Ask Urban Scout: The Preparedness Question

Hey there Scout,
I am just wondering that, while you are honing your skills to be able to create new out of the aftermath of civilization while nature is still intact, what are your thoughts about what to gather from this world (i.e ropes, tarps, rations, guns) to facilitate survival during whatever happens whenever it happens. haha the future is so wonderfully vague but extremely heavy if you have the proper amount of imagination and paranoia! also do you have a place to escape to, do you think this is necessary? a plan on how to get there undetected, other people to join? i am working on all of these problems right now but my energy and focus rise and fall like the sun and that quickly and if its a nice day outside you can guarantee i am not focusing on the warm weather clothing and wool blankets i will need stowed, mostly working working on my tan(vitamin d), muscles and ability to become nature as to remain undetectable. but i know there are things that are extremely important that will insure that the people with the right intentions for nature and the universe can prevail and that we should have these at the ready just in case anything happens. its funny because i have gone to some “survival” website with lists about what have, they will list “at least a half gallon of water per day per individual, which does not provide water for hygiene, so be sure to take breath mints and STRONG DEODORANT” seriously these people are worried about “hygiene” and its the Apocalypse?!?!? i guess if they weren’t intending to survive on MRES, which are sure to putrefy their systems, they wouldn’t smell so foul but come on, if you even wear deodorant right now i am pretty sure you have a special comet with your name on it hurling towards the earth this second..
I don’t know how well to say thanks but keep exploring and sharing,

Hey Jessica,

Thanks for your questions! (and I appreciate your sense of humor) I’m sure you can imagine I get questions like these fairly often. What supplies should I have for the SHTF (shit hits the fan) scenario? Unfortunately most people hate my response… because I’m not really one of the SHTF people…

while you are honing your skills to be able to create new out of the aftermath of civilization while nature is still intact

I’d like to say that first and foremost I don’t think of myself as honing my skills to be able to create new out of the aftermath of civilization, but rather, I’m creating a new world to live in right now because I don’t like this one. I would be doing this work even if I didn’t think that civilization was collapsing. Which I’d also like to say, is already happening. Civilization has been in a state of collapse since the dark ages. The events that have prevented total collapse were two things; expanding into North/South America and the invention of the steam engine and then the oil one. If we see that civilization is already collapsing, we can start to see that “collapse” is not an over night event, but a slow and ugly death. At his talks, Derrick Jensen asks the audience what their threshold is for fighting back. What will it take for people to fight back against civilizations destruction of the planet? He lists the different species that have gone extinct or brought to the edge of extinction in the last hundred years or so and asks, when will you fight back? When the salmon are gone? When the polar bears are gone? etc. In the same way, I’d like to think of the SHTF scenario in the same way; what is your “shit”? When the salmon go, will that be the shit hitting the fan? When the ice caps melt? etc. Collapse is a process, not an event. It can be marked by larger events, but the process itself is slow and painful depending on your addictions to civilization. That’s not to say that fucked up events that are part of collapse can’t happen over night. Obviously there are tipping points (bigger pieces of “shit”) in various systems like the economy and the environment that could bring about quick changes.

what are your thoughts about what to gather from this world (i.e ropes, tarps, rations, guns) to facilitate survival during whatever happens whenever it happens.

I think that the stockpile mentality is a short-term one. Even if you stockpiled food for 7 years, at the end of the 7 years you’d better have a stable food production system in place. Generally people who spend time stockpiling don’t have a long term plan and if they do it involves seed saving for farming and domestication of animals. The stockpiling person doesn’t make a long-term plan because they operate under the belief system that civilization will recover. Survival skills in the end, only keep you alive long enough for rescue. Stockpiling only keeps you alive through what they think will end at some point. In a total collapse scenario, civilized economic recovery will not occur. Not to the extent people will believe it to. So when we look at supplies, we need to imagine what level of technology, economy, etc. will we stay at after collapse?

The stockpile is a way of having a (false) sense of security. People want to feel that they have their bases covered; “Once I get everything on this list I’ll be able to survive anything!” Unfortunately for those people, it’s a delusion. In this culture, we are taught that wealth and possessions are a form of security. In natural systems however, which will take precedence in collapse, cooperative relationships are the best way to have security.

