Lately the topic of community has come up a lot… I’ve heard about it a lot from other homesteaders, from family and friends, and a whole bunch of other sources. It seems to be on everyone’s mind. I’ve discussed a bit about community when it comes to having emergency plans, but I’d like to dig into the value of community planning a little more today.
By this point in time, it comes as no surprise that more and more people are taking the issue of preparedness seriously. It became glaringly obvious to people that certain habits and thought processes needed to be adjusted. Societally, we took the systems that are in play for granted, and when they stopped working the way they were intended, suddenly everyone had to adapt.
I have to say, in some ways, the events of the last two years were a blessing in disguise, if only for shaking people out of complacency. But it seems we’re not past the worst of it. Fuel prices are high, inflation keeps rising, there are wars and rumors of wars, and even the President of the United States has warned of coming food shortages. And understandably, it’s got people worried and scrambling.
I know a lot of people feel like there is little to nothing that they can do to adequately prepare for the things that seem to be coming at us in the near future. People were already struggling to make ends meet after being told they were non-essential. It’s not like the payment plans exactly went smoothly. Plenty of people who should have gotten money never received a dime, and there were lots of others that swindled and cheated. There’s at least one instance of somebody using a PPE load to hire a hitman! How insane is that?! We want to count on the goodness of others, but sometimes we just can’t.
That’s where having a good community comes into play. Those who struggled the most had to count on the community around them to help see them through. I know a woman who is still in a tough situation, and her family is helping her out. I’d do more if she weren’t states away. We’ve been through some hard times over the nearly 15 years we’ve been married, and it is because of loving family and friends and neighbors that we came through stronger and better.
I know a lot of people are feeling really overwhelmed by what they see as their lack of preparedness. Suddenly, when confronted with all of the “what if’s,” they realize what a long way they are from having that “insurance” of a good plan. Yeah, the government might recommend having a 3-day supply of food on hand for emergencies, but I think a lot of people now understand that’s not really a good enough plan, especially after “15 days to flatten the curve.”
But the reality is that we don’t have to do all of this planning and preparedness alone. With a little forethought and planning, we can help buffer our communities against what could come. We can bring a little hope to the darkness.
I would really like to encourage everyone to take some time to do some planning with your community. Now, community doesn’t have to be your particular neighborhood, but it should be localized. Internet community or interstate community is not what I’m referring to here. These could be people you work with, neighbors, family, friends, church members, or the families that have kids that go to school with your kids. Pick the people you feel are on the same page as you, and that you know or feel like you can trust. All you need is a group of 3 people, minimum. In fact, it probably should be 10 people max. At least to start with.
Start talking to these people about your desire to be able to work with others to help get prepared for what may come. Can you carpool to work together? Grow a garden on somebody else’s land? Teach each other valuable skills? Maybe you can find a way to go in on bulk purchases together like grains or large bottles of cooking oil, or even dried fruits. The intention is not to solve all of your worries, but just see who you can work with. Once you’ve figured this out, it’s time to set up a get-together to do a bit of planning.
The planning doesn’t need to be formal. The first get-together might just be spent getting everyone comfortable with each other and figuring out where you are all at. Find out what concerns everyone has and pick one or two things to start brainstorming solutions for. You don’t need all the answers, but you should be able to leave the meeting with everyone having some action step they can take. Maybe you walk away with each person having a grocery item they are going to buy to share with the group. Person A buys a bulk bag of rice or two. Person B buys bulk seasonings. Person C stocks up on bullion, and Person D gets jugs of water. Nobody has to spend a ton of money or do lots of work, but you agree to all contribute something. Even if the action item is that everyone is going to buy a big bag of rice, then everyone has taken one step closer to being a little better prepared.
If you aren’t very familiar with each other as a group, you might need to organize a few planning sessions like that. But after a few times, you should be able to step it up. Everyone should take inventory of what skills and resources they have. Do you have a pertinent book you can lend out? Are you good at foraging for wild edibles? Do you have free time to help someone garden or to babysit their kids so they can take some step towards helping the others? Maybe you have a tool that can be shared so not everyone has to make the same purchases.
If you can come to the gathering with notes in hand, great, otherwise, brainstorm together, and when everyone has compiled their lists, one person can take all of that and consolidate it into one document that can be printed out as a hardcopy for everyone to have. This will make it easier for you to know who to go to for help if you need it. Say you can’t get bread at the store, you’ve got flour on hand, but you don’t know how to make bread. One of your friends does. Now you know who to go to if you need help learning.
There is no right or wrong number of how many times you should meet up with these people to discuss. It’s really going to depend on who you know, where you live, what your circumstances are, and how prepared you want to be or how prepared the other people in the group are.
I keep saying, “There is no downside to having a plan.” You may never need your plan, but does that make it a waste of time or resources? Absolutely not. People have plans for all kinds of things… we buy life, auto, and homeowners’ insurance, we have contingency plans for inclement weather, we do all kinds of drills like tornado and fire drills. Maybe you never need it, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a waste. Bad or unexpected things happen all the time. We can’t plan for them all or stop everything from happening, but a plan can help make a bad situation bearable.
Planning doesn’t have to be depressing, and it shouldn’t make you fearful. We can plan and have a wonderful time doing it. In a lot of ways, homesteading IS my emergency plan. Yes, it is absolutely hard work, but I love it. Some of the things we do might have started as me trying to find an “emergency plan,” but I still do these things because I enjoy it. Plus, community is supposed to be a place for support. Do what you can to lift each other’s spirits. Stay focused on the positive.
And if we’re feeling fearful, then it’s time to turn it over to God. It’s good to plan for the worst, but we can’t get caught up in panic. We might feel very urgent about getting certain things done, but we can’t do everything all at once. Learning skills takes time, building resource pools takes time. So just ask God for guidance on what steps you can take. If you’re not a praying person, then just carefully consider what is reasonable for you to do to take you a little bit closer to where you want to go. Don’t operate from fear or panic. When you feel that way, turn it over to God or go to your friends and find some peace.
These things aren’t instantaneous, so it’s good to remember to just take it one step at a time, and work on community planning, because you don’t have to go it alone.
I hope this is helpful to someone out there. If you have questions about what steps you can take, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer!
Love and Blessings~ Danielle