Monday, August 24, 2009

Are you a ‘prepper’?

I was in Cache Mountain Traders in Sisters last week to interview Steve Wilson about the new focus of his store.

He’s gone from a consignment store to a depot for “preppers.”

What is a prepper? I didn’t know either. Hadn’t heard the term.

Turns out prepper is a new term for what we used to call “survivalists” before that term got loaded up with bad connotations and images of potbellied guys in camo fatigues running (waddling?) around in the woods playing soldier.

It’s a good idea to try to lose that image. ’Cause being a prepper is not a bad idea; not at all.

We live in a wondrous era of abundant supply, literally at our finger tips. the local store carries every kind of everything or can get it for you in a couple of days. Actually, you don’t even need to leave the house. You can order up most anything you need or desire from the Internet.
But as Steve points out, it’s all as complex — and as fragile — as a spider web. We don’t like to think about how easily it could all break down.

And what do you do then?

That’s what being a prepper is all about. Being prepared. Like a good Boy Scout.

Do you have enough clean water and food to last you a while if things get hairy? How about an alternative heat source and a means of cooking food if the electric stove is out?

These are good things to think about, especially in a place like Sisters, which is, in truth, relatively isolated.

A lot of preppers are concerned about major socioeconomic collapse and that turns some people off from the whole subculture. It’s almost as if they are hopeful that the worst happens so they can put all their preparation into action. Remember all the doomsday preaching about Y2K?

Total socioeconomic collapse is a remote possibility, but it’s not completely implausible. And preparing for the worst gives you a lot of head space to deal with less catastrophic but still dangerous scenarios.

Hurricane Katrina provided searing images of people helpless in the face of natural disaster, without supplies, without a plan. Why be one of those people?

Here in Sisters, a major winter storm, a wildfire, could easily create the need to activate an emergency plan. A stockpile of food and water makes sense; so does some emergency communication device like a crank-up radio.

And, yes, some means of protecting what you have is always a good idea. Doesn’t have to be an AR-15; a good shotgun will do and your hunting rifle or even your .22 plinker will serve.

This doesn’t have to be a huge dollar investment and most everything you need can be readily found at surplus stores, hardware stores or places like Cache Mountain.

Most gear that you might put up as a prepper can double as camping/backpacking/hunting gear anyway, so it’s insurance you can actually use for fun.

The library is full of good books and there’s all kinds of interesting “prepper” Web sites out there. Many of them are full of recipes and homesteading advice — not what you associate with “survivalism.”

It’s really about self-reliance and in my book that’s always a good thing. I’ve been looking at my stuff and getting set to fill in gaps (mostly an insufficient supply of imperishable foodstuffs). It’s been an interesting exercise, one that has reminded me to think “what would we do if?”

If you’re not a prepper, maybe you oughta be.

Jim Cornelius, Editor


  1. We are prepping for the imminent zombie infestation. Firearms are nice, but a nice axe handle or cricket bat never runs out of ammunition.

  2. Did somebody read World War Z? :)

    Jim Cornelius, Editor

  3. And watched Shawn of the Dead...

  4. your writings are interesting but you play both sides as to confuse the reader so you totally lost me on the "remote " socioeconmic" (is that a word you made up?)collapse..that is happening as i type ..preppers will not survive on canned meat and pre conceived delusions of will get back to the real world..where one will have to get by but with what they axe wood be good ..ha ha

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