Finding Common Ground with Joshua Hughes

On this podcast, I discuss a variety of topics with Joshua Hughes, co-founder of VerdEnergia Pacifica, a permaculture community in the Costa Rican jungle. We spend the majority of the podcast talking about how to keep progressive movements going amidst the rise of Trump, but what is perhaps most interesting are the lessons we can learn from Josh's experience living in a remote area where, unlike most places affluent people live, cooperation with your neighbors is essential. In our hyperpolarized political climate, it might seem pollyannaish to believe there's much we can agree on with the other side, but much of Josh's experience tells us otherwise.

Show Notes:

My first podcast with Josh

Analysis of why (white) women voted for Trump

Links for statistics:

Voter turnout
Obama and military spending
Federal budget spending on war


Spenser: Alright, so, here we are, in January of 2017, Mr. Donald Trump is about to be inaugurated as President, in just a couple weeks, and I'm at VerdEnergia in Costa Rica out in the jungle, once again, hiding out in the smurfship with Joshua Hughes, and this is about the only quiet place on the farm, there's a lot of construction going on, there's some babies crying and stuff so we kind of tucked ourselves away here, in this igloo sort of shaped building. Thought we'd talk a little politics, it does seem--a lot of people, including myself, were kind of thinking, maybe we should've moved out to the Costa Rican jungle after the election, that actually doesn't seem like such a bad idea, so thought we'd chime in and talk in a little bit about that. I think that maybe when people see what Josh has done and has built this community, they think, "Well, does that mean he wants me to come live out there, full-time, and kind of just build mud huts", but that's not what you think, right Josh?

Josh: Not for everybody, the world needs a lot of people doing a lot of different jobs, and society needs farmers and it needs people who are willing to live out and do the forestry work, but it also needs people that are willing to be dentists and doctors and lawyers and politicians and Navy SEAL's and policeman and everything, and students and artists, so this community here that we've been working on has been kind of an experiment in how to mix cultures together, and try and come up with simple, duplicatable solutions to some of the bigger problems, so VerdEnergia has been a place for us to practice, but it's been an amalgamation of a lot of different people from around the world, we've had about 4,000 different people here of which maybe 20 or 30 of them live here each year, so we're not--I don't want the whole world to move to the countryside, but I do want people to be in touch with what it means to have wild spaces and organic farms and how to experiment and play with what we need, our resources, our consumable items, our foods, our medicines, how to do those things, in a way that actually makes sense, and doesn't cause harm, or even regenerates and remediates some of the harm we've done. So Verde is an experimental place for us to do this, it's a cooperative that allows a big group of us to, in a sense, kind of pay our taxes to the world and have ambassadors that are willing to live here, like myself and others over the years, that will reforest and do what it takes on the front line of the destruction of places like the Costa Rican rain forest and try to stop or reverse those trends, so our group, our crew of a couple thousand friends and family and a hundred or so owners of three different projects here in this valley, are protecting land and regenerating and helping set examples for others--and people go back to the big world and go back to their jobs, or many do, kind of use this experience as a spring board as a way of bringing in these ideals, the permaculture ideals, or just regenerative ideals, into whatever they do in life--so I think people need to live everywhere, we need to be better everywhere, all at once, right now, so that was my path, because I needed some time out on the front, learning how to do these things, I didn't know what was possible, so moving here taught me a lot over the last ten years, and then integrating my business background with what nature has to offer, and learning that and integrating that, I think we've come up with approaches that are easily duplicatable in all different forms of business or transactions with other humans or nature or wherever we live.

Spenser: So I thought one interesting angle that we could take on this is that is probably more, arguably the most divergence on--I think people might think that now we're as polarized as we've ever been, perhaps, people are making that argument, your time out at Verde has put you in touch with people, probably from the very far left that are basically Communists all the way to the very far right, that I guess believe in a form of anarchy, but because of how remote Verde is and because of your beliefs as well, you've created relationships with neighbors that are not lockstep with you politically, to say the least, so if you could just talk a little bit about what are some ways that we can create dialogue on these things so that it doesn't--we're not just talking to only people we agree with, we get some conversation going, even with the crazy uncle at Thanksgiving that we can never seem to get anywhere with.

Josh: Yeah, I've been living in a small community, we're an hour and a half out of a town with about 15,000 people in it, on the road we're on, 15 kilometers from the main road, we have maybe 100 people total, 150 people total, it's a very Catholic community, and very conservative culture in general, or at least that's the way it appears on the outside, and from the beginning, we came in here seeming to be hippies, not really, but it's very socially conscious, anti-war, and/or, frankly quite a few anarchists, too, anarchist types who want to do this, too, showed up here from the beginning, but we had to integrate with neighbors and immediately at a place where we live, we have to help each other, the road goes out, the power goes out, cars break down, many don't have cars. So there's so many good neighbor things that you just have to do where I live, you have to overlook almost all differences, all the time, and pretty much work together on the commonalities--that's not just like a clichéd thing here, like I have to get to the store, there's landslide, your car is on the other side, you need to transport stuff down to your uncle down the road, even if you don't like him, you don't want him to starve because the road went out, so here we end up having to help each other, we look at each other like people and friends, and then we have disagreements like we do, we had a political meeting just the other day here, and our political association for this region, and elected our mayor-type person and all the secretaries and we had some really good arguments there, but everybody has worked together so hard and lives in this country in a type of poverty that really requires a community so that people can survive, the commonalities mean a lot more than the differences. Then, what I've done is I've put my money where my mouth is, I don't just show up and argue with my neighbors about geopolitics, I teach them by bringing in the capital that it really requires to have employment and hire people and support their families even though they may totally disagree with me about the way I don't want to use pesticides or I want to consider far-off places by not taking in and using resources in a wasteful manner. Doing labor by hand instead of just using machines, these things I've been able to really make--bridge gaps, because I'm not just talking about it, we've been showing up with capital and investing in our ideas, and that investment trickles out to the community. So our community trusts that we're here in all of their best interests, and we work on water systems together, and we work on food co-ops and how we're going to process the food we make so we can all make a living, that's what I see down here, in this community, and this is a radically different community from where I would live if I lived in Portland. I'm surrounded here most of the time, when there's 20 of us here maybe it seems like a lot of us here together, but when there's just a few of us here, it's me and a few friends and a thousand Puriscaleños that I hang out with and love, and most of them are strong Catholics, you know they really disagree, on a fundamental level, with a lot of things with me, but that doesn't come up, because most of our discussions are about how we're going to make the community out here better, for everybody, so their kids can go to school, and so they can have a road that works when they need to get to the doctor. So the commonalities I find, I would say, "trumping" the bad things, but I don't want to use the word "trumping" anymore so I don't know what to say anymore.

Spenser: Right, I think there's a notion that we're sort of making a deal with the devil, so if I find a way to find common ground with a Trump supporter, we both like football or whatever, and we have a beer together, that I've somehow compromised myself ideologically or ethically, and I'm not saying that I agree with this, but I think we've almost--

Josh: Culture war is on.

