SUR­VIVAL­IST SPOT­LIGHT: CODY LUNDIN

For Cody Lundin, Rat­ings Are Only Mea­sured in Keep­ing Peo­ple Alive, Which He Does One Stu­dent at a Time

RECOIL OFFGRID - - Front Page - Story by John Schwartze Pho­tos by RCP Pho­tog­ra­phy

In a world where a com­pul­sion for me­dia ap­pear­ances, show­boat­ing, and fol­low­ers on so­cial me­dia has be­come a met­ric of cred­i­bil­ity, peo­ple often mis­take pre­ten­tious­ness or mar­ketabil­ity for truth. Cody Lundin doesn’t have mil­lions of fol­low­ers on so­cial me­dia. He doesn’t pawn his stu­dents off on ques­tion­ably ex­pe­ri­enced un­der­lings. He de­tests the word “sur­vival­ist” as well as the ques­tion, “What’s your fa­vorite sur­vival tool? ” For Cody, the best sur­vival tool is some­thing you can’t buy at a big-box store — your brain. But even af­ter some 30 years as a sur­vival in­struc­tor, Cody still man­ages to re­main hum­ble. There’s no mis­tak­ing the tone in his voice for any­thing other than what it is — a pas­sion for teach­ing peo­ple skills that will keep them alive.

“Peo­ple are quick to want a black-and­white an­swer to a pro­fes­sion that has mil­lions of vari­ables,” he says. “When­ever you put hu­man na­ture into Mother Na­ture, in other words, scared peo­ple into wilder­ness, all hell can break loose and it can break loose quick. The coolest thing about my job is what I hate about my job — vari­ables. You never know. You’re never re­ally sure. You never have it locked in. There is no ex­pert. You’re al­ways on your toes. The most stress­ful thing about my job isn’t phys­i­cal; it’s psy­cho­log­i­cal. It’s deal­ing with the stress of want­ing my stu­dents to be OK, but not hav­ing all the an­swers. The more I think I know, the more I re­al­ize that I don’t re­ally know sh*t.”

There was once a time when methods now known as “sur­vival” were sim­ply just known as “life.” Peo­ple had no fancy gear to rely on. It was a com­mon sense ex­is­tence free from the modern con­ve­niences so­ci­ety has be­come de­pen­dent on — and many wouldn’t know how to get by without. Many of these prac­tices have been lost to time, but more have been lost to hu­man com­pla­cency. Cody is one of the few peo­ple left who safe­guard these tra­di­tions.

RE­COIL OFFGRID: Where did you grow up?

Cody Lundin: My dad was mil­i­tary, so it’s like, where didn’t I grow up. I grew up all over the place, in­clud­ing Europe.

What early ex­pe­ri­ences made you un­der­stand the im­por­tance of learn­ing and prac­tic­ing sur­vival tech­niques?

CL: Be­ing an only kid in a mil­i­tary fam­ily that moved a lot, one of the main things that I could have as a constant in my life grow­ing up was the out­doors. I spent a lot of time out­doors and got well-ac­quainted with wher­ever we went. Later on, my folks were pretty ag­gres­sive about go­ing out­side, whether it was ca­noe­ing in Min­nesota or other things; we were out­side quite a bit. The out­doors was a friend you could count on [ laughs] be­cause wher­ever you went it was al­ways there.

What does the term “sur­vival” mean to you?

CL: It means noth­ing. It’s just a catchall word that used to mean that if you didn’t do some­thing cor­rectly, you were dead, but it’s got­ten a lot worse be­cause of the me­dia, YouTube, Face­book, TV shows, etc., where you have peo­ple recit­ing a word they have no ex­pe­ri­ence with. The word I dis­like even more is “sur­vival­ist,” be - cause it has no def­i­ni­tion and that’s why the me­dia uses it. They can get away with a no-def­i­ni­tion state­ment about some­one, and there­fore they don’t have to vet that in­di­vid­ual.

