“Grieve Play Love” short film on climate despair

“Grieve Play Love” is a 9 minute short film by Jem Bendell, set in Bali, released in March 2019. 

The text of the voiceover follows below. A message from the filmmaker:

“In early 2018, my life changed. I studied climate science again for the first time in 25 years and discovered how bad it is. My estimation is that our complex consumer industrial societies won’t cope with the new pace of weather disruption to our agriculture. I published a paper on my conclusion, inviting deep adaptation to our climate tragedy, and was swamped with the response. Many people were and are, like me, traumatised by this realisation of a future societal collapse. I made this film for them. If that is where you are at, I hope it helps.

I made it where I was living at the time, in Indonesia, and drew on the beauty of nature and culture that still exists on this wonderful planet. You’ll see it’s a long way from a protest, political meeting or boardroom. But I hope the beauty in the film affirms once again what it is we love and stand for. How we live fully without pushing away difficult emotions triggered by awareness of our climate tragedy is going to have as many answers as there are people coming to this awareness. To help your own journey, I recommend connecting with others on this agenda at www.deepadaptation.info

 

“All great and beautiful work has come of first gazing without shrinking into darkness” John Ruskin

Voiceover:

After we accept the full tragedy of climate change, what do we have left?

Most people I meet sense that life is meaningful. Belief in a future is one way we look for such meaning. A future for ourselves and our family, our community, country, and the planet.

It is why it is so difficult to accept where we are today. What future can we believe in now? And if that isn’t possible, where can we find meaning?

I left my job as a Professor and came to Bali to sink in to those questions.

And to grieve.

I grieved for my years lost to compromise. I grieved the loss of my identity. I grieved how I may not grow old. I grieved for those closest to me, and the fear and pain they may feel as things break down. I grieve for all humanity, and especially the young.

Within this despair, something else happened. My long-held defences began to melt away. I was opening-up.

Not everyone can leave to heal in a place this. But I want to tell you my story because so many of us now grieve over climate change.

Most Balinese seem so at ease with their life. In the temples in every household, children play at the symbolic graves of their grandparents. That’s not like our modern societies where we seem to hide death away. Could feeling the impermanence of everything be an invitation to experience life more fully?

I was drawn to connect more to myself, others and nature.

Breathwork, dance, fasting, improv theatre, chanting, circling and guided meditations.

I was opening to beauty and spontaneity. To connect without expectation. To create without certainty. And to welcome what’s transcendent into my life. I see that love can be the anchor during waves of anxiety, sadness and grief.

I was reminded of how my friend with terminal cancer experiences more gratitude and wonder. And how our last meeting was more beautiful due to the ending ahead. Awareness of the finite amount of time we all have on this Earth gives more power to the choices we make.

Your own path for grieving an environmental and social breakdown may not be like mine. But there is a path and it leads beyond despair.

So what of our future?

My vision is of a world where more of us are open to curious, kind and joyful connection with all life. My hope is we will discuss ideas without a want to prove ourselves right.

Because there will be tough decisions ahead. We can make universal love our compass as we enter an entirely new physical and psychological terrain.

And so, I was ready to re-engage with my profession, but with a faith to express my truth, however difficult. Opening a conference at the United Nations, there was really only one thing for me to say.

“We now know that many self-reinforcing feedbacks have begun to further warm the planet, threatening to take the future out of our hands. So if we don’t wake up from our delusions of what is pragmatic and appropriate, then shame on us.”

“…our intention for creating things needs, more often, to arise out of our love for humanity and creation…. The technology we seek is love.”

Feeling our pain at the ongoing destruction of life, we may find relief in the idea of a divine force beyond this time and place. But if doing so, let’s not withdraw from our fellow humanity. Climate chaos invites our loving immersion with life as we find it. We can rise into, not above, these times.

Alan Watts:

“The Earth is not a big rock, infested with living organisms, any more than your skeleton is bones infested with cells. The Earth is geological, yes, but this geological entity grows people. And so the existence of people is symptomatic of the kind of universe we live in.”

We may grieve the loss of life, and feel despair or anger at how this happened. But whenever it comes, human extinction will not be the end of consciousness or the cosmic story.

There is no way to escape despair. But there is a way through despair. It is to love love more than we fear death. So ours is not a time to curl up or turn away. It’s a time to dance like we’ve never danced before.

Before loss there was love.

After loss, love.

Before grief there was love.

After grief, love.

Our essence is never in danger.

When all else falls away,

Our essence can shine.

So, what does love invite of us now?

 

Grieve, Play, Love was co-directed by Jem and Joey. It was filmed, edited and sound engineered by Joey. It was written, voiced and produced by Jem. Jem and Joey met at http://www.connectionplayground.org

The Love in Deep Adaptation – A Philosophy for the Forum

By Jem Bendell and Katie Carr

Many more people are waking up to the predicament we are in, where rapid climate change threatens the future of our societies – and even our species. Hundreds of thousands of people have downloaded the Deep Adaptation paper and thousands joined the Facebook group. Launching the Deep Adaptation Forum is one means of enabling that interest to become useful collaboration.love

As people begin to work with our colleagues and discuss what “Deep Adaptation” could mean (and what it doesn’t), we wish to clarify some core ideas that have been expressed in more detail elsewhere.

