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All posts for the month September, 2012

This article is brought to you by our friend Andrew J. Jackson over at Prepography ”The Art & Study of Self-Reliance”

By Andrew J. Jackson

I’ve had several conversations with some of my closest confidants recently that have opened my eyes and eliminated a blind spot in my understanding of (some) other people’s preparedness paradigms…or lack thereof.  It seems that some people fear thinking about preparedness.  These people avoid the thought or discussion of perils and preparedness topics.  Some people go so far as to avoid entertainment that deals with preparedness or the consequences from a lack of preparedness.

You may be chuckling too yourself at my former ignorance, but as a lifelong prepper (in mindset if not always in actuality) I never stopped to consider that someone would willing chose ignorance.  I get it now, though.  As a business owner I receive phone calls all the time from sales professionals wanting to sell me the next great thing to make my business grow.  If they get through my well-trained staff they rarely get past the first sentence of their sales pitch before I politely thank them for calling and tell them I’m not interested.  At that point I don’t know the details of their pitch but I do know there are only so many hours in the day and I can’t spend them all listening to every telemarketer that calls.  The bottom line is that I’m not open to whatever new information and knowledge (with the resulting price tag) that those telemarketers wish to ‘bless’ me with.  By choosing ignorance of their ‘pitch’ I don’t have to deal with the potential discomfort of living without a product or service I might need or the discomfort of living without the money that I just spent on that product or service.

My prepper-shy friends are no different than I am with the telemarketer’s sales pitches except that missing this opportunity will potentially affect more than just the bottom line.  These friends have expressed to me that the potential discomfort that they are avoiding is fear but they are already operating on a fear of the unknown.   These people believe that the study of and actions necessary to become better prepared are attributable to and result from fear.  By not entertaining the idea of preparedness they are avoiding living in fear.  Unfortunately, this reaction is based on a half-formed thought.

Ruined SchoolAccording to Psychology Today “Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger—if we didn’t feel it, we couldn’t protect ourselves from legitimate threats. But often we fear situations that are far from life-or-death, and thus hang back for no good reason… exposing ourselves to our personal demons is the best way to move past them.”  In other words, the more experience and knowledge you have about something the less fearful you will be.  Additionally, even when the situation is life and death we must learn to banish fear to the point where we can do what is necessary to assure the survival of our loved ones and ourselves.

In the Army we know that people are fearful of new situations, whether it be public speaking (briefing in military parlance) or battle, so we train the troops… then we train them some more… and finally we train them again.  Our training generally involves imparting initial knowledge and skills followed by exposing the troops to increasing realistic training scenarios.  Military training is designed largely, not just to teach job functions and skills, but also to banish fear…or at least to keep fear at bay so that the mission can be accomplished.

So, my prepper-shy friends, I propose to you that your fear is primarily fear of the unknown.  By avoiding preparedness you perpetuate fear and by exposing yourself to that which you fear…you banish will banish that fear or at least greatly reduce it.   Follow these three steps to banish your fear of preparedness:

  1. Be:
    • Curious and opportunistic as you seek personal growth.
    • Cognizant of your responsibilities as a provider, protector, parent, family member, and member of your community.
    • An example to your family and community.  Be a source of strength for those around you.
  1. Know:
    • Your challenges:  Understand the perils and threats that you might face and build your knowledge (and eventually skills) in order to survive and thrive in the face of life’s challenges.
    • Your team (family, community, etc.):  Know your team’s strengths, capabilities, weaknesses and values.
    • Yourself:  Know your strengths, capabilities, weaknesses and your core values.
    • Your goals.  Be precise, be specific.  For instance, “my goal is to meet the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) goal of being self-sufficient for 72 hours” or “my goal is to ‘weather’ a severe storm that requires me to relocate my family 200 miles inland and survive for two weeks.”
    • What you need to survive.  Develop the knowledge you’ll need to survive.
  1. Do:
    • Turn planning into action.
    • Turn knowledge into skills.  Knowledge (part of Know) is knowing how to do something, a skill (part of Do) is being able to successfully put your knowledge into practice.  For example:  you may ‘know’ how a bow drill is used to make a fire but until you practice it successfully you don’t have the skill to ‘do’ it.  Don’t worry, this is a skill that you can be prepared without…might be fun to try though.
    • Develop and work your plan to become more self reliant…in support of your goal(s).
    • Improve and maintain your physical fitness.  The healthier and more physically fit you are the better your body can handle stress.
    • Remember that preparedness is a journey…once you ‘know’ your goal don’t get overwhelmed, just keep ‘doing’ the things you need to do in order to reach your goal…and eventually you will.

Fear of the unknown is one of the most powerful emotions that human beings experience and fear of the unknowns of preparedness are no different.  Follow these three steps and you’ll be well on your way to banishing your fear of preparedness.

