Radio Contra: Ep. 193 Brent Weir of Project 22:3 Preparedness Podcast

In Radio Contra Episode 193, NC Scout of Brushbeater talks to Brent Weir of Project 22:3 Preparedness Podcast. They talk faith, community building, practical preparations, and overcoming adversity in the world to come in the face of covid, war, and economic disaster.

Radio Contra Ep. 193: Brent Weir of Project 22:3 Preparedness Podcast

The American Conservative: The Answer is the Coming Small-Town Revival

Small town USA

The Answer is the Coming Small-Town Revival was written for The American Conservative by James Howard Kunstler. It was published in April of 2021. Kunstler wrote that as conditions deteriorated in the United States, small towns would need to be revitalized in order to cope. Do his predictions still sound valid and are we still on the same track?

Years ago, I moved from a somewhat larger small town (pop. 30,000) in upstate New York to a smaller small town (pop. 2,500) 15 miles east in order to establish a little homestead with gardens, fruit trees, and chickens. I found this three-acre property literally on the edge of town, a five-minute walk to the center of Main Street.

If you’ve been following this column on urban design the past year, you know I’ve said we’re entering an era of stark economic contraction that will change the terms of daily life in America, and one feature of it is that the action will shift from the big cities and sprawling suburbs back to America’s small towns. The COVID-19 virus has accelerated this trend, actually drawing a sharp dividing line between “then” and “now” that historians will recognize—but that many contemporary observers are missing.

My little town was badly beaten down when I got here in 2011 and actually sank a bit lower over the years since. The last Main Street shops that sold anything not previously owned shut down. The two last suppertime restaurants folded. The tiny local newspaper ceased publication, and the DOT put a concrete barrier across the tracks of the little railroad spur line, which hadn’t run trains, anyway, since the 1980s. The several factories on the river that runs through town—a tributary of the mighty Hudson—had all shuttered in the 1970s, and only one even still stands in the form of ruins, the rest demolished, wiped off the map and out of memory. In the century and a half previous, they’d gone through iterations of making textiles—first linen, which was grown here, then cotton, which was not—and then paper products (finally, and not without irony, toilet tissue).

What’s left in the town is a phantom armature of everyday life tuned to a bygone era with all its economic and social functionality removed, like a fine old piano with all its string cut. The bones are still there in the form of buildings, but the activities, relationships, and institutions are gone. The commerce is gone, the jobs are gone, the social and economic roles have no players, the places for fraternizing and public entertainment gone, the churches nearly empty. There’s a post-1980 shopping strip on the highway leaving the west end of town. That’s where the supermarket is (it replaced a 1960s IGA closer to the center, which replaced the various greengrocers, butchers, and dry goods establishments of yore on Main Street). There’s a chain pharmacy, a Tractor Supply, a pizza shop and a Chinese take-out place out there, too. The Kmart closed in 2017 and two years later a Big Lots (overstocked merch) took its place.

The local school system may be the town’s largest employer these days; it’s also the town’s leading levier of taxes. Some people drive long distances to work in other towns, even as far as the state capital, Albany, where jobs with good pay, real medical benefits, and fat pensions still exist—though you can’t claim they produce anything of value. Quite a few people scrambled for years with marginal small home-based businesses (making art, massage, home bakeries, etc.), but the virus creamed a lot of them. It’s hard these days to find a plumber or a carpenter. A few dozen farmers hang on. There is a lively drug underground here, which some can make a living at—if they can stay off their own product—but it’s not what you’d call a plus for the common good. Federal cash supports of one sort or other account for many of the rest who live here: social security, disability, SNAP cards, plain old family welfare payments, and COVID-19 checks (for now), adding up to a quasi-zombie economy.

In short, what appears to be a town now bears no resemblance to the rich set of social and economic relationships and modes of production that existed here a hundred years ago, a local network of complex interdependencies based on local capital and local resources—with robust connections (the railroad! The Hudson River and Champlain Canal!) to other towns that operated similarly, and even linkage to some distant big city markets. The question I’m building up to is: How do we get back to anything that resembles that kind of high-functioning society?

The answer is trauma, a set of circumstances that will disrupt all the easy and dishonest work-arounds which have determined the low state of our current arrangements. You can be sure this is coming; it’s already in motion: collapsing oil production due to the insupportable costs of the shale “miracle,” the end of industrial growth as we’ve known it, the limits of borrowing from the future to pay today’s bills (i.e., debt that will never be paid back), widespread household bankruptcy and unemployment, and the consequent social disorder all that will entail.

