The year 2000 problem represents a potentially difficult time
for all of us. However, let’s not lose sight of the fact that it’s
a temporary bump (or pothole) in the road--not the end of the
world. No one knows what will happen, nor how serious it will
be. However, we can and will get through this or any other
difficulties, if we all work together.
Many people ask what they can do to protect themselves. Should
they go off to the woods, move to another state? Others want to
know if they should withdraw their money from the bank. I say No!
There are over 260 million people in this country alone. You
think you’ll be the only one in the woods? They will all be focused
on their own survival, perhaps at the risk of yours. Then there’s
the larger issue–if everyone leaves, who will be left to keep the
communities and cities going? What will be left to come back
If 5 percent or less of depositors take their money out of the
banks, the banks will close. How does intentionally crippling the
financial infrastructure help you, your family or community? How
will we be able to rebuild? It’s not about ‘me’ anymore, it’s about
‘we’; and our individual actions can and will impact everyone, for
good or ill.
Individual preparedness is for those who can; community
preparedness is for those who can’t. What kind of world will be
left if the elderly, the poor, the ill and the disabled are
abandoned, perhaps to suffer or die? Is that the world we want our
children to inherit? The life lesson and legacy we wish to pass
Life isn’t just survival, it’s about living, building and
growing; and passing it on to the next generation. The only way to
get through this is to pull together and work through it as a
community. Problems can’t be escaped, they can only be dealt with.
If you are concerned about your safety, the best means of securing
it is to help your neighbor prepare; and work with your community
to develop needed and appropriate plans.
As for me and mine, we’ll be staying right here. Our neighbors,
the seniors down the road and my family will sink or swim together.
My only hope and wish is that there will be enough of us to keep
each others’ heads above water when we tire. Eventually, the storm
will pass and we will wade ashore–together. I hope we’ll see you
What One Town Can Do
Medford, Oregon, was recently the site of a remarkable community
event. More than 700 people gathered together over a two-day period
to learn how to protect their families and communities from the
effects of the year 2000 computer crisis. It was the first such
event held in the United States.
We were invited to conduct the meetings and seminars offered to
the public. These are our observations.First, the startling
attendance indicated an intense level of community concern about
the year 2000 problem (also called Y2K). This impression was
confirmed during several lengthy question-and-answer sessions in
which the audience revealed the nature and extent of their
concerns. Simply put, they were worried about the basic stuff of
life. They wanted to know if the year 2000 crisis might disrupt the
availability of everyday necessities such as electricity, food,
water, and medical treatment. They were anxious that government
might be unable to provide critical services such as Social
Security, air traffic control, and even military protection.
The high attendance caught the local press by surprise. The
seminar did receive excellent coverage before the fact by the local
newspaper and broadcast media. There was no press coverage,
however, at the three large seminar sessions.
Some local political leaders were also caught unawares. The
small city hall meeting in Medford saw representation from Medford,
Ashland, Grants Pass, Butte Falls and Jackson County. Senator Smith
(R-OR) sent a representative as well. As with the press, however,
few, if any of these leaders were present at the larger seminar
sessions. Nonetheless, those who did support the event are to be
commended because Medford, and the surrounding area, will soon be
acclaimed as the first community in the nation with the vision to
host a Y2K preparedness event at its city hall.
The most surprising aspect of the Medford meetings was the broad
diversity of the attendees. All political and religious persuasions
seemed to be there. Young, Generation X working couples and Social
Security recipients sat side-by-side in the audience. Environmental
activists rubbed elbows with blue-collar workers. Christians and
libertarians joined in serious conversation. New Age mystics and
Joe Six Pack set aside their differences. For a day and a half, it
was a magical manifestation of community togetherness. Political
leaders across the country should take note of what took place in
Medford. A powerful coalition for good is standing ready to take on
the ‘millennium bug.’
What impressed us the most, however, was the remarkable impact
one concerned individual could have in a community. The Medford
event was organized by Will Reishman, a local investment counselor
who simply cares about his neighbors. Under the sponsorship of
Icare, Inc., a charitable public service organization, he
single-handedly willed the entire event into being. All expenses
were defrayed through donation and all were invited to attend
The Medford Y2K Community Preparedness Seminar reminds us of
these two simple messages: The people do still care, and one person
can still make a difference.
The year 2000 computing crisis poses a frightening threat to
almost every aspect of our way of life. Some believe it should be
confronted with a remote cabin, a pile of dried food, a big dog,
and a shotgun. This strategy, although perhaps rational on an
individual basis, is unworkable for society as a whole.
Medford shows us why it is unnecessary.
Paloma O’Riley is the cofounder of the
Jim Lord is the author ofA Survival Guide for the
Year 2000 Problem, a practical 270-page consumer’s guide to
preparation for the year 2000 computer crisis. He is also the
editor of the Year 2000 Survival Newsletter, which provides
continuing updates on the progress of the year 2000 crisis. He is
the most widely read Y2K columnist in the world at
has appeared on 150 radio talk shows and on ABC Nightline.