We are the founding members of SurvivalWeekly.com.
Jim has been a student of survivalism and emergency preparedness for almost thirty years. As a young child, he drove his parents nuts with stockpiling supplies in the basement every time he heard there was a tornado watch in his area. Of course, being a child, those supplies consisted of his teddy bear, a few blankets and pillows, and random canned goods he grabbed from the kitchen cabinets. Later, he was the first (and likely only) child in his fifth grade class to have bought his very own copy of Life After Doomsday by Bruce Clayton.
Today, he is a freelance writer whose work has been published in national magazines such as Boy’s Life and Complete Survivalist Magazine. He is a voracious reader with a keen interest in all stories with post-apocalyptic settings. He maintains the Library at the End of the World blog and is also the Content Director for SurvivalWeekly.com. He currently resides in a fortified bunker in the upper Midwest, accompanied by his lovely wife and their three adolescent Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Jim is available for speaking engagements on disaster readiness issues as well as freelance writing projects. Interested parties may email him at Jim@SurvivalWeekly.com.
Born and raised in Detroit, the kid of a cop, I was instilled with right and wrong and with the respect for what weapons can do in the right or wrong hands. My mom was an avid reader, and instilled that in me too. My first End of the World book was Earth Abides. It shook me. My next one was Alas, Babylon. That not only shook me deeper, but fascinated me. I was 15, and knew I was meant to be a survivalist.
Many, many years later, I have lived the life. My dream home was in the middle of 240 acres, ten miles from the nearest power lines, 35 miles from the nearest town, and deep in the woods. Totally off grid, I was almost self sufficient, and would have been with some help. There is nothing more frustrating than to have a goal that takes two, and only one is committed to it. Seven years of living there taught me a great deal. The do’s and don’ts, the must do and should have done. Experience is said to be the best teacher, and while this is true, it’s also a very cruel taskmaster. I hope to circumvent some of the harsher lessons to my readers.
As a kid in the late 70s and teenager in the 80s, I remember the Cold War. We were told as students to watch the 1983 airing of “The Day After” on ABC. It stunned me, got me thinking and hooked on the Jerry Ahern book series “The Survivalist”. Amazingly to me, most people I knew took the attitude “I’d rather be dead if that happens” whereas I became somewhat obsessed as to how my family and I would survive. In those pre-internet days, I subscribed to the American Defense Journal, only to come to understand that our government had basically given up on us, and any real form of Civil Defense like we used to have. FEMA (Federal Employees Mop-up Afterwards) is different from what Civil Defense used to be, and really more for clean up after the fact, not so much preparatory measures, which I think would be the smarter way to go (although I acknowledge some progress with DHS site Ready.gov). Looking to the private sector, I subscribed to the American Survival Guide (ASG) next. I was fortunate enough to have exposure to firearms, and even shot competitively as a kid, and had friends who competed in trap. Perhaps the best training I had, since I never served the military, was from Boy Scouts, and as an Eagle Scout, Order of the Arrow, and having gone to Philmont, I count my blessings for my early exposure to high adventure camping, hiking, and canoeing, something I know many are never given the change to do.
The Y2K thing completely passed me by. The only concern I had was an accidential missile launch, but if you were watching CNN on December 31st, 1999 like I was, you noticed that they had US and Russian Generals in contact that day to quell public fears. Watching CNN on that day also was probably the closest day to World Peace I can remember, as hour by hour different countries would celebrate 2000 AD throughout the day. The computers did not fail, but it is interesting to note one of the original plans for 911 was to be that night, with 10 planes, but they couldn’t get that many together fast enough, and had to go do four, as we all know a year and three quarters later.
Returning to “The Survivalist” book series by Jerry Ahern – what really captured my imagination was the “survival retreat” in book 3, a fortress of solitude, and modern castle or safe place of last resort. It occurred to me that conventional construction simply would not survive many different types of catastrophic events. We are a culture of insurance, so we don’t build things to really survive. Mr. Ahern’s concept seemed very logical to me, and has inspired me to seek cost effective solutions in an attempt to approach that level ever since. Think of it like NASA, how to do you keep people alive through adverse conditions. Survival is, after all, merely meeting the necessities of life in adverse conditions. Taking that approach, I started with the traditional necessities of life, “food, shelter, clothing” and expanded on that – in order of what you need most, breathable air, drinkable water, food, shelter, clothing, defense (to keep what you have from those who would take it from you), first aid, communication, etc. From that approach I started yahoo group “survivalretreat” after Jim Benson of ModernSurvival.net suggested I go there. Perhaps you’ve heard the old expression, if you want to really learn something, teach it. That was very true, as I do not hold myself out to be an expert, but in expanding that group (2nd largest survival group on yahoo) I certainly learned a lot, in addition to my other research. Through that I also met Jim Cobb, Rick Cox, and Deborah in the UP, and here we all are today, hopefully providing useful information, inspiration, and entertainment to you.