Deep Adaptation refers to the personal and collective changes that might help us to prepare for – and live with – a climate-induced collapse of our societies. Unlike mainstream work on adaptation to climate change, it doesn’t assume that our current economic, social, and political systems can be resilient in the face of rapid climate change. When using the term social or societal collapse, we are referring the uneven ending to our current means of sustenance, shelter, security, pleasure, identity and meaning. Others may prefer the term societal breakdown when referring to the same process. We consider this process to be inevitable, because of our view that humanity will not be able to respond globally fast enough to protect our food supplies from chaotic weather. People who consider that societal collapse or breakdown is either possible, likely or already unfolding, also are interested in deep adaptation.

Four questions guide our work on Deep Adaptation within the forum:

  • Resilience: what do we most value that we want to keep and how?
  • Relinquishment: what do we need to let go of so as not to make matters worse?
  • Restoration: what could we bring back to help us with these difficult times?
  • Reconciliation: with what and whom shall we make peace as we awaken to our mutual mortality?

These questions invite exploration of Deep Adaptation to our climate predicament in order to develop both collapse-readiness and collapse-transcendence.

  • Collapse-readiness includes the mental and material measures that will help reduce disruption to human life – enabling an equitable supply of the basics like food, water, energy, payment systems and health.
  • Collapse-transcendence refers to the psychological, spiritual and cultural shifts that may enable more people to experience greater equanimity toward future disruptions and the likelihood that our situation is beyond our control.

Uncertainty and lack of control are key aspects of our predicament; we do not know whether what we do will slow climate change and societal collapse or reduce harm at scale. It looks likely to us that many will die young and that we may die sooner than we had expected. That does not mean we do not try to extend the glide and soften the crash – and learn from the whole experience.

One thing that rapid climate change can help us to learn is the destructiveness of our delusions about reality and what is important in life. Key to this delusion is the emphasis many of us place on our separate identities. Since birth we have been invited to “other” people and nature. We often assume other people to be less valuable, smart or ethical as us. Or we assume we know what they think. We justify that in many ways, using stories of nationality, gender, morals, personal survival, or simply being “too busy”. Similarly, we have been encouraged to see nature as separate from us. Therefore, we have not regarded the rivers, soils, forests and fields as part of ourselves. Taken together, this othering of people and nature means we dampen any feelings of connection or empathy to such a degree that we can justify exploitation, discrimination, hostility, violence, and rampant consumption.

The ‘othering’ of people and nature is something that arises from a human habit to map and control reality in pursuit of feeling safer or better. In part, that habit arises from our sense of separation, which can also mean we sense threat almost constantly from our surroundings. We believe we are entering a period where there will be more disruption and less ability to control, or to think or to pretend that we can control. Our concern is that in reaction to this situation, some people will seek to maintain a sense of security in unhelpful ways. For instance, by thinking that oneself is right, or better, or owed something, and so on, are all ways people can seek some sense of safety in their self-identity, and yet, such ways are a micro form of violence because they involve othering. Over time, such micro violences can develop a conceptual framework that permits or encourages much wider violence, including physical violence.

As we see more pain in the world, and sense that it will get worse, it is possible that we will shrink from it. It is easier to consider other people’s pain as less valid as one’s own pain or that of the people and pets we know. But there is another way. The suffering of others presents us with an opportunity to feel and express love and compassion. Not to save or to fix, but to be open to sensing the pain of all others and letting that transform how we live in the world. It does not need to lead to paralysis or depression, but to being fully present to life in every moment, however it manifests. This approach is the opposite of othering and arises from a loving mindset, where we experience universal compassion to all beings. It is the love that our climate predicament invites us to connect with. It is the love in deep adaptation.

Therefore, in our work with others on deep adaptation, we wish to pursue and enable loving responses to our predicament. Every interaction offers an opportunity for compassion. It can seem difficult when it feels as if someone is trying to criticise your view, perhaps because they prefer to see collapse as unlikely or human extinction as certain. But to return to compassion, even if we fall away from it in the moment, feels an important way of living our truth. And it is something we can do at any time. As leadership coach Diana Reynolds recently explained, “the incredible compassionate revolution starts here, starts now.”

