The Nation's First
Messages for John
(The following comments are taken from the individual surveys contained in this report.)
4. Is there anything else about your Y2K community work that you would like Y2K Czar John Koskinen, national Y2K organizers and/or other local Y2K groups to know?
That the risks of Y2K need to be understood within the context of other signifigant stressors. That a nationwide initiative for community self reliance should be launched and that clear and cogent leadership is needed on this important issue.
--- David La Chapelle, Juneau, Alaska, Tides of Change
In addition to dividing our community into block neigborhoods, we have adopted a plan from another community in Utah and modified it to suit our purposes. We have met with our town council and they have agreed to pay for the cost of printing our plan (three thousand copies) and drafting a cover letter to go with it to the tune of $1400.00.We have agreed to distribute, with the help of our block volunteers, a copy to every household in Camp Verde.
--- Jack Young, Camp Verde, Arizona, Chairman of The Camp Verde Y2K Task Force
Mr. Koskinen should try harder to stem the flow of halftruths and lies that are coming from the government regarding Y2K. This has made it very difficult for the average person to try and make proper decisions that will effect their lives. This administration has been badly damaged and with so many contradicting stories about Y2K, the average American citizen is very confused.
--- Dan LeMond, Dewey, Arizona
The government and major industry leaders have done a remarkable job in calming the public about the potential risks associated with Y2K to the point that there seems a disregard for the need for any preparation. The message comes across as: NO disruptions, NO worries, NO need. Could this possibly be a case of oversell? I see a considerable drop in interest in preparing contingency plans among citizens, businesses, and even the city and county emergency response agencies. Please be aware that the message is being received as ALL CLEAR. My concern is that in our haste to avoid panic, we have instead induced a SOMA-like state of complacency. Danger exists with either extreme, let us not substitute one overreaction with another.
--- Ronald Cornish, Flagstaff, Arizona, Northern Arizona Y2K ARRC Group
It's a great time to look at whole systems and see/appreciate how everything is connected.
--- Steve Haag, Flagstaff, Arizona
People need something new. It's time to move into preparation. Time to get our hands in the soil and kick into action gear. Actions speak louder than words. Lets rock 'n roll! Also, the nuclear issue must be addressed with mass participation. I say we focus on a key issue on the national front and push it 'till it breaks open the pandoras box. Nuclear is it. Let us concentrate our national resources. Focus on the most critical! I think the move is to have very accesible proactive grassroots activities jumping in local communities while concentrating national resources on the nuclear issue.
--- Grace Wicks, Prescott, Arizona, Student Alliance for Y2K Awareness, The Prescott Y2K Coalition
for the U.S. Senate's Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem
--- David Sunfellow, Sedona, Arizona, Director of the Sedona Y2K Task Force
I think it is important for people to have a safe place to go to in the country where they can, if necessary, be self-sufficient, and be around others with the same intention. People may not necessarily be able to live there now, but just to know that they can go there in an emergency is wonderful. I found many, many people are very drawn to this idea, and I am in the process of creating an eco-village, which will consist of a land trust where people can be stewards over small pieces of land -- as little as 40 feet by 70 feet. There will be common land available where intensive gardening can be done on plots leased by residents. There will also be larger parcels available -- three acres or even more, depending on the amount of land we purchase. We are looking a places in the Ozarks, and have people from as far as Oregon, Arizona, California, and Florida who are interested. Land is relatively cheap here, and there are no building codes in the county we are exploring. We are also looking into the absolute cheapest, easiest, fastest way of building homes which seems to be a material called Fibercrete, or paper crete, which is a combination of discarded paper made into pulp, and a small amount of concrete, and water. We have studied community creation extensively and lived in communities, and believe we have a good structure to allow people to live cooperatively, yet autonomously. Even if nothing happens, I believe that the creation of successful eco-villages all over the world will be a powerful way to assist people in living sustainably.
I also believe that if we can strengthen our local economies by introducing barter systems modeled after LETS and Ithaca Hours, this will soften the blows of economic hardships caused by Y2K.If you want more information, send an SASE to me at the address I have given.
--- Patricia Mikkelson, Fayetteville, Arkansas, Sustainable Living Network
I would like to say to anyone who should be making a "REAL" difference and are not, that I believe a very serious and damaging "crap shoot" is occurring in our society. Snake eyes, while probability is low, still are peering. "United we stand and United we fall."
--- Bill Mueller, Los Osos, California
There needs to be greater encouragement for neighborhoods to organize and create support groups in case there are impacts to water, food, shelter, and heat.
--- Mark Gibson, Mount Shasta, California, Y2K Community Resource Center of Mount Shasta
Our community will currently not come close to being prepared. At best, a small percentage of people will be prepared for 3-7 days. Low-income, disabled, elderly and most others will not be prepared at all. Our local governments have focused on getting their own computers and systems to work. They have done almost nothing to look after the citizens. This could conceivably change, but not while the federal government tells the public, and our local governments, that there is nothing to worry about.
--- Mick Winter, Napa, California, Chariman Napa Valley Citizens for Year 2000 Preparedness
I see a lull right now in new people becoming aware of Y2K and wanting information, but I also needed a break from the hectic pace of October to mid-April. I attribute a lot of that lull to the "happy, happy" message being put out by the government, business and media without any basis in reality. You are not doing citizens any favors with your fear of panic. People will not panic for eight months straight and need information now of the possibilities and not "don't worry, be happy." They need quality information and a bringing together of people to solve this.
--- Sheri Nakken, Nevada County, California, Coordinator Western Nevada County Y2K Preparedness Network
It works a lot better if you integrate Y2K in with the rest of the work the neighborhoods are doing, since all of their efforts are to provide for a safe and supportive environment. Thus preparing for Y2K may result in lower crime rates, since neighbors are trained in how to look out for each other, and how to work as a team. It may result in better education for the kids as a result of the after-school clubs starting this fall, geared for preparedness. It may result in neighborhoods becoming communities due to a focus on sustainability. I no longer think it makes sense to treat Y2K as special. Our preparedness training (which is free from the city, due to the earthquake and fire) is geared toward fires and earthquakes, but Y2K is now a part of the discussions as well. I am emphasizing to people I talk to that it doesn't matter if they believe anything will happen or not since we need to know all of this stuff for any kind of emergency. I tell them that the real question is that if everything were to stop (water, power, etc.) could you survive? For how long? Do you think you should be able to survive if everything stopped? For how long? What do we need, and what do we need to know how to do to survive for a week? How do we work with our neighbors to make this easier?
We are also fortunate in Oakland since we have an infrastructure in the city that provides liaisons into the city services (the Neighborhood Services Coordinators) and free survival training to the residents. But you never know what will happen once you get involved with the community. One of the most rewarding outcomes has been that four neighborhood groups came together and established an alternative school for our local middle school. I got involved since I was talking with the school administration about the earthquake/Y2K preparedness club that I will run for them next fall. Another great outcome is getting to know the vast array of city services available to us, if we only know how to ask. The best outcome is getting to know all of these great people, my neighbors.
