The Philly Urban Prepper: New guidelines for urban preppers

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It is often said that preppers are a diverse group; that people who devote themselves to prepping come in all shapes and sizes. That’s probably true. In addition, not counting survivalists and Doomsday Preppers, there are three groups of preppers that are defined by the area they live in: rural (the ones who buy land in the middle of nowhere in order to live totally off the grid), suburban/yuppie preppers (people who live in the suburbs of a large city) and urban preppers (people who live in the city).

All three of these groups pretty much have the same goals: to prepare for the coming of any emergency and to reduce their dependence on government, big business as well as commercialism.

How they prep is different. Rural preppers, for example, usually will build several underground root cellars all over their property and keep it stocked with food and supplies. Many of them also possess a small arsenal of weapons and even have their own slang although most of it is military terms. They know that once an emergency hits, either no one is going to come and help them or they don’t want anyone to come and help them.

Urban preppers, despite rural preppers telling them to, have no intention of leaving their homes in the city. They live the principle of reduce, reuse, recycle and not because that’s what preppers do, but because due to their limits of space it’s what comes more naturally. They do their due diligence in prepping, but they also know that the cities will recover first so perhaps because of this factor and lack of space, they prep for the basic necessities such as food, water and shelter.

So after years of reading information fashioned more towards rural and suburban preppers, 2015 is the year that urban prepping will come into its own.

What makes this year so significant for urban preppers is that while many preppers imagine worse case scenarios and try to determine what emergency will hit as well as when it will hit them, urban preppers are already beginning to see an economic collapse.

In Philadelphia, like many large cities, government officials are pushing for gentrification in order to generate more money for their coffers and to rid themselves of taking any responsibility for crime, poverty and blight that have had a chokehold on inner cities for years.

That despite an unemployment rate of 7.1% and 26.3% of residents living below the poverty line, Philly has begun pushing out their low to middle class residents by making rents and the cost-of-living unaffordable; signed agreements with wealthy developers (which also included giving them millions of dollars in tax breaks) to build expensive homes in impoverished areas; move out retailers that catered to the average citizen in favor of high-end retailers that cater towards the rich, and raised sales tax within the city limits to a whopping 8% which is destroying the small business owner. This is what happens before the bottom falls out.

In Philadelphia, the unreliability of its elected officials that many residents see as corrupt and the back-room deals being made to lure the wealthy into a city that has failed their residents is a wake-up call to urban preppers. It’s just not happening here, but in New York, Boston, Chicago, Washington and Atlanta.

So for urban preppers there are some guidelines that will assist them for being prepared for the impending and total economic collapse that should be considered in addition to basic prepping.

  1. The end. Most preppers prep for the beginning of an emergency and how to survive after an emergency hits, but very few are prepared for the end. Now don’t get all morose. This isn’t a Walking Dead scenario where you’ll end your life before you get got. No. It’s about prepping once an emergency has either ended or you realize that things will never be the same.

Everything in life has a beginning and an ending. Prep for what’s going to happen once things begin to recover and urban environments will recover first. Before the collapse, you should have enough food and water to last you for five years. Pay down as much debt as you can and keep as much money as you can out of the bank. Find places to hide it in your home. Why? Because once the government and big businesses get back on their feet they’ll need money. They will come after anyone who owes them anything.

After a year or two you’ll have enough information to realize if things aren’t going to recover. Before that happens, and before a collapse, learn a skill that isn’t dependent on electricity or technology. Some of these skills may be medical training, construction, carpentry, sewing/knitting/crocheting, gardening (seed production and canning), education, and household product manufacturing (such as the making of cleaners, soaps, etc.). It’s also important to become proficient with manual tools such as a hammer, wrench, saw and screwdriver.

  1. Impersonal self-disclosure. It’s fine to have close relationships with people and family members, but when you prep for an emergency you want to be very careful about how much information you share with anyone who doesn’t live in your house.

Once an emergency hits people who chose not to prep will become desperate and may attempt to take what you have. These same trusted confidants may tell others about your supplies. Guard what is yours and, as hard as it may be, don’t brag about your endeavors on social media. Whether you share your supplies should be your decision and not someone else’s.

  1. Know thy neighbor. In urban areas you will find many people who have lived in the same area their entire lives. You will find even more who live in the same house that their parents and even grandparents were raised in. If either of these applies to you, this information will come of great use to you before, during and after the collapse.

