Aug 212012

Underground bunkers can be very expensive and customized, or remarkably inexpensive made from converted shipping containers as shown here.

Many people associate prepping with building a ‘Doomsday Bunker’ – some sort of reinforced concrete or steel bunker, and buried underground.  These are sometimes primarily intended as nuclear and fallout shelters, but the companies building them come up with many other reasons and benefits to their underground bunkers, including tornado and storm shelters – but probably not flood shelters.

In reality, such devices are a very small part – and often play no part at all – in most people’s prudent preparing for adverse future events.

If you are considering some type of retreat or protective structure, should you consider an underground survival bunker?  Let’s look at their pluses and minuses.

Plus – Discreet

A buried bunker with an obscured camouflaged entrance and low profile ventilation can be an excellent way to keep your retreat ‘off the radar’.  In theory, marauders might be able to get very close to your bunker and not realize it is there.

But in reality, there are some limitations to how obscure you can make your bunker.  Unless you create an elaborate filtration system (which will require substantial ongoing filter supplies) the smells from cooking and perhaps from diesel generators will permeate out through the ventilation and particularly in a post-disaster world, which will typically have fewer man-made smells, may be noticed.

And unless you never go in and out of your bunker, there will inevitably be tracks and a worn down pathway leading to the bunker entrance.

So, yes, a bunker may be discreet, but it won’t be invisible.

Plus – Low Energy Cost

A great thing about a buried bunker is that you are surrounded with earth that is probably at a little changing moderate/cool temperature, year round.  In the summer, the outside cool earth will help prevent your bunker from overheating without needing to use as much air conditioning (which is costly from an energy consumption point of view); in the winter, the earth, while still cool, may be much warmer than the outside air and ground temperature, reducing your need to heat your bunker, and again saving on energy.

On the other hand, you’ll probably have absolutely zero natural light.  Every lumen of lighting will have to be generated from electricity, you don’t get any ‘free’ daylight, unlike a regular above ground retreat.

And to get fresh air, you can’t just open a window or two.  Instead, you’ll need some type of active air circulation system which again uses energy (happily, not a lot of energy, but it is still an energy drain).  And if your power should fail, you’ll only have a limited number of hours you can survive in the bunker before you need to evacuate due to lack of oxygen and build up of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.

A bunker might conceivably use less energy for most normal activities, but it is more reliant on energy being always present.

Plus – Bulletproof

Most of an underground bunker is – by definition below ground.  As little as a couple of feet of earth above the bunker will provide it with great protection against attackers.  Even if marauders knew exactly which patch of ground was above your bunker structure, they couldn’t penetrate through its protective layer of dirt and its steel or concrete walls with regular rifle rounds.

But if attackers found one of the limited entrance/exits to your bunker, they could attack that, or if not directly attacking that, they could use the location of the entrance/exit as a clue for the likely whereabouts of the bunker itself.  They presumably could then simply get a shovel and dig down until reaching your bunker’s roof.  At that point they could attack the roof with pickaxes or drills or whatever; while there’d be nothing you could do to stop them.

After they have opened up even a small hole in your ceiling/roof, you will be at a massive tactical disadvantage.  They can shoot blindly into your bunker, and the bullet ricochets will go everywhere, damaging possibly valuable and essential equipment and controls, and maybe harming you and the others in the bunker.  But if you shoot blindly up out of the hole, your bullets will just pass harmlessly into the outside world and disappear into the distance.  You might even miss the hole and create your own dangerous ricochets.

Or the attackers could pour gasoline into your bunker then drop a match.  Or simply fill your bunker full of water.  Or run a hose from a vehicle exhaust pipe and gas you out.

So while a bunker is resilient against short-term attack, it – and you all inside – are terribly vulnerable to a determined attack.

Plus – Excellent for Storms

There’s no denying that a below ground bunker is very resistant to above ground storms.  If you need to have a special type of basement/cellar/bunker to protect against extreme storms above and beyond the protection your regular dwelling can provide, a bunker is a great consideration.

Of course, storms are typically short in duration.  If your underground bunker is nearby, it might be a convenient shelter.  But if it is some hundreds of miles away, how often would you choose to go there to weather out a storm, compared to simply strengthening your main dwelling structure?

Plus – Excellent Fallout Shelters

The earth around and above your bunker provides an excellent shield against radioactivity subsequent to most types of radioactive events.  If you wish to incorporate a fallout shelter feature into your retreat, a bunker is a great way to do that.  The strength of a buried bunker can also protect against the destructive effects of nearby nuclear explosions, too – underground shelters can withstand massively greater over-pressure levels than can regular houses.

