Is prepping going mainstream?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by CATO, Nov 18, 2012.


  1. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

    Link goes to a NYT article.

    How to Survive Societal Collapse in Suburbia - NYTimes.com

    How to Survive Societal Collapse in Suburbia

    By KEITH O’BRIEN

    Published: November 16, 2012

    On a clear morning in May, Ron Douglas left his home in exurban Denver, eased into his Toyota pickup truck and drove to a business meeting at a Starbucks. Douglas, a bearded bear of a man, ordered a venti double-chocolate-chip Frappuccino — “the girliest drink ever,” he called it — and then sat down to discuss the future of the growing survivalist industry.
    Many so-called survivalists would take pride in keeping far away from places that sell espresso drinks. But Douglas, a 38-year-old entrepreneur and founder of one of the largest preparedness expos in the country, isn’t your typical prepper.
    At that morning’s meeting, a strategy session with two new colleagues, Douglas made it clear that he doesn’t even like the word “survivalist.” He believes the word is ruined, evoking “the nut job who lives out in the mountains by himself on the retreat.” Instead, he prefers “self-reliance.”
    When prompted by his colleagues to define the term, Douglas leaned forward in his chair. “I’m glad you asked,” he replied. “Take notes. This is good.”
    For the next several minutes, Douglas talked about emergency preparedness, sustainable living and financial security — what he called the three pillars of self-reliance. He detailed the importance of solar panels, gardens, water storage and food stockpiles. People shouldn’t just have 72-hour emergency kits for when the power grid goes down; they should learn how to live on their own. It’s a message that Douglas is trying to move from the fringe to the mainstream.
    “Our main goal is to reach as many people and get the word out to as many people as we can, to get them thinking and moving in this direction,” he said. “Sound good?”
    The preparedness industry, always prosperous during hard times, is thriving again now. In Douglas’s circles, people talk about “the end of the world as we know it” with such regularity that the acronym TEOTWAWKI (tee-ought-wah-kee) has come into widespread use. The Vivos Group, which sells luxury bunkers, until recently had a clock on its Web site that was ticking down to Dec. 21, 2012 — a date that, thanks to the Mayan calendar, some believe will usher in the end times. But amid the alarmism, there is real concern that the world is indeed increasingly fragile — a concern highlighted most recently by Hurricane Sandy. The storm’s aftermath has shown just how unprepared most of us are to do without the staples of modern life: food, fuel, transportation and electric power.
    The survivalist business surged in the wake of 9/11, when authorities instructed New Yorkers to prepare disaster kits, learn how to seal doors and vents with duct tape and be ready to evacuate at any time. Threat-level warnings about possible terrorist attacks kept Americans rattled for years, and were followed by various disasters of other types: the financial meltdown, Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, drought, blackouts and concerns over everything from rising sea levels to Iran’s nuclear program.
    Late last year, Douglas and his partners formed the Red Shed Media Group, a single corporate home for several endeavors: the Self Reliance Expo, conventions that Douglas founded in 2010, dedicated to showcasing survival gear and skills; Self Reliance Broadcasting, an Internet-based channel devoted to the cause; and an entity that controls the rights to publishing “Making the Best of Basics,” a popular survivalist handbook. The name Red Shed was symbolic for Douglas. “When your grandfather went and did a project,” he told me, “he went out to the red shed and pulled out all the tools he needed for the job.” Douglas wants his virtual red shed to be a single place where people can get all the preparedness information they need. Five expos this year have drawn 40,000 people who pay $10 each. The radio network has logged more than two million podcast downloads; in one day alone in July, it reported nearly 90,000 downloads. The book, which was first published in 1974, includes recipes for everything from wild pig (“they are easy to prepare”) to dove pie (“simmer for one hour or until doves are tender”). Douglas said it had sold about 20,000 copies this year.
    But the goal isn’t just to sell to the same old preparedness crowd. Red Shed wants to attract liberals and political moderates to a marketplace historically populated by conservatives and right-wing extremists. “It’s not the end of the world,” Douglas told me last spring, making a bold statement for someone in his industry. “It’s not doomsday.” It’s about showing the gun-toting mountain man in his camouflage and the suburban soccer mom in her minivan that they want the same thing: peace of mind. “We don’t say, ‘Hurry up and buy your stuff because Obama is going to ruin the country,’ ” Douglas said. “We don’t get into the political crap. We just want to teach people the lifestyle.”
    The first thing you notice about Douglas’s neighborhood in Frederick, Colo., about 30 miles north of Denver, is that it’s not particularly noticeable. He doesn’t have a mountain stronghold or a 20-acre spread. He doesn’t have a bunker or anything resembling a barn. Instead, he, his wife, Heather, and their six children, ages 4 to 16, inhabit a typical American suburban home. There’s an in-ground sprinkler system and a play structure in the backyard. The siding on the house is an innocuous beige. Pink tulips bloom in the flower beds come spring. The children can walk to school.
