Sunday, March 31, 2013

Useful Skills in a Collapsed Society

Imagine a classic post-collapse society:
-Electricity flow is erratic at best.
-Gas and diesel are rare to find. 
-Medical facilities no longer function.
-Food shipments cease.
-Merchandise shipments cease.

The world never really goes back to the middle ages because modern knowledge is out there.  It's stored in books and on millions of computers.  It's only a matter of time before groups of people independently rebuild local infrastructure and neighborhoods start trading between themselves. 

This is one vision.  There are more extreme versions and there are lesser versions out there.  The truth being no one knows what it will look like; the situation depends upon too many factors.  But... taking a middle case collapse, let's discuss a couple of professions or skills that would make you useful in such a situation.  I know I can't hit them all and I guarantee I'll think of "one more" as soon as I publish this article, but here are a few in no particular order with my opinion of why they will be useful:

-This one really doesn't need much in the way of discussion.  Medical professionals have been highly regarded throughout history in all civilizations. 

-When things start falling apart, someone has to fix them.  Nearly everyone can Mickey Mouse their way to fixing a broken table or wood chair, but someone skilled in woodworking can do it right, make it look good, and can correctly repair larger things (say... a house after an earthquake).

-A rare breed in modern times where everything metal is made by machines.  Like the carpenter, it takes someone with skill to do effective repairs.  This guy's job is thougher: there are fewer of them and it's harder to repair metal.  A beginning blacksmith, however, can make tools and that will be important for the other professions as items wear out.

-Distinct from the farmer in that I am defining a farm as a large monocropping operation and a garden as a small plot of land with multiple different items growing in it.  Without fuel, a million acres of corn will be useless except to those in the immediate vicinity.  It can't be harvested by machine, nor can it be shipped around the country.  A garden, however, requires only local inputs and can be tended by hand... as long as you have the seeds to get it started.  A local experienced gardener is skilled at balancing all of the things necessary for a successful harvest.

-Wait... what?  So many people have generators and solar powered things, but with an intermittent power grid, someone with knowledge is needed to set up or repair a system the right way to keep it running.  You can run your laptop and other items off a car battery, but if it's not set up right, things will go horribly wrong.

-Not a New York City chef and not someone who can do up a box of Hamburger Helper; but a real, old time cook.  Someone who can make a pot of those rice and beans you have been storing edible for the 5th night in a row.  Someone who knows what to do with all those funny things that come out of the garden.  One of the best examples of what I mean is Clara whose family has a YouTube channel: DepressionCooking .  This is a 90some year old lady who talks about cooking during the Depression of the 1930s.

I suppose that's enough for now.  Maybe I'll do a second post on this.  Or maybe I'll convince my cohort to do a follow up post with some more opinions.  Either way, here is this gist of what I'm getting at - nearly every profession on this list is a skill that we call can learn and get fairly proficient at over time.  You don't need to be a world class anything to have useful, barter-able skills during hard times.  Learn a hard skill- take one up as a hobby if you want- but keep making yourself better and more useful to your family and those around you.

So... what useful skills can you come up with?  What useful skills do you have already that you can teach others?  What new useful skill are you going to learn?

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