Published on The Doomstead Diner on April 24, 2016
Discuss this article at the Doomsteading Table inside the Diner
One of the most common debates amongs people who are collapse aware is determining when it is actually time to GTFO of Dodge, aka move away from the big shities and out to a less populated area to begin the process of trying to live off the land once again.
There are numerous obstacles to doing this for many if not most people. First off is the up front expense of buying your own "Doomstead", a patch of land somewhere out in the boonies with a livable domicile of some type on it. If you are just able to afford your regular rent in the apartemnt near your job, where are you going to get the money to buy a doomstead? This option is generally only open to the 1% of the population earning $250K and up.
The second financial problem is that any area that is remote enough to be considered viable as a doomstead also has near zero in the way of job possibilities, so if you give up your job inside industrial culture, you're likely to be without income entirely. How then do you pay your taxes on the land, assuming you could afford to buy some?
For as long as money is still functioning, you need it. To outfit your doomstead well with good preps like your own renewable energy supply (solar or wind usually), that costs money. To buy Pigs & Chickens and build fences and barns costs still more money. Having your domicile up to the local building codes, still more money. It gets EXPENSIVE pretty quick!
Even if you do have the wads of cash necessary to buy such a doomstead and outfit it while you are still working in the big shity, there are still problems. If nobody is occupying the place most of the time, you can have problems with vandals, thieves and squatters. There are regular maintenance chores to be done. Unless the doomstead is pretty close, you're not going to be able to get to it that often. If it is close to the big shity, then you have the issue of what occurs when people come streaming out of that city because the taps have run dry and the shelves at Walmart have gone empty?
Because of all these problems, many preppers have dispensed with the idea of having a permanent doomstead and focus more on "Bugout" scenarios and equipment to have ready for the day TSHTF in your neighborhood. I spent the last couple of months on what is currently a 6 part series on Bugout Bags, that topic is almost endless. One of the main hypotheses with the pedestrian based bugout is that there won't be gas around to buy, so your SUV will be worthless. However, as long as you keep the tank full all the time and have a couple of extra 10 gallon Jerry Cans of gas, you always should have enough for one final run for safety on SHTF day in your neighborhood. The new Van Dweller Gypsy Prepper Community© system is based on this.
The first decision is what is the best vehicle to have for your Bugout Machine? Although I currently own a Tioga RV which I bought for the purpose of a Bugout back in 2009, my conversations with Van Dweller who spent the last 50 years living out of his van since the 1960s convinced me that Stealth Vans were the way to go. A Stealth Van looks like a normal passenger or cargo van from the outside, but on the inside has all the basics you need for living.
Although many folks like Van Dweller make do with just the Van, a significant number of others add to this a Cargo Trailer, which also fits th Stealth category. From the outside it doesn't look like a typical RV trailer used as a domicile. For Stealth Van dwellers, sometimes it serves as a domicile, but more often is used to store supplies and tools you just don't have room for when using the van as a living space.
For myself, although I have lived in some very small spaces including a Closet sized Dorm Room around 8' x 15' and studio apartments in NY Shity measuring around 15' x 20', I'm not a big fan of living in such a confined space, at least not long term anyhow. So I pondered on how to increase living space but still be able to carry it all along in the trailer or on the roof racks. What I came up with was using Geodesic Domes for this purpose.
The Geodesic structure is relatively easy to assemble if you have your Connectors and your struts cut to the right size. Once the structure is up, you can surface with just about anything, going real cheap and temporary you can do it with roll plastic sheeting. Making it leakproof is something of a chore, but I have some proprietary methods of doing that so this is not a worry. Other surfacing materials you can use are cardboard, foam insulation panels and plywood, moving up the ladder here in commercially produced materials. You could even cover with sheet metal from abandoned carz! 🙂 You'll need some good cutting tools for that though. You can't carry all the panels you would need precut in a small van-trailer arrangement, but hopefully you can acquire these once you set up your bugout location.
If things have devolved to the point such materials can't even be scavenged, you can go with natural materials, such as tree bark for instance. You can weave grasses on the panels and then cover with leaves or make an adobe mixture to spread over thin saplings lashed to the struts. There's always some means to cover the dome.
Every year many people gather together at the Burning Man expo putting up temporary domes of varying levels of professionalism and quality.
