How To Save Your Community When The Government Fails


Tuman Bay is week. We need to read them the epic fiction podcast Tuman Bay returns. We met before. Oh yes you have no choice detestably done. What are you done? Listen on the iheartradio APP apple podcasts. Or you get your podcasts. Welcome to worst year ever a production of iheartradio back to the worst year. Ever the most aptly named podcast as we all sit in warranty and watching the economy spirals around the grain in government openly discussed. How many of US dying is worth maintaining economic productivity? It's a cool year in a good one and I'm Robert Evans. And my co hosts are of course. Katie stole feeling. Good feeling fine. And Cody Johnston and same and to help us through this period of incipient madness We have a special guest on the podcast today. A veteran activist and community organizer Mr Scott Crow Scott. How are you doing today? Good under house arrest feeling great. It's not arrest it's similar but we minus minus the ankle monitor exactly. Yeah now Scott You were. One of the founders of an organization called the common ground collective And I wonder if you would kind of a and this was this was a mutual aid organization with the Motto Solidarity Not Charity That opened up in New Orleans in the immediate wake of Hurricane Katrina when the city was still very much a disaster area and it was filled with armed Blackwater guards and national guardsmen and Very restrained and responsible police officers who did not exercise their power in any way and yell provided a variety of really incredible services including like medical care home visits for people the distribution of food. A whole bunch of stuff. I wondered if you talk. The focus of this episode is the kind of provide a guide for people to creating their own mutual aid and solidarity. Networks you know if you live in an area where there's nothing Nothing set up yet for you to To help your community to help the people around you You're someone who has some experience. Starting organizations and So we want to pick your brain on that but I think I would want to go over some history and talk about the common ground clinic so I wonder if you kinda might lead us in there but how that started how that got formed. Initially well starts way back in the eighteen hundred. No no because I was in. Dia September eleventh. Two thousand one. And I that we were. We were gathering a bunch of anarchists. Because we were going to bring two hundred thousand people to the city over the next five days to begin organizing and So we arrived early to get to get ready for things and then of course everything happened and what I saw. There was an abysmal response from activists communities and The people even anarchist around me and that really gave me a question of like. What would we want to do if if the state loses power truly And so I had time to stew on that for the next four years and then we had The major major disaster Katrina happened. The Hurricane Katrina came ashore in late August through September of two thousand five and so by that time had already been thinking about. What would we do what we WANNA do as anarchists? What we WANNA do that's laboratory. What did we want to do is people who care about other people who are not around us and so when when I went when I rushed headlong into the to the disaster the second day after the disaster it was really in a in a Without any large plans yet except for to find a friend of ours and try to bring him back and is managing Robert King who had been a lifelong political prisoner. Had done thirty. Two years in solitary confinement he'd been free but even lived in New Orleans so we wanted to go find him and what I saw there was. I saw that the state had lost power but I also saw that people were dying left and right and they needed that. More than just are keen. They needed they needed. They needed everything. Because the communities like New Orleans and the Gulf coast that you know they they are also poor communities often and they were already under the long histories of disasters before this storm had come in and and the response to the storm and so I started. Say we need to do this things? We need to do two things dual power. We need to create and build infrastructure healthcare education Basic things for civil society but at the same time resist oppression that was happening to the communities there so the police were out of control. As you mentioned and that's really true. True this is far before Blackwater even arrived and so are the white the white minority of the population there and they formed these white militias in in two neighborhoods one in the Algiers. Point neighborhood which has literally maybe a hundred white people an population of like thirty thousand. There are a few blocks and they arm themselves and had the most hateful signs up and they started doing patrols and then on the other side was on the French quarter that had another white militia there and so we started out doing resistance work just immediate disaster things trying to do search and rescue trying to do these things but I was thinking this whole time. What would what would people? What would others have done in these situations? I looked at the Spanish anarchist in the thirties? Because I consider disastrous ecological economical political and war. Those are all forms of disaster. You can call it crisis you can call them whatever. It doesn't matter but they're disasters to to the people in them into the the environments and so I was asking myself what would the Spanish anarchist? Who in the thirties when when fascism really kicked in and I asked myself like well what did the Black Panther Party do The head survival programs pending revolution. So they weren't just about taking up guns known panthers much of My Life. Twenty thirty years of political organizing at known a Lotta panels and talk to him about the survival programs which is feed people to give them. Education sickle cell testing To do all these things you would consider to be service work or Just meeting the basic needs so that people can get a leg up and then they can get strong and go on to do what they WANNA do. And to make their lives meaningful and then and I was like but as anarchists. How do I WANNA do this? We're not we don't WANNA do. I don't want to form an organization that is like top down and we begin to tell things. So how do we build this with the communities and I looked to Zaptatista in Mexico and to see what they had been doing for the last twenty five years before Katrina came ashore? And so we started to do the same thing which to lead by asking so we went into the communities and started asking these people. What is it that you need? How can we help you? So some people needed arm defense against the police armed defense against the white militias some needed medical attention and some needed educational things. They needed their kids. We're not going to school because the schools weren't gonNA open and this. This is all happening in real time. And people are flooding in and we begin to tell these stories and we begin to ask for more and more people to come and we built on the networks that anarchists had already built across the United States and actually internationally but definitely in the United States at that point whereas there's street medics who had been doing you know like if you went to a protest and we're getting pepper sprayed stuff. They would deal with people like you know they would help you to to to deal with your ailments or whatever so the street medic networks were all over the United States. We've BEEN BUILDING FOR TWENTY YEARS. And then there's there was like legal teams and like all these different like decentralized food not