Margaret and Casandra talk about some of the basics of preparedness and how to get started even if you don’t have a lot of money or skills. They go through their lists of things they always consider when preparing for crises, whether that be a natural disaster, “the bomb”, food shortages, inflation, the further advancement of Fascism, or any of the other of the various multi-faceted horrors contributing to our slow apocalypse. They talk about community preparedness vs individual preparedness, ‘stuff focused’ preparedness vs response focused preparedness, bunker mentalities, and a lot of other great stuff, like how potatoes prove once again to the be the only wholesome thing, why you shouldn’t trust rich people trying to sell you shit, and how again Hope is maybe the only real strategy we can count on. This is a new format for the show that we’ll be exploring more soon!
Next Episode: We’ll have a special episode coming out next week on July 22nd from the Four Thieves Vinegar Collective.
This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at www.tangledwilderness.org, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at www.patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness.
How To Get Started
Hello, and welcome to Live Like The World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m one of your hosts today, Margaret killjoy. And, left implicit in that statement is that I have another host today, because instead of doing a normal interview format, I’m going to have my friend Casandra, who also works on this podcast, usually more behind the scenes on to join me in conversation. How are you doing today? Casandra?
I am okay. I think the day started out rough. But we’ve been chatting for a while and I’m feeling a lot better now.
Yeah, we’re recording this on the day that Roe v. Wade was officially overturned in the United States.
Hooray. But that’s not what we’re talking about today. We have other content that more directly relates to that on this show. But today, we’re talking about crises and how to prepare for crises. But, more importantly, today, we’re telling you that Live Like The World Is Dying is a proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchist podcasts. And here’s a jingle from another show in the network….[waiting expectantly for Casandra] You gonna make the noise?
Ba ba da da daaa. [laughing] Okay, I did it.
Chanel Zero Network Jingle
Okay, we’re back. So, yeah, we’re basically going to kind of ask ourselves as though we’re a panel, we’re both going to be interviewed by you in absentia. You the listener. Because we’ve been getting a lot of questions for this show. And so we’re gonna kind of talk through some of them. And hopefully, it’s going to turn into a very coherent and brilliant introduction to preparedness that will be useful for all people.
Oh, that’s my cue. Margaret, what, what are the first steps that you take in preparing for a crisis?
It’s funny, you should ask that. I wrote down a list. You told me you were going to ask me that. So I mean, the first and most important thing is you have to think about what the crises you’re preparing for are right? We can’t prepare for everything. Like you can slowly…you hit this point of diminishing returnsfor preparedness, but you’re like, you know, where you live, maybe a tornado is more likely then a tsunami, right. And so you’ll probably prepare more for tornado if you’re in Tornado Alley, and less for tsunami. But at some point, once you’re prepared for tornado, maybe you’ll start preparing for [a tsunami]…..don’t prepare for tsunami, if you live in the middle of the country, that’s pointless. But you know, like, theoretically, you could start focusing on the crises that are less likely, like nuclear disaster is substantially less likely than a large number of other crises. Right? So I wouldn’t start there. And where I would start is with doing a sort of preparedness audit, figuring out what you need, or what you have, and what you would like to have in terms of preparedness, not necessarily items, but in terms of plans or access to resources or like relationships with people or skills necessary to confront these different things. And, you know, so, to just go through that list, I guess, I would say, you know, start with like, temperature, right? If there was an immediate, you know, you lose power and you suddenly lose your ability to…or you don’t have air conditioning or you don’t have heat, right, what are the sources of climate control that you rely on? As an individual like the clothes that you wear, as well as any structure that you you generally reside in. If you live in a tent, how do you heat and cool the tent? If you live in a truck? How do you heat and cool the truck? If you live in a house? How do you heat and cool the house? So that would be the first thing, right? Temperature. Just think about that. And the next is shelter, protection from elements. That kind of relates, you know, what systems do you have in place for shelter? And then what are your backup systems for shelter? Right? Like, you know, if you…do you have a vehicle you can take shelter in if your house is no longer accessible? Do you have a tent? Do you have, you know, tarps to put up if you….whatever, you just think about all the different things that protect you from the elements. This one is less likely to be like, directly…you’re probably not going to be changing that much about your shelter, but it’s just worth thinking about. Next is water. You know, we need water on a pretty regular basis, almost daily, in fact, do we require water. So. [Casandra laughs] Actually, I drink water every day. That’s how on top of it, I am. [Casandra still laughing] So, water, okay, where does your water come from? What do you do when that water source stops? This is a really good example for me, because a lot of people that I know live in places where they rely on municipal water, and fairly regularly have boil advisories right. Fairly regularly, there’s going to be some sort of contact, that’s going to be like, “Hey, you have to boil your water, because there might be something nasty in it.” And so if that’s something that happens where you are, having some extra water around might mean you don’t have to boil your water, you just go to the 10 gallons of water that you keep, or you make sure that you know you have a way to boil that water. And with any of these things, you want to think about it first in sort of the very immediate, like, what would you do if you suddenly, you know, were without water for five hours, and then go from there to like three days and go from there to like two weeks and you’re slowly looking to build up. You know, I’m not necessarily recommending that everyone who’s on municipal water like also dig a well or come up with some like solar distill thing where it automatically takes the moisture in the air and gives you drinking water. Like all that’s just really cool, right? But it might not be your first step. Eventually, everyone who listens to this needs to have a personal water tower. [Casanda laughs] Okay, maybe not. Okay.
I’m imagining a water tower on like an apartment balcony somehow.
Yeeeeeeah, totally. And that way it’s pressurized. You know, you can use it as a battery for power because gravity is its own battery. Okay, anyway. Oh, go ahead. Okay,
I just breathed. That’s all.
