Chapter 1. Introduction: Qu'y puis-je ?

Chapter 2. Research context: Locating this study in the existing literature

Chapter 3. Methodology

Chapter 4. Learning from our failures: Lessons from FairCoop

Chapter 5. Different ways of being and relating: The Deep Adaptation Forum

Chapter 6. Towards new mistakes

Chapter 7. Conclusion


Annex 3.1 Participant Information Sheets

Annex 3.2 FairCoop Research Process

Annex 3.3 Using the Wenger-Trayner Evaluation Framework in DAF

Annex 4.1 A brief timeline of FairCoop

Annex 5.1 DAF Effect Data Indicators

Annex 5.2 DAF Value-Creation Stories

Annex 5.3 Case Study: The DAF Diversity and Decolonising Circle

Annex 5.4 Participants’ aspirations in DAF social learning spaces

Annex 5.5 Case Study: The DAF Research Team

Annex 5.6 RT Research Stream: Framing And Reframing Our Aspirations And Uncertainties


This annex presents an evaluation of the social learning processes that took place within the research team (RT) that initiated the Deep Adaptation Forum action research project, from October 2020 to May 2022 (see Chapter 5 and Annex 3.3).

Similarly to Annex 5.3 (on the Diversity and Decolonising Circle), the results of this evaluation are presented as a social learning space case study in four part. First, I start off by introducing the learning space. Secondly, I present participants’ intentions and aspirations. Thirdly, I lay out the results of the evaluation process, starting with effect data and then moving on to contribution data. Fourthly, I present a discussion of findings.

1 Introducing the social learning space

As part of the Participatory Action Research carried out within the Deep Adaptation Forum (DAF), the research presented in this chapter was carried out in collaboration between myself (Dorian) and Wendy Freeman.

Wendy and I were among the six co-initiators of the DAF Decolonising and Diversity Circle (D&D), which was launched in August 2020. Prior to that, Wendy had been involved as a volunteer in DAF, for instance as a moderator on the DA Facebook group. But we had not had many occasions to interact prior to our collaboration within D&D.

Shortly after the launch of the circle, Wendy contacted me privately to inform me of her strong interest in questions of learning. A few year earlier, she had written a dissertation on transformative learning within a permaculture design course (Freeman, 2016), as part of her MSc degree in Education for Sustainability at London South Bank University. We decided to collaborate on the research project I had begun in DAF earlier that year (see Annex 3.3 for more details), to further its goals of answering the question:

“How can online networks enable radical collective change through social learning?”

In this case study, I will present the results of the social learning evaluation we carried out on our own role as a Research Team (RT), and as people attempting to catalyse social learning in ourselves and in DAF.

The social learning space we created (comprised of the two of us) has largely been maintained through regular calls between us, and through asynchronous conversations over email and a secure instant messaging platform. In our conversations, we have mainly reflected on our learning and the various initiatives we started, shared useful resources with each other, and planned next steps in our collaboration.

Beyond our collaborative social learning space, we have taken on a double role of conveners of social learning spaces and of creators of open learning assets, in collaboration with a number of DAF volunteers. Please refer to Table 22 for a summary of the outcome of our action, and to Sections 2.1.1 and 2.1.2 for more details.

Social learning spaces convened

Open learning assets created

44 Research conversations (interviews)

7 Conscious Learning Festival calls (group discussions)

1 Transition US Summit feedback call (group discussions)

14 D&D learning circles (group discussions)

Research reports:

  • DAF ‘Dismantling Racism’ training final Survey Results (Jan. 2021) – see Cavé (2021)
  • DAF Collapse-Awareness and Community Survey report (Feb. 2022) – see Cavé (2022a)
  • DAF 2020 User Survey report (June 2022) – see Cavé (2022b)
  • Views on Unlearning and Radical Collective Change (Sept. 2022) – see Cavé (2022c)

DAF Pathways Route Map87

Platform: The Conscious Learning Blog

Published texts:

  • 20 “learning journeys”
  • 6 “insights”
  • 16 other resources

Multimedia content:

  • 14 videos, including:
◦ 11 webinar recordings, and
◦ 3 self-produced educational videos
  • 1 sound file

What were the main social learning spaces that were initiated by the RT?

Research conversations

First of all, we initiated 44 research conversations as online calls with 36 individuals. Of these conversations, 15 involved Wendy, myself and another person; 1 involved Wendy and another person; 26 took place between myself and another person; and 2 involved only Wendy and myself88. 7 of these calls were scheduled as follow-up conversations, between six and ten months after the first one.

What I refer to as “research conversations” here might also be called “semi-structured interviews”: indeed, these conversations mostly aimed at eliciting information from another party with the aim of answering the Research Questions; they were recorded; Wendy and myself (or one of us alone) took on a role of interviewer asking questions; and some of these questions were informed by – although not limited to – the growing list of value-creation indicators we built iteratively (see Annex 5.1). However, in practice, in many or most of these calls we engaged our own uncertainties with our interviewees, making space for them to ask us their own questions, discussing with them ideas that were emerging from our research, etc. Therefore, I consider that many (or most) of these calls did in fact open up social learning spaces, as we allowed the formal boundary between interviewer and interviewee to break down, or at least to remain flexible.

The Conscious Learning Festival

Secondly, between July and October 2021, we initiated the first DAF Conscious Learning Festival89, a series of online activities advertised in DAF as “an invitation to all participants in the Forum, to pay closer attention to what changes may be arising, and what learning may be occurring for us, as a result of participating in Deep Adaptation events, groups and spaces” (Cavé and Freeman, 2021). The various activities organised as part of this Festival aimed at publicly surfacing more of the social learning taking place in DAF, in the hope of fostering more social learning inside and outside the network; and at encouraging DAF participants to become more self-aware of their own learning, in the hope of facilitating deeper personal transformations. Therefore, it aimed quite directly at pursuing the aspirations we had set for ourselves (see above).

Another important goal of the Festival was to call attention to and celebrate the contributions of volunteers, groups, and other DAF participants to the collective learning taking place in the network.

As part of the Festival, we convened a series of live group calls, open to any participant in and outside DAF, recorded, and designed to function as spaces for collaborative inquiry and mutual learning – including:

  • An opening call, which introduced the Festival, and invited the involvement of attendees as co-creators of the offerings and resources emerging from the Festival;
  • Four Q&A sessions, respectively featuring:
◦ Two DAF volunteers who played a critical role in structuring the DAF Facebook group, as moderators;
◦ A researcher whose work involved DAF participants, and members of the Deep Adaptation-influenced collective he worked with locally;
◦ A self-organised group of active DAF volunteers (the D&D circle).
  • A discussion on the topic of the Wenger-Trayner theory of social learning;
  • A closing call, inviting participants to reflect on their experience of the Festival and any insights or outcomes that may have emerged out of it.