bombs Another network that feeds homeless people are feeds people. Anybody who wants food? They provide access to food. And all of these little things that had been kind of these networks that had kind of been on their own and we began to draw on those networks to call them in and say. Hey Man bring your. If you've got access to resources bring the fucking things in. Let's do this and so that's how we wanted to. But we didn't want to be just a service organization. There was always liber Tori framework to which is to create liberation for the communities that we are serving on their own terms. Even if I didn't want to be in that community it wasn't my decision to make by wanted to make sure that they got their meets their needs met. So that led us to starting a I. A first aid distribution clinics and street. Medics showed up and some few food not bombs and they were willing to Start up the first aid station and then we said well. Let's build a clinic. Could the and then the question was? Could a clinic become a hospital? Could we begin to build up from these infrastructures? So Food Not Bombs. They begin to feed people. Can we get a permanent place where it can be able to feed lots and lots of people who are not going to be have access to food for a longtime legal teams because people are being evicted? Can we get legal legal people to do things? So this is all simultaneously so unlike most NGOs or nonprofits or the way. The government acts we. We were able to be very nimble and very small but have amazing amount of resources. Come in in a very short amount of time and be able to do with them what we want because we this is the one laboratory piece. We didn't want to listen to what the government was saying. I'm not saying like the CDC but I'm talking about law and order stuff. That's all they were interested in trying to restore but we wanted to break the law for the higher moral law of trying to help people follow the ethics of what we were going to do to do it safely as we can. All these all these things indymedia that would have been a network of media before the rise. Corporate social media was a huge network. We're able to you get people in to tell our stories with our voices get people in those neighborhoods to tell their stories with their voices and we just kept using it and building him and we didn't just build one clinic we built seven clinics. We built we had mobile clinics. We worked with indigenous communities. Help them build their own. We we took. We did search and rescue to communities along the Gulf coast that we were the first people to go into the fishing villages these Vietnamese and an indigenous communities that we were the first people to go in now because we are great saviors because we were interested and we could do it and we were willing to put their lives on the line to do these kinds of Great Perot. Ix It's just people just people doing what they think they should do. And so from that and people started to come and common ground started out with three people and ended up having about thirty thousand people. I think come through the first year and during that time we we were we try to use consensus and and use these containers that we had to to be liber. Tori inside. We're also being laboratory outside and so some of the work that we ended UP DOING CLEANING UP DEAD DOGS CLEANING UP HOUSES. You know gutting houses rebuilding houses. I mean we did everything that you would wanNA do in civil society to help rebuild it from the beginning to the end and it was uneven and it was erratic and it was difficult but it was. It opened this this crack in history that just does apetit to say we opened this crack in history. And say hey. Could we open this up and do this more because everybody could see the failure of the government but there was more to do than just protest against it we we knew because it was immediate because people were dying or almost dying are there in great care needs so we we needed to do that and so that was kind of how common ground team together and all of it wasn't my fucking idea. I mean I'm not that fucking smart and but There was a lot but I but I started to come up with this container of ideas of these networks and then started because of decades of experience with these people started to call them in and Maliki regime the one of the cofounders a former panther in New Orleans up for Panther leader in New Orleans. He called his networks. And so you had all these different political tendencies working together under the Common Laboratory framework. Now I could tell you all kinds of problems that had we're not about to discuss that. But that's but that's where we started from and so we wanted to build on one hand and resist exploitation and oppression on the other hand. The police were not going to kill people. The white militias were not gonNA kill people. We're going to stop them from doing that. We were not gonNA let Profiteers tried to exploit people. We're not GONNA we were. You know we weren't GonNa let corporations exploit people you know. There's all this resistance stuff but we're building at the same time community gardens. Food Security Individual Gardens Trying to get food to people free schools. I mean the list is very long. I wasn't even actually prepared to talk about the list. That list is long of things that that comrade volunteers brought and yeah. That's a great overview of it. I think thank you for kind of summing that up and I I think it's amazing to me about the common ground clinic. Whenever I read about it is is the scale that this grew from as you said like three folks to something that was literally providing care to tens of thousands of people which is like normally the kind of effort that we associate that a lot of people would say associate with kind of a state organization as opposed to something that's volunteer and activist based in if I could say though it was because because of the nobody expected it to happen. Nobody and the government response was so abysmal. But there's government response is always abysmal. Right we always know that because it's large bureaucracies. The same goes up. So what happened. Is that once? We got a little foothold. Even though we started out with fifty dollars like money started to flow in and supplies to us because people were already sick of the Red Cross within the first days and weeks. So we're able to get access to resources to be able to do this. Which doesn't happen under normal circumstances so we raised three million dollars in the first two years. I mean that never happens. I mean we we. We're keeping the money in a shoebox largely you know like I mean like but but the but there's nobody who's profiting from it. Nobody was getting paid to this. It was but we were you know but we rate but those were a phenomenal resources that the group's scrappy groups like this don't normally get. Yeah and I think we'll want to talk about fundraising a little bit. But I I think kind of where I wanNA start is from the perspective of you know we've been trying to push people towards mutual aid opportunities. I think there's this kind of a massive. I've never seen anything like at a national sort of Mutual aid is like a mainstream topic of discussion right now in a way that it. It really hasn't been a since I can recall And we've been trying to push that on our show we've gotten a lot of folks who've gotten involved with things but also a lot of folks who've been like. Hey I'm looking at the different lists. People are passing around. There's nothing currently going on in my area. Maybe I live in a rural area or I live in a city. That doesn't have a lot of that going on. And what can I do? And so part of why we I mean the big part of why we brought you on today is is you