Now I can hear you all saying, “Sure, sure Scout. Love your neighbor and all that… But uh, what should we stockpile?” It seems no matter how many times I explain this to people, they still want me to give them a list of supplies. What I have seen is people just get the list of stuff, and think they’ll be okay when something terrible happens. Let me say it again; there is nothing you can do or buy that will make you completely safe and secure as collapse intensifies or during a SHTF event. Who knows? Yes, there are things you can do that will increase your chances, but only in the short term. You need a long-term plan, and by that, I mean you need a long-term relationship with the land, its other-than-human companions, and with people you can consider family who also have this relationship with the land and its other-than-human companions.

also do you have a place to escape to, do you think this is necessary? a plan on how to get there undetected, other people to join?

A lot of people have different ideas about this. Some people say you need to hunker down and stay put. That staying in a place you have a familiarity with should sit at the top of your priorities. Again, this plan of “stay put” can only really mean that you expect a cultural recovery to take place. If you didn’t expect a recovery, you would want to stay on the move because once you (and/or your group) stay in one place long enough, you will deplete the resources you depend on for survival.

A more long-term strategy would involve getting to know multiple pieces of land and tend them on a seasonal circuit, they way our hunter-gatherer ancestors did. Then you won’t have to “escape” from anywhere, because you’ll live right where you need to. And then we come back to the idea that rewilding does not imply preparedness, but re-creating a culture that uses regenerative principles.

but i know there are things that are extremely important that will insure that the people with the right intentions for nature and the universe can prevail and that we should have these at the ready just in case anything happens.

The things that have extreme importance for ensuring people with the intention of not fucking up the planet or fucking over anyone, do not have to do with stockpiling products, but stockpiling quality relationships.

“Okay, okay! Geez Scout. I get it. But… seriously, what can I get?” Oh, shit. Fine. I’ll tell you what I’ve got in my backpack!
1. Carving Knife
2. Leatherman Tool
3. Water purifyer
4. Water bottle
5. 12X12 Camo tarp
6. Matches (in a water proof containter)
7. 3 lighters
8. 100ft Parachute Cord (probably want more)
9. Spool of fishing line
10. Alan wrench set
11. Small crescent wrench
12. Rain Jacket
13. Rain leggings
14. Spices/Salt
15. Collapsible saw
16. Mini hatchet
17. Medium sized metal pot (for boiling water/cooking)
18. Mini sewing kit
19. Small Water-proof notebook
20. Pens
21. Sleeping bag (in water proof stuff sack)
22. Road/Topo Maps
23. Back-packing stove w/ 1 extra fuel container
24. Roll of plastic baggies
25. Small Battery-free Flashlight (the kind you shake to charge)
26. Small mag-lite w/ extra batteries

…I think that’s it. I’d take everything out and catalog it, but then I’d have to fit it all back in again and that takes fucking forever. One of the things you will notice about my list; I don’t have food rations. Why? Because I know enough edible wild plants. I also know how to kill enough game, assuming of course, that any exists in a total enviro-collapse scenario! But again, you can see that my list has non-renewable expendables. Once they brake, if I can’t fix them, I’ll need to know how to make them. To know how to make them, I’ll need to know what trees serve what purposes, in order to know where the trees live, I’ll need to have a preexisting relationship with the land. Etc. etc. etc. etc.

So yeah. That about sums it all up. Don’t rely on the short-term stockpile mythology. Go out there and start rewilding now.

Thanks Jessica! Does that help?


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6 Comments on “Ask Urban Scout: The Preparedness Question”

  1. great article scout.

    love your breakdown and responses that expose some civilized thoughts and fears behind the longing for security.

  2. #14 concerns me a lot for a situation where there is no rescue and civilization doesn’t happen again. I know it’s not neccesary to live, but I like to put a lot of spices and salt on all of my food. I would think that eventually, the spices I use would not exist in the NW, or if I grew some in the summer, they would not be enough. Or, maybe the kinds of spices I like do not grow in the NW at all and have to be shipped from other continents. I know it is better to have no civilization, but spices are something I will greatly miss 🙁

  3. Most of the items on the list of 25 are things we have in our homes. For me the most important are: weapons, water, food, water purifier, fire.

    Where do you get a good water purifier, anyway?

  4. If we understand how to live, and have a community that also understands how to live, the only real issue I worry about is violence from the civilized, especially violence going down the hierarchy like Derrick talks about. Preparing for that requires more than just weapons.

  5. “Cooperative relationships are the best way to have security.”

    Yes, rewilding will not work without cooperation. But a properly ordered community would appear Atlantean, not Neolithic. It would be rich with temples and gardens.

