Let's Talk 2000

"The heartbeat of 2000 A.D. from cyberspace"

September 1, 1997, Volume 3, Issue 10, a bi-weekly bulletin

Topics covered in this issue:

The Millennium Doctor Speaks News from the Field: Talk from the Forum: New Millennial Sites: Contact Information

The Millennium Doctor Speaks:
"Taking the pulse of 2000 A.D."

Diana: Princess of Wales, 1961-1997. Ironically, this weekend I had set aside time to receive a personal briefing from a Canadian millennium planner on how celebrities and their charity work will shape our world's millennial celebrations.

Then half way through our time together the tragic news came.

A world began to grieve. A light had indeed gone out. A Princess who had been rejected by her Prince as Queen became more than that, she became an Icon. She turned her celebrity status into an ambassador for charity worldwide.

It was as if Vogue magazine began to do the work of Mother Teresa. She who had been estranged from royalty embraced the strangers, the children, the needy. Diana the seeker, Diana the servant--may her memory live on to grace our entry into a new millennium.

This issue of Let's Talk 2000™ turns its spotlight on another woman on the world stage. A year ago America began to hear how a bridge to the 21st century could be built through President Clinton's re-election. Now we learn that the White House plans to lead a millennial parade across that bridge, led by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Our lead news features gives you an inside look at how and why the Clintons created this distinct American millennium program to celebrate 2000. And our Forum section gives you a review of the program components, in the White House's own words.

Our second feature is an interview with Charles Cameron, who has been tracking the multi-varied quest for millennial hope on the Web, and now regularly posts his "Millennium Concentrate" to the Talk 2000 Forum. Read why Cameron feels the millennial dream is being expressed in both wonderful and weird ways, and how our exposure to these local "clusters" might be key to our global journey toward hope.

What role should celebrities and their charities play in the coming celebrations of 2000? If you have an opinion on that or update on a millennial project you are doing in your community or country, please let us hear from you. Post your message to 2000ad-l@usc.edu, our daily Talk 2000 Forum.

News from the Field:
"Here is the latest news on year 2000 efforts."

As it turns out, the First Lady will lead the parade across the fabled bridge to the 21st century. The White House millennium celebrations will include ballet dancing, boys' choirs and lecture series under the inspiration of a restored Star-Spangled Banner.

Two weeks ago, on August 15th, President Clinton appointed first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton to lead a national campaign to plan a once-in-a-lifetime celebration designed, as he put it, "to honor the past and to imagine the future."

"For centuries, people have wondered what this millennium would bring," Clinton said, speaking in front of the Constitution from the rotunda of the National Archives.

"Would it signal an apocalypse or herald a new world? Mark a time of decline or a time of renewal?"

"Whatever the prophecies and forecasts . . . the millennium is no longer a distant possibility. It has arrived. We are present at the future, a moment we must now define for ourselves and for our children."

In defining the millennia threshold for Americans, Clinton made three key announcements:

* First, the United States will accept an invitation by German Chancellor Helmut Kohl to participate in Expo 2000 in Hanover -- the first World's Fair to mark the arrival of a new millennium.

* Second, in his first words on the Y2k crisis, the President assured the public that government computers would not be plagued by the "millennium bug," a flaw that will have some systems calculating the year 2000 as 1900.

* Third, the President announced the First Lady will oversee preparations for the year 2000 celebrations along the lines of those leading up to the nation's centennial commemorations in '86 of the Statue of Liberty.

In explaining the White House program, the First Lady underscored the importance of the year 2000 to the American spirit: "As the President said in his State of the Union address earlier this year, our economy is measured in numbers and statistics . . . but the enduring work of our nation lies in our shared values and our soaring spirit."

"By giving our own gifts to the future, we can make sure that when the new millennium finally comes, we won't just be celebrating a new year; we will be celebrating the enduring strength of our democracy, the renewal of our sense of citizenship, and the full flowering of the American mind and spirit."

