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Survivalist Vs. Permaculture/Resiliency approaches

 
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Hi, my 24 yo daughter was given a book about survival which isn't about the survival skills I believe in. I told her to contrast the survivalist's attitude of "me, my, mine,"  with the permaculture ideas of "we, us, ours"  and the Commons. Needless to say she's become depressed from the survivalist deficit view of the world, plus covid. What would be your recommendation for a short essay on resiliency, the commons, and a more community focus of permaculture?
 
gardener
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I question if the issue needs to be mine vs ours. Why can't it be both. As Paul has correctly pointed out, this site is his.  In many cases mine is the correct answer. That said, as a responsible member of the community, there is no reason not to share what is mine with others. Too often "it's my right" becomes the canned answer. In some cases it may be better to forego my rights to benefit others.
 
pollinator
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Maybe she would like to look into Permies!

I can't think of a book off the top of my head, but maybe a huge conversation among hundreds or thousands of caring permaculturists would be inspiring!
 
author & gardener
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I think survivalism and permaculture are two different completely ball games. They have different mindsets, different motives, and different goals. They are striving for different outcomes. The world is in a tough place right now, so the question I would ask your daughter is, does she want to make a difference? Does she want to take positive steps toward being part of a solution? The book I would highly recommend she read is Paul Wheaton's and Shawn Klassen-Koop's Building a Better World in your Backyard instead of being angry at the bad guys. (You can find more about it here.)  It's interesting, informative, and filled with positive actions that can be taken on every level. I'd recommend reading the book together and then choosing some projects you can work on together. Positive action always works toward a positive frame of mind.

P.S. A Little, welcome to Permies! So glad you thought to come here with your question.
 
pollinator
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Humans are social creatures and we have never really survive alone. Even if it is my tribe vs your tribe, we were still not alone acting, but as a tribe/group/gang/nation/etc. And in each group, we might have the medicine/healer person, we have the rule makers/clergy, we have the leader/enforcer, we might have a guild/college/trainer. etc etc etc

In some ways survivalist skills can be thought of has a normadic hunter-gather skills, how can I hunt and process wild animals, identify and process wild vegetables/fruits/nuts. But from a permaculture standpoint we tend to be more permanent, we go pass just wandering around for vegetables, instead we grow our own, we even go a step further to forgo the 1st year or 5 of harvest and invest in a tree, with the expectation of a return years later.  

To me a permaculturist prepare for the top 80% most likely scenarios that one might face. They would have basic needs like water(well/rain catchment), food production (sugar-honey, vegetables, fruits, tubers, eggs/chicken/etc), electricity, heating, mortgage free house, food production, quality pots/pan/etc that will last 25yrs plus.  Now for the other 20% of unlikely scenarios such as mega volcano covering 1,000sq miles with 10ft of lava, invasion by space aliens, worldwide nuclear war with accompanying nuclear winter, they tend to focus less of there energy on that.

A survivalist might have camouflaged clothing so that it is hard to identify them and rob them, a permaculturist will goes the next level and camouflage his garden too, so that it blends in with the forest. ... might even have two different spaces that he operate out of. The usual one in the city/suburbia and another one in the "country" with an underground house, so that "hunting/bugging out" can happen if needed.

I think that both permaculture skills and survival skills are needed. But I do thing that we should tackle the low hanging fruits 1st. prepare for losing my job vs preparing for a mega-volcano. In a real SHTF scenario, I don't think that having a tanker and rocket launcher to defend my pantry with a month or 2 worth of food and water is a real long term solution. If anything I should instead get some skills that make me valuable in a survivor group (healer, good marksman, charismatic, etc). Or to get group protection be staying in an area where everyone is able to survive without the grid. Or to be really hidden i.e. underground house, food forest disguised as wilderness, meat hidden in a pond (aka fish and ducks), etc
 
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S Benji wrote:

In some ways survivalist skills can be thought of has a nomadic hunter-gather skills

In some ways, but certainly not all. Most hunter-gatherers had a strong, if small, community that moved regularly. They considered that if a member got lost, that member was at much greater risk than if he was near the "pack". I've also read that mobile Native Tribes in North America intentionally dropped seeds of useful plants along the paths they followed, so even the idea of planting a tree by seed that they may not benefit from for years was part of their tradition.