On the other hand, unless you are living 24/7 in or immediately next to an underground bunker, the bombs might detonate around you without you even realizing they were on their way.  And, if you survived that, the time it would take you to make your way, unprotected, to a remote fallout shelter location is such as to expose you to too much radiation as part of your travel to your shelter.

You’d be better advised to urgently improvise a shelter wherever you were at the time the nuclear event occurred.

Minus – Strategic Visibility

A problem is that when you’re in ‘lockdown’ mode inside your bunker, you really don’t know what is happening above ground in your general vicinity.

Fancier bunkers might have periscopes, and even fancier ones might have remote video cameras.  Top of the line bunkers sometimes even have a remotely piloted drone with wireless video feed.  But none of these are effective substitutes for the good old low tech ‘Mark 1 Human Eyeball’ and its ability to detect movement, and to combine visual and directional sound (and maybe even smell) cues to sense the presence of threats.

Plus, the higher-tech the approach to monitoring the area, the more vulnerable it is, and the more exposed you become when it either fails naturally or is destroyed by an attacker.  Remote piloted drones run out of gas and if you’re in your bunker, you can’t go out to retrieve it and refuel it.  Video cameras can be shot out or simply have the wiring cut.  Periscopes can have their lenses broken or obscured, and their mechanism jammed.

Minus – No Defensive Perimeter or Posture

Not only might you not know what is happening to and around your bunker, but even if you do know what is happening, there is very little you can do to influence what is being done.

In addition to clear 360° vision showing you everything going on around your retreat, any well constructed above ground retreat would have overlapping fields of fire from protected positions within it, allowing you to defend your entire structure from attack, no matter where it was coming from.

That’s just not possible if you’re six feet underground.

In addition, an above ground structure should have a close-in ‘killing zone’ that you have erected to make attackers as vulnerable as possible the closer they get to your structure.  But you can’t do anything like that for a bunker, because you’ve no way to direct firepower at attackers from your sealed bunker.

Some bunker manufacturers talk about remote-controlled weaponry, and that seems like a great idea and excitingly high-tech.  But the problem with any such weaponry is that it will run out of ammunition soon enough, and then how do you reload it while hunkered down in your bunker?

Plus, while the weapons might be remote-controlled or even automatically activated, they can’t get up and move to a new position, like you’d do if you were out there yourself.  Once an enemy has located the position of such devices, they can take their time and then carefully neutralize them with well placed shots.  Your weapons will become sitting ducks and vulnerable once the initial element of surprise has worn off.

There’s a more abstract issue as well.  An imposing well defended above-ground building exudes power and confidence.  An unsuccessfully obscured bunker signals weakness and retreat.  Which do you think a typical marauder would prefer to attack?  We’ll guess the bunker would be their choice, every time.

Minus – You’re Underground

This is a bigger deal than you might think.  Most preppers seek to plan to survive a long-term challenge.  Anyone can manage to exist in an underground bunker for a week or two, but what happens when the weeks become months become years?

Aren’t you going to miss the sun?  Indeed, you’ll find yourself craving not only the sun but the rain and every other type of weather, too.

Minus – Less Sustainable

We’ve seen elaborate plans for underground bunkers that include areas labeled as intended to be used for growing food, and we’ve seen pictures of plants growing inside windowless rooms under strong lighting, designed to imply that you are seeing such a facility, in a bunker, successfully growing healthy abundant crops.

The problem is that without the sun’s energy, you are having to use other scarce energy resources to replace the sun.  Sunlight represents between 50 and 100 W of energy per square foot during the day, so if you are trying to duplicate 5 – 10 hours of sunlight a day, you could be required to burn about a gallon of diesel per square foot of growing space per week.  If you have a single room measuring perhaps 40′ x 40′, that could be 1500 gallons of diesel every week to recreate the effect of the sun.  Oh – and all that light and heat is probably going to make the room way too hot, because you won’t have fresh air and wind blowing through the room, so you’ll have to spend more energy to ventilate and cool the room.

If you’re planning on a 100 day growing season, then you’re up for 21,000 gallons of diesel a year to enable you to grow food underground.  And that 40′ x 40′ room, while seemingly big by ‘indoor’ standards, is only 1/25th of an acre.  Yes, the sun really is that powerful.

