S1E71 - Sabot Media on Rural Organizing
Margaret talks with Sprout and Charyan from Sabot Media and The Blackflower Collective about organizing in rural areas and how that can be different from organizing in more urban areas. Sprout and Charyan talk about the different projects that Sabot Media and The Blackflower Collective work on, supporting unhoused people, the importance of having a music scene, and the unfortunate state of fascism.
Sprout (they/them) and Charyan(they/them) work with Sabot Media and The Blackflower Collective. Those projects can be found on Twitter @Blackflowerllc, @Aberdeenlocal1312, or Instagram @Blackflower.collective or @Aberdeenlocal1312, or on their websites https://sabotmedia.noblogs.org/ or https://blackflowercollective.noblogs.org/. They can also be found on Mastodon @Aberdeenlocal1312.
Margaret can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy or instagram at @margaretkilljoy.
This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at www.tangledwilderness.org, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at www.patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness.
LLWD – Sabot Media on Rural Organizing
Margaret 00:15 Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I'm your host, Margaret Killjoy. And I'm excited to talk this week about a subject that is very near and dear to my particular heart. And it might be near and dear to your particular hear or it might just be a subject of idle curiosity. I have no idea. I don't know where you live. You're in my head. I'm in your head. Something. Today we're going to talk about rural organizing, and we're gonna talk about some of the differences between rural organizing and urban organizing, and we're going to be doing that with Sprout and Charyan from Sabot Media and The Blackflower Collective and we're going to talk about that. First, we're gonna talk about the Channel Zero Network of anarchists podcasts. And here's a jingle from another show on the network. Bah duh duh duh dah [Margaret makes melody noises like she's singing] Okay, so if you all could introduce yourself, I guess with your your name and your pronouns and then like maybe a little bit about what Sabot Media and The Blackflower Collective are.
Sprout 02:32 Yeah, hello, I'm Sprout. Pronouns are they/them.
Charyan 02:37 I'm Charyan. They/them.
Sprout 02:40 We're here to talk about our new project in Grays Harbor County called The Blackflower Collective. And we're here also representing Sabot Media and our podcast Molotov Now.
Margaret 02:55 Where's Grays Harbor?
Sprout 02:58 It's on the coast, Western Washington. The main town is Aberdeen where most people have probably heard of it is because that's where Kurt Cobain was born and grew up.
Margaret 03:12 Oh, one of my favorite trans women in history. That is my contentious belief. Anyone who's ever wonder that. Yeah,
Charyan 03:24 I've heard the theory.
Margaret 03:26 Yeah. One of my friends was friends with Kurt and was like...and when I first started coming out was like, "Wow, you talk about your gender the same way that Kurt did." And so that's why I hold on to this particular theory so hard. But I'm not trying to...no one has ever been more mad at me on the internet as people were when I said this once on Twitter. So whatever, I'm not trying to specifically claim or not claim dead people...whatever. Anyway, that's definitely what we're here to talk about today. So, I guess really quickly, like what is Sabot Media? What is Blackflower Collective?
Sprout 04:09 Well, Sabot Media is a media project that we started because we saw a need for our own reporting of certain stories around the homeless and the mutual aid efforts that were going on in our town. The local paper record the Daily World and the other local stations out here were just not covering the stories at all that needed to be told. And so we stepped up to start talking about that stuff in our own community. We've got a website on No Blogs. Sabotmedia.noblogs.org, where people can go check out our articles. We've got comics, we've got columns, we've got a podcast as I mentioned. Yeah, so The Blackflower Collective was born out of another project here on the harbor that's been going for a couple of years Chehalis River mutual aid network. And the organizers for that project did a lot of talking to the community and discussing internally about what needs there were and how to meet those needs. And the solution came out as The Blackflower Collective. So our goal there is to have a piece of land, just outside the city limits, where we can have a sustainable ecovillage to house low income and unhouse...currently unhoused people, as well as pairing that with a social center and makerspace where we can have a business incubator and people providing social services.
Margaret 05:53 That's really...Okay, one of the things I got really excited about when I first heard about this project that you all are working on about it is because I think about how much...how impactful social center type spaces can be in smaller communities. Like it just seems to me...like off the top of my head, at least I think of like...I mean, a makerspace and, you know, social center space and stuff like that in a big city rules and is great, and I'm really excited when they exist, but it seems like a much higher percentage of the town's socializing or something...like it seems like a bigger deal in a smaller place. Am I like...Am I off base about this? Like, what are your kind of aspirations around that?
Charyan 06:34 Not at all. That's actually kind of one of the dichotomies that we talked about in our article. And on our interview on It Could Happen Here is like the modes of socialization feel a lot different from big city and large population big city communities and, you know, smaller rural towns and whatnot. For example, like in the bigger city, the way you meet people is like, you know, you have your job, or, you know, you go out to the club or, you know, what have you. There's lots of different groups and classes you can take part in. Like you walk into any building or storefront and there's going to be a wall filled with fliers for different events and classes and all sorts of stuff. A place like here in Aberdeen, you have to hunt and dig for that kind of stuff. And even when it does happen, you're more than likely not even going to hear about it. The mode of socialization in smaller places is usually through friends and family you already have. You know, you're hanging out at somebody's house and somebody comes to the door. It's like, "Oh, hey, here's my buddy, Paul," or What have you.