Each of these calls (except the opening call) lasted 90 minutes. The first 60 minutes were framed as the “main” Q&A or conversation time. In the last 30 minutes, participants who chose to stay on were invited to reflect and comment on any insights that may have arisen for them in the course of the first hour. In this way, attendees were able to engage their uncertainty in the presence of others, as regards the difference they cared to make in the world, and hear feedback from others.

Anyone in DAF was also explicitly invited to offer to host their own webinar or live event, as part of the Festival, which led to two volunteers deciding to do so (see below).

From October to December 2022, in answer to requests from fellow DAF volunteers, we co-organised a second edition of the Conscious Learning Festival (Cavé & Freeman, 2022). At the time of writing, seven webinars had been scheduled by ourselves and others, as part of this new effort.

Other social learning spaces

In October 2021, I also convened a group call on the topic of the 2021 Transition US Summit. A week earlier, several DAF volunteers had collaborated to introduce the Deep Adaptation framework to the Transition US network. I invited them to share their thoughts with me on their experience and the insights that came out of it.

Finally, the D&D circle’s monthly Learning Circle (see Section 1.2.1) is a social learning space that was convened as a result of a suggestion voiced by Wendy and me, with the explicit aim of being more intentional about the social learning taking place in the D&D circle.

Besides initiating social learning spaces, we also openly published a number of learning resources aiming at encouraging more personal and collective change in DAF.

The start of the Conscious Learning Festival was accompanied by the launch of the Deep Adaptation Conscious Learning Blog90, hosted on the DAF webserver. This website aimed to offer the visitor insights into the social learning taking place in the various DAF groups, platforms, and events, in the hope of fostering even more social learning inside and outside the network. An important assumption in doing so was that this information might encourage more self-awareness in DAF participants – and thereby facilitate deeper personal transformations.

The blog enabled anyone to create an account and post content onto it, or comment on existing posts – although any new content needed to be approved by the admin (mostly me). New content could also be published by first being sent over to Wendy or myself over email, or to me via the website’s contact form.

As described on the blog, three main types of content were welcome to be published on this platform:

  • “Insights are shorter testimonies or reflections, concerning ‘aha!’ moments when your views or understandings took a sudden big shift – or other noteworthy short musings or reflections – that happened for you as you engaged in Deep Adaptation Forum spaces and groups. This can be clear changes in your views, a brainwave you experienced in a particular (spoken or written) conversation, your learning from participation in a group event, a deep connection made during an online Q&A, etc.
  • Learning journeys are longer accounts of personal learning through some period of time, and personal observations of inner changes, generally shaped as stories. Each story has a main character (you!), and follows a relatively logical narrative sequence.
  • Resources include links to key personal teachers, texts, videos, tools or other sources of insights and inspiration that are part of people’s learning journey in DAF. We hope to eventually compile them into a self-directed ‘Deep Adaptation 101’ course, offering guided access to the most popular resources identified in this way to the wider membership of Deep Adaptation.”

The rules for engagement, which every user was asked to agree with prior to publication, were the following:

  • “Confidentiality. Do not mention anyone by name in your posts, except if you have explicitly checked with them that they are comfortable with you doing so.
  • “Kindness and respect. Please follow the Deep Adaptation Forum charter91 in posting any content here. This does not mean that everything you publish has to be positive, feel-good material: difficult experiences can also be sources of rich insights and learning. But please remain kind and respectful.
  • Research involvement. By having any content published on this blog, you agree to let the researchers (W. Freeman and D. Cavé) analyse and quote from the material you publish for the purpose of their academic research project, under condition of maximum anonymity. However, if you decide to publish any content under your real name on the blog, please note that you will be forfeiting the possibility of anonymity for that particular content. Please refer to the Research Participation Information Sheet92 for more details. To have your material removed from the scope of this research, please delete it from this blog (or request its deletion, if you didn’t publish it yourself) by December 31, 2021.”

As part of the process of collecting and processing value-creation stories, I systematically asked research participants with whom I co-created a new story whether they felt comfortable publishing it on the blog (as a new “learning journey”) – and if so, under what conditions. Some stories were not published on the blog, but their authors accepted that they be appended to this thesis (Annex 5.2). Occasionally, when hearing a DAF participant mention an interesting insight or resource, I invited them to publish it on the blog, and offered to do it for them if they preferred.

Recordings of the Conscious Learning Festival webinars were published as new video resources on the blog, with the consent of all participants. Other multimedia content we created and published on the blog includes:

  • Two videos on the topic of self-organisation, co-created with the D&D circle93 and the Collaborative Action Team94;
  • A video on conflict transformation, co-created with the D&D circle95;
  • The recording of an interview I carried out in person with Etienne and Bev Wenger-Trayner in Portugal, in August 2021, on the topic of the social learning theory they developed, and which plays an important role in this research96. The recording and transcript of this conversation served as the prompt for a reflective public conversation, as part of the Festival (see above).

2 Identifying our intentions

What are the intentions that have guided our work, within the RT, as we convened social learning spaces and created open learning assets?

From May to October 2021, we carried out an in-depth and iterative framing process to make it more explicit what we wished to accomplish through our participation in our social learning space, for each individual cycle in the social learning framework, following the guidelines in Wenger-Trayner and Wenger-Trayner (2020, p.167-179). This involved:

  1. Scoping a frame – i.e. deciding a set of cycles for which we wanted to act intentionally to ensure value creation;
  2. Laying out our aspirations for each of these cycles;
  3. For each cycle, framing our uncertainties, or “the circumstances under which a given aspiration may not be achievable or may create negative value” (p.171);
  4. And finally, framing our attention to feedback, in other words discussing the indicators we would pay attention to in every key cycle, to decide whether any value was being created.

The results of this process are documented in Annex 5.6. We decided to pay special attention to the Potential, Applied, Realised, Enabling, and Orienting cycles.

This framing exercise allowed us to articulate the following overarching intentions (i.e. the kind of Realised learning we hoped to achieve), with respect to this research project:

“Through this research project...

