Icing on the Millennial Cake

By Tooker Gomberg, Edmonton, Alberta.

As the year 2000 looms closer, now is a good time to think about, and invest in, self-sufficiency.

Outside my window the world rests peacefully under a thick blanket of freshly fallen snow. It’s 22 below, and I savour being snug and warm.

A year ago, eastern Canada was hit by the worst natural disaster in our history drawing emergency resources from across the country to restore basic necessities. At the height of the ice storm, 3 million Canadians were without power – in the dead of winter.

As I look forward, the millennium bug bites my consciousness, reminding me of our collective vulnerability to failures of technology.

“More than one-third of the most important (government) systems won’t be fixed in time” states the U.S. House Panel Y2K report of September 1998. And, due to Y2K concerns, Canada’s RCMP will not allow vacations from late December 1999 to the middle of March 2000.

We like to think we’re invincible – just as the Titanic was unsinkable. But if Y2K hits hard, we may have only ourselves, and our neighbours and communities, to rely upon. Why not be ready, just in case?

Hundreds of groups around North America have begun taking precautions and are organizing on a neighbourhood basis. In Edmonton, we have been meeting to begin talking about people’s concerns, to hope for the best, and to prepare for the worst.

Officials in Britain are urging people to stock up with two weeks’ emergency food rations in anticipation of Y2K-related shortages. What could we do to keep warm if the electricity and natural gas stops flowing? I don’t know if that is likely, but I do know that it is possible. As a Boy Scout, I learned the motto: Be Prepared.

While a few people are grabbing guns and heading for the hills, my hope is that citizens grab spades and start planting gardens in the spring. During the war, some countries planted Victory Gardens to help feed the people. Why not start a massive program of Millennium Gardens this spring to help ensure that there will be enough to eat locally? Elders could help teach young ‘uns the tricks of tending the vegetable patch, and how to can and store food for the winter.

The millennium bug may shut down the power, but we could be ready. And in preparing we build strength in neighbourliness. Come the new millennium, we may be powerless, or we could be re-invigorated with the power and joy of increased self-sufficiency. The choice is ours.