Also, re­gard­ing sur­vival­ists, last time I heard they shoot cops and blow up fed­eral build­ings and that’s not what

I do in my courses. I had a lady from a news­pa­per back East ask me about that term. Do you re­mem­ber Eric Frein, the guy who was shoot­ing those cops?

Yes, that was in Penn­syl­va­nia if I’m not mis­taken.

CL: It was. I think it was a Penn­syl­va­nia paper, and the lady called me up be­cause they were call­ing him a sur­vival­ist be­cause he went camp­ing or some bullsh*t like that, and she was the only one in 20-plus years who asked me, “What the hell is a sur­vival­ist? What does that term mean?” and the whole ar­ti­cle was just about that. The bot­tom line is we didn’t have a def­i­ni­tion, but she was the only one who ever asked about that in all this time.

The rea­son I think that ter­mi­nol­ogy is im­por­tant is be­cause I’m deal­ing with peo­ple’s safety. If I made a show about “city­ists,” it’s like, what the hell does that mean? A city ex­pert, right? Be­cause we have all these sur­vival ex­perts out there, so what if I called you a city ex­pert? How would you de­fine that on a pro­fes­sional ré­sumé? But this was done in­ten­tion­ally. One, through ig­no­rance, and two, again you don’t have to vet some­one who is a sur­vival­ist. If you don’t have to vet them, they can be your everyday ex­pert on your next TV show.

How would you de­fine what you do?

CL: I think what I do is I keep peo­ple alive, and in that re­spect, I give peo­ple more con­fi­dence and free­dom. We have the big four at my school. One is modern out­door sur­vival skills — that’s what hap­pens if you and your sweet­heart are out and the Jeep breaks down or the clas­sic day hike gone bad where some­one needs search and res­cue. That’s modern out­door sur­vival skills or wilder­ness skills.

Then there’s prim­i­tive liv­ing skills. Peo­ple re­fer to this as bushcraft, and that’s the course where you can make fire with sticks, make stone knives, live like in­dige­nous cul­tures, and learn about the na­tive cul­tures of what­ever con­ti­nent you’re on, and that re­ally isn’t as ap­pli­ca­ble to a modern sur­vival sit­u­a­tion.

We also have ur­ban pre­pared­ness without the zom­bies, so that’s like if the grid goes down be­cause of an elec­tri­cal storm or what­ever, and you learn how you go to the bath­room in your back­yard safely, how to have al­ter­na­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tions, hy­giene, san­i­ta­tion, know­ing where the wa­ter’s com­ing from, how to dis­in­fect it, stored food, etc.

And I teach home­steading as well, which is more longterm sur­vival. I hate to use that word, but both grand­par­ents in South Dakota were part of the Homestead Act of the 1800s. I have pic­tures of them in a sod house to prove it. But it’s more en­durance type stuff and sus­tain­able liv­ing. So, when you say “sur­vival” to me, I’ll say

“What kind? ” I’m deal­ing with peo­ple’s safety, and it’s im­por­tant to in­form a po­ten­tial stu­dent what they’re get­ting into be­cause when you’re deal­ing with con­tent without con­text you can get peo­ple hurt or killed.

What made you de­cide that you wanted to teach these kinds of skills?

CL: I just re­ally love do­ing more with less, and I have for a

long, long time. My motto for my school is “The more you know, the less you need.” We are not a gear-based school. We are a knowl­edge- and wis­dom-based school, like pretty much all the na­tive peo­ple out there. Even dur­ing high school in Wyoming we’d go out to the back­coun­try with lim­ited gear and a piece of fish­ing line and jig for brook trout or what­ever it was. I’ve al­ways had that bent and that prob­a­bly goes back to that na­ture con­nec­tion we talked about.

