Deep Adaptation Retreat


The emerging realisation that climate change is becoming a destructive tragedy, not just an urgent challenge, is bringing a sense of profound disorientation for many people.  How are we to feel?  What are we to do? What might become the purpose of our lives and work if we consider disruptive climate change as now inevitable?

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A view from the retreat

You are warmly invited to join us for a week of dialogue and reflection, with the aim of gaining a clearer sense of how meaning can re-emerge in full acceptance of the climate tragedy. We will explore dimensions of an emerging “deep adaptation” agenda, drawing on the lived experiences and various stories of each participant, and a range of wisdom traditions.

This retreat is for you if you:

  • work on sustainability in some form and are questioning your motivation and future,
  • want to explore implications of climate disruption in depth with supportive peers,
  • sense that a week in community and nature could support your transition.

The disorientation felt due to an awareness of our climate tragedy can lead to withdrawal and loneliness. Therefore, our intention for this retreat is to bring fellow travellers together to develop a new sense of purpose and community. Within a safely held and gently facilitated space, we hope to enable and discover insight on finding meaning, priorities and joy amidst tragedy. We anticipate you might feel inspired and supported to host future gatherings of peers on the deep adaptation agenda.

The retreat is hosted within an intentional community which lives lightly and beautifully on the verdant green and blue shores of the Aegean. The food is mostly locally sourced, all homecooked and vegetarian. A stunningly wild beach is a 20-minute walk away, while old villages are nearby through forests.

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The coastline near the retreat is the Mediterranean at its best

You are invited to bring a reading, practice or insight to share that is helping you to explore meaning after sustainability. You will be given pre-reading from the collection within your ‘preparation pack’ for the retreat. Its founder Dougald Hine will lead one session by video link.

The retreat centre Alexandros, part of the Kalikalos community, is less than 2 hours from the Greek city of Volos. The nearest village with a bus stop is Ag Ioannis. Buses to Volos leave from Athens and Thessaloniki, where flights arrive. Flights are also available into Volos with seasonal airlines like Small Planet and Thomas Cook. More information here. Prices and booking here.


Friday, the 1st day, is our arrival with check-in, registration and the welcome meal in the evening. Dialogue and reflection will begin after dinner with an opening circle. The 2nd day includes a welcome circle with our hosts, the volunteers of Kalikalos. From the 3rd day onward our rhythm will flow as follows:

  • 8:00am – 9:00am Breakfast
  • 9:00am – 9:15am Opening Circle
  • 9:15am – 10:15am Opening talk (30 mins) and discussion.
  • 10:15am – 11:00am Two or more participants share a resource (text, art, other) with discussion.
  • 11:00am – 11:30am Drinks break
  • 11:30am –  12:30pm Group Activity (typically in pairs, threes or fours)
  • 12:30pm – 1:00pm Closing Circle
  • 1:30pm Lunch
  • 2:30pm – 6:00pm Free time for reflection (beach, forest, villages).
  • 6:30pm Karma Yoga (supporting the community)
  • 8:00pm Dinner
  • 9:15pm – 10:30pm Optional evening activities (some activities such as Ecstatic Dance are organised at nearby centres).

On one of the days the morning session will involve a walk. The flow of the daily sessions above is indicative; actual activities will be woven organically from the programme above in response to the emergent needs and wishes of the group.

Prices: include the workshops plus full accommodation with 3 daily vegetarian meals (except for one evening out in a Taverna). One week in a tent € 470, triple room € 520, twin room € 620, single room € 770. All rooms are en suite with views and/or balcony.

Registration opens from November 2017. For more information, please contact me, Jem Bendell: drjbendell @ gmail dot com

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Jem Bendell began offering transformational professional development courses after 20 years pursuing a variety of methods for social change. From anti-globalisation activism and sustainability consulting in the late 1990s, via senior management in large environmental organisations and research roles with the United Nations, to grassroots economics and social venture capital today. One theme throughout has been sense-making and communication, with Professor Bendell responsible for over 100 publications and a range of Masters courses worldwide. In the past few years Jem has focused his research, advice and teaching on sustainable leadership and communication, working with senior officials in business, politics and civil society. His approach to teaching is participative, experiential and focused on the whole person. A graduate of the University of Cambridge, Jem is the founder of the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS).

In 2014, Jem began to sense he had been emotionally dependent since the age of 16 on a story of meaning, focus and self-worth through helping society transform in the face of climate change. This insight came from taking to heart the latest climate science and no longer resisting doubt, grief and despair. In 2016 he gave a speech to climate scientists that outlined a “deep adaptation” agenda to the climate tragedy.


7 thoughts on “Deep Adaptation Retreat”

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  3. Too bad I missed it, it sounds like an interesting event. I just recently discovered your blog and since I missed the Kalikalos opportunity to meet ‘fellow travellers’ I tried to sign up for your LINKEDIN group but am wondering if that is still active (never heard back). Are there any special requirements to join that I am not aware of? I’ve come to the same awareness that’s been described on this blog although my path was a completely different one – having been an ‘environmentally aware’ psychotherapist. But that’s another story. I would appreciate to hear how your efforts can be supported….and meet above mentioned ‘fellow travellers’.

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  5. Hi

    So to review the impending disaster brought about by burning fossil fuels of which flying is the most extreme privileged example; you’re proposing flying to exotic places to discuss?

    The mind boggles at the level of hypocrisy, self entitlement and selfishness.

    If you truly believe in this reality and care anything about the outcome and impact this will have (no doubtless on the poorest first), then get behind the cause in a meaningful and constructive manner. Otherwise it’s greenwash of the worst kind.



    1. Jem argues that it can be just as hypocritical not to fly if you are supposed to be doing serious political work.
      Its possible you might have missed the central thesis of deep adaptation, which is about adjusting to a reality which is now unpreventable. The primacy of carbon emissions reduction should now be shared with the primacy of getting preparing for social collapse.
      I know activists working at all different levels pursuing all different strategies towards what I think is quite a common set of objectives loosely around reducing suffering. I have learned over the years to temper my judgement and be supportive of everyone working outside my immediate field.

      1. I’d argue that’s bullshit.

        Look at the inspiring example of Greta.

        You simply want a nice holiday without the guilt.

        Don’t get me wrong – I understand as I like nice holidays, but don’t believe some dubious mental arithmetic and social purpose somehow out weighs the reality that your a gross part of the privileged 10% globally.

        We all can make up tenuous reasons for gross consumption and some perceived value; but at the end of day you’re still got a carbon deficit.

        Is it done deal?, possibly but there a plenty of shades of grey, and no-one has the full understanding of the complexities of the system.


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