by Mike Gerrity
Todd Savage isn’t the first person to use dramatic landscapes to help sell property in Montana, but he may be the first to incorporate an image of a car engulfed in flames.
Savage helped found Survival Retreat Consulting and American Redoubt Realty as an independent consultant to help people around the country find their place in the refuge. The burning car photo is the main image on his website's "Contact" page.
“Bug out bag packed and ready; check. Pistol and tactical flashlight on your belt; check. Trauma bag and Rifle in the trunk; check. Gas tank always at half full; check,” reads Savage’s SRC homepage. “In order to effectively bug-out from your urban area during a socio-economic collapse you need to have a fully self-sustainable survival retreat for off the grid living in the American Redoubt.”
A Craigslist ad Savage posted in Florida suggests residents there sell their properties and buy new ones in the Northwest to “FLEE the POLICE STATE!” For all of the capital letters and exclamation points, Savage says he’s simply looking to help people who are already living a fear-based life.
“One of the aspects of consulting that SRC provides its clients is to bring a reality check to fear,” Savage says in an email. “We teach our clients that once they have made their relocation, that there is no reason to fear a possible ‘societal collapse,’ be it from a solar flare/EMP, derivatives collapse or any other calamity.”
Theresa Mondale, a Missoula agent with United Country Real Estate who works regularly with Savage, says she has helped 40 to 60 Redoubters relocate to Montana over the last several years, and that about 100 more are waiting. The ability to maintain a sustainable lifestyle, she says, appeals to people from both ends of the political spectrum, even those who don’t dread a looming disaster.
“You would be flabbergasted at the different political lines that come into this office that are looking for this type of lifestyle in this type of area,” Mondale says.
Montana and Idaho have always been popular with those shouldering a preoccupation with catastrophe. Last year, Christian Allen Kerodin and other investors bought a 20-acre patch of land in the western Idaho Panhandle called “III Citadel” to establish a walled community of up to 7,000 armed “Patriots.” It was eventually revealed that Kerodin was a convicted felon and prohibited from personally owning firearms. In addition, despite Kerodin’s online application form requiring potential residents to disclose ties with “any racist group or subversive association that espouses the violent overthrow of these United States or any individual State,” the Southern Poverty Law Center published blog postings he’d written that dwelled on Latinos being “purged” and Muslims being “culled.”
The American Redoubt movement, as defined by Rawles, walks a fine line by claiming to be welcoming of all people, and yet calling specifically for those of Christian and Jewish faiths to migrate. Savage has disclaimers on his websites barring any discriminatory behavior, past or present, from his prospective clients.
Savage reiterated that point while participating in a story broadcast on televangelist Pat Robertson’s show, “The 700 Club,” which aired in October. The intro to the piece opens with an ominous montage of inner city riots, natural disasters and armored FBI agents marching around with rifles. Over the ambient wail of an ambulance’s siren, the narrator bemoans the “loss of privacy” in America. Those words are spoken over more images of a gay pride rally and reference to the 2013 case of an Oregon bakery that voluntarily closed its storefront rather than bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.
Regardless of that segment’s introduction, Savage maintains his commitment to keeping troublemakers out of the movement.
“We do not discriminate against anyone, except those that are intolerant of others. Period,” he says. “SRC has a strict policy and screens its clients carefully. We would rather lose business than to be in any way associated with intolerance or persecution. It’s un-American.”
Hoping to prevent friction between Redoubters and the states they migrate to, Savage says he tries to file people with particular ideologies off to sympathetic areas.
“Idaho is a perfect haven for ultra-conservative, right-wing clients, due to the political and demographic makeup of the state,” he says. “Montana is a perfect haven for our Libertarian-minded clients, Missoula in particular. Helena would be a great recommendation for certain clients, but it’s too close to Great Falls, a major nuclear target.”
While the Bitterroot Valley remains a coveted spot for outdoor lovers and disaster preppers, Missoula probably won’t be seeing many Redoubters in town. In Joel M. Skousen’s 2011 book Strategic Relocation, the author suggests readers steer clear of Butte, Anaconda and Missoula because of their “hard-drinking, anti-religious elements.”