7 – New Labor – making a new era of worker solidarity

By Tia Mo

I was a union kid — on the picket line at 9 years old for my step-mom’s teaching contract. We talked about how working conditions affected the quality of education. I saw their solidarity win a new contract, and even in the 2007 recession, being union protected their pensions. Now, with US union participation at a century’s low but back in the public dialogue, we have a chance to create broader solidarity and counterbalance the insatiable demands of corporate management. Labor organizing within capitalism doesn’t free us from the machine, but we are responsible for improving conditions now even as we struggle against industrial exploitation more generally.

Corporate media has been in an uproar over working class people failing to submit to the minimum wage demands of multinational corporations. “For Hire” signs have been turned into memes, either to show the pittance bosses are offering or suggest that regular people should get a job. Perhaps current low unemployment numbers have been affected by folks saving their COVID unemployment benefits (only considered generous in the US); perhaps it was facing a global emergency that forced people to scoff at crumbs; perhaps it was the utter lack of social support for families when schools closed. I’m dreaming that enough Americans are dreaming of life out from under the yoke that the labor movement can be reborn.

In the 1950s, more than 30% of US workers were protected as union members, and this influenced everyone’s terms of employment. Job security, regular pay increases, and pensions were on the table for blue and white collar workers. Today, about 10% are union members, and corporations would like you to forget about the unions and their benefits. 

Why the change? Capitalists don’t like unions, because employees are the largest expense to a business, and unions negotiate for better pay, benefits, and conditions. Any veneer of protective paternalism has faded from corporate culture, and at-will employment — meaning workers can quit or be fired for no reason without notice — is the national standard that gives businesses the upper hand in setting terms of employment. The rise of globalization meant that companies could pay pennies for wages in countries without safety or discrimination protection and still ship goods cheaply to a US market desperate for distraction from the suffering of capitalism. All the while, US workers can’t even get a weekly schedule, let alone a reliable, fair contract.

Union organizing has its problems, and the right is using those problems to further racist divisions in the country. We will need to address these tactics to wrest the future of workers from ongoing exploitation. US unions have historically been racially exclusive, as well as gender exclusive, and it never really works to only protect some people. White people chose (choose?) not to see that Black workers excluded from unions were sometimes forced to take work as scabs, and that the solution is to make labor organizing an inclusive endeavor. Not just to allow in BIPOC workers, but to center their concerns and experiences. The anti-racist platform is about fixing broken systems, not just dangling empty opportunities to compete with privileged white folks for work. Because unions often provide living wage, entry level work with real advancement, folks who haven’t had access to technical or academic training can still get in the door. When labor amplifies the needs of BIPOC workers, it will be part justice for old wrongs, and part raising the floor for all workers. The Amazon workers in New York who are trying to unionize will improve conditions for all workers if they win a union (still pending at publication). The routine practice of primarily hiring Black and Latinx workers for lower-wage warehouse work and treating them as expendable means that the work of securing union benefits for all has fallen on the shoulders of people treated most poorly by the system. History shows us that plantation wealth, agri-business wealth, and railroad wealth were all accrued disproportionately on the backs of BIPOC Americans. And here, once again, America is rebuilt disproportionately on BIPOC labor and subjugation.

The rich right still wants to control unions, to keep working and middle class white Americans separated from BIPOC Americans who share their class experience. Capitalism depends on this divide & conquer strategy. No matter how imaginary race might be, racism has real consequences in limiting solidarity work. We have to see color, see racism, and see solidarity.

If organizers can address these problems, I have hope that structural change is possible. Kinks in the supply chain also mean a kink in the global employment chain. Local production is more expensive because it’s harder to exploit a neighbor who knows their EEOC and OSHA rights — and that’s a good thing! Record numbers of strikes this fall and low unemployment signal that people are both valuing their time and demanding value for their labor. If childcare is more expensive than wages, why go back to work? (Okay — gendered home labor is another article in itself.) If we can make joyful lives with less throw-away stuff and focus on community, might that be a better life?

Capitalism wants this autumn to be only a short-term bottleneck in their plan to eat the planet, but we have each other and the right to concerted activity (ie, organizing). Solidarity is one of the few protections at-will workers can rely on. If you’re stuck in capitalism without a worker cooperative or a union job, you have the right to gather with co-workers, figure out your grievances and fight for better conditions. We’ve already been through this once, with the brutal repression of Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) organizers during the pre-WW2 era. Luckily, the folks before us gave us some ground to stand on. It’s our job to grow an anti-racist populism that supports people and families with living wages, family leave, childcare, and adequate benefits to counter the hysteria of Trump’s caucus. We can dream of capitalism falling under its own decrepit weight, and we can also work to keep each other fed until that day comes. 

6 – The Ferarri – a voice from solitary

By Scott Culp #AY8092 California Institute for Men, PO Box 500 Chino, CA 91708

Pioneering cave explorers imagined that a prolonged stay in subterranean caves could permanently dismantle their psyches. In Somerset, England a 17th Century writer described exploring a cave. “We began to be afraid to visit it,” he wrote. “Every time we returned we felt sad and pensive.” 