That said, I agree that skills such as plant identification and knowing how and when to forage for certain plant products is very useful for both "survivalists" and "permaculturalists". Yesterday I harvested greens that Mother Nature planted for me, and I repaid her by spreading some of the seeds from the plant in other locations I thought it might be happy in. It can be a continuum, but I agree with the concept of Permaculture promoting "support for people" and helping improve our sense of "community" which has suffered from the "mobile" society of the last half century.
 
Anne Pratt
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Researchers have pondered this question, and looked into what is likely to happen in a major disaster.  They look to what people do in disasters of smaller scale.

People have a tendency to band together, help each other, and promote community in disasters.  Of course there will be outliers - there are always people who feel outside of their community.  The television, movies, and even "Lord of the Flies" teach us that it's every [wo]man for himself.  That's not how it tends to work out.
 
Leigh Tate
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A Little, you certainly started an interesting discussion, although we seem to have veered away from your original question. Are you gleaning anything helpful here?
 
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I think the following links to sites currently archived on the ”Wayback Machine” may be helpful, or at least they may provide some illumination as to where you may need to go. BACKGROUND NOTE/DISCLAIMER: Bob Waldrop, the author (or editor/compiler) was a friend of mine. He passed away a year ago; he was a permaculturalist living in Oklahoma City (he was also a member of permies.com, but rarely posted. He was busy with may projects around the OKC area; ”comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.” He did author this: iPermie: How to permaculture your urban lifestyle. As you can see, it is still available, although I have no idea where the income goes; I do not get anything from any sales.

Anyway, to get back to your post, Bob posted these years ago: Wisdom Sayings and THE SEVEN HABITS OF PERSONAL, FAMILY, & COMMUNITY RESILIENCE

His sites are going dark as he did not provide for their continuance after his death. Thankfully, his mini-universe of websites have all been assimilated by the Wayback Machine (I also downloaded all of their files to my hard drive ”just in case.”)
 
pollinator
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Welcome, A Little. I feel a great deal of empathy for your worrisome situation. I'd like to offer a few thoughts; I hope they are of use.

In a way, I understand where your daughter is coming from. I was a teenager and young adult during the late 1970s and early 1980s, under the dark shadow of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) and launch-on-warning. As the rhetoric and tensions ramped up, it seemed to me that a global nuclear war was entirely possible, and the adults around me didn't see what was happening. I bought books on surviving it, had some specific plans, and some half-formed plans in the back of my mind. As I brooded on this, it seemed utterly lonely and hopeless.

What I understand now is that young adults perceive the world differently -- seeing time and events as a single linear progression toward an inevitable conclusion, rather than as a series of repeating cycles.

While they feel strongly that adults are clueless and "don't get it," they don't perceive that in fact the adults do see it, but have the benefit of personal experience and historical perspective to temper their perception and maintain an even keel.

I was rather surprised when I made it to my mid-20s.

These days, the stress of covid fears + economic fears + societal/political fears is enough to throw anyone off balance. These worries, fears and perceptions are subconsciously processed, and when the stress comes out, it comes out in unexpected and seemingly unrelated ways (sort of like a volcano erupting horizontally).

The full-on "survivalist" movement seems to focus and feed on these fears, offering what I consider an oversimplified view that, to some, clarifies a numbingly complex world and offers a means of regaining  control over one's destiny. I also have suspicions that the "fear machine" the feeds survivalism has also become a massive "marketing machine" focused on selling stuff to fearful people. Follow the money perhaps?

(To clarify, this does not include people who take steps to be prepared for reasonable and forseeable disruptions, such as floods, fires,  hurricanes and such. These are perfectly sensible people, I think. I have blizzards and extreme cold where I live, and have layers of measures to cope with them.)

To bring this back to you and your daughter: I think that if she handed you the book, she wants to engage. Why not go through and discuss the parts that worry her most, and work out a reasonable action plan that you can both work on?

I strongly agree with previous suggestions that positive action is the way to move through this. Find ways to feel she can feel she is gaining some control of the situation. Build up a larger food supply of things you will actually use. Guide her toward the development of skills that are useful and relevant, now and in future stages of life.

I hope my notions have some relevance; apologies for rambling on.

 
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Ross Raven's posted on here a few times, and he coined a term (that a bunch of other people also started coining at the same time)  called the "Adapters Movement." It's less about sudden doomsday and just aiming for your family's survival. It's about adapting to the changing times, becoming more resilient, and changing the world for the better as much as you can. Doomsday doesn't look like being a wild man hunkering out in the woods, it looks like being poor and learning how to make do with less.

