Building community protects against calamity

While reading the article “Getting ready: Growing number of preppers work to ensure survival in case of societal collapse” (Dec. 7 edition, in a recent edition of The Smoky Mountain News, I paused often to really think about what the growth of this industry says about our cohesion as a local, national and global community. After working as a farmer progressing towards sustainability, and participating in many grassroots political endeavors, I have learned first-hand about preparing for a loss of state and corporate provided resources.

Being physically prepared for this potential crisis is smart, not paranoid, and I support it. However, I feel that often another — and the most important — aspect of sustainability, a strong community, is completely overlooked.

I know a part of the article did focus on Troy Leatherwood’s approach to this industry via working “to form a community of like-minded individuals,” and I champion thoughtfully planned small neighborhoods. This is not what I am speaking, for this is a business concept.

What I endeavor to promote in my own day-to-day living and what I believe to be a real solution is greater connection with the people I inhabit this area with. If the proverbial “Armageddon” comes, weeks or months’ worth of potable water and freeze-dried food will not save you, or your society. It will only prolong the inevitable clash of “haves and have nots” and the possible unraveling of humanity.

We can subvert this possible future if we work here, now, to create a greater awareness of our environment, of our surroundings, by building bridges with our neighbors, whoever they are. Then I believe we provide a real infrastructure to replace the illusion of the one we have now, one that can collapse by forces outside our control and/or our ability to effect. By reaching out to know each other more we replace fear with understanding; difference with commonality.  And, we match skills and resources too. For example, I can grow some food to trade you for your ability to fix my car, and so on.

I believe community to be a core ingredient in humanity. I also believe that the forces which control the resource flow work in tandem with the ones which coerce the culture flow. For a long time now they have both been providing a less-than-sustainable community and country. The reality of them though is that they are not absolute, and just as easily as you can buy evaporated milk for when the milk trucks stop running, you probably can make a friend or acquaintance who has goats or cows.

Curt Collins

Avant Garden Farm and Venue


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