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Bunkers ‘R not us: Correcting Boston Magazine’s take on this movement

The End is Near, Inc.

This is the title of the recent full-spread article in Boston Magazine about me, my work and our community. It’s due out in hard print on Sunday with the Boston Globe. It is already available on-line here.

Unfortunately, the article relies too much on sensationalistic stereotypes and includes some troubling distortions.  My chief concern is that the story told through a very few limited, out of context and edited quotes paints a picture of Becca and me as doomsayers with a bunker mentality.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

We somewhat reluctantly agreed to have our whole family included in this very public article, opened our home for several days for the effort, and are now wrestling with the impacts that will stem from the fact that our best efforts have now been tagged as “The End is Near Inc.” -an unfortunate mischaracterization that completely misses what we are really about while implying that we do this for the money. 

And though the editor has agreed to remove it in the online edition, the print edition contains a 100% Photoshopped creation of me in a bunker, instead of the actual photo of me in my (completely normal, albeit messy) home office that was taken. We did not have a chance to review the content or the images prior to publication, which will never happen again.

Look at what they did with a gray screen shot (before then after) without ever indicating that they'd do such a thing let alone seeking my permission:

Yikes.  To be completely clear; I do not have a bunker, do not know anybody who does, have never advocated that anybody build one, and utterly distance myself from the cultural stereotyping that is implied by the idea of a bunker and all associated imagery.

I can say that I’m disappointed, but I can’t say I’m terribly surprised. The article’s publication has been an important learning experience—it’s reminded me how difficult this story is to tell to the average person. It’s a challenge to get most people to understand that while change is inevitable, it’s only bad if we fail to adapt on time and on our own terms.

The irony here is that Boston Magazine intended this to be a positive piece on the impact of my message and the large audience it’s resonated with to-date. But in relying on easy “survivalist” stereotypes to frame the story (bunkers, Mad Max references, etc), they’ve succeed in missing the forest for the trees - conveying an image in polar opposition to what we actually stand for.

The work here has been so successful because I strive at every turn to leave my opinions and beliefs out of it, which helpfully clarifies the picture for people. In allowing belief-based slants about preparation to color this article, Boston Magazine has missed out on the fact that what people really want and need right now is truth and the facts. 

People are worried these days and have legitimate reasons to be. We need to meet that concern directly and honestly, while offering helpful information and guidance for building a positive future.

The most unfortunate thing about this is that Boston Magazine missed out on a really big story. The movement that’s building around this material is not a fringe thing. There are millions of people - from across the socioeconomic spectrum - thinking about this and changing their lives because of it.

My goal through this work is not to guide people to build bunkers and isolate themselves, but to invest in their communities, strengthen their resilience and create a world worth inheriting. Along the way there are indeed some necessary, but probably insufficient, steps that I think everybody should undertake as individuals, but only as a first set of steps along a continuum that moves us from being relatively isolated into connected, resilient communities.  I made this abundantly clear.

I am not a part of a group "devoted to spreading the preparedness doctrine," but a card-carrying member of a movement that seeks to build a national narrative that makes sense and that is sustainable.  We understand that awareness precedes understanding and that both must come before actions so, yes, we seek to raise awareness as a first step.  After all, somebody has to.

If you want to help us in changing the tired story that the mainstream media repeatedly chooses to tell about this message, then I’d encourage you to read the article and comment or write to the editor to tell them what this movement is really about.  If you do take the time to send along your thoughts, I would ask that you make them as factual, calm and collected as possible. 

Best,
Chris Martenson


Mailing Address

Boston Magazine
300 Massachusetts Ave. 
Boston, MA 02115
617-262-9700; fax 617-262-4925; editorial fax 617-267-1774

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Originally published at . Reproduced with permission

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Editorial Notes: I can understand Chris's shock and sense of betrayal at the Boston Globe article. From the point of view of publicity, however, I think there are other ways to deal with it. How can one capitalize on the article in order to achieve one's objectives? PR people are good at this sort of thing -- publicity jiu-jitsu. If this were to happen to me -- I'm thinking aloud -- how might I handle it?
  1. Get mad and discouraged for a weekend.
  2. Look to find the factual errors and the unstated assumptions in the framing.
  3. Remember what it is that I want to accomplish -- get the word out -- and forget about the details.
  4. Now that the pages of the Boston Globe are open, write a persuasive, funny, even-tempered reply. Or get someone else to come to one's defense in the same way. Or maybe issue a challenge. Something creative that will get me what I want.
It helps if one keeps in mind that any significant cultural change runs into exactly the same response. Votes for women? How ridiculous, ha ha ha. Doctors washing their hands before delivering babies? Rubbish. (Consider the fate of poor Ignaz Semmelweis ) I'm just glad they aren't burning us at the stake. -BA

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