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09 June 2008

Ten Things To Do Before the Collapse

I figure we've got at least a few years before civilization falls apart and leaves us scrambling to survive, so I've been thinking a lot about how I would like to prepare for the big event. I figure, it's best to get started with this stuff before the collapse because then I'll be a step ahead when it happens, and if it doesn't happen in my lifetime, then at least I'll have some cool skills to show off. Here I've come up with a list of ten things I'd like to learn or do while there's still time.

1) Garden - we're going to need a lot of food and we won't be able to rely on the current large scale, processed food infrastructure to supply it, so the more gardens we can get going now the more food we'll have when things hit the fan. Medicinal plant gardens would be nice to have too.

2) Learn to hunt - I seriously doubt that vegetarianism will be a viable option after the fall, and one of the best sources of food will likely be hunted meat. Therefore, it will be important to know how to track, hunt, and kill an animal as well as how to skin and butcher it and preserve the meat.

3) Learn to shoot a gun and a bow - In conjunction with learning to hunt, it's important to know how to handle a gun safely and effectively. However, I'm almost afraid to suggest, it might be useful to know for self defense purposes as well. Hopefully it won't come to that, but it's good to be prepared. As bullets and powder become more and more scarce, the bow will be the next best thing - easily made from simple materials, effective and deadly in a variety of situations.

4) Lean flintknapping, arrow fletching and similar skills - the ability to make your own tools from materials that are easily found in nature (rock, wood, bone, etc.) could be one of the most useful things to have. In this same vein, the ability to fix industrial machines with easily found materials would be useful as well, at least in the early stages.
5) Learn about edible and useful wild plants - another source of food and medicine.
6) Work on team building, strategy and tactics - again, I hope it doesn't come to this, but the ability to organize as a group for the purpose of armed combat might be useful. This could be done with games such as ultimate frisbee, soccer, paintball, etc. Anything that involves several people and requires organized effort.

7) Get in Shape - A lot of us have become very slothful and out of shape with the abundant food and lack of physical activity. People who are physically fit - those who can run or bike long distances, lift heavy objects, climb or jump well - are going to have a great advantage.

8) Learn Self Defense - learning some hand to hand combat techniques may be necessary. This is especially true for women, but men will do well to learn too.

9) Build community networks - As I've said time and again, no one ever survives without a complex network of community support. Even hermits rely on goods produced by the community. We've become atomized and individuated, so we have to build from scratch a lot of those structures that will break down during and after the fall, but rebuild them on a local, sustainable level. The key is to get out into your community and help out the organizations that exist. Also, if you see a need that isn't being filled on the local level then start putting something together to fill that need. Most importantly, get out and make friends, talk to people and build relationships.

10) Enjoy some of the things I'll miss - I don't mean to be glutinous, but just to cherish the small things that won't be around afterward - ice cream and chocolate, for example. Enjoy them - don't consume them.

I'm sure there's a lot more that I could do, but this is what I came up with in a few minutes at work. I'd love to hear what other people think about my list or if you have any suggestions for additions to the list.


btmc said...

we'll need to learn textiles of some kind, and certainly the ability to tan a hide would come in useful. we'll also need a way to pass information, verbal storytelling might be an option, which would not be purely verbal but most likely would combine ingesting certain plant and play acting. but besides all that, you and I will inherit a whole world full of garbage, industrial, nuclear, domestic, you name it, it'll be everywhere. so the world will not be the world that we had before this little civilized bubble, there may be no more bees, may be swarms of killer bees and bullet ants and mosquitoes, many food plants we take for granted, and may plant in our gardens, will be totally unsustainable without the global economy to create and distribute the seeds and pesticides and so on. so we need to think about scientific knowledge, how to pass that on, we need to be careful what we plant.
We'll need to be able to build homes or shelters, yurt or teepee or cabin. and we'll need to be able to use our environment. this will include all the garbage. homes made from aircraft fuel tanks or weapons made from steel girders. greenhouse technology, so on and so forth. everything we have now, we need to learn about it, how it works, and how to use it without fossil fuels or electricity.

emmett said...

I agree entirely with Brendan's points. I have just finished the fifth book in the innacurately titled Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy where in the main character, Arther Dent, ends up on a primitive planet where he would've expected to share all of these amazing techonological advances of the human race and all of the other amazing cultures he had come into contact with throughout the known and unkown universe. But the biggest problem was that he hadn't the faintest idea about any of it. He could barely make a sandwich, much less a toaster, electric stove, or even how to harness electricity as an energy source translated from kinetic force. In the end he became a heralded Sandwich Maker, loved by all for his genius in the art and as one who had been sent by Bob (the locals' version of god) in a burning chariot of doom to bless the people of the village with sandwiches.

The point is that it would be incredibly annoying in the great scheme of things if we had to re-evolve as a hunting species and relearn how to make a damned sharp knife or effective, geometric structure that can stand weather and all the rest of the whole sort of general mish mash. We need to study the sciences and techonologies of survival, but we can do without those of entertainment. Except, of course, for my addition to the list of things to do before the crash, learn how to play, and build, and tune, and fully or mostly, or partically understand one musical instrument. If we all do that then our troubadores around the fire will be quite loved.

Jeremy Trombley said...

Yeah, good additions both of you. I especially like Brendan's point about inheriting a world of garbage - there are a lot of things that will be around for a long time after civilization which might come in handy once in a while. He also hints at something that will be enormously important, that is seed saving and distribution. We need to start collecting, planting, and hybridizing varieties of plants that will be easy to grow, delicious, and well adapted to particular environmental conditions (as opposed to relying on homogeneous varieties supplemented with fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides).
There are so many skills that have been lost or pushed to the background in our high technology, overly specialized society. We'll certainly have to re-learn a great deal.

Jeremy said...

Awesome essay, great job! I've been thinking about many similar things.

It would be cool to sort of start a wiki-style site that purports to collect crucial data for post system uses. In fact, you could have a site that constantly affords the user the ability to download the whole site as a big pdf they can print out and take with them. That way, we use the net while persisting its utility outside the web of electrons.

Jeremy Trombley said...

I'm glad you liked my essay, Jeremy, and can I just say - Great name! You'e got an interesting idea there, and I'd love to see it take shape. Unfortunately I don't have the technical know how or the time to get something like that up and running. If you get something started or know of anyone that does, tell me and I'll be glad to help out in any way possible.
I'd like to mention that a good starting point is the "Insurgent American's 35-Point Practical Guide for Action" It can be found Here . I stole a few ideas from it for this essay, but added a few of my own too.

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