I tried to ad­ver­tise my school to all the sum­mer camps in Prescott, Ari­zona, and no one gave a damn. I didn’t get one re­sponse af­ter send­ing out about 20 let­ters. Then, I had a friend at the time make me a flyer, and I’d paste them on phone booths. That’s how I started in 1991 do­ing that. I started with a pas­sion to teach peo­ple how to stay alive. I started hon­estly with a hand­writ­ten mail­ing list of peo­ple I thought gave a sh*t, stamps, and en­velopes.

There was no Face­book, YouTube, no TV sur­vival shows, or all of these ways there is to lie now and bullsh*t about all this ex­pe­ri­ence you don’t have, but make it ap­pear like you do be­cause of so­cial me­dia. It was an ar­chaic way to mar­ket, but it was hon­est and I miss it. Now it’s too easy to lie about be­ing a sur­vival ex­pert, what­ever the hell that means. Back in the day, with my teach­ers, it was just about more hon­esty and in­tegrity in the craft, and a lot more peo­ple who were teach­ing be­cause they loved it and weren’t try­ing to get fa­mous.

So you started in 1991 as a teacher?

CL: That’s when I started my Abo­rig­i­nal Liv­ing Skills School. I started teach­ing at Boul­der Out­door Sur­vival School in the late ’80s. Hope­fully you ac­tu­ally have ex­pe­ri­ence be­fore you start your own sur­vival school. Nowa­days you just need a TV show and that au­to­mat­i­cally means you some­how have ex­pe­ri­ence, which is a huge mis­take. I worked for a cou­ple years on and off for another school, and then started my own in 1991 in Prescott, Ari­zona.

What are the key con­cepts you stress in your in­struc­tion?

Is there sort of an over­ar­ch­ing theme in each of your courses?

CL: Yeah, the more you know, the less you need. I’m in­ter­ested in im­part­ing real knowl­edge to peo­ple without sell­ing them bullsh*t gear. A lot schools out there, a lot of peo­ple, etc., they have their name, school, and courses at­tached to a plethora of sh*t they think that you need to sur­vive. In Ari­zona, that’s called camp­ing. When you have all the sur­vival gear you need, that’s camp­ing, that’s not a real sur­vival sit­u­a­tion.

What de­notes a real sur­vival sit­u­a­tion typ­i­cally is a lack of gear, re­sources, and an ab­sence of what­ever. We’re train­ing peo­ple for worst-case sce­nar­ios. We’re train­ing peo­ple with no food, no wa­ter, what­ever. We don’t have all this sh*t in our back­pack to trap a rab­bit. That’s, again, a real lack­ing of con­text with typ­i­cal sur­vival in­struc­tors, and I use that term loosely. There’s so much gear fo­cus and mar­ket­ing on that. That’s not what it’s about be­cause that’s not a re­al­ity in a sit­u­a­tion where peo­ple end up dead. Peo­ple end up dead due to a lack of re­sources. Whether that’s a lack of heat and they die of hy­pother­mia, whether it’s a lack of cool and they die of hy­per­ther­mia, whether it’s a lack of wa­ter and they die of de­hy­dra­tion, or what­ever, those are the big­gest causes of death.

What we try to in­still in our stu­dents is do­ing more with less, be­ing smart, pre­par­ing wisely, not be­ing fo­cused on gear, but know­ing what gear would be nice to have in a cer­tain sit­u­a­tion, and try­ing to turn out a stu­dent who is free from me. What I mean by that is some in­struc­tors re­ally love to have their ego stroked and turn into a cult fig­ure and then brand and sell all this sh*t with their logo. I don’t want that. I’m pretty hard on my stu­dents be­cause I care about them and I want them to live.

What were some ex­pe­ri­ences that in­flu­enced you to de­sign your course cur­ricu­lums in a cer­tain way?