--- Barbara Liston, Oakland, California, Scrunchers Anonymous
The City of Oakland has moved towards an aggressive public awareness campaign through the Office of Emergency Services. The outreach will include providing Y2K information along with a preparation guide in six different languages, a local Y2K and emergency preparedness video and audio tapes. OES is committed to provide a clear and consistent message about Y2K. Additionally, broadcasting on Radio 510 (emergency radio station) will begin within the next 30 days. Public Service announcements will air 24 hours a day and the message will get stronger as the year progresses. An emergency preparedness and Y2K fair is planned for the fall at the Coliseum or the Kaiser Center in downtown Oakland.
I would like to invite John Koskinen to hear about Oakland's progressive efforts using general emergency preparedness as the way to reach the public at large.
--- Chuck Eckerman, Executive Director and Co-Founder Oakland Prepared Neighbors
I would like him to speak out on the importance of neighborhood and community organizing. We need to hear from him.
--- Scott Hess, Petaluma, California, Petaluma Y2K Community Forum (evolving into Sustainable Petaluma)
Koskinen is part of the problem! He has down-played Y2K importance. He has participated in staging public publicity stunts to give Americans a false sense of security. He has recently coached the media on how to report on y2k -- in pollyanna flavor.Y2K is NOT a top-down solution -- just the opposite, it is bottom up! Your chances of survival alone are not good; as a community they are much better, especially if society breaks down.
The community government should be very involved by training its citizens to perform critical infrastructure type-jobs in the event of disruption, establishing emergency centers, using community buildings and churches, etc. This should have been started because citizens need to be trained and organized way in advance.
My community was moving in this direction -- until FEMA spoke with our fire chief. The Firechief appears to be "a player" and has delayed the course the community had been on since September. I no longer trust my local government officials because I have caught the Firechief in major lies regarding actual remediation and impact. He pokes fun at Y2K, publicly. The appointed Y2K chairwoman grew to realize the systemic nature and interdepedency of Y2K. She was able to get approved city funds to bring in TAVA technologies to inventory our city in December. She arranged for a Y2K "In Home Survival" public, government provided meeting on January 27th. Over 500 people attended. That was the end of it. For unknown reasons, but I can guess, she resigned last month. FEMA appears to hamper local organizing. I would like to know why?!
--- Marie Gunther, Poway, California
Damn right. I think the Feds -- Koskinen and all -- are way out of touch with the people. I also think their message, while attemping to curb panic and anxiety, has underplayed the seriouness of Y2K, as well as the possible midterm effects. I suspect all this has been done for political reasons which should not influence major public policy on national events.
--- Bayard Stockton, Santa Barbara, California, Santa Barbara Y2K
People need to know that there are very REAL POSSIBILITIES of major disruptions to fundamental services. While the process of opening public discussion on such topics as environmental disaster, social disorder, economic recession, martial law, etc. is certainly a challenging one, it must be put forth. If the government and media continue to try and sedate the public with false assurances, and not address the fear that is ALREADY present in many people, the fallout from this will most surely be panic and distress, at both personal and societal levels.
President Clinton needs to tell the WORLD that Y2K is a VERY SERIOUS ISSUE, and that, while there are certainly major crises happening in our world this very moment, preparation for Y2K must be given the highest priority at all levels. The public should be told that the fact that governments and businesses are spending BILLIONS of dollars on Y2K means it is a MAJOR issue, not that the problems are going to be taken care of by this expenditure.
Basically, a more balanced and realistic message must be given to the global public. This must emphasize the PROBABILITIES that Y2K presents, and the fact that there are NO GUARANTEES that we can be sure of most of these possibilities won't be come a reality.
Finally, government officials from ALL LEVELS must stress the need for citizens to rally together in their communities to prepare for Y2K as a potential disaster. In addition, government must fully support the formation of these community groups, both financially and logistically.
--- Bob Lewis, Santa Cruz, California, Santa Cruz Y2K Community Task Force
We're doing our best, but we're all so tired of dealing with the denial. I'm guessing that our group is not going to do much over the summer, but will kick back in gear in the fall when public concern swings this way again. But will it be too late?
--- Michele Robbins, Santa Cruz, California, Santa Cruz Y2K Community Task Force
I believe that the widespread effort to forestall public panic has greatly lessened the sense of concern and, therefore, decreased preparedness efforts. I gave a Y2K preparedness workshop for a local adult education program last January and it drew approximately 30 people. I repeated the workshop this week and it drew 8 people. I've heard of low attendance at many other Y2K events.
While I think that the outlook for Y2K-related disruptions has possibly improved in recent months, I don't think it has improved to the point where people should not be prepared. I'm very concerned that the impact of Y2K will be much larger than it need be because people will not be adequately prepared. The government should be doing far more to support community preparedness efforts and should be far more active in promoting the concept of family preparedness.
--- David Goldberg, San Francisco Bay Area, California, Y2K Kit for Individuals & Communities
Nobody, whatever their opinions about the magnitude of Y2K, believes the federal government.
--- Gerry Kolisch, Golden, Colorado, Front Range Preparedness
One of the most critical items in a scenario that brings the grid down it the need to preserve potable (treated) water that is usually contained in community water tanks. Almost no one is mentioning the need for homeowners to drain ("blow out") their home plumbing systems prior to year end 1999, in areas of the country where power failures could leave homes freezing cold. With pipes frozen/broken and little chance to have them repaired quickly (due to the massive loss of plumbing components in cold temperature zones) some home owners will be unable to have treated water delivered to their homes. This condition will persist until the supply of pipes and plumbers is able to reach every home with the problem -- potentially a very long time. Homeowners should be counseled by their local governments or water departments, to practice draining pipes this summer/fall. They should also be told to find their "curb side" water shut-off valve, OBTAIN THE PROPER TOOL TO SHUT OFF the flow of water into the home, and to practice shutting it off well before December 1999. They should then, make certain all the neighbors have a similar plan and capability.
--- John N. Miller, Roxborough Park (in SW Denver Metro area), Colorado, Roxborough Communities 2000
The lack of community coordinators for Y2K led us to our own solution: we are bringing neighborhoods together under their local religious leaders using the neighborhood watch programs to help the county emergency management teams get them prepared.
--- Joose Hadley, Clearwater and Pinellas County (Tampa Bay Area), Florida, Citizens for a Stable Community
We are using more and more of the community members on The Mayor's Task Force. This is cost effective and inspiring for the citizens to be involved. We are focusing on groups within the county that already have an infrastructure. We are openly discussing Y2K at length in private. In public, our focus is on basic disaster preparation in general, and hurricane preparation in specific. We always include Y2K as a definite possibility, but do not over emphasize it. We readily admit problems that the county is having, and invite the public's input. We just finished a series of "Town Hall Meetings" with the Mayor and a panel of stakeholders from telecom, banking, medical, solid waste, Red Cross, etc., around the island at every major city. It went very well.
Banks and hotels are now asking for private presentations, and are interested in participating. We do not allow any whackos or overly emotional people to "freak out." We honor their emotions as valid, but do not let them take over when they show up, and there is usually always one or two.
We do not deny the potential problems, but focus on our solutions at the forefront. Because there is no denial, Kauai is responding well. I speak three to four nights a week to different public groups. I am addressing the Kekaha Federal Credit Union tomorrow night. It is almost amusing that the Credit Union asked me to speak. It says a lot for the credible reputation the Task Force and the CSRC has attained. I also do a weekly spot on the local radio station (www.kkcr.org on the web, Wednesdays at 1 PM Hawaii time if you have real audio).
