Backwoods Prep Kit for Coronavirus- May 2020



There’s a pandemic happening.  Supplies will get harder to find.  But you’ll want certain things in order to mitigate risk when you go out in public.  Also, if you do get really sick- you may need to improvise treatment as you may not have access to a hospital.  So because you like to be prepared, here’s what you should get.

Preventative-  The goal is to not get sick in the first place, which is easier for some than for others.

DIY Masks-  Wear masks when you are shopping,  in spite of what the federal govt tells you to do.  The hoarders bought them all in January- so you’ll have to make them.  Fortunately, you can make ones that work well, and to do so you’ll need two materials, cut them and sew them together:  1) vacuum bags, and 2) elastic.  I bought both on eBay.

  • Studies show that vacuum bags are a close 2nd place material to surgical masks themselves
  • Vacuum bags- get a good quality, name brand. Should be labeled as HEPA, hypoallergenic, N95
  • Elastic- get ¼” width or close. In a pinch you can innovate with hairbands or maybe rubber bands but they won’t be as comfy.
  • Comfy is as important as filtration, or else it won’t get worn consistently.
  • I bought mine on eBay. From U.S based shipper, otherwise they’ll never show up.


  • get rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide and/or bleach. Still work great.  Put in a spray bottle and dilute as needed for cleaning surfaces or hands.
  • Set up a station by your front door to make it easy to sanitize when you walk in.

Immune system

  • Eat better. This is especially hard in times of crisis bc we turn to junk food when we are stressed.   Good foods help your body’s immune system.  Bad foods distract it.
  • Take vitamins. Vitamin C, D, zinc especially.  Take them every day.
  • Research adaptogens. These are supplements that have been traditionally used to boost the immune system.  They work better as preventatives than as treatments-.  Ginseng, schisandra, maca, rhodiola


In case you actually get the Coronavirus and its critical.  These are the things that will get increasingly hard to find.  Basically, you’ll need two things- supply of steady oxygen, and anti-virals.

DIY oxygen-   you’ll need a tank with built-in regulator and fill gauge, plus a mask.

  • get a setup like they prescribe to folks with emphysema, user-friendly and plug-n-play.
  • Chemically there’s no difference between ‘medical oxygen’ and regular oxygen- just be wary of very old tanks coming from welding kits.  Also, tanks are all stamped with a 10-yr timeframe and refillers won’t fill them back up if they are expired.  So avoid buying expired tanks.
  • Regarding the size of tank- remember that you aren’t replacing the air we breathe so much as supplementing it. It’s not like a scuba setup where the air in the tank is the only air you are breathing.   Common misconception here.
  • Get some masks that have a little reservoir bag that gets filled up, and when you breathe in that’s where the oxygen comes from. I got these on Amazon.
  • Improvise with the regulator, tubing, mask design as needed.
  • If you can, make friends with someone who can help you refill the tank. g. welders.

Anti-virals-  not sure how to help you on this one.  Lots of theories online as to what works.

  • Some commonly-mentioned anti-virals: chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine.  Do your homework because these are dangerous drugs with high toxicity and side effects.
  • Before, you could order meds online from Canadian or Indian pharmacies, but not likely for a while going forward.
  • Some natural medicines to consider are adaptogens, but if you aren’t familiar with herbal medicine then now would be a hard time to start.
    • Be reasonable with any alternative medicine. In my experience, herbal remedies usually work better as preventatives, and I would consider them a complement to western medicine as opposed to a replacement.   If I could get my hands on anti-virals right now, I would.  I still keep echinacea tincture, elderberry, garlic, ginger nearby for all kinds of ailments and this pandemic is no different for me.
    • Remember that when Tylenol reduces fever, it reduces your body’s intentional immune response. So be smart and work with your body instead of against it.

Conclusion:  Do your part to flatten the curve, be smart and be resourceful, take care of your family and be a responsible part of your community at the same time.   Don’t be selfish, don’t hoard, and don’t worry about things outside of your span of control.  Just do your part.