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“This article was first published by our friends at reThinkSurvival.com.”

Considering that the gardening season is still growing strong, I figured it would be a good time for another book review, this time of Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times by Steve Solomon. In the interest of complete disclosure, I’ve had this book listed on my Recommended Books list for quite some time now, so this will be a positive review. Cover of "Gardening When It Counts: Growi...

Why I Initially Bought This Book

I was initially interested in this book for two reasons: 1) I didn’t know much about gardening at all and 2) I wanted to know how to garden “in hard times”! My problem with most traditional gardening methods is that they seem to require a lot of active gardening; this is especially true of intensive gardening methods that attempt to more efficiently utilize less land.

So long as water is not a scarce resource I have no problem with such intensive methods. Sadly, it is precisely this finite resource that will be lacking when times are tough. This book, like no other I have read, emphasized how I could attempt to garden in hard times. And, that is what I love about it.

The Book’s Contents

So many useful topics are covered I feel like I would do the book an disservice in attempting to explain the book. Suffice it to say that Solomon covers everything I wanted to know about gardening in general. From explaining the basics of gardening to seed starting to tool maintenance and even composting, I think I read the book cover to cover (or at least most of it) in a day. He also covers other critical topics such as insects and plant disease, soil improvement, and even how to grown specific vegetables.

With regards to gardening in a SHTF situation, Solomon really does a good job of explaining how to properly space crops, how to build and dig beds, actual watering needs, techniques for maximizing plant growth, and so much more. Really, I was amazed at what this guy knows.

Even if you’re not into “survGarden/Allotmentival gardening” you’ll learn so much from Solomon that you’ll thank me for pointing it out if you have any interest in gardening. Most importantly, however, is the knowledge you’ll gain if you ever needed to know how to garden for real and not just for fun.

By James Gould
Activist Post

“Preppers” got their name from being prepared. They see very hard times ahead and have been working to be ready – with energy systems, tools, food, water, guns, toiletries, first aid, pet food, etc. Those in urban areas who are out of touch with how bad the economy is or how peculiar the government has been acting (to put a nice spin on things) may have been coached by corporate media to see preppers as fanatics.
But to do so is to miss traditional wisdom – that wise families and communities should always being stocked up, storing surplus in good times to protect against shortages in lean times. And it is also to miss that the industrial food giants are in cahoots with the bankers, busily engineering food shortages for the sake of the mega-bucks that food riotsgenerate.

In short, preppers have good sense; and people who don’t have food stored for at least 6 months, would be wise to learn from them. It’s just common sense to make sure that basic needs can always be met, even if electrical systems go down (and with it goes the water supply) or even if food is unavailable for a length of time.
But preppers, for all their foresight about the economic system’s possible collapse, and their range of skills and wisdom on what is needed to get through, have gotten a couple of things wrong they might be very interested in (they didn’t get so savvy by not thinking or by shutting out information from lots of places).
1. The threat from other people
Part of the reason preppers recommend that everyone have guns goes beyond guns as invaluable for hunting if food is in short supply, to something that worries them a great deal – how to fend off marauding people who didn’t prepare but are desperate for food or water. The problem is that as much as preppers have roundly rejected what the government has told them about so much else, they have bought into the lie that under severe shortages, other people will loot and become savage and do anything for food and water. Preppers might want to consider that the government has used this same projected paranoia to scare urban people about preppers – so they are perceived as maniacs in the country with guns who can go psycho, are politically nuts and racist, and kill people.
In terms of marauding gangs during times of shortages, does anyone remember Katrina? New Orleans is a predominantly black city but people who rushed to their rescue was a white trucker who had filled his semi with bottled water from his own pocket, and conservative white churches, and many other caring people, all of whom the government turned away. Meanwhile, the government turned the city into a locked-down militarized zone and warned of (and the media posted stories of) a city at the mercy of dangerous looters and marauding gangs. The truth was the opposite.

Through all the time that the federal and local governments, in concert with wealthy New Orleanians, were pitching their battle, there was virtually no one fighting on the other side. Reviewing the ‘available evidence’ a month after Katrina, the New York Times concluded that ‘the most alarming stories that coursed through the city appear to be little more than figments of frightened imaginations.’ The reports of residents firing at National Guard helicopters, of tourists being robbed and raped on Bourbon Street, and of murderous rampages in the Superdome—all turned out to be false.

But not only was it a dangerous and ugly myth that sanctioned unbounded military and police power, but what was obscured was something crucial to know about each other – remarkable goodness and heroism occurred.

Why is it that in the aftermath of a disaster- whether manmade or natural-people suddenly become altruistic, resourceful, and brave? What makes the newfound communities and purpose many find in the ruins and crises after disaster so joyous? And what does this joy reveal about ordinarily unmet social desires and possibilities?

