a bunker? in this economy?

the word prepper has a certain image attached to it. but its not exactly right. and there’s some valuable stuff we can learn from fellow leftists who are preppers. and given the unrest that’s almost sure to follow the election, i think its a good idea to think about these things and take some steps to keep you and yours safe. 

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Callie: [00:00:00] Shouts out to Sarah and Rhea for becoming new patrons this week. Thank you, friends. Love you lots. My name is Callie Wright and  this is Queersplaining 

Kitty: [00:00:08] who can afford a bunker in this economy. I mean, 

Callie: [00:00:14] This is Kitty.

Kitty: [00:00:15] I’m an anarchist, leftist doomsday prepper. I’m a Juggalo. I am a consent activist. I am a cat mom, all kinds of stuff. 

Callie: [00:00:28] To be of a very full life.

Kitty: [00:00:30] Yeah. Yes. A little bit. 

Callie: [00:00:33] So yeah, kitty has a lot going on. But I’ve got her on the show specifically to talk about prepping. I’m going to say something, not super optimistic here, but I think it’s true. I think after the elections in the U S this year, there’s going to be civil unrest on a scale most of us have not seen or experienced in our lifetimes.

I don’t think it matters, which result we come out with. It’s going to happen. I think this is something we need to be prepared for. This is going to mean lots of different things for lots of different people. There’s no way I could do a show that would tell every person in every position of life what’s best to do so.

I wouldn’t try. That’s not what this episode is going to be about, but what I can do is talk to someone who’s been on the streets a lot and knows a lot about emergency and disaster preparedness. And we can start to learn about this stuff because I think a lot of us are going to need it. And I know the word prepping probably brings up a certain mental image, right?

At least it did, for me, prepping means bunkers full of food and guns and camo and conservative politics. And so on. And for sure those people exist, but it’s definitely not the whole picture. So I asked Kitty to just start at the beginning. What does it actually mean to be a prepper?

Kitty: [00:01:51] First it means I try to have a multi layered aspect to the preparations that I do for emergencies. Additionally, I am prepared for multiple kinds of emergencies. Actually showed up on. I talked to my friend Margaret Killjoy’s podcast about anarchist prepping. And one of the things we were talking about kind of jokingly in February was a, it’s very important to prepare for disease, which is something that a lot of doomsday preppers don’t do.

They prepare for civil unrest or solar flares or aliens, but they don’t prepare for something that’s much more likely, which is. Infectious disease. And we were talking about that. And then what, two weeks later, everything went into shut down because of infectious disease that I was like, well now is my time to shine.

Like, so yeah, I mean, I think that being prepared for disaster in such a way that you will not require government assistance for some time, I would say is like how I think of it. And that can mean a lot of different things to a lot of people. It’s weird to me because a lot of doomsday preppers in terms of the media, you have very right wing, very individualistic, but yeah, also Trump supporters, but also suspicious of the government.

I guess it kind of makes sense because there’s this belief that Trump isn’t the government that he’s an outsider that’s coming in and holding politicians to account. I mean, Yeah, the cognitive dissidence there is amazing. 

Callie: [00:03:42] I definitely agree that the belief is there, but yeah. 

Kitty: [00:03:46] Yeah, because I could kind of see why, if you were a, I have a bunker and a giant water tank kind of prepper, you might see Trump as someone making it so that you’re prepping isn’t necessary in theory.

You know, on paper, having someone who’s not a career politician be in charge of the country, I guess I could see where it comes from. I mean, it’s obviously not what’s happening, but whatever. I mean, people believe in all kinds of stuff. Right. So, you know, I, so I think that there are mistaken beliefs that prepping is inherently individualistic, which I don’t believe it is.

And that it’s inherently the right wing. Militia type stuff, which I, which I don’t think it is. 

Callie: [00:04:40] For Kitty and other leftist preppers, it’s actually about community. It’s about knowing who can do what and making plans to link up and connect with those people. So we can get our needs met. It’s not necessarily this caricature, our society and popular culture have built up in our heads.

Initially, kitty got into prepping for the most practical of reasons. 

Kitty: [00:05:04] I grew up in Massachusetts and in Massachusetts, there’s always a likelihood every winter that you’re going to be buried in snow. So I grew up with some aspects of doomsday prepping, just sort of. As a part of my everyday life, you never knew when the power was going to go out.

