Going Forth in the Spiral – Practical response to Deep Adaptation

Image by Rastislav Zvolanský from Pixabay

We have four “stages” in the Work that Reconnects Spiral: Gratitude, Honouring our Pain for the World, Seeing with New/Ancient Eyes and Going Forth…

You know things are really escalating when you see Deep Adaptation being mentioned in the editorial of Permaculture Magazine…, you also notice when it is time to let go of the pain and start focusing on the going forth, so that is what I’m doing today with this post.

I have had a really difficult week and thinking a lot about the tension and apparent dualities between design and emergence, doing and being, controlling and flowing and feeling the pain and acting on it.

This interesting article talks about how we all experience different stages when we are faced with the enormity of the challenges ahead and acknowledges how we don’t “progress” from 1 to 6 but may move through the stages coming back to earlier ones depending on many factors.

I have been pondering myself how much we travel through this stages quickly (going up or down) depending on who is around us and what projects we are involved with: if we are deeply engaged in BAU (Business as Usual) because of work, family or other necessity such as health or age dependency, we tend to regress into stages 1-4 as a copying mechanism, while if we are engaged in regenerative projects and surround ourselves with regenerative communities and individuals, we tend to gravitate around stage 6.

Some time ago, I made a decision (that I don’t consider final, in these changing times nothing is permanent anymore) to stay in the edges between BAU and the Great Turning: I go to GT places and communities to learn and nourish myself and this keeps me grounded and emotionally healthy, but I spend most of my time in between Business as Usual and the Great Unraveling because it is my way to show solidarity and push a bit of transformation into these wounded places.

Being in those ages is painful and exhausting: I get to see, experience and absorb a lot of anger, frustration, grief, abuse and corruption, I also feel very isolated and unsupported.

But until now, the call to be in those wounded places is louder than the call to move to regenerative places: while they are amazing, they are also oasis and safe boats, and I want to help people to co-create more of them instead of just running into one to lose myself.

The tips below are incomplete and imperfect, but they come from the work I do with communities and households around building transformative resilience.

I hope you find them helpful, any feedback is welcome…


Resilience Mapping

One of the first tools we teach in regenerative disaster planning is to “map”, the second is to “learn to track”.

Mapping means to pay attention, note and jot down (in a visible way) different aspects of “resilience”

We start with our needs: you may use Maslow pyramid of needs or any other approach, but make sure you map how your needs (from basic to more complex ones) are currently being met: where is your water, food, fuel, medicine, etc. coming from? Where your sources of grounding and emotional/psychological support?

The other type of map we recommend is a map of both your community and your household: you may need at least three maps:

  • One containing the main buildings and features such as a stream, shore, forest, etc.
  • One containing all the potential sources of disaster: both human-based (such as nuclear plants, toxic manufacturing plants, airports, ports, etc.) and nature-based (such as forests for wildfires, rivers that may cause floods, hills that may lead to mudslides, etc.)
  • One containing all the potential sources to meet basic needs: where you may find a secondary source of water, food, wood for shelter and fuel, herbal medicine, etc.
  • In all of the above include a “people’s map” where you map who lives in the household/community who may be a) extra vulnerable and may require support or b) a support because of skills or access to equipment and tools, attitude, etc.

Creating these maps can be done as part of a group (with your family, involve your children and other family members as well as anyone who is usually in your home, with your community you can make this a DA group activity or something with the wider community without including DA concepts yet).

Other things you may want to include in your map:

  • Look for what your local government or rescue organizations/groups have already done, some have this online. While governments and formal organizations (such as Red Cross) may have a traditional approach to resilience and a view that we will eventually bounce back to BAU (Business as Usual), they create very useful materials to deal with acute disasters while they are happening and may have already mapped some troublesome features you may want to consider.
  • Map the ways in and the ways out from bot your household and community, including the more informal ones (through a forest, river, etc.) and add any potential risks that may block them
  • Collect all important numbers and resources from formal authorities and disaster preparedness organizations, at least at the beginning and when not overwhelmed, they will be able to respond.

Some helpful tips:

  • Consider attending formal disaster preparedness training and meetings, while their view is still under BAU (see above), they have valuable information and resources
  • Share your map with co-workers, schools and community centers and ask for their feedback
  • Call for a community, school or work meeting and share your map or facilitate the co-creation of a map, tell them how great is to know their communities and households and how this helps us all to be safe and feel more connected.

Going further:

The other type of map is a “skills mapping” and “tools & equipment mapping”: map or list all the skills you and people in your household, workplace, school or community have that can be used to meet one or more needs, and in what capacity.