People who have lived in one neighborhood during any significant period of time (usually one year or more) know most of what goes on in that neighborhood. The people who are problem neighbors now will be even more so once things crash.

It is important to do constant surveillance around your neighborhood and observe everything that is going on around you. If it eases your mind, put cameras up around your property, but remember that those same cameras may not work during an emergency so it’s important to depend on your eyes and your gut to warn you of any possible dangers that surround you.

Make sure your views of the streets or alleyways aren’t blocked by shrubs or trees. Invest in steel doors and repair any windows that don’t lock or aren’t secured. If you have a small yard or a porch, put a fence around it and place cowbells on the gate to let you know when someone has breached your perimeter.

  1. X marks the spot. Always map out, either on paper or in your mind, routes to take if you need to get home from another destination. There should be one regular route and at least two alternative routes.

Keep in mind that getting back home by car may not be an option. If it’s available, plan for the possibility of having to take public transportation. That means that you carry on you whatever fare you will need and this means carrying either exact change, a transportation card that has enough money loaded on it to get you back home or tokens.

It may be necessary for you to travel on foot. When planning your route, don’t memorize street names, but markers; things that stand out such as a business or a property that sticks out. Other markers are parks, trees, statues and even telephone wires that have sneakers hanging from them.

Go over these routes with everyone who lives in your house and stick to these routes no matter what.

  1. There will be a quiz on Monday. In accordance with federal law, every city must have an emergency preparedness plan in place. Many cities also offer free workshops to help you prepare. Philadelphia has all of that plus more. You can register to get just about any alert on both your cell phone as well as in an email, volunteer to help first responders and attend meetings and conferences also for free. In order to know what to do or if something is happening, you must know the city’s plans like the back of your hand. To learn about all of this and more, if you live in Philly, please go to: http://oem.readyphiladelphia.org/. If you live in another city, this information should be available on their website.

You can also get more information on a federal level by visiting the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) website at http://www.fema.gov/.

It’s important, as an urban dweller, to be 100% informed of anything that’s going on and to know what to do when it happens.

  1. What’s it worth to you? One of the most important guidelines is this one. Regardless as to whether or not this nation’s currency is any good during or after an emergency, you never want to give away or lend it out. You certainly don’t want anyone knowing that you have any money at all. There will be things that may even have more value than money. There are the obvious things: food, water, ammunition, weapons and shelter. No matter what, you have to be careful how much of that you can part with. It would be smart to never part with any of it unless you figured in the amount you can trade or sell while you were prepping. There are also things that most people don’t think of buying in abundance while they prep that has value. These things are: first aid supplies, foil, garbage bags, plastic grocery bags, wire hangers, matches, lighters, dryer lint, diapers, baby wipes, spices, nuts, candles, feminine products, toothpaste, candy, toothbrushes, soap, pantyhose, old newspapers/magazines, and packets of soy sauce/duck sauce/ketchup/mustard/hot sauce/taco sauce/honey.

No matter what, never part with your cigarettes, alcohol or anything else you need to have for medicinal purposes. The more of these little items that you have, the more bargaining power you’ll have.

  1. Knowledge is the key. Any information that you read about prepping will tell you that the essentials (food, water, shelter) are the most important thing and that’s correct. You will need these things in order to physically survive.

Even before any of that can take place, it is knowledge that is the key to not only prepping, but actually surviving. The more you know about possible scenarios, what the government is saying (and not saying), ways to prep (and not prep), and anything that is going on with the environment the better off you’re going to be. Use this time to absorb as much information as you can.

Familiarize yourself with news websites such as CNN, MSNBC, The Christian Science Monitor, and the National Weather Service. Other useful websites is the White House’s Briefing Room (http://www.whitehouse.gov), the Environmental News Network (http://www.enn.com/), and Emergency Management (http://www.emergencymgmt.com/).

There is a lot of information out there on ways to prep, but only you can decide which ways are the best for you.

  1. It’s a conspiracy, I tell ya. Conspiracy theorists love the possible conflict and drama that can accompany pending doom. If they get just a whiff of a new thought or possible danger, these theorists will attack it as if they are a bunch of piranhas going after an injured whale.

The point of conspiracy theories is that there is a push to invoke panic, make up facts or data as they see fit in order to find a scapegoat; that the facts are really allegations and it breeds paranoia.

A conspiracy theorist likes to convince people that all the facts are being hidden and that you shouldn’t trust anyone, but ask yourself why you should trust them?

A conspiracy theory will not help you prep or become a better prepper. If anything, it will derail you into false beliefs and prevent you from being prepared.

