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S1E7 – Gas Masks and Goggles

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Episode Notes

I’ve spent most of the past two months researching police weaponry and how to stay safe while challenging state power. In this episode I discuss gas masks, respirators, goggles, and filters. My guest for this episode is Jack, my bandmate in the band Alsarath ( https://alsarath.bandcamp.com ).

Much of this information can also be found in the article A Demonstrator’s Guide to Gas Masks & Goggles, published by CrimethInc: https://crimethinc.com/2020/09/02/a-demonstrators-guide-to-gas-masks-and-goggles-everything-you-need-to-know-to-protect-your-eyes-and-lungs-from-gas-and-projectiles

S1E6 – An Introduction to Off-Grid Life

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you can support this show and my other projects on Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/margaretkilljoy

S1E5 – Paul on the Autonomous Region of Northern Syria

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You can donate to the fund for US medical volunteers returning from Syria here: http://paypal.me/RojMedical

I recommended the podcast Worst Year Ever’s episode The Reasonable Person’s Guide to Prepping and you can find that here:
https://www.iheart.com/podcast/1119-worst-year-ever-49377032/episode/the-reasonable-persons-guide-to-prepping-59450250/

For gear lists I recommend theprepared.com

S1E4 – Aine on Isolation, Loneliness, and COVID-19

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The Jane Addams Collective can be found online at https://janeaddamscollective.org/

The full text of the book Mutual Aid, Trauma, and Resiliency can be found online at https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/the-jane-addams-collective-mutual-aid-trauma-and-resiliency

A transcription of the episode, provided by a comrade who desires to see more accessible anarchist content:

S01E04 Aine on Isolation, Loneliness and COVID-19
Live Like The World Is Dying

0:00.0# (Introductory music)

0:16.8# Margaret Killjoy: Hello and welcome to Live Like The World Is Dying, the podcast that focuses on, well, what feels like the end times. I’m your host, Margaret Killjoy. This week I’m talking with Aine, a member of the Jane Addams Collective out of New York city. The Jane Adams Collective is an anarchist collective that works on mental health issues. It’s mostly mental health professionals who work on… Basically developing forms of self-therapy and… That are applicable to when people don’t have access to traditional therapy or don’t want the hierarchical model of traditional therapy. They also have done a lot of work and written a short book about mutual aid and trauma and basically the… How trauma comes up in disaster situations and what we can do about it. So I’m very excited to have Aine on the podcast. I know I promised that this week I was going to talk to a friend of mine who just came back from the autonomous regions of… Northern Syria and I have that interview done but I feel like this particular one needs to go up as soon as possible. One result of my own self-isolation is that I don’t have access to my usual recording space. I actually live off-grid without real internet and without electricity so sometimes I have limited access to certain things and the place I normally record has someone living there who can’t really have people over right now. So I apologize in advance for the audio quality of the interview. But I think it’s absolutely worth hearing anyway and I… I hope you enjoy it.

2:00.0# Margaret: Before the interview gets started, I just wanna say a few words on my own about mutual aid and this particular crisis. I think that one of the things that we’re watching happen is the failure of national-level governments to keep us safe but an incredible amount of work done both on the international level and at the local level to… And on the individual level to try and keep each other safe during… During this crisis. And I think in a lot of ways that’s a natural pre-figuration of what society probably should look like where… Experts on an international level are able to advise local infrastructure about how best to act without actually having the power at the top. Instead having the power at the bottom, we can keep each other safe. And the other thing I wanna say is that… I’m… I’m cooped up right now but a lot of people aren’t. A lot of people are out there working their jobs either because they have some shit service class work job where their boss won’t… Shut down the cafe and during a pandemic, or people are out there working at day shelters for homeless people, or working in health or delivering food or working in the other… Essential things that… That we need in order to stay safe as a society. And not only does my heart and… My heart go out to people who are doing that work, but I also want to suggest that in a society that we hope to build, hopefully that most dangerous work, that front line work is something that people can cycle through. People can come in and out of. This isn’t… Really my own idea, this is coming from someone I care about who… Works at a day shelter and realizes that people will die if they stop going to work. So they still go to work. But it is an awful lot to deal with right now and I hope that whatever happens, none of us really know what’s going to happen, I hope that we’re able to, not just cheer on people who are doing that kind of work, but figure out how some of us who are capable can step up and take some of the burden off of those people and maybe cycle people in and out of certain tasks. I don’t know, something to think about. Maybe I’m completely off base, I don’t know. But anyway, here’s the interview and I hope you get as much out of it as I did.

4:39.4# (Musical transition)

4:52.2# Margaret: So, welcome to the podcast. If you want to introduce yourself with your name, your pronouns, and any political or organizational affiliations that you want to mention.

5:04.7# Aine: Yeah, my name is Aine. She/her. I am an anarchist and I’ve… I’m in Jane Addams… the Jane Addams Collective. It’s a radical anarchist mental health collective that’s been around about five years. I do a few other things and do work out of the base in Brooklyn as well.

5:26.7# Margaret: Okay. Do you want to… So I… I put out a call to try and find basically… Anarchist or radical mental health professionals to talk about… What’s been going on right now in terms of… I know myself, I know I’ve been practicing social distancing for a couple weeks already and obviously the number people doing that have… Has just been going up. And of course that is a… Even for an introvert like me, not the easiest thing in the… In this world. And so… I guess I wanted to talk to you about that. About the effects of social distancing and how we can manage them.

6:09.7# Aine: Absolutely. And that’s particularly important considering we’re already sort of behind in terms isolation. There’s been a growing loneliness epidemic in the last… Few years. Partly due to capitalism but due to other things as well, that’s sort of… Set us at an off footing here. Like people have fewer friends and reliable social connections than they used to do in a lot of meaningful ways. Often through no fault of their own but it… The social distancing probably feels more onerous when there’s already a lack of genuine social connection. And the anxiety that… The virus, while also very scary and a problem, is… A face for people’s anxiety about other existing collapse in their own lives as well. And it’s a very notable and present face. So it’s really easy to think of that one thing as the problem when it’s showing the inefficiencies and the breakages in centralization and hierarchical responses to things.

7:15.2# Margaret: So what do we do about it? So what do we do… For someone who’s listening to this podcast who… Is going to be practicing social distancing? I guess what I want to talk to you a little bit about that and then I also wanna talk to you about people who have to… Who aren’t able to practice social distancing. People who… Do social work or healthcare work or… Just basically… Are continuing to be in high-risk situations. About how to manage that kind of fear and anxiety. But I want to start maybe with… With the social distancing aspect.

7:52.8# Aine: Absolutely. In all of the… Obviously the necessity of having… Reducing the risk collectively for communities spread of the… Of COVID-19 is pretty reasonable. A lot of the social things that one would do to try to maintain their sanity in a stressful time of any sort apply pretty broadly here. Trying to actively maintain, at least virtually, the connections you have. It’s very easy to get into an “out of sight, out of mind” sort of a thing when you’re alone… And especially when you’re lonely. And that sort of perpetuates itself, so even if you’re making a point of reaching out to, “Who do I know around here, who do I know who might be doing same thing.” And since you’re not physically able to be around people if you’re doing the ultimate version of the isolation. Having those connections across broader distances, like to your family across the country if they’re there somewhere. It doesn’t need to be your next door neighbor either. Some sense of connection and someone to talk to is super vital. And if you don’t have as many of those, finding… There’s a fair number of… Other ways to try to build new connections, at least technologically. I’m not a huge fan of them but if you’re very lonely they are helpful sometimes.

9:15.4# Margaret: Can you give me an example, even though you’re not a huge fan of it?

9:19.2# Aine: Yeah. Any of the… The centralization of all the websites and message boards where it’s like you can go on a thread about something or go on Reddit or find a Discord chat room that has interesting people in it who you can talk to about the things you care about. Those can be outlets. But I think they’re useful to an extent and they can reduce some of the degree to which you feel isolated or lonely. But a lot of times the… Nature of technological distance sort of leaves something that’s qualitative about human interaction out of it. And though you can abates some of your loneliness as far as knowing that someone is listening to what you’re saying and interacting with someone, there’s a lot of aspects of what we need out of human interaction that are physically interpersonal. Even if you’re not touching someone, having someone there, seeing their gestures, getting an idea of… Those things are very different when they’re mediated through a technological lens. Particularly one that’s organized and designed for the purpose of developing capital or servicing ads.

10:23.8# Margaret: Yeah, that makes sense. Yesterday one of my neighbors… I live rurally and someone who lives on the other side of the hill as me, we met at the top of the hill and me and their kid just basically sat 6 feet apart and talked about our lives. And it was very strange to have this…

10:46.5# Aine: Aww, that’s so adorable.

10:48.7# Margaret: Non-connected picnic of sorts, but… So would… Would you say that one of the reasons… So you say that you’re not as excited the technological solutions, is that also… Is there a difference between reaching out to that people you already know technologically versus the kind of… Message board, forum type of connections?

11:11.2# Aine: Yeah, yeah. There’s both a difference in knowing what kind of information you can get from someone, what your relationship is like is very helpful in those situations. Like, you don’t always go to the same people for one kind of problem. And… But beyond that, it’s… When you’re communicating with someone on the phone or on a messageboard or something, part of the effort that you’re doing is modeling that person in your brain. And literally building a version of them, not necessarily picturing them unless you’re super visual. But having an actual… That cognitive process of seeing, imagining the person you’re interacting with and their specificity and who you are in interaction with them. It takes up as much as the other normal social things. It’s why having a hands-free device to talk on phone while you’re driving isn’t any safer. You’re doing the same cognitive tasks.

12:10.5# Margaret: Oh, interesting. Okay.

12:12.5# Aine: Yeah, yeah. So it… Since it’s a bit more tiring, it’s a bit… It is just literally cognitively more difficult to communicate remotely because we need be conceptualizing the social relationship we have and the person that we’re interacting with in order to build social solidarity and do some of those things, which is possible but limited through technology.

12:37.1# Margaret: So… Do you have… So if you’re practicing social distancing and you’re not completely self-isolated, are there other things to do? Basically you’re just saying make sure to try and keep up with your friends.

12:52.9# Aine: Yeah, yeah. And…

12:54.8# Margaret: Sorry. Go ahead. No, go ahead.

12:57.1# Aine: Yeah. And obviously there’s… Depending on where you are, because there’s a lot of differences. In an urban it’s very difficult to avoid people anyway. I live in New York City and if I feel extremely lonely I can still go to one of the open coffee shops or go to the library and stay six feet from anyone. And just not touch anything and wash my hands. And be slightly more at risk. But I’m also an able-bodied, super healthy, 30-year-old that’s not… I’m not in one of those cases where I might be more isolated. The people who are able to physically get out, if not while trying to reduce the degree to which they’re exposing themselves or someone else to contagion, those people have to be checking on the sorts of folks who can’t. Actually, Zoe said it when they were on your podcast as well. The people are more at risk, who don’t have the ability to… Quit working or don’t have the ability to leave their homes or are particularly immuno-compromised. The people who are able to check them probably should. If you know people like that in your life, instead of waiting for them to say, “Hey, I need help” maybe see how they’re doing. Because there’s a lot of people you might know that you haven’t thought about. Like, “Oh this person might actually need help right now.”