That reality will compel us to reorganize American life, starting with how we inhabit the landscape, and you can bet that three things will drive it: the necessity to produce food locally, the need to organize the activities that support food production locally, and the need—as when starting anything—to begin at a small and manageable scale. It will happen emergently, which is to say without any committee of experts, savants, or commissars directing it, because the need will be self-evident.

For now, the broad public remains bamboozled, distracted by the terrors of COVID-19, the uproars of race-and-gender tension, the dazzle of Federal Reserve hocus-pocus, the anxiety over climate change, and, of course, the worsening struggle of so many ordinary citizens to just keep paying the bills. When you’re in a ditch, you don’t call the President of the United States. You need a handful of friends and neighbors with a come-along.

That’s how it’s going to work to bring our small towns back to life. When the chain stores choke on their broken supply chains, some attentive persons will see an advantage in figuring out how to get and sell necessities by rebuilding local networks of supply and retail. Farming will be rescued from its artificially induced senility when the trucks stop delivering pallets of frozen pizza and Captain Crunch as dependably as they used to. And then the need for many other businesses that support farming and value-added production will find willing, earnest go-getters. The river still runs through town and it runs year-round, powerfully enough to make some things, if there was a reason to, and a will, and a way. And after a while, you’ll have a fully functioning town again, built on social and economic roles that give people a reason to think that life is worth living. Wait for it.

Out Front: The Importance of Community Building

Here is Mike Shelby/Sam Culper of Forward Observer and Grey Zone Activity taking briefly about the importance of community building. At the beginning of this clip, he’s finishing up talking about the chances of upheaval around the 2024 elections. He answers the question about community/mutual assistance groups around the two minute mark.

Organic Prepper: How Preppers Can Still Find Community in the Middle of a Pandemic

Joanna Miller at The Organic Prepper talks about How Preppers Can Still Find Community in the Middle of a Pandemic

The need for supportive communities in SHTF situations is something we talk about often. People know they need a support network because, let’s face it, in a long-term survival situation almost none of us can do it alone. However, one of the biggest tragedies to come from the Covid rules has been how hard it is to meet people and establish any kind of community these days. And many of us have learned things about our circle of people that aren’t overly positive during this stressful time.

Your own opinions about Covid aside, many states are greatly restricting opportunities for socialization. Some never really opened back up after the previous lockdown.

In my state, Colorado, public gatherings are severely curtailed. I still attend church, but we are no longer allowed to socialize afterward. At the kids’ activities, parents are discouraged from sitting near each other and chit-chatting, which was a major social outlet for a lot of parents (myself included) for a long time. You might strike up a conversation with someone friendly, or you might get someone who flips out over not social distancing properly.

This atmosphere of distrust is worse than any virus.

You have your friends, and then there are your “lockdown” friends

We have come together in ways I never would have expected. I don’t know what will work for everyone, but I can give an example of how a series of inconveniences gave rise to my own little group of people getting together to process chickens.

I have had a little side-gig producing a couple hundred chickens every year for meat. They are pastured birds raised on certified organic corn- and soy-free feed. I’ve learned a lot over the years, getting and training livestock guardian dogs after predator attacks, and so on. The only hitch has been getting the birds processed every year. My luck has been almost comically bad. I’ve seen a number of processors close.

I eventually met a couple, I’ll call them Andrew and Andrea, about nearby that had their own processing equipment who taught me how to process birds. I’d bring my birds over, we’d process together, and it was a social outlet as well as getting a chore done.

Then their house burned down in 2018, literally a day after we’d processed my birds.

They are still in the process of rebuilding, but in 2019 and 2020 Andrea brought her processing equipment to my house and we processed the birds ourselves. When we were at her house, Andrew would help, or sometimes they’d have friends hanging out that wanted to learn how to process. Processing 70 or 80 birds is a lot of work, and many hands make it go a lot faster.

It takes a community to process chickens

I wasn’t sure where we’d get the extra hands at my house, but sometimes problems solve themselves. My boys are in Scouts, and knowing that I have a hobby farm, one of the other parents asked if I had any big jobs her son, I’ll call him Josiah, could help with. He wanted a new computer game, and she told him he could pay for it himself. I asked how Josiah felt about processing chickens. She laughed and said she’d find out how badly he wanted that computer game.

It turns out Josiah really wanted it! I had him plus my own three children, plus Andrea helping me out. The work was exhausting but we got it all done, and it was done well. I gave Josiah $20 and a couple of chickens.

