Home What Should I Do? The Basics of Resilience (Part 8 – Community)

What Should I Do? The Basics of Resilience (Part 8 – Community)

user profile picture Chris Martenson Sep 20, 2010
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Note:  This article is part of a series on personal preparation to help you answer the question, “What should I do?”  Our goal is to provide a safe, rational, relatively comfortable experience for those who are just coming to the realization that it would be prudent to take precautionary steps against an uncertain future.  Those who have already taken these basic steps (and more) are invited to help us improve what is offered here by contributing comments, as this content is meant to be dynamic and improve over time.

You are going to need community.

It is my informed opinion that there is no “fix” to our current predicament; there are only outcomes to be managed.  Unless some brand-new energy source is discovered – preferably about 15 years ago and prosecuted with all due haste – the necessary liquid fuels will not be there to power enough new economic development to cover all the past debts and unfunded promises.  While this does not necessarily mean the “end of the world,” for many it will certainly mean “the end of the world as they know it.” 

This is not some future prediction; it is already reality for many people:

Lying just beneath those headlines are stories of hardship and difficulty, writ large.  Of course, even these dismal (and predominantly US) statistics pale when compared to the pain being experienced in Greece, Ireland, Iceland, Spain and Portugal (and, soon enough, in the UK, France, Japan, and the US).

As I’ve mentioned previously, developing your personal resilience —putting on your oxygen mask first— is your number-one priority. This puts you in a stronger position to assist others if or when the time comes.  But the transitions that are coming will be physically and emotionally challenging for many, and this is where community comes in.  Yes, we can individually prepare our larders and our portfolios, and we should, but the most important work is going to rest with our abilities to help and rely on others.  For some, the pieces are already fully in place, with intact communities and deep relationships.  For others, almost everything needs to be created in place.

For the people impacted by the events in the headlines above, the need for emotional support can easily outweigh the need for physical items.

The relationships that my wife, Becca, and I have formed in our journey towards resiliency are some of our very best, and the changes made together in our lives amount to some of the most significant and memorable experiences that we have shared.

For me, this initially happened in the context of a men’s group dedicated to expanding our knowledge and skills and mentoring each other in the process.  For Becca, this has come from being increasingly involved in a naturalist community in our area, and through hosting a variety of skill-sharing social events in our neighborhood. For our family, it has meant finding the people in our community who are doing things of interest, so that we can learn from them, and, in turn, share with others.

But how does a beginner get started?  How do you move from a place of relative isolation—a common condition of our busy, modern lives—to one of interconnected resilience?

Here some of the steps I recommend to start you off on that path.

Finding Each Other & Spreading the Word

One of the most common concerns expressed by users here at is the sense of being alone with this story.  People feel isolated at work, in their local communities, and at home, even though they may be surrounded by caring family and friends.  However, if you get out into your community with your concerns, our experience is that you will readily find others who share your views.  So get out there, find these other people, and start feeling the relief that comes from being able to express your most truthful ideas and thoughts.  

To find each other and spread the word, we recommend: 

Taking a walk – Literally.  Get outside and walk down your street.  Do you know all of the people who live on your block? (Or in your building, if you live in an apartment?)  These are the people who you’ll be dealing with in the aftermath of any unexpected crisis.

Learn their names.  Make sure they know who you are.  Do they have any skills or tools that will complement your preparedness efforts?  What can you depend on them for, and vice-versa?

You’ll find that, at a minimum, you’ll enjoy the greater sense of connectedness that comes with knowing the folks who live near you.  Above that, you’ll find that your neighborhood exploration will likely spark discussion and collaboration, increasing the level of resiliency for all.

Sharing the Crash Course – There will always be a free version of the Crash Course available on the Internet to email or share on Facebook with others, but the truth is that many people who would be unwilling to engage in the solitary activity of watching a 3-hour web video would be much more likely to receive the information either at a group showing hosted in your home or local library, or in their own homes, if handed a physical DVD with a recommendation to watch it. Either way, start with your friends and family, and then extend out to others in your community.

We’ve designed the Crash Course Special Edition DVD (NTSC or PAL) to be uniquely conducive to group showings.  It is broken up into three segments and features live introductions and a presenter’s pack to help guide and answer common questions that viewers have.  If you decide to host a Crash Course showing that is open to the public, feel free to contact us to announce it on our site.

Our advice is to hold a series of showings, one after the other, to allow the word to spread and energy to build. You’ll reach people who might not have been able to make it to earlier showings because of simple scheduling conflicts.  After it seems like sufficient critical mass has been reached, the group can then tackle the other specific steps laid out earlier in this series and become prepared together.

