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  • What are Deep Adaptation Open Space events? (And Why I Can’t Wait for the Next One!)

What are Deep Adaptation Open Space events? (And Why I Can’t Wait for the Next One!)

Do you wish you knew people who share your concern about climate disruption and collapse? Have you been pondering inequity and injustice and long to discuss them? Are you looking for new strategies for community-building? But, given the pandemic, you’re wondering how?

Deep Adaptation Online Open Space events could be part of the answer. Whether you’re working on practical measures like community-building or regenerative living in these unpredictable times, or exploring emotional, psychological, and spiritual resilience, you’re likely to find someone who’s either deep into it or wants to hear your thoughts. 

There are more than 13,000 members across the different networks that form the Deep Adaptation Forum (DAF), and a community of over 100 active volunteers. These bi-monthly online events are an opportunity for you to connect, collaborate with, and learn from people from all walks of life who are deeply adapting to the realisation that societal collapse due to climate chaos is likely, inevitable, or already unfolding.

DAF’s commitment to fostering mutual support and embodying and enabling loving responses ensures that discussions will foster collaboration and professional development; the Open Space principles guarantee all voices will be heard with equal respect. If you’ve never attended a Zoom Open Space meeting, the format alone may be a treat.    

“Open Space works best when the work to be done is complex, the people and ideas involved are diverse, the passion for resolution (and potential for conflict) are high, and the time to get it done was yesterday. It’s been called passion bounded by responsibility, the energy of a good coffee break, intentional self-organization, spirit at work, chaos and creativity, evolution in organization, and a simple, powerful way to get people and organizations moving — when and where it’s needed most.” (

January 30 was the first of six DA Open Space events planned for 2021. Each event covers a different topic, and there are two four-hour sessions so that you can join from wherever you are in the world. Experienced hosts welcome participants with the guidelines of Open Space:

  1. Whoever comes are the right people,
  2. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have,
  3. Whenever it starts is the right time,
  4. When it’s over, it’s over.

Then the magic happens. Participants are invited to propose a topic or question that they’d like to explore, and then speak briefly to introduce that topic. Through a lively process of whole-group negotiation, what started as a blank page grows into an agenda wall, with three time slots and as many break-out rooms as are needed. Then the breakout rooms are opened, and participants are free to choose one, or sample more than one, in the next 40 minutes. Ten-minute music breaks between the three sessions give participants the chance to dance or grab a “cuppa.” Further adjustments to the agenda wall are made, because sometimes a new topic surfaces from one of the earlier discussions, and a new breakout room opens.

The January 30 invitation included the umbrella question “How can we (individually, and in local or online communities) adapt deeply in these extraordinary times?” In Open Space tradition, this is a broad invitation. Any topic is acceptable. As you can see from the notes taken on the shared “harvest sheets”, the agenda created by participants was wide-ranging and stimulating.

One session I attended on “Cultural division, cultural evolution, and healing through regenerative cultures” circled around both the inner work of each of our evolving identities, as well as outward-looking observations of cultural influences. Another session explored regenerative strategies to build community, in which participants shared existing challenges in their local communities and discussed definitions of “regenerative.” Ever since, I’ve been thinking about how to move forward on a community-building project in my corner of Ohio.

I’m eagerly looking forward to the next online Deep Adaptation Open Space event, on Saturday March 27. This month’s topic will be ‘Honoring and bridging cultures and languages in the Deep Adaptation Forum’. Sign up here and see you there!

BIO:  My background is in teaching Developmental and Cross-cultural Psychology; I’m now retired. My pre-COVID, pre-DA activism was in Community Rights and the Rights of Nature, as the coordinator of Portage Community Rights Group (, and on the Board of the Ohio Community Rights Network. I’m now looking for work to do within DA and a balance in life. Gwen B. Fischer, NE Ohio, USA

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