We didn’t actually talk about that one, air. [Casandra laughing] Let’s somehow include that was shelter? I don’t know. Think about your air filtration systems. Again, that’s only…
Oh I mean, I live in wildfires. Yeah, so we think about that a lot. [Margaret laughing]
Yeah, fair enough. It’s pretty clear I wrote this here in Appalachia where the air quality is like, “I dunno [made into a mumble sound] It’s too humid.” Okay, so then, from there food, right? You know, on the simplest level, keeping some fucking protein bars in your backpack or purse or whatever, right? And you can build up from there, you can build up. What would you do if suddenly, the way that you accessed food is no longer available? For a few hours? Or a few days? Or a few weeks? Or a few months? Or a few years? You know, start with the simplest ones. Health is after that, like stuff that affects your long term health. This gets into, you know, things like medications, whether over the counter or not. I don’t know, whatever. Then go through community. Who are your neighbors? Do you know who your neighbors are? Do you know who you could trust? Or who you specifically need to avoid? Or have you started talking to them about like, figure out if you’re on similar pages about having preparedness, you know, and you could do this with neighbors you don’t even like friends with you know, you can still be like, “Hey, if something happens, I have your back,” or whatever, right? And then of course, you could build out from community and to community mutual aid organizations, right? There’s nothing so prepared as a resilient community. This is a very long winded first answer. Okay, so then there’s a couple more. Getting there. Security is after that, right physical security. How do you defend yourself? How do you defend your communities? What weapons and or training do you want to have available to you? Transportation, more important in different places than other places, but in general, what are the systems by do you get around? Are there more that you can have as backup? Like, if you have a gas powered vehicle, that rules. What if gas is no longer available? What’s your plan? You know, do you have a bicycle like, in some ways a bicycle is a better preparedness. I’m saying this as someone who does not have a bicycle. [Casandra laughs] I was actually better prepared when I lived in a van because I had a bicycle in my van. And that’s what I have on my list of the things that you should audit. That is my first step and preparedness for people is audit yourself. What a good word “audit” and everyone’s positive associations with the word “audit.” Casandra, what do you think the first steps in preparedness are?
Um, I love that you just broke that down into like, a list and steps because that’s how my brain works. But that’s not how I how I’ve taken my first steps, because I find it totally overwhelming, just like the scope of it is…my brain kind of shuts down. So, first steps for me have looked like doing something, anything, little things often. So, like, I saw some big five gallon water containers on sale at Walmart a few years ago was like, “Ah, a step I can take!”
And bought a few of them or like, each time I go shopping, I get a thing, that’s shelf stable, that’s extra, and put it in my cupboard. So, it’s not systematic at all. But it’s doing something. Does that make sense?
I would like to change my answer. [Both laughing] Yours is a better first step. Do what Casandra’s said first. And then later, if you decide this is something that you’re going to like, step into more, that’s maybe where the audits and stuff makes sense. No, I, that makes sense to me the like….go ahead.
I just think it’s a both, a both ‘and’, you know?
Like what you’re describing is so important. But, I still haven’t done that. Because I…my brain sort of shuts down–
—when I try to.
Yeah, and maybe just…
I feel so unprepared.
I know. Okay, so that is a big disadvantage. I mean, but it’s like, you know, I look at this, and I’m like, “Well, I’ve been doing preparedness for a long time now.” or whatever. And I don’t know, there’s a ton of this shit that I still don’t have, right? Like, I feel like it’s important to think about preparedness not as a…there’s no perfect preparedness, you know, there’s always just like, steps you can take to have a little bit more of this one thing in case this one thing happens. And then and then it’s like really annoying, because like everyone thinks you’re the prepared one. And then you’re like, you don’t have a flashlight on you. And people are like, “What the hell we’ve been relying on you to have a flashlight on you.” This is clearly not a specific anecdote.
There’s also that like, I mean, we’re we’re experiencing constant catastrophes and crises, right. And so each time there’s a crisis. And I you know, gather things together, I need to get through that crisis. I don’t just like get rid of them afterward. That…those things become a part of my life and a part of my process. So we had like a massive freeze last year. Was that last year?
I lost track of time a while ago, I don’t know.
Me too. What is time? Anyway, we had a massive freeze. And I was without power for I think, 10 days. And so, people were doing a lot of work like sharing firewood with each other and stuff like that. And I didn’t just like, stop collecting firewood after that, you know, something like that’s going to happen again. So that’s become integrated in my like, process of preparing constantly.
Yeah, no, that makes a lot of sense. And leads me perfectly into my next question. What we get asked is we get asked, how to anticipate crises. How do you…how do you think about what you want to prepare for, Cassandra?
Oh, I think I underestimated like how easily overwhelmed I’d feel in this conversation. I have a child. So, when I think about anticipating crises for myself, often it feels manageable. But, then when I think about how to anticipate crises in a way that would like make a child comfortable, I start to get super overwhelmed because it’s a lot more. That’s a lot more effort. But logically for me, I just look at the crises that I’ve experienced in my bio region in the last five or ten years. So, flooding, really intense freezes, really intense heat waves, algae blooms in our water supply is now like a constant issue.
That sounds wild.
And then wildfires. Right? Yeah. Yeah, so we can’t even boil water. Like boiling doesn’t get rid of the toxins.
Oh, my God, what do you do? Do you have to filter it also, or?
I just have 15 gallons of water stashed.
What are people expected to do? That’s…so you just don’t have water for a while?
Yeah. I mean, people are expected to go buy water by the gallon at the store. But then the stores get cleared out really fast.
So. We could go off on a whole tangent about like how few filters actually clear out cyanotoxins. It’s pretty wild.
