Session 5 -- Organizing for Sustainable Community
We know better than to expect very soon a working model of a conserving global corporation. But we must begin to expect ñ and we must, as conservationists, begin working for, and in -- working models of conserving local economies. These are possible now. (Wendell Berry)
Self-centered, isolationist approaches will be futile. We are all in this together, and facing it together in a spirit of cooperation and helpfulness will provide our greatest chance for success. (Thomas H. Greco, Jr.)
The best antidote for despair is
action. (Judy Bari)
Thinking about how to be involved in community organizing for Y2K.
Reflecting on the possibility of moving Y2K preparation toward sustainable human community.
Considering principles and strategies
for developing sustainable communities.
"Possible Y2K Scenarios," Doug Mosel.
"The Ethics of Permaculture" and "The Four 'System Conditions' of The Natural Step."
"The Choice for a Sustainable World" (selection), Joanna Macy, Coming Back to Life, New Society Publishers, 1998.
"Y2K And the Great Hawaiian Toilet Paper Panic," Donella Meadows.
"Finding Each Other in Hard Times," Cynthia Beal.
"Living Lightly on the Earth," Carol Tashel.
"Community Food Security: Growing Back to the Earth," Christopher D. Cook & John Rodgers, Earth Island Journal, Fall 1997.
"Feed Yourself, Save A Farmer," Larry Shook on Carla Emory's proposal.
"Ears to Hear," Donna Bosn, EarthLight, Winter 1998-99.
"Local Currency Groups in Northern
California," and "Resource Guide to Thinking New About
Community," Sojourn, Fall 1998.
What issues do we need to consider as we think about preparing for Y2K in a way that moves in the direction of sustainable community? What are the possible consequences of our choices? This session explores the questions, offers examples of what other communities and neighbor-hoods are doing, and provides ideas and resources for building community and sustainability while preparing for Y2K.
Summaries of the "ethics" of permaculture and the "system conditions" of The Natural Step can serve as powerful principles on which to build our visions for sustainable community as well as a framework to guide preparation for Y2K. With inspirational words Joanna Macy assures us that "choosing life" leads to courage and solidarity and ultimately to "ecological revolution."
If we choose instead to panic or to arm ourselves, Y2K will be a disaster, warns Donella Meadows. She recommends community-wide efforts to get ready rather than preparing individually or doing nothing.
Y2K as a temporary but powerful opportunity to redirect our attention to healing and acting together for our common good, according to Cynthia Beal. She also implies that we have much to learn by being inclusive of the poor in our organizing efforts.
Carole Tashel describes an example of a group that demonstrates its commitment to the principles of sustainability through a cooperative loan fund, which is spent on, for example, rainwater storage, solar energy or retrofitting existing technology.
Cook and Rodgers tell about ways to build "food security" through sustainable relationships between small food producers and communities, schools or foodbanks, by organizing, for example, CSAs ñ community supported agriculture arrangements. (The Community Food Security Act provides $16 million in grants through 2002 to community-based food programs.)
Carla Emery proposes a network that will enable the purchase of grains and legumes directly from farmers.
Numerous communities across the U.S. are preparing for Y2K, using a variety of strategies, some of which include emphasis on sustainability. Donna Bosn describes how her anticipation of the problem has led her to help her neighbors prepare. Medford, OR used a large-group gathering to focus its efforts; Boulder, CO has built a collaborative network of individuals and organizations; Napa, CA provides action steps for neighborhood preparation; Sonoma Y2K is sponsoring community-wide "Y2K Practice Days"; Olympia, WA has linked Y2K preparedness with planning for a sustainable city. A list of Northern California local currency groups and resources for thinking about community are provided.
Kathy Garcia, neighborhood organizer
with Boulder County Y2K, provides practical tips for getting started
in your own neighborhood, while offers
Paloma OíRiley's (the Cassandra Project) tips for preparation ñ along with four "green principles"
that support community and sustainability. The Personal
Survey and Inventory of Physical Surroundings
forms are helpful resources.
OPENING THE CIRCLE
ENTERING THE CONVERSATION (Each person responds)
What would a sustainable community look like to you?
QUESTIONS TO DEEPEN THE STUDY
1. Do you agree with the assertion that
it makes more sense to prepare for Y2K as a community?
2. How could preparing together for Y2K make your community more resilient?
3. What do you see as the relationship between Y2K preparation and living more sustainably?
4. Looking at the "Y2K Scenarios" diagram, what would have the greatest effect in moving your community toward sustainability? What could be under way
or accomplished by the end of 1999?
5. What could cause panic in your neighborhood? What do you think could prevent it under the same circumstances?
6. What do you have to contribute to preparation in your neighborhood or community?
7. How could food security be improved where you live? How/where could you make space for growing food?
8. What Y2K organizing examples make most sense for your community?
9. How would applying the permaculture ethics and The Natural Step system conditions affect your preparation for Y2K?
WHAT ACTIONS COULD BE TAKEN?
REFLECTING ON THE
CONVERSATION (Each person responds)
CLOSING THE CIRCLE OR RITUAL (See "Ritual Resources")
What steps, if any, could you take to help your neighborhood or community prepare for Y2k and move toward sustainability?
RESOURCES & LINKS
"Surviving the Year 2000,"
video, Jim Lord and Jack Cashill; $20 - Portland-Metro Citizen
Y2K Task Force, 5540 N.E. Sandy Blvd. Portland, OR 97213.
"Year 2000 Home Preparation Guide," video, Edward & Jennifer Yourdon,; $19.95, Y2K Solutions, 800-285-7776.
"City Farmers, Survival in the Urban Landscape," video. $60 - 31 min., $70 ñ 77 min., 413-528-4839.
Green Action Guide: Steps to Sustainable Living," "how-to" action book, $25, 415-546-1231.
Survival Guide for the Year 2000 Problem, Jim Lord & Edward Sapp, J. Marion Publishers, 1998.
Don't Get Caught With Your Pantry Down!, Historical Publications, Inc., 800-880-6789.
Making the Best of Basics: Family Preparedness Handbook, James Stevens, Penguin, 1992.
Y2K Citizenís Action Guide, Utne Reader, $4.95 for single copies (at your local independent bookstore).
Co-op America Quarterly, Spring 1999, $3.50, (202) 872-5307.
Communities, Winter 1998, $5.50 (at your local independent bookstore).