On Militant Prepping

I have a problem with the militant style of prepping. What I like about survivalists is: their enthusiasm, ingenuity, vast practical and theoretical knowledge, and their willingness to discuss the possibility of apocalyptic events (where the human race is all but extinct). However, what I don’t like are proponents of a aggressive us-against-everyone-else attitude. Perhaps you know what I’m talking about. The people who spend a lot of time thinking about how to be the top dog in a dog-eat-dog world. People who know 9 ways to booby trap their house and have this by their beds:

bedroom-self-defense
Table turned weapon via Survival Life

But I don’t believe disasters work like that. First of all, it’s a common myth that people turn to lawlessness and looting during a disaster. As this writer and field expert at Emergency Management Magazine states,

While personal security and family safety are valid concerns, the vast majority of people around you will not be a threat. In fact, though looters gained a lot of media attention after Hurricane Katrina, there were far more stories of heroism and of people making new friends through shared adversity. We suggest a balance between personal security needs with the desire to help others.

It’s far more likely that we’ll need to work together to survive and rebuild. I want a different kind of militant prepping. A “no one left behind” kind of prepping. We need to prepare our selves and our community to be useful to each other, to defend each other, to share food with each other. We are always at our best when we work together instead of tearing each other down. And when times are hard, we’ll need to be at our best. Robin Wheeler–homesteader and survivalist–says it beautifully:

“Several community members have reminded me that if I put up food for the winter, ‘Men will come with guns and take your food.’  Well! The first time I heard that, you can imagine the huff that caused in me.  Who were these poorly raised sods, that they sit on their bums, watching bad sitcoms no doubt, only to come and loot my last three jars of peach chutney when times get tough?  Who raised these people?  I wanted a word with their mothers and fathers.  And when the fourth person said this to me, right after apple butter time, well, I got into a real snit.  I decided to go find these people lurking away outside of our healthy community, and give them a piece of my mind.

They could be saving their own food, or better yet, helping others save food and taking home some of the spoils.  They could be using their great skills to make their community strong, and be part of it, and then I would have less to worry about.  Instead of being my problem, they could be someone else’s solution.  Yes, on a tiny scale, and even a large one, this could work.  I earmarked a couple of the more likely culprits and planned my next visit.  My clever friend Terry heard my rant and thought me up a slogan for my upcoming campaign. ‘Women will Come with Food and Take Your Guns‘.  I liked it and I like the planetary shift I felt when I said it.  It sounded like a big job, but I was willing to chip away at it for a few years.  And if anyone would like to help with this project, that would be great.”

Count me in.

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Pinterest Moms and Preppers

The intersection between frugality, safety, and creativity.Why Pinterest might be a super-great thing for public education.

I read a cool report in a magazine while I was standing in line for my coffee which discussed a recent consumer survey studying American spending habits since the Great Recession in 2008. It was particularly interesting to me, because–as a Millennial– I came of age during the recession and therefore have (according to most industry experts) a permanently altered spending strategy. (Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the article again on the internet, but I did find others which I will share below.)

Here’s what happened. The 2008 recession was so huge and long lasting that it created a new generation of spend-thrifts with almost the exact same values as we saw from those who lived during the Great Depression. (My husband’s grandparents lived through the Great Depression, and they behaved remarkably similar to the way we do.) We carefully research before we buy big ticket items. We save our windfalls or apply it to debt instead of taking expensive vacations. (Read more here and here) And–most important to this blogger–we’ve seen a rise in the DIY movement.

Cue Pinterest

Pinterest was created during the upswing of this “return to self-sufficiency” mentality. (In 2011/2012 according to Wikipedia). Parents (mostly women in America) began to see their job as home-makers to encompass self-sufficient activities. Like cooking in instead of eating out (which is both cheaper and healthier); Remaking clothes out of thrift store finds; Planning stay-cations instead of expensive trips; and making gifts instead of buying them at Christmas and Birthdays. Pinterest became the ideal place to save recipes, sewing patterns, furniture fixes, life hacks, gardening tips, and more. It supported this drive toward “make it work” in a compelling, visual way.

EM crafts represent an interesting  intersection between frugality, Pinterest, and survivalism. (Credit: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/24/craft-of-the-day-emergency-pouch_n_1910203.html)
EM crafts represent an interesting intersection between frugality, Pinterest, and survivalism.
(Credit: Huffington Post)

Neo-Survivalism Finds an Audience

This return to self-sufficiency also triggered a renewed interest in “prepping”. This 2008 New York Times interview illustrates the image shift survivalists experienced during this time. They went from gun-happy weirdos in the mountains to normal, concerned citizens who no longer believed in the infallibility of governments and infrastructure. (And just look at how Hurricane Katrina went).

It turned out that Mom’s on Pinterest–focused on their family’s well being– responded eagerly to “prepping” activities. They melded family preparedness with DIY values and crafting skills into a powerful, synergistic model. Pins about Bug-out bags stand shoulder to shoulder with pins about canning, document organization and retention, pet first-aid, and educational kid’s activities, games, or puzzles.

Consider the paracord.

A good example of this kind of influential melding can be seen in paracord crafts. During war time, troops were taught how to use their parachute cords in a variety of life-saving ways like making tourniquet’s, shelters, snares, etc. Survivalists rediscovered (or at least re-disseminated) all kinds of military and back-country survival methods and began advocating taking paracord on hikes, in bug-out bags and emergency kits, etc. On Pinterest, it rapidly took on the facade of crafting as cool paracord macrame crafts became available: bracelets, key chains with hidden compartments, water bottle slings, shoelaces, and on and on. Survival techniques like this one become cool on Pinterest. Conversely, crafting becomes useful. Many people (myself included) are less willing to do crafting for the sake of the craft. We want everything we do to have both form and function.

A Motivated Audience

Pinterest is host to an audience of highly motivated, caring citizens. We want preparedness education. We love our families and want them to be safe. Emergency Management is in a prime position to be an influential voice on Pinterest because there’s already a culture of self-sufficiency and life hacking there. While Emergency Managers don’t often view their messages as “life hacks” maybe they should. Maybe it would get more attention.

Here’s a list of some of the best Preppers on Pinterest.highly  recommend a peek:

* My Supplemental Pinboard — small but growing.

* The Survival Mom –anything you would ever want from a book list, to craft projects, to frugal living, to fire arm safety/self-defense, to health, to fashion… I love her.

* Preparing for SHTF — Probably the most pins I’ve ever seen. High quality information. Ranges from the intense, military-grade prepping to the more casual “I want a useful garden” type prepping. Definitely worth a visit.

* Backdoor Survival —  A few more homesteading basics and some mental health tips and quotes.

* Knowledge Weighs Nothing — it’s true. Very good source for at home medical remedies and survival uses for common household items.

* Prepared Christian — not as comprehensive, but a really good community.

And here’s a few good prepping blogs that you might like to Pin

* The Organic Prepper — Because safety can be healthy too.

* Off the Grid Survival — for the more advanced survivalist

* Survival Doctor — Hello, how useful is this? Get easy-to-understand, topical medical advice with DIY medical care tips.

* Survival 4 Christians — their latest post raises an interesting question. How do you defend yourself if you want to be a pacifist? Here is one attempt at an answer.

Not enough? Here’s someone else’s list of 50 more.

What do you think about prepping? Is Pinterest a good place to educate the public? Do you know of a good site to share? Comment below.