Contingency Planning: Cynthia Beal on Chicago, Motion, Butterfly Wings, and More! : LUSENET : Millennium Salons : One Thread

Laura wrote:

>: Living in the city, where people only seem to irritate each
>: other and holing up in your new condo is the norm, I am having
>: difficulties seeing just where I could develop any sort of
>: "community" with either my neighbors (as Tom and I are sorta
>: nomadic-keep moving from one apt. to another) or colleagues at
>: work.

There's some interesting homework you might want to do, Laura. I'll ask around, and if Janet Hartley is still on List, she may have some ideas for you. I've also cc'd Dianne Brause, president of Lost Valley Educational Center, here in Oregon. Perhaps they know of a group you can connect with in Chicago that does the following:

There is a growing "sustainable communities" movement, under different names, that actually is focused on building community in highly urbanized areas. The tools for building community that they use duplicate almost exactly the preparedness strategies I've heard others taking with respect to y2k - conservation of resources, the start of home or porch gardens, saving money, storing food, identifying vulnerable people in the neighborhood who will need extra care should the power go out, fuel savings, managing waste and trash more efficiently, supporting neighborhood stores within walking distance, participating in governance, conflict resolution without government...I'll be writing more about this in the coming months, in my Central Cascadia Reports, as this is what I work on in my own neighborhood around my store in Eugene, and soon in my rural home-area as well.

The best thing about this type of work is that it pays off now, and it pays off if y2k is a minor glitch in your area, and it also pays off if y2k causes lots of trouble in your area. You feel good. You connect with people on a proactive, positive basis. You get healthier. You become more secure. You build a community.

You can talk about y2k, but what you may find yourself saying, y2k or not, is "Hey, we really do live with a brittle infrastructure, don't we? We're not very interruptable any more, are we? The least little thing (geese flying through radar triggering nuclear war alerts) sets us off. Let's be calm, but not numb. Let's take action, not be caught in reaction. Y2K is just the first example of what multiple jolts in the critical shared infrastructure can feel like in our highly interconnected information age. Let's use it, and grow from it, and get through it, and move on."

I've been saying that to my family for years. Today, in the face of y2k, it's finally making sense. If I don't act out anger or frustration or fear, but simply stay focused (lot's of work!) on positive tasks at hand, the next steps keep getting more clear. Sure, there are always folks ready to point out the great obstacles, and why things can't be done. I look at their observations as a roadmap (ok, how do I get around THAT one?), but I don't go with their conclusions ('s too hard...etc.).

And, as Robert Mangus pointed out, some of these same people come around later, willing to do what you do, because their road - hopelessness - doesn't go anywhere, and your road, doing something positive, does. So, IMO, the most important thing is to make sure that you don't create so much bad feeling that you can't come together in the future. Because you will. Opposites attract :-)

I've also been finding some use in reading bits of Ghandi's autobiography (he lived in a very tulmultuous time, with high levels of population quickly impacted by any sweeping decision), Helen and Scott Nearing's books (create a sense of the path to simplicity that you don't need to be in the country to reproduce), and Bucky Fuller again (think opportunity! and possibility!).

So, Chicago is lucky to have you, Laura. Tom's there. Dave Hunter is nearby. There seem to be other Illinois area folk on the list. You all have a longing for a better way, and you have the impetus to build it. You won't be long in finding company, I predict. In fact, I'm more certain of that than I am of anything else. Because that's the way It works.



The butterfly's flutter touches
the hurricane's roar -
calming or feeding it,
who can say?
Softly, carefully,
small acts change our world.

-- Cynthia (, June 06, 1998


Discussions about going back to the Old Way of doing things: Yourdon's Forum - why it's harder than before gives some insight in to how things are different today, and what you might have to pay more attention to than you used to.

Discussions about "heading for the country: Yourdon's Forum - a programmer leaves the big city, and responses to this action on his family's part. In a response I've made to this post, I mention some thoughts about how to do this.

-- cynthia (, June 21, 1998.

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