In the 1980s, in an expedition into a cave called Sarawak Chamber in the Mulu National Park in Borneo, a group of cavers succumbed to the enclosure and fell into a kind of paralytic shock and had to be guided out. The ancient Roman philosopher Seneca described silver miners who encountered phenomena from long-term mental distress, psychic pressure from claustrophobia. And the full tempest of panic as they imagined the ceilings and walls enclosing on them. Ask any chronobiologist who study the innate biological rhythms what the vacuum of solitary confinement does to the psyche. With no sunsets or sunrises, you pass time on a kind of primordial instinct. Like animals in zoos or cages, you pace. 

My cage is the downtown County Jail. It actually gets worse, because my charge is armed bank robbery. I’m viewed as an escape risk and leader / organizer by the Sheriff deputies and have been placed here in solitary. I find it difficult to organize my own thoughts, much less lead an uprising against eating bologna sandwiches everyday! 

Jails are the front lines of bad decisions and little hope. This system creates darkness where light is so desperately needed. There is an urban legend that you leave a piece of yourself in these places. Being isolated, you become adroit at communicating with your fellow condemned: reading lips, American Sign Language, passing lines, or speaking through a vent. 

Yesterday I spoke with a kid from Stockton, CA. For hours we shared our life experiences vis-a-vis the vent. He was in jail for a probation violation. Although he lived in Stockton, he worked at the Costco in Tracy, CA. After speaking with him for a while, something just wasn’t adding up. He said he was part-time but left for work at 4am and didn’t return home until the evening. Finally he admitted that he was embarrassed to tell me that he didn’t own a car. For those of you not familiar with Northern California, Stockton is about 18 miles from the outskirts of Tracy. Can you believe that he was embarrassed to walk 18 miles a day to a part-time job? There is always an uncanny mixture of bravado amongst a den of thieves, however, any prisoner worth his salt displaces these false veneers and finds within himself elements of authenticity. I’d personally rather befriend someone who walks 18 miles to work then someone who drives a Ferrari. A lot of us here have lost sight of the beauty in the struggle. His story emboldened me to look deeper within myself and focus and listen to that inward voice as opposed to the echo of my footsteps resounding in his concrete cave. 

6 – Freeing our minds – how to make a disorientation

By Kat

Gather round, gather round! Covid, overwork, and the state’s assault on the commons have been major barriers to people getting together in the past year. As capitalistic thinking dominates social media and the mainstream news, we urgently need alternative ways of getting the truth out and connecting people to radical projects and ways of life.

Universities, non-profits, and businesses regularly run big-budget “orientations,” to try to acclimate us to be eager cogs in the machinery of empire. Amazon shoved anti-union propaganda down workers’ throats in Bessemer, Alabama to stave off a unionization drive – putting posters in bathroom stalls and paying temp workers to walk around wearing “Vote No” t-shirts.

We can’t counter this assault only with tweets and TikTok videos, which often leave us more isolated than before. We urgently need ways to share new readings of the world and visions for the future. That’s where “Disorientation” zines come in!

Disorientation zines have a rich history as a cheap and effective way to communicate a lot of information with a lot of people. We’ve written up some advice on how to make a disorientation guide about whatever matters in your area! You can create one independently, but things will be much easier and more fun if you have small group working together from the start.

One of the most important (and hardest!) balances in making a Disorientation is being honest about the exploitation, extraction, and damage being done by most sectors of our society, while keeping things open-ended and hopeful.

Many of us are reaching out to the world through these zines because we feel burnt out from organizing – both because of internal conflict and a lack of public support. This fatigue can show, as we describe for the hundredth time why a beloved institution is actually part of the problem rather than the solution. We’re often asking people yet again not to call the cops on us, not to support that slimy non-profit, not to do the awful things that pass as normal.

But we cast these zines into the world as little lifeboats, in the hopes they will re-invigorate our movements and lead more people to re-imagine our world. At our best we write from this place of hope, so we’ll want to return to our zines – sparkling with possibilities of a revolutionary and abolitionist future – again and again.

How to make a disorientation zine

1. Discuss what you want to re-orient people away from, and towards. Do you want to take on a specific topic, like how corporate consultants are trying to take over your co-op? To build support and get more people out to your actions? To bring new people into a movement or group? The possibilities are pretty endless.

2. Start thinking about printing and distribution. (We’ve got strategies for both later.) You’ll want to know early how you’re going to print it, since this might determine how you put it together, how many pages it can be, etc. You’ll also want to have a plan for passing it out, so all those copies don’t sit in a basement somewhere.

3. Make a plan for creating your zine. Come up with a schedule, and make a cool flyer inviting people to come to some work sessions! You can share it just around your network, but it’s also fun to put it on bulletin boards and telephone poles around town to meet some new people. You can also invite people to email in content and ideas!