Margaret 07:44 Yeah, it always sort of occurred to me that, you know, living in a small town--I'm probably not going to do it, but I'm like, "Man, if I opened a punk venue, it would be the only place to go see music," you know? But that's also...maybe no one would come because there's like a tiny handful of punks in this town, you know.
Sprout 08:04 Well, that's actually what we're thinking about starting to do with Blackflower to raise some funds and get our name out there is hold some benefit punk shows. There's, again, there's just not really much in the way of music venues out here. And so what we're doing is just trying to find needs and then meet them. And that's a huge...you know, coming from a city--I wasn't born here, I moved here from a big bigger city area--so, you know, having a music scene was huge. That's what got me into political organizing in the first place. So, I think it's a good subculture to cultivate to try and get people on board.
Margaret 08:47 No, that makes sense. I mean, around where I'm at, like people go, people drive a long way to go to the punk show in the small town in the mountains, you know, that happens to be throwing that particular punk show or whatever thing it is. People go a long way to see live music because you have to. On the other hand, like, do y'all have the phrase "Country close?" Like where it's like, to go anywhere takes about 45 minutes, right, because it's all back country roads. I just think about how far people have to go to go get to places
Sprout 09:20 Yeah, no, I haven't heard that term. But I know the concept for sure.
Margaret 09:24 Okay, so the other thing I was thinking about when you were first talking about this is, you know, homelessness and mutual aid in a small town, you know, you're saying that the the mutual aid network is kind of what you all grew out of--or in response to or something like that--that's not something that people hear about much. And, you know, we hear about homelessness in big cities and stuff, but I have a feeling that people who don't live rurally might not be aware that this is also a presence in small towns across the US as well as like, you know, people living in tents and trying to make ends meet down by the river and stuff. So that's like...when I say problem, I don't mean the problem is that there are homeless people around I mean the problem is that they don't have homes. You know, that is like a big issue where you all are? [Inflected as question]
Sprout 10:15 It's a huge issue, especially in Aberdeen. It's kind of the confluence for the county wherever one goes. It's the only town in the county with like state social services. So, if you're homeless, you're going to be living in Aberdeen. There's a lot of conservatives who seemed to think that it is a big city problem, that everyone is being sort of imported from bigger cities or sent here from bigger cities, but a lot of who we talked to on the streets were born here and grew up here.
Charyan 10:52 Yeah, not only all that, but homelessness has been integral to the area that we live in as long as settlers have been coming here to be part of this area of Western Washington and the Pacific Northwest in particular has always been kind of the end of the line as people were coming out here because they had no place else to go. They came out to try to, like, you know, build new build new homes, not having to pay for stuff back east. All the draws of settler colonialism at West. It's...[Interrupted]
Sprout 11:31 Well, the homeless camp that the city evicted off the banks of the Chehalis River in 2019 had been there probably since the turn of the century in one form or another. Vagrants and poor people just living along the side of the banks of the river.
Charyan 11:52 When the port dock was still a thing before--the old one from the back like 1930s and stuff before it was finally tore out--during the days of like Billy Gohl. It was...
Margaret 12:07 I have no idea who Billy Gohl is. Sorry.
Charyan 12:09 Oh, just a local legend. And they tried to frame him as like a serial killer. But he was getting blamed for all the deaths from people in the mills and the factories and stuff. And the bosses would dump the bodies in the river. And they blamed them on this guy because he was a labor organizer.
Margaret 12:27 What's his name? Billy Gohl.
Sprout 12:29 Billy Gohl. Yeah.
Margaret 12:30 That's so metal. I know that that's not the takeaway I'm supposed to get from here. Also, I interrupted you. I'm so sorry. Okay.
Charyan 12:37 You're fine. There's a...If you want to learn more, there's a labor historian, Aaron Goings, who did a book recently called "The Port of Missing Men" if you'd like to learn more about that. Okay. But yeah, it was common practice for for workers, or vagrants, or whoever to get shanghaied here, you know. You go to the bar, they slip something in your drink, and then you'd wake up the, you know, out in the ocean thousands of miles away from home.
Margaret 13:06 Cool. That's so great. That's such a good system that is totally consensual for everyone, and a good way to build society. [Said with a lot of dry sarcasm]'
Charyan 13:17 It's Aberdeen.
Sprout 13:18 So yeah, it's definitely something that's existed here since settler colonialism showed up.
Margaret 13:27 I think it's really interesting how all different parts of the country or the world have these different types of darknesses to them. You know? And like, hearing about like, okay, yeah, this is the end of the line for settler colonialism heading west and things like that. And then you have workers dumping bodies and rivers and people that have Gohl [pronounced like "Ghoul"] are running around getting blamed for it. And then everyone's getting...It's like, I don't know, it's just like, really interesting. Not in a good way, but an interesting way. So, okay. One of the one of the reasons that I wanted to have you on to talk is you all recently put out an article about the difference between rural organizing and urban organizing, and that's kind of the core of what I want to ask you all about, pick your brains about is what are some of these differences between rural organizing and urban organizing? And also, what's the article called and where can people read it? Sorry.
