Beyond Capitalist Food Production: How and why I made a solar fruit dryer

This past summer, I built a solar fruit drier to preserve fruit that my housemates and I gathered from neighbors’ yards. The solar drier helps close the circle on my personal campaign to step off the fossil fuel powered food system by re-learning how people used to get their food before the industrial age. I’ve learned that growing or gathering my own food for free — even in an urban environment — is not only possible, it is deeply enjoyable and very educational. When you connect with your own food, you learn about alternative ways to measure time — guided by the sun and the seasons, not clocks and human make-believe. You learn to talk to your neighbors and find ways to cooperate with them, rather than just trying to stay out of each other’s way. You learn about distributing food outside the capitalist market system. And you learn a lot of very tangible do-it-yourself skills. This article provides simple plans for building your own solar fruit drier, and describes why you might want to.

The way we currently live and eat — in a very complex, high-tech, corporate food production and distribution systems totally dependent on fossil fuels — is killing the earth with global warming, soil depletion, ocean dead-zones and poisons. These systems subjugate people to the needs of the market and concentrate power in a few hands while removing most of us from any understanding of how things work. We lack a real voice in deciding how the economy is operated.

How is it that “low-tech” people 100 years ago could grow their own food and live in balance with the earth, but modern people with all our development and learning can’t seem to do the simplest human things — like eating — without damaging our only home’s life support systems?

How is it that with such a high “standard of living” due to all of this industrialization, people are so sad, so lost, so confused, so addicted, so unhealthy? The high-tech modern world hasn’t brought us happiness or meaningful engaged lives equal to the resources it consumes, the cultures it destroys, and the people it dominates. Could it be that most people’s actual level of satisfaction, humanity and engagement was higher before we had all these fancy industrial toys?

I don’t know but I can say that I’ve found a measure of connectedness, meaning, beauty, and calm as I’ve re-joined life’s web as an active participant — rather than merely as a consumer — by growing, gathering, processing, distributing and enjoying home-grown food. This is slow food on the cheap — do-it-yourself slowness, not just another food fad offering expensive products for you to buy after a long day at work.

So back to the solar fruit drier. The main type of food I’ve been able to gather in the Bay Area is fruit. As described in previous Slingshot articles, if you look around your neighborhood, you start to notice lots of fruit trees that aren’t getting harvested — the fruit is just falling on the ground. If you knock on the door, your neighbors are often happy to let you harvest their tree, and you’re building community in the process.

But what you learn as soon as you start gathering fruit is that the biggest problem is having way too much all at once. What to do? Going beyond capitalist ideas of ownership is a good first step — figure out how you can give away the fruit you just gathered. Get on your bike and ride around to friends, infoshops, farmers markets — I like to give free food out at Critical Mass Bike rides. At the end of the day, you’ll still have more than you need, and that is where preserving food comes in.

Drying food is the oldest method of preserving food because it is the easiest. In some climates, you can simply cut up fruit you harvest, spread it out in the sun, and it will dry. But this has a few problems which is why I built a low-tech (but still nifty) indirect/pass-through fruit drier. If you dry fruit right out in the sun, the sun’s rays bleach out some of the vitamins and nutrients in the food. You may have problems with bugs or other critters. If it rains, you’re in trouble. Before this summer, my housemates and I used an electric powered fruit drier that worked well, but I didn’t like the connection with a huge fossil/nuclear powered electricity grid.

I got the basic design for my drier from two excellent articles written by Dennis Scanlin published in Home Power Magazine (#57 and 69) and I made some modifications described here. I built the solar drier to sit on part of the (south facing) front steps of my house. It is built in two parts that unhook for winter storage; the solar collector and the drying box where you put the fruit. (See diagram.)

The idea is that the sun shines on the solar collector (an insulated box with plexiglas on top) and heats piece of black metal window screen inside. The screen gets very hot. Cool air flows into an opening at the bottom of the collector and as it circulates up through the hot window screen, it gets hot. The hot air rises and pulls more cool air into the bottom of the collector creating a steady flow of air upward through the system.

At the top of the collector box, the hot air enters the drying box. It is just an insulated box with a door at the back. You build wood frames and stretch fiberglass window screen over them on which you lay sliced fruit. At the top of the box, there are adjustable vents allowing hot air to escape. If you close the vents, the box will get hotter and if you open them more, the box will get cooler. During the day, hot air moves from the bottom of the box to the top vents, drying the fruit inside.

On an average day, temperatures in the box are 140 – 150 degrees, which is great for drying fruit. If the temperature gets hotter than 150 degrees, it can deplete vitamins from the fruit, so you have to open the vents on top more.

I made the drier mostly from scrap lumber and a $5 scrap of plexiglas from a local recycled building material center (Urban Ore.) I had to spend about $30 on the two types of window screen and a piece of rigid foam insulation that I moved from the lumberyard to my house via bike trailer. The best black metal window screen is from New York Wire. I used old bike inner tubes cut in half to seal around the door on the drier box and between the solar collector box and the piece of plexiglas. The Scanlin article suggested using a special type of solar collector glass but I think anything clear (and cheap) will work just fine. The only error I made building the whole thing was using some duct tape to hold the rigid insulation together inside the drying box. Oops — the drier gets way too hot for duct tape!

The best part of this project is figuring out how to use it. When my housemates and I used the electric fruit drier, you could put the fruit in to dry anytime you wanted. You just flipped a switch and it worked — the fossil fuel use, capitalist labor, eco-destroying technology and centralized economic power all neatly hidden. This, by the way, is the real problem with modern technology — it hides what is really going on and makes things that are actually really, really complex and ecologically troublesome look “easy” and quick to the end user. There is nothing easy for the environment or human workers about using electricity or other forms of technology that tie your daily life to the death-machine.

But I digress. To use a solar fruit drier, you have to fit your schedule around the sun. This is a surprisingly difficult psychological shift. Modern people hate having to adjust their schedule to the earth or the sun. We have been socialized to want instant gratification and to be insulated from how things are. Using a solar drier means you have to wake up a half hour early and cut fruit to put in the drier before work, rather than doing it at night, because the fruit will get all brown and mushy if you cut it and leave it overnight waiting for the next day’s sun.

In the cool and o
ften foggy bay area climate, I’ve found that it usually takes a day and a half to dry fruit and that it dries unevenly. After the first day, I go through the fruit and pick out whatever has dried (usually smaller pieces.) The more uniformly you can slice the fruit, the better. Cutting up fruit to dry it meshes well with using home grown organic fruit since there are always a lot of pieces of fruit with worms or other defects that need to be cut up to be used. I usually grade the fruit when I harvest it — “eating” fruit with no defects goes in the fruit bowl and wormy fruit gets dried.

