Deep Adaptation Quarterly – May 2020

Every three months, we summarise new activities and resources in the field of Deep Adaptation. We do not cover news on the latest science, weather, or impacts, as there are many other sources for that. Please forward this email to people who might be interested (subscribe here).

Founder’s Commentary – Jem Bendell

Since I edited our last newsletter, most of our lives have been shaken by the pandemic and the varying responses from governments, organisations and communities. It has been a time of increased uncertainty, vulnerability, dismay, grief, reflection, and brave loving action. In addition, many commentators are trying to make sense of it all, to predict the longer-term implications and influence policy agendas. It is too soon to say what the long-term implication will be, but it is already clear that climate change and environmental degradation are making it more likely for outbreaks of disease that originate from animals. That was something I wrote about here and then discussed with Bloomberg.

Some people who are engaged in Deep Adaptation have been wondering whether the impacts of Covid-19 are the start of societal collapse. In some parts of the world, where millions of people are already facing hunger, it is adding to societal collapse. I hope that connecting with each other on the DA agenda has not numbed us to tragedies like that, and we can try to help as much as we are able. Perhaps with a donation to a group like Action Aid (or another that you might prefer). That seems futile in comparison to the sums that could be made available by government action. That means being politically engaged can be useful, especially as it is likely that governments won’t reimagine our monetary systems but return to cutting budgets as we emerge from the pandemic (or its first wave).

For most people engaged in our platforms, discussions have focused on the increased sense of vulnerability people are feeling in their own lives, mostly in industrialised countries. We discussed it on the Facebook group, where I shared and invited reflections using the four R framework on responses to Covid-19. In was also a theme in my last Facebook live Q&A and interviews with me by Reverend Michael Dowd and IPSOS-Mori. At DAF we have responded to this perceived need in a number of ways.

We have increased our online ‘deep listening’ sessions for you to support each other in sharing difficult emotions. We launched online ‘death cafes’ to help you explore your relationship with death and dying, as a way of helping each other with everyday life. We are also launching online weekly ‘Songs of One Breath’ – a form of multifaith connection and celebration, starting tomorrow (30 mins from 2.30pm UK time). We are also pleased that the DA Guidance database of practitioners is now ready for more traffic from our network. If you are a therapist, coach or facilitator, or would like to consult one, please visit it.

Also important is how we are better informed about collective responses that could reduce harm. Therefore, I have started a small research project with colleagues, which I would like your input on. We are looking at the kind of novel collaborations that are emerging, or could begin, in response to the expectation or experience of societal collapse. If you have 5 to 10 minutes to spare now, please send me your thoughts via this form. I will share results in the next newsletter. The survey closes in 2 weeks.

Being better informed is one thing but needing to be right is something else. Whether in my personal or professional life, in stressful moments, it has been normal for me to analyse and seek to be as smart as I can about a situation. I have witnessed that in myself and wondered if that is happening for other people at this time. Being curious about what is happening to humanity and how fast is important. But needing to be certain, to be heard and to correct others is not that helpful. I offered the DA agenda as a set of questions (around four Rs) and intended it to be a large tent for many kinds of responses and priorities. At risk of cliché, Rumi summed it up so well when he wrote “sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.” Or more recently, David Lurey, when he sings:

“When I think I know something… it’s when the beauty stops

When I think I know something… it’s when I’m far away from you.

When I know I know nothing… it’s when the beauty starts to unfold”

I hope to remember that vibe as the Core Team of myself Zori, Dorian, Katie and Matthew engage with the outputs of the volunteer-led ‘Strategy Options Dialogue’ over the next two months before sharing our assessment of what we can prioritise and enable in the coming year or two.

As the DA network grows, with over 15,000 people engaged on the platforms and over 100 volunteers, it appears that we might be fellow participants in a new social movement. To help the DAF evolve with that, we launched a Holding Group which will increasingly take over governance oversight. As a small team of 5 part time freelancers, we will keep looking for how we enable people to create and run their own projects in alignment with the DA aim of embodying and enabling loving responses to our predicament.

That means you too! So, if you have an idea, then please consider finding future colleagues via one of the Discussion Groups on the Professions’ Network.

The DA movement received some more mainstream media attention in the last quarter, including from the BBC. For people new to DA, they might assume that we prepare for disaster with bunkers, tinned food and weapons. What they discover is that we are prioritising a different path, that seeks to help each other transcend our fears and work together to reduce harm. As such, DA is a peace movement in response to anticipated and actual collapse. Therefore, we are explicitly non-violent. Whether we are effective is not the only concern for people engaged in this movement – because how we live and die matters.

When an American right-wing commentator proudly shouts last week that he will kill and eat his neighbours, we have a glimpse of how some scared men may react to the difficulties ahead. Other people may be less loud about their fears, but the argument that we must do ‘whatever it takes’ to stop and reverse climate chaos could arise from some similarly unprocessed anxieties about death. Hearing some people’s reactions to their increasing sense of vulnerability is why promoting means of reconciliation with our common mortality is part of the Deep Adaptation agenda. I was drawn to explore reconciliation with death and living with unbearable emotions with my last three Q&A guests, Dahr Jamail, Amisha Ghadiali and Sister Jayanti of the Brahma Kumaris.

The rest of this newsletter compiles information submitted to us by the DA volunteers, and so if information about your DA work with us is missing, then just look out for the next request for submissions, coming to you from Katie, Zori or Dorian in late July.