Sprout 14:18 Oh, yeah. It's called "The Dichotomy Between Urban and Rural Political Organizing." You can check it out on our website Sabotmedia.noblogs.org.
Charyan 14:27 You can find it under the co-conspirator section under the Harbor Rat Reports
Margaret 14:33 Cool, and Sabot is spelled with a T for anyone's listening at S-A-B-O-T.
Sprout 14:37 Yes. So, some of the dichotomies that we highlight are the police in the city, the relationship between those entities and activists, the need for and difficulty in obtaining anonymity in a small town while you're organizing, and as Charyan mentioned already, the sort of modes of socialization that happens between rural and urban organizing, and just living in general. And then, there was a presentation to the National Association of the Rural Mental Health Association, rural mental health, that we highlighted, in which one of the professors for Minnesota State University laid out two general approaches to community organizing, one that he found was most applicable to urban organizers and one that was most applicable to rural organizing.
Margaret 15:41 Well, let's start there. What is it? What are these two modes? What is the difference?
Sprout 15:47 So, he proposed two general approaches to community organizing, the Alinsky model and the Eichler method. Saul Alinsky had a conflict theory and model, in which community power focuses on people, with underserved communities rarely having enough money to fight power but usually have strength in people. These are called the have-nots. And in order to gain power, the have-nots must take power from the haves. It's aggression oriented and it focuses on people as the agents of protest and creators of conflict. This is primarily the attitude seen in urban organizing, with large protests riots and police resistance actions framing the debate around who has power and trying to seize that power over others for oneself. In contrast to that, Mike Eichler came up with a consensus theory and model that was informed by Alinsky but focused on identifying consensus points between divergent groups. It sought opportunities to strengthen relationships between different groups' interests. It was more collaboration oriented and focused on each group's best interest in establishing trust, mutual agreements, and compromise. And then each method has its own list of rules.
Margaret 17:03 Okay, is Saul Alinsky the one who wrote Rules for Radicals?
Sprout 17:06 Yeah.
Margaret 17:07 Okay. This is so interesting to me because like, one, when you describe those things side by side, my thought is like, "Oh, the second one's better." and like, maybe that's not true. And also, probably when I was younger, I certainly didn't act in that way. Right? So what makes the second one not just better?
Charyan 17:28 The way I kind of view it from what I've read is it's kind of like the offensive and defensive arms of the movement.
Margaret 17:37 Yeah, I guess that's the other thing is that, like, whenever I see a dichotomy I want it to be false. And so I'm a little bit like, "Why not both?" Sorry, go ahead.
Charyan 17:43 So like, with...I forget exactly what where...how it shakes out. I'm certain they can expand more about in a second. But, it's kind of kind of like a yin-yang thing where like, rural communities will focus on one with a kind of a dash on together while urban communities would focus on the other one with a dash of...a little bit of both with.... [interrupted]
Sprout 18:12 It's not so much like one is better than the other, it's more like one is more likely to arise in a small rural area, and the other one is more likely to arise in a in a dense urban environment. I think a lot of that probably has to do with this main dichotomy that we highlight in the article between police and the city in a rural environment versus in an urban environment. A lot of what you see in big cities is the importation of officers from surrounding areas so that no one serving on the force in say, Oakland, is actually living in the city of Oakland. They're generally imported from the surrounding suburbs. So you get a sort of like invading force sort of feel. And here, majority, if not all of the officers live in the community. So while they're all police and they all have the same social functions, it looks a lot different. And the reactions...like the activists' reactions to those are a lot different.
Margaret 19:26 Okay. Yeah. I think about like the difference between...a really bad thing happened near where I live--that I don't want to talk about for sort of just general content warning type stuff--and of the police that responded to this bad thing, you know, the state police were how I'm used to cops acting where they were like, not so nice, right? And the sheriff treated everyone at the scene like a human, right, like, they treated everyone at the scene like they had just seen something horrible because that's what just...something horrible had just happened, right? I feel bad being so vague about this but whatever. People can deal. And yeah, because you can see in the state police...you know, where as the sheriff is like, well, the sheriff grew up with everyone who's involved in this. And so it's really interesting to me because you get this thing where it's like...I often wonder, I'm like, well rural culture is so into being outlaws, they're so into like--they do at least as much crime as anyone else if not more--you know, why are so many center-right rural communities, especially more recently, all bootlickers. And like, I guess if you generalize your idea of the police as being like, "Oh, well, that's Joe. He happens to be the sheriff," as compared to like, these storm troopers walk down the street and like kick everyone's heads in every...once a day or whatever, you're gonna have like really different conceptions of them. Am I completely off base about like kind of...I probably should have just asked....[Interrupted]
Charyan 21:02 Yeah, cause like in smaller towns right around here, you definitely get like that Andy Griffith kind of vibe from some cops, or at least from people's perceptions of the local police. Our local police definitely have their share of dirty dealings and unreported abuses and whatnot. I've known people personally who have been murdered by our local police department and it just...but it doesn't get the attention that someone in the bigger city might.
Sprout 21:32 We found that the police here have largely shown if not ambivalence, like tacit support for the mutual aid that happens here.
Charyan 21:43 We've gotten like the...what's the word I'm looking for? Like, thanks but a different word.
Margaret 21:51 A nod?