have some experience starting something from the ground up and I. I guess that's kind of where I wanNA. I WANNA kick off with this. Next part of this is if somebody has an idea for how to help. What is your advice for? Starting to build an organization with which to to provide that aid will hang on. Let's let's take up just a second because there's a few. There's a fundamental foundation that needs to be here And and that's not about just how you organize. The logistics of organizing is the easy part. Relatively you know like but there's a few things one that you have to recognize. The government is going to fail at every. Turn there just too. It's too big of a behemoth and whether it's intentional or not or a all that stuff just recognize that. The government government is not one big entity. It's multiple agencies more bureaucracy. I was really really important to make more sitting here waiting for the news to the pipeline of what aid package is. GonNa be passed and how it's going to me personally and depend on that. But she's assume that you could. You'RE NOT GONNA get a little bit held help less in any leading Liz. I guess let what I'm saying. I think that's an important for people to keep in mind as we sort of look at watch. The national debate occur over the The package eventually put together by the government debate over what it will be how much money folks will get and I think kind of what you're getting at Scott is that regardless of what winds up pushing through. It's not going to be enough And there's GonNa be then yes in the same with giant NGOs to just recognize this in nonprofits to and many of them will make money on this Red Cross is going to make billions on this agai- so it would be important to know that government response will always be slow. It will always be bureaucratic. It will always be uneven and most people will be left out of it at some. And so that's just a fundamental said even like trying to down knock the government down or anything that's just the reality of it that's the that is the reality of it and once you're on that then you don't have to worry about it anymore. Whatever like you said whatever comes in great when that happens later but right now we gotta take care of things right so the second thing I think is really important is to not give into fear this is these are found date things because fear makes us all make bad decisions and when we make bad decisions we begin to do things that are really stupid and Fear is the biggest motivator for people to do stupid things like buy Toilet Paper Ryan and and I think it's humorous that they do that but it's just because people are afraid and they wanna do something some trying to be a little more kind to him and sip not that people were trying to sell it and make money on it and those guys but but the people who are genuinely like I need to do something I'm like wiping. Your Bud is the biggest thing but you know it's got to do something so but just recognize that fear. I'm not saying don't be scared because I'm terrified often. I I was terrified and Katrina. I didn't WANNA be there. I didn't want to do those things I wasn't some on some fucking hero quest. I was just trying to do the best I could do in there just like everybody else was in. So and and this is where fear gets really important. Is that when you in times like this? Misinformation spreads really easily and far deeper and far more wide than you think it does from your friends and your family. You're going to get texts that you like. They're shutting this down there locking that down. This thing's happening. It's ninety percent of it is the telephone game. That's not true and a case in point that just happened in my own life was that I got a text from New Mexico where I'm headed tomorrow and they're like the whole states be locked down. I'm like it's one of the poorest states in the United States and they're not going to be on lockdown because there's nobody locked down there's no there is no military. There's no there's no police system to lock it. Down into Disneyland makes sense but all my friends. They're believed it because they all got the text the same text from the same person that was a telephone text and it turns out through at all. It was not true. It's just like not even true so so it's really important as at an end because we're fighting the media corporate media war but with but that's very where where this one side of it just wants to make money on this and the other side wants to push their agenda so there's a hard assess out misinformation these are just foundations and it may be boring. But you've gotta fuck and think about it. You gotTa have critical thinking as the ground shifts underneath. There's an shifts. It's vital it's vital. I think that we all have to. I've been trying to sit with my fear and my feelings of panic and to like process that metabolism a bit like deal with it. Ask Me what I asked myself bigger questions of where it's coming from so that I'm not spreading that to other people but also all of us serve a vital role in keeping each other informed and we need to be very very very cautious about what it is that we share with people. If somebody asks me about something like I've been getting a lot of questions are are the military. Is the military going to be rolling through the streets? And you're like that is not a question that does not a thing that we're dealing with right now. The Edo calling in the National Guard does not mean that you know like. Do we think there's a reality where that happen someday. I can't really speak to that but what I'm telling you right now what's happening. You know what I mean. It's just like instead of letting our fear because then that send somebody will take that and turn it into something else when they talk about it to their parents so absolutely absolutely. I agree a hundred percent. Well speaking of the government failing to deliver necessary services and also speaking of disinformation profiteering fears Hey everybody I'm cody. Johnston Katie stall. I'm Robert Evans and I really WanNa talk to you today. About macworld MAC will be the most comfortable underwear socks shirts. Undershirts hoodies and sweatpants. And more that you will ever wear. It's true I mean by myself back well then but I got them for my boyfriend. And he's obsessed literally has not stopped wearing the sweatpants. I got that's not an exaggeration. Well there there is a couple of days to get down to this rally in Virginia and it was going to be like twenty degrees and I ordered some performance tights for Mac. Weldon and you know they. They basically like long johns. That kept me super warm. It was great and they got their in lickety-split time. Good for gifts. Good for in your with your in a pinch show. If you're interested in joining this Mac Weldon crew. Well congratulations for twenty percent off. Your first order visit macworld Dot Com and enter Promo code worst year. Yeah that's MAC WELDON DOT com and enter Promo Code. Worst Year for twenty percent off your first order working remotely can be a challenge especially for teams. That are new to it. How do you deal with your work? Environment being the same as home while staying connected and productive and then there's your newest co worker the cat well your friends at Trello have been powering remote teams globally for almost a decade at a time when teams must come together more than ever to solve big challenges. Trello is here to help. Trello part of Atlassian collaborative sweet is an with an easy to understand visual format plus tons of features that make working with your team functional and Just Plain Fun. Cello keeps everyone organized on the same page helping teams communicate focus and connect teams of all shapes and