Spenser: Well right, and your friends are going, your liberal friends will sort of shame you or you crossed a line and you walked to the other side and isn't it ok to have people over and have a talk, when you care about people, like you were saying, it's harder to hate, and nobody wants to get anywhere with sheer hatred, at least that's not what the liberal side claims to stand for.

Josh: No, I think we're probably getting bitter, and it's hard to talk--liberals have a hard time explaining themselves, because when you actually understand the world's problems, you better understand why people voted for Trump, you better be also understanding why people didn't show up with passion for Hillary, or why we let Trump take the election without even winning the popular vote again, and not really questioning how these elections work, so I think we should be analyzing, the liberals of America should be getting more educated than ever now, and not giving up on that fight, and not thinking about it as much as a fight as like a real--we need to educate our communities, and we're not going to get there by just screaming at people, we're going to get there when we have logical answers and you know what it means, is a lot of my liberal friends don't know how to change a tire, and my redneck friends know to change a tire but don't know anything about Sudan--I think we have to be willing to learn from each other, and there's a lot to learn from the people that voted for Trump, too. And I think that I get along with most of them just as well, if not more, actually, because at least they go for what they want. I have a hard time with the wishy-washy, indecisiveness of the liberal American political parties at least, they tend to be paralyzed by slow change to keep markets happy and keep jobs happening and it seems like the Trump supporters at least commit, full commit to what they believe, I don't agree with them, but they fully commit, and they show up hardcore at rallies, and there was no passion like that for the Democrats, there was for Bernie Sanders and that was a beautiful thing, but he got absolutely no coverage, so he wasn't really a factor until it was too late, and the Democratic Party had made a big miscalculation there, in not supporting a candidate like him that stood up for a lot of liberals real values, he has his own problems but we could've dealt with those later, but what Trump is, is doing from what I hear, you said earlier that, "Moving to the jungle doesn't sound like such a bad idea," now I'm getting a hundred emails a week saying that to me right now, so you're not alone there, so what I think people are going to learn about homesteading and getting into these things is that there's already people doing it, we're doing the experiments, there's millions of small farms out there, and collectively-owned co-ops and businesses to go and learn from, we don't have to reinvent this wheel anymore, and a lot of us have been doing that. So that energy that you're feeling, "Well I gotta run", well maybe your personality needs to, I did, I had to get really far away from politicians, I was angry. The jungle helped calm me down, but it did for a while, I was very upset at George Bush and those things, so I went into my own searching here and learning the basics and getting simple, but I would like everybody to look in the mirror, that energy that you feel in running and maybe think, "This is the time when we organize." And revolutions don't happen overnight, we don't want a violent revolution, that's not going to work out well for most people, it doesn't, the society collapsing sucks, so what we need to do right now is use this opportunity to organize, we need to build unions again, we need to learn what those things even mean, we need to re-educate ourselves on connecting progressive movements, progressive movements, not liberal movements or anarchic movements but both of those things together and thinking about the way that it was happening, like the turn of the last century, in the 1890's, there was a real progressive movement happening with the farmers connecting with the activists of the cities and we could learn a lot from those times, and the Trump era is going to be not much different from many other times in this country, when corporate capitalism takes its big shots forward and tries to really cinch in its control, but we can have a serious--we can seriously push things the other direction, and it seriously requires the organization, and this is the kind of man that brings out a visceral response, he's offending everyone so deeply, and when his own supporters realize that he was lying to them, too, cause he just represents the billionaires, they're all going to be upset. So soon enough, we're coming to a time when we're going to start standing up together and fighting, and you don't need your uncle to agree with you, at dinner, once a year when you see him, you need to organize the rest of your family into doing the right thing, and he'll either follow or he won't, or he'll get really old and die, and that whole generation of hateful, racist people, is fading away, and Donald Trump is a reaction from--a lot of his people are that class of people, people that never change, they're never going to, but they're 6 out of 7 Americans who didn't vote for Donald Trump, and by the way, one of my big experiences down here, over the years, is spending time with Europeans and South Americans and Africans and people from Asia, all over the world, coming here to learn permaculture, or to experience this life for a minute, and what Trump has done to them, or what even Bush did to them, they really wonder if we're all that way, and I think we need to remind ourselves that we're not, that 6 out of 7 of us did not vote for this person and this party or these Congress people, we didn't vote--most of us. And we're going to pay for that--we're going to learn what it means not to show up right now, and Obama gave us this "hope-y change-y" thing from above that did feel, it felt better, well, we're in for not feeling better for a while about things, and I hope people are ready to think about what it means to organize--cause that's all that these people have done, the people that have taken power over the last years, they've just been really good at organizing, the people that they're putting into the cabinet these days, it's the same people that have been locking control in for the last 30-40 years, neoliberalism, neofascism, these things aren't new, neither one of them are new.

Spenser: No swamp drain? Where's my swamp drain?

Josh: It's Goldman Sachs all the way to the end, and the Koch Brothers, and people that really are entrenched in all the biggest industries in our country, and we're going to have to start thinking about politics as a powerful thing, instead of degrading government, and talking shit about government, like government is the problem, we need to realize that corporations completely controlling the government is the problem, and we need to make a government that actually responds and fights against the tyranny of hierarchical capitalism that allows no real controls over itself, it has to be controlled whenever--capitalism doesn't have any restrictions on itself, it just wants it all, and if we want to have a capitalistic world which I don't think people even understand, we're going to have to have controls over it, so it doesn't commodify everything in the world, including you and your child and every thought you have and everything and every drop of water and air and piece of forest land, like we have to think about these things differently, and I think we're just going to have to start showing up for this fight again. Many generations struggled to gain the rights we now have to vote and stuff, and we take it for granted and don't do it, and because we take it for granted, we're going to lose it, we've lost it already, elections are a joke, the DNC and the RNC, it's a joke, these are not the best people our country have to offer, is Donald Trump the best Republican we had to offer? Our elections are already a joke, because they knew we wouldn't show up for it.

Spenser: Well the RNC, in fairness there, they didn't want Trump.