    The fact that Douglas not only told me where he lives but also invited me to visit him would be considered a huge mistake by many in the prepping world. Revealing your location runs the risk of compromising your OPSEC, or “operations security,” an abbreviation coined by the military and adopted by survivalists. “I don’t even mention what state I live in,” James Wesley Rawles, the editor of SurvivalBlog.com, a popular prepping Web site, told me. “All I’m at liberty to discuss, with consent of my wife, is that I live somewhere west of the Rockies.”
    For Rawles and others, it’s a matter of security. Revealing your location gives the Unprepared a road map to the stockpiles of the Prepared, in the event of TEOTWAWKI. “I don’t want to wake up and find out that I’m the go-to guy — literally,” Rawles says.
    If civilization breaks down, Douglas’s house is definitely where you want to be. In his home office — the de facto headquarters for Red Shed’s six shareholders and two independent contractors — he keeps not only his iPad and his MacBook but also a ham radio and a C.B. radio. In his basement, there is roughly a year’s supply of wheat, rice and other staples. And outside, he tries to keep a year’s supply of chopped wood and, in his garage, 375 gallons of water.
    If he needs to leave, Douglas has modified a Chevy Suburban so that it can travel 850 miles between fill-ups. If he stays, he’s ready to protect his family and his provisions. Douglas can’t even remember how many guns he owns. “Twelve?” he guessed when I asked. “Not as many as most.” But he knows his favorite: the Governor, a Smith & Wesson handgun that fires shotgun shells. “This is the home defender here,” he said. “You just point it in the right direction, and it’s over.”
    Yet unlike others in his industry, Douglas doesn’t waste energy worrying about things like OPSEC. And though he owns guns, he doesn’t push gun ownership.
    At a meeting at an empty Hooters restaurant in Colorado Springs this year, Douglas listened impatiently as a salesman tried to get him to buy some ads on a local radio station for a coming expo. He was saying he could offer the same rates for a typical gun show. Douglas told the man that he wasn’t getting it at all. “I’m not just a gun show,” Douglas said to him.
    The salesman’s confusion must be forgiven. The last time anything like Douglas’s expos hit convention halls was the 1990s. Y2K was coming. The threat of computers — and everything else — failing was a boon for a show called the Preparedness Expo. Civil rights organizations denounced the early incarnations of these gatherings, organized by a Utah man named Dan Chittock, as havens for political extremism and hate, an image that Chittock disputed even as he seemed to invite it. His biggest draw at the expos, Chittock told me, was James Gritz, known as Bo, a leader of the right-wing survivalist movement who offered paramilitary training and promoted Idaho as a refuge for antigovernment patriots. Dave Duffy, the editor and publisher of Backwoods Home Magazine, said: “I pulled out of Dan’s shows after awhile. It was conspiracy stuff. And it was making my magazine, along with the other vendors, look bad.”
    Y2K offered a clearer threat; attendance at the expos doubled. But when the millennium dawned without widespread computer meltdowns, Chittock’s audience disappeared, and the expos disbanded. “It was kind of like crying ‘wolf,’ ” Chittock says. “Nobody wanted to hear it anymore.” Many small survivalist companies folded, while others struggled to carry on. Sun Ovens International, an Illinois company that manufactures solar-powered ovens, had sales fall to less than $200,000 in 2000 from $1.6 million a year earlier — a staggering 88 percent decline made worse by the fact that the company got stuck with $100,000 in unpaid invoices after the Y2K bust. “When Y2K was a nonevent, almost everybody in the preparedness industry declared bankruptcy,” Paul M. Munsen, the company’s president, says.
    Sun Ovens limped along, critically wounded. “I refinanced my home three different times just to eat,” Munsen says. But in time, business began to improve, thanks in part to Barack Obama’s presidential victory four years ago, which alarmed many on the right worried about everything from his economic policies to his middle name. “The day after the election was one of the best sales days we ever had,” Munsen says. “Some people were just so upset about the election that they said, ‘We had better be prepared.’ ”
    Ron Douglas wasn’t a part of the preparedness gold rush of the 1990s. He was working at the time as a corrections officer in Texas before moving to Colorado, where he bought a Critter Control franchise. Not long after Sun Oven sales began to rise, Douglas got out of the pest-control business. As a Mormon, he was taught the virtues of living a prepared life. He had been stockpiling food for years. But now, Douglas was beginning to sense a larger void — and a commercial opportunity — that needed to be filled.
    He held his first Self Reliance Expo in November 2010 and tried to put a new spin on survivalism. Instead of lining up speakers to offer right-wing screeds, Douglas organized a homemade bread bake-off. The prize: a new wheat grinder. The products — and even the vendors at times — may have been the same from the expos of the past. But the packaging felt different, less threatening. Duffy says he noticed it immediately: “It was apparent right off the bat — no nut cases.”