Yeah, I’ve actually…I’ve I’ve heard people talking about that. I heard people talk….Like, one of those things that I’m like, as someone who lives off of well, water where I don’t even know if it is an issue. Maybe it is an issue, and I just haven’t paid enough attention to it. Are there filters that can get rid of cyanotoxins?
When I was looking into after that happened, the filters I found that, at that time, maybe it’s changed in the last few years. But the big like Berkey…is that the brand? The big giant expensive…
Yeah, that’s the one. Yep. Yeah.
Which I just haven’t been able to afford. So, that’s why I, I use a basic filter and just keep 15 gallons of water.
On hand all the time.
[dispasstionatly] Whoo. I don’t remember what I was saying. Oh! Yeah, I look at what tends to happen in my bio region and that’s how I prepare. Yeah. And then there are things that people catastrophize about. I’m on the west coast, so earthquakes and tsunamis. Those seem like the main things I have to prepare for. How about you, Margaret? [Laughing]
You know, not to jinx myself, but I live in a a more stable by region than most I believe. There’s not a lot of…the non coastal Mid Atlantic does not have a ton of earthquakes does not have a ton of tornadoes. It has it has tornadoes, that’s the thing. I’m not worried about tsunamis, I’m not worried about…we catch the tail end of hurricanes. But, I worry about…well, I worry about people deciding to murder all the trans people in mass. And, I worry about the, the need to confront people attempting to take the United States in a fascist direction. A more fascist…whatever, I’m not trying to throw that word around, like, super loose. But clearly, we’re not necessarily headed in good directions right now. And, I worry a bit about forest fire. I think that a lot of the changing climate is changing what crises look like in different places. But I, I mostly worry…well, it’s less about what I worry about, right? Because in some ways, I try to think of preparedness as a way to not worry about things. I remember, you know, my last house, I lived off grid, like really in the woods where far more likely of a problem than forest fire was like, the dead branch above my house falling on it or something, right? But overall, like if I was worried about forest fire in the, in the woods I lived in, I thought through what to do about it, which in this case, since I wasn’t going to clear the forest, the best I could do was have a go bag, and make sure that my you know, truck has at least half a tank of gas at any given point. And make sure to not stay so completely isolated from communication channels that I wouldn’t get an update from a weather update or something, right? And once I did that, I stopped worrying about forest fires, because I was able to sort of check it off in my head about being like, “Well, I’ve done what I can.” Every now and then I might catastrophize about it and be like, spend the night looking into how to dig fire shelters and you know, things like that. But for the most part, I try to view this as a way to turn off anxiety, be like, you think about a crisis. You think, “What can I do about it?” You do those things. And then, and I know this doesn’t work for everyone, but I’m actually a reasonably anxious person and this has helped a lot. I then stop worrying about those individual things because I fucking did what I could.
What about…what about… I’m Just thinking about crises that aren’t natural disasters, or like…I guess forest fires can last for a long time, but that aren’t such a huge immediate impact, so like, rising food prices and food shortages.
Yeah, no, that’s a…fuck, that’s such a good one. And I mean, one of the things that’s kind of weird to say is that with with, with massive inflation, and everything, everything shelf stable is like a good investment. Right? Like, a jar of honey is cheaper today than it’s going to be three weeks from now.
So, cash is less useful to me right now than a jar of honey is, you know, in terms of a thing that holds its value, not necessarily in terms of like, I’m not going to turn around and sell the honey at a profit. Both like, you know…
But it’s a worthwhile investment.
Yeah, for me, I am less concerned about my retirement savings, and more concerned about my ability to have access to like… it’s actually one of the reasons why I try and prioritize tools, right, so that I can like, make the things that I feel like I need, but that has to do with like, my own personal skill set. And, like, the place I live, you know, rurally having more access to like land and like, if need be, I could like cut down a tree to get the fucking wood or whatever. Although, I say that as if I had a sawmill and I don’t, I don’t even have a chainsaw mill, I really need a chainsaw mill. And then I need a covered place to store the wood for…it’s a year per thickness…for a inch of thickness is how long you have to store wood to cure it before you can use it as lumber. Anyway, I’ve definitely looked into all that stuff. Sustainability, pushing towards sustainability with it without like being like, I guess I could say my, my personal goal is it would rule to like be like, I don’t need to get anything from the store. I have everything I need or whatever, right? But that’s nonsensical as an individual to desire. There’s a reason we have societies. And, I would only want that in the context of a community that shares resources. But yeah, I don’t know, I guess, figuring out as food prices rise and all that stuff, how to supplement my, my food buying with more gardening, how to supplement different things. I don’t know, you’re actually you’re actually better at this question. So it was unfair that you asked me and so I will ask you instead.
I could ask you a different question that you basically just let us into.
No, well now I’m just asking you this question. What what foods? Should we, you know, how do you get started with with storing food or getting food? Food, question mark. That’s my question.
Well, I already talked about it a little bit, right? Like when…every time I go to the store, I get one thing, at least, that I don’t need immediately that’s shelf stable. So that can be like a can of beans, or a bag of rice, or a jar of peanut butter. We do this very differently. I think. So, I’m curious to hear what you have to say as well, because I don’t do like, what’s it called, deep storage?
That’s what I’ve been calling it, I don’t know.
I don’t do deep storage. I get things that I’m going to actually eat and cycle through. So, instead of getting freeze dried food and putting it into deep storage or things like that, I’m getting like a 50 pound bag of black beans and actually working through it and eating it before I get a new one.
I feel like gardening is a whole other a whole other topic.
Well, but that’s actually one of the things that really interests me about. I think the way that you came to your system of preparedness is that you are creating, you are growing food, you are…anyone who’s listened to previous episodes has heard Casandra talk about canning, and so you’re, you’re getting food and you’re putting it in jars so that you can eat it later. You know, and I don’t know, and so it seems like a very natural thing to combine gardening with with this style of, of cycling through different foods.
