Is 'Grassroots' Community Preparedness Doomed To Failure? : LUSENET : Millennium Salons : One Thread

An interesting commentary by Gary Allan Halonen in the Ontario 2000 forum: "Is 'Grassroots' Community Preparedness Doomed To Failure?"

It appears that, like it or not, if y2k is going to be as problematic as community prep advocates predict, institutions (with their broadbased, well established communications and "distribution" pipelines), and skilled contingency planning/emergency response professionals will _need to be at the forefront.

That may seem a no-brainer, but the subtle point would be that perhaps we (those of us who are not working within institutions, or as contingency/emergency planning professionals), need to find ways to cooperate with those institutions and whatever their plans may be, instead of fighting or trying to circumvent them, no matter how necessary that may seem (because of the way most seem to be hiding).

A simple for instance (on the most basic level) would be the broad and rapid dissemination of the "certifiable recommendations" of the Red Cross and FEMA to the general population. FEMA says "Prepare now," and the Red Cross says, "For 3 days to 2 weeks of trouble."

Using time, resources, energy to get that message out to our neighbors is a completely dumbo waste of time to many involved in community prep. There are calls in the grassroots community for everything from stirring the masses to demand accurate information from every government official and service provider in the community, to setting up alternative localized food chain systems, to implementing plans for social transformation. While all those calls are noble, mostly good ideas, and no doubt appropriate, the overriding reality seems to be they aren't working out in terms practical implementation in all but the most isolated cases (if there).

Encouraging people to prepare for 3 days to 2 weeks of disruptions may seem like a gigantic comedown, or totally putrid response, but it _does provide a "lowest common denominator" that almost _everyone can agree on because it's being put forth by the "institutional rocks," and, as the old saws go, "Every little bit helps," "It's a start," and, "A bird in the hand is worth 10,000 in the brain."

From that basic starting point (system load reducing personal preparedness), it would seem the most intelligent "next step" up the cooperative ladder would be the encouragement/support/cooperation with as many as possible of the things outlined in Capers Jones Municipal Contingency Planning Guide (August, 1998), and more recently, Steve Davis's/Coalition 2000's Community Preparedness (draft) document.

As Steve put it in a note about that paper, "This has been prepared as an effort to build consensus on the issue of appropriate Y2K preparedness. The document is intended as guidance to local government and civic leaders and is intended to complement FEMA's "Contingency Planning for Year 2000 Problems A Guide for State and Local Emergency Managers" that is currently under development. The idea behind this document is that if this type of message can be delivered clearly and consistently, it will enable local leaders to facilitate emergency and community preparedness efforts."

In my humble estimation, it is an excellent paper, outline, guide. Probably the best of its kind so far. As an update yesterday from Steve indicated, it's probably a little too much (in terms of time to prepare for?) for the institutional community to sign onto (or, frankly, handle), but that takes little away from it.

But primarily, this note is related to the term "build consensus on the issue of appropriate Y2K preparedness" which, I think, is about focus, or "singleness of purpose." As far as my part of whatever concensus there is, I'd say our efforts may be best focused on getting out the most basic message the most people are likely to find acceptible (basic personal prep/the FEMA and Red Cross message), and from there seeking to be supportive of the not at all simple or easy tasks outlined in both Capers Jones' and Coalition 2000's guides. As Harlan Smith has often put it (and I paraphrase completely), there are 275 million people in America alone, and thinking a serious y2k result can be dealt with without the inclusion of government/instututions is - well... Crazy.


-- Bill (, February 18, 1999

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