A highly sensationalized effort is quietly gaining momentum across the Northwest. Some people call members of the movement political refugees, others just call them crazy.
Pastor Warren Campbell has been preparing for the worst his entire life.
"I am a prepper. I am. My father was a prepper before me," Campbell said. "I haven't known a time when I didn't prep."
He's worried about what would happen if the the dollar became worthless, sending the U.S back into a depression. Campbell traded in sunny California skies for bitter Idaho winters, partly because this area is listed as one of the last safe havens for preppers. Then he opened the doors of Redoubt Surplus and Tactical in Dalton Gardens, ID.
Campbell's a concerned conservative Christian part of growing movement known as the American Redoubt. The term was first coined in 2011 by novelist and blogger James Wesley, Rawles.
Campbell calls the movement "the last bastion for God, country, constitution, second amendment and homesechooling." Wesley, Rawles designated Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and adjoining parts of Eastern Oregon and Eastern Washington as a safe haven for people who advocate readiness and self-reliance against natural and man-made disasters.
It's nearly impossible to determine exactly how many people have relocated to the region as part of this movement. They're guarded by their very nature. Campbell claims it's a growing community.
Many preppers and survivalists come to Campbell for the supplies they need to survive a nuclear attack or a crippling ice storm and they go to realtor Chris Walsh for their own piece of private, defendable paradise. Walsh says he has clients from across the globe.
"They are from San Jose, California. They are from Boston, Massachusetts and they are from Miami Beach. Some are from Belgium," Walsh said. "I think that a lot more people are opening their eyes right now to the idea that wherever they are at is a lot less stable and a lot more dangerous than they thought it was."
Walsh owns Revolutionary Realty, which caters to preppers and other people focused on survival and security. Many of his properties feature a private well, root cellar and renewable energy. He says Idaho offers a place to live with plenty of water, areas to grow fresh food, and a community of like-minded people.
"The reason that people come to North Idaho is because in the Rocky Mountains, in North Idaho, this portion of the Rocky Mountains has more water than any place in the entire Rocky Mountain chain and that's the number one draw to North Idaho," Walsh said.
North Idaho does have a history of attracting specific groups of people who share a common idea. It was where the Aryan Nation once made its headquarters. Walsh is quick to point out., his clients vary in age and nationality.
"That's one of the things that I always work to work against is the stereotype that preppers are crazy white people that live in the woods and that's just not true," Walsh said. " Preppers come in all forms and they are not people who think that Armageddon is coming tomorrow. They are just people that want to protect their families," Walsh said.
Protecting themselves and their family is part of why Don and Jonna Bradway relocated from California to North Idaho. They came looking for a freedom they say they didn't have in California.
"We did not come here because it was the Redoubt, per se, but we came here because of so many things that the Redoubt typifies," Don said. "It's a concept of freedom. It's freedom for anyone that chooses to do so."
And while the Bradways don't consider themselves preppers, they are definitely prepared for whatever life might throw their way.
"We anticipate preparing, if there were something that we needed, if there was a catastrophic event. But, we don't really use the term prepper," Jonna said.
Whether they face a week long winter storm or a societal collapse, they say, they're ready.
"This is just part of our lifestyle, just having things that we might need in the future," Jonna said.
For this couple, being prepared is a responsibility.
"I think it would be malfeasance to not consider that stuff like that could happen and we want to be able to take care of ourselves, our neighbors, and our families," Don said.
The Bradways live in a traditional home in North Idaho, but Don admits he does have guns and ammo at home for protection. Other people in the movement turn to more high-tech protection, something inventor John Adrain specializes in inventing.
Adrain's cliff side home above Spokane looks like something out of a spy movie.The tech fortress features sophisticated face-recognition software at the door, 48 HD security cameras and ground source radar, so Adrain can track both friends and foe.
"Unfortunately there are a lot of things that could happen out there that would set us up for a perfect storm. I hope it never happens but if it does, I'd rather be prepared than not prepared," Adrain said.
One of his iconic inventions from Heracles Research Corporation is the bed bunker safe. It weighs about 1,300 pounds, is made in the U.S. and has 140 pound gas piston-assisted doors. Homeowners can store more than 30 rifles and about 70 hand guns in it. Adrain also invented a similar product for a living room or home office. The couch has bullet proof cushions and a safe to store belongings. That kind of protection would run a client about $10,000.
Adrain admits his products aren't for everyone. He said most of his clients are from out of state and are affluent. They almost all want the same thing though.
"I think a lot of my clients want to have a contingency plan that if something happens they can protect themselves and their family," Adrain said.
That motto's at the heart of the American Redoubt. It may take a bulletproof couch, a self-sustaining home in North Idaho, or cupboards full of extra food and water, but for a growing number of people in the Northwest, all of this is just a reasonable reaction to what's happening in the world.
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