Charyan 21:52 Yeah, we've definitely received words of like appreciation and thanks and whatnot from the handful of officers or whatnot at like the meals when they drive by checking on people or whatever.
Sprout 22:03 And that's the officers as distinct from the city. The city would definitely shut us down in a heartbeat if they could, but the officers have no desire to do so.
Charyan 22:15 Some of them anyway,
Margaret 22:16 That is interesting. Because, yeah, very often in an urban environment, a lot of the elements of the city often support a lot of the mutual aids. Not always but like the police are more likely to be the primary antagonistic force. This might just be showing that I haven't lived in the city in a long time. But that is like my understanding. And it is interesting, though, because in both cases, the police are not part of the democratic existence of the society, right? Like, one of the things that I found so interesting that we saw more boldly during the past few years is police departments just straight up being like, "I don't care what we're supposed to do. We're not going to do that. And you can't make us do it." And then having the city back off and be like, "Oh, well, I guess we can't make them." And you're like...it was a good moment for people to realize that like the police are completely not democratically controlled or not controlled by the people. They're not, you know, they're just a wholly separate thing. So, it's still interesting that they're like, doing it in the good way. And that's probably why rural outlawy people tend to like the so-and-so cop because that so-and-so cop lets them get away with driving home drunk from the bar or whatever.
Sprout 23:29 They have a lot of discretion.
Charyan 23:29 Yeah. Like, the whole politics between the population as compared to the police is reversed or, you know, one of those dichotomies, where like, in the smaller town we have more liberal "chill" police as compared to a reactionary base, the reactionary population that shows up to the big city protests to mow people down in trucks and stuff like that, versus in the city where you have that more larger liberal population and outright fascist cops
Sprout 23:57 It does make it hard to push the "all cops are bastards" sort of rhetoric, right, when you have that sort of, "Oh, here's officer so-and-so helping this grandma across the road," kind of Facebook posts. Whereas if you're in a big city and you, like you mentioned, you have these sort of shock troop looking people coming in and beating people in your neighborhood up every so often, it's a lot easier to make that argument that "Oh, look at these police, you know, we need to abolish the police." But out here, the argument is still the same. We believe...we're not saying that we shouldn't abolish the police just because, you know, they're helping old ladies with groceries, but right it's a harder argument to make.
Charyan 24:51 Yeah, we're gonna be expanding on that too here soon in a article we're gonna be releasing soon and a episode of Molotov Now that we'll be discussing that article called "The Problem with Good Cops," trying to dive into this idea a little bit more.
Margaret 25:08 That's a really good idea and kind of an important thing because we need to, you know, I believe ACAB, right? I believe that the police are the worst. But, I also recognize why like, that's not going to be my main talking point around here, or like not my main starting talking point around here, partly because it is a more subtle bastardry because it's less obvious like, "Well, that person hits people for living," even though they still do, right? They exist to enforce violence. And, you know, one of the proudest strange moments of my life is I got a cop to quit once.
Sprout 25:48 Nice.
Margaret 25:49 Yeah, it was a weird...I don't think I've told the story on-air before. I wasn't...It wasn't solely me. But basically, I was like, at a nerd convention and I was like, complaining about police. And this one person was like, "I'm a police." And I was like, "What?" And then they were like, "But I'm a good police." They didn't, but they were like, "I'm good at..." you know, and we talked....
Sprout 26:12 They knew they had to make that argument.
Margaret 26:13 Right, totally. But then even from that context, I was like, "Well, you throw people in cages for living for breaking laws that aren't immoral like having weed." And they were like, "Well, I choose not to throw people in jail for weed," and I'm like, "Oh, so you support the system that allows this to happen," you know, and it's like, and I saw them at another convention--and I don't know if it's solely this conversation--but some other another convention and they're like, "I quit." And it's like, I think the ACAB...It's like the rural ACAB is a little bit more of a like it--depending on, I mean, some rural police are just as fucking awful and terrible as any other cop in a very obvious way--but you still have like...it's this...The role you are playing in society is bad. And your choice to participate in that role is bad and has negative consequences versus just like, "That guy's a piece of shit," you know?
Sprout 27:12 Well, and it's bad for the officers themselves as human beings.
Charyan 27:16 Yeah, there's a YouTuber, That Dang Dad, they do some videos. They're actually an ex-cop who are fully ACAB police and prison abolition now. They do a video kind of talking about how being a cop like messed with their mentality and mess with their mind because of the way that they do the training and the way that they're expected to act. And it does nothing good or healthy for them. Their channel isn't really like the ex-cop channel. They have a lot of other really good content as well, but they do have some good videos on those subjects.
Margaret 27:53 That's cool.
Sprout 27:54 So probably the most beneficial thing that we as abolitionists could do for police is to get them to quit their jobs.
Margaret 28:02 Yeah.
Sprout 28:03 You know, because it's not good for anyone. I often make the argument with people when I'm talking about the, you know, the wider social revolution, that it's desirous for everyone including Bezos. You know? I don't think that he's got a life that he's enjoying living, you know, a whole lot more than anyone else. I think that this system brutalizes and emiserates everyone and it's even those at the top who can benefit from having their social position taken from the hierarchies having being abolished.
