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A compendium of "First Week" Y2K thoughts


"It's not over till its over.  And even then it's not over."

-- Jesse Jackson


Here are a few of the many Y2K thoughts that moved me during the first week of 2000. -- Tom


see also:

"Keep Your Shorts On, Folks!" by Cynthia Beal

Ed Yourdon's Jan 1, 2000 Assessment of Y2K

The Amazing Grace of Y2K Revisited by Meg Wheatley

We're Not Home Free Yet Worst Y2K Bugs Could Surface Later By Frank Bajak, Associated Press


Will we learn? - by Jan Nickerson

My worst case scenario for Y2K has nothing to do with power, or
telecommunications, or defense.  My worst case scenario is that we learn
nothing.  Learn nothing about the need to look ahead, to consider multiple
perspectives, and to take into account our interdependency.

Jan Nickerson (creator of the Y2K Connections game) in a letter to John Koskinen:

Y2K Benefits - by Stephen Balkam

I think that rather than a winter storm, the better analogy for
what might still occur in Y2K is a summer drought.  A drought just kind of
creeps up on you.  You are not aware of it at all to begin with - in fact
all you see is bright sunny days!

But little by little, you see small changes - the grass goes a bit brown,
the leaves turn color early, the bird song gets quieter.  And then the
realization is that the world has utterly changed and there is a need to
take action, to conserve and to prepare for harder times. 

Whether or not this comes to pass - and I sincerely hope it doesn't - the
thing I am most grateful for in this remarkable journey is that Y2K has
revealed my world to me in a way that nothing before has ever done.  Not
only do I have a heightened awareness of how my food, water, medicine, cheap
sneakers gets to me, but I also know my neighbors better, have got closer to
my extended family and have seen more clearly inside our political systems -
both here and abroad.  That alone was worth the trip and my new
consciousness is shared with many hundreds, if not thousands, of similarly
awakened individuals.

I do not feel ashamed or embarrassed by the lack of a crisis.  Instead I
feel a sense of gratitude, while remaining vigilant and watchful with a
keener sense of smell, sight, hearing, touch and taste then when all this
began for me in the summer of 1998.  And I think I've developed a fledgling
sixth sense for things that gone on below the surface or out of our normal
sensory reach.  Our collective consciousness has been raised by this
experience.  What greater gift can there be?

from Stephen Balkam (formerly, Co-founder, NW Washington, Year 2000 Group):

More work ahead - by John Atlee:

Koskinen and others said right up thru 12/31
that the remaining problem was small businesses, rural health clinics, etc.
who did not have the money or time to take the needed preventive action, and
that this may lead to bankruptcies and other personal tragedies. One thing
you folks need to do with your national network is to try to document the
extent of this, and figure out how the community networks could help.

Smiling for no apparent reason - by David Floyd


"Somewhere along the line I became a "grace addict."
                                     Mark Vonnegut, The Eden Express

I got a call from someone in our group here yesterday, and we had a few
moments to just plain marvel at recent developments. We laughed at how
analysts, consultants and leaders, among many others are left scratching
their heads about what didn't happen, and we happily considered the
possibility of divine intervention.

On Sunday, I was driving somewhere with my stepdaughter. She was reading
and we were driving in silence. At one point, she looked over and said,
"What? Why are you laughing?" I realized just then that I had a big ol'
grin on my face. That smile keeps coming back, for no apparent reason.
It is very clear that Y2K may yet hold many surprises for us, and it may
be myopic to focus on the smooth rollover and rejoice in that victory.
But we have so much to be thankful for.

It would seem that -- before we drive the Dow Jones to 20,000 and
continue business as usual -- some time to pause and reflect is
warranted. As the days pass, and we breathe easier about threats to our
own infrastructure, banking, oil, etc. we'll no doubt be able to focus
more on those whose problems didn't "blow out to sea" with a smooth
January 1st date change.

David Floyd, Y2K PRI

Reflecting Y2K - by Bob Stilger

Dear Friends,

There's been much commentary on what happened and what didn't happen
with Y2K. A number of people have asked me what Robert Theobald would
have said.

One friend suggested that I might start a rumor that Whoopi Goldberg had
channeled Robert and he said "it was hard, but I was able to move around
quite quickly without my body and I've mostly been able to keep anything
bad from happening."

That rumor makes me smile.

And, I do want to share some of what would have come up if Robert and
I had a chance to talk about this.

^^Express Gratitude^^. It is a wonder and a blessing that so few
people's lives have been harmed as a result of Y2K failures. It's a
futile exercise to take credit or blame for what happened over the last
two years as different people and organizations prepared for this in
various ways. Each of us needs to reflect on what we've learned - and
share it.

^^It's About Resilience^^. We've said all along that Y2K was a clarion
call asking each of us to look at resilience at the personal, community
and global levels? How balanced are we? How able are we to adapt to
change? Do we have the right mix of challenge and serenity to keep our
lives in focus? How do we build and enhance our capacity to care for
ourselves, each other and the planet?

