Thursday, September 23, 2010

Seeking reader input...

Occasionally I'll get emails seeking help in relocating to more rural areas.  I try my best to offer what advice I can, but naturally I'm limited in what I can say.

Recently I received this email (posted with permission):

Patrice, I have been reading survival and prepping type blogs for several years now.  Your blog and others have been distributing a wealth of needful information.  One thing I feel that is missing are large groups or communities that are actually WILLING to work together in un-plugging from this current "system."  If I'm not mistaken, it is the current system of economics, politics, geo-politics etc. that we are all prepping for in case of its collapse.  If you know of any communities in the mountain west that promote trade and barter and a more agrarian lifestyle, would you please pass that information on.  My family believes in the importance of living apart from the current system (living for ourselves and others instead of just existing as a cog in the system) and are more than willing to move to be in such a community.

Thanks so much for all that you contribute,

Jack in New Mexico

Here is my reply:

I honestly have not heard about any communities like this, beyond the attempts at hippie communes or whatever.  That said, there are various places that seem more "survival minded" as a whole, and those tend to be in rural places out west - Montana, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, NE Washington, etc.  But that simply means there are more individuals with a prepper mindset in these areas - not whole communities (at least, none that I've heard of).  I suspect there may be groups coming together that are of one particular religious persuasion, but I wouldn't know where to find them.

May I post your email on my blog and open it up for reader input?  Can't hurt might help.

So, dear readers, if you can offer Jack some concrete advice, please post it here!


  1. Unless you become Amish, I'm afraid you have to make do with the real world. The few communes out there won't take you without your being recommended by an existing member. Not just everyone is compatible, and you may not agree with whatever philosophy that brought them together.
    It's always been the case that you have to deal with society, not society dealing with you. Be in the world, yet not of the world.

  2. I have visited a community similar to what you are looking for. It is called Homestead Heritage
    and is located near Hillsboro, Texas approx. 1 hour south of Dallas. You can check it out below

    D.J. Email

  3. I'm almost embarrassed to say this, but I think it will be understood here, so I'm going to say the first thing that pops into my head when I read something like this is to be very careful about how one responds. It's a sad commentary on the times we're living through and our growing and well-founded mistrust of the way our current government operates. Janet N's list-makers are, I'm sure busily compiling all the intel their well-funded minions can get their mits on about people like us and where we can be found.

    Jack in N.M. please don't take this personally, as I have no wish to offend you, and I agree with your thoughts on our need for community. It's something that will probably come about in much the same ways it always has, i.e. by the intersection of people and circumstance, and will take a lot of work to grow and maintain. I think it begins on a one to one basis and develops from there. It has to be built on trust and respect.

    I'm not prone to paranoia, but I do see the writing on the wall...and on the news...and on the internet...we're well advised at this time to be wary of our own government and many of those who work for and support it. I think any outreach you do needs to keep these things in mind.

    My best suggestion to you would be to keep reading and reaching out, just as we do, through our churches, our friends and clients, for example. Our family's approach is to begin with a reliance on God, and, as promised in Scripture, all else will be added unto you.

    And keep your powder dry.

    A. McSp

  4. I too have wondered about such a place but never have I heard of one. But that being said I would think that a very small town that one could find that closely fit your beleifs would be as close as one could get today. That too being said it might work out to pick a place where like minded people could buy into or near one another and start your own. That may take a while and not knowing how long we have may be a problem in its self. I chose to stay in a small town. mwp

  5. My advice would be to find an area that you like (and where you'll find work) and move there. Throw yourself into life, meet the neighbours and help the community - volunteer at everything you can. Work on your garden/house/projects and don't be shy to ask advice from others when needed.
    I've found that just by living in rural communities you realize alot of people in the area are basic preppers anyway.
    Unlike city/suburban dwellers they are used to disruptions in supplies, local emergencies and helping each other out when needed. Just because they are not 'survivalists' doesn't mean they don't have the right mindset and won't be valuable neighbours when TSHTF.

    We moved from city to a smallish rural community (pop 2000) three years ago. We only knew a couple of people in the area and have no family closer than 6 hrs away. My husband got a job with the biggest employer in town and I started helping with community projects. This helped us meet and become friendly with alot more people so if there is a crisis we are widely known (and liked I hope).
    As we get to know more and more people we are constantly suprised at the general, everyday skills of many of them. Many have grown up on a farm and have alot of knowledge they take for granted - animal husbandry, fencing, machinery repairs, canning, shooting/hunting, using a chainsaw and welding just to name a few. For example, our neighbours have 5 teenagers and raise all their own meat - cows, sheep, chooks (we have a big vegie garden and have already discussed trading goods). The wife is an emergency nurse and the husband has built much of his property with his own hands. We were over last weekend and he showed us his new lamb docking yard he put up the other day. He bought nothing, used what was already lying around the place and put it together with a hammer and nails, digging the post holes with a shovel and prybar. It was magnificently well put together, very sturdy and will last for decades.
    Why did he need a new yard? The usual one was too muddy. He could have waited a week for it to dry out but instead he knocked the yard up in a day and docked the lambs the next.
    This is just one example of many people we have met and become friends with, discovering afterwards how useful they are too.

