14 June 2009

What's In Your Basement? Your Neighborhood?

Once again America is caught in the grips of survival frenzy. Clueless naifs rule the nation, and the future of the economy is in the hands of a determined cabal guided by a bankrupt and destructive ideology.

Not since the days of President Jimmy Carter has the outlook for the national and global economy looked so dismal. Is it any wonder that survival talk is pushing its way into the mainstream, slowly but surely. What's in your basement?Your survival depends a great deal upon the community around you. The prospects for long term survival for individuals, families, and small groups alone are vanishingly small. But small communities working together can survive a large range of natural and unnatural disasters. Here are a few things you should look for in a community:
Twenty Clues to Rural Community Survival
An Annotated List

1. Evidence of Community Pride
Successful communities are often showplaces of community care and attention, with neatly trimmed yards, public gardens, and well-kept public parks. But pride also shows up in other ways, especially in community festivals and events that give residents the chance to celebrate their community, its history and heritage.

2. Emphasis on Quality in Business andCommunity Life
People in successful communities believe that something worth doing is worth doing right. Facilities are built to last, and so are homes and other improvements. Newer brick additions to schools are common, for example, and businesses are built or expanded with attention to design and construction detail.

3. Willingness to Invest in the Future
Some of the brick and mortar investments are most apparent, but these communities also invest in their future in other ways. Residents invest time and energy in community improvement projects, and they concern themselves with how what they are doing today will impact on the lives of their children and grandchildren in the future.

4. Participatory Approach to CommunityDecision-Making
Authoritarian models don't seem to exist in these communities, and power is deliberately shared. People still know who you need on your side to get something done, but even the most powerful of opinion leaders seem to work through the systems--formal as well as informal--to build consensus for what they want to do.

5. Cooperative Community Spirit Successful
rural communities devote more attention to cooperative activities than to fighting over what should be done and by whom. The stress is on working together toward a common goal and the focus is on positive results.

6. Realistic Appraisal of Future Opportunities
Many of the communities have already learned an important strategic lesson, namely building on your assets and minimizing your weaknesses. Few small communities believe that they are likely to land a giant industry. Many of them say they wouldn't want one if it came along, fearing too much dependence on one employer would be dangerous. The successful communities know that a more realistic approach considers the community and the region as the context for future opportunities.

7. Awareness of Competitive Positioning
The thriving communities know who the competition is and so do the businesses. Everyone tries to stress local loyalty as a way to help, but many businesses also keep tabs on their competitors in other towns-they don't want any of the hometown folks to have an excuse to go elsewhere. This is an area in which the recognition of community assets-people, associations and institutions-is vitally important. The comparison of one town to another is a significant means to spur improvements.

8. Knowledge of the Physical Environment
Importance of location is underscored continuously in local decision-making, as business and civic leaders picture their community in relation to others. Beyond location, however, communities must also be familiar with what they have locally. For example, the issue of preservation and protection of natural resources must be balanced with development options. Communities that manage this balance have a long-term approach to both environmental preservation and economic development.

9. Active Economic Development Program
An organized and active approach to economic development is common in successful communities. This type of approach depends on public and private sector resources working hand in hand. Private economic development corporations are common, either as a subcommittee or an outgrowth of a Chamber of Commerce or commercial club. However, it's clear that the most successful towns emphasize retaining and expanding existing businesses as well as trying to develop new businesses. This is a "gardening not hunting" model of economic development.

10. Deliberate Transition of Power to a Younger Generation of Leaders
Young leadership is more the rule than the exception n thriving rural communities. In many cases, these young people grew up in town and decided to stay or returned later to raise a family. In just as many situations, they are people who have decided to make a life in the community even though they grew up elsewhere. However, it's typical in a successful community to have a formal or informal means for established leaders to bring new recruits into public service.

11. Acceptance of Women in Leadership Roles
Women hold positions of leadership in these rural communities, and those roles extend beyond the traditional strongholds of teacher, nurse or librarian. In successful communities, so men take on roles as mayors, law enforcement officers, non-profit managers, business owners, etc. In many communities, this inclusion is expanded to minorities, newcomers and all types of non-traditional leaders.

12. Strong Belief in and Support of Education
Good schools are a point of pride as well as a stable employment force, and rural community leaders are very much aware of their school's importance. However, this characteristic goes beyond the K-12 system to include an approach to life-long learning that puts education at the center of many community activities. Whether adult education is targeted at skills and job performance or hobbies and recreation, the successful community makes the most of education at all levels.

