The DIY Survival Community: Is there a better way?

A popular topic on survival forums, blogs, and websites is the concept of the DIY survival community.  Here’s the concept.

Every self-reliant group should have a doctor, a dentist, one or two former military personnel, an experienced gardener or farmer, maybe a teacher, and an assortment of others with strong practical skills, such as hunting.  To form your own survival community, you should begin seeking out like-minded people who fit these specific slots and begin making plans for establishing an actual survival retreat as a group.

There are some downsides to this plan.  First, with opsec always on the fore-front of the minds of most preppers and survival-types, how will you know exactly who is like-minded and also interested in joining with you?  Instinct?  And, do you really want to cast your family’s future into the hands of virtual strangers?  A few conversations in a Meet-Up group can hardly establish the deep trust necessary for banding together in order to survive.  Think about it.  If this is your plan, you are placing your family’s security in the hands of people you may not know very well.

image by nick farmhill

Who’s to say everyone will be in agreement when it comes to making hard decisions?  And what will happen when the doctor’s son and his family show up at the retreat after TSHT?  Will the group be given a vote as to whether or not to accept these new arrivals or will the doctor, because of his or her importance to the community, be given a free pass when if a steady stream of their loved ones starts arriving?  Just how long do you think the cohesiveness of the group will last if the majority votes to send away your parents?

The woman in this video presents this question in a thought-provoking manner.

In a way, the idea of establishing survival communities along these lines is reminiscent of the efforts in the mid-19th century to create utopian societies, such as the Icarians.  Eventually, the groups disbanded, sometimes after just a couple of years.  Usually, this was due to disagreements about how money was handled, who was in charge, how decisions were made, etc.  Wherever there are people, there will be conflict.

image by taberandrew

In theory, I really like the idea of the make-your-own survival community.  On paper, it looks great.  The reality, though, could be very, very different.  Even establishing rules, procedures, and a chain of command early on won’t guarantee a survival paradise with everyone emerging on the other side of the S hitting the F, as a cohesive group with everyone safe and healthy.

Dr. Bruce Clayton, a well-known survival expert and author of eight books, has a different take on the DIY survival community.  He claims these communities already exist.  They already have a doctor, a dentist, farmers, food preservation experts, security experts, and teachers.  This community is called a village.  Dr. Clayton recommends doing some research and finding one of these villages in your preferred area, and then just…moving there.

Yes, you’ll be the outsider, but the essential pieces required for a self-reliant community are already in place.  It will be up to you to establish yourself as an integral part of the community, but it will also save a lot of time.  If your family members show up after TSHF, you have every right to bring them into your home without consulting The Leader or The Committee.  In the meantime, you can begin growing your gardens, planting your fruit trees, and start prepping to your heart’s content.

What are your thoughts?



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  1. guest says

    The women on the video is not looking at this from the right view. Her and her husband can't watch or protect there stuff or there children because their are only 2 of them so from that stand point they are not really thinking clearly. They are going to need help doing just the daily things after a disaster. Then you add thinks like night watches and water and food gathering to the mix and its going to fall apart quickly. It is better to be part of a group.

    • says

      I think you missed the woman's point.

      Everybody knows somebody, be it family or friends. We are all a web of relationships.

      IMO her point is if/when an SHTF event happens with all the relationships of the people in the group? Like she said: Do you expect the guy in your group with a brother who has a wife and 2 kids to abandon them to fate?

      • TheSurvivalMom says

        Like rightwingmom said, it really depends on the severity of the crisis. After an EMP when I know that the ONLY food and water we will EVER have is what's currently on our property, I would turn people away. There would be no other choice, as I see it. Better that *some* have a chance of surviving long-term than spreading the little we have among many people, guaranteeing that we all die about the same time. I'm not willing to sacrifice the lives of my kids when it's possible we might have a chance of getting past the worst of the situation with what we've managed to stock up on and plans we've put in place.