Things are going well: We have community garden projects going in, we have water contingency plans being evaluated, we have created a tone of moderation with the citizens. Because WE are not overly excited, or in denial, they are free to relax into our mode. Public participation has dropped off sharply, but I think it is just a pause in the notes. I think in September things will pick up.
Food co-ops are going in all over the island. We are working with island distributors and supermarkets in the creation of special Y2K/hurricane food purchasing days across the island at low cost prices so everyone who wants to will have the opportunity to stock up. Word on the island is to have at least a month and up to three months food stored by the end of the year. NOTHING FANCY, just beans and rice, etc. We are working with the Kauai Amateur Radio Association in the creation of a CB-to-Ham radio network and are resource mapping the island neighborhood by neighborhood. There is so much more to be done than we will ever be able to do, but we are looking at all these projects to continue far beyond Y2K as part of our island's basic contingency planning. We as a Task Force have really pinned our weaknesses and have identified our strengths. We are moving slowly but steadily forward.
There is much that won't be finished, but one of the most important things about this whole project is that one must not look at it to be finished by Y2K. Much is happening from the top down. That in itself is strange. But we have some real visionaries in the county working with the CSRC on this project. I wish everyone the best.
--- Karlos deTreaux, Island of Kauai, Hawaii, Community Self Reliance Co-operative and The Mayor's Y2K Task Force of Kauai
If you don't want to help with rational contingency planning and sensible personal / family / neighborhood preparedness, that is fine, we know that the problems with the United States Government and other levels of government are huge, but please stop throwing up roadblocks to local people who are trying to be constructive while there is still time. In other words, please lead or follow, but if you won't be a leader or a follower at least GET OUT OF THE WAY.
1. No more advice to the press to print only good news.
2. Start firing agency heads who perpetrate hoaxes.
3. Tell the bankers that if a panic happens it will be the fault of the bankers, not the customers. Honesty buttresses credibility. We are all Americans in this together, and if you level with us we will rise to the occasion. Keep us collectively in the dark and when a problem develops you will be ignored even if by then you have decided to actually try telling the truth. (We teach this to our children, remember? It also holds true for national policy makers!)
4. Emphasize community and caring for each other, not the present lawyer-driven "every company for itself" mentality.
5. Admit it: the time for contingency planning and infrastructure recovery planning is now. Not July or November. Get ready to rebuild quickly after whatever may happen.
--- Joseph R. Whaley, Montgomery County, Maryland, Y2K Awareness
The Arlington Y2K Committee, formed in late 1998, has focused most of its attention on monthly public meetings which have ranged in attendence from 40 - 80 people. The initial meetings were focused on raising public awareness and generating volunteers for task groups such as Public Education and Media, Utilities and Services, Health and Safety and Neighborhood Preparedness. These task groups met outside of the public meeting and reported their efforts back at the monthly gatherings. Starting with the April meeting we've selected a focus topic for each meeting (e.g., Electricity, Water, Food, Finances, Health, etc.). We've invited speakers to correspond to the topic, e.g., for April's meeting on Electricity and Heat we had a speaker from Boston Edison. Our meeting agenda's usually include: A Y2K overview, news updates, expert speakers, tips in personal preparedness, and ways to support neighborhood and town-wide efforts. One of the highlights of these public meetings has been community building which includes Y2K songs and interactive exercises which are enjoyed by all.
As a result of many people from other towns coming to the Arlington meetings and asking for help in organizing in their own communities, the committee created and distributed a booklet called How to Organize your Community for Y2K Preparedness. We are currently working on informational brochures for Y2K preparedness topics, the first one on water preparations due for distribution at the upcoming May 24th meeting.
The current goals of the Arlington Y2K Committee are: 1. To help us educate ourselves about Y2K and to prepare personally for possible Y2K related disruptions; and 2. To collaborate with officials in towns and cities in which we live to encourage constructive, larger-scale contingency planning.
We use the local media, email and phone lists, and leafletting to generate awareness and volunteers for our efforts. We are encouraging town officials to attend public meetings and to respond to requests for adequate contingency planning. Cooperative planning is encouraged for all members of the community. While it feels like we never accomplish enough, there continues to be interest and enthusiam for preparedness efforts, and we are hopeful that people will continue to come together in the spirit of community opportunity.
--- Sandy Vorce, Arlington, Massachusetts, Arlington Y2K Committee
Yes, how to get people to pay attention without fear and lists of scenerios. How to make them feel they are important and can help.
--- Pamela Frederick, Harvard, Massachusetts, Harvard Community Preparedness
I'd like him to know that most people are totally in the dark and unprepared for anything unfamiliar no matter what we try to tell them, whether about personal preparedness or the precious gift of community cooperation, and that the failure of the federal government to lead the way in getting the people and government on the same side is a huge mistake that's kind of inevitable, given who the government really stands up for. I'd like to know how he will square it with his conscience when he realizes that he was deluded when he agreed to represent a hypocritical government committed to keeping people in the dark because of its contempt for them. I'm afraid that unless he can hear that, he'll twist or spin whatever he hears and won't have a clue that the emperor has no clothes, certainly not until after he's no longer in a relevant role.
--- Carl Silver, Shelburne, Massachusetts, Buckland-Shelburne Emergency Resource Group
It seems only reasonable to expect this apparent general trend of diminishing interest, if only due to:
1. Overarching concern from official sectors that raising alarm should not actually alarm anyone unduly;
2. Legitimately positive news with regard to remediation efforts in basic infrastructure;
3. Public inertia, with its tendency to limit attention to the immediate or short-term;
4. Spring, with its longer, warmer days, and manifold abundance of new emerging life.
Many of us have used Y2K as a vehicle to promote greater social awareness of long-term consequences related to short-term policy formation, or greater spiritual awareness of our inexorable interconnectedness. Some have imagined the Y2K wave of energy, to which they have adhered their surfboard agendas, to be something less evanescent, and so fuss when the wave pulls back. It will return, certainly by Fall, though I expect to see signs even before, with the shortening days of Midsummer. I do not, however, expect it to be any more solid.
How could it be? Jews in Nazi Germany, Ethnic Albanians in modern Kosovo, Memphis, TN residents in the path of Yellow Fever 1878: people collectively don't move out of disaster's path. Many, perhaps most, cannot. Many others who can, don't. If this reality is not accepted by those relative few who see disaster approaching, whatever effectiveness they may have had in helping those who can be reached is blunted or destroyed. Every case of burnout I've seen can be traced to perceptual failure: failing to read the incoming wave properly. In practical terms here, this means expecting, and being okay with expecting, catastrophic loss due to intractable shortsightedness.
Where expected Y2K disruptions continue to appear less immediate and obvious in scope, interest naturally falls away. Long-term consequences of complex system failure seem uncertain to those deluded into thinking as individuals. Those who know better are once again removed to the margins as the wave pulls back, old timers busy teaching newbies patience with paddling, while awaiting the next surge. It's coming. Ride Om.