  6. many mennonite and ammish are moving west.

  7. It sounds like Jack is looking for Claire Wolfe's fictional "Hardiville".

    Sigh, so am I, except for one small problem - - I am one of those nearly worthless technical types. When the power is off, all I seek to do is restore the power. In a true SHTF event, power will be very hard/impossible to restore and I will be "SOL". Sigh..

    Trying to at least not be hopelessly out of shape - down 50 pounds and counting.

    The advice which effectively says: "to have a friend be a friend" is probably the soundest.

    Most of us struggle along in cities (heart of Silcon Valley here) and prepping in the city
    is very difficult for any long term event such as TEOTWAWKI.

    Friends, family, firearms and prepping are your best bet.

    Patrice a question for you:
    Have you any kind of plans to "whack" your blog and your web footprints (darned near impossible with all the archiving going on) if everything collapses?

    It seems to me that folks who shouldn't show up, may do so. Perhaps they are ill-prepared citifolk like me, or worse - thugs, or worst of all - "we're from the government and we're here to help."

  8. I think you need to start research under the heading of "transitional towns". Started as a project in Ireland - the idea seems to be gaining ground here as well. Focus is on sustainability and moving away from fossil fuels - each town involved has it's own set of priorities, so you'll have to go town by town.

  9. +1 on the small town and participating in the rural community - but only if you have the mindset and personality to fit in. Hopefully you will bring some skill, insight, or knowledge to the table so you're not just a deer in the headlights for all the work and skills it takes to make it in a rural area.

    The downside I'd see to a goal-oriented "survivalist community" is that there is likely already a well-ensconced Honcho and a number of Mini Honchos. March to their drum or else. Human nature tells us that if these people are not used to wielding power sans Ego, as the ranks swell then so does the Ego of the leaders. Why reinvent the wheel when small rural towns already have a control system in place (County Sheriff), diverse skills, multidenominational religious profile, etc. I doubt you'd see religious persecution or blackballing because you aren't the right "kind" of Christian or whatever. Maybe it will happen in certain areas but I'd doubt it would be the rule.

    If you move to a small town and nothing ends up hitting the fan, you have at least de-coupled your family from the debt spiral of buying useless home improvements for an equally useless tract "home" to keep up with the Joneses.

  10. I think the best community you can plug into would be your church community. This is where you are more likely to find people who understand the need to be prepared. This is also where you are more likely to find the people who understand the need to pull together resources. As our example from the early church, we as brothers and sisters are meant to help each other out. This of course does not mean going to the Church for a handout. I believe as a Church community, your local congregation, whether you are in a rural area or cannot afford to leave the city at this time, can and most will pool resources when needed to help each other out.

  11. I wish Jack all the success in finding his utopia is some group somewhere. However, I would caution him because too many of these groups have major issues. And unfortunately sometimes normal everyday folks are brain washed, coerced and forced to do horrendous things they would never have thought they would do.
    Case in point: Rulo, Nebraska cult

  12. A lot of good comments here.

    In my view, preparedness is not a place but a state of mind.

    In our small mountain community -- the road sign says Pop: Friendly, Elev: Just Right -- we have a very diverse mix of people ranging from very wealthy SF Bay Area retirees, to people living in caves without any amenities like running water and electricity.

    So, we fit in as best we can -- mostly within the community of our church. There are some who are like-minded preparedness-wise. But most are just your basic everyday people going about trying to earn a living the best they can.

    We do help each other, and when the Obama hits the fan, we will pull together to help each other weather the worst of it.

    I guess what I'm saying is that this is not necessarily a "preparedness" community, but it sure beats living in the city.


  13. I see you are in New Mexico. People in the S.W. part of the state have a great mind set and "know what time it is." Land is still pretty cheap and the soil is good. Everyones advice here about living in a community AND becoming part of it is the best advice. Volunteer, give of yourself to you neighbors and you will soon find that your dream is realized. Communes suck, like the other poster says, you got to dance to Ego's tune, not good. Also it's much easier to hit a group target than one that's scattered about.
    The only draw back down here is our relative closeness to the border. We've considered moving north to avoid the possible dangers but have given up the idea. Everything we searched never panned out and finally realized our Lord must want us here. After all is said and done there really is NO place completely safe but with the fine community of folks down here in our little corner of S.W. New Mexico we stand as good a chance as any.

  14. I'd like to add that when we moved to our rural town neither of us had very many skills. My husband was in IT and I was a waitress. We'd both grown up in cities but had a love for the outdoors, camping and hunting.
    He got a hands-on labouring job for the first time in his life and I got a horticultural job. We started helping our new friends out on their farms whenever we could. They knew we didn't know much but because we were willing to learn and give it a good go they were willing to teach us.
    If you are earnest about wanting to learn new skills and willing to put all your effort into it most genuine people will recognize and respond to that. Even if you have no skills it's worth moving out of the city and giving it a go.
    You can always move back if it's not working for you (although you should give it a few years of trying first).

    Go on, take the plunge!

