(Continued from Part 2. This part concludes the series.)
A friend of mine in Southern California lived for a few years in a cabin at a location served only by a power company’s dirt access road. The original access road crossed a property that ultimately changed hands and the new owner denied access.
As an alternative, the landowners who lived near my friend’s place were asked to contribute money for additional maintenance efforts concerning the Southern California Edison access road which they began to use. The road was usable, but it was rough. Some landowners refused to contribute. I suppose that they decided that if S.C. Edison didn’t maintain the road well enough, they would simply let their vehicle’s shocks take the pounding while traveling to and from the highway on three miles of dirt road. It may also have been the case that they believed that the other landowners would have grading performed anyway, so they would sit back, wait for others to act, and use the improved road anyway.
Imagine a retreat where shareholders plead hardship after a couple of years, citing unemployment, tuition expenses, unexpected medical bills, or unexpected repairs at home. How does the group successfully insist that they sell their membership, and exactly to whom do they sell it, who will benefit the group?
After that, what happens when a prepper couple gets divorced? One spouse may have provided useful skills, e.g., gardening, welding, military training, etc. The other spouse may have been simply a burden with little to offer. Which one of them keeps the share of retreat ownership in the property settlement, and exactly how is the group benefitted or harmed by the result?
Finding anyone to buy a share of the retreat the first time would have been difficult. How often does lightning strike twice? The first right of refusal is just that, the first right. After that, the new purchaser who takes possession may have no more interest in preparedness issues than you or I do in Nigerian soccer league championship results.
Because the group is likely to be composed of members with significantly different ages, some will leave the group due to mortality. With the passage of time the burden will become more onerous on the younger members who remain. Posting a notice on CraigsList for a replacement does not seem like a great way to mitigate the loss.
The physical size of the retreat, the amenities available at the retreat, the food-producing capacity, and the local threat environment would be important factors in assessing the number of members needed in the group. A serious emphasis on security would be necessary, but there would also need to be a substantial part of the group’s man-hours dedicated to food production, food preparation, household chores, and childcare, as well as simple sleep during each 24-hour period.
Would a group composed of perhaps 30 people, mostly able-bodied adults, be sufficient? You decide.
AN OPTIMAL SOLUTION?
The best solution that I can imagine is for one person or one couple, with the available financial means to do so, to buy a retreat and for them to then extend an invitation to people who can contribute to the retreat’s success if “the balloon goes up.” And, again, the optimal solution would also involve the offers being made to relatives or, at least, good friends. Human nature being what it is, it is unlikely that the owners would want to invite a large number of total strangers to join. Admittedly, finding the right person/couple with such financial resources would not be easy.
Potential recruits who received invitations could visit the property after proper efforts were undertaken to ensure that they didn’t know exactly where the property was located. While I certainly have ideas about how to go about this, I will leave it to readers to determine exactly how it might be accomplished.
For some retreat owners, age might motivate their decision, their view being that having a group of younger individuals on the property would help to secure it far better than they could by themselves.
On the downside, there is a potentially thorny and obvious issue: the sole ownership of the retreat. The owner of a yacht usually makes the decision about where it sails, and it is said that “he who pays the piper calls the tune.” The owner of the retreat will likely expect to make the important decisions once the group occupies the retreat and the routine of daily life is established.
Hopefully, the owner will approach his or her responsibilities in a way that makes it a benign dictatorship, not a petty fiefdom in which the members are treated as mere peasants. Human nature being what it is, however, the owners’ negative behavior could lead to resentment and even rebellion. Among the members themselves, there could be negative results from the courting of favor and jealous competition with others. Now we have a whole new “kettle of fish.”
A Sudden Realization
It is quite likely that many property owners who are not currently concerned about the chances of a national calamity occurring will change their attitudes after one occurs. They will have serious motivations to seek assistance from others after the threat to them and their property becomes serious and obvious. For them, it would simply be a matter of basic self-interest, even if helping others was, in fact, a part of their motivation.
If certain individuals were known in advance to be actively preparing for “bad times,” they might not even be told about the retreat and invited to join the group only after disaster struck. This alternative assumes, of course, that there would be a way with which to communicate with the prospective participants post-disaster. The decision to wait until after the disaster occurred before making the offer to prospective members also poses a risk that the offerees will decline the offer for a variety of reasons, thereby leaving the group short of the desired number of members, or short of members with desirable skill sets.
Note that with this last alternative the problem of members arriving at the retreat with additional family members or friends is not eliminated. This alternative also presents the risk that, because they would not be able to pre-position preps at the retreat prior to the disaster, individuals who were selected might not be able to transport a significant amount of their own preps to the retreat in their Ford Edge or Toyota Camry. As a result, they would relatively quickly become consumers of the retreat’s finite resources, rather than be contributors to them.
Of course, if some experts’ estimates are accurate, no one’s Edge or Camry will be going anywhere if the disaster involved is an EMP attack on the country, and that presents yet another dilemma.
The preceding discussion was not intended to provide a be-all and end-all solution to the problems that survival groups might face. I really don’t have one. But by pointing out problems and spotting issues, however, I hope that the article has stimulated thought and further study of the matter by those who are interested in the concept.
While implementation will be problematic to some extent, it seems clear that a survival group, either with or without a retreat, will have a much better chance of survival when times get really tough and when the rule of law is a distant, fond memory.
As I said at the very beginning, after TEOTWAWKI, it will “take a village,” but the devil is still, most assuredly, in the details.