The millennium moment apparently has long fascinated Bill Clinton, who made the bridge to the 21st century the primary metaphor of his campaign last year. As a result of his relection, Clinton will now conclude his administration in the symbolic year of 2000. Yet it appears that the First Lady was a prime force in helping the administration raise its millennial banner at this time.

Earlier this year, the First Lady addressed the National Endowment for the Arts, who awarded $5.8 million to 29 "millennium projects," including a photographic survey of the United States and a variety of dance, music and artistic initiatives.

In preparation for the unveiling of the White House program, aides to the First Lady called around to different federal agencies to collect examples of millennial projects already underway.

Those in the works range from television spots, or "Millennium Minutes" by the National Endowment for the Humanities to free performances at the Kennedy Center as prelude to a Millennium Stage--a year-long artistic festival in 2000.

What significance does the White House Millennium Program hold?

"What the Clintons did was to frame certain programs already underway inside a millennium package," claims Dr. Hillel Schwartz, author of Century's End, and fellow with the Millennium Institute. "At the same time, the program leaves a great room for initiative on the part of local communities and individuals. Despite one or two exceptions, this is 'modular', modular America for the millennium."

Schwartz, who has addressed the National Endowment for the Arts on millennium creativity, feels the President and First Lady may have sidestepped "the mainline bureacracy and gone for a popular response" through this initiative.

Based on a meeting this past Winter with the First Lady and chats with senior advisors of the administration, Schwartz says the White House Millennium Project is not just cosmetic. "Sure the 'bridge to the 21st century' is part of the rhetoric, but the Clintons are concerned what each of us can do for the people of the 21st century."

Schwartz feels the rub will come on what millennium programs are politically possible to accomplish in the frame of new century aspirations. As a Millennium Institute scholar, he hopes the issue of a substainable future will not fall off the table.

Will the U.S. Congress join the Clinton's millennial train? "Maybe in a year or so, they may release some extra funding for National Park Service celebrations for 2000." But Schwartz feels it is unrealistic in the present budget climate to see funds released for commemoratives.

Rather than legislate the millennium in a centralized way, Schwartz feels the Clinton's initial packaging of existing federal projects into a millennium program might well gain momentum by stimulating corporate and private funding. He has already received an invitation from a private foundation in Philadelphia to address them on how they can undergird the White House initiative.

Are we witnessing a 1,000, no, 2,000 points of lights in the making? It is likely to early to tell the shape of things to come.

The White House encourages anyone who wants a millennium filled with something more than fireworks to contribute creative ideas. Letters can be addressed to Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton, First Lady, care of her deputy-aide, Ms. Ellen McCulloch-Lovell millennium@whitehouse.gov. The White House Millennium Program web site is http:// www.whitehouse.gov/Initiatives/ Millennium Source: Bimillennial Press, talk2000@rmii.com

A new webzine has come into its own. Its 53-year old creator, Charles Cameron hipbone@earthlink.net calls it "Millennium Concentrate." Now that it has passed its "fifth incarnation," Talk 2000 tracked down Cameron at his Glendale home to discover how the recipe for this web serving of "Chicken Soup for the Soul"--with the bones still left in--came into being.

TALK 2000: How did you get involved in the Talk 2000 Forum?

CAMERON: Stephen O'Leary of USC introduced me to the Forum. I'm interested in the way that our collective imagination works with the notions of the end of time, the decay and collapse of society, and its renewal.

These three things--a sense of urgency, some disgust at the way things are, and a fresh sense of idealism--make for a fascinating blend. I find Talk 2000 is a great place to meet scholars and activists concerned with this mix.

There is curious ambivalence about our age, and Talk 2000 reflects that. In spite of our diversity of beliefs, we share the dream of a better time, a golden age somewhere in the past, a return to that golden age sometime in the future.

