Editor’s Note: This is part of a series from Charley Hogwood of P.R.E.P. on mutual assistance groups (MAG).
When it comes to mutual assistance groups, many people misinterpret the value of properly organizing. Just as you wouldn’t begin building a home without a solid foundation, it is important to do some foundational work to create or reestablish a strong group.
MAGs: The Mission Statement
The mission statement defines your mutual assistance group. The chaos and confusion of a grid down event is not the time to make the rules up on the fly, if at all possible. Mission statements can be written by one member or several members. It doesn’t really matter as long as the statement accurately describes the mutual assistance group's goals. This can be the mutual assistance group’s first exercise in finding real common ground.
There is only one imperative, and it is that everyone completely agrees and buys into the final written statement.
MAGs: Elements of a Mission Statement
What should be in your mission statement?
- Purpose Statement – This defines the desired outcome, not the method of getting there.
- How-to Statement – What activities will we do to accomplish our goals?
- Values Statement – If you desire to include religion, or have any specific moral values you wish to make clear, here is the opportunity. Perhaps you wish to clarify your political direction or affiliation here as well. Try not to turn the statement into an essay.
MAGs: Taking the Oath
Why would you want to go to the level of having an oath for new members to the mutual assistance group? There are many very good reasons to establish an oath. You thoughtfully worded a mission statement to remove any confusion of what the mutual assistance group is all about. Now that you have everyone on the same page and bought in to why they are here, ask them to pledge to support the group.
MAGs: Ratify a Constitution
Now that you know why you are part of the mutual assistance group and where it’s going, you are ready to face the problems of keeping order. Without order the mutual assistance group is little more than a refugee camp with no rules.
A constitution is a document that explains how the governing body will work. Great care should be taken in preparing this document for the mutual assistance group. It has been noted by scholars that the most effective constitutions are not the most specific. It is recommended that members become familiar with small government concepts and chain of command leadership structures to create the most advantageous system of governing.
As the mutual assistance group grows you will find a cross section of personalities and values. It is wise for leadership to be flexible to account for this. Too many regulations and too rigid a structure can cause interpersonal battles to consume precious time needed to achieve group goals.
One thing to also keep in mind: safety! To encourage safety and prevent accidents with equipment it would be wise to devise safety protocols such as the buddy system when working in dangerous environments or ground guide personnel for moving vehicles. This will help to prevent accidents.
MAGs: People First
It is important to remember that all organizations successfully operate only by paying strict attention to the needs, aspirations and concerns of people. Even in a long-term survival situation, people will require a certain level of customer service, for lack of better description. It may take some time to get to this point when there are many more pressing matters at hand, but it will become more important as time marches on.