Now, okay, you could say ‘We’ll grow our crops normally in the fields and simply go back to our bunker to sleep each night’, but if that is your plan, and you’re going to be in the outdoors, in the open, all day every day, what is the point of the bunker for at night?  If you’re more vulnerable while in it, and out of it as much as you would be with any other type of structure, how is the bunker actually helping your survivability?  Why not settle for a more ‘normal’ and lower cost retreat building above ground.

Minus – More ‘High Tech’ and Complex

A bunker relies on more systems and equipment and processes than a regular above ground house.  It needs 24/7 functional environmental management systems – maintaining your temperature (probably requiring cooling more than heating), maintaining the oxygen levels, the carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide levels, and the humidity (which would otherwise soar way too high).  It needs 24/7 lighting.  Even things like sanitation require pump assists to move water and sewer in and out of the bunker.

The failure of any of these systems can quickly create a critical situation that would require you to evacuate the bunker until it was repaired/resolved.

A bunker is a bit like a live-aboard boat.  If you’ve ever owned a boat of 40′ or more in length, you know that you are always spending time and money on repairs and maintenance.  It is a never-ending and expensive process.  The same is inevitably true of a bunker, although with less salt corrosion and motion induced malfunction, a bunker would hopefully be somewhat more reliable.

The need for repairs and replacements is okay when you can simply call up the appropriate repair service and have them come out with their specialist equipment and spare parts, but what happens after a social breakdown when the specialist technical support and the essential spare parts are no longer available?

Minus – The Size of a Bunker Community

We’ll readily concede that you can build an underground bunker complex as huge as you may wish, as long as you have the funds to cover the skyrocketing costs of such a development.  But most people, when choosing to build an underground bunker, are building something small, and having built it, are more or less locked in to the size that they have contracted for.

An above ground retreat can be expanded more readily at any time, and can almost certainly be built at a lower cost per finished square foot right from the get go.

Whether it is in the form of inviting more people into your retreat structure at the start, or having nearby neighbors you can see and wave to out your windows, or adding to your retreat subsequently to fit more people in, an above ground retreat can more readily allow for a larger population of fellow preppers to share the burdens of surviving in a Level 2/3 situation.

There is safety and security and strength in numbers.  You want to create or join as large a survival community as possible.  That’s much more readily done above ground than below ground.

To Summarize :  When a Bunker Is – And Is Not – Appropriate

A bunker can be used to protect against short-term external threats, but is only useful if you can get to the bunker prior to the onset of the threat.  Many short-term threats may not have sufficient notice to enable you to get safely to your bunker prior to the threat occurring.

A bunker is not a valid option as somewhere to live and survive, in an extended Level 2 or 3 type situation.  It is very hard to defend a bunker against marauding attackers, and bunkers are likely to be greatly more maintenance intensive, something that would become increasingly a problem as your spare parts get used up.

If you are adding a bunker to your in-city dwelling, you need to have a strategy in place for when and how you will be able to exit your bunker and evacuate the city.  You’ll literally be stuck like rats in a trap in the potentially apocalyptic and lawless conditions that may prevail in a city after a massive societal collapse.  And whereas, if you were simply planning to abandon the city at the first sign of a problem, which would mean you hopefully get away from dangerous population concentrations before the situation becomes dire; your decision to stay in your bunker for the first phase of the social collapse makes your subsequent evacuation very much more hazardous and difficult.

By all means incorporate defenses against fallout into an above-ground retreat, and maybe even include a bunker as part of your overall retreat.

But we suggest, for the majority of people, your most viable and defendable solution will be a well-built above-ground retreat, ideally as part of a community of like-minded folk (such as our own Code Green community).

Building a Low Cost Underground Bunker

Many websites will sell you a very expensive (and very extensive) underground bunker – for example, here.  But there’s a much lower cost solution if you must have a bunker, but would prefer one at a more affordable price (leaving you more money to allocate towards your above ground retreat).  Get one – or more than one – used shipping container and use that as a basic space for your underground shelter.

With the US importing so much more than it exports, and it being cheaper to sell containers rather than ship them back to China, there is a glut of low-cost shipping containers.  They come in standard sizes, and are approximately 8′ wide and 8′ high, and either 20′ or 40′ long (larger sizes are also made but they are less common and not so good value).  The 20′ containers typically cost $2000 or slightly more, and the 40′ containers cost only another $500 or so extra.  They can be purchased on eBay and many other places.

A single 40′ container gives you almost 320 sq ft of space (similar to a reasonably spacious hotel room).  This would be adequate for a couple for a short-term, and cramped but acceptable for more people.

