Strategies For A Neighborhood Prep Cooperative
By Jonathon Miller
Now that we are in a time of growing awareness of the potential for a societal breakdown disaster, forming a preparedness cooperative among your neighbors and friends is a crucially important idea.
As one of the founders of an urban natural foods cooperative in 1975, that continued to operate for 30 years through many changes, I understand the value and the challenges of such a venture in normal times.
At a time of easily perceived possibilities of chaos arising from either an economic collapse, an earth change, a power outage or some other social disruption event, forming a shared cooperative project with neighbors in a strategic geographic sector is essential.
The primary topics of concern are food, water, shelter, first aid and security. It is important to have thorough plans and adequate supplies of good food, pure water, first aid items, nutritional supplements, herbs, essential medications, clothing, flashlights, batteries, candles, alternative lights, matches and other fire starters, tools and off-grid heating, cooking, air quality and waste disposal equipment.
I grew up with the idea of preparing foods for later consumption through the winter, as my farm-bred grandmother froze and canned foods every season. I spent a great deal of time helping at the farm of my great aunt and uncle, and we also had a family vegetable garden at our home along with fruit trees, berries and grapes.
So I learned a lot about growing and saving various natural foods. Later I found out about dried foods packed for long term storage and the reasoning for that.
The best choices for stored foods are nutritious, ready to eat items, that are protected from oxidation, and which do not readily spoil without refrigeration.
It is commonly suggested to obtain a supply of prepared dehydrated or freeze-dried meals and sproutable dried beans, grains and seeds. Organic flaxseed and a green super foods mix are high nutrition foods with multiple benefits. Buckwheat, millet, quinoa, amaranth, rye, barley, oats, sunflower, chia, sesame, clover, alfalfa, legumes (beans and peas) are other wholesome foods, best organically grown.
As a cooperative, your local group may be able to order in bulk from a natural foods supplier who delivers to the area at wholesale prices. You can get most beans, grains and other seeds in 25 or 50 lb bags. Other items may come in jars, bottles, tins or packages, some by the case. With a simple balance scale it is easy to divide a group order. Everyone can get stocked with good foods at a reasonable cost.
Sprouting beans and seeds provides fresh living food with highly available nutrients. Except for chewing or juicing the sprouted grass, wheat should be avoided, as it is harmful to health with thousands of irritant proteins and acids that are toxic to humans, including lectin, gliadin, gluten and phytic acid. Many people are allergic to wheat without knowing it.
Dehydrated vegetables and fruits, whole grain chips and crackers, produce that can keep for a good while un-refrigerated (eg., winter squash, potatoes, carrots, apples, etc.), coffee, teas, canned juices, natural sweeteners (eg., honey, maple syrup, agave, organic cane juice crystals, etc.), natural oils (eg., olive oil, coconut oil, hemp oil, flax oil), natural salt, spices, culinary herbs, and condiments (eg., apple cider vinegar, mustard, kelp or dulse for iodine, cayenne or capsicum), are also good for survival supplies.
During the growing season, it is wise to have a substantial gardening project. You can also experiment with growing food indoors in the Fall and winter, and getting garden plants started early in the Spring.
Maintain a supply of various heirloom vegetable and herb seeds (standard heirloom strains, not hybrids).
A green house, a cold frame or a growing tunnel can extend your growing season in colder climates. You can start plants earlier in the Spring, and prolong the harvest time for some plants in the Fall.
For a long term survival situation, growing food indoors could be necessary. Setting aside an area for indoor growing may be important for the case of inhospitable outdoor conditions, such as with a major volcanic eruption leaving a cloud of ash around the world for a year or two. Having the seeds, soil, containers, lighting, adequate water and know-how takes planning.
There are various special methods for growing foods in a small space or indoors, including towers, barrels, window boxes, hanging baskets, aquaponics, etc.
There are many crops that can be grown indoors if you have prepared for it. These include: lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, kale, collards, carrots, beans, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, various herbs, sprouted seeds, etc.
Once any disaster events subside on the Earth's surface would begin a time of clean up. Survivalists advise having seeds and tools ready for the planting of food crops in the Spring or early summer, after the time of greatest disturbances has passed.
Working together, a cooperative group can plan and share duties for generating a variety of foods for the long run. Coordinating wise use of tools, seeds and other resources for effective food production is sensible and may save lives.
