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Brief Thoughts on Non-Tactical Group Sustainment

March 25, 2019

After last week’s article on sustainment training, I got a couple of queries from folks about how to incorporate non-tactical training aspects of community building into that framework. This is a valid question, since most “prepper groups” are just that—groups of random people with little or nothing in common except an interest in preparedness.

I have to admit however, that the question through me for a loop, because it really didn’t make sense to me. Our clan is not a preparedness group. We are a group of lifelong “fr-amily.” We refer, sans irony, to ourselves as family. We spend time together, not just at the holidays, but throughout the year. We gather weekly for recreation. We spend evenings with one another, in various numbers.

If we need a “team-building” exercise, something will come up. Someone needs help putting up their house (yours truly, year before last). Someone else, next month, will need help re-roofing their house, or putting up a storage shed, or clearing some brush. Occasionally, we’ll all just gather at one home or another and sit around and play board or card games, and bullshit til the wee hours of the morn.

Last Saturday, following our normal range time (which was a medical class this week), we ended up gathered at one home, packing storage food. One of the things we’ve done, at the behest of someone in the clan (not yours truly), is a “communal food storage” project. Basically, everyone contributes X amount per family member, each month, and it is all used to purchase storage food goods.
Currently, everyone puts in $5/person/month. Now, is $5 a month, per person enough to store any useful amount of food? Yes and no. No, it’s not going to provide a month of food, per person. It doesn’t need to though. If we’ve been collecting it for three years, and we’re only up to six months worth of food for the whole clan, that’s okay. That’s still six months more than the vast majority of Americans have stored, giving us a significant advantage.

Additionally, not all of the families who contribute need to draw on that storage in an emergency. My family, for example, contributes every month, but we also have a year or two of stored food of our own, at the farm. So, our contribution to the community food storage project basically means an entire family has double the amount of food they’ve contributed for.

So, we spent a few hours packaging rice and beans and wheat and seasonings into mylar bags, and then into food grade buckets and barrels, so they can be safely stockpiled in various places. After we were done, we sat around for another four or five hours just bullshitting. Some of the conversation was about preparedness, but most of it was telling stories about things we had experienced in our youth or in recent years. We were “making myths” for our clan. We were establishing a tradition of gathering, and a custom of contributing to the community good, through food storage. Both of these are expressive of our shared cultural value of the importance of community. Since we all had our children there as well, and we all dealt with the children in roughly the same manner, “Hey, Johnny, come here. Why is your pull-up full? Either go tell your dad you need a new one, or bring me one so I can change you. You smell like shit!” we are also expressing our shared cultural value of the importance of children and family.

Ultimately, what specific activities you and your people will or should participate in will be completely predicated on your contextual considerations. While it may initially need to be planned, coordinated activities, I genuinely believe it needs to quickly become very organic, in the sense that it is a natural outcome of your group’s culture. If your group culture includes sitting around once a week and drinking moonshine, and picking banjos, fucking go for it! If your group culture includes sitting on a tenement building stoop, and rapping or beat-boxing, go for it! Training is important. Food storage is important. But ultimately, spending time building customs and traditions together is MORE important.

If there is discord, amongst all, or some, it is time to set the involved parties down and make them talk it out. It may very well turn out that someone, despite years of being close, is now incompatible with the rest of the group. Either they need to fix their shit, or they need to go elsewhere. Neither option is “wrong,” but one is more right than the other, especially if there is a record of shared history that has built “frith.”

Yes, it is critically important to make sure everyone is training. Make sure everyone is doing PT. Make sure everyone is setting aside food. Do regular things along these lines as a group. But…at the end of it all….if you’re not genuinely friends, or even “fr-amily,” with legitimate care and concern for the well-being of others within the group, you don’t have a group. You’ve got a bunch of individuals and/or families who will fall the fuck apart at the first sign of trouble, if one of those families or individuals feels like they can get ahead or survive, by turning on/against the others. That’s not conducive to long-term survival of the individuals or the group.

That level of “frith,” intra-group loyalty, cannot be built through artificialities. It requires natural, organic, bonding of the group into a cohesive whole. Conveniently, I wrote an entire book about this very subject: Forging the Hero


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  1. Wa-BAM John!

    Astute and spot fuckin ON! Way to break it down so even my mother can pick it up!

    Keep up the good work, sir. You are a model to us all.


  2. Lol
    I JUST started touching on this today!

    Sent from my iPhone

  3. Vagus permalink

    This is easily the best prepping advise I’ve seen in a long time, well done sir.

    Unrelated question for the community; I’ve heard that the magnesium fire starter blocks require a special fire lay to actually work, but I can’t find any reference to what that is. I’ve only ever used the ferro rod, but I’d like to practice the whole deal. Any suggestions?

  4. Gordon permalink

    You bring some very important but often over looked issues to mind, the building of trust , knowledge and skills beyond your own sphere of experience, done in a relaxed environment allowing the mind to be more open to imput,whether it be over a few beers or a cup of tea. In our case this means planning for seasonal changes in subsistence activities , preparation of equipment upgrades and enhancing of mechanic skills in exchange for weapon repairs and teaching of better fur and meat handling methods, the list is endless but the starting point the same. This illustrates the importance of elders in groups that are able to bring skill sets little recognized, changed migration patterns of wildlife or trails through what appears to be impassable terrain.

  5. MoreSigmasThanYou permalink

    Very timely blog post.

    My group culture doesn’t include sitting on a tenement building stoop and rapping or beat-boxing; but it does include other things that aren’t part of the Mountain Guerrilla’s group culture. However, we also have things that would look more familiar to his kith and kin.

    My group culture includes heavy intergenerational resource sharing. No matter how resource sharing works, there’s always a problem when you have ‘defectors’ mixed in with your ‘cooperators’. Right now I think I’m dealing with someone trying to use passive aggression to avoid work; while at the same time hoping to enjoy the benefits of work done by others.

    This weekend, I’ll be trying to clarify the situation, sort through things, and develop a new long term strategy with my wife.

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