Yeah, yeah, I think it is too, you’re right. The way I do it is that…so I live close to an organic farm. And I have a CSA and so we haven’t gotten to the what distinguishes community preparedness from individual preparedness question yet, but there are certain foods that I don’t really ever have to worry about growing or, or buying from the store, like if it’s a food that can be grown, if climate changes is, is it a point where if food can still be grown, I can I can get those certain foods pretty easily. So what I’m interested in is growing foods that I can store long term whether that’s through, like curing, or drying, or canning. So like potatoes, beans, tomatoes, winter squash, onions, garlic, things like that. And also perennial perennial foods.
So rather than things that grow once, things that just keep on giving. What are good examples of perennials?
Depends where you live.
What are some that you do?
For my bio region, lots of berries, huckleberries, currants, things like that. I think root vegetables are really important for me and the way that I have to eat because I can’t really have grains. So, I’ve done a lot of experimenting with, like, Ground Nut, Tiger Nut. Camus is a local perennial food crop. There are lots of ornamentals that you can eat the roots of, so Jerusalem artichoke, Day Lily…oh my gosh, my brain just went blank. My favorite one I can’t remember the name of. Anyway. Learning which roots you can eat and planting a shitload of them, because if it’s perennial, it will just be in the ground and grow until you need it.,right?
Oh yeah. Okay, because it’s no longer perennial. Once you dig it up and eat the root.
Well, you can split…like for a lot of them, you can split it and replant part of it. So, think of like a potato. You plant a chunk of potato, which isn’t perennial, but as an example you plant a chunk of the potato and get a whole ton of potatoes. At the end of the season all you have to do is replanted chunk.
Okay. I’m not convinced that all of the plants that you just listed are real. [Laughing] For anyone listening, I am convinced that Casandra every now and then makes up a new plant to tell me about. Sure of course those are all real. [skeptically and slowly] “Potatoes.”
I can even send you pictures as proof. [Laughing]
[Laughing] It could be any plant! What do i know of plants? And so…so which ties into…my ignorance about plants is actually how I ended up with my take on all of this stuff. I haven’t had…no I haven’t like lived in a rooted way, pun not intended, until more recently in my life and I guess it’s so recent that I could not really claim to be rooted now either, because I haven’t lived where I live for even a year, but so I’ve tended to be towards more packaged foods right and I’ve tended towards…in my mind I think a health the healthiest possible way of handling food for someone to be prepared would be a combination of these things where you cycle through them, right, you have your pantry, your pantry foods, your the canned stuff, the jars of peanut butter, all of that that have several years shelf life in general. And you know, yeah, you do the thing where you when you get the new one it goes to the back and then you take the oldest one out to eat, right? I have a little cool cheap plastic rack system where I dropped the cans in and it feeds me the oldest one so that…
I call them “first in first outs”…I don’t know, they have some fucking fancy word, but…
Oh, it’s for like a cans you buy at the store, not like canned jarred food?
Yeah, although you could,,,no, I guess mason jars are a little bit not round enough to roll properly.
Yeah, you probably don’t want to store them on their side either.
Okay, it would work with wine and just…because you’re supposed to store that on its side…no it would probably all break. Okay so…
Wine for the apocalypse.
I don’t even drink on a regular basis, but I definitely have both hard alcohol and wine. But not beer because it goes bad sooner. I think I don’t, I don’t know that much about alcohol. I want to start making my own at some point. I just need to…what I do is when I want to learn how to do something is I have a guest on the show and have them explain it to me. And so I need to do an alcohol episode at some point. But….
So we can like track Margaret’s interest in projects based on who you have on the show.
Yeah, totallly. At some point recently…yep, I don’t know. Yep, I get too personal, okay, so. So what I’ve done more historically, is instead of focusing on like jars and things, but instead stuff with like 30 years shelf life, right, and you can, you can go out and buy it, you can go out and buy…different brands will sell you apocalypse food where it’s dried beans that are stored in such a way usually basically stored in such a way where the, there’s oxygen absorbers within that, in order to give it a shelf life of 30 years. And that leads to really weird things where like brown rice doesn’t last as long as white rice, because it’s almost impossible to store fats long, for long periods of time. And so there’s like, it only provide certain amounts of good. And so, usually, people are storing dried beans, dried rice, lentils, sometimes like powdered peanut butter, and then freeze dried food. Freeze drying, much more technologically involved, but it has a very different texture that I actually don’t like very much to be real. But, it can last substantially longer than like regular dried food, which regular dried food lasts long enough, right? Several years is long enough. You could…if you have food for several years, you would at that point, try and put food in the ground. But I really like shit that I can just like leave in the corner and forget about, just to be like, “Oh, well, there’s a bucket.” So in case of i’m ever fucked, I could go to the apocalypse bucket and get some food. So, that’s why I like that whole thing. So, that’s food. Now I’m supposed to ask a question. Okay, maybe the thing that…
We just covered everything there is to cover about food.
All you need is potatoes. One potatoe becomes many potatoes. Freeze dry potatoes. Yeah. I don’t even know if he can do that. It doesn’t…I’m sure you can.
Yep. Don’t store jars on their side. Okay, we’re good.
Yep, everything you need to know. Okay, so the question that comes up probably the most is, well, “What the fuck, I don’t have a ton of money. How the hell am I going to be prepared?” And I think that this comes from how we keep seeing, like traditional, especially kind of Right-wing and even centrist preparedness stuff is so stuff focused. And this episode is a little bit stuff focused. But basically, people are like, “I can’t afford to get into preparedness. What do I do?” Casandra, what should people do?
I just realized this ties into the other question, which I’m also going to ask now, which is “What’s the difference between community preparedness and individual preparedness?”