        • Merwin says

          Think of a ship .. a large sea going ship .. with sails (or not) .. and you are the Captain .. you have a mate and a crew .. you have provisions and things to do. Along comes a close relative, his wife, a kid or two .. and maybe he knows how to sail the ship, cook, or scrub the deck. YOU are the Captain .. no one else .. you have a mate and a crew .. and they must be loyal to you. Your relatives come on board only with your permission .. that’s why the question; “Permission to come aboard, sir?” .. it must be with the respect and understanding that your house/home is “YOUR” ship .. no one else’s. It’s okay if you have the need for more hands .. and have the provisions. They must be willing to defend the ship against all pirates .. even the British should you make the decision to deny them permission to come aboard. They must be willing to fight for the ship .. if not .. or if they have been trying to incite a mutiny .. you can make them walk the plank. It’s your ship .. not theirs .. however, as with anyone aboard .. you should be willing to listen to what they may say .. for you may be about to run aground, or sails about to tear, or ropes and nets need repair. If it’s just a bad feeling .. be honest .. and look for the best opportunity to help them on their way .. should the close relationship prove not to be so complimentary. You want a skilled crew that works well together .. with a great attitude. The others with the bad attitude can bore holes in your hold .. and sink the ship. The ship is like a village .. with it’s own laws/rules .. the Captain can perform marriages .. and make important decisions. If you don’t like the Captain .. leave on good terms if at all possible.

    • says

      Glad to have fund this site! I live in the Missouri Ozarks. I have spent most of my life as a Lone Wolf . Often times out in the bush for 30 days at a time alone. A Lone Wolf can surivive in the wilderness or urban area. But supplies and resources are hard to come by. The Wilderness will not provide what it did 30 years ago or even 10 years ago. Also, what if you get injured you will most probly die without assistance! I have had these experiences with bad luck I once dislocated a knee, Another time fractured a tibia and femur at the same time, I got 3rd degree burns, broke 3 ribs. Broke an ankle. Nearly drowned and lost my transportation all on week long excurtions. Each Time I had to adapt overcome and get my self to help alone. I even had to sew my own thumb back on once. One Time I even had to sew my Horse up.
      Bottom Line if you are Lone Wolfing it. You are the only help you have and you must depend on the gear and experience you have available. You can not sleep and provide security at the same time!
      There is a reason that the military works in a miminal of 6
      man teams and even then it is on the budy system. Even the Navy Seals, Marine Recon, Army Green Brets have a support base. and supply system. Even if it is the locals of the area they are operating in.
      Long Term Surivival depends on a support system Products and tools must be maded or bartered for. Security can only be found in numbers as the collpase lengthens in time frame. There has never been a fortress that has not been sacked given enough time. Simply because you can not stock enough supplies to last indifintely. So, all communties depend on farming or bartering for food. Thus, Survival Communities or Emergency Preparedness Alliances are a must. As society becomes older the need for muptible caregivers, workers, security and long rane patrol or scagavers quickly add to the need for larger retreats.
      I was raised in Oregon County of the Missouri Ozarks. My family has lived here since the early 1800,s Our family gave the 175 acers of land to the county to have the town of Alton built to become the new county seat in 1840.Our family survived the war of 1812 , the Civil War, and the Great Depression in these Ozark Hills. I spent most of my youth in the timber hunting and fishing out doors and working the family farm. As I got older I began trapping and camping the area wilderness. This lead to becoming a guide for hunting, fishing, camping, canoeing, Horse back riding, and backpacking guide trips for the area. I spent ten years in the military traveling the world over. Came home and began the wilderness guide services. In the off seasson I spent years as a travel nurse traveling around our Great Country. The more I have seen the more concrened I have become about the futrue of America and our way of life. With that thought in Mind I began the The Emergency Preparedness Alliance with my neighbors. To ensure that as Americans we will always have a foundation to rebuild from. To restore and maintain the Self-Reliance and Self-Suffinency and American Independence I grew up with. Later I began building retreats for the WHAT IFS OF THE WORLD Now I would like to offer you a chance to expereince the piece of mind and long term security that preplanning can provide. CHECK OUT MY WEB PAGE

      Thank you,

  2. Lynda says

    Sounds nice, but the liklihood of that happening, even in my neck of the woods here in rural MA is just about nil. I do think the community would band together should the worst occur but I doubt that my neighbors are as well prepared as I am at this point. The tough decisions for my husband and I would be whether to share what we have with others. To some degree we will, of course, but my family is my priority. We've decided to adopt a wait and see attitude.

    • 18echo says

      I have read the suggestion that the best way to share what you have (if you choose to) is to donate it to the local church/ red cross or what exists like that (if it still does) with the idea that you can tell people that "you" don't have anything but that you have heard that "the church in fooville" as food/supplies That way the word never gets around that you have stuff to spare. Of course the church must be willing keep the source of such donations secret..

      • rightwingmom says

        This is a good idea.

