Earth-ling Rapid Care with gloria galvez and shabina toorawa
Class description: Our class would share practices of general first response by encouraging participant's spatial awareness through exercises in their everyday environments and helping map out resources based on the geographical location. The class would consist of a tourniquet emergency wound care strategy, deep, focusing on emergency first response without medical professionals. The class will be incorporating death as a part of survival, and decentering human survivalism to think through larger ideas of natural disasters and response that include the earth and other earth-lings.
Trigger Warnings: Death, Body Trauma, Images and Imagining Wounds
Welcome to Earth-ling Rapid Care
What is Earth-ling Rapid Care and How We Are Approaching this class?:
Earthling rapid care work acknowledges existing relationships between humans and other earthlings and aims to generate practices that move away from just human survivalism that centers individualism, self-sufficiency and and self-reliance, founded on the privileges of white able bodied men, but instead focuses on collaboration, spatial awareness, psychological first response that includes allowing death of both of systems and parts of ourselves to be a part of emergencies and "disasters". It can be informed by different geographies, and ultimately is a framework and set of tools that are ever changing.
Our approach to this class is to talk through some ways of generating spatial awareness, how to map out resources, and also how to begin to prepare ourselves for the grim and joy of the death of both systems and selves.
Who are we?:
My name is Shabina Toorawa, and I was born and raised in Los Angeles. My creative work has been influenced by LA's expansive and isolating geography. Much of my work has focused on bringing people together through autonomous education, creating spaces to take risks in direct action and first response, and by practicing care and building networks of mutual aid. An organizer, coordinator of resources, and a facilitator of experiments in suspending systems we have not fully consented to, my values remain that kinship and relationship building across all earth-lings is at the root of creating art that simultaneously heals one another and subverts the state. My beliefs lie in de-professionalizing work, re-evaluating relationships with human and nonhuman beings, and making visible the processes in which certain knowledge is created and given meaning.
Sometimes that has looked like organizing with Liberation School where anyone can propose classes to teach/, or herbal freedom school which first introduced me to the world of queering herbalism and teaching ourselves about herbs and mushrooms, and making our own medicines. Being part of a collective that created a free school, and various other collectives that have attempted to shift club and party culture to be about being present with one another, be explicit about being our own safety network while fundraising and generating platforms for TNBIPOC folks. Other times it’s looked like trying to organize community against gang injunctions, and shut down “gender responsive jails” through direct actions and community freedom functions.
My name is Gloria Galvez as an earth-ling I am interested in maintaining a practice that disrupts, subverts, and dismantles bland and oppressive status-quo norms. This practice sometimes manifests in community organizing, teaching, care-work and various art forms. Within this practice my most recent focus has been invoking alternate and simultaneous realities that prompt questions to the social-political conditions of things -- both living and nonliving things -- both human and non- human things.
The idea of “human” has a social and political historical and contemporary reality of being a status that can be granted or taken away, by the status quo. It can be granted to and taken away from anything -- both living and nonliving -- both human and non-human - like when American plantation owners legally established enslaved individuals as less than human, or American corporations are granted corporate personhood. In subversion of this non-innate humanness that is placed by the status quo atop the being hierarchy deeming those below as non-human, I seek to explore notions of an intersectional-counterintuitive-solidarity between all things -- both living and nonliving -- both human and non human.
How does geography influence our work?
Los Angeles glitters as much as at glooms. Though we have vibrant communities, of rivers, forests, native plants, and people we also have freeways, law enforcement and largest jail system in the world setting trends for the nation. It’s geoposition makes the city vulnerable to earthquakes, wildfires, and droughts which have only been further exacerbated by the destructive tendencies of capitalism. the city/county poor transportation systems and vast size have resulted in the isolation of various communities. and to add to this mix the rippling trauma effects of hollywood on our city the isolation is infused with hypercompetitiveness and illusions of self grandeur. It has been devastating to feel the grips of development in LA choking out green spaces, parks, forests, the river. There are hardly any places for young people to be, without having to spend some kind of money or some kind of altercation with law enforcement. Despite this there are resilient communities that though entrenched within capitalism and all of it shallow and harmful facets, still resist rise and transform. One of these communities is chuco’s justice center in south central where we both met.
The need for our own first responders outside of the state and its responses to interpersonal harm and skilling up one another's de-escalation and first response skills has surfaced in every space, place and project, though living in an apocalyptic city/county is not the only thing that turns us on to earth-ling rapid care work. as poc folx we are also inspired by knowledge of our ancestors which in many cases promoted a survival that centered an autonomous and intimate relationship with the earth an its earthlings and this knowledge that that de-centers a dependence on a system system invested a false idea of infinite resources and hierarchical claims to them.
What is spatial awareness, and what is its role in earth-ling rapid care?
