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Y2K and community.

Could a technical failure lead to a social success?

Bill Ellis, Tranet PO Box 137 Rangeley ME 04970-0137 (207) 864-3784

Y2K is a real problem in a very limited time frame. No one knows exactly what will happen, but here are some very basic conclusions on Y2K that seem to be the general consensus:

* No one knows what will happen at midnight 1/1/00. Computer glitches could cause anything from a total long and lasting failure of our banking, production and distributions systems, to a few mild disturbances of our comfortable way of life.

* Disruption could be universal. No country, state, city or town is not in jeopardy. There could be no untouched area or sector in a position to send aid to other affected regions of the world.

* Individual survivalism could bring chaos. Hoarding food, protecting home or homestead with firearms, escaping society ... these cannot protect anyone from a system breakdown. Panic hoarding is a bigger danger than the potential computer system breakdown.

We cannot count on the media, the governments, or the corporations to prepare for Y2K. Not only is there little profit or power to be gained from Y2K, but the "leaders" fear panic, and they have no solutions within their realms of power.

* There will be an increasing concern from 1/1/99 to 1/1/00. Look to the press to replace the Lewinsky/ Starr entertainment/news with Y2K about April, and for panic hoarding to start about July, with an increasing crescendo to be reached 1/1/00.

To these conclusions I would add:

1) This is not a computer problem. It will not be over one way or another on 1/1/00. It is a globalization problem.

In the past century there have been increasing trends away from self-reliant communities to an economic system in which we are all dependent on resources beyond our control, even beyond our knowledge. The world has become a single network of material interdependence. A glitch in any part of the network could shut down the whole system. A dip in the stock market, global warming, the failure of any corporate conglomerate, the end of oil, or any other disruption of the system would have the same disruptive effect as is predicted for Y2K.

2) Individual actions are absolutely necessary. Every one of us must think and act in ways to be more self-reliant. Talking in generalities helps only a little. We need to know in detail what to do. How do I: turn my lawn into a vegetable garden? Dry, can or rootcellar my produce? Homeschool? Homestead? Take a home health program? Reduce my energy consumption? Purchase a camp stove and solar battery charger? Have enough cash to get through? Make sure my banking, investment, and credit systems are safe?

3) Community activities are absolutely necessary. How does my neighborhood or community: Establish a food co-op? Set up a LETS, barter, local scrip, or time dollar system? Start a Grameen Bank? Begin a community patrol? Build an ecovillage or co-housing unit? Organize community owned corporations and cooperatives? Bring in a farmers' market or Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)? Found a community loan fund? Or otherwise become a resilient community?

We have less than 300 days before Y2K tests our ability to be prepared. There is much we can do to get ready for this and any other disruption to "the global system" that nature could throw our way. We need to exchange information and prepare how-to instructions on the things individuals can do.

But more than that we have to start building the self-reliant communities and a global network of communities which are not subject to the collapse typified by Y2K.

The good news is that the base for that new communal society has already been started. LETS, CSAs, ESOPS, food co-ops, homesteading, co-housing, homeschooling, eco-villages, citizen patrols, CLTs, Cooperative Community Life-Long Learning Centers (CCL-LLCs), local scrips, solar power, wind energy, farmers' markets and community gardens are already in operation in almost every state of the union and many other nations.

The first step is to learn all we can about these social innovations and work with our neighbors to see how they would apply to our community.

Y2K may wake the world up to the dangers of globalization; it may remind the world of the community resources we depended on on 1/1/00 (1900) and how they have been slowly taken from us since then. With luck, and a lot of work by a lot of us, our neighborhoods and our communities will take over from the unstable and unsustainable economic system that is beyond control and now enslaves US.

Some Web sites already working on community resilience are: http:// http:/ / http://

Y2K is both a challenge and an opportunity. In the next year we will learn how to create community solidarity and how to become self-reliant. We have much to do and little time to waste.

Since its inception at the U.N. Conference on Human Settlement in Vancouver in 1976, TRANET has been helping concerned global citizens exchange ideas and techniques which empower people at the grassroots and promote local community self-reliance. It believes the whole Earth is in a period of transition from the homocentric industrial culture based on self-interest, survival of the fittest, and materialism, to an ecocentric Gaiain culture based on belonging, cooperation, community and mutual respect.
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Title Annotation:year 2000 computer program could be good for society
Author:Ellis, Bill
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Mar 1, 1999
Previous Article:Mini-Farming: A farming system for a sustainable future.
Next Article:Farm becomes a school to share homestead skills.

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