As this topic involves questions of mortality, impermanence, insecurity and uncontrollability, everyone who is finding themselves navigating their way through is experiencing many strong emotional responses, which may feel turbulent, overwhelming, exhausting as well as energising or enlivening. Often these emotions affect us, including ourselves and our colleagues, in ways that we may not be aware of. Therefore, in the small team working in the Deep Adaptation Forum, and the wider group of volunteers, we invite each other to consider three principles:

  • Return to compassion. We shall seek to return to universal compassion in all our work, and remind each other to notice in ourselves when anger, fear, panic, or insecurity may be influencing our thoughts or behaviours. It is also important to remember to take care of ourselves, especially when the urgency of our predicament can easily lead to burnout.
  • Return to curiosity. We recognise that we do not have many answers on specific technical or policy matters. Instead, our aim is to provide a space and an invitation to participate in generative dialogue that is founded in kindness and curiosity.
  • Return to respect. We respect other people’s situations and however they may be reacting to our alarming predicament, while seeking to build and curate nourishing spaces for deep adaptation.

We hope that all of us in the team continue to provide useful information, avoid negativity, and invite everyone to engage as peers. We also apologise in advance for any times where we do not seem to be living these principles.

If you would like to help the team financially, and have a small fund for such support, then please use the contact form.

If you would like to volunteer with us, please start by joining a relevant group within the Forum and demonstrating your commitment, effectiveness, and aligned approach within that space.

Professor Jem Bendell and Katie Carr co-lead retreats as well as leadership courses related to deep adaptation, at the University of Cumbria.

The photo is of the sculpture entitled “Love” by Ukrainian artist #AlexanderMilov and was found at the 2015 #BurningManFestival. It shows two #wireframe adults with their inner children reaching for each other, symbolizing purity and sincerity. /// photo by @teamwoodnote and used here with a creative commons license.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/designmilk/22871072820

After feedback that one sentence was confusing, this blog was updated on November 28th 2019 to replace one sentence with a new paragraph, which starts with “The ‘othering’…”

Organise Deep Adaptation Dialogues

As acceptance of likely or unfolding collapse is spreading, we hear of people wanting to gather and discuss what it means for their own lives, communities and work. That hope is not to hear simple answers to our difficult situation, but to share a range of information, emotions, ideas and options.

With a little help from our friends, the Deep Adaptation Forum is able to financially support “Deep Adaptation Dialogues” that bring together people within a community or shared professional interest.

If you would like to organise such a gathering, with some financial support and live video presentation by Professor Jem Bendell or a colleague from the Forum, then please read on…

four people smiling grayscale photo
Photo by rawpixel.com

To enable an emergent and generative dialogue, we want to support gatherings that use the principles of Open Space Technology and are guided by an experienced facilitator. That means participants will gather in a physical location around a collapse-related theme of their choosing, and let a detailed agenda emerge from their group on the day. Prof. Bendell, or another expert from the field of Deep Adaptation, can be invited to open the gathering with a short Q&A video session, before the Open Space conversations begin. At the end of the day, if requested, Prof. Bendell or another expert will reconnect with all participants by video, to listen to summaries of what was discussed and offer some feedback.

To qualify for financial support:

  • propose the event to occur between June 1st and December 31st 2019, for a minimum of half a day.
  • each event must be facilitated by a host with confirmed experience in Open Space Technology;
  • organisers must be members of the Deep Adaptation Forum;
  • the conversation should be community- or profession-focused and be either free or with minimal fee (any fee must be specified in the application);
  • the event should take place in a cheap or free venue (equipped with a good internet connection, a computer projector and speakers, and a webcam pointing at the group participants);
  • event hosts should, when possible, submit to the Deep Adaptation Forum a harvesting of topics at the end of their event. This can take the shape of a video, write-up, or podcast.

To recap, what the Deep Adaptation Forum can offer:

  • Video participation in your event by Prof. Bendell or another expert;
  • 300 euros per event for expenses, paid after the event;
  • Help in spreading the results of your dialogue to the Deep Adaptation Forum and wider network.

To apply, please see here after applying to join the Forum at www.deepadaptation.info

Application deadline is April 25th 2019 and applicants will be informed of decisions by May 5th 2019.

Meetings can be organised in English, French, or Chinese. Applications can be submitted in any of those languages.

Please note that currently only 5 events can be funded in 2019. If you are able to make charitable donations of over 2000 euros (or equivalent) and would like to discuss supporting us scaling up these Deep Adaptation Dialogues, please contact the Forum here. We are not in a position to handle smaller donations at this time.

To be kept in touch with online gatherings on this agenda, please join the Forum at www.deepadaptation.info

 

The Deep Adaptation Forum launches

People who are alive to the likelihood of society collapsing in our lifetimes will not be alone for long. But for now, we are few and far between. Despite 200,000 people downloading my Deep Adaptation paper, in most professional circles this topic remains taboo, and certainly not a priority within strategies, budgets or meetings. This situation means people find it challenging to work on the professional implications of their concerns. Yet the longer we delay our exploration of what to do and how, the more likely it will be that organisations and societies respond poorly in future.
photo_2019-03-05_16-39-45
There are many professional fields that are relevant to our predicament, including mainstream climate adaptation, disaster risk reduction, mental health, permaculture and so on. Because a society that breaks down will affect all walks of life – and so all of us can do something to help each other prepare, whether from within our current role or a new one.