Charyan 28:34 Yeah, and all this stuff requires us to do the same kind of organizing and the same kind of things that we're already talking about doing. Say, like, you know, preparing for a strike, for example, in the workplace, though, like, it's all the same stuff we would need to do to help cops be able to quit their job, you know, make sure that we're going to be able to feed their families, making sure that their house is going to be warm, you know, all these same kind of support structures that we're building for ourselves. We need to offer to these people but with the pretense of like, "You gotta stop being a cop."
Margaret 29:08 Yeah, totally. It's like, they're kind of like...Like, Bezos is like the person I'm like, least concerned about the well being of as relates to all of this. But I have always...I've gotten in arguments with people about it, where I'm like, "No, I want there to not be billionaires, by force if necessary but ideally, without force, you know? Like, I don't think that they like, need to be punished. Like, I don't believe in vengeance and punishment. I believe in problem solving, for me as an anarchist, like I believe...and sometimes that might look like stopping people by force, right? Like it's not...I'm not saying like, "Oh, we need to like think about the cops' feelings while they're in the middle of hitting people or whatever."
Sprout 29:52 But sometimes, the best thing you could do is to stop them by force.
Margaret 29:58 Yep, totally.
Sprout 29:59 For everyone, you know, so.
Charyan 30:01 Before you can convince someone to stop punching someone in the face, you kind of got to grab their arm.
Margaret 30:06 Yeah. And frankly, if you can't convince them to stop punching them in the face, you might have to punch them in the face harder. You know? Like, but that's not the ideal. The ideal is...
Sprout 30:18 It's not coming from a place of revenge, it's coming from a place of understanding that their actions need to be stopped.
Charyan 30:26 in solidarity with the rest of your community.
Margaret 30:29 Yeah. No, that's interesting. And this ties into what you all were talking about about the difference between Alinsky and Eichlers' models, right, this sort of...a slightly more confrontational one that's more urban and slightly more touchy feely one that is more rural. Okay, why is the more touchy feely one--I know it's not the most polite way to phrase it--why is it the more appropriate one for rural places. I can imagine, right, because you have these more deeper connections with the people around you? Or like, what's the deal?
Charyan 31:01 Well, I would definitely say it starts with like, the modes of socialization, where things are just a lot more personal in a small town. Everybody tends to know each other. There's a lot more deeper roots. Where in a bigger city, you're probably going for more of an appeal to the masses kind of tactic or whatever, but especially with like rural community, where we're wanting to make things community focused or whatnot, that is definitely going to be your biggest testing ground or incubator for building community, having those personal connections, which to be able to have that community, have those personal connections or whatnot, you actually have to, you know, put that work in. We need to be talking to people, we need to be having the conversations, we need to be, you know, not just going up to people and tell them like, "Hey, you're wrong. Here's how we need to be doing things." But we're saying, "Hey, what kind of problems are you facing in your life? What can we do to work together to solve those?"
Sprout 32:05 Well, and it's also a function just literally of the size of the groups. When you have a smaller group--like I know, our crew here is, is pretty tight--and when you have a small group like that you have to take into account everyone's thoughts and feelings a lot more than if you have to, like a General Assembly or something where there's a couple of hundred or fifty a hundred people, not everyone might get their personal opinion heard in that setting. Whereas if you're with five people, ten people, you know, you just kind of have to listen to everyone and come to a more of a consensus model. So it's kind of the environment itself that imposes the different modes of organizing,
Charyan 32:50 Yeah, and another aspect of that, too, is like, you know, in a bigger city, you're more than likely going to find more radicals. You're going to find more people who are already on board, you know, the like, "I'm for all the social justice issues, I'm all in for, you know, getting rid of capitalism, and all these things," which helps you like, avoid a lot of those harder conversations. And, it makes it easier to have that specialized group versus places like here, where we're having to do more work and finding the sympathetic liberals who are on that edge, bringing them in, and helping pull them the rest of the way left.
Margaret 33:30 Okay. And is the way that that usually happens is that you're working on an issue together and then they see, they end up sort of assimilating to the sort of like leftist values of that group and realizing that they're appropriate to the problems that they're facing? Or like, what does that look like, pulling people further to the left?
Charyan 33:48 Definitely its own tug of war. There's a lot of active work that needs to be done to keep groups from being co-opted by more liberal ideals or opinions and whatnot, which is always going to be a constant struggle.
Sprout 34:09 There's also an effect that we mentioned in the article, there's a study out of, I think, Washington University in St. Louis, that they found that it was actually the geography that dictated whether people would lean more towards certain political labels. But, it wasn't the...which kind of sounds like what you'd expect. But what they found digging deeper into the research was that it wasn't actually the underlying political beliefs of the people that changed. It was really just the labels that they used. So what you can find is a lot of the similar sort of libertarian tendencies that you might expect out of like a more social left kind of as we would conceive of it individual but being labeled as conservative or, you know, something on the right. So, there's a lot of like mislabeling, and that happens here in this country uniquely I think and sometimes deliberately where political ideologies are mislabeled.
Charyan 35:27 Libertarian is a big one. That means not what it means here everywhere else in the world.