4. Have some work parties for writing and assembly! Bring food and spirits, or advertise it as a potluck. Put out a donations jar to collect money for printing – you’ll need it later. We recommend pasting zines together on paper if possible, so everyone has a chance to participate. With digital graphics, usually only one or a few people have the knowledge and software to make it. This can put a lot of pressure on them and leave everyone else with less say in the project. When you make zines by hand, everyone can contribute a doodle and can work simultaneously. (If you are using a computer, Scribus is a totally free alternative to Adobe InDesign.)

5. When the final zine is done, you’ll need to get it ready for printing! If you’re going to be folding the pages in half and stapling, you might need to do some extra prep work to make the spreads ready for the copy machine. You’ll need to assemble the individual pages into spreads for the copier. You can fold paper into a dummy copy, number each page, and unfold it. Or check out booklet.jaehnig.org and boooks.org for some helpful calculators!

6. Now you’re ready to print! The cheapest way to make a zine is to copy it yourself. Check all the independent copy places nearby, ask if they can give you volume or cool project discounts, and ask if they’ll price match what you “used to get ‘em for in [city nearby].” Look online for local offset or risograph print shops, which can be cheaper at high volume.

Other tried-and-true methods to get cheap copies include offering to do more labor yourself, fudging the copy count, befriending a copy store worker, or taking a job there. To save some trees and maybe some money, you can often find reams of unused but discarded paper (and staples!) at recycling/junk centers in your area.

7. A word about the internet: It’s probably tempting to promote your project on Twitter and other networks. We say it might not be worth it. Trying to “game” the algorithms and amass followers takes a lot of time and energy, and if you succeed, you’ll just be generating more value for the capitalists by keeping people scrolling on their website. The revolution will not be surrounded by promoted tweets. Distributing in the real world is the surest way to reach the most people and the broadest audiences. Still, putting a PDF online is always helpful and allows people in other areas to find your work. If you have the raw text, it’s important to put that online too so people who use screen readers can access it. This also allows future generations to pick up where you left off and easily build on your great work.

8. Time to distribute! For bonus points, have a launch party at a local community center, library, or bar. If the people you’re trying to reach frequent local bookstores, laundromats, coffee/donut shops, or other places where free newspapers live, ask if you can leave copies there. Take shifts passing out the zines where your audience gathers. (Long lines are always captive audiences!) It might be intimidating to pass out provocative words to total strangers, especially if your zine speaks against the place or institution you’re flyering at. But you’ll find many people are actually quite grateful to receive a hand-made booklet and appreciative of the interaction. Those who aren’t will probably just look the other way as they pass by.

9. Grab a stack and repeat! If you have a table, you can put out a donations jar to collect funds for your next print run. If you use Paypal or venmo, you can put the link right in your zine, or – as we prefer – just put an address where people can send well-concealed cash. 

5 – No easy answers – ¡Varrio si, industrialists no!

By Adán Almeida

Its no secret that the character of San Diego has changed drastically in the last 10 years, and even the last 5. While there are so many factors for these urban transformations, there is one entity that I wish more people would think more critically about actively resisting. That is the constant influx of military personnel being stationed here and their expanding industrial installations around our low-income communities of color. The defense industry is growing, and it is almost effortless how easily these military contractors are transmuted into our communities, taking up our housing, transforming the economy and polluting the environment above all else. There is more to be done about how the military industry contributes to the city’s biggest social issues like gentrification, poverty and environmental racism. 

Many brown community members and organizers are vocal yet vague about how we can reclaim the varrios — through radical praxis. And otherwise, the pipeline from artist to business owner is too well known [see gente-fication] which surprisingly enough does little to support causes around poverty, policing, disease and displacement. 

Mayor Todd Gloria advocates for equality among us in a color-blind and classist way promoting equality for all our residents without addressing some very clear contradictions. For example, Gloria considers himself a friend of the Barrio Logan community while continuing to applaud the defense industry for whatever it is that they do here. In his own words he suggests that “the military community is intrinsic to the fabric of San Diego”, with an attitude of acceptance and normalization about its industrial encroachment. My question is then how can someone be an advocate for communities like Barrio Logan without addressing the realities of the growing military industry for local residents? Like what the Bay Area experiences in the face of a booming tech industry, the defense industry in San Diego is immune to much-needed regulations and limits of power as well.

The harbors that should belong to our communities in Central San Diego are well occupied and polluted by the defense industry. According to a SDMAC Impact Study; 60% of total US Navy fleets are in San Diego in areas that could have once been cultivated as small brown bayside communities in Barrio Logan and West National City. For generations, distinct neighborhoods in this area, comprised of mostly Latinx and linguistically isolated people, have encountered some of the worst effects of displacement and environmental racism in San Diego. Shipyards are stationed only blocks away from homes and schools, contributing to pollution in the air, water, soil and people’s bodies for decades. Among other things, residents in Barrio Logan experience asthma at twice the rate than the national average, according to the Environmental Health Coalition (EHC). EHC is one organization calling attention to specific instances of health and pollution disparities in low-income communities of color in central San Diego. 

