The Deep Adaptation Quarterly – March 2021

To receive a copy of this newsletter every 3 months in your inbox, subscribe here.

Editorial from Jem Bendell

Although lockdowns have warped my sense of time, and perhaps yours too, it is actually more than 3 months since the last Deep Adaptation Quarterly. There was a hiatus, as I focused on new work after leaving the Deep Adaptation Forum at the end of September, and the Forum team re-organised for their post-Jem era. It has been great to see volunteers step up to now join the small Core Team of organisers, with Kat Soares becoming the new coordinator of the Forum. She is in a team of 4 freelancers working part time to coordinate over a hundred volunteers around the world to support people with finding meaningful ways of living creatively from their collapse anticipation. As they need to cover their basic costs, it would be useful if you can chip in now, as any donations given to them by the end of March will be matched by a donor.

The changes at the Forum reflect a maturing of the Deep Adaptation conversations and collaborations into a movement, with its own dynamics, ethos, tensions and evolutions. This is necessary as people are finding their ways of integrating their own levels of collapse anticipation into their lives. In recent months I followed up with people who told me that they are using the concept and framework of Deep Adaptation to organise activities locally. One such case is in Southern India, where the local Deep Adaptation group swung into action at the start of the lockdowns to support migrant workers who were stranded and without an income. A member of that group, Lakshmi Venugopal wrote about it and is now collating information on other local groups which we will share with you in the next newsletter. If you have any news of such happenings, then please write to her: <>.

Another aspect of the maturing of the Deep Adaptation – or ‘DA’ – movement are the efforts people make to integrate their personal anticipation of disruption and collapse with their day jobs. For instance, two of the new Holding Group members of the DA Forum are doing that and sharing their journey along the way. Malika Virah-Sawmy explains the cognitive dissonance of working on international development assistance while grieving the losses and anticipating further disruption. Asiya Odugleh-Kolev explains her efforts within the World Health Organisation to advance the agenda of community capacities for supporting health and wellbeing, in the face of increasing disruption and a difficult future. I met both Malika and Asiya on my DA leadership courses. The bridging of DA and professional work will be a theme in the only open-enrolment course I am teaching 2021, online this July. I host that course with Katie Carr, and we explain our approach to facilitation in a new discussion paper. I am looking forward to exploring further the theme of bridging worlds in the new DA Q&A series which launches in June (if you want to attend, just look out for the dates and registration info in the next Quarterly).

Another aspect of movement maturation is the exploring of possibilities for policies. A new collapse-conscious think tank has started, called Cadence Roundtable. With that, the English-speaking world might be catching up with the French, who have had space in public discourse for collapsology since 2015, and with the Institut Momentum thinktank focusing on it. That is one reason why my first book on this topic was in French. In my new co-edited book on Deep Adaptation, which comes out in English in June, some of the contributors describe policy implications for economics, food, and education (the book is available for pre-order). More policy discussions ensue next week, when a paper comes out on the need for fundamental monetary reform to get serious about both emissions cuts and adapting to disruption. I will be joining lead author and University of Lausanne Professor of Economics, Christian Arnsperger in a webinar on 25th March to discuss it.

Both the aim of bridging the DA agenda with existing professions and the development of policy options will not be simple or easy, as DA involves a deep critique of the culture and systems that drove of us to this catastrophic situation. The depth of the critique is illustrated by Dr. Rene Suša, as he summarises some typical reactions to collapse anticipation within advanced consumer societies. It is also reflected in the views of four women I interviewed last year about their approach to the predicament, which are beautifully summarised by DA Holding Group member Simona Vaitkute. Reading their views, I hope you agree that we can all play a role in promoting them, so that the mainstream climate conversation isn’t totally dominated by elites.

The deep critiques emerging from the DA movement is probably why we are increasingly misrepresented and dismissed by those elites. Whether that is style journalists in the New York Times or pop-lit climatologists seeking sales, their lazy line continues to be that we are defeatist. My work in psychology over the last 3 years has helped me understand that speculations on human nature can be a matter of projection. It may also be a form of ‘elite panic’, where they don’t trust ordinary folk to respond well if we know how bad things are going to become. In order to help inform our understanding of the psychological implications of anticipating and talking about difficult futures, I recently helped produce a review of relevant research literature on the topic. We conclude that it’s better to start discussing anticipations of collapse than keep it bottled up, and so the key issue is how and when.  