14:17.3# Margaret: Yeah. I guess that gets back to what you’re saying about avoiding the, “out of sight, out of mind” kind of mentality.

14:24.1# Aine: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, even if it’s just thinking about, “What is my social network?” In the terms of preparedness for disasters, on the average, any person regardless of inclination could do it. The first thing is like, “Okay who are the people I know? What do they know how to do and how can I help them how can they help me?” I know people who if there were some serious medical emergency I could talk to them but… I also get a couple of texts a week from a friend who’s extra anxious about something. There’s sort of a… Everyone has these different skills and thinking of your social networks partly as like social infrastructure is helpful for preparing for these things. Because to a certain degree some of the informational public health and supportive infrastructure that’s at the higher… More hierarchical level is replicated by resource sharing and mutual aid. If you’re thinking of your relationships in that way, but oftentimes it’s just like, “Oh yeah, I know my neighbor.” Not like, “Oh, my neighbor might need some help too.”

15:34.6# Margaret: Yeah, one of things that I… I’ve talked to a couple of people I’ve interviewed about… Is basically the importance of agency during crisis and this is a particularly interesting one because in some ways, the lack of federal response, at least in the United States, and I know also in Britain it’s even worse I think, has kind of left this hole that is being filled by mutual aid networks that are cropping up. I’m wondering if there’s anything like that going on in New York City that you’re around or… Basically how mental health can plug into… Mental health work can plug into mutual aid in crisis.

16:17.2# Aine: Yeah. There’s not a lot going on that I’m aware of. I’m certain there are things happening. I’ve seen more internal to the groups I’m involved with. People supporting each other and provide advice about if someone’s been sick, coming and bringing them food and that kind of thing. But as far as like mental health responses, the nature of this crisis has been making me think a bit about resiliency much as Zoe was talking about in your previous podcast. And the Jane Addams Collective released a book, more of a pamphlet, about mutual aid, trauma and resiliency. And one of the focuses there was about the way that we respond to crisis and mass crises and these sorts of things. And obviously there are things that we can do now to help vulnerable people and mitigate the worse parts of this. But a lot of the things that are the most useful are long-term and preparatory. For trauma or for preparation for a public health crisis. And generally it’s… That idea of resiliency is a collective and social idea. You’re having to build these things as a group. And part of that’s because the way that we tend to respond to crisis and the way that we put urgency on things is very short-term. That’s a broad generalization but it seems to be fairly accurate.

17:45.4# Margaret: That we jump from crisis to crisis rather than…

17:47.7# Aine: Yeah. Yeah, we’re great at that. Yeah, and it’s at the cost of things that we are building that are useful… That are useful in the day-to-day but also are… Have the seed to being something that’s self-sustaining or… Survival programs and that kind of thing. If more of those are up and running just on a daily basis, then the need to create them suddenly when some disaster occurs is a lot less present. You just need to prepare them for the specific thing that’s happening.

18:19.1# Margaret: It seems like that’s often a problem that we also run into. Not just… Governmental structures that aren’t prepared for crisis but even as anarchists or even in horizontal structures we often are jumping from crisis to crisis. But I think there’s a… It’s hard to maintain… It’s hard to maintain counter-infrastructure when the traditional infrastructure is working and meeting people’s needs and also suppressing any counter-infrastructure. So I wanna give ourselves the credit to say that in some ways it’s… It’s a very uphill battle to try and maintain counter-infrastructure when… When it’s not crisis.

19:02.1# Aine: Oh absolutely. And the… Anything good will be crushed by someone unless you defend it. So… It’s definitely an uphill battle. But some of those smaller connections that we don’t think of as infrastructure are building blocks for that. The affinity group is mostly mythical in my experience of the world. But collections of people who are willing to do things together do exist more frequently, in my experience. Like sometimes those connections, if we’re actually examining and then thinking about the way that we relate to each other and what are skills needs and risk assessments as a collective are. Those smaller connections can be built into something more useful. Because the lack of a strong social connection and even just strong mental health infrastructure, like being able to talk about your problems or the way that organizing in general is not really open for people who are mentally ill. There’s not really a place to be kinda crazy and even if you’re pretty sane-passing, it’s not super easy to not have those things interrupt your ability to be part of a collective working on some of those things. So a lot of these things, while they’re… Obviously more obvious now and more immediately pressing and all of that, but one of the most important ways to resist that, like crisis and emergency and continually having our hopes smashed by the difficult situation that we’re all in. I don’t know, it kind of requires co-opting a bit of that… That politics is personal. It’s like that Embrace song. “Your emotions are nothing but politics?”

20:59.5# Margaret: So… Okay, so if one of the main things that we can be doing is… It’s this beautiful and interesting irony, the main thing we can do is strengthen our interpersonal connections… While practicing social distancing. Are there things that you can suggest to people who… Like, say you’re someone who is more at risk or are most fully isolated, or are cut-off from communication? I know that I… I only have limited electricity where I live and it’s not too hard for me to imagine spending some time where my phone isn’t working or something like that. What are things that people can do to basically keep themselves… I don’t want to say keep themselves sane, but keep themselves from having their mental health deteriorate when… When social connections aren’t available. Or are less available.

22:09.8# Aine: Yeah, and for some people that’s absolutely going to be true. Findings social connections is hard and harder then it’s ever been in a lot of ways. But there are a lot of… Some of the standard… Self-care advice. It’s limited but finding coping skills and things that are helpful for you. And also having an idea of when that might be done. Like having some finality to it. Normally you need to be in isolation for 14 day if you think might have it. And you probably… You might isolate yourself longer if you have particular vulnerability to respiratory illnesses. But finding one… Regular sleep is always really helpful even if there’s no one around it’s important to at least try to have the same amount of sleep every night, even if it’s not the same times. That can go pretty far away, along with finding things that you actually enjoy doing. Fighting off boredom is pretty hard. And boredom and loneliness go together pretty well. They really kind of stoke each other. So… Obviously you don’t wanna just be sitting trying to entertain yourself all the time. Like take up knitting. Unfortunately a lot of it’s… Really personal. Trying to find things that are useful for you or that… Or somewhat distracting from your least pleasant thoughts and inclinations is useful in the short-term but that’s not good long-term advice.

23:44.5# Margaret: So video games is not a long-term solution. It’s a short-term solution.

23:47.5# Aine: Right. But if you wanna play them for the next 2 weeks, please do. Yeah. Yeah, ’cause it’s like if you don’t have the social connections that would help reduce what is ultimately a socially indicated problem, like psychological distress, then you aren’t going to be able to solve the problem. You can mitigate it and cope with it and make it less onerous to deal with. But it’s going to be like a reaction to the symptoms rather than something that’s actually radical and gets to the cause of the problem. But coping skills, grounding skills, finding entertainment that you like, if you can physically go outside without exposing yourself to a bunch of people, nature is awesome if you can find it and get it… Yeah.

24:36.8# Margaret: Yeah, that’s the thing I’m lucky about. I… I sometimes wish I had running water or consistent internet or… For listeners, we had to navigate this interview based on the fact that I can’t go to the recording studio I normally go to because someone who lives there is immuno-compromised and so I don’t have internet at home enough to… To do any kind of interview. So this has been kind of fun just set up. But the one upside I have is that I literally walk outside my front door into the woods. And can go… Hiking through the woods if I want. I don’t know whether I would trade that for easy access to video games or not. Maybe if it was only a week I might. I might prefer video games for a week. But longer term, nature might be better.

25:33.0# Aine: Yeah. I have access to unlimited video games and I’ve gotten bored of them.

25:39.1# Margaret: Yeah, you don’t really get bored of nature. It just isn’t like as wildly distracting or entertaining.

25:46.0# Aine: Right. You can be bored in nature, but that’s about it.

25:49.3# Margaret: Yeah. So… So one of the things that I had learned when I did… Cognitive behavioral therapy was this idea… And you’ve brought it up and I just wanna talk about it a little bit more, get you to talk about a little bit more, is this idea of picking a deadline. Knowing… As a coping skill, like “I just have to get through this for the next x length of time.” or something. Is that a healthy coping skill or is that an unhealthy coping skill?

26:16.8# Aine: Yeah, it’s… So that’s kind of the thing. The whole unhealthy, even that dichotomy, like all binaries, is pretty bullshit. It’s useful sometimes and it’s not useful other times. It’s kinda like… It’s not terrible if someone has 1 drink but if they have 20 it’s a problem. Coping skills are kinda the same way. So it is really helpful when there is something real in the world that is presumably finite. Where you can just be like, “Okay, I just gotta make it through the next 14 days, see what the world’s like and make a new decision then.’ Can be… Help belay your anxiety if there’s actually going to be anything different about the world in 14 days. But if you’re like, “Oh my depression be better in 14 days.” I don’t know, dude. So it’s sort of a… It’s useful and a lot of the anxiety, I think, that’s happening now, and in general, is about uncertainty and lack of control. Even though state national government… The hierarchical response is a controlling one, partly because… They’re trying to reduce uncertainty and make things more legibly organized or… Basically hide the disorder that is under all these things. Less effectively than they used to, thankfully. But a lot of the controlling nature and that tendency to try and to reduce uncertainties is one that we also have cognitively. And to a certain extent, thinking of these thoughts as something that we can control and that we can really master is a… A problem in and of itself. A lot of alternative… Or newer therapies, third stream therapies. Like acceptance commitment therapy or dialectical behavior therapy have sort of a… Different theory of thought than cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy, the interventions do work so I wouldn’t shy anyone away from it, but the actual… Belief about how thought works that it’s structured on is inaccurate. ‘Cause thoughts kind of just happen. Most people have had the thought, like when they’re on the subway platform, “Oh, I’m gonna jump in front of that train.” It doesn’t really mean anything. And most thoughts are like that. And to certain extent, anxiety is about trying to control those thoughts. Or believing they’re truth. Like that you’re connected to them in some really real way. And this is something that both from a therapeutic background and from personal experience I have… A particular interest in. I had severe OCD and a large portion of that was about… Specifically OCD is about controlling what’s going on. You’re trying to do very systematized ritualistic controlled and precise things, to control things that are completely unpredictable and impossible to do anything about.

29:17.6# Margaret: I mean, that’s… It’s interesting to bring up OCD stuff, I don’t… It’s not something that I struggle with particularly myself but I… The other day my land mate caught me spraying down the handle to the bar in the communal space with disinfectant and he looked at me and he was like, “We just need to make sure that we don’t keep doing this… Once it no longer makes sense.” And… And that’s… That’s a worry that I haven’t had to process too hard yet. I’m just kinda tryna get through this next chunk of time with… I’ve also pretty… I’m not as concerned for my own health in this particular environment but I believe very strongly in not transmitting it to people who are more vulnerable. And also I’m incredibly medically anxious so I know… Even though I’ll be physically fine if I get COVID, I will struggle mentally very hard. And so I… What are some… Do you know any good coping skills then for not letting… These, in my head, neural pathways cement themselves? These… These things that we might do during crisis like social distancing or disinfecting everything. How do we prevent them from becoming unhealthy habits later?