The spectacle of capitalism has desensitized us to our spatial surroundings. But without spatial awareness earth-ling care is not possible. Spatial awareness means always be aware of your surroundings. For example when your in the jungle you watch were you put your feet to make sure it is not near a poisonous snake or on a young tree sapling and when you are in the city in the city you must also do the same you must watch where you put your feet and make sure it is not onto a rusty nail or on a snail
One unfortunate example of spatial awareness is to think about what it may be like walking alone as a femme or highly melanated person . You may be extra aware of your surroundings where your keys might be who is around you etc. due to the reality of living in a anti-black white supramist patriarchal world. Another example is getting lost , whether in a forest, or your navigation is gone -- the feeling of “did we pass by this” or “I remember a curve in the road” hindsight being 20/20 how to we make sure it’s not hindsight but foresight
We must not only be aware of what is on the surface - we must also be aware of what is under the surface. In 2014 a water main break spilled up to 10 million gallons of water onto roads, buildings and parking garages of the University of California in Los Angeles. Not practicing spatial awareness some of students played in the flood waters of the campus they splashed in it without taking a moment to consider what was in the water: oil, bacteria, shards of glass, animal feces, and a breeding ground for mosquitos, or perhaps even an electrical current ? And if they took another minute to consider the detriment the flood would cause to the environment: waste from damaged materials, loss of clean water, loss creature lives and homes, and loss of plants would they still be playing around in water so gleefully.
Spatial awareness not only considers our surrounding environment and how it is in relation with us it importantly also considering how our bodies take up space and are in relationship with our surrounding environment. For instance when you are approaching a person who is on the floor and in need of rapid care work how would they receive you if your body stood and towered over them, if when speaking to them you did it in a screaming tone, if you began to touch them without asking for consent first ? It is important to be self aware of the movements, fluids, toxins, waste, weight, energy, germs and other stuff that our body is imposing onto the environment and landscape and other bodies. For instance human urine has the capacity to burn and kill plants because of the acids it contains but if you diluted with water it can instead help them grow. To practice body spatial awareness means to consider the effects of my body and everything it emanates onto the environment.
How can mapping out resources in your everyday environments, geographical location help with earth-ling rapid-care?
When we observe plants, they are constantly spatially aware, and they know when they need to turn to and away from light, and how and when to form pigments that will protect them from uv rays. They inch their roots closer to sources of water when needed and are constantly atenning outward mapping out water and nutrient sources in their surroundings. Certain plants like tomatoes signal to each other when a threat is present by releasing toxins into the air. Redwoods trees, the largest and tallest trees in the world, though they have very shallow roots in comparison to their size, are able to grow so expansively and live for hundreds and thousands of years by holding each others roots. They intertwine their limbs, similar to the ways that people do when they form human chains to block ICE, or anticipate arrest from riot police.
Mycelium and fungi form communication and mutual aid networks that exchange carbon for nutrients and water. The mycelium act as runners or first responders checking in on plants needs. These practices of communication, collaboration and support are integral to the survival of forests and plant networks, and similarly we can learn care work from plants and fungi. They are also recyclers of things dead, and help to anticipate shifting needs similarly how can we think about the ways we are moving through our environments daily and start having clearer ideas of where and how certain needs can be met. As earth-lings if your city were to run out of water ... if it hasn’t already, do you know where you’re city or neighborhoods emergency water supply sources are? With climate change and being exposed to high levels of heat, are you aware of the plants and medicine growing around you that could help cool your body down. Do you know what to carry with you? Do you know where your meeting locations can be? For instance a designated church with food/resources or a school site. Do you know if the building you’re living in is up to safety codes? Do you know how to turn off the gas to your apartment/home living space for instance to prevent a gas leak or fire after an earthquake? What will you’re communication and mutual aid networks look like? Where are the closest locations for you to get medical aid? At what point will you raid your local CVS? Will you know who you’re neighbors are and what skill sets they have? Who is a trained medic, or doula or caregiver that lives around you? Is there someone experienced as an electrician? How can we even in the face of doom, see each other as our network of safety and resources? We know that the state will not be there for us, in fact they are trained to go to the sites with the most people, and in our experiences people and things representative of capital get the most protection. We also know that sites of medical care will be impacted in large scale emergencies. What can we learn from each other/ our different abilities?
Have you shared your specific ways in which you need to be cared for, medical needs to anyone else in case you need to guide them through the process of helping care for you? We want to continue to see each other as safety, resources, brilliance that we need, and the other things around us-- plants, animals as a source of psychological care.
Activity: Pod Mapping
What are the intentionalities and rituals that will be necessary in emergency first response without medical professionals?
Earth-ling care survival is not only a matter of having skills and resources it is also a matter of having a certain mindset .. a mindset that allows you to find joy and hope in the grimmest and/or simplest of conditions. Capitalism often fools us to believe that our joy lays outside of us in the world of material gains and belongings. But joy lays within us in the way we perceive the world around us, in the moments of awe in response to the patterns of leaf, in the laughter within friendships that we build and allow for vulnerability and trust. Hope meaning an openness to possibility is a fierce sentiment that can help one, despite accepted risks, find a commitment to work things out. These shifts not only have the capacity to help you make it through an apocalypse but they also has the capacity to prevent an apolcaplyse. To learn and find joy outside of material gains and belongings is perhaps one of the greatest challenges we face in our western societies. And hope is the fiercest tool we hold against the what seems to be an inescapable choke of capitalism on our earth. A hope that reminds us that monarchies just like capitalism once felt inescapable.
