Balancing Self-Sufficiency and Community

Contributing Writer – Jori Hamilton

Bird's eye view of a neighborhood
Image Source: Unsplash

Self-sufficiency is pretty self-explanatory and often a major factor for preppers who want to be safe and secure. It’s about divorcing yourself from the dependence on societal systems and the labor of others. Examples include eating what you grow, learning new skills to take care of yourself, and having the resources to provide for yourself (and your family) without help.  

But, self-sustainability isn’t easy. Depending on where you live or in certain situations, it’s next to impossible. There are certain skills you may never be able to learn. Or, there might be someone in your community who can do them better. 

While self-sufficiency is important, especially during a disaster, it’s just as important to strike a balance with your community and be willing to work together for the greater good.  

Prepping isn’t about being selfish. Yes, you want your family and loved ones to be safe and prepared. But, if you’re willing to work with your community to ensure your neighbors are just as prepared, you’ll be able to enjoy their skills contributions to a mostly self-sufficient lifestyle. 

So, how can you strike that balance? 

How to Become More Self-Sufficient

Adopting a more self-sufficient lifestyle is beneficial for everyone – even non-preppers. There are plenty of small changes you can make that will reduce your dependency on society, including: 

  • Living within your means/eliminating debt
  • Growing your own food and eating seasonally
  • Creating a homestead
  • Living simply/practicing minimalism
  • Starting your own business

Self-sufficiency also means thinking ahead. You should always have access to a water source, food, and shelter, even in emergencies. Storing bulk food and filtered water is a great way to do that, so you won’t have to depend on other people or businesses in times of need. 

You can also go bigger with your self-sufficient lifestyle and reduce your energy dependency. When you declare personal energy dependence, you’ll lower your utility bills. More importantly, you’ll be safe from threats to public or shared energy sources. While the rest of your community is without power, you won’t have to worry about it. Installing solar panels around your home is a great way to reduce your energy dependence. Having a backup generator on hand will always ensure that you’re prepared for a power outage of any kind. 

Whether you take multiple steps toward self-sufficiency or go fully “off the grid,” the lifestyle can offer you peace of mind when disaster strikes. 

Community Planning

While self-sufficiency is important, not every aspect of it is realistic for everyone. Maybe you don’t have a green thumb. Maybe you don’t have storage space. When was the last time you built something? 

Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. Being able to balance self-sufficiency and community will give you the best of both worlds and allow for more people to be safe and prepared. 

One of the best ways to get everyone on board is with community planning. Knowing your neighbors can make a huge difference in times of turmoil. You already know how important it is to have a preparedness plan at home, so why not create one with your friends and neighbors? A basic preparedness plan for your community should include things like: 

  • Designating a neighborhood gathering site/care site.
  • Making a list of people with specialized skills (CPR, first aid, communications).
  • Making a list of people with specialized equipment (generators, ladders, 4-wheel drive vehicles).
  • Deciding on preferred forms of communication.
  • Agreeing on action team/leadership roles.
  • Creating a draft of your plan for everyone to agree on.

The more people who get on board with this kind of plan, the easier it will be for everyone to take care of each other. Having your own skills is great, but you should also be willing to contribute to your community. It’s a perfect example of giving and taking for everyone’s benefit. 

Working With Your Neighbors

You don’t have to wait for an emergency to start working with your neighbors and community. Hold meetings about your preparedness plan, get together for casual events, and stay in communication with those who live close to you. 

You can also adopt more self-sufficient practices within your neighborhood. For example, consider trading with your neighbors. Rather than buying new things, you can practice community trade and reduce everyone’s reliance on certain resources. Having a yard sale is a great way to do that, whether it’s in-person or online. 

Set up a roadside stand with fresh produce from your garden. Take up your neighbor’s offer to borrow their ladder for an upcoming project. By building a stronger bond within your community, you’re all more likely to stay together and stick with a plan during an emergency. The more skills and resources everyone can take advantage of during a disaster, the better. By balancing self-sufficiency with community, you’ll be able to experience the best of both worlds, and possibly save more lives in dangerous situations. 

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