You can read his whole series about it here: https://darkgreenmountainsurvivalresearchcentre.wordpress.com/contact/

I made a "short"-summary of his Adaption Principles here on permies.

Some terms for her to look into are resiliency, and "transition towns."  We actually have a giveaway this week in the Transition Towns forum. For a long time I had NO IDEA what that forum was about. Come to find out, it's all about preparing for a live without oil, and climate change, societal upheaval, etc. It's about making the actions NOW to improve the world, build community, build resiliency, and learn to live with less.

A big thing the survivalist mentality seems to lack is the idea that you really need to being doing the stuff NOW to get you prepared. Start to garden now. Learn skills now. Build community now. Learn to live with less now. Because if you're suddenly trying to grow a garden out of a "survival seedbank" while hiding out in the woods, when you've never gardened before, you'll probably starve.

I remember reading stories of the people who started the city of Seattle. They were so sure they'd be able to grow gardens in that deep forest soil they had after they cut down the giant old growth conifers. They could not. Very little would grow in that fungal soil, and most everything had to be imported and bought with the proceeds from the timber they felled.

Two in a half years ago, I wrote this thread, The reality of homesteading has dissolved my "prepper"/homesteading fantasies. I used to always think I'd just magically be able to rise to the occasion and be the hero in my own personal story and instantly know how to do all these things to survive. But then hard times came, and I realized, man, there just isn't TIME to learn and do all that stuff. It's best to learn it now, make the connections now, make the world better NOW.

 
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As Douglas has alluded to, this may be more of a function of age and position in the life-cycle than anything else.  

As a younger person, I leaned more towards what you describe as the "survival" perspective.  There are things going on in the world, and I need to do something RIGHT NOW. At 20 years old, 10 years seems like forever - it's half your life.  At 40 it goes by too fast, and at 60 it is the blink of any eye.  As I have aged the idea of planting a tree that I can harvest from in 10 years, or better yet my grand kids can harvest from in 40 years, seems much more useful than it did when I was 20.  

If she is hard set in that survivalist mode, and introduction to Jack and The Survival Podcast might help as a sort of transition.  There is a lot of practical survival discussed, not fear mongering.  Really helped me along a journey that started at Alex Jones and is currently at Permies!
 
pollinator
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Just 2 cents  - I recently heard Curtis Stone talk about his plan to get land to survive in these weird times.  He mentioned the 'survivalists' oft-repeated basics - 'God, guns and gold', but he has different criteria for anyone potentially seeking to join his 'land/community'... i.e., skills.  He considers them the most valuable possessions and contributions.  Maybe your daughter could start learning (and it will be an enjoyable process, to boot!)
 
John F Dean
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Hi Nancy,

Nice point.  To bring up another often repeated survivalist phrase, "Having things makes you a target. Knowing things makes you an asset."  Your idea may provide a logical route for transition.
 
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Hmmmm. I just don’t know that her differing view is in need of fixing. Certainly it’s not fitting with the average Permie outlook, but she is welcome to approach life- and chaos- her own way.

I have said time and time again that I would never be willing to protect my food and shelter with weapons. If someone is hungry I share. If someone needs shelter and I have room to provide them some, what is my reason to say no? I did spend some time on “survivalist” forums while
Preparing us a couple of emergency kits. I found three common traits: (1) planned selfishness in the scenario of widespread pain and suffering (2) dramatization and a lack of statistical thinking, planning for the absolute worst possible scenario but overlooking the most likely scenarios completely (3) fear and a need to feel in control.

I did not enjoy my time in these places, but did put together fairly comprehensive emergency kits. While those forums made me fearful and worried, this one brings me peace and comfort. There is a focus on building skills that would be useful in the case of societal collapse, but also a focus on building community and sharing. I can’t think of a better way to “prep” than setting up property that can provide food with minimal inputs.

Prep websites are full of folks with emergency seeds who’ve never gardened (or learned to save seed to regenerate their stash), people who have survival tools they’ve never used, and who find pride in being prepared to out-survive everyone else at all costs. A lot of you-tube and not enough practice. It’s not in line with my moral compass or my sense of practicality.

All that said, everyone gets to chose their own morals and their own beliefs. I think at 24 I’d be miffed if a parent was trying to send me books and articles to change my perspective. Time And experience will do that  on its own.
 
