Inside the world of survivalists

February 15, 2012 7:32:06 AM PST
This is not a story about those who believe the end of the world is at hand. Quite the opposite, this is about people who are convinced the world will not end but that life as we know it most certainly will. And when it happens, whatever the cause, they say they'll be ready. "Our culture, our society and our economy is in a great deal of trouble," said James Howard Kunstler, author, social critic and television commentator.

At the end of a remote road, in a little populated part of Northern New Jersey, the nightly headlines of world instability and economy unrest come as no surprise, but rather as symptoms of a sickly society.

Julie Martin and Eddie Starnater are among a small but vocal subculture, people who believe the world in which we live cannot sustain the way we live in it.

So they make their living teaching others how to survive if the comforts and conveniences of our world collapse.

"If you knew someone who was driving without car insurance you would go 'you're crazy!,'" Martin said. "It's just the same thing. You're taking out insurance on your own safety."

Julie and Eddie own and operate Practical Primitive. Just like the name implies, they teach people how to live off the land, how to build a hut for shelter and how to craft tools the way our ancestors did. It is not, they insist, about being scared but instead about being prepared. And while some may call it strange there are experts who call it smart.

"We've set ourselves up for an enormous number of structural problems and they're all interrelated," Kunstler said.

Kunstler says the society we've built up is destined to break down coming from the result of overdependence on resources that are bound to round out. And he predicts a domino theory of demise.

"If we have problems with banking and capital, we're going to have problems with agriculture. We're going to have problems feeding ourselves," he explained.

But as extreme as those predictions may seem, those who believe it say there is value in at least listening no matter what emergency you're prepared for, most important is being prepared.

The first tip is to keep a kit packed and ready to go. Make sure to include a water filtration system, a few days of non-perishable food, a flashlight, matches, basic tools, blankets and importantly soap.

Also make a check list. Whether it's a prolonged power outage, or a storm that forces evacuation, the list should detail what you need to do before you go and what you should take with you.

Plus, and this applies every day, carry your cell phone and for the event that doesn't work, keep a whistle in your pocket.

"I have a much higher likelihood that someone is going to hear me and know that something is wrong," explained Martin.