But we also need to realize that this millennial dream has taken on some pretty perverted expressions on occasion. And not just in small groups, Aum Shinrikyu or Heaven's Gate, either: the Nazi idea of the "Thousand Year Reich" was a millennial fantasy...

So the question is, how can we express millennial hope without turning paranoid, committing mass suicides or ethnic cleansings, or dropping gas pellets on the subway? What I aim to do with Millennium Concentrate is to encourage people to rescue the heart of that millennial hope from its many mis-readings.

TALK 2000: Why the name "Millennium Concentrate"?

CAMERON: I call it Millennium Concentrate because I try to bring together 10 or 12 websites which are diverse enough to show in concentrated form that the millennial dream has been a dream of people from practically all cultures and faiths.

I was doing a fair amount of wandering on the web, and coming across a lot of websites with different kinds of millennial content--but almost all of them linked exclusively to other sites with the same kind of content.

There would be twenty links to biblical sites which explore the Book of Revelation as a "historical" account of the next five or ten years, or a dozen links to other UFO sites which present flying saucers as the messengers of a new age, or a cluster of links to other scientific futurist sites, or whatever.

I wanted to gather a variety of expressions in one place, so that a reader who went to these 10 or 12 sites would get a decent overview of the rich diversity of millennial expressions.

So I produced the first issue in March and posted it to Talk 2000 without any thought of turning it into an ongoing series. But then I ran across a few more interesting sites, and began to think about doing a follow up. Then Ted Daniels assured me there were so many millennial web sites out there that I could do quite a series, and it would be a long while before I ran out of material. Now, four issues later, I see he's absolutely right.

I'm doing a column now for Ted's newsletter, and posting some other materials at the Center for Millennium Studies site--but I think of Millennium Concentrate primarily as a way to offer something back to my colleagues at T2k, a way of saying thank you to friends like Stephen, Richard, Ted, Hillel and others--you too, Jay--who have kept us informed and instructed.

And I archive the back issues of Millennium Concentrate at my own web site, as a resource for others who might find them helpful.

TALK 2000: Why should people learn about millennium dreams outside their own frame of reference?

CAMERON: I think seeing the millennial dream in other traditions can shake us loose from our "local" prejudices. I find there is something freeing about that.

Take the many candidates for the position of The Beast, 666, across history. If you see them as a series of opinions in a long history of conjecture, it helps you see current versions as temporary "faces" of a reccuring human dream. No one is seriously worried any more about someone in the ancient Roman Empire being the Anti-Christ. Nobody is leading any anti-Nero campaigns.

And then think of the "expected return of the great one" cross-culturally. When you see Jews expecting the Messiah, Christians the Second Coming, Shi'ites the Twelfth Imam, Hindus the Kalki Avatar and Buddhists the Meitreya Buddha, it somehow puts each individual expectation in perspective. So a cross-cultural and cross-historical approach to our apocalyptic obsessions frees the hope from its too-literal interpretations.

In "Millennium Concentrate" I point to millennial sites of all kinds, some of them quite beautiful, some of them potentially tragic--the weird next to the wonderful, and the imaginative beside the practical. But rather than preach a sermon or draw some kind of explicit moral, I prefer to let my readers sort through them and come to their own conclusions.

TALK 2000: What conclusions has your own journey brought you to?

CAMERON: Well, I was born in England, and I read theology at Oxford, because I was after something. And I would say that I have been on the same quest ever since: trying to figure out what I'd now call the workings of inspiration, imagination or intuition or grace -- this trace of fire, this spark which can hit the human heart and mind, and which lights up our path in exceptional ways.

At the time, I felt the answer lay in the official "local" version of religion that I was born into, Anglicanism. But like many others, I began to realize there were versions of the same thing in every culture, and that some of them were more experiential than theoretical. So I went on the traditional "journey to the East" in the late 60s, studied a little Zen, Yoga, and Tibetan Buddhism, spent some time living in ashrams...