30:44.8# Aine: Yeah. One of the most useful things that I’ve found is… It’s pretty similar to something the Stoics used to do which was negative visualization. And more or less the idea of a memento mori is a version of the negative visualization. But for almost every…

31:05.1# Margaret: That means “remember that you will die”, right?

31:05.7# Aine: Yeah, yeah. Like you have a jar of marbles and you take one out of the “days I have left” jar and throw it into the “days I have already lived” jar every day, or something like that.

31:17.0# Margaret: Woah, that’s intense.

31:16.8# Aine: Yeah. Well, it’s calming in a certain way. Reminding you that this is finite and that these things do matter but you also can’t do anything about it. That marble’s going to… That day is going no matter what you do. And acceptance in that regard. In dealing with… In CBT, ACT, any of the ways that someone would deal with a phobia to something or OCD, generally exposure is part of that. And the mechanism by which that’s helpful is the fact that it forces you to accept that worst case scenario. If you’re getting exposure therapy for harm obsessions, an extremely common thing with people with OCD where they’re extremely worried that they’ll harm themself or someone else. They never would but it’s… Very common. Effectively you have to desensitize yourself to… And accept the possibility that you could do that. I wasn’t able to drive for about a year because I thought I would drive my car into the center divider and kill a bunch of people. I can drive now but only because I have hundreds and hundreds of times imagined doing that and just accepted the consequences. So, in this instance, for the disease stuff, take the precautions you need to now while it’s obviously reasonable and necessary because we don’t want to… Say “I’m not gonna get it” and go and get a whole bunch of people who wouldn’t be getting sick, sick. But as far as your own personal risk, to assert and accept to a certain extent, go through in your head, “Okay, if I did get it, what is the process? What’s the worst case scenario?” And if you’re prepared for that then anything else is fine.

33:07.6# Margaret: Okay. So my habit of every time I get on an airplane I accept my own death. That is a…

33:14.9# Aine: Yes.

33:15.4# Margaret: That’s a reasonable thing.

33:17.2# Aine: That is exactly what I mean. Yeah, every time I get in a car.

33:20.5# Margaret: Okay. Well what’s interesting is with my own experience of self-therapizing with this kind of tactic, is that for a while I couldn’t drive because of my anxiety, because I would imagine… Well, I just couldn’t control everything that was happening. Like if there was suddenly something in the middle of the road I couldn’t stop in time so when I did drive, I would drive like the grandma I’m destined to be minus the children part. And I wouldn’t be able to go fast because I wouldn’t… If I went fast I wouldn’t be able to control everything. And so for a long time I… I… For a long time it was a much more conscious thing and now it’s back to unconscious thing. Now I don’t… I don’t worry when I drive anymore. I haven’t been able to reach that same thing with flying, I don’t know if I ever will but…

34:16.3# Aine: Yeah, yeah. I definitely know what you mean. That’s almost completely analogous. Because it is that lack of control. It’s the same reason some of the most ineffective responses to the virus have been made on a national level. You wanna control people coming from Europe even though that’s kind of pointless. Those kinds of things are just… “Hey, let’s control this as much as we can.” We can’t do anything about it, it’s very uncertain. We’re not very good at dealing with uncertainty and accepting it is a huge boon to one’s mental health.

34:49.7# Margaret: Yeah, that makes sense. Just accepting that… I think about… Doctors having to do triage or whatever. Doctors having work at all where they accept the fact that they will kill patients by accident. Takes a particularly… Good understanding of threat assessment, risk mitigation or whatever. Can you talk a little bit about the Jane Addams project that you work on?

35:27.8# Aine: Absolutely. So the Jane Addams Collective has been around in different iterations for about 5 years. We’ve done a lot of different projects. One of the bigger ones was developing a mutual aid self-therapy, which is an alternative therapy model that isn’t a hierarchical… Doesn’t require a therapist, that can just be done by 3 people, 3 or 4 people. And we’ve done workshops on that where we’ve taught people how to do it. We’re… A book about it called “Mutual Aid Self-Therapy” is coming out fairly soon. It’ll be on AK and stuff.

36:04.9# Margaret: It’s actually my… It’s sitting in my inbox to lay out.

36:10.9# Aine: I know this.

36:12.0# Margaret: Yeah, I’m just admitting this to the audience. If the book is taking too long to come out, audience please write me and yell at me.

36:20.6# Aine: And I mean you could also write us and yell at us because because we took so long to get it to you. But yeah… So that therapy model, we’ve tried it in a lot different iterations and we hammered out… It’s most useful if it’s used by a lot of people and collectively in something that’s accessible as easily as possible to as many people as possible because access to this kind of thing, not everyone can afford a therapist and if they can your therapist is a snitch anyway. So… It’s sort of… There should be something else. This may not a replacement for therapy but it’s certainly helpful and the hierarchy of dealing with a therapist is not there. But that’s one thing that we do. We also … While we were working on making MAST more usable by people who weren’t us so we wouldn’t have to teach people in our… Physically go and teach people every time we wanted to transfer that knowledge. We wanted to make it like anyone anywhere could do it. While we were trying to do we realized that the… We we needed to address trauma in different ways then we were addressing other psychological problems. So in our examinations of that we also wrote a small, very small, book called “Mutual Aid, Trauma and Resiliency” which is about collective responses to traumatic events and building both individual and collective resiliency. A lot of the… I probably should have just read from that and picked some of those tips for what should you do to deal with things when you’re alone or with people. But that’s also built out of the fact that that is a collective thing that needs be prepared for ahead of time, much like any kind of crisis like this. So that’s a… How we think one could do that in terms of reducing the rate of post-traumatic stress so that the traumas that are inevitable to occur in the process of organizing or living are at least not going to eventually metastasize into PTSD.

38:31.5# Margaret: Do you have any… Do you know enough of it off the top of your head to give some… A basic overview or tips or anything like that, about mutual aid trauma response?

38:43.2# Aine: Yes I do. I knew that I’d had it open here for a reason. Basically our whole model was based around the idea of resiliency. Which is both something individually and collectively that helps deal with trauma. And individual resiliency is oftentimes like… Some of those ability to deal with crisis sort of things. And like a lot of the nature of trauma often involves your expectations about reality have been broken. Like for instance people who are… Who have… Strong political inclinations. Like regular people caught up by a horrible dictatorship who were tortured have higher rates of PTSD then revolutionaries who were caught up by that same dictatorship and tortured. They both experienced trauma from those experiences because they’re terrible but one of the fundamental differences is that the person who is fighting the regime didn’t have any illusions about what was going to happen to them. It was just as horrible but their worldview wasn’t broken. They didn’t have to completely reassess everything they understand about… They never had the thought, “Oh, I know government does that sometimes but they’d never do it to me.” And the same thing’s true for other traumatic events. Like if you’re in a group that does a lot of protests and demos, there are certain kinds of things that you kind of know might happen that you could prepare for and think about. If you do anti-fascist work there are other kinds of things that are even more trauma, potentially, inducing that you should think about. But… Let’s see, I have more Confrey ones ’cause that sounds useful. Okay, so a few of the things that are really useful individually in dealing with any crisis and change in general, but specifically for trauma is being able to detach and conceptualize problems. So that negative visualization thing I was talking about is little bit of being able to distance yourself from the horror of the thing you’re worried about. Because you’re conceptualizing it in a more constructed way that’s separate from its emotional strength to you. Self-determination, I think you already have talked about that a little bit. How taking agency and not just relying on what’s around you to… Actually knowing you can do something about it, even if it’s just calling your friends or not freaking out too much. And altruism which… Obviously, harder now. It’s what we’ve been talking about. But… Yeah. And a lot of those things play off into collective traits as well because they build into, if you have people who can support you and building a sense of safety, because dealing with trauma and post-traumatic stress in a treatment sense is usually focused on building a sense of safety in which to go through the trauma. So you’re removing the extremely negative feelings so that the person actually can process the horrible things that have happened. And that safety is a social factor. You can build that in a group and oftentimes trauma’s tendency to cause mistrust in… Especially if it’s sexual trauma or someone assaulted you or something. Those kinds of traumas cause you distrust the same social mechanisms of safety that would give you resilience against future traumas. So building a sense of collective safety is also about material support. You feel a lot safer if you can pay rent or you know if someone will help you out if you can’t. But there’s a lot of that collective building of it is really hard to do in the moment because we’re… If you’re chasing the crisis and the crises are constant so I’m not quite sure how we get out of that just yet, but…

42:50.5# Margaret: Well it sounds like… One of the things that… Mutual aid groups that I’ve been keeping track of or participating in to some small degree… The kind of immediate sense is how do we make sure that the most vulnerable are kept safe? How we make sure that our immuno-compromised and elderly friends have food that arrives and how do we make sure that that food is safe. That’s… That’s the… The most immediate thing but then the thing that people are already starting to talk about doing is… Also everyone’s freaking out because everyone’s out of work and… It’s funny, I have this album coming out and I have to pay a mastering… An audio technician to master it. And then I’m like, well this is the… The last money that I might see for a little while. And… But it’s also maybe the last money that she’s gonna see for a while and… So the people are starting to talk about that. How do we meet our needs? How do we… Maybe mutual aid response to this is going to have to start looking like, even from a mental health point of view, knowing that if someone tries to evict you for your unpaid rent that a lot of very angry people will show up. Of course that also gets very complicated because do we wanna have these large gatherings?

44:22.7# Aine: It might be more of effective if the landlord is afraid he’ll get sick.

44:26.2# Margaret: That’s true. God… I keep thinking about “Masque of The Red Death” and I can’t decide… I think I’ve mentioned this probably even on this podcast before. The Poe story about all the rich people that go and hide and… From the plague and all die of the plague. Anyway…

44:46.7# Aine: Yeah. Just desserts.

44:52.0# Margaret: So… Can you talk a little bit more about MAST and… Which is not necessarily related to this particular crisis but I think is one of the most promising projects that I’ve heard anything about over the past several years. Can you give a bird’s eye overview of it or is it dangerous to give someone half the information of how to therapize… And also can you talk a little bit about why people should believe that you all are… Basically, I know that it’s put together by a bunch of medical health professionals with years and years of experience but if you could talk about that as well. That it’s not just some stuff some people made up.

