October 6, 2022

Spotter Up

In Depth Tactical Solutions

Good fences make good neighbors

8 min read

Moving furniture into a new home, getting a flat tire changed, and carpooling into work are instances that demonstrate having a neighbor can be beneficial. But if we’re discussing  emergency situations of any kind and of any level, when resources come into play, likely this will change the way people see each other.  How so? Your nice neighbor could become a nightmare during a crisis, especially if things go ‘south’ quickly. The pandemic, for example, has disrupted supply chains. Shortages and supply-chain disruptions are significant and widespread—but are likely to be transitory. Shortages happen a lot. But, what if they don’t?

Should you go solo, go with a group or can you find the middle ground? What are the pros and cons for each one?

Part of surviving means to a degree you have to be self-reliant and capable. With the right group of people you could get through some very hard times. With the wrong group of people you can be steered into disaster and never get out of it. How well do you know your neighbors and would you want to?

Before you decide to go solo, as a group or find the middle ground, ask yourself these questions.

  • Do you live in an urban area, rural area or mixed?

The type of zoning you live in will determine whether you have access to resources and emergency assistance.

Small town, big city; Are you going to fight your way out of an apartment complex or can you hunker down in your sprawling ranch? Do you have easy access to vehicles, water, or medicine or must you travel far? Are you going to fight your way to your home? We don’t get to pick our disasters and where we will be when they occur. Carry maps in your car and have a general idea of where you may need to go. Knowing this will help you determine a course of action to take when things go badly and whether it’s best to make alliances in order to reach a destination or to go solo. Prior planning is something you should do.

  • What is it that you believe?

The dictionary describes belief as: Something believed or accepted as true, especially a particular tenet or a body of tenets accepted by a group of persons.

When it comes to disasters will you be able to prevail while others give up? Do you press on while the people around you complain about the lack of resources and argue at ever instance in order to gain control?

Anyone who experienced military boot camp will recall the group-think that helped their company succeed. Those who refused to join eventually quit and they were also the trouble-makers who contributed to the in-fighting and petty squabbles that steered a team from succeeding. Now imagine having to work with those who constantly argue and cannot see alternative points of view. This is a disastrous situation to be in when there isn’t a strong team leader.

Frost’s poem about a wall really is about a neighbor and the narrator maintaining their individuality and personal identity while still maintaining a division of their property. Groups/Teams do succeed but in order to do so there must be structure. Relationships can be built if there is opportunity and if there is respect for the other person’s point of view. If the world comes to an end the rules will be different.

  • What is your goal?

What is your vision? I know people whose reasoning goes out the window the moment they are hungry. Their goal is to eat and nothing more and they will try to hold an entire platoon hostage and prevent anyone from moving forward. You need to a have a vision beyond feeding your appetite. And bad attitudes can hold back success.

Have a vision worth living for or worth dying for. Struggles can help you more greatly define your purpose and let you see the possible advantages or disadvantages to take or avoid.

Do you want to fight through a survival situation or do you want to wait for help to arrive? Have manageable large and small goals. Be sure others are on the same page.

Really, before a large disaster happens, prepare now and try to define what your goals and beliefs are. Ask yourself where your motivation comes from. Those who were successful in something, whether going solo or in a group, studied the landscape before making decisions with lasting consequences.

Your mindset will be the single most important factor in survival. Ask yourself what you’re going to potentially be involved in and what is needed to do to get out of it. If you are looking for ways to get through disasters, you stand a greater chance of getting to where you need to go based on what you believe and what your goals are. Many authors have covered instances of this in books such as Victor Frankl’s in Man’s Search for Meaning or John Krakauer in Into Thin Air. Those who had no goals or belief in anything rarely survived.

  • Who are your neighbors?

I live near plenty of police officers, firemen and military personnel and the ones I’m friendly with share my world view. Bumper stickers are usually a good indicator of telling what people believe. My neighbor a few doors down is a Police Officer and Marine with loads of weapons, presses his own ammo, and very handy with tools and tech. We watch each others’ homes when the other is on vacation. In the event that a problem arises, each is capable enough to help the other. Neighbors can be useful if you know what makes them tick. Go beyond being neighbors if you can and make them friends. Get to know you future team. Listen, it may be decades before we have another Dust Bowl. There’s a benefit to having friends and supplies but onyl you can decide what’s best for you.

Here are some of the PROS and CONS that I can think of for being in a group, going solo or the middle-ground.

