The Self Reliance Expo- Hickory NC

I will admit to being something of a”prepper”. For those not in the know, a prepper is a person who prepares for a disaster. Most preppers have a disaster they are specifically preparing for. In Florida most are ready for hurricanes, in California earthquakes. Some of us prepare for more world wide catastrophes.

My personal opinion is that we might experience another Carrington Event within my lifetime. The Carrington event was a solar storm that struck the Earth in 1859. If the same type of storm hit the Earth today it would destroy all electronics on the planet. The entire world would be thrown back to the 19th century and possibly as many as 90% of the people in the United States would die from hunger and disease.

With that in mind I prepare for the worst. I live many miles outside of town. My home is a small farm and I can produce more than enough food for myself and a few of my neighbors. I also have about a six month stock pile of extra food, an extensive medical kit, and not to give away too much information I also have the means to defend my property. One day I may need all these things and it is better to be safe than sorry.

The booths and presentations at the expo covered a large range of topics. From starting a fire with a bow drill to the most advanced solar electric set-up I had ever seen (and one I may be purchasing). Two booths that stood out for me were the Project Appleseed booth , and the Dr Bones and Nurse Amy booth. Project Appleseed is a firearms training organization that teaches proper firearm use along with the history behind private weapon ownership in the United States. Dr Bones and Nurse Amy teach survival medicine. At the expo they taught several classes on suturing wounds when there is no Doctor around to help.

One of the highlights of the show for me was watching old hippies teach conservative preppers their skills. I could almost hear them cringing. Their own political fellow travelers just don’t care about mushroom identification or how to grind grain with a grist mill any longer. Anything that makes a Hippie cry makes me smile.

The Self Reliance Expo seemed to be a huge success. Well, everything was a huge success except one booth. As I was walking around I noticed that every booth and demonstration was standing room only except one. The National Geographic channel had set up a “Doomsday Prepper” booth. Doomsday Prepper is a television show that makes it their mission to make fun of the prepping community. The girl at the booth had to give away cheap little backpacks to get anyone to sign up for the show. I signed up to get the backpack and talk to the girl they had manning the booth.

Waiting for GodotHere she is trying to talk people who are walking by into signing up for the show. I spent about an hour talking to her while I waited for Dr William Forstchen to finish signing books so I could interview him.  She was a really nice person but I don’t like how the show portrays the prepping community. She wanted me to appear on the show and I would have said yes if I had some control over the final product. Of course they would not want that. It is better TV to make fun of the hillbilly than to actually listen to what he has to say.

Dr. Forstchen was the main reason I attended the expo. He is the author of One Second After a novel about Western North Carolina in the aftermath of an EMP attack on the United States. He has also co-authored several books with Newt Gingrich (Some astute readers of this site know I was a Gingrich supporter). Dr. Forstchen’s speech was probably the most attended speech at the convention and he covered both the political aspects of how the United States is preparing for an EMP attack and what we might expect in the event of one actually happening. My interview with Dr. Forstchen will cover much of this and should be on the site by the end of the week.

About Jonathan David Baird

Jonathan David Baird has worked as an archaeologist for the past fifteen years throughout the Southeast. He left full-time field work in 2011 to finish graduate school. In 2012 Jonathan received a master's degree in English literature from Fort Hays State University. His focus of study was the development of late Victorian Gothic horror. Currently working on second masters in American history and applying to PhD programs.
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Followup- The representative from Doomsday Preppers has emailed and called asking me to interview for the show. I have turned them down at this time. I did suggest an idea for a reality show based on archaeologists. It would be called American Dirt: The Rock Stars of Science. I have not heard back about my suggestion.