--- Brice Wilson, Shutesbury, Massachusetts, Valley Year 2000 Center
First, I believe that Koskinen and FEMA's efforts to reassure the public not to panic have backfired with community and citizen complacency and reinforced denial of the situation. While a proponent of local self-organizing efforts, I now recognize more than ever the importance of credible influential national leaders stating the message loud and clear :
"Citizens, towns, organizations and businesses: this is a serious matter that requires your prompt attention. Regardless of any organization (including the federal governments) best efforts to fix Y2K glitches, the sheer number of glitches in computers AND microchips used throughout the machines we depend on in all walks of life -- NOT JUST COMPUTERS -- and their many interconnections, make it impossible to predict with any reliability how severe Y2K breakdowns could be. We recommend hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. Preparing for the worst requires every citizen, community and organization to become aware of the issue, and then to work together to prepare for possible interruptions in power, telecommunications, even food and water. How long is as unpredictable as is the size of an earthquake 10 months in advance. But the more you learn, the more you will be in the best position to take appropriate precautions. Precautions which will pay off in readiness for any disruption, regardless of how disruptive Y2K is, or isn't. To paraphrase Karlos deTreaux of Kauai, 'What we are trying to do throughout the United States is create a picture of a community that can be called upon in times of crisis.'
"It will not matter if Y2K comes to be regarded as the biggest hoax in human history.The simple act of bringing our country into a state of "Community Compliancy" will build much needed bridges that will be available to all of the nation should a crisis occur. There is no wasted effort. There is no adversary.There are only the simple actions of a country remembering what it means to have neighbors, strengths and weaknesses.When all is said and done, the United States of America will be much stronger."
Second, I also would like Koskinen and Y2K community builders to know that I think community conversations are a great idea that should take place from Clinton, from every governor, from every senator and member of congress, from every mayor. Real ripple effect, getting conversation going. I think the sequence of flow needs to go from awareness of what Y2K is, to how it impacts each one of us individually -- at home, at work, in communities. We need to realize that we can't rely on some central source to take care of us. Instead, individually and cooperatively, we should be taking care of one another. We also need to realize the consequences of not providing for those who can't provide for themselves, and prepare for others who can't, won't or don't.
I'd like Koskinen and other Y2K community builders to know the importance of awareness conversation BEFORE the preparedness conversation, or else preparation doesn't make sense, and people will reject it.
AND I'd like Koskinen to know that one of the tools available for building awareness is Y2K Connections. People using this self-facilitating scenario game consistenly report results like this: ""In just 30 minutes, Y2K Connections changed the atmosphere from 'doom and gloom' to enthusiastic proactive involvement" (Virginia Hirsch, Milwaukee Public Schools for Adult Education)
We can't afford NOT to have results like this; we can't afford not to use tools like this.
Lastly, given the interconnectedness of our systems, organizations and communities, I'd like Koskinen and other Y2K community builders to take on as large a role as imaginable. That means that Koskinen, for example, should not restrict his efforts to federal systems. He and Clinton should take on leadership for the entire nation. That means that businesses should not restrict their efforts to their own four walls and product or service; they should reach out to their employees, their suppliers, their customers, and the communities of all these, and urge and support preparation and contingency planning efforts. That means that we should not be stopped by the fear of being shot as a messenger, or losing our job. Too much is at stake for that! We must place the readiness of the nation and its citizens, and the nation's interdependent suppliers and neighbors at the forefront. And then we must be undauntable.
--- Jan Nickerson, Wayland (Metrowest Boston), Massachusetts, Y2K Connections
If national leaders are to be trusted, they must give us the truth about Y2K. If someone actually reads the Senate Report, they will realize that no one yet knows to what extent the Y2K problem will have on our lives. Yet many in the government want us to only prepare for a 72-hour problem? The "72-hours" is the length of time that it would take to put people into shelters. Want proof? Look at the Federal Response Plan on the Franklin Frith Reports Website.
Y2K does not have to be the disaster that the globalist have been wanting for decades now. If we can get the media to promote the truth on this issue, then we can prevent our liberties and our country from being stolen from us. Help to prevent the erosion of our rights by supporting the rejection of bad legislation like the one below that has just been proposed. Together, we can work to preserve our liberties for our children and our grandchildren! Divided, we could witness the last chapter of our freedoms.
--- Jeff Roberts, Birmingham, Michigan, The Joseph Project 2000 - Detroit
Yes, local officials along the Mississippi Gulf Coast have made no contigency plans for the communities -- at least none that have been publically annouced -- AND in my experience many people are preparing for more than disruptions. They are preparing for a complete meltdown of society as we know it. More people than I would like include weapons among their Y2K preparations.
Also, the three-day FEMA recommendation is nonsense, since most people have three days worth of food and water in their pantries anyway. A more cautious and effective amount would be 6-10 weeks, given the number of natural disasters that we can expect in this area, regardless of Y2K.
--- Sherry J. Stultz, Ocean Springs, Mississippi, Director Ocean Springs Y2K Task Force
We think things are slowing down because the group who was concerned to begin with (more than fifty attended some meetings) has gotten prepared enough that we are less worried than we were. We have meetings coming up in June that will address issues we haven't addressed yet: law and order, personal gun-use rights, and to raise concerns about control of crime in a Y2K crisis situation. We also expect to watch a video prepared by GTE ("Telecommunications: The Most Critical Link") and possibly listen to a representative from GTE (our local telephone company) .
The rest of our meetings have been more special-interest in the last month or so. We have meetings coming up on Herbs: Medicinals and Edibles and on Low Tech Living: Solar Cookers and Sanitation Solutions. We have covered many other topics since last November.
Message to all, including Koskinen: We LIVE in the hills. Many of us have for a very long time. We are still concerned and think Y2k will have an impact on our lives.
--- Susan Wiseheart, The Ozarks, Missouri
Our country is too involved with international events and natural disasters to give Y2K the proper attention that is needed. All of these issues are important, however, it is quite clear that our government can not focus on several peace keeping missions and be steadily working on Y2K. Our attention and resources are spread too thin. Our country could be in real trouble come the first of next year. If our government is concerned now about a lack of resources, man power, and international threats; what is going to take place the first of the year and how vulnerable are we going to be?
--- John & Diana Strausbauch, Great Falls, Montana
It seems that within our city limits there is almost no interest in Y2K. We at Christian Life Center are the only local church to do anything publicly. The rural surrounding communities seem to have more interested individuals. For our size community, 70,000. RURAL: We have around 35 neighborhood groups with around 1000 people meeting monthly. CITY LIMITS: We have a few neighborhood groups with around 50 people meeting monthly.
Despite lack of interest our core group (15) is moving ahead with preparations. We have created a food pantry, community garden (serving 14 families plus the food pantry) and are preparing for an emergency shelter. We also hold regular how to workshops.
Whatever media blitz it was that calmed the so-called public panic, it worked marvels. It has been somewhat discouraging to have to do so much work and have no help.
--- Cami Price, Missoula, Montana, Coordinator Community Emergency Outreach at Christian Life Center
Citizens understand emergency preparedness and react well to seeing Y2K as "enhanced" emergency services planning. We are ready to rise to the challenge that you have presented, namely, that it is the state and local governments which pose the greatest risk.