This year I harvested, moved by bike, and solar dried apples, pears, peaches, apricots, tomatoes, plums and pluots (a cross between plums and apricots).

It isn’t often in the modern world that you get to eat a truly fossil fuel free food product. By fossil fuel free food, I mean food that is grown, harvested, transported, processed, and distributed without burning fossil fuels. For me, that also means food that isn’t bought or sold because the market economy is so soaked in oil. Once capitalism gets a hold of an alternative good or service like organic food, for instance, the real spirit is lost and producers just aim to meet the minimum standard of some legal definition. It is so ironic to think of people buying organic tv dinners at Whole Foods, the world’s biggest and most centralized health food corporation, or buying organic milk shipped from a feedlot in Colorado. Organic?

We need to go beyond the organic label or even farmers’ markets by re-connecting with the food we eat. I recently heard that a study found that the fossil fuel consumed per unit of food by farmers markets was actually more than industrial food because of economies of scale, i.e. lots of pickup trucks going short distances vs. a big semi moving more food longer distances, but for less fuel per unit. I don’t know if this is true — I volunteer at an organic farm that sells at the Berkeley farmers’ market and I’m convinced that the food they raise is better on many levels (psychic, land use, ecological) than Safeway.

To get out of the ecological collapse human society is currently creating, we have to re-think everything. That means re-claiming ancient ways of preserving our food with the sun, not fossil fuels. And it means recognizing that food is what connects us to the earth and to other species, — it isn’t just another business. We are animals on an abundant earth and we are part of the food chain. Gathering, hunting and growing food is an essential human — and an essentially humanizing — act.


Attack of the Blue Meanies

When the police and FBI raided the Long Haul Infoshop in Berkeley August 27 with guns drawn, seizing every computer in the building, looking through files, and breaking locks, they were probably hoping they would scare us, disrupt our operations, and distract us from radical work and into a defensive-mode.

While the raid against our volunteer-run library and radical community center was an outrageous attack on a peaceful community of free-thinkers and activists, we are bruised but not defeated. In the weeks since the raid, the Long Haul scene and our supporters around the world have rallied. Long Haul remains open the same as before the raid — full of life, events and energy. Many concerned individuals have donated computers to replace the ones stolen by the police, some of which are still being held hostage in an FBI forensics lab somewhere as of press date. Our resolve to struggle for people over profits, local control, and environmental sustainability is stronger than ever.

Anatomy of a police raid

No one was at Long Haul at the time of the raid and as of press date, no one has been arrested for any crime related to the raid. University of California police — even though Long Haul is 2 miles from campus — obtained an extremely broad search warrant after they traced a number of threatening emails that were sent to UC Berkeley animal researchers to the dsl internet connection at Long Haul. The cops never would have gotten such a broad search warrant if the computers had been at a public library, rather than at a radical Infoshop.

The raid by 7 officers — UCPD plus a county sheriff and one federal agent — started at 10:15 a.m. and lasted for an hour and a half. UCPD police spokesperson Mitch Celaya claimed the raid included members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, according to the Berkeley Daily Planet. City of Berkeley police were not involved in the raid nor were they provided advance warning of the raid, as is the usual procedure according to City Council member Kriss Worthington.

When Long Haul volunteers arrived shortly after the raid began and asked police to see a search warrant, the police said they would only provide a copy of the warrant after the raid. The cops refused to allow volunteers inside the building during the raid. Police seized 14 computers including computers from a free public access computer room and two computers used by Slingshot collective to publish this newspaper and our organizer. They looked at lending library records and other files. They also took most of our music CDs perhaps thinking they might have computer data on them. Luckily, they didn’t take the dumpster-dived vinyl record collection, which is the real backbone of Long Haul’s music reality.

Long Haul is a non-profit corporation that operates a community center, library and historical archive at 3124 Shattuck Avenue. It hosts the Long Haul Infoshop as well as the Slingshot collective and East Bay Food Not Bombs and provides space for various community activities ranging from a needle exchange to Pilates to the People to East Bay Prisoner Support. Long Haul features a free, public access computer room so folks can use the internet — before the raid it featured 8 computers that were used by hundreds of people.

The police raid’s official goal was to seize those public computers and records of who might have been using them. Although the search warrant implies the cops were interested in public access computers, police ended up seizing all computers in the building including Slingshot and East Bay Prisoner Support computers that were not available to the public, but that shared a common dsl line.

Search warrant or blank check?

Police got a court order sealing the application for the search warrant from public view. Luckily, Long Haul got a copy of it anyway after a confused court clerk in-training released it to an ABC tv reporter. The statement of probable cause submitted by UCPD officer Kasiske to obtain the warrant shows that he thought the threatening emails were sent from a public computer at Long Haul. The police obtained records from Long Haul’s ISP as well as Google tracing emails sent from gmail accounts accessed through the Long Haul dsl line. The warrant application discusses recent home demonstrations at UC Berkeley and implies that they may be linked with two firebombings against animal researchers in Santa Cruz on August 2. The application also mentions the Animal Liberation Front.

Kasiske wrote that: “I learned that at the time the harassing email messages were sent . . . the subscribers address was 3124 Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley. I recognized this address as belonging to the Long Haul Infoshop. I know that the Long Haul is a resource and meeting center for radical activists. I know that animal rights activists have held meetings at the Long Haul. The Long Haul’s website advertises that they offer a computer room with four computers for ‘activist oriented access.'”

Kasiske’s search warrant application lists six allegedly threatening email messages sent from the Long Haul dsl line in June. Given that the purportedly illegal threatening emails were sent from a public computer in June and that the raid was in August — with hundreds of people visiting Long Haul during that time — one might think that trying to find a particular person who sent six emails would be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Was the police’s real purpose to find a suspect, or to disrupt a known radical community center and conduct a fishing expedition of computer information from hundreds of people who used Long Haul computers unrelated to any threatening emails?

Kasiske’s search warrant application went on to state: “I know establishments that offer public computer access often have some type of system for patrons to sign in or register to use the computers. A search of the Long Haul’s premises could reveal logs or sign-in sheets indicating which patrons used the computers on particular dates. This information would aid in identifying the suspect who sent the threatening email messages using the Long Haul’s computers. It is likely that the suspect who sent the threatening email messages used the computers for other purposes as well. A search of the computers at the Long Haul could reveal information the suspect stores on the computers, websites the suspect accessed, or other email accounts the suspect used. This information would aid in identifying the suspect. Due to the complexity of searching computer systems and the need to properly maintain evidence stored on computer systems, a detailed search would need to be conducted off-site by a computer forensics specialist.”