... let’s amplify and spread learning/changes, in individuals and groups within DAF, that may be relevant to radical social change;

... let’s facilitate additional/improved functionality and interactions within DAF, relevant to people facing collapse, so that people choose to participate more in the forum;

... let’s foster learning citizenship in DAF, and invite people to join a ‘learning citizens’ group (creating interest in the potential for learning as citizens).”

Wenger-Trayner and Wenger-Trayner (2015) describe systems conveners as people who “spot opportunities for creating new learning spaces and partnerships that will bring different and often unlikely people together to engage in learning across boundaries” and thus “forge new learning partnerships in complex landscapes” (p.99). Seeking to “reconfigure social systems through partnerships that exploit mutual learning needs, possible synergies, various kinds of relationships, and common goals across traditional boundaries,” these conveners “view their work, explicitly or implicitly, as an endeavour to generate new capabilities in their landscape” (p.100).

The description above corresponds quite well to the way we envisioned our collaboration. Therefore, I consider that we attempted to pursue the three goals listed above by taking on a role of systems conveners.

3 Evaluating the social learning enabled by the RT

3.1.2 Creating refined indicators of value-creation

In May 2022, once we were confident that the data collection process was complete, we began evaluating in earnest the value-creation that had taken place as a result of our research activities.

Similarly to the evaluation process of the D&D circle’s activities (see Annex 5.3), this new evaluation took place using a combination of Template Analysis (TA) and of complementary data sources. However, in this case, there was relatively little textual data at our disposal to carry out the TA, and this data was only relevant to evaluating the creation of Realised value (“What difference have we been making?”). See Table 23 for a summary of this new data set.

Source description

Reference code

Date of conversation(s)

Number of words

Transcript of the Conscious Learning Festival webinar with Sarah Bittle


August 9, 2021


Transcript of the Conscious Learning Festival webinar with Jane Dwinell


August 21, 2021


Transcript of the Conscious Learning Festival conversation on “Learning to Make a Difference”


September 14, 2021


Transcript of the Conscious Learning Festival webinar with Chris Tröndle and Camp Collapse


September 30, 2021


Transcript of the Conscious Learning Festival webinar with the D&D Circle


October 5, 2021


Transcript of the Conscious Learning Festival recap call


October 8, 2021


Transcript of a voice message from a Conscious Learning Festival participant


October 8, 2022


Email received from a Conscious Learning Festival participant


October 8, 2022


When reading these documents, for sources SBW, JDW, LTMAD, CTW and CLF, I paid special attention to the last 30 minutes of each transcript. Indeed, the final half hour of each of these calls was the moment during which every participant was invited to share insights and other forms of value creation that had occurred for them as a result of the first 60 minutes of the call.

Following an initial examination of the data, I refined the initial template – which was based on the framing conversations mentioned previously, and documented in Section 3 of Annex 5.6 – to create a final template of analysis for Realised value-creation. See Table 24 and Table 25.

Cycle (top-level theme)

Indicators of value creation (second-level theme)

What difference have we been making?

In interviews, blog posts or social media, people describe moments of deep learning and changes thanks to our research

People join the network and mention stories of learning heard from others as a motivation to join

A group of ‘learning citizens’ is formed in DAF

Cycle (top-level theme)

Indicators of value creation (second-level theme)

Sub-indicators (third-level themes)

What difference have we been making?

Statements mentioning uncomfortable changes or experiences for stakeholders

Statements mentioning generative changes happening for others beyond the RT

Others say they are better informed about DAF, other DAF participants, enabling factors of learning, social learning, etc.

Others express a deeper sense of commitment or interest in DAF

Others express gratitude

New public learning assets are created by others as a result of our initiatives

New social learning spaces are convened by others as a result of our initiatives

New projects or collaborations are initiated by others as a result of our initiatives

A group of regular attendees take part in the learning-focused events we organise and express the wish to go deeper into those conversations

Others engage in brokering between DAF and other learning spaces, or between existing learning spaces in DAF, as a result of our initiatives

Using the indicators listed in this final template, I then worked systematically through the entire dataset listed in Table 18, identified relevant sections of text, and marked them with one or several appropriate code(s). I did so by importing all documents into the software Quirkos and analysing them using this software. I created new second-level themes (indicators) in the process. This analysis enabled me to refine the second- and third-level themes functioning as indicators of value-creation, and to gather effect data for each of these themes.

Finally, in May 2022, ahead of my writing this annex, Wendy and I fully revisited Section 3 of Annex 5.6 (“Framing our attention to feedback”), integrating the new Realised value-creation indicators above, in order to come to a definitive list of indicators of value-creation for all cycles. We then discussed the forms of value-creation (i.e. effect data) that we had noticed for each indicator in each cycle.

I will now present a summary of the Effect Data we have identified for each indicator, both under the shape of the codes and themes that I drew from the Template Analysis described above, and from our personal observations. Where relevant, I will quote excerpts from the codes highlighted during my Template Analysis process.

For each cycle, I provide a summary table of indicators and data sources, which also shows the aspirations that we agreed upon for each value-creation cycle during our framing process (see Section

3.1.3 Immediate value: What has our experience been like?

Table 26: Immediate value - Consolidated indicators and data sources (RT)



Indicators of value-creation

Data sources

“Let’s be clearer as regards the tasks and activities that each of us feels most meaningful and engaging”

“Let’s try to meet up and discuss this project in person”

“Let’s remain committed to relationship-building as core to this work”


We use a common to-do list to keep track of our tasks and responsibilities

Personal observations


We experience strong mutual trust


We met in person and spent time discussing the project face-to-face


We feel satisfaction as regards the extent of our respective involvement and ownership of this research


We want to continue working on this project together after Oct.2022

In reviewing our experience of working together as part of the RT, Wendy and I agreed that we had developed a very good working relationship in the course of our research. Certain tools (such as instant messaging and a shared task-list) have helped facilitated our collaboration, and our regular research conversations have enabled strong mutual trust to develop. Although our collaboration has almost entirely taken place online, we did manage to meet in person, over the course of a week, which we also found helpful. Besides, our common involvement in other DAF social learning spaces – most notably, the D&D Circle – has also been important for us to know each other better.

This trust, respect and friendship that formed between us enabled us to keep working together even when one of us felt less able to contribute, as a result of health issues. Another reason for our participation not being on a perfectly equal footing was that I initiated this research project, and began shaping it, on my own – including with regards to its theoretical framework – well before Wendy joined me. However, we both voiced satisfaction with the flexibility of how we articulated our respective contributions to this project. Indeed, we wish to continue our collaboration beyond this project’s completion (after I submit my PhD thesis), and to explore in more depth certain important questions this study has raised.