In A Paradise Built in Hell, award-winning author Rebecca Solnit explores these phenomena, looking at major calamities from the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco through the 1917 explosion that tore up Halifax, Nova Scotia, the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. She examines how disaster throws people into a temporary utopia of changed states of mind and social possibilities, as well as looking at the cost of the widespread myths and rarer real cases of social deterioration during crisis.

An editorial review of the book highlighted that the real danger comes from those in charge.

Surveying disasters from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake to 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, [Solnit] shows that the typical response to calamity is spontaneous altruism, self-organization and mutual aid, with neighbors and strangers calmly rescuing, feeding and housing each other. Indeed, the main problem in such emergencies, she contends, is the elite panic of officials who clamp down with National Guardsmen and stifling regulations” [And one may add, shootings, arrests of innocent people, and seizure of private property.]

Instead of coming away worried about people out to harm us for what we have, Katrina tells a story of “a crisis subsequently exploited in every way possible for political and financial gain. But there’s an even harsher truth, one some New Orleans residents learned in the very first days but which is only beginning to become clear to the rest of us: What took place in this devastated American city was no less than a war, in which victims …. were treated as enemies of the state.”(Source)
The second thing the preppers have gotten wrong also relates to scarcity.
Depending on Gold and Silver

Many preppers have recommended keeping gold rather than money, not realizing that the economy they are so critical of is terrible because it runs on scarcity, or that gold and silver do not change that. But there is an alternative, a new kind of economy. Such an economy would correct for both mistakes – fear of others and continuing in an economy of scarcity that is the root of all that is happening to begin with. Such an economy would not only generate economic freedom but would rely on just those “maurading” neighbors for support and real community.
The Money FIx – a Documentary for Monetary Reform is an invaluable look at where money has gotten us and the direction to go to end its enslavement. The end to debt slavery requires us to trust each other so it is no reason the powers that be have projected one group after another as likely to harm us, as ready to kill us for what we have. Of course, the powers-that-be are the ones who have harmed everyone and been killing people in many ways and remains unaccountable even for blatant crimes, but we are supposed to fear each other. We are supposed to fear when the evidence is that we naturally jump to help each other when we are in need.
This whole issue came up over questions around purchasing a Berkey water filter, something prized by preppers. What size? On a street with poor people, does one fear being attacked by them if the power goes down and there is no water? Or does one feel sympathy for them because they have been drinking chlorinated, fluoridated water and many of them are sick, and buy a big filter to make sure everyone could have clean water, starting now? And if one did that, are these people likely to rob or attack anyone or likely to feel part of real community that already looks after each other and would simply step that up if things got hard?
Should one get a gun to ward off marauding bands or for hunting if food shelves became empty and there wasn’t enough protein? Or should one count on neighbors for protection, neighbors some of whom already have guns and who know how to hunt? Could people during a major shortage share food – perhaps neighbors making a big community soup, some contributing a little meat, others adding vegetables – and together working help everyone be okay?

While Solnit makes no mention of the Transition Town movement in her book, the essential message of it resonates exquisitely with the movement’s mission and methodology and powerfully underscores the need for the vision and strategic planning that Transition initiatives around the world are working to implement. That’s because Solnit isn’t just writing a book about how people come together in crises, but more importantly, how crises can meet our deeper need for meaning in our lives and even positively transform the social and political landscape of communities permanently.

Preppers and the transition communities share an awareness that things are going to change radically and are trying to put in place many of the same things to be able to ride out hard times. Each has strengths and weaknesses. The transition communities are complex and depend on finding places to be, buying the land, and setting up rules to guide their communities. But they are built around the idea of people helping each other and with that, a vision of a good society, at least partly outside the current economic system.
The preppers on the other hand, though they are helping a large number of people via the Internet and lectures, fear that desperate others could take their provisions. In fact, to protect themselves, they should be putting “others” on the top of the list of things we all must have enough of so we manage well. But preppers have a turn on a dime quality because come at things on their own. That characteristic can add something vital to the transition movement and extend it into many new areas.

Preppers, coming from a more individualistic perspective, are potentially the ideal people to reach the very isolated people in cities, who are not prepared, but very much need help to be. Preppers, if they can see that “others” should be number one on every stock up survival list, they could start helping everyone overcome their fear and have the courage to approach strangers in their building or on their street about sharing a large Berkey water filter system. And from sharing water, they – we all – might start assessing how many other things might be shared, from food storage to skills to support to protection.