CL: One of the things that I was so for­tu­nate in was to have re­ally good in­struc­tors who taught me. I had in­struc­tors who were

re­ally hon­est. I ad­mired their in­tegrity, they were re­ally good at their skill set, and they re­ally wanted to teach it in a way that was pure be­cause they re­al­ized they were deal­ing with peo­ple’s safety. Just like if you have good par­ents or grand­par­ents, and you’re raised in a re­ally sup­port­ive up­bring­ing, that rubs off. And I re­al­ized how se­ri­ous the pro­fes­sion I’m in­volved with is. When you’re deal­ing with peo­ple’s safety, you can’t cut cor­ners or be de­ceit­ful. It’s un­eth­i­cal and it’s very, very dan­ger­ous. So I think know­ing the grav­ity when peo­ple trust me with their lives, it’s re­ally im­por­tant to be hon­est. I hope that in­tegrity is all through­out my school be­cause I care about the peo­ple who are train­ing with me.

By know­ing what causes peo­ple to die, that helps for­mu­late the cur­ricu­lum of sur­vival train­ing, but it’s al­ways backed up by real sta­tis­tics, phys­i­ol­ogy, and fear psy­chol­ogy. A lot of the sh*t peo­ple teach has no ap­pli­ca­tion in a real-world sur­vival sit­u­a­tion be­cause it’s im­pos­si­ble to deal with peo­ple who are un­der stress and fear.

Who were some of your men­tors?

CL: Mors Kochan­ski, who I’m sure that you’ve heard of, and if you haven’t, you should have. He was one of my great­est in­struc­tors. He’s up in Canada. He’s a bo­real spe­cial­ist, so I didn’t learn desert sur­vival from Mors, but what I did learn is that a lot of peo­ple are rip­ping him off and don’t give him any credit about the knife hang­ing around their neck or the fact that he in­tro­duced Mora Knives to North Amer­ica. Ev­ery­one you see now with these knives, it all came from Mors es­sen­tially.

Dave Ganci, for desert sur­vival. Dave was a mas­ter in the 1980s with teach­ing this new unit called SEAL Team 6 how to sur­vive in the desert, and teach­ing this new unit called “The D Boys,” which later was known as Delta Force when they were first ini­ti­ated into the mil­i­tary. Dave has writ­ten sev­eral books about desert sur­vival. These are two no-bullsh*t guys. They might not know how to use a com­puter very well, and they don’t give a sh*t about Face­book [ laughs]. They were train­ing be­fore most of these peo­ple on TV were even born. There’s many more.

Dave Wescott is another. I learn a lot from my stu­dents be­cause they don’t have any bias on how things have been done. John and Geri McPher­son were also some of my ear­li­est in­struc­tors. Melvin Beat­tie was my tan­ning buck­skin men­tor, and this goes way back to 1989 or 1990. There are re­ally too many to list. These were some of my core in­struc­tors and how I learned how to teach. You can be good at skills, but you can suck as a teacher. You have to be able to trans­late those skills to peo­ple sit­ting in front of you. Mors was a great teacher. He had a unique way be­cause he dealt with so many kids, had so many cur­ricu­lums at the Uni­ver­sity of Al­berta, and he’d been do­ing it for so long that I re­ally sucked his brain and pat­terned my teach­ing method­ol­ogy af­ter him more than any­one else.

What do you think dif­fer­en­ti­ates you and your ap­proach from some of your other in­struc­tor con­tem­po­raries?

CL: Field ex­pe­ri­ence. Most of the peo­ple you may think of, I’d ask for their ré­sumé and see how long they’ve re­ally been around. There are my in­struc­tors who have se­nior­ity over me by far be­cause they taught me a lot, but we’ve been around a long time. This is an in­sti­tu­tion where, if you sign up for an Abo­rig­i­nal Liv­ing Skills School course, you get me. You don’t get some other in­struc­tors who might have a year or two of ex­pe­ri­ence. You get me when you come to my school and this will be our 27th year com­ing up. There are very few schools that can say, yeah, this is the core in­struc­tor you’ll get when you sign up as op­posed to just a bunch of other help­ing in­struc­tors that ro­tate in and out.

Tell me a lit­tle about be­ing on Dual Sur­vival and Lost in the Wild. What were those ex­pe­ri­ences like?