While it would be hard to kick these long implemented naval installations out of our backyards, EHC does well at promoting practical solutions for social equity and public health in the region. Their most recent initiative seeks to minimize and ultimately eliminate diesel truck traffic in the residential neighborhoods of portside Logan. EHC has also been involved in getting residents to speak up on issues of discriminatory housing in the area. As newcomers are constantly making space for themselves in our neighborhoods, EHC has made some ongoing efforts with community members to defend accessible housing for long-standing residents and residents with the most need.

The issue of displacement is happening on many fronts in San Diego, the growing military presence is one, along with its huge industrial imprint. Then there is the subtly growing trend of gente-fication and branding of Chicano culture in our hoods too. Slowly our varrios are turning into shopping districts and cultural attractions in place of self-sustained neighborhoods of color. Barrio Logan is the epitome of this phenomenon, where property is constantly being passed through entrepreneurs to be reconstructed and refurbished for mainstream consumers. Regardless of what Latinx business owners believe about creating representation, they are giving into mass commercialization of Chicano history and Mexican American identity without noticing how they too are participating in class insulation and displacement of the surrounding poor. 

By romanticizing the culture, many outsiders have come closer in proximity to our varrios. Subsequently the new food, beer and clothing shops that pop up each year are not created to serve the needs of the surrounding community in any capacity. Through a critical lens, it’s obvious that there is a need for sites of change in our communities. There are youth and families of color that continue to be visibly impacted and traumatized by poverty, health problems, and street violence in this area; yet their struggles only ever seem to be tokenized and memorialized instead of actively tended to. Without class solidarity, racial solidarity is empty, and this is what a lot of people fail to understand. 

I could suggest many alternatives for investing in the urban public space, like creating free and diverse public health clinics, adult educational spaces, resource centers, and overnight shelters for homeless youth. And in place of all the liquor stores, there is the possibility of funding local community gardens, farmers markets and public food pantries. Less ongoing commercial development is needed to offset the pollution and heavy energy-use happening at the navy bases and shipyard. This includes the need for parks, urban trails and open green spaces for people and wildlife to thrive in. In an ideal situation, this is what our neighborhoods could be transformed into, if enough people believed it was necessary including the local gente themselves. 

Despite all the attention that surrounds the cultural narrative in central San Diego, there is little being done to defend and empower the generations of immigrant and working-class people against industrial and commercial oppression. My discomfort lies with how many of our people continue to be trapped in cycles of poverty and exploitation while waves of military personnel and upper middle-class transplants comfortably call San Diego home.

It is well worth problematizing the military-industrial complex in our urban space and resisting the nationalist fraternity that continues to make space for itself here easily. As for the entrepreneurs who claim to be Brown and down, they should begin by examining their own capitalist tendencies and recognize how their‘progressive’ and culturally inclusive businesses are still complicit in our oppression. 

*Praxis- putting theory into practice, or in this case, creating embodied resistance based on historical narratives and relevant tactics

*Varrio- another word for barrio, slang for vencidario (neighborhood) of predominantly latinx , low-income people in an urban context 

*Gente-fication – gentrification by ‘la gente’ Spanish word for ‘the people’. Upwardly mobile latinx people that commodify their culture and community through business owning. This phenomenon is openly supported by capitalists that seek cultural representation. 

3 – Resist Eviction – Tenant solidarity

Autonomous Tenant Councils: An Idea Whose Time Has Come?


We all know that the situation under capitalism is dreadful for tenants. Rent is theft. Landlords are parasites. Paying for a roof over our heads is an inhumane but long-standing practice. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation has only gotten worse. 

In the SF Bay Area, there is a long legacy of nonprofit organizations that deal with housing and tenant issues. Some have been forged out of specific struggles against particular landlords, some have emerged to offer legal counsel for those facing evictions and other unfriendly legal processes stacked against the poor. Other organizations have gone the ”poverty pimp” route, creating a raft of high salaried positions that enable the financing and construction of supposedly “affordable” housing which often, considering the high median income in a place like the Bay Area, is not actually affordable to most working people. While these diverse housing groups are more or less helpful to working class people, they most often do not focus on building power amongst those served. 

For this reason, Tenant and Neighborhood Councils (TANC) was formed in 2018. A tenant council is a group of tenants who work together to wield collective power against a shared landlord in order to improve their conditions. While in general councils may organize for more affordable, habitable, and safer housing, the issues that a council decides to organize around are ultimately dictated by its members. 

TANC helps organize councils and bring them together as a network. While councils interface directly with their landlord, they can find support from other councils who rent from different landlords. TANC researches landlords whose tenants would benefit from forming a council and compiles complaints that are common across councils. Councils can discuss and demand timely repairs and support tenants threatened with eviction. Ultimately, the point is to reconfigure power dynamics of landlords and tenants in the Bay Area.

One example from my own experience showed how this solidarity can work. Working with tenants in a San Francisco building that was being threatened with an eviction before the pandemic began, the local SF chapter of TANC launched a pressure campaign involving dozens of phone calls to the owners of the building and tabling / flyering in front of their workplace. Within weeks of these actions, involving friends and family of the tenants, as well as TANC’s networks of unpaid activist tenants throughout San Francisco and in the East Bay, the landlords had rescinded the eviction. Tenant councils are the base level of organization to make this all work.