You never knew when all of your food would end up spoiling and you’d have, have to figure out ways around it. So yeah, that part was always in my life. When I moved to California, though, we didn’t have a lot of like severe weather in Massachusetts here in the Bay. Earthquakes are always a big concern, right?

So like preparing for earthquakes was something that was always in the forefront of my mind. And it really surprised me that my grandmother wasn’t especially prepared who lived out here. My neighbors didn’t really have any preparations. My friends. Didn’t really know what to do in an earthquake. And. I was kind of horrified because it’s like, we all know that an earthquake is coming, but nobody felt pushed to actually prepare for that.

So I got very concerned about that and started prepping myself because I began to realize that nobody was going to have any resources around me. And from there I started getting my friends more interested, started getting my grandmother more educated. And it sort of blossomed into, I wouldn’t say a lifestyle, it’s a hobby for me really.

It’s sort of a very anxious hobby.

Callie: [00:06:55] So it’s some point the idea of emergency preparedness went from like, I gotta be ready for an earthquake. I gotta be ready, ready for extreme weather. Like that kind of stuff too. Like I gotta be prepared for civil unrest and those sorts of things. Tell me about like, what inspired that shift for you?

Kitty: [00:07:15] Occupy started that I started working as a street medic during occupy protests, both here and in London. And from there once you’re a street medic. This sorta, I feel like doomsday prepping is kind of a hot skip and a jump from there because in order to be a street medic, you’re trying to train as many different things as possible.

You have to have kit that other people probably don’t have on them. So from there then you’re like, well, if I’m already going to be learning how to use tourniquets, like. I might as well move on from that to having, I don’t know, water filtration systems or whatever. Like I think for me, I was always interested in, in the medical work and in doing street medic stuff.

And so. That’s my specialty in a civil unrest or an earthquake situation. That’s what I’m going to be particularly good at. And I gathered friends around me who were really good at other stuff like urban foraging or, you know, changing a car battery into a way to get power for whatever equipment you need, you know, so I don’t have to be an expert in everything.

I have my one little area that I’m really excited about. And then I have people around me who have their own areas that really excited about. 

And so tell me about the occupy protest. 

Well, when I first started going to those, like I wasn’t, I hadn’t had a lot of experience with protests. Like I had marched with my mom in like some of the 1990s walks against rape.

Back when I was like five or whatever, but like, you know, they were fairly chill protests and I was a child. So I didn’t have a lot of responsibility. I became aware when I was maybe eight or nine, that people who are politically opposed to me may not care about my safety, that it wasn’t just about ideas.

And that came from. I used to go and help support abortion clinics with my father who were getting protested. And this was during a time where some abortion clinics were getting bombed. So like having that awareness and seeing how quickly an adult would lose their temper at a child for being there was very informative.

Do you remember any time in particular when that happened? 

I remember a parent getting very, very angry at me because th th so there was a kid who had a sign. That said by chance, not by choice. And I apparently sauntered up to him and said, Oh, you weren’t a choice. I was a choice. And his parents were very upset about that.

My parents took me out to a diner for a very nice lunch, so whatever, but like, You know, I, so I was a very argumentative and activist oriented child that I got to environmental stuff. And then I got back into Semitism and that I came out as queer and got into queer activism. And then probably like my mid twenties, I began to realize that all of these things were connected and then became overwhelmed for a little while and then came Occupy.

And so by the time Occupy rolled around, I was like, yeah, I don’t think people should be getting a tear gas by the police. And I would like to go out and help with that in some way. So I have very, very basic information. I went out by myself and brought bottles of water and snacks to the people who are in the encampments to help them be able to stay there without if they left, then there was a likelihood the police would round up all of the tents and stuff. So like, I was, I was doing support stuff, but I wasn’t really out there in the streets until like midway through when I felt like it wasn’t enough to just drop off supplies. Like that was good, but it wasn’t enough.

And it was really scary. It was really traumatizing. At first, and then eventually you become numb and you don’t feel anything anymore. As I stare off into the middle distance. And so like, you know, occupy occupied was intense, but like when the black lives matter, the first round of black lives matter, protest came around.

That was where I saw how the police fought. To be racist so hard and they would fight tooth and nail to continue to be racist. And it made me realize that civility was not going to save anyone. And so I, I upped my medic game. I started going out more often. I changed how I dressed at protests. That’s also when I got doxed for the first time.

