Jim, et al,
Your reader was correct about what your garbage, mail, kids, etc. say about you as a preparer for when TSHTF. But keeping everything too close to the vest has negative consequences, too. So it's very important to remain open and friendly. Not only is this the right thing to do morally, but it also offers a layer of "social protection" if needed. This is especially vital if you have no choice but to stay where you are in a compromised area. Some tips, if this is a struggle for you:
First, don't be a recluse. Everybody knows that guy, and not necessarily in a good way. Yes, it can be tough to integrate into communities that we may see as ignorant or troubled, but if you are known to be generally pleasant that will go a long way. Tip your hat or give a casual wave (whatever fits your regional culture) whenever you see someone you have even a casual acquaintance with even if you say nothing. You do not have to give up your ideals or values to become part of a community. Join something that doesn't constantly test your opinions, or get to know others through activities that meet infrequently and don't require much disclosure on your part.
Second, remember that most people don't care if you talk, they care if you listen. The most loved, most respected -- and most protected -- person is the one who always had a few minutes to hear about the latest injury, illness, family news or local gossip. So practice becoming a better listener.
Third, do something important in your community. That's not to say it has to be high profile, but is should be service or compassion-oriented. Go ahead and join the gun club, but also consider the Kiwanis, and make sure you're the hardest worker at the pancake breakfast and that you readily help the old ladies carry their trays to the table. If you are a church-goer, skip the usher job or landscaping, and help with the food pantry or the homeless shelter instead.
Fourth, as Mr. Rawles says so often, practice charity now. Purposefully plan this spring to grow extra produce to give away, and make sure the neighbors next door get at least one of your jumbo chickens after butchering, eggs from your hens, etc. Offer to help with yard or household projects (such as putting up a shed or car repair) when it comes up naturally in conversation, or you see them working outdoors. Although that shows some of your abilities to self-sustain, it also makes you the expert when others need help, instead of some prepper who hides in the house.
In general, work hard and be nice. And that goes for the family, too. Other adults will disregard children's claims if they see the parent as a sane and helpful person, rather than a "hide in them thar' hills" type. - Gretchen in Northern Illinois