TANC has been distributing information on tenants’ rights given the pandemic and hosting BBQs and events to network and strengthen our ties. TANC initially started out of the East Bay chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, but it is now run completely autonomously from the DSA. 

Alongside many other similar organizations starting up around the country in Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and elsewhere, an Autonomous Tenant Union Network / La Red de Sindicatos de Inquilinxs Autonomos (ATUN-RSIA) was formed to share resources, knowledge and experience in struggle and to politicize housing struggles towards more consciously revolutionary and intersectional analysis and lifestyles. All folks are invited to take part in these networks, as supporters or as members. Check out the websites for details: TANC Bay Area: baytanc.com. ATUN-RSIA: atun-rsia.org

3 – Fight forced pregnancy – throw down for bodily autonomy and abortion rights

By Lib4All

Criminalizing abortion is no less than forced childbirth. I hope that you, like me, feel a moral and political imperative to resist and reject a world in which people who get pregnant have no other options but to bear a child. The right to decide “if, when, and how” to get and be pregnant or have a child is on the line in the U.S. The outlook is grim. 

The 1973 landmark U.S. law Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision established a constitutional right to abortion and made abortion legal in all 50 states and prevented states from imposing undue restrictions on abortion. Since then, anti-abortionists have litigated what is considered to bean “undue” restriction and steadily made abortion harder to access and abortion services tougher to deliver. Their ultimate goal has been for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. This is a possibility given the new composition of the court. 

What are the implications if Roe is overturned?

Access is and always has been the issue. Soon after abortion was legalized, Congress made it illegal to use Medicaid funds for abortion, creating a significant burden for low income people to access abortion. Abortion restrictions impact everyone, and will compound the burden on marginalized communities and teens, who may not have a few hundred dollars at hand, who can’t take time off of work, who can’t drop everything to travel to another state for abortion services. If abortion is outlawed, unsafe abortions will skyrocket. Mountains of global research has shown that making abortion illegal doesn’t stop abortion, it just pushes abortion underground. Some underground abortions are very safe (more about these below), but many folks won’t know about these options and will suffer. Where abortion is illegal, the rates of pregnancy related mortality and morbidity rise. 

What is the Texas Law?

In early 2021, far right, Trump-loving politicians in Texas passed Senate Bill 8 which makes abortion illegal after 6 weeks, including for rape and incest, a time at which most people aren’t aware that they are pregnant. The law deputizes citizens and offers up to $10,000 for snitching on anyone who helps someone get an abortion. Even though SB 8 flies in the face of Roe, the Supreme Court allowed it to go into effect, signaling that it’s set to bury Roe. The court is expected to overturn Roe explicitly over a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. This law undercuts the viability marker in Roe, that has held that states may not interfere with abortion before fetal viability, which has remained fairly consistent at 24 weeks. 

What are the implications?

Overturning Roe is not just a devastating loss of a fundamental right, it is a terrifying win for the far right whose leaders see the Texas law and this right-wing Supreme Court as a pathway to overturn the host of civil rights legislation founded on the 14th amendment justified by equal protection and due process. 

The Texas law makes anyone into a bounty hunter, offering the opportunity to win $10,000 for suing anyone who helps with an abortion — that can be a doctor, family, friends, or even the rideshare driver who provides transports. The parallel to the vicious Fugitive Slave Laws can’t be ignored as precedent, where bounty hunter schemes facilitated regular people to circumvent federal laws and deny fundamental human rights to targeted populations. A number of commentators have also flagged that authoritarianism loves a snitch, and the Texas law invites neighbors, abusers, and really anyone to rain punishment, serve as the eyes of the government, and enforce a reactionary system. 

Twenty-four states have anti-abortion laws proposed and twenty of these have “trigger bans,” which means that abortion bans will automatically go into effect, skipping any legislative process, the moment that Roe is overturned. States where abortion will remain legal are going to be hugely impacted, too. For example, a recent Guttmacher Institute report finds that the 46,000 patients who find their nearest clinic in California would increase almost 3,000 percent to 1.4 million. The right will redouble their campaign of harassment and terror in the remaining 26 states where abortion remains legal. That means that attacks on clinics where abortion is legal are going to increase, as will the need for effective clinic defense.

Criminalizing the means of abortions doesn’t  end the need for them . The coat hanger is an emblem of illegal abortion because it symbolizes the unsafe and desperate measures that women have resorted to all over the world to end a pregnancy. From safe sex, contraception, and abortion information, there is still a heavy lift to reject the misinformation and shame around sex and bodies. 

