Thursday, January 1, 2015

Rock Ridge Wrap-up

I started the Rock Ridge series to show that there are alternatives to the Hunter-Gatherer lifestyle after a major catastrophe. There is also the strong possibility that the disaster that happens may not be the one you're preparing for and your supplies may not be sufficient for your needs. Even after a regional disaster like a hurricane, where rebuilding can take years, there will be room for variety in the roles people take on. There will be a need for butchers and bakers and candlestick makers in any situation where our current systems of supply is disrupted for more than a few days. Putting things back together takes time, and effort, and some form of infrastructure; this is where being prepared goes beyond merely staying alive (everyone's first priority) and into the realm of staying human.

Not everyone is suited to (or capable of) being self-sufficient and that's not always a bad thing. Some of us are old, damaged, or otherwise not able to live in a strictly agrarian fashion, but we still have plenty to offer. Skills and knowledge are as valuable as “stuff” when it comes to surviving.

Not everyone is physically or emotionally fit to live in relative isolation, either; some folks need to be around other people for various reasons. Young people in particular have an innate desire to “leave the nest” and make their own place in the world; this is normal and should be kept in mind. Biology can be fought, but it usually ends up winning in the end. Having a town nearby provides an outlet for these desires without a permanent change of address unless that is the best option.

If you work a trade or specialty, look into how people used to do your job. Mechanics didn't always have computers to diagnose problems with cars. Cooks didn't always have microwaves. Doctors didn't always have CAT scans and genetic scans. Carpenters didn't always use power tools. Learning the history of your craft can be a useful hobby and may give you insight into how to do your job better or more efficiently. If you have a job with no history to speak of, it will have precursors that do. Internet commerce isn't much different than any other form of commerce once you take way the delivery from a distant location. Programmers work with logic and defined rules that are similar to mathematics and engineering.

Re-enactors spend countless hours researching and practicing lost arts from a variety of past eras. Pick an era (Roman Empire, American Civil War, Revolutionary War, 18th and 19th Century Fur Traders, etc.) and look around for others to learn and “play” with. Think about what you're preparing for and try to find some era that represents similar conditions, be it pre-industrial, pre-electricity, pre-internet, or pre-Iron Age.
Another option is to pick a trade that interests you and learn it as a hobby. Think of it as back-up to your regular job (two is one and one is none, as David likes to remind us), or as a way to perpetuate a dying skill. I'll use myself as an example: I fix things. Over the years I have learned to repair small machines using only hand tools and an understanding of how things work. I pick up a lot of goodwill (and a little bit of money) by helping keep chainsaws, lawnmowers, snow blowers, washing machines, and a variety of other things running. Most people choose to live in a “disposable” mindset, but I choose to reuse, repair, and recycle wherever possible.

The world would be a very boring place if we all did the same thing and lived the same way. If we were all bankers, who would cook the food, build the houses, guard the streets, and teach the children? If you are part of a group or tribe, seek out and encourage a diverse mix of skills. Cross-training is valuable but you need someone with the skills in the first place. “It takes all kinds” is a good thing to keep in mind when dealing with others around you. You don't have to like everyone around you, but you may need to trade and deal with them.

There are very few truly worthless jobs in the world and the few that I can think of are worthless more because of the people who are involved in them than the job itself. As I've written before, I don't believe there are very many worthless people, either, but there are always going to be a few. You need to be thinking of how you're going to deal with both when you encounter them.

I may revisit the town of Rock Ridge in the future, probably as fill-in posts for my fellow authors when they need a break. The town still contains a few examples to explore and lessons to learn, but with the start of a new year I will be moving on to other areas of interest. If you have any suggestions or ideas, please feel free to leave them in the comments! We do read them and I'll see what I can do with them.

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