sizes at companies like Google Fender Costco. And likely your favorite neighborhood. Coffee shop all used trello to collaborate and get work done. Try Trello for free and learn more at TRELLO DOT com. That's T. R. E. L. L. O. DOT COM TRELLO DOT COM. All right so Scott. What say I'm I'm a? I'm an individual stuck out in the middle of nowhere or out in the middle of some city where services are not getting to the people who need them. I see a need and I want to. I want to help. I want to build something to help. What what's your advice. What advice for kind of like step one? I'll ask the people around you what they mean. And what you guys and then assess the capacity of what you have to be able to do things. So if you're in a rural community That's very like that's just spread out spread apart. Maybe it's just checking on the elderly people and checking in and going like. Hey what's what's happening if you're more organized than you already already part of You know some kind of group or something. We'll get together and then figure out what what the community needs are and ask people. I mean people will tell you that's all it seems like magic but all you gotta do is ask and because then you'll get a list that you never thought of after Katrina. We just went to. We gathered up the first twenty people in the community that we got together. And said what do you need? And you know what they said. Take out the trash. Can you get the rotting stinky? The garbage that nobody's picking up. Can you take it away and I was like. That's it you know like I was like all right. We can do that. So that's how we started. And then we're like what's next and will this lady needs to be checked in on because she doesn't have her diabetes medicine and we're like okay. We'll make sure that we get some of that to her. We can you know things like that would just just started and that and we just but if you think about approaching this from a liberty perspective because you're not just trying to fill in the gaps. Were the government's failing you actually want to. You actually want to see if you can create autonomy for a future when something the next disaster happens or the next crisis happens right because what you what you when you building. Mutual aid is a challenge to the dominant narratives at one and so far until Obama tweeted at the other day. That was super weird. Like Obama and mutually those are weird words together But like you said Robert. Getting it's got to be mainstream and so but but mainstreaming ideas also makes them lose their laboratory potential so and so in starting up. Make sure you're not doubling up on stuff. That people are already doing that is not needed. Also don't make sure it's not about just stockpiling things because that's not always needed. There's different stages of disasters. There's different kinds of disasters There's different kinds of crisis. And every one of them is not one size fits all they have. There's a framing of the ideas and there's a framing of the the way the mechanics work and they used to pick the things that actually worked for that for your needs at that moment but we start with those questions and then I think you just start doing it so if it's just if it's starting to feed people you start that way but again if you wanNA use liber Tori liberty framework. You have dual power every time you're creating but you're also resisting. So if people are gonNA lose their homes because of You might do rent strikes but at the same time you WanNa make sure that people have safe housing these that would be dual power at the same time free schools if kids are able to go to school and you know you can gather to to to have have school. I'm not saying in this particular crisis at the moment but just in general you start a school while you're cleaning out the school to get it ready so the kids can go back to their school. Those are dual power kinds of things. But you're thinking about all the time every actions that we take doing it. Not just for yourself. You're doing it for those around you even if you don't know them. The vulnerable wins whatever. The vulnerability is whether it's age class. Race Immigration Status Immunosuppression. Whatever that whatever it is you just have to find which of those things and begin to work from that and then after that the mechanics of it is really easy especially right now because we're in such a mild disaster right like I mean at this moment we're not even near collapse you know and so it's so you can go to the store to buy toilet paper you can get so you can buy these things you can make food. All the stuff is still functioning in most places so it's real simple things. If you want to start doing the larger things you have to be willing like if you want to start clinics and if you want to do do things the other laboratory pieces to break the law. You have to recognize that you're willing to break the law for the higher moral law and are you willing to do that and these are very serious questions. You have to ask yourself. They make it very difficult. Every clinic that we opened we were breaking the law to to open a clinic every time food. Not Bombs to push the barricade out of the way climbed onto the barricade in the middle of the nights to feed people. They were willing to break the law under martial law real much not undercounted under shelter and home martial law with fucking full on military and everything and so you have to be willing to face that the other thing is that every if you everything you do and and everything that that you want to take on and doing all these things you have to ask yourself. Are you going to work with the government or government agencies and NGOs to do it? Are you going to try to do it yourself? And I think there's going to be hybridization of that within that because all NGOs aren't Shitty shitty because they're big they're not they're not necessarily shitty. I mean One of the first One of the first organizations united way which I fucking hate them gave us ten thousand dollars within days of of of Katrina. That's unprecedented and they told with. No strings attached. Just do what you need to do with the money because we can see what you're doing so that wasn't just me. They didn't go to me but to the organization do so so but these things are a lot more difficult to plug in like. You said you've been promoting all of these These different mutual aid networks. Ask Them for the resources of what to do they have how to manuals mutilate disaster relief the grew out of common ground and occupy and all these other things that they have they actually have how to guides and they're not the only ones but they have them on actual practicalities of but it's not as hard as you think it is if you start doing it because then you to see the need. There's a couple of really important point. She making their that. I WanNa hit on a little bit more. One of them is when you talk about a laboratory framework and I I think that What I'm like what you're talking about if I'm not mistaken is this idea that You should not just be providing immediate aid to people you should be kind of liberating them from their dependence on the system and from their dependence on like from the vulnerability that they're feeling in that moment in a long a longer term way so you're not just handing someone foods that they have a meal you're trying to provide them with long-term ways to meet those needs to where they're not just sort of waiting for it to be handed to them or or like like it's this idea of right now. I think people feel. There's a huge amount of helplessness. That people are feeling right now because they're just kind of waiting for the federal government to step in and do something and they don't know if