--- Bruce Kneuer, Sanbornton, New Hampshire, Director Lakes Region Y2K Community Network
1. Stop pretending that preparedness at the local level will "cause" panic, runs on the banks, food hoarding, etc, or that preparedness is somehow "unpatriotic" or unrealistic. In fact, a prepared community will have done the things necessary to support OEM/FEMA responses as an disaster relief professional will tell you. Since there is a glut of conflicting misinformation out there already about Y2K, the ONLY solution is clear and constandt communications - Chuck Lanza and the Miami/Dade people offer a solid rational and useful model - and they certainly know about disasters, natural or man-made.
2. Tell the truth. Trust the people with the truth.
3. Have someone check Greenspan's medication.
--- Tom Behr, Millington (Long Hill Township), New Jersey, Friends of Long Hill Township
Most people think either that Y2K is a non-problem, or that the government will take care of me. How do we get the truth to them when the government adds so much spin to the message, and the press reports no problem in the headlines, then in fine print later on suggests the truth of potential serious consequences?
--- Bill Dewey, Ithaca, New York, Thompkins County Ad Hoc Y2K Group, Dewey (Y2K) Research Center
YES! The local citizen is NOT being given any publicity or information as to Y2K compliancy status/contingency planning unless they come to a meeting -- and turn-out for this is almost zero. There needs to be a strong clear public-relations blitz that people need to have personal responsibility to prepare their OWN HOME for Y2K. This way emergency services won't be strained. THE INFO NEEDS TO BE OFFICIAL -- like Red Cross on TV -- people IGNORE grassroot groups aiming for public awareness: IF THE MAYOR DON"T SAY IT, IT AIN'T REAL. People who don't have computers think they won't be affected!!! They think their lives CANNOT be changed by something abstract and "overseas," or some authority "will take care of it." They blame the government, yet they expect the government to handle it!
P.S. We just held a county-wide Chamber of Commerce meeting -- with official invitations from the County Tourism , faxes to all colleges, civic groups, newspaper notices -- and only ONE person came -- TOTALLY DISMAL! Business leaders are not even interested!
--- Janet Weber, Rockland County, New York, Rockland County Y2k Citizens Readiness Group
This story will evetually play itself out and then there will be no trust in anything the federal government says. They have entered a slippery slope by deciding to hide any real possible problems from the public. Their concerns are understandable. Their lack of faith in the American citizen is not.
--- Robert Roskin, Blowing Rock, North Carolina, Y2K Solutions Group, Inc.
We have a state senator willing to meet with us this month, which is nice, but we have had no response from the local government.
--- Sherril Lowe, Glenpool, Oklahoma, Glenpool's Y2K Community Awareness Group
Most assuredly! Government must step up to the plate and provide the type of leadership the country needs and requires -- not just for a multi-emergency situation which Y2K could usher in, but leadership to motivate and equip PEOPLE to take initiative and action to help themselves in ANY emergency. I am convinced that the only way for people to survive a serious Y2K scenario is to establish block emergency groups with established leadership who are trained (even minimally) in first aid and CPR. Neighborhoods should have practiced an evacuation plan; all homes should be trained for at least a 72-hour plan and have a 72-hour kit in place; practice emergency drills at least once a month between now and 2000. Based on my experience, unless government sounds the alarm, I think Y2K preparation will still be perceived as a big yawn on the bulk of the populus. People who have not suffered in a crisis situation are not thinking "insurance!" and they are still trapped into thinking that the Red Cross, the National Guard and whomever else, will come to their aid/rescue.
--- Liza Christian, Ashland/Medford, Oregon, Former Executive Director, Rogue Valley Y2K Task Force
Without strong local and national leadership in preparedness, nothing is going to happen until something happens -- and then it could be too late.
--- Sugeet, Ashland, Oregon, Ashland Cictizen's Y2K Preparedness Project
There are so many people trying to sell their hype about Y2K to make a buck or sell their brand of fear for religious or political reasons that people are confused and turned off. We also have alot of computer geeks trying to sell fear so people will buy their services. We have tried to tell people that we don't know what will happen, but the outcome will be based on the proper attitude of cooperation and being prepared like any other emergency. We also tell people that they do not need to spend alot of money or buy fancy stuff to be prepared. It's going to be hard to reach people from now on. No one believes or they believe the hand of GOD is coming down on us and we need to get ready for the end. STRANGE!
--- Ellen M. O'Shea, Corvallis, Oregon and all of Benton and Linn Counties (Albany, Corvallis, Sweethome, Lebanon, Philomath), Benton & Linn County, Oregon Y2K Community Organization
You cannot get the average citizen interested because they simply do not believe the government would allow any real problems to develop! That's why we decided upon preparing for any disaster approach, which has been more successful.
--- Willa Johnson, Phoenix, Oregon, Phoenix Emergency Preparedness System (PEPS)
I can't imagine anything that could make a bigger difference in preparing this nation for Y2K than if there were strong national support for adopting Global Action Plan's household and neighborhood preparedness materials: All Together Now! in cities all over the country. Questions about these materials should be directed to David Gershon or Eve Baer at our home office in Woodstock, NY. eMail: firstname.lastname@example.org
--- Michael Dowd, Portland, Oregon, Campaign manager of the Portland Sustainable Lifestyle Campaign (a partnership between Global Action Plan and the city of Portland) and co-founder of the Portland-Metro Citizen Y2K Task Force.
The notion that disruptions will last only three days or, at most, a week, is widely accepted and major organizations are building their contingency plans on this basis. Individuals are unconcerned about the problem, imagining it will be inconvenient for a few days, but then things will begin to get back to normal, as after a major storm. If prolonged or extensive disruptions occur, the human, societal, economic, and political damages resulting from these "three days" and "bad storm" beliefs will be tragic, and quite possibly profound.
--- Susan K. Minarik, Beaver County, Pennsylvania, Beaver County Y2K Preparedness Group
Attention from the media has slackened off on Y2K plus there have been soothing statements from local utilities and businesses which put a happy face on Y2K. I recently attended a Y2K seminar in an affluent suburb sponsored by an investment firm which was basically a public relations event with little in-depth discussion. During the Q&A, when I tried to bring up some facts that raised the possibility of some less rosy scenarios, I was abruptly cut off by the moderator.
We are meeting with the director of the Office of Emergency Management and the head of Metro information systems who are co-chairs of the mayor's Y2K Steering Committee, formed in late January. So far, the committee has done an assessment of utilities, etc. but there has been no public leadership on Y2K from the mayor of Nashville. We also desperately need real leadership on a national level from Gore and Clinton. This would bolster the credibility of our grassroots efforts.
My organization is working on a Town Meeting. We were going to hold it in June but lack of public interest has caused us to bump it back to September. We're concerned that if we invite officials from the electric company, water company, etc., the event will be merely another public relations event and this will deflate our attempt to promote contingency planning and preparedness. We want this meeting to provide real, in-depth information and give people an opportunity to dialogue with officials. We see our role as a citizens' watch dog group.
Thus far, we have been operating as a volunteer organization with no funding and a lot of our volunteers have dropped off. We had eight people at our last meeting . Our previous meeting, held in April, attracted 75 people. We recently got a couple of small foundation grants which will keep us going for a short while and which will make it possible for a couple of us to draw part-time salaries. But unless we get additional funding or are able to raise some more money, I think it will be a real challenge to keep this organization going on volunteeer effort alone for the rest of the year.
