Global warming, oil shortages, genetically-altered food supplies, and other possible threats to life as we know it have caused many to take measures toward more sustainable and self-reliant lifestyles.
Two such groups, convinced that they need to find their own means of support rather than rely on society, are the permaculture (permanent + agriculture – commonly known as homesteaders), and the preppers (so-called because they prepare for disaster). However, each group”s preparedness originates in radically different philosophies.
The permaculture/homesteaders emphasize self-sufficiency because they wish to draw on healthier available resources like organic gardening, animal husbandry, and raising chickens, all of which give them a more direct first-hand relationship with the food they eat. In addition, many spin their own yarn, sew their clothing, repurpose old or unused items, make cheese from the milk of goats and sheep, and spend weekends canning for the winter.
By contrast, the self-sustainability of the preppers stems from a more fearful mindset: they tend to stockpile canned goods and weapons in basements in preparation for an apocalypse, or at least a bad storm. Many are concerned with sustainability, organic/safe foods, etc. But some are less concerned with the waste, overproduction or misuse of resources than with a deliberate social or political threat to their wellbeing. Unlike the homesteaders, preppers tend to stow away supplies out of fear that their belongings will be taken forcibly from them.
Weird Similarities Link These Two Very Different Groups
While both groups share important similarities (living off-the-grid, self-sufficiency), permaculturalists/homesteaders react to their fears in creative, constructive, and life-affirming ways by turning back to traditional methods that will sustain them in the event of industrial or technological failure. Preppers, while their actions also stem from a survival instinct, tend to turn away from tradition out of fear (whether paranoid or realistic) and dissent.
Members of both groups tend to view themselves as individuals taking a stand against a status quo that has become increasingly problematic and undesirable. A look at how the two groups actually live, in Gwinnett County and north Georgia, reveals more similarities than differences.
The website for the North Georgia Permaculture Guild, that launched in May 2013, invites interested individuals and families to participate in group discussions, potlucks, sustainability workshops, and generally offers the opportunity for socializing among like-minded folks. Similarly, the Gwinnett discussion page of the Georgia Preppers Network shows an interest in family camping trips and how-to workshops.
As one might expect, the preppers give more voice to issues regarding arms, ammunition and displeasure with the government, but the two groups appear to be searching for basically the same experience: a better way to live in an uncertain world.