they're going to be able to stay in their homes and a piece of laboratory activism is like. Okay what if we make it so that what? What if we take action to make sure that they will have a roof over their head like activists in Los Angeles are doing right now? Occupying state owned homes opening them up furnishing them and putting people inside them. And saying. We're not GONNA wait to make sure. The government is keeping people in their houses. We're GONNA provide houses and we have to break the law to do that. Because it's the brake blocks to crack our way into these buildings. We gotta use our bolt cutters. So I think that's that's an important thing and the other thing you've brought up. Yeah the other thing you brought up. It's really spent a lot of time in war zones And one thing. I have noticed over those trips in Iraq and Syria and Ukraine. Is that almost? No One. Has Anything Nice to say for the large international aid organizations who actually lives in those areas? The Red Cross the United Nations these these big organizations like the NGOs. Like if you WANNA hear NGOs get talked more than anywhere else in the world. Go to a refugee camp or go to a city. That's yeah they are and they talk about how these people like. Roll up and big fancy up armored suburbans and how they stay in hotels and eating is food and it's the only aid organization that I have ever come across in my travels that one hundred percent of the people in the affected areas had nothing like had purely positive things to talk about. Is THE FREE BURMA RANGERS? Because it's there. There are medical collective they are small. Nimble Group and they roll into an area and ask. What do you need? We know how to provide medical care. These are capabilities. What do you need? How can we meet them? And they do it And I've never heard anyone in the in the areas where they were working have anything to save for them but like I'm grateful they were there. They saved my life. My cousins live such and such And yes that that really hits home for me. This idea that you should be proactive. About figuring out what people need as opposed to like trying to sit at home and be like what can I provide will go out and ask people what's necessary And then try to build a framework for providing it and I guess the next thing I'd Kinda like to ask you about is so common. Ground expanded very rapidly to fulfill a wide variety of additional niches. Beyond sort of its its its initial the initial motivations behind its founding. And I kind of am wondering what advice you have for people In when it comes to expanding and when it comes to to working with larger groups of people in sort of the different pitfalls that can come up because the more folks that get involved the more money that gets involved the more problems you're gonNA have like right. That's one of the great pieces of lear. More money more problems. Yeah let's talk about dealing with that people internally stole money from us like crazy. People stole tools from us like crazy by twenty five thousand dollars worth of tools and people internally would steal them so it was a mess. I mean it was a it was I often describe it as a beautiful train wreck internally I mean that's the truth of it because we didn't build we didn't build it from before so there's no relationships except for the few of us at the very core of it at the very beginning other than that it was just whoever came in or they were more. They were more distant as they were coming in. And so people brought in all their assumptions. They brought in all their privilege. They brought in all of these things to and it's definitely difficult to mitigate we even We've heard this nonprofit Do anti-racist trainings for us every week. A local group of This group that started the whole anti-racist movement in the United States as far as like doing trainings nineteen seventies and You know we always ran into conflict with people who didn't want to go to the trainings. Are wanted wanted to do those things. But even there largely white largely middle class largely young and they were also working in communities fully outside of their dad ever ever been in before some of the poorest in the United States some of the most marginalized in the whole in the whole country. And so I so it's always difficult. There is no magic panacea in that. In fact my book is full of heartbreak about that but one thing is that that. I definitely want to be That I would take out of that is that I don't want I'm not an activist. I don't consider myself an activist. I I want liberation. I don't WanNa fucking make things just a little bit better. I WanNa alleviate suffering win where can right and so I think a lot of activists mentality came in where became identity politics. would rule or energis politics or whatever or communist politics that would be kind of become the the rule are they would try to have factionalism within the within the organization was so loose. It was like a network we actually just provided a K- kind of container of all these things and got resources to them and got people on the project's inception there was no. There's no central coordination. We tried but it was like you know thirty people coordinating come and go and we tried to do this in real time. While we're sick you know like mad. Staph infections fucking bronchial things and fucking so much stress and so much trauma. We were trying to do this so it was difficult so if if I was going to just cut all of that off at the at before it happened I would start organizing now not under the crisis that we're in but start organizing now for the future disasters that are going to happen because climate change is real wars real political. I mean we're in a political disaster at the moment As far as governments go in the United States and so These you know like start building now for those futures you know what is it. You and your neighbors can do to build resilience now Like I went. I went and spoke at a food. Co-op in in San Francisco to deal with earthquakes about six or seven years ago. And you know like they're trying to figure out how to work with their neighbors like how they killed mutual-aid with their neighbors actually and I thought that was a pretty good thing to think like food security not only emptying their shelves at some point or providing shelter which is with cope would do but what else could they. What else could they provide their neighbors for now? Like food security is there. Is there a way that they could do community gardens? They can do individual gardens in this. This is you know this is downtown San Francisco but but I'm saying like their ideas that were floating around. How would they have even be able to communicate? There's really four. Basic things is communication education Security and Food food healthcare healthcare. So those are really the four major pieces of civil society. I'd say culture. I throw culture because we need culture to we gotta have music gotTa Have Beauty. We have we have to art. So there's stories that need to be told and there's things that there's beauty that needs to happen so those those five things. If we work unknown you could build anything you want. As long as in my analysis with the literary framework knowing that you're going to build on one hand and resist on the other end and also that you're not just trying to fill in the gaps the government. But if that's all you end up doing that's what you ended up doing. You know for particular crisis. Yeah Katie something you to ask next. Or or cody. I don't this is wonderful and so helpful and useful. I've talked to so many people who have the questions that you've answered Because I think we're all in this sort of situation where Like even talking about where we have