    Scott Valencia, a business developer from the video-game industry who formed Red Shed with Douglas last year and owns a stake in the company, helped see to that. He instructed vendors to avoid fear tactics and improve their displays while also making sure that the venues were welcoming and well lighted with wide aisles — the better to fit baby strollers and families. There was to be no more doom and gloom. “We lost some vendors when we told them that we weren’t doing it anymore — and Ron worried about that,” Valencia says. “But I said, ‘You’re going to pick up new ones.’ And we have.”
    At an expo in May in Colorado Springs, at least a hundred people were waiting to get inside when the doors opened for the day. Some bought water filters; others learned fire-building skills. An audience gathered at the main stage to listen to Alan Madison talk about his reality TV show on the National Geographic Channel, “Doomsday Preppers,” whose second season began this month. “To me, it’s like a giant American studies project,” Madison, an executive producer of the show, told me. “I think it captures America at the beginning of the 21st century.” By the time the first season finished in April, the show had become the channel’s highest-rated series ever.
    Not everyone at the expo was a fan of “Doomsday Preppers.” Terry Browning, a 41-year-old Army veteran, said the show unfairly depicts people like him as “militant psychos.” “Half the people here are probably not even thinking about the bunker underground or the 10,000 rounds of ammo — stuff like that,” he told me. “Most of these people just want to be safe in their homes with enough supplies to get them through whatever may be.”
    In other words, they’re a lot like Linda Thrower, a home-health nurse from New Mexico. She and her husband, Troy, started prepping only recently, and they hesitated to even attend the expo. “We didn’t want to be inundated with a bunch of way-out-there radical followers,” she told me. Yet once inside, she was pleased with what she found. Yes, there was ammunition for sale and classes to help people obtain concealed-weapons permits. But Thrower, 59, left the expo that weekend with canned cheese, baking supplies for her Sun Oven and some practice in emergency suturing, the subject of one of the expo’s many seminars. “I think that’s a good thing for me, as a nurse, to be able to do,” she said. “Because if we have a disaster, whether it’s natural or man-made, there’s not going to be enough doctors.”
    Just across the aisle from the Tea Party booth at the expo stood EnerHealth Botanicals, a Colorado company whose signature product is a “super green energy drink” that is organic, gluten-free, caffeine-free and G.M.O.-free. As a founder of the company in 2005, Steve St. Clair, EnerHealth’s chief executive, was focused on health-minded liberals. In the spring of 2011, however, St. Clair bought a booth at one of Douglas’s expos. “People just ran over us,” St. Clair told me. “They just loved the stuff.”
    Since then, EnerHealth has sold products created for the preparedness market, especially its Survive2Thrive Organic Preparedness Pail. It sells for $270 and consists of 40 days’ worth of vacuum-packed organic food, including five pounds of rolled oats, four pounds of millet, three pounds of garbanzo beans and so on. Business at EnerHealth doubled last year. “And it looks like it may do it again this year,” St. Clair said. Sales were brisk before Hurricane Sandy. And natural disasters always help the preparedness industry.
    The week Hurricane Sandy hit New York and New Jersey, Douglas was getting bombarded with e-mail from exhibitors asking him to organize an expo in the Northeast. To date, the farthest east he has been is Hickory, N.C. The demographic for preparedness generally tilts Western and rural. But since Sandy, Douglas has been considering putting on an expo in New York or New Jersey. “This is exactly what we’re trying to prepare people for,” he told me. “Everybody talks about doomsday, the end of the world — apocalypse nonsense. This is New York’s doomsday right now.”
    One night last spring, Douglas invited friends and neighbors to his house in Frederick for what he called a “modern-day barn-raising.” The tasks for the night included clearing the back corner of the lot, erecting new garden boxes for the season and chopping wood. Everyone was well fortified for the work; Heather, Ron’s wife, had cooked a large dinner of spare ribs in a Sun Oven. And the weather was perfect for the chores. Within 90 minutes, the garden boxes were ready. Heather served homemade root beer and store-bought ice cream, and the men gathered in the driveway to talk as the sun set behind the Rocky Mountains.
    “You’re coming to my house next week,” Chad Tone, one of the men, told Douglas, joking.
    For months, Tone had been talking to Douglas about wanting to be more prepared. He bought canned goods at Costco, and he figured his family could live off them for months, if necessary. But Tone wasn’t canning food or growing his own food; he had no garden. Douglas knew Tone still had a lot of work to do and, standing in the driveway, he asked his friend a cosmic question of great importance.
    “Are you ready?” Douglas said.
    “No,” Tone replied.
    Douglas just shook his head and smiled. “Gotta get ready,” he said.
     