The Scarcity that binds us after disasters

South Asia’s traditional caste system has been around for several millenia.  The idea that people are borne into their status in life- it seems offensive- an idea that we should reject if we believe in meritocracy.  But here’s another unpopular opinion- Caste societies have a rational, if exploitative roots.  They start with identifying groups of people who have fallen into a trap, and then taking advantage of them while they are caught.

  • Poverty causes the Scarcity mindset*, creating a cycle of poverty with a foundation of short-sighted habits that once were effective in helping one survive, but now only serve to inhibit one to plan for the future.
  • These habits, like any habits, are social- meaning they are passed along to friends and family.
  • Therefore the concept of a “Caste” society has a legitimate foundation in recognizing the cycles that some groups are perpetuating, and serves to label them permanently as Losers instead of just people caught in negative, self-perpetuating cycles.

The roots of this problem likely starts in crisis.  Crisis is what disturbs our healthy equilibrium- our sense of moderation and discipline.

We were doing fine, walking down the modest path of slow-growing prosperity.  Slowly accruing wealth, getting exercise, working most of the week and then spending time with friends and family the rest of us.  Giving back to the community, developing hobbies and sharing them.

And along came a Crisis.  A flood.  Or mass layoffs.  Or a medical procedure that bankrupts us.  Or suddenly becoming the caretaker to someone else.  Some Crisis that levels our sense of balance with our money, our time, and our health.  How resilient are we in the face of this Crisis?

Crisis disrupts our healthy living;  Scarcity replaces our sense of disclipline as developed in good habits; and then Castes and predatory capitalism keep us in a state of Scarcity- fat, broke, sick, and desperate.

Resiliency ought to be measured in so many other ways than we see it now.  It’s more than Jobs.  It’s the fabric of our daily lives. Are we back to getting enough exercise?  Are we eating well- mostly vegetables, not too much processed crap?  Are we saving money again, do we have time for the people and activities that make our lives meaningful?  If the answer is yes- then we have Recovered.  We are Resilient.  But if we are still living on short-term measures- meals that come out of a box but take their toll on our health;  a budget that gets us through the month but at the expense of our retirement; a schedule that keeps us in our homes but defers all of their required maintenance; a job or two that leaves us too tired to socialized, and too busy to volunteer;   then we have not Recovered, we are not Resilient- and we are still stuck in the Scarcity Loop.


*for more info on Scarcity, check out the excellent book written in 2013 by Mullainathan and Shafir

Gleaning – mobilizing dis-used herbal infrastructure?

In David’s blog post on “Disaster Medicine” he talks about the group Herbalists without Borders, a group that is using their skills with medicinal plants to support survivors of disaster. David has also described the Mesquite Community Garden with the Raising the Bridge project in which many herbs are being planted to support the local community’s skills in planting and processing herbal medications from the garden.

A lesson we learned in the development of the Ready-to-Go bike project was that there can be great value in working with existing infrastructure rather than creating a new set of collection and distribution infrastructure from scratch. I wonder if there would be any value in connecting the idea of ‘herbal medicines used in disaster response’ with the idea of the neighborhood cohesion or community networks that we often talk about.

I picture a network of folks who happen to have medicinal plants already growing in their gardens or yards – but who may not know the plant’s value or may be unable to harvest them – being connected with local folks who are willing and knowledgeable about harvesting the plants for use in nearby disaster response.

I picture something like the gleaning associations that exist in a lot of cities across North America, where folks with gardens and fruit trees are connected to people who have the time and ability to harvest and who could use the food.

Here’s a link to the local version of this kind of association in the city of Nanaimo, Canada, where I live:


What Do We Mean: RenegAID

One of our board members keeps reminding the rest of us to keep our focus on Natural Disaster like a focal point for a laboring mother. A focal point to distract us from the pain and fear that keeps popping into our heads. I am ever grateful for her reminders as our thoughts wonder around the landscape of chaos, expressing our opinions on what we see as haunting.

Last evening I spent time catching up on some inspiration by watching TED talks.

