But, no prepper plans to be the “last man standing.” Prepping for survival is a commitment to carry on a group ethic; to provide for the continuation of families, neighborhoods, communities and, ultimately, a way of life.
Learning basic survival skills is important. Stockpiling foodstuffs, candles, and medical supplies is important. But, sharing the burden and widening the circle of skills is perhaps even more vital. Choosing partners, “teammates” and associates to ensure survival outside of the core family group is one of the most important — and optimistic — tasks a determined group of preppers can undertake.
How to go about the formation of “mutual assistance groups” is a decision each individual or family must make. What is clear is that it is difficult to prepare adequately for all contingencies. It makes sense, then, to allocate some tasks to those who have knowledge and expertise, interest and basic skills already in their repertoire. Advance planning in case of a disaster situation may spell the difference for a whole group of people.
Major Areas of Concern
Physical safety, medical concerns, food, water, and shelter are the primary areas of concern for anyone thinking about emergency preparedness. Going beyond the basics, however, is wise. Think about protecting and building upon existing skills and knowledge; consider the far-reaching implications of loss of communication networks, of even a temporary inability to access information or to keep adequate records. Consider also the need to rebuild and the construction, mechanical and operational skills that will be needed. And, on a more basic level, think about the needs for clothing, for warmth, for comfort and basic human needs.
Look Beyond the Obvious
Close on the heels of survival should be those initial thoughts relating to restoration and rebuilding. Those needs go beyond the physical. Cultural, educational, artistic and even entertainment needs are important for human interaction, development and mental and physical health. Aligning with those who possess ancillary skills is one way to assure post-crisis benefits.
Learning how to knit, darn, weave, bind a book, hang a door, repair a cabinet, and start a lawnmower engine could prove extremely useful — and not necessarily in the familiar ways. Learning from others prior to a disaster is one way. But, forming alliances today with skilled individuals who also intend to survive and thrive is the better way, and it is a smart move.
Surviving a disaster physically is only one side of the coin. The other side is to be able to survive emotionally and to carry on the process of rebuilding, restoration and progress, often the more challenging and difficult tasks of any recovery, whether it be war or disease, natural disaster or economic collapse.
Learn from the Past
Quilting bees and potluck suppers, picking and canning weekends, barn raisings, Saturday morning “gatherings,” community fairs, and even book clubs and hoedowns were in past generations based on sharing the benefits of “community,” trading information, expanding knowledge, helping one another and enjoying good times with neighbors. It’s not such a bad idea for today’s preppers interested in forming knowledge networks.
The groups work best, of course, when composed of neighbors who are geographically close as well as philosophically in tune. But, even in communities that are a bit more separated, in terms of miles or viewpoints or both, such alliances can be beneficial, and can provide the framework for mutual benefit and shared good.
Spread the Word; Share the Load
Such “small town” traditions still exist in some parts of the country. And, it is obvious that such networks work and can work wonders in recovering from crisis. As surprising as it might be in some quarters, it seems that rural populations traditionally recover and rebuild more quickly after natural disasters than their citified counterparts. The move toward sustainability and self-sufficiency can extend in all directions, however, from the nation’s prairies to the city’s high-rises, with just a bit of thought and planning.
One thing is certain: In the case of a disaster, no skill will be unimportant — barbering, baking and soap-making skills will be as welcome as first-aid knowledge and carpentry expertise.
The editor of Resounding Earth, and pursuer of relatively interesting information, Simon has a Masters Degree in Creative Writing and Journalism from the University of Wales, and is a photo-journalist and writer whose written and photographic work has been represented by the AFP news agency and appeared in newspapers across Europe and Asia.