Sprout 35:34 But, you'll find a lot of people who are calling themselves one thing. And if you don't dig into that, you just think, "Oh, they're conservative. I know what that means." But if you dig into it, you find, "Oh, well, actually you think, you know, people in your community should have their needs provided for and people should take care of one another. And you believe all of these actually sort of like leftist values." And it's interesting that it's actually, again, it's like the environment itself that imposes these differences and not like any underlying individual traits.
Charyan 36:09 I saw this guy at the bar recently. He was claiming to be like an anarchist, or whatever and this is unprompted, him having his own conversations when I got here, so I'm like, "What do you got to say about that?" And he started talking about Michael Malice. I'm like, "Alright. I'm finishing my drink. I'm leaving. I'm done here."
Sprout 36:27 Yeah. And then you have that in the bigger cities where everyone is like, oh, using the same exact label, but you find actually, you think something completely different from me.
Margaret 36:35 Yeah, you have the like, Democrats in California, who are--I'm not trying to be like, all people in California--but like the politicians and shit who have all of the same policies of like fund to the police, sweep camps, enact the war on drugs, like whatever.
Sprout 36:52 The law and order liberals.
Margaret 36:53 Yeah, exactly. And like, at the end of the day, there's not an incredible amount of difference besides like, what they like...I had this experience that I really appreciated lately. It's very rare that you could start a sentence with, "I was in a gun store talking about a conspiracy with the guy behind the counter, and it was cool." But that's...but it happened to me recently in this small town, and I'm like talking to the guy and his conspiracy was--and I agree with this. There's very few things that...he was like, "Yeah, I think that gun companies lobby anti-gun stuff constantly in order to spike sales."
Sprout 37:35 Oh, yeah.
Margaret 37:36 Yeah. And that's what...when I told someone this earlier they were like, "Oh, where is she going with this?" And they say that and they're like, "Yeah, no, yeah, of course," you know, like, we've got these, like, run on guns like, Y'all are in Washington. I, you know...I mean, in this case, it's--I dunno if valid is the right word--but, you know, Washington is poised to pass an assault weapons ban and so there's this run on guns in Washington. And that might be like...I mean, those are actually being banned. So if you go and get them now, it's legal. But as compared to like, federally, right, where Congress or whatever is talking about how they're going to pass an assault weapons ban, like, they're not. Like, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe. Whatever. But they're not. And it's like...and it seems like the reason that they do that...I don't know if it's actually the reason or not, and that's the...but the effect of it, is that everyone runs out and spends thousands and thousands of dollars on firearms.
Sprout 38:36 That's funny. That's, that's where my mind jumped to when you brought it up before we started recording. I was like, "Oh, well, they're gonna sell some guns with that." I mean, there are conspiracies. So.
Margaret 38:48 Yeah, no, totally. And, this one is a good example where it like literally doesn't matter whether it's a conspiracy or not. Like I also think that a huge reason as to why the Democrats don't actually ever do anything to solidify Roe v. Wade in law is so that they continue to use Roe v. Wade, hold people's right to choose over their head, hold bodily autonomy over people's head to blackmail people into voting for them. Right? Because as soon as it's solidified into law then you're not as freaked out and need to go run for the Democrat, vote for the Democrat every time.
Sprout 39:22 And no one's gonna vote for a Democrat unless there's a life and death reason.
Margaret 39:27 I know, because they're the least interesting political party that...All they've ever been able to do is be the lesser evil. Yeah. Have you all had the experience of having people explain about Trump being the lesser evil?
Sprout 39:41 No.
Charyan 39:43 Yeah. Unfortunately.
Margaret 39:46 It's so fascinating to me, because I'm like, this is just literally the conversation I keep having with liberals. This is so wild, you know, only inverted.
Sprout 39:55 When Trump was very first sort of running.... [interrupted]
Margaret 39:59 Nah,this was recently.
Charyan 40:00 I think it falls in with like, in line with the... [interrupted] I think it matches with this wave of like patriotic socialists and mega communists and all that other weird online Twitter shit.
Sprout 40:03 Well was like, "I'll just throw a brick. We're just gonna throw this brick in the window and burn it all down."
Margaret 40:15 Yeah. Yeah. Well, okay. My other question then is how much does the weird...How much does the culture war in your experience filtered down to the actual people that you're around? Like, I know that you all are in one of the most polarized states in the country. It's a deep blue state with like pockets of deep red, right?
Sprout 40:40 Absolutely.
Charyan 40:40 That's definitely our area here.
Margaret 40:42 Is one of the pockets of deep red?
Charyan 40:44 Yeah. Our whole city council is pretty much far right. We have maybe one or two allies, quote unquote. And that's it.
Margaret 40:53 Yeah. Is that causing, like specific issues around the issues of like, are people getting harassed for wearing masks? Are people getting harassed for not wearing gender appropriate clothing? Are people of color being harassed? Like, I mean, obviously, these are...the answer, of course, on some level is going to be yes to all of these things because people are everywhere and stuff, but I'm just curious how much it is impacting people there, the culture war shit.
Sprout 41:18 There's been a little bit of the whole drag, anti-trans drag fear mongering but far and away the biggest thing on their plate is the homeless? Or I guess just poor people in general because it's hard to tell out here who's homeless sometimes and who's just wearing a real baggy coat because it's always wet. But they've been pushing that issue for going on five years really hard. And by they, I mean, Save Our Aberdeen Please is our local fascist contingency.