So my grandmother got harassed. Because I also had lived with my grandmother for a while and because I was an activist, people felt it was appropriate to call my grandmother and threatened her. And so I realized that like, yeah, I had to, I had to black block. In order to keep my family safe.

Callie: [00:13:09] And so you have all of these experiences. And so talk to me at a practical sense. Like, what does that change as far as like being a prepper? Like how did that change things for you and as far as what you did? 

Kitty: [00:13:20] Well, I mean, one big example, I learned that. Emergency first aid kits dumped out all the bandaids.

You don’t need any of them. Most of first aid kits, they’ll say 250 pieces and 240 pieces. Yeah, will be bandaids of various. Sizes. I honestly use gauze and duct tape more than any other supply at a protest. And so I just stock up on that. Now I don’t bother with band-aids. I don’t bother with, you know, fancy bandages.

It is like, I need to be able to just stop the bleeding, put some antibiotic on it, cover it up. Okay. Next, you know, so that changed some of my prepping stuff. Quite a bit because it made me realize, like, there are a lot of things that you can do with duct tape that I wouldn’t have necessarily considered it as a medical tool, but it does have latex in it.

So do be, do ask first use that, but in general, it is very effective against sweat. And it stays and that’s what you need. And it’s waterproof, which is great. If you’re getting sprayed with pepper spray or tear gas, it creates a solid barrier. So like that was one thing that definitely changed realizing how much weight I could practically carry and like how I organized my supplies.

Like I have a tourniquet in my bag. I used to make it very available because I thought, well, if I need it, I’m going to need it right now, but in the course of a protest, my supplies dwindle, and it would expose a tourniquet anyway. So like, right. You know, it sort of made me realize what the rhythm of a protest looks like.

It also trained me to run towards conflict rather than away and, like to, to put by my fear and anxiety aside. In order to run towards the problem, which I think will serve me well in an emergency situation as well. But that is something I trained for and I do not recommend most people do that. It’s something I have to do because I’m there specifically to do that.

But, you know, don’t, don’t run towards something. To film. It necessarily there’ll be someone there who can film it. Don’t worry about that. It will be filmed, right? Like in general, please run away because the last thing I need more victims. Right. So, yeah, I mean, that’s a, that’s a couple of things that ended up changing.

I also, like I I’ve had to adapt by fitness and. You know, work on building up my muscles because it’s not possible for me to bring a cane to a protest. Most of the time I could get it confiscated. And so I have had to learn how to wrap my knee or strengthened my, my core in order to be able to make up for that, which I’m lucky enough to be able to do.

To some extent though. We’ll probably destroy my body later in life, but I know most people can’t, so 

Callie: [00:16:46] yeah, well, yeah. I mean, I think that’s a thing where like, people should always consider like what their individual capabilities are and, you know, if you could do that sort of thing, 

Kitty: [00:16:55] And please don’t overestimate them. I mean, like, I would say you could push yourself a little bit farther than you think, but be very careful that you’re not pushing yourself too far because.

You being traumatized is another thing that I like we’ll have to deal with that a protest. Right, right. And yeah. Could hurt other people by being in that situation. So like, I mean, that, that sounds really cruel to put it that way, but I think it’s important to have as few casualties as possible, basically.

Right. Try to behave in such a way that that is, that is true. Yeah. And you know, you will have to learn how to weigh out in a split. Second, will me standing in the middle of this deescalate the situation or will it just get me hit before they go and continue to hit this person? That’s something that you just have to be.

In that experience multiple times in order to suss it out.

Callie: [00:18:06] For a person who is listening to this and picking like, you know what, I should be better prepared for these sorts of things. You’re obviously for most people like. Going out and buying like a shit ton of freeze, dried food. And all of that stuff may not necessarily be an option, but like on a practical level, some things that folks might be able to do to be better prepared for, you know, like if there’s mass civil unrest in a city and services shut down and people don’t have immediate access to things like what are some, some basic things people can and should do.

And think about. 

Kitty: [00:18:37] The number one thing that I think is important is get to know your neighbors, which can be really scary. And can be very uncomfortable. We’re not really a society that gets to know our neighbors anymore, but knowing that my apartment block has some vague idea of what to do in civil unrest in an earthquake helps me, helps me be able to create like a well oiled machine for how to deal with something like that.

