Stopping by Benton Square always gives Phelps County residents opportunities to socialize, either by grabbing a meal at Di Trapani’s or by making a hair appointment with the salon, but on the first Thursday of each month, a more specialized group meets on the top floor. Tucked away alongside vintage movie posters, individuals gather around Republic Broadcasting Network (RBN) radio host John Moore to share ideas. RBN is a satellite, shortwave, and Internet radio operation based in Roundrock, Texas.

Moore’s radio show routinely features topics such as personal safety, physics, survival skills and the government, with a revolving door of guest speakers. Moore often cites his experiences as a military veteran and his background as a homicide detective in his shows, and conducts his own independent research which he shares with his viewers and visitors in the monthly meetings. His personal website claims he asks “questions the mainstream media is afraid to ask.”

The regular meet-up began when Moore met Newburg resident Dan Sutterfield. Sutterfield was already hosting his own meet-up, showing films in Doolittle. The two hit it off and decided it would be good for the community to participate in their current meetings. The regular meetings are once a month, and according to Moore, serves as a social engagement for the attendees—folks he refers to as “truth-seekers.”  Moore uses the term as an umbrella to encompass the people who come to share and gather ideas. This exchange of ideas is still the prevailing theme each month.

“We’re free-thinkers,” Moore added.

The ideas presented by different individuals boast a great range, from gardening tips and opinions about the government, to theories about the solar system at large. Some of these ideas are more readily believable than others, but the people who attend the meetings hear each with an open mind, not immediately shooting down what is said by another. A common theme between what’s shared is that of preparedness—survival skills, such as tips about plant and herb usage, wild edibles and their medicinal usages. Regular attendee Margaret Hawley finds these tips to be useful.

“We want to be prepared,” said Hawley, “A mindset we have in common is that we want to be as self-sustaining as possible. It’s not like we’re getting ready to go into the mountains, but we’re here now and we need to know how to handle everyday life.”

Politics play an important part in the meetings as well, especially in these partisan times. Decisions made at the federal level are often discussed and dissected around the small red tables with a scrutinous eye.

“We have heard enough from official, authoritative sources that try to smooth over things or lie,” explained Hawley. “We’ve experienced untruth’s from those in authority.” The regular members of the meeting each have their own opinions on the government and aren’t afraid to share them, likewise they are accepting of the discussion that stems from what they bring to the table.

Hawley said the group is set up to contemplate ideas such as whether or not the Gulf Stream has really stopped, affecting global climate, or other theories pushed away by the majority of society. And while they may not accept every theory mentioned during the meetings, she said the important thing is that they listen, and think.

“I don’t necessarily buy into everything I hear here,” said Hawley, “but I file them away and I try to bring various other things to people’s attention, so maybe they can see something and reflect. We’re not all the same mindset except in the general sense.”

The group meets on the first Thursday of each month to engage in these discussions led by John Moore, who shares his own thoughts and theories, while giving preparedness and survival tips. The meetings usually begin at 6 p.m. on the top floor of Benton Square.