45:30.3# Aine: Yeah, totally. To be fair, it is stuff some people made up. But I can attest to our authority, at least in topic if not in power. But… Okay, so MAST itself, we cannibalized from a lot of different existing therapy models and have worked on them in different iterations. So in the development of MAST we’ve had different open houses. I think we’ve had… We’ve had a few of them. We’ve had at least 10 over the years. Probably more, but I haven’t been there for all of them. And effectively the… Over that time we’ve found which things worked in the context of people actually doing it. Which things were easily understandable by people who weren’t us. And more and more ways to take our hands off of the wheel so that it was something that was done by people themselves rather than someone having the knowledge and authority… By de-facto. Like tendencies, leading things… So a lot of the stuff that we take from, we take some things from CBT, some things from narrative therapy, and some things from DBT and other different therapy models. But basically this has been a trial and error process that we’ve been doing with the last over 5 years of actually doing therapy with small triads. So the actual therapy is we have triads of people, which obviously is 3 people. And to reduce the hierarchy and make it easier to do this process, generally each person has a turn as the narrator, as the person who’s talking about what they’re dealing with and trying to resolve their problem. And the two other people are supporting them. And both of them are trying to help get the person to recognize something that they wouldn’t be able to without someone else poking at them a little bit. And each will take turns doing that. So everyone’s in every role, everyone is a supporter twice and a narrator once. And to a certain extent the process of knowing what cognitive tools or therapeutic tools, they’re all in the book and they’re very simple. Which ones are used, knowing that someone using one on you really does subvert that hierarchy to a certain extent and makes you feel like, “Oh, right they’re… I would have told someone to do this, I just didn’t know I needed it right then.” So collectively useful done in groups of 3 or 4 generally, and focused on reducing hierarchy and… Autonomy. There’s a few different phases to it and we have some more specific ideas behind its mechanism of action. But before I get into those, if I do at all, the Jane Addams Collective itself has done a whole bunch of different things but… About half of us are licensed therapists or social workers. Almost all of us work in the field except for me now because I don’t have the heart anymore. At least not to do in this context. And all of us have had a lot of experience. I don’t know, collectively probably… 50 years of experience working in different mental health settings. And all of us have been anarchists for fairly long times, Smokey longer than most of us.

49:17.7# Margaret: Smokey’s been an anarchist longer than a lot of people I know have been alive, so…

49:22.9# Aine: Yeah. I didn’t wanna make them feel bad… But… So we have some sort of cred… Also, important to note, in the next year, starting in next year’s somewhere around February, March we’re planning on opening a community mental health clinic. And part of that is because some of the things that some of the infrastructure that we need to deal with mental health crises, just the world collapsing, are not there and one of the best ways we can do that is by trying to provide access to mental healthcare in the way we know how. So we’ll have more details about it in the future, obviously. JaneAddamsCollective.org. But we’re planning on actually putting some of these things more directly in practice, in a clinic setting. Also operating on non-hierarchical models and being more community focused then a therapist’s office where you just drop in.

50:28.0# Margaret: Okay. Well, we’re… Do you have any final thoughts about… About mental health response to the current crisis or anything that you wanna shout-out or talk about?

50:42.6# Aine: Yeah. Check-in on your sad friends. If you know anyone who’s got a tendency towards… If you haven’t heard from someone in a little while… Even if you don’t think you know anyone like that, you certainly do. If you haven’t made a point of trying to figure out the… Who around you might need something? You might get some help and some social validation out of that too, but helping people and reaching out to people who might need it is… It works almost better than people reaching out you. As far as validation and… A lot of people might need help, think of the people you know who might.

51:22.4# Margaret: Yeah. Alright, well thank you so much being on the podcast and thanks for all the work that you’re doing and… Yeah. Thanks so much.

51:31.3# Aine: Yeah, thanks so much for having me.

51:32.6# (Musical transition)

51:35.1# Margaret: Thanks so much for listening. I… I hope you enjoy it. I’m open to feedback, my email address is magpie@birdsbeforestorm.net and I’m open to suggestions for the show of course. You can find me on Twitter @MagpieKilljoy or Instagram @MargaretKilljoy or Facebook at Margaret Killjoy, all that crap. I also support myself through my Patreon, I kinda wanna keep that. I’m not tryna shout that out so it’s super hard right now. I do need it to live but everyone needs work to live unfortunately in the system we live in and that’s getting very hard for a lot of people right now and so I’m not tryna go super hard to hawk that. But if you want to, you can support me and I would greatly appreciate it. If you make less money then I make off of Patreon then contact me and I’ll give you all my content for free. In particular, I would like to thank Chris and Nora and Willow and Hoss the dog and Kirk and Natalie and Eleanor. You all really make it possible for me to keep up this work. So thank you. And just remember, it’s not institutions that keep people safe. It’s us that keep people safe. And I don’t mean, not the people who are in the institutions, I mean all of the work that is done by institutions is actually done by people. Governments don’t build cities, workers build cities. It’s not the organizational structures themselves that do the work, it’s the people that do the work. And so when the status quo is disrupted, it’s important to remember that we still know how to grow food. We still know how to do medical work. We still know how to organize ourselves and each other. And that’s not going to go away any time soon. So even in time of self-isolation like this we need each other and we can help each other. And yeah, let’s… Let’s all keep each other safe. Thanks so much.

53:45.0# (Outroductory music)

S1E3 – Smokey on Urban Preparedness and Better Organizing Models

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Anyone in NYC interested in organizing with MACC can find out more at https://macc.nyc/

The host Margaret Killjoy can be found on twitter at @magpiekilljoy and at http://www.birdsbeforethestorm.net/

You can support the show at http://www.patreon.com/margaretkilljoy

S1E2 – Zoe Martínez on Community Coronavirus Preparedness

[audio src="https://pinecast.com/listen/9945ebd6-c6a7-4b73-b29a-953a6493c844.mp3" preload="none"]

Episode Notes

The guest Zoe Martínez works in public health in the UK

The host Margaret Killjoy can be found on twitter at @magpiekilljoy and at http://www.birdsbeforethestorm.net/

You can support the show at http://www.patreon.com/margaretkilljoy

S1E1 – Kitty Stryker on Anarchist Prepping

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Episode Notes

Kitty Stryker can be found on twitter at @kittystryker and at http://kittystryker.com/

Margaret Killjoy can be found on twitter at @magpiekilljoy and at http://www.birdsbeforethestorm.net/

The following transcript was provided by a comrade who wants to help us make this show more accessible:

S01E01 Kitty Stryker on Anarchist Prepping
Live Like The World Is Dying

0:00:00.0# (Introductory music)

0:00:15.1# Margaret Killjoy: Hello and welcome to Live Like The World Is Dying; a podcast that explores life when it feels like the end times. I say “when it feels like the end times”, and I’m gonna get into this more throughout various episodes of the podcast, because of course, the world is always ending. It’s always changing the status quo. Always shakes and changes, collapses, rebuilds, all of these things. So sometimes people roll their eyes when you talk about the world ending. And sometimes that makes sense, the world has ended in a lot of different ways. But… It sure feels like the world is ending right now to me and to… Maybe to you and maybe it will, maybe it won’t. Obviously what it means for the world to end is a subjective thing. But it’s a… It’s a stress factor to say the least, on a lot of people’s lives right now. Thinking about climate change and thinking about the… The rise of global fascism. So this is a podcast that’s gonna explore… Well, how we can live while we feel like the world is dying. For myself and for this podcast I’ve found that I focus on four different priorities. I focus on living like the world is going to end and that I might not survive, living like the world is going to end and I can try to survive, living like we can prevent the end of the world, and of course, living like maybe the world isn’t ending after all. So basically hedonism, prepping, revolution, and not burning all your bridges because… Who knows, the status quo might linger on after all. With this podcast I’m probably going to focus on the middle two of these priorities. I’m gonna focus on prepping and revolution. And I’m going to do that because… Well, I’ve always sort of wanted there to be more information and more… More going on about anarchist and leftist prepping. Because most of the prepping world is of course steeped in… Not just like right-wing politics, but also right-wing values and individualistic values and of course as an anarchist I believe in the balance between the individual and the community and because of that I don’t believe in individualistic survival. I don’t believe that the bunker mentality, which we’re going to talk a lot of shit on in this podcast over the next couple episodes, is appropriate to most… To most threat models. So I’ll be your host, but for the most part I’m going to interview people who know a lot more about a lot of this stuff than me. As for me, I am a prepper I suppose on some level. I keep a small stockpile food. Dried food in 5 gallon buckets in case there’s an interruption in… Well, food supplies. I make sure I know where water filtration is. I also keep a to-go bag and… At my house. And I keep another one in my car that’s much smaller. Neither of these are a particularly elaborate. They’re… They’re fairly simple things I put together. And that’s… That’s more for my own mental welfare than it is like any immediate expectation of crisis. And I also… I live off grid. Which is not something that I’m gonna specifically advocate that anyone else do. I actually live off grid because it just sort of meets my needs here and now in terms of how I like to live. I live about half an hour away from a small city in a cabin I built myself in the woods because I like doing that. I like living that way. I’m an anarchist and that’s going to certainly bleed over into the content of this show. I believe in a world without course of hierarchies like the state or capitalism or white supremacy or heteronormativity or… Or any of the intersecting oppressions and hierarchies that rule the world that shouldn’t. And so of course, a lot of my… I tell you this because I want you to know my biases because I want you to come to your own conclusions. I have a bias against state and federal aid. I tend to find it to be wildly inefficient. I’m far more interested in creating a society based on mutual aid. And so… And I find agency to be wildly important. I find it very important for us to encourage each other to have agency and so I’m interested in disaster relief or crisis preparation or whatever, that maximizes individual agency, that maximize community agency and… Yeah, that’s what’s interesting to me so that’s what I’m going to be focusing on more. This first episode, our guest is Kitty Stryker who I can let introduce herself. Thanks so much for listening.

0:05:01.9# (Musical transition)

0:05:06.5# Margaret: So today our guest is Kitty Stryker. Well actually, do you want to introduce yourself with your name and pronouns and kind of any political or organizational affiliation you feel like shouting out.

0:05:21.4# Kitty Stryker: Sure. I’m Kitty Stryker, I use she/her pronouns. I’m a… I identify myself as a leftist doomsday prepper. But I’m more of a like… Emergency prepper, street medic. I work with Struggle Of Circus, which is a of bunches of leftists and other sort of radical political groups and a bunch of juggalos coming together to help out at protests and usually do medic related stuff but also be kind of a meat wall around marginalized communities. I identify as an anarchist and… Yeah, I guess I just found it really interesting that when I was looking for communities of leftist to talk to about prepping, there wasn’t anything there.

0:06:15.5# Margaret: Yeah that was… I think we ended up kind of finding each other through a similar… I don’t actually remember how we first ended up talking about it. Maybe you do. But we’ve been, for anyone who’s listening, Kitty and I have been talking vaguely about how we needed to do something about this… This lack of…

0:06:34.2# Kitty: Lack of information, yeah.

0:06:35.9# Margaret: Yeah. Because so much of the information that’s out there about prepping is not really applicable, well, to anyone realistically. But certainly not necessarily applicable to people whose ideology isn’t “fuck you, I’ve got mine”, you know? So…

0:06:53.5# Kitty: Right and I think… And it could be actively hostile in forums and stuff. Like places that you wanna go to ask for information and ask for advice become really hostile when people are talking about how much they want to kill antifa or of like… “I can’t wait til the race war”. It’s not really a very comfortable place to ask questions about fortifications.

0:07:19.5# Margaret: Yeah. That makes sense. So why don’t we start by kind of talking about the general conception of preparedness and kind of what is leftist or anarchist prepping or preparedness. As… At least as you can conceive it.