From taking to the streets to volunteering with practical support networks that help folks in Texas and other states where abortion will be a crime, there are many ways to get involved with the fight for abortion rights. Here are just a few:

Plan C: Spread information and access to Plan C, the abortion pill that can be used for self-managed abortion and help get them into hands that need them. The pills, which are taken a few days apart and cause a miscarriage, require a doctor’s prescription in the US. They are most effective during the first trimester. There are telemedicine sites that facilitate easy access to the pills and can mail the pills to home addresses. AidAccess (aidaccess.org) is a bilingual (English, Spanish) website for telemedicine in the US. The website PlanCPills.com provides information and resources about the pills. 

Many people are bucking the prescription framework and accessing the pills directly for self-managed abortions by purchasing the pills at bodegas in Mexico where the medication called “Cytotec” is sold. Cytotec was developed and sold as an anti-ulcer drug, and is used widely and safely across Latin America for first trimester abortions. 

Work within affinity groups and develop ways to spread accurate information or collect and distribute the pills to folks or community organizations that will reach those most in need. For example, groups could slap up Plan C stickers with QR codes that link to the website Plan C and abortion pill access in all sorts of places where young women and other folks who could get pregnant might be. 

Practical Support: Volunteer with abortion funds and access organizations in the states nearest you where abortion will be soon be criminalized. Want to help people get to a clinic with a ride? CASN, the Clinic Access Support Network (clinicaccess.org), trains volunteers to provide direct support and rides to clinics, and is a part of the Network of Abortion Funds that helps to provide a host of support to anyone who needs to access an abortion. Volunteer for the Texas based Frontera Fund (fronterafundrgv.org) or, in California, AccessRJ (accessrj.org) connects callers with full-scope sexual and reproductive health services through their info line and direct support network. 

Fight the Right: Wherever we are, we have to fight like our lives and future depend on it, because they do. That means confronting far right forces whether they are showing their racist misogynist faces as Proud Boys or as “pro-lifers”. Mass actions, direct actions, public visibility and art that articulates what we are fighting for, and the imperative to oppose the right-wing agenda, are critical to keep the pressure on and invigorate resistance. January 23rd, 2022 is the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. In the Bay Area, thousands of anti-abortion forces will march in the streets of San Francisco, spreading lies about abortion and celebrating oppressive restrictions on abortion rights. Let’s oppose them at every opportunity and fight for the world we want to live in. 

2 – Message to Prisoner subscribers

What we do: We provide free subscriptions to incarcerated individuals in the US who request them. We only publish 2-3 times a year, so there may be up to a 6 month delay between when you request a subscription and when you get a paper. We do accept submissions of art and articles from incarcerated subscribers but we only publish a very tiny fraction. We don’t publish poetry or fiction, and only run personal narratives or stories about your case if they are framed within radical analysis. 

What we don’t do: we are unable to provide penpals, legal aid/advice, financial assistance, literature besides Slingshot, or respond to requests for other kinds of help. Usually, we can’t write back. We can’t use JPay / other inmate email services. 

Comrades on the outside: We receive 5-10 letters from incarcerated folks every day. We welcome help reading them and processing subscription requests! — Love, Slingshot

2 – Get organized – the making of the Slingshot organizer by the people your parents warned you about

The 2022 Slingshot organizer is available now. By selling the organizer, we are able to print and give away this paper for free, so if you want to support the paper, please buy the organizer for yourself and as gifts. 

You can order the organizer online, but if possible, please buy it from a brick and mortar store to support the many co-ops, infoshops and independent bookstores that sell the organizer. If you know of a store in your area that might like to carry the organizer and/or the paper, let us know. We are particularly looking for stores in large cities where we don’t know of any store that carries the organizer, such as: Houston; Phoenix; San Antonio; Dallas; San Jose; Ft. Worth; Charlotte, NC; Indianapolis; Washington DC; El Paso; Detroit; Oklahoma City; Las Vegas; Albuquerque; Fresno; Sacramento; Miami; Omaha; Tulsa; Arlington, VA; Tampa; Wichita; Cleveland; Bakersfield; Honolulu; Anchorage; Reno; Boise; Tacoma; Des Moines, IA; San Bernardino…. 

If you want to help draw art or otherwise create the 2023 Slingshot Organizer, contact us now. We include the work of over 30 artists from all over — it could be you this year.


March, 2022 – edit / add radical dates 

April 20 – Artists start drawing the calendar

May 27 – DEADLINE to turn in art and corrections to Radical Contact List

May 28/29 and June 5/6 – parties to edit artwork and put everything together by hand in Berkeley. Drop by and join us if you’re in town. Please send proposed cover art. 

P.S. – Product Recall: The August, 2022 month-at-a-glance calendar is numbered wrong – you’ll have to fix it by hand. We’re not sure how this made it through the rigorous proofreading process…

2 – Pat Wright 1943-2020

By SunshinE 

Our dear old friend Pat Wright passed away in November, 2020 — his final months spending time with his people, even having a zoom birthday party where his circle of friends could express our appreciation and love for him while he was still alive. What a blessing. We are lucky that Pat, who grew up in New York, came out West in his crazy big truck/wagon around 1965 and settled here in the Bay.

