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Size and Social Structure

Lone Wolf: Single individual determined to go it alone if necessary. He has survival training and confidence in this area. He expects to locate things to eat, to stay warm, and defend himself, and has gathered the tools to facilitate all this.

Extended Family: Family member, neighbors, and close friends may begin cooperative effort at survival as a natural outgrowth of their close interaction. The Extended Family groups would in all likelihood be the most common during the Aftertime. The Extended Family would tend to have the skill set that exists only within the group, and thus would be inclined to form a Cluster when the opportunity arose.

Cluster: A natural outgrowth of many Extended Family groups would be the Cluster - small groups that meet centrally, either formally or informally, to exchange ideas and products and share tools. The groups live and function separately, but know about each other and are highly supportive of each other, sharing seed or medicine, lending tools, and training each other in techniques. Each group in the cluster is autonomous, however, and under their own leadership. The Cluster might exist because individual family or extended family groups learn of each other, and begin to interact. This interaction might occur well before the cataclysms, and the Cluster thus forming well ahead of the cataclysms.

Community: A group of 100 to 1,000 individuals would have overtones of a Community, having formal social organization such as a Mayor or Council and elections. Vocational specialization could exist, and food production and manufacturing would most likely be managed. The Community might exist because many in a rural or even urban area became concerned about the coming changes and worked together, learning about each other. These communities might also evolve due to people moving to what they feel might be safe areas, and encountering each other. Clusters might also evolve into Communities, if strong leadership existed and the benefits outweighed the independence each Extended Family currently enjoyed.

Technology Characteristics

Primitive: Lose of power and damage to all electrical appliances throws the group into an immediate primitive situation. Life turns back a full century, with the oldsters in the group dredging up memories to help the youngsters reconstruct the lifestyle. Sewage is buried or dumped. The seriously ill are simply wept over. Whatever is edible is cooked over a fire, if one can be started, or eaten raw.

Interim: If there is lose of power and technology but knowledge exists, an interim existence could develop. Electricity is gained through harnessing water wheels or bike rack generators powered by churning legs, with lights out shortly and lots of sleeping done to pass the time. Food may not be all that tasty, but it is cooked and free of parasites, though is predominantly what can grow in the gloom such as mushroom and worms.. Some members of the group are exploring the area to find others who have survived, to share knowledge or whatever else might be available.

High Tech: Having planned well, some groups might find their computers surviving the jolts and the lights on due to windmills and water wheels. Spare parts are available as this was part of the plan, and even the manufacture of parts was taken into consideration and the technology chosen included simple and replaceable parts. Hydroponics and fish tanks, as well as produce that does not require light had been in production long before the actual cataclysms, and is a smoothly running operation. Education is available in books as well as on the computer, and classes for all continue as a diversion from the gloom and lack of communication with the outside world.

Networked: High Tech groups who have planned to stay in contact with each other, through communication dishes places in high spots and linking one to another, will be networked. Conceivable, this network could span the world, and pass messages between family members separated physically. Most definitely information would be shared, and medical procedures could be assisted via video. Eventually, when physical travel is possible, networked groups would be contacting each other, knowing ahead of time where each other are located.

Self Defense

Lawlessness: After the Pole Shift, lawlessness may well prevail. How could one call the police when the phones are dead, and how could the long arm of the law reach when travel is nearly impossible. The good hearted will proceed with the sense of fairness and concern for others that had always guided their lives, and those who were merely held in check by the laws or are basically lazy or self-focused will attempt to make their own laws to suit themselves. Those who have prepared may find themselves faced with those who wish only to plunder.

Inundations: Those who prepare for the coming cataclysms, who have the very young and sick among them as well as the hale and strong, should anticipate their slender edge on survival to be potentially threatened by inundations from those who did not prepare. Where one should be concerned with helping others, like the life boat which would sink when taking on one passenger too many, groups who planned for survival should maintain a core of strength and health if they are to be able to help others. Those who can hand out seed stock and relay survival techniques will do those who did not prepare the greatest service, but if they allow themselves to be devastated or overrun, this service could not be performed. Self defense, therefore, is in order.

A Good Location: The best defense is a good location, and the location is best not advertised. Extended families known to be preparing might find themselves inundated at the last minute by uninvited and unwanted guests. A bit of bait and switch might be in order, where it appears that one site is the location but another, secret, site is in fact where the group plans to gather. Another option is to gather up portable equipment and supplies and setup at the secret site at the last minute. So much will be destroyed during the Pole Shift that permanent buildings might best be erected during the Aftertime, with the group living in tents or under metal roofs banked by earth during the actual shift. Small farms or sites in rural settings may find they are secret just by the nature of their setting.

Low-Key Lifestyle: The second line of defense is remaining low key both in lifestyle and daily affairs during the early days of the Aftertime. Living low key will probably come naturally, as confusion will be rampant. Transportation will be nearly impossible due to downed bridges, cracked roads, and a lack of petrol. Roving bands looking to raid with therefore be on foot. Compasses will confuse those trying to follow maps due to the change in poles and extreme magnetic diffusion lingering for some time after the Pole Shift. A foggy gloom equivalent to dawn or dusk will be present during the day, with rainfall almost constant. Visibility will be poor. Telephone lines will be down, and government services nonexistent. Thus, locating survivors in their camps will not be assisted by seeing where the mail is delivered, or tracing phone calls, or noting the address on tax payments. Survivors will be essentially invisible. Those who communicate with each other long distance via dishes placed on high points should do so at prearranged times, so as not to alert others to their presence by constant electronic traffic.

Stragglers and Bands: Stragglers who do come upon a thriving site will be either the good hearted willing to work and be of service, the harmless but lazy or self-focused, or those looking to control the resources and take advantage of others. Those in the first category would make a good addition to the group. Those in the second category should be required to work and share, and if this is a constant struggle, sent on their way. Those in the third category should be promptly sent on their way. Thriving sites anticipating these encounters should plan seeding packets, so that those sent on their way would be leaving with the means to start their own sites. All they need do is put in the effort, and their life is thus in their own hands. Roving bands looking to raid can be expected to head first for the well stocked enclaves of the rich, or to shopping centers and grocery stores. Loath to leave a place of plenty and not being the type to prepare or plan ahead, those inclined to raid rather than work will find themselves setting out into the gloom, eventually, with their few remaining supplies. They will be unlikely to find a site kept secret going into the Pole Shift and remaining low key during the first months and years of the Aftertime.

Authored by Nancy.