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It's the opposite side of the same coin. Resilience, permanent culture, abundance, surplus all keys to or components of survival.  So many degrees of thoughts: survivalist, permaculturists with teeth, and gentle souls. I hope she finds a happy medium.
 
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A Little wrote:I told her to contrast the survivalist's attitude of "me, my, mine,"  with the permaculture ideas of "we, us, ours"  ...



Mindset is such an individual thing, I don't really find these sweeping generalizations helpful.  "Survivalist" to me means certain skill sets, not an outlook on life.  Building a fire without a lighter, finding water in the wilderness, being able to create shelter from found objects.  These are survival skills in my mind.  It has nothing to do with selfishness, a "me,me,me" attitude, paranoia, or a dark world view.  Resiliency to me means gardens, food forests, canning, animal care.  Permaculture (for me) means doing what I can to live with nature rather than against it.  None of these things conflict in my mind, and I find overlap among them.  Indeed, all are important aspects of my life and they all meld perfectly for me.  All are skills I practice, they are things that make me well-rounded, and they give me a sense of security and strength, as well as making me prepared for a wider range of possibilities.
 
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A Little, I hear that you're concerned for your daughter as it sounds like this book really affected her and perhaps not in a good way. And of course, covid doesn't help anyone's mental health. Has she expressed feeling depressed as a result of this perspective introduced by this book or is that your perception? Does she seem excited and interested in these survival skills? You don't have to answer, I just think it's important to avoid trying to help people who aren't asking for help. They often double down on whatever it is you might be trying to shift their view on.
Perhaps if she has genuine interest in survival skills that are more empowering, uplifting and connecting, she could read some of Tom Brown Jrs. books? Or even check out his school, the Tracker School? What he offers is far more in alignment with permaculture. Jon Young, a student of his, is phenomenal as well, and is very focused on community and connection. These are both excellent talks. The second is a little more focused on connection with the human community, the first a little moreso on connection with self and nature.



Perhaps if you haven't already, you could ask your daughter what her experience of community/"we, us, ours" has been? Has she had negative experiences? That could certainly lead her to feel distrustful and like being focused only on oneself is the best, safest approach.
Has she ever been around a community of permaculture-y people? I know that's harder to come by these days, but I wonder if actual experience could be more helpful than just reading, if she has an interest in that, of course. Maybe even being part of a community garden or the like? Obviously I don't know what your relationship with your daughter is like, but just having a conversation expressing your concern for her well being and having curiosity for her experience seems like the surest path back to her feeling better.

As has been mentioned, it seems to me that there is a place for both "me, my, mine" and "we, us, ours". They just need to be kept in healthy balance. Which of course can be challenging. A stable community requires individuals with strong, healthy boundaries. That means being more self focused in a healthy way.
I also think that given how women in our society are generally taught to focus on the needs of others (sometimes to the detriment of their own), a little bit more focus on "me, my, mine" could be a good thing for a young woman. As long as it's in a healthy way, of course.
 
Heather Olivia
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I was involved in the "survivalism" scene for a lot of years before getting disgusted with the commercialism and fear mongering that it seems to have become. Odd, since what would be "survivalism" today would have been "permaculture" several hundred years ago. The object of survival doesn't change, only the terms and mindset behind it.
What helped to clarify things was marking a difference between "Survivalism" and "prepping". Survivalism implies a skills based approach, learning as much as possible to be self-sufficient in many different situations and environments. A major factor in this approach is community and social capital on various levels. Prepping implies a reliance on material goods: stockpiling, caching, "preps", etc. Which can see a person through lean times, but it runs out, breaks, gets lost, etc. So it has it's place too, but is more limited them most would think.
If we look at "survivalism" as a spectrum of proactive responses, all these things have a place, including permaculture. Now the discussion becomes a question of timeline (long vs short term preperations) and stratagy. Because at the end of the day, we come back to our main goal: the purpose of survival is to survive.
For anyone just getting into it, I recommend Selco Begovnic for a survival perspective and Dasiy Luther for a preppers perspective. Have learned a lot from both of them.
 
nancy sutton
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I have to add my favorite 'sharing'... 'A Paradise Built in Hell' by Rebecca Solnit.  It's stories of what people ACTUALLY DID when catastrophes struck... San Francisco Fire, Mexico City Earthquake, Halifax tsunami, etc., based on personal letters, newspaper reports, etc, etc.  I found the reality very heartening... but then I'm a cultural pessimist (Scandanavian :), so being positive is a challenge for me... one I've learned to like :)
https://www.motherjones.com/media/2009/08/books-rebecca-solnit-paradise-built-hell/
 
pollinator
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A lot of people are doing permaculture without realizing it.