To extend the glide of our societies and soften the crash, the goal must be for every professional association, think tank, trade union, and research institute, to develop their own work on collapse-readiness. Before that happens, we can connect around the world and support each other to play a role in our professions and locations when the time arrives.

It is for these reasons that today we launch the Deep Adaptation Forum. It is the next step for those of us who accept likely collapse to work together now and thereby mark the way for our colleagues to follow in time. Through this free forum you can join regular webinars, seek advice and co-create shared resources for your field of expertise.

We concentrate mainly on:
* hosting regular video meetings among our members;
* managing jointly edited documents on relevant resources, initiatives, and knowledge needs;
* enabling in-person dialogues within local communities and professional sectors;
* and maintaining an event calendar.
The Forum is not a space for:
* debating climate science or chronicling the latest bad weather;
* disputing whether societal collapse is likely to occur;
* or arguing that near-term human extinction is now inevitable.

Such discussions occur in many other places, and instead, this Forum is solely dedicated to serving those who wish to explore collapse-readiness in all its potential forms, from the practical, to political, emotional and spiritual.

We invite a diversity of opinion, including a diversity of political approaches, so long as these do not advocate forms of fascism or violent conflict. We also invite participants, if they wish, to employ the Deep Adaptation framework. That means exploring what the concepts of resilience, relinquishment, restoration and reconciliation could mean for our profession or interest. Therefore, it will be useful if you read the Deep Adaptation paper and blog on Reconciliation before participating in the Forum.

There is no need to wait for your fellow professionals to wake up to our predicament.

There is no need to spend much time justifying yourself.

There is no need to rage against ignorance.

Instead, we can start to live our truth together now.

I look forward to connecting in the Forum.

Professor Jem Bendell, Founder of the Deep Adaptation Forum.

Note that the Forum is the place for professional collaboration. If you simply want to see the latest posts from professionals in this field, join our LinkedIn Group. If you have a general interest but don’t work on it, then join our Positive Deep Adaptation group on Facebook.

Positive Deep Adaptation Group on Facebook

In recent weeks I have noticed an upsurge in people discussing the calamitous state of our climate, its impacts and our response. My server crashed twice due to the download demands for my Deep Adaptation paper.
To channel this interest into useful professional collaborations, next week we launch the Deep Adaptation Forum, as an international space for people to work together – ahead of their wider professions buying into this agenda properly (which is bound to happen, but we can’t delay). Already our LinkedIn group for professionals has circa 1500 members.
Many people who are getting in touch or tweeting their thoughts are not professionally engaged, but are retired people, or busy with their existing jobs or families. So, we are today launching a Facebook group as a simple means of helping them connect.
Positive Deep Adaptation will be a place for sharing information on our outer and inner deep adaptation to unfolding societal breakdown due to climate change. We will share information in two areas:
  • First, on emotional, psychological and spiritual implications.
  • Second, on our knowledge of practical means to support wellbeing ahead of (and during) social breakdowns. Those practical means may be at household, community, national or international scales. Collective action in a spirit of compassion is particularly welcomed, rather than defensive prepping for conflict.
The group wont be a place for sharing news or information on the state of our climate or environment. Nor will we share news and information on aspects of social breakdown. Why? Because as things get worse, our feeds will be swamped increasingly by such news, and in that context we can benefit from a group to support our positive deep adaptation to the situation, and not to crowd that out by news chronicling the changing climate or breakdown.
By “positive” deep adaptation we do not mean that we will be inviting messages that say “we must have hope” or “we can’t say it’s too late” or “look at this latest wow tech that will mean someone else will fix everything”. Such fear-based attitudes that script stories of the world to help ourselves feel better, for now, are counter-productive. Instead, we will be sharing information and ideas on all kinds of things that start from the view that collapse is now likely or inevitable. What might that involve? Check it out here.
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Upcoming events with Prof Bendell in 2019

Online, March 27th. Deep Adaptation Q&A Online with Prof Jem Bendell. Bring your questions for a moderated conversation with the originator of the Deep Adaptation framework. 9am to 10am GMT. March 27th. Limited places available.

London. April 13th. Social Collapse: Probability and Psychological Challenges (Climate Psychology Alliance)

London, April 15th. Rebellion Day, Extinction Rebellion.

Preston, UK. April 29th. Green Monday Anti-fracking protest.

Ambleside, UK. April 30th. Q&A meeting with Ambleside Action For A Future. (By invitation only, apply here)

Findhorn ecovillage, Scotland. April 22nd. Climate Change & consciousness (via videolink)

Connect University, Brussels. May 13th. Climate Change: Resilience, Uncivilisation, Rebellion and Technology, with Dougald Hine and others.