The famous sociologist, Charles Fritz, gave birth to what we would call today, disaster studies. At first deemed a radical premise, Fritz argued that everyday life in a soul-numbing, alienating, consumeristic society is already a disaster and that actual disasters liberate us. Fritz researched how community identity is nurtured during disaster because, in the words of Solnit, ‘disaster offers temporary solutions to the alienations and isolations of everyday life.’ Fritz believed that everyday life is actually more difficult to live than dealing with disaster because in the latter, we know what to do and who to be…

Disasters usually dismantle hierarchies and require small groups of people to very quickly create makeshift [prepper movement], and even perhaps long-term, structures [transition movement] for meeting their needs. In this way, they are not unlike revolutions, and in some cases, result in similar outcomes over time. Typically in such a milieu, elites are threatened because ‘power devolves to the people on the ground in many ways’, demonstrating the viability of ‘a dispersed, decentralized system of decision-making.’ In these moments, says Solnit, ‘Citizens themselves constitute the government’, and generosity [is] demonstrated, as well as the depth of our longing for connection and purposefulness.(Source)

That connection and purposefulness is what the Money Fixtalks about, as the very basis of ending debt enslavement. Fear and gold won’t make us safe or change our world for the better. Relying on each other, we can make our own and each others’ lives secure and, by all that really matters, we will be rich. In offering each other help, we begin to experience that we are living in a world without scarcity and that our economic system can be as well.

As Solnit says, ‘Disasters may offer us a glimpse, but the challenge is to make something of it, before or beyond disaster: to recognize and realize these desires and these possibilities in ordinary times.’ …

The Transition model is not unique in its mission to nurture in ‘ordinary times’ the qualities that disasters almost always manifest-compassion, cooperation, the pride of place, and yes, even joy. However, it offers myriad tools for creating, not structures and communities that ‘arise’ in disaster, but those that are already in place and that provide an ongoing sense of meaning and purpose which may be savored with or without catastrophe.

Giving up fear of each other is the essential step. Starting now, we can stock up on water and community wherever we are. Then, we are set to do much more than survive but to build a meaningful future. Watch the film to sense what that could mean.

Anthony Gucciardi NaturalSociety

Is the end of Monsanto within reach? It has certainly been a rough couple of weeks for the mega corporation as the real dangers surrounding GMOs are being brought to the attention of consumers on a global scale like never before. It all started with the monumental French study finding a serious link between the consumption of Monsanto’s Roundup-drenched GMOs and massive tumors. Being called the ‘most thorough’ research ever published on the real health effects of GMOs, the study led to even larger victories.

After the study not only did France call for a potential worldwide ban on GMOs pending the results of their in-depth analysis, but Russia’s major consumer rights organization announced a ban on both the importation and use of Monsanto’s GMO corn.

endofmonsanto 235x147 Is The End of Monsanto Near? Prop 37 Succeeding as Nations Ban GMO Crops

Prop 37 Can Label Monsanto Out of Existence

And now, the Proposition to label all GMOs in the state of California is showing massive success. If Prop 37 passes, it won’t just affect California. It is very likely that other states will not just take note, but adopt similar legislation. Through this legal mechanism, we can essential label Monsanto out of existence.  This is possible when considering that the average consumer is actually opposed to GMOs and heavily in favor of proper labeling.

In a major Los Angeles Times poll, registered California voters in favor of labeling outnumber pro-GMO voters by more than a 2-to-1 margin. Altogether, a whopping 61% of those polled reported supporting the Prop 37 labeling initiative. Only 25% reported opposing it.

If GMO-containing products are properly labeled, the simple fact of the matter is that less people will buy them. As of right now, very few people are even aware of what they are putting in their mouth. In fact, if the public knew that they were consuming GMOs which were linked to massive tumors and organ failure, the overwhelming majority would abandon such products. Without labeling, however, they have no idea. The same can also be said for other ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup and aspartame.

As Yes on 37 campaign manager Gary Ruskin explains:

“Monsanto, DuPont, and Coca-Cola do not want Californians to know what’s really in their food and drinks, because they fear consumers will turn away from their genetically engineered ingredients and pesticides that go with them.”

If they knew they were eating mercury in the HFCS and consuming an artificial sweetener with over 42 associated diseases, then major change would occur – change that includes forcing manufacturers to abandon these ingredients in order to stay profitable. And after all, Monsanto’s number one goal is profit. This is a company that has been caught running ‘slave-like’ working conditions in which ‘employees’ were forced to buy only from the company store and were not allowed to leave the area or their pay would be withheld.

If Monsanto’s profits were to plummet, their political reign would likely follow as well. Without an endless amount of cash to throw at crushing Prop 37, already contributing $4 million to fuel anti-labeling propaganda in California, the corporation’s massive grasp on the world of science (continually censoring studies and funding pro-GM research) and politics would virtually cease to exist.

It is essential that we ensure the passing of Prop 37 in a bid to generate the literal end of Monsanto. Once consumers actually know that they’re putting genetically modified creations into their body, real change will occur within the food supply.