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Overlapping Boundaries: Adapting Together

An invitation to join others in exploring new ways of collaborating 

A common discussion when Deep Adaptors come together is how to best share about Deep Adaptation outside of the movement. Many of us belong to more than one group that has some kind of connection to the topic of deeply adapting. We want to offer support to people as they awaken to the planetary predicament, as well as to learn from others.

This upcoming Open Space event is focused on creating a time and place for that sharing to happen. Some of the networks that the organizers hope will attend are specifically mentioned in the invitation. These are ones that noticeably overlap with Deep Adaptation membership, but people from other networks who have an interest in Deep Adaptation, and curiosity about our overlapping networks, are also warmly invited.

Network weaver Nenad Maljković, has played a key role in creating this opportunity in the flexible environment of an online Open Space. “I like to work on the overlap of different networks. I’ve noticed in our circles, there are many people that are connected. For example, my areas are Permaculture, Ecovillages, and Transition. In many countries, in many regions, these are not three distinct networks. These are basically the same people doing things in this overlapping way. When I started interacting with, and engaging in, the context of Deep Adaptation Forum, I saw this same overlap again—many people I know from Permaculture networks, from Ecovillage and Transition networks, were engaging within the Deep Adaptation Forum.”

Nenad uses the term ‘Regenerative Cultures Movement’ to describe these particular overlapping networks. (His use of the term was inspired by Daniel Christian Wahl’s book, Designing Regenerative Cultures.) He’s found that there are people like that all over the world. “These overlaps are happening as a side effect – an unintentional consequence because people are looking to connect with like-minded people, people who have the same or similar values,” he says.

Kaat Vander Straeten, a local organizer in the Transition initiative in her community of Wayland, Massachusetts, USA; and a volunteer in the Deep Adaptation Forum, is also eager to see what happens when these networks come together. She says “I’d love to enter the space and recognize people who are not just Deep Adaptation people, but also people doing ‘that other thing I do’ as well. I want to see how they bring these two things I love together.”

Kaat believes both Transition and Deep Adaptation have something significant to offer to each other. “I see the need in Transition for the awareness of Deep Adaptation; and when DAF gets more into trying to start local groups, then I think Transition can help.”

She believes that the concept of Deep Adaptation will feel relevant to people who have not yet connected with the Deep Adaptation network. “Transition is very much a movement of do-ers. Many leaders have been very dedicated—they’ve been volunteering more than a decade now and gone through more downs than ups. They say, ‘I’ve worked on this for 10 years, and invested so much, and now look where we are at?’ To come together with people from DA who’ve been through the dark night of the soul to a place of deep adaptation could be a great gift. It’s a particular journey and a good thing to model —  the great freedom that comes from having a larger perspective,” she says.

Kaat says that in Transition US right now, she’s noticed a lot of conversations about leadership and what it means to be a leader. “I’ve noticed this happening in local initiatives and also in the core leadership group. It’s already tough to be a leader, and now they are questioning if they are doing the work in the right way. As a leader you often find yourself thinking outside the paradigm, and when you start to question one paradigm, then lots of paradigms are called into question. Suddenly the whole house of cards falls down. Being a leader can be lonely in that sense. I see that loneliness a lot, and the feeling among leaders that you have to shut up about it and let people take baby steps. Leaders are tired, and can’t talk with their own groups. It’s not in the paradigm to let leaders talk openly about their doubts of how they are leading.”

She feels that an Open Space event held by Deep Adaption could provide a great opportunity for these conversations to happen.

Nenad agrees that a prime reason to come to the event is to not feel alone. “This is where you connect with other people that share some similar views and experiences, in particular, if people are collapse-aware. It’s not a popular mind-frame. It’s not mainstream. However, I feel that DA is bringing more and more people into these conversations, and does that well.”

Kaat has found personal strength in Deep Adaptation. It helps her cope with the kind of questioning that our planetary predicament brings up. It also has helped her stay focused on what really matters most to her.

