While it is still an ongoing process of refinement, as all preparations tend to be, we took an approach that may well serve your own community. First, we advertised a community preparedness meeting, with enough advance notice that people could get it on their calendar if interested, but not so far in advance that it was forgotten by the time it arrived. The invitation, via signs at the Post Office and Fire Station, and distributed via flyers, had three key elements:
It was to be an informal meeting with no governmental spin or involvement; it was to get folks talking about community preparations for a variety of situations where we could help each other out effectively, while maintaining our privacy and independence, and finally it would include some refreshments. You’d be surprised how many people are drawn by the prospect of home made brownies, fresh coffee and Huckleberry lemonade.
The meeting itself stressed that the purpose was to:
- Help local citizens to get to know a few more of their neighbors, and
- Expand preparedness thinking from just individual parcels or immediate neighbors to the entire community.
Also mentioned up front was that the meeting was not called in order to:
- Pry into anyone’s issues with their neighbors
- Get into political debate
- Gather information about peoples’ pantry, gun safe contents, or underground bunker…
- Violate privacy – personal or property
- Pressure anyone to participate
- Fill peoples’ calendars with meetings/activities
We reminded attendees that planning was important now:
- So that preparations can be done when we have time, resources, good weather, low stress levels
- So that friends and neighbors know how the community as a whole will respond, before any action is needed
- So that critical preparations are not overlooked
- So that shortfalls can be corrected before an event makes them a critical issue
- Because some preparations may take a long time
- To avoid excessive duplication of efforts
We talked about the various scenarios that might require the community to band together instead of trying to deal with the issue on our own, including wildfire, extreme weather, a major transportation interruption, a large scale natural (or man-made) disaster, economic meltdown or further acts of governmental tyranny.
We discussed the focal areas that might be established to get people with specific knowledge or skills involved on teams of resource planners/coordinators to allow the best response to the situation:
- Emergency Resource planning/coordination
- - Food/water/fuels (consumables)
- - Personnel/Equipment/shelter (hard resources)
- Defensive systems
- - Advanced Preparedness
- - First response
- Unusual hazards and situations
This would not work so well in a typical neighborhood, because suburbanites depend more on government (practically and emotionally) than do country people. The faintest suggestion of standing up to further state tyranny would send at least one neighbor squealing to the FBI or Homeland Security. At the very least, I'd expect a large meeting might draw a surreptitious observer from FEMA, taking notes of who has food and weapons stores, so that these could be confiscated at an opportune time. Still, if the meeting is kept small and low-key enough, some of Ted's ideas could be adapted for suburban use.