Recently The Survival Mom wrote a post about why normal people shy away from prepping. For example, the acronym that titles this post was part of reason number 1: Our terminology has negative connotations.

TEOTWAWKI: The End of the World as We Know it

And yes, it does sound scary. But the end of the world as we know it doesn’t necessarily mean the destruction of our planet and the end of all life. It could mean just about anything that causes a significant shift in your everyday life: a job change, moving to a new city or a new school, a breakup…

Last August a neighbor, friend, and prominent member of the community where I live was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer with metastatic bone cancer. When she died nine months later it felt like everything changed. It was the little things like walking by the mailboxes and thinking, “I haven’t seen Ann for a while.” And then remembering why. But it was also the bigger things, like the loss of her strong voice of reason in meetings. And even though new people moved in to the empty house, this place has never be the same.

Prepping is about noticing what things we might need, what things we might miss, what things we are accustomed to, what things are important, and making reasonable provisions to compensate. By imagining before someone is gone who will take up their tasks, who will do their jobs, who will fill their rooms, what will fill the void. Know where the money is before your accountant retires. Know who you can go to the movies with before you movie buddy moves to another state. Know who you can call at midnight when the pipes freeze and burst, when the dog breaks out of the yard, or when that breakup you didn’t realize you’d been fearing blindsides you.

Preppers get a lot of negative hype, but we’re not all doomsayers. Some of us are just trying to make life a little easier in a crisis by considering what we might need before we need it. And it never hurts to have an extra pint of Boulder Organic Famous Sweet Cream Ice Cream, just in case.

Feature Friday: PopUp Forest Times Square

Today, instead of the usual featured film, we invite you to do more than just watch–we invite you to act, thanks to an innovative, thought provoking, and potentially impactful Kickstarter program. PopUp Forest Times Square presents a temporary nature exhibit designed to draw attention to NYC green space, hoping to inspire  conservation efforts. Bonus points for one of the best taglines ever.

“If a forest can make it in Times Square, it can make it anywhere.”

Because if their proposed forest can make it in NYC, maybe it will inspire other acts of urban greening everywhere.

Feature Friday: Enoughness

With so many stories of having to flee our planet, so much in the news that reads like those books, it’s can be hard to imagine avoiding that end. It may not be easy, but I believe it is possible.

It is time for a shift from self-sufficiency to sufficiency–#enoughness, collaboration, a new way to calculate our balance sheets.

Learn more at FirstPeoples.org. You can also check out Yes! magazine’s recent article “Bigger Than Science, Bigger Than Religion” which tells a related story from a different angle.

The Green Book

The Green BookTITLE: The Green Book
AUTHOR: Jill Paton Walsh
PUBLISHER: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux
PUB DATE: 1982
DISASTER: Unspecified climate disaster
SECONDARY THREAT: Survival on a new planet

I hadn’t meant to segue into escaping to space when I started writing about Parable of the Sower, but sometimes that’s how things go. You find a thread and you follow it. And that thread lead me back to a book written for children that I read ages ago.

Father said, “We can take very little with us.”

Pattie and her family are among the last people evacuated from a dying Earth. The wealthy have already fled to more promising distant planets, while Pattie’s ship is old, small, and ill-fitted for exodus. Each family could bring only a very few things essential to survival, plus one book each.

The Green Book itself is small–only 69 pages of mid-sized text and meant for readers age 8 through 12. On the surface it’s about how Pattie and the other travelers adapt to a new planet that may or may not support life. The language is simple, the story is simple, but between the lines there is so much more:

  • Nods to socio-economic inequality in the conditions of the ship and the unspoken recognition of those left behind
  • References to climate change in comments about old photographs
  • The impact of selfishness when trying to build a community
  • How often children see more, feel more, and are willing to take more risks than the adults around them who are set in their ways

But truly, the strongest through-line is the power of story, how essential it is–for entertainment, bonding, and who we become.


Last night I finally saw the movie Interstellar. I had tried to see it when it first came out, but couldn’t seem to fit it in. Now I’m glad I didn’t.

Interstellar begins with a world facing many of the same challenges we find in Parable of the Sower–food shortages, widespread poverty, and a government that has turned its eyes from the stars to the ground, unable to justify money spent on dreams when there are so many problems to be solved in everyday life. And, like Lauren Olamina, Cooper, a former pilot, cannot let it go. His world, he knows is dying, and they are running out of other options. And when coded messages from a “they” no one can seem to identify lead to a covert NASA operation headed by one of Cooper’s former teachers, Cooper leaves everything and everyone he loves–including his 10 year old budding scientist daughter, Murph–behind for the chance to save them.

There are the usual assortment of questions that move the adventure plot forward, including:

  • Can they find a new world that can support life before it’s too late?
  • Will Cooper make it back to his family?

But the one question that the story most pivots around is one of ethics:

Who do we save, the human race as a species or the individual people we know and love?

The adventure is harrowing, as it must be, to keep us rooted to our seats for nearly three hours, and the decisions are difficult heart-rending , as are the emotional impacts on the families back home. And, as expected, the worlds are nothing like they imagined they might be.

Of course, at the end it they find themselves in crisis, and without giving too much away, it devolves into the sort of strange spiritual mumbo-jumbo that we have seen in other epic space movies, like Contact. But perhaps that’s how it is when science started delving into areas so far beyond our comprehension that they begin to resemble God.

And as for that one big question, perhaps if we are either very, very lucky or very, very unlucky, we just might be able to save both.

Learn more about the science of Interstellar.

Feature Friday: If I Die on Mars

In the Parable of the Sower, Lauren’s new religion, Earthseed has a single focused ultimate mission:

The Destiny of Earthseed
Is to take root among the stars.

Despite debt and poverty. Despite a government that threatens to cut all spending to space programs. Despite scarcity of fuels and raw materials. Despite all the problems that must take precedence on the ground. Or maybe because of all of those things.

In the book,  chapter three begins with the death of an astronaut on July 30, 2024 during the most recent manned mission to Mars.  Lauren talks about her worries that the space program will be shelved despite believing that space is their only hope.

But this isn’t just a story. This is where science fiction and science fact begin to merge. Because in 2012, Mars One announced plans to try and colonize Mars. Since then they have been recruiting. More than 200,000 people applied for the one-way trip. 100 are still in the running, three of whom are interviewed in the video that follows. That take-off is scheduled for 2024.