Okay, so the apocalypse has befallen mankind. A global pile of doo doo has hit the fan sending us all back to the bronze – but most likely just the post-industrial – age. Through multiple missteps and more than a couple instances of dumb luck you have survived the last 8 months since the catastrophe on your own, David Brin, Postman-style. You’re smart, your survival skills have helped thus far but how much longer can you last on a day-to-day existence? Humans are social animals and eventually, in order to live rather than simply survive, you will need to find someplace where civilization is scratching at the hardened earth doing its damnedest to take hold. Now finding that post-apocalyptic TEOTWAWKI start-up is all well and good but those struggling souls aren’t going to take in another mouth to feed without gaining something in return. You will need skills to offer, skills that will help prop up a new colony and contribute to its continued survival.
What are your skills?
Luckily, the worst has not come to pass as yet, giving you plenty of time to consider what you can offer a post-apocalypse society. So take a few minutes, sit back and think about your skills. What knowledge and experience have you garnered over the years since your first job, during all those hunting trips with Dad or Grandpa, in vo-tech classes in high school or college, building that deck over Labor Day weekend last year, the minor in chemistry that sounded interesting but you never thought would come in handy, the summer working vacation spent in Nicaragua building a village irrigation system, or spending all that time perfecting your award winning tomatoes? There are skills you might never have considered worth anything but can be honed into skill set you can brag about later.
Build on what you know or start learning now
Envision any small town. Picture it as an entity in of itself, isolated and on its own. Look at the base infrastructure, the basic functionality. What are the essentials it depends on to expand, to maintain and repair itself, to grow and prosper? The people who live there, what do they regularly need to function as important elements of that town? Now consider what niche you can insert yourself into.
Carpentry, Plumbing, Electricians, Construction
The foundation of any town or post-apocalyptic colony (if you will) is an actual, physical foundation (or foundations) let’s make that plural for those structures and buildings needed to provide shelter for the people, for the animals that will feed and clothe them, for the means of production that will maintain that food and clothing, and the mechanisms of organization that will keep the colony running efficiently. Electricians provide the ability to distribute power and repair and maintain necessary equipment. Plumbers will distribute water and waste disposal. Construction skills and know-how will provide the essential infrastructure for the new beginnings to grow and flourish.
Animal Husbandry and Hunting
Domestication of animals was one of the defining roots of the first civilizations. Knowledge of domesticated animals, that provide food and clothing for people, of their care and successful rearing will be essential. Cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens all have specific needs and care requirements and knowing those specifics are invaluable. Hunting, as with husbandry, requires a knowledge of animals and their behaviors to track and locate them. And after the kill, these people need the skills to effectively clean and dress the hunted animals, preserve their meat and other parts used for a variety of purposes .
Many of us can grow a crop of squash or tomatoes but someone who has intimate knowledge of tending and care of plants, what their nutrient and soil type needs are, are the people who will produce a reliable, varied harvest year after year to sustain the residents of the burgeoning town.
Doctors, Nurses, Medics, Dentists and Veterinarians
It goes without saying that people and animals will get hurt and sick, and those who live together in close quarters will spread those illnesses. Because of this, people with medical knowledge will be some of the most sought after individuals. This new town will need doctors and nurses to take care of the ill and injured. Veterinarians will secure the health of animals the town depends on. Dentists may not appear high on the list of essential positions but given the serious problems caused by poor oral health, residents will jump at the chance to add a dentist to their population.
That’s right, smiths, woodworkers, toolmakers, gunsmiths, metal workers (blacksmiths), who forgot about them? We’ve grown accustomed to running down to the hardware store for a new hammer or a box of screws or to the furniture store for a replacement chair or to the sporting goods store for ammunition. But when the broader means of production that cast the metal, fabricated the pieces parts, married the bullet casing with gun powder and the projectile shut down after the fall of society no one was left to produce the things we took for granted. These are the niches where the smiths will find their places.
Scientists and Engineers
Chemists, physicists, botanists, biologists, geologists, electrical and mechanical engineers have the knowledge and expertise to take the initial infrastructure the town was built on and upgrade it to the next level that will foster continued growth and efficiency. As the town grows the need for reliable water sources become more pressing. Geologists find the water. Mechanical engineers and physicists design and build the system to bring the water to town. Electrical engineers along with physicists construct electrical generators and distribute power throughout the town, including the pumps that send water to individual buildings and homes. Chemists test the water to make sure its safe and designs systems to purify what’s contaminated. Biologists introduce game harvest plans to ensure a viable population of game animals is maintained for future use. Botanists further develop food production through advanced growing techniques and selection of most productive crop strains.
While the rugged survivalist going it alone in the wilds is the popular vision of the post-apocalyptic world, it’s not one that testifies to long-term survival. Should the end of the world come to pass leaving but a few to persevere, survival will be embodied within groups of people working together, united under a mission to rebuild society and secure a place for the generations to come. Developing the knowledge, skills and expertise will ensure your place in that new world.