Finding a community of love in action
“Community is valuable in and of itself, regardless of the external situation. So anything we can do to connect people to each other is valuable, regardless of what’s happening in the world, or may happen in the future. Therefore, efforts to create community are inherently valuable, and should be pursued. And Deep Adaptation, writ large, is about creating community, therefore valuable to pursue… But it comes back to love. It’s like any expression of love is inherently valuable. And love in action is community. And justice, but that’s a whole substantive discussion… It’s like, we’re trying to be kind to people on a mass basis. Mass kindness, that’s a worthy project, no matter what the future may be, or unfold to be, it doesn’t matter. So, evangelizing for kindness in the context of planetary collapse? That’s a wonderful mission. And I think that’s what we’re really doing.”David Baum
Coming to terms with a variety of perspectives
I was working at a homeless shelter. In March 2019, a person I trusted recommended I read Jem Bendell’s paper. Reading it, I felt galvanized. So I looked up the Facebook group immediately and started participating. I had no particular goal except to reach other people who were considering the issue of potential collapse, which to my mind is and always has been the equivalent of the end of the world as we know it. For me, it’s very much an eschatological question.
When I arrived in the DA Facebook group, I didn’t really know what it was at all. I’d been studying worldwide calamities since I was 17 years old. So as I read what people were sharing, I recognized some of the ideas, and thought I knew what this was about. So I engaged with the group from a position of “I know what’s going on here.” But I experienced all kinds of pushback from people who disagreed with my approach, sometimes forcefully. I found this confusing.
However, I gradually came to recognize that there are a variety of equally valid viewpoints in this conversation. This was the most important lesson of my experience in the Facebook group – there is such a diversity of approaches of feelings and thoughts on the topic generically referred to as “collapse”!
It’s now more obvious to me that everyone has their own wisdom. My viewpoint is just one viewpoint among innumerable viewpoints. It doesn’t make it less valid – in fact, I have deepened my commitment to my own perspective, which comes from a very internal place. But I now feel I have no right to be judgmental about other people’s point of view. I still think I’m right, but critically, I’m right *for me*. And I am able to comprehend that someone else is right *for them*.
For example, while some people are keen to build sustainable communities around themselves, my belief is that all human arrangements are going to become irrelevant at some point – and that these people are only using this planning as a buffer against accepting the utter dissolution of human society and even biological existence on this planet at this time. But I don’t feel the need to interfere with what they’re doing. They’re learning valuable skills. They’re in touch with Mother Earth. So they’re doing things that I’m not doing. We don’t necessarily need to reconcile that I don’t need to go be part of their community.
My experience as a Facebook group Moderator
Soon after I entered the group, one of the Facebook group’s moderators recruited me to become a moderator, so I was inducted into the Moderators’ group. The induction process felt comfortable and appropriate.
Being part of the Moderators’ team, I also came to realise that some issues were particularly triggering to people in the group we managed – such as veganism, nuclear power, or overpopulation. These issues tend to polarise opinions. And I found that while I was reluctant to spend a long time in dialogue with people I considered trolls, other moderators were keen to do so. I also regretted that the Moderators’ team tended to fracture out into little technical silos, which made me feel we were lacking coherence and a sense of common direction. And the others didn’t seem to agree with me. So I decided I might as well move on.
As I was growing dissatisfied with my involvement in the Moderators’ group, in which I experienced a lack of belonging, I also grew increasingly tired of the Facebook group. After a while, it felt like the same conversations were happening over and over again, so it stopped being a learning experience for me, as a long-term participant.
Besides, while I believe this group serves an important purpose, I also came to the conclusion that this purpose is limited by the social media format, and by the fact that Facebook is evil: this company is not interested in fostering conversation or information, but in harvesting data.
So I stepped down from my role as a Moderator, and my involvement in the Facebook group decreased.
Seeking a deeper involvement in the Forum
I was looking for a new kind of experience, deeper, and more involved in the Forum at large. Therefore, I became more involved with the Professions’ Network, on Ning, and first joined the Narratives & Messaging group. I felt I shared an outlook with Melissa, the volunteer who stepped up in that group, so I tried to figure out what was going on there. Unfortunately, we failed to get much traction.
In March 2020, a year after I first became involved in DAF, I took a break. I was anxious at the start of the pandemic, because I thought I was vulnerable, and felt I had to organise my life and those of my loved ones. So I stopped engaging in DAF for about half a year.
After that time, I came back full of a renewed energy. I was still alive! And I missed being in the Forum. The people in DAF are unlike any other group online, and I couldn’t find a similar experience anywhere else. So I decided to come back to the Forum. I really started to buckle down and tried to make connections, and tried to find a place to hook in and contribute.
I proposed several initiatives to the Core Team, with a clear vision and a complete operational plan. However, it became clear, after a while, that the teamwork I was looking for was not going to materialize in this organization. So I lost my motivation, and focused on developing my own project (Collapse Club).
Some key insights from my time in DAF
I realised that the approach created by Jem Bendell and Katie Carr is quite unique, and attracts a certain kind of person who are different than anyone else. Or perhaps these people simply have access to different practices and procedures which bring out the best in them?
For example, every meeting – even if it’s a business meeting – begins with a brief meditation to center the human person who’s participating in the call, and is then followed by a check-in to communicate the humanity of each individual. That’s not really done in other groups or other meetings that I attend. And while at first, I thought such practices were too “woo-woo” and a waste of time, I eventually understood how critical they are. First, we have to connect as humans, otherwise the rest of it is useless. So the fact that these practices are part of the culture, and they successfully reveal the humans who are involved, that’s unique.
Besides, I’m also very impressed by Jem Bendell’s thinking (or most of it at least), and his ability to communicate his thinking.
Another important learning that has happened for me in DAF is understanding the value of teamwork. I’ve been a lone wolf all my life, and my initiatives have mostly been individual, not to say solitary. In DAF, I observed the commitment to teamwork, and the caliber of people here allows for this to happen at a level I’m comfortable with. It’s possible to find actual colleagues here.
What is keeping me in DAF is the desire to be part of the formation of a truly effective team which can bring together the various energetic and profoundly felt impulses that people have, to discover how to enact Deep Adaptation in practice. How can we amplify these different energies which coexist in the fascinating jumble that is Deep Adaptation – as a field which includes Jem Bendell, the DA Facebook group, the Professions’ Network, etc.? Anything we can do to connect people to each other is valuable, regardless of what’s happening in the world, or may happen in the future. Efforts to create community are inherently valuable, and should be pursued. It all comes back to love: any expression of love is inherently valuable. And love in action is community, and justice. We’re trying to be kind to people on a mass basis.
No matter what the future may bring, evangelizing for kindness in the context of planetary collapse is a wonderful mission, and a worthy project. I think that’s what we’re really doing.
My involvement with DA has guided me to some extent, and provided me with an impetus and a safe container: knowing that there are other people on the path is comforting, and that comfort is necessary to proceed. This context has enabled me to pursue internal (spiritual, philosophical, or metaphysical) questions, and reach conclusions that are satisfactory to me. These conclusions enable me to turn back to the world and say: “I’m settled enough in myself. Now, I can engage.” This really speaks to the importance of this community in my life.