When people become involved in preparedness, they usually focus – you might say obsess – over supplies. How much ammo, how many firearms, what about food, should we store away garden seed, and what should we do about toilet paper?
But there’s one critical factor for the well-rounded prepper most people either forget or outright dismiss: The need for “community.”
Preparedness has often been compared to a three-legged stool. The first leg is supplies, the second leg is skills/knowledge, and the third leg is community. The nice thing about a three-legged stool is it never wobbles because it’s balanced. The annoying thing is if one of the legs is removed, the stool topples. Community is often the forgotten factor. People either don’t think about it, or they make the mistake of thinking it’s unnecessary for survival.
In other words, ignore “community” at your own peril or your stool may topple.
Watch Out for Those Zombies
Part of the problem is there are a lot of noisy preppers who are preparing for the zombie apocalypse, and in their opinion only preparing for a zombie apocalypse will do (generally with a macho emphasis on firearms acquisition). There are two problems with this.
One, the “Rambo” preppers (as I call them) are probably a lot less prepared than they like to think they are. They may be bristling with firearms, but how are they at growing and preserving a garden? When their socks wear out, can they knit more?
Two, a zombie apocalypse is a lot less likely to occur than, say, a four-day power outage or a job loss. An arsenal is kind of pointless when the emergency is “just” unemployment or a bad storm.
It’s necessary to prepare for the most likely scenarios first. A Rambo mentality is an unbalanced and unrealistic approach to preparedness. As one prepper put it, “An army of one isn’t an army, it’s a casualty.” Love wolves often don’t survive.
Fortunately that third leg of the stool – community – is a lot simpler than you might think. Sometimes all you have to do is reach out and touch someone.
So what is community, and why is it important? “Community” can encompass a zillion different factors in a zillion different directions. There are ethnic communities, church communities, music or arts communities, homesteading communities, dog enthusiast communities – in short, any time a group of people shares a common interest, they often get together to share aspects of that interest.
Prepping is no different. If there’s one take-away lesson you get from this article, it’s to start thinking of preparedness as a community function rather than just an individual act.
Throughout history, survival was often a factor of a group effort, and today is no different. Very few of us have the tools, supplies, and knowledge to be able to handle everything. Rather, we will have to depend on the strengths and combined knowledge of the group. One person may have medical or veterinary expertise; another may have animal husbandry or gardening experience; yet another person may have carpentry or sewing skills. By combining the strengths of everyone in the group, the group has a much better chance at surviving and thriving. Additionally, if you get hurt, community means there are those to help care for you. If someone else is hurt, you can help care for them.
But these group ties must be forged now, not later. If the bleep hits the fan, no one will want to join hands and sing kumbaya around a pot of stew unless they know you in advance.
Formal vs. Informal
Okay, so you’re convinced community is essential for preparedness. That’s great. Now how do you find – or make – a prepping community?
A prepper community can be formal or informal. Informal communities can be neighbors joining for a weekly potluck. A formal community can be an association of churches or civic groups with a common goal of preparedness.
Here are five ways to find like-minded preppers:
- Look for events in your area (expos, fairs, workshops, meetings) aimed at preppers. Attend seminars and demonstrations. Pick up literature for local organizations. Talk to vendors. Talk to other visitors.
- The Internet is your friend. The mainstreaming of the preparedness movement means there are a lot more options available for finding like-minded individuals and groups. Look for blogs and websites of like-minded individuals in your area. Some websites to consider include:
(As always when using online resources, be cautious and sensible about divulging personal information.)
- Make preppers out of your current friends. This is a slow and gradual process, so don’t rush it or you’ll come across as a nut-job. Slowly and gradually introduce the notion that personal preparedness isn’t a bad thing. Don’t try to “bash them over the head” with the subject, or you’ll alienate them. No one likes to be pushed into something they’re not ready to tackle, and pushing may achieve the opposite result.
- Make preppers out of your immediate and extended family members. Again this is a slow and gradual process that can’t be rushed. Some family members cannot or will not hear this message (take it from me!), so don’t insist. You don’t want to alienate your family by pushing things they don’t want to hear.
- Listen for “code words” in conversation with people. If someone is into target practice, or canning, or gardening, or similarly practical skills – then he might be a prepper. A good rule of thumb is to keep your mouth shut and your ears open. Listen for people who are concerned about the direction of the world. Listen for people who are working toward self-sufficiency. Some people “wear” their code words by using T-shirts, pins, ball caps, or other apparel with a discrete emblem on them. It might be a logo for a preparedness website. It might be a “Don’t Tread On Me” pin. Be vigilant for these clues.
Just One More Thing…
The biggest factor in determining whether or not your group is strong is usually TIME. That’s why it’s important to establish community now … before you need it.