The next time around, I had another friend interested in homesteading skills come over and help, along with my three kids. Well, Josiah heard my kids talking about it and was disappointed that I hadn’t asked him to help again! He’d already gotten the computer game, but he said my chickens were the most delicious he’d ever eaten. Also, he just thought it was cool to be able to process animals. He bragged about it so much to the other boys in Scouts that some of them have started asking if they can help me next time.

Sometimes you can find community with people who aren’t necessarily preppers but who share an interest in self-reliance.

However, I’m not 100% sure there will be a next time

This year multiple groups of people parked at the perimeter of my property began honking and screaming that they wanted chickens. This went on for a couple of months in the early summer. In July, someone drove through my fence, pulling out a full 330-foot roll of fencing as well as half a dozen steel T-posts. I’m not sure that was related to the people harassing me, but it was terrifying and a ton of work to fix.

Then in August, in three separate events, fifty-five of my birds were stolen. I have guard dogs, but they do not bite people. They are wonderful at barking and scaring off all the foxes, coyotes, and eagles in my area, but I can’t have dogs that bite people. In the first incident, my birds were pastured a few hundred feet away from my house, but only twenty-five feet or so from my property line. My property is enclosed with 4-foot fencing but these people climbed it.

When I saw one morning that 40 of my birds were missing, with none of the gore that comes with animal attacks, I moved them to an enclosure closer to my house and put barbed wire on top of the fence. They came back and took 10 more anyway. I put my remaining birds in the insulated brooder close to my house; it’s in a well-lit area. However, our summer was incredibly hot and I left the small door of the brooder open for ventilation. The fenced-in run was closed but the door to the inner part was propped open.

In the morning, I saw that someone had pulled up part of the fencing and snagged five more of my birds. These people only stopped when I put motion-detecting cameras all over the brooder. So I can still raise some chickens, but I’m not sure how to raise true pastured poultry without putting my birds at risk. And frankly I cannot keep taking these financial hits.

The ordeal was so nerve-wracking. My children and I didn’t sleep normally for weeks. To have your property violated that many times is terrifying. I had been so satisfied during the shut downs and grocery shortages about raising so much of my own food, but it doesn’t matter how much you produce if you can’t keep other people from stealing it.

In times of instability, a new skill learned can create stability for some

The truth is, there will always be bad actors in any given group of people. There will always be individuals looking for a chance to steal, hurt others, and just in general cause trouble.  It’s human nature and we can’t get away from it. When we had stable rules, stable jobs, and the kids all had stable school schedules it was easier to notice people looking for trouble. That stability is gone, and I don’t know if it will come back.

However, the eagerness of my own children, as well as their friends, to have real-life skills makes me want to try and figure something out. Kids these days are so glued to screens most of the time for school; many of them are itching to get out and do something tangible. Learning how to turn animals into dinner is a total change, and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it would have been for me to get help processing birds this time around.

While there are hidden (or not-so-hidden) troublemakers out there at any point in time, there are always people willing to help, too. If you are new to homesteading or the country lifestyle, five years ago trying to meet like-minded people online might have been a good idea. I’m hesitant to recommend that now. I’m pretty sure the people that caused so much damage to me found me through social media. I have friends that also have sustainable agriculture little side-hustles that they advertise online; one, in particular, has been repeatedly targeted by animal-rights activists.

Maybe it’s time to figure out a new way to find community

If you have the skills to make money with farm products, then taking the risk of potentially exposing yourself to troublemakers is something you need to weigh against the value of advertising. It’s a business decision that’ll be different for everyone.

However, if you are new to the country/homesteading scene and just want to make friends, I personally would have a hard time recommending looking for people online. There have been plenty of other articles written about not advertising your prepper status, and I wholeheartedly agree.

As the holidays approach, hopefully many of us will be calling and checking in friends and relatives. Whether it’s some homesteading project or a specific survival scenario for which you’re trying to prepare, get a feel for how interested other people are in participating. I have my one good farm friend, Andrea. The rest of my various helpers over the years have been a mixture of friends from church, Scouts, neighbors, and relatives. A lot of them live in the suburbs. You might be pleasantly surprised to find who is receptive to preparing with you.

