Deep Adaptation Six Weeks’ Challenge: Week I – Observation

Photo by J Cutrer on Unsplash

One big difference between a whole systems design approach to what we have today is observation.

Observation is also one of the key factors that make indigenous peoples (from all over the world) much more adapted and sustainable than most of modern peoples.

It is the lack of whole-systems, careful, slow-paced and deep observation what has made modern science and technology so reductionist and oblivious to consequences. It is in part because of lack of observation that we have derailed so far from who we are and from the natural systems that support our lives, and so we have gone into the complex mess that is our current predicament.

The challenge this week is to use observation at various levels.

No judgement, not trying to fix, not making any decisions…yet

Suggestions on what to observe:

Observe how a regular day goes, what and who is there and how:

  • For you: what do you do when you wake up? what are your actions? Where do they happen? Who is around? What is around? What do you do at different times of the day? Where, with what and with whom? What tools, devices or equipment do you use? How are they fueled? What type of resources do you need to go on your day? Where do they come from?
  • Systems: observe and describe your current life supporting and life comforting systems: water, food, waste, shelter, transportation, communication, health, support and comfort (spiritual, psychological, relational, social, financial)
  • Processes: from small and simple such as brushing your teeth, taking a shower or using the toilet to more complex such as livelihood (how do you earn a living)
  • Spaces: how are your spaces organized: your house, workplace, access to land, etc.? Do you “own” them? Rent them? Share them with others? How are these spaces? What about clutter? Health and safety? Access? How are they integrated with (or disconnected from) other systems such as water, waste, food, etc.?
  • Grounding, resilience: how do you currently manage stress, anxiety, pain, loneliness, overwhelm, conflict? What practices, skills, tools or resources do you currently use?
  • Change and disruption: how is your current take on sudden changes and disruptions?
  • Special needs: do you have special needs that require external tools, resources, people, or other type of support? (example, glasses, wheelchair, respirator, etc.)
  • Patterns: what things you do all the time? Most of the time? As a response to a stimulus? As a proactive initiative? How much control do you have over these patterns? What triggers them? What feeds them?


Observe your own reactions and attitudes throughout this week. Just note them, draw them or represent them in a way that helps you to track them.


Observe your physical, local community:

  • Where is your home located in relation to sources of: water, food (beyond industrial/commercial sources), alternative shelter, alternative waste systems, alternative fuel (wood, sun), alternative transportation (buses, trains, cycling and walking paths, etc.), communication (local radio, other?), health (alternative medicine and caring), people who matter to you and people who are your support systems, etc.?
  • Where is your current job/business/source of income located in relation to your home and the other systems above?
  • How are your home and workplace, or other space where you spend long hours of your life in relation to health and safety and how prepared are they for a fast and unexpected evacuation?
  • How are all the above locations in relation to threats, risks and hazards (environmental and human-induced?)

Observe the strengths and helps (both at the individual/household or community levels):

  • What systems are already in place to help prevent, protect and respond to disruption of any or all of the above systems (financial, social, water, food, etc.)
  • Who are the people with the skills and/or tools and resources to educate others and/or respond?
  • What are the already existent initiatives to increase resilience, if any?
  • Which of the patterns noted before seem to support and help your resiliency? Which ones seem to diminish or derail it?


Observe your other communities (if any):

  • Do you belong to communities that are not attached to place and to which you can only connect by traveling or through a device or tool, any of which require some type of energy? (example: social media community, a local Extinction rebellion group?) How do they work? What do they provide to you right now (examples: emotional or spiritual support, a common cause)? What are your current alternatives if you suddenly cannot see or connect with them anymore?


Observe how you invest your time, energy and resources trough each day:

  • In what areas, people, causes, etc. are you investing more time, energy and resources?
  • How does that make you feel?


Observe yourself (again):

  • What are the things, places, people and practices you enjoy the most?
  • What are the things, places, people and practices you enjoy the least?
  • Do you enjoy being around people and working in community or groups?
  • Do you enjoy being alone and engaging in projects that require solitude?
  • How is your physical health and stamina?
  • Do you consider yourself psychologically healthy and resilient?
  • What are the things and people you care the most? The non-negotiables for which/whom you would do anything?
  • What are the skills you are most proud of? The ones you like to use the most?
  • What are the traits or skills for which you are celebrated, admired or appreciated?


How to collect this:

  • Journal
  • Lists
  • Tables
  • Maps
  • Mind maps
  • Art


Let it all sit with you without judgement or trying to change or fix anything.


Next week’s challenge: assessment

Resources and tools that may help with your observation:

Free permaculture course:

(or take the paid course, which will be on promotion for the first 100 who register starting December 1st and you may be under my mentorship if you select me as your mentor!):


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