        The only two catches I see are:
        1. I'm doubtful many churches, food pantries, and missions are prepared for the enormous volume of people who will find themselves in need.
        2. Any donations to one of these charities would have to be extremely covert. Simply being recognized could expose you has someone who has something of value…namely food!

        I don't mean to sound cold, but the severity of TSHTF scenario is will dictate how open and generous I am with my stockpile. It has been a blessing to use my stockpile (and coupon shopping) to generously donate to individuals in need, our local food pantry, and victims of recent natural disasters. That said, my top priority is my husband and our children. If society breaks down, to the point of anarchy and violence, Heaven help those who did not heed the warnings!

      • says

        What do you do when volunatry donations aren't enough? If order and resupply isn't re-established quickly all that does is prolong the inevtiable a few days.

        • Lynda says

          The time to donate is before scenarios occur. You've fulfilled your obligations to society. This is exactly why we'll play it by ear. Obviously the safety of my own family is paramount and must be considered before anyone else's well being. I could trust a few neighbors but I've yet to see like minded people.

  3. says

    Unfortunately, I think the idea of joining a village is just as subject to real-life pressures as a make-your-own community. You're no more likely to get along with or trust the judgment of the doctor, dentist, farmer, etc. in any given village any more than you would a survival group you founded yourself. You'll be equally subject to the unexpected, unwanted or unprepared arrivals of others post-apocalypse.

    There is also the very practical point that everyone needs a job to pay the bills and fund survival planning. We can't all get jobs that allow us to live in small villages or the country, much as we wish we could.

    Ultimately, I think one' s best bet is to cultivate friendships with like-minded people wherever you can find them around you. The world is going to be painful and messy when TSHTF and no amount of prepping can fully insulate us from that. Read as much as you can so you have some idea of what has worked or backfired in other people's experience and mentally/emotionally prepare yourself to make hard choices.

  4. GoneWithTheWind says

    It's all dream world. They have done studies that show two people is the ideal size of a group to endure living together in a difficult situation. Three people will ALWAYS become 2 against 1 with eventual violence. Every larger group has the same problem, that is two or more people joining together to oppose or depose the rest. Petty jealousy, sexual tensions/liaisons, theft, hunger for power, personality conflict, etc. If you want problems bring another adult into your family unit and then go through tough times together. Better yet bring in numerous people so thjey can gang up on you.

    • TheSurvivalMom says

      That is probably the truth, GWTW! Unfortunately, for survival, two people would find it impossible to take care of security, food supply, and everything else necessary for staying alive. That\’s one reason that a village has an advantage. There are other people there to rely on, yet you\’re not in such close quarters as to allow for all the dissension you mention.

  5. Sierra Dave says

    1) Gift them a couple emergency buckets. Fill them with rice, beans, some bouillon cubes, and some recipes.

    2) Print up an emergency action list in the event of SHTF, for them at their home. Water is priority, etc. (Not that I think most will do all that well since they didn't prepared)

    3) Print up a Bug out list. Assuming they have a vehicle that can make it to your home. Advise them to bring all the food and hygiene and Kitchen supplies they have. Make it known what terms they will live under if they Do impose on you. It is not a democracy, they won't have voting rights since they didn't prepare. They can exchange labor for food.

    There's strength in numbers. These imposers can be a liability or asset. Prepare for them. It's what we do! :)

    With the gift buckets. Include a beginner prepping guide. Some people just don't know where to start. You might germinate the prepper seed within.

  6. says

    I have worked extensively with groups (clubs) for 30+ years. I assure you that finding people who *say* the are dedicated then actually getting people to step up to the plate and DO the work when needed are two VERY different things. Doesn't matter the size. I've been part of clubs that number in the hundreds and those that are kept around a dozen. Didn't matter. In all cases it was 2-3-4 or some other small handful of people who did 99% of the work (yet many of the others griped!). No matter how well drilled, how well rehursed, how well planned I can only shudder to think of the friction and conflict when you have an SHTF scenario and trying to keep a group organized.

    In terms of the video, now add in people who know NOTHING of preparation, never thought for an instant about SHTF or WROL or TEOWAWHKI, people who likely have never ate freeze dried or MRE food, people who may have never held muchless fired a weapon, who are likely in a state of shock, etc etc etc and it's a disaster with in a disaster.

    No. The woman inthe video 1,000,000% correct. It *IS* a *REAL* issue to be concerned about and there is no good solution.