To help counter the anti-doomer misinformation, more scientists and scholars are speaking out about the need for a sober dialogue on the implications of the more worrying scenarios of climate change and ecological degradation. Over 500 of them from over 30 countries signed an international Scholars Warning on societal disruption and collapse. Their existence proves that to anticipate societal disruption and collapse, and to want to work on it, is not a marginal or extreme idea. Therefore, from now on, no journalist, climatologist or environmentalist will be able to claim that it is only outliers who call for engagement with collapse risk and readiness. If they do claim that, it will mean either they haven’t done their homework or they are deliberately misleading people. The letter is still open for signatures from anyone with a PhD and the signatories are now creating an initiative together to help further influence public and policy discussions.

If you want to introduce someone to this topic, I was told my recent lecture at Bath Uni is helpful. On my website I have listed links to videos of my latest talks, and also some key writings.

For the rest of this Quarterly newsletter, I hand over to the Core Team of the DA Forum to share their news. Stay tuned for more info and invites to activities in June.

Warmly (but too warmly),

Jem Bendell

Professor of Sustainability Leadership, UK / Distinguished Fellow, The Schumacher Institute / Strategy Lead, Scholars Warning / Founder, Deep Adaptation Forum.

PS: Please consider joining the University of Cumbria online course I teach, this July, for 5 days, with two follow up sessions and an optional in-person 1 day event in the UK in September. Info here. The next one will be online in January 2022, and suitable for PST and EST timezones.

A Message from the Deep Adaptation Forum Core Team

As the Deep Adaptation Forum (DAF) continues to grow, both in number and maturity, it is becoming an increasingly vibrant space. Members from across the platforms, ably supported by the Core Team and long-term volunteers and facilitators, are initiating conversations and activities that align with their personal sense of purpose and calling. The fertile ground for these initiatives is carefully tended through the ongoing efforts of our dedicated volunteers through various discussion groups and online events, which are described below.

From its inception, DAF has been committed to ensuring that participation in our spaces will be free.  This is because we’re clear that, as awareness of the severity of the unfolding climate crisis increases, collapse anticipation should never be commodified. Neither should anyone be excluded from engaging with others through the Forum because of financial means. That said, in order to sustain the IT infrastructure and a core team of part time freelancers, to support the Forum, DAF’s budget is approximately 5 thousand pounds per month.

If you are able to offer a financial gift to help sustain and grow DAF, there is a match campaign underway now. A generous DAF member has pledged $15,000 if we can sign up 150 new monthly donors by March 31st. In other words, each new gift will be automatically matched with an extra $100.

Such general operating support will allow us to raise awareness that we serve as a vital resource for compassionate listening, honest conversation, and growing collaboration among people open to sharing, learning, and connecting.

Please consider becoming a monthly donor by our March 31st deadline.

And read on to learn of the kinds of activities that your donation will be supporting.

Supporting DA Forum Growth and Enabling Engagement

The New DAF website

We are delighted to announce a fresh new look for the DAF website, with many thanks to volunteers for their (huge amounts of) time, (crystal clear) dedication, (admirable) creativity, (brilliant) tech ability, and (infinite) patience with the Core Team. We hope you all agree that it’s both user friendly and beautiful.  If you drop by for a visit you will also notice our new blog. Enter this community space for philosophical ponderings, personal journeys, poetic interpretations, and grappling with all issues inspired by Deep Adaptation. If you feel inspired to make an offering of your own to this Blog, please see our Submission Guidelines.

