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.

Mountain Guerrilla: Building Tribe

This is an older article from John Mosby of Mountain Guerrilla about building tribes or close, loyal groups. It’s from six years ago, but seemed particularly relevant at this time. I’m only excerpting a small part here as it is a rather long piece, but worth your time. As usual with Mosby, language warning.

…Whether we’re discussing Teutonic Europe, the Roman legions, Japanese samurai, American Indians, or modern soldiers, though, there is an underlying message of community, team unity, and focusing on the collective goals, rather than individual self-interest. The cliché of course is that soldiers don’t fight and die for country, Mom, or apple pie. They fight and die for the buddy on either side of them. They know that invoking their natural self-interest—survival–and running away to survive another day, puts their companions—their brothers, in greater danger. Loyalty to the group—esprit de corps—is the essnce of fighting morale. The faith that you are part of something greater than yourself—a legacy if you will—is what makes men do really stupid shit that we later look at as courage under fire.

I get asked regularly, “how do I form a tribe like this?” “How do I build this type of loyalty?” Unfortunately for those who want a nice, pat, pre-packaged answer, this loyalty is the result—not the cause—of the companionship developed.

How do we develop that companionship? By spending time together, trading “gifts,” and building relationships. There are no easy answers. Getting together once a year with a bunch of guys you meet on an internet forum does not “build tribe.” There’s no loyalty being built. To use the Germanic tribal terms we’ve been using, because you’re not building a real spirit of frith—intertwined loyalty to community laws—there is no commingling of “wyrd” or fates.

If you’re searching “survivalist meet-up” sites to find a group to join, you’re doing it the wrong way. Intentional communities—especially survivalist communities—just don’t work out. They all end up either being the result of some megalomaniacal f…er trying to create his own fiefdom, or the “rugged individualism” of the rich yuppies involved comes to the front, so no commingling of effort and fate and luck ever takes place, and the venture falls to pieces.

If you want to build a tribe, look around you. Where is your family? Who are your friends? Both my immediate family and my in-laws, live prohibitively far away from us. In a grid-down scenario, we’re going to be useless to them, and vice versa. Thus, we have to build new tribe, out of the people around us. We have to look at our neighbors; the good ones and the bad ones, and decide how they are going to relate to us when things get ugly. Do I have a neighbor—even one—that doesn’t have issues I dislike? I … doubt it. Are there neighbors I think are complete … that I don’t even want on the same planet as my kids, let alone in the same community? Absolutely.

There is a difference though. I can work with the first example. Either I can choose to ignore their idiosyncrasies that I dislike, and hope they do the same for me, or I can approach them and try to figure out a way to help them work past those issues (I hate the fact that I have neighbors too blind to see why they need to actually train with the gun they carry, rather than just carrying it. So, I try to get them to go shoot. I hate the fact that I have neighbors that don’t have any storage food. So I try to demonstrate why we have storage food. I hate the fact that I have neighbors who don’t do PT…so I do PT and then do things that are physical, hopefully better than them, to set an example).

The second example? Well, I can either hope that they get killed off, or be ready to do it myself if it becomes necessary. Writing off every single person in your community though, is either arrogant hubris, or sheer stupidity. Unless you live, completely alone, in a hermitage on a remote mountain in the Himalayas, if you can’t find a dozen, or two dozen, or more, neighbors in even a small community, that you share interests, concerns, and values with, you need to take a serious look in the mirror. As bad as things are in America today—and make no mistake, I think they are … horrendous—if you think there are not other people in your community who are just as concerned, you’re a [not nice name]…

Click here to read the entire article at Mountain Guerrilla.

American Partisan: Is Your Group Missing Esprit de Corps?

American Partisan has a brief but good article up, One Critical Thing Your Group May Be Missing. Esprit de corps can be viewed as a group’s commitment, loyalty and attachment to each other and to their organization’s mission. A group with high esprit de corps and high member morale inspires individual members to execute their duties and responsibilities beyond expectations, leading to success reaching and exceeding the group’s goals. Individuals with high morale give their best service to the group. Confidence in the group’s cause, organization, leadership, methods and direction all contribute to individual high morale and, thus, group esprit de corps.

