:33
Margaret, can I just say that I love you.

**Margaret ** 50:34
Aw, I love y’all too. Bad shit’s always happening. But, look at these three different groups that are working together to fight this. And what can be more beautiful than that, right? And, they support each other and they talk about each other as all doing good things together. I’m sure that there’s some fucking beef between them. And I don’t know about it because I’m not there. And that’s what you should do with beef, is people should know about it locally, but it’s no one’s business at the wider world. So, you should support these people, is what I’m trying to say. It’s the Free Shit Collective, it is Border Kindness, and it is the American Friends Service Committee. However, if you go to support the American Friends Service Committee, you need to look specifically for their San Diego chapter and for the group of them that is working on border stuff, rather than it just going to the Quakers at large, who are perfectly fine even though they invented the penitentiary, but it’s only sort of their fault. Okay, the other thing, the actual just like straight up good news that I have is that the Writers Guild has reached a tentative agreement after 150 days of strike. By the time you all are hearing this, maybe the agreement will probably have either been accepted or not accepted, right? So, either the strike will be over or the strike will be back and everyone’s more bitter. But, this is a really beautiful strike and it captured the nation’s attention partly because these people know how to write. And, they’re also the people who produce the stuff that entertains us, right? And so we’re very aware of it. But, that does not make it a less…it actually makes it a more impactful strike because it allows all the rest of us to know that we can strike too. And, absolutely, on the other side, the bosses were out for blood. They were constantly saying like, "We are going to do this until the writers are homeless. We don’t care," you know? And, they can say that all they want, but it’s a little early to say and you all will either be like "What a naive summer child, saying that." But, it looks like we might win. And when I say, "we," I mean the working class, which is the people who work for a living. It’s not about the actual income you make. Middle-class people are often working class. It just depends on whether your money comes from being a fucking landlord or whether it comes from fucking working. Did you all know that "summer child" is also a science fiction reference, or a fantasy reference. Did you know this? 

**Inmn ** 53:00
Oh, sort of. 

**Margaret ** 53:02
It comes from "Game of Thrones." Everyone thinks that it is an old timey southern saying. 

**Brooke ** 53:09
It’s not? 

**Margaret ** 53:10
It’s not. It’s from fucking :Game of Thrones.: It doesn’t exist before like the mid or late 90s or whatever the fuck that book came out. Because it means…

**Inmn ** 53:21
Sorry, this is maybe dashing a thing, but this has literally happened throughout history, like literature inventing funny phrases. I don’t think you’re saying something negative about it, but Shakespeare is credited with like…It’s some horrifying number of words that are in common use right now that didn’t exist before.

**Margaret ** 53:47
Yeah. And all the sayings and shit all come from him. Or, they come from his like social circle and he’s the one who wrote them down…

**Inmn ** 53:52
Totally. 

**Margaret ** 53:52
…you know, which also rules. Okay, and then to wrap up news stuff. Okay. There’s also, you know how fracking sucks, where people try to get the last little bits of fossil fuels out so that we can turn the Earth into a furnace instead of living decent lives? 

**Brooke ** 54:10
Yeah. Defs. 

**Margaret ** 54:12
Well, have you all heard of monster fracking? It’s not where they use Monster energy drinks. It should be, because that’s the only good use for it.

**Brooke ** 54:19
Okay, no, I haven’t heard of it.

**Inmn ** 54:24
Is it releasing monsters from the ground through fracking?

**Margaret ** 54:28
Oh, that would be good too. That would actually…I’m entirely in favor of…I mean, Godzilla was originally an anti-nuclear movie.

**Brooke ** 54:35
Do they use monsters to do the fracking?

**Margaret ** 54:38
No, it’s just monstrously large. It’s this like mega fracking. It’s just where they go and dig wells in order to get enough water. They drain entire aquifers in order to get the last little bits of fucking gas out of the ground. And, this is how it happened. And so, water usage in fracking has gone up seven times since 2011. Since 2011, fracking has used 1.5 trillion gallons of water, which is a lot. It’s not…It’s a fucking lot. That’s what all of Texas uses as tap water for an entire year. 

**Brooke ** 55:22
Aquifers? Or the amount of water used? 

**Margaret ** 55:25
The amount of water used. And, overall, Americans are using up their aquifers very quickly. But, again, it’s this kind of like, "Oh, so don’t drink as much water." Like, no, it’s monster fracking that is the problem. It is growing the wrong food in the fucking desert that is the problem.