I hope to see some of you tomorrow, for the Songs of One Breath at 230pm UK time or my Q&A with John Doyle of the European Commission at 5pm UK time.

Thanks for reading


PS: Here is the survey link again for you to feedback!

Some Highlights on The Forum

From the DA Facilitators Group on Facebook – thx Katie Carr

Jem met with volunteer DA facilitators in March, to support the widening of DA’s “Deep Listening” approach. Since then, people have been bringing this approach to their organisations, with groups of CEOs, volunteers, communities, & more. One host commented that these were “not spaces where I ever imagined applying this approach but given the world we find ourselves in I felt it entirely appropriate. It has been incredibly well received and folk in those meetings are inviting this process into their own team meetings and community gatherings.” Another said “100 people attend[ed] It went extremely well, and the feedback was extraordinarily positive. It really touched people.”

We’re delighted to welcome Sue Brayne to our team of volunteer PDA facilitators, to bring Death Cafes online for the PDA community. Sue worked as a psychotherapist specialising in trauma, grief and bereavement, & is the author of “Living Fully, Dying Consciously: the path to spiritual wellbeing“.

If you have not joined us in a live video meeting yet, please read about Deep Listening, Death Cafes and Songs of One Breath. Then check the PDA events page for more details.

From the Community Action Discussion Group on DA Professions Network – thx Kat Soares

The Community Action Group recently introduced a peer assist process to their regular monthly gatherings. The first two were held on April 13th and 14th with a total of 16 participants. The peer assist process is a structured conversation that involves the sharing of a personal challenge and receiving support, guidance and wisdom from your peers on the call. It also includes a period for reflection on learnings from the supported and the supportees. Feedback on these initial peer assist processes is overwhelmingly positive and we intend to host them for the Community Action Group each month. We are also encouraging others with the CA group to take the initiative and host them themselves. See info here.

Deep Adaptation Strategy Options Dialogue – thx Kat Soares

The first quarter of 2020 saw an ambitious process to co-create a ‘strategy options paper’ for Deep Adaptation through a series of carefully designed and facilitated online workshops and through incorporating ideas from surveys and written submissions. More than 60 people, from across the network, have participated in this process, grappling with some challenging questions around what DA might do and how it can ensure its success. The hard work of integrating all the thinking and material from workshops is now underway and culminates in May with the submission of a draft strategy options paper to the core team for their consideration. See here for info.

The paper and the response will be communicated in the next newsletter. You can read some further background on the project here.

Education Group – thx Eric Garza

This quarter Katie Carr and Kathryn Soares hosted a series of three Zoom calls designed to build interest in the Education group. One outcome from this has been a few new posts and Eric Garza hosting a Zoom call with Pina Haas about the Education in a Time of Climate Crisis. This call was recorded and can be watched on YouTube. This group is ideal for engagement by volunteers with relevant expertise, to help promote reshaping education. You can engage it here

Créer un groupe francophone sur l’adaptation radicale? – thx Charles Abecassis and Xavier Verzat

Five people meet every Wednesday 2pm (Paris time zone) to develop a francophone on ‘deep adaptation’ which translates into l’adaptation radicale? Particpants are based in Barcelona, Lille, Cyprus, Paris. The group have helped enable the translations of Bendell’s writings and his forthcoming book in French in September (called l’adaptation radicale; with any proceeds going to DAF and XR France, 50/50). You can engage the group here.

If you would like your own activities within the Forum to be highlighted in the next newsletter, look out for the invitation to contribute which will be shared with you in late July by either Zori, Dorian or Katie.

Upcoming Events on the DA Forum

The number of events being organised through the DA platforms has exploded in number. Therefore, rather than listing them here, we recommend you consult the latest events listed on the PDA Facebook group and on the Professions’ Network. They include Q&As with Jem Bendell, courses, and all sorts.

Two events that Jem Bendell is participating in are his DA Leadership course in the UK in November, and an online public lecture on May 18th, about Universities in the Face of the Climate Crisis.

The DA Groups Network

Seventeen groups have affiliated with the Deep Adaptation Forum to promote more local engagement on this agenda. If you would like to be more active in your local area, then consider joining or starting a group here.

Recommended by DA Volunteers

In the next newsletter we want to include links to writings and Audio-Visual resources that are highly relevant to our participants. For instance, the video interviews by Dean Walker, Jem Bendell and Michael Dowd. For instance, Dean interviewed DAF Senior Facilitator Katie Carr about why and how DAF focuses on processes of relating as a foundation for everything. If you could volunteer to curate the compilation of these resources every 3 months, please contact us via this form.

Further Reading or Viewing

Some of the key articles from Jem Bendell over the last 3 months include:

How Everything Can Collapse – foreword to new book

The Climate for Corona – our warming world is more vulnerable to pandemic

The Worst Argument to Try to Win: Response to Criticism of the Climate Science in Deep Adaptation

Can you support the DAF?

The Deep Adaptation Forum exists to embody and enable loving responses to our predicament of facing or experiencing societal collapse, influenced by climate chaos. All DAF platforms exist without paywall and we intend to keep it that way for all our online services for the general public. Please help us maintain that as well as coordinate a growing range of volunteers and projects, by donating something here. How we spend the money is detailed here. Our crowdfund video, explaining our approach and inviting support is still online here.