Josh: Yeah, but, you know, he was actually a wild card to them, for sure, and the Democrats should've taken that more seriously, but either way, Goldman Sachs is in the cabinet today, so we're in for the long ride of politics, it's not going to be one President, one Bernie Sanders, that was the problem with what I felt in the Sanders movement, is a bunch of people got on board because it felt like some moment could do it for you, and the organizing that it's going to take to have this struggle is going to be beyond all of our years, if we want clean water and air, we have very short window to fix those things, we're poisoning ourselves really quickly. And as China and India and what we used to call the "third world" come on board to live like us, it's accelerating really rapidly, and whether people want to believe in climate change or not, we can all probably take a look out our windows and come to terms with the fact that we have local land base destruction, everywhere we're at, in the air over your town, or the water flowing through your creeks or the erosion down the street or on your own land, is real whether or not you believe in man-made, anthropomorphic global climate change, but not matter what people want to believe, we're cooking this planet, the glaciers are slipping, clean water is going to be an issue, and we have some examples to look towards right now, there are parallel infrastructures like permaculture that have been introducing themselves, things like that, all around the world, that are coming up with answers but we're getting no help from the top down, because they want to commodity things like water, but the Standing Rock protests, these things are--people are starting to wake up, people are organizing around commons, clean water, clean air, I think these things are going to change the game, and we have to treat them like they matter, and politics aside, both sides want to breathe, at some point we're going to come together on this stuff, I find it easy once somebody gets exposed to the jungle here at least, I find it really easy to bring us together and avoid the hot topics long enough to like pay our dues, to fix the water, in even just one location, so I think we can come together on these things. And if you're uncle doesn't want to come together about it, don't talk to him about it, move on. There's plenty of people on our team.

Spenser: So you're sort of saying, make an effort to be friends with people first, try and find some common ground, before just diving into whatever differences you may have.

Josh: And the differences are being set up by the propaganda that's working against you and I when we talk about these things, a lot of people are lost in the propaganda, they don't understand what's happened to them. So, it's up to you and I, those of us that want to communicate with people, and not just shut down and let people spout things at the dinner table that aren't true, we're going to have to figure out how to tactfully counter well thought through propaganda, not just some lies on TV, I mean 60, 70 years of Exxon actively making sure that we don't talk about these things properly, those things are being exposed, we're seeing that they've been doing this, so we're coming to a time when we're gunna have to challenge people's deep, deeply held beliefs that are held falsely, really falsely. We're going to have to figure that out. I do it all the time by talking about the simple things, there's a couple of things throughout history that a lot of us can agree on. Vietnam War was a time when families were torn apart, but talking about the Vietnam War with people that are a little older than me, that maybe don't agree on climate change, they tend to come to terms with it real quick that America shouldn't be engaged in wars all around the world and we find common ground, and then we can talk about oil, and how oil relates to climate, and all of the sudden we're talking about changing the world for the better, for different reasons. I think I look more for allies now, instead of people that would be on my team all the time, I don't need to have a billion people agree with me, sometimes you just have to be able to ally on certain things, and a lot of the countries parliamentary style systems, in America, we're winner-takes-all mindset, we win, we lose. Our party. In most countries, there are small parties, they win a certain percentage and they have to compromise and ally with other parties and then they get some good things done in parliamentary type things, so I think that way, I think we're going to have to think in the form of alliances, instead of full agreements, and not even like---consensus is even hard to get, I don't even know if you can pull that off, but I do know that you can find enough common ground to probably make a lot of the biggest decisions, or at least start down the path, and once you start talking about something like clean water, maybe they'll come to the meeting with you and see the test, and see how Monsanto chemical is in their drinking water and then they're going to realize that they need to identify the true, maybe they'll see the entity that's actually hurting them and then they'll start identifying the corporate problem and then maybe you can get the next level, ok, well why is this company covering up that this happens, so I've opened a lot of doors through getting people to think about common things and then talking about media literacy, about what it means to understand who's talking to you, who's telling you what you know. A lot of people say they don't watch the news, but they do gather news, it just comes in ways, like Facebook now, these quick little headlines, and it's important that we know who's telling us these things and source it, so I spent a lot of my time sourcing, and looking up where and why I read a story and trying to show people those stories and show them where these accountable sources are, and/or when I hear something I go and look up their source and try to have a good rebuttal, it doesn't mean that you're going to win the argument, you may not need to. Your job may not need to--and by the way--I don't need to change my uncle at the dinner table, when we're talking, what I need to do is make sure these other ten people at the table, don't follow him, that they see him for what he is, so sometimes arguing with the guy in the room, I think Richard Dawkins said this, I don't have to change that crazy person over there, I just need everybody else at the table to realize that that's a crazy person over there. Whether they follow me or not, they shouldn't follow him, so sometimes you might just have to argue with people, and leave it at that, I feel like we're pushing this ball forward, and it's not just to change the one soul that we're talking to, it may be the thousands around you, or the two around you or the one around you. I changed when I sat rooms where two people who passionately believed in something, argued, and I saw that this person had a real backed up story, that's what got me into people like Noam Chomsky, people argue against him and lose, so I really value the forging of ideas and the honing of a good argument by doing it, it's ok. Political discourse is important, we used to be proud of being able to argue about our politics and now we're a little ashamed of it. In the 50's, people felt very informed, in the 40's, men were proud to know politics and all of the sudden it's a taboo subject? I think it's ok to be an informed person that carries the ball that the media is dropping. The media, you are the media; I am the media, since the media is not functioning properly. They call it the fourth estate for a reason, without it, the democracy falls, so it sits on us that are wanting to pay attention, that are gathering logical information and have sources we can trust, friends who have gone and worked in Antarctica, and I have people that I know that work on climate change science, it's hard to argue with these things unless you're really not paying attention, so again, I don't know what to do with everybody that doesn't want to listen to it, but it's ok to argue about it but the other people in the room are probably going to follow you, not the other person, when they look at science, but that's an interesting one, don’t forget, one out of seven, one out of eight Americans voted for Trump, the rest didn't.

Spenser: You know, I did have sort of a hope leading up to this election, that somebody, that the better argument would come through and Trump would be shown to be a fraud, and his arguments would be torn apart, which they were a bajillion times by lots of sources, but to some extent it didn't work, so it does leave you with a disquieting sense that, "Well, is the better argument really going to win?" I mean, I would hope so, but it just seems like education, and argument and all that seems to have, on some level, failed here. I haven't fact checked your statistic about one out of seven, I'll just give you that.

Josh: 60 million Americans voted for him, there's 330 million of us or whatever, so a lot of us didn't vote for him.

Spenser: I'll give it to you. The point being that--

Josh: The true culture war not being lost, the appearance of it is changing though.

Spenser: But I guess, yeah, I think the idea is that just kind of tearing down the argument might not be enough, is what this might suggest.