When I got into the Local #510 Sign and Display Union, setting up trade shows in San Francisco, Pat was the President, facilitating the sometimes unruly meetings, letting the discussions roll in the spirit of democracy. Always having an archivist’s eye for history, he had a scrapbook of old articles, including the murder of painter’s Unionist Dow Wilson in San Francisco, killed for his powerful organizing. Back then, our newsletter was called “The Wingnut”, meaningful on many levels since some tradeshow displays we install are held together with wingnuts. Pat got the punks in the Union, many of whom are running it today with the same ethics. Seeing me struggle with being a single mom while working long hours, Pat would say “You need a wife at home”. Coming from him it wasn’t sexist at all. He had a way of seeing you, supporting you, with deep solidarity and a sense of equality.

Pat was a fixture at the 924 Gilman Street all-ages punk venue in Berkeley, helping hold things down in the nuts and bolts sort of way. Who’s sweeping and mopping the floor at the end of the night after the show? What needs repair? What is the work that needs to be done to hold the project together, people wise and the physical space? Always an eye towards what holds a project together. The real shitwork and a sense of fair sharing of the work, not the glamorous stuff. And the love and appreciation for the people. He was the tall lanky punk elder with his flight jacket and beanie cap, always there looking out for the community he loved, a sort of glue in the scene and a mentor to the youth, exemplified in a song called “Wright Kids” written by Robert in the band Shit Coffins: “…all you’ve done is open doors for us all…take a deep breath and see the lives you have changed.” His role in Gilman and everything in general seems to have been about having meaning and connection. 

Before Gilman, Pat volunteered with KALX, Berkeley’s student and community radio station. When he showed up to help out in 1982, he choose Facilities. Pat’s DJ name was Insect Chickenboy, and he was a community bridge between different eras: bohemian, hippies and hardcore punk. KALX Last Will wrote, “If there had been no Pat Wright I would not have survived feeling out of place in my first crucial days as a KALX Berkeley underground volunteer fresh from East Oakland… [H]e went out of his way every time he saw me to take aggressively generous action to see to it that I belonged with the misfits… Pat being resolutely clique free, I would not have learned that healthy rebellion lives in the grooves of every genre of the human condition.”

Pat had a way of being present with love and solidarity. While making his rounds in his big van he would swing through the Long Haul/Infoshop saying “What needs fixing?” with a hand on his tool pouch on his black jeans, with more tools and supplies available in the intricate custom shelves of his van. He’d come over saying “time for a dump run” and make a date with you to do an Urban Ore run. That was another special place on Pat’s rounds: a church of life’s debris where decluttering your life can be a sacred act of getting stuff to move on to the next person’s hands. He would give you a CD of music with your name on a ziploc bag. Pat’s presence made everyone feel welcome and a part of something, which is what all us humans need most.

1 – Ongoing Abundance – Working where your heart is

By Abigail M

I’m sitting on what used to be a car seat, torn-out and tanned by the Arizona sun. It rests against a school bus, perhaps its past home, that is half engulfed by the earth with cob walls guarding its entrances. Around me, makeshift abodes — some on wheels, tiny homes, tents, cob houses bedazzled with bottles and other odds and ends — giant water collecting towers, attempted hydroponic greenhouses, a composting toilet, and solar panels decorate the landscape. This is what I call home, or as the owner calls it: The island of misfit toys. A collection of characters color in between the lines; everyone here comes from their own pasts, all around the world, with different beliefs and passions, yet we’ve found ourselves in what seems to be the middle of nowhere, this homestead and ecological sanctuary. 

About two months ago, I set off on my first solo cross-country trek. The mission: To mess up. What I mean by mess up isn’t terribly clear: I wanted to push the boundaries of what it means to live in the United States; I didn’t want the next cookie cutter step — graduate college, get a job, get a house, work until you can’t — and I certainly didn’t want to stay complacent, stagnant, during the burgeoning ecological crisis. So, I decided to WWOOF. WWOOFing stands for Willing Workers on Organic Farms and is a worldwide initiative to connect people to organic farms, provide an educational platform for more earth-focused agricultural practices, and to build community.

More than anything, I wanted to rid myself of this ongoing sense of disempowerment, devastation, and dread. Nowadays, these are normal responses to our institutionally-dominated sphere where nature is cast aside, along with human wellness. Sustainability, beyond its denotation, its buzz-wordiness for green-washing corporation’s intentions and profit, is inherently an intersectional outlook: the well-being of the natural world is inexplicably linked to the well-being of humanity. 

WWOOFing is a radical style of life. Radical meaning root. When it comes to getting to the root of climate change, it is essential that we look at agriculture and our modern-day practices: tillage, chemical exposure from pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, water run-off, desertification, monocultures, pollution, habitat destruction, and more. Unfortunately, the USA’s agriculture field is more focused on subsidizing crops for cattle, such as corn, rather than maintaining fertile soil that can sequester carbon and continue to grow food for people. So, small-scale, organic farmers may be the underdogs, but they are the keystone to a sustainable future in farming. 

