Navigating a strange new community, without a map
“Now I can feel myself as a part of the community, and still I feel my own difference. And this question is open: What do we really think about each other? This is a personal thing – but also, it’s a cultural thing. Because each of us is connected to some cultural context and background. And I’m not sure how to, yeah, how to gain real feedback. So this is my next question – how to receive real feedback on myself. Maybe some others also need this.”Igor Polskiy
My first steps in DAF
Initially, my involvement with the Deep Adaptation Forum happened as a partner, when I was co-organising the Seeds of Action retreat and Post-Crisis Immersion online event. It was a partnership between DAF, as a community, and the collapse-aware community I was part of.
After I joined DAF in July 2021 (as Facilitation Coordinator), I found it difficult to be having so many Zoom calls. Carrying out relational-focused conversations, decision-making processes, or community-building in an online setting also feels challenging to me. It is difficult to create and support relations with people I’ve never met in person, but I am learning to do it. Thankfully, in this process I discovered formats like Deep Relating, which help to create unconditional bridges between people and cultivate trust and openness.
In DAF, I have also been experiencing a new cultural environment in which to work. Previously, I worked in other international projects, involving Scandinavians and Russians for example, but I have no experience of working in an Anglo-Saxon cultural space. I am a cultural minority here, and it makes me feel uncertain about how people perceive me. I also feel estranged by some of the online tools we use in DAF. They are not very attractive to me. I prefer to focus on interpersonal processes, like the Deep Live Gathering.
Nevertheless, when I was confirmed in my current position of Facilitation Coordinator, in October 2021, it gave me a sense of being recognised as part of the organisation and the community, and of being trusted. This also made me feel safer.
Thanks to the various DAF activities I’ve been involved in, such as participating in Deep Relating sessions, and organising the Deep Live Gathering, I have connected really well with several people. And I would like to build more connections, even though I’m not able to support too many of these connections using Zoom meetings.
A journey of maplessness
A few months ago, I was in the process of considering how I could fit within DAF, what was my place in the community, and what metaphors might work best for me to conceptualise all this. This is my natural tendency, as a strategic conceptual thinker. As I listened to Katie Carr’s recorded talk on the topic of maplessness, a friend who was staying at my home overheard the video, and commented that this faculty of being with maplessness was badly needed in her organisation, which is going through a time of crisis.
This talk awakened my curiosity. So I decided to go on a journey to get lost, and investigate the state of maplessness. I went to a place I didn’t know, across a forest.
This journey helped me to better understand what Katie was talking about, and to make sense of the role that the Deep Adaptation Forum can play in people’s lives. On my journey, while I was lost, I encountered a small temple which I didn’t know about. I spent time there, like in a refuge. It dawned on me that Deep Adaptation can be such a refuge for people who are searching for inner peace. After a while, someone staying in this refuge may consider it their home: they can tend it, for example by washing floors or growing vegetables, or perhaps start working there as a priest or priestess. In this case, the temple is no longer a refuge for such a person, but the place where they live and work – and where they help others who encounter this place. Alternatively, the person can decide to leave the temple, and keep journeying towards a new destination, perhaps with a new set of maps or a new worldview – for example, following a biocentric paradigm. In this refuge, one encounters love and compassion as an answer to the hopelessness of our predicament, and from this encounter, finds ways of contributing to life – both human and nonhuman life.
I decided to co-organise a public conversation involving Katie Carr, Nonty Sabic and myself, partly in order to share this story. The call was a kind of bridge between past and present conversations, which enabled me to connect concepts, metaphors and people.
I enjoyed how the event went.
Thanks to this discussion, I received new inspiration as regards a role I can play as an integrator of stories, concepts, people, and organisations or movements. On the one hand, I can help DAF to clarify its borders and definitions, so that it may gain more visibility on behalf of the “outer world”. And on the other hand, I can continue to create links between this network (including the processes unfolding here), and other people or movements elsewhere. For example, someone I know does biocentric farming and could benefit from DA practices, as he is feeling isolated where he lives. And he could be bringing his knowledge and practices to share them in our network.
My official role is that of maintaining the community of practice of the DA Facilitators, for whom I facilitate monthly meetings. But I also want to make DA facilitation more visible to the external world. A project I want to start soon concerns DA facilitation practice and initiation, which aims to invite people interested in facilitation to take part in common activities, learn more about this discipline, and maybe join or bring their experience to their own communities.
After listening to Katie’s talk about maplessness, besides convening the conversation with Katie and Nonty, I also wrote a blog post and had a conversation with David Baum on his Come Together podcast. So three products came out of this reflexive process for me.
From the feedback I received to the ideas I shared, I was surprised to realise that some of them were new to people in DAF. Indeed, I had grown familiar with those notions over the past couple of years, together with friends from Russia and other countries, especially through the organisation of the Seeds of Action immersion, but also thanks to the We Here project, the Post-Crisis immersion, and other gatherings. It was surprising to contribute new ideas to this field in this way. Some people also shared with me that they had similar thoughts, but were lacking the words to express them – especially as regards the idea of radical hope, which is related to post-crisis hope: not the hope to prevent the crisis, but the hope that one will live somehow, during and through the crisis, and try to make this future as good as possible given the circumstances.
This feedback felt validating, and helped me feel more part of this community.
From this experience, I also gained a deeper understanding of DAF as an international, English-speaking network.
Convening the Deep Live Gathering
The Deep Live Gathering was a multi-local, hybrid DAF event, which took place in several places around the world in October 2021. One of the reasons I wanted to organise it was that I was tired of being on Zoom so often. It was also because online networks feel too virtual, and too symbolic for me.
The Deep Live Gathering was my idea, but it was strongly supported by several people, such as Sasha, Terry, Tom, Cat or Dorian. Their trust and support helped me feel a better sense of belonging within the DA field.
Several things happened that I wasn’t expecting. First, few people travelled to Montenegro for this gathering – and these were largely acquaintances and friends with whom I had met in person before. Besides, due to who participated, we weren’t able to rent the beautiful retreat center I had in mind, for budgetary reasons. I think we also learned a lot in DAF about the blended and multi-local format that we used for this event, which enabled people to gather in several locations simultaneously but asynchronously, with a time window to connect online and share their experience, but spending most of the time offline. Finally, interesting synchronicities happened during this time. For example, participants from the village of Bereznik, in Russia, started to experience a sense of mounting crisis due to the government introducing more measures of population control in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic – just as Jem Bendell was writing about this. Also, they were unable to partake in the Earth Ceremony part of the gathering, because of a sudden death in their village, and the funeral happening the same day.
Overall, the Deep Live Gathering was a positive experience.
While I don’t know what should be the next step, I think we should experiment more with such formats once we have finished processing this experience. Also, I am curious to further experiment with processes happening in multiple languages at once, so that people can speak and have processes in their native language with their offline communities, while remaining connected in the network.
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