3.1.4 Potential value: What has come out of our experience?

Table 27: Potential value - Consolidated indicators and data sources (RT)



Indicators of value-creation

Data sources

“Let’s gain some clarity as regards the forms of social learning that are taking place in DAF, and figure out how these forms may be relevant to radical social change”

“Let’s gain an awareness of how these changes happen, and figure out if/how they can be replicated (identifying flows and potential loops, etc.)”


We are starting to have an idea of how to answer our main research questions

Personal observations


We can use various ways (including graphs, text, events etc.) to share our research findings


We have created public learning assets


We have become better at noticing moments that indicate a radical change taking place

Our collaboration has enabled us to start answering our main research questions. For example, through our analysis of the DAF Collapse Awareness & Community Survey (Cavé, 2022a) and the value-creation stories we co-created with other research participants (Annex 5.2), it is becoming increasingly clear to us that many DAF participants have undergone important personal changes as a result of their involvement in this community; and the collective reflection processes we carried out within the D&D Circle have also been shedding light on certain aspects of leadership, and certain characteristics of a social learning space that may be in favour of such changes taking place.

In fact, the entire Chapter 5 of this thesis, including its various annexes, are a testimony to the creation of such potential value. We plan to share our findings more broadly in the forum, through blog posts, interactive diagrams, and events. These will constitute a logical continuation of the social learning spaces we have been convening, and the public learning assets we already created as scaffolding for our ongoing research (see above).

We also noticed that our involvement in the RT has helped us develop a new skill: that of becoming more perceptive of signs indicating that meaningful changes may be happening, in ourselves or in others. This enables us to become better value detectives, and engage in more immediate follow-up investigations.

3.1.5 Applied value: What have we been learning in the doing?

Table 28: Applied value - Consolidated indicators and data sources (RT)



Indicators of value-creation


Data sources

“Let’s do some experiments to try and amplify and spread changes that may be relevant to radical social change (transforming flows into loops, etc.)”

“Let’s share our insights in the forum more broadly and frequently to invite constructive feedback and participation”

“Let’s experiment with more public conversations around personal journeys of learning, where the public acknowledging and documenting of people's individual learning creates models and pathways inviting others”


We have undertaken new initiatives as part of our research

  • Gift questions
  • Conscious Learning Festival
  • Conscious Learning Blog
  • DAF 101 resource collection

Personal observations


We have been gauging the extent to which our initiatives have been successful


We have created a platform enabling others to learn and share their learning


We have convened new social learning spaces in DAF


We embody the Action Research ethos and awareness as much as possible wherever we interact

Building on the new insights and skills that had emerged for us through our research, and in keeping with our Participatory Action Research perspective, we undertook several creative interventions within DAF in order to fulfil our aspiration to “amplify and spread changes that may be relevant to radical social change.” However, as we reflected on these initiatives, it became obvious to us that only some of them had been successfully executed.

For example, an early intervention we conceived was that of crafting a “gift question” for every DAF participant who had a research conversation with us. These questions were to be communicated privately with each person, as a personalised invitation to reflect deeply on their trajectory of learning in DAF, and as a prompt for retrospective conversations in the future. Although we did begin preparing such questions, we only succeeded in sharing them with a handful of participants (including each other). This appears largely due to capacity issues on our behalf.

Another important intervention was the series of activities we dubbed the “Conscious Learning Festival” (see above). While we did not fully meet our stated objectives (see following section), we did succeed in carrying out the main activities that we had set out to accomplish – most notably: creating the Conscious Learning Blog; publishing useful resources on the Blog; and hosting several webinars and live conversations on the topic of social learning. We found that the Festival’s opening and closing calls, which we convened and hosted, led to particularly rich conversations in terms of insights for this research project, and as regards future editions of the Festival.97

Other social learning spaces we convened have met various degrees of success. For example, the D&D Circle’s monthly Learning Circles have remained an occasion for meaningful sharing and reflection. However, while we hosted many calls on the topic of creating useful resource and learning repositories in DAF (beyond the Conscious Learning Blog), and lately with the aim of launching an online course on Deep Adaptation, these efforts over the past year have met with much more limited success in terms of practical achievements – although conversations are still ongoing.

3.1.6 Realised value: What difference have we been making?

Table 29: Realised value - Consolidated indicators and data sources (RT)



Indicators of value-creation


Data sources

“Let’s amplify and spread learning or changes, in individuals and groups within DAF, that may be relevant to radical collective change”


Statements mentioning generative changes happening for others beyond the RT

  • Others say they are better informed about DAF, other DAF participants, enabling factors of learning, social learning, etc.
  • Others have ideas for new projects and initiatives
  • Others enjoy the time they spend with other participants in our initiatives
  • Others express a deeper sense of commitment or interest in DAF
  • Others express gratitude for our efforts

Template Analysis (TA)


Statements mentioning uncomfortable changes or experiences for stakeholders

Personal observations

“Let’s facilitate additional or improved functionality and interactions within DAF, relevant to people facing collapse, so that people choose to participate more in the forum.”


A new platform is created that brings about more participation in DAF

Conscious Learning Blog statistics


New public learning assets are created by others as a result of our initiatives

Personal observations


New social learning spaces are convened by others as a result of our initiatives

Personal observations


New projects or collaborations are initiated by others as a result of our initiatives

Personal observations

“Let’s foster learning citizenship in DAF, and invite people to join a ‘learning citizens’ group (creating interest in the potential for learning as citizens)”


A group of regular attendees take part in the learning-focused events we organise and express the wish to go deeper into those conversations

Personal observations


A group of regular learning-focused event attendees reflect on the conditions that best enable social learning

Personal observations


Others engage in brokering between DAF and other learning spaces, or between existing learning spaces in DAF, as a result of our initiatives

Personal observations

14 Amplifying and spreading social learning

The first type of results we aspired to obtain through this research project had to do with “amplifying and spreading learning or changes, in individuals and groups within DAF, that may be relevant to radical collective change.”

With regards to the general impacts of the interventions we carried out, the thematic analysis I carried out on the data set (see Section 3.1.2 and Table 23) yielded a number of statements indicating generative changes happening for various stakeholders.

First of all, several participants in the Conscious Learning Festival webinars mentioned feeling better informed thanks to their involvement. In particular, several found that the Festival enabled them to gain a deeper understanding of DAF as a community, including its history, and the lives of its participants.

