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This web site deals primarily with four things:

1. What a Survival Retreat is and how and why to build one - possibly in the desert, as I have done

2. How to stock your retreat with all basic necessities and to prepare yourself so you not only survive but thrive.

3. What gear, equipment, tools and other stuff you might need (or not) and why and criteria for their selection (or rejection)

4. Educational and instructional DVDs to show you what I can't show you here, so you can achieve similar results.

See also BugOutCenter.com for information specifically related to preparing for and escaping a disaster, crisis or collapse.

1. A Survival Retreat at this web site means a shelter prepared in advance where you and those you care about can survive a natural or man-made disturbance until it is resolved or has passed. It provides you with all basic necessities for as long as you need it to.

A Survival Retreat is a major undertaking, especially starting from scratch with vacant land. Not only must the shelter provide all basic utilities and room for all activities, as any sustainable, self-sufficient house or cottage must, it must also be a fortress, designed and built (or altered) with security in mind. No ordinary house is asked to fulfill so many roles. Therefore, before setting ruler and pencil to paper and sketching your dream retreat house, make a list of all of the 'features' you expect your house to provide. Don't compromise on critical features.

Priority must be given to designing features which require no electricity, gas or any outside energy source to operate. By making the house independent of 'imported' or even generated power, basic necessities will not suffer in case of a power failure. Once installed, these utilities operate without intervention and for free. Examples: Water Supply - Heating - Cooling

Consider this independence from external power a design requirement, so that all decisions which follow support it. For example, if the house and hot water will be heated by sunlight, these features must be designed in from the beginning. Another example: If water will be supplied by harvesting rainwater, then the locations of house, tank and catchment must be decided together, so that gravity is the only power required for it to function. Lastly, to cool the house in summer, either the house (or part of it) must be built below ground, or air cooled below ground must be brought up into the house, ideally without using fans or other mechanical powered device. Passive cooling with water is possible, but it uses up water.

Security must also be a design and location consideration. The house, if it is to shelter you in safety, must be built solidly and located in a strategic location, not in one which would compromise your security. If the shelter can be seen from any road, you may receive unwanted visitors. Aim for invisibility. A row of tall shrubs or bushy trees might help.

Location and design desisions are complex and require careful thought. If you believe it is possible that your house may one day be under attack by looters or others intent on harming you and/or taking what you have, then design accordingly: thick, solid walls, small windows with steel shutters, solid doors with steel plate outside and heavy duty hinges and latches and either a safe room (fortified and stocked like a bomb shelter) or an escape tunnel or both.

Why Build a Survival Retreat?
There are various practical answers to this question, but let's start with the philosophical, possibly saving you some time reading further. If your philosophy includes the belief that whatever happens to you is your destiny, and that it is futile to prepare for disasters, because you will only get what you have earned in this or another life, then save yourself some time and read no further. This web site is intended for those who, like you, may accept the law of Karma (cause and effect), but who also follow the motto of the Boy Scouts: Be Prepared. Building or modifying a Survival Retreat and stocking it is simply following the Boy Scout philosophy.

If you agree that having a first aid kit, a spare tire and a flashlight in your car are good ideas, then you are in harmony with the philosophy of the Boy Scouts and of this web site. This web site is dedicated to practical issues of preparation for disaster; it will be rather lean on philosophy. In fact, you may have just seen the only philosophy here.

However, the approach to preparation you choose is your decision. Some believe that wilderness skills (fire-making, trapping, shelter-building, foraging) will be necessary, if disaster strikes. Well, if you agree, then learn those skills and prepare to live in the forest. If you think your best plan is to stay in a city, then learn how to fortify your abode, stock supplies, defend yourself, etc. If, on the other hand, you believe that a survival retreat far from any city, specially prepared for survival, is your best option, then this web site will offer you some ideas.

This web site is not about prediction or preaching doom. Disasters happen. If you believe that it is better to prepare for them, and by doing so to increase your chances (and the chances of those who depend on you) of survival, you will probably benefit from this web site.

How to build a Survival Retreat
My experience is that by far the best medium of instruction available at present is video, and the best means of distribution is the DVD. I have spent many years developing technologies and experimenting to find the best methods and materials. Offering DVDs for sale allows me to share this valuable knowledge with others and to recover a small amount of my investment, in order to finance the development of more instructional DVDs.

