So. Community. What is it and why is it so important for a prepper to have some of it?
The dumbest recruitment slogan ever created was “An Army of One.” This was used by the U.S. Army from 2001 to 2006, supposedly ripped off whole-cloth from the poster of the movie “The Outlaw, Josie Wales.”
Why was this a dumb slogan? An army of one isn’t an army, it’s a casualty. If the SHTF happens and you’re “An army of one” (as so many of my commenters apparently plan to be), the moment you interact negatively with an organized and disciplined community of preppers, you’ll be a grease spot on the road … and one of those community members will be very grateful for the marvelous new rifle you posthumously “donated” to the cause.
Being a part of a community vastly improves your odds of survival in a grid-down event. It increases the size and efficiency of your security zones. It provides you with an enlarged pool of skill sets and, let’s face it, a bunch of extra hands and strong backs for all the scut work involved in the day-to-day struggles of trying times. Community means there will be sufficient bodies to provide security and infrastructure while you get some vital sleep.
And you have to sleep sometime. A 2015 study for the U.S. military shows serious, cumulative physical and mental degradation occurs without sufficient sleep, meaning at least eight hours a day.
Is prepping the right thing for to do for Christians? Or should we just be trusting in the Lord? Learn about that balance in “Be Thou Prepared” by Carl Gallups – “Equipping the Church for Persecution and Times of Trouble.”
So what is community? Well, there are a bunch of different kinds, but the type we’re interested in is physical community defined by Merriam-Webster as: “A unified body of individuals: such as … the people with common interests living in a particular area.”
Now most honest people know in their hearts that all of the above is true. They know that survival in really bad times means having a close association with others. They also know, if they’ll admit it, that humans are ultimately herd animals. Want proof of that statement? Um … all of recorded history.
But despite the undeniable facts, the idea of meeting new people and placing yourself out there to be judged and possibly humiliated makes most people shy away from creating the connections needed to enhance their survivability quotient by forming or joining a community. And this is especially true for preppers, specifically because the mainstream “news” creators have been lambasting the concept of prepping for years.
But occasionally, the MSN accidentally lets the cat out of the bag.
A Daily Mail article from 2012 states (without any real justification that I can see) that there are up to three million adult preppers in the U.S. But a more telling line reads: “… a staggering 61 per cent of 1,000 polled by the National Geographic channel believe there will be a catastrophic event in the next 20 years, and people want to be prepared.”
According to the U.S. Census, in 2016 the population of America was about 323 million, of which roughly 70 percent (226 million) were adults. If the National Geographic poll quoted in the Daily Mail article is accurate, that means there are roughly 137 million actual or potential preppers out there.
Last week, I commended for your perusal a scientific paper entitled: “Sense of Community: A Definition and Theory.” I won’t dip back into that paper too much, except to point out the first item on their list of what makes community possible is Membership. And membership is what you need more than anything else to create a prepper community.
The authors of the paper assign five attributes to membership:
- Emotional safety (add physical safety here for our purposes)
- A sense of belonging and identification
- Personal investment
- A common symbol system
And these are the key elements you will work with to create a prepper community of your own.
In starting the process of recruiting your neighbors into becoming a community of preppers, the very first thing you need to do is establish a physical boundary for that community. This boundary can and will be flexible as your community grows, and will change shape to suit the needs of strategy and tactics.
Why define a boundary? Because exclusivity is a very powerful force in community formation. It determines who is, and more importantly who isn’t, a member.
How do you initially define your community boundary? You can base it on fairly arbitrary factors like roads or rivers; or you can mark your territory on the basis of preexisting geographic features (the Butte, the Valley, the Hill) or on previously existing historic or political boundaries (the Burroughs, Mill Town, Rockford or 34th Street); or you can just make one up. The point is you are creating a unique and definable area.
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A couple of suggestions, though. Your community boundary needs to be a zone large enough to include sufficient people to handle things like shared security (a block or two of suburbia, a few square miles of countryside), but not so large as to make coordinated community actions difficult (like California).
After you’ve determined the boundaries, you must “name” the zone you’ve created. (By the way, at this point mark the area out on a large-scale, small-area map. This will be a very useful document from now on.) Again, the name might reflect local historic or political names; or it might be something brand-new. Make it short, easy to remember, and distinct from other place-names around you. A combination of a local political/historical title and a geographic feature works well (such as “the Yakima Narrows”). But don’t go all “Red Dawn” with this. Naming your community “The Yakima Wolverines” might appeal to your machismo, but it won’t make your neighbors likely to want to be included. And for heaven’s sake, don’t put “prepper” or any variations thereof in the name.
Okay, you’ve got a boundary and a name. So what do you do with this? Start advertising the name – not as a prepper hideout, but simply as a specific place with specific geographic limitations. The next time someone asks you where you live, you should casually reply, “The Narrows” (or if outside of your immediate area, “The Yakima Narrows”). If they ask you where that is, give them the boundaries, like “Up Stony River Road between mile-markers three and six” or “The area north of 23rd Boulevard and south of A Street.” If you run into a neighbor that lives within the boundary, make sure he knows that he lives in “The Narrows” too, by saying something like, “Man! What a beautiful day! We’re so lucky we live here in The Narrows.”
Keep this up and if you’ve already got a few local prepper friends, get them to do the same. If a neighbor is going to have a yard sale, help him out by offering to put up some posters for him. Then make sure the location description contains “The Narrows” along with the street address. Next time you attend a city council or county commissioners meeting, when you step up to the microphone to complain at them, say something like “I’m Pat McLene (use your own name here) and I live at The Narrows on Stony River Road.
Does this actually work? Like a charm. I’ve done this several times and it always works because human beings like having things defined. And when do you know that it’s worked? When the day comes (and it will, if you’ve been diligent enough) that someone outside of your boundary asks you if you live in The Narrows, and when a neighbor refers to The Narrows when talking about a local need or situation.
So now you’ve got a bounded location with a commonly used name. And that boundary contains, let’s say, 100 adults, of which (if the National Geographic poll is correct) 61 percent are leaning towards the concept of prepping, even if they’ve never done anything about it.
So what’s next?
Well, since I’ve run out of space this week, we’ll get into what you can do with this very powerful tool for creating community next time.
So start mapping, put on your naming hat … and get prepared.