Because Geodesics are entirely self-supporting, all the interior space is useable, nothing is taken up for walls and structural support, so they have a much "bigger" feel when inside them than the footprint they take up on the ground.
A geodesic with just a 14' radius will give you all the living space you need, particularly if you have your cooking and sleeping facilities in your Stealth Van.
So in the final arrangement for the Van Dweller Gypsy Prepper Community © , the members of the community have their own vans, cargo trailers and geodesic parts to set up on site when they reach their Bugout Destination, and eventual Doomstead once everything is all set up.
The configuration of the Dome is set up so it has "ports" to dock both the Van and the Trailer, and a 3rd port which serves either as a Front Door or for connection to other domes, as illustrated at the top of the page.
Below here is the set-up for the individual Van/Dome Dweller:
I made the dome semi-transparent so you can see inside, although all I have it currently populated with is a Wood Burning Stove, to give some idea of the interior scale. In reality, most of the dome would not be transparent, although you can make some transparent panels either from plastic or glass, assuming you either have them with you or can acquire them.
I began this article inside the Diner Forum on our Bugout Plans board, below here is my description of parts and setup from that thread. There I included a prefab Greenhouse to attach to the dome, not included in the 3D community drawing, there I substituted Greenhouse "tunnels" between the large dome and the smaller ones. Entry to this structure besides goin in through the Van or Trailer is a door on the side of the Greenhouse.
Components of the Design are:
1- Stealth Van
2- Cargo Trailer
3- 28' Geodesic Dome
4- 2 Carports to attach to the dome
5- 1 Lean to style prefab Greenhouse
The dome has 3 "ports" for docking the van, trailer and greenhouse modules. All are identical in size @ 8' wide X 10' high. The dome itself is made from Bamboo Poles and connectors. Surfacing material for the dome is purchased or scrounged and scavenged on location, only the poles and connectors are transported. Carports may be either commercially available Carport Tents, or built on location out of available materials. Greenhouse either a commercial one that will disassemble or one made out of bamboo poles that can disassemble also.
Van and Trailer carry most of the hardware, cooking equipment, toilet bucket, office equipment (laptop) and bed. Dome space is Roaming space to stretch out mostly, but also has a Wood Burning Stove for a more permanent arrangement. In a more permanent arrangement it also would have other furniture in it. Solar Panels for electrics are installed on top of the carports.
Estimated set-up time, 1 week to get the dome fully configured with panels to fill it out. Surfacing can be done with almost anything, foam insulation panels, cardboard, plywood; super cheap and temporary would be to just staple plastic sheeting to the structure. I have proprietary methods for sealing seams so it doesn't leak like many geodesics do. Dome structure itself goes up in 2-3 days depending on who does the setup and how many people to help.
If/When the Housing Gestapo stop by and tell me my home is not "up to code", I say, "OK, I'll take it down and move on and I won't pay property tax in this neighborhood anymore." I am packed up and on the road again in under a week. Prior to that I will sell them that this is just a temporary thing and show them my Building Plans for a full scale "up to code" domicile. I can probably sell that line for a while.
Total living space here is about 60 sq feet for the van, 50 sq feet for the trailer, 50 sq feet for the greenhouse extension, and about 600 sq feet for the dome, without a loft built in which you could do also with a 14' center height. So you probably get upwards of 1000 sq feet of living space from this, which is plenty for me.
Obviously, you can scale up this system quite a bit if you have a group of people and several vans and trailers. The big advantage here is you do not need to build on your Bugout location BEFORE TSHTF, so there is nothing on the property to be trashed while you are not around or to pay taxes on either. You just buy raw land suitable for setup. You use prior methods suggested here on the Diner for Caching Food supplies and tool supplies on these locations, so when TSHTF, you can Bugout, set up shop, and have enough food and materials to get you through the first year of post-industrial society collapse. If you can make it through the 1st year, you will have upped your survival chances by several orders of magnitude IMHO.
After that, I went into specific scenarios of how you organize your Van Dweller Gypsy Prepper Community© , and how to set up when TSHTF in your neighborhood:
OK! I have expanded my Mobie Van Dweller Base Camp for a small tribe of like minded Preppers with limited funds and still needing to stay inside industrial civilization to keep working and utilizing the earnings to buy more preps.