At one point (this should give some oldtimers a chuckle or gasp) I was Master of Ceremonies in Houston for an event called "Millennium '73". So I've lived through my own form of specific millennial hope, and come out the other side with my own peculiar blend of appreciation and caution: appreciation for meditative self-inquiry and devotion, and the friends I made along the way--and caution about dogmatic formulations of any kind.

And I later spent time with a Lakota shaman, where again there was a blend of dissatisfaction with the way the world is, hope for a radically better future, and a sense of some urgency about making the change.

But as so often when someone takes off on one of those round-the-world journeys, I eventually found myself coming back closer to my own home, my own tradition. And I find Jung has some insightful things to say about this kind of quest, in terms of its mythical as well as mystical underpinnings.

TALK 2000: Where will we be in reference to the millennium myth come 2005?

CAMERON: I overheard the poet Gary Snyder say something that put this in perspective for me. He was talking about the '60s, and taking the long view. He said he looked back on the '60s not as an experiment which failed, but as the seeds of a process which might take 400, rather than 40 years to come to fruition.

Social changes usually take longer to happen than we might first imagine. It's easy to set up noble goals and feel enthusiastic as to what might happen, easy to think that great changes are around the next corner. But these things take time.

Let's take the abolition of slavery. The abolitionists succeeded, they got rid of the institution of slavery as such--but today there are still all too many human beings stuck in "dead end jobs", who can't seem to escape the various dehumanizing situations they work in.

So you might say the abolitionists managed to get rid of Slavery but not slavery: and it's still a utopian dream that one day humans will all find work that's meaningful and rewarding.

I don't see a great future for racism in the coming millennium. In today's global village, we need to learn to enjoy diversity, to celebrate it. The consequences of embittered nationalism, of the continued demonization of "the other" are too terrible.

But these things take time... So what seems so magical to me is not the year 2000, or the return of some particular teacher--but the inspiration that comes when humans act with intelligence and generosity.

And suffering is part of it too: we can't afford to wear rose-tinted utopian spectacles, we can't afford to deny what Jung calls the shadow. Hope, fear, effort and delay are all part of the mix. So I'll predict that 2005 will be a blend of excitement, disappointment, and business as usual.

The miracle happens when one human life is touched by another. The miracle happens when one human life is lived deeply. The sense of that mystery is still in me.

Note: To read Charles Cameron's "Millennium Concentrate" postings and other related materials, visit his web site at http://home.earthlink.net/~hipbone/Millenn.html

Talk from the Forum:
"Here is a recap of recent conversations"

The unveiling of the Clinton's millennium program received just passing notice on Talk 2000. I think this was in part due to the fact that we are an international forum, and due in part to the fact that the White House Millennium Web site was up and operating at the time of the announcement. But for those of you who haven't check in, here is a small excerpt from: http://www.whitehouse.gov/Initiatives/Millennium

"We should make the year 2000 a national celebration of the American spirit in every community--a celebration of our common culture in the century that has passed, and in the new one to come in a new millennium, so that we can remain the world's beacon not only of liberty, but of creativity, long after the fireworks have faded.
" --President William Jefferson Clinton, 1997 State of the Union.

The White House Millennium Program prepares for the new century by "honoring the past and imagining the future." It will highlight projects that recognize the creativity and inventiveness of the American people. Planning will begin for the important anniversaries of the White House and other symbols of our democracy.

By focusing on American culture, scholarship and scientific exploration, the White House Millennium Program will provide the nation with opportunities to learn our history, preserve our cultural heritage, and give permanent gifts to the future.

The year 2000 holds enormous significance for humankind and America. It is a time when individuals and societies all over the world are reflecting on their past, taking stock of their achievements, and thinking about the future they will create.