13. Problem-SolvingApproach to Providing Health Care
Local health care is a common concern in rural communities, but strategies for delivery vary, depending on community needs. While one community may decide that keeping a doctor in residence should be the priority, another may choose to train as many people as possible as EMTs or to use telecommunications to augment a clinic. The point here is the variety of solutions to a common problem.

14. Strong Multi- Generational Family Orientation
These are family-oriented communities, with activities often built around family needs and ties. But the definition of family is broad, and it includes younger as well as older generations and people new to the community. A typical example of this attitude is the provision of child care for community town hall meetings, thus allowing young families to attend.

15. Strong Presence of Traditional Institutions that Are Integral
Churches are often the strongest force in this characteristic, but other types of community institutions such as newspapers and radio stations, hospitals and schools fill this role also. Service clubs retain a strong influence in social activities as well as in community improvement efforts.

16. Sound and Well-MaintainedInfrastructure
Thriving rural communities understand the Importance of physical infrastructures such as streets, sidewalks, water systems, sewage treatment plants-and efforts are made to maintain and improve them. In these communities, a clean-up day includes public parks and playgrounds, business owners keep sidewalks repaired, and volunteer labor and donated materials go a long way to maintaining public buildings.

17. Careful Use of Fiscal Resources Frugality
is a way of life in successful small communities, and expenditures are made carefully. People aren't afraid to spend money, when they believe they should, and then, typically, things are built to last. But neither are they spendthrifts. Expenditures are often seen as investments in the future of the community.

18. Sophisticated Use of Information Resources
Rural community leaders are knowledgeable about their communities beyond the knowledge base available in the community. In one town, for example, retail sales histories from a state university were studied for trend information. In another, census data was used to study population change. In many communities, computer links to the world wide web have made all types of information available.

19. Willingness to Seek Help from the Outside [Unless there is no "outside" left _AF]
There's little reluctance to seek help from outside resources. These communities understand the system of accessing resources, ranging from grants for infrastructure improvement to expertise about human service programs. Competing for such resources successfully is a source of pride for local leaders.

20. Conviction that, in the Long Run, You Have to Do It Yourself
Although outside help is sought when appropriate, it is nevertheless true that thriving small towns believe that their destiny is in their own hands. They are not waiting for some outsider to service them, nor do they believe that they can sit and wait for things to get better. Making a hometown a good place to live for a long time to come is a proactive assignment, and these local leaders know that no one will take care of a town as well as the people who live there. _Source
With the popularity of the recently published disaster novel "One Second After," more people are thinking about the possibility of large scale societal breakdown -- particularly in the age of Obama governmental corruption at all scales. What makes the mood far darker than it needs to be, is the news and entertainment media's refusal to question the destructive and potentially catastrophic policies of the current US government.

The mood is likely to turn much darker before bad policies, bad government, and bad media are finally overturned.

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Blogger Hell_Is_Like_Newark said...

I have been putting serious thought into putting together some emergency supplies / kits. Problem right now is $$$$. With my tenants paying be late (or not at all due to unemployment) and going full out to get a small business of the ground.. there isn't a whole lot of money left in the till.

I even looked at buying some silver or gold, as it will almost always be accepted (whether or not the government says its legal tender won't matter in a crisis). Good luck in finding any. Bars, round, coins have been selling as fast as suppliers can deliver them.

Monday, 15 June, 2009  
Blogger SwampWoman said...

H-I-L-N, I know where you're coming from. We foresaw this real estate crash coming and I got a (county) government job, hoping to have steady paycheck for as long as possible, but knowing that when the government budgets started collapsing, so would the employment. It (employment) did last long enough to get everything paid off except recurring utilities and insurance.

So now, like you, we're busily trying to get some food supplies together without much cash while I'm working at starting a small business. We're trying to grow as much as possible and pick up things like 50 lbs. of rice, 50 lbs. of beans, 50# of sugar, several pounds of salt, whatever we can afford when we go to a big warehouse store.

Oddly enough, I felt no food storage urgency during the Y2K scare (thought it was silly) or at any point in the past. I have an anxious sense of urgency to stock up as much as possible as quickly as possible, as though a hurricane warning has been posted for my area and it's going to be a bad 'un.

Monday, 15 June, 2009  

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