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Sustainability, Y2K, and the New World Order

Conference Report -- Sustainability: From Vision to Practice
Sirius Community, August 7-10,1998
Thomas H. Greco, Jr. , August 25, 1998

(Thomas Greco gave the Keynote Address,
Sustainability, Y2K, and the New World Order
which is outlined below.)

A four day conference entitled, Sustainability: From Vision to Practice,
was sponsored by and held at Sirius, a twenty year old intentional
community in Shutesbury, Massachusetts, August 7 - 10, 1998. The main
topical currents of the conference included:

Future visions
Whole systems design
Personal empowerment
Sustainable economics
The Year 2000 crisis/opportunity
Ecovillage and bioregional thinking and action

Substantial amounts of celebration and entertainment were built into the
program. Participants enjoyed fellowship, delicious, wholesome food, and
pleasant natural surroundings.

My main involvement as presenter was on the second day, starting with my
keynote presentation in the morning, and followed by my participation on
two panels. One panel topic was "Sustainable Economics Systems," and the
other addressed the Year 2000 phenomenon (Y2K). Both sessions provided
ample opportunity for open discussion in plenary and small groups.

Keynote Presentation

The keynote presentation, which I entitled, Sustainability, Y2K, and the
New World Order
, was intended to sketch a broad vision of the social
metamorphosis which I believe is underway, and to inspire participants to
continue their positive efforts in a more coordinated fashion. It included
the following main themes and propositions:
1. The world has been going though a process of profound cultural change. It has been a long and often difficult process for many of us who view ourselves as agents of change who have been challenging the status quo and advocating greater equity, freedom, and sustainability.
2. The process is reaching a climax. Conditions are emerging which will very soon require everyone on earth to make major adjustments in the way we live.
3. Paul Ray's Integral Culture Survey provides convincing evidence that there is a sizeable portion of the adult population (about 24%) which holds transformational values and could presumably lead the popular movement through adaptation into a more sustainable and harmonious way of living. This is the group which Ray calls the Cultural Creatives.
4. A primary task of the Integral Culture is the building of community and the restoration of ecologies.
5. The social, political, economic, and ecological aspects of living cannot be separated. All have been embedded within a primary mode of DOMINATOR relationships. We must work toward a new mode of cooperation or PARTNERSHIP relationships.
6. In understanding our deepening present crisis, we should consider the process of metamorphosis. It is more than a metaphor. We are actually going through a socio-cultural metamorphosis in which the Cultural Creatives are the imaginal buds of the new "butterfly" culture. The process of consumption and rapid growth of the "caterpillar" society is about to give way to the "pupa" stage of disintegration and reintegration.
7. The change must proceed at all levels: personal, interpersonal, and structural. We must open ourselves to spiritual transformation, work to heal our relationships, and regenerate our institutional infrastructure. It is time for us to rethink, reorganize, and restructure.
8. Five main areas in urgent need of attention are:
Money, banking and finance
Land tenure and property ownership
Taxation and public revenue
Government and law
Corporations and centralization of power.
[Note: Many others could be added, for example: "science and technology," "education and learning," "health and healing," "media and politics," "food and water," "transportation, housing and land use," "energy and raw materials use" and so on -- Tom Atlee]
9. There is a need for a second "Enlightenment." We should work toward a new Declaration of Economic Independence and a new Constitution for the United People of the World.
10. The Millennium Crisis, caused by the millennium bug, is bringing the current change process to a climax. We have about 16 months to prepare for a major shift in our way of living. Major failures and disruptions in critical infrastructure systems can be expected starting as early as next year (1999). This will be a time of both anxiety and excitement, difficulty and opportunity. It will pose major challenges to our ingenuity and adaptability, but it will also provide unprecedented opportunities for us to make major improvements in who we are and the way we live.
11. Let us welcome The Gift of Y2K.

I have an audio recording of the presentation which I hope to transcribe
and post on our website at:

Forming Communities

One of the sessions of particular interest to me was Diana Christian's
presentation of Six Essentials for Forming Communities. Diana, who is the
editor of Communities Magazine, has brought her considerable community
experience and knowledge to bear in developing what I would call a "recipe
for success." The following is a list of her "six ingredients" and a
synopsis of her presentation. The first four items address "structural"
conflict, while the last two address interpersonal conflict. [NOTE: This list
offers some wisdom to those of us who wish to set up Y2K community
response groups or Y2K action groups of various kinds. -- Tom Atlee]
1.A Vision -- Who we are, what we're doing, why we're doing it.
2. Know what you need to know -- about the people, about the place,
necessary training.
3. A fair, participatory form of decision-making.
4. Clear agreement -- money in, money out, who is in?, who is out?,
who decides? Sign it.
5. Good communication skills and methods of reducing conflict.
6. Selective acceptance -- What kinds of problems do people bring
with them? What can you deal with; what not? Know who you're bringing in.

Agreements are of three types, legal, written covenants, and informal
agreements subject to simple renegotiation process.
Diana is writing a book on this subject. She can be reached at
970-593-5615, or by e-mail at:

Other major conference sessions included:
A whole systems design charrette
Personal empowerment
The Natural Step
Eco-villages and Bioregional organizing

More information about the conference can be obtained from the Sirius
Website:, or from:
Sirius Community, 72 Baker Road, Shutesbury, MA 01072.
Tel.: 413-259-1251, E-mail:

Community Information Resource Center
Thomas H. Greco, Jr., Director
P.O. Box 42663
Tucson, Arizona 85733 (520) 795-8930 (520) 577-2187 voice mail

Empowering People * Building Community * Enabling Change

Check out our new Year 2000 website section at