The DAF Charter

DAF exists to enable and embody loving responses to collapse. If ‘how we do things’ is as important as ‘what things we do’, what are the key principles that would best enable us to pursue this mission? The DAF Core Team, along with the DAF Governance Review Circle have worked hard in recent months to create a ‘charter’ – in other words, a document that presents a list of ‘creative conditions’ speaking to the ways in which any active member of the network agrees to show up – or not – as we interact and engage on anything within DAF. We hope that this charter will act as a kind of flexible container empowering people, with just enough structure and boundaries to not get ‘in the way’ of creativity and collaboration.  The final version of the Charter is currently being finalised and will be released soon.  We will review the DAF Charter every six months, so that it remains vital and supportive of the Forum.

DAF Multilingual Experiment

A group of volunteers from several language backgrounds have launched a multilingual experiment using Facebook and its automatic translations.  As well as allowing these volunteers to deepen their connections and relationships, this is an exciting opportunity to understand the benefits, and challenges, involved in relying upon automatic translations which may ultimately lead to more engagement opportunities for people for whom English is not a first language.

New and Emerging Initiatives

Deep Adaptation Guidance

A global support and resource database for organizations and individuals who are navigating their emotions, thoughts, resilience and spiritual journey under the shadow of near-term social and environmental systems collapse is now open to ALL members of DAF.  In coming months, as the Guides build their offers and capacity increases the Deep Adaptation Guidance Team hope to extend this service beyond the Deep Adaptation Forum to support anyone who is grappling with the realities of our predicament.

Healthcare in a Time of Collapse

A new DAF Task Group is being set up to focus on issues related to the delivery of resource-intensive healthcare in a context of collapse. Questions to be tackled include:

·   the range of approaches and mitigations that healthcare systems/services might employ, considering past episodes of collapse (e.g. Cuba);

·   what could be done about public health more generally;

·   attitudes and approach to death and dying;

·   impacts, mitigations, and approaches relating to long-term social care.

Health and social care professionals (including managers, doctors, nurses, AHPs, PH, social workers, etc.) are welcome to join this group, but also former patients, to give a user’s perspective. Read more here.

Online Open Space Events

Throughout 2021 we will host bimonthly Online Open Space Events, which enable any individual to initiate a conversation on any topic they feel called to explore. DAF hosted two of these events in 2020 and they proved to be brilliant opportunities for members to connect with others on topics where there was shared interest and enthusiasm and many initiatives were born from these events.  The second (for 2021) of these events will take place on March 27th in two four-hour sessions details of which can be found here

Towards Learning in the Deep Adaptation Forum

In direct response to one of the priorities identified in our Strategy Options Dialogue in 2020 we are now undertaking an exploration of what it is that community members want to learn and unlearn in DAF as well as seeking input on the types of resources that will support new members in arriving and those longer-term members who are ready to translate their learning into action. Zoom calls were hosted through January with DAF members to seek input on these questions and a final summary report with next steps will be available very soon.

DAF Film Circle

The DAF Film Circle had its inaugural meeting on December 30th to reflect on Rolf deHeer and Peter Djigirr’s 2006 film, “Ten Canoes”, set in what is now Arnhem Land in northern Australia. The Film Circle is an invitation to reflect on a series of films that explore the deep human and non-human condition of our shared world and help us examine and perhaps see our common predicament in a new or different light.

The plan is to post a new film each month, and meet during the fourth week of the month to consider and reflect on the film and the ways in which we have been affected through viewing it. Please keep an eye on the Professions’ Network Events page to attend the next gathering. 


Interest in and appetite for Deep Adaptation continues to grow and current membership numbers at the time of preparing this message are:

DAF Ning Network 3391 members

DA Facebook Group 12.4k members

DAF Facilitators’ Facebook Group 181 members

DAF Twitter 3,400 followers

Patreon 37 patrons

Open Collective 23 contributors (this is our new platform for fundraising and ultimately making all our financial activity transparent). Have you considered joining?

In addition to these platforms we also have a vibrant community of active volunteers on Slack (DAF Volunteers & Admins CoP).  Now totalling more than 70 members, there are channels here exploring, amongst other things, ways to make DAF spaces safer, coordinating the delivery of Online Open Space Events, strategic solidarity initiatives and supporting collaborations between communities of practice within and beyond DAF.