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Grassroots and Governments Collaborate to Prepare Their Communities for Y2K


Dear friends,

The following was researched and written quickly about a month ago by myself and one of the founders of Oakland 2001, Rosa Zubizarreta, for the next edition of NATIONAL CIVIC REVIEW (the quarterly journal of the century-old National Civic League, whose members include officials, academics and community activists). We have finally gotten permission to share it with you. You can pass it on as long as the citation at the end is included and the article is used for your Y2K organizing work and not for profit. I believe it represents a kind of research and compilation and intra-movement feedback that we could use A LOT MORE OF, should any of you be interested in funding and/or doing it.




by Tom Atlee and Rosa Zubizarreta

It is by now a truism that times of crisis provide both challenges and opportunities. The risk to our society's well-being posed by the Year 2000 computer problem is proving to be no exception. While the challenges posed by the Y2K bug are great, we are also being offered an unprecedented opportunity for renewed civic participation and for collaboration among different social sectors as we come together in order to provide for the common good. The various examples of communities preparing for Y2K featured in this article illustrate some of the learnings that are taking place in this process of different sectors working together for the well-being of the whole.

Part of what makes civic participation so compelling to those who have become aware of the Y2K problem is the very nature of the risks we are facing with this crisis. As we look deeply at the very real possibilities of infrastructure failure, the ethic of participatory democracy becomes not merely an abstract good, but instead a vital necessity. Paradoxically, the possibility of breakdown gives rise to a sense of empowerment, as we become aware that a significant part of the responsibility and authority to initiate action may fundamentally rest on us -- whoever we happen to be.

As we shall see in the following examples, the sense of responsibility felt by community members responding to the Y2K threat has given rise to relationships with local government that are characterized much more by collaboration and collegiality than by opposition. Yet it is not a traditional kind of collaboration, with government in a paternalistic role vis a vis community groups. Instead, it is often a collaboration that has been in many ways marked by community groups taking the moral lead, putting "positive pressure" on local government, and proceeding with their own work while steadfastly inviting cooperation from local officials. Less often, but equally remarkable, are the cases where government officials have taken initiative to rally the grassroots to action.

Part of the widespread spirit of "openness to collaboration" with government that has marked so much Y2K community organizing may be due simply to a recognition that there is so much work to do that any contributions on the part of the government are very welcome. Yet much of this spirit may also come from a void in leadership which leads us as community members to take on responsibilities normally held by government, instead of merely "opposing" or "making demands" upon it. There may well be a lesson in here that the more a sense of responsibility is shared, the greater the sense of collaboration.

Another valuable opportunity offered by Y2K is the invitation to become intimately acquainted with our communities' current infrastructure, while maintaining a systemic focus on our communities' interdependence with the larger society. This awakening of consciousness about the current organization of our physical existence is encouraging us to engage in a public dialogue about how we can intelligently redesign our communities to better meet our needs, in ways that are sustainable, resilient, and equitable. Just as Y2K is not a purely technical problem, neither is it merely a temporary and passing crisis. Instead, we are being presented with the opportunity to recognize and attend to the structural weaknesses of our current system -- weaknesses which will continue to exist until they are adequately addressed.

As of this writing (April 1), much of the effort in the Y2K movement is going into basic community preparedness. It well may be that the major part of our focus at this point needs to be on the short-term project of ensuring a smooth transition into the future, whatever that future might be, before we are in a position to devote our collective attention to the larger task of creating truly sustainable systems. Yet one of the lessons of Y2K is that the larger task that awaits us cannot be postponed indefinitely. And it is our hope that, through deepening our civic participation and our collaboration skills in the immediate work of community preparedness, we will be much better positioned for the long-term work of creating resilient communities.

Oakland, CA: Community members encourage local government to consider wider implications of the Y2K problem

The first organized Y2K community effort in Oakland, CA began in late November of 1998, when a few concerned residents started a local organization called Oakland 2001 and began hosting public meetings. The goals of Oakland 2001 were fourfold: to provide opportunities for people to meet, network, and become informed; to promote the formation of local neighborhood preparedness groups; to support collaboration among the community, non-profit, and local government; and to advocate at a city-wide level for Y2K community education.