To the question... I have divided this enormous Survival Retreat topic into smaller projects and am producing a DVD on each one. There is simply too much material to fit on one DVD, and one can buy just the DVD or DVDs of interest. You can also save money by buying several together. All of my DVDs come with an unconditional 30-day money back guarantee.

A Survival Retreat in the desert? Why do this?
I know, it sounds crazy, right? Let's face it, the desert - blistering hot summers, cold winters, sparse vegetation, little soil, scarce water, snakes, scorpions, and so on, plus isolation - does not immediately present itself as a welcoming or even practical choice, when considering places to live or even to survive. With apparently so little in its favor and so many obstacles and challenges, why would anyone consider building a Survival Retreat in the desert?

Because I can, and so can you. Okay, that may sound strange, but let me explain... The desert appears hostile until one becomes aware of its power and potential. For example, here are some of the features of my desert Survival Retreat that some people might consider desireable:

Peace and quiet - no trafffic or honking ever, no sirens, dogs barking, neighbors yelling, no chain saws or lawn mowers. Fresh air - no exhaust or smog, no chimney smoke, neighbors smoking. Privacy - no uninvited visitors, no nosy neighbors. Free passive heating and cooling year round. Free hot and cold water from rain to drain, no pumping nor power required. No gas, electric or water bills, ever. Unlimited supply of sand, gravel and stones for concrete and construction.

As you read that last paragraph again, notice whether your current home can claim any of these features. You see, with careful planning and sustainable technologies, you can manage quite comfortably, and the harsh desert will actually provide many conveniences that might escape casual observation. All you need is an experienced guide to show you how to accomplish it. Also, the desert is the last place refugees fleeing a city will look for food and water.

Why am I doing this? Well, in addition to the reasons above, I decided that it would benefit others if I could first make it easier for people to live comfortably in the desert and then demonstrate that, not only is it possible to live well and inexpensively there, but after weighing the pros and cons, some people might prefer it to their current location. At least some would see that a survival retreat in the desert makes sense.

If more people live in houses that require no external power or gas or firewood, our dependence on fossil fuels will decline, global warming will be reduced, wars could be eliminated, and people will become more self-sufficient and secure, in homes unaffected by power failures, gas line ruptures, etc. So my goal is also to help people become parts of the solution to the really big problems.

By producing instructional DVDs on all aspects of my projects, people will be able to repeat my successes and avoid my mistakes, saving them a lot of money and years of effort. Also, by achieving success in such a hostile environment, it demonstrates that it will be possible and easier to create shelters and life-support systems in other places which offer fewer challenges and more natural resources. My desert is not the Sahara, but it is challenging enough to offer an excellent test bed for what I'm doing.

My real goal? To be always part of the solution and not part of the problem, and to do what I can to help others achieve that for themselves. If more of us who now drain limited fossil fuels to power our homes switched to sustainable technologies like solar and wind, we could collectively make a huge difference on this planet.

Add up the gas and electricity a home uses to heat it, cool it and hot water, pump water, move air... and then remember that most of those are unnecessary. You cannot avoid concluding that we can all do much better, if we decide to.

I decided to do that long ago. My house/Survival Retreat and life-support systems are the result of years of research and experiments, lots of labor, sweat and a few tears to discover what works well in various climates.

My DVDs demonstrate how we can do this, while still living comfortably and safely. It's not magic or rocket science. If you can use a hammer and saw and follow instructions, you can take my DVDs and repeat everything I've done.

Your mileage may vary. Every retreat site is different, so note what resources and obstacles your site has before you make a plan. What's there that you can use? Trees, bamboo, stones, sand, soil, clay...? Is there enough to build a house? Is that the kind of house you want? Can you work with those materials? Can you learn to? For a detailed site evaluation checklist, go here.

 DVDs Are Coming

This web site is here because the knowledge about survival is critical to many of us right now. This survival retreat in the desert is the demonstration of various technologies which help us become free of dependence on fossil fuels, the grid and other things which are part of the problems we face as a global community.

The DVDs will appear here as they become available.