I have lived in the same area for the better part of a decade, so my pool of friends and acquaintances is fairly wide. If you have just moved to the country, or are not so established in your community, it may be different and will probably take longer. However, the principles are still the same. Pursue your interests; be a good neighbor; if you have solid family relationships, sustain those; and things will eventually fall into place. But it is never too soon to reach out and start building your network of like-minded folks…

Forward Observer: Mao on American Patriots

Intelligence analyst Sam Culper of Forward Observer has a couple of Out Front podcast episodes on Mao and what conservatives can learn from him. There is good information about subversion of conservative institutions, hard and soft power, community organizing and outreach, and the need to think of creating large groups rather than small groups. Below are the two podcasts on Youtube.

Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed. – Mao

John Mosby on Building a Preparedness Group/Resilient Community

In this older post from John Mosby at Mountain Guerrilla, he gives his opinion on how to start a preparedness group or how to build a community for mutual assistance, or whatever you want to call your group. People always ask us about how to go about starting a preparedness group at the preparedness expo and elsewhere. We’ve posted several other articles previously on the topic, but as usual John has his own opinion.

We spend a lot of time on this blog, discussing the importance of building what John Robb terms a “resilient community,” while I turn back to the more traditional “tribe.” One of the recurring themes that arises in the commentary to these articles is the inability of people to find and befriend “like-minded people” to band together with for protection and security.

If this is your problem, rest assured, Aristotle thinks you’re an asshole. In his Nichomean Ethics, after pointing out that friendships are essential to the human experience (another example of classical antiquity being smarter than the ‘retreat survivalist.’), Aristotle went on to describe friendships as having three fundamental bases.

The first type of friendship that Aristotle described is the friendship wherein we like someone because they’re simply enjoyable to be around. This is the college buddy that you still hang around with because he’s good for laughs, or because he throws great parties. Aristotle explained that this was among the lowest forms of friendship, and they seldom last any great length of time. They’re not what most mature people would describe as “real” friendships.

This friendship—whether you are the guy who enjoys hanging out with someone, or you’re the guy who people enjoy hanging out with—stops, the minute shit gets tough. It’s entertaining to point out that “laughter is the best medicine,” and we need court jesters, especially in times of stress, but if that’s the only value someone is bringing to a relationship? Meh.

The second type of friendship that Aristotle mentioned, was also a “lower” form of friendship. Today, most of us generally view this type of relationship as only being valued by people who are inherently pieces-of-shit. These are the relationships where one party (or both), find utility in the friendship.

Aristotle wrote, “Those who pursue utility….sometimes….do not even find each other pleasant; there they do not need such companionship unless they are useful to each other; for they are pleasant to each other only in so far as they rouse in each other hopes of something good to come.” It’s not necessary that either party to the friendship is being mercenary per se. It’s simply a matter that the motivation for being friends is “what’s in it for me.”

This is ultimately the issue for most survivalists and preppers trying to build tribe among other preppers. We look for “well, what kind of preps does this person have? Do they share the same political values as me? Will they help me fight the good fight, politically?” Again, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this; it’s a reason for developing a friendship, it’s just not the highest form of friendship, and when we’re building a tribe—from scratch, mind you—we need the highest levels of friendship, trust, and frith.

I repeatedly suggest a thorough, annual reading of Dale Carnegies’ “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” and I stand by that. It’s important for people to recognize however, that Carnegie was writing for the businessman who needed to develop rapid, ultimately relatively shallow, business friendships of a utilitarian nature. You need to use those tactics, when meeting people, but you also need to go far, far past that step.

Aristotle also described the highest form of friendship. Considering that much of what we understand as modern, liberal (in the Classical sense, not the contemporary political sense) Western values are largely derived from Aristotle’s writing, it should be no real surprise that most people’s concept of what “real” friendship, at the highest level is, coincides pretty closely with Aristotle’s definition.

“Perfect friendship is of those who are good, and alike in virtue; for these wish each other well alike to each other…” Different from pleasure- or utility-based friendships, true friendships…the type of friendships that tribes must be based on (after all, remember, we’re talking about building a group of people that meets the definition of “kith and kin”) involve genuine care for the well-being of the other person/people, not mere ego issues.

This is not—as many anarchists would like to believe—a matter of radical self-sacrifice. It’s simply a matter of genuine concern for the well-being of the other party, regardless of the benefits to the self. This is the guy who stands up and teaches classes to his local survival group, not for his ego, but because he genuinely wants to pass on good information for the well-being of his friends, not because he’s getting paid, or because he needs to stroke his ego. This is the guy who shows up at 0600, on his day off, to help a neighbor get his crop in, and doesn’t ask anything in return, because he knows he doesn’t need to ask: the neighbor will be there next weekend, when HE needs a hand moving some furniture.