**Brooke ** 55:45
But, aquifers are unlimited? [said sarcastically]

**Margaret ** 55:47
I mean, it’s funny because I live on a well and that’s kind of how I feel. Like, it’s not true. And, the water drilling, like water drilling, is actually not federally regulated. It’s state-by-state. And, a lot of states literally are like, "You’re just allowed to do it until there’s no more water." You are allowed to frack with water during moderate and severe droughts, anything but extreme is before they start putting any limitations on fracking. So, you are well past the part where you can’t water your lawn–which is ,you know, whatever, fucking lawn–but well past the point where you can’t water a lawn or wash your car, they’re allowed to frack completely unimpeded. And, in Utah, California, and Texas, there have been buckled roads, cracked foundations, and fissures into the earth because of depleted groundwater. And let’s see, one oil region in Texas has seen their aquifer falling at 58 feet a year. Last year was the lowest groundwater in US history. And, this affects everything, right? Kansas’ corn yields last year were fucked up because its aquifer wasn’t…for the first time, it wasn’t enough for the agriculture of its region. So, I think they had to import water but also just didn’t get to use enough water, so their corn yields were down. And as we’ve hinted…we’ve talked about a lot in the show, we overproduce like cereal grains. Not over produce. We produce a fuck ton of cereal grains in this country. So, we actually haven’t seen–we’ve seen prices go up–but we haven’t really seen a ton of shortages and stuff yet. This continues to be a threat. I feel a little bit like the girl cries wolf about this where I’m like, "Oh, like, you know, Kansas’ corn yields are down," but you can still like go to the store and buy corn tortillas, right? Here. You know, other parts of the world are not so lucky. Anyway, that’s what I got.

**Brooke ** 57:49
Okay, let me roll up my sleeves and go on my indigenous rant about water protection and sacredness. Now we’re out of time. I’m going to do next time. I’m going to open with that next time. 

**Inmn ** 58:00
Do it. Do it anyway!

**Brooke ** 58:03
Water is sacred. Water is life, motherfuckers. Okay, that’s my rant.

**Margaret ** 58:08
That’s a good rant.

**Inmn ** 58:09
Solid. I have some little bitty headlines. Does anyone else have a little bitty headlines?

**Margaret ** 58:17
I think I threw most of mine in what I just did.

**Inmn ** 58:19
Cool. Before we wrap up, I have a couple little bitty headlines, a handful of which are good.

**Margaret ** 58:26
Oh, I have two good ones at the end.

**Inmn ** 58:28
Wonderful. So, the first one is a bad one, which is, as Margaret brings up the US-Mexico border…This one actually shocked me. Not because I am unaware of how bad it is, but because I don’t know, I think I maybe thought there were places that were worse. I don’t know. But, the UN declared that the US-Mexico border is the deadliest land migration route in the world recently. 

**Margaret ** 58:55
Jesus. You’re right. That’s exactly it. Your response is exactly what I thought.

**Inmn ** 59:01
Yeah. With…And this is last year, so 2022, with 686 people or migrants died in the desert last year on the US-Mexico border. And, it’s a number that like…it’s a number that is vastly under reported on. Like having done a lot of humanitarian aid work along the US-Mexico border, that is a horribly underreported number. But, in a kind of cool thing, a federal judge ordered that the death buoys in the Rio Grande be removed, which is…that’s cool. [Brooke yays]

**Margaret ** 59:44
Haven’t they not done it yet? They like ordered it removed, but they still are kind of kicking their heels or there was some other…. 

**Inmn ** 59:52
I don’t know. 

**Margaret ** 59:53
Nevermind. I only know the headline level.

**Inmn ** 59:56
Me too. A gay couple in Kentucky was recently awarded $100,000 in a settlement over a county clerk’s refusal to issue them a marriage license.

**Margaret ** 1:00:08
Hell yeah. Fuck that clerk.

**Inmn ** 1:00:10
Yeah, pretty cool.

**Brooke ** 1:00:11
Gonna be a nice wedding now.

**Margaret ** 1:00:14
I hope it’s at the house that that guy no longer lives at. I hope they just gave them his house.

**Inmn ** 1:00:21
There were five cops indicted over the Tyre Nichols murder in September, which is, you know, also pretty cool. 