0:07:37.7# Kitty: Sure, well, so for me I grew up with parents who are sort of like… Suburban homesteader types, with a mixture of prepping. But are also hoarders so while they have everything you would need in an apocalypse you also wouldn’t necessarily be able to find it. So I kinda grew up with the hoarding tendency that they think comes with a lot of prepping. You wanna have lots of things that seemed very important. But also this desire to try to make it organized and make it easily accessible. I realized fairly quickly that while I’m more of a stay-in-place kind of prepper and sort of emergency preparedness person, I also will potentially need to be able to put what I need a backpack and carry it with me. At least for a mile or two depending on the emergency and if I have so much stuff that I can’t practically do that without a car, it’s not really going to be that useful. I live in earthquake country so I just have to anticipate the roads are going to be kind of a mess. So that was sort of where I came from, was this not very political, camping and also very pagan, getting in touch with earth kind of thing. Like my parents beehives that drives all of their neighbors off the wall. They hate it.

0:09:12.7# Margaret: That’s interesting. I’ve only a couple times been around this, yeah, suburban homesteading idea where you have access to a little bit of land. Not necessarily so much privacy, not so much… Place where you can keep your bees.

0:09:24.5# Kitty: Nope, no privacy. Everyone in my neighborhood is like, “That’s the witch house. You can tell because there’s thirteen sacred trees in the front lawn. And her dad goes outside and scythes the lawn.”

0:09:38.1# Margaret: Wow.

0:09:39.7# Kitty: I don’t think he’s actually even done that in years so I think it’s just an overgrown tangle at this point.

0:09:45.9# Margaret: Well that’s even more fun.

0:09:46.7# Kitty: But we have like… We have a pond in there. There’s a little herb garden, a veggie garden. We have a crow feeder. It’s… It’s elaborate.

0:09:56.8# Margaret: I’m imagining this on like a quarter acre, half acre. Is that..?

0:10:00.5# Kitty: Yeah. Yeah, pretty much. With manicured lawns right next to us on either side.

0:10:08.5# Margaret: Well, that’s a…

0:10:09.1# Kitty: Really… That’s where I was raised. I think that explains a lot.

0:10:13.7# Margaret: Okay. It’s an interesting metaphor for being the one person who’s… You know, either prepping or being a hoarder.

0:10:22.4# Kitty: I’ve been the one person for a while. Yeah. But I think that that’s in such staunch contrast to doomsday preppers which is what most people think of when they think of prepping. They think of like, “Oh, that’s those rednecks in the middle of the really rural areas with their bunker and their nine million guns and their giant water containers.” And they’re, you know, being completely convinced that there’s going to a nuclear war or there’s going to be… I don’t know. What are some of the other disasters that they’re always prepared for? Well, I mean like, definitely race wars. Definitely one of the things.

0:11:09.1# Margaret: Yeah, I mean and that’s kind of the… I feel like that’s the tell between whether you’re talking to a racist prepper or a… Well, obviously if someone’s talking about a race war they’re clearly racist. But… You know, there’s a tell of whether or not they’re obsessed with like the… The boogaloo or if they’re obsessed with… You know, the possibility of invasion or… System collapse in general.

0:11:32.3# Kitty: Right, right. And like what system collapse looks like. Like what are they actually afraid of, I think is very telling. A lot of times you’ll see people say, “Oh, I’m afraid that people are going to come and murder my family for my resources because my resources are so awesome that everyone for miles around is going want to come and murder me.” Which, first of all, if that was true I would not be saying it on the internet. That just seems like a bad idea. That’s… My boyfriend and I watch doomsday preppers and talk about how we would raid their bunkers because they show us everything. And that just seems very shortsighted, if that is indeed what you are worried about.

0:12:22.2# Margaret: Right, as compared to just kind of showing off and being excited about… Like kind of nerding out about gear…

0:12:27.6# Kitty: I think it’s like… Yeah, it’s like nerding out and they think it’s more of a threat than it is. I don’t know. I think… I think it speaks to a desire for conflict that I don’t personally have. I don’t want to have to use my apartment complex to snipe people. I just don’t want to do that. I just wanna be able to grow a garden using a discarded… Shoe organizer from the broken down Ross down the street. That’s my type of prepping, rather than preparing for endless violence.

0:13:10.4# Margaret: Yeah, there’s kind of a… I feel like one of the main myths or concepts that I’m trying to get across with this podcast… Not a myth I’m trying to get across this, prove that something is a myth, is the bunker mentality is the “I’ve got mine, fuck you” mentality, that is so common in prepping circles and it’s… It’s really off-putting because… I mean, even… Even from a pure self-interest point of view it just seems so dumb. So you hole up with your five closest friends in the middle of the woods during the apocalypse, and that’s like all fine and good until your appendix bursts and you forget that you’re not a surgeon and that your brother isn’t a surgeon, you know? And…

0:13:56.0# Kitty: Well you just need more useful friends.

0:13:57.9# Margaret: Well, sure but…

0:13:58.7# Kitty: That’s what I did.

0:13:59.2# Margaret: But what if you are the surgeon, right? And then your appendix bursts.

0:14:02.4# Kitty: Well, yeah. Then… Yeah. Then… Then… Well, then you just die. I mean, that’s the thing. I think that they… They’re so afraid of violence coming from other people that they don’t… A, think of the violence that could happen amongst themselves which is kind of inevitable if you’re locked in a bunker together. And there’s… Especially if there’s power dynamics in place and stress, then I feel like there’s gonna be some abusive dynamics that come out of that. So if you’re not prepared for that, it doesn’t really matter how good your resources are. And there’s… So that’s just even within your unit, and then never mind if you’re then expanding out to like… Do you know how to do literally everything in the world? Because you’re probably going to help. It’s the same as the idea about currency. Everyone’s so keen on like… Oh yeah, make sure that you have currency. Make sure you silver buried in your yard. Like… What are you going to do with that, really? Like… I mean… It’s cool, I guess. But unless you’re going to use that as a brick… I don’t understand.

0:15:12.3# Margaret: Well I guess it gets into… In some ways, I think the apocalypse… People who think too much about the apocalypse, whether on they’re on the left or on the right, or just bored centrists or moderates or whatever, I think that people are thinking about and imagining clean slates and imagining about how they would like to act and what kind of societies they would like to create, what kind of dynamics they’d like to create. So it’s really easy for someone who, say of a libertarian mindset, to be like “Well, of course gold is what matters because we’re all going to trade resources. There’s definitely going to be market economics after the apocalypse because we’re going to institute market… Economics. And then maybe like… Those of us that are like, “Wow, the market’s a dumb thing and isn’t really particularly interesting to me at all.” Like, yeah I have a really hard time imagining that I’m going to be doing much… Even bartering after the apocalypse. Like, I’m… I’m either like rolling with people and sharing shit or I’m keeping shit to myself but like… I’m not gonna be like, “Well, these three bullets are worth that tourniquet,” or whatever, you know? At least that’s my conception of it. That’s when… When I like to imagine the end of the world, which is not actually something I like imagining anymore, but I’m imagining something that is closer to the ideological interest that I have. Which is maybe a fault of mine, maybe that’s a blind spot of mine.

0:16:39.5# Kitty: Well, I don’t think that’s… I don’t think it’s necessarily a fault. I mean, like one thing that I think when… You know, I have a group friends that we talk about this stuff a lot amongst ourselves. Especially because we’re within bicycling distance from each other, so we’re sort of like, “Okay, if there is an emergency, we’re pretty sure that we could get to each other.” But we all have… Slightly different ideas of what we would like to see happen which means we also have a different… Like different ideals and different areas of expertise. And I think that that is actually super helpful. I don’t know that I would want to be in a group that everybody thinks the same way, as long as you think cooperatively versus competitively. And for me that’s what’s important. I don’t really care how we get to cooperative instead of competitive, but that’s what I want.

0:17:33.5# Margaret: Yeah, that makes sense. So, look, I want to talk more about… Okay, one of the things I really like about prepping in general is that it can be very practical. It’s not, it’s… Obviously a lot of it is not practical at all. But like… But to take this conversation practically for a minute… Like, what you do… Not necessarily… Both in terms of things that you keep around, but also what are your plans? You talked about bicycling to meet up with your friends. What is… What kind of preparedness do you personally practice?

0:18:05.4# Kitty: So my boyfriend and I talk a lot about what our plans are. Pretty much every three months or so. And we’re mostly… And ust to give some context, we’re mostly prepping for an earthquake, for a big earthquake, because that’s the most likely thing to happen here. I guess there’s some possibilities that will end up having a bunch of neo-nazis coming and terrorizing us but I think they’ve gotten tired of Berkeley and have moved to Portland instead so… We’re probably fine for now. So we talk a little bit about what are the risks that are current, what are the resources that are currently around? Maybe… We’ve been talking about creating a map, like actually getting a map and write, marking down important things that we might want to know where they are when you don’t have Google Maps for example. So stuff like that is really important. Like the sort of… Preparing… For immediate needs and also for where you are going to be able to get resources. What area is around that could conceivably be turned into a garden if need be. Which we’re actually lucky, we have a park really close by. And we also make a point to know our neighbors. Both our housed and houseless neighbors. So having good relationships with them is really helpful and like giving them ideas of how to be prepared so that we’re not overwhelming ourselves trying to take care of them as well as ourselves. So you’re trying to match up add the younger folks with older folks or able-bodied folks with people with disabilities so that way there’s… It’s easier for people to mobilize and so that we know who in our area is going to need help. So that’s some of the community planning stuff that’s not even focused on my group of hyper-focused friends but just making my environment less chaotic. And so that’s sort of like… And again, like a garden, it takes some pruning and some cultivating and a little bit of upkeep but I feel reasonably confident that my neighbors are going to be able to handle themselves. Which is my first big concern because then I can start worrying about things like, what do I personally actually need? One thing that is kind of difficult, I live in an apartment and we don’t have a huge amount of space. So I can’t have buckets and buckets of freeze-dried food. We do tend to have a lot of canned food, we do tend to have a lot of nuts and dried fruit and stuff like that around so that helps a little bit. It makes it easier for us to find stuff in rubble that we can eat. We also have a… A dresser that we put our prepper stuff in and it’s sorted with medic supplies in the first two drawers because that’s sort of my specialty… That’s my area focus. And then we have sort of more general supplies, so that’s where we have LifeStraws and we have bandanas and we have masks for filtering out smoke or disease. We have lots and lots of gloves, we have… Water filtering tablets, we have a bunch different kinds of fire starters. So we sort of put together a compendium of things that we felt would be useful. And then what’s probably the least practical thing is my… In the main living room I have a hatchet, I have a walking stick, I have my camping stuff. So it’s not all condensed in one place but I have… I do have a spare tent at my partner’s house and I have a medic bag. A fully packed medic go-bag that I take to protests in the trunk of my car. So that way I can… I have one medic bag in the house, I have one in the car, and I usually have one at my partner’s house. Sometimes I have one at my local bar too but that’s the one that usually get used if I go to a protest ’cause that’s near downtown. But just having pockets stuff… And then I have a storage unit downtown as well. So I figured it might be more difficult to get into my storage unit but at least it’s underground and that would be not a bad place to have some stuff that I don’t need immediately but might want down the line, yeah. So… But it’s sort of a pack rat… Pack ratty, squirrel type prepping. Of burying little caches…

0:23:27.8# Margaret: I’m impressed because you’re… Yeah, you’re managing to successfully do in an urban environment what… Well… Something I associate more with the rural environments of… You know, one of the things that I was realizing…

0:23:41.1# Kitty: It’s harder. It’s harder, but it’s only harder if you care about being the only person who can get to it. And I don’t really care so much about that. I just wanna have access to it. I’m… Because, for me, I’m someone who… I saw a guy on a scooter get hit by car. I was so glad I had that medic kit on me so that I could actually help him out. And immediately help him out. I’m so glad I had that expertise. So… And actually that’s one thing that I also have is a first aid book because, again, I don’t know how to do everything. But if I have a book, I can probably figure out how to do most things safely. So…

0:24:26.7# Margaret: What’s the book?