The problem that I see too often in the preparedness community is the “John, how do I find like-minded people to build tribe with?” questions we constantly get.

You don’t “find” like-minded people to become your friends. If that happens, it just happens, because you happen to meet like-minded people that you express a genuine interest in. The most important lesson of Aristotle’s discussion of friends is, looking in on-line communities for “prepper groups” to join is, how are you going to have a legitimate interest in the well-being of someone you don’t know?

You don’t know if those people in that group share your values. You don’t know if they share your work ethic. You don’t know anything about them…

Build your tribe by strengthening the friendships and relationships you have.

Click here to read the entire article at Mountain Guerrilla.

Citylab: How Portland’s Earthquake Preppers Are Planning for the Worst

While the decision to survive is a personal one, your ability to survive is exponentially enhanced by having a community which has decided to survive. In this article from Citylab, one neighborhood in Portland discusses how and why they formed and what they are doing to be prepared. Have you met your neighbors and mapped your neighborhood? Meet people, build trust, and grow community. It will help you survive – not just in disasters.

…“One of the main elements of disaster preparedness is knowing your neighbors,” Michael Hall says as the meeting begins. He’s the bell-ringer and leader of Alameda’s self-titled “Council of Blockheads,” which represents a two-block, 25-household area. For the last four years, the residents of this leafy neighborhood have convened twice annually over a lofty goal: ensuring the survival of everyone on the block in case of a disaster.

For the next 30 minutes, the group talks about whether to order more stackable emergency water containers and how much extra food to stock up on (the new advice: enough for two weeks). They listen to earthquake survival tips from a guest speaker, Marilyn Bishop, who sells pre-made emergency prep kits full of freeze-dried rations. Four years ago, these neighbors hardly knew each other. But after seven meetings and counting, they now see each other as their lifelines.
Hall is one of the many residents of the Pacific Northwest reckoning with the terrifying potential of the Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake that many experts believe will strike in the next 50 years. The overdue super-quake could trigger devastating coastal tsunamis—waves up to 85 feet high—and deliver potentially massive damage to homes, highways, and water and power infrastructure. Galvanized by Kathryn Schulz’s 2015 New Yorker story “The Really Big One,” Hall was eager to do something. So he gathered a few neighbors at his house over beers to brainstorm. The result was their first disaster-awareness block party, where nearly every household had a representative. The block parties became the way to make catastrophe preparation less overwhelming.

They started holding twice-yearly informational meetups with guest speakers and workshops that covered how to create a family emergency plan, human waste storage systems, and water and food storage. They made a bulk order of water bricks. And they created and continue to update a comprehensive inventory of neighborhood contact information, emergency supplies (such as generators, tools, and camping equipment), and skills (e.g., first-aid, carpentry, childcare). Some neighbors even gained additional training as Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET) volunteers—city-trained residents who deploy in a large-scale emergency…

Click here to read the entire article at Citylab.

Wired: The Best Emergency Gear is Other People

It’s nice to see people come to the realization that community is pretty important when a disaster hits. Seeing it in a major, mainstream publication is good, too. This article comes from Wired magazine. It’s pretty brief and the “houses we would pillage” comment is a little worrisome, though hopefully they at least mean unoccupied, but the message of working with the people around you is there.

The Best Emergency Gear Is Other People

All this stuff is great, but who’s going to chop through your floor when you’re trapped in the basement?Photograph: Getty Images

September is Emergency Preparedness Month. I don’t find many National Days to be very useful (I’m still not sure what to do about “Meow Like a Pirate Day”), but for those of us who live in disaster-prone areas, like the hurricane-strewn Gulf Coast or the tornado plains of the Midwest, September is a good reminder to make sure that your emergency gear is up to date.

In my particular part of the country, “our” disaster is the inevitable Pacific Northwest earthquake. I live in a tiny corner of Portland, Oregon, a city that will be affected by any quakes on the Cascadia subduction zone. When The New Yorker‘s in-depth investigation was published in 2015, it kicked off a days-long group text among my neighbors that was only mildly panicked in tone.

About my neighbors on that group text: We all live within four blocks of each other, in wood-framed houses in varying states of renovation or disrepair. Some of us have backyard gardens and chickens; we all have partners, small children, and dogs. Without my neighbors, I’m not sure I would’ve even prepared for an earthquake at all.

I first got a hint that I might need to get my butt in gear when I received a plaintive note: “When the earthquake happens, will someone check on us to make sure we’re not stuck on the second story of our house?” someone asked.