The one I have referenced here made me think…

Shouldn’t RenegAID be to survivors of Natural Disaster what TED talks are to inspiration and ideas? And shouldn’t RenegAID be to survivors of Natural Disasters what Burning Man is to art?

The event of natural disaster is not political. And we are about the event. In a catastrophic disaster, people who spontaneously show up to engage and help on their own volition, their own time, their own risk, their own money are called renegaid. They do whatever presents itself in the world of absolute chaos. They are not bound by policy and procedure and insurance clauses like volunteers who arrive from relief organizations such as Red Cross, etc. They are not bound by their schooling and corporate level. They are the off duty neighbors who drop what they are doing and run in to help, led by the spirit and not by rules. Rules don’t work well anyway in pure chaos. Corporations and governments exist awhile and then change but neighbors are forever.

In her TED talk, Nora Atkinson calls the Burning Man experiment in collective dreaming, off the grid, anti consumer community an “active collaborative making community.” It exists internationally year round but comes together once a year in the desert… made up of artists, scientists, welders, engineers, garbage collectors, etc. And when their time together is over, they disappear without a trace. Although the art is amazing, what inspires Nora most is why people come there again and again to make. She believes it gets to something that’s essentially human. She says that when people first come to Burning Man, they don’t know how to make this stuff. It’s the “active collaborative maker community” that makes it possible. And when artists stop worrying about critics and collectors and start making for themselves, these are the marvelous toys they create.

I loved the Burning Man people who came immediately and spontaneously to Katrina with bulldozers and tents and set up neighborhood with the Buddhist Temple. Spontaneous, engaging, willing to give of their talents and do whatever needed to be done in the moment, not worried about money or insurance. They were pretty renegaid.

Referenced TED Talk: Why Art Thrives at Burning Man by Nora Atkinson

Japanese “wabi-sabi”: bridging the two-languages divide

Eunice has spoken about the existence of two languages – the language of order and structure and the language of chaos and regeneration. The second one works with the rebirth after disaster while the first one tends to clash with the rebirth process and wants to quickly restore what was broken.

As I read this article about the Japanese aesthetic concept of “wabi-sabi” I was struck by how this dual-language divide seems to be bridged in Japanese culture through an understanding of art and an appreciation of the marks of the “ravages of time” on an object’s appearance.

The article makes the link to disaster by suggesting that it is from the necessity created by the frequency of natural disaster that folks in Japan have learned to appreciate imperfections and brokenness as an opportunity for a new kind of beauty.

Article url:


Hosting a Disaster???

The term, Hosting, is used by international government officials when describing nations who have events such as the Olympic Games. For instance, the host nation for the winter Olympics 2010 was Canada. The traditions of hosting go back to ancient cultures. It was the responsibility of the host to “equalize” the stranger. Host is the root word for hospital, a place for a “stranger” to be brought back to health. It is the root word for hospitality – the stranger is fed and lodged and basic needs are met.
Now consider catastrophe. The host is not the location where the event occurred. Nor is it the survivor. The host is the responder, whether individual, organization, government or foreign nation. As responders, what kind of hospitality are we providing?
This thought is from:
Comprehending Chaos, A Framework for Understanding Disaster, Class #12 Ramifications Part 2, What Am I Dealing With Here?

National and International Disaster Relief Tip

Just a reminder to include a few good used bikes inside shipping containers of relief and medical supplies going into catastrophic disasters. Providing a means of rapid distribution and communication for survivors is just as important as the relief supplies when dealing with broken infrastructure. Good used bikes can be purchased at stores such as Goodwill, Salvation Army, other thrift stores, used bike shops, etc. Only send bikes in good working order, with good tire tread and without rust. They must be ready for immediate use.

Bikes are a disaster response tool. They can be used immediately for:
1. Distributing supplies
2. Communicating information
3. Connecting survivors
4. Generating cell phone power.
Before sending, you can attach a label or tag to each bike suggesting these uses. Be sure to use language familiar to the survivors.

Thank you,

Mesquite’s new community garden

Check out the latest community project to come out of our neighborhood in Texas!  Raising the Bridge (RTB)  is a nonprofit working to provide resources for local youth and they are heading up the garden design, fundraising and construction.  Check out their website here.

