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Posted: 5/2/2010 - 7 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

Amerisafe.org is a social-networking "buddy system" that connects people in the cities with their neighbors in the countryside so that IF a natural or man-made disaster strikes our nation the people in the cities will have a safe and welcome place to go. Fear, desperation and lawlessness often accompany catastrophe, but so do great acts of courage and generosity, which for those who have "the eyes to see and the ears to hear”, this is an opportunity to extend hospitality and make plans now.

Amerisafe.org matches "country folk" with "city folk" much in the same way that dating websites suggest couples. When users sign-up they plot their approximate location on our mapping system. Next, they fill out a short questionnaire on their religious beliefs, ethnicity, educational background and skill set. These questions then help people locate potential partner-households around similar values, cultural experiences, and knowledge. However, screening based on these characteristics is entirely optional. We simply offer the option if it increases one's comfort level.  

Here is a screenshot of a typical household search. It shows all of the "matches" between 100 and 300 miles of the center-point (about 50 miles west of Chicago), and as you can see, the Religion, Education, Skill Level and Ethnicty filters are unchecked or "turned-off".

Once you find a person that you might get along with drop them a note and say hello. If the conversation leads to a "household partnership" it is up to both of you to make it as formal or as informal as you prefer. Furthermore, you can make no-commitment friendships with anyone, and this is a good idea as you might like to blog, post videos, create groups, and organize community events.

These features are designed to help people find safe and welcome places to go whether the disaster zone is local, or if it covers a large area, in which case people would need the help of homesteads located far away. Therefore, users are encouraged to create many different kinds of friendships so that the Amerisafe network is robust and elastic.

Many people already have an informal network of places to go to in case of an emergency. This is good, but just in case those back-up plans fail it is wise to build relationships with other households. Also, by creating a profile for your home, you are offering hope to a family that may one day need your hospitality. The spirit of generosity is a two-way street, and the harder the test that may befall society, the more we are going to need each other to preserve civility and virtue.

We hope that families will never have to call upon the hospitality of their partnering household, but just in case, it's good to have the peace of mind that comes from being prepared. 

And lastly, as the founder of Amerisafe, I give you my word that the information you divulge upon signing-up will not be used to betray, annoy, or harm you. I created this site because I believe in America's ideals of privacy, liberty, and virtuous enterprise. A social collapse, whether sudden or gradual, would severely test these values, but if we all come togther now we can build a shelter that will weather any storm.

Thank You,

Rich Seng

 

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