In addition to adding extra containers, end on end, or in other one level layouts, you could also take advantage of their stackability and create a two or three or more level underground retreat.

Here’s a webpage with a short video showing how one person created their own underground wine cellar from a shipping container.  The same steps would be used to repurpose the container as a shelter/bunker instead.

Aug 112012

This proof of concept modern house in Southern Montana was built using traditional style compressed earth bricks by a Colorado University team.

We all know that with clothing, it pays to keep old clothes that go out of fashion because in a decade or so, they’ll come back into fashion.  I have ties in my wardrobe that have been in and out of fashion regularly – well, with ties, there’s only so much that can change, of course – wide or thin.

However, this is not an article about fashion and clothing.  We’re writing about building materials, and over the last decade or so, some of the most ancient building materials known to man – largely overlooked and forgotten during the last 100 years or so – are being ‘rediscovered’; and sometimes even being (mis)described as revolutionary.

One of the big challenges to us in designing retreats is the choice of building materials for the exterior walls.  We need a material that is low maintenance, fire-proof, long-lasting, resilient if shot at (and easily repaired), and with large thermal mass to minimize the energy cost of heating and/or cooling the interior.  Oh – and if it could be affordable, too, that would be much appreciated!

There’s no real secret to solving these requirements, except for finding a material that meets all the requirements including the affordability.  That is the big challenge for most of us.

Increasingly it seems the answer to such requirements lies not in futuristic new materials, but by looking back to ‘old fashioned’ building techniques – techniques that are long-lasting and low tech, and which have proven over decades and centuries to meet all the requirements we might have.  In particular, rammed earth, compressed earth brick, and adobe materials are showing themselves to be prudent choices.

Some of these older building techniques are now being claimed by ‘high tech’ developers as their own.  Here’s a short article about a combination of the latest high-tech 3D ‘printer’ technology together with not the normal plastic resin that such devices normally use, but instead, a sand slurry that sets into a very solid and sufficiently load bearing form.

There’s a video at the bottom of the short article that shoes a robotic arm building tiny structures at the sea-side.  Could this be scaled up to enable automated construction of large-sized retreats?  In theory, yes, but in reality, don’t look for it today or tomorrow as a practical possibility.

The amusing thing – if you go to the FAQs on the very scanty related website,, you’ll see how they describe building with soil and a binder liquid as a revolutionary new process.  Not so.  It dates back to Biblical times and before.

Building codes in many counties and states stumble a bit at the concept of using such materials.  A solution for some of us might be to build a structure using accepted methods and materials, and then to provide an external cladding using one of these earth based materials.

However you approach the issue, the two most important considerations for constructing your retreat are to make it fire-proof and resistant to attack.  Any type of traditional wood construction fails miserably at both these essential requirements.

Aug 032012

You need to have a policy on accepting refugees. You’ll have way too many people seeking to join your community – how will you choose who to accept and reject?

Let’s say that TSHTF and we find ourselves deep into not just the brown stuff but an extended Level 2, possibly a Level 3 situation.  Fortunately, you have the supplies and the skills necessary to ensure the probable survival of you and the other members of your group.

So far, so good.

But what about the other people, everyone and everywhere else in the country?  They have neither the supplies nor the skills, and they are facing a high probability of failing to survive the upcoming winter (always assuming they don’t starve prior to then).

Okay, so you know that your small group of, let’s say, 20 people can’t possibly turn around and support the entire 300+ million people in the US.  Neither can you support the maybe 5 – 10 million people in your state, the 500,000 people in your county, or the 100,000 people in the nearest city, or the 2,000 people in the nearby small town.  Those are easy issues to agree upon.

Enough of the easy.  Let’s move on now to the hard – to the challenges you are most likely to confront and need to resolve.  Note that the scenarios below assume that your ‘community’ shares a number of communal resources – perhaps these would include living in the same retreat structure, sharing food communally rather than having individual stores of food, and sharing water and energy as well.  In such cases, what one person does obviously impacts on other members of the one community.

If your ‘community’ is more like a tiny village, with a cluster of separate dwellings for separate families, and each family being responsible for its own food, water, and energy, but the community as a whole coordinating defense and food production type matters, then clearly each family has much more flexibility as to how it manages its own situation.

Adding One More Community Member

What happens if say your spouse’s brother (or, for that matter, your own brother) turns up and asks to be admitted to your community?

