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Premise: A community of people (150-200 or so) are obligated to live isolated from the rest of society, and without technology that involves the use of electricity. They have been living this way for the last 100 years or so.

They are isolated in the sense that other people are able to visit the community (rare occurence as very few people know of its existance, nor would choose to live without modern technology) and community members are able to venture into mainstream society for short times if necessary, but this poses substantial risk to the person involved and they are unable to remain long. This is rare.

For the most part, the community is a completely separate society. Set in North America, most similar to indigenous tribes pre-contact, they do not use money, are hunter/gatherers, and mostly ignorant of the outside world.

The limit on electricity is anything that generates or uses more than a biological level of electricity can not be anywhere near community members. Things that have been created using electricity and are then inert are fine.

Question: What could be something that would also obligate a connection to mainstream society? A reason for people to have to visit the community, or for community members to visit society? Or both?

I'm assuming if the community has existed for 100 years they are capable of meeting their own basic needs for survival. I'm also aware that humans lived without electrical technology for most of our existence, so I can't imagine that limitation could create a dependence on outside connection.

Goal: Exchange of information, to have the community aware and not completely ignorant of modern day society, to include characters in the story that are not from the community, to have some community members who have experiences in the modern world

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    $\begingroup$ Health care? Food? Clothes? Myriad implements, from paper, pens, nibs, to buttons, needles, scissors? Note that such a small community cannot really meet their own basic needs for survival. They are too few to be able to smelt metals, for example; they cannot make steel, which means they cannot make their own nails and needles and screws. They cannot refine petroleum, so they cannot make their own fuel for lamps. They cannot make glass. Or they do one of those, and they cannot grow crops. Yes, people have lived without electricity for a very long time; but they lived in an entire world. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jan 11 at 3:48
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    $\begingroup$ Can I suggest looking into cultures in the US such as the Amish and Hutterites? Many of their communities have a similar relationship to modern technology and society as what you're describing. $\endgroup$ – Salda007 Jan 11 at 4:26
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    $\begingroup$ @Salda007 they're not hunter-gatherers though, and for good reason. You need a lot of suitable land for that sort of thing, and it isn't easy to come by in the present day. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Jan 11 at 9:03
  • $\begingroup$ Whoops, missed the "hunter/gatherer" bit! $\endgroup$ – Salda007 Jan 11 at 18:35
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Retain a lawyer. That requires money.

As long as they are not a sovereign state, they are subject to the laws of another state. That means it is a very good idea to follow developments in that state.

  • Someone wants to build an airport next to their land, with an approach path directly overhead. There was public involvement in the planning process, a grass-roots NIMBY initiative, and so on. But the first the isolationists know is the official letter which tells them about the outcome of that process.
  • There are new environmental regulations banning pit latrines. The isolationists' sanitary facilities are quite a bit more sophisticated than a simple pit, but as written the regulation applies to them. It would have been relatively easy for lobbyists to adjust the regulation early on, but now it is on the books.
  • The state may allow home-schooling, but there may be reporting requirements, or even the requirement to take tests in public schools.

Keeping up with all that is difficult without actually living in the surrounding society. Say the isolationists subscribe to the local (print) newspaper, and suddenly it starts to say "for more details, see http://..." or "follow us on facebook." What's that!?

So they find a reputable law firm and pay them for "looking after their affairs." The lawyers follow local events and changes, try to determine if they affect the isolationists, and then either act or ask for instructions. Of course the lawyers won't do that for free, so the isolationists will have to get money.

  • A trust fund, with the interest used to pay such things. But what if the interest rates get too low, and the instructions on the fund don't allow investment in hedge fonds?
  • Selling something on the outside. That will require qualified input on what can be sold -- if they started breeding fine draft horses in the 19th century, they would have had to find a different line of business by the 1930s.

The isolationists or at least a few elders would regularly confer with the lawyers, asking the lawyers what needs to be done to maintain isolation and what can be done to generate a little cash.

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  • Taxes. You may be a-ok never seeing mainstream society again, but father state stil wants his money. Similarly applies for birth registration, conscription, getting a ID/passport, all the other bureaucratic requirements that may come with living in a nation.
  • Vaccines. Hard to produce, not strictly neccessary, but really really useful.
  • Bad harvest, need food to get over the winter and need to uphold the capability to get it from outsie if needed.
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  • $\begingroup$ Vaccines are only relevant if they are having contact for some other reason - if they are completely isolated then they cannot be infected with diseases from outside their society. $\endgroup$ – KerrAvon2055 Jan 11 at 7:50
  • $\begingroup$ They can not count on being so isolated that they would not recieve diseases. Rather, it is advantageous for them to maintain some contact, so that their immune systems would know about the diseases extant, and if by some accident they come into contact with a dangerous one, they are not defenseless. Otherwise they will suffer the way island populations suffered from sudden measles outbreaks and the like $\endgroup$ – b.Lorenz Jan 11 at 8:55
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If the society knew of the outside world and what it was capable of there might be a number of reasons why the society or members of it would need or want contact with the outside world. There would be many goods that would make their lives easier such as protective clothing and steel blade knives. There would also be some goods that would save their lives in some situations such as modern medicines.

This type of contact can be seen in the Amazon where remote tribes appear to have traded western goods such as T shirts and knives.

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Breeding

A number of genetic disorders arise from a small population continuously inbreeding between themselves. A periodic influx of genetic material (sperm) would occasionally be needed in order to maintain genetic diversity.

Technically it would only be females that would have to leave, but for reasons of protection and equality it seems reasonable that males would accompany them.

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  • Weapons and/or ammunition if they are a hunting community. Crafting ammo is possible with limited resources, but eventually they will need ingredients or high quality material.
  • An external menace, like water pollution, maybe a gold fever rush leads an unusual flow of city folk to their territory.
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