There is strength in numbers when it comes to forming a survival community and the conventional wisdom is the more people you have on your side, the better. If you had an Army, you would want as many people as you could have in the ranks in order to be safer, to do more things, to expand your reach. This thought has led many people to search out online survival communities to join which brings a lot of mixed results and potential problems. You think to yourself, I really need to be around a group of like-minded people before the world goes to hell so I will be safe and there is no shortage of prepping forums that have people advertising their own group and offering to anyone who will listen, the chance to join a survival community that will provide for their safety if everything goes wrong.
The survival communities that are accepting people for membership that I have seen usually have a similar blueprint:
- They are selling inclusion in a closed/tightly controlled community for safety and security if TEOTWAWKI happens.
- They usually have a large piece of land that they don’t disclose the location of for security reasons.
- The total number of people/slots is set at a fixed number.
- They talk about the traits of the land, improvements to be made (eventually) and the abundant resources surrounding their retreat area.
- As expected, they have rules for joining, minimum supply requirements each family must bring and in most cases disciplinary guidelines for those who “don’t pull their weight” or in some other way “get out of line”.
- There is naturally a fee for joining and an interview process.
- Many have pictures of the land complete with game cameras views of all the wild animals you will find there.
- And lastly, in my opinion, most are doomed to fail.
Why would a survival community fail?
Yes, you read that right. I do believe that most if not all of these groups you see on the internet will fail. If not during some actual emergency that would cause you to need to bug out to the thousand acres of beautiful land, teaming with slow-moving wildlife, but most likely well before that. Why do I think this would happen? Well, I could go into great detail, but I do think that anytime you have a “survival community” like this, there really isn’t “a community” at all before long. Someone owns the land and you aren’t buying an equal share/stake. You are just purchasing a space. They get the final say and if they don’t like the way your wife hangs out laundry or the way you discipline your dog, you are gone.
Some have committees or boards or some other form of leadership in an effort to appear unbiased and democratic, but these are still most likely friends of the person who owns the land and they will toe the line with whatever the Community Organizer wishes. At best, I think these things are along the same lines as buying a time share or renting a camping space. You might argue that even in civilized society there are rules that must be obeyed and I will concede that point. However, you won’t be buying into civilized society.
How would you set up your own survival community?
You may be scratching your head right now and asking yourself what I am trying to say. If being alone in a crisis situation isn’t ideal and neither is joining one of the survival communities advertised online, what is the average prepper supposed to do?
We have all heard of the prepping ideal. A remote cabin situated on hundreds of acres of forested land, with three sources of water, dozens of miles away from the nearest paved road and I concede that would be very nice. The problem is that most of us don’t have the ability to move into the woods like that. If you do, congratulations but not everyone can move, not everyone can sell their house and pick up and leave. I know that someone will say, “You can if you want to” and yes that is correct. I could put my house on the market and sell everything if I had to, but I think there are other options. Options that aren’t as drastic and might not end in my divorce.
I tend to believe that communities will be made up of our friends, families and neighbors when the time comes. People will band together when the situation dictates that for their survival, it is wise to join forces, but some communities don’t have to live together now. You can plan for a survival community and still live in your suburban home until something happens. Is that the perfect way to go about preparing? No, but it could work for a lot of people I think.
There are some who plan to lock the doors and shoot anyone who comes near. I think this will be a short-lived plan if the situation is so bad that you feel you are warranted in shooting your son-in-law who failed to prep, even though you “have been warning him for years”. It is easy to say what we won’t allow now, when there is no crisis. I know I am guilty of my fair share of some of this, but I still don’t believe I am going to sit in my house, lock the doors and peek out of my curtains. I may allow some people in who don’t have any preps. It may be a risk I have to take to make my own ad-hoc survival group larger if the situation warrants it. Would I kick a doctor out just because he didn’t have a gun or any freeze-dried foods? Probably not.
Ideally, you would identify people who could become your group if something happened ahead of time and talk to them. Even more ideal would be for you all to be working on the different considerations a survival community would need to live before you needed to band together and batten down the hatches. If you wanted to consider what is needed to set up a survival community, I think there are some basic questions to ponder.