Right. Well, I asked first, so you have to answer both of them first.
Right. I mean, I think one of the best ways to prepare for different variables when you don’t have…space is another issue, right? So, not having enough space or not having enough money, is to do it as a community. So, if Margaret has the sawmill.
And I have, right and I have the garden, then and we live close enough to each other, then I don’t also have to have a sawmill. And maybe she doesn’t have to have a garden, right?
Yeah, besides some herbs.
Right. Or maybe you do and it’s just…
Or maybe, you know, you don’t like gardenin, so you like let me garden at your house or something. But…
And then in exchange I have to do the sawing. Okay, yeah.
Yeah. I said I would try to be more wordy. But that’s that’s, I mean, my other like, “If you don’t have money thing,” I’ve already said twice, which is just like, do a little bit of something.
Each month, or each time you go to the grocery store, or whatever, like chip away at it. There’s so many variables, but I know and where I’m living, there are different options. So, there’s a group in my area that’s like a buying club. They call themselves a co-op, but we can do bulk orders through them so we can get bulk dried goods at wholesale prices. CSAs, or like preferred befriending farmers in your area, or befriending people who work at grocery stores so you can use their discount to get cases of things. Dumpster diving, and my brains obviously on food, but those are the things that come to mind. Check.
I mean, so much of the immediate simple stuff around preparedness is food, right? I mean, some stuff is like cheap, right? Like a LifeStraw is cheap. It’s not the best water filter, but it’s a brand of water filter that’s like regularly on sale for like $9. Where, and sometimes it’s like a two pack. So that gets into community preparedness right there.
That’s what I have.
Yeah, a Lifestraw is a brilliant, useful thing for not dying in certain situations and it is a terrible thing for maintaining any sort of access to water on a regular basis, because it’s not particularly convenient. You literally use it like straw, like the name implies. But…but yeah, I guess Okay, so in terms of the difference between individual preparedness, community preparedness, you know, the, the traditional preparedness space is just flooded with individual preparedness stuff. And so sometimes it, it can be really overwhelming. And it’s really easy to think of preparedness as guns, Faraday bags, bunkers, and wilderness survival skills, right? That’s all there is to preparedness. And I’m a little bit more on this traditional preparedness side, because I do the like, fill my basement with dried beans and shit. And, you know, I’ve spent my time like, looking into how to bury ammunition and gold. But!
But you do that because you want to share your beans with people, not because you want to use guns to keep people away from your beans.
Right! Totally. No, and that is, that is the difference, right? Because even when I’m trying to do these sort of individual steps, I tend to do it because I have often sort of as an as an anarchist, whenever I work as an activist or whatever, I tend to personally do my own thing, and then plug it into larger frameworks. That is like how I’ve gone about, you know, a lot of my work has been as a writer, or even at demonstrations, and I do not recommend this, I tend to go alone, and I’ve been doing it for 20 years is why I feel comfortable going alone. But, I find ways to be useful to a larger crowd, as an individual, whether it’s like maintaining exits, or scouting, or you know, whatever. And, and so I tend to view my own preparedness in a similar way, I tend to be like, alright, well, especially since when I first started, I couldn’t convince anyone else to care about this shit, then for some reason, COVID and all kinds of other stuff happened, and few more people care about it. But yeah, I tend to see like, like, I used to live in a community environment where no one else wanted to do any preparedness in terms of what I was interested in. And so I was like, fuck it, I’m gonna have six months food for 10 people stored, because I can’t afford to get a year’s worth. And also, realistically, if something happened, it would suddenly be…it probably wouldn’t be 10 people six months, it would probably be I can’t do the math off the top my head, it would be 60 people’s one month. That’s probably not how math works. You know, because because I, because sharing is really useful. Sharing is not only caring, but it is like it’s the most direct and useful fucking preparedness thing is this is how it ties into also being poor and doing this, right. It’s like, like, people and access to people. That is the best resource, right? Because people are how things happen. I don’t know. I never fucking understood it, where people would be like, “Oh, I have mine. So fuck you.” and be like….
I don’t understand.
No, go ahead.
I think like, who would want to survive without…
Live alone on a pile of beans?
Right, like, why?
What’s the point then?
Aside from the fact that it’s harder and less efficient, and you know, dangerous, and all these things like, why?
Totally and, and I think, not to go grandiose, but I think that’s one of the most important questions of our time, because I think crises are going to continue to happen and I think they’re gonna get worse. And as they do, I think people are going to shake out polarizing on one of two sides, which I will call Nationalist and Internationalist, just for lack of a better immediate terminology. And one, if you imagine a walled off city an “I got mine, fuck you city,” and then a like “Refugees Welcome city.” The “Refugees Welcome City” is going to have some immediate problems as the immediate stockpiled resources are drained. But, like even from an economics point of view, even if I was a capitalist, it just makes more sense. People grow the economy, right? Like more gets done when there’s more people doing it. I mean like have you ever tried to move on your own it’s fucking pointless. Just get people to help like…[Casandra laughing]
I want to know where this where the like hyper individualists bunker types get all their energy. Like I would just be too tired, you know, maybe because I have a chronic illness, but I would never survive [laughing] be like actually it’s naptime.
Spite alone, I think is how half of them are planning to get by,
I think they envision themselves in like a movie. But, when they get…when they actually get to that, whoo, I almost threw my computer. When they actually get to that point and realized that no one’s like watching them be their like ideal badass or whatever. It’s gonna get really boring.