--- Nell Levin, Nashville, Tennessee, Director NashvillePREP2000 (Promoting Responsible Emergency Preparedness)
There appears to be a lacadasical attude by the majority of the community, with a head in the sand attitude.I have invited questions on the website, via email, and head to head, but with little or no response. To be quite frank, my wife and I are conservatively preparing for January, but would not be surprised if there was to be a last minute, "What do we do now?" plea, and I am going to remind them that it's too late to dig the storm cellar when the toronado is coming over the back fence -- and wish them well. I know this reflects a negative attitude, but I have had it "up to here" with the manana attitude of these tunnel visioned folks.I have tried to be a good neighbor and citizen, but procrastination reigns supreme. I will leave the website up, but that's about it. If I can help on the national level, I'll be glad to.
--- Jim Andrews, Burnet, Texas, Burnet County Y2K Group
There seems to be an overall feeling in our area of maybe we should just wait and see what happens as far as I can tell from the responses I get from the newspaper articles I write in the San Augustine Tribune weekly. Also, our group e-mail list has not been near as active as it was when we first started. However the hits on our Y2K in E. Tx. website have slightly increased over the past couple of months. We average 30 to 50 hits per day there. A local buying co-op group is still going strong providing bulk purchases of many preperation items and advice on gardening and other skills we may need to brush up on. They experienced a slight increase in ordering in Feb. this year and are maintaining that level since.
--- Dusty Rhodes, Nacogdoches, Lufkin, and surrounding towns in East Central Texas, Nacogdoches Y2K Group, Y2K in East Texas
We would like to know how to start making progress again.
--- Reynolds Griffith, Nacogdoches, Texas, Nacogdoches Y2K Group, Y2K in East Texas
Our effort is to get agencies and people responsible for contingency planning in our community, to do so in the event Y2K brings problems. We have not had much success in getting the responsible ones to respond. There is an adhoc group initiated in December 1998 to do so; however, it has reverted to expecting individuals to ready their own areas; rather than to cause a coordination and oversight so necessary in community contingency planning.
--- Edward Valence Jr., San Antonio, Texas, Readiness 2000 Committee
Since public interest is growing, more information is needed from the federal and state governments. This information needs to be accessible to the general public and not limited to Internet websites and congressional records. I recommend the following:
1. Full page newspaper ads, paid for by the federal government, explaining in brief and simple terms, what the government is doing and what the status and plans are. There should be a series of these ads to address infrastructure, public and private organizations that provide basic services to the public: electric power, natural gas, water, food supply chain (production through retail), telephone.
2. Television and radio public service announcements. Many people do not read the newspaper; most people do watch TV. Make it simple, factual, and believable. Government should pay for these as well. Aim them at a variety of viewing audiences: Saturday morning for kids, sporting events, late night, prime time, soap opera time, etc.
3. The president should devote one or more public broadcasts to this. At least one of his radio chats and one prime time news conference. This should be recorded for future use and to create sound bites.
In my opinion, which is shared by many members of the Greater San Antonio Y2K Coalition, the technical issues regarding Y2K (computer code, embedded systems, etc.) are well on their way to being solved and will be solved before the end of the year. Most of us are devoting our time now to continuity planning. The biggest problem that we all face at this point in time is the panic buying and hoarding that will cause a self-fulfilling prophecy. The panic buying and hoarding mentality is caused by a lack of information and even misinformation which is prevalent on the Internet and in literature available in bookstores, especially religious bookstores. We need to start providing good (accurate, factual, and up-to-date) information on which the public can base their decisions.
The fear of litigation is a major impediment to good information being available. The Y2K Information and Readiness Disclosure Act was a good first step. We need to figure out a good second step or a reinforcement to the IRDA.
--- Gavin Nichols, San Antonio, Texas, Greater San Antonio Y2K Coalition
I am in continual communication with Koskinen and his staff as we are preparing the message that we will give nationally regarding health care. However, for all sectors, as 2000 creeps closer, risks related to Y2K-related failures may increase from original estimates due to the lack of consistent, clear information from reliable leadership and credible messengers.
--- Laurene West, Salt Lake City, Utah, National Patient Advocate for 55 million medication dependent Americans
It's almost like we need internal cheerleaders: someone to carry the torch and keep us going in an optimistic, charismatic fashion. People seem to have "burned out." I"ve certainly gone through spells of having little or no energy to keep doing all this "extra" work. I can be a good cheerleader, but I too need support. From whence shall it come?
I also think that all of the official concern about panic has served as a disincentive to people who want to be practical but not perceived as "too far out there" or contributing in any way to a climate of fear. I know I struggle with this myself: how do I balance telling people to stock food, and yet, still stay as engaged as possible in whatever economy exists after the toll of the bell? How do I counteract, in practical ways, the accusations of inciting panic and contributing to a social meltdown? It's a dilemma.
--- Stephanie Jo Kent, Halifax, Vermont, Halifax Vermont Y2K Preparedness Committee
I believe the slackening of interest in Y2K is due to at least three factors:
1. People have reached the saturation point (it's been in the news a long time now);
2. Media, industry and government sources have put such a positive spin on Y2K outcomes that most people are complacent;
3. The weather got nice, and disaster is not what's on peoples' minds.
I'm expecting a resurgence in interest and concern as the summer moves into fall, and some measure of panic towards late fall.Until then, let's keep Y2K on the back burner and enjoy the summer -- all, that is, except Koskinen, who needs to drop his whitewash brush and begin to trust the American public with honest and timely information about the calamitous possibilities inherent in the millennial transition.
--- Robert Riversong, Readsboro, Vermont, Readsboro Preparedness Committee
Our communities have a right to know Y2K is serious. The public should be getting more information from "their" government on practical preparation information. Bringing aboard riot squads and the National Guard is NOT the answer. Organizing our communities and neighborhoods IS THE KEY! People need to know the facts so that we can avoid a fear-based panic situation from developing. FEMA needs to step up to the plate! Then and only then will the local counties, major cities, and communities be able to follow suit. This is necessary in order for us to address the problem, before it is too late! Government, elected officials and FEMA: don't you think you have an obligation to be honest with the American population? ACTION is needed NOW!
And for all of the groups out there feeling like the community is apathetic: KEEP TALKING, get to know your neighbors, hold another meeting, hand out fliers in person, find several people who share your same commitment, and work together. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
--- Pamela Rutledge, Arlington (Seattle Area & The Puget Sound), Washington, Puget Sound Community Self Reliance Cooperative
We're not sure what the lack of interest is caused by: Kosovo and Littleton taking the headlines? News that our own utility is done with its remediation? General crisis fatigue? But not only are no new people showing, but old regulars are not coming either. At last some good weather after a winter of unceasing rain? We understand that earthquake preparation is a little more active this year than others, but the vast majority of Seattle blocks are not organized for either earthquake or any other disaster, like Y2K. We understand that our city plans a further mailout to the various blockwatches, but no details are yet forthcoming.