Canada, May 23rd. Canadian Society for Ecological Economics keynote (via videolink)

Athens, Greece, June 6th. Doom and Bloom: Lessons from the heart of UK’s Extinction Rebellion. 19.00 – 21.00 @Cooperative Coffee Shop, Monastiriou 140

Anyksciai, Lithuania, June 21st. Q&A at Anyksciai Forest Festival (via videolink)

Kalikalos retreat centre, Greece. June 22-29th. Inner resilience for tending a sacred unravelling.

Lancaster UK, July 14th. “Lancaster Community Dialogue for Deep Adaptation” Using Open Space methods to explore implications and initiatives with communities in the North West of England. Free. 10am to 5pm. Register.

Cumbria UK, July 18-21st. Certificate in Sustainable Leadership short course, including sessions on Deep Adaptation.

Somerset UK, September 11-12th. Green Earth Awakening camp 2019, Buddhafield festival

Glasgow UK, September 21st. Deep Adaptation, Deep Solidarity Jem Bendell and Gehan Macleod in conversation.

Cumbria UK, September 24-27th. Deep Adaptation Retreat (with Katie Carr).

Devon UK, October 13-18th. Kissing the Void Retreat with Toni Spencer.

London UK October 19th. Sleepwalking into the Anthropocene – the new age of anxiety Speech to UK Council for Psychotherapy conference.

December. Speaking to COP25 conference in Chile by videolink

Please sign up to my quarterly newsletter for more detailed information.

If you would like Jem to appear in a meeting you are organising, then consider applying to the Deep Adaptation Forum to host a dialogue. Info here.

The Deep Adaptation Retreat – June in Greece

22 — 29 JUNE 2019 € 520* inclusive

CULTIVATING INNER RESILIENCE

With Jem Bendell and Katie Carr

The emerging realisation that climate change is becoming a destructive tragedy, not just an urgent challenge, is profoundly disorientating for many people. How are we to feel? What are we to do? What might become the purpose of our lives and work in the face of imminent societal breakdown from climate chaos?

You are warmly invited to join us for a week of dialogue and reflection with people working on this Deep Adaptation agenda. We will focus on nourishing the inner resilience for us all to help make this a kinder and more sacred unravelling of life-as-we-know-it. We will draw upon the experiences of participants, a range of experiential exercises as well as facilitated connection and exploration that welcomes emotional, spiritual and somatic ways of being and (un)learning, as well as the cognitive. Our aspiration is that we will support peaceful empowered surrender to our predicament, where action can arise from an engaged love of humanity and nature, rather than redundant stories of worth and purpose.

This retreat is for you if you:

– are engaged around the implications of climate breakdown for your personal and professional future
– sense that a week in nature with people on a similar path could support your journey and healing

(View from balcony of the centre)

Within a safely held and gently facilitated space, we aim to explore the possibilities for meaning, purpose and joy amidst the climate tragedy, whilst cultivating the practice of welcoming the whole range of human emotions, including those that are painful and usually pushed away. The focus is on inner adaptation rather than policies for reducing the harm from societal collapse. The retreat is part of a wider movement on Deep Adaptation. Our hope is you leave better able to host future gatherings on this agenda, and feel more peaceful in your ability to be alongside and support others in their own journeys.

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 home-cooked and vegetarian. A stunningly wild beach is a 20-minute walk away, while old villages are nearby through forests. We can only host 10 participants at the centre, so early booking is essential.

You are invited to bring a reading, practice or insight to share that is helping you to explore living lovingly and actively in the face of climate-induced collapse.

ABOUT KATIE CARR

Katie Carr pic

Katie has hosted and facilitated collaborative learning processes for 15 years, within formal education settings, with communities, and within organisations, most of which can be summed up as “exploring what it means to be human and alive together”. She brings to this work a love of people, and heaps of gratitude and respect for the privilege of being alongside others, and of learning together to become increasingly lovingly aware of the dynamic relational space between us where connection happens.

ABOUT JEM BENDELL

Professor Jem Bendell is the originator of the concept of Deep Adaptation to near term societal collapse due to climate chaos. Five years ago, Jem 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. Jem’s approach to education is participative, experiential and focused on the whole person. He now dedicates his time to helping people, and himself, evolve in response to the latest climate science.

PRICES

Include the workshops plus full accommodation with 3 daily vegetarian meals (except for one evening out in a Taverna) in a tent €520, a triple room €570, a twin room €670 and a single room €820.  All rooms are en suite with sea views and/or balcony.

(The coastline near the retreat centre is the Mediterranean at its best)

SCHEDULE

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:

8:30am – 9:30am Breakfast
9:30am – 10:00am Opening Circle
10:0am – 10:45am Opening Seminar
10:45am – 11:30am Participants share a resource (text, art, other) or personal story, with discussion.
11:30am – 12:00am Drinks break
12:00am – 1:00pm Group Activity (experiential exercises)
1:00pm – 1:30pm Closing Circle
1:30pm Lunch
2:30pm – 6:00pm Free time for individual or shared 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.