“I learned more about the history of Deep Adaptation through - how did this, how did the Facebook group happen? And, and what does it mean for Jane to be a moderator? And what is her life? What were the life choices that brought her to this moment? It feels like, like a picture that was maybe 85 pixels, went up to 200 pixels or something like that.” (RC)

Hearing other participants share their stories during the webinars also led certain participants to reflect on the differences between what they heard, and their own lives, contexts, and perspectives on the community.

“And [this call] has helped me think about along with what you said, Jane, sort of think about what can I do now? That is outer work as well as inner work. So I appreciate it.” (JDW)

“It just was very rich, to hear more about how these people who were played important roles, just hear how they formulated things, which is different than how I formulate them. And I wouldn't have, I wouldn't have been able, from the place I'm in to guess how they would have formulated things. So and there was something about this setting that was very free of judgment. So their story was just their story. And it's not my story. And a lot of their choices are not my choices, but I didn't feel any sense of needing to make their choices, my choices. So that was a very enriching experience as well.” (RC)

In most of these calls, participants celebrated the contributions that others – particularly long-term volunteers, and other influential participants – had made to the network as a whole, voiced gratitude, and mentioned feeling inspired by their achievements. This happened both in the presence on the call of said contributors, and in their absence.

“It also seems like, at least from my perspective, you [Sarah] really set set [the DA Facebook group] on a good path. So because… you know, it was the ethics that Jem brought about a loving response, but that you moderated in alignment with that, so that, so that it's come forward. So gratitude again.” (SBW)

“I'm more and more seeing [Nenad’s] influence through the network. And I think it comes from Nenad, this thing around, ‘We do relationships first, and the work arises after that.’ It's very much the center of this meeting that he has on a weekly basis with Kat and Sasha. And then the open space has come out of that.” (RC)

“That's the thing we do brilliantly here [in DAF] is the reflecting. And it's because we've been trained by Katie first, to be open to really hearing what we're hearing, rather than filtering it through... filtering it through our own stuff. So we really do hear it. And then we're able to compassionately reflect, so the person gets another perspective.” (RC)

These conversations also led several participants to reflect on the importance of the social learning spaces in DAF that benefited from the presence of these “key enablers,” be it in their own life or in that of others.

“Ah, the Facebook thing really did help me give me a little thread of sanity on which I could cling, because I just thought I was bonkers. And it's like, well, at least there’s a bunch of other people that’s as bonkers as me. Dear Lord, you know, that's a few years ago. So God bless your heart for doing that.” (SBW)

“I've been reflecting on when I did come into Deep Adaptation, which was fairly early on after the paper, I also was in that place of like, like deep anguish and feeling that I couldn't talk to anybody or even people who maybe agreed with me really didn't want to talk about it. And finding the events like, like Deep Listening, and Death Cafe was amazing. For me, I just was able to move through so many layers of grief, that not only has it helped me with the whole concept of Deep Adaptation it’s just helped me feel like more at home, in my skin. And in my life.” (SBW)

Perhaps as a result, several participants mentioned a sense of renewed sense of being part of DAF as a community, and the desire to become more deeply involved.

“I think [the Festival] was a really nice way to get to know some people and to see what's happening and I am very glad to continue participating in things like that in the future and have a bit more of a collaboration going.” (RC)

“I realized that, for me, it really seemed to be about deepening my - deepening my relationships, both both to just the collective, I think more to the collective than to individuals.” (RC)

“I... shared a sense of warmth and community, even though I was never in a live Zoom, in not only knowing there are others around the globe who are looking into this abyss and finding life, but in being able to feel them more in hearing their stories and hearing them interact.” (EM)

For two participants, the Conscious Learning Festival appears to have provided them with a renewed clarity as to how to better integrate the difficult topic of collapse within their lives, while remaining “sane” (see also Annex 5.2, Story #7).

“So it'll help that feel a little less bizarre, that the piece that we were just speaking to, about the future, you know, ‘Is it going to be like this? Is it going to be like that? Is it going to be like the other...’ is just a reflection of how life is - even collapse - isn't being talked about? You know, I know, my life is going to end but I've no idea when, I have no idea how. And that's just - that is how that is. And the best, you know, my the best I personally can make of that is to be as present in the minute of life that I've got now. This little sliver that's happening right in this very second. If I can keep myself as often as possible anchor to that, I reckon I'll be all right. And not worry about whether they all lived happily ever after or not. Ah, big breath. Yeah, yeah. Thank you for letting me put that in my space in my head, if nowhere else.” (SBW)

“In preparing to write my contributions I revisited in myself how I felt when I first read Jem's original paper. I was nervous about doing so, as I'd had such a strong reaction and I wondered if this might happen again. But having the impetus to name and describe my fears to myself (which came indirectly from already watching/ reading to some of the material on the Conscious Learning Blog) led me to realise that I'd been unconsciously assuming that 'collapse' meant only complete obliteration. In having the foundation in myself to re-engage with a collapse scenario, that time, and hearing other's journeys brought, I could look into the abyss again - and indeed it looked back! I now know deeply in my being that as long as there is a flame of loving consciousness in any human being then it is not the end; I know that I will never stop trying.” (EM)

Importantly, our interventions aiming at amplifying and spreading social learning have also, on occasion, been a source of discomfort which may have been counter-productive and deterred individuals from wishing to further engage in DAF social learning spaces.

The first such instance of negative value-creation happened during the Festival webinar which explored the very rich life journey of Jane, a veteran moderator in the DA Facebook group. One participant, during the feedback round at the end of the call, voiced feelings of shame and unworthiness.

“I wish that I had a life like Jane's, but I, my life is very different. And I, it's really hard for me to just sit here and listen. Without playing that inner tape of self criticism, which just goes on and on and on. And it makes me want to disengage. And I have been fighting that impulse, I want to disengage I want to just I mean, every single thing you said has a has an echo in my life of failure. Almost everything. I mean, everything you've done, I have either tried to do and failed, or not even tried to do in the first place.” (JDW)

Thankfully, another call participant (a mental health professional) promptly answered that he, too, often had similar experiences when comparing himself with people who apparently were more successful at living in accordance with their values. His intervention, which included practical advice he had found helpful in engaging with such feelings and appreciation of the first speaker’s self-awareness, appeared to be well received by the latter. Nonetheless, this example shows that the process of self-orientation and self-reflection mentioned above, which was a source of positive value-creation for others, appears to have led to a feeling of alienation in this particular instance.