You can fill a variety of clean bottles, jars and other containers and store pure water around the house and garage. Use and replace them in a regular rotation. The stored water should be purified of chemicals. To eliminate bacteria that may grow in the water, add some hydrogen peroxide, stabilized oxygen, vodka, etc. If there is a chance of freezing, leave space in the container for ice to expand without shattering the container.
A good pore through water purifier would be very useful.
A solar distiller can be made by filling a dark container with water from collected rain, a spring, a stream, etc. The container is then placed in the sun, covered by glass that is tilted slightly for the condensed water to slide off for collection in a separate vessel.
Another option for getting pure water is hanging large plastic trash bags on tree limbs to gather morning dew, although there may be undesirable chemicals in the plastic.
(NOTE: You can draw water from a water heater for a while in an emergency. If you know a potential power outage emergency is coming, you could fill the bathtub with water that could be used for cooking, washing or even flushing the toilet. CAUTION: If there are young children in the home, take safety precautions to keep any small child away from the tub of water.)
A neighborhood water plan for storing and purifying water, as well as obtaining more in the event of an extended power shut down, is very important.
With the potential for geophysical changes, including earthquakes, high winds and flooding, it is wise to plan for and prepare a strong, water tight shelter.
At the least, consider walling off an area of the basement to build a protected room away from windows.
Even better would be to dig an enclosed safe shelter deep underground that is not directly below a structure that could collapse in on it. You could knock out a section of basement wall for access. It would be a good idea to have an alternative route for exit from such a shelter as well.
Shelter design plans should include equipment for water, food storage and prep, exercise and sleeping, and methods for full-spectrum lighting, including ultra violet light, temperature control, air ventilation and elimination of wastes. Tight sealing containers for water, foods, seeds, etc., would be valuable.
Consideration of earthquakes, flooding, fires, falling meteors and nuclear radiation should be made in preparing a shelter.
Beyond alcohol pads and other antiseptics, bandages, gauze, cotton and tape, the first aid kit should also have some sterile medical implements, such as scalpels, hemostats, and needles for sutures.
As an herbalist, I prefer oregano oil, clove oil, tea tree oil, olive leaf, garlic and larrea, along with a silver solution, enzymes and probiotics, to prevent or care for infection illnesses.
Any necessary medications should be accumulated if possible. Meanwhile learning about natural alternatives would be a good precaution for a time of long term unavailability of prescription refills.
Anyone nearby with experience as a paramedic, nurse or doctor could become the neighborhood medic in an emergency.
With the potential for a condition of societal breakdown, strategic planning is needed to protect your family and community in case of possible eventualities. There could be marauding looters and gangs looking for items of value, especially food. Starving people can act with desperation.
In a rural area, a wooded buffer zone between the residence and the road is beneficial. Consider how to set up a defensive perimeter.
Is a high fence around the property feasible? Binoculars or a telescope would be helpful to survey the landscape from a hill or a window with good visibility.
A cohesive group with adequate resources could prepare an underground facility with multiple rooms in case of dangerous conditions above ground.
A hidden safe room or underground shelter should have more than one door, with strong security measures.
It is a basic drive to survive and protect yourself and your loved ones from harm. I am not really a gun guy, but I did learn to shoot as a kid. A firearm might be useful in a crazy world with various threats. Those who have and are capable with arms can be organized to conduct patrols of the community boundaries.
If you reside in a city, with a potential for chaotic conditions post collapse, it is wise to have an escape plan to get out of the city before it is too dangerous to go out or to travel.
A three day "go bag" for each member of the family or survival group is a very good idea. A knapsack should be prepared, as large and heavy as feasible for the person that can be carried comfortably, ideally with a frame, ready to go and kept at home and/or in the car. It is best to have this bag in close proximity to you wherever you are. You may not have much warning of a need to get away. If your bag is in the car nearby, you are prepared in case you find yourself in a situation in which you can't get back home.
You and your travel group should have a change of clothing (especially socks) for everyone, adequate food (high nutrition, non perishable, light weight) for several days, pure water, a fire making method, warm sleeping gear, rain gear, first aid supplies, needed medicine, flashlights, batteries, a good map, a compass and a camping shelter or two, particularly a light weight tent or at least a protective cover.
Have your cell phones charged up as much as possible, although they may not work if all power is out.