The police uncertainty about whether Long Haul might have maintained records of who used its computers is interesting. Long Haul — like the public library — does not maintain such records precisely to protect computer users from government snooping. (Also, in Long Haul’s case, it is due to disorganization and lack of resources.) The search warrant application makes clear that police are familiar with Long Haul’s role in the community and its operations as a radical space. It is unclear what surveillance they may have carried out prior to the raid. If they had sent even a single undercover officer to ask to use a computer prior to the raid, it would have been clear to the police that no records are kept and that volunteers staffing Long Haul cannot see the door of the computer room to know who goes in and out. If it eventually turns out police knew this full well, their real reason for seeking a search warrant against Long Haul will be transparent: harassment not law enforcement.

The judge issued a warrant permitting a search for: “Any written, typed, or electronically stored documents, papers, notebooks, or logs containing names or other identifying information of patrons who used the computers at the Long Haul Infoshop.” The warrant also covered “All electronic data proce
ssing and storage devices, computers and computer systems including, but not limited to, central processing units, external hard drives, CDs, DVDs, diskettes, memory cards, PDAs, and USB flash drives.”

The search warrant application continued: “Search of all of the above items is for files, data, images, software, operating systems, deleted files, altered files, system configurations, drive and disk configurations, date and time, and unallocated and slack space, for evidence. With respect to computer systems and any items listed above, the Peace Officers are authorized to transfer the booked evidence to a secondary location prior to commencing the search of the items. Furthermore, said search may continue beyond the ten-day period beginning upon issuance of this Search Warrant, to the extent necessary to complete the search on the computer systems and any items listed above.”

The raid at Long Haul was followed only days later by raids in Minneapolis/St. Paul against activists involved in Republican National Conventions there. The search warrant application in that case makes it clear that RNC Welcoming Committee activists were under constant surveillance and infiltration for a year. It is worth noting that Unconventional Action Bay Area held a spokes council meeting about the RNC at Long Haul only days before the raid. Moreover, Long Haul has served as a base for various radical activists in the East Bay for decades. Long Haul was founded in 1979 and the Infoshop project celebrated its 15th birthday in August. It all raises the question of whether the raid was just about threatening emails, or whether it was part of a larger intelligence gathering operation against radicals.

Long Haul has a posse

In the wake of the raid, Long Haul has been flooded with messages of support and donations from as far away as Tasmania. In particular, numerous individuals donated computers to replace the ones seized in the raid. A benefit concert the night after the raid was mobbed by supporters and raised hundreds of dollars. Activists around the country have stepped up to organize benefits and protests for Long Haul. The outpouring of support has been humbling — it is no joke to say that there is a radical community that has your back when you need it.

Several dozen lawyers volunteered to help Long Haul respond to the raid, including excellent activist lawyers from the National Lawyers Guild and heavy hitters from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union. As anarchist-oriented folks who are skeptical of bourgeois, mainstream legal solutions to problems, the Long Haul crew had a great discussion of the merits of using the court system to defend Long Haul against the police raid. The real anarchist, direct action response to a police raid is to keep Long Haul open and not let the police distract us from our mission of changing society, building community, fighting capitalism, struggling for people over profit, and defending the earth. Having said that, bourgeois legal action — along with protests and media action — is a tool open to Long Haul. Generally, Long Haulers want to do what we can so this kind of raid doesn’t happen to any other infoshops in the future. That means we want to expose the flimsy grounds for the raid and make the raid as expensive, embarrassing and inconvenient for the police as possible.

Big Brother is Watching

By seizing the public access computers, the FBI got access to hundreds of individual people’s personal information that may have been left on the public computers. No one knows what people left on those computers or what the FBI forensics experts might be able to recover. Even when you hit the “delete” button on a computer, your work is left on hard disk drives. Long Haul had no security measures on its public access computers (or Slingshot computers) prior to the raid. However, in the aftermath, Long Haul computer experts are figuring out ways to make the computers more secure, even though total security is impossible. One idea has been hard disk encryption. Another idea is to remove hard drives entirely from the public access computers and load an open-source operating system each time they are turned on. That way, all information would disappear each time they are turned off.

In general, it appears that the police did not get crucial Long Haul or Slingshot information during the raid. Some Slingshot articles written for this issue were seized and since they were not backed up, had to be rewritten. It was sheer luck that we weren’t right in the middle of making the Organizer or this issue — if that had been the case, the raid could have set Slingshot collective back weeks. Some un-backed up internal Slingshot collective files were also lost. It does not appear that the police got a copy of the Slingshot mailing list (for sending out papers) or other sensitive Long Haul data. Most of that information was kept at another location on different computers. This arrangement was partly for ease of access — the Slingshot mailing operation does not run out of Long Haul — and partly out of security concerns at Long Haul. Prior to the police raid, Long Haul has been subject to half a dozen burglaries of uncertain origin.

We now know how easily the police can track an email to a physical location. It seems reasonable to assume that if that location is an infoshop or other radical space, the chance of having computers seized is higher than if an email is traced to a public library.

The real danger may still be on the horizon. In the search warrant application, it is clear that the police are investigating recent animal rights protests and are looking for links between legal, public protests and recent firebombings against animal researchers in Santa Cruz and Los Angeles. The weekend after the raid, the National Lawyers Guild conducted a Know Your Rights workshop at Long Haul to review how folks can react if the police make further raids, seek to interview Long Haul users, make arrests, or seek to subpoena anyone before a Grand Jury. Under these circumstances, folks need to avoid paranoia and being paralyzed from taking any action, while being extra sensitive and careful.

It is hard to measure the overall sense of tension, anxiety and trauma coming out of the police raid. Having your home base invaded by police is ugly, scary and brutal. It is hard to prepare for such a violation and it is hard to pick up the pieces afterwards. Long Haul volunteers are slowly sharing their emotions and I can say for myself that I feel a keen need to be around my comrades and share support with them in this time of stress. It has been great to make this issue of the paper during this time since it gives us endless opportunities to share community. That helps break the isolation and fear.

The raid and its aftermath have been stressful yet in the end, Long Haul is in it for the long haul and the struggle continues. The police sought to disrupt us and scare us off, but we’re coming out stronger and more determined than ever.

Critical Resistance: Organizing to abolish the Prison Industrial Complex

Critical Resistance — the key prison abolitionist organization — just celebrated its tenth anniversary with a huge conference in Oakland, California. Here’s an interview with CR member Rose Braz.

HB: What does “prison abolitionist” mean?

Rose Braz: CR seeks to abolish the prison industrial complex (PIC): the use of prisons, policing and the larger system of the prison industrial complex as an “answer” to what are social, political and economic problems, not just prisons.

