MEND is a new podcast that tells the secret histories of Humboldt cannabis which have been hidden for years. Anne Fricke and Amy Day are the hosts of the new show, which launched in May 2017. They met with us to share the story of how MEND began, where they want to take the project, and some of the struggles they’ve faced along the way.
We originally met at a Women’s Circle at Amy’s house, and then again at a writing retreat. We were both talking about similar projects.
I wanted to write a marijuana ethnography, to start interviewing people and documenting their history. Amy was talking about a project she wanted to write called The Farmer’s Wife. She wrote a really beautiful piece for it that she actually read in the first podcast.
So we were sitting at my kitchen table, and I said, “I don’t know, maybe I should just do a podcast.” She said she wanted do a podcast, too! And thus, MEND was created.
We sat at that kitchen table and came up with a list of voices and stories that we wanted to hear. Then we started brainstorming. Who do we know that we can bother?
We typed up a nice, very formal-looking, letter. Maybe that’s great for reaching out to organizations, but it’s actually not so great for people who have been living out in the hills for thirty or forty years! They may not even use email.
Annie is tenacious and connected. She’s been great about getting ahold of people through that eight degrees of separation. Once we figure out a subject, she starts texting, calling, and getting out the old soup can and the string to connect with people.
“How can we take those initial visions and ideals, and move them forward?”
It has kept evolving since then. At first, we just wanted to honor those beautiful Humboldt stories that don’t get told. Speaking with these people is morphing the vision towards not only documenting the past, but also asking: How can we take those initial visions and ideals, and move them forward?
To say that good stewardship of the land and strong communities began in the Seventies is a ridiculous concept. We want to talk to people who were here before the back-to-the-landers, so we’re reaching out to some of the local tribes. We really need their voice to tell the whole story.
“Not everyone wants to just grow sunflowers with a sweet little Maw ‘N’ Paw ganja garden on the side.”
Having these conversations is a bit like that old tale about the blind men who are each touching a different piece of an elephant. One is holding the trunk, another one has the tail, and another one is touching the leg. They all think they know what the elephant looks like, and they’re all right, but they’re all equally limited.
We want to hear what those initial experiences were like, but we also need to look at the reality of how much the industry has changed since then. There are good people who want to continue this work, care for their families, and contribute to their community. There are also some really bad players in this game, too.
I think we do a disservice to people if we just say, “La la la, it’s all beautiful, and we all just want to live out in nature!” Not everyone wants to just grow sunflowers with a sweet little Maw ‘N’ Paw ganja garden on the side.
One conversation we are looking to have is, who’s still wanting to be in this?
Who is going into the future?
We’ll see where the Muse leads. We want to keep it diverse. It’s not useful to have eight stories that are all in the same vein. It’s not that any one story is less valid, we just want to keep it interesting, and not redundant.
One story can speak for many people.
Making the podcast has been one hell of a learning curve. It’s been Google searches, and Facebook groups, and piecing it together late at night, freaking out.
We both have small children, so most of our first interviews happened at night, with both of us in our separate houses, connected by the internet. We had a few times where it took 45 minutes of technical difficulties before we could even get to the interview!
“There was a moment in our interview with the trimmer that got a bit tense”
I really enjoyed learning how to edit the audio and put it all together, but it takes a lot of time. I was hoping that some listener out there would really love it, and volunteer to be our technical angel!
There was a moment in our interview with the trimmer that got a bit tense, because I asked an uncomfortable question. She was talking about making money and traveling, and I kept thinking back to all the interviews we’ve done with the back-to-the-landers; people who believe in giving back to the community.
I tried to ask in a respectful way, “You’re taking all of this money out of the area, and what are you coming back with?” I really hope I didn’t make her uncomfortable.
I think you handled it beautifully. My ability to put something tactfully and diplomatically goes away when I’m not in alignment with what someone is saying. Annie put it beautifully, made her feel at home, and asked the question that needed to be asked. That’s why we work together, because I don’t think either one of us alone could gather all the pieces of the puzzle.
Anne and Amy live in Humboldt County, California, where they create and broadcast MEND podcast from home. You can learn more about Anne, Amy and MEND at their website.
What are the most important values to bring into the future of Humboldt cannabis?
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