At one of our first meetings, we made contact with a concerned resident of Oakland, who had received an invitation to attend the City of Oakland's official Y2K Task Force as a response to several letters of concern he had written to the mayor. When he learned of our group's existence, he extended this invitation to us. At the time we joined this Task Force, run by the city's Office of Information Technology, its mandate had just recently been expanded from internal remediation of the city government's own computers to include the issue of embedded chips.

From the beginning, we citizens saw our job on this Task Force as one of respectfully raising the broader questions about the well-being of the city as a whole, beyond the necessary but limited focus on the city government's internal functioning. When we started raising our concerns about how Y2K was going to affect the social well-being -- the health and human services aspect -- of the residents of Oakland, the Task Force was very welcoming, and responded by asking us to write a community outreach plan. This was very useful, because it gave us the opportunity and the incentive to sit down and think about the details of what should be done.

However, from the beginning, we felt concerned that this Task Force, as originally constituted, did not have the background, power, or resources to adequately address the larger issues of community preparedness. At that point in time, the City Council was slowly realizing the larger social dimensions of Y2K -- yet its response was simply to add on to the responsibilities of this original Task Force, which had initially been constituted with a much more limited mandate. While the Task Force was composed of representatives from different departments of the city government, these representatives were primarily responsible for technical support and infrastructure. In the meantime, the city's Office of Emergency Services was beginning to realize that it made more sense for community preparedness efforts to be coordinated through its department. Yet the transition was not a simple nor smooth one.

At the further request of the Task Force, Oakland 2001 had turned our community education plan into a proposal. As this proposal wound its way through the different government offices that needed to approve it, it served as a catalyst for the process of clarifying the scope of the problem and re-thinking the appropriate levels at which it needed to be addressed. At the same time, of course, the proposal's approval, funding, and implementation were significantly delayed as it became entangled in the political process. Fortunately, as community activists we were not waiting for the government to approve our proposal, but instead were continuing to work as best we could on various projects.

One of the very significant efforts was that of Oakland Prepared Neighbors (OPN), another local Y2K organization that grew out of the work of folks who attended some of Oakland 2001's first meetings and became inspired to organize their neighborhoods. As part of this work, Chuck Eckerman launched a large community forum where government officials were invited to speak and address the questions and concerns of neighborhood residents. This was a crucial element in helping government understand the scope of the problem, and led to the formation of OPN as coalition of local neighborhood associations and churches in the Piedmont area of Oakland. OPN has continued organizing its own area on a block-by-block basis, is reaching out to help organize neighboring areas in the city, and is collaborating with Oakland 2001 on city-wide advocacy efforts.

In addition to our work with the Task Force, our community groups have been working with the Office of Emergency Services. From our inception, we have been recommending that residents participate in CORE, Citizens of Oakland Respond to Emergencies, a free training program offered to residents by OES. In February, Rebecca Kaplan of Oakland 2001 began working with CORE to host a Y2K Preparedness Faire on the occasion of their annual April outreach event.

As of this writing, both Oakland 2001 and OPN are participating in a new government-community coalition that has just been formed in order to do the work of Y2K public education on a city-wide level. This group, the City of Oakland Y2K Community Preparedness Partnership, will be managed out of the Office of Emergency Services, and will include participants from various branches of the city government as well as various sectors of the community. Part of the goal of this group will be to mobilize all the resources that the city may already have to contribute to a public education campaign.

For example, social service workers might be mobilized to take Y2K information into client's homes, and schools might also be invited take part in this effort. And, we have recently heard rumors that our Mayor may be waking up to the seriousness of the Y2K problem, and may be willing to mobilize his network of neighborhood organizations for community education and outreach. So at this point in time, the outlook is fairly positive in terms of effective collaboration with our local government.

In addition to spearheading the work of public education for preparedness, the Office of Emergency Services is considering taking responsibility for actually monitoring city-wide preparedness. In addition to its current plans of sending out questionnaires to small businesses which store hazardous materials, it is considering sending out questionnaires to apartment managers, retirement home managers, and other residential complexes, in order to assess their degree of readiness. Similarly, it is considering maintaining a data base on the reported readiness of non-profit service providers who service vulnerable populations.