Another example of negative value-creation took place as a result of another webinar. Having watched the recording of that event, one DAF participant who had initially accepted to be featured on another Q&A in the Festival decided to cancel the event immediately, after finding fault with several statements they had heard in the webinar recording that they watched. They expressed a loss of trust in the process they had been invited to take part in, and opined that a portion of the webinar recording should be deleted. After consulting the speaker featured in that webinar, as well as several DAF Core Team members and volunteers, Wendy and I decided not to do so. For a few weeks, this episode led to difficult tensions between this person and us.

This was a reminder to me that due care should be exercised when convening and facilitating public-facing events, particularly when such conversations are being recorded and shared online. While conveners and participants may feel secure in their good intentions, it is always possible that careless statements will be voiced that may be unintentionally harmful to persons or groups beyond the temporary social learning space that is being convened – particularly in the context of an increasingly fraught, polarised, and oppressive political landscape worldwide.

Notwithstanding these two instances of negative impact we are aware of, overall, the feedback we have received seems to show that through the Conscious Learning Festival, we in the RT have at least partially met our first aspiration.

15 Improved functionality and interactions

Our second aspiration was about facilitating “additional/improved functionality and interactions within DAF, relevant to people facing collapse, so that people chose to participate more in the forum.”

An important way in which we have been hoping to accomplish this has been through the Conscious Learning Blog, which is a platform on which anyone can create an account and publish content related to one’s journey of learning about Deep Adaptation and DAF (see Section 1.2)98. Unfortunately, although a dozen user accounts have been created on the Blog, and over 60 posts have been published so far (May 2022), at the time of writing nearly every single one of these posts had been created and published by me – although 15 are attributed to various authors, as content created or co-created by other DAF participants.

Therefore, while the Blog – as the only platform in DAF that is explicitly dedicated to learning and research – has arguably brought additional functionality to DAF, it does not seem to have fostered more participation. This is confirmed by the low number of comments on the published content (20 comments from 5 users in total).

Interestingly, according to the statistics compiled on the server that hosts the Blog, the platform seems to have drawn on average 906 unique visitors per month during the period of the Conscious Learning Festival (July-October 2021), compared to an average of 318 unique visitors per month since then (November 2021 to April 2022). This seems to indicate that the Festival drew readers to the blog. However, while more readers were drawn in the first period, they only read 5.2 pages per visit on average, compared to 7.5 pages per visit during the second period. This may suggest that an increasing number of readers with a deeper interest in the Blog’s content have been visiting it since November 2021. However, in the absence of more comments or other forms of qualitative feedback, it is difficult to assess how much value has been generated by the Conscious Learning Blog.

The Conscious Learning Festival also included an invitation for DAF participants to host their own webinars, under the Festival’s banner, as social learning spaces useful to the whole network. As a result of their participation in the Festival’s opening call, two DAF volunteers decided to host workshops on the topic of the “4 Rs” of Deep Adaptation. They initiated a total of 7 online group conversations between July and September 2021. One of these event conveners drew a number of substantive and procedural insights from the process, which he documented in detail and shared with us in the Festival’s closing call (see Annex 5.2, Story #8); this led him to devise a new event format to enable in-depth conversations, which he shared within DAF, and later, to start a new YouTube channel (see below). The other convener recorded her workshop, and shared it on the Conscious Learning Blog99.

The collaboration, interactions, learning assets and social learning spaces that emerged as a result of these calls are therefore direct – and encouraging – results of the Conscious Learning Festival.

16 Learning citizenship

Our third aspiration, in terms of the impacts of our interventions in DAF, had to do with “fostering learning citizenship in DAF, and inviting people to join a ‘learning citizens’ group.”

Learning citizenship refers to the ethical dimension of social learning, which comes to the fore once a participant in a social learning space gains awareness of the local and systemic effects of their participation – which may, for example, affect the learning capability of a whole landscape of social learning spaces (Wenger, 2009). As Etienne and Bev Wenger-Trayner explained to me, a learning citizen “feel[s] an accountability to the quality of learning” that happens in the social learning spaces they are involved in, and recognises their own identity – as the embodiment of a trajectory of learning through a landscape of practice – as a “learning lever” which can trigger new kinds of learning in these spaces (Wenger-Trayner, Wenger-Trayner and Cavé, 2021).

Upon launching the Conscious Learning Festival, Wendy and I invited to our events the 28 DAF participants whom we had interviewed at the time. Although these events were also open to anyone in the network, and broadly advertised, we were curious to see whether being invited to take active part in the webinars and the other activities we organised might encourage a group of “learning citizens” to emerge. We found that of the 26 persons who attended at least one of the 6 online events we hosted, 18 were interviewees; of these, 12 attended at least two events, 6 attended 3 events or more, and 3 of them attended 5 or 6 events.

Besides, 5 of the 6 most involved participants attended the Festival’s closing call, which was a conversation aiming at reflecting on the whole Festival, and drawing lessons from it. Unprompted by Wendy or myself, several attendees on the call mentioned they would welcome the Festival becoming a yearly event in DAF, as an important occasion for collective reflection and a renewed sense of community.

“Because of our intentions about how Deep Adaptation forum will grow over time, because of this aspiration to have a non-centralized, you know, a completely decentralized, emergent system; there is real power in repeating this exercise every year.” (RC)

“And taking that time to invite stories of personal learning and personal journeys. It's, it's a reflection of the history of where did this begin? And how did we start, and what happened? And so... it's like storytelling around the fire in a tribal context, right? Everyone stops, they sit down, they listen to the stories, and that somehow, there's magic in that moment of hearing the stories. People are re-inspired, they're reinvigorated, they are reassured, they feel a sense of commitment and connection that can be missing in the business of, of the day-to-day. So I just wanted to speak to that. I think that there's a very intimate and personal part of this for me that actually as an organism, as a community as a network, however you think about the DAF ecosystem, it has power. In that context. It's something that can bring people together around the shared stories and the shared experiences and I would love to see it repeated!” (RC)

“I also was going to suggest that this is something that needs to happen regularly, and I assume that you won't be writing more dissertations after this one, so we do need to find ways to do the recording because we all have to learn somehow from this process and from each other's stories so thank you all so much!” (RC)

Therefore, although the Conscious Learning Festival events did not draw as many participants as I would have hoped, a small core of regular attendees did form who attended most webinars, acknowledged the importance of fostering collective reflection within the network, and expressed a collective wish to engage in more social-learning focused activities in the future. To me, these are signs indicating the emergence of a group of “learning citizens” in DAF as a result of the Festival – although the extent to which this interest in social learning, for these participants, has come primarily a result of the Festival, remains to be further clarified; and the extent to which this interest is long-lasting – not to mention, become a part of one’s self-identity – would also need to be confirmed, for example by considering these participants’ involvement in the next edition of the Festival.

