Community Involvement and Community Long-Term Survival
Copyright © April 2, 2012 by Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E.
All Rights Reserved.
One of the survival topics that is frequently discussed on a variety of internet forums is how to create a community of like-minded individuals, and how to organize and train that community so it has the highest possible chance of surviving almost any type of hard times tragedy event.
This topic normally has two major components:
1. Community Involvement, and
2. Community Long-Term Survival.
Let's examine each of the above topics one-at-a-time.
Almost everyone should be involved in his or her community in one fashion or another. Some people, such as retired individuals, invest a significant amount of their time in voluntary community work. But individuals who are holding down a full-time job and who are also trying to raise a family have less time to devote to voluntary community service.
Each person will need to make his or her own decision on how much time he or she can invest on a regular basis in voluntary community work, and the way in which he or she will make a contribution to his or her community. Each of us has different skills and abilities and each one of us could maximize our impact in our community by strategically selecting the type of activity we are best suited for.
If you are one of those individuals whose job and family already requires a significant amount of your time each week and you really don't have any spare time to devote to a regular ongoing community service project, then you may wish to consider one or more of the following suggestions:
The above are just a few simple suggestions on how someone who is already a very busy person can still become involved in his or her community. You could probably think of several additional ways in which you could make a contribution to your community.
- School: If you have one or more children in school then you probably already maintain an ongoing regular dialogue with your child, or children, about what is happening in each of their classes. When one of your children mentions something that happened in a class that was really beneficial to your child, then take the time to write a short note to that specific teacher and thank the teacher for what he or she did and for the positive impact it had on your child. You can send the teacher an email or you can send the teacher an old fashioned letter addressed to the teacher at the address of the school. Most teachers do not get very much positive feedback from parents and you will be remembered as someone who is not only very interested in your child's education, but as someone who knows how to say "thank you." You should be careful to not overdo this positive feedback each year or you may become known as an "insincere flatterer." But each year you should try to send at least one or two of your child's teachers a simple note that expresses your gratitude for the job they are doing.
- Church: Volunteer to work in your Church's child care area one Sunday each month during the regular church service. Most churches are frequently in need of volunteers who will sit with the babies and with the preschool age children during the Sunday morning worship service. By volunteering to do this one Sunday each month you will still have the opportunity to attend the regular Church service the other three Sundays and you will be giving another person the chance to attend the regular service while you sit with the children one Sunday morning each month. This normally does not take a lot of preparation time and it allows you to become a contributing member at your Church. The only caution that I will mention is that it is not unusual for a Church to ask you to volunteer to do one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, …, other things on a regular basis after you have volunteered to watch the small children one Sunday per month. You need to be prepared in advance on how you will answer these multiple additional requests on your time. If you do not know how to say "no" politely then before long you will be singing in the choir, teaching a Sunday school class, mowing the Church lawn on Saturdays, driving the Church's senior citizens to their doctor's appointments, and so on.
- Community: When a family moves into a home in your neighborhood, or into an apartment in your building, then knock on their front door sometime during the first week and very, very briefly introduce yourself and then give them a photocopy of "Some Useful Information about Our Community." This one page information sheet could include some or all of the following details:
- Telephone numbers of at least six different restaurants that deliver food to your door.
- Names of at least three good restaurants that are reasonably priced and that provide good food and good service.
- Names of the local grocery stores that have the best values on fresh meat and fresh produce, and the names of the stores to keep an eye on because they usually have the lowest temporary sale prices on meat and/or canned goods at least once every four to eight weeks.
- Names of at least three different reputable plumbers, electricians, and carpenters who do high quality work for very reasonable prices.
- Plus any other information you believe would be helpful to someone new to your area and that you would have appreciated knowing when you first arrived.
Community Long-Term Survival
Almost anyone who has given the topic of long-term survival any serious thought has probably come to the conclusion that a family will not be able to survive a serious hard times tragedy event unless their community also survives. There are two major reasons for this:
Either of the two above scenarios would result in the death of your family. Therefore some people spend an enormous amount of time and effort thinking about how they can get their community organized before a significant hard times tragedy event occurs.
- If your neighbors are not prepared then they may decide to unite together and attack your family and take everything you have and divide it equally among themselves.
- If your neighbors are prepared then your neighborhood will need to be able to defend itself from roving bands of looters who have no hope of survival unless than can overrun and kill everyone in a small community and take everything they have.
May I please offer the following comment: You have the right to decide how your family will prepare for a future hard times tragedy event but you should not be telling your neighbors that they should imitate your behavior. The reasons are as follows:
Every neighbor you talk to will remember their conversation with you and they will know that you are probably very well prepared for whatever may happen. If a hard times tragedy event does occur then you will have compromised the long-term safety and well being of your family because every one of your neighbors will be knocking on your door.
- Your neighbors may not share your opinion about the possibility of a future hard times tragedy event and they may decide that you are an overemotional unstable individual who should be ignored whenever possible.
