My first job was over the summer when I was 13 years old, employed by the City of Boulder to build trailheads, plant shrubs and restore an historic ranch up on the mountain. It was thankless, hot, physical labor and I loved it. For one week we were out in this field where the mud had dried out into ankle-breaking knobs and clots of dirt. There was nothing in the field, nothing, but part of it belonged to the city and part of it didn’t, so our job was to build a “prairie dog fence” around the section owned by the city in order to protect it. Apparently pairie dogs don’t appreciate government property lines and, since they love to reproduce to epic populations, the importance of keeping them off the city lot was a task important enough to pay a group of teenagers to do but not important enough to pay actual city laborers to undertake.
A prairie dog fence is a super high-tech, scientifically researched piece of equipment. When NASA scientists had already quit space they undertook the task of creating prairie dog fences before going on to develop memory-foam mattresses. I’m being a jerk; these fences are nothing more than strips of plastic tarp that are buried about 6 inches into the dirt and stand about a foot tall above ground. You bury the first part so that the prairie dogs give up after trying for 30 seconds to dig under it, and you need about a foot over the ground so that they can’t see over the tarp when they’re on their little hind legs. That’s the actual science of a prairie dog fence: the little guys only go where they can see, so if you block their sight of the area of land you’re trying to keep them out of, they won’t come in.
Now, nearly 20 years on from those hot, thankless days of wielding a pick-axe in the sun to foil these praire dogs, it strikes me that I’m doing exactly the opposite of that. I’ve found that the importance of what I’m doing with 8limbs.us is that giving people a glimpse into the life of training and fighting in Thailand, allowing them to see it, more and more people are inclined to come do it for themselves – and not just come, come and really dive in in the biggest way you can. I hope I’m taking the blinders off through sharing, because I want people to experience this for themselves and being able to see themselves in it, people are able to move toward it. Long form training videos, full fight videos with all my flaws, vlogs as I’m in the emotion, all of it hoping to create a window. And perhaps it’s a side-note that there is added benefit to seeing someone like you doing things you can’t necessarily see for yourself. Men have a privilege in that there is no shortage of men to look at; for women, there is an added influence at being able to see a woman doing the things I do, training in Thailand, fighting and walking these rocky roads. Men are influenced by it as well, but women don’t get to see other women as often. So I’m happy to kick down those prairie dog fences, those blinders and hidden experiences behind what might be more comfortable in covering the difficulties, the failures, or just not having to be responsible for every clod of dirt you trip over. Still laboring in the hot sun though.
I think it is on all of us who have worked to get somewhere to make as much of a window as we can, so others can gain a view of what they can see.