Another indicator which may speak to the emergence of learning citizenship is that besides recognising the importance of social learning, this core group of participants also expressed a strong willingness to actively reflect on the conditions, containers and forms of leadership that may enable social learning within the network – particularly during the Festival’s closing call (see Section 3.1.11). This willingness to consider how to better foster social learning throughout the landscape of DAF may speak to a sense of accountability with regards to the social learning spaces they are part of, which is a hallmark of learning citizenship.

Finally, as a result of the Festival, several types of brokering took place between DAF and other landscapes of practice. According to Wenger (2009), brokering is a form of learning citizenship that involves “importing or exporting significant insights or challenges across the boundaries between spaces,” and which “thickens the weave of a social learning system” and may foster innovation (p.7). As I will further discuss in Section 3.2 (see also Annex 5.2, Stories #7 and #8), in follow-up conversations, two of the Festival’s six most actively involved participants expressed a clear logical continuity between their experience of the Festival, and subsequent initiatives they undertook that constitute clear examples of “brokering” between DAF and other landscapes of practice: one of them wrote an article for a major news outlet on Deep Adaptation, among other activities, while the other started a new YouTube channel on the topic of collapse.

Another instance of brokering happened when Christian S. Tröndle invited us to convene, together with him, a Festival webinar focused on his recent Master’s research on Deep Adaptation, but also featuring several of his colleagues from the Berlin-based Camp Collapse interdisciplinary group100. The conversation enabled new interpersonal connections to form and stories of practice to be shared between participants in DAF and Camp Collapse.

3.1.7 Enabling value: What has made it all possible for us?



Indicators of value-creation

Data sources

“Let's introduce into DAF certain formats and processes enabling more conscious learning to crystallise.”

“Let’s convene social-learning-focused online events.”

“Let’s create more public research-dedicated spaces in the forum (including a new platform).”


We connect regularly to reflect and share our thoughts on how we are doing with respect to our goals, and what we have been learning

Personal observations


We convene online learning-focused events, and they are well-attended

“Let’s inspire more people to join the research effort and design strategies to amplify the learning.”

“Let’s foster learning citizenship in DAF.”

“Let’s have in-depth conversations with interviewees as regards their ‘gift questions’, a few months from now”

“Let’s make personal transformative change more visible in the network”

“Let’s put together a public database of value-creation stories that may help people situate themselves in the landscape of change and learning”

“Let’s record what others have found to be transformative information/resources”


A new platform and other research-dedicated spaces are created in the forum


Others join us to reflect on how to amplify and deepen social learning in DAF


We embrace the diversity of experiences and perspectives that people bring to social learning

When considering processes that have enabled us in the RT to carry out our interventions and reflect on them, the importance of maintaining steady communication between us has obviously been critical. Wendy and I did so through ongoing instant messaging and emails, through various channels, but also by means of (mostly) biweekly online calls. This is also what enabled us to carry out our research framing exercise (see Annex 5.6), as well as the evaluation exercise which is summarised in this section.

Thanks to our regular communication, we were able to plan and carry out activities such as the Conscious Learning Festival. The Festival was the occasion to introduce a new Action-Research event format within DAF, by inviting participants in a group call to dedicate the last 30 minutes of this call to reflecting on any new insights that emerged for them during the previous hour – which fulfilled our two first aspirations of “introducing into DAF certain formats and processes enabling more conscious learning to crystallise” and “convening social-learning-focused online events.” Inviting other DAF participants to organise their own learning-oriented webinars and events under a common banner was also relatively novel within the context of DAF101. The online events convened by us and others as part of the Festival have been fairly well attended, with a number of participants (not including us) ranging between 5 and 14 people (average: 11), which is on a par with most online events organised in DAF.

The Conscious Learning Blog, while it has not generated as much activity as we hoped for (see previous section), still constitutes DAF’s only research- and learning-dedicated platform at present. We have helped to initiate social learning spaces that have come to play an important role in the life of certain groups in DAF, such as the D&D monthly learning circle; we have also formed temporary social learning spaces enabling others to make a difference – for example, one of us helped a DAF participant to produce a video documenting the use of “circling” as a process, which was then shared in other spaces.

An important aspiration that we have mostly failed to fulfil has to do with inspiring other DAF participants to join the RT, and co-design the research process (or at least, discrete interventions) with us. Although several people responded proactively to this invitation during the opening call of the Conscious Learning Festival, we did not succeed to build on this momentum, and interest rapidly receded. Nonetheless, two of these call participants did host workshops as part of the Festival, which constituted very valuable contributions to our effort.

Besides, as previously noted, a group of learning citizens seems to have formed during the Festival webinars we organised, and expressed a keen interest in reflecting on how to better amplify the social learning taking place within DAF. Given the importance of learning citizenship as a factor of a social systems’ social learning capability (Wenger, 2009), such signs of emergent learning citizenship are encouraging indicators of positive enabling value-creation taking place thanks to our research project.

Finally, in reflecting more broadly on the ways in which we enabled social social learning to occur – both within the RT and beyond – it occurred to us that maintaining an open and receptive stance towards the various forms of learning and the diversity of aspirations manifested by DAF participants has likely been critical. For example, in regular conversations with another participant around their new initiatives, one of us has been providing feedback that was very positively received by the other party in shaping their project and becoming better able to make the difference they were seeking. Similarly, we have been providing support to several people and groups within DAF whose intentions were as varied as writing manifestos, setting up arts-focused discussion groups, or exploring forms of indigenous knowledge as pathways for decolonisation.

This acceptance and inclusiveness when approaching the diverse forms of value-creation within DAF have likely also enabled us to remain sensitive to many aspects of social learning worth investigating as part of our research, and perhaps even to become better learning citizens as we strove to be accountable to DAF as a community in all its diversity.

3.1.8 Strategic value: What has been the quality of our engagement with strategic stakeholders?

Table 31: Strategic value - Consolidated indicators and data sources (RT)



Indicators of value-creation

Data sources

“Let’s gain a clearer understanding of what groups/areas/activities in DAF seem to be generating the deepest learning, to gain better insights”

“Let’s invite other social learning researchers to an online event in DAF”

“Let’s connect with people who left the network (or appear to have done so)”

“Let's make sure the whole network is informed about other networks or communities benefiting from DA awareness as a valid perspective to consider collapse”


We are starting to have an idea of which groups/areas/activities generate the deepest learning in DAF

Personal observations


We are able to meaningfully connect with people who left DAF and understand the reasons they left

The research conversations we have had with several dozen DAF participants have certainly been useful to us, from the point of view of strategic value-creation, in order to gain a clearer sense of certain areas of the network (and forms of engagement within) which seem to have been most conducive to profound personal and collective changes taking place. These insights will be discussed in Section 4.

