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Thought you guys might dig this article.....

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  • Thought you guys might dig this article.....

    The Modern Survivalist
    A new breed of survival-conscious individuals prepare for the future
    by Alayne Chappell, staff writer
    March 16, 2010 8:46 PM
    Brett Rovzar keeps a flint sparker, three knifes of varied sizes, several small canisters of iodine, and a wind-up flashlight in a backpack he stores in his San Francisco apartment. He has a local and, if necessary, regional, escape plan that involves a boat and a mental list of like-minded people he intends to contact to form an escape posse. Rovzar is what most people would call a 'survivalist'--someone who is actively prepared for imminent disaster or simply aware of the necessities of basic human survival, despite living in an age of convenience.

    "I'm ready for the zombie apocalypse," jokes Rovzar. But he continues in a more serious tone that you can never be too prepared considering the current economic setting, increasingly turbulent global climate, budding health concerns, and technological advances with a potential for meltdown.

    The 'survivalists,' as the media has deemed them, first emerged in the mid-twentieth century as Cold War fears of a nuclear holocaust mounted. This particular movement centered on building bomb shelters in basements or back yards across American suburbia. In the 1970s, with the influx of Vietnam veterans, the survivalist became something of a disconsolate seeking the comfort of desolate woods and bearing only the necessities. Then as Y2K catapulted the American public into a mass scramble for department-store-bought survival essentials--canned goods, tents and portable grills--survivalism went mainstream. Then the terrorist attacks of September 11 set off another wave.

    But the modern survivalist is of a different breed. It is hard to allocate a specific demographic to them, or a specific reason for their preparedness--they are working mothers, men in their twenties, business people, urban and suburbanites, and hale from every part of the country. And according to Trend Research Institute's annual forecast, "Neo-Survivalism" will make headlines in 2010.

    Rovzar sits in his San Francisco apartment surrounded by technology--computers, iPods, and smart phones are within arm's reach. His DC brand skating shoes and pierced ears articulate nothing of his survival skills, and his facial hair that looks only freshly grown indicates no retreat from the comforts of city life. But as many survivalists will consent, knowledge is the key.

    "I personally believe, as most scientists do, that the most likely case where people would be forced to survive on a mass level is that of a country or global-wide pandemic. Viruses are mutating all the time and we got just the smallest glimpse of what the very beginning of a survival scenario would look like with H1N1." Rovzar also believes that in the worst case the most dangerous repercussion is fear. In the case of the H1N1 outbreak, panic was a prime suspect in causing breakdown in judgment, not the virus itself. He worries more about the reactions of others than his own. If order fails, chaos and violence will follow. "This is when being out of populated cities and being able to survive on your own, especially off the land, could become incredibly crucial," says Rovzar.

    For many, it is less about one apocalyptic circumstance and more concerned with returning to an education and set of skills lost amid excessive consumerism. The mere concept of a survivalist niche-group is testament to the widespread lack of basic survival knowledge.

    "I think there is a very large section of the public that has no ability to survive in a pre-industrialized world. Most people can't alter their routine from gym, tan, laundry to hunt, scavenge, build," Rovzar agrees that by nature, survivalists are minimalists and often critical of extreme consumerism. "But saying that all survivalists don't like to buy excessive material goods is generalizing. I have a forty-two-inch LCD TV that I absolutely don't need for survival, but dammit do I love it," Rovzar says with a laugh.

    The machete-toting survivalist of the 1970s stood out in his camouflage suit and bandana. Decades later, the modern survivalist could be anyone. Theresa Rode, 33, does not consider herself part of a group of survivalists and has not often been referred to as one. But she has the know-how and the stock to take care of herself if the worst should come. In the meantime she attempts to utilize her skills daily.

    "I do have what people refer to as the 'bug-out bag,' [or a bag people keep packed in case they have to leave their home abruptly], it has fishing gear, rope, a tent, etcetera. But the most important tool you can have is knowledge," says Rode. After getting a degree in agriculture Rode spent some time travelling the globe often camping in remote parts of South Africa and Eastern Europe. "I learned a great deal about what is really needed to get by. I would start to run out of supplies, miles away from anything, and have to get creative."

