Monday, March 5, 2018

Why Preppers Have a Hard Time Building Community

I received a good, thought-provoking comment from a reader earlier today. It really got me to thinking about building community. Rather than a quick  reply in the comments section, I felt it worthy of deeper consideration.

Here is the reader's comment:

The most difficult aspect to me continues to be building community. I was electronically connected to local prepper groups for four years, and attended meetings over a year, mostly sitting off in a corner, before I felt comfortable enough to have a one-on-one coffee session with anyone. We've discussed "community" many times, but I just don't see a "safe" way to bring in neighbors pre-disaster. I need a good plan to bring in folks almost immediately post-disaster initiation to hopefully avoid the community going bad.

Here are my thoughts:

Finding and building community is something that most preppers/survivalists agree is a good idea, but find it very difficult to do in reality. I certainly struggle with this issue, and I've heard from lots of others who struggle with it, too. Why is finding or building community so hard?

A large part of the reason it that we are looking at the issue in the wrong way, or at least in an incomplete way. We seem to focus on the external - Who should be in the group, who should be excluded, where to find group members, when/how to talk to them about preparedness, how can they be integrated into a group...

We largely ignore the other half of the equation, the internal. We ignore ourselves, and our own attitudes and problems. It is these internal issues that may be blocking our efforts to find/build community. It comes down to our inability or unwillingness to trust others.

Let's face it: many of us are very independent-minded (I want to do things my way and only my way), cling to our own individuality, "compromise" is seen as a dirty word, and delegation of duties and responsibilities is difficult (what if they don't do it "my way'). 

Most of us are not very trusting by nature, which is part of why we are preppers in the first place. After all, if we really were trusting, we would trust the government and other authorities to take care of us in an emergency. In fact, we are suspicious of others by our very nature.

A successful community requires we trust each other, but most of us are not wired to be trusting of others. Therefore, we end up looking for "perfect" group members, folks we can absolutely trust and feel extremely safe bringing into the community. Yet there are no perfect people, so we are doomed to look continuously without success.   
Perfect is the Enemy of Good

Understand that I am not advocating blindly trusting everyone and anyone. We do need to consider the character, trustworthiness, and compatibility of folks we let into our lives and community. But, if we are to be successful, at some point we have to be willing to say "This person isn't perfect, but they are good enough."  Hopefully, they will be willing to say the same about you. After all, you are not perfect either.    

You might like these other articles I've written on the topic of community:


  1. Tim,

    In the Fall of 2017 I published a book on the very steps it takes to improve communities that can become prepared communities. One of my passions is to build a stronger American through strong communities.

    If you would like me to write an article for you on the subject and the book please let me know. I am a full time freelance writer in the survival and preparedness niche.

    For those interested in the book

    Talk to you soon.

    James Walton

  2. Another problem is that prepper-minded folks are very hard to find. Most people would rather waste their time and money on TV and other froo-froo than lift a finger to be even slightly prepared. They'll say "I can't afford it" as they blow $100 monthly on cable and G0d only knows how much on beer and other stuff.

    Then there are the flakes one meets who run a booth at the gun show selling prepper gear - who will agree "yeah, we've gotta meet and talk" and exchange contact info with you, then NEVER follow through. I encountered one of these - after a couple attempts at linking up and being told "yeah, we've just been sooooo busy", I finally replied "Yes, I am too; I work TWO jobs - but I make time for what's truly important."