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What's Happening in Medford OR?

From the May 26, 1998 Westergaard Year 2000 Y2K Tip of the Week #39

Y2K and Community Organizing

By Jim Lord

The following is a letter to the editor of the Mail Tribune newspaper in Medford, Oregon:

Medford, Oregon was recently the site of a remarkable
community event. More than seven hundred people gathered
together over a two-day period to learn how to protect their
families and communities from the effects of the Year 2000
Computer Crisis. It was the first such event held in the United

The undersigned are the speakers invited to conduct the eight
hours of meetings and seminar sessions offered to the public.
These are our observations.

First, the startling attendance indicated an intense level of community concern about the
Year 2000 Problem (also called Y2K). This impression was confirmed during several
lengthy question and answer sessions during which the audience revealed the nature and
extent of their concerns. Simply put, they were worried about the basic stuff of life. They
wanted to know if the Year 2000 Crisis might disrupt the availability of everyday
necessities such as electricity, food, water and medical treatment. There was considerable
anxiety that government might be unable to provide critical services such as Social
Security, Air Traffic Control and even military protection.

These high attendance numbers caught the local press by surprise. The seminar did receive
excellent coverage before the fact by this newspaper (two stories including a front pager) and
by the local broadcast media (four interviews). There was no press coverage, however, at the
three, large seminar sessions.

Some local political leaders were also caught unawares. The small city hall meeting in
Medford saw representation from Medford, Ashland, Grants Pass, Butte Falls and Jackson
County. Senator Smith (R-OR) sent a representative as well. As with the press, however,
few, if any of these leaders were present at the larger seminar sessions. Nonetheless, those
who did support the event are to be commended because Medford, and the surrounding area,
will soon be acclaimed as the first community in the nation with the vision to host a Y2K
preparedness event at its city hall.

The most surprising aspect of the Medford meetings was the broad diversity of the attendees.
All political and religious persuasions seemed to be there. Young, Generation X working
couples and Social Security recipients sat side by side in the audience. Environmental
activists rubbed elbows with blue-collar workers. Christians and libertarians joined in
serious conversation. New-age mystics and Joe Six Pack set aside their differences. For a day
and a half, it was a magical manifestation of community togetherness. Political leaders
across the country should take note of what took place in Medford. A powerful coalition for
good is standing ready to take on the "Millennium Bug."

What impressed us the most, however, was the remarkable impact one concerned individual
could have in a community. The Medford event was organized by Will Reishman, a local
investment counselor who simply cares about his neighbors. Under the sponsorship of Icare,
Inc. a charitable public service organization, he single-handedly willed the entire event into
being. All expenses were defrayed through donation and all were invited to attend without

The Medford Y2K Community Preparedness Seminar reminds us of these two simple
messages. The people do still care and one person can still make a difference.

The Year 2000 Computing Crisis poses a frightening threat to almost every aspect of our
way of life. Some believe it should be confronted with a remote cabin, a pile of dried food, a
big dog, and a shotgun. This strategy, although perhaps rational on an individual basis, is
unworkable for society as a whole.

Medford shows us why it is unnecessary.

Congratulations and thank you for caring.

Paloma O'Riley, Co-Founder, The Cassandra Project
Jim Lord, Author and Speaker on Y2K

Dateline: May 18, 1998
Contact: Will Reishman Tele: 541-734-5525


THE YEAR 2000 COMPUTER CRISIS received a full airing during a series of
meetings held in Medford, Oregon on Friday and Saturday, May 8 and 9.

Featured speaker, MR. JIM LORD, an electronics expert with 35-plus years of
professional experience (both as a USNavy officer and a civilian) is a
nationally- recognized expert on Y2K impact, and is the author of "A

Complimenting Lord's presentation was MRS. PALOMA O'RILEY, computer
professional and co-founder of THE CASSANDRA PROJECT, a non-profit
organization whose focus is to assist individual and community preparation
particularly as related to the health and public safety consequences of

On Friday morning, May 8, an introductory presentation held at Medford City
Hall and chaired by Jackson County Commissioner Ric Holt was attended by
over sixty public officials from both Jackson and Josephine counties, as
well as representatives of important valley-wide community services
(including RVMC, Access, Rogue Valley Manor, Rogue Federal Credit Union).

Toward the end of the presentation, Commissioner Holt surveyed the audience
and asked if government should take a lead in assessment as well as
providing solutions. A near-unanimous show-of-hands affirmed such a need as
a viable and appropriate direction for county, city, and community
organizations to take.

On Friday evening an expanded presentation for the general public held at
Medford First Church of the Nazarene from 7:00 until 10:00 p.m. resulted in
a substantial turnout of over 650 people.

Virtually all of that number were from the Greater Rogue Valley including
sizeable representation from Josephine County.

Smaller contingents from elsewhere in Oregon and northern California were
also in attendance.


The Friday night session was primarily devoted to giving participants an
understanding of why the year 2000 date changeover represents a significant
risk to essential community infrastructures, especially electrical power,
health-care delivery, food distribution, telecommunications, and financial
and banking services.