CL: Lost in the Wild was a pi­lot that never went to se­ries. We did two episodes. That was in 2003 and well be­fore Man vs. Wild or Sur­vivor­man. That was es­sen­tially one of Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel’s

first sur­vival shows, iron­i­cally. It didn’t go to se­ries be­cause it was broad­cast at the same time as this other show that was kick­ing ass called Sur­vivor. Of course, ev­ery­one was watch­ing Sur­vivor, or so I was told.

With Dual Sur­vival, I was the first one picked and I helped de­velop that show. It started off be­ing one of the coolest things that ever hap­pened to me and ended up be­ing the worst thing that’s ever hap­pened to me. And mainly that’s be­cause of a lack of lead­er­ship and lack of in­tegrity of peo­ple in­volved with that show.

What do you think TV sur­vival tends to over­look about real life sur­vival?

CL: Ev­ery­thing [ laughs]. It over­looks in­ten­tion, con­tent, con­text, in­tegrity, hon­esty, real­ism, and it re­places it with phony drama and phony so-called sur­vival ex­perts to the detri­ment of mil­lions of peo­ple all over the world. Sur­vival TV is one of the worst things that’s ever hap­pened to the pro­fes­sional out­door sur­vival in­struc­tor as far as real­ism and truth.

On the flip side, it has got more peo­ple in­ter­ested in real sur­vival skills if they can find a real sur­vival in­struc­tor. But if they in­sist on be­liev­ing what they see on TV, if they live long enough to find a real sur­vival in­struc­tor, then we’ll train them. If not, it’s called the gene pool.

What do you think are the big­gest things peo­ple should look for in a sur­vival in­struc­tor?

CL: I’ll rattle some off, but you can view a link on my web­site called ‘Choos­ing the Right In­struc­tor’ that has a whole bunch of stuff to look for. Off the top of my head is a pro­fes­sional ré­sumé that has your ex­pe­ri­ence, the years you’ve worked, and some con­tacts of peo­ple who could vet your ré­sumé to make sure you weren’t ly­ing. That’s No. 1. If you’re go­ing to put the safety of you and your fam­ily in some­one’s hands, and they don’t have a ré­sumé about their ex­pe­ri­ence, then that’s a very stupid, dan­ger­ous thing to do.

The other thing would be, do they live what they teach? If they’re teach­ing desert sur­vival, do they live there? Do they have ac­cess to it? You don’t teach desert sur­vival if you live in New Jer­sey. The nice thing about Ari­zona is we have all four North Amer­i­can deserts, three ge­o­graphic prov­inces, and 10 dif­fer­ent bi­otic life zones. We have more biodiversity in the short­est drive time than any place in North Amer­ica.

So just be­ware of the so­cial me­dia stuff, ré­sumé is No. 1. And are they re­spected by their peers? If you have a name that’s not known who is new, there’s noth­ing wrong with that. I was new at one point, but a lot of the new peo­ple are be­ing passed off as ex­pe­ri­enced sur­vival in­struc­tors and you can’t fake field ex­pe­ri­ence. You can’t Google field ex­pe­ri­ence. The rea­son field ex­pe­ri­ence is im­por­tant is be­cause any TV pro­duc­tion com­pany can Google con­tent. They just rip off other peo­ple’s blogs, web­sites, or what­ever, and they steal their con­tent, but they have no con­text for it be­cause these peo­ple don’t have any ex­pe­ri­ence with out­door sur­vival skills. So what sets the qual­i­fied out­door sur­vival skills in­struc­tor apart from the novice is they know the con­tent, but they’ve been out in the field enough to where they have a wide ar­ray of con­tex­tual ex­pe­ri­ence for that con­tent. Pe­riod. And you can’t fake that.

What do you think some of the big­gest fun­da­men­tals are that ap­ply to both wilder­ness and ur­ban sur­vival sit­u­a­tions?