**Brooke ** 1:00:37
Is eating cops vegan?

**Margaret ** 1:00:42
Probably. I mean, you could make an argument that eating any human is vegan because of the speciesism line, but it’s certain with billionaires. Cops, like, you know, I mean, I eat honey, so who am I to like really police the lines of veganism? It’s like cops are probably like the equivalent of honey, you know? Or, like those sea animals that don’t have central nervous systems that can’t feel pain. I don’t think cops can feel pain. So, I don’t think that it’s immoral to hurt or eat…This is the sketchiest thing I’ve ever said on the show.

**Brooke ** 1:01:16
So, I can still make a BLT then. Ethically sourced bacon.

**Inmn ** 1:01:24
Speaking of cops, I have one last headline on cops, which I realized that we track a lot of…we track a lot of death. And, a lot of those deaths are in our communities or in communities that our communities are either in community with or would be in community with, and I thought it might be interesting to start tracking the number of cops that die every month.

**Brooke ** 1:01:52
Oh, that’s a joyous headline.

**Inmn ** 1:01:55
And, it was only seven in September, mostly from vehicle related accidents. 

**Margaret ** 1:02:03
That doesn’t surprise me. 

**Inmn ** 1:02:04
Yeah, it doesn’t surprise me. And, there were 86 this year. 

**Margaret ** 1:02:11
86 cops…

**Inmn ** 1:02:11
Yeah, 86 cops. [Not getting that it’s a joke]

**Margaret ** 1:02:14
Eh, eh? Like, when there’s no more in the kitchen and we gotta stop serving them…Anyway.

**Inmn ** 1:02:21
And one of them was from a train. That’s my headline. Is this sketchy to say? I don’t know.

**Margaret ** 1:02:33
I don’t know, I mean, whatever. They…It’s still safer than almost every job in America. Well, there’s a list of the most dangerous jobs and they’re like…they’re not at the bottom of the list, but they are nowhere near the top of the list. Okay, the two headlines I got…Call me a future-believer person. In July…Okay, last December there was the fusion test where they actually successfully, I believe for the first time ever, got more power out of a fusion test than they put into it. For anyone who’s…like nuclear bombs and shit is fission power, right? And it’s one interesting way to make electricity that has a lot of side effects. Fusion power is what the sun does. And seeking cold fusion has been like the holy grail of science for a very long time, because that’s when you can have gay space communism. Or, knowing our society, slightly gay capitalism in space or whatever the fuck horrible thing they come up with. But, they’ve been trying since December to repeat that. And, in July, they got even more power out of a fusion experiment. They, I think they more than doubled what they put into it or…I remember exactly. They got a fuck ton of power out. They’ve also failed numerous times since then. But, this is still incredibly promising from my point of view. I personally believe that deindustrialization and things like that are essential, but I’m not…I think having some electricity around is quite grand. And, if there’s a way we can do it ethically, and environmentally sound, and it doesn’t explode the entire world…Like, who knows what fusion will do? Maybe people will just explode the whole world? And I’ll be like, "Oops, sorry," but, I won’t because I’ll be dead. And, whatever, that’s how we all end up anyway. And then the other one is that–and actually just speaking of sort of vaguely green but not green ecotech news–there have been a bunch of studies about electric cars. Because, everyone’s very aware of how shitty lithium mining and all that stuff is, all of the minerals that are used in the batteries, right? And, it started reaching the point where actually, it’s actually been stopping the electric car adoption in some ways is because people are like, "Well, it’s so fucking bad that I’m just gonna go back to my, you know, my fossil fuels car." And, so they tested it and it is still, in terms of embedded greenhouse gases and like impact on the environment, driving electric cars, even though all of the mining practices are fucked up, is still less fucked up for the earth than driving a fossil fuel car. Obviously, I think that we should be moving towards mass transit models and more local stuff and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But, electric cars are better than gas cars is my take and the take of some recent science, at least in terms of the impact on the climate. Kind of wish that wasn’t the note I was ending on, but…