Abolition defines both the goal we seek and the way we do our work today. Abolition means a world where we do not use prisons, policing and the larger system of the prison industrial complex as an “answer” to what are social, political and economic problems. Abolition means that instead we put in place the things that would reduce incidents of harm at the front end and address harm in a non-punitive manner when harm does occur. Abolition means that harm will occur far less often and, that when harm does occur, we address the causes of that harm rather than rely on the failed solutions of punishment. Thus, abolition is taking a harm reductionist approach to our society’s problems.

Abolition means creating sustainable, healthy communities empowered to create safety and rooted in accountability, instead of relying on policing, courts, and imprisonment which are not creating safe communities.

HB: How has prison changed in 10 years?

RB: One recent shift is that our denunciation of conditions inside has been twisted into justifications for expanding the system, particularly through what are sometimes called “boutique prisons”.

For example, there is fairly uniform agreement that California’s now $10 billion-per-year prison system holds too many people, provides horrendous health and mental health care, underfunds and cuts programming and services, and consistently fails to deliver on its promise of public safety. Nonetheless, California’s answer to this disaster has been to make it even bigger, building more prisons and in particular specialized prisons — for women, for elderly prisoners, for the sick, etc.

What’s new and more insidious about this expansion is that it has not been couched in “tough on crime” rhetoric that politicians usually employ to justify expansion. Rather, in response to growing anti-prison public sentiment, these plans have been grounded on the rhetoric of “prison reform” and in regard to people in women’s prisons: “gender responsiveness.”

One current challenge is to continue to debunk the myth that bricks and mortar are an answer to these problems and to make common sense that the only real answer to California’s prison crisis is to reduce the number of people in prison and number of prisons toward the goal of abolition.

HB: How has the anti-prison movement evolved in the last 10 years?

RB: In the last decade, I think the movement has become more coordinated, is growing and has shifted the debate from one about reform to one that includes abolition.

In 1998, while there were numerous people and organizations working around conditions of confinement, the death penalty, etc., and in particular using litigation and research strategies; grassroots organizing challenging the PIC was at a low following the crackdown on the movement in the 1970’s and 80’s. We believe that a grassroots movement is a necessary prerequisite to change. CR is bringing people together through our conferences, campaigns, and projects toward the goal of helping to build that movement.

I also believe the debate has shifted and unlike a decade ago, abolition is on the table. A prerequisite to seeking any social change is the naming of it. In other words, even though the goal we seek may be far away, unless we name it and fight for it today, it will never come.

HB: What distinctions do you make between “political prisoners,” and others, including non-violent and violent offenders?

RB: CR focuses on how the PIC is used as a purported “answer” to social, economic and political challenges, and clearly a big part of the build up of the PIC followed directly on the political uprisings of the ’60s and ’70’s. CR seeks to abolish the PIC in its entirety, for us that means fundamentally challenging the PIC as an institution. This means that just as we fight for Mumia to not be locked in a cage, we also fight for people convicted of offenses classified as “violent” or “nonviolent” by the state to also not be locked in cages. While acknowledging that people are put in prison for different reasons, we do not make the distinction between people in for “violent” or “nonviolent” offenses because the PIC is not an answer to either.

HB: Anything else to add?

RB: One day, I believe those who fought for abolition will be seen as visionaries. Historian Adam Hochschild notes that there are numerous institutions in history that appeared unchangeable and moreover, small numbers of people have sparked extraordinary change.

Until the late 18th century, when the British slavery abolitionist movement began, the idea of eliminating one of the fundamental aspects of the British Empire’s economy was unimaginable. Yet, 12 individuals who first met in a London printing shop in 1787 managed to create enough social turbulence that 51 years later, the slave ships stopped sailing in Britain.

In the US, the first slavery abolitionists were represented as extremists and it took almost a century to abolish slavery. Similarly, many who lived under Jim Crow could not envision a legal system without segregation.

As Hochschild wrote, “The fact that the battle against slavery was won must give us pause when considering great modern injustices, such as the gap between rich and poor, nuclear proliferation and war” and I would add the Prison Industrial Complex. “None of these problems will be solved overnight, or perhaps even in the fifty years it took to end British slavery, but they will not be solved at all unless people see them as both outrageous and solvable.”

Requiem for an Oak Grove

They cut down our beloved Oak Grove. It was an epic struggle pitting Berkeley activists and neighbors and a ragtag group of tree-sitters against the legal and financial might of the University of California with its plans to build a high-tech gymnasium to enhance their football program, three stories into the earth adjacent to the Hayward earthquake fault. The University, not beholden to the municipal laws against cutting old oak trees, nor the desires of their host community, presented their plans for Berkeley as a done deal and expected to plow ahead as usual. But the Oak Grove called our hearts and we rose to protect her. We filed lawsuits, we made phone calls, we conducted educational tours of Strawberry Creek, we marched to the Chancellor’s home and most noticeable of all we sustained the longest North American urban tree-sit in the branches between a city street and the Memorial Stadium.

Even as my heart aches from the destruction of these beautiful living elder trees and the community of animals and people it sustained, I am so grateful we made our stand. I wonder how I keep jumping into these struggles when the odds are so against us, and yet if we give up because of that, then we automatically lose. I cry for the birds soaring in circles where their home once was and for the students who are so lost but I am uplifted by the community we have woven and the brave and beautiful actions of so many. What have we created? What have we learned?

The tree-sit was quite a sustained effort. We kept aloft a canopy of three to more than a dozen elves from Dec. 2, 2006 until Sept. 9, 2008. We survived several raids of our support camp and constant police harassment. The University eventually built two fences with barbed wire around the sit, lit up the night with diesel powered lights and kept a mini-police force around us 24-7. When UC attempted to block food being sent to the sitters, a posse of older women calling themselves the Grandmothers for the Oaks came with a home cooked Thanksgiving meal and continued to supply quality nutrition in a beautiful ritual of defiance every Sunday for almost a year. The support camp, being one of the only places to sleep outdoors without getting a ticket, also attracted the homeless, travelers and crazy people many of whom gave valiantly to the effort. It was a challenging situation where the services provided and the peace that was kept should be appreciated. It was, however, a stretch for the shiny faced college elite to grok the depth of what was going on.

There are critiques that could and should be made. We could have organized better with regular meetings and clear decision making methods. We could honor and hone those who stand out as leaders and insist on honest communication so the group is represented. We could encourage more diverse voices to speak out. We could cast our web for allies more consciously.

