If you just arrived in the Redoubt (or expect to arrive soon) and are wondering how to get plugged into a community, this tale of one man’s hobby-turned-big-paying-gig has good advice.
People typically crave community. Preppers and survivalists tend to be much more private individuals and families, but if you’ve read James Wesley, Rawles then you know that if the collapse does finally come, no family is going to succeed in defending a retreat all by themselves. If you’re an individual, you won’t be manning that watch 24/7 because you have to sleep sometime. And if you have a family and think between you and your spouse you’re set, try asking any military veteran how long and how well they held up under two-section watch rotation in their operational area. It’s normally avoided if possible due to the extreme wear on health and mental faculty, but sometimes cannot be avoided if personnel losses occur. If you talk to folks who served in the USN, it’s called “Standing Port and Starboard” and very much dreaded.
So community is important. They become the local support network and the cottage industry in the event of total collapse. Prior to that, they fulfill cravings for human interaction and belongingness, even beyond immediate family. Local community is also good for barter and for learning from each other. No one can specialize in everything by themselves.
How do you get plugged in to a local community? Here’s an excellent illustration from an unusual corner of the internet, outside of survival and preparedness.
Weird Hobby to Paying Gig
A fellow writing under the handle of “Libertas” describes how his “useless hobby of choice…dedicated to something very stupid” ended up creating a huge financial opportunity for him, and shares his lessons learned in the article over here.
Basically, his interest in debating which fictional comic book character could beat other fictional characters in a fight led him to a very large internet community with the same interest in 2010. He points out that your hobby or interest may seem useless, but many others must have an interest in it or else you wouldn’t have found a community of like-minded individuals.
(Well, most folks may find the prepper and survivalist mindsets odd just as the Grasshopper must have thought the Ant odd in the old fable, but we have a well-grounded passion for planning for future risks, and a ‘community of like-minded individuals’ definitely exists both at the general level and the specific topics.)
Anyways, the author joined the main site for the hobby back when it was seeing up to 6000 unique visits per day and averaging about 20,000 unique visits per month. He spent a year contributing ten times more than he took before he became seen as a “regular.” By that point, he’d earned the community’s trust and was offered a position as a moderator when a spot opened unexpectedly.
His work toward the community interest continued and by 2014 he was a senior active moderator and the chief caretaker of the site. Then the site got axed by its host because folks who thought mean words and politically incorrect language toward folks who made a habit of saying stupid things could not be tolerated in today’s Land of the Easily Offended and Home of the Hypersensitive. The author stepped in, backed up the pages and secured rights to the domain, re-launched on their own platform to be free from thought police, and now is profiting well from what was once considered a weird and useless hobby.
‘Libertas’ shares five lessons learned, but they are geared toward online communities. Allow me to retool these for those in the survival and preparedness interest making a relocation to a better place and looking to join an offline community.
- Get involved with a community of like-minded folks. If you don’t show up, you’re not part of any community. So find those local networks of shared interest and participate. It might be homestead industries or businesses you find through a farmer’s market, or Preppers you meet at a conference or fair, or your own neighbors on your new street.
- Contribute ten times more than you take. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but a guideline encouraging you to make sure you give more than you take and it is noticeable. Contributions require your time and finances, but persist in it if it is your interest and people will begin to notice.
- Learn a skill that helps the community. In the online example, the author was nominated for the moderator spot partly because they knew he had a beneficial skillset in web operation, and partly because he was a dedicated contributor to the community. What skills can you offer to your local community of interest? If you don’t have any skills to offer yet, what skills could you learn?
- Keep an eye open for opportunities to expand. Maybe a new project is getting underway and the community needs help turning a vision to reality. There’s always somewhere you can volunteer and meet a need. This is the next level beyond the regular contributions.
- Needs arise when the unexpected occurs. Maybe the community just lost a key member due to life changes or illness or unexpected death. If you have earned trust, you will be in a position to create opportunities for the community as a leader.
I had read this article prior to my relocation to the Redoubt, and have worked to actively follow the guidance.
When my like-minded neighbor began building a house so he could move his family out of the mobile home, I took every opportunity to spend time helping him pound nails, though I was busy with my own adjustments to relocation. This native-born local has likewise helped me several times in adjusting to frontier living and wants to teach me how to feed a family for free from big-game hunting, a skillset I do not yet have. We are from different backgrounds and likely would not have become friends in the normal course of the world, but I consciously dedicate time to building a friendship and not allowing any differences of opinion or belief or personality get in the way.
In other local groups, I have earned the respect of regulars from selfless and valued contributions of time, labor, or input. (You may think you have something valuable to offer, but does the group think it is valuable? If so, great! If not, get off your high horse and go meet some real needs!) It has resulted in job offers, chances to learn new survival skills, and friendships I can depend on in time of need.
I arrived with some useful skills. I have had to learn other, new skillsets to meet group needs. I’d be a lot worse off and struggling with my relocation and the shift from city life to rural life if not for the communities that have happily helped me. These folks offered their help because they saw that I gave worthwhile things without expecting much in return.
Is this an unethical I’ll-scratch-your-back-if-you-scratch-mine? No. It is normal and natural human behavior to want to help folks who have helped you. The dividing line is really in how you see others. Do you see them as simpletons who don’t realize how you’ve played them to your advantage? Then you’re a bad person and I hope the community flushes you out for their sake. Do you strive to make friendships despite differences and look for reasons to respect others? Then this is normal, positive and constructive human interaction and the stuff communities are truly made of when you cannot simply “unfriend” and exile everyone who might slightly disagree on something.
If you’re relocating to the Redoubt or have recently relocated, read the original article and take that and this to heart. Work toward being a contributor to the local communities of shared interest, and opportunities will eventually begin to fall in your lap. And if TEOTWAWKI ever comes to pass, you’ll already have a good local network to survive the collapse.