In the spirit of collaboration and community-building, you will be asked to contribute about 4 – 6 hours/week to some center tasks like food preparation or joining the washing up team.

Afternoons are leisure time – to enjoy marvellous beaches, to dive into a wild untouched nature with great hiking paths and waterfalls…..   or just hang out in a hammock to rest…

VISIT THE CENTRE WEBSITE FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO APPLY TO ATTEND. IGNORE THE FULLY BOOKED NOTICE AS THERE ARE NOW 3 PLACES AVAILABLE (AT MAY 1ST 2019)

PLEASE GET IN TOUCH IF YOU COULD SUBSIDISE PEOPLE TO ATTEND TO LEARN HOW TO BE FACILITATORS OF SIMILAR ACTIVITIES, OR TO IMPROVE THEIR PRACTICE (email matslats @ fastmail.com)

Racism and Lovephobia in Media and Ourselves

WhatsApp groups are a strange thing. One minute people are wishing each other happy birthday and the next minute angrily debating current political flashpoints. You know, the ones we have all been told to debate by mass media. One group I belong to includes about 60 past participants on a Harvard Uni Global Leadership course. As you can imagine, we aren’t shy with sharing our views on politics. Today one member of the group posted a link to a recent article from The Economist magazine, and appended a comment:

“Nasty Corbyn”

The arguments around whether the leadership of the UK Labour party has done enough to challenge anti-semitism amongst its members or it’s wider supporters has been raging in the British media. It is not to deny that there is racism in Britain and political parties to point out that many of the opinions expressed by journalists and politicians on this subject are influenced by interests other than combatting racism. The problem with that is if it drowns out the opportunity for serious reflection on how any of us might be contributing to the problem of contemporary racism, including anti-semitism and then what to do about it.

This became clear to me after clicking through to that article in The Economist. For those of you who have read this magazine, you will know that their style is to try to convey an objectively-reasonable and factually-informed opinion. If you read it, you are being invited to think you are learning what is the most respectable opinion to have on any matter – not just economics.

The article made the argument that left-wing people are susceptible to anti-semitism and that the leader of the UK Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn will be incapable of ridding the party of such racism because he doesn’t care for minorities if they are not economically oppressed.  Given that Corbyn has been a lifelong anti-racism campaigner and risked arrest in doing that, I thought that was a rather weak and speculative analysis of his psyche. After googling I found that the Economist has also expressed concern about the far right and its influence on actual regulations in Eastern Europe from governments that the Conservative government of the UK is allied with politically within the European Parliament. Fair play, I thought, the Economist is criticizing any deviation from what it considers a Centrist viewpoint. But still something felt unhelpful and uncaring about the message in this article – as if the victims of racism were not the prime concern of the author. But I didn’t understand why I felt that and thought it just might be my own bias in what has become a conflictual debate, rather than an exploration of how we rid society of anti-semitism and racism.Angry1

I switched off my phone, as I had arrived a the group meditation I was going to. Some moments into the meditation I calmed down from that feeling of intellectual combat. Rather than thinking, I just began to feel compassion for everybody involved in this debate as well as the dignity and individuality of everybody being talked about in this debate. I’m bad at meditation in the sense that my thoughts don’t stop coming. But in this moment of compassion, one line from that Economist article came into my mind’s eye. Here it is:

“British Jews – particularly those who support Israel – are being marginalized in the Labour Party. There are three million Muslims in Britain compared with about 284,000 Jews and they are concentrated in areas vital for Labours future such as Birmingham and Manchester.”

 

In a flash I realized the subconscious racism of this statement and my own subconscious racism for not realizing that when I first read it. The sentence uses that typical Economist tone of offering numbers and (geographical) facts so you think it is merely describing reality, rather than their particular viewpoint. But do you see the unconscious racism in this argument from The Economist?  

If not, then you are not alone.

But if we are to overcome racism in society, we need to be able to examine at our own assumptions and how they are normalized by those with power such as an economist writer. As I meditated, I saw an image of one of my best friends and colleagues who worked for the Labour party during last year’s General Election. I saw him with one of his friends who he plays tennis with. He is a British Jew and she is a British Muslim. I am a British Christian and we have had fun times together.

Okay, semi-Christian, but you get my point?

The Economist writer and editor assumed that most Muslims in Britain dislike Jewish people. Moreover they assume that most Muslims in Britain would dislike political leaders who fight anti-semitism. Really? Let’s look at that sentence again.

“British Jews – particularly those who support Israel – are being marginalized in the Labour Party. There are three million Muslims in Britain compared with about 284,000 Jews and they are concentrated in areas vital for Labours future such as Birmingham and Manchester.”

The argument is predicated on the view that politicians do not choose policies and priorities based on values or what is good for the country, but on pure electoral calculation. That can be debated. But the Economist invites you to assume that the Labour Party is cynical. Their key racism, however, is to suggest that a significant majority of 3 million people will have a negative view of almost 300000 people and any politician who supports them purely because of religion. They don’t qualify the statement, so they could be implying that ALL Muslims should be assumed to have that kind of negative view of all Jewish people.