--- Helen Gabel, Seattle, Washington, Puget Sound Community Self Reliance Cooperative
The overwhelming tone of media coverage and communication from public officials has been, "Don't worry, everything will be OK." People are going to sleep! The attitude of withholding information for fear of "creating panic" reveals a condescending, paternalistic attitude. Treat us like adults, for heaven's sake! We, the public, responsibly deal with all sorts of challenges daily in our jobs and families. We can respond constructively when we know the facts! A very valuable resource is being wasted as a result of the lack of leadership about Y2K awareness and preparation, and the all-too-sunny media coverage, namely, the widespread volunteer effort to organize positive community responses to Y2K. We're trying to help you -- why are you and the Administration making our job so difficult? If people tune out and we run out of steam because no one is in the bully pulpit legitimizing our efforts, where is the antidote to the "panic" you so fear going to come from?
--- Mary Anderson, Seattle (Seattle Area & The Puget Sound), Washington, Puget Sound Community Self Reliance Cooperative
As a group, we have been able to mobilize enough resources to have an organizing body that can in fact educate and support our community on Y2K preparedness. Turnout at bimonthly events is painfully small. The monthly meetings draw in very few new people. Our local city government has yet to make any public statement to the community. We know they are working on contingency planning, we just don't know to what extent. We are in the process of trying to support the city government in going public.
Neighborhood groups are forming slowly but surely with the help of our local county department of emergency management. Although Y2K is a focus of the group, we also, like many others, are using Y2K as an opportunity to help our community prepare for natural disasters (such as earthquakes), and to build on the general concept of resilient and sustainable community living.
There are a small number of us who make up the pulse of the group. We have not slowed down but we have become more realistic about what we can accomplish. Although community apathy is high, we believe that as the months tick away, people may have a renewed interest in preparing for Y2K. Even though our events are small, our presence is known in the community by virtue of advertising events, meetings and talking to other local organizations and faith groups. When the time comes, people will know who we are and how we can help. Hopefully it will be in enough time for people to prepare sensibly.
Most of us are concerned with the lack of straightforward information on Y2K, the "happy face" message form high places, and the lack of serious consideration in certain major infrastructures. We stress preparedness due to the unpredictability of Y2K. We don't feel comfortable publicly sending a doomsday message or the opposite, a no problem message. Like many others, we are using Y2K as an opportunity to build community from the ground up.
We have "beyond Y2K" goals. Bainbridge Island Resilient Community Network hopes to carry on the mission of educating, inspiring, organizing and supporting the formulation of small neighborhood groups, not just for emergency preparedness, but for the full potential inherent in neighbors coming together, from sharing resources to impacting local government.
--- Neva Welton, Bainbridge Island, Washington, Bainbridge Island Resilient Community Network
The lack of public interest in Y2K is distressing to our task force. We hold public meetings and very few people come. One task force member calls this "the Y2K malaise." Spokane's emergency services director said trying to get people interested is like "pushing a string." We urge the nation's leaders to step forward, put a voice to the risks we are facing, and suggest that people make reasonable preparations. Without national leadership or an actual crisis, people will keep sleeping. At the community level, we're finding it is impossible to take the steps we could take right now to minimize potential suffering. The fear among leaders of causing panic might very well end up costing lives. I'm afraid this time next year millions of people will be asking, "Why didn't our leaders tell us about this!?"
--- Judy Laddon, Spokane, Washington, Spokane City/County Y2K Task Force
Here's my general sense. People are not concentrating on this issue but there is a high potential for it to blow up in the fall.The most significant statistic, I think, is that over 50% of people say they will take out additional money. This will not work, of course.
I'm reminded, a bit, of the time before World War II. People knew it was coming in one sense but we looked away.
Radical uncertainty still pervades my thinking.
--- Robert Theobald, Spokane, Washington, Resilient Communities
The effort to reassure the public and prevent "panic" has reduced the public's interest in preparing further for Y2K. This presents a major problem for all community organizing efforts, and is likely to create a situation in the fall when many peope suddenly decide that they had better "do something" and the items they would like to purchase may become difficult or impossible to find. Then, the government will really start to feel the heat.
The more we can do to encourage people to prepare now, the better. Panic is an illusion that haunts the minds of planners and managers, but rarely happens, according to a Red Cross study of 300 disasters. So let us provide people with good information, and stop telling people there is "no problem", when in fact anyone in authority cannot make such a statement with any degree of certainty, due to the complexity and interconnectedness of worldwide systems.
--- Gordon Davidson, Washington, D.C., Y2K Community Solutions Washington D.C. Metro
I think they know enough about me. I bother them all the time.
--- Seth D. Carmichael, Washington D.C., Y2K Youth Action Network (Washington D.C. based International Network)
Need to publish critical information (and let us decide what's critical or not) on a website so that the public can go to one main site to read the TRUTH!!!
Clinton should hold televised fireside chats with the public on a WEEKLY basis for 2 months. We have to get the public's mind open to the seriousness of the issue and not just on an international level. They have to see that severe domestic problems cannot be held at bay for long.
--- Caryl Rose Valentine & Roy Alan Guisinger, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Oregon
Our group here has a core of people who are very much interested in keeping open to what can be learned from this process. While our outward efforts have not had the results originally intended, we have spent a great deal of time trying to uncover how we can and are being effect in preparing. This has been focussed less on the practicalities of physical survival and much more on how we can create a psychological/spiritual groundedness that will allow us to be able to meet whatever does happen. We realize that even the most informed projections of what could happen are only guesses, and that they often miss what is going on beneath the surface. Our perceptions of how our community should react and organize made sense to us at the time, but we now see the limits of our vision more clearly, and why others did not jump on the bandwagon. This has made us very open to emptying ourselves of preconceived ideas about what will happen and how to prepare. (This is on a group level, as individuals each of us is doing whatever we feel called to do).
I think that our aim at present could be summed up by saying that when things happen we want to be a group who is able to not panic, keep our collective heads about us, and be present to the moment. For us, Y2K is much more about a process of learning to become clear and present in the moment, and we are coming to trust that this will stand us in good stead no matter what happens.
--- Jonathan Reams, Nelson, British Columbia, Canada, West Kootenay Y2K Alliance
The unsubstantiated remediation progress numbers have laud the public into a dangerous mode of complacency. Will have to work harder to get the populace prepared later, if ever.
--- Gary Allan Halonen (& Bill Dale), Mississauga, Ontario, Community Prep & Recovery Network, Millennium Salons (a community preperation resource website)
& Other Y2K Leaders/Organizers
(These comments come from people who wished to remain annoynomous.)
4. Is there anything else about your Y2K community work that you would like Y2K Czar John Koskinen, national Y2K organizers and/or other local Y2K groups to know?
We have been making an emphasis on neighborhood organizing. At Earth Day, our group had a booth, and over 100 people met in small neighborhood based groups to discuss activities in the neighborhoods. Berkeley Y2K Resilience Network has now had two large citywide forums, each with about 80 - 90 people attending, and several action groups have spun off: a newsletter group, a sustainable neighborhood organizing group, a preparedness group. Several Y2K Study Circles (a 6-week discussion class originated by the Northern California Earth Institute) have been held in Berkeley and Oakland. We have a website listing. We're now partially funded by the City of Berkeley and are working closely with the City Manager's office, with plans for future forums, skills trainings, and citywide mailings.
--- Berkeley, California
There are tremendous amounts of grass-roots resources who can be called upon to help share truthful information. We can be allies in preventing panic and overreaction, especially if we are trusted with the truth about status and readiness.
Even though the public attention seems to have moved away from Y2k, this is a good time to quietly move forward with our own preparations, information sharing, and personal outreach to more 'at-risk' members of our communities.