If you have a relative or friend in a rural or small town setting that is willing to accommodate, you could form a plan to make your way to them in the case of a disaster emergency. Discuss thorough plans with them ahead of time. You could also have a well-stocked get-away cabin in the woods somewhere if that is feasible.
Try to keep enough fuel in your vehicle at all times that is adequate to reach that destination. If the vehicle will not work for any reason, be prepared to travel by bicycle or on foot.
You might want to include loved ones in the planning who are living in another location for them to get to the survival location as well.
Realize that in a collapsed society situation, others may want to capture your vehicle, bicycle or supplies.
If you are traveling through the wilderness, you could encounter harmful animals, such as wild dogs, coyotes or wolves in a pack, wild hogs, bears, cougars, poisonous snakes, etc., as well as humans that might not hesitate to harm in a crisis situation.
Traveling in a group takes advantage of "safety in numbers", but the group is more noticeable than just a couple of people. In the case of lawlessness or martial law, you may need to keep a low profile in your travel.
Familiarity with an off-road route to your destination may be needed. You could follow known roads at a distance, ideally through woods and away from occupied homes and buildings. The idea is to avoid threatening encounters with unknown people as much as possible during a time of crisis.
Select nearby friends, relatives and neighbors with whom you are compatible to discuss preparedness plans for mutual support. If they are convinced of the wisdom of such planning, you can form a cooperative to help each other.
Your group can work together to gather and grow needed food, round-up supplies and form a strategy for protecting yourselves from possibly desperate selfish people in a crisis.
How to approach your neighbors and friends about forming a support and protection system is the first issue.
Setting a time for a meeting, you might go around to the neighbors and invite them to come and discuss forming a neighborhood co-op. You could explain that with the hard times that seem to be developing, buying things in bulk together could save everyone some money. Mention that there might be other ideas of how to benefit from cooperation, if only to get to know the neighbors better.
Another approach is to raise the issue of security. Many city neighborhoods have formed a "block watch" program for crime, sometimes with the help of the local police department. Beyond just watching for suspicious activity or providing a safe shelter for kids under threat, neighbors could strategize procedures for protecting each other from an invasion by a gang.
If your neighbors are uncooperative or otherwise unsuitable for interaction, think of people you know that live nearby, ideally in walking distance, that you can ally with to help each other in case of a problem.
The main emphasis of survival is forming a support community among family and trusted friends and neighbors that can work together to make plans, assemble provisions, supplies and tools, create a protective shelter and set up security systems.
Buy and invest locally. Support local small businesses, artists, musicians, craftsmen and service providers.
The ideal would be to organize an entire self-reliant community with off-the-grid means of communicating, obtaining needed goods and services, preparing underground safety shelters, sharing food growing and preserving methods, developing an insightful educational and wisdom system, and expanding knowledge of natural methods of health care and holistic healing.
On a larger scale, encourage other local groups to discuss and make plans for strengthening the whole area economy and helping the less fortunate. You might also consider actions that can prevent and reduce crime.
Unfortunately, most Americans have been hypnotized and "dumbed down" to ignorance by television, other media, education, propaganda, politics, fluoride, aluminum, MSG, Aspartame, alcohol, vaccinations, etc.
Due to this ignorance and the strength of the "normalcy bias", the faulty assumption that "normal" will always continue, people are not likely to have prepared for the unusual situation.
The Earth is changing, and so is the social situation around us. Learn as much as you can to be able to plan for a safe and healthy future for yourself and your loved ones. Things may or may not become difficult, but having a good plan and being prepared with the supplies and associates you need for living in different circumstances will prevent fear and sustain your clear ability to deal well with whatever develops.
Love is our real power in the physical as well as the spiritual realms. Love is the guiding principal in planning, gathering supplies and arranging shelter to better deal with whatever changes come, and also as we move beyond the physical.
We may or may not survive for long, but the more prepared we are, the less stress it will be for ourselves and our loved ones for however long we do make it.
Jonathon Miller is a holistic educator, human nature analyst, philosopher and singer/songwriter. His education includes a Bachelor of Arts with honors in economics and philosophy from Ohio University, a Master of Arts in religion with emphasis in psychology, a Master of Divinity, both from Hartford Seminary, and 40 years of experience in wellness education, business, community organizations, social studies research and writing. Jon has an internet radio program and is the author of several books, and developer of several websites, such as SurviveTheChanges.com and ReallyWell.com.
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