Despite me knowing Muslims and Jews in Britain, and not experiencing racism from them towards each other at any point in my life, and me witnessing Muslim-Jewish friendships amongst my own friends, I did not immediately see this racism from The Economist.  Therefore I cannot blame the person who wrote it, the person who edited it, or the person who shared it, or the people who did not immediately object to it. Instead, I could point this out to friends and colleagues, in a harmless way, such as a blog post.

Aha!

But before I click publish,  I should take a moment to dig deeper: to inquire into the complex reality of race relations and what to do about it.

A quick search led me to a study on anti-semitic opinion in Britain today. It found that on average Muslims express some anti-semitic views slightly more than the average in the UK. But the same study found that those who described themselves as far right are two to four times more likely to express anti-semitic opinions. In addition I found that one of the key questions used in the study to demonstrate increased likelihood of anti-Semitic views from Muslims was actually flawed. They asked for agreement or not with the statement. “A British Jew is just as British as any other British person.” The question is flawed because minorities in the UK may be more aware that any minority is less likely to be universally considered as “British” as a non minority. Let’s say you are a British Jew: you may be aware that British Pakistanis may not be seen by all Britosh people as British as any other British person. This question could have avoided that with a slight change into: “A British Jew should be considered just as British as any other British person.” Yes, a bit too much detail for a blog, but I’m an academic so I can’t let methodoligical mess-ups pass me by.  The result from the flawed question was that 80% of British Christians agreed and 61% of British Muslims agreed.

I also saw that different journalists had selectively chosen what data to present to tell the race-based story they wanted to tell. Which is why I wont link to them here as I havent got the time to pick apart all their mis-statements. 

The reality is that there is some racism in most organizations in all societies. Which is bad. But there is also a majority of non racist people. Which is good. That the Economist would make such a statement as they did, without validation, shows but they are not exempt from the problem of racism. The way for us to overcome this problem is blocked by both our pride and the desire to reaffirm our existing positions. Yet we should avoid reducing the individuality of people due to a category of identity just so that we can make a self-serving argument.

This insight on the racist assumption of views of Muslims in the UK was not difficult for me to arrive at. It involved me sitting still and breathing deeper than normal. Not tough. That enabled me to drop the feeling of combat and look at everyone with compassion and respect. It made me realize we often have a phobia of feeling such love towards each other. Because some of us have a phobia of not being right all the time. Yet there is no escaping this issue in the field of identity politics. Because the universal value that invites us to respect everybody no matter their religion, race, creed, gender, orientation or politics, is that everyone has their own dignity regardless of any identity ascribed to them. 

We need to be alert to anti-semitism and racism everywhere. We can always improve – all of us. To do that we need to overcome our “lovephobia”. By which I mean we can chill out and move into a spirit of compassion to all, thereby forgiving mistaken opinions and combative approaches, so we can raise the discussion to something more powerful. So I look forward to more celebrations of the inter-religious solidarity that I know exists in Britain today. It’s something I love about the country.

So how might we celebrate that? Here is an idea… A video of Muslim and Jewish friends reading that Economist article together and wondering if they aren’t meant to campaign together against capitalist exploitation.

I’d enjoy posting that in the WhatsApp Group.

Funded PhD on Local Currencies

Fully funded full time PhD on local currencies in stunning Cumbria, supervised by me, Prof Jem Bendell

Closing date: midnight 18 February 2018

sovi_cs_logo
The Lake District Pound (LD£) initiative is the context within which the research project will be carried out. This is an innovation in local currency that builds on the prior work and positive outcomes of other complimentary currency initiatives in the UK and globally. The LD£ will operate alongside sovereign Sterling currency with a more direct purpose to support the local rural economy.

This initiative will utilise a range of innovative methods to adapt and extend the idea of a ‘currency with a purpose’ to a rural context with a unique demographic including for the first time a National Park. A core aim of the initiative is to shift visitor spending from using large external businesses (e.g. online retailers and travel companies, remote delivery services, etc.) towards local companies and communities. The anticipated impact is to retain more wealth in the region to fund social and environmental projects and through the local focus and supply chains deliver measureable environmental benefits.
The LD£ initiative has a number of short and long-term aims, which will be greatly enabled through this research project. The aim of the research project is to provide a foundation and framework for measuring the success of the local currency initiative and from that measure, to identify optimum practice and future direction to improve such local currency initiatives.

The PhD research topic is the development of a framework for evaluation of the impact of the Lake District Pound and generation of data on that impact. This evaluation must include indicators of economic impacts, as well as social, cultural and environmental impacts. The evaluation needs to involve quantitative metrics, but can also include more qualitative assessments. It is a multidisciplinary study, with the candidate being able to draw upon a range of fields in consultation with the supervisor (for instance, potential insights from sociology, accounting, corporate sustainability, voluntary sector and organisation studies).