this drive to do something. And there's no like there's no sign up sheet. There's no like you mentioned the trash like there's so many people I've talked to. Who are like I would go and just help. People take out the trash. If I knew that that's what I could use my time and effort to do and giving people the tools to find out where they can place themselves is just so useful and yeah and there's just so much like what I'm feeling a lot is A desire to help people but also the depression and on we that comes from not knowing where to start and feeling especially in this specific crisis. You're right when you say this isn't the same kind of crisis we've got access to the two stores we can feed ourselves but I'm not allowed to touch or talk to anyone I'm not allowed to. I mean I can talk like this but I'm not allowed to interact so we're all feeling so isolated and feeling like it feels overwhelming in a way like not knowing what to start and then we can just look at the things that you guys have done. People are doing right now. Mobilizing and building on infrastructures of the had inspiring and it is possible to start. Smaller is in my neighborhood. There's all these signs of some woman. retired woman. I don't know who she is. She says I'm retired. I may you've yeah. She probably would have the time anyway but if she wasn't but she describes herself to make herself seem like a non-threatening and says like if you need anything let me know. I'm building a group of people like I will go and do the deliveries you. Let me know what you need. And we're we're figuring out and that it's so simple I think just in my small community here in my neighborhood of a way to feel take back some of the power that you've lost thrill of this And totally agree and we need that. Because that's what mutually does doesn't it puts it puts us back in the driver seat also puts back in the driver's seat not from a fearful thing of prepping and I've got to get down on my shelter shits gone but like how can we work together on this. Maybe food maybe food security in an immediate disaster not this one but in a meeting disasters like instead of me stockpiling food. I will start. Maybe me and my neighbors all stockpile food together in a house where we worked together on an and. I'm not talking to. I'm talking about my neighbors barely even talked to you know like I'm saying like people that you got to reach outside your own especially those her more vulnerable shut ins and people like that. I think it's really important And Mutual Aid. You know you've talked a lot about it and there's all kinds of and you'll see even that there's official mutual aid you know that has This brand of mutually that comes out of like Emt's paramedics and stuff and their mutual leads a little different but it's But the mutual aid. I'm talking about as always from a laboratory. Approach it challenges the dominant narratives. It also encourages cooperation and autonomy at the same time and that and that gives us the power purchase in the driving seat when we can do that because then it's not like why just bought five hundred rolls of toilet paper for myself. I'm like wow. I actually got some things that are good for a bunch of people and they got things for me and we can. We can ride this out together and there's just a lot to that and you know and the donor early. I saw it and not in a Pollyanna way I watched people with nothing giveaway. Their last resources to other people over and over again Not knowing like water was coming or food was coming. They would give it away. I didn't see that one time or two times or four times. I'm like well now. I saw hundreds of times. And so that will that people will do that. And then you just gotTa and then but also mutilate take making some hard dirty decisions not to let those assholes takeover Who are afraid who walk around with their guns and fucking try to threaten everybody because they are so scared so it involves multiple multiple things with that. Now one of the things that I've been trying to push to people because obviously I've been talking about armed self defense for a while as it sort of result as regards the left and so people started reaching out to me. When the gun by Panik started and and I've been really tried to push people away from picking up. Ar Fifteen AK forty sevens. And if you're going to get a gun. A twenty two is a reasonable choice and it also improves your ability to provide for example meat for your community right like if things get really bad in a future disaster something you could be hunting rabbits squirrel like there's a variety of different small game you can put together and that's a more realistic community self defense scenario for a lot of people than needing to fight off a militia like toilet paper. God I just shot those people per toilet paper man. I feel good about myself and guns written questions about guns and you know I was going to. I would say depending on the scenario Just in the framework depending on the disaster like in the top. Fifteen or twenty things. I don't know if I would even if I would even put guns on that always. It just depends on where you're like in this in this crisis obviously know at this stage no way no way like way more on the same with gold and cigarettes and things that people want to use his commodities. I'm Mad Max life because I don't want any of that stuff could you could. You could shut that up your ass. Actually a gold. I'm like I'm not trading my gardens. Ford I'M NOT GONNA trade my food forward for that. Seems like a perfect time to interject and say we need to go to another ad break. You know more than you WANNA barter for. This is the time. Use It for these products and services. Hey girl have you heard of food for? We are a podcast Gab. Fest we're in a multi-racial mix of queer riders. Gather around the table to talk about identity culture. What we like to read who? We like to read food for thought. We started from the bottom now. We bought him all day. And it's just so true. I feel like if I could describe this podcast in one way it would be like the view but like Gayer I have Meghan McCain. But she's black. So I still justice Blah books but steph and beyond say because we got that for all of today's food for thought food the number four and thought spelled house on the iheartradio APP apple podcasts. Or wherever you get your podcasts And we're back. Those products and services guys probably have considerably less. Now Yeah I. I'm always amazed at people buying gold in disasters like this because I just can't think of one where gold will be particularly helpful. I can think of one where I can think of. I can imagine situations where people will want extra food or medical supplies or even ammunition. I really have trouble imagining gold being useful in any disaster situation. I can envision no I mean maybe long-term crisis like you share in years in barter economies. But you're so far away from the nest. If that's the first thing you're going for man you're GonNa get hungry real fast and people can shun you because nobody wants your fucking gold. I could tell you nobody wants your goals. What is your gold? Even worse gotTa is bend this like if you're like reaching up like if my boat was coming by Katrina and you had gold that'd be going like why I wouldn't get in trouble knowing when collapse is going to happen can we don't mind so. Apps is always uneven. Everybody thinks that they're going to wake up like the movies and it's one day it's like everything is different. Well it's usually not like that It fault it's uneven in fits and starts. I'm not saying not localized. If you have a disaster you know like a environmental disaster or war Those are those. Those are very localized but Pandemics are very