Your spouse pleads with you to let him join you, and for sure, what you have for 20 people will also be fine for 21.  Your spouse even says ‘I’ll share my food with my brother’, although no-one seriously expects that is exactly how the food would be re-divided.  What do you do?  Welcome the guy in, or risk a major failure in your marriage and turn the guy away?

We’ll guess that most people will take the path of least resistance, and let their brother-in-law come join the community.  Going from 20 to 21 is no big deal, and certainly one more able-bodied participant can help with chores and security and general community dynamics.

When One Becomes Many

Next, we need to consider the implications of this.  If you’ve agreed that your spouse can allow your brother to join the community, does that mean that all 20 community members are equally allowed to invite one additional person in to the community?  It would be very hard to understand what type of community dynamic would allow some people the right to bring in additional community members, but not allow others the same right.

It goes without saying that while your community can almost certainly grow from 20 to 21, and would probably actually benefit from the extra person’s presence and participation, what about if the community grows from 20 to 40?  Is that feasible or not?  Your food will only last half as long.  You need twice as much water.  You have twice as much sewage to dispose of.  Your living spaces are now twice as crowded.  And so on.

Furthermore, what happens the next day when your spouse’s other brother turns up.  You’ve let one brother in, how can you refuse the other brother too?

Or what if your spouse’s brother (or of course, your own brother or anyone else’s brother) is married and has a wife?  And a child too?  Where do you draw the line?

Less Desirable Additions

What if, instead of the person being an able-bodied male who can work and positively contribute to the community, the person is instead an aged parent who can’t add any value to the community and who in fact needs support and care?  We could be totally off-base here, but we suspect you’d have an even greater battle with your spouse if you refused to allow their aged mother to come live with you than you would if you turned away their brother!

You should also consider people at the other end of life’s journey.  What about a young child – someone who again would be a net drain on the community’s resource for some years to come, and someone who needs to be cared for and schooled.

Or how about a regular adult but with disabilities, or special medical needs?

Choosing Between Too Many Applicants

What say five people present themselves and ask to join your community.  One is a weedy nerdy IT guy, the second is a beefy brawny farm manager, the third is a dentist, the fourth is an elderly infirm person, but who turns up in a truck fully loaded with enough food supplies to feed a dozen people for a year or more, and towing a 500 gallon tank of diesel, while the fifth is a beautiful blonde woman in her mid 20s, who formerly worked as a public relations representative.

Do you have some sort of skills inventory or rating system to evaluate and prioritize who you would and would not accept?  How about choosing between the empty-handed farm manager, who comes with no physical goods but lots of skill and knowledge and physical strength on the one hand, and the elderly infirm person who can’t contribute skills or physical work, but who has 500 gallons of diesel and twelve man years of food with him?

And what about the dentist?  Let’s say you have a community of 20 people, and the dentist says ‘I’ll provide dental care for all of you for free, but in return, I expect you to feed and shelter and support me’.  There are no other dentists in your group, and none that you know of within 100 miles of where you live.

Is the cost to the community of supporting the dentist sufficiently balanced by the benefit of having at least some basic level of dentistry resource?  If you had a community of 200 the answer would probably be yes, but what about for only 20?  Where do you draw the line?

What about a choice between the nerdy IT guy and the beautiful blonde?  Let’s say that your community currently has more men than women in it, and many of them (and possibly yourself too) are already drooling over the sight of the blonde.  If you had to choose only one of these two people, who would you choose?

The nerdy IT guy is intelligent and clever and offers to maintain your computer network, to write programs, and to help any way he can; and let’s give in to stereotypes and say, for the purpose of this scenario, that the blonde is rather vapid and not very down to earth or sensible.  Her idea of cooking involves being taken out for a meal by a man, or perhaps popping something in the microwave, her idea of gardening is to water the pot plant on her balcony, her idea of prepping is to have plenty of spare shoes in the closet, and she doesn’t really have any other skills of value to the community.

Another Variation

What say your community group refused to allow your spouse’s brother to join the community, and so he sets up a shack immediately next to your community building, and your spouse unofficially shares food and other supplies with him.  You confront your spouse, and s/he says defiantly ‘I am not taking your share of anything, I’m merely sharing my share with my brother, you can’t tell me how I use my things’.

What your spouse says is half-true, but also half untrue, because your spouse is actually now taking larger meals so as to be able to then split them, and the other supplies that your spouse has given to his/her brother are now supplies that have been lost to the community, and while they might seem to be spare today, in a day, week, month or year, they might be essentially needed but no longer available.

What do you do?  Forbid your spouse to share ‘their’ food and ‘their’ other supplies?