CL: It could be hypo and hy­per­ther­mia. The rea­son I say that is be­cause it hap­pens in a lot of grid-down sce­nar­ios. Ev­ery­one, with some ex­cep­tions, is liv­ing in a house that’s hor­ri­bly linked to the grid. In other words, if it doesn’t have grid power in the win­ter, all of a sud­den it’s 30 de­grees in their liv­ing room, or it’s 115 de­grees in the sum­mer, but it hap­pens, es­pe­cially with young peo­ple and the el­derly.

The other thing would be wa­ter. De­hy­dra­tion in a wilder­ness set­ting is the same as it is in an ur­ban set­ting. At my school we talk about what’s the most com­mon ways for peo­ple to die. Hy­pother­mia and hy­per­ther­mia are ex­ac­er­bated by de­hy­dra­tion. That can hap­pen in a city, desert, or moun­tains. And then it gets more case spe­cific. Food is way out there. It has more pre­dom­i­nance in a cold-weather sit­u­a­tion be­cause food is me­tab­o­lism for

the body, but there’s no one-size-fits-all an­swer.

If you back it up and look at the sta­tis­tics of how most peo­ple die, those would be three big­gies right there. France had a heat wave go through the coun­try a few years ago. It killed thou­sands of peo­ple in their own homes from hy­per­ther­mia and de­hy­dra­tion, which is some­thing you’d typ­i­cally only think about in the desert.

At my school we’re deal­ing with hu­man phys­i­ol­ogy, physics, and psy­chol­ogy. If you have a sur­vival in­struc­tor who doesn’t un­der­stand these three con­cepts, run! A lot of peo­ple out there don’t have any med­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence and we’re try­ing to keep the hu­man body alive. You need to un­der­stand ba­sic phys­i­ol­ogy if you claim to be a sur­vival in­struc­tor, other­wise it’s like go­ing to a me­chanic who doesn’t un­der­stand how an en­gine runs. I’ve heard you have a house that’s es­sen­tially off the grid and you live a self-sus­tain­ing lifestyle. Tell us about that. CL: I wish I had a self-sus­tain­ing lifestyle. I go to the gro­cery store, so my miss­ing link is grow­ing food be­cause I don’t have time for it. My homestead is off-grid, it heats and cools it­self, ven­ti­lates it­self, and it has it’s own so­lar power sup­ply. I catch rain, I com­post my own waste, and I re­cently got a well. So the only thing it’s miss­ing is food pro­duc­tion. To have food pro­duc­tion in a sus­tain­able state is a hell of a lot of work. I wanted to de­sign a home that would heat and cool it­self without grid power and

I’ve done that. I don’t burn wood, I don’t do any­thing. I go into my house in the win­ter­time and it’s warm; I go into my house in the sum­mer­time and it’s cool.

I’ve dealt with the physics, the heat lost and gained, by deal­ing with the ori­en­ta­tion of my home’s ther­mal mass and in­su­la­tion. Es­sen­tially I’ve taken the best of 21st cen­tury de­sign con­cepts and linked them with na­tive tech­nol­ogy and in­dige­nous strate­gies. I’ve painted it with con­crete dye, so I don’t have to paint it ever again. The roof has grass and plants on it, which at­tracts rab­bits, and I eat the rab­bits. I tried to take de­signs and ma­te­ri­als that’d work a long time for the bud­get and time I have that’d be as self re­liant as pos­si­ble and I’ve done that.

What gear or re­sources do you think peo­ple have be­come the most over-re­liant on?

CL: There’s a lot of gear re­plac­ing com­mon sense in the mil­i­tary, in sur­vival train­ing, and in the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion of day hik­ers. There are many peo­ple who go out there with a cell phone and noth­ing else be­cause they ex­pect that cell phone to bring them out of dan­ger if some­thing goes wrong. These peo­ple are just a gene pool washout. What’s hap­pen­ing is tech­nol­ogy is re­plac­ing com­mon sense, and when any­thing re­places com­mon sense, death goes up.

