33, is a mother of three children, and lives in the sprawling outskirts
of Houston, Texas. But she is not taking the happy safety of her
suburban existence lightly.
Like a growing
army of fellow Americans, Pennington is learning how to grow her
own food, has stored emergency rations in her home and is taking
courses on treating sickness with medicinal herbs.
safe and more secure. I have taken personal responsibility for the
safety of myself and of my family," Pennington said. "We
have decided to be prepared. There all kinds of disasters that can
happen, natural and man-made."
is a "prepper", a growing social movement that has been
dubbed Survivalism Lite. Preppers believe that it is better to be
safe than sorry and that preparing for disaster – be it a hurricane
or the end of civilisation – makes sense.
1990s survivalists, preppers come from all backgrounds and live
all over America. They are just as likely to be found in a suburb
or downtown loft as a remote ranch in the mountains. Prepping networks,
which have sprung up all over the country in the past few years,
provide advice on how to prepare food reserves, how to grow crops
in your garden, how to hunt and how to defend yourself. There are
prepping books, online shops, radio shows, countless blogs, prepping
courses and prepping conferences.
runs a website called Pioneer Living, which is one of the main forums
for discussing prepping. It provides a range of advice for those
who just want to store extra food in case of a power cut, to those
who want to embrace the "off the grid" lifestyle of America’s
western pioneers. "We get inquiries from people from all walks
of life. We had a principal from a school asking us to talk to their
children. We have doctors and firemen and lawyers," he said.
in Oklahoma and, should society collapse around him, he is well
placed to flourish. Indeed, he might not notice that much. His house
has a hand-dug well that gives him fresh water. He grows his own
food. He has built an oven that needs neither gas nor electricity.
He can hunt for meat. "If something happened, it really would
not affect us," he said.