I have written many times about the importance of community and neighbors when it comes to long term survival. Last year I wrote:
There is no question about it. I am a some-times recluse. I enjoy my home, my dog and my little family of two and can go for days without talking to anyone else outside these four walls. Given a choice of staying home and watching a classic period piece on TV or going to a party with dozens of people, well, the choice for me is clear.
Yet from time to time, it feels good to be a social butterfly. Get me out on the dance floor or at a small gathering and I will bloom and shine. And so it is. We as humans crave our privacy while at the same time we long for the intensiveness of a satisfying social experience.
So how do we find the right balance, especially when it comes to living the preparedness lifestyle? On the one hand we need to feel secure that our “stuff” is safe and that our painstakingly gathered preps will be there for our use when and if we need them. On the other hand, we need to defend ourselves, our homes and our loved ones from physical harm. Is this something we can do on our own in isolation or would we be better served with some help?
The dilemma we face, as always, is how to protect ourselves and our stuff while still having a synergistic relationship with the folks nearby; a relationship where we can watch each others backs and be supportive in times of need.
WHAT IS A NEIGHBORHOOD?
These days, neighborhoods are global. We are linked together by the internet, email, Facebook, Twitter and cell phones. Yet for prepping purposes, the neighborhood and the neighbors that count are those close by. They are the neighbors on your street and in close proximity to your home.
Wikipedia has a definition of neighborhoods that I particularly like:
A neighborhood is a geographically localized community within a larger city, town or suburb. Neighborhoods are often social communities with considerable face-to-face interaction among members. “Researchers have not agreed on an exact definition. Neighborhood is generally defined spatially as a specific geographic area and functionally as a set of social networks. Neighborhoods, then, are the spatial units in which face-to-face social interactions occur – the personal settings and situations where residents seek to realize common values, socialize youth, and maintain effective social control.”
The best of such communities are those where the individuals have taken the time to get to know each other by learning each other’s names, sharing emergency contact numbers and agreeing to look out for each other. This can be as simple as checking on neighbors after a storm, flood or power outage or as complex as have a well-organized block watch that will descend upon bad guys targeting the the streets after dark.
Okay you say, that sounds good but my neighbor is a beer guzzling jerk and I want nothing to do with him.
Fine. Like family, you can not always pick your neighbors and again, like family, you may not even like them. But that does not mean you should not nod a hello from time to time. After all, this very same neighbor may be the one to call the cops when he sees a prowler or the fire department when he sees unusual smoke coming from your home. That said, it does not mean that you need to become friends or invite them for dinner. Just a friendly hello from the front porch or parking lot may be all that it takes to have an extra set of eyes watching your back.
Today I would like to share nine ideas that will help you get to know your neighbors and also how to become (or stay) a good neighbor. As you read through them, you will realize that most are really just good, common sense. If you are like me though, you sometimes need to be reminded that simple things done in the short term can pay huge dividends in the long term. Being a good neighbor is one of those things.
9 SIMPLE WAYS TO BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR
1. Welcome newbies to the neighborhood
When I was first married and moved into my first real house, a neighbor came by with a plate of brownies. I put on a pot of coffee and we chatted a bit and exchanged phone numbers. Two things happened. One, I became a friendly and familiar face in the hood, so to speak, and two, I had a number of someone close by to call in an emergency.
In this case, we never became friends in the traditional sense but we knew each other well enough to say hello when we were out working in our yards and of course, were able to know who and recognize who belonged next door and who did not.
Welcoming newbies to the neighborhood can be as simple and easy as taking over a bunch of flowers or baking up that batch of proverbial brownies or chocolate chip cookies.
2. Lend a hand
Have you ever seen a neighbor struggle with a big pile of leaves or a mound of dirt? Or perhaps you catch the neighbor trying to bring bags of groceries indoors while the little kiddos are running around as kids ten to do. Think about politely offering to help out. Just remember, though, if they say no, accept that. They will still remember your kindness and may reciprocate down the road sometime.
3. Set boundaries
No one like a nosy neighbor. Just like you would prefer not to disclose the details or in-home location of your prepping activities and supplies, remember that you too must be respectful of your neighbors privacy and private matters. Keep your goal in mind. That goal is to have someone watch your back and to help you out if a disaster strikes and you are in worse shape than they are.
4. Keep it quiet
I can not imagine Backdoor Survival readers being a rowdy bunch but you never know. Cut the noise and loud music at 10PM and don’t start up again until 8 or 9 in the morning. Also, if you plan to have a shouting match with your partner, do it indoors with the windows closed. ‘Nuff said.
5. Keep it clean
Part of being a good neighbor means keeping the visible part of your home neat and tidy. Keep the lawn mowed and the bushes trimmed. Which reminds me: keeping the shrubs and bushes around your windows and doors well-trimmed will mitigate bad guys using them as hiding places prior to breaking and entering.
Also pick up any junk that may be lying around. This includes discarded planters, garbage (really!) and cardboard boxes that belong in recycle and not on your front porch. Somewhat related is this: make sure you pick up any dog poo that little Fido drops around the neighborhood on his walks.