Josh: It's not enough. You have to have--I mean there's been a well-constructed push since the end of World War II for the most powerful and wealthy people in the world to maintain control through a system of propaganda and stealing elections, doing whatever they have to do even if stealing elections just means running bullshit stories for 25 years about stuff until people just believe it, and not talking about major issues, like climate change, until it's like too late, or not talking about a war until it's way too late. I think it's not as bad as we want to believe, it feels it, the tone is changing, the rhythm feels like it's changing a bit--it's going to matter, it does matter, that this seems to be taking over, but the progressive movements are still growing, organic farmer's markets, we're going to keep establishing better ideas, not just arguing, not just winning an argument, we're pushing and pulling the whole system along, that either eliminates species in mass or maybe starts to regenerate and help, so I don't think it's as much that we won or lost an argument as we're losing the political argument it appears, but I think politics is now merely the--some smart people said this, "It's the shadow cast over society by the wealthy and the big corporations and they're playing tricks with us, camera tricks, and they're putting the same people in control every time, behind the scenes, we don't cut the size of our military and the massive amount of money we spend each year building machines of destruction, that end up being like the war in Iraq, in the years these things are happening, the most damaging thing for climate change in the entire world is when you have a war, especially a major one. Having most of our economy count on this made it so Clinton didn't even make a difference on this, neither would Obama for another eight years, we are increasing spending on nuclear weapons. Obama approved a $2 trillion increase, Trump said he'd approve it again and everybody kind of freaks out for a second but we--

Spenser: They think Trump will actually launch--

Josh: Launch them or not, building useful nuclear weapons, what does that mean? We need to come to sanity right now, and it's not going to happen from the top down, it's going to happen when we kind of lose hope in the top-down approach and start managing our communities, like it matters again, and becoming states people, we need to know what our country is up to, we need to be actively being a part. If not, which we are actually, we are actively a part of it, if we're just mindlessly purchasing stuff and mindlessly going to work and not paying attention, you are part of the geoengineering that's happening, the one that turns jungles into deserts to make paper that we just throw away in seconds--

Spenser: Non-deliberate geoengineering.

Josh: The non-deliberate geoengineering, like we're doing that right now by being passive consumers so I say it's time to be like less passive in the way we treat the world, and people around the world who come to my farm here, constantly are asking me, "Are Americans crazy?" I'm having to say, "You know what, I don't agree." And I've talked a lot about America in my days an activist and it's ugly and I want to talk about it, it's not most of us that support these things directly, we do it in an indirect manner because of all these circumstances and I understand a lot of those circumstances, but there comes a time in history where things are just too much, and it's too much right now. We're spending half of our national budget on war, half of our economy is based on--it's not a joke. Those weapons have to be used or there's no more stock market tomorrow. We have get out of the cycle of violence and both our candidates were violent, they were both going to continue the arming of the world and we never ended the Cold War, we never officially ended World War II even, we're in a massive struggle around the world by a few powers to try and run things and they're doing it for resources that we all squander, so we shouldn't think of Trump as like a new thing, it's not new. It's just an unmasking of who we really are, and not all of us, but who we allow to run us. And this is time, this is motivating to me. The Bush years shifted a ton of people, millions of people went into rebellion and have stayed there, the reason there's a lot of new things and new alternative energies is because of the balance in the other direction with the anger that people felt over many of the issues that people like Trump--they spit in our faces on--like publicly. They don't just politically dance around global warming and how they're not really going to change everything, like Hillary might--he says it's a Chinese conspiracy or something--these things are going to cause a visceral response by the people who actually know science, by the people who've been living on the front lines of pollution and the front lines of the war, our brothers and sisters of color in the United States. Trump has no idea---his perspective is so skewed, his rich man approach, he's in for it, it's about to happen. I think he's not ready for how much America is going to turn on him and how quickly the liberals are going to stand up. We need to--in the first hundred days--in the first six months, in the first year, to stop what he's going to try and do, to continue the clinching down, of a fully privatized and out of control corporatocracy, this is our time to stand and Hillary, Obama, we kind of left it up to them, well it's coming to pass now that we're going to have to take the reigns and we can't wait four years for climate change stuff, we can't wait four more years for the end of the wars around the world, we need to stop these things, we're on the verge of real war with China, in the south China sea, there's a lot of things we're not being told, we're on the verge of nuclear war with Pakistan and India all the time, we need diplomacy right now. We need thoughtful diplomacy right now and we're not getting it from our Twitter President.

Spenser: (sarcastic) We're not?

Josh: No. No, we're going to get reactionary--

Spenser: (sarcastic) I thought Trump was really thoughtful, I don't know what you're really talking about--

Josh: Well it's going to be up to you and me to make sure the whole world doesn't think all Americans are crazy.

Spenser: (sarcastic) I think he carefully calculates every word he Tweets.

Josh: I think if he does, then he's a real bastard, I think he's actually kind of stupid. And we're in for it now, we're going to see like--it's like Bush but even more unmasked. Bush really stepped out of a lot of roles and let the people run it for him, his cabinet, and he barely showed up. Well Trump is going to show up but we're going to see, there's a very strong pull to the right right now, and I hope that creates the tug of war back to the left and that more people than ever, who--actually most of us agree that climate change is very real and something we have to change, 75% of Americans believe that, we're not in the minority here, there's not an argument amongst most of us. So riling our team here is more important than to convince a minority that they need to change.

It's a bummer when the minority has all the people. That's still an illusion, too. If we show up, no government in the world can sustain a month long serious protest stopping the streets, they all collapse. So, let's not forget that it could come down to that in the next few years, we're going to have to pile on in our cities sometimes and scream, so the rest of the world doesn't think we're crazy, so that our politicians will respond and then we can give the strong progressive politicians some backup in the streets and show them that we'll be there for them, so they can stick their necks out, which means we're going to have to do permapolitics, we need to get candidates in office at every level that believe in and that work with us, that believe in the same things as us and work with us, that we can finance that. There are thousands of projects going and things like permaculture where we could create the financing and the volunteerism required to win seats in the liberal parts of the United States, you could win in California, Washington, Oregon, even Alaska, there's a ton of homesteading-minded, anarchist-minded right wingers that we can get along with and bridge gaps and start getting people that care put into office.

Spenser: That's interesting; let me stop you on that then. Permaculture, for obvious reasons, is associated with liberal and the left--but there are, having spent some time in it, some permaculture principles that actually are appealing to more conservatively-minded people. Can you talk about what they are and how that could potentially be a bridge between people that you would otherwise think might not have anything in common?

Josh: In like a more traditional, libertarian person, not like a new libertarian person. Like local rights, small business getting a chance, not taxing the hell out of and over-regulating the small innovation of the world, like you can get there, permaculture is going to challenge a lot of local laws and stuff that change them to put in things like compost toilets and more chickens. So a lot of anarchist types really do want to buck the system and they hate that they can't have five chickens in their city limits, so we find common ground there. And localizing things tends to be that thinking of your own watershed, that's a lot of the people I thought of as politically minded in southern Oregon, that's the kind of stuff they thought about. They thought about protecting where they hunted and that if there's no trees where you hunted your whole life, there's no deer either, eventually, it's a balance I've struck in my life, living in red state Oregon and then Portland, Oregon, too, where we have the most bike friendly city and the most SUV's per capita, at least when I was there. So, and we get along pretty well most of the time, and we have very liberal, local politics, because we changed the laws there a lot so that you could get publicly funded elections, and that's happening all over the states, too, keep pushing for those things. Matching funds for the corporate candidates, and right now, we have a great opportunity between the internet, what Sanders proved is that you can raise a lot of money with the internet, you can get a lot of attention from these big organizations to go win local elections instead of focusing everything on the Presidential, which is I think a waste of money, it was great to get some publicity for a Sanders campaign but what you need is that amount of energy to go into the next Congressional election, when no one is going to show up to vote, cause of the off-Presidential year.