[W]hether regular organized units, survival groups, or guerrilla partisans resisting “enemies foreign and domestic,” the morale of the unit is almost as important as the combined unit skill sets. A less skilled, equipped unit with a high standard of motivation and sense of purpose can achieve as much as a well equipped, well trained, low morale unit. Throughout history, smaller ill prepared forces with a collective motivating goal have successfully hindered overwhelmingly superior forces that had less than ideal morale.

According to Harvard sociologist Alexander H. Leighton, “Morale is the capacity of a group of people to pull together persistently and consistently in pursuit of a common purpose.”

Click here to read the entire article at American Partisan.

Related:

American Partisan: Forming a Community Survival Group

American Partisan: So You Have a Group — Now What?

Kit Perez over at American Partisan has a useful article up about what your group should be doing, or not doing, if you have one. Here’s an excerpt from So You Have a Group — Now What?

Groups are all the rage. A lot of people like to identify with some kind of group. It can give them the feeling that they’re “doing something,” or even fill the validation need. That’s not a good or bad thing, it just is.

If you’ve already read about how to recruit, and who not to have, you might be wondering what’s next. You’ve whittled down your existing group to the people you need or created a new, small group of solid folks, and you’re looking for the next step. Well, here it is:

Your group needs a goal.

What do you want? What would you like to accomplish? Now is not the time for some grandiose “liberty” idea. Now is when you decide exactly what your particular group wants to see happen in your local area. Be realistic here; if you choose a goal that is more fantasy than reality you’ll not only fail to achieve it but you’ll get burned out in the process.

Once you have a goal, look at specific, actionable things you can do that will push you toward that goal.

The #1 Thing You Need

Keep in mind that regardless of what your goal or action plan ends up being, if the public will know about your group, then you need the public to support you. There is no shortcut, no way around this. If your group will have a public face, that face better be a positive one — and not just among your echo chamber of like-minded folks, either…

Click here to read the entire article at American Partisan.

Related:

American Partisan: Forming a Community Survival Group

Liberty and Lead: Reality Check

Are you and your friends ready? From the Liberty and Lead 2.0 blog:

Reality Check

This post is going to be a bit personal. It may however help someone who is going through something similar.

I have been prepping and preparing with the same 2 other families for a decade. We have been very close, like family but…

Something has been off for a good while. It has been increasingly hard to get everyone together for almost any purpose. Training opportunities have been given to us only to end up with us passing on them because we simply could not get everyone to commit. Because of other things going on in life we failed to capitalize on some terrific potential learning.

Increasingly it seemed that my wife and I were the serious ones, the folks trying to herd cats so to speak. Again and again our own progress in what we needed was hampered because of schedule conflicts and other commitments by our partners.

This year I have committed to prepping me. Along that vein I realized we needed to get out in the open what we felt and see what was the will of the others involved. I called a meet for this purpose.

We laid it all out. It did not go the way I had hoped.

People who we believed were just as committed as we were to continue toward building a resilient tribe relocated at property already secured have lost their desire. They have lost their sense of urgency. They have succumbed to normalcy bias. Living in this false reality has taken priority away from preparing to live a more primitive and self sufficient life. They were honest and we appreciated it but…they simply are not going to be the people we continue building with.

So today I feel a little like I’ve been slapped back a decade.

Yesterday I thought I had it figured out. Today I am trying to get a grip on the new reality.

My wife nor I slept well. This morning she stated flatly “we have a lot of decisions to make” and added “what do we do?”

I don’t know.

What I do know is that this changes my personal goals not one tick. We are still on a countdown to moving our family to the lifestyle we want. We are still on a mission to learn all we can, acquire what we need and be ready to weather all storms. We just won’t be doing that with the now broken tribe we have had for many years.

It is disappointing, but not devastating.

This is too important to have to herd people. Too critical a commitment to have to try and pull people along. Everyone gets tired and needs encouragement and that is part of tribal life but once you have realized that other’s hearts are no longer in it, it is time to check yourself. YOU are the only person you can control. YOU have to make a decision…