0:24:29.4# Kitty: It’s an old field manual medic guide, I forget what era. But I prefer to try to go for stuff that’s military because… Or serious environmental wilderness strategy guides because then they’re not focused on you having access to a full hospital. It’s not ideal conditions. Sometimes first aid advice is like, “Oh well just call an ambulance” and it’s like well that’s not really practical in the sort of situations I’m preparing for so I prefer to look at older stuff. And then take newer knowledge and pack that on top. But knowing how to do some of these things when you don’t have electricity, a lot of modern medicine depends on electricity, depends on you having access to different kinds of medications and solutions that might not have. So I think it’s kind of… I don’t… Until I have to do it in practice I don’t know how useful it actually will be. But I’m interested in learning how have people prevented disease… In wartime, in… A forest in the middle of nowhere versus what you you would get trained necessarily if you’re getting CPR training for your work.

0:26:08.8# Margaret: Have you taken the wilderness first responder course or anything like that?

0:26:12.4# Kitty: I want to so badly. I’m hoping that I can save up for it or have somebody gift it to me. But that is on my list of, oh my god I would… That be so dreamy. But… I really… I just also am just also am obsessed with medical stuff. I guess that’s… That’s one thing I would really recommend for people curious about prepping. I would say while it is nice to be able to have information about a bunch of different areas, find the thing that you’re really interested and nerd out on that. One of my friends is really, really into finding plants and urban foraging. So that’s her area of expertise. It’s like, oh, she can tell you every plant you can eat within two miles of your house. And that would be really useful, it’s not necessarily something that my brain can hold onto… As easily as medicine stuff. My partner is really good with weapons and… Building shelters. It’s not really my area so it’s nice to have somebody who can teach me just enough but also has a lot more expertise.

0:27:29.4# Margaret: Yeah, that’s something that I… I think about a lot in terms of even just the world I wanna live in. I’m really excited about the idea where we… Instead of having a generalism versus specialization kind of argument, it’s another bullshit false dichotomy, probably we should all as much as we can generalize as broadly as we can and then pick the things that stand out to us to specialize in. Like, I don’t need to know how to do surgery but I should probably know first… Literal first aid. Like first response… Like there have been a number times in my life where I’ve… I’m incredibly squeamish, I hate medical things, I hate thinking about it the way that like… Like someone showed me how to use a tourniquet and… You know, I disassociated in order to learn. Because the concept of thinking about like… Arterial bleeding doesn’t work for me. But I know that I need to know how to do that so I learn pretty much by disassociating and then kind of when things happen I like disassociate again and then deal with it.

0:28:34.6# Kitty: Yeah, I mean there’s some practicality to that. When I was doing medical work at protests I really underestimated how traumatized I was until months later… When I was like, “Wow, I just didn’t have feelings for a while.” It’s a lot and I’m… I love… See, I’m not squeamish at all about that stuff but I’m impatient so like building structures is not my thing. It’s like, I could learn how to do it but I don’t even put up the tent when I go camping if I can avoid it. So… Knowing that I have a good solid group of people around me who are really excited to do that stuff allows us to do the thing we’re excited about but also in case something happens to that person, we know how to do it we just don’t like it.

0:29:26.1# Margaret: Yeah. Or at least have a… Can do a rougher version of it, you know? Can do a… I had a… I was just talking to a friend about all of this. I actually don’t remember if it’s… I’m recordings these interviews out of order from how they’re going to play. So I was talking to a friend of mine who’s a… A medical professional and he was talking about how in a crisis situation if you have two people, maybe what you want is a nurse and a world class generalist, you know? As like the two people that you need.

0:29:58.8# Kitty: Pretty much. I think having a medic… Like I think everyone should have basic medical training, just basic shit, because that way anybody can do an emergency… Like, okay, “I can put gauze on this and stop the bleeding.” That’s what I need from people. And every time I go to a protest, people are asking what they could do to help and I’m like, “Just do that. Just do that, only.” And help people with sprained ankles and keep them hydrated. ‘Cause if you can do all of that then I can focus on stitching someone’s head together. That’s what I need to be able to be focused on because I’m not the squeamish one. So… Yeah, I think that helps a lot. Also coming up with things for you to do, that gets ignored a lot on prepper forums. At least the ones I’ve been on. They talk a lot about like, you know, “Okay, you’ve gotta have all of this foraging skills and you gotta have shelter building and you gotta have all these supplies in order to make all of this stuff,” but there are no downtime options. And you’re gonna have downtime sometimes. Like you’re gonna get sick eventually, if nothing else. So make sure you have stuff to keep your mind busy during those times. ‘Cause watching “Alone” for example, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen that one but they put these people by themselves in the middle of the… Was it Canadian wilderness I think for at least the first couple of seasons? And they have to do everything from scratch. They have some supplies on them and a good supply list. But they have to pick like… 1 of 10 items, or 10 different items out of a list of like… pre-approved 50 different things they can have. So have to do a lot of stuff by themselves. And almost every single time the thing that gets to them is just a lack of food and boredom. And if they can keep themselves busy, somehow, like making music or making art or building… Like adding decorations to their shelter, then the fact that they’re hungry doesn’t bother them so much. But if they don’t have anything like that, they’re not creative in any way, then the fact that they’re hungry literally gnaws away at their brain. So I just think that’s a really interesting aspect… Like thinking a lot about mental health in an emergency scenario because I think that gets ignored with a lot of right-wing prepping forums and stuff like that.

0:32:53.6# Margaret: Yeah. Yeah I wonder what… I feel like there’s just the deck of card, is what’s written about in all the things.

0:33:03.3# Kitty: Yeah, it’s always recommended. Always have a deck of cards.

0:33:05.8# Margaret: Which is like… You can tell that they wrote that in the 50’s or whatever, you know?

0:33:10.1# Kitty: Right, in that… Part of it’s gonna be like, “Oh, like for gambling in order to entertain yourself if… Gambling with the no money that you have. I don’t know. It’s just… I would much prefer to have… I don’t know, Codenames or something. Endless replayability.

0:33:31.2# Margaret: Yeah, I feel like there’s a…

0:33:32.1# Kitty: I mean, but…

0:33:32.8# Margaret: Go ahead.

0:33:32.8# Kitty: Let’s be honest, I’d be playing Dungeons & Dragons. In my tracker tent as an actual ranger. Playing Dungeons & Dragons.

0:33:45.2# Margaret: You wouldn’t play… What’s the opposite of it? The dragons play, they play… Humans and Houses?

0:33:51.3# Kitty: Oh, yeah, maybe that too. I don’t know, mix them up. Mix them together.

0:33:56.3# Margaret: You’d have roleplaying about what would you do if apartments still existed or whatever?

0:34:00.4# Kitty: Yeah.

0:34:02.7# Margaret: I think that…

0:34:03.3# Kitty: I mean, I guess I don’t… I’m not that scared of that. It would be uncomfortable and I’d probably hate it a lot. I’m a house cat. But, you know, I’m not that worried about it either. And I think part of it is because I just made being prepared, knowing where my go-bag is at all times just part of my day-to-day existence. So it’s just muscle memory at this point.

0:34:32.8# Margaret: Yeah. Earlier in our pre-conversation, when we talked about what we might talk about, one of the things you brought up is the ableism that exists in a lot of prepping conversations and I was wondering if you wanted to talk more about that.

0:34:46.0# Kitty: Yeah, so I noticed that a lot of discussions on what your go-plan is involves being able to walk long distances. Presumably because they figure walking a long enough distance would get you to area of wilderness, that they feel would be more suitable. I… That is really impractical for a large number of people. People with small children are going to struggle with that. Elderly people are going to struggle with that. People with disabilities are going to struggle with that. Some people with disabilities aren’t going to be able to do that. It won’t even be just a struggle, it’s just impossible. So I think the… We need more diverse resources and we need to talk seriously about how to make this accessible for people who aren’t in their… Super hyper fit, in their 30’s, ready to charge over a mountain. And in the bay area you could you could walk for eight hours and I don’t know that you would find a bit of wilderness… So I don’t think that’s necessarily the most practical option for all people.

0:36:08.7# Margaret: it’s funny to me that all this stuff about going to the wilderness because I live in… Not the wilderness but I very rurally. I live in a house that I built at the end of a… Beyond the end of a gravel road like every stupid stick of my fucking cabin I had to carry up a hill on my back. I actually started building it with a chronic injury and then managed to… Physical therapy my way… This isn’t a… Statement about ableism, just the weird stupid shit of building this fucking cabin I live in.

0:36:40.6# Kitty: But looks really cool.

0:36:43.0# Margaret: But there’s… Thanks, yeah, no I’m really proud of it and it’s funny because actually it’s a brilliant place to live during civilization. But if there were some kind of crisis, I would probably get my to-go bag or my car presumably but let’s pretend like that’s not an option for whatever reason, and I would walk to the city. Because the city is where people are and that is where we can keep each other safe. I think people have this conception of… That people are a danger and that’s true, people are dangerous, right? But the wilderness is really fucking dangerous too. And…

0:37:23.7# Kitty: People really underestimate how dangerous the wilderness is. They underestimate how cold it is. The cold will kill you, the wet will kill you.

0:37:34.4# Margaret: Yeah and so getting to… I don’t know for certain, it would really depend on the threat, but I would presumably go to a place of higher population so that we collectively can figure out what the fuck to do. And maybe the fact that I have access to certain resources by living on land can become useful to people. And that would be my hope. I could easily imagine a situation where you have, as part of your prepping, you would have… The rural… With rural living access to space. You don’t necessarily have access to anything else but you often have access to space and… So you can store tractors and you can store strange devices… Like devices that have very odd and specialized purposes for building or something like that. But then again, the thing I’m slowly learning is that cities have all of those things too. It’s just that not necessarily each individual is going to own them. Because not everyone lives on a farm.

0:38:36.4# Kitty: Right. The city owns it or the government owns it. But yeah, there’s plenty of parking lots.

0:38:42.5# Margaret: Yeah, that’s true.