    But even at home, minutes from all the modern conveniences, Rode tries to fend for herself as much as possible. "I try not to buy something I know I can make myself." The small garden in her urban courtyard provides much of the food she consumes and she repairs her own clothes rather than throwing them away or buying new ones. Much of her skill comes from years of self-education and from a general interest in all things outdoors.

    Andrew Herp, on the other hand, gained his survival knowledge from years in the armed forces and plans to employ them if a disaster strikes. "I don't think I'm paranoid in the sense that I conjure up worst case scenarios out of nowhere, I'm just realistic in my concerns. The world is a harsh place, and you need to be ready to go," says Herp. He worries about our geographic position in relation to earthquakes and the instability of the economy as leading to potential disaster. He maintains that Californians are generally unprepared, and that the sense of stability the United States has enjoyed for some time is starting it wane.

    "It's just about being trained to react, so many Americans don't have the slightest idea how to survive off the land, to hunt, to build, any of these necessary elements to survival," says Herp. "First grab some basic supplies, food, water, ammo, then get the **** out of the city." Herp's immediate plan may be simple, but it is often the most elementary necessities that people take for granted. "I have been in situations where I did not know if I was going to be safe or be resupplied, so I had to plan for worst case."

    Along with the concern that few people are prepared for basic survival, is the matter of what is driving the ones who are. "Being prepared is one thing, but a lot of these groups [of survivalists] are a symptom of a greater problem--fear of the future," says Herp. Much of this fear stems from the widespread financial insecurity in America today. Although every individual may not experience the downturn personally, there is a media-driven sense of instability wafting about that could compel anyone to embrace preparedness.

    Owner and content producer of, Robert Richardson, reports an increase in the number of people visiting his survival site since the talk of a recession began. "I would attribute 90 percent of the influx to the economy. There is a huge movement of people who have lost their jobs and are saving up for the worst," he says in a phone interview.

    "There are always extremists and people who glamorize survival, and this is a danger to the people," says Richardson in reference to the Discovery Channel's Man vs. Wild and its host, Bear Grylls. On a recent website post he writes, "[Grylls] is a complete fraud and 90 percent of the information that he gives is either wrong or just plain dangerous." Richardson maintains, and Rovzar agrees, that many of the stunts performed by Grylls should never be attempted, unless absolutely necessary, by a person stranded in the wilderness.

    The recent popularity of both Man vs. Wild and Discovery Channel's recently retired program, Survivorman, is testament to mainstream interest in survivalism. But both Richardson and Rovzar warn that although much of the content can prove useful, it would be unwise to brave the backwoods supplied only with knowledge gained from Grylls.

    "For some, the word "survival" conjures up images of Man vs. Wild, for others it simply means learning to live with something new or learning to do without something they once had," says Jocelyn Fukushima, who, like Rode, seems to have an innate sense of survivalism, but is unfamiliar with the label. "I grew up watching my dad prepare for everything.

    We had everything short of a bomb shelter, and that was simply because he ran out of time," jokes Fukushima as she recalls her childhood marked with elaborate preparation tactics. "We'd look at my dad and essentially hint that he was crazy," she laughs. "But the reality is that by preparing for disaster, he ensured that we would not have to go [unprepared if disaster did strike]."

    "It is near impossible to prepare for any and every threat that may come my way." Fukushima believes her ability to engage with varied types of groups will be her key to survival. "We are all survivalists. Some might view survivalists as those who are prepared, both in skill and in supply. But in my opinion, survival is realized through communities."

    In an ever-globalizing world, communities are constantly subjected to redefinition. Many would agree that, with the focus on the global community at large, smaller networks are loosening. Local communities that once offered a sense of security to those within are dissipating as technological advancements offer alternative community involvement. Human instinct tells us that a society's survival is achieved through a stable social foundation. Communities based solely on cyber interaction may prove unstable. Perhaps some are responding to this modern global phenomenon by retreating to the survival instinct of establishing authentic group interaction.