We underestimated the Public Relations campaign against us. Many students echoed back UC’s propaganda, all of which was easily challenged if given a fair forum. Though the tree-sit got impressive coverage, most of it was sensational and did not represent the core issues we were challenging; turning around human behavior to abet global warming, democratic control of public land, understanding and respecting natural systems, negotiation rather than power plays, corporate takeover of a state university, respecting a Native American burial ground and sacred site, being logical about not building on an earthquake fault, etc. The construction of the high-tech gym is just the first of a long list of bad development projects UC wants to inflict on the local environment and the future direction of humanity. They have just begun construction of a huge vivisection lab at the head of University Ave and they want to build dramatically in our fragile Strawberry Creek Canyon, including a lab paid for by BP (formerly British Petroleum) to research genetically engineering plants to provide fuel for American SUV’s by industrial mono-cropping vast areas of third world countries.

But we made a stand against the plan and that is a tremendous victory in itself. The vast wheels and levers of development were challenged. A student stood next to me on the last day of the sit as we watched the last four tree-sitters clinging to the top of the redwood. We were both inspired, it was clear that these brave men believed with all their heart and had stood with all their might. The student understood that there was a deep and powerful resistance and message and he talked of sharing this with other students. And this is our hope; that the action we took will inspire others that something needs to be changed and that individuals can choose to make a stand. Of course UC sent out its message too; that the system is intransigent to change and that it will use force. But this is the “Big Game” of our time. Can we awaken as a species and turn around our destruction of the web of nature that sustains us before we annihilate ourselves and other species? We have nothing to lose by trying.

As our hearts cracked open with the murder of our tree elders, I felt the flood of love for all the very many who had done something. We wove a community. We shared and learned and strived together. We climbed trees, had meetings, wrote letters, shared acorn pancakes, danced, took the streets, built platforms, cared for each other, ran a bike powered radio station, played drums, distributed flyers, called press conferences, talked to students, floated balloons of food, grew oak saplings, sang, prayed, celebrated with circuses and concerts, went to court, went to city council, went to jail, and held our ground.

And some dared to ask why we weren’t saving important trees like those in the Amazon. No, we are protecting the trees right here in our neighborhood and as Ayr suggested, “why don’t you go into a bar and ask that question?”. We are doing something.

That is the key to hope. !Vivan los Arboles!

Introduction – Issue #98

Slingshot is an independent radical newspaper published in Berkeley since 1988.

In the moments after the police and FBI raided our offices at Long Haul — seizing all Slingshot computers and looking through our files — we wondered if we shouldn’t delay publication of this issue to give us time to regroup and recover. It is a funny thing when cops take your computers especially if you don’t really like computers in the first place. Maybe we shouldn’t bother to try to get them back — maybe we should free ourselves from this machine dependence.

Within a few days, we regained our composure and realized publishing this issue — on time and as awsomely as possible — was our best response to the police raid. So here it is. We initially discussed doing a shorter issue, avoiding articles that needed extra work, trying not to stay up so late or push ourselves as hard. These would actually be reasonable ideas every issue — why do we need a police raid as an excuse to balance our passion for making Slingshot with remembering to eat well, sleep more than 5 hours, and take time to dig in the garden between long-ass meetings?

Making this paper is a massive amount of work — it takes a dozen of us two weekends working long hours and requires a lot of organization and attention to detail. But it doesn’t feel like work — we don’t get tired — we look forward to doing Slingshot.

Artnoose wrote “Slingshot loft is the fountain ‘o youth” on a piece of paper where we make Slingshot and we keep realizing how true this is. While we were making the 2009 Slingshot Organizer, we realized that making Slingshot is like staying up half the night at a really good dance party, except that instead of dancing, we write stuff, edit it, make art, and try to figure out what record to put on and what we’re going to eat next.

The flood of creativity, bonding and getting to know other people in the collective — cooperating and struggling and discussing — you feel engaged, alive and present. It feels like you’re young and fresh — as opposed to the times you feel checked out, stuck in a rut, unable to get beyond the daily grind and see beyond the messy psychic spaces you inhabit. It is clear that feeling youthful isn’t mostly about your age — it’s really about how you approach life, and even more about how you actually live it. Making Slingshot or giving your all to any project isn’t a “sacrifice to the cause” — it’s a gift to enjoy and share with others that makes life meaningful.

And yet life isn’t always meaningful or inspiring or even possible to comprehend. We keep grappling with the stark contradictions between the moments of grief, regret, heartbreak, and the moments when everything falls into place and makes sense. How can life be so uneven?

Right before Slingshot collective started working on this issue, we heard that a collective member had fallen off an overpass and was in the hospital with spinal injuries. As of press time, we don’t know what happened or whether she will be okay. She wrote an email a few days before the fall saying “my mental health is deteriorating this past month and I am thinking of going in hospital.” We are so fragile and so alone and yet we are also part of something larger than ourselves — we have to be to find joy in this life.

The government fucked us over again on September 11 when they changed the rules for mailing items “bound printed matter” so that this cheaper class of mailing is only available to huge corporations, not independent zines like us. As we go to press, we aren’t sure how we’ll be able to mail out this issue . . . These creeping barriers to the free exchange of information are just as powerful as police raids, only harder to notice. And yet we’re not going to let all this put us off being part of the struggle for liberation.

Slingshot is always looking for new writers, artists, editors, photographers, translators, distributors & independent thinkers to make this paper. If you send something written, please be open to being edited.

Editorial decisions are made by the Slingshot collective, but not all the articles reflect the opinions of all collective members. We welcome debate and constructive criticism.

Thanks to all who made this: Compost, Crystal, Dominique, Eggplant, Ginger, Gregg, Hunter, JB, Kathryn, Kelly, Kermit, Kirsty, Lesley, Lelah, Max, Mando, Melissa, PB, Samantha and all the authors and artists.

Slingshot New Volunteer Meeting

Volunteers interested in getting involved with Slingshot can come to the new volunteer meeting on Sunday, November 30, 2008 at 4 p.m. at the Long Haul in Berkeley (see below.)

Article Deadline and Next Issue Date

Submit your articles for issue 99 by January, 17 2009 at 3 p.m.

Volume 1, Number 98, Circulation 17,000

Printed September 26, 2008

Slingshot Newspaper

Sponsored by Long Haul

3124 Shattuck Avenue. Berkeley, CA 94705

Phone: (510) 540-0751 •

Circulation Information

Subscriptions to Slingshot are free to prisoners, low income and anyone in the USA with a Slingshot Organizer, or $1 per issue or back issues. Outside the Bay Area, we’ll mail a free stack of copies of Slingshot to you if you give them out free.

Letter to Slingshot — What??