At the same time, we still do not know where responsibility will lie for the work of integrated risk assessment and city-wide contingency planning. Back in February, the OIT Task Force hosted a Regional Roundtable, to which it invited representatives from local utility companies, transportation, hospitals, banks, etc., as well as representatives from Y2K community groups. At the end of April, many of these entities will gather once again for a Tabletop Drill hosted by OES, and we have been informed that a great deal depends on the outcome of this upcoming drill. Yet as community groups we would feel much safer if these different organizations were already coordinating with each other in a regular, organized, and ongoing manner, and we hope that this next level of coordination will be put in place soon.

In terms of local neighborhood organizing, one of our on-going concerns as Oakland 2001 is that the communities that are becoming the most organized tend to be the more affluent communities. In order to address this problem, we are continuing our two-pronged effort of reaching out to local government, while at the same time proceeding along as best we can. On the official front, we have approached a Councilperson who represents one of the less affluent districts of the City, and offered to help host a large neighborhood forum in his district. At the same time, we are continuing our own outreach efforts, and have recently received an invitation from a local community organizer to coordinate a Y2K presentation at her church, one of the larger mainstream African-American congregations. And, we are continuing our outreach to community organizations in the Spanish-speaking Fruitvale area of Oakland.

One of our hopes when we began organizing is that the City would capitalize on its leverage as a potential catalyst for change by inviting leaders of faith-based and community-based organizations to the table, in order to encourage their participation in the work of community preparedness. At this point, there does not yet appear to be much leadership from the city in this regard. However, a local non-profit agency that coordinates non-profits' emergency response, Community Agencies Responding to Disaster (CARD), seems to be stepping up to the plate, and taking responsibility for the work of doing Y2K outreach to community-based organizations. We are very encouraged by their efforts, especially since we have been developing a relationship with them since December, when we invited them to our first Oakland 2001 meeting. Subsequently, we attended one of their cluster meetings, sent them copies of our education plan and proposal, and gave a presentation to them on the importance of Y2K community education.

Finally, one area remains to be addressed is the kind of planning for community resilience that would help mitigate possible long-term effects of the Y2K crisis. For example, one of the potential risks of Y2K is a severe impact to the economy, from unprepared small businesses going under, disruptions in international trade, breakdowns in supply lines, etc. There are many longer-term projects that could help mitigate the worst effects of these possible crises, from wide-spread community gardening and canning projects, to fostering the growth of import-substitution enterprises, to the creation of local currency systems. (For an excellent compendium of these community survival strategies, see Going Local: Creating Self-Reliant Communities in a Global Age, by Michael Shuman.) For these much-needed projects to be initiated in a timely fashion, however, we would need the coming together of longer-range planning skills and vision with a sharp awareness of the social vulnerabilities posed by Y2K. Emergency-management personnel would not be the most likely to initiate this longer-term work. However, it does need to be begun immediately and in parallel with the shorter-term work of public education and preparedness. While we cannot afford to wait, we do continue to hope that our current mayor will soon begin providing leadership for this level of community preparedness, and bring to the table his extensive understanding of how to build sustainable and resilient communities.


Overall, we'd like to recommend two two-pronged approaches to Y2K community organizing -- the first involves how we work, the second involves where we focus.

HOW WE WORK -- The two prongs here are initiative and collaboration. It is vitally important that initiative be taken by whomever feels moved to act, and that they act within whatever conditions exist, with whomever they can, using whatever opportunities avail themselves, without waiting for permission, authorization, support, or anything else. There isn't time to waste waiting for others to catch up. This is true no matter which sector initiates Y2K preparedness efforts -- lone citizens, grassroots organizations, government officials, media, businesses, schools, religious institutions, whatever.

And yet, as important as initiative is, we want to stress that the other prong -- collaboration -- is equally important: It is absolutely vital that continuous outreach be done to invite the missing sectors to join the effort. It is particularly important to involve the citizenry, on the one hand, and the media and government, on the other. Y2K is too complex to manage without the creative cooperation of the citizenry. And experience has shown that lone Y2K preparedness groups can't get very far without the legitimacy and outreach capacity offered by government and media. If the initiative comes from the top, it needs to be met by citizen action from the bottom. If the initiative comes from the bottom, it needs to be met by government action from the top.