No, that makes it makes a lot of sense. And like. So, in terms of cheaper ways to prepare, you brought up dumpster diving and I think dumpster diving is it’s fantastic, and what I would…okay, this is not actually cheap, but in a community sense, right? I’m always obsessed with these, like more technological solutions. It’s sort of like, like, I like hydroponics as much as I like traditional gardening, especially once I found out you can make your own nutrients for hydroponics, you know, you don’t just have to like buy store bought stuff. But, with compost. But we want resources. The trash is full of resources. So if you had a freeze dryer, and then dumpster dive, [interuptted by Casandra laughing] okay, so no, no, no, no, no. So the problem is freeze dryers…
Margaret’s on a mission.
Yeah, I really want a freeze dryer and I can’t afford one.
You don’t even like the texture of freeze dried food!
Okay, but my plan is to just go around and be the like freeze dried food fairy where I show up in towns, in order to build mutual aid networks, or I show up and be like, “Look, I’ve been dumpster diving. Here is a god awful amount of strawberries, just a god awful amount, but they last for 10 years. So you can just fucking eat them if you liked the texture or wait for the apocalypse if you don’t.” Because a lot of people do like the texture, because they’re wrong. And so. So I think I think dumpster diving, even without the freeze dryer, like regular drying is also very good. And also eating the food directly…
Everyone loves strawberry jam.
Make that shit into canned jam.
Yeah. And so I think that, yeah, and I think that we people get lost in the and I do it too, right. And I’m like, “If only I had a $4,000 Freeze dryer.” Like cans of beans are still at 89 cents or whatever, at the grocery store near me. And you know, you need a lot of them to survive a day. And you probably don’t want to only canned beans, but I don’t know, starting small, focusing more on relationships and skills, if that is like if you feel really not in a good place to get resources. There’s also just other ways that people gather resources. Some of them are crime, which I would never advocate, because that’s the…not because it’s morally wrong, because I think legality and morality are entirely divorced as concepts. There’s no correlation or negative correlation between the two. Plenty of cool shit is legal, plenty of uncool shit is illegal, but whatever. So, crime is a way that people gather resources, dumpster diving, which technically probably counts as crime, but in the “Who fucking cares level of it”, depending on your…I mean, as long as you can afford to interact with police, you know, if you can’t afford to interact with police, then dumpster diving is a much harder thing to do, right? But I don’t know. Someone should write grants for this sort of shit. I don’t know, create mutual aid organizations. And especially as you’re doing things on a community level, I think people would come forward. I’ve seen it happen a lot, because I think there are people who do have resources, financial resources, who would like to be part of developing mutual aid organizations. And really, what is community preparedness, but mutual aid? That’s my long winded answer. Casandra was like, “I don’t talk long,” and I was like, I don’t talk short.
But when you talk long, then it reminds me of other things. So…
I’m thinking about how…I’m thinking about doing things on the cheap. And I know I’ve occasionally looked up like, “10 items, you must have to be prepared,” or whatever. And I think those lists are really pointless and overly expensive if you follow them exactly, because like what I need to be comfortable is not the same as what other people need to be comfortable. And what I need to survive is not the same as what other people need to survive. Still using food as an example, like I’m not gonna…why would I spend money on a bunch of, I don’t know, wheat products, which is what all of those like premade freeze dried buckets are like really high in like wheat and dairy and sugary things that I can’t eat. Like, why would I spend money on that when I can put resources into other things? So just like not getting the gadgets and the shit that you don’t need, which it feels…we talked about this at the very beginning. You mentioned something before we started recording about some YouTuber, it doesn’t really matter who, but how it feels like they’re trying to like sell the apocalypse.
And often also trying to sell like products along with it, which you didn’t say, but I just inferred
It’s true. The one that I was talking shit on absolutely sells products. Yeah.
[Mocking] “You need this product to survive?” [not mocking] Probably not. You know?
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, one of the one of the best piece of advice is that I’ve ever heard is, don’t ask for gear recommendations from rich people.
Just don’t, because they will always have a reason they will be like, like, if you…firearms is a black hole of money, right? And people are like, “Oh, you need this gun belt. You will die if you don’t have this $80 gun belt. And if you don’t have this gun light that costs $350 You’re basically already dead. I actually don’t know how you made it this long, Casandra without a $350 gun light.”
For a gun I don’t have…
Although I will say from a self defense point of view, I would absolutely in most situations…well, I actually do on most situations have a tactical flashlight on me and not a gun, because I think in most situations, lethal force is not warranted. And if you shine a really bright light in people’s eyes, it confuses them, and you can get away. The like tactical flashlight as the like “This is so you can fight with it,” I’m like, “No, no, no, just a flashlight that clips into your pocket that’s really bright. That’s…”
Anyway. And yeah, and, like, if you want a $50 knife, you can go out and have a $50 knife. And if you use knives all the time, you might appreciate how it stays sharp and how you never need to tighten the little folding mechanism and shit. But you know what, have a $3 folding knife and like, a $3 folding knife is fine. It cuts things. It opens boxes, it kills ticks. Those are the only things I use my knife for.
I have a $15 Mora knife that does not fold. But in my head, the boxes is it ticks are like “It splits weaving material.”
“I can prune with it.”
Exactly. Like, yeah. So, don’t take advice from rich people. That’s my number one tip.
Except your light sources.
Yeah. Yeah, totally. And, and don’t see it as a like, if you can’t be fully prepared, there’s no point. You know?
Because there’s just times when you’re like, like, most of the time I use my emergency kit it’s because like someone’s like, “Does anyone have any Advil?” And I’m like, “I do have Advil,” you know, and like, I don’t know. And so a little tiny emergency kit gets used a lot more than…and the first, the first five gallons of water that I store are the only ones that I’ve had to personally use now that I live on grid, right? Like when I lived off grid, I used all of my 150 gallons on a regular basis. But the first the first five gallons of water is the most important. The first extra jar of peanut butter is the most important. The first $3 knife is the most important. So all the expensive shit, whatever.