Spenser: Yep, liberals vote less.

Josh: Yep, well liberals need to show up and anarchists need to show up that will vote together to put in permaculture-type ideological people, all around the country, and you can win those elections locally, they're not that big. Congress represents very small chunks of population, you can win a bunch of seats in Congress, I know maybe a lot of people are shaking their heads and saying, "That doesn't matter," and I might even do the same thing, but I don't think you have a chance if you don't show up, and at the very least, wouldn't you like to get some people in power who can go out every day and get the bully pulpit for a minute, and be a one-term congressperson that gets to investigate the hell out of Exxon the entire time and never stop. Be a one-issue person, I don't care, just get involved because the other side is involved and that's why they're winning. I went to meetings when I was younger, with a girlfriend's father, and he was in this business called Amway, and maybe people didn't think much of it then, it was a door to door soap company, but the people that they pushed in the right-wing politics that I saw growing in the Clinton years, and the amount of hate that they had for the Clinton's, I knew deep down that was going to destroy her in this election, a lot of people don't understand this, but they're appointing these people, the DeVos family, the Van Andel family, these like crazy billionaires that are like really really right-wing; Trump's already putting them in, to destroy education and all these things. This wasn't an accident, this was 30 or 40 years of hardcore political organizing the right-wing did. They put people like Rush Limbaugh out there to never stop, never stop doubting global warming, never stop doubting how much the hippies are going to destroy your economy--

Spenser: But you do think--I believe Rush Limbaugh sincerely believes that global warming is whatever he says it is.

Josh: Yeah. He wants people who do drugs to go to prison but he abuses drugs on his off time.

Spenser: I'm not saying he isn't a hypocrite but I am saying that I don't think he's doing it just because somebody is telling him. I actually do think he--

Josh: I'd be interested to really know but I don't think it even matters, because the world is pretty much run by this TV/Hollywood machine, like you could make truth just by making it reverberate through the system--he's done that. Him and a few other people bounce off each other, source who knows what, and tell us how it's all fake, and tell us the government is evil, the government is evil, all my life in right-wing America, the government is evil. That has won the day. Since the Red Scare and you move through the Reagan times and really painting America like we're anti-socialist, we're anti-communist, like we have to fight this thing. They pushed that so hard and if you don't listen to it, you probably--it's hard to understand, but I did when I was young, and I know what they're telling them, and Trump's the same old thing, he's putting the same people in power, but this was a long organizational plan, they went local, they went to school board meetings, school board representatives, they won Sherriff elections, they went and won judgeships, and they took over, incrementally. Congress was democratic until like '96, like for fifty years, so this stuff shifted with this revolution, and we need to have the same kind of revolution for progressive ideas, and we think it can't work--I don't know why we think it can't work, just cause we haven't tried it in a while.

Spenser: Well you know, California got a bunch of liberal stuff through, I mean, it's working in pockets, and I think it is important to count our eggs there, because that gives people some feeling of success--but I just wanted to--so the concept of self-reliance is typically associated with conservatives, the conservatives hate the fact that there's a bunch of poor, lazy people smoking pot, living off government paychecks, and they don't want the government to provide everything for them, they can do it themselves.

Josh: I challenge them to do that for real, I challenge them.

Spenser: Well, not everything, but permaculture does value and emphasize making you a producer, of at least, some, not all, you're not going to produce everything on your own, but some of it--so, is that a principle that you may be able to reach people on as permaculture as a way of creating less dependency, not no dependency, but less dependency.

Josh: Yeah, and I think localism in a bunch of ways. Like I said, maybe the abstract of climate change doesn't get a conservative excited, but maybe the river in their area being clean does, and so we can come together in those type of things, and in permaculture we embrace the principles of water protection, commons, so I think that's a place where I've gotten a lot of people to agree. The intelligence of organizing a small business that works--that also brings people together. I find a lot of libertarian types run small companies or mid-size companies, they don't just work at big companies and go check in and out everyday, they're running the small business of America, so having a smart forestry plan that retires your children and retires you into your old age, these things can be very real with permaculture, too. Thinking of food forest orchards and ways to get value out of a piece of land that seemed to be dead or sacrificed, that's intriguing to a lot of conservative types, and actually, our farm has had an impact on a lot of my conservative friends because they show up and see the reality, like how things are actually producing and how it really works. So I think sticking to these ideals and making permaculture work is going to attract people that not only care about the biodiversity and the success of it for what it does with wild spaces and stuff but at the same time, how the creation of those wild spaces made small business and capital investment, it all made sense.

Spenser: Right, cause typically, a lot of the time, liberals are kind of scared of the word business, and small business, I think, can also be a keyword the Republicans use, you know, "we want to help small businesses," whereas I think it's potentially seen as an anti-worker or anti-union thing, but like you're saying, permaculture needs these small businesses to work. Mark Shepherd has the line, "Going out of business is another method of unsustainability, another path to unsustainability." So we do need to think about these things as businesses or its not going to work.

Josh: So if you are doing a comprehensive permaculture plan, you better have a good business plan, so then you attract people from the other side of the isle on that way of thinking, they're going to see that. And it may seem like anti-union if you use those words the wrong way, if you're using them to destroy unions, then yeah, when they say "small business" from the Republican platform they don't mean it. That's coded language for reduced regulation. Now, what we're talking about is collective business ownership, is more like the traditional way--maybe the way Wall Street should have been, like we own the companies you work with. So having collective ownership of a company is something that both progressive Communist types and small businessman could share. Most of my friends who own small businesses are in partnership with a couple other people, why not make that a little broader and have a partnership with fifty other people and have a small company that's owned with shares, so these things work with permaculture, too.

And we've integrated that, kind of simple, trackable business mind, and also established order that business offers, there's a lot of precedent in the business world, in the legal system around business, that make it easy to make what we're doing in permaculture more tangible, more measurable. Get investors to see it for what it is as a smart idea or bad idea, and then we can start analyzing our own farms that way, maybe we'll refine ourselves better, cause we're introducing that business mindset into it. I've used that, but it just naturally flows into joining people together. A producing orchard makes everybody excited, it's not just liberals who get excited about apples on trees, people who see that and think, "I can get that to market," and we need that person, too, so we actually have to have people that care about doing business in our collectives so that the people that like growing food and have green thumbs don't have to go out and market and brand and do things that maybe other people are really excited about.