However, waiting for other sectors to respond -- or for the ideal conditions for collaboration to emerge -- may prove futile. In addition to one's openness to the involvement of other sectors, one's day-to-day work as the initiating party actually helps create the conditions necessary to bring the other sectors to the table. So one must do both simultaneously -- take initiative and nurture collaboration.

Perhaps the most common form this takes is the establishment of roundtables or task forces containing leading representatives of the various sectors and stakeholders involved in Y2K impacts, whose task it is to piece together the whole picture of what they face and to take action on behalf of the whole community of which they are all a part. Such a group can be convened by someone from virtually any sector.

WHERE WE FOCUS -- The two prongs here are county/state and municipality/neighborhood. The predominant emergency preparedness organization is the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) network that runs from Washington through the states to the county level, where it is housed in the Sheriff's Department. These folks have the power to bypass municipal officials and networks and grassroots efforts in the event of a declared emergency. On the other hand, in many cases they are more willing than other officials to think about Y2K because they "THINK public emergency" on a daily basis. (That said, however, emergency officials often have to struggle to come to terms with the fact that Y2K differs in critical ways from earthquakes, floods and storms -- such as the real possibility that significant outside help may not be available for weeks or more, since many areas may be hit by Y2K simultaneously.) In some areas citizens identify strongly with their county government, and vice versa, making county-level organizing a natural focus. In other areas, conscious effort must be made to include county (and state) authorities in Y2K preparations. County-level organizing is also important since so many vital factors (hospitals, utilities, toxic threats, etc.) are shared on at least the county level and so cannot be dealt with at lower levels of governance.

On the other hand, most people identify their city, town, borough, or neighborhood as "their place." This is the level at which they can imagine participating in preparedness. And that participation is vital. In an emergency, people who aren't effective, active players often become problems or clients for those who ARE active players. The more effective, active participants, the less dead weight they have to carry. In a complex, ubiquitous problem like Y2K breakdowns, we would want as many effective, active participants as we can get. Their effectiveness will only be assured by advanced preparation, and their active participation will only be evoked by early involvement in that preparation.

County officials neglect the active potential role of the population at their peril. Citizen groups and city governments ignore the county's established role at their peril. If they each work with the other well, they'll usually find a powerful ally and resource. Hopefully, everyone involved will encourage action (initiative and cooperation) at both the state/county level AND the city/citizen level.

A final and very simple lesson is that Y2K panic is best prevented not by withholding vital information or by acting as if everything is under control from the top, but by actively educating and engaging the public in preparedness activities. The most potent healer of anxiety is effective action, especially when that action is taken with other people who share the risks and effort involved. In fact, few things bring people together and heal community better than vital shared undertakings. In this sense, Y2K could be treated as a gigantic opportunity.


FOUR DIFFERENT CASE STUDIES: Some lessons and best practices

Here are four particularly notable cases where these principles are working.


Marin County, CA -- Citizens and their government start together

Across San Francisco Bay from Oakland lies Marin County. In October 1998 two independent events occurred on this largely affluent peninsula: (1) their Civil Grand Jury released findings entitled "The Millennium: Is Marin County Ready for this Non-Negotiable Deadline?" (their answer was, basically, "not really") and (2) a handful of citizens came together to form a community preparedness group called Marin Y2K Action. The Grand Jury report recommended (among other things) that a countywide task force be established to coordinate Y2K efforts and engage in contingency planning. In December the Board of Supervisors and the Office of the County Administrator ordered it done, and thirty people representing a broad spectrum of public and private interests -- including a member of Marin Y2K Action -- were finally brought together in March 1999. (Note the five-month lag between the initial mandate for this task force and its first meeting. Everyone involved in such work needs to remember that the normally-appropriate slowness of some government machinery can become a problem in this case, as time runs out for Y2K preparations.)