“We’ll make your house the meeting point,” another responded.

“Do we need to get stuff?” I asked, checking the online list. “Water? A toilet?”

“We have water filters and sterilizers,” my husband said to me, since he was receiving but pointedly not participating in the group text. “You know we can just walk down to the river and fill buckets, right?”

It took a few more back-and-forths about which houses we would pillage and when, but it didn’t take me long to realize that the most important resource to have on hand wasn’t my neighbors’ stuff; it was my neighbors themselves.

My Emergency Kit…

Click here to read the rest of the story at Wired.

Forward Observer: Five Lines of Effort for Community – WROL

In this video, intelligence analyst Sam Culper of Forward Observer focuses on the five areas that he want to do for his tribe or community in case of a worst case scenario or without rule of law (WROL) situation. Intelligence drives operations. You can’t respond effectively without knowing what is what and who is who.

  1. Establish local security (legitimacy and protection)
  2. Establish positive control of the situation
  3. Restore essential services (water, electricity, at least in your immediate area)
  4. Support economic & infrastructure development (Local barter system? Safe roads. What can you produce in your area?)
  5. Conduct information management (Get news and local information out to people who need it or to deter suspicious/malicious persons)

Captain’s Journal: So You’re bugging Out, Are You?

From Herschel Smith at Captain’s Journal comes a brief piece on thinking about bugging out and if you would really do it or not — So You’re Bugging Out, Are You? Dude, You’re Not Going Anywhere.

First of all, watch this video in its entirety.  I think John conveys a lot of wisdom in his talk.

This dovetails with a lot of what I have been thinking about the concept of the “bugout” philosophy.  I greatly admire folks like James Wesley Rawles, who made the decision a very long time ago to ensconce in the Northwestern redoubt, although I partial to the Appalachian redoubt being more in my backyard.

Folks like that made a huge decision to leave where they were, plant roots, create a life and lifestyle, make a family, and never leave.  But the problem is that most other people have deep roots too, wherever they are.  Elderly parents need help, children are part of your life, grandchildren need raising by grandparents, friends and family cannot simply be left by the wayside to “bugout” when the going gets tough.

I have a friend who once told me the reason he didn’t “prep” was that he knew where all the preppers in his area were, those who had ammunition, food, and so on, and he had guns and knew whose house to go to in order to find what he needed.

Note well.  He was telling me he would become just like a feral animal whenever the time arose, taking what he needed from his neighbors and leaving trusted folks to suffer in his place.  Now, I know the heart of the man who said this to me, and I know that he would never do that.  So if that man is reading this now, I know that it was all a lot of bluster.  How do I know that?  Because I know you.  You were just giving me excuses for not planning and preparing…

Click here to read the entire article at Captainsjournal.com

Related:

The Preparedness Experience: Don’t Even Think About Bugging Out

Survivalist Prepper: Why Bugging Out Is More Complicated Than You Think

Back Door Survival: Bug Out or Bug in? Making the Right Choice for Your Situation

 

FEMA: We’ve Failed Miserably at Building Community Preparedness

A FEMA report has found that the federal government’s efforts to build disaster-resilient communities has been a failure for various reasons, including that government is not the best entity to reach out with a message of preparedness. It suggests that encouraging a bottom-up approach may be more effective.

Report: We’ve Failed Miserably at Preparedness

A better approach, a new FEMA Higher Education Program report says, is to develop individual cultures of preparedness from the bottom up that could eventually lead to a more resilient nation…

“We’ve achieved our national preparedness goals when it comes to first responders [as per Presidential Policy Directive 8] but when it comes to preparedness of individual households and communities, we’ve failed,” said Laura Olson, a lead author of the report. “To say we’ve failed it putting it mildly…”

The key difficulty with past approaches is that communities across the country lost trust in the government and therefore, the report says, government is not the best entity to reach out to communities with a message of preparedness.

There must be recognition that there is going to be a cultural difference in communication, whether it be communication between emergency managers and communities or any other entities, and to eliminate assumptions…

Click here to read the entire article at govtech.com.

 

Citylab: Vashon Island Community Prepares for Disasters

The Vashon Island community has spent years working to be prepared for an emergency/disaster situation, going as far as forming a non-profit organization – VashonBePrepared – to coordinate the disaster preparedness organizations on the island. From Citylab.com, here is an excerpt from Preparing for ‘The Big One’ in an Isolated Island Town.