  15. I believe(and I may be wrong) that one of the earliest footholds on North America..that would be Jamestown was a communist idea which failed in a spectacular way. A bad idea is a bad idea in any time frame.

  16. From Bill to Amanda,
    In my spiritual journey over the years, I have drempt of withdrawing from society and establishing a community exactly what you speak of. I grew up in a farm community of tight-knit Catholics that was somewhat close to what you were talking about (passed down since the 1800s, our own water, natural gas, grain, milk, eggs, meat, etc). However, at times I felt that at church they were just going through the motions. I now have a family of four and have lived all around the wold due to my job as a pilot. I am very successful, I have a well balanced, Catholic family, and this is my comments of what I have found over my 50 years of pursuit of the perfect life supporting Christ:
    1. During my struggles and disgust with society, I have found God is where I least expected him....right in my home and community. The successes of Christ in our lives is really the little things. I focused on weaning myself off of the normal expectations of society...the BMW, the 60" TV, etc... We now live a simple life and show my neighbors that the true meaning of being Catholic is....Love.... "they will know we are Christings by our Love". We have developed a communtiy with our Catholic church that lives what we preach....adopting an old man by cooking and cleaning his appartment, giving people rides, a catholic support group for those in need, taking in the homelsess at church, and teaching the youth that God is in us every day. As Mother Theresa lived the life of Christ....our love is for everyone, not just the Catholics.....we dont have the market cornered on heaven!
    My concern for you is that if you enter a community of excluding the outside world, you may never find true peace unles you are already able to admit that a human word is not perfect, and Christ dwells amont the imperfect....there is no such thing a a perfect church, person or community. A community as you speak my be the right answer, but look within yourself first to ensure that you are at peace Before you take the leap.
    Also, I think Christ challenged us all to go out into the world to serve. Being cloistered is great, and I respect those communities a lot, but it is difficult to raise a normal family in an enviornment such as that.
    As far as moving out of mainstream society, please make sure you know exactly why you want to make that move....Dont run away from something! For me, I prefer the rural life myself, but there is no perfect communtiy as we are humans, and we all make mistakes. I laugh at St. Peter, and the other Apostles in the Bible, as they constantly got it wrong (cutting off the the soldier's ear upon Jesus' arrest, denying Christ, etc...). ITS OK TO MAKE MISTAKES!
    There is a great book that really helped me understand where Christ is in my daily life. "THE JESUIT GUIDE TO ALMOST EVERYTHING" by Father James Martin, SJ. It takes its wisdon from St. Ignatius reaching back to the 1500s.
    My recomendation is that you start a personal journey by fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays (from the old church). Slowly begin to download your house of personal items that have no meaning to you. Read the above book, and begin to see Christ in all things around you. Balance your lefe with prayer, fasting and most improtant with action of love without the expectation of acknowledgement or praise.
    Although I have frustration with the world and the Catholic Church, I am devoted to the beliefs, and the tradition. Anchor every decision you make back to the basics of what christ directed....Love, tolerance, forgiveness, compassion and going out into the world to help your neighbor in need.
    Not sure this is what you wanted to hear, but we are all on our seperate journeys attempting to get to the same place.
    Good Luck, and may Christ be with you. Bill

  17. An interesting "aside".....

    I watched a documentary last night about youth in the wider Amish community, and the challenges faced by teenagers who grow up in that culture.

    At the end of the broadcast they gave a statistic that I found very thought-provoking. It stated that after turning 18 and leaving home, 80% of Amish youths return to join the church.

    The reason I found this so noteworthy is the fact that I've read numerous sources that say 75% of young people from Christian families who leave home today also leave the church.

    Interesting contrast, yes?

    A. McSp

  18. I would NEVER divulge the name/location of a community that was prepping. Why make it easy for the ruling class to track them down and destroy their efforts? Giving out such information on a public blog (ANY public blog) is a bad idea, IMO.

    I'm with A.McSp on this - be careful. There are spies and tattletales everywhere, sadly. I'm not paranoid, I've seen the ruling class in the USA destroy people based on nothing more than an innocent comment made over a cup of coffee with "friends." And when the schumer hits the fan, you know that people will be desperate and do anything to help themselves, even tattle on a prepper community.

    Anybody who has truly read prepping and survivalist blogs "for several years now" should already have a pretty good idea where to get detailed information about such like-minded locations. If not, he wasn't paying attention.

    Anonymous Patriot

  19. Jack:

    Just $.02 worth...

    I think it is more of an "If you build it, they will come" thing.

    Start the community yourself, then it is run by your rules.

    Buy a few acres of land, but look for specific things.

    The house must be on high ground that is easily definsible.

    A water supply is a must. Preferably with a running stream. Google search micro-hydro power.

    At least seven acres of standing timber or access to standing timber for heat source if living in the Northern climates.

    A well drained plot of land for a garden.

    Enough land for pasture, with enough extra for livestock food if the ground is snow covered.

    That is pretty much all one needs to survive. How you manage it is up to you. Don't look to move into another community and use their capital, learn from what you build yourself. You will need that knowledge later.