In the 1960s there was a popular saying in Philadelphia that kids liked to use when someone was trying to spread gossip or rumors, “speak what you know and testify to what you see.” Don’t depend on anyone to convince you of anything. Gather your facts and observe the trends as well as what is going on around you. Put your trust in that as well as your own voice.

Leave the conspiracy theorists alone to do what they do best: convince themselves that their own self-righteousness and falsehoods will keep them warm at night. Remember, a conspiracy theory and theorists are an enemy to the prepper.

The Philly Urban Prepper: 30 Days of Prepping

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The beginning stages of prepping can be overwhelming to some people. Information is being thrown at them from all different directions and sometimes that information can be misleading because it is contradictory.

You also don’t have to consider or prep for everything all at once. If an emergency would hit tomorrow, can your basic needs be met? It’s important to remember that your basic needs are food, water and shelter.

The bigger ticket items to consider such as bug in versus bug out, protection, etc. can be worked on further down the road. It’s being able to survive, whether it’s short term or long term, which must be prepped for first.

Although some preppers may disagree, since there is no imminent danger right this second you have the luxury of beginning to prep at a pace that’s comfortable for you. It is called 30 days in 30 ways and this is how it works: every day out of the month (28-31) prep for an emergency. It doesn’t have to be anything on a huge scale unless you’re comfortable doing that.

Start to prep for the little stuff because all too often it’s the little stuff that is easily forgotten about.

Here are some ideas:

  • One day per week start to write out an emergency contingency plan. This is something that the whole family can do together. You can do a couple of steps per week.
  • Once you have your emergency plan, one day per month have a mock drill. This way everyone will know what to do and any problems can be worked out.
  • Purchase extra canned items or other supplies when you go to the store. This can be done when you go shopping or just one day a month. Don’t forget to review the local stores’ sales for that week and try to shop for items when you can get the most bang for your buck.
  • Spend one day per month reducing what you have. Clean out closets, basements, attics or drawers. Throw out what is unusable or donate what you no longer need. Better yet, hold a garage sale. The rule of them is that if you haven’t used something in a year the chances are slim that you will ever use it. Most people have the “just in case” philosophy. “Well, I have 200 hammers just in case.” You don’t need 200 hammers just like you don’t need 150 packets of mustard that expired five years ago.
  • At least one day per month withdraw money from your bank account or put aside money from a check. Place that money in an envelope and find yourself a couple of places to stash it in your house that’s no visible to others such as duct taping the envelope behind a washer or dryer, behind a dresser or under a table.
  • Make copies of all important papers such as birth certificates, social security cards, insurance cards, mortgage documents, etc. Place these documents in zip loc bags and store them someplace safe, but easily accessible to you. Tip: Do not, for any reason, store these documents or any money at someone else’s house or buried in the backyard.
  • Take one day a month to reduce your spending even if it’s just for that one day. For instance, if you order out for pizza every Friday night skip it for at least one day. Take the money you save and place it with the money that you have stored away.
  • Take one bill you have and pay off a little each week. For instance, if you have a hospital bill for $50, divide it by 4, and pay $25 per week. Reducing your debt is a great way to prep for the future. The less debt you have, the more independence you have when it comes to living a prepper lifestyle.
  • Put together lists of items you need for others such as your children, aging parents and/or pets. Review these lists at least once a month. This is especially important if you have an infant or a special needs child.
  • Begin to prep for your water supply. Many novice preppers use old large jars, but these will eventually take up space that you may not have. So once a month purchase a large container that will be used to hold water. Try to get at least two that come with a spigot. You can purchase them at amazon.com for as little as $10. Don’t worry about filtration for right now because you shouldn’t do it until you’re ready to use it.
  • Familiarize yourself with your city’s emergency plans. Every city has one. If you live in Philadelphia, you can review it at: http://oem.readyphiladelphia.org/Plans.
  • Lists are very important to prepping. It helps you stay organized and plan for what’s ahead. Once you make a list place it in a binder or keep everything in a large notebook. Keep the binder or notebook in a place where it will stay dry. Review these lists at least once a month.
  • Develop alternate plans from your place of business, local shopping areas that you frequent and your children’s schools to your home. Practice taking these routes once per month.
  • Spend one day per month as if there is an emergency. This means no cell phones, televisions, etc. This doesn’t apply if you have a generator. Live off only what you have stored (this is a great way of getting into the habit of eating something before it expires). Start the day with everyone going through the preparedness list and doing what it says on the list to do such as securing all windows and doors. You should spend the day exactly as if an emergency was happening which will include, but not be limited to: staying in the house, no electronic equipment  (if you can help it), performing emergency first aid, preparing food and keeping everyone safe as well as entertained. By doing this you will see what else you may need (such as board games for the kids and more candles or hurricane lamps).
  • Inspect your home for any repairs that need to be done. Make of list of said repairs and then once a month chop away at getting those repairs done. If you can do some of them yourself by all means do it, but if it’s something major, like the roof, consider hiring a professional.