The PhD researcher will work with The Lakes Currency Project Ltd as well as conducting the research for the PhD – and will be based in the stunning Lake District National Park.

The Lakes Currency Project Ltd is the organisation behind the introduction and support of the ‘Lake District Pound’. It is incorporated as a private entity following the guidelines of a Community Interest Company to drive the LD£ initiative as a commercially sustainable project. The generation of revenue from the initiative will be directed in joint partnership with the Lake District Foundation to support vital sustainability projects in and around the National Park, and the Cumbria Community Foundation to support critical projects to help the poorer local communities. Their long-term aim is to develop an element of autonomy and economic resilience within the Lake District and surrounding communities in response to the continually increasing impact of global tourism that often serves to impoverish rural areas. http://www.lakedistrictpound.com/

Benefits

Full-time PhD – annual tax-free stipend of £15,000 p.a. for 3 years
Tuition fees paid for by the industry sponsor (Home/EU fee)

The PhD is supported by the ERDF funded Eco-innovation Cumbria project http://www.cumbria.ac.uk/eco led by the University of Cumbria.

Application process
https://www.cumbria.ac.uk/research/prospective-students

To apply please visit the website for details of the entry requirements which must be met and to access the application form. Under the Research Proposal section of the form please summarise your approach to the proposed project outlined in this advert under the following headings: General Overview of Area, Identification of the Relevant Literature, Key Research Questions, Methodology, Timescale/Research Planning

Please include a covering letter telling us why you want to study for a PhD, what interests you about this project and highlight the skills and experience you will bring. Give the title of your research proposal as: “The Lake District Pound: Developing Local Sustainability through Economic Innovation in a Rural Context”

For any queries relating to admissions please contact Research Student Admissions rsa@cumbria.ac.uk

If you wish to find out more about the project in the first instance please contact: Ken Royall, Chief Executive, The Lakes Currency Project Ltd. ken@lakedistrictpound.com or Dr David Murphy, Institute for Leadership and Sustainability, University of Cumbria david.murphy@cumbria.ac.uk or

Closing date: midnight 18 February 2018

Interviews to be conducted 26th February 2018 in Ambleside, Cumbria. Candidates will be required to give a short presentation on their approach to the research proposal. Strong candidates may be given the option for an interview by video conference.

This personal is political – Jem’s Quarterly #10

I used to avoid party politics. I thought it wouldn’t be a way to promote positive change, because political leaders would only consider options framed by national vested interests and international finance. Instead, I focused on the contexts around political parties, such as increasingly public awareness of key issues, promoting change in the practices of business and financial institutions, and supporting alternatives at the grassroots. This year, that changed for me.  As my University role is part time, I took an opportunity to support the office of the Leader of the Opposition in the UK. For the first time in my life, I saw the potential for a mainstream political party in the UK to engage with wider social movements for a sustainable transformation.

A lot has been said about the current leadership and direction of the Labour Party, and of left-wing politics in general. Nothing beats hearing directly from the people involved. So, for a sense of his philosophy on leadership and change, I recommend a speech Jeremy Corbyn MP gave in London on April 29th called “Stepping Up for Britain”. For an insight into the economic approach Labour proposed, I recommend a speech in May from John McDonnell MP, the Shadow Chancellor. For Corbyn’s views on security and foreign policy I recommend the latter half of a speech he gave some days after the terrible bombing in Manchester. I was pleased to work with them on those speeches, during my support for the election campaign.

The result of the election was one step forward in the process of establishing a broad left agenda for the future of economy and society. Nevertheless, there remains much to be done in the UK, Europe and elsewhere for governments to enable people to improve their lives and communities in a rapidly changing world.

In other news:

2017 marks 20 years since my first book was published! With Dr David Murphy, we looked at collaborations for sustainable development in the book “In the Company of Partners.” To mark this anniversary, I gave an open lecture at the University of Cumbria, which you can watch here. My article of reflections on what has happened on this topic over the last 20 years is available in Issue 66 of the Journal of Corporate Citizenship.

I recorded a video to promote our free online Money and Society MOOC, which starts again on August 19th. You can read more about it and sign up at http://ho.io/mooc

CCCIn May, with Matthew Slater, we presented a paper on the future of complementary currencies in an age of blockchains at the joint academic-practitioner RAMICS conference in Barcelona. We also outlined a new initiative to create the protocols and tools for the massive scaling of socially useful new currencies. We then presented these ideas to participants and supporters of the social and solidarity economy at a RIPESS event in Athens. In my next update, I will outline the shape of this effort, which federates over 300 local currencies into one initiative. For some of the philosophical background see www.creditcommons.net

From September, I am taking a year-long sabbatical to (attempt to) write a popular book that will convey some of the things I work towards. The project will take me through London, Valencia, Athens, Geneva, Milan, Manila and Bali, so if in any of these locations, it would be great to hear from you.