^^Self Organizing^^. In community after community all around the planet
we demonstrated an incredible capacity to self-organize. We moved into
relationships with new and old partners and thought about how we might
support each other. We have had a wonderful opportunity to develop this

^^Anticipations^^. Hopefully, we've learned to laugh, and lightly hold
the perils of self-organizing in anticipation of events that
have not yet occurred. In systems theory, and in cellular organization,
self-organizing occurs in the moment, not in the anticipation of the
moment. A lot of time and energy was spent trying to anticipate what
would happen around Y2K. Perhaps in the future our attention will be
more on building our overall resilience and capacity to deal with
whatever emerges.

^^Measurements^^. Perhaps one of the most important reminders from Y2K
is that we increasingly don't know how to measure anything of
importance. Measurement requires a known standard and base. We're in a
period of creation of new standards and bases. I think this is what
living with ambiguity is all about!

^^Nothing's Changed^^. Many of us who have worked on Y2K saw it as the
"canary in the mine" of our other concerns - destruction of ecosystems,
runaway consumption, growing gaps between the rich and the poor,
increased stress and decreased quality of life. We got through Y2K, so
far. AND, many of our underlying concerns about the directions of
industrial growth society remain the same. We need to continue our work
to keep things from getting worse, to develop effective alternatives for
people, and to evolve a whole shift in consciousness.

^^Nothing's Changed, Except Us^^. Many of us have changed as a result
of our work on Y2K. The world seems a bit more, well, global. Separate
little project seem less important. Our consciousness of our deep
interconnectedness has expanded. The stories we tell ourselves about
our lives have shifted. Y2K has been an easel on which many of us have
started to draw new pictures of our lives.

Those are a few of the things I think Robert and I would have talked
about, and which he might have written about as well.

I move into the year 2000 filled with hope. We have a chance to create
new stories about how we live our lives.

Many Blessings,

Bob Stilger <>
ResilientCommunities Home Page:
Transformational Learning Community Home Page:


REFRAMING Y2K - by Doug Stewart

In our little city of Santa Fe the
fire chief is quick to point out that never before in its ancient history
have the city and county ever worked together so closely and been so ready
for ANY kind of emergency as they are since preparing for Y2K.
At the United Nations earlier in 1999, 170 nations gathered in a
non-political spirit of cooperation to discuss how to share information and
strategies in the face of a common problem, a unified phenomenon one
participant called "unprecedented and almost unbelievable." The same
spirit of sharing and cooperation prevailed at meetings of nations in
Africa, Southeast Asia, and - incredibly - the Middle East.
That spirit of trust and cooperation in the solving of common
problems won't just evaporate as Y2K fades into history. It will remain in
little Santa Fe and it will persist around the globe.
Forget the updated equipment and code, the remediated systems, the
emergency preparations. If accomplishing that level of spirited and
trust-building cooperation in cities, states, and nations across this globe
only cost $600 billion, I would say we got ourselves one helluva bargain!

Douglas Stewart


Walking tomorrow's paths together -- by Betsy Barnum

"Together"--this is the sea change that has happened for me in the past 18
months. Maybe it's advancing middle age pushing me toward 50; maybe it's the
ecological crisis, or what I've learned in working for transformation via Y2K.
But I have become more committed than ever to joint action and learning how to
be with other people.

My work is around the issue of values and behavior and transformation--the
program started by the Northwest Earth Institute in Portland (see my web site
for more detail). I'm wanting to activate people now, to offer people a place
for examination of values and assumptions and encourage reconnection with their
deepest values--and also to urge them to take those values into the world and
become engaged in the effort to transform culture and to build new systems and
institutions that are humane and honor the Earth.

I was in Seattle for the WTO, and it made me realize how important it is for
people who want a different world to *make* it, not just think about it or try
to live it within their private lives. Not just wait until things get so bad
that everyone has to go to the streets, but making things happen every day,
creating what we want to be, now, together.

Betsy Barnum

Y2K Community-Democracy Lessons - by Rosa Zubizarreta


A few months ago I came across the following quote:

"true democracy becomes possible when the 'citizen role in
governance' is defined as 'participating in the solving of societal
problems', instead of as 'voting for candidates or referenda'"

(The quote is by Richard K. Moore, who runs a list called the
renaissance network for the Movement for a Democratic Renaissance.)

In my view, Y2K is a subset of a larger set of intersecting issues, including

--the need for greater civic participation in decisions over
technology, especially in decisions over acceptable levels of risk
posed by various technologies;
--the need to create infrastructures that are ecologically
and economically sustainable
--the need for continued learning experiences in working with
diverse groups of people on a common goal of larger social benefit

In terms of "lessons learned", I've personally been reminded of what
an energizing and rewarding experience it can be to participate in a
group that comes together freely to work on addressing a real need...
and, I feel very strongly that the path of promise lies in that

Another thing I've been struck by is how many people, from so many
different walks of life, share a visceral sense of our current system
as unsustainable, and feel clearly the need for change. In my mind,
that is part of the reason why so many were ready to consider the
possibility that the first stage of y2k could have been more serious
than was acknowledged publicly. As with many of you, I am 1) glad
that it wasn't! and 2) feel strongly that "we ain't out of the water

In terms of how to prepare for the possible economic consequences
that still await us (or, how to deal with the termites!)... as I
said, I am just learning about all of this, but one of the more
interesting books I've found along those lines is "Going Local", by
Michael H. Shuman, subtitled "Creating Self-Reliant Communities in a
Global Age. [Although there's] no way that we can all grow our own
food in our backyards, there ARE ways that communities can
strengthen themselves for a variety of economic disasters, whether
Y2K or WTO-induced.