Luckily, the Director of the Marin County Sheriff's Office of Emergency Services and Marin Y2K Action were not waiting for other parts of the government to take action. They worked together to publish "Preparing for the Year 2000: A Household Guide" and to produce two major Y2K forums, one for municipal employees and the other for the public -- and getting an edited videotape of the latter into all county libraries. Marin Y2K Action members are training to be part of Neighborhood Emergency Response Teams (NERT), so that they are well positioned to help -- and to bridge between their communities and the authorities -- should major disruptions occur.

Among the contributions of other sectors: The non-profit Social Justice Center of Marin played a critical role by providing a regular meeting space for Marin Y2K Action -- and the local daily paper ran a five-part series on Y2K at the end of December 1998.

The tendency of Marin citizens to identify with their county helped focus action at the county level. Still, some Marin Y2K activists believe they should have held more forums in the towns and cities sooner. They also believe that full-time Y2K preparedness staff and administrative help in all sectors is vital to success. But even with limited funds they've succeeded partly by encouraging the people who join them to create whatever task forces and discussion groups they want to have, generating a wide variety of activities.


Norfolk, Nebraska: A city official wakes up citizens -- and they get moving!

The creative initiative in this city of 24,000 came from city administrator Mike Nolan, who pulled together 200 citizens, businesspeople and politicians for an all-day Y2K meeting on September 30, 1998. Nolan got local corporations and the town council to co-sponsor it. He invited two leading spokespeople for Y2K preparedness -- John Peterson, co-author of the influential "The Year 2000 Problem: Social Chaos or Social Transformation" and Douglass Carmichael, scenario-spinner and publisher of a widely-respected Y2K weekly bulletin. By the time the audience had heard the presentations from Peterson and Carmichael and a panel which included local power, water and sewer utilities, the bank, and the police and fire chief, they were really concerned. At that point Carmichael proposed an innovative form of instant community organizing that proved quite successful, based on a conferencing technique called "open space." His introduction to this process is so clear, we're reprinting it here for use by others:

"We need your help," Carmichael told the crowd. "We're near the end of the day and I need your leadership to help get us organized. Mike needs more infrastructure to help cope with the y2k issues. I want you to be thinking of what topic you would be willing to lead a small group around. Here is what we'll do. When I am done explaining, I'll ask you come forward and write your topic on one of these sheets of paper, sign your name, and tape it to this front wall. Announce the topic in the mike so everyone can hear, and the rest of you be thinking about what's missing from the topics you've heard so far. When we have all the ideas up, then we'll all go to the wall and sign up for the group we want to go to. I'll number the sheets 1, 2, 3, and so on, and when you're done signing up, then move to the groups. The 1s will meet over there (Doug pointed), 2s there , 3s over there When the group meets make sure you get the name, phone and email for each person. Your only other group task will be to arrange another meeting sometime in the next ten days. We will post the lists of meetings and participants in the newspaper tomorrow." "The key," says Carmichael, "is to allow the town people to set up the categories for meeting groups they want, and to frame it as an increase in infrastructure which increases the capacity of the town to respond to y2k."

Fourteen groups resulted -- one led by the police chief -- covering everything from emergency shelter to water to care for the elderly to the spiritual impact of Y2K. The whole process from briefing to completion took 45 minutes -- and 120 people signed up! The new group leaders were mandated to plan the next big town meeting. The local public TV station taped the whole event for broadcast. And now local ministers are helping educate the public.... The emergency coordinator meets bi-weekly with police, fire and utility officials.... The town has produced a model Year 2000 Readiness Plan.... A Y2K simulation is being organized....


Kauai: Some citizens wake up the mayor -- and she gets moving!

A frightened Y2K survivalist on this Hawaiian island suddenly realized the dead-end nature of individual Y2K solutions. He organized a group of people to prepare themselves together. Soon they realized that they wouldn't succeed without engaging their whole community. They formed the Community Self Reliance Cooperative (CSRC) and managed to convince the campaigning incumbent mayor, Ms. Marianne Kusaka, that Y2K was an important issue.