One thing I’d like to express is that WWOOFing is a personal journey — no one experience can replicate another. There are a plethora of farms, skills, people, and other factors that can change the course of events; also, goals, desires, and intentions can heavily influence what is taken from any given situation. Additionally, it is important to be cautious and aware if/when traveling alone. Although the WWOOF.org organization does a wonderful job at regulating feedback, entering into any situation, especially intimate situations where you may live in a shared space with other people, can be somewhat unsafe. That being said, make sure that you have points of contact, consider traveling with a friend, thoroughly check reviews, and be on guard. Overall, WWOOF attracts good people, but safety always comes first. 

My personal journey started in Concrete, Washington at a homestead nestled beside the Skagit river and underneath the North Cascades. This land, before westward bound colonialism, was home to numerous indigenous tribes and is still sacred land to numerous people. My host made this incredibly clear, which transformed the nature of my stay. The land where the homestead was located was not only full of thriving microbes and critters living under the earth, blooming flowers, hearty vegetables, and fruiting trees, but also held a wealth of indigenous history, traditions, and sovereignty. 

Simplistically stated, homesteading is the practice of creating a self-sufficient system. However, in a culture where most people are dependent on creature comforts such as grocery stores, heating, cooling, water, and plumbing, this act takes a significant amount of planning and upkeep. At this homestead, my host centered her homestead around permaculture principles. Permaculture is the act and art of looking towards nature’s natural systems for solutions to human systems. Now, I’d like to personally add that the separation between “nature” and “humanity” is a social construct; people live within nature and are a part of it. While this distinction may be helpful for describing ideas such as permaculture, it can be harmful to our understanding as living beings that share this world with numerous other living beings. However, when we blur the line between nature and humanity, permaculture actually makes a lot more sense — of course we should be looking at the “natural” world for solutions, we are a part of the world and they are our solutions as well. Permaculture is more of a mindset than a rigid system of rules and regulations: A permaculture mindset provides tools and is an open field of innovation where exploration takes place. 

The first rule of permaculture is to observe and then interact. Observation can last as long as it is needed and is ongoing. In order to interact with the land, it is important to observe it for at least a year to fully understand how the seasons interact with it, especially if you intend on building structures, collecting water, and growing food. I also learned the importance of zones. At this homestead, there were different zones which determined the layout of the land: The garden and kitchen were closest to living structures as they are frequently visited; in the middle of the property there are berry bushes, a composting toilet, and the shower; then the property is guarded by a guild (collection of plants that provide support for one another), a chicken coop, and larger trees. This design organically unfolded to adhere to the needs of the people living there and mitigate their energy expenditure. 

When I first arrived at the homestead, I was overwhelmed by every detail, every bit of intention, that went into the land. When WWOOFing, the general deal is: work four-five hours a day for housing and food. By only working up to five hours, which is often full of conversation, education, and friendship-building, there is a ton of time to learn, and time to create, relax, cook good food, and create community. 

During this time, I lived in a wooden hut, somewhat like a glorified bed frame with a roof above my head and wooden pillars elevating the mattress off the ground, which opened its door to Sauk Mountain. Every day, I watched the raspberry sky fade behind the mountain’s face. Admittedly, the living situation was rustic, but the lack of space pushed me outside and gave me a greater appreciation for what I did have. This hut became somewhat sacred to me: the beginning and ending of my days all coiled under one roof. 

Although each day began and ended the same way, with a reflection period, everything in-between wildly ranged from canning parties, where four pots of boiling water were going and hundreds of cans of food were preserved, to harvesting medicinal herbs and making tinctures, to visiting nearby farms and assisting in their harvest. Every day was full of diversity. Every day was full of intention. I think that may be one of my favorite parts of my WWOOFing experience: without the distractions, or the business, of everyday life, time blossoms and becomes plentiful. Instead of rushing from once place to another through a general medium of anxious thought, I was present in every task. And, at the end of the day, everyone living on the homestead would gather around a communal meal and give thanks. Despite having the least amount of material goods, I have never heard so many people sing praise to the ongoing abundance festooned around our little community. 

I continued to WWOOF down the west coast and ended up working on an organic winery where I’d wake up in the morning and squish grapes under my feet. Then, I found myself in Big Sur living on the top of a mountain in a small artists’ homestead. Now I’m in Arizona, sitting in a sun-dried chair thinking about earth ships and what kind of kingdom I’d like to build from clay, sand, and straw. Along the way, I have met characters and some of the most inspirational people I’ve ever known. 

Whenever people call and ask what I’ve learned, I feel this sense of fear: How could I ever encapsulate all of the lessons I’ve learned, all of the stories, people I’ve met? While that may be a futile effort, I do believe that one of my biggest revelations from this ongoing journey is that there is a myriad of beautiful ways to live life outside of the heteronormative, capitalistic, consumeristic society that seems to be hanging over the United States like a cold, wet blanket. Likewise, some of our greatest solutions are working in hidden corners, and although it may be hard to see, gears are turning. Lastly, the health of our soil really does correlate to the health of our nation — not to mention ourselves.