Spenser: So shifting gears in a sense, one issue on which I think we share, we're not religious, we're both atheists and permaculture is associated, for a reason, kind of a New Age spirituality that we both are pretty averse to, and some would say that religion is necessary for some people or maybe for all people, we need to be able to worship something in order to feel good, in order to feel connected to the earth, but we've talked a lot about this and you think of a community as a--replacement would be one word--as something that could take, that could give people that feeling of connectedness without rejecting or accepting any woo-woo principles or spiritual dogmas of any kind, and I think also, the church, for a lot of people, is the community where we come together, but we don't need to speak in tongues and thank Jesus or whoever when we come together, we can come together like we did last night and we just drank some cacao and gave a couple massages, if there was any spirituality I missed it. That's interesting for people--I've been in a lot of atheist and skeptic circles and there is a sense of alienation in that belief sometimes because there isn't a church to go to. Yeah, you do have your skeptic circles once in a while, but there's not really a feeling behind it, it's mostly skeptics--we love our rational minds and of course I'm all for promoting that--but there's a bit of a--not hollowness--but it just doesn't--emotionally it can sometimes not feel that full. I would just like to hear more about how you think of community as what we can feed off and feed instead of a religious or spiritual principle.

Josh: Yeah, I mean, in our place I really do push unity over uniformity, so we have never had any uniform belief system around VerdEnergia, and that's--I've been guiding it a lot here, so I kind of always pull it to that direction because I'm not just an atheist, I'm an anti-theist, who has a preacher for a father, pretty much, so--

Spenser: Different kind of preacher.

Josh: Yeah, different kind, but still speaking of these things, and I grew up very--you could say, trying to think of the connectedness of the universe and stuff but not in a superstitious way. I have a hard time with superstition, too. It's difficult for me and it's even insulting, people hear me say it that way I know, but I think there's so many of the things were yearning for in the religion, the religious circles, is what's kind of lacking in our own lives, and are things we don't understand, and I think we've walked away from our circles of trust and our elders and our communities where we knew people and we knew people in our families and we really didn't move that far away from each other, we used to have a real sense of tribe or community, that's lacking, and the church fills that gap for other reasons, too, fear and all sorts of things, but I have a hard time with that myself, I work hard to not let us fall into that trap, wherever I'm at, where we start to act like our own personal superstitions or rituals--I don't know--this is one that I get stuck on myself. I find that--I'm feeling better and better being out of the closet as an atheist over the last years, even in these circles of a lot of woo-woo and a lot of people talking about these things around me all the time, and I'm still challenged with it, I think as long as people tend to have the right reasons behind it, the earth religions I enjoy, people who do those things because they tend to want the earth to be really healthy and we come to the same conclusion, a healthier planet with people treating each other better. But the organized religion, that could be replaced by community, that could be replaced by showing up for each other, recreating intimacy in relationships, communicating better with our families and our groups, people who we work with, I'm always working myself, trying to be better at communicating how I really feel, even with my best friends, allies down the street, neighbors, I would like to fill those gaps. And we used to have union halls and stuff, we got together after work and really had camaraderie and we had a home team, at work, at times in history, and those things I think can start filling in those niches in people's lives and we see what happens when we collapse far enough in society, in some of the areas of the world where there's real war, where the church may have inordinate influence because they're the only people who ever show up to help, on social issues, from picking up garbage to educating children and maybe one day educating those children into blowing themselves up at a mall or something, I think community, when it fails, I think we better have better answers for these things than that, and major culture is failing, and we better have organization, not just to know where our food comes from, but how we are in internal health, our minds health, I pay attention to it, my friends talk about it, my friend committed suicide a few weeks ago, a few months ago, and he had religion but it didn't help him not commit suicide, and I was right here and he didn't communicate with me either so, I have other friends who have felt that way but we talk because we live together, closer, in a permaculture community, so we see people and where they're at if they're acting different, so it's on us all to be better at this, and I find that harder than figuring out how to grow food organically and organize markets, that's pretty easy in my mind, but how do I get people to stop needing superstition to just maybe developing real good coping skills for things in life, I think that'd be nice, and that's what a lot of this, like the permaculture community side, and our own little culture at our farm, we're trying to tend to those things, and I think superstition becomes less and less a part of it for us all the time, it's more based in the feeling, like how do you feel with your community, how it's actually working, that you're having peace and communication. It's been one of the more interesting parts for me.

Spenser: And you would say that it's been--there is an emotional satisfaction cause I think that's ultimately what people are looking for, is they need to feel, it's like with the emphasis on feeling, connected to something greater than themselves, and also feel like they matter to something.

Josh: Yeah, someone's listening, someone's paying attention to me.

Spenser: Right, because I definitely think that in the big world and big civilization, especially you live in a big city, there's a really overwhelming sense that you absolutely do not matter. I mean if you ever live in, especially like New York or something, you're on the subway, it's like, I could kind of just jump onto the tracks and like--

Josh: Nobody would notice?

Spenser: Yeah, I mean there might be a few screams but people kind of get over it and whatever.

Josh: It happens all the time, man. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in our society, like we're not paying attention to each other--

Spenser: Right, and I think cultivating social relationships is one of the best methods to defend against that, and I do think there's something to learn in what you might think of as perhaps woo-woo ceremonies because we take the time validate feelings of gratitude, listen to each other, whereas like, that's not really a part of our daily, at least in my family, we didn't say grace because we weren't religious, I do like the idea of giving gratitude, not to God or to Jesus or to the wind or something but just to your family, to somebody for helping you out or your health or whatever...

Josh: This food was produced in the rain and everything, yeah, it's real.

Spenser: Sweat and tears were put into that, so I do think that there is something there that's worth accepting and adopting, it's not just "throw the whole thing..."

Josh: We do little ceremonies all the time, we just don't think about them that way, we have habits with our friends, we have habits at work, we don't think about it as a ceremony, but when you have a meeting at work to get all excited about stuff, like team building, these are little ceremonies, and hippies just say it in a more woo-woo way, so it feels weird, it feels weird to me, but I know studies show from even Google, they have meetings and they let the meeting be 20-30%, sitting around talking to people about how your weekend was, going through a ritual of community building, you don't get as much done, details, but you're actually happier and work together better, so we all do ceremonies, we just call it that in a lot of these circles so it's a little scary and to me, too. I still laugh about it, but it's worth it most of the time, and if you can take the New Age religion thing, I find it not as annoying as the dogmatic old stuff that was really about fear. I don't mind so much hearing from people when they're in positive space with that, if your superstition is making your life happy, it doesn't bother me, but being around the people who live in the darkness and the fear of it, I'm glad that's kind of dissipating, even though we have superstition still a bit, it still seems to be a positive one, which doesn't bother me too much. But I don't want to discount what it means for someone when they finally do feel something and whatever makes them move, if their hands will manifest a world that makes it better for all of us, that's what I'm all about, and down here I have to work with people that are truly Catholic, that truly believe I'm going to burn in hell, I'm their friend, we meet everyday, they work for me, and I know they think I'm going to burn in hell, and so, I can't let that bother me, I hope they let it bother them less and less over time, but I can just keep proving myself a good neighbor, and that we use that stuff positively, and I hope they can come out of that headspace, but I've been pat on the head a lot by religious people, they think I'm kinda dumb, I'm gunna catch on one day, but I'm enjoying being more open about this, and a lot of people have been terrified over the years about unbelievers. It's a big deal, it's hard to talk about even at all, but I'm taking a stand and I want observation and logic to run the world and all of the feeling-based things to be a reason to move but it's not what it's all about, there's also these commons that superstition doesn't--needs to take into account, that I live in this room with them, even if I don't believe like them. So I'm standing stall all the time on that, and I'm trying to get better at it, even calling it superstition is going to get me in trouble with this one.