0:38:45.8# Kitty: So… Yeah. I mean, like… Oh, god. I’m trying to remember what the name of the show was. So I… I watch a lot of prepping and wilderness survival based shows. Somewhat to remind myself that nature is dangerous and also because I find them very amusing. And there was one that was… It wasn’t entirely clear if it was a reality show or if it was scripted or both. Pretty sure it was both, but they were in LA. And I forget what they had decided … The LA one I don’t think it was a disease. They had a different calamity happen each season. And in the first season they had a good variety of people. They had several mechanics, they had a couple of nurses and doctors. They had martial arts teachers. So they had a good cross-section of people. And they did decently well surviving in a big warehouse in LA and came up with some incredibly inventive weapons and things. I remember they created a flame thrower out of bits of an old car which was stunning to watch. But then the second season they were in New Orleans, in some of the areas that have been devastated by Katrina. And they had underestimated how swampy it was and how hard it was going to be to get food and how there were tons of snakes and alligators that we’re going to kill you. And also that one had a disease element so every once in a while someone would get claimed by a contagious disease and they would just start disappearing. But the thing that really got to them I think is that they didn’t have a very diverse group of people. They had a lot of schoolteachers and artists and that’s great, that’s important stuff, but if they don’t have any trade skills as well, they’re gonna drop like flies. So it’s really important to take your creative energies and learn how to do something that can embrace that but also has a living purpose.

0:41:12.1# Margaret: Yeah. Yeah, as a generalist I think about that where most of my skills are graphic design and audio which is great when you want to start a podcast, if you have been doing electronic music for twenty years or whatever, you know? But I think I’ve really consciously been working on developing my skills that are not only on a computer, you know? For kind of this purpose.

0:41:39.1# Kitty: Well, hey. Electronic music and audio says to me, making ham radios. Practical and useful. There’s always something there, it’s just like finding what those things are. Though I will say this, the first season in the warehouse in LA they had a big issue with masculinity.

0:42:04.7# Margaret: I only watched the second season.

0:42:05.4# Kitty: Everybody was…

0:42:06.9# Margaret: I watched the one where they all…

0:42:07.5# Kitty: The first one is great. It’s like all these male mechanics shouting at each other about how to fix something better and then this female mechanic just goes and does it.

0:42:16.8# Margaret: Yeah, that sounds like a perfect metaphor.

0:42:19.1# Kitty: And then they when they all brag about how proud that they came up with this idea and she just rolls her eyes and you’re just like, “Yup, that’s how it would be pretty much.” And that said to me a lot about mediation. Knowing how to mediate, knowing your own triggers. Like knowing your own mental health stuff so that you can then navigate other people’s mental health stuff. That’s also super important. And easy for anybody to do.

0:42:44.9# Margaret: Yeah, yeah I think knowing different organization models. Like I think knowledge and facilitation is a really important skill. I think people basically pick whichever organizational model seems to be practical when the existing larger structure goes away. And I’ve been in spaces where we haven’t been sure how we’re going to organize ourselves and I’m surrounded by a bunch of non-anarchists and then I’m like, “Well here’s this model where we’re all equals but we still actually figure things out.” And it just works as compared to I’m pretty sure if someone had been like, “Here’s the model, I’m pretty much in charge.” And maybe it’ll be like some veneer of democracy where he’ll be like, and I’m just going to use ‘he’ for this imaginary patriarch…

0:43:28.5# Kitty: I wonder why.

0:43:29.7# Margaret: He’ll be like, “I’m in charge and the we can have a little vote about that if we wanna prove that I’m in charge,” you know? And everyone will be like, “Well, he’s the one who is offering to get shit done.” And what… Of course what people fail to realize is that’s like… We get shit done, collectively. Whether it’s collectively we do it and someone is taking the credit by being up top, you know? Or whether we do it… So that’s one of the things that I think about with prepping. How to… And I think that’s maybe one of the things that right-wing preppers are afraid of is they’re like… They don’t have… The only people skills that they know is this hierarchical system. Well, I guess there’s plenty of leftists who also only seem to know hierarchical systems. But…

0:44:13.2# Kitty: I mean it’s a pretty… It’s a pretty common system. That’s why… That’s why I kind of enjoy the, everybody gets to be an expert in their own thing so that nobody is super… Nobody can be too pleased with themselves. Keeps everybody humble, I think.

0:44:34.3# Margaret: Yeah. So the one other main question that I… Or thing that I kinda wanna hash out with you for this which is probably gonna be the first episode, everyone who’s listening will know whether or not it’s the first episode. It will be very embarrassing if this is the seventeenth episode, but… Maybe talk about different threat models. That’s… How we we determine what we need, of course, is dependent on what we think is likely to happen and as there’s no one-size-fits all. And so you say the primary threat model that you’re working with is a natural disaster. Do you want to talk about that or do you want to talk about other threat models or…

0:45:12.8# Kitty: Sure. Well, I think… Okay, a great example is the things that I want for a earthquake is not necessarily what I would want in a tsunami, right? Those are very different natural disasters. As somebody who grew up in hurricane country-ish, you know, it was just really really wet. And having a dust mask would not have helped me in any way. But I would be at much more risk of getting trench foot so that would be like, waterpreoof boots would be way more important. So some of it’s knowing your environment and being aware of what your environmental concerns ar. Like living in a city, asbestos is a big fundamental concern. So having dust masks is really important. I feel like I read once that most deaths aren’t… In an earthquake, come from inhaling the debris. And that… That causes some of the worst injuries because there’s just all of this dust everywhere and… I know that was definitely true with the fires. A lot of people have… Still have some… Some still have breathing problems now from the various fires that were going on in Northern California. So knowing what you need to be concerned about. Like with earthquakes, knowing that the roads might not be super useful to drive on. So having alternative plans for that knowing where your bike paths are. Knowing… If you have a wheelchair for example, maybe thinking of a way to add some tread on your wheelchair might be a practical option. I have a beach cruiser. It’s not a racing bike by any means but it’s heavy and it’s easy to find the parts. And it’s really easy to fix myself, that’s why I chose that. So thinking about what you can actually do, I think is helpful in figuring out your… Your strategy. I know that I don’t know enough about my car to be able to completely dismantle it. However, I do know somebody who does know enough about my car to do that. So I can bike to him and then have him do that. So coming up with those kind of like, “Okay, if this then this, if this then this” strategies helps me at least, I have a very ADHD brain. It helps me have a… A process to go through. Now in California, earthquakes are a big concern especially in this area but fire is also a big concern. And the way I would prepare for a fire versus an earthquake, I would be more concerned about my paperwork disappearing in a fire than an earthquake. Though to be completely honest I’m not that fussed about my paperwork in general. I don’t think getting rid of paperwork is the worst plan. But that’s not what the government wants to hear from me. So I have… I have some paperwork in a folder that’s easy to access if I need to grab something go because my apartment is burning but I wouldn’t be as… I wouldn’t care much about that if it was an earthquake because in my consideration there would will be enough of a drastic interruption in services for an earthquake that I don’t think that that would be an immediate need.

0:49:16.3# Margaret: Yeah and you wouldn’t certainly be the only one who has lost their paperwork.

#0:49:20.4# Kitty: Right, exactly. Exactly. And again, I think that we use paperwork as a penalty for so many people that… Maybe mucking up that system a little bit is a convenient little thing I can do on the side. So I… Yeah, I guess… And all of that is completely separate from thinking of having invaders come and try to take my apartment away from me or something. That… I usually strategise for that by thinking about what my plan are if the cops get even more out of control.

0:50:02.9# Margaret: Right. Like fascist takeovers is on my… On my threat model list, you know?

0:50:08.9# Kitty: Yeah, yeah, totally. And you know… The cops have been pretty shitty around here for quite a while, so… You know, it’s been a slowly increasing… Plan. But I mean… For me, I’m not interested in trying to shoot my way through the cops. I have no problem with people who that is their plan, I think it’s great that there are people who are inclined that way, but I’m gonna go full rogue. I’m sneaky. I’m going to go to the sewers. I’m not as… I’m not as interested in that kind of direct conflict. So my model for that… Or like my managements for that would be really, really different from natural disasters. And I kind of feel like that are all the things that might actually happen. I mean, I guess a meteor could hit but… Eh. The prepping I do for every other disaster would be fine for that probably. Or I’d be dead. And wouldn’t care. So… How about you? What are your… What’s your threat model?

0:51:23.0# Margaret: So I live on a floodplain. It’s not supposed to be a floodplain but global warming has made it a floodplain. And the mountains… When I first moved to the mountains, I grew up in the foothills, and when I moved into the mountains it… It kind of blew my mind that flooding is a problem because in my mind I’m like, “Well, everything is high up” and actually flooding is at least as much of a problem in… Well, the flooding is a problem in a lot different places, you know hurricanes cause floods, but flash floods in the mountains are very real especially in an era of mountaintop removal mining. which is not immediate thing immediately around me but it certainly affects places within a couple hours of where I live in Appalachia. But, you know, storms… Like the weather patterns are just changing dramatically and by living in rurally I’m not as defended against that in some ways because there’s not a large crew of people working to try and figure out how to make sure that the little place that I live is… Is safe. And so we have to do it to whatever… Because you’re not supposed to mess with of waterways, we have to do it through the state and all that, but in the meantime our land floods. And so… It flooded a couple days ago and I had to go out and try and prevent it from getting worse through whatever means. And… And I actually had this moment, you’re talking about paperwork, I started walking into this flood with my wallet in my pocket. And then eventually realized that that was a bad idea. My wallet does not need to be in my pocket. I’m not going to get asked for my papers or need to purchase anything while I’m walking into this flood and… And so it’s a… So natural disaster is like the top… Climate change affecting everything is my top threat model where I live. But fascist takeover is on there and fascist takeover… Is a really different set of problems.

0:53:42.9# Kitty: Yeah. And it’s different kind of…

0:53:43.8# Margaret: And a lot of it still comes down to knowing your neighbors.

0:53:46.1# Kitty: It’s a different set of prepping as well. It’s a totally different set skills.

0:53:50.8# Margaret: Yeah. And I mean there’s… And one of the things I was thinking about is… The thing I was really… That I realized, a lot of my… I’ve spent a lot of my life living outdoors. I was a traveling anarchist living out of a backpack, and I was a forest defender and was a squatter and I lived in a van, and now I live in a cabin. Almost half my life I’ve lived out… Off grid, essentially. And I was thinking how when in February I’m waist and sometimes chest deep in water, I was thinking how glad I am that just kind of by default prefer certain types of practical clothes. It’s funny ’cause I… Most of the time… I built my house wearing a dress. But when I’m like, “Okay it’s rainy,” and I put my puffy vest and my waders, my muck boots, and wool socks. And I wasn’t nearly as concerned about hypothermia, which is a major problem in floods especially in February, just because I wasn’t wearing much cotton. And it’s funny like because I never think about my outdoors skills. Like how to start a fire with tinder and flint and steel and all that. That’s not… I don’t really see a version of the world where I’m living in the woods alone and hunting squirrels and whatever the fuck, you know? But there are gonna be moments where I might be like… Needing to not get hypothermia while I’m trying to clear up a dam that’s forming or whatever.

0:55:26.9# Kitty: Yeah, yeah. Two pairs of wool socks should be on everyone’s list in their go bag for sure.

0:55:34.3# Margaret: Yeah, I keep a second vest…

0:55:35.7# Kitty: And the more wool clothing you have the better.