Examples:

  • Who is a nurse, doctor, herbalist, chiropractor, first aid or wilderness first aid trainer or certified etc.?
  • Who is already practicing/ teaching or learning permaculture, food gardening, natural building, primitive skills, survival skills?
  • Who knows how to communicate through alternative ways (Morse code, radio, etc.) and may have the equipment or access to it?
  • Who has special tools or equipment for rescuing, gardening, building shelter, providing first aid, etc.?
  • Who has skills in food preservation and food preparation in nonconventional ways (i.e. when there is no stove and no access to regular fuel sources)?
  • Who has spiritual, psychological, emotional and group-dynamics skills and is able to help groups and individuals through conflict, decision-making, stress, trauma, death, psychological first aid, etc.?
  • Any other skills, tools or equipment that may need to be mapped?

Preparing for uncertainty, unpredictability and the unknown

One thing we know about the current times and what may be coming is that there is no way to “know” what will happen or how it will affect our communities and households.

There is still a small window of predictability we can use that is based on the maps you have created.

In each region and depending on factors such as geography, ecology, human interaction with the place, etc. , some disasters are more likely than others:

Examples:

  • If there is water nearby, there may be flooding, water contamination, mudslides, tsunamis, etc.
  • If there are forests, there may be wildfires
  • If there is a lot of unaddressed inequality and social injustices, there may be riots, increase in crime and even civil war
  • If there is a lot of debt and unrealistic bubbles, they may explode and cause financial breakdown
  • If there are not enough local small farms and food production or food is imported from elsewhere most of the time, there may be food shortages and food insecurity
  • If there are non reliable source of water and bad practices with soil and ecosystems management are in place, there may be droughts and water shortages or water contamination

All the above and other similar scenarios call for two things:

  • Careful tracking: learning what is already wrong will help people to know when and how it may fail and be more prepared with a “plan B”. It will also help people to lobby to change things before things become out of control
  • Tracking of nature and “the normal” states, so you become alert and aware when something is going to change (example, practicing to “notice” when something is out of the norm in the forest, in the weather or even in the flow of you neighbourhood will help you to be more prepared)

Another thing that may become obvious when you map, and track is what you and your community may be lacking. This will help with planning of what may be needed and to start as soon as possible in an organized way:

  • What type of skills, tools and equipment may you need for the most likely disasters in your area or household? (think practical, psychological, spiritual, etc.)
  • Do not try to learn all yourself and don’t think you need to acquire all the tools and equipment: in your community and household, who are the most logical ones to go for training or acquire things and how that be distributed to ensure you have at least two people with similar skills and two sources for tools and equipment that are not close, so if something happens they don’t disappear or are compromised at once?

Transformational resilient dreaming

Maps and inventories only work when they are shared and co-created.

In transformational resilience, we don’t want to just “prepare” for something that may last 1 day, 1 week or 1 month and then “go back to BAU/normal”. In transformational resilience we want to start dreaming on what would come “after” when a “disaster” happens.

Consider together:

  • What is currently working in a “regenerative” way (i.e. not furthering the harm to ecosystems and perpetuating the oppression of peoples and beings locally and in other parts of the world)?
  • What are the non-negotiable pieces you, your household and community want to preserve and how would you do that? (from cultural and spiritual traditions, beliefs, behaviours, patterns to sacred items, art, etc.)
  • What are the structures you would like to protect and why are they important for the community?
  • Based on the above, in what ways would your household and/or community would like to change, either “restoring” from the past or creating anew from a shared dream of the future (example, more time to share, potlucks, places for children to play, wild places, wildlife, more green in the suburbs, community gardens, food forests, herbal stations, doulas, no pavement and less cars, more natural building, any other?
  • How can these things start to be restored or created by the community? Can this restoring and creation be part of people’s livelihoods so they can dedicate more time and not being concerned about where their food, shelter and other needs will come from? Can the community support some to do this work while the others are still involved in transitioning away from Business As Usual? How?

The dreaming above may also consider:

  • What tools, equipment, support from government and businesses may be required and who has the connections or means to engage the stakeholders and powers and/or acquire what’s needed?
  • What skills may need to be learned, re-learned, brought back and who may be the logical holder of each of those skills? Plan for more than one person to learn these skills. Is there a way the community can support this learning happening through crowdfunding or other means?
  • With the community/household dreaming, in what ways this “dream” can also create resilience so disasters and challenges can be either completely avoided or at least minimized (example, reforestation may solve both flooding, mudslides and drought problems, among others; re-designing livelihoods may solve emotional and physical health problems as well as crime and isolation, among others)?

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