Spenser: Yep, no, it'll get you in trouble with somebody, it certainly has gotten me into some trouble, although I find that when you do slow down and talk about a little bit you do find some common ground. I mean, usually, and the community aspect is something I've found to be really important because I've always been pretty much an atheist and my younger years, I didn't really, it didn't occur to me that there might be something lost there that would be of value, and as I've gotten older and realized what a community does for people and experienced some of my own problems, depression, and this and that, you realize how important that actually is, and it's like, hold on a second, there might be something here worth paying attention to.

Josh: Yeah, having people to listen to you and care, going to confession, that's like an interesting thing. Some people, in the secular world, we may just go to therapy or whatever, getting to talk about your feelings and people caring. What's that?

Spenser: The thing with therapy though, is that it still feels really kind of secluded.

Josh: Sure. There's laws that protect you from being talked about.

Spenser: Sure, it feels good to tell somebody but it's not--that's not really community, it still feels like it's some guy that I'm paying to listen to me.

Josh: It is, and that is probably why we don't get better with that stuff so much, because you actually need to go say that stuff to your Mom, the therapist has been trying to tell you a million times, saying, "Can you go say this to your Mom?" Like, "No way." Well in a society where we actually maybe took more responsibility in our families instead of just leaving it up to the superstition, or like blaming all the rules on some far-off entity. I counted on my family more for the support I needed, rather than the superstition, because my family didn't do the superstition. I didn't need community in my life so I have a pretty easy time saying difficult things to people I love, even saying things about myself to people I love, it's a practice though, and we've been practicing the other way for a while, it's been a very, like you said, "technical", like in therapy, or people that still count on Church. Like a lot of time, that's really done out of fear, like confession and stuff, that's really hoping they don't get in trouble for what they've done. That's not really acceptance either, the person you're listening to tells you they don't accept you, so I think people should re-analyze that--there's a lot of great churches out there though. I've been to some fun ones in my life, Episcopalians are great anti-war folks, and I had great times, meetings there, really engaging. The Quakers, my family is Quakers on one side, they have really amazing, engaging relationships with their people in their churches, and I would probably emulate the Quakers more than anything else, that's the kind of thing I can get on board with. They mostly just talk about what they're going to do in their community with each other and their relationship with their God is a personal, quiet thing, where they sit there and think. So I can get on board with that in a quantum physics kind of way, too, or in a place where I sit and stare at the jungle and see life like change right in front of my eyes, daily. It really does help to tap into the wonder, and as Richard Dawkins talks about, I can understand a rainbow, and how it's formed, but still think it's beautiful. I'm in awe of nature and wonderment of the universe without the superstition part, and then I find moral guidance through having community and having people that I actually bounce my thoughts off of and make sure you come to like a place where it bounces out and you figure out how you should treat people, if you're raised in a society where you're only told how to treat people based on what some dude thousands of years ago wrote down, I don't think you're probably going to get to know your full self and you feel like you're a sinner and all of these things, and I think we should get away from that guilt-based stuff but not lose the wonder, and excitement about learning, where the edge of our knowledge is, just don't fill in the rest of it with a superstitious thing and say, "Forget about it." That's what I like about the idea of science, I get to the edge of my knowledge and I get to start playing and testing things to see if I can go further, not just giving up to the unanswerable things, like they're going to be permanent, so I think we're going to keep evolving, our knowledge will keep changing, I don't know if we'll ever get away from religion but I hope as a big organizational thing, I hope that it really peters out and goes away, I hope we replace it with community based stuff, so I think it's important we have places like where we have common things, like farm, around food, organize around food, that's a secular meeting space.

Spenser: Yeah.

Josh: Everybody needs food. Organize around water, that's a secular meeting space, so I think we can all--every religion talks in their books about honoring those things and taking care of them, so I actually would like to take the language of most of the religions and not turn it on them but ask them to look in a mirror and say, "Are you doing that?"


"Are you doing that?"


They say "No." They need to think about what they really believe, and most of them say they should be good stewards and responsible for the things around them, and I hope to implore that more, get people to use it, but I don't know, I don't like the organizing bodies of the old church model, it's really separating us instead of bringing us together.

Spenser: Yeah, yeah, I feel like the closest thing we--I mean sports sort of do it, you could argue, maybe that's something that people can come together a little bit on.

Josh: But then we divide into little groups, too.

Spenser: We do, you end up dividing into different groups.

Josh: I hate the Lakers and I hate the Blazers and whatever, I think we need to find more unifying ways to come together on that. Like real deep, common things. In the old days, some of these old writings, they were there for a reason. You were organized around not eating certain animals because you didn't have refrigeration, you got worms and you ate pork and you died. You had rules to keep your community alive. Well, so as times change, you had salt, you figured these things out.

Spenser: Ferments!

Josh: Well, we should be evolving with what we actually understand, at the time, and changing and then thinking about the rules changing, too, and the stagnant rules of yesteryear have gotten a lot of people in trouble, a lot of people still are committing suicide today because of--they're actually gay and they can't cope with it because they believe they're going to burn in hell from what their parents told them their whole lives, so it's important that we actually almost intervene in this, and not just be atheists about it but be members of our community and stand up and say, "Hey, we don't all have to believe that stuff, and if it's hurting you, come to me, we're cool, we can hang." I think it's good to create spaces, people feel safe, and not judged. I try to do that, and the newer age religions don't tend to judge so much, so I don't have as hard a time with most of them.

Spenser: Yeah, yeah, I think there's some kind of notion that doing that is somehow sentimental or irrational, but no, it's just human. Yeah, I think that those things we'll grow and it is something you can kind of cling to--cling is this word, Obama had this thing about clinging to guns and religion--as something that you can grasp even in your darkest times, is feeling a part of something larger, these smaller communities, bringing it back to politics, these small communities have come together and done positive things and that should be celebrated enough and not---I mean it's tempting, and because the amount of media that's sent out about national politics, that you would just kind of, "Well, who really gives a shit about the Portland whatever, because...", but it's important to celebrate small successes, Tim Ferriss is really big on that, cause that's emotionally sustaining, too--

Josh: And it may save your community from having bad water, it may save your next generation from drinking lead, or dioxin, it really does matter to people everywhere that we do these things locally, and it's going to add up and it's not just a clichéd thing I believe, I know, I see it, when the communities are engaged [they] are much healthier, much more sustainable, places like Portland, Oregon, I talk about a lot because I lived there for many years, they just did a big project up there where they shifted all the water that they used to run rain off of, they used to run off the pavement, and going to the river, and it was ruining the Willamette River, within a few years of being put in and re-routed that and processed that water, fish are back, salmon are back, they thought it may be 25 years but it was like two years or three years and they were already returning. So I think it does matter locally a lot, and we tend to be told to focus on national elections because they want us not to pay attention to local stuff, they want us to miss the local levies, the local meetings that take place about--they're going to change things around you, they want you to not pay attention to that, cause they want you to only pay attention to the national politics, which you can barely affect, and which the national election is only one, there's only one national election. It's called the presidency, the rest are local. So we only do one election every four years, one dude or one woman gets to be president, the rest of the elections are either state, your local area, your congress, so most of our politics is local, and we're ignoring it.