    • TheSurvivalMom says

      The old Pareto principle, or the 80/20 rule, rears its ugly head again! Po, you are exactly right in your observations. I've seen it over and over myself in everything from sales and business to education.

      • Harold Dean says

        It is even so within families. My wife and I, both retired on a slim budget helped one of the daughters out a couple of times. We generally have a communal holiday dinner, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter at one of the three daughters houses. We bought before hand a very huge turkey, a ham, two pork roasts and a beef roast to store at the one daughters house for Christmas dinner. A week before Christmas she wanted to know if we had anything left of our pensions to buy Christmas dinner with. When braced, she admitted she had used the food at the beginning of the month because three of her four sons had needed money badly and she had given them her grocery money for the month. The bad need they had for money was to purchase drugs with. That has ended any of the communal dinners in the future. I will not fund someones drug habit either directly or indirectly. I told her we would all take care of ourselves for Christmas dinner and she should go to the food bank. Same thing occurred when I was trying to teach them wood gathering skills after I gave her my old wood stove out of the garage. They stood around and watched me when I dropped the dead tree, cut it up in stove lengths with a bow saw, split the larger pieces and I could not get them to try their hand neither the boys or her husband. When it was over, they loaded the firewood and had the nerve to tell me the following month when it really got cold that they were out of wood. I am seventy three years old and they are in their early twenties and her husband is in his fifties. I told them if you cut your own wood it would warm you twice. Once when you cut it and again when you burned it. Needless to say if the SHTF happens, it will be just my wife and I.

  7. says

    My group is my group. I don't want you in my group.

    But I would LOVE for our groups to be friends. I want to be allies. I want to trade with you. I want to work with you. I want to have a cookout with you. We can trade goods and services in the morning and trade stories in the evening.

    But you will never be in my group for all the reasons mentioned already.

    It isn't about team building. It's about networking.

    • TheSurvivalMom says

      Josh, we've been missing you around here! I've thought of you numerous times and wondered if everything was okay. Sure wish I could be included in your survival group. ;o)

    • Stephen Clay McGehee says

      Josh, you just summed up the entire issue in that post. Different "groups" will be those that were formed long before things fall apart. They are groups – or tribes, if you will – that already have similar beliefs and a bond that will hold them together that is far stronger than some skill that someone has. It is my opinion that any group that is organized primarily around survival, in the sense that we are discussing here, will soon fall apart. They simply do not have the social cohesion that will be needed. Mankind has developed advanced civilizations by coming together for trade and commerce and cooperative ventures – not by picking and choosing what specific skills they want in their group.

      • says

        In the longer run, if no society or authority is left to rebuild from (which I think is extremely unlikely), I agree. But in the immediate time the videos' context still holds true. That is, immediate survival is first priority.

  8. Paul says

    Just finished reading "Lights out" and this novel answers this subject im many ways, the "what If's" were addressed well in this book. Also revisiting the TV series "The Colony" is , maybe another worth while idea in understanding some thing on how to hand "situations".

  9. Sue says

    Been thinking about this for a while and I would want my group to include members of my extended family. Have already starting putting in the groundwork, talking about buying a larger property with family members. I do believe that you have to build that trust with somone so it might as well be the other family members.
    I don't think neighbours/friends are anywhere near my level of preparedness and I just don't think it would work with them. The dynamics just aren't right.

  10. XR750 says

    You can't save the world! I'm sorry to say that you have to be strong and use force if you have to.
    Is better that all of you die or that they die because they didn't prepare. If you gave them a start that's more than you should do.

  11. 1891/30 says

    Yup. I have a relative who called us yesterday just because her car battery died, and she lives almost 20 miles away. We had to go "rescue" her. In a SHTF scenario, she'd be uttery helpless. And she keeps basically no food around the house.

    • Harold Dean says

      If she is anything like my extended family, she not only offered you at least gas money but griped about how long it took you to respond. Biggest reason why my group is my wife and I. Together we raised a family, paid out bills, built a dwelling, raised large gardens and livestock. I know we work together and we are already drilled to each do what we do best and to aid each other when required on a task.

  12. jwrobbs says

    I've been thinking about this for about a week. I think her biggest issue is that she hasn't talked to her family about preparedness. That is why she feels guilt in this theoretical situation. I pulled all the thoughts together and did a video response on YouTube: Let me know what you think.

    Thanks for this story. It really makes you think.

    • Kat says

      That’s fabulous! Given me much to think about.