6. Do not judge
Most of us keep our prepping activities to ourselves for fear of being labeled a crazy nut job. For many, even our own families know little about our activities. Likewise, park any judgmental attitudes about your neighbor at the door. As difficult as it may be sometimes, your business is your business and his business is his. There may be family or financial issues going on with your neighbor that you may not know of and further, you may not need to know.
Give it a rest and do your best not to judge.
7. Nip little problems in the bud
As with all things in life, nip little problems in the bud. Number 4 was “Keep it quiet”. If your neighbor has loud, pulsating music blasting at 1AM, you may want give him a call and ask him to turn it down. Because alcohol may be involved, I would not recommend marching up to his door and demanding that things quite down.
A better alternative is to wait until the next day and explain that the noise kept you awake and that next time, could they turn the music down a bit earlier?
The same things applies with a lawn that has not been mowed in weeks and is knee high in weeds. This is a problem in the prowlers may hang around, thinking the place is uninhabited. Check on your neighbor to make sure he is okay (you know, not sick or anything) and see if you can lend him an hour or your time to help him get things cleaned up.
Always remember, too, that it is a lot more difficult for someone to continue with their disturbing behavior if you have met them face to face (remember those brownies?) and shared a friendly “hello” now and then.
8. Never confront neighbors in anger or threaten
Never ever confront a neighbor in a state of anger. And most certainly do not threaten. This always applies, but it’s even more important if you haven’t already established a relationship with him or her. Instead, think it out and come up with a way to discuss the problem without putting your neighbor on the defensive.
Pick a time to talk when you are calm and try to focus less on blame and more on the solution.
9. If all else fails, call in the authorities
There may come a time when things get out of control. As you are trying to nip little problems in the bud, your neighbor may display violent or irrational behavior. If you are feeling personally threatened, then by all means call in the authorities and let them know. The last thing you want is to endanger yourself or your family while simply trying to be a good neighbor.
THE FINAL WORD
Over and over again, I have witnessed communities coming together in times of need. The recent fire in my own community demonstrated how neighbors helping neighbors can come together to prevent a bad situation from getting worse.
Today I want to remind you that being prepared is a lifestyle that involves much more that storing food, preserving water, and learning to use firearms. Being prepared means having the tools and the where-with-all to face life and all of its hazards and impediments head-on and without hesitation.
Having neighbors you can count on is one of those tools but it all starts, really, with being a good neighbor yourself.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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Bargain Bin: Couple being a good neighbor and with strong primary defenses and you have a winning combination. Here are some items to consider as you build up your fortress.
Dorcy LED Wireless Motion Sensor Flood Lite: This light is awesome. I use mine downstairs as well as on my stairway and when I get up in the middle of the night, they come on automatically. They are quite unobtrusive and give off a ton of light. Runs for a year on 3 D size batteries.
Uniden Bearcat 200-Channel Portable Scanner: A hand scanner with ham band that is very portable.
Midland 36-Mile 50-Channel FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radios: These are the handheld radios that I own. There are lots of good uses for the these radios. Handy while hiking, traveling, or simply keeping in touch with your partner while out shopping. They have a 36 mile range and are waterproof – qualities that I feel are important. Plus, in addition to using the included rechargeable batteries, they can use regular AAs in a pinch.
Two-Way Radios and Scanners For Dummies: I will say it again. Yes, I love these books for “dummies” even though I actually think I am quite smart.
Sabre Family Home & Property Protection Pepper Spray: This small fire extinguisher-style pepper spray delivers a strong blast covering an entire doorway. Offering extremely practical protection, SABRE provides distance from your threat with its 30 foot range. I like that it includes a wall mount.
Security Decals – 4 Pack: Security surveillance camera system warning decals/stickers. Increase security whether you have a system or not -no one will know but you.
Motorola FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radios: Another option to consider. There are lots of good uses for the these radios. Handy while hiking, traveling, or simply keeping in touch with your partner while out shopping.
Keypad Deadbolt: Need a good strong lock? With this, you will never have to worry about locking yourself out plus, you can secure the deadbolt from inside the house.
The monthly specials at Emergency Essentials feature discounts of up to 35% off sometimes a bit more.
We all know that we should store what we eat and eat what we store. In my own household, that means that we try to cook from our food storage pantry – not only the dried foods and canned goods that I have purchased from the grocery or Costco, but more esoteric items such as freeze-dried fruits and vegetables.
One of the star sale items this month is the FD Vegetable Combo which is on sale for 33% off. The combination is a perfect mix of spinach, corn, broccoli, green onions, peas and tomatoes. Most of these ingredients will be perfect for a minestrone soup don’t you think?
In addition, all Mountain House cans are 25% off with some select items at 29% off. For my own food storage, I ordered the Mountain House® Sweet & Sour Pork with Rice plus the Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Slices and Buttermilk Biscuit Mix.
I have a monthly budget and each month I add a bit more FD products to my long term storage.
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11 Steps to Living a Strategic Life: This little book will provide you with the motivation to get started or stay on track with a self-reliant life. 11 Steps to Living a Strategic Life, co-authored with my long time pal, George Ure (www.urbansurvival.com), and can purchased from Amazon.