- Your neighbors may verbally and intellectually agree with you but they will do absolutely nothing to prepare because other immediate issues will take precedence over an event that may not happen until sometime in the distant future.
- Your neighbors may agree with you and they may desperately want to prepare for the hard times event you described but they are already experiencing really serious personal hard times right now and they can't even afford to pay their electric bill or their water bill each month.
If you try to organize your community prior to a hard times tragedy event then you will probably experience one or more of the following problems:
The cumulative impact of the above issues will be:
- Some members of your community will not share your beliefs. This is normal. Each family has the right to manage itself in its own best interests based on the beliefs of the individuals within that family unit. One family in a community does not have the right to dictate what the other families in that community should do. For example, it wasn't that many years ago that a lot of people believed that Y2K would bring the world to its knees. It didn't. Nobody can predict the future and that includes myself. Most people know this and therefore they reserve the right to believe in a different future than the one that you or I believe in.
- Some families will move away from your community. If they were an important part of your community's survival plans then your plans just developed a flaw.
- Some families may move into your community and they will absolutely refuse to follow your suggestions.
- Some people will get old and they will die. Other people may die at an earlier age for natural causes or as the result of an unexpected accident. If these people were important to your community's survival plan then your plan just developed a new problem.
- Some people will get sick and they will have to live with a chronic health problem for the rest of their lives that they did not have when they made a prior commitment to your community's survival plan.
- Babies will be born in some families. The responsibility for caring for a newborn baby will take priority over any previous commitments the members of that family made to your community's survival plan.
In my opinion, almost everyone who invests time and resources in trying to organize his or her community prior to a hard times tragedy event will meet with disappointment.
- The families in each community will have their own list of priorities and preparing for something that may never happen will be at the bottom of the list for most families.
- The membership in most communities is constantly changing.
- The contribution that some of the members in a community can make may decline significantly with the passage of time for legitimate reasons.
Therefore a better strategy would be to make some simple plans on what your community should do in the event of an unexpected hard times tragedy event and then keep those plans to yourself until the event actually happens. Then you could intelligently discuss the major aspects of your plans with your immediate neighbors and those neighbors would probably be very receptive to any suggestions that could help them and their entire community survive.
What you should not do is offer to feed everyone in your community, or provide medical care for everyone in your community, or provide child care services for everyone in your community. If you do these things then your resources will be used up long before the hard times tragedy event is resolved.
You should also politely resist anyone's suggestions to collect every family's food into one central area so it can be shared by everyone, or to collect the firearms and ammunition of every family into one central area for everyone to share, and so forth. The reason these items should remain at the home of each individual family is to make the confiscation or theft of these precious resources more difficult for a band of thieves or for a government agency.
What you can do is provide some practical information about how to boil water for one minute to make it safe to drink, and how to collect rainwater using tarps (a clean plastic shower curtain could be used as a tarp), and how to make some of the wild edible plants that grow in your area safe for human consumption (such as dandelions, cattails, white oak acorns, and kudzu), and how to skin and butcher a wild game animal and how to soak the wild game meat in some cool water that contains a little salt before cooking the meat in order to make it more tender and tasty. This is information that most people do not currently know and this is the type of information that could extend the lives of their family members and gradually help your community become a productive community where everyone provides for his or her own family's needs but who also shares the responsibility of defending their entire community from intruders from the outside.
I strongly recommend that you speak against any suggestions to turn your community into a commune where all the families in your community share from a common pool of resources. This suggestion is usually proposed by a family that has almost nothing to share and who is trying to gain control of the resources of other families for free. This strategy has never, ever worked for any period of time in the past because there is no reason for a person to work harder to add more resources to the common pool for other families to consume. However, there are lots of reasons for people to work less and to have valid legitimate reasons why they can't do as much work as everyone else. Communes have never survived in the past. Communes will not survive during a future hard times tragedy event. (Note: Some good Christian people will use the example of the New Testament Christians in Jerusalem when they sold their possessions and they shared with everyone who was in need. This almost immediately created a distribution nightmare and there were multiple complaints from individuals who believed they weren't getting their fair share of the free stuff. This strategy continued to be marginally successful until there was nothing more to sell and to share. Then the Christian Churches in other areas assumed the responsibility for taking up regular collections for the "poor saints in Jerusalem." My point is that if you wish to use the Bible as an example then you would be well advised to use the entire Bible and not just one or two verses that support your particular point of view.)
A community where each family is responsible for providing food and resources for the members within his or her own family has the best chance of surviving a hard times tragedy event because the motivation to do your best work will be rewarded by the survival of your loved ones. Charity should be optional as each family believes is appropriate (or not appropriate) and each family should have the right to donate their charity secretly to any other family or group that the family wishes (Matthew 6:3-4). However, the families within a community will need to agree to help defend their entire community from intruders from the outside. This is in the best interests of the entire community because it is more difficult to attack an entire community that is armed and that is willing to defend itself than it is to attack and destroy one home at a time within that community.
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