A friend just emailed me the communiqué “Porn Again Anarchists” (Slingshot #70) — and I am intrigued by this, as many folks seem to believe I have a talent for expressing my lustful fantasies. But I don’t know, I just wanna have fun and make people go orgasmic. So, now I see that you are looking for submissions, and this is right up my alley because I love submissions because there is nothing more anti-authoritarian than having some hot babe render you into their plaything, don’t you think? Speaking of consenting adults of course. I know I enjoy it. My favorite radical pose is on my knees, tongue extended, slurping a load from the Motherland…. Anyway….so if I become inspired — and develop a craving to submit — how do it do it? Just send something to Slingshot submissions? And also — are you looking for screenplays only, or are little exercises in fantasy prose desired? What is appropriate for your format? I am already thinking of a potential idea:

“I was a Sex-Slave for a Stalinist Hack!”

Young innocent student succumbs to the attractions of a charismatic leftist militant — and soon gets a real taste of Party discipline! But then comes an uprising as she gets her hands on his means of production, and this is not just a wildcat, but a wild pussy on the loose! Our militant calls in his goons to reestablish authority, but our sex-pot turns the tables on these wanna-be Pol Pots, and its an orgiastic organizational meltdown that has to be seen to be believed! You’ll be beating your meat in your seat as you see: —> Leninists getting anally probed by Trotskyists! A Stalinist Central Committee becoming a circle jerk of a bunch of jerks! Militants kissing ass! See a dead movement go limp! Watch a bunch of liberals not go all the way! You’ll just wet your pants as you see communist cadre eating shit and learning to love it! Yum Yum! It’s coming soon and so will you! “I was a Sex-Slave for a Stalinist Hack!” have a nice day… Kathy

A Harvest of Infoshops

The recent police raid on the Long Haul Infoshop in Berkeley (Slingshot’s home base) points out how important radical community spaces, alternative libraries, bike kitchens and infoshops are. The cops figured that the best way to go after a leaderless, informal scene was to go after its leaderless, informal meeting space. Luckily, the cops can take our computers but they can’t destroy our community and they can’t scare us off.

Alternative spaces that operate outside of the mainstream economy are dangerous to the smooth operation of the corporate-capitalist machine that is killing the earth. From these spaces, we can discuss more than the newest tv shows and organize activities more significant than retro-bowling leagues. These physical spaces represent the practical expression of our dreams for how life could be different. Organized cooperatively rather than by bosses and operated to promote creativity, freedom and autonomy instead of profit and conformity, alternative spaces are vital for building a new society.

As soon as we sent the 2009 Slingshot organizer to the printing press, people started sending us information on more spaces we should include. Oops — Too Late! While we were making the organizer we tried to contact everyone listed in the 2008 edition — so we hope the organizer list is pretty accurate. We’re now doing better about updating our on-line radical contact list, which contains extra listings not included in the paper organizer (like email addresses and website links.) Check out Here are some new spaces and updates.

Franklin House – St. Charles, MO

They are a collective house with an infoshop, show venue, community garden, free bike resource, art space and an “oasis in small town middle America.” Check them out at 320 Tompkins Ave., St. Charles, MO 63301, 636-493-1239

Fargo-Moorhead Community Bicycle Workshop – Fargo, ND

They are a non-profit bike shop committed to reclamation of bikes and education, as well as building community. Visit 1303 1st Ave N, Fargo, ND 58102, 701-478-4021

Tantra Coffeehouse – San Marcos, TX

They are a coffeehouse and community center with live music and an art venue. Open Sun-Fri: 7am-midnight and Saturday Sat 7am-1am. Visit at 217 W. Hopkins St. San Marcos, TX 78666 512-558-2233

Everybody Reads – Lansing, MI

A community bookstore and neighborhood resource center that hosts various events. 2019 E. Michigan Avenue- Lansing, MI 48912 517 346-9900,

Bon Vivant Artspace – Buffalo, NY

A new art space and music venue. 1862 Hertel Avenue Buffalo, NY 14216.

Black Sheep Book – Montpelier, VT

They’ve moved into a new storefront space right on the main street of town that is more visible and bigger allowing events with up to 30 people. Send them some books, zines or donations to help them with this expansion. 5 State Street, Montpelier, Vermont 05602 (802) 225-8906,

Casal Popular de Castelló – Spain

A radical social center. Carrer d’Amunt 167, 12001 Castelló de la Plana, South Catalonia,

Ste. Emilie SkillShare – Montreal, Canada

A radical do it yourself art studio with a zine library/distro, silkscreen shop, photo darkroom, sewing machines and button maker that hosts workshops and events. Open Saturdays. 3942 Ste. Emilie (corner of St. Augustin, metro Place St. Henri), Montreal QC H4C 2A1 514-933-2573 (messages), /

Mistakes in the 2009 Organizer. . .

• Oops – after publishing their name in the 2009 organizer we got mail back from the Radish Infoshop at 818 W. College St Springfield, MO 65806 marked “return to sender,- attempted – not known” – either they have moved or ceased to exist.

• We also got a letter mailed to New World Resource Center at 1300 N. Western Ave. in Chicago returned in the mail.

• Due to space considerations, we didn’t list some places. The Junto Library in Winnipeg, Canada DOES exist – 91 Albert St.

• We weren’t sure whether Little Sisters in Vancouver, BC, Canada was still around or not – we didn’t list them but someone says “they’re still there.”

• We listed the Women’s Agenda for Change in Phnom Penh, Cambodia but have since gotten word that they are in transition and they may not be in a good place to receive visitors. They may dissolve in mid-2009.

• Here are some places in Halifax, Nova Scotia that you may want to visit if you’re in town– we got this info too late to include in the 2009 Organizer: • Halifax Coalition Against Poverty • Just Us! Cafe (Spring Garden or Barrington locations) • The Grainery Food Coop. They also have a Food Not Bombs in Halifax.

Keeping it Together in Interesting Times

I often feel upset that in an activist scene that is about awareness of the problems in the world, I find that — while we may be accomplished at taking action regarding the problems we see — we can be quite unskilled at talking about the emotions and feelings that these issues bring up. I worry that in our frantic reactions to recent events, we will not recognize the need to be mindful of our emotional and psychological states. I fear that emotional or psychological work may be the first or “easiest” thing to give up or overlook in a crisis (ironically, when we need to pay attention the most).

Recent events have been personally unsettling to me: several FBI arrests of people

I know, the collective I work with got audited twice in one month (state, not federal – and this has never happened before in the 10 years I have been working with this group), now the raid at Long Haul and events/arrests at the RNC that seem to have barely made the news.

This all weighs heavy on the community and can take a toll on us individually and collectively. My question is, what might be the emotional or psychological fallout of state repression and what can we do to take care of ourselves and each other?

