Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs

I was recently sent a copy of Wendy Brown’s book “Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs, the Thrivalist’s Guide to a Life Without Oil.” by New Society Publishers. Both Wendy and her husband also maintain two separate blogs that are a joy to read. Wendy at: and Deus Ex Machina (Eric) at:

I have to admit, I have watched the “Mad Max” series of movies one to many times and Stephen King’s book “The Stand” is one of my all time favorite reads.  It is certainly these vile renderings, of our world when the SHTF and spirals into the hands of the “Zombie Hoards”, unto which most of us base our “survivalist” preparations. No doubt, Hollywood knows shock and awe sells and we as consumers readily digest this mumbo jumbo like it’s our last day on earth. This media storm of death and destruction had me under the impression that perhaps your best TEOTWAWKI preparations had something to do with lots of firepower and plenty of ammo.

Wendy’s book dismisses most of this doom and gloom, instead painting a picture of a much more civilized future after TEOTWAWKI. While she does dedicated one chapter to “Security”, the rest of the book centers on what I define as practical no nonsense living. In the resource poor future, people will need to understand and cope with the realities of a life without many of the creature comforts we currently take for granted. Wendy predicts that gasoline, oil, electricity, supermarkets and even public education will disappear and we will as a society need to learn to live (thrive) without them.

To prepare for this “challenge”, the chapters take the reader through the steps necessary to prepare themselves, their family, homes and available land to be as productive and energy efficient as possible. In many of these situations, I see Wendy providing the reader with a blueprint of how we should all be living NOW and not necessarily after some apocalyptic world-ending event. Reducing, reusing, recycling, growing more of our own food or buying produce local and in season, raising our own livestock, producing our own localized fuel sources for heat (wood) and other practical and smart ways to live both before and after any impending “collapse”.

Also critical, is the idea we must forge a skill set of self-reliance, while also understanding there exists strength in numbers. In the future, it will be beneficial to have an individual practical skill set, as well as a network, community or neighborhood of support.  I particularly liked Wendy’s afterward, that walks the reader through a typical day in a community after TEOTWAWKI.

To close, I wanted to include this excerpt from the book as it sums up most of what the book seems to center on, “If we are to have any hope of giving our children a future, we need to start now with changing the attitudes from one of making money to one of making a living. We need to change our mindset from the belief that independence is related solely to one’s income to the understanding that true independence comes from being able to provide for most of one’s needs.” (p. 212)


  1. More to add to Reader. Thanks! I'll be looking for Wendy's book to add to my winter reading pile. I agree, now is the time to get prepared. If it's not the end of oil it is going to be something else.

    If you add up how much food you can grow and raise on a little bit of land the end of the world as we know it seems much less daunting.

  2. Wendy, I should really be thanking you. Your book is a great read, filled with a ton of practical information I found extremely beneficial. I had to choke back my impulse to go out and buy chickens, goats and rabbits! I fear my spouse could perhaps not be as forgiving as yours! Look forward to reading the sequel! Take care!

  3. Hi Robin thanks for commenting!

    I find Wendy does a nice job throughout the book of stressing that we need to begin these preparations NOW because after TEOTWAWKI the transition to our “new” lives could be too much for some folks to handle. I agree with Wendy’s assessments that point out, we as a society have become soft. There is no question that a life without oil would mean the end of many of the products and services we currently take for granted. The best offence is a good defense and therefore we must begin now with our preparations.

    Even if the world doesn’t tragically end, the world Wendy paints is a much pretty picture then the gluttony of which we now partake.

  4. Not sure what happened to the comments below, I am guessing that I inadvertently deleted them whilst attempting to post. Guess that will teach me to drink and blog. DEM, CG sorry for the deletion, I am sure you both know your comments are always appreciated. DDH, yours are tolerated.

    Deus Ex Machina: I am glad you enjoyed the book. Thank you, also, for the shout out to my blog. Of course, you have a little inside information that some readers will not - all of the blunders and things that we blog about that didn't make it into the book.

    cowgirl: Oh heck RO... go ahead and buy those chickens and goats! They're fun to have around. :)

    The Downeast Duck Hunter: It's good to get back to basics, but 7 billion people today (an increased of one billion in 12 years) will lead itself to a little more conflict than optimists think.

    I can imagine how long it will take the island I live on to return back to 1930 levels of cleared land and pasture. It seems that every turn was a "farm"...

    Save that book for me, I'll check it out... If you endorse it, it must be worthwhile...

  5. DEM, I enjoy it when folks blunder more (or at least as much as I do) it takes the pressure off. Some guys tend to be handy, I prefer to be handsome . . . LONG LIVE NED GREEN!!

    CG, I do not currently have enough invested in the emotional bank account to allow that type of purchase to be accepted. I am guessing it would require purchasing something for the wife very sparkly and shinny.

    DDH, Eventually you put to many rats in a cage and it gets UGLY. I can see you blowing up the bridge and being just fine. Of course, then the inbreeding will start back up again . . . errr wait, didn't you marry your cousin? Will save the book for ya bud!

  6. I definitely want to read this. People often ask me, "Oh you hunt, so if the shit goes down, you're good to go." I disappoint them when I say, "Not really, because 300 million hungry people are gonna learn to hunt right quick, and they ain't gonna obey game laws or catch & release!"

    Real survival will mean providing nutrition and shelter for a family in areas low in food and high in people.

    Thanks for featuring this.

  7. RM, After the collapse, I just thought the easiest plan was to just eat those who didn't own guns.

  8. Well Rabid, I guess that is why I will be learning the hunt real quick... I don't want to be eaten LOL.

    But I have yet to read this book but has been on my "To Read List" for quite some time. As a person learning primitive skills and becoming more self sufficient to live off and with the land, I look forward to reading what Wendy writes.

    Thanks for posting.... :)

  9. Yeah, thanks for posting. I ordered Wendy's book somewhat impulsively after hearing her interviewed and I'm looking forward to reading it even more now... especially interested in methane digesters...why don't we hear more about them if there's so many in India and elsewhere and they reduces methane gas emissions, provides fuel and fertiliser?


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