    STANGF150 likes this.
  2. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    It is. I have seen a survival shop that opened up down the street and they are selling pre-made survival packs for EVERYTHING, (i.e., your car, hiking, camping, utility, on the go, in between, his/her, infants, children...etc) with expensive markups and a ton of product I wouldn't recommend to people I didn't like, let alone to anyone else. Bright, flashy labels, fancy packaging, urban camo and pink bags...WISE food buckets, individual water packets, Chinese made machetes and blades marketed with "ZOMBIE SLAYER" on the blade, the list goes on and on and on.

    All the wrong stuff. But it sells, so I am told. At least they are selling some good reading materials.
     
  3. VisuTrac

    VisuTrac Ваша мать носит военные ботинки Site Supporter+++

    Oh buhjeebus! Now they'll have enough stuff to start walking out of the suburbs and into the country when they get over run. Granted, they'll have the shits cause they don't eat that sodium laced / dehydrated emergency food all the time. So at least we should smell 'em comin'.

    Frick, Now I gotta get down to Tractor supply and pick up more barbed wire.
    And while I'm there maybe some lye/lime for the burial pits of the post apocolypic black friday sales event. Dam, I was planning on having a nice quiet week. I guess I'll head out tomorrow. Drat.
     
    oldawg, STANGF150, Yard Dart and 4 others like this.
  4. Witch Doctor 01

    Witch Doctor 01 Mojo Maker

    They are kinda light in defensive preps... looks like they will attract the ZOMBIE hordes....
     
  5. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    I am not convinced that the vendors/designers of these prepackaged lumps are doing the sheep a service. You can bet a can of tuna that very few of the buyers will ever know what's really in the kits, they'll toss 'em in the trunk or the back of the closet until a need arises, then won't really know what to do with the stuff. In the meantime, all having those packages around will do is instill a false sense of security.

    From observation, there are more people thinking about the oncoming storm, some are even actually doing it right as we advocate here at SM. I can't get interested in buying (say) a set of sterile packages of sutures and scalpels when a match or boiling water will sterilize an Xacto blade, and ditto for monofilament fishing line. On the other hand, a small selection of hemostats has a wide range of uses.
     
    ditch witch and Cruisin Sloth like this.
  6. CaboWabo5150

    CaboWabo5150 Lost in the woods

    It is going mainstream, and that's great ! From the standpoint that the single most important prep is mindset. Individuals who have the mindset of taking care of themselves instead of waiting for the government to take care of them, are the last and greatest hope for this Country. We should help, somehow.
     
