Creating ‘Green Zones’

This Green Zone plan assumes that local emergency management will not be offering any good options. If they do, try to harmonize with their plans.

As soon as it’s known that it is a long-term power outage, or on the first or second full day, go around to talk with neighbors door-to-door. Propose a daylight meeting. Stress safety in numbers. Be prepared for a lot of rejection and denial. But eventually many of the people who say no at first will buy in to the need for mutual protection.

Even if most people say no, you’ve identified yourself as the likely go-to person for information and help, and the likely person for future organizing. This doesn’t mean that they will know you have prepared for the long term, but some people will suspect that you’ve done some preparation.

It’s critical that the organizing begin very soon. Whatever happens early on sets the tone locally. If some act of violence happens on your block right away, that will set the tone. If some people reach out to others to help them, that will set the tone. If you wait longer than a day or two, people’s anxieties and fears will probably set the tone even if there’s no immediate act of violence. It will be much harder to get people’s cooperation and engagement if they’ve begun to emotionally withdraw, and if they’ve decided on the “hell on earth” script.

At a meeting, the most important thing will be to listen to people’s concerns and feelings. Before make suggestions, ask people for their ideas. This will help you tune into their level of anxiety and their understanding of the situation. By listening, you help to create give and take, and a group sense.

Lay out incentives and consequences for neighbors. People are much safer if they are organized. Fear and desperation will be much less.

Note: this organizing will be much harder if you’ve never talked with any of your neighbors before. Before a grid collapse, you should make an effort to get to know some of the people around you.

It’s probably best not to talk about patrols and defending against gangs at the first meeting. That’s too intense. Talk about mutual aid for fires and for medical emergencies. Build up a directory of skills and what each person of family might need or might be able to offer. This directory can be done by sitting in a circle with each person talking briefly about needs and concerns, and also what they could offer. Offer to share some of your skills and knowledge, before asking people to share their skills and knowledge.

When the time is right, talk about creating a safe zone by blocking streets and alleys with cars. Either maintain guards on the perimeter, or have people in the houses on the edge of the zone looking out over the perimeter. The greater the number of blocks involved, the less anyone has to patrol, and the more secure the middle blocks are.

For communications, you could suggest an outdoor bulletin board (if things are generally safe) or whistles for emergency response to summon neighbors with guns; fire-fighting help; or people with first aid kits and expertise.

Some people will be too fearful to come to other people’s aid, but if enough pledge to do it, it may inspire others. You don’t need everyone.

By the way, good people won’t disappear

Some parts of this book may have given the impress that after a grid crisis there will only be looters and gangs. Of course that’s not true. Right now, our quality of life depends on many good and decent people who quietly do their jobs. Doctors, nurses, emergency personnel and law enforcement will not disappear, nor will the goodwill of decent people – those who are in the majority.

What would change is that there would be a breakdown of normal organization and communication. Your survival and quality of life would not only depend on whether or not you’ve prepared, it would depend on how well you know some of the people around you, and how fast you re-organize so as to have safety in numbers.

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