Emotional and psychological impacts of repression

Harvard ecopsychologist Sarah Conn notes “Much of the burnout that occurs…in social change organizations occurs because there is no acknowledgment of the powerful emotions involved in living as part of a threatened world and working to save it. Indeed, one of the central barriers to constructive initiatives for social change is the taboo on public expression or even acknowledgment of these emotions. Breaking through the taboo and harnessing the power of our emotional connections is essential work to be done…”

Activist, psychotherapist, and author Pattrice Jones confirms that in many forms of activist or social work “the cumulative impact of doing emotionally difficult work over a period of years can lead to the same difficulties in living caused by dramatically traumatic events.” I worry that the toll activist work (often draining) can exact coupled with the recent upsurge in (visible) repression may accumulate into increased occurrences of burnout and breakdown. Some emotional reactions to be aware of are: fear and intimidation, stress/anxiety, anger/rage, feelings of violation/helplessness, suspicion/feelings of betrayal, fragmentation/in-fighting, and feelings of disconnection or emotional numbness. Any combination of these (or others) may come up and, while understandable, if left unattended, they could turn in on us and cause personal or group problems.

Jones also talks about collective trauma: “Groups of people may experience trauma collectively, as when…an organization is subjected to police action. The collective reaction may be complicated since trauma tends to interfere with relationships, but people who experience the same trauma often feel a special kinship with one another.” Ultimately, the good news is that these kinds of events can bring us together. If we handle it well, and don’t forget to pay attention to our emotions then our groups can get stronger. The next question is how can we help each other through these situations?

Ideas for emotional/psychological work we can do:

On a personal level-

*Don’t forget the basics – eat well, get enough sleep, get enough physical activity. Also remember to drink enough water and resist the urge to drink too much alcohol (or whatever too much) which can be especially attractive when stress levels go up, but ultimately make it harder for your body and mind to cope.

*Do what you need to do to take care of yourself – this might include talk therapy, body work, yoga/exercise, medication, getting outside, meditation, etc – for me the right formula is running/biking, yoga, massage therapy, being outside/gardening, talk therapy, anti-depressants, meditation/dharma talks, and baths. Remember that you are important – take time for yourself so you can continue to do activism, political work, or whatever you do to be engaged in the world!

*Stay engaged with other people, don’t get isolated. Talk to folks about how you (and they) are feeling. Check in with yourself on a physical level too – emotions exist on both a physical and social level.

* Take time away when you need it – it is ok to take a break.

On a group level –

*At meetings start with check-ins to talk about how folks are feeling – while this might feel time consuming or petty it will ultimately make the group healthier. I recently attended a meeting where we did stretching/yoga together spontaneously before the meeting and it really helped to ground and focus folks (I realize this might be a little too woo-woo for some!).

*There will likely be issues and disagreements that come up in high intensity situations – as a group, think about how to do constructive conflict resolution. Make room for folks, stay open-minded, remember to have empathy and compassion – everyone deals with difficult situations differently.

*Acknowledge emotions – learn how to see them and sit with them – this can be powerful work that positively fuels activism – if we are aware of emotions such as fear then they won’t control us.

*Organizations and groups are collections of relationships – nurture those relationships by being present with each other and seeing what is happening with each other. Healthy interpersonal relationships create strong and stable projects.

*Celebrate successes – say thank you to each other for all the hard work! Why does this so often not happen? In all my group work, I feel I often hear criticism more than I hear praise. Celebration and praise will help us to continue to do the work and not let police repression distract us from it. Hell, folks deserve praise for just continuing to operate after repressive state actions!

This is just a short collection of ideas; I’m sure folks have many others, talking about these ideas is a good starting point to open up dialogue about how we are handling things on an emotional level. I’ve been told that after the raid at the Long Haul something like 20 computers were donated, tons of people have sent monetary support, and dozens of lawyers have offered their services. This is all amazing. Now imagine if talk therapists, massage therapists, yoga instructors, meditation instructors, and group dynamic/conflict resolution experts had shown up to offer their services!

So often crisis can bring out the best in us. We see our communities rallying to support each other and our visions for a better future are confirmed in the present. We are all in this together, and we know it. Let’s take it up a notch and bring discussions of our emotional lives and of the psychological impacts of repression to the table. Our communities and our continued political work will be healthier for it. For further information on this topic, I highly suggest Pattrice Jones’ book Aftershock: Confronting Trauma in a Violent World – A Guide for Activists and Their Allies as well as Laura van Dernoot Lipsky’s Trauma Stewardship: An everyday guide to caring for self while caring for others.

RNC 8 . . . thousand???

When police in Minneapolis/St. Paul raided numerous activist houses and the Convergence Center on the eve of the Republican National Convention (RNC) to pre-emptively arrest alleged key-organizers of the RNC Welcoming Committee (RNCWC) before protests had even begun, it marked a further escalation of police tactics against street protest. The Welcoming Committee was an umbrella organization created to organize protests against the RNC. Police charged eight activists with felony charges of “Conspiracy to Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism” for their involvement in the RNCWC — a heavy over-reaction to activities that amounted to organizing public street protests. Monica Biking, Eryn Trimmer, Luce Guillen Givins, Erik Oseland, Nathanael Secor, Robert Czernik, Garrett Fitzgerald, and Max Spector face up to 7 1/2 years in jail if convicted. They have been dubbed the RNC 8 which strangely rings the tone of the Chicago 8.

A search warrant affidavit demonstrates the police over-reaction and intent to go after the activist community as terrorists for daring to call for street protests. Cop language implies that the RNCWC are tantamount to the Mafia: “The RNCWC is an organized criminal enterprise who have conspired with affinity groups throughout the United States to come to St. Paul, MN during the RNC and utilize criminal activities to disrupt and stop the RNC.”

The heavy emphasis of the affidavit on conspiracy charges and the implication that these could attach to activist affinity groups across the US is particularly disturbing since one can be guilty of conspiracy even if you don’t actually commit a substantive crime. You can be convicted of conspiracy merely for agreeing with others to do something illegal — such as street blockades, etc. — even if you never step off the sidewalk.

The cop affidavit is full of wild exaggeration based on police infiltration and surveillance of the RNCWC for over a year prior to the RNC: “On 8/29/07, the Ramose County Sheriff’s Office (RCSO), Special Investigations Unit (SIU) initiated an investigation, along with other law enforcement agencies, into the RNC Welcoming committee (RNCWC).” The affidavit claims the Welcoming Committee sought to kidnap delegates, assault police officers with firebombs, and sabotage airports, none of which ever happened. It reads more like a police fantasy about comic book anarchist action figures than what real activists talk about at open meetings. But in the end, unlawful assembly seems to be the bottom line: “This conspiracy includes criminal damage to property, riot, civil disorder, use of incendiary devices and unlawful assembly.”