Well, this ties into the question, “Why prepare rather than just deciding that the apocalypse is when you die?” Hey, hey this wasn’t on the list. But I get asked this…
Do I have to go first, or do you go first?
If you are able to, you should go first. But if not, I can go first. I just get asked this a lot.
I mean, I think two reasons. The short answer for me is that I have a child that I have to take care of. So, I can’t just… like if it was just me, I might possibly say like, “Eeeeeh, I mean, maybe I’d rather go when the apocalypse happens.” So that’s reason number one. Number two is that I don’t think the apocalypse is like a singular, like, quick event. I think we’re in the midst of it. So you know, yeah. I’m here already doing it.
Totally. Yeah. I was reading something. I read a lot of history now for my my other podcast, it’s called Cool People Who Did Cool Stuff, if you want to hear about history. And, one of the things that’s like, come up a couple of times is this idea that like, even during, like really wild shit, where tons of people are dying, they’re still often singing and dancing, right? There’s still often beauty. There’s still often love. You know, there’s all of these things. And so yeah, we’re like, we’re living in a slow apocalypse now, and I really, I don’t like the slow apocalypse. I really like my life, you know. And then the other thing is that is a friend of mine who survived the fall of the Soviet Union as a teenager is the one who always reminds me that most people survive the end of their way of life. So there are apocalypses is that where most people don’t survive, right? I live on territory in the United States, that is the result of such an apocalypse where I mean, it was not complete. And those people are… you know indigenous people are still here. And I’m not trying to erase that. But, I’m, it was a devastating apocalypse of conquest and murder. But, most ends of ways of life, people survive. Most people survive. We can get focused on all the people who died. And on some level we owe it to the people who died. But…
Yeah, that, that made me think…if this is too grim, it can be cut, but that made me think of the story. I want to say it’s from Poland during the Holocaust, a Jewish community was…the story is that a Jewish community was rounded up and they were, you know, lined up in a field to be shot. And the soldiers. were, like, taunting them. And and I believe the soldiers were like, “Dance for us,” you know. And so the Jews started singing “Mir veln zey iberlebn, iberlebn, iberlebn” , which is “We will outlive them.” They were like, “Alright, fuck you!” Yeah.
Yeah, and you’re still here.
They were shot. But…
Right, but there’s also kind of a…I don’t know, maybe this is just also on this kind of grim page, but it’s like, it was a quote, I think it’s George Jackson, I think but I’m not entirely certain, that’s basically like, “I don’t care how much longer I live over this, I have no control.” I’m completely paraphrasing really rudely. But, it’s a quote I think about constantly, “I have no control over how much longer I live. I have control over how I live.” You know, and I’m already…I’m already as old as like medieval peasants get, right? Or medieval royalty! Really kind of anyone before before fucking antibiotics. Like, I’m doing alright. And I don’t know, i was like a ‘no future’ punk kid. And then after every birthday after 30 I’m kind of like, “Sweet borrowed time,” you know, like, and so I kind of I don’t know when I think of the like, alright, like, just to completely horribly paraphrase various quotes, I think this one actually comes from the Quran. It was a big part of activist culture when I first got involved, it was like, “If the world would end tomorrow I would still plant a tree today.” And I believe that the original source of that is the Quran, I learned after writing an essay about this particular quote and how much it means to me. But, it just means a lot to me because it’s just like, alright, well, we like do the things that we care about doing. And the reason I prepare is because I’m like, well, I’m hedging my bets. I still want to try and live long if I can, you know. This guy way darker than I originally…
it’s hard to talk about, like, climate collapse without a certain mix of like you know realistic grimness and also hope. I don’t think there’s really any other way to talk about it, personally.
Yeah, maybe that’s why I like hate the Doomer versus like Bloomer. Maybe I misunderstand this debate, but this kind of this like, idea that, you know, either everything’s gonna be fine….Okay, I guess the bloomers aren’t this, but like, people…I mostly run into people who are either like stick their heads in the sand because thinking about the apocalypse is too much, which is a completely understandable response. And people use the like, stick your head in the sand really pejoratively. And maybe I shouldn’t so much, right? It’s a very understandable response to just not pay attention to something until you have to, right. Or this, like doom and gloom, we’re all going to die, so buy these products thing.
And I don’t like either of them. I like looking as soberly as possible at what seems possible, and how we can best manage it? And then just do that? I don’t know. That’s, that’s what being a responsible human looks like to me is you look at problems and then you try to solve them. I don’t know, like, am I wrong?
No, you’re not wrong.
Like if there’s a problem, give up? Or there’s a problem, don’t look at it.
Yeah, I don’t even know if it’s conscious for a lot of people. Like we’re, I was talking with my therapist about this a few weeks ago, actually, not in terms of climate collapse, but just, you know, crisis in general, and how our nervous systems are, like not built to handle what we have to handle right now, just in terms of like, how much input we have constantly. Yeah. But you know, if my neighbor, if something were to happen, and my neighbor hasn’t been in a place where they can process what’s going on in the options, like, hopefully, I’ll have some extra beans for them. So that’s good.
Totally, because I think a lot of those people, some people I love very dearly fall into this category, and I’m not going to name them because there’s so many negative connotations here. Like, some of those people are some of the best people in crisis, right? So they’re not necessarily good before the crisis, at anticipating the crisis and averting the crisis. But sometimes, the like weird, weird is not the right word, but this like mono focus on like, “Okay, now this thing is happening, and I’m going to deal with it. And then I’m not going to think about any other time.” You know, maybe yeah, like, you’ve done a lot of prepared. You’ve done a lot of preparedness. And then as the thing happens, maybe your neighbor is like, not burned out. And is like, “Okay, what do we got to fucking do?” Maybe I’m giving too much credit to your neighbor. I don’t know.