Shortly before the election, at the urging of CSRC, the mayor convened a closed-door meeting of county, business, utility, health care and media leaders as well as CSRC "citizens' representatives." Since the meeting was confidential, all concerned could speak without fear of litigation -- and together they learned sobering facts about the state of their community's preparedness. After the meeting the mayor convened a community-wide gathering and announced her goal of "community compliance" for Kauai, which CSRC organizer Karlos deTreaux described as involving "the entire community at a grass-roots door to door level. It would mean a 'whole systems' approach that must involve the integration of many ideas that are certainly not new -- such as community gardens, first aid education, neighborhood based methods of voluntary water and power rationing, CB and short-wave communication systems, and the serious exploration of alternative energy and transportation strategies -- but have never before been blended and integrated into a specific need-based package that must be delivered before an exact deadline."

The mayor continued the closed door meetings so that all sectors of society and commerce on Kauai could be in close contact with each other. The grassroots group began preparing for a door-to-door survey to map the resources and special needs of people in Kauai's communities.


Boulder: The City and County work hand-in-hand with citizens

Activists in Boulder, Colorado, kicked off their community organizing with a national Y2K community preparedness conference in August, 1998, co-sponsored by the City of Boulder and held on the University of Colorado campus. Near the end of that gathering, they sorted local attendees by Zip Code to organize neighborhood preparedness groups. Since then, a number of businesses have proven quite supportive -- including a local Safeway store putting awareness campaign fliers in customers' grocery bags, and a local mall donating a storefront for the Y2K community group to use. The city government publicizes their meetings, the county government formally recognized them, and both governments are publishing a "Neighborhood Disaster Preparedness" booklet the citizens' group helped design and will be doing an "official" education and awareness campaign. The Dept. of Health co-sponsored an event for healthcare professionals and the Housing Authority is working with the Y2K group to prepare elderly and low income residents: the government sets up the meetings and the local community group does the presentations. The local paper continually covers their activities.

The county in which the city of Boulder is located contains 290,000 inhabitants. In order to address Y2K issues at a county level, the pre-existing Multiple Agency Coordination Services (MACS) group expanded its membership and began to hold much more frequent meetings. At this point in time, the MACS group is meeting almost every week, and it has between 40 to 50 members. Represented on this group are Fire, Police, the local University, the Civilian Air Patrol, the National Guard, the local Community Food Bank, the planning departments of each of the 12 municipalities within the County, the local School District, area hospitals, the local phone company, and the electrical utility. Local Y2K community organizations have three seats on this group. The work of the MACS group includes community education and preparedness, risk assessment and mitigation, and contingency planning.


There are many other notable city and county Y2K efforts...

In Santa Cruz County, California, two groups formed independently and then started working together -- one business and technically-oriented, and the other made up of seasoned community activists. Local media have been very supportive: the public radio station broadcast their very successful Y2K town meeting while local periodicals have interviewed them or printed articles written by them. An elementary school sent home Y2K meeting fliers with its students. The county Office of Emergency Services, the local Red Cross and at least 2 of their 5 local cities have endorsed their work.

Spokane, Washington is home of Robert Theobald, whose idea of "resilient communities" has been taken up by hundreds of Y2K community activists. It is also the home of the publishers of "Awakening: The Upside of Y2K," an influential book about positive approaches to Y2K. The Spokane Chamber of Commerce has done Y2K education. The government has been Y2K-aware for some time, requiring businesses who do work for the city and county of Spokane to be Y2K compliant. The city has recognized the local group as an official task force and provided them with some funding.

Tampa Bay, Florida, county governments have been very responsive to initiatives from their local Y2K group, Tampa Bay Y2K: Preparing for the Future. Hillsborough County did a test of contingencies with about 150 different groups, including utilities, sewers, phones, hospitals, and the National Guard. Pinellas County is enclosing a Y2K guide in their hurricane preparation materials. Government officials attend the grassroots meetings, and the Red Cross has been very cooperative. Senator John Grant's office has been a sponsor. Local TV has covered their events and a local weekly paper has announced those events.

In Juneau, Alaska, the initiative has come from individual citizens who haven't formed a group. One of them convened meetings for media and government representatives, which led to the creation of the city's official Y2K task force -- on which some Y2K-concerned citizen sit. It also led to dramatically increased media coverage: the local paper runs Y2K articles regularly and the main AM station has a monthly Y2K call-in show.