international and so There's different stages of disaster collapse and one of the one of the ways when a my gauges. If if I'm ever word I'm never going to be clear about this. I am never ever ever worried about martial law. Never worried about it. There's not enough of them. There is not enough of them anywhere except in localized areas. So I'm talking about National Guard military of any kind police law enforcement. There's just not enough of it and they don't fucking do it so But but in collapse the the main thing I look at is the grid infrastructure of a power so is is are. We do have electricity. Is it still running to have access to oil and gas If those things are going then then we're not in collapsed once those things begin. I don't mean localized way because they shut down. Power stations gas stations during hurricanes. And things like that. I'm talking about if you start to see power grids going down. That's when you would start having more concerned and I don't mean power grids going down because some storm happened in. Our fire happened again. You start seeing nationwide. That's when problems start to arise because you're you're dealing with transportation and food security and things like that that just everything is predicated on oil. So that's a that's an marquee that said that there's really like at my analysis three stages of disasters the first. There's the immediate when you have to do things rescue search You're dealing with just immediate triage with the death. Things like that that eventually gives way to stage two which is about less active. You're still doing stuff. You're still helping people because the infrastructure hasn't returned always especially in localized disasters. So you're dealing with things that maybe schools open so you're still dealing with things. People have to get food. People still have to get things because maybe the restaurants are open. There's a bunch of a bunch of things and then the third is the longer part of disaster which is the rebuilding part which is like when you start to get into war situations. They're just going on for years and years and years. All of these situations need me too late every time and I think Russia vase like you mentioned before is just such a great example even with all the problems that has I mean again trying to build something while the disasters already there is always incredibly difficult. It's always especially if that disaster has access to f twenty two no of. Yeah that's a given its war right like slaughtered right. There's no so but they've still done amazing things under those under those auspices. Same his APETIT stas. I think there are really good. Example like basically almost cut off from the world physically but not internationally totally still being able to provide these things and I think that usually just gives us an area to give a ton of money and collective action and empowerment Even if it's not the answers and if you put it in a laboratory framework may be good. Things out of the disaster will continue. And I'll be honest. All the things that come ground did that. Were Laboratory lost their laboratory potential. Eventually all did the clinic. You know that we started as an outlaw clinic. The one of the first clinic the clinic that still exists the other six of clothes mobile clinics have all closed. It is now is that laboratory. It's still does good service work but it's not a laboratory clinic anymore. It's just a clinic that can provide services to cook community. That never had it. So is that a win or I would be named injury. It became mainstream. That's totally true. Lost its edge. No more rebels. Yeah I know is that a win. I mean it's it's the it's a win in that it's the good evolution of what it would end up there eventually. Run everything successful. I suppose and people pay attention to it right but those but those people aren't willing to and this is the thing is I think you're like in my literary analysis. You have to be willing to break the law because laws are arbitrary. Reactionary bureaucratic and selectively enforced. We all know that right so but you have to be willing to break the law. Even if it's something silly like giving somebody food you're like all right. I would rather give them food than than follow the law style and I think dealing with money is also a really tricky thing. I think that building because especially in activists subculture Where where people who come from with lots of resources. Lots of middle class kids come into it. Lots of middle class people. People with access resource want to pretend they're downwardly mobile and so they often turn back on those resources and this is a problem that has been going on for ever since I've ever been doing political work. It's not just around disasters but we need access to resources. So what resources are. We always need them. We need to use our privilege. It's the same thing breaking the law. Well it's much easier for me to break the law. I'm white middle-class. I can get away with stuff for people that necessarily can't and I might have access to more resources. It's not cool to pretend like I don't have them I. What's good is for me to tap into those resources and pay it forward. Yeah it's so easy for me to break the law. It's unbelievably easy for me to break the law. Because I'm I've got that that Tall White Guy Privilege which makes it very easy to like talk to police and insert myself in situations where police are involved in. Distract them It's it's a thing I've been able to do a number of times over the course of my life and there's just this I think there's a responsibility you have if you are able to interface with the law and with the state in a way to where they kind of the they're not necessarily on a backfoot but they're less aggressive towards you and more willing to listen to you kind of have a responsibility to shove yourself in there when it can protect other people who who don't benefit from that same attitude absolutely agree so cody. Did you have any anything any questions you wanted to get into here? Leave me alone Robert. I will never do that. Cody don't you dare ask me the same question number back off now. This has been incredibly thorough and eliminating. Yeah thanks I. I don't have the answers. I mean that's the fucking truth. I'm not sitting here on the top of the mountain going. Like hey man this is all Gonna. Work. I'm with everybody else. I'm just trying to figure it out and come along but had made quite a few mistakes along the way and have been in some stupid situations that that where it was needed and so I think that it's a have some practical experience and it was willing to talk about it and that overall thing that's the only thing I think I'm bringing to the table because I think all of all of you I think are I think when we talked to people who are reasonable and that people all want to do this. Yeah one of the one of the real lessons of any disaster and there's actually been a significant amount of just academic scholarship on this. Is that more than anything else? People want to help each other. Most people you know you've got that you've got that minority of the population who are monsters in any given part of the world. But most people want to help the people around them in their community and a big part of building systems of mutual aid. is giving people an opportunity to be nice to each other And to be helpful to each other and I I think that More than anything building. Those systems is the is the Is the treatment for the real disease right now which is fear like. That's that's that's going to do more damage to our society than the actual virus itself and this is the vaccine for it is getting is doing shit and also taking while you do should