I noticed it's been a month since I blogged. June was a rather hectic month here, with a high school graduation and out of state travel for work on multiple occasions. I'm hopeful things are calming down.
I'm taking this weekend - which I am now referring to as Brexit Anniversary Weekend - to go through all of my preparedness supplies, test gear, and otherwise make sure I have what I need. I'm also culling out a few items that no longer fit my mission.
I have a couple of items to brief you on regarding some new thoughts on preparedness planning and training. Let's get started:
Grasshopper Nation: Planning For Those Who Aren't Prepared
This article has been making the rounds over the last month, and it's easy to see why. Adam Taggart lays out the current state of things - the lack of retirement savings for most Americans, the declining labor force participation rate, and disruptions in the financial markets (while the Brexit reaction took place after the article was written, it's another case in point).
But many in the preparedness community are well aware of the headwinds we are facing. What's unique about Taggart's article is that he walks through his expectations on how the unprepared will react in times of a crisis, and more importantly, how we might start preparing ourselves to help those who are unprepared in a time of crisis.
I talk about this situation in Pivot Points (if you've already read it, please do me a huge favor and write a review on Amazon) quite a bit:
One thing holding us back in creating a culture of preparedness is the mindset that preparedness is an individual sport. Many who engage in this project fear nefarious elements will learn of their supplies and efforts, making them a target during a disaster. Others are concerned that the government will attempt to take their supplies during a crisis, so that they can be redistributed to those who fail to prepare.
In some respects, we in the preparedness movement are our own worst enemy. While we’re waiting and preparing for that worst case scenario – where society descends into full bore collapse - to tell all of our haters “tough luck,” what are we going to do in the meantime? Shouldn’t those with a passion and knowledge share it with others? Isn’t the goal of this effort for us and our communities to survive? What’s the point in individuals surviving if you’re left with chaos and the collapse of services, resulting from the fact that others didn’t prepare? We need a change, away from an “I’ve got mine…too bad you don’t have yours!” attitude to a more patriotic tone, where we work to create a culture in which people make preparedness a priority – as in it becomes second nature to us.
I am not judging those who think that way, for I myself have been guilty of such thinking in the past. Tired of the ridicule and criticism from those who thought my need to be better prepared was a quirky hobby at best or symptom of a mental illness at worst, at times I found it hard to justify efforts to help others learn to prepare. Winning in preparedness – being able to feed, hydrate and shelter yourself during an extended emergency when others cannot – may make you feel better now. But in the long run, humans have proven to be incredibly resilient. Many who didn’t prepare will not perish. They will still be our countrymen after the crisis. Preparedness puts you in a position to be a leader in that inevitable rebuilding process, during which we can improve our communities and society. And being a leader means we have to set a good example now so that people will follow our example during and after a crisis.
Similarly, Taggart touches on many of these themes in his advice to be ready to help others. I encourage you to read this article and take his ideas to heart.
The Next Iteration Of Preparedness Training
Last Saturday, a friend of mine and I hosted a preparedness seminar for beginners. That is not newsworthy in and of itself. However, we used the seminar as an opportunity to beta test a new method of entry level preparedness training.
The genesis for this new training strategy began at a reception last September. I was talking to a co-worker (actually, it was someone much further up the food chain than I, truth be told) about getting started in preparedness. This fellow employee stated they wanted to get better prepared but felt overwhelmed at the process.
That bothered me. Greatly, in fact. This individual is very bright and has plenty of resources to be well prepared. If they were struggling, it's fair to say a lot of people are having the same problem.
Matt Davis, Ph.D., who has written extensively on the issue of the psychological issues stemming from disaster preparedness, refers to this situation as a lack of self-efficacy. Again, from Pivot Points:
A major factor in why people do not take actions is a lack of self-efficacy. This means that they feel there is nothing they can do to remedy that situation or that they lack the skills or ability to take action. Self-efficacy, or lack of it, is not a personality trait... it’s situationally dependent. I have low self-efficacy regarding whether I could fix my car if it breaks down, but I have high self-efficacy regarding preparing a lecture for a community group. My self-efficacy could change if I took an auto mechanics course or if I was going in front of a group of experts that I suspect might be critical of me or know more than me.
What I have found is that taking disaster prep courses increases people’s sense of self-efficacy... they begin to feel that there is something they can do or that they have the skills to start taking action. If you can increase self-efficacy, and salience of the problem, you can increase preparedness.
(pg. 21, emphasis added)
And so to combat the issue of lack of self-efficacy, we designed the seminar to strip away all of the things that typically overwhelm people when it comes to starting a preparedness program. This seminar really focused on four things:
We didn't spend much time on firearms, precious metals, night vision, biohazard suits, and all the other things that tend to derail the discussion and/or dampen the budding enthusiasm of the nascent prepper. This was an opportunity to teach people the basics of preparedness - that if they can feed and hydrate themselves, charge up their phones and flashlights, and take care of their pets, they will be better prepared than most people.
I believe this is the next iteration of preparedness evangelism - short seminars showing people how to prepare for the most basic needs, omitting the discussions about buying a closet full of guns or fancy hand cranked shortwave radios. Those things have their place, but when we are dealing with beginners, we need to get them to execute the basics well.
Here's where I tell you what I think about things I think about.