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Dictionary.com defines “survivalist” as follows:
sur-viv-al-ist??[ser-vahy-vuh-list] Show IPA
a person who makes preparations to survive a widespread catastrophe, as an atomic war or anarchy, esp. by storing food and weapons in a safe place.
I’ve been telling people lately that Collab21 is going to start hosting workshops and videos on survivalism. When I talk about this, I am not in agreement with the definition above. This definition is solely in regards to a person who “make preparations to survive a… catastrophe.” I’m not thinking about any specific events that could case one to have to be prepared. I’m thinking about acquiring this knowledge to add to my arsenal. What happens if you are found quitting your job to follow a dream of living in the country?
A true survivalist knows that the food and ammo runs out, that using a weapon too much will cause it to degrade and become useless. They know that storing food, ammunition and weapons will be of less value when it’s needed than when it was stored. A true survivalist thinks about how to forage foods, how to build fires, how to find water in the desert, how to live underground or under water and how to build communities so that they won’t have to do all of the tasks necessary to sustain humanity.
But at it’s most basic, survival is doing what you know to stay alive. We all do this every day. We buy food and we work to pay for the other things we need: water, shelter, clothing. Possibly more importantly – we build and maintain relationships.
In the book Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, I read that agriculture is one of the man’s original inventions. Without it, we couldn’t have had written language. Agriculture allows non-farmers to do things outside of farming. At first, this was helping the farmer trade and sell his crops by providing technology, commerce and accounting. I cannot imagine any of this being possible without the right relationships.
What I mean when I tell you that we are planning workshops relating to survivalism, I’m talking about what would happen if you were one of two people left on the entire planet, and nothing that you knew today existed. How could you maintain humanity? I know this will never happen, but I think the knowledge required to be self sufficient, collaborate affectively and of the fundamentals of society are key to knowing how to succeed in other areas of life.
I am not the type to wax poetic on existentialism. Self reflection is at such an exponentially greater state than is self sufficiency that it’s not worth combining the two (although they are closely related). I think if we stick to sharing knowledge and in rediscovering lost knowledge, that we’ll be moving to a good place.
What do we expect to gain? It’s simple. I’m not the only teacher here. All of us has some knowledge that not everyone else has that can be examined, recorded and shared. When I saw the movie Walkabout, I realized that people you think least likely to help can help the most. In the movie, a native was able to find water in the desert. I don’t know how to do that, but I’d love to find out.
The things I know I can teach people about are things like fermenting foods to preserve them, beekeeping and some level of vegetable gardening. The skills I’d like to know more about are community fundamentals, building houses from scratch (trees and rocks, clay and water), first aid, hunting and field dressing and animal husbandry. There are plenty of other subjects I’d like to have covered in our Survivalism workshop series, but we’ll be moving slowly for now.