That is essentially what I did with my group of guys, and it was a great and fun experience for all of us.  Not that we’re ‘done,’ mind you–there is always more that could be done–but we have breached a critical level of preparedness and resiliency that has allowed us to breathe more easily and begin to focus on the deeper, more careful work that follows next.

Other useful information

You can also share daily articles via our social network widgets (share and retweet) now that we have them.  It takes just a second and gets the word out virally on a daily basis

Of course, there are many other teachers to learn from and many other ways to share information in a community setting.  Another route is to host an ongoing book club, and read books such as Richard Heinberg’s Peak Everything, Rob Hopkins’ Transition Handbook, and James Howard Kunstler’s The Long Emergency.  Many communities have been galvanized by film showings of The End of Suburbia, Crude Awakening, and Collapse among others.  There are many options.

Get Involved Locally

Though sharing information is often the fastest route to get others to make changes, it is not the only route.  Many of the preparedness changes that we recommend here are prudent activities for anyone to undertake, and some of them, like gardening, storing food, and learning first aid skills, can be enjoyable group events, regardless of the purpose behind them.  If you live in an area prone to natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, or earthquakes, then preparedness and resilience are essential for those reasons.  Events like salons, potluck dinners, or food canning parties can help bring diverse neighbors together and can be an entry ticket to initial conversations about the issues.

To get involved locally, we recommend:

Reading the community building thread on this site. Our members are full of ideas for how to bring people together, both directly around the material, and indirectly.

Joining up with established groups

Many established groups are already engaged in activities that either happen to correspond with building resilience or are directly responding to the issues at hand.  Transition Towns is one group committed to the community-building side of this material.  Groups as diverse as the Elks, local places of worship, and volunteer organizations are already hands-on and deeply involved in the important work of reaching out and building up local resilience.

Think Big (Nationally and Globally)

There is more than one way to have a community.  While building up the strength of your local community is a critical component of being personally resilient, connecting with the larger global community around these issues is an important way of staying informed and feeling connected to the momentum of change.

The Internet is a tool that we are extremely fortunate to have to help us navigate the road ahead.  There is a wealth of resources available for connecting in a broad way to the many individuals who are thinking about this material, as well as for finding others who happen to be located nearby, whom you might otherwise never have known to make a connection with.

To think globally, we recommend:

Participating in our forums

There is a vibrant, supportive community right here in our forums. Participation is free, but these forums also happen to offer one of the greatest values that people ascribe to this site.

There is so much to learn just by reading what other thoughtful readers have to say.  Our forums are civil, supportive salons for learning and building relationships.  They represent a repository of thousands of hours of collective collaboration, resulting in the most useful and complete prepping guide on the web.

Our experienced users have an opportunity to make a difference by helping forum newcomers get up to speed and avoid common pitfalls and frustrations.

Joining our Volunteer Brigade

As a Martenson Brigade volunteer, you can keep apprised of ways to help share this material globally and learn from others who have successfully implemented the Crash Course in their communities.  Learn more about our Brigade here.

Joining our Facebook Group or LinkedIn Group

List your region in your public information to help others find and connect with you, and view a database of faces from all over the world who believe in this message.

Educating Your Leadership

As always, we practice an especially rigorous form of non-partisanship here, so take that into account when reading this next part.

It is important that our efforts to spread the word and increase our collective appreciation for the predicament in which we find ourselves be extended to both political and corporate leadership.  These issues need to be discussed everywhere, by every group, regardless of belief, structure, or ideology.

Our leaders should be nudged, cajoled, and reminded of the core issues at every turn.  Be creative, be clever, and be memorable, but be non-confrontational.  Let them know that ‘business as usual’ is not going to cut it, and that we are looking for better and more intelligent responses to our current challenges.  Send them to the Crash Course, or the 45 minute version, or articles that do a good job of educating through the use of facts and context.

And be sure to extend your efforts to all of your leadership, regardless of their party affiliation.


Again, this is just a start, but I hope to have articulated some answers to the question, “What should I do?”  Thinking of your resilience strategy in terms of ‘we’ instead of ‘I’ is not only necessary, but actually quite desirable.  There are many reasons to enhance the quantity and quality of your relationships and network—emotional support, learning new things, buying in bulk, etc—but perhaps the most important one is the feeling of being part of a movement.  History has proven again and again that real, systemic change rarely happens from the top down through presidents, prime ministers, congresses, and parliaments, but from the outside in.

Connecting with those around you on small and large scales will remind you how quickly our ‘outside’ has transformed from a fringe to a cultural movement, and that you are a key part of it.

You will need community, more than ever.  So get started.  


If you have not yet seen the other articles in this series on resilience, you can find them here:

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