How I abandoned the field of offshore finance and became a Deep Adaptation volunteer
“My background and training have given me lots of skills. Rather than deny that unhealthy, offshore finance sector background place they come from, I want to find ways to use them for constructive rather than destructive reasons. I have fears for the future because I’m a mum, and I want to find out how to prepare my daughters, even though they don’t live with me at the moment to be adaptable, kind, brave and resilient. Because I think that’s what they’ll need.”Cat Jenkins
How I arrived to the Deep Adaptation Forum
I first became collapse-aware ten years ago, when reading an article that said that as a species we’re walking each other to the grave, but that we can do so with compassion and love. This really moved me.
I discovered Deep Adaptation by reading the DA paper and other things about it, shortly after it was written.
Later, I was commissioned to write a book on how financial services and money could be a driving force for sustainability. Halfway through, I couldn’t go on with it. I understood that I was singing myself that bullshit song of false optimism, and that it was a form of denial.
I then took part in Jem Bendell’s and Katie Carr’s Sustainable Leadership course in April 2020. It enthused me about getting myself more involved with the movement. After the course, I started participating in the Ning forum. I took part in a “New and Aspiring Volunteers” meeting, and that was my way in.
Why I joined the Forum
Partly my intention was to be of service, as this helps me stay well and focused on doing the right things – particularly as I have a lot of spare time, which I want to use well. Also, I want to find ways to use my skills for constructive ends. Besides, I want to find out how to prepare my daughters to be adaptable, kind, brave, and resilient, and to understand that strength comes from community.
How it has felt like for me
As an introvert, I don’t feel very comfortable interacting with strangers, and yet I found a community in the forum. It has felt so easy to feel as though it’s my tribe, my family. It has filled a need in me that I didn’t know that I had. There is so much help to volunteers on how to run one’s group, make people feel comfortable, bring everyone to being present… Online DA groups tend to be very caring and really good compared to those of lots of other organisations.
On the other hand, I’ve also found that DA spaces tend to sound quite academic, and use heavy language, which can limit their inclusiveness.
My participation in the DAF anti-racism training
I started volunteering in the forum. As part of my participation, I got involved in the DAF “Dismantling Racism” training (Nov. 2020). When I received the invitation to this training, I felt some anxiety, although at the same time I reassured myself thinking I wasn’t racist myself. But during the first day I felt angry and resentful, as I felt I had nowhere to go with what I learned.
Afterwards, I drew relief and freedom from the realisation that I wasn’t alone in dealing with these feelings, including some shame, and I found space to voice them.
The training showed me that instead of trying to defend or protect myself, I should do the work. I enjoyed the two following days much more. I have also gotten to pay more attention to privilege and oppression in general, be it around race, disability, illiteracy, and so on. And I’ve realised how privileged I am, due to my background, my education, etc.
I’ve learned to feel more grateful about my luck and my privilege. As a result of the training, I also took part in Heather’s series on White Supremacy, and got some books on the subject. For example, I’ve been reading a book on racism within the Church.
This knowledge is now infusing my life, and I think about it several times per day.
How I have started speaking about Deep Adaptation outside the Forum
Recently, I was invited by some colleagues at the IoM College of Further Education to contribute to a 4 week course, being offered to adults, on ‘The Climate Crisis and You’. There were around 20 people on the course, which was offered for free – some couldn’t attend all sessions.
The content was wide-ranging, and I was asked in particular to do a session on the final day, where I talked about DA from the perspective of what I’d learned of it, the bones of the paper itself, what I perceive this to mean for me, my loved ones, my own community, and the world’s inhabitants more generally; how DA functions to help people comprehend, process, accommodate and respond to these realities, and what it offers in the way of support, growth and learning, growing one’s capacities to develop resilience and loving compassionate responses, and what sorts of things go on within the DA Forum.
The whole programme ended with breakout discussions on how people felt, what issues had especially resonated for them, and how they wanted to go forward to collaborate on projects (if any) or continued learning and support. All did want to stay in touch and two groups formed, one around developing one or more community garden – I’m ashamed to say I can’t recall what the other was at the moment! The participants all wanted a reunion in a specified time as well – and we plan to run the course again after the summer break.
It was great to be involved: I really love teaching diverse groups like that – we had a wide age range (20s – 80s), some couples, some parents, some business-types and some creatives. It felt a little emotional, as for some the impact of realising our predicament was new and impactful: I was glad we had planned ahead to signpost people to all sorts of support (as well as to DAF platforms for more investigation if and when they choose).
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We just welcomed Cat Jenkins to her new role in Deep Adaptation as part of the Core Team – so this learning journey has continued and resulted in some very clear actions and visible outcomes. I hope we are able to learn more from Cat soon about her journey deeper into the Deep Adaptation ecosystem and her personal insights!
Thanks, Wendy! joining the Core Team will be a learning experience in itself, and one I’m really enjoying. At the minute I’m in the ‘walking up the hill’ phase, and looking forward to some sunlit uplands and plateaus when I’ve found my way around! Lucky to have some good people to ‘scaffold’ my learning, as I think Stephen Sterling described it in ‘Sustainable Education: Re-visioning Learning and Change’, a prescient little paperback written in 2001 and still with a lot to teach us about how to teach people to be capable, collaborative learners….