No, even thinking about recent crises, like the the I won’t be too specific, but like the Big Freeze. I was fine. Even though I didn’t have power for 10 days, but my seven year old was not going to be fine.
And someone in my family who got power sooner than me…whatever, that. I’m not sure where I was going with that anecdote. I mentally froze not because I couldn’t take care of myself, but because I couldn’t figure out how to make it comfortable for my child and someone who doesn’t think about preparedness as much as I do was able to be helpful.
That makes sense to me. Okay, one of the other questions that we get asked a lot is kind of like, well, “How can I be useful? I am poor or I am a tech worker and I don’t know shit about starting fires, or I have the following different types of disabilities or, you know, I’m old or I’m young or these things that society says you’re outside the realm of like, the cool bearded guy who can live in the forest, eating squirrels with a hatchet?”
Chops with a hand and videotapes it.
Yeah, totally. Yeah. But literally with his with his hands, you know?
Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, I get asked and Live Like The World Is Dying gets asked like, “What do we…or what do I do?” Or like…and I don’t know, to me that’s almost like, one of the most like, fun questions. I know it’s kind of weird, say “fun,” but…
No, it’s fun.
There’s just so many things.
So many things.
Can you organize a buying group so people can get bulk goods? Do you have room in your house so someone else can store shit?
Yeah, if you can, if you can throw a party, you can probably like, organize people to get something done. And if you hate parties, there’s probably something else you focused on. You know? Even like, I don’t wanna say even as if it’s this like other, but I don’t know, I think about my friends who are like, specifically really good at Magic the Gathering and video games…
Oh, my God, they can watch people’s kids while other people do stuff.
Also, good at strategy. Yeah, if you feed them the right rules. Now I’m just I’m thinking about one of my specific friends. I’m not trying to make broad statements. But, I’m like, well, you’re very good at taking this like systems and apply and figuring out how to like, maneuver through it in order to accomplish a goal. You know, whereas when I play games, I’m like, “I don’t know, hit the button!” And then I die. And then I’m like this games awful.
Also, like we need games in order to survive, right?
And stories and things like that. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Yeah, totally, totally. And like, folks who you know, are, like, older have a lot in terms of things that they’ve seen happen before and what’s worked and what’s not worked? And then people who are a lot younger, have energy unclouded by the knowledge of what has failed before. And both of these things are really useful.
But you’re so right about childcare. And like, I don’t know, it seems like when revolutionary movements start, they start like getting good once there’s like mutual aid childcare.
Yeah, that’s like a whole other topic.
Totally. I mean, honestly, it’s one we should do on this show at some point is like, literally, like, I’m like, there’s a lot of non kid having adults in this generation, I say, this generation, as if everyone listening to this generation, but I’m a millennial. And, you know, a lot of a lot fewer of us have children and don’t know how to take care of children, and therefore sort of try to avoid taking care of other people’s children, which is bullshit, because that should be a shared responsibility. So we should do an episode on how to take care of other people’s kids. This is clearly just the like Margaret tries to find people to ask in order to answer questions that she has. Okay.
Did you have any other secret questions you were hiding for me?
Yeah, there’s one final question.
Final question is: Casandra, what gives you hope about all of this kind of stuff?
Okay, I think the thing that gives me hope is that we know things are in the process of changing drastically. And with change is always the potential to like create a different, and who knows, maybe in some ways better future.
Yeah, I think about how the good apocalypse books…or the ones that I like, and movies are basically stories of hope. Because people don’t like the current society. There’s a lot of reasons to dislike the current society. And so, I don’t know, like one of the things that I think plagues the current society is loneliness and isolation. And I mean, frankly, it’s a question we didn’t get to. And hopefully, we’ll get to, again, do a similar thing is like people ask all the time, like, “How do I get involved? How do I meet people? How do I make connections? How do I? How do I have a community?” You know, because most people don’t beyond very limited contexts in the current world. And what gives me hope is that disaster disaster studies shows that time and time again, when disaster happens, people get their shit together and hang out with each other and do things together. That’s what gives me hope. I hope that we pull through this and come out, come out in a better a better future. A bright future dawning over there.
Yeah. You Well, thanks for listening to our different style…It turned into more of a question and answer than a specific like, “How to begin preparedness,” but I think it…I hope that this is a good style of podcast. And if you enjoyed listening, you should maybe tell us that this one was good and support our show.
How can they support our show, Margaret?
Well, that’s a it’s funny that you ask. They can support our show by supporting the publisher of this show, which both Casandra and I work with, called Strangers In A Tangled Wilderness, which is an anarchist collective, committed to the cultural side of resistance and basically trying to create things for people who didn’t know where they fit in. And lots of other people too. But, we tried to make cultural things and we make this podcast and you can support us on Patreon at patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness. And that money will go to help produce this show. It’ll go to help send out all kinds of content. If you back us at $10 a month you’ll get a physical zine in the mail every month, anywhere in the world. And in particular, I want to thank some of our patrons, Hoss the dog, who is a dog. The rest of these are presumably people, but Hoss, the dog, is a dog who supports us. Very grateful. Hoss, the dog is maybe our longest running…Although some of these other people are also very long running. I’m not trying to disparage them. Hoss, the dog, Chris, Sam, Nora, Micaiah, Kirk, Natalie, Eleanor, Jennifer, Staro Chelsea, Dana, David, Nicole and Mikki. Thank you so much. And thanks everyone who doesn’t support us financially, but just listens and does this stuff, because we do this not for the support, we do this because we want people to take care of each other and selfishly I do it so that other people take care of me in the apocalypse times. Any final final words?
Oh, for me?
Yeah, why not?
I was trying to be very quiet so you could close.
Oh, well, we ruined that. We will talk to you all very soon, because now we come out every two weeks.
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