It also means that we’re able to help each other out. If the electricity goes out, or if somebody can’t go to the grocery store because they’re immunocompromised, so somebody else could run out for food, like one, one person in the apartment block, I can go to the grocery store for everyone. And we trade that off with people who are more able bodied.

So that way the risk is mitigated somewhat, you know, like, so I would say getting to know your neighbors is, is huge. Also organizing the people you live with like, what are you going to do? If one of you isn’t home and the power goes out or the house isn’t safe. What is your secondary plan? Think about that and have one and like make sure everyone knows what it is.

Make sure you’ve memorized each other’s phone numbers so that if cell phones are knocked out or if your cell phone. Battery dies. You aren’t totally fucked. I would say photocopying documents is important and useful. Now there’s kind of, I have mixed feelings about that because it’s recommended often for like earthquake preparedness.

Fire preparedness, et cetera, to have photocopies of like all of your important documents and also to store them on the cloud or like on a USB drive. Just think about the security risks of all of those things. You can definitely look that up and like weigh out the benefits versus the risks. Because obviously if I have a backpack full of identifying information, In the middle of civil unrest as an organizer, that could be a huge problem.

Callie: [00:20:56] Right? 

Kitty: [00:20:57] So like, I have to think about what makes more sense. Like for me, an encrypted drive makes more sense, but that means that I will have to have access to a computer in order to be able to access that information, which if I’m driving without a license, I might not be able to do much with that. So.

You know, I think there’s a lot of, if this, then this, that I think you can do in advance. And I think that’s really helpful. I actually wrote a whole list. I think it’s featured on my medium profile a five day ish guide to basic emergency prepping, have that stuff done because it’s going to be important in civil unrest as well.

Callie: [00:21:44] Yeah. 

Kitty: [00:21:45] Things aren’t actually that much different in a situation of civil unrest, per earthquake earthquakes cause civil unrest. Right? 

Callie: [00:21:53] Cause I mean the, the primary concern is like immediate medical needs maybe like mid to short term medical needs and then like food, water access to basic services and like.

All of those problems come up either way. 

Kitty: [00:22:07] Yeah. And I mean, you know, like it, you know, recommended is a gallon of water per day, per person. You can survive off of a bag of water per person. You can’t shower. Right. You can’t wash your hands very well, but you can survive. So like, it really, like, there’s a huge range of like having a gallon of water per person per day, versus having like a government bag of water.

That is your, you must have this every day in order to live. And for me and mine, I have stuff for about three days, three days of no outside assistance whatsoever just in this apartment. Past that I have plans to meet up with my partner and meet up with our survival pod. Basically we have several different places that we can meet.

They’re all bike ride distance, which will make it easier for us to get there. Even if the roads are fucked up or unsafe for some reason. And we have an idea of like what that could look like and. My partner’s apartment has a backyard. So there’s land for, you know, tents or whatever, which I don’t have. I mean, I’m in a very built up area.

So if things are crumbling, there’s not really a huge amount of space. Around me. There’s a staging area, right. Next door that we could use if it’s not covered in rubble, but we could clear it if need be. So like, you know, we think about stuff like that we think about, okay, what are the benefits of this place and what are the negatives we’re currently trying to figure out, like, if we want to have a radio station.

Callie: [00:23:54] Oh yeah. 

Kitty: [00:23:55] But that’s like, That’s like getting into like nerding out about it on a, on a bigger level, because honestly, cell phone service is going to be one of those things that cell phone companies and people generally are going to insist upon fairly quickly. 

Callie: [00:24:11] Right. 

Kitty: [00:24:12] So, you know, I think that sure wifi might not be as available, but some sort of phone service probably will be.

Right, but it’s good to be prepared in case, you know, and I think one of the things I would really recommend if you’re, if you’re anxious about civil unrest or just the nature of people, generally, there’s a great book, A Paradise Built In Hellby Rebecca Solnit, read that it makes me feel better. And I think it’ll make you feel better.

It is a book about how in times of crisis. Most people suck it up up and help each other. And it’s been proven time and time again. Yes. There’s always some assholes. Absolutely. Usually those assholes are the government, frankly. And the police basically the government. So yeah, like understand that, like you can lean on people around you, even if you wouldn’t normally and you wouldn’t choose to, I don’t think it’ll be as bad as you think it will.