    KAS likes this.
  7. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    I would agree with that thought. Those who can take care of themselves, are less likely to be on welfare, and more likely to be an asset, than a drain on the system. They are also less likely to vote for being taken care of. (Sheeple) This country was built by pioneers, people who by definition, were self sufficient.
     
    STANGF150 likes this.
  8. Pax Mentis

    Pax Mentis Philosopher King Site Supporter

    A review of the comments (especially when the article is printed in a liberal rag like the NYT) is enough to tell one why prepping will never become truly mainstream in the USA...the level of stupidity and that which I can only call "sheephood" is far too high for anything resembling reason to have a chance of taking root.
     
  9. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    If you look at the demographics.... Most sheeple, live in Cities and Suburbia with the Takers mostly in the innerCities.... Rarely do you find them out in the country, and almost NEVER out in the bush, except where the .GOV has made them Takers, by Acts of Congress. (Native Americans)
     
    Mountainman likes this.
  10. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    Lookin' at the husband....I don't see no Twinkies in his preps...he's a gonna die fer sure!!:rolleyes:
     
  11. Tikka

    Tikka Monkey+++

    After they met Sandy on "her" terms, I would hope some of them got the message.
     
  12. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Prep'er has always been "Main Stream" in many communities... Look at Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and most rural States. Where Prep'en isn't "Main Stream" is in cities, and the burbs.... Simply because these folks grew up with a Supermarket just down the block, and it is ALWAYS stocked with goods. When that becomes no longer true, then these folks will learn the folly of their lifestyle, and we will see them whining on CNN, about where is FEMA, with the food and water.... ..... YMMV.... but if it does, your on the wrong side of this issue.....
     
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  13. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

    Where I grew up, people would just call it livin'--they were self-sufficient.

    In my mind, "prepping" is "in addition to" your normal routine. If something happened, you might have to use your preps, which you've been dutifully storing away for some disaster that may never happen. Mormons are preppers...they have an emergency stash.

    Where I grew up, there were no preps....you grew your own food and put it up some way. You ate that through the winter and probably didn't have a lot left over; then, you started over again when the growing season started. You rarely went to the grocery store and never went out to eat.
     
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  14. ditch witch

    ditch witch resident bacon hoarder Site Supporter+

    My parents used to live in Miami. While they were there, they decided to follow the sage advice in the FEMA pamphet they picked up at the supermarket and set aside some stuff "just in case." Now this in and of itself is mind blowing because my parents do NOT believe in prepping. The government will take care of us all. End of story.

    Eventually they moved back to Texas. I unloaded the U-Haul by myself (because apparently the batteries in each of my three brothers' phones magically chose that day to die) and whilst doing so came across a brand new fish fryer still in the original unopened box.

    "Whaddya got this for?" I ask, knowing my parents do not fish, camp, or fry. Ever.
    "Oh that, that's a survival cooker!" beams mom.
    "Um, no it's a fish fryer," I tell her, pointing to the part on the box that says so. "You never met a fish you couldn't boil so what's this for?"

    They proceed to tell me all about their survival preps and how they were so prepared for hurricanes. Except when they finally needed it all, they couldn't figure out how the "survival cooker" worked, or how to hook up the 20# propane tank they'd gotten for it. SO, they mostly ate crackers and peanut butter for three days.

    Knowing I am deranged and do not believe the government will swoop in to feed me if anything bad ever happened, they told me to take the "survival cooker" and the propane tank and two big ice chests full of canned chicken and tuna.
     
  15. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey..... Moderator Site Supporter++

    I think more and more people are getting concerned about the current state of the .gov and it's bloated intentions of making all it's citizens- servants. And those people are starting to get right with where their house stands in preparedness... nothing wrong with that. As many have said above for their youth, I grew up in a tiny town in MT, we just were living to make tomorrow. Canning, gardening, hunting, fishing, wood fuel, water, animals (pigs, rabbits, chickens) and such were just a way of life. I have gone from that to the suburbia... but have never forgot my roots.... now I am working to get back to that same environment of my youth where we were self-sufficient... and ready for most anything.
     
    tulianr likes this.
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