Is it worth going it alone?



No burden in traveling from carrying the injured, or weak. You are faster moving.
No arguments. You are free to do what you want whenever you want.
Noise discipline.
Reaping the full benefits alone of food or supplies from your hard work and sacrifice.
Peace from solitude.


No one to cover you as you enter unsafe areas alone.
No one to rely on should an incident occur. (Getting lost, encountering wild animals, hostile survival groups).
No one to assist with a full perimeter security.
No one to trade taking turns on watch.
No one to nurse you if you are ill or sick.
No sharing of expenses and physical burdens.
No one to push you out of a comfort zone when it could be advantageous to leave.
No comparison and contrast of opinions. What if your idea is faulty?
No one to take strength from
Lack of skill sets.



Cover when you enter an unsafe area.
Team to rely on should an incident occur. (Getting lost, encountering wild animals, hostile survival groups).
Team to assist with a full perimeter security.
Team for splitting up.
Team for taking turns on security watch.
Team for nursing you if you are ill or sick.
Team for sharing of expenses and physical burdens.
Team to push you out of a comfort zone when it is advantageous to leave.
Team for comparison and contrast of opinions.
Teams have more skill sets


More supplies needed and expended.
Arguments occur.
Power Struggles.
Burden in traveling. You move as fast as the slowest person.
Must expend resources to care for ill or weak.
Cannot do as you want. Must put it to votes or team leader.
No noise discipline.
No solitude because of group.
Must split up rewards or booty.
Need Leadership
Security considerations.


Alliances with people or groups can be short or long-term
Many of the benefits are the same as being in a group


Opens one up to attack from other sides.
Many of the cons are the same as being in a group

Going with a Group

If you think it would be best to be with a group then get to know them first. Inviting people over is a good way to build relationships and close ties with them may help foster resiliency during hard times. If you can band together with family or neighbors you trust, then do so. The middle-ground is an option for the individual, self-reliant type.

This is about making brief alliances with others and taking a mutual issue to its resolution whereupon the group eventually disbands. This is the plot situation set-up in many zombie survival movies. Determine if you are willing to compromise with others for a short-term, just long enough to achieve your goals. I recommend stepping out to help neighbors in need, but I also advocate not sharing all of your information until you really get to know someone well. Here’s are good ways to get started:

  • Contact

Contact the people you would be interested in meeting and arrange a formal meeting.

  • Identify skills and equipment.

Once you break the ice, and things go well, identify the skills each has; Who has medical, rescue, technology, or military skills. Find out everyone’s strong points. Some tasks have to be shared among the group. What equipment do people have, such as generators, chain saws, ropes, and water pumps for starts. Have discussions on whether you want to buy equipment as a group. The more people involved, the more resources your group has.

  • Define Roles

Define each persons’ role; Mechanic, security, health-provider, team-member etc. Are people willing to rotate roles and teach others their skills. A group leader is the person with the most skill. This is the person who must carry the most responsibility. This is not the guy who is a dictator. Good leaders look at situations and organize tasks that need to be completed. He listens to all the group ideas and is knowledgeable enough to choose the best ones. Some people are good at building items but may be weaker at finding wild edibles. Good teams work together.

  • Schedules

Determine plans and come up with checklists to perform for different disaster events. Schedule monthly or quarterly meetings to check on group equipment and update skills. List all the tasks that are need to ensure immediate survival. Check up on one another from time to time before things go bad.

  • Accountability and Responsibility

All group members then agree on what needs to be done and by whom. Everyone is responsible for their tasks and members hold others accountable for theirs. Promote a feeling of mutual respect. Those who need help with tasks should get help. Encourage group members to succeed while remaining clear on the possible brutal facts of a Stuff Hits The Fan reality. During disasters being in groups can go either way. If there are plenty of resources and a lot of skills this is beneficial to everyone. On the other hand, if only one person has skills, how will they be able to to gather supplies, distribute medicine or care for the ill? If the most skilled person is injured, groups must adapt. Define primary secondary and other division of labor and skills.

  • Feedback

Communicate clearly in an open and non-threatening way and discuss ideas productively, while listening and clarifying carefully with others. Defer to a good team leader and do not feel threatened by different opinions.

In the end, only you can know what’s best for you. There is no correct answer. The situation often drives the decision-making rather than the other way around. Regardless, until that time, prepare yourself and get ready…



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