I just made a post in the Comms thread that I thought might be useful to people looking for radio information. In that vein, I thought I'd update where I've gotten to in this thread...
The only new thing I've learned about trying to find people I'd want to perhaps band together with if the world ended, is that it's even harder than I thought it was. More difficult even than I learned it could be after spending some time with several different groups of people. It's just really a low-probability-of-success thing to find people of the 'right' mindset, develop relationships with them, and accomplish stuff. Each of the three or more local prepper groups I've spent some time with in the last year has either disintegrated or fallen on hard times, each for different reasons. A couple of the groups, as I mentioned before, had people who probably weren't really 'the right stuff' and either got mad at each other and quit, or got discouraged and quit, or something like that. Another group of nice people I met are indeed nice enough, but have a problem of not having a group identity. As a group of several dozen people, they can't collectively make up their mind what it is they want to do. Some want to be out in the woods survivalists, some want to be kind of like a local citizen's Red Cross kind of deal to help post-disaster victims, etc. That limits the amount of time and effort, and $ everyone will contribute.
I still hang out with the last group as they are good people, even if it seems that they spend a frustrating amount of time talking and having meetings to talk about what they want to do. I have met people with valuable skills in that group, and have made good useful friends with some of the people there. One of the guys there started a HAM radio study group that's been great in helping get people ready for the FCC radio license exam, and it helped a lot to get me into using my radios and getting into the HAM radio community. Indeed, some of us in that group might go a little further in making contingency plans with each other, now that we've spent 6+ months working together on radio stuff and getting to know each other. There are other skilled people in this group that have a lot to offer, people who I intend to cultivate to learn camping-out type skills too.
Now, almost a year after we started thinking about prepping, buying some equipment and putting some time and effort into things, I feel a little better qualified to answer some of my original questions I had about 'how do you start a group like this', 'how do you feel someone out about this without sounding like a nutcase', and 'how do you build your network of people'?
One suggestion I'd have when raising the subject in conversation with someone, someone who you've judged might be of similar mind but you're not sure, is to call it "self-sufficiency" don't call it prepping. Around here in Florida, we're entering hurricane season so it's a natural topic of discussion anyway. I don't bring it up with many people unless I have some reason to think they're of an appropriate mindset. But this is a quick litmus-test thing you can do safely without them thinking you're some kind of weirdo. If the person indicates little interest in at least buying some food/water supplies to get through a week or two, you probably don't need to go further.
If someone is interested in "self-sufficiency", after helping them get at least some food and water supplies set up, then you can feel that person out with respect to other self-sufficiency items too. Medicine, how about backup power, how about radios? Most people aren't all that interested in this stuff, don't want to or can't spend much on it, and that's ok. If the discussion turns to it or if they ask, you can gently broach the subject of "protection". Not just guns and self-defense, but all of the other common-sense (to the people on this board, anyway) things such as locks on your doors, don't do stupid things like flaunt a bunch of expensive possessions, be on good relations with your neighbors, etc.
Someone who's interested enough to pursue many of these things, now that's someone who is much more likely to possibly be interested in participating in 'a group'. And if you've discussed or helped the person through some of these other self-sufficiency topics, you'll have a much better idea of how well he or she can take care of himself/herself, will that person contribute to others if needed, is that person trustworthy, will he/she do what he says, etc?
My thinking on this tribe-building is still evolving, but, I think I'm making progress. I'm not in any end-of-the-world group like I'd hoped to be by this time. I don't yet have a survival retreat to go to with a group of well-equipped and sturdy, dependable people. I've been part of several groups that thought of themselves as this kind of thing, but none of which worked out or are likely to. Despite that though, I'm encouraged and think my wife and I have made a lot of progress over the last year. We're much better situated with respect to food and other supplies than we were. We have better disaster-related equipment in the event something happened to our house. It may turn out that developing the amateur radio skills and people connections that I have, could be a very valuable thing. At least through the group of 'radio friends' I have now, I know and trust them well enough that I'd consider hunkering down with them somewhere if there was say a big riot or whatever going on. And very key, we all have radios and backup power, and can talk to each other anytime independent of the phone, electrical, or internet grid being up. I'd still like to become part of some Rawles-like retreat survival group someday perhaps, but for now I can at least communicate with some good people in case of emergency.
So, in addition to trying to increase our survival skills and supplies, going forward I think I'm going to continue to try to meet and talk with people who I think might be good to know in case of emergency. I can perhaps help some of those people if they're getting started with this, and if I do meet people who are further along than me, I can learn from them and perhaps be able to contribute as well. Just work on it one person at a time and not try to found "The Group" as Rawles puts it in his stories.
PS - In the event you are forming a similar group, I did hear one person articulate what I think is a good group goal. (I mentioned that the 'nice people' group has a problem deciding what they want the group to be. One guy I met in that group is one of the people I'm doing more stuff with outside of the group - he has skills I don't have and will teach me, and I have skills he doesn't have but wants to learn). Anyway, he said something that is basically what I think is a worthy group goal or mission statement, and that is "NO FEMA CAMPS!" My goal, his goal, and I hope the goal of a lot more people is to be able to take care of ourselves and each other well enough that none of us or even none of our neighbors will have to go to a FEMA camp. That means supplies but it also means a lot more too, including being able to protect each other, and it also avoids I think much of the 'militia' stigma that some people associate with groups like this.