But it’s good to be ready in case it does get worse than you think. Like I, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s an uneasy, truce. I think it’s important, but I don’t think that it’s as desperate as the media would have you believe. 

Callie: [00:25:41] Well, right. And, and I think pop culture plays a big part in that too. Right. Because anytime we see something like that in pop culture, usually it is complete societal collapse, everyone on their own, everyone trying to murder each other, no compassion for anyone else.

And like, that’s just not how things generally work in reality. 

Kitty: [00:25:58] Like look okay. Every single time I see something about the purge. Almost all of the comments are I would steal land. Like, like people aren’t that eager to murder each other. Some people, some people. Sure. I mean, some people we’ll probably have someone in mind or like a profile in mind, like great.

Once the purge starts that guy’s getting there, but like for the most part, people are like, cool. I’ll wipe out my debt. 

Callie: [00:26:31] I’m going to hack into my bank’s computers and wipe out my mortgage. 

Kitty: [00:26:35] I mean, honestly, I think that people are more likely to do that, frankly. So like, I’m sort of both very misanthropic, but also have a lot of faith in mutual aid.

And honestly, COVID really helped with that. Seeing mutual aid projects popping up all over the fucking place all around the world was incredible. And seeing how quickly people were able to come together and say, these are the resources I have. These are the resources I need. That was awesome. It was really, really cool.

And so like, it gave me some hope that while our politicians really want us to be extremely divisive and there are definitely loud people in the Q Anon world that would have a lot to gain in keeping it divisive most day to day people that you encounter. Don’t really give a fuck about that. They just want to feed themselves in their family.

Even, even at some of the worst protests here, the people I had to worry about the most are the cops, not, not proud, boys, proud boys were bad, but in bursts, and as soon as they got any amount of resistance, they ran away with their tails between their legs. Like that was more manageable. Right. But the police. They don’t have any consequences, like proud boys are getting consequences, Posey, Cantwell, the crying Nazi just got his dose of consequences yesterday.

So like it is happening, you know, like, yeah. It’s just like, yeah. I mean, I wouldn’t trust the cops. I wouldn’t help the cops. I would not give a cop a bag of my water, but you know, in general I think most people are probably okay. 

Callie: [00:28:36] The point here is not to be scared. The point is to be ready. We’ve talked before about the value of working on the things we can control.

Can you get some gallon jugs of water, some extra cheap food staples. Can you learn basic first aid? Can you work on physical fitness and learn how to defend yourself? If you need to. It’s a scary thought that these things might be necessary. But I think for most of us, there’s a relief and a feeling of security and knowing we’re ready for this stuff.

Right. And that’s what we’re trying to get to here. 

Kitty: [00:29:10] Try to plan ahead enough that you feel safe rather than more scared. I think that a lot of doomsday preppers use it as a way of trying to make themselves feel better and less scared, but ended up making themselves far more scared. I can’t imagine how awful it must be to have to, to feel like you have to build a bunker under your house.

Like to be that scared of other people that you need a locked room to hide in for months at a time. That’s. Oh, wow. Wow. That’s so sad. Yeah. It might kill me that I trust people more than that, but I’d rather live like that. Yeah. So I’ll take the risk. 

Callie: [00:30:04] I’ll have some resources in the show notes for you, a link to the book.

Kitty talked about some articles she’s written. I think now is a good time to be thinking about taking some basic steps to make sure you and yours are safe. And the months after the election figure out what you can do and do it find a medic training, learn to forage, build support networks, stuck up a few days for the food and water.

Learn some self defense. Whatever you can do and have access to. Of course, I realized that looks different for everyone, but I think we can probably all do something. Thanks Kitty, for taking the time to educate us a bit and thank you friend for listening. If you want to help keep these stories coming and help keep Celes Wedge and I housed and fed.

Please consider heading to patreon.com/queer spading and making a per episode donation to help support the show or share and a shout out. On social media is always super helpful too. Before I go, I want you to know that if you’re lost, you’re hurting, you’re scared. If you feel like no one cares and no one understands, you need to know there’s a community out here that loves you cares for you knows that you’re capable of amazing things and that you are worthy of love.

If you’re struggling, please, don’t be afraid to reach out. Until next time friend, my name is Callie Wright and this is Queersplaining.