And, one of the more interesting things about this book is that the
author notes the incredible diversity of the coalitions that are
springing up around community interests, bridging the traditional
right/left divisions. (Which is, BTW, something in which Moore is
also interested, and, something with which we in the Y2K movement
have had some experience...;-)

On another note:... The fact that December 31st/January 1st was BELOW
the baseline for "normal" failures is to my mind, very parallel to
the so-called "placebo" effect -- which, in actuality, could
logically be viewed as an oft-repeated scientific demonstration of
the power of mind to influence matter.... i do know that
for many of us, this work has been a spiritual experience.

Rosa Zubizarreta <>, Oakland 2001

Looking Back on Preparing for the Unknown - by Judith Winter


"Overheard" this today:

I am reminded of the story of the CEO of a company who was asked about the
effectiveness of his advertising: He said " I am firmly conviced that 90%
of my advertising budget is wasted on useless activity...and as soon as I
can figure out which 90% that is, I will stop spending it." I believe that
90% of the precautions we took were unnecessary, but there was no way of
knowing which would be the 10% that might have saved considerable problems.

Judith Winter <>

Perhaps Exactly What Was Needed Was Done, Without Any Of Us Realizing It - by Scott Hess


I have to say I am totally amazed, delighted and jazzed at the way
planetearth/humanbeings/ our technology came through the Year 2000
transition. It was/is an amazingly smooth, beautiful, imperfect,
humorous, surprising, interdependent, interactive, charming, and most of
all, Global Moment. As it turns out everybody did what they had to do in
the right time and the right place. The collective human energy was
positive , friendly, and exuberant. There were no terrorist attacks, no
massive breakdowns of essential systems, no nuclear meltdowns. To me, this
is a result of the united positive Intent in the collective heart of
Humanity, and the Grace that allows it all to happen.

I feel we have been traumatized by the frightening trials and catastrophes
of the 20th century and that our collective experience during the Y2K
rollover was a profound demonstration of integraton and healing. It seems
as profound to me as the first photo of our Earth from Space. It expresses
a Global reality of positive, integrated, design. Many people have been
alert to potential dangers inherent in the technical situation we were in
and they chose to take positive creative action to make a positive outcome.
Our successful transition was co-created. There were 10s of 1000s of
interfaith prayer networks, worldwide, praying for the successful Yr 2000
transition; there were business leaders, professional IT people, and
government decision makers at all levels who stayed alert, creative,
faithfully active, and they were successful in their endeavors. There were
those in our militaries who rose to new levels of cooperation and
communication to avoid mistakes and possible various catastrophes-thru-error
such as accidental missile launches or other deadly errors. There were civic
groups who informed, alerted, and spurred on corrective action. And this
happened everywhere -- all around the big round World -- in an extremely
uniform and self correcting manner. Places that needed big corrections did
big corrective actions, and places that needed less correction did less. It

Self Organizing, Transnational, InterTribal.

I hope people recognize that our success in the 2000 rollover was not
guaranteed, and that things definitely needed fixing. All of this was not
"hype" or exaggeration. Our global consciousness was being stirred and
tested. We were not fools for paying attention to Y2K. It was part of our
Global Initiation into (human) adulthood. I read a speech by John
Koskinen, the national y2k "czar". He mentioned that in one state they had
decided to do a test and leave one of the large networks intact and
uncorrected. This network was replaced by a new parallel system that
fullfilled its same functions. But they wanted to see what happened if they
didn't do the fixes. What happened what that the whole system totally
locked up. The fixes were needed. . . and they were uniformly accomplished
by men and women all over the world.

I see how Self Organization happens in a new light now on the other side of
2000. I now have more trust and more vision in the exquisite workings of
the Whole -- out of which we were all born. I have new faith that humanity
will make the real time transition to a vibrant future on a green and
peaceful planet. Not without trials, stresses, setbacks, frustrations, and
challanges but we will evolve toward more love and more beauty.

Scott Hess <>



"Nothing hasn't happened yet."
-- Debbie Sugarman

"As I was going up the stair
I met a man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today.
I wish to God he'd go away"
-- Ogden Nash


And a final enlightening PS from Steve Bhaerman --

"The Y2K glitch has given us a great opportunity to consider the age-old question, 'What are we human beings really like when the chips are down?'.... I would look for Spirit to materialize even more in 2000. The blisskrieg will continue unabated as more and more of us convert our karmas from internal combustion to esteem...."
-- Swami Beyondananda's "State of the Universe Address 2000"