CREATING YOUR OWN STORM FAMILIES
"The best security you have is a prepared neighbor."-Paloma OíReily, Co-founder, www.cassandraproject.org
For many paradigm shift trackers, the spectrum of possible responses to the Y2K bug may offer a preview of the coming challenges facing us and our planet. The scale of required changes can only be imagined by
extrapolating from one analystís informed prediction about Y2K-bug induced disruptions and surveying the responses available, should he and others turn out to be correct.
Concluding his January, 1999, Scientific American article, "Y2K: So Many Bugs So Little Time," technology consultant Peter de Jager believes "severe disruptions will occur and that they will last perhaps a month." He describes this prediction as "optimistic" since it assumes that "people will have done what is necessary to minimize the number of single points of failure that could occur."
Consider the above and the results of a recent survey in which Americans were found to be "very concerned" about year 2000 preparedness of medical facilities, the military, financial institutions and power companies. The Media Studies Center poll found that 64% of 1,002 adults surveyed said the media should provide coverage of hospitals, 911 emergency services, banks and local electric companies. It can be assumed that local, state and Federal officials may be aware of such concerns; whether what they do will be enough can only be answered by the actual situation we face at yearsí end.
Questions those choosing to prepare for possible Y2K-induced disruptions increasingly focus on these critical areas:
* whatís the best insurance we can have against loss of local power, heat & light?
* how can the availability of food and water be guaranteed should any delivery interruptions occur?
* what steps can be taken now to help all members of our families, communities and neighborhoods avoid harm?
* what are "storm families" and how can they help others prepare themselves?
Addressing all of these questions and more, the contributors to Utne Readerís Y2K Citizenís Action Guide offer both practical and psychological advice. One of their most intriguing ideas involves the creation of "storm families." Hereís how Spokane psychotherapist Dr. Kent Hoffman, recalling a Garrison Keilor story, explains it:
Each child in Lake Wobegon has a family, other than her or his own, to go to in time of emergency. The heart of the story is that we all need a "storm family" in difficult times. Thatís what Y2K Neighborhood is setting out to do-create storm families, like miniature villages, among every five of six houses on every block in the county. Itís a way in which we can come together, plan together, look out for each other during this time of uncertainty. Who in each storm family has special medical needs? Who has special skills, and how can our talents be pooled for the mutual benefit of these small units? How can we make certain that each household is safe, whether the hardship lasts for days, weeks or even months?
Getting any of this to happen at local levels involves so many public and private actions it may require a level of participatory democracy never seen before in the U.S. People are now, as never before, having to ask their local officials these kinds of questions:
What communications systems are being set up to enable all citizens to get truthful, complete information on how local companies, utilities, 911 services, financial institutions and agencies are preparing for Y2K?
What is being done to counter panic or disorder should large numbers of people decide to empty their bank accounts, deplete grocery shelves and take other fear-based steps that might jeopardize the survival of our neighborhoods, communities and municipalities?
What efforts are being made to ensure that small businesses have all they need to survive any Y2K-related problems?
Can you guarantee that our locality will have electricity after January 1, 2000? Specifically, have you thought about creating locally administered "micro-grids" and tax incentives for long-term, sustainable energy sources like solar and wind power?
What is being done to ensure that our local community will be in coordination with state and federal policies for addressing Y2K issues?
What plans are in place for preventing Y2K-related toxic leaks and nuclear accidents?How will the local environment be protected during the rollover period?
How prepared are our local hospitals? What is in place to ensure that our healthcare delivery systems will function normally during any disruptions?
How can media corporations be persuaded to drop their usual approaches and provide us with useful community preparation information in a responsible and nonsensationalist manner?
What is being done to ensure the continuous operation of our community infrastructure during the critical period? Specifically, what are you doing to guarantee the continuation of water supplies, sewage disposal, care for those in need, continuation of public transportation, the local economy and its political systems?
After youíve e-mailed, written and spoken with your elected officials you still need to critically evaluate their responses. You can expect vague, incomplete or useless answers, counter arguments or even no response at all. Even though it may be difficult, a firm and courteous attitude has to be maintained in dealing with public officials. The pressures on them are increasing and, should they prove inadequate to the challenges ahead, citizens can always vote them out of power; still the best goad available to us to get meaningful responses.
Household/Neighborhood Preparations If There Is No Central Electricity
Ask your local officials to look into purchasing solar streetlights and high-capacity generators.
Consider bulk purchases (at a discount) of regular and solar battery powered CBs and 2-way radios.
In the event of EMT overloads, alternate transportation fleets, including electric, solar and fuel cell-powered vehicles, should be in place or at least available if needed.
Should normal child and pet care methods be impractical, 24-hour facilities need to be set up.
Training in composting, recycling and other waste disposal methods should be provided.
Water storage and purification methods should be taught and decentralized container areas set up in areas protected against freezing and theft.
Examples of how to prepare internally might include reviewing the Institute of Noetic Sciencesí online "Y2K for Individuals and Communities." This kit, available at www.pathfinding.org/y2kkit, offers an approach based on spiritual and mental development and the creation of strong communities. Itíll be equally important to know when to call "time out" and prevent Y2K-burnout.
To paraphrase contributor Tom Atlee, our choices come down to:
1. Aware that the worst is possible, we can respond creatively at individual, community, national and global levels, or
2. Wait until circumstances overwhelm us and scramble as dwindling time, resources and energies leave us unable to do anything except tread water.
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