- Where will you find water when you need it? Do you have a well or rain barrels that are already in place and ready to go?
- Do you have a way to filter water?
- Do you know alternative locations for water?
- How much food do you have stored away?
- Do you have the means to prepare this food?
- Do you know how to preserve food without the benefit of electricity?
- Do you have a way of communicating with other members of your group?
- Do you have extra radio equipment and a means to power that equipment even if the electricity is out?
- What is your range of communications? This will determine to some degree where you can travel to and still remain in contact with one another.
Emergency Fuel and Power
- Do you have fuel stored up for emergencies? Are you rotating your fuel supplies? How long will that fuel last you?
- What alternative power sources do you have? How much can you power with this source?
Food after the food is gone
- Hunting – Do you have a place to hunt? Do you know how to hunt? Do you know how to process the meat? Do you have the supplies you need?
- Foraging – Are there local sources for wild food? Do you know which plant sources are safe to eat? Do you know how to prepare these, store them and what seasons they are growing?
- Gardening – Do you have gardens in place already? How many people do you expect to feed? What is your growing season and zone? How much will you be able to put away for winter? Do you have seeds to put into the ground?
Hygiene and Sanitation
- How will you dispose of waste if the toilets no longer work?
- How will you clean dishes, your hands, cooking utensils, etc?
- Do you have medical supplies in case you have to treat your own injuries?
- What types of medication will the people in your survival community be dependent on that could affect their short-term health?
- What general health conditions impact people in your community?
Fitness and Health
- How mobile are the people in your community if you need to bug out to a different location?
- Can you carry all your possessions on your back if needed?
- Can they perform the manual tasks that could be required every day for survival?
- Does poor heath require medication daily or equipment that needs electricity to run/cool?
- Guns and Ammo – What are the types of weapons you have in the community? How much ammo do you have for each weapon? How long will this last you if you are dependent on the weapons for survival/food/defense?
- Common Equipment – Do you have common ammunition or magazines? Does everyone have a different weapon platform?
- Training – What is the experience level of the members of your survival community? Can anyone provide training to others?
Location, Location, Location
Since you don’t have the survival retreat in the woods, where will you all stay? If the community is in your neighborhood and the members are your neighbors that would work out just fine. What if the community is composed of different families in different parts of town/states? Do you have a common location that everyone will rendezvous at? Do you have accommodations for the extra people in that location? It will be important to select a location that has the best traits for growing food, providing water, game to hunt and defensibility. Is that your home or someone else’. Will you move in with your buddy? Are you prepared to walk there?
I realize that each of the topics above could be broken down into its own article. There are hundreds of if and butts for each situation but I wanted to jot down some things I think I personally should consider. I don’t see formal survival communities working for most of us. Sure if you are a millionaire and have your own island, that is one thing. I think the rest of us will band together in smaller tribes for survival. It won’t always work, but I can see that happening before everyone leaves their jobs in the cities and moves to the countryside.
What do you think?
***Update 12/18/15 – The Wall referenced below has been discontinued. I still think it was a great idea, but the software that I was using wasn’t really as robust as I feel it needs to be for a site with the traffic we receive. It really slowed things down for some users. On top of that, many people signed up, but nobody did anything with it. Maybe in the future I will try this again.***
Since we are on the subject of Community, I wanted to invite anyone interested to check out something new on the site. I have enabled a form of online community within the context of the Prepper Journal site. There are a couple of aspects to this.
The Wall – This is where you can view a feed, similar to Facebook of posts and comments that registered users post to the site. Registration is free and when you join you get your own profile that you can post articles, discussion topics, rants (please try to remain civil) and you are able to private message other members of the community on the site.
I don’t know how this will go, but I am willing to give it a shot and see if we can’t bring additional conversation, ideas and perspective to the site. Registration is free and if you want to sign up and see how it works, just click this link. If you want to just observe from a safe distance, the wall is always open for you to see what people are posting and talking about. I am curious to hear what you think.