What do you think the big­gest mis­con­cep­tion is that peo­ple have about sur­vival in the sense of do­ing what you do and keep­ing peo­ple alive?

CL: I think the big­gest mis­con­cep­tion peo­ple have about sur­vival train­ing, is that it can’t hap­pen to them. They think they don’t need that sur­vival train­ing be­cause they don’t go back­pack­ing or go out in the woods. Those are the first ones dead in their liv­ing rooms. They’re just not in­ter­ested and haven’t made the cross­over to how wilder­ness sur­vival train­ing would help them in an ur­ban sce­nario or in their back­yard with fire skills and how to keep warm when there’s lim­ited re­sources. So de­nial is a big one.

Another an­swer to that ques­tion is sur­vival TV shows. Sur­vival TV shows have been ly­ing to the world for more than a decade and pro­mot­ing per­son­al­i­ties to rock star sta­tus who have no ex­pe­ri­ence in out­door sur­vival skills at all. That’s dan­ger­ous not just on TV, but then some of those peo­ple start sur­vival schools and sell gear at the big-box stores, made in China of course. I see this real dis­hon­esty tak­ing hold in so­cial me­dia, blogs, TV, and books where we have the “ex­pert” who knows what­ever needs to be known and that’s not true.

Is there one re­cur­ring is­sue in the world you think peo­ple need to be more pre­pared for?

CL: Them­selves. It rolls right back into de­nial. A lot of peo­ple might think that you’re a dooms­day prep­per freak be­cause of your magazine. The rea­son they think that is we’re so far re­moved from sus­tain­abil­ity and what my grand­par­ents called com­mon sense. We are just peo­ple who want to un­der­stand life at its ba­sic el­e­men­tal level and that’s seen as weird. If you’d have told my grand­par­ents they were prep­pers, they would’ve laughed in your face.

In an en­vi­ron­ment like South Dakota, with kick-ass win­ters, you just kept ex­tra food, ex­tra fire­wood, and ex­tra blan­kets. And it wasn’t just for your­self. It was also to help out your neigh­bor if they needed help, which is also a thing of the past un­for­tu­nately. So I think what’s miss­ing in all of this is that peo­ple have forgotten how re­liant they are on tech­nol­ogy and how clueless they are about the physics of their own body and how to keep it alive in sit­u­a­tions that don’t in­volve big-box stores and com­mut­ing to work.

I was do­ing re­search for a book years ago, and there was a Red Cross statis­tic that I prob­a­bly won’t get com­pletely right, but they did this sur­vey and found that less than 5 per­cent of all Amer­i­cans felt pre­pared that they could han­dle an emer­gency for them­selves and their fam­ily. What that means is that we have 90-plus per­cent of peo­ple who don’t have a clue about what’s go­ing on that will be the walk­ing wounded, crowd­ing the hos­pi­tals, and what­ever. This coun­try was founded on sel­f­re­liance, damn it! It’s not some ab­stract, weirdo thing. The stronger we can make our com­mu­ni­ties and our planet, be­cause we’re all in it to­gether, the bet­ter off we are.

The big­gest thing that’s miss­ing is a failure to re­al­ize that we’re no longer sus­tain­able on this planet.

Learn­ing to process poi in Hawaii.

Bot­tom: Month long Prescott Col­lege course, Abo­rig­i­nal Liv­ing Skills, 1994.

Be­low: Lecturing about ther­moreg­u­la­tion at Penn State.

Be­low right: Gen­er­a­tions... with Dave Wescott and Larry Dean Olsen.

Be­low left: Learn­ing from mas­ter men­tor Mors Kochan­ski, Rab­bit Stick Ren­dezvous, mid 1990’s.

Top: ALSS Ari­zona Combo Spe­cial course, get­ting wa­ter in the desert.

Above: Date­line NBC win­ter sur­vival shoot, 2001.

Cody’s self­sus­tain­ing home.

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