Spenser: Yeah, that was one excuse that I heard from people not voting, ok, they don't like Trump or Clinton, but you know, when I looked at the California ballot, I consider myself, I don't know, fairly well informed, I guess, but I had to do a lot of research on all of the ballot measures on the California, there's all these local races, when you look at it just visually, there's one box for Trump and Clinton, and then there's a gigantic columns and columns of measures on pot and prostitutes, I don't think prostitutes was on this one, but porn was on it, there's lots of really important stuff, I think that totally--

Josh: Paying for schools, paying for fire departments--

Spenser: All real, real local stuff--

Josh: Stuff that will save people's lives where you live, forget the president at that moment, if you don't want to vote for president, don't, vote for all that other stuff.

Spenser: If you really have to leave it blank, do it, but vote for all the other stuff.

Josh: We've really been disempowered, that we don't think of this stuff, and we're slowly but surely chipping away all the rights we fought for for a long time by getting us to become apathetic about that, or have apathy about these things, so I think almost all politics are local, and you say it there, only one box every four years, out of all the elections, has that one national thing on it, no other time do you vote in a national election, so it's interesting we put so much stock in it, it's not just interesting, it's because the media gets to make a trillion dollars on advertising every four years in these horse races they call elections, when, if we would just focus on our local politics, our state houses, for real, you don't need a billion dollars to run for state office, you may just need a hardcore volunteer crew, you can win in a lot of communities with this, and then you can matter.

Spenser: Are you going to run?

Josh: I think I would, I would run for political office. It would have to be in the wave that is going to come fighting against this Trump era I hope, I hope in the next four years we really organize, and then I--

Spenser: You'd have to cut your hair?


Josh: Yeah, probably, I probably would.

Spenser: Depending on where you ran.

Josh: I think I hate personality politics, and it's more about the organizing body, and if there was organizing happening for real, and people are ready, and I think I've been trying to teach permapolitics for a couple years, we organize around things like food and local banking and local watershed maintenance and local forestry, when we get those things to come together and we get local candidates that push those agendas and in a few years we get governors that would--governor of Oregon or California that would direct a couple of tax dollars towards permaculture food forest designs and fix things in our areas, I think that's not unrealistic in local elections, so yeah, if permaculturists rally enough up there, if progressives get busy, if the true anarchists want to come out and get something going, I would go run for office in a place like the Pacific Northwest, and I think a lot of people are like me, they're waiting for this to matter, and I think the Trump era, the de-Trump era, Trumped out with a gangster twist, it's come at a time of like really interesting political fights, like the left is not going to give up right now, there are strong people in our Senate and in our Congress, we have amazing Congress people

Spenser: Elizabeth Warren.

Josh: People like her, but a lot more people like her that you don't hear about, that are gunna to stand in the way of a lot of this stuff, that are going to be vocal from day one, women in politics are about to be challenged a lot, I can't believe people still let Trump win after he said what he said about women repeatedly--it's unbelievable. I mean, he lost the popular vote, more people voted against him than voted for him, more people voted for--

Spenser: I think 51% of white women voted for him--

Josh: 51% of the white women that voted, which is like half of 'em.

Spenser: The theory that I heard about was that we think of misogyny as mostly coming from men, but, I'm just saying one opinion I read was that it's sort of, is that it kind of ends up being a self-hatred thing where, you'd rather vote, you think so little of your own gender or whatever--

Josh: Or you don't want to be put in a box at all, and it bothers you, the media, the way they spun it--

Spenser: Pandering to--

Josh: That pandered to that, like, "hey, don't let them tell you that because I'm a misogynist I'm anti-woman", but I mean he think he said he would make out with his own daughter, he's talking, these things are seriously, if America's still putting--you know what foreigners think of us, like, they hear this stuff and they thought there's absolutely no way this is real, what's happening, and I agree, except that I do remember red state America, and they were raring for a fight, and they think Trump was there man, they think he's the one who's going to fight the billionaires, he talked that talk, so they overlooked his personality quirks and flaws and we're going to see, and if he really starts to be effective in any way that he thought he would be, the Republicans will impeach him, I think he could have a really short presidency if he actually tries to ever implement anything that the kind of on-the-ground red state America voted for him, and what they thought he was.

Spenser: Yeah, it seems like he's just going to play ball and--I don't know what the hell he's going to do.

Josh: If he talks the wrong shit one day, he's in trouble, like the other day or talked shit about Northrop Grumman, within a few minutes their stocks were crashing, he said he was going to cancel an airline contract with them and go with Boeing, just tweeting these things, and he kills--

Spenser: So careful.

Josh: And he kills the company. Not that I don't think these companies should be killed, by the way, but not like this sloppy.

Spenser: Trump's tweets aren't the way you want to do that?

Josh: No, part of the reason I'm excited about these times is because those kinds of things are going to show the weakness of our society, we actually live in a fiat society, it's what we believe, and this guy when he speaks, he changes things, his beliefs change things.

Spenser: What the president says, the stocks rise and fall on it, it's just an opinion. It's a tweet, it's a series of ones and zeros on Twitter's server somewhere--

Josh: But when you have control over the budget office, and you can sign deals, he scares people into changing their behavior long-term, and I'm hoping the erratic markets are going to go through the roof for a while because of the deregulation potential and stuff, and I'm excited for the push-back on that, we're going to see activism hit a whole new stride, and we've got the internet and we've been practicing organizing, too, we've been in the trenches learning how to do the regenerative economy, Bush sent people like me into a tail spin and we tried to find our footings in doing something like I did here with farms, new ways of owning and running businesses, yeah, cutting our teeth on real political governance issues, getting out and doing water activism and making a difference, putting in water systems in communities, these things are how we add up little victories into having governance over our communities, so I'm excited over what it's bringing already, people are already coming to me with an energy that says, "I don't believe in the top-down approach anymore, what should I do?" And I think that's healthy, I think it's great when people are ready to push themselves, our kids need us to push them above this rising tide, they need us to hold them up, so they have a chance, and things like the environment, if our president really doesn't believe pollution exists or something, we're going to have to push back against that, if we want our children to have clean water and air, soil, topsoil that works, we don't get to give up right now, this is actually when we need to build our best team and put them on the court.

Spenser: Amen, amen brother.