If your home needs work due to damage such as a leak consider contacting a public adjuster before your insurance company in order to review your insurance policy and to have the damage inspected. A public adjuster will come out, do the inspection and review your policy for free.

It’s important to keep your home in the best condition possible because it will be your form of shelter in an emergency.

  • Review your outside perimeter which is your porch, deck, front yard, side yard and back yard. If you live in an apartment, your perimeter is the hallway and any outdoor fire escapes that lead to your windows.

Make sure any possible entry points (front door, back door, first floor windows, deck) are secure and don’t need to be replaced right away. Trim down any bushes that might obstruct your view or remove them altogether. If you have a gate anywhere such as the front or back yards or even the porch consider installing cowbells that will sound if anyone opens them.

Although the idea is to do 30 things in 30 days, it’s fine if you only do something once a week. The point is to stay within your comfort zone until you feel comfortable or are able to do more. Even after a month you will see some progress and perhaps even feel better about your prepper skills.

Prepping for an emergency isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.

Every day is an opportunity for change

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Recently Meredith Veira was asked about her possible return to The View. She said that sometimes you have to see the writing on the wall and know when it’s time to leave.
I think this is a very smart skill to have, but many of us, although we may see the writing on the wall, emotionally and/or mentally we are unable to take that next step.
A little over a year ago that writing was put up on a wall for me to see, but I refused (mentally and emotionally) to see it because I had been in this place since 2002 and I had made some really great connections to people (Karen LeeImani RichardsonRaymonde BestDylan TaylorLinda Canalichio) even though these people had already left.
I finally took responsibility for this situation and acknowledged the writing on the wall. On Sunday I officially transferred out of Queen Village District and am returning to Delaware River District.
I understand and am totally accepting that due to my abrupt departure from Delaware River I failed to take responsibility for my actions during that time and it is now meant for me to return in order finish my mission there.
It was told to me that the distance I had to travel to attend Queen Village meetings was great, but the meetings in Delaware River are a little further. I have never minded the travel aspect of my practice (traveled from Philly to Southern New Jersey for 15 years for meetings, 10 of those years on public tranny). What I believe is the difference is what you get out of meetings. Do you feel valued or appreciated? Are you invigorated or excited about what you got out of that meeting? Did the content in the meeting help strengthen or renew your practice or faith?
Sadly, as far back as 2011, I no longer felt that. Overall, I wasn’t getting what I needed spiritually, mentally, emotionally or creatively.
So, today I celebrate change and the process of getting unstuck. Today I have taken even more responsibility for my own happiness than I did last week. Growth and realization is awesome.

Is Change Always a Good Thing?

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When a new business comes to an area and eventually establishes itself it’s hard to see how that business has become an essential part of the area. Yesterday, Ariana Lee, Mathison Chicetawn and I ventured down to the Gallery in Center City. It was during this trek that I was able to see how one business could have such a profound effect on an area.

This particular trip turned out to be a little sad because the owners of the mall decided not to renew Kmart’s lease as they want to turn the Gallery into a place that will attract the rich and detract the not-so-rich.

It was then I realized that Kmart had assumed the position once held by Lits and Gimbels: it had become the heartbeat – the pulse – of the mall and now that it’s gone the Gallery seemed to be on life-support. Very sad.

It also amazes me how they could get rid of something that brought in revenue and customers in exchange for something that most likely won’t work. It will be interesting to see how much money they’ll be able to admit to losing once Christmas shopping commences and shoppers who once went to Kmart as well as venturing to the smaller stores in the Gallery have gone somewhere else.

For now, the store sits vacant almost like the 40,000 other abandoned properties that litter this city, but this is one abandonment that will be felt by residents and tourists alike for a long time.

Perhaps it will also be a stark representation of the greed that this city’s political leaders are known for as they continue on with their plan of pushing the poor and low-income residents out of this city.