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What Y2K/breakthrough activities might we engage in?

[Below is my way of looking at this. There are however many other approaches which I fully support and encourage you to check out.] [See also the list of Y2K Project ideas and my quick summary of Eight ways to deal with Y2K, once the chips are down.] (See also The Co-Intelligence Dimension of Y2K)

Here's the way I categorize such activities as of mid-May 1998 (revised early July). All these need to be done simultaneously.

  1. Process people's emotion and confusion
  2. Cultivate breakthrough understandings
  3. Stimulate breakthrough dialogue
  4. Build community
  5. Organize community self-reliance
  6. Cultivate breakthrough resources
  7. Create connections
  8. Resist cultural backsliding
  9. Promote positive government action

Below I discuss each item in more detail. In the future I will expand on these, discussing existing and potential Y2K/breakthrough projects.

1) PROCESS PEOPLE'S EMOTION AND CONFUSION -- using co-counselling, fear and empowerment sessions, process worldwork, fishbowl, videos, drama, all the arts, meditation and other spiritual practices, mass media, etc. And provide clear, dependable information about the problem and related possibilities to orient people. Dealing with emotions and confusions will often be a prerequisite to the other activities (listed below). On the other hand, its success will often depend on people working with each other to actually address the problem. Ultimately, emotion and confusion about Y2K need to be dealt with in the Y2K-impacted real world, or at least well grounded in that real world.

2) CULTIVATE BREAKTHROUGH UNDERSTANDINGS -- clarify the spiritual challenges presented by Y2K, the cultural assumptions and psycho/social dynamics and institutional arrangements that led to the problem, how these relate to what else is going on in our lives and the world, the mythic or developmental meaning of it all, alternative approaches and social visions, practical pathways to something better, and the problems people encounters as they try to move down those paths (and what to do about those problems). This is a vast arena with dozens of basic principles and thousands of ramifications, so there is no one right approach; only a self-organized, highly diverse meta-approach will work. Perhaps we should use the metaphor of a Y2K Tranformational University of Life -- involving a think-tank knowledge-development function, an educational knowledge-dissemination function, and a pilot project laboratory-out-in-the-field function to provide high-visibility experiments in new social forms, etc. With feedback between the field and the thinktank functions -- and lots of networking and information sharing among everyone -- the whole system becomes one of co-intelligent societal learning. And, of course, actual educational insitutions can be part of this.

3) STIMULATE BREAKTHROUGH DIALOGUE -- such as listening circles, study circles, open space conferences, world cafes, scenario-work, computer conferencing, civic journalism, etc., in which people can deal with these subjects and support each other in transforming themselves and their communties. This includes proxy forms of dialogue like citizen juries, wisdom councils and citizen technology-assessment panels -- whose members are drawn from the public, whose deliberations are visible to the public and whose results are available to the public for further dialogue. Some of this can be self-organized, but much of it requires facilitation, so existing facilitator networks need to be engaged, plus new facilitators trained soon.

4) BUILD COMMUNITY - small circles & storytelling, bridge-building among community factions, multi-stakeholder forums, community visioning/history/future search, building public spaces and the commons, engage diverse existing organizations and networks (especially neighborhood groups/activities and religious institutions).

5) ORGANIZE COMMUNITY SELF-RELIANCE - whatever will help a community supply its own food, water, waste management, transportation, health care, public safety and defense, shelter, energy, currency, communications, decision-making, statistical indicators, etc. -- whether or not the infrastructures currently supplying these fail on 1/1/2000. We aren't after community self-sufficiency (off the grid independence), but rather an increased capacity to rely on each other and one's community that will enhance a community's ability to manage whatever comes up. Things like co-ops, renewable energy, community gardening and composting (and community-supported agriculture), biopurification of water, local currency and trading systems, block organizations, etc. [At this stage of our social development, community self-reliance is very relative, especially in urban areas. To successfully navigate the Y2K rapids, minimal infrastructure should be in place, and this is dependent on government action. See #9 below.] (In Y2K and Our Big Bet, Larry Shook provides exciting evidence that we can establish decentralized, sustainable agriculture and energy systems throughout the U.S., if we just decide to do it in time. A visionary description of what real self-reliance would be like can be found in Protecting Ithaca from Computer Chaos by Paul Glover. See also The Year 2000 Problem and Sustainability for a more extensive discussion of this issue.)

6) CULTIVATE BREAKTHROUGH RESOURCES - Promote Y2K/breakthrough investing and philanthropic re-orientation; develop study materials, web sites, and alternative technology productivity; do community asset surveys...

7) CREATE CONNECTIONS - coalition building, conferences, internetworking. This is an opportunity for linking transformational agents (potential and existing) with each other and with mainstream agents, as well as with all other sectors and factions.

8) RESIST CULTURAL BACKSLIDING - We don't want local mafiaization and gangs, economic centralization, militarization, fascism, scapegoating, excessive survivalism, etc. Some of these involve our basically dysfunctional systems being reduced to the absurd, such as the flood of litigation that will result from Y2K. (Since it is obvious that both the overwhelming number of potential lawsuits and the efforts to prevent them are equally co-stupid, it is clearly time to transcend the assumptions of our legal system and find something more functional for all.) Successfully resisting cultural backsliding may also require providing active assistance in solving the Y2K computer problem in key systems to prevent real systemic collapse or to shore up particularly vulnerable systems such as small businesses, non-profit organizations and Third World (or former Soviet) countries whose demise from Y2K may empower already dominant powers.

9) PROMOTE POSITIVE GOVERNMENT ACTION - Most of the previous 8 actions are primarily grassroots efforts. But what various governments do -- especially the U.S. federal government -- can have a powerful influence for good (e.g., subsidies for sustainable technology) and/or ill (e.g., martial law). Governments could play a positive role in virtually all of the previous 8 actions, but is more likely to play a role in the latter ones. In particular, government action is required to ensure the basic survival needs of large urban populations are met, since metropolitan areas cannot survive without extensive infrastructure. Urban chaos could easily spread, negating every effort to create positive breakthroughs. And, of course, grassroots action is needed to push government into action. Further information and specific political agendas are available in The Y2K Political Action Project.

For strategies, click here.