Perhaps most disturbingly, the police affidavit makes clear how thoroughly they infiltrated RNCWC activities. “This investigation has utilized regular surveillance of members of the RNCWC. Additionally, an Undercover Investigator (UI) and a Confidential Reliable Informant (CRI1) were utilized and posed as members of the RNCWC. CRI1 was utilized as a paid informant. . . . This investigation also had access to information provided by a Confidential Reliable Informant (CRI2) from another law enforcement agency. . . . This CRI was also posing as a member of the RNCWC.” The affidavit confirms that the police put the convergence center under surveillance from the moment it opened and kept track of who went in and out.

If you had anything to do with the RNCWC over the last year, you can’t help but feel paranoid — was the person I talked to a cop? Does the FBI have my name? Will they come after my affinity group next? The police had access to RNCWC email lists: “Through the use of UI, CRI1 and CRI2, this investigation had access to RNCWC group emails (also referred to as 3rd Coast list).”

Creating mass fear is precisely the point of these types of police operations. They seek to chill thousands of regular people from daring to engage in street protests by targeting a few individuals and letting us all know we’re being watched. The activist scene has two responses: refusing to be frightened off and supporting our comrades who the police seek to sacrifice as scapegoats.

The RNC 8 needs support during their trial and beyond. At the moment, they need to raise money for a vigorous legal defense. Many people are hosting benefits and spreading the word. You can write checks to “CUAPB” and put “RNC 8” in the memo. Send them to: RNC 8 Legal Defense Fund, c/o CUAPB, 3100 16th Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55407 or check out

Transcend Capitalist Logic

As banks fall and the political-news cycle continues to obsess about staving off the impending global financial failure, it is important for those of us who claim to be against capitalism and the increased power of the state to understand what is happening and think about how we might interact with collapse (and the material and emotional ramifications of it) in a way that is sustainable.

It is difficult, at this point, to know how much of the latest crisis will translate into tangible effects for people who are not large stakeholders in the market system. The power of any successful state structure lies in its ability to make the vast majority of people feel that their own goals, inspiration, and identities are linked to the success of its power players, that each citizen’s well-being is tied to that of the system. Capitalist states do this by presenting the convincing illusion that each and every person or family is just a small scale model of a legal corporation, and that problems for the corporations always presage problems for actual persons, whose overriding motivation must necessarily be to acquire more economic power. Because of this, financial ups and downs that actually affect a relatively small subset of the population concretely are routinely presented as important for everyone to be either proud of or worried about.

The leadership of all political parties have the same task: to make the power structure that is in place work better by proposing minor adjustments. This government in particular claims to have an ideological, almost religious faith in what they see as the justice of market forces. Acts that challenge the supremacy of the ‘free market’ by restricting its growth are seen as heretical. The only alternative presented is an increase in the power and jurisdiction of the state, either replacing the one god for the other or finding some sort of equilibrium between the two. This is the discussion surrounding the recent financial meltdown and resulting government bailout.

The truth, however, is that neither the market, nor the state are omnipotent godheads but have, in fact, been created by people and survive, in large part, because people in the world choose, actively or passively, to believe in their power and reality. I am not saying that the effects of the market will cease to exist if you just stop believing in them. At this point the market, like the state, has become this very real thing that can and does easily destroy people. I am merely pointing out that today’s economic totality is not eternal and its laws are not absolute: there was a time when it did not exist and there will be a time when it will no longer exist.

The fact that the system seems so weak at this moment could lead one to wax optimistic about the opportunity it gives us to create communities of people that are autonomous and practice mutual aid, building new worlds out of the ashes of the old: indeed, it is always time to be doing that. It is also important to note however, that people have been heralding the end of capitalism on and off for the last hundred and sixty years and so far its moments of crisis have led to stronger states, and increased authoritarianism (including actual fascism) more often than they have led to beautiful alternatives.

If we are going to be people who are both critical of the world as it is and honest about our actual relationship to it, then we have to acknowledge that we, as individuals and communities, are not separate from or immune to the effects of an economic collapse. The collapse of capitalism, when it eventually comes, will not be pretty or easy. Most people, including anyone dependant on banks, supermarkets, or fossil fuels for their survival will face uncomfortable new realities. The 1929 stock market crash led to unemployment, starvation and homelessness on an unprecedented scale, in the US and around the world.

The rational fear generated by these realities can certainly lead people to be more conservative, less trusting, and more willing to submit to whichever authority promises some measure of stability. Yet there is also a way that pressure imposed on people during times of hardship can act as a catalyst for more positive emotions, forcing people to rely on themselves and each other and to live life more intentionally. The fact that this latest economic crisis comes at a time when we are also facing an ecological disaster means that the possibilities are particularly stark. Will people, by in large, jettison their environmental concerns because they are perceived as too expensive, or decide to change the way that they interact with the ecosystem because it is too costly not to? Questions like this exist on a multitude of overlapping levels. Choosing to let these be opportunities for positive transformation is something every body can do in the context of their own lives.

It is important not to minimize the very real fear that comes with economic crisis, but it is as important to engage with that fear constructively and not let it overpower us. Living on edge, in a place of anxiety and insecurity is not a sustainable practice. Fear that is denied, or unacknowledged, lurks forever in the background of our consciousness until we are not even able to trust ourselves with the responsibility of keeping it at bay. Recognizing our fears and understanding where they come from can transform them into tools that helps us better identify dangers, assess risks, and make decisions about how to proceed. The truth is there is no way to prepare completely for any catastrophic event, be it global climate change, a hurricane, great economic depression, or the death of a friend. We do not get to choose what the world throws at us, but our freedom lies in the ability to choose how we engage with it.

More concretely, it is possible to take steps and build networks that make us less dependent on the solvency of economic capital, and more able to depend on each other outside the protocol of economic relations. Investing in the relationships in our lives is crucial: so many of our connections to other people are mediated by money. The more that we can learn to know and trust one another, the more prepared we will be to both give and receive love and mutual aid when shit hits the fan and the less likely we are to feel isolated and afraid.

It is also important to invest in our own knowledge of how to take care of ourselves materially outside of the context of fossil driven trade and technology. During the depression of 1930’s most people still possessed the knowledge of how to preserve food without refrigeration, to bake their own bread, mend their own clothes and tend their own gardens. There may come a time when these skills will again become necessary and knowing how to be more self-sufficient is an empowering defense against worry and despair.

There is a way that these moments of instability, as difficult as they are, test our ability to transcend capitalist logic and dependency. By nurturing goals and following passions that are not expressed through the acquisition of economic power we can stop playing into the hand of the state. By developing relationships of mutual support that we can trust — and learning how to do things for ourselves — we can prevent the kind of overwhelming fear and insecurity that breeds reactionaries and begin to play with each other, for ourselves.