As of this writing, there are over 200 other Y2K community groups in the United States, with more sprouting up every week. We couldn't possibly cover them all. In fact, no one can keep track of them, since they arise quite spontaneously, often with no one else even knowing they're there. Those of us who have been activists all our lives have never seen anything like it.

Finally, we should note that the Web has played a major role in keeping this movement alive and informed. Interestingly, that role has gone beyond the usual information sharing. Here are just a few examples of the kind of imaginative tools Y2K community activists have created to help each other:

-- Napa Valley, California, Y2K group created a "steal this website." They invite any other community to adopt parts or all of their generic website as a template, and then add their own information about local meetings and conditions. (

-- Newport, Oregon, stole Napa's website -- and went a step further. They created a web page listing every city in their county and invited citizens' Y2K groups in those cities to create their own local web pages linked to this master list -- an idea that apparently didn't get take up (but there's still time!). (

-- The Millennium Salons provide a forum in which anyone can ask questions about Y2K preparedness and get answers from other visitors to the Salons -- an electronic "each one teach one" program with useful, organized archives. (

-- Any Y2K community group can register their existence with the on-line Cassandra Project so that people in their local area can contact them. Probably more than any other site, the Cassandra Project has mothered the community preparedness movement into existence with tons of networking and how-to information. (

-- The Y2K Community website offers tools, articles and links for Y2K community-builders worldwide -- including a page of group and community processes to enhance a community's ability to self-organize effectively for Y2K preparedness and resilience. It is a sister site to Robert Theobald's Resilient Communities site. ( &

-- Coalition 2000 is a network of community-oriented Y2K individuals, businesses, non-profits and government officials seeking to coordinate preparedness approaches across sector boundaries to generate coherence without centralization. (

Five excellent resources for Y2K community preparedness are:

Y2K Citizen Action Guide - An excellent 120 page guide from Utne Reader, available on line free or in a lovely orange booklet for purchase ($4.95 each at bookstores or 50 copies for $57.50 postpaid from Bulk Order, Utne Reader, 1624 Harmon Place, Minneapolis, MN 55403 USA). Includes guidelines for Y2K citizenship and preparedness for individuals, neighborhoods, and communities.

Awakening: The Upside of Y2K, edited by Judy Laddon, Tom Atlee & Larry Shook (The Printed Word, 1998), 182 pages. $13 postpaid. A pioneering book about responding to Y2K positively -- using what we know about sustainable living, community, and the human spirit. The Printed Word, 4327 S. Perry, Spokane, WA 99203 - USA. For credit card orders, call (509) 624-3177.

Action Y2K: A GrassRoots Guide to Year 2000 by Richard Thomas Wright and Cathryn Wellner (Winter Quarters Press, 1999, $14.95) - A guide for preparedness and resiliency solutions for communities, businesses (profit and nonprofit) and individuals -- including interesting materials on local economics and local currency. Available from (250) 296-4432, or

Just in Case: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Y2K Crisis, Edited by Michael Brownlee, Barbara Stahura and Robert Yehling. (Origin Press, 1999, $16.95) An up-to-date book with a transformational perspective. Covers the US and global scene as of early 1999 -- including good articles on health care, government, community, and electrical utilities.

Y2K Solutions - A News Magazine of Positive Solutions for Family, Home, and Community ($25 for the full year, 1999, from 9121 E. Tanque Verde #313, Tucson, AZ 85749). This significant hardcopy monthly is an excellent resource for folks who don't use the Internet.

Y2K Connections ® is a Y2K card/puzzle/conversation game to help people think about community, connectedness and action. Players learn to stretch their understanding, embrace different points of view, and strategize from a foundation of personal flexibility and resourcefulness. See or order from or 1-800-676-8181


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Rosa Zubizarreta is co-founder of Oakland 2001. She can be reached at

Tom Atlee is president of the Co-Intelligence Institute ( and co-editor of Awakening: The Upside of Y2K.

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Reprinted with permission from National Civic Review, Summer 1999. Copyright © 1999 Jossey-Bass Inc. Publishers, 350 Sansome Street, San Francisco, CA 94104 (800) 956-7739