“Deep Adaptation helps people make the journey of giving up the small hope, and frees them up for the bigger hope. It’s not a hope in a certain outcome, of winning or losing. It takes you to the heart of the thing. It lets you work on a deeper principle, on doing what is right. That’s an enormous strength.”

The Open Space format invites people to come together and create their own agenda, naming for themselves the topics that they’d like to discuss. Nenad has led the way in pioneering the use of Open Space events for DAF. This year, he and others in the Deep Adaptation Collaborative Action Group have committed to hosting an online Open Space once every two months.

Open Space offers a great opportunity for deep adaptation, says Nenad, and from the popularity of the DAF Open Space events so far, it’s clear that others agree. “I have some kind of faith in people self-organizing to address issues of concern in communities and networks, instead of waiting for top-down solutions.  That’s actually the spirit of Transition Movement, where I first learned about Open Space—self-organizing to address issues together in the community to build resilience.”

He feels that online Open Space is especially suited to this time of planetary emergency. “Online Open Space—and other modalities of remote collaboration—enable people to connect, exchange ideas and to learn from each other without traveling or the need for a budget, or much institutional structure. We have these online tools. Particularly in Western countries, it is very easy to connect with other people, exchange ideas, and start initiatives. It is particularly good for learning from each other.”

He mentions the paradox of this situation. “What we now have is a planetary predicament, caused by the dominant culture of industrial consumerism. Yet this culture provided us with the tools to connect and communicate globally. It is paradoxical that a culture that is systematically destroying the planet is also providing us who want to live differently or adapt to a changing environment and society, with the tools to communicate and to connect on a planetary level. This paradox is perhaps something useful for the predicament.”

Nenad learned about Open Space technology around 10 years ago. He has formal training in facilitating it. “Initially, I was working as a community organizer in the context of Transition network here in Croatia. Open Space events were actually sort of a standard feature in Transition then,” he recalls.

“In Deep Adaptation Forum, it seemed to me that there is a need for events that are not predesigned or predefined, but that are emergent and self-organized. Essentially, Open Space technology format is that, so I suggested that we start experimenting with it,” he says.

He likens Open Space technology to scaffolding. “On one hand when you look at an Open Space event, it is quite structured, but it is just a certain framework that is filled in by people’s engagement on the fly… on the spot… in the moment… The event structure works like scaffolding. What follows up after the event are possible initiatives and actions. There have been some sprouts that started as a result of the DA Open Spaces. There was no central planning for this to happen.”

Nenad personally hopes that he’ll get to meet some new network weavers in this upcoming open space. “Every network has a group of more engaged members—people or teams of people that play a key role in holding the network activities together. I call these people ‘network weavers’. I’d like to see network weavers from these various networks connect and start to communicate with each other.”

He hopes that they will find mutual inspiration, support, and learning for local activities. “You can never know in advance. Sometimes it’s even useful not to have preconceived ideas. That is one of the principles of Open Space: ‘prepare to be surprised’. It’s emergent. In a complex system, there are so many interacting elements that it’s impossible to direct and predict; but you can actually shuffle these elements and their interaction can enable some kind of co-creation to emerge from that system.”

You are invited to this Open Space event on Saturday, May 29th, 2021. Participation is free. Everyone is welcome who cares to engage in this discussion. The event happens over a wide range of time zones in order to make attendance as comfortable as possible for people from around the globe. You can see all the details here

If you are interested in learning more about conducting online Open Spaces, Nenad Maljković offers these resources for hosting online Open Spaces, created by many practitioners world-wide.

Sasha Daucus is a DAF volunteer and helps create the Open Space events as part of the DAF Collaborative Action Team. She’s inviting members of her overlapping networks, Radical Joy for Hard Times, and the Bioregional Movement to join this Open Space.

Collaboration, deep adaptation, Deep Adaptation Forum, events, get involved

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