**Inmn ** 1:05:36
Wait, I have a cool note. I forgot one. I feel like this is a mixed bag of a thing, but I…Whatever, reform is complicated. But, if there are things that impact people’s lives on a material level now like that’s cool. Illinois just became the first state to abolish cash bail. [Cheers] Which, I think, is more complicated than a lot of people think. Like, it could have…it could have bad side effects, which is there being…Like, specifically, there’s violent and nonviolent…It splits it into violent and nonviolent crimes. And, if you have a nonviolent crime, you basically won’t go to jail until you’re convicted of a crime that requires you to go to jail, But, for violent crimes you are stuck in jail. And, it’s in that, which is how the State defines violence, which makes it complicated. So, you know, for instance, like buddies…like, you know, folks down in Cop City who have been booked on domestic terrorism charges, those people, if a similar thing existed in Georgia, would be stuck in jail throughout their trial without the option of bail. So, this is the kind of complication of no cash bail. But, a really cool thing is that it will get a lot of people out of…Anyone who’s in awaiting trial can now petition to be released.

**Brooke ** 1:07:22
 Oh, wow.

**Inmn ** 1:07:23
Which is the really cool part about. Yeah, so that’s my ending note. Thanks y’all for being here. 

**Margaret ** 1:07:37
Yep. 

**Inmn ** 1:07:42
And if you enjoyed this podcast, go join the Riders of Rohan, not just for Gondor but for all of the free peoples of Middle Earth. But, if you want…Also, if you liked this podcast, you should, you know, like, and review, and rate, and I don’t know what any of these things actually are. I’m just saying words. But, tell people about the podcast. And you can also support this podcast by supporting its publisher Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. Strangers is a media publishing collective. We put out books, zines, and other podcasts like Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness, a monthly podcast of anarchistic literature or the Anarcho Geek Power Hour, which is a great show for people who love movies and hate cops. And, you can find our Patreon at patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness. And, we would like to shout out a few wonderful people in particular. Thank you, Eric, Perceval, Buck, Jacob, Catgut, Marm, Carson, Lord Harken, Trixter, 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, Michaiah, and the eternal Hoss the Dog. We hope everyone’s doing as well as they can and we’ll see you next time.

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

S1E89 – Blix on Packrafting

Episode Summary

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

Host Info

Inmn can be found on Instagram @shadowtail.artificery.

Publisher Info

This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at 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: Blix on Packrafting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**Blix ** 04:08
No, Iowa, Iowa. 

**Inmn ** 04:10
Ohhh. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**Inmn ** 21:49
Wag Bags? 

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

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

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

**Inmn ** 22:19
Like what? 

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

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

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

**Inmn ** 24:59
I see, yeah. 

**Blix ** 25:00
Eternally. 

**Inmn ** 25:01
Eternally. 

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

**Inmn ** 25:11
No, please. 

**Blix ** 25:13
Okay. 

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

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

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

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

**Inmn ** 26:10
Yeah. 

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

**Inmn ** 26:12
Oh God. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**Inmn ** 30:07
Ten minutes!?  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**Blix ** 34:02
Right? 

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

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

**Inmn ** 34:14
Yeah. 

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

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

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

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

**Blix ** 36:07
Yeah. 

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

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

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

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

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

**Blix ** 37:24
Yes. 

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

**Blix ** 37:30
Yes. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**Blix ** 46:47
Yeah, for sure.

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

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

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

**Blix ** 48:33
Oh, right. Yes. Yeah.

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

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

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

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

**Inmn ** 49:44
Oh no.

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

**Inmn ** 51:35
Wow.  

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

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

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

**Inmn ** 53:34
Yeah. Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**Inmn ** 57:04
Oh my god. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**Blix ** 1:00:46
True. 

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

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

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

**Blix ** 1:02:38
Thank you so much.

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

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S1E88 – Woven Ends on Death & Dying pt. II

Episode Summary

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

Host Info

Inmn can be found on Instagram @shadowtail.artificery.

Publisher Info

This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at 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: Woven Ends on Death & Dying pt. II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wōen 17:35
I do. Thank you so much.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roxanne 19:08
Yes.

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

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

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

Roxanne 20:55
Totally.

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

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

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

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

Roxanne 24:52
Yes.

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

Roxanne 26:05
Totally. Yeah, definitely.

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

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

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

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

Inmn 31:50
The latter. Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roxanne 39:12
Would love to do that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roxanne 51:18
Exactly.

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

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

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

Roxanne 54:24
Fragile? Is it fragile?

Inmn 54:26
Yeah, maybe fragile?

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

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

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

Roxanne 56:15
Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roxanne 1:06:22
Yay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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