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All over the world, on all sides of the world, people are waking up to the self-imposed isolation of Mankind. It is a realization that supersedes much of the political and cultural division in our world. All signs are pointing towards a return to the community as a solution to battle the perils of this technological shroud that has overcome many of us.
While the idea of a prepared community is no new thing, the start has always been the trouble. Often times we overlook our own neighborhood because of the fear of rejection when we bring up the topic of preparedness. It’s this fear of rejection that has forced us into our homes and behind the screen for most of our free time.
The Community Garden
There is a very safe first step that can be taken by anyone in any neighborhood in America. It’s the idea of starting some form of a community garden. The reason we start with the community garden is that it’s virtually impossible to discredit or reject the idea.
Most people are going to fall in love with the idea of a community garden. Now that we understand how much our health is tied to what we eat, people are growing more of their own food. The increase in home gardens and community gardens has been astounding in recent years.
Between 2008 and 2013 community gardening grew up to 200 percent. 42 million households in America are now growing a home garden or are involved with a community garden according to the same statistics: https://garden.org/learn/articles/view/3819/
5 years ago we started our first community garden. A simple email to the civic association spurred the conversation and from there we were off to the races. Well, not exactly. I was given a $300 check to make a garden happen in a small park in our neighborhood.
All toll we came away with two raised beds, good soil and some plants that would all become deer food. That first year was basically a total failure. The garden group grew and by next year we had fenced in the area and expanded it to 4 times its original size.
Today we are using a space that is near 10x the size of our first garden and producing food for neighbors as well as adding an incredible feature to our park and our community as a whole.
Whether you use an open piece of land at a local park or a plot in your neighborhood, you will have the help you need. People will jump on this idea. If you have no land to grow on, consider growing home gardens and having a community garden market. This is where produce is collected during the harvest and handed out during a weekend produce stand where neighbors share what they have grown.
In time you will begin to grow a contingency of neighbors who communicate, work together and just interact on the subject of the garden.
Every neighborhood across America should have a form of a communications network. It’s 2018, there is no reason why we should exist in a vacuum in our neighborhoods. It’s less fulfilling, it’s more of a hassle and in a disaster, you really feel alone on the wide ocean.
There are a number of ways that you can start an email group, Facebook page or other communications method for your neighborhood. In fact, your first bunch of members will be that community gardening group that you have already created! They can be the start of your communications network.
I recommend an app called Nextdoor. This is a great way for neighbors to stay in touch and offer many more benefits along the way. Nextdoor is a social media app that is geared toward connecting neighborhoods. It has a lot of great features and even allows you to see who will be participating, this year, for Halloween with a great interactive map.
Before things like snows storms and hurricanes or even serious thunderstorms, we use this app to check in. We check on our elderly neighbors to assure they have everything they need. This communications model allows us to get the neighborhood as prepared for a coming disaster as possible.
This has also become a key element in reporting crimes or suspected criminal activity. There are really no limits to what you can achieve with quality communication.
Most importantly, we get to learn about our neighbors promote and share talents among many other things. This app gives us a better idea of who lives around us and what their motivations are. That is priceless.
While it might all sound a bit silly, when disasters strike, you will be able to check up on neighbors, make plans and offer advice, before and maybe after if the power holds up. Open those lines of communication and start to strengthen your neighborhood.
The third and final method for getting your community engaged is to start a neighborhood watch. This is a very effective little unit that can host all sorts of events as well as increase awareness of crime around the neighborhood.
This group should be made up of just the right people, but it will make a huge difference when you find that group. Your neighborhood watch is about offering neighbors the ability to be more effective when they witness or suspect a crime. A walking route where neighbors stroll the neighborhood is a great way for people to get to know one another.
In my neighborhood, we have not had duplicated the success with have had with our garden or our communications. The neighborhood watch is the third piece because it is the hardest. It’s tough to get commitment but it’s necessary.
We have the occasional crime and things heat up in the summer, like many places. What stands out is that we have many people who are on board with creating that neighborhood watch. The people want it and we find that out by polling through Nextdoor and talking to our neighbors.
I imagine a serious neighborhood watch option coming to be in the next year or so. From here we will have all three pieces in place to begin striving towards a prepared community.
Invite the local sheriff or police chief out to dinner and talk to them about your plans to create a community watch. You will find that these steps are easy to take, and you will get great help from the local police. This will also put you in a place to operate as safely as possible.
Whether you have a crime or not in your neighborhood, the watch is very important to start the engine of a prepared community.
Putting it All Together
At the end of the day, these three functions are to work in tandem and to start the engines of community turning again. At best they are going to create a sense of ownership for that community and in that, you will find so many more benefits.
That said, if we ever face a time where things get way out of hand. If we face a true collapse of civility you will have a few things that most neighborhoods won’t. Let’s look at these three objectives and what they can become in times of disaster.
POST DISASTER COMMUNITY GARDEN – While you will never have enough food to feed your whole neighborhood, you will have a living breathing survival seed bank in your community garden. Each tomato contains 60 or so seeds. Do the math, you can get seeds to everyone and get them growing from the plants in your community garden.
POST DISASTER COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK – The importance of communications before, during and after a disaster are pretty simple to understand.
POST DISASTER NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH – This group can create a perimeter around the neighborhood and find ways to reinforce it. They may even be part of a group that defends the neighborhood from looters. Your neighborhoods borders will be clearly defined by your watch group and you will be able to defend them with a group of leaders in times of disaster.
Even Further Beyond
As community cohesion starts to take place you will be much more comfortable discussing things regarding preparedness. Focusing on regional threats that happen each year is a great way to get neighbors involved in a wide range prepping.
- Group Purchasing
- Building Projects
- Fun Events
- Bartering Yard sales
If you are looking for the full story on this idea of community cohesion and preparedness please checkout Come Unity; Community. I wrote this book with the intention of creating a blueprint for making neighbor relationships and community preparedness.
These are all opportunities that come from a community that is cohesive and communicating regularly. You can literally unlock the power of hundreds of families and I simply cannot imagine a solution to the problems of today and tomorrow better than that!
If you take nothing else away from this article I hope you realize this: We just spent time talking about preparing for disaster without ever dwelling on the disaster itself. In other words, we put three very different initiatives in place and never once used the word EMP or Food Storage or anything like that. This is so important.
Zealots will turn people off in a heartbeat. Most of us are preparedness zealots and it’s hard not to be. Exercise some self-control and you will be able to gain much more from a simple dialogue that screams like Chicken Little.
Things do have the potential to get ugly and maybe they will. Just don’t make that your introduction when you knock on a neighbor’s door!
James Walton is the host of the I AM Liberty Show (www.iamlibertyshow.com) a podcast about 21st-century freedom. He is a freelance writer in the prepping and survival niche and likes to keep a healthy balance between prepping and enjoying life.
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