Even More Extreme

So your spouse’s brother, and all of his family members too, have set up camp right next to your community retreat.  They are a constant nuisance and interference to the entire community, and, while you can’t prove it, you are fairly certain they are stealing food out of your vegetable gardens, and in other ways stealing your community’s supplies and resources, and by their presence, affecting the overall community morale.

You confront your brother-in-law and he refuses to back down.  He says to you ‘What are you going to do – kill me for doing what I have to do to survive?  You’ll never miss a few carrots and potatoes, and it makes the difference between me and my family living or dying.  Do you want us to die on your doorstep?’

So what do you do?  This isn’t just a stranger talking to you, it is your spouse’s brother and his family.  Or maybe your own brother/sister/whoever.

They make it clear to you that they’re not going to stop stealing your food unless you kill them.  Do you?

Other Scenarios

There are plenty of other scenarios that also impact upon the size of your community and the circumstances associated with how you might select additional or replacement members.  What say, for example, that you have 20 people who belong to your community, but only 15 have turned up at your shared retreat location.

How long do you hold their spaces, their share of everything, before you decide they’re not coming, and you then open up the spaces to other desirable community members?

Or what say part of your community is a family of four, but only three of the family successfully make it to the retreat.  Does the fourth space belong to the family, to assign/sell/trade any way they wish, or does it pass back and become community property?

What happens if a community member leaves (or dies) – does the share in the community pass on to his/her family, can he sell it as he wishes, or does it revert back and become a shared community item for the community as a whole to do with as it chooses?

The Need to Prepare Community Rules in Advance

What all these previous examples have done is try to illustrate some of the type of ‘what if’ situations your community will likely encounter.  You will probably have more people approaching your community on a non-violent basis, pleading with you to be allowed to join your community, than you will have violent attacks from marauders seeking to separate you from your supplies by force.

Each of these different people will come to you with a different set of pluses and minuses, and for a while you’ll feel like a kid in a candy store with so many different people, all potentially great additions to your community, seeking to join.  Whereas, just a week or two prior, when life was normal, people would sneer at you and spurn your suggestion they consider joining your community, but now, all of a sudden, so many people want to be your best friend forever.

You have two problems that you need to address in preparing some rules in advance.  The first problem is simply one of creating a framework to help you judge and evaluate, on a case by case basis, who you should and should not consider adding to your community after TSHTF.

The second problem is more subtle.  The larger your community starts off as being, the more divergent will be the people in it and their own views about how each scenario should be handled.  The rules you prepare are a way of codifying for the entire community what you’ll all collectively do and how you’ll respond.  It is essential that you get the rules 100% established and fully agreed to prior to any event.  If you have a code of procedures, then you can dispassionately evaluate each person’s request to join the community as and when they appear, without having to get involved in any individual personalities and issues between your existing community members.  Community members know what to expect and plan for in advance, and can anticipate how cases will be handled based on the rules as they have been promulgated.

If you don’t have the rules already established, then you get trapped in an expanding spiral of exceptions (albeit exceptions to no existing rules to start with) on the basis of ‘If Joe was allowed to invite in Peter, then I’m entitled to invite in someone too’ and ‘If your friend Bill and his family were allowed to come join, then my friend John and his family should be allowed to come too’, as well as ‘I can’t believe you’re not allowing me to have my dear old dad come join us, especially after I agreed you could bring your kid sister in’, and so on and so on, without limit, until the entire community collapses into some sort of internal civil war.

The solution to this is in two parts – the first is that all decisions need to follow pre-established guidelines so as to distance the individual people and personalities from the process and make it less personal.  The decision then becomes one of simply following the policy, rather than what you agree/disagree between yourselves each time.  It makes it fairer for all to have a consistent approach.

The second element is to make all decisions not clearly covered by the published rules as community consensus decisions, again to diffuse the personal nature of such decisions and to make them more as ‘body corporate’ type actions that, while possibly disappointing to some, aren’t taken as quite so strongly personal rejections/affronts.

Specific Guidelines for Evaluating Potential Extra Community Members

We’ll write a subsequent article with some specific considerations for you to keep in mind when deciding who you might allow to join your community after TSHTF.

Of course, prior to TSHTF, you also need to exercise a modicum of discretion as to who you allow to join your community, but while you are building your community during normal times, one of the greatest considerations will probably be to simply grow your community as much as possible due to the three benefits of strength in numbers, economy of scale, and diversification of risk.

Please see also our article suggesting how to accept new members into your community.