Editor's Note: This is part of a series from Charley Hogwood of P.R.E.P. on mutual assistance groups (MAG).
So you’ve thought about it long and hard and have decided to seek out others and join an existing mutual assistance group (MAG). Perhaps you have an interest in starting your own group with the preference of building it according to your own set of values. There are some things you’ll want to keep in mind to save yourself a lot of grief and misery down the trail.
Married to the MAG
First, decide what you want from this endeavor. You may begin to notice that much of this process involves soul searching. There is a reason for it.
Think of it as marriage, but with a survival twist. In this case, if it goes bad the spurned lover and possibly his or her friends will take all of your stuff (not just half!).
Practice MAG Ettiquette
With this in mind it is wise to vet everyone carefully before they gain important knowledge about your plans and supplies. This is known as OPSEC (operational security). This doesn’t mean that you become that creepy person who never speaks; just don’t share any specific details that could compromise your safety later on.
Practice etiquette when speaking with prospective friends:
- Begin with small talk to get a feel for their views
- Don’t ask questions you wouldn’t want to answer yourself
- And never, ever say you are going to their house if the SHTF
Where are Potential MAG Members?
Where does one even begin to look for like-minded friends? That is the big money question. Keep your eyes and ears open at all times but begin close to home, that’s where you are likely to need them the most.
Some ideas to meet others:
• Join a CERT team
• Frequent a local farmers market
• Take classes in self reliance such as gardening, bee keeping, homesteading
• Join an active local online meetup.com group that does things self reliance
Now that you know how and where to find others you’ll want to make sure you are what they’re looking for. To be a strong candidate you will need to offer something useful to the group. Some people think they can just buy their way into a group by way of money and equipment then just bask in the protections of others while having no discernible skills. That is a recipe for disaster.
Skills Useful to a MAG
What are some useful skills to a mutual assistance group?
- Tactical ops
- Tool making
- Metal working
- Power generation
- Animal husbandry
Meeting MAG Members
OK, now we know where to look, how to have a conversation and how to be of value to others.
Before you commit to anything, attempt to participate in some of the MAG's meetings or team building events. Try to meet as many members as possible. The reason for this is to get an overall feel for how things work, who is in charge and what personalities stand out.
Once you become comfortable slowly ease in and show your willingness to participate as an equal by offering your skills and knowledge at events.
Hopefully, you’ll be able to have a mutually beneficial relationship and will begin to form the bonds necessary to move further into the organization and planning stages for the group.