We consistently urge you to become part of a community of fellow preppers for mutual support in all respects (or to form one if you can’t find a suitable community already out there).
Being part of a community gives you access to extra manpower when you need help with construction projects. It represents people to buy/sell/trade with. It offers you access to a wider range of supplies, skills and expertise. Equally importantly, but intangibly, it gives you companionship and fellowship and moral support, helping you to remain positive and determined to succeed, even in grave adversity.
A community can also potentially provide support in another very important sense – the shared defense of your various properties, something that is of course essential for survival.
But when many preppers think of this concept (and some of us don’t at all, preferring instead a quixotic vision of a lonely battle against the entire world, all by themselves, unassisted), their vision of how a mutual defense agreement would work is sadly not practical. They think of becoming part of a community with neighbors who will join with them in defending each other and in creating a larger outpost of safety for all the community members.
Now for the problem with this apparently sensible concept. First, the good news – this is a realistic and viable arrangement in a town or village.
But – the bad news. It is close to useless to have some sort of support arrangement with people who live on surrounding farms. If your main dwelling is out of sight of the other homesteads of the other families nearby, there is both no visible sign of support/deterrence to attackers, and there is also no compelling visual urgency and obligation on the part of your neighbors when/if you are attacked.
The Problem of Mutual Support in the Countryside
The attackers see a remote dwelling, all by itself, with no other dwellings anywhere around. A tasty, tempting, vulnerable target – their ‘best case scenario’ type of encounter. They don’t care what sort of mutual defense agreements you might have, because if there isn’t anyone with you at the time they attack, to join you in your defense, then what difference does it make?
There’s no augmented and credible indication of you being a ‘hard’ target rather than a soft target. There’s no upfront deterrence. You’re still highly likely to be attacked.
Now let’s think about what happens if you are attacked. Presumably you sound some sort of alarm – a siren or something – that is an agreed upon call for assistance. Now try to think very carefully about what will happen next.
How many of your neighbors will instead rush inside their own dwellings and shutter their windows and hunker down defensively? That’s sure an easier choice for them than to go out in the open, and seek out the people attacking you. Remember, the warning you have sounded is not currently placing them personally at risk – how many wives will say to their husbands ‘Please don’t go, because if you get injured, there are no advanced medical facilities to treat you, and if you die, who will work our farm with me, who will support me and our children?’
If your house was just over the street from them, they would both feel more directly threatened and also more directly obliged. But being some distance away, and out of sight, there is the temptation to say ‘Oh, sorry, didn’t hear the alarm. I had my iPod headphones on and didn’t hear the siren at all’ (or ‘I was napping’ or ‘I was working on some noisy machinery’ or any other excuse they choose).
Or maybe they will ‘make haste slowly’ and very slowly travel to your dwelling, in the hope that by the time they get there, it will all be over and the bad guys safely gone. ‘Oh, sorry, I came as quickly as I could’. ‘Sorry, I was in the shower, and so I had to rinse the soap off, get dried, blow-dry my hair, have a fresh shave, etc before I could come’.
Let’s however be positive and assume that your neighbors do respond. Even if they hurry, how long will it take for them to stop what they are doing, to prepare for battle and to get appropriate clothing, supplies and weapons, then more time to stealthily approach your property, and then still more time for them to meet up with other neighbors until there was a sufficient force to mount an attack from the rear on your attackers?
It doesn’t matter so much how fast the first person will arrive – he would be foolish to do anything until joined by others. The key time measure is how long it takes the slower people to bolster the numbers to the point they jointly feel able to enter the battle.
Don’t forget to allow for the probability that your neighbors don’t have any motorized transport – or, even if they did, they’d not use it, preferring a slow stealthy sneaky surprise attack from the rear.
That points out another key issue. Any sort of support from your neighbors would have to involve multiple neighbors all helping in a coordinated manner. You couldn’t expect one only neighbor to come, and from an outdoors exposed position try to help you (from inside your dwelling) fight off multiple attackers. That would be close to suicide for him. If the attackers suddenly came under fire from someone in the open, of course they’d shift their focus from you in your dwelling (because you are in a defensive not attacking posture, and aren’t going anywhere) to the sudden new threat from the rear or side.
