runawaygun762 wrote:Obviously, approaching your neighbors right away with "Hi, my name is David and I'd like to know what skills or materials you can provide for our common defense if the world goes tits up." is not going to meet with the best results. I'm thinking maybe a barbecue now and then with invitations up and down the lane with some games for the kids, that'll allow me to get some idea of who I can talk to about it and who to avoid.
Getting to know people is good, but I think you'll get the best
intel on the neighborhood by having one-on-one conversations. Not only do you need to know who's competent and who isn't, you need to know who the threats are. Might be a guy a half mile down the road who is a church-going straight arrow, but has a son who is on the pipe and runs with a B&E crew (or worse). Make friends, tune into the local gossip, then ask a few questions.
Asking for advice is one way to figure out who knows what. For example, ask about mowers, lawn tractors, chain saws, etc and eventually you'll figure out who the amateur mechanics are. Concerns over a real or fictitious elderly aunt might be a means to finding the retired doctors & nurses in the area. If you can get an invite over to someone's house, you can learn lots of stuff. If the guy has 3 or 4 deer heads on the wall, chances are pretty good he knows how to shoot a rifle and probably isn't too squeamish about blood.