Gathering Ourselves for Deep Adaptation

In the past few months I have attended many gatherings on Deep Adaptation to our climate tragedy. Some of them have involved a talk, followed by Q&A and discussion. One of them was a week-long retreat in Devon, UK. Another was a dinner of leaders within the Extinction Rebellion. Online gatherings using zoom have also been a revelation, with friends joining from San Francisco to Kyoto. The interest groups on the Deep Adaptation Forum have also started meeting on zoom, and the collaborations that are emerging are wonderful to witness. Each of these gatherings, whether online or in-person, has offered opportunities for people to express difficult emotions and feel into our predicament, before then moving into discussions about what to start and what to stop.

Some of these gatherings have inspired participants to go on and lead future organising. For instance, the Poetics of Leadership conference my University organised with Crossfields Institute in September last year, inspired some participants to help launch Extinction Rebellion. The retreat in Devon also helped nourish the personal connections that were carried into the International Rebellion week. I could write a roll call of names, but you know who you are, and I love you for who you are and how you have been responding to our predicament. You helped me appreciate the value of gatherings in a way I had never experienced before. Because I had lost all interest in conferences, talks, and workshops. They seemed like soulless exercises in small talk and card swapping, punctuated by pep-talks from people we were told to listen to due to their seniority. But thanks to the amazing experiences of the past 7 months, I am convinced of the value of people gathering to share their pain, confusion, insights and faith that we will find meaning and useful action.

To make the most of these gatherings on Deep Adaptation, some principles and practices of hosting and facilitation could be useful. For me, one important aspect is to welcome participants connecting with and sharing any of their emotions, however painful. Another aspect is to invite everyone’s questions as much as anyone’s ideas for answers. That is because, when facing collapse, we are in new terrain, where people who have been most confident in society-as-we-find-it today might not be the most helpful to our inquiry in future. In hosting such gatherings, there are many existing processes that can be drawn upon. Facilitators of the Deep Adaptation Deep Dive in Devon adapted a few practices from The Work That Reconnects (from Joanna Macy) and the Inner Transition, which Sophie Banks and Naresh Giangrande had developed for participants in the Transition Towns movement. Toni Spencer also used some practices for grief tending.

As my partner Katie Carr and I now design two forthcoming retreats on Deep Adaptation, I realise that many facilitators could benefit from sharing ideas on principles for hosting such gatherings as well as guidance on specific processes. Therefore, I have started a thread within the Deep Adaptation Forum on facilitating gatherings, within the Holistic Approaches interest group. If you are a facilitator, then I invite you to join us there and share ideas and experiences on hosting gatherings, whether in-person or online.

One issue will be how to scale the provision of such gatherings. Katie and I are not able to offer more than a few retreats a year, and so we are particularly interested in participants who can host future meetings and retreats. If that resonates with you, and if you are in Greece or could make it there for June, then we would welcome hearing from you. A few late cancellations mean we have 3 places available at the time of writing (click here for information and to apply). Katie and I will also be teaching leadership for deep adaptation at the University of Cumbria over 4 days in the English Lake District in July, which also has some places available. Also in July, Katie and I are hosting a free one day event on deep adaptation in Lancaster, UK.

In a few weeks I will also be able to announce the 5 free events that the Deep Adaptation Forum will be funding (around the world). If you are able to financially help the organising of such gatherings in future, please contact us.

If you are organising a gathering on the theme of Deep Adaptation, please feel free to announce it by leaving a comment below.

If you would like to promote the success of these gatherings, and the effort to help people share practices for effective hosting of them, then I’d be grateful if you could share this blog to your relevant professional networks.

My own schedule of gatherings is rather busy until the end of this year (some of them are listed here). Therefore, I will not be accepting any new invitations to speak at any event during 2019. Instead, superb thinkers, speakers and hosts can be found via the forum at

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6 thoughts on “Gathering Ourselves for Deep Adaptation”

  1. Thanks Jem, really helpful. And yes, the question I was sitting with this morning was the scaling up question. Will be looking for anyone who might fund us to train trainers to deliver 2-3 day deep adaptation processes in a whole range of communities. We have training trainers experience and i think we could easily train up 60-90 facilitators over the next 6 months.

    I led a 3 day process with my team in December and it created significant change – together we took a powerful step into a new relationship with reality and found grief and anxiety transformed into a grounded passion to be of service. Here’s a general outline of the model I’ll be using.

    The current plan is to deliver something similar to this with as many different facilitators and venues as possible – in order to learn from each other and to find out what works. Really keen to connect with anyone thinking along the same lines and to learn from you and share ideas.



    I’m looking for people who are past pain/confusion and are practically preparing to outlive the Collapse. And regenerate healthy/normal human life (which we don’t have now).
    I’m forming capital, part of which will buy the Land base for the backwoods Sanctuary in 4-5 years, all cash. The rest will be invested to do VERY well as Great Depression 2.0 sets in (my guess is this will start 8-10 years out, when $$$-printing and negative real interest rates stop working).

    This isn’t about “self-sufficiency”. It is about dependence on God, nature, each other, and at least some of our (few) neighbors. This DOES mean as much independence/separation from the capitalist system as can be rapidly developed.

    I’m located in Northern California, U.S.A.. See my more extended comments on all this after earlier posts. During the transition, my condo in the North Bay could function as an urban base for members of the Sanctuary cooperative.

  3. Also, in September, the Ozark Area Community Congress is meeting for its 40th annual gathering. This is the longest continously meeting bioregional gathering in the world. Its focus from the beginning has been on Depp Adaptation (by several other names over the years Lol! ) For more information check out the Facebook page
    Also our website, Will be updated soon with this year’s specifics but the general description of the event is similar from year to year.

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