…[T]he island community has been building up its emergency preparedness efforts for nearly two decades. The work was initially kicked off when Joseph Ulatoski, a retired brigadier general and island resident, started asking who was responsible if a disaster struck. His questions led to a small group of locals meeting monthly to figure out exactly how they would handle such a situation, Wallace says.

“As time went on, it became clear that we needed to be more organized, structured, and also that we would be in a form that could be recognized by people,” he says.

The result was VashonBePrepared. Today it’s a non-profit, FEMA-sanctioned coalition of the island’s disaster preparedness organizations, including CERT and Voice of Vashon. Its purpose is exclusively to prepare the island for an emergency by helping to coordinate these organizations; it doesn’t actually play a role in real-time response efforts.

“It is a coalition to organize these partner groups to be efficient, avoid redundancy and duplication of effort, and inspire each other to move forward with all these different programs that each of us are running,” says Wallace, who is also the vice president of VashonBePrepared’s executive committee.

One of these key partner organizations is the Neighborhood Emergency Response Organization. Similar, in a sense, to neighborhood watch groups, its leaders have organized hundreds of households into neighborhood groups so they can get to know each other and thus be more likely to help one another if an emergency hits…

Ham radio operators in the emergency operations center radio room. (Courtesy of Rick Wallace)

Click here to read the entire story at CityLab.

Fr. John Peck: The Forgotten Rule

Fr. John Peck has a nice article up on the golden rule and its disappearance from society, The Forgotten Rule.

A rule so forgotten that we have a generation that doesn’t even remember that they forgot it.

A look at the mess of American society reveals a dearth of honest, respectful discourse which revels in the freedom to speak and enquire freely without fear of abuse or belittlement by a multitude whose basic thoughts are generated in 140 characters or less. They have forgotten the most important rule of human society, and they have forgotten it precisely because they have aligned and associated themselves with those who have abrogated this rule from their lexicon of desirable behavior, morality, and even their thoughts.

I mean, the Golden Rule.

For those of you reading this who might not know the Golden Rule without Googling it, it can be found in its most perfect form in the teachings of Jesus Christ, and recorded in the Gospel according to St. Matthew, as follows:

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

We are inundated daily with trumped up accusations about the origins of our opinions, and good order, decency, and good judgment are replaced with the worst kind of propaganda – from vagina hats and lewd ‘rights’ marches which no parent or child should have to endure in public, to pro-fascist groups calling themselves antifascists and acting precisely in the manner of young socialist revolutionaries, to outright lies all the way up the chain of public discourse. Sure we expect politicians to lie, but we had hoped that our journalists would study journalism more than socialism, and that our teachers would teach the Golden Rule rather than class warfare.

The reason for our rapid decline is easy to see. Paid protesters, organized riots, and public figures loading their own pockets with millions and millions literally stolen from the mouths of the hungry and the homeless in their time of greatest need; all these have excited the shallow minds of witless followers with the promise of the power to do as they will, to remake the world in their own shattered, shallow, distorted image. And the closer they get to their goal, the more they get their way, the more rabid and miserable and angry they become.

Forget the amorality of current science, which forges its vision based on whatever they think may be possible, rather than that which can serve and benefit mankind. Forget the wanton destruction of cultural and historical landmarks and memorials which etch the character – good, bad or both – of a nation and a people, and reduce future generations to drones. Forget the inability to call one’s associates to account because they’re ‘on our side’ even though evil deeds have been done, and accountability needs a reckoning to set a people on their proper course again.

Loyalty has trumped principle in the minds of most of our people. This is a darkness from which there is little chance of coming back.

Click here to read the entire article at Fr. John Peck.

Carolina Preppers Network Hurricane Response

The Carolina Preppers Network (CPN) has a write up on their response during and after Hurricane Florence. The CPN started a small group for the purpose of helping people become better prepared in times of crises.

Carolina Preppers Network Hurricane Response

The Carolina Preppers Network hurricane response was something with which to be impressed. For those who don’t know, CPN is an education/support organization with members in North and South Carolina. There are no membership dues and all participants are volunteers with groups meeting regularly in many towns and cities. The organization has been led by Forrest Garvin for the past few years now and during that time, it has grown from fewer than 300 participants to more than 8,500 today. CPN wasn’t created to be a disaster response organization along the lines of the American Red Cross or Samaritan’s Purse, but rather an information swapping and educational resource to help individuals become prepared to be self-supporting in times of crises. But during Hurricane Florence, CPN grew into more. Retreat Realty is proud to be one of the corporate sponsors, especially so after seeing how CPN directly impacted and saved lives during Hurricane Florence.