A recent survey indicated that there are over 900 homeless students in our city’s school system (and so certainly others that we cannot track).  What RTB is doing for these kids and others is crucial.  Thus Renegaid is thrilled to be collaborating with them in developing the garden and being a place to showcase ways to grow and process medications from many of the herbs at the garden.




End of the ‘Natural’ Disaster

It’s hurricane season, where TV coverage moves from one disaster-stricken town to the next.  But these crises began well before the weather forecasts.  Thousands of communities who have recently faced catastrophe have had to endure the collapse of their economic immune systems well before they were on the news.

But consider this slower and much more commonplace trends effecting those same communities, as well as virtually every other in the country:

  • The replacement of local economies with distantly-owned corporations and franchises;
  • the collapse of the local sales tax base through consistent and reckless tax breaks to big box stores;
  • the disappearance of the middle class career and rise of the high-insecurity, no-future, low-wage temp job;
  • the lean logistics of modern businesses with no space for disaster mitigation or community support

The hurricanes were for those communities merely the latest of a series of disasters to afflict them. A sober view of disaster recovery as a profession is that it will be required one way or the other:

  • Faster in the case of floods or hurricanes;
  • Slower in the case of urban decay and the failure of aging infrastructure.

And we are really only equipped for natural disasters- “Acts of God.”  Acts of Greed, or Negligence, or Poor Planning- are off the table as far as professional disaster mitigation is concerned.  The average American town or city lasts many times longer, decades longer, than the average Fortune 500 company.  Communities are built to be conservative; stable; responsive; supportive.  And yet they are being asked to do more and more while their resources are being undercut.

Community resilience starts with community prosperity, solidarity, and mutual aid for surrounding communities.  All of those starting points are undercut when the economic foundation of a community is swapped out and a corporate skeleton crew replaces it. It’s time to recognize the value of the City or Town as an enduring and resilient community- and broaden our view of the unnatural disasters which afflict them.

Caught in the Wave

The image of being caught in a wave changed for me when I met a young mother in Banda Aceh in 2006. She had been swept into the 2004 Christmas tsunami wave that together with its preceding magnitude 9 earthquake had killed 1 out of 3 people in that city on Sumatra island, Indonesia. The official tally of deaths from that duel event was epic, so epic, that the counting stopped at about a quarter of a million. Deaths were recorded as far away as Africa.

There is another wave I want to dedicate this blog post to. It happened so long ago that it has vanished out of our collective memory. Yet if we care enough to put the pieces together, we can step by step see how we got to the place we are at today. There are two languages. Always have been. One language is our everyday language. It is the language of order, the language of power, the language of science, the language of math. It is well structured and extremely useful in the world of business to keep things straight.

There is another language. It doesn’t care about the niceties of structure. Matter of fact, it works best in no structure at all. It is plastic and can form to any situation. It is the language of survival and regeneration. Unfortunately this language has been relegated to the world of the human lower nature or a more animal or primitive nature. How that happened, I do not know. This second language is our saving grace in catastrophic disaster.

Now I am going to go way back in time… If I have my facts correct, roughly 2000 years ago, a man began teaching us about this second language. It was never to be used as a political language or as a language of structure. It was to understand what was happening in catastrophic disaster. And to be able to communicate with and help survivors. Now go forward to the time of Constantine when the language was mainstreamed into a power structure.

Then fast forward to today.
When Naomi Klein notes that we need to deal with our foundational issues when dealing with our disaster responses, I contend we need to look way farther back than 1776 (for US). A language that was meant to get us through the random catastrophic times in life, was overtaken and absorbed into the language of structure and order. It changed into a domination language. That confused humanity’s ability to see the difference between the two languages. Now we blame the Victim and see our selves as good for responding that way. We took what was suppose to be not of this world order and changed it into… of this world order. The language of survival and regeneration was suppose to be for survivors and responders of catastrophe, not for politicians. Now we can’t even understand how a single act of giving of oneself can start a disaster-destroyed neighborhood’s heart beating again.