    Richmond, Virginia, survivalist expert, Dylan, who preferred his last name remain undisclosed, agrees that the spread of knowledge and communication with others is essential to survival. In early 2009, Dylan established the first public group for survivalists in Virginia using "Because this knowledge could be critical to whether people live or die in extenuating circumstances, I felt it was my duty to reach out to my community," he says. According to Dylan, the members of his group are as diverse in occupation as they are in age. "They are dentists, construction workers, government agents, nurses, students, retirees, teachers, and managers." Roughly half are males and half are females, and "all ideas, view points, and aspects of being a responsible person are encouraged."

    After connecting online, the group took steps to engage in person, and attend educational workshops in everything from navigation to firefly hunting. They even interact with other organizations. Their most recent meet-up was a joint venture with the Maryland Survivalism Meet-up and was facilitated by the director of the California School of Traditional Hispanic Herbalism, Charles R. Garcia, who flew to Virginia from California to teach the class.

    "Doc [as Dylan refers to Garcia] covered the use of common herbs--those found in most kitchen cabinets as well in the surrounding environment--or medical issues that would be prevalent in a disaster or survival situation," says Dylan. Using found or household items to treat medical conditions are basic tools that can be employed in any survival situation, whether it involves camping or the next major disaster.

    Dylan's motivation to start the group stems from an acute awareness of his generation's advantageous setting, a generation he maintains has probably experienced the most privileged existence in recent times. "I look back all the way to my grandparent's generation before I can find the knowledge we are seeking now. They lived through the depression and World War II, and this life experience imprinted them with the need to take care of themselves through disasters, whether they be war, famine, crop failures, or economic hardships," says Dylan.

    "Look at food production--in 1930, some 25 percent of the population was considered farmers." Today, Dylan remarks, there are few family-run farms concerned with sustenance. Instead, the industry is dominated by large-scale commercial farms, heavily reliant on inexpensive labor. "If trucking shuts down from hyperinflation and stores go empty, how many people possess the knowledge or skill to grow their own food?" he worries. He is concerned that Americans have willingly abandoned critical survival knowledge such as foraging for edible plants or sustaining a garden. "Our ancestors, regardless of our genetic background, all held this indigenous knowledge of life. Survivalists are attempting to save and reclaim what sustained humans for millennia."

    But it is not just a generation-related lack of preparedness, according to Dylan, there is a geographical element to this deficiency in survival knowledge. "Western society today is the most unskilled, reliant population probably to ever live." For many members of poor nations, survival is inherent and necessary on the most basic level, but for those in wealthier countries, survivalism can be practiced at leisure. "We have the disease of affluence, which has allowed us to become physically and mentally lazy," says Dylan.

    "'Survivalists' used to be a term that carried a negative connotation. The popular image was middle class, overweight, white men who were probably racist, gun-toting, anti-government, tin-foil hat-wearers." Dylan understands that this stereotype has been somewhat alleviated, but still exists. Part of his commitment to a survivalist community concerns a more accurate reflection of its diverse members. According to Dylan, they are from all walks of life with varied political backgrounds, genders and races. What brings them together is the desire to be free from excessive corporate and government influence and to reclaim control over their lives, he says.

    Dylan proposes the replacement of the term 'survivalism' with 'thrivalism.' "It's about awakening the conscious self from the lullaby of society." For Dylan, survivalism is about feeling empowered to help those around us, to cope with the uncertainties of life, and to value our environment without exploitation. "We don't want to simply survive--we want to thrive."

  • #2
    wow damn thanks for the read will finish in a bit
    the pack that plays together stays together


    • #3
      Lol, yeah its kinda long. Sorry, I was waiting for some trains to get by at work and had some time to kill.


      • #4
        It is long, but very well-spoken. Good article.


        • #5
          it made me think a little more on this survivalist thing. and some things to look into thanks for posting this


          • #6
            March 16th 2010?
            Joycelyn Fukushima???
            360 days before the 9.0 Quake
            Is this a joke?
            The road to serfdom is paved with free electric golf carts.


            • #7
              I don't think it's a joke. I think it's a very small number of sheeple, or some dormant sheepdogs wakeing up.


              • #8
                I think its great alot of people are getting invloved these days and getting away from the stereotypical thought that 'survivalists' are paraniod guys up in a cabin in the woods preaching about world disaster and instead just trying to prepare for cicumstances unknown and passing knowledge to our children that has been long forgotten such as simply starting a campfire with minimal supplies. Our children deserve better. :)