So there you are, on your 20+ acre lot, with neighbors also on 20+ acre lots. How many neighbors will agree to come and help you, how many will even hear your alarm, and how long will it take?
Oh – and how long might it take your attackers, who will have ambushed you on their terms, to overwhelm you and overrun your dwelling? You will probably be dead, your supplies all looted, and the bad guys already gone, before any support reaches you.
A Town/Village Alternative
Now think through a similar scenario, but this time in a township where a cluster of a dozen or more homes are all located close to each other. There are signs posted on the routes in to the township advising that martial law is in effect, telling looters they’ll be shot on sight, and requiring strangers to check in with the local ‘sheriff’ if they wish to visit the town.
Any stranger approaching sees not just one isolated homestead, alone by itself, but a cluster of houses all close to each other. They see signs indicating an active community defense plan is in place, and they realize they can’t just single out one of the houses to attack – if they do anything to any of the houses, the other residents from the other houses will also respond.
Most of the time, they’ll pass the town completely by, preferring to find easier pickings elsewhere – like, for example, a single homestead all by itself with no nearby neighbors (sound familiar?).
Put yourself in the shoes of your neighbors again. This time when you sound your alarm, there’s no way they can’t hear it, and they just have to look out the window to see what is going down, and indeed, they might even be able to participate in the battle by simply shooting from their window, too.
And because they can see the bad guys, maybe no more than 50 yards away from their own front door, they feel equally threatened, because they know if the bad guys have the cojones to ride into town and openly attack one of its residences, they’ll not stop at only one.
This is not a situation where selfish self-interest would motivate your neighbors to ignore your call for help, with the distance giving them excuses for doing so. It is not a situation where even if they did help, it would probably be too little and too late. Instead your neighbors will be motivated to fight as desperately as you are, because they are almost at as much risk as you, and they can effectively join the fight in a minute or less, from defensive safe positions. They’re not doing this out of any altruism – they’re doing it as much for their own good as they are to help you.
So – in the township you are less likely to be attacked in the first place, and if you are attacked, you are more likely to get almost instant and effective support from your fellow townsfolk.
Now tell us again where you plan to build your retreat?
We’re not saying you should set up a retreat in the form of a house in a small town on a typical quarter acre lot. Sure, you can still have your 20+ acres, and indeed, sure, you should have a decent sized parcel of land. But set your main dwelling in a cluster with other folks, even if that means you’ve got a bit of a journey to get from your front door to your land. After all, with 20+ acres, most of it will be some distance from your front door anyway, so it’s not necessarily a big deal to have almost all of it a distance away.
And by all means have a ‘kitchen garden’ or a greenhouse on your in-town lot, too. This will be a great convenience, particularly in the winter months.
Choose Your Community Wisely
The key part of this concept of course revolves around finding a community group where you’ll be united in a common goal of self-defense and survival.
There’s no guarantee that moving into an existing community will also instantly surround you with like-minded souls. Indeed, some of the smaller rural towns seem to have a curious mix of people, including some ‘counter-culturalists’ and old hippies, maybe some ‘migrant workers’ (aka illegal immigrants), and some yuppies from the city who have lifestyle properties in the countryside, maybe some low-density alternate-lifestyle organic farmers, and who knows who else.
Not all of the people in these categories are people you’d immediately want to rely on watching your back in a difficult situation. Worst of all, some of these people may even prove to be ‘part of the problem’ rather than helping you in the solution when a Level 2/3 situation occurs.
Furthermore, the layout and design of most rural towns is not necessarily optimized to create a defensive enclave. Many people seek privacy from their neighbors and attempt to avoid sight-lines, whereas for defensive purposes, it is better to be closer together and to have nothing between properties that attackers could use as cover. And the houses are not built to withstand rifle fire – either from attackers or from fellow townsfolk who are shooting at attackers in situations where your house is unavoidably in the background.
We’re not saying it is impossible to find a suitable township, and even a so-so township may be better that nothing. But it does point to the benefits of joining, or at least getting close to, a custom community such as with ourselves (or developing your own) so that you know you’re together with people who share a similar approach to surviving and succeeding in a Level 2/3 situation.