Doomsday Preppers actually had a guy who had a food forest, and actually mentioned permaculture. One of the thing he brought up was how people wouldn't even realize it was food, especially from a distance.

I think a lot of folks get into permaculture from the prepping and survivalist scene, they just don't realize there is another name besides homesteading.
 
pollinator
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Came to the thread a little late but wanted to chime in because, well, I just can't help myself :D

I do honestly believe S Benji has it with the 80-20 thoughts

S Bengi wrote:
To me a permaculturist prepare for the top 80% most likely scenarios that one might face. They would have basic needs like water(well/rain catchment), food production (sugar-honey, vegetables, fruits, tubers, eggs/chicken/etc), electricity, heating, mortgage free house, food production, quality pots/pan/etc that will last 25yrs plus.  Now for the other 20% of unlikely scenarios such as mega volcano covering 1,000sq miles with 10ft of lava, invasion by space aliens, worldwide nuclear war with accompanying nuclear winter, they tend to focus less of there energy on that.



So 80% of the scenarios are permie related...you know, continuation of what we have now with equal chances of things getting better and things progressively getting more "scary" as time goes on. The other 20% of the scenarios are the really scary ones: nukes and EMPs; cultural revolutions of the, umm, less "stable" kind; solar superstorms or sudden violent climate upheaval; supervolcanoes and volcanic winters ... list is seemingly endless. In fact, in my mind, the split would be closer to a 60-40 considering just how much could go wrong as we continuously roll the dice here on our little blue marble ;)  ...but that's me and likely a product of the types of media I enjoy :D

What Nicole says is pretty much where I landed:

Nicole Alderman wrote:
A big thing the survivalist mentality seems to lack is the idea that you really need to being doing the stuff NOW to get you prepared. Start to garden now. Learn skills now. Build community now. Learn to live with less now. Because if you're suddenly trying to grow a garden out of a "survival seedbank" while hiding out in the woods, when you've never gardened before, you'll probably starve.

...

Two in a half years ago, I wrote this thread, The reality of homesteading has dissolved my "prepper"/homesteading fantasies. I used to always think I'd just magically be able to rise to the occasion and be the hero in my own personal story and instantly know how to do all these things to survive. But then hard times came, and I realized, man, there just isn't TIME to learn and do all that stuff. It's best to learn it now, make the connections now, make the world better NOW.



So rather than buying buckets of seed in mylar and 2+ years of shelf-stable food to go with an armory fit for the US Army (and the stash of band-aids to match), a more "sane" approach might be to start growing your own food, work the kinks out, then figure out how to store that in a shelf-stable form. The armory probably doesn't need to be that large if you're likely providing food and comfort to community that will be there to help protect you in those worst-case scenarios. And as for the band-aids, how about packing that wound with yarrow and covering with a comfrey and mallow compress instead?

Permaculture is the ultimate mindset for the modern prepper - frugality, stacking of functions, building wealth in a form that's more stable than gold coins ... what's not to love? The so-called "purple-breathers" could never see it that way, but for us "brown permies", it's part of daily life (speaking of which, I think we've got some more runner beans ready for the pressure canner tonight!). Flowing with the cycles and being flexible enough to not only make do with what you've got but actually thrive with it (*insert Geoff Lawton's trademark "abundance" here*) is a hallmark of the permie.

Best advice to a newbie-prepper or budding survivalist that I would have is to start storing away concepts like pattern recognition, zones, TEFA, wildcrafting, polyculture and guilding, foraging, natural building techniques, herbal medicine and lists of nutrient accumulators along side those stocks of canned beans. Better - start practicing them now...then you don't have to worry so much about the EMP and ensuing societal breakdown ;)  If you get good enough at what you're doing, you just might find yourself helping to support a community that will be there to help when it truly matters.
 
John F Dean
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If we look at hard liners among the preppers and permies, we probably see some significant differences.  The ones I know deal is shades of gray.  
 
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Sustainability in living is really needed over prepping, as collapse of societies of urban civilization is coming. Civilization is not going to continue as it has, it cannot in this world. And this world will be much more ruined if one who is in denial of the issues to the world is remaining in a position over others to continue as he would.
 
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