Your safety network is not a back-up, it is a primary system of strength.
All too often, well-intentioned people who consider themselves preppers and survivalists rely on their own knowledge and resources to get them through potential widespread threats. They anticipate that society as we know it can come to a sudden pause, if not end altogether. While their concerns over such threats as bioterrorism, CME, EMP, failed banking & economies, plagues, nuclear catastrophes/warfare, etc. are real threats (indeed they are), the biggest under-appreciated area which probably needs the greatest attention, is the building and strengthening of the Safety Net.
I use the term Safety Net to refer to your Safety Network. A Safety Network can be formed in rural and urban settings; sparsely or densely populated landscapes such as towns or huge metropolitan areas. The working principal here is that society exists as a function of human interaction and interdependence. The idea of independence has focused, limited, and specific application, whereas Interdependence is a focus on the macro, is expansive, and the objective is the efficient interaction of individuals and groups.
As it relates to food, building your Safety Net will allow you to develop a trusted network of individuals and groups upon which you can rely on to barter food, resources, skills, and supplies. The following information serves as a foundation of trust, upon which vital resources such as food and water can be negotiated and acquired.
In the interest of time and to stay on target, here are the 4 Principles with Purpose of building your Safety Net:
The whole idea of leveraging your abilities/skills and resources/capital is to engage in trade of value. Some seem to think that leveraging means “you scratch my back, I scratch yours.” But the real driving force behind leveraging the skills/resources you possess is human interaction. I could write several lengthy articles on the subject, but they would all be summed up by this: The key to success in life-during challenging & less challenging times- is knowing how to build healthy relationships.
Now, I'm not talking about romance. I'm talking about knowing how to effectively communicate and negotiate; knowing when and what to compromise on and knowing when compromising is off the table. It's not rocket science but it can take some strategic planning. Some people view “strategic planning” as insincere and manipulative. Well, it's definitely manipulative…let's substitute the word committed for the word sincere.
You must be committed to sharing something of value that you possess, a skill or resource that makes life easier/safer. My previous article on Developing Skills/Resources to Barter shared this:
As you discover and develop a skill, you will eventually be able to build a network of contacts who share the same interest and varying skill levels. This will also position you to leverage such skills to instruct others and help them on their way to stronger self-reliance.
As you develop a specific skill, you will be able to establish, develop, and strengthen relationships with others. Human interaction is generally such that competent individuals will do the same in returning generosity. In the event that reciprocity is not demonstrated, DO NOT be afraid to discuss EXACTLY what you would like from those with whom you are interacting. There's nothing belligerent about making known your expectations…although I would strongly recommend tact in your approach. “You can attract more flies with honey than vinegar.”
You ever heard the saying that “the best leaders were once the best followers”? This is true. Leaders do not always have to have an obvious and domineering Alpha personality. They don't have to be male and they do not have to be the strongest. My experience dictates that the best leaders are those who are committed to a subject they have mastered, can generate enthusiasm from others, and knows how to bring others together who might not otherwise become involved.
During times of crises, leaders are hard to find. There are tons of individuals who will voice their opinions and dislikes, but leaders are not always the loudest voices. It is up to you to lead yourself. It might be up to you to lead others. Be definite in your purpose. Know clearly what your purpose is, define your plans, communicate effectively what you need and what you are willing to do to achieve your desire. You may disagree with others but BE OBJECTIVE in your disagreements. Leaders possess the skill of managing their emotion so as to demonstrate stability and clear-headed thinking. The ability to remain grounded when others are flaccid and wavering will position you to see more clearly and act more appropriately.
In times of tragedy, you can garner support through proper decision-making. Proper decision making will allow you to identify key individuals with whom you'll want to associate. It will also allow you to see vulnerabilities before they become exposure risks in your network. Successful network building is knowing when to say yes and when to say no.
The most effective way to achieve your goals is to listen twice more than you speak. Now having said that, it's important that you recognize that you will be listening for indicators of value or looking for “hot buttons.” You are fishing, in a way. In building your Safety Net it is important that you know the areas where you are deficient. Your fishing expedition is listening for potential areas of strength where you are deficient. For example, if I was lacking in proper security measures, I might begin building a simple mental profile of attributes that I am looking for in a Safety Net partner. Friends and acquaintances may not immediately come to mind, but in the course of time I will remember or discover someone who can teach me basics on self-defense. I might even begin researching online for information that would strengthen my weakness.
You will also need to listen to what others are looking for when they speak with you. Remember, your leveraging of your abilities/capital is more about looking to fill a need with your strengths. Once you find an individual or a group that you can help, you will almost always find an area or two where that same individual or group can strengthen your Net.
The final and probably one of the most powerful points in building your Safety Net is your personality. It is impossible to please everyone, but is is practical to be pleasant with others. Beside having a healthy sense of humor, people prefer interacting with individuals whose company they enjoy. Even if you have anti-social tendencies, remember that interacting doesn't mean making everyone your best friend. It's about learning where a mutual benefit may otherwise remain hidden and not accessed.
In my journey to become more self-reliant and better prepared for less desirous events, I have met a few individuals with whom I would never deal under regular circumstances. As I reached out and made an effort to learn about these individuals, I discovered that their skills made them experts in areas where I was completely lacking…and it goes both ways. Learning to be pleasant with people whose tastes differ dramatically from mine was not too difficult, once I learned to listen.
We have to listen in order to laugh, and sincere laughter can be an excellent ice-breaker. It demonstrates a basic level of trust and intelligence. It also conveys intent to a degree. Fake or nervous laughter is easily identifiable with individuals who are simply acting pleasant in order to tolerate the interaction. DO NOT be intimidated by this. Many times I have discovered areas of common interest after an awkward initial meet & greet. It has also been my experience a few less times to identify individuals whom I did NOT want as part of my Safety Net. Perhaps they felt the same, nevertheless, it was mutually beneficial.
In building your Safety Net, remember to leverage your skills and resources in order that you become stronger in areas where you are lacking. As you discover areas where you can put your skills and resources to work for another, you will also find partners that will serve to strengthen your Safety Net. As you are clear in your purpose and efforts, you will prove a leader. Individuals gravitate toward leaders.
Listening is more important than speaking. If you listen appropriately, you'll discover how to help and where you can get help. Individuals also gravitate toward leaders who will listen to them. Appropriate listening will assist your efforts to learn & teach. Laughing is a good indicator of a basic level of trust. It also enhances others' perceptions of you as an approachable and enjoyable individual.
-The Berkey Guy