Another facet to having a mindset that is aligned with earth-ling care is making peace with death and understanding its role in an equal and non-human centered cycle of life and quality of life. We bring this topic up not because we undervalue human life but because we value it as much as we value other non human life forms who are often in a symbiotic relationship with human life and we bring it up in response to the recent insidious work of multi billionaires who are funding projects to unjustly expand their own lives and the lives of those of those who fall in their grace. In today’s world we often center the comfort and survival of humans or those who are seen as human which may exclude prisoners, refugees, and poor folks, at the expense of all others. But we are asking you to reflect on the ethics of this hierarchical framework. and of course we understand human beings have different needs than plants like a need to be entertained but we instead bring into question is a living framework that blindly centers humans and even further individual isolated survival. To decenter ourselves as individuals and humans making peace with death is a must.
Some of us are at risk of death far greater than others, and may already have practices of how to deal with those harsh realities. Perhaps those people can offer insight into the psychological hardships associated with death and personal and collective practices of resilience. It may be far easier to accept systems like capitalism being destroyed, but to think through what earth-ling death on a larger scale might look like may be more difficult to overcome. We offer a few different histories as meditations on death, as well as some scenarios to think through.
Native people in California have been respectfully caring for native plant communities for centuries using a variety of techniques that include burning, soil stewardship and weed management and coppicing to protect valued plants and cultivate desired characteristics in those plants. When they manage the environment in which they live, they do so sustainably to ensure future food supplies and materials. Many California tribes continue to use these practices that are thought to be an integral component for the conservation of California native communities for future generations. Indigenous practices of burning, cutting back foliage and plants, in others words practices of death, actually insure life, and are prevention mechanisms against large brush and wildfires.
Referring back to trees as another example, many trees continue to give life, after death. They even practice giving up their resources to their kin when they feel they won’t survive. They both release energy in the form of seeds to produce new life, and they also thresh energy into the ground, to provide for those around them. They nourish insect and animal life that bore into their wood, eventually falling, -- and as they decompose they become a seed bed for new trees and plants.
When we feel or see threats, What kind of decisions will we make about how and when and where we release our energy and resources. What will determine whether we try to put out a fire in our own apartment building or home to save our things, vs teaming up to prevent another’s from burning down. California's Emergency Response Training from the fire department explains that in cases of large scale disaster people will be categorized based on how likely they are to survive. For instance, someone with minor scrapes or a fractured limb would be green, someone who has a large wound may be yellow, someone who is not responding to words, and is disoriented may be a red. These colors then determine the priority of first response.
In making peace with death, we may be able to be better first responders, having the vigilance and mental and emotional fortitude to be able to make the best decisions. In these scenarios we may also have to practices easing someone out of their shock, or putting someone out of their misery as they go through death. Providing psychological relief and soothing through destruction and or death can be very challenging, not only for the dying earth-ling but also those doing the care work of being present with them.
We want to encourage people to think about their own experiences, and what kinds of rituals and intentions they may hold or practice that will be resources in psychological first response, in dealing with death, and in preparation for care.
What is one emergency response technique that involves
both spatial awareness and mapping of resources that can be practiced? ( tourniquet)
We want to begin by saying that we are not medical experts, and that you should use this activity more as a metaphor for the ways in which human and non human earthlings can work together towards survival, rather than a how to on tying a tourniquet. We wanted to share one of the most common potentially life saving techniques of emergency response which is tying a tourniquet to stop excessive blood loss leading to fatality. A tourniquet is essentially a cord or device tying off blood flow from a major artery by compressing a limb. We offer 5 images and recommend checking out additional resources including securing your own tourniquets to be prepared for these types of situations. On returning to our thread of incorporating death into survival, many animals and plants have mechanisms related to self-defense, sometimes when they are threatened they lose a limb, or at least benefit from the cutting off of one. We see this with lizards, and sometimes with sea creatures like starfish. Human earthlings too, can sometimes benefit from the loss of a limb, which we must warn a tourniquet has the potential of causing.
With that being said we want to go over some key cautions:Things to remember when tying a tourniquet:
--Only put on a tourniquet after head to toe assessment
--Consider other possible elements/ ( do we need to get out of this space soon etc)
--Use anything at least 1.5 inches wide or else could make things worse
--Consider cutting a t-shirt to create longer tourniquet if you don’t have one with you, you can buy pre manufactured tourniquets
--Ideally 1-3” from wound site is where you want to tie the tourniquet
--Use things that won’t break, sturdy twigs, pens pencils are more risky but use what you need to for the windless
1.Slide over the limb
2. Pull tail tight
3.Twist handle ( or windless until bright blood flow stops)
4. Lock in triangle ( if you are using a t-shirt try to secure your windlass so it doesn't unwind
5.Note the time