As we have noted before, moving out NOW while you still have a job to try going and living a subsistence lifestyle, be it H-G style or Permaculture Farm style has its own downsides and risks. The new Van Dweller Gypsy Prepper Community (VDGPC) resolves these problems!
Each member of a tribe has a Van, a Cargo Trailer and hardware to set up a small Geodesic Dome. The tribe above has 5 Preppers, which may be individuals, couples or families. Figure for this group there is one Individual, 2 couples and two families with 2 kids, for a total tribe size of 13 people.
Your Basic Requirements to be part of the Tribe are a Stealth Van, a Cargo Trailer and your own set of Personal Dome Geodesic Connectors. These are not absolutely essential, but make setting up a dome much faster. They can be purchased commercially or you can make them yourself by various methods.
Estimated Basic Cost:
Used Van in Good Condition: $5000
Used Cargo Trailer in Good Condition: $2000
Connectors and Tools: $1000
You will want to accumulate more preps as well, such as Solar PV panels, long lasting foods, Heirloom Seeds and of course Gunz & Ammo which will run your total costs up more, but you can start out with $8K or maybe less if you can find good deals on a Van and Trailer on Craig's list.
Each community member is responsible for his/her own set of preps, and also contributes to a general fund for the Bugout Destination Promised Land The BDPL is 5 acres of Hunting Land within a 500 mile radius of your current location. Each member contributes 1/5th to this purchase, somewhere between $2-5K per acre. Nothing is built on this land prior to TSHTF, and it should be reasonably remote. You should be able to get there on 1 tank of gas & a few extra 10 Gallon containers.
Prior to TSHTF, regular assemblies at the BDPL of community members on weekends are held to do planning and also to bring up supplies to be cached on location, buried in spots marked by GPS coordinates and also triangulating off natural landmarks in case an EMP knocks out the GPS system. Cached supplies may include more of such things as long lasting foods, heirloom seeds, tools, building materials like nails, screws, bolts etc. Whether you wan to store some weapons this way also is up to you. I wouldn't do it with gunz and ammo, but perhaps crossbows and slingbows might be stored this way.
TSHTF IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD! A Bank Holiday has been declared, the Walmart Shelves are going Empty and the National Guard has been called up to enforce Martial Law in 24 hours. You have to GTFO of Dodge NOW before the Roadblocks are set up. You send the BRAZOS TXT message to all the members of your Tribe of the VDGPC that it is time to form up in a PreDetermined Meeting Spot (PDMS) to travel together as a Convoy to the BDPL. Traveling together will add to your security and be helpful if anyone has a breakdown.
Continuing with the description of the Bugout (this is done tongue-in-cheek for people who don't recognize my humor. lol)
If some members of the VDGPC don't make it to the PDMS for the designated departure time, they are on their own to make it to the BDPL.
On arrival at the BDPL the first thing is to secure the perimeter. Motion detectors are set up on the logging road that gets you in to the BDPL. Sentries are posted, FRS radios are used to identify latecomers with specified channel and call sign code.
Vans are circled and trailers detached, leaving room in the center for the large Comunity Dome to be built later, if this turns out to be the BIG ONE and you have to stay at the BDPL permanently. Hopefully, it's a False Alarm TPTB get the ATMs working again in a week or two, the National Guard mows down the rioters and we go back to BAU for another few months until the next crisis.
During this initial waiting period to see how it works out, none of the stored caches of Preps are dug up yet. Everybody should have at least 1 month of food supplies aboard their Stealth Vans and Trailers. A few Solar PV panels are deployed to keep everybody charged up, monitoring what is going on in the world at large via the net if it is still up, or with Shortwave Radio if it has gone down.
Newz comes in across the Shortwave that New York, London, Washington, Beijing & Moscow have all been Nuked. Hordes of Zombies are rampaging through Seattle, Austin, Norfolk, and Pittsburgh. A 200 meter high Tsunami has washed both Honshu & Hokkaido Islands into the South China Sea. Yellowstone has erupted and buried the entire Midwest under 3 feet of volcanic ash. A huge methane bubble has popped under the Arctic Ice cap blowing the whole thing into the stratosphere. No going back now.
You should be relatively safe now as it is unlikely anyone will be showing up at your doorstep too soon. So now you begin assembly of your community dome, plant your heirloom seeds and see if you can make it through the Zero Point. Odds are not in your favor, but The Finger of God may step in for you. It has for me, many times.