by the way I wanNA make sure upstanding this take take proper sanitation and P P precautions. Yes yes you know. Yeah Yeah but some rush you know. Some people can run to the fire and other people can stand nearby the fire. You know then we need all of those people and when you have people stand back way back and so you need to do that. We need all of those people working together. Not Individually if you're if you're still at a loss to what you might do one thing I might suggest. Is You know washing your hands. I using gloves print out some sheets of paper that say hello my name is this is an email address or phone number where you can contact me. Do you need something right. Indeed something picked up. Are you low on something like are you unable to leave your house? If so reach out to me and I can try to help you and Organiz that stuff on its spreadsheet and see if you can help two or three people in your neighborhood and see where where that leads you And again always you know sanitize your hands before you handle the paper you know have have gloves on or at least like a trash bag around your hands it. You'll be careful. Do Take. Take the precautions that are necessary to keep your community safe. But you know that's a way you can do with Scott was talking about. Ask people what they need and then attempt to provide it. It doesn't have to be you. Don't have to be building a clinic. That thirty thousand people volunteer at right like there are there are yeah skills ahead of that like the woman in my neighborhood. She put flyers up around the neighborhood. And maybe somebody that sees that will be able to use that resource. You know. It's not thirty thousand people it's one woman and then we have to judge it because everything. Dan fucking massive scale. Just let people do be what they WANNA do. As long as they're trying to work together on it you know like I mean if that's what that lady does and that that helps her far better than you know standing in line to buy mounds of toilet paper can you feel so disempowered to know and I think also approaching this I think one of the piece I would throw into this approach it with solidarity not charity and the reason is a big distinction there solidarity means that we are in this together and that that is different power share even if I have more resources stuff I want. I'm if I do good I want you to do good also and that's far different than charity. Which is like. I'm just going to help you. I don't even care I care but I don't care that much that's a band date where solidarity is like we are in this together and that's important because we are in this together. Nobody's immune from it. Yeah that's a really good point and I think one of the most important things to keep in mind. Is that like the goal of all of these? Things isn't isn't for like you to come in and provide things to other people and be the savior. The goal is to build. Like when you're reaching out to your neighbors and figuring out what they need and trying to ways to provide it your building resiliency within your neighborhood. That also defends and liberates you and that's a critical component of it. Yeah Yeah we're just about out of time here but Scott. You said you had a couple of things that you could plug for us today for yourself but here with us and it's not self promotion. I'm promoting these things because I'm trying to get them out for free and I want people to know that and it's my. It's my part that I can do my first black flags and windmills. That came out from. Pm Press is now available for free And the digital EP READER. All you have to do is give them an email and I negotiated with them for quite a while because they are also struggling as a small publisher. They are also struggling Because I wanted to get my books away for free. I often do during these disaster times. And this is what we came up with. An eight also put like ten other really good books on that list. Pm Press Dot Org Palmeri Press Dot Org You And you can go there and get a free reader black flags and windmills and or choose another book And I would recommend that also my My first book blackflies when meals is available in Spanish from the Outta Bozo. Papa collective collect data. I don't have their email address. But there's print copies available for Spanish speakers and digital copies also available for free to Spanish speaking people for communities that would need those and then I started a small record label. Last fall called emergency hearts based on this concept that I have called emergency hearts and it's a music label and then what we're doing with my my small record. Label is at two titles that we're selling and all the one hundred percent of the proceeds goes to different groups so one of them is enterprise. Blues revisited is an EP that I just released with televangelism and we're giving that one You can buy it all. One hundred percent of the proceeds goes to Mutual Disaster Relief Dot. Org this great organization that grew out of common ground occupying a bunch of organizations that works on this stuff. We talked about them earlier or at another compilation called. Richard Clubs Classics You buy that because I live in Austin Texas. It supports the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians. Helps Musicians. That don't have health insurance in crisis all the time I it doesn't just give them insurance. That actually gives them. It actually provides medical support for them and so all the proceeds from that and then all the other titles. I think we have like sixty titles on there. All the rest of them are free until April thirtieth for anybody who just wants him. Download them whatever it is. It's I mean we're all just do you gotTa have something to get you through if you like. Electronic Music is the place to do while. We're going to end the episode playing some of your music. You guys like that. You can go check it out. In the meantime you can check us out online at worst year pod on instagram and on twitter and Scott. What's your twitter? Handle in case people wanNA find you online at Scott under the score crow. Just do Scott Crow. You'll you'll find him. Thank you so much for all of this incredible information. I think we've learned a lot today. Thank you for having me on the compensation and thank all of you for listening and please go out there and do something new. Something resist rebel create and Build. Yeah go taste us us. They Chew Destroy a Mute. So Draw this is and berries Worst your editors reduction of iheartradio for more podcasts from iheartradio visit the iheartradio. App Apple podcasts. Or wherever you listen to your favorite shows. Hello this is Ron Burgundy. And you were listening to my voice which commands trust and respect. Guess what my podcast is back. And that's a win for everyone. If you're a long-time listener to the show you probably already know the deal. Each week I bring you hard hitting journalism and also light entertainment. I contain multitudes. Find the Ron Burgundy podcasts on the IHEART radio APP apple podcasts? Or wherever you get your podcasts. Hi everyone it's Katie couric. I've used my podcast next question as a platform to explore the big issues. We face in these crazy times and right now. There's no crazier time in no bigger issue than the corona virus which is why we're switching gears and pushing our regular reported episodes to the summer in the meantime we're going to stay focused on the corona virus talking to the experts. So you can really understand what's going on. I know it's overwhelming but we can get through this together. You can listen to next question on the iheartradio APP apple podcasts. Or wherever you get your favorite shows we want you to know that we are here for you.

Coming up next