All over the world, nations and communities are planning significant millennium activities. The United Kingdom is using the millennium as a time to invest in new museums, parks and infrastructure; Germany will host the major world's fair, Expo 2000; religious leaders are emphasizing the renewal of faith; and communities across the United States are already forming 2000 Committees to bring people together to plan for their future.

Beginning with the Program's launch, the President and First Lady announced and spotlighted a series of White House and federal agency millennium projects. Among others, these projects include:

* White House Lecture Series. Co-sponsored by the White House and National Endowment for the Humanities, the series will feature prominent men and women who can provoke our thinking about the past and future.

* American Cultural Showcase. Hosted by the White House, the Showcase will spotlight our finest artists and their talents.

* Expo 2000. In the year 2000, the United States will join 143 other countries and organizations to participates in the major world's fair.

* Internet Goal. Work to connect every classroom and library in America to the Internet by the year 2000.

* Millennium Minutes. The National Endowment for the Humanities will sponsor national television spots that highlight 1000 years of important events, people and achievements.

* Leadership Project for the Millennium. The National Endowment for the Arts will tell America's story through the arts and initiate new projects Visions of America. The NEA will also send teams of photographers across the country to capture their visions of America at the turn of the 21st century.

* Worthy Ancestors Program. The President,s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities will bring together commercial, creative and non-profit sectors to save significant cultural material from folk, popular and classical traditions.

* National Archives Preservation Project. The National Archives has proposed a 3-year preservation plan to ensure that precious American documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights, survive into the next millennium.

* Star Spangled Banner Project. The Smithsonian Institution is working to save the Star Spangled Banner by 2001.

* Robotic Missions to Mars. NASA will launch new robotic missions to Mars in 1998, 2001, and 2003.

* NSF2000. The National Science Foundation will launch a national education and information campaign on the importance of science, engineering and mathematics.

* 2000 Problem Solution. The federal government is taking steps to prevent any interruption in government services that rely on the proper functioning of our federal computer systems.

* AmeriCorps Goal. AmeriCorps has set a goal of doubling the number of full-time AmeriCorps volunteers by the year 2000.

* World Wise Schools Goal. The Peace Corps has set a goal of tripling the size of its global learning partnership program by the year 2000.

* National Digital Library. The Library of Congress is putting part of its collection on-line for students, teachers and citizens.

* Festival of American Folklife. The Smithsonian Institution will expand its Folklife Festival in 2000, involving 200 children from around the world.

* Millennium Stage. The Kennedy Center is providing free performances as part of a run-up to the Center's year-long artistic festival in 2000.

The White House Millennium Program is for the entire nation. To ensure that this is truly a national, grassroots effort, the President and the First Lady are inviting all Americans -- especially children -- to participate, and to make their own gifts to the future.

The Program will work with elected officials at all levels to draw upon the inspiration and leadership that is alive across the country, as Americans organize the activities most meaningful to them. The President and First Lady will award the title "Millennium Community" to communities that initiate imaginative programs.

New Millennial Sites:
"Here are new sites in cyberspace"

PARTY 2000: The Biggest Party on Planet Earth
This massive, 3 day, outdoor Party and Concert from Dec 30, 1999 to January 1, 2000 will include 50 name bands and entertainment on "five of the largest stages ever built" for a one-time event in Southern California. On September 25th, Party 2000 claims it will launch a $100,000 Cash Contest for "Unknown Bands and Musicians".

Contact Information:
"Your link to the third millennium"

Talk 2000 Forum Home Page: http://www.talk2000.org
Talk 2000 Newsgroup: bit.listserv.2000ad-l

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Submissions of newsworthy items: 2000ad-l@usc.edu
Editor: talk2000@rmii.com
Jay Gary, aka The Millennium Doctor
author, The Star of 2000
(719) 636-2000 Phone
Publication keywords: events, millennium
This issue of "Let's Talk 2000" is copyright © 1997 by Bimillennial Press, Inc.
All rights reserved. LET'S TALK 2000 is a trademark of Bimillennial Press.