      We’re on a very limited budget so prepping is something I’ve actually been doing for years without calling it that. My house would be the first place everyone would come because they know I have “plenty” of supplies. I’m resolved to speak with my family about this now and let them know I can’t and won’t be responsible for them in a post-SHTF world if they’re unwilling to help themselves now.

      The only exception is that I’m prepping to include extra children. If my sister’s family shows up wanting anything without adding their own contributions, the adults will not welcome. But the kids will be.

      Simply because my nieces and nephews shouldn’t have to pay the price for their parents lack of foresight. And I won’t allow them starve because of shortsightedness and stupidity.

  13. roxy2711 says

    I have thought about this over and over again. I am the only one in my "circle" that has any mind towards preparedness. I have spoken to members of my family and some close-dependable friends about what I plan if the SHTF and invited them to join my husband and I. I have also started putting away a little extra for them. Each of them, in my opinion, have skills that will be needed in many senarios. I do realize that they may have significant others/spouses that have no skills whatsoever that will be coming along as well, but I think that if we can keep our "group" to 12-16 people that can be managable. However without any preparedness or forethought who knows how many will actually make it to the meeting spot??

    My husband and I know that we can not prepare enough for everyone, but we also know that there is a good chance that we will not survive in the long run without help and keeping it in the family seems like the best way to make that happen.

  14. Harold Dean says

    Probably putting together a group at this stage in time will be a very difficult task to accomplish. Most of the younger generation have not been required to submit to authority or learned anything of value in the skills line to be of any use in a situation like this. A perfect example is teaching someone to shoot who only lives on video games or war movies. Trying to teach them with the 22 rifle to gain in marksmanship ability to the point they can put four rounds between the eyes is very difficult when they are enthralled with opening up on full auto with an AK47 and just hosing everything down. Try getting them to hump the ammunition they want to shoot to the range and you have instant revolt. When the chips are down, I will settle for the two grandsons who have gained the ability to place their shots where mentioned before and can hump the ammunition necessary to do this day in and day out. Same goes for other skills I have tried to teach, why bother cutting poles to build a shelter, just go to the sporting goods and buy some fiberglass tent poles. With this kind of attitude to work with, you will never be successful increasing you group beyond the basic two people. I have tried to explain to them that real survival is staying hidden and unobserved rather than Rambo take them all on.

  15. mike says

    There is a middle ground between a DIY survival group and moving to a village. One can always build a family community made of up of family, extended family and friends, located in a rural community of other such extended households. This was the way most americans lived pre 1900, especially in very remote areas like montana and alaska. In fact people still do live this way in areas of alaska. One also should remember that if we do have an economic collapse, technology will still be available to communicate with other like minded individuals and groups. In fact if the SHTF for real, there will be great incentive for people interested in trading skills and supplies to find each other using the internet and other private electronic networks that are sure to spring up. The technology is here now for decentralized, anonymous networks that can and will connect people in times of collapse. These kinds of networks are already being used in areas of rural africa. I would hope that even in a post collapse america we would be at least as technologically able as rural africans.

  16. says

    There are many communities in all sorts of forms. One that we have lived in and intend returning to is the cruising sailboat community. The members are by nature fluid and mobile yet resourceful and generally caring. Quite often strangers will anchor up together in a quiet bay and in a short time schedule a pot luck dinner on the beach where all are welcome and all contribute to the gathering. Favourite fishing spots are shared as yachties take only enough fish for their immediate needs, leaving plenty for the next person. Their main adversary seems to be beaurocracy who seek to impose more rules and fees on the lifestyle of boaties. Before anyone takes the big step to commit to the cruising life they need to weigh up the costs both personal and financial. I am currently going through this very process on my blog.


  17. Harold Dean says

    There is an awful lot of truth in what this woman is saying. We experience it in our own family. My wife and I are retired on a meager Social Security stipend with a small pension from my former employment. We have few resources that we have hoarded to assist us in our years. Insurance costs have became the greatest cause of loss of financial resources next beyond utilities. Our grandsons spent three hundred dollars on a boom box for his car and he, wife and baby daughter have been here every day for the last week to eat since they have no food. This is what you are going to encounter a hundredfold when society collapses and it wil be the golden horde of entitlementers along with your own that will assault you. My prime advice is to read, if you have not already, the novel by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle "Lucifers Hammer" and SW Rawles novel "Patriots" both fictional but very prophetic and in my opinion genuine harbingers. Keep prepping and storing and keep it hidden from all eyes.

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