0:55:39.4# Margaret: But what’s funny is than I was thinking that through when you’re talking about fires, I was thinking about California, I was like… Well, actually the same clothes that are really good in flood and maybe a tsunami are not good in fire. You don’t want to wear synthetic in a fire situation. So… But over all…

0:56:00.1# Kitty: But you actually do wanna wear cotton.

0:56:02.6# Margaret: Yeah. Yeah…

0:56:05.0# Kitty: I remember I used to… I used to blacksmith with my dad and he would be like, “What are you wearing? That’s really impractical for this.” I’m like, “It’s fine. It’s cotton, it’ll just roll right off. You can’t catch fire in cotton.” He was like, “That’s not really true… But it’s more true, I guess.”

0:56:22.2# Margaret: It’s better than polyester.

0:56:24.0# Kitty: Yes, certainly, yes.

0:56:25.3# Margaret: It’s not going to melt into your skin.

0:56:27.9# Kitty: I have melted through so many skirts with some prep butts for sure. And I’m sort of learning at this point that that’s… That’s a concern. But yeah, I mean that’s definitely an area of my prepping that I need to be better about. Is just having practical clothes. I don’t have that much in the way of practical clothes that can fold up really small and actually keep me warm or keep me cool.

0:56:59.3# Margaret: Yeah. But sometimes people over… Overestimate the importance of this. I’ve definitely gone hiking in maxi skirts all time. And every time I go hiking with someone new in a maxi skirt they’re like, “Margaret, do you wanna wear that?” And I’m like, “Are you fucking kidding me, I’ve been hiking in these skirts for the past fifteen years I know what the fuck I’m doing.” Yeah, they might get caught and rip on things but whatever, you know? So there’s a… There’s a… I’m suddenly defensive about like, “Oh no, you don’t need practical clothes.” I don’t know, maybe… Maybe we all need practical clothes. But maybe sometimes…

0:57:31.7# Kitty: You definitely need socks and I would recommend more than one pair of underwear. Probably cotton just for…

0:57:38.9# Margaret: But that’s, yeah…

0:57:39.2# Kitty: Keeping your genitals fresh. But other then that… You can figure it out. I mean… But also clothes are not exactly in short supply either. There’s a lot of trash fashion that we can pad up to make something acceptable.

0:58:01.8# Margaret: Well, in a lot of disaster areas people gather clothes to bring there and all the people there are like, “Why did you bring us fucking clothes. Bring us fucking clean water. What you doing?”

0:58:12.6# Kitty: Well they’re bringing clothes because you can’t burn them in India or China anymore, right? So it’s like, “Oh, we’ll give it to poor people.”

0:58:22.1# Margaret: That way we get to feel better and clean out our closet, yeah

0:58:25.7# Kitty: Yup. I mean it’s just… I guess that’s another… That another threat, is just being buried under stuff. Just trash. Just being slowly buried alive under trash.

0:58:39.4# Margaret: Well that’s the… That’s the status quo problem, right? There’s… If the world doesn’t end and it keeps going the way it goes that’s also kind of horrible.

0:58:49.7# Kitty: Yeah, yeah. Well, I guess actually another threat model that I think a lot about is disease. Disease is definitely a big concern. We… I live in a city where everyone is on top each other. So… A disease can spread incredibly quickly. I remembered there was a person who went to Berkeley Bowl who had the measles or something and they just quarantined Berkeley bowl. And I was like, “I’m not leaving the house for two weeks, just in case, who knows?” And that’s even with having a vaccine. It’s just… Knowing that when the electricity fails a lot of things like vaccines are going to become a lot more difficult, if not impossible…

0:59:43.0# Margaret: To acquire or whatever?

0:59:45.1# Kitty: And then… And then it’s… Yeah, to acquire, keep them cold. To refrigerate medications, that’s not going to be possible. So figuring out that is also something I try to be somewhat aware of. Having alternatives to medication, having alternatives to street drugs also. So knowing about… Knowing how to use Narcan. Knowing a little about… I don’t even know how to pronounce that, I’ve only seen it read… Kratom?

1:00:23.5# Margaret: Kratom I think.

1:00:25.6# Kitty: Yeah, so that has been used by a bunch of my friends when they’ve been withdrawing from opiates. So having stuff that could work as an alternate… I’ve always packed some pot in my medic bag even though I don’t smoke pot. Because it’s so useful for so many different things… That it’s worth just having it in there. And that’s something that could be a real problem. A bunch of people withdrawing at once… Is a huge problem. A bunch of people getting sick at once is a huge problem. So having alternatives for that stuff is something that I’m looking a lot more into.

1:01:13.4# Margaret: Yeah, that’s interesting that… I haven’t thought about that.

1:01:16.3# Kitty: And that’s what…

1:01:16.3# Margaret: The… Specifically withdrawing.

1:01:18.6# Kitty: That’s just really something right-wing people don’t think about that. I’ve noticed this. They’re afraid of… Sorry, I forget the actual terminology, again ADHD brain, and I tend to call things… Like I called bars alcohol restaurants, that’s just… How my brain works. But there’s some doomsday thing that a lot of people are hype on…

1:01:39.4# Margaret: Coronavirus?

1:01:41.8# Kitty: About… No, no, no. I wish it was that, that would make much sense but no. They’re just being racist and frantic about that while not thinking about the flu which kills a lot more people. But anyway… No. It’s the… It’s like a solar flare is going to knock out all of our electricity?

1:02:02.9# Margaret: Oh, ’cause then it’ll EMP us or whatever?

1:02:05.4# Kitty: That’s the one, yes. There’s so many of them who are so focused on that but then they don’t think about disease at all. And that just blows my mind because disease is way more likely.

1:02:19.9# Margaret: Yeah, people are bad at threat modeling.

1:02:21.0# Kitty: Within our lifetime we’ve seen multiple plagues.

1:02:25.0# Margaret: Yeah. I mean it’s…

1:02:27.7# Kitty: It’s just really surprising.

1:02:29.7# Margaret: I think some of it is about… I mean most of it’s that people are bad at threat modeling. But I think some of it is like people… Enjoy certain types of threats. Like preparing for certain types of threats more than others. And also probably enjoy preparing like… For something that makes them feel like they have more agency instead of less agency, you know? If you’re someone who… All of your skills are about non-electric things you can be really excited about the power grid going down. But I don’t know.

1:03:02.8# Kitty: But I mean… That is… That is another area to think about when it comes to ableism, for example. A lot of diabetics aren’t going to be able to get access to their medication. So figuring out how do you deal with that. And I don’t think there… I don’t know that I have answer to that, I don’t know that anybody does. While that’s for certain something that I would want to… Know more about.

1:03:28.0# Margaret: I think that’s why we have to not… It’s why the end of the world is bad. Like disaster is actually a really bad thing. Like people clearly get kind of hooked on it, right, because they suddenly have agency in their lives and they… You know, and… Everything I’ve ever read or talk to people about, like suicide goes down, like psychotic breaks go down, things like that during crisis. And it’s… But it’s still, at the end of the day, something that if we can avert it we should. And that’s actually why… As much as climate change is going to affect things, there are going to be disasters, there’s going to be interruptions in our society, if there’s ways we can find to make sure that that doesn’t kill so many people or ruin so many lives… Even if it ruins economic systems, maybe, you know… And of course as an anarchist I say this, maybe the solution is to ruin the existing economic system. Although ideally by transferring it over to a system that… You know… So that we still have access to the… The things we need in the meantime. Which is actually, it gets… I’m almost done with this rant. The whole… There’s a threat that the whole like… There’s a Durruti quote where during the Spanish Civil War… Someone asks him, “Well, what about all the destruction of this revolution?” And he’s like, “Well, we’re workers, we’re not afraid of ruins. Why would we be afraid of ruins, we’re the ones who built this city, we can build again.” And I think about… Often people are like, well, and this is a tangent ’cause now I’m talking about anarchist society, people are like, “In an anarchist society, how would you have antibiotics?” I’d be like “Well, I don’t know, how do we fucking have them now? We’ll do that. Or maybe a different way, I don’t know.” And there’s still people in the apocalypse, right? There’s still a ton of people in disaster and we all know how to do stuff. And so even if like the electrical grid dies, that doesn’t mean there’s no power. It doesn’t mean there’s no hospital, even, you know? There’s… Like even… We can… Fix these things and do these things and some of those are already prepared for that.

1:05:43.8# Kitty: Yeah. And I mean… And I think… I guess I would say that while it’s good to be prepared, I also think it’s important not to psyche yourself out. I think it’s important to… Not get too excited about it. Because the fact is a lot of people, a lot of black and brown people especially, disabled people especially, will die. In any kind of disaster that you would want to prep for. That’s just… That’s how we structured our society and that is going to happen. So I think that that is something to be aware of before getting too thrilled about… The end of the world, right? So that you’re kinda saying some really fucked up stuff at the same time. And frankly I don’t know that I would survive a disaster like that. But I do know that I don’t think I could do it by myself. I do think I could do it with community. And I think that that’s why I’m so focus on community and mutual aid. I read A Paradise Built In Hell and it’s this really interesting book that looks at different disasters and kind of has that… Isn’t it interesting how a disaster happens and people come together and help each other even when everything has gone shit. And how… I think this was kinda the intention of the author of this book but she does seem to point out a lot… Isn’t it also interesting how often the government steps in and tells them to stop doing that? So no, that is not okay. And will actually murder people to prevent them from helping each other. And I think that… That’s something I’d consider as sort of a secondary threat model is… The government trying to prevent people from actually doing okay without them. It’s like an ultimate abusive relationship. And figuring out how to deal with that… When you’re being funneled into resources that are not ready to handle them. Yeah, so I mean, you know, it’s a lot.

1:08:25.9# Margaret: Well this is a… This is a really good… This is going to be the first episode and… So I think we’ve covered a lot of… Thanks for helping me kind of… Almost like set up what this show will hopefully drill down more about and yeah, thanks so much for… Talking to me about all this stuff today.

1:08:46.8# Kitty: Yeah, thanks for having me. I’m glad we could kind of work out… Sort of, here’s all of the issues for… Here’s a selection of all of the issues. But wait, there’s more.

1:08:58.8# Margaret: Yeah, no, exactly.

1:08:59.1# Kitty: I’m looking forward to seeing the series. It should be pretty cool.

1:09:03.7# Margaret: Cool. Alright, well… Thank you so much.

1:09:06.5# Kitty: Thank you.

1:09:08.0# (Musical transition)

1:09:11.7# Margaret: Thanks for listening to the first ever episode of Live Like The World Is Dying. If you enjoyed the podcast, please tell your friends. Tell iTunes, tell Apple podcasts, tell whatever platform you get your podcasts on that you liked the podcast by subscribing, by reviewing it, by rating it and all of those things. It actually makes a huge difference and I think it’ll especially a huge difference for the first couple episodes of a podcast. If you’d like to see this podcast continue, you can support me on Patreon. I… I make most of my living through my Patreon which allows me to spend my time creating content and I’m wildly, wildly grateful that that’s something that I get to do with my life. In particular, I would like to thank Chris and Nora and Hoss the dog, Willow, Kirk, Natalie, and Sam. Y’all really make this possible and I can’t thank you enough. Alright, thanks so much. And join us next time.

1:10:10.0# (Outroductory music)