  6. Hey, I was reading this thread a while ago and have something I’d like to share. The following was written by a friend of a friend. It has given me some perspective on myself and all us folks who are “waiting for The Crash.”

    What is your favorite end of the world scenario? Global financial
    crash, peak oil, global warming, over-population, environmental
    pollution, or political revolution? Perhaps Biblical Armageddon, a
    planet killing comet, or maybe inevitable alien invasion. It could be plague, massive volcanism, a blast of cosmic radiation, or abrupt reorientation of the earth’s axis. What about nuclear, biologic, or cybernetic warfare? Whichever the scenario, those who warn of the impending crisis are utterly convinced of its inevitability and more importantly that it is right around the corner.
    Why? I believe they want change. They want to live in a world different from the one they currently live in and feel powerless to effect the change themselves.
    They warn, but what they’re actually doing is hoping.

    I’ve wanted the world to end since childhood. I spent countless hours in school day dreaming about it. At the time the prevailing idea was nuclear war. I sat at my school desk and planned out what I would do when the missiles flew. How I’d get my sister and we’d head for home. I would make sure nothing stood in our way because the rules of the world would no longer apply. My parents would do the same and we’d all hole up in the basement while the world ended. Then after the dust had settled we would head for the mountains to start our new life.

    This is still my dream. However, I’m tired of waiting for the crash.

    The oppressed masses have been hoping and waiting for the end of the world for millennia. Why? I think we need to seriously consider the possibility that this idea of “The End” is one of the fundamental memes of Taker culture. That the crash has always been just around the corner, so we will wait. That the crash will always be just around the corner and this idea is just another savior. Whatever the crash scenario, it is nothing more then a refrain of, “The meek shall inherit the earth.” So long as we wait and remain meek to inherit the life we want, we shall never get that life. The crash has been just around the corner for thousands of years and each generation believes it will happen within their life time.

    I wonder what would happen if we stopped waiting for the crash and
    found a way to live in the world as it is now. Walking away as Daniel Quinn defines it is nothing more then giving up CONTROL. Walking away is not walking into the mountains to hunt deer. Walking away is not building a straw bail house.
    Walking away is not planting a garden.
    Walking away is leaving control in the hands of the gods. It is doing whatever you will without worrying about tomorrow. It is by
    definition not something you can plan for. It is just a switch in
    your head which says, “I don’t know”. It is allowing your environment to form who you are and what you do rather than trying to force your environment to provide what you think you need. This is the example I use to test myself. If I want to live off the land, all I have to do is walk out the door. If I don’t walk because I don’t know where I will get my next meal, I’m still trying to Take control from the hands of the gods.
    The point here is not whether you know where to obtain food or not. The point is whether your decision, any decision, is based on controlling the outcome. If I wait to walk out the door until I know how to hunt and butcher a deer, I’m still trying to control the outcome with the idea that I will get my next meal from deer. This is not up to me. I may know how to hunt and still not
    know where my meal is. Should I wait? I don’t know how to do many
    things which would help me survive if this culture were to end.
    Should I wait? The Taker culture dominates this planet. Should we wait?

    I believe that you can Walk Away without changing anything about your physical environment. All that is required is letting go of your illusion of control. Simply follow your path without the endpoint in mind. Make each and every decision based in the here and now. If you stop trying to get somewhere specific in place, or knowledge, or outcome and allow circumstance to effect you. It may be that as you follow this path you will find yourself in a different physical environment, living in a different way. You will experience the immense feeling of security which emerges when your place and purpose have evolved in balance.

    I believe the only way we can find a way that works, is to live in the world as it is now. We cannot learn a way of life from the past.
    What we seek has never existed before. Do not plan for a world after the crash and try to live in the future, this is the Taker path.
    Simply live in this world allowing it to affect, guide, and place you.
    This is the Leaver path.

    I write this out of frustration with myself. I’ve made progress in
    letting go of control in many aspects of my life, but many remain. I know that it is the controls I haven’t let go of which keep me
    restrained in Taker chains. No one places these chains on me. I
    accept them myself. I am free to unchain myself at any time. Each
    and every day I continue to feel trapped is a day I’ve chosen to stay trapped. I chose to take control. I chose to plan for tomorrow and it is this which enslaves me. I still cling to this idea that there will be a right time to walk away, even while I know there never will be. Why? Fear. This is my personal wall. The wall of civilization for me is the fear of letting go of control.