--- Petaluma, California
The media (newspaper) here still doesn't seem to be interested in informing the public about the possibilities.
--- West Central, Ohio
There were more people preparing before than there is now. Unfortunately, our government propaganda has made them think it will not be that bad, so it is almost like we are moving backward in some areas. The overall summary is broke down into two types of people:
1. Believers of the government who have stopped doing anything.
2. Non-believers of the government who no longer trust anything out of the government or media's mouth and have doubled their efforts of stockpiling. The more the media says it is getting better, the harder they stockpile. It is almost a reversed reaction.
--- Dansville, New York
Start being more truthful about getting prepared. Panic can only exist in ignorance. There is still time for an oderly preparation by the country. Tell FEMA to go back to a two week time frame.
--- Redway, California
Only two people got in touch with me (by email) after seeing my name in The Cassandra Project list. Neither came to anything. I am in touch with three churches. There is no significant coordination between the three that I can perceive. I know of many pastors. I cannot say they are interested in doing anything about Y2K except pay lip service when they are forced to do so.
My suggestion: Group neighboring cities (seven of them in each group, perhaps) and let them closely coordinate their activities under one designaged coordinator. Members of each city should include the mayor.
--- South Bay, California
The community is worried. A lot of people are talking about taking their money out of the banks by mid-summer. People are saying they don't believe what the politicians and community leaders are telling them about this problem.
--- Buffalo, New York
Free market will bring mediation into focus as a commerce friendly solution IF the business community and the public understand what it is!
--- Southern California
Local community and church groups in the Rochester, New York area have been active in trying to raise the awareness level on Y2K state of readiness and on the need to prepare. State, local and county government has been cooperative in trying to get information to the public. My feeling, however, based on the absence of success specifics from the government, leads me to believe the government informational efforts are little more than a public relations exercise.
--- Rochester, New York
It would be very helpful if the goverment and local community goverment would talk about this issue and at least give citizens access to basic information regarding preparedness of things like our water system, electric, natural gas, and what contingency plans are being made in case of outages.
--- Cadillac, Michigan
People are really getting suspicious of the government. I'm not talking about "paranoid survivalists," but ordinary people. They don't trust what they are being told. They don't believe that everything is going to be alright. But, unfortunately, they don't know where to go to get credible non-government sponsored information that will give them hard facts and no legal speak. I believe that if the government doesn't address this problem seriously and honestly, the panic that could result in the latter part of the year could be more devestating that any effect from Y2K.
--- Wernersville, Pennsylvania
Governor Jankilow of South Dakota was blunt and to the point in his 1999 State-of-the-State address (January 13, 1999):
"The unknown can be as dangerous as what we know. I've deliberately bit my lip for the last two years on this subject matter, and now we are down to 12 months. We face an absolute catastrophe in the world because of this problem. On the other hand, it may not be much of anything. The biggest problem is, we don't know. But don't take anybody lightly that tells you that the roof could come falling in. I can tell you today that if year 2000 hit today, the electric grid that serves South Dakota would go down. It would not stay up, and don't believe anybody that tells you it would. Now, by the year 2000, it might, but today it will go down. Year 2000 doesn't come in the middle of June when the temperature is decent. It's coming on December 31 in the middle of winter.
"We can't take the risk that our telephone and telecommunications companies won't operate. We can't take that risk. They have to function. We must have hospitals where they've got electricity and gas. It has to work. There's no program Bill Janklow or you folks together could implement on December 31 to take care of telephones, medical, law enforcement, and the utilities. They must work. We must let the public know, every step during the course of this year, what is Y2K compliant, and what isn't...."
"The law enforcement and the fire departments, their equipment has to function&emdash;911&emdash;I can tell you that the task force that this Legislature mandated be put together in legislation last year that's completing its work got a report last Thursday. I believe that says the top eighteen 911s in South Dakota are not Y2K compliant. As a matter of fact, one of the major vendors that provides equipment says, If you bought it from us before, get this, 1997 we're not going to make it compliant. If you bought it afterwards, we will. So they are faced with the prospect of buying new equipment that may have been purchased in 1996. But right now the top 18 are not compliant, but they are working on it.
"We've got to make sure that we have municipal water and rural water. Have to have it. No other choice. We've got to make sure that sewer systems&emdash;municipal water is meaningless if you can't flush it or let it go down the kitchen sink or the bath drain. The sewer systems have to work. We have to make sure that those places that live on natural gas, the natural gas has to work. And the electrical generation&emdash;our power companies, our various investor-owned utilities, our public power systems&emdash;those that generate, those that distribute, those that do both, they have to function, because one of them going down can suck the whole system down on the grid. So we are going to put together a group of people, and they will be making reports with regularity to the public with respect to these specific areas&emdash;state government, for those local governments that choose to be involved, fine. I'll not attempt to force them to do anything. But all the rest of them I'm going to use the gubernatorial powers that I have that deal with emergencies and crises to get the information and make it available to the public. I do know the Public Utilities Commission has met with respect to&emdash;electrical utilities had a meeting and I believe telephone utilities, so far. So they're also working on this endeavor. But, folks, this is terribly critical, and so, rather then being an alarmist, I'm just going to tell you that we will try and get the information to the public as fast as we can intelligently and effectively assemble it. And we will be prepared, at least to deal with, hopefully, those limited emergency situations that we have to deal with December 31.
"There could be some disruptions in April, and there could be some disruptions on September 9. This is obviously out of my bailiwick, but they tell me that programmers used to end their programs with 9999, four nines. Well, that happens to be also 9-9 of 99, and the computer doesn't know the difference. So, for some, it may trigger when it gets to that. When it sees that date it may trigger and say that's the end of the program, shut it off, and shut it down. For some it may erase it. The problem is nobody knows where all those 9999s are. That's the problem. If they knew where they were, because they were long ago put in place by people who've long since passed away, moved away, gone into other occupations, or won't tell you, whatever the case is..."
Regardless of the governor's pro active approach, our local government officials ignore Y2K completely. The local mayor responded to inquiries about Y2K by announcing Y2K good citizen awards! It is like leading cattle to slaughter. In a region where cattle ranching is one of two major industries, the analogy is pertinent.
The South Dakota Department of Information and Technology and SD Public Broadcasting have produced a responsible video for beginners that is available on request. Unfortunately, unless one listens to NPR at the exact right moment, know one knows about it.
--- Rapid City, South Dakota
Local groups need strong, ego-free leadership. Y2K is larger than people's egos, yet they cannot set them aside even for this important work. I fear the real leaders will emerge only after a crisis occurs.
--- Whidbey Island, Washington
County government is making a good public agency attempt to work on Y2K. County extension agent is talking with community groups. City government is disengaged. Inner city residents we work with can't relate to the issue. General community response is "We are used to winter blizzards -- no big deal." Technology is still just another tool in this old manufacuturing community. We have yet to recognize any cultural transformation I experienced in places like Seattle.
--- Racien, Wisconsin
People seem to be saying that we are resourceful, and that businesses won't let themselves lose money by being unable to cope, so few people are expecting serious problems.
--- Gainesville, Florida
If you're serious about making sure we get through this problem, you have to start a REAL public education campaign ASAP.
--- Victoria, Australia