Charyan 41:58 Yeah. And so they recently tried to do a protest against like a drag show that they were doing for Christmas fundraising here recently. It was turned into a whole thing. But, ultimately, nobody ended up showing up. They got freezed out by the fog and the rain. And the property is also set back a ways from the road so there was no place for them to effectively protest at, but here last year or the year before--I'm bad with my time and dates--But there is a huge protest outside of a local Star Wars shop with a big anti-trans protests that resulted after a trans council woman that we had, at the time, had called out a local shopkeeper, the owner of the Star Wars shop, for some transphobic signs that he had displayed front and center at the business. It turned into a whole thing. They brought Proud Boys to town. It was a big ordeal.
Margaret 43:01 This offends my nerd heart very deeply. Nerd culture has always been one of the safest places for gender marginalized people.
Charyan 43:12 Yeah, and this guy was anything but safe. He was a groomer. He let his kid deal heroine out of the back of the shop. Just nothing but bad from this guy.
Sprout 43:27 Yeah, but this small group of old ladies who were just trying to pick up trash somehow coordinated like 50+ Proud Boys to show up for that event. So...
Margaret 43:41 Jesus.
Charyan 43:42 It also appeared on Stormfront before any local news. It went straight from local Facebook drama to Stormfront.
Sprout 43:50 Yeah. And then it was a part of the Right-Wing Outrage Machine for about 24 hours.
Charyan 43:56 They brought Matt Walsh to town. He put something about based grandpa in that fucked off documentary, whatever you'd call it that he made, the "What is a Woman" shit?
Margaret 44:08 Yeah, cuz he's never met one. So that's why he made that. It was the only to get women to talk to him. [said sarcastically]
Charyan 44:15 I saw Lance from The Serf Times talking about him and the crew from Daily Wire, about how none of them know how to operate a fucking washing machine. And it was just hilarious.
Margaret 44:24 I was thinking that shit. Imagine telling people that you don't know how to do your own laundry. Imagine thinking that makes you look strong.
Charyan 44:37 Yeah, and proud of it.
Margaret 44:40 Nothing makes it more clear that they believe that they own the women in their lives than the fact that it's like...because they're like all into...the right wing mythos is all about self reliance and shit, right? But it's like, "Well, I don't have to be entirely self reliant because I own this wife."
Sprout 45:00 Yeah, that's my wife [said sarcastically]
Margaret 45:02 and fucking...You all will be shocked to know that I don't like misogyny. God, imagine being proud of it. I can't. It's just doesn't make any sense to me like there...Okay, this is a kind of a question too, right? Because it's like, there's people I can talk to with different values than me, even values that like matter a lot to me, where you can kind of be like, "I see where you're coming from. I disagree strongly with your desire to protect women all the time, or the women, the girls sports team," or whatever fucking weird shit people are on. You can like, see where people are coming from...And then you have the fucking Nazis, where you're just like, how can anyone look at Matt Walsh and be like, "There's a man I can relate to?" I can't imagine anything he's saying.
Charyan 45:56 He's like, the most boring guy too. Like, all his content, like it...For all the inflammatory stuff, he says, like, there's no flavor to it, it's just the most boring monotone...
Margaret 46:14 And how do you deal with that? I mean, like, honestly, okay, as a question like, how do you deal with like, talking to people around you? This is one of the questions we get a lot, actually, on the show, is people are like," I live in a place--you talk about how part of preparedness is communicating with your neighbors, getting to know them--how do I talk to people, you know, in ways that are safe? How do I talk to people who are steeped in culture war, or might be steeped in culture war?" Like, and there's gonna be like, limits to this, right? Like, I'm not gonna like, go knock on the door of the person with the Confederate flag in a dress and be like, "Hey, bud, what's up?" Right? But I'm like, curious how you all navigate as organizers, because my...I just hide from everyone. My immediate neighbors know me, but I just hide from everyone, because I'm not an organizer. Like, how do you all handle that?
Charyan 47:06 Well, I have no solid answers. But one thing I definitely would say, it probably is a good start, is like finding the people who are closest to you, or at least closest to your immediate circle, and just do all you can to like help out, make yourself an asset to them in a way that you guys can start getting closer on some sort of other level. And once you've gotten to a point where it's like, alright, they care about you, and they care about how things affect you, at least, you might be able to start making that bridge, like, "Hey, here's something that affects you, here's something that affects me. This is shitty," but it's going to be different for everybody in every situation. That said, I don't really have any hard fast answers.
Sprout 47:55 No, I mean, when we've found the best approach has been to just ask people what they need and start there, and then don't over promise, you know, if they need more than you can provide. Let them know that. But, consistency, you know, showing up, and doing what you tell someone you're gonna do, those those can help build a reputation, you know, something that's going to generate respect regardless of your political views is you just being out there in your community helping people meet their needs. And, how you can do it as an anarchist is that element of asking what their need is and not going in as charity, saying, "Here's a bunch of blankets. I didn't call ahead to see if that's what you needed." But you know, like, going in saying, "Hey, what do you need?" And then helping them get that without judgment. That's pretty much what we've done and it's taken us this far. So, I'm pretty proud of it.
