We only need to look at the chaos that occurred during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy where hardly anyone was prepared for weeks without power, and they even had some forewarning. Unfortunately most people are still blind to the coming economic storm. They’re frogs in slowly simmering water getting ready to boil.
It’s one thing to prep for yourself, but if the economic collapse is sustained for a long period of time, it will take a tribe to survive as comfortably as possible. The bigger your extended survival group the easier it will be, and if you can encourage your greater community to move more toward self-reliance the better off you all will be.
If you’re a prepper who understands the severity of the coming events, now is the time to get your community involved. You don’t have to convince everyone the sky is falling, only the importance of more self-sufficiency just in case there is an unforeseen emergency.
Here are ten ways to help your community prepare:
Meet Your Tribe: This starts with forming your core group of local prepper friends. These people will share your understanding, have great ideas, and can share the burden of prepping. Then, at the very least, meet all of your immediate neighbors and size them up as to their mindset and ability. Organize fun and educational block parties to demonstrate and encourage the solutions outlined on this list. Finally, take some of your ideas to town hall meetings to seek broader cooperation and more volunteers.
Alternative Water Sources: Water is the most important element for survival. If the grid goes down, public water will be sure to follow. Locate private wells that can be switched to hand pumps or generators, or streams, rivers and ponds that can be piped and stored near your community. Create a map of these resources for everyone in your group of volunteers to keep safe if crisis strikes. Educate your neighbors with flyers or demonstrations at block parties about having back-up water supplies, rainwater and greywater use, and water purification methods. Encourage your neighbors to keep at least 3 days of drinking water stored in their homes.
Garden Projects: Encourage and help neighbors with their individual gardens and they’ll help you with yours. Hold neighborhood workshops with experts on composting, permaculture, aquaponics, small livestock, seed preservation, and canning. Stress the importance to the greater community of gardens in public spaces that are being wasted on grass that must be mowed at the taxpayer’s expense. With more of the local landscape turned into an edible landscape, the easier the community will be able to absorb the impact of economic collapse, particularly rapid inflation of food prices.
Local Food Co-Ops: Another very important element to local food self-sufficiency is becoming involved with your local food cooperatives. These typically include many of your local artisan farmers and organic gardeners. You may be surprised by how big the local food movement already is in your area, but it needs to be much bigger when severe economic crisis hits. Support them with your business and whatever skills you can bring to the table. Encourage your neighbors to join and participate as well. Not only will this help expand local commerce and food production, it also helps build a healthier community. A great resource to find local farmers in your area is LocalHarvest.org.
Barter Systems: If the dollar collapses (which most people predict will be the trigger of economic collapse), having a local system of trade will soften the impact tremendously. Even if you just begin with trading services with your neighbors, get the idea barter to spread. You may already have a local grassroots currency or barter exchange in your area. Many food co-ops already have them as well. If they don’t, there are plenty of resources that teach you how to start one yourself. The importance of laying the groundwork for such an exchange cannot be understated, and if the collapse miraculously evaporates, the barter system will still encourage local trade so the community flourishes. This is also a great way to identify team players with vital skills needed during collapse situations.
Alternative Energy: This is perhaps the most challenging issue facing any individual prepper as well as a small community as a whole. Virtually all areas are beholden to large interconnected electric grids and multinational oil companies for their energy. But as we saw recently with Hurricane Sandy, people without fuel or power go crazy after just a few short days. Imagine weeks and months without power or fuel. For personal preparation, it’s wise to at least have a generator, and perhaps some solar panels for refrigeration and electronics. Encouraging your neighbors to do the same may be the best you can hope for community involvement, but present ideas like generators for all essential services to prevent a breakdown of law and order. Work on implementing a community or co-op biodiesel refinery for used cooking oil, or a windmill or solar station for the back-up water supply, etc
Neighborhood Watch: All communities are unique and will require different levels of security in times of crisis. As we saw with Katrina and Sandy, the National Guard and the local police were no match for keeping the looters at bay. And, again, these were just temporary setbacks. A sustained economic crisis could bring many desperate people or worse – organized gangs – to your neighborhood. The cops will likely be preoccupied with much bigger concerns than your community assuming the locality can still afford their salaries. Start with a simple neighborhood watch to create a basic plan for deterring invaders. Make note of neighbors who are former military or hunters to recruit should things get dicey enough to require some firepower.
Food Bank: Everyone should have their own personal supply of survival foods. But you may also consider grouping with your tribe of preppers or a few neighbors to create a food bank where you can combine funds for bulk food storage. This food bank should consist of the most basic of foods like wheat, rice, and beans. This can serve as an “open only in case of an emergency” cache. Beyond that, helping out with your community food bank or other food programs for the less fortunate is also a way to help keep your community stable during the crisis.
Communications: Don’t underestimate the importance of maintaining open communication with your community. If the power goes off, it may not be long before phones and Internet are gone too. Emergency radios are great to monitor the “official” activity outside the community, but being able to speak to each other is vital to survival. Back up systems can be as small as your core group using walkie talkies, or as large as creating an alternative Internet connection. You can have one person get satellite Internet and they can beam it with a simple line-of-sight microwave panels to other hubs, perhaps a school. This sounds complex, but it’s not that difficult or expensive. Additionally, you could set up a community intranet that can at least communicate with each other if not the outside world. When meeting neighbors, don’t discount their skills if they’re a tech geek or working for the phone company, as they will be needed in a collapse situation. Again, having individual solar chargers for laptops and this system would have to be considered as well.
Medical: Big hospitals will likely be overtaxed during a crisis and they’ll certainly be a target of drug addicts who have nowhere else to get their fix. It may be unrealistic to form a small clinic in your community prior to a collapse situation, however, identifying the doctors, nurses, EMTs, veterinarians, and holistic healers in your neighborhood will go a long way in preparing. Additionally, encouraging all households in your neighborhood to keep a month or more of essential medications stored in their homes will be crucial to get through difficult times. If you’re lucky enough to find a few doctors who share your prepper mindset, creating a bank of strategic medicine (insulin and antibiotics) would be ideal as well. And don’t write off the hippie who knows how to grow quality cannabis….
These are all realistic preparations that you can do in your communities. They shouldn’t be motivated by fear of some potential apocalypse. Rather, it should be fun and joyful to get to know your neighbors and encourage the strengthening of your community.