Days before landfall, Forrest sent out notifications to members via CPN’s Team App calling for those who could assist to help with the gathering of information (intel) and coordination of resources where needed once the hurricane came ashore. This was coordinated with leadership of the Cajun Navy, the Gulf Coast volunteer organization that became famous during Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey during which those volunteers provided their own shallow draft boats to rescue thousands from precarious situations. For several days, the leadership team of CPN worked nearly nonstop using the Zello smart phone app as well as HAM radio operators via AmRRon (the American Redoubt Radio Operators Network) and working with Forward Observer to receive calls for assistance and disseminate that information to Cajun Navy responders among other things. This coordinated effort was a significant example of how a group of loosely organized individuals can operate as efficiently or more so than larger government organizations.

There was one story of ladies stranded in their attic with water reaching up to them who were located by CPN who then notified Cajun Navy responders who rescued them. Other services involved coordinating housing and food for volunteers on the scene. One example is that of a call that came in from a Cajun Navy volunteer at 8:30 PM saying they needed housing for 10 to 30 persons. CPN volunteers called Crosspointe Church which promptly responded “What do you need and where?”, then another church provided a mission house and another had a multi-purpose facility where the volunteers could sleep and park their boats and trailers. Within an hour or so, they had the lodging they needed. All of these coordination efforts were done long distance through CPN volunteers in Charlotte, Asheville, Raleigh, Greenville (SC) and elsewhere. This goes to show that with modern technology, you can help from anywhere.

Something else that impressed me came from listening in on a conference call last night with the leadership team having an Action Review (“AR”) or debriefing of the event. There was plenty of well deserved back slapping and congratulatory words, but there was also a focus on what could have been done better and how to get ready for the next disaster whether it be from a hurricane, power failure or other catastrophic event. I believe Hurricane Florence will be remembered within CPN as the time when CPN “grew up” to become a life changer, putting theory into practice. I congratulate Forrest and all the others who gave up their time to help strangers and am proud to be a sponsor of this fine organization.

Related:

Forward Observer: Intel Support to Hurricane Florence & Disaster Response

Forward Observer: Notes on Hurricane Florence Disaster Response

Forward Observer: An Introduction to Fox Company and “Disaster Intelligence”

Radio Free Redoubt: AmRRON Coverage of Florence and EXSUM

 

 

 

Forward Observer: Community Security eBook

Sam Culper at Forward Observer has written a short (sixteen pages) ebook on Intelligence and Community Security. It’s a ‘quick start’ guide to understanding intelligence for community security and emergency preparedness.

The writing is on the wall. It couldn’t be more clear.

Our power grids are critically vulnerable.

“As an almost 30-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force with leadership experience in intelligence and cyber warfare, and as a current member of the U.S. House of Representatives Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection, I know we are highly vulnerable to a cyber-attack on our electric grid.

Such an attack could have devastating, long-term consequences for our economy, our national security – for our very way of life.”

Those are the recent words of Don Bacon (R-NE), a retired Air Force Brigadier General who was in charge of the Air Force’s Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) strategy program.

This “news” about the power grid shouldn’t be news to anyone, but it drives home a very good point…

If you care about your wife, children, family, and neighborhood, you should spend some time preparing for the effects of a cyber attack like the one Rep. Bacon describes.

The emergency preparedness community is so quick to focus on “bullets, beans, and band-aids” that they often overlook the value of local intelligence gathering.

Intelligence is probably the single-most overlooked aspect of preparedness, yet it should be a central part of your preparedness plans.

I’ll state the case:

If you’re concerned about a cyber attack or a grid-down event, you’re not actually preparing for those events. You’re preparing for the effects of those events.

But how do you know what the specific local effects will be, and how can you be sure?

Only intelligence can inform you of the second- and third-order effects of an event of this magnitude.

Only intelligence can inform you of very specific threats you may experience in the area.

Only intelligence can inform you of the likelihood that your neighborhood will suffer from looters, even worse criminals, and further systems disruption.

Bullets, beans, and band-aids will get you through periods of emergency, but they can’t inform your expectations of what will happen in the future.

That’s the value of intelligence…

Sam Culper says to share the ebook far and wide.  Click here to download Forward Observer’s Intelligence & Community Security ebook. It may only be freely available for a limited time.

So here’s what I want you to do…

PRINT IT.

Forward this email to your friends.

Give the book away.

Read it this weekend.

Have your friends read it this weekend.

And then act on it.

For the rest of this weekend, you can access the book here.