Margaret 49:05 Makes sense. Well, the main thing that y'all are currently working on we haven't talked too much about, but kind of here at the end, I'm wondering if you want to talk about your...you know, Blackflower Collective, you're talking about getting this space, right? How's that going? Like, what...what are y'all running into as things that are helping or not helping as you work on that?
Charyan 49:26 Well, our main obstacle and our main goal right now is finding land, being able to have property in the hand is vital for our project because between the hostile political environment in town, and all the other problems associated with renting property, we need to have a property that we can own to get this off the ground. And with property values rising and skyrocketing and us pretty much essentially starting from zero to get this off the ground, we are head focused on trying to figure out how we can do fundraisers, how we can launch some side businesses to help fund this project because we're looking at pretty much anywhere between $300,000 and a $1,000,000 we're going to need to raise for this property.
Sprout 50:17 Yeah. Right now we're focused on getting the word out because it's just a brand new idea and a brand new project, and starting to generate some sources of revenue. So we have Blackflower Bookkeeping, if there's any radical businesses that need bookkeeping services, hit us up. We also have Blackflower Permaculture. So, we're starting to do some design work around permaculture. And so those are two sources of revenue that we're trying to open up, as well as the--as I mentioned before--the benefit shows, which not only would serve to start to cultivate sort of community around the project but would hopefully be another fundraising effort.
Margaret 51:07 Yeah. Okay, so with the bookkeeping thing. One of the things that's come up a bunch of times...I've met people who've been like, "I want to be an anarchist." But people think that they're like, get kept out of anarchy because they're not like punks, or they're not like...their skill set is not like, organized...depending on what they think of anarchism, either they're not a punk, their skill set is not antagonizing cops, or their skill set is not organizing or whatever, right? And I've met people who are like, "Oh, I'm only good at spreadsheets. I don't know how I could be of help." And I just like, want to shake them and be like, "Every group I know needs a spreadsheet wizard."
Charyan 51:48 So, for a message for all the boozy radicals that are listening that are looking for their entrance into radical spaces, and anarchist spaces, and whatnot, we definitely could use a lot more of those skills that are removed from a lot of lower income people and whatnot. Like, for example, I need a fucking anarchist lawyer. Get me a Saul Goodman. Someone, please, come through for me.
Margaret 52:20 We'll talk after. There are good anarchist lawyers.
Sprout 52:25 I mean, we need every skill, you know, when you think about it. So yeah, there's no wrong place to get involved. That's the thing is, you don't have to be out on the front line throwing yourself at a line of police. You can do anything. Just do it for the revolution.
Margaret 52:45 Yeah, yeah. Fuck yeah. Well, that feels like kind of a good end note. If people are interested in supporting you, or hearing more about the stuff that you're doing, do you want to talk about your pod...Like, where can people find your...well, people can find your podcast where are they found this podcast. It's called Molotov Now. But, you want to plug any of the stuff you're working on?
Charyan 53:09 Well, if you want to find more of our projects from Sabot Media, you could find our website at SabotMedia.noblogs.org. Or check us out on your social media platform of choice @Aberdeenlocal1312.
Sprout 53:28 Ideally at Kolektiva's Macedon server. So, for Blackflower, the website is blackflowercollective.no blogs.org. And that has all the information about where to donate and what the different projects that we're trying to get off the ground are. And any information that comes up about new events or shows anything like that we'll be putting on the website as well.
Margaret 53:58 Awesome. All right. Well, thank you all so much, and I can't wait to hear more about what you all are getting up to.
Charyan 54:07 Thank you. It's been great talking with you.
Sprout 54:09 Yeah, thanks for the opportunity.
Margaret 54:16 Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, you can go and start a rural organizing project. Don't call it that. There's already a rural organizing project called Rural Organizing Project. Oooh, I should have them on too. But, you can go organize, or you can just be lazy and tell people about this podcast. Or, you can rate, and review, and do all the algorithm stuff. Or, you can support us financially. Supporting us financially pays the people who transcribe and edit these episodes. One day it might even pay the hosts of this episode, wouldn't that be cool. Or the guests. I guess should probably pay the guests first. But you can help make that happen by going to patreon.comstrangersinatangledwilderness. Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness is an anarchist publishing collective that publishes this podcast and a bunch of other stuff, including the podcast Anarcho Geek Power Hour, for people who like movies and hate cops, the podcast Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness, which includes our features zines that we put out every month. And, if you want to know more about our features zines, you can go to patreon.com...I already said that part. But, you get sent those zines if you're part of our Patreon, and if not, you can look at them for free by going to our website, which is tangledwilderness.org. And it really is the Patreon that that makes all of these things happen. And I'm incredibly grateful to everyone who supports it. And in particular, I'm grateful to Jans, Oxalis, Janice, Paige, Aly, Paparouna, Milica, Boise Mutual Aid, Theo, Hunter, Shawn, SJ, Paige, Mikki, Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea, Kat J., Staro, Jenipher, Eleanor, Kirk, Sam, Chris, Micaiah, and Hoss the Dog. And if you want to hear your name listed in this list, you just head on over, and I can't do the...I can't do that voice. I'm not very good at the non earnest voice. But, it really it means the world. It also means the world that so many of you listen to this show and tell people about it. It's what makes it worth it. And take care
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