On Saturday Lord and O'Riley concentrated on providing participants with
strategies for individual and community Y2K readiness. There were
approximately 350 on hand for the morning session and about half that
number returned after lunch for a wide-ranging "Q & A" session.

A variety of contingency plans were outlined, including how to protect
yourself from the corruption of critical personal information due to
failures of third-party computer systems.

Many in the Saturday sessions were obviously concerned about the financial
implications of widespread computer failures and the impact, not only on
the financial markets, but on the banking system, retirement plans, and
government-financed retirement and health-care programs.


One of the most salient questions put to Mrs. O'Riley asked, "Let's say Y2K
does turn out to be severely disruptive to our way of life. What do I do,
if I have prepared for the worst, but my neighbors have not?"

O'Riley's response struck the key theme of this conference and emphasized
the urgent need to help our neighbors become as well prepared as possible
and to cooperate within neighborhoods and communities to supplement the
efforts of those with limited means. O'Riley stated,"We as individuals
will be safest when our neighbors are also safely prepared."

She went on to discourage understandable tendencies toward a "fox-hole" or
survivalist mentality, based on the very meaningful and substantial risks
the conference revealed.


Participants were provided an opportunity to become involved in a community
preparedness group. Over 100 returned detailed volunteer information
sheets for that purpose. (Participants were also given the option of
mailing forms to ICare, Inc.)


This report provided by Will Reishman. Video tapes of all sessions are
available. For further information, please contact Reishman (after 1:00
p.m.) at 541-734-5520 Fax: 541-734-5525, or by e-mail at

Dear Will Reishman,

We learned about the 700-person Medford Y2K meeting through John Steiner (and I read your article on the Westergaard website). We are very excited by the news. We are in the process of visualizing a local Y2K group while we work out broader Y2K-related actions as well, many focused on supporting local community Y2K work around the country. We expect the videos of your meetings would be very valuable in our efforts.

How much do they cost? How many hours are there? How can we order some or all of them?

Tom Atlee

From: "Reishman, William" <>
To: "'Tom Atlee'" <>
Subject: RE: Medford Y2K tapes
Date: Wed, 3 Jun 1998 14:16:02 -0500


Medford tapes available by sending $38 to: Harold Steward, PO Box 1516,
Medford, OR 97501.

Appreciate your kind thoughts re: our local experience being of some
value to others. However, just now my focus must be on local follow
through. It's one thing to have a meeting for which a lot of people
show up. Quite another to build an effective
alternative/supplemental/contingency-focused infrastructure. We have
only made a bare beginning. So honestly seems premature for Medford to
be all that helpful in this embryonic state. In time, perhaps.


Hosted by
* Rogue Valley Year 2000 Task Force (RV-Y2k Task Force) and
* United States Senator Gordon Smith,
Member of the Senate Special Committee
on the Year 2000 Technology Problem

Date: August 6, 1998
Time: 3:30 -- 5:00 p.m.
Location: DoubleTree Hotel, 200 North Riverside Avenue, Medford
FORMAT: Presentations followed by a Q & A

United States Senator, Gordon Smith, member of the Senate Special Committee
on Y2k, will be at the Double Tree Hotel in Medford Oregon on August 6 for
a Y2k SUMMIT to address the Year 2000 problem and its potential impact to
area citizens. In his remarks, Senator Smith will summarize various Senate
Hearings on Y2k, and provide a "status" report on compliance amongst
various government agencies.

Rogue Valley government and community leaders along with members of the
Rogue Valley Y2k Task Force will present an overview, specific to potential
Rogue Valley Y2k problems and solutions.

Both Senator Smith and the Panel of Presenters will be on hand to answer

WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION: Administrative Coordinator RV-Y2k Task Force
OPENING REMARKS: Senator Gordon Smith
PRESENTERS: Will Reishman, Chairman, RV-Y2k Task Force
and others to be announced.

Overview of Community Concerns and Response
Critical Infrastructure
Overview of Health Care Services and Delivery
Food Supply--Acquisition to Distribution
Regional Government Response

Principle areas of concern: Personal/Community Readiness; Contingency
Planning; Risk Management; Disaster Recovery Protocol; Food (availability,
storage, distribution); Impact of Critical Infrastructure-- Health-Care
Delivery, Medical Supplies/Services, the Power Grid, Transportation, and
other Critical Services.

Q & A: 35 minutes
At the conclusion of the presentations, questions from the floor may be
addressed to both Senator Smith and the Panel. If you would like to
register your question in advance of the Y2k Summit, please e-mail to:


SPECIAL NOTE: As a community service, the DoubleTree Hotel is providing
this meeting space at no charge.

RV-Y2k Task Force operates under the sponsorship of ICARE,
a 501c-3 non-profit organization. Our goal is to alert our
community to the potential risks of year 2000 problems and
to create tools for contingency planning, risk management and
disaster recovery protocol. We are deeply concerned about our
entire community, but especially the most vulnerable among us.

Our web-site (in its birthing stage) can be found at
<> and

you may reach us by e-mail at

Tax deductable donations may be mailed to
P O Box 4247,
Medford OR 97501.