Of course, such a statement should be qualified by pointing out that we haven’t had the possibility of continuously monitoring the social learning taking place in every single social learning space within DAF, which would be impossible for such a small team as ours. At the most, our conversations with a variety of stakeholders, coupled with the results of the surveys we shared in the network, have enabled us to capture glimpses of important personal changes taking place thanks in part to certain groups.

Another category of strategic stakeholders we aspired to connect with and hear from have been DAF participants who disengaged from the network. Indeed, it seemed equally critical to us that we not only better understand what factors appear to have encouraged meaningful change to happen for DAF participants, but also what other factors can account for such changes not happening. As part of this aspiration, we were able to initiate research conversations with nine persons who have disengaged from DAF for various reasons. Some of them stopped interacting with DAF social learning spaces altogether, while some merely retreated to more peripheral forms of involvement.

Our conversations with these stakeholders have proved useful for us to start better understanding what made them – and potentially, others – reduce their involvement in DAF. However, as with the previous indicator, due caution should be exercised in generalising from these examples, due to the small size of the sample. Besides, as social learning spaces in DAF tend to be voluntary, spontaneous and informal, it is often difficult to identify the act of “disengaging” with much confidence. Nonetheless, these conversations have yielded us with some food for thought, particularly when triangulated with responses we received to a questionnaire sent to everyone who clearly disengaged from a particular DAF platform (i.e. members of the Professions’ Network who chose to delete their account). I summarise these insights in Chapter 5, Section 3.2.

3.1.9 Orienting value: How and where have we been locating ourselves in the broader landscape?



Indicators of value-creation

Data sources

“Let’s have in-depth conversations with interviewees as regards their ‘gift questions’, a few months from now”

“Let’s make personal transformative change more visible in the network”

“Let’s put together a public database of value-creation stories that may help people situate themselves in the landscape of change and learning”

“Let’s record what others have found to be transformative information/resources”


We learn about social learning evaluation projects taking place in other contexts, and gain inspiration from them

Personal observations

Table 32 displays four main aspirations that emerged as part of the RT’s framing exercise (see the beginning of this section), between May and October 2021. We discovered only much later that they did not constitute a very good match for the category of orienting value-creation: indeed, they can be read as translating an aspiration, on our behalf, to better help others orient themselves within DAF and beyond. In other words, were we to meet these aspirations, orienting value would be produced for others. However, as orienting aspirations voiced within the framing process are about the production of value for us (the RT), as part of our involvement in this social learning space, the aspirations in Table 11 can be more usefully read as concerning the production of enabling value by our circle (as they are about enabling others to orient themselves). Therefore, I copied these statements into Table 30, above.

The orienting value-creation cycle has not been a strong focus for the RT in this research project. Nonetheless, in reflecting on the outcomes of this project, we found that some orienting value-creation was produced for us through our interactions with participants in another social learning space of “systems conveners”: the Camp Collapse group, including researcher Christian S. Tröndle.

Christian’s MA research (Tröndle, 2021) is an anthropology project dedicated to investigating the topic of Deep Adaptation. As a project initiated from a participatory stance, it has involved the in-depth participation from several members of the Berlin-based Camp Collapse collective. As Christian explained in the Festival Q&A event which was dedicated to their work102, this collective is dedicated to raising awareness around the climate crisis by means of workshops, performances, installations, games and storytelling. In other words, Camp Collapse is about convening social learning spaces focused on the topics that are at the heart of Deep Adaptation. Besides, Christian’s research was focused in large part on exploring “personal stories of how people came to Deep Adaptation” (p.5). As such, his project bears many similarities to ours.

Although it is difficult to assess the extent to which our encounter with Christian and Camp Collapse may have influenced our own project, the research conversations and the webinar that took place, as well as reading Christian’s MA thesis, were certainly helpful for us to better understand commonalities and differences between our respective methodologies and approaches – both in terms of academic research, and of convening social learning spaces – thus allowing for the creation of useful orienting value for the RT. Transformative value: What have been some broader or deeper individual and collective effects of our activities?

Table 33: Transformative value - Consolidated indicators and data sources (RT)



Indicators of value-creation

Data sources

“Let’s bring about deep, life-changing experiences in DAF participants”

“Let’s figure out ways to spread these forms of transformative changes to other networks”

“Let’s make it OK to be engaging with the topics of death and collapse publicly”


Others report having life-changing experiences/insights thanks to our research

Personal observations

The transformative value-creation cycle was not an area of strong focus for us in the RT – if only because it seemed unlikely that a part-time, two-person research team may be able to bring about particularly deep or broad effects on others, during a period of merely a few months.

Nonetheless, it does appear that our project, and in particular one of our interventions – the Conscious Learning Festival – may have had an especially generative impact on one of the Festival participants (see Annex 5.2, Story #7). This person was one of the more actively involved participants; at the end of this series of events, they shared with us how their experience of the Festival had been helpful to them:

“[Thanks to the Festival] I was able to experience a sense of deep connection and fellowship with other participants, who were all complete strangers. I found regular spaces in which to acknowledge my painful feelings related to our predicament, and feel understood. Being in these spaces also made me realise that in spite of the dire situation, I was alive! For example, I was very inspired by Jane Dwinell’s Q&A, during which she described building tiny houses on her land, and helping refugees in Lesbos. This pulled me out of my sense of helplessness and hopelessness, and prompted me to reflect deeply on what kind of generative action I might do with my own life.”

As a result, several interesting developments happened for this person as a result of their involvement: they wrote an article on Deep Adaptation for a mainstream news outlet; added a module on Deep Adaptation to the university syllabus they are teaching; decided to convene climate cafés for the students taking the new module; started working on an online course touching on these topics; and have begun writing a book chapter incorporating the themes of Deep Adaptation into their area of academic specialisation.

They concluded their testimony with these words:

“I feel quite keen to crack on with these endeavours. Knowing that I am not alone in this mindset and intention helps me to keep going. I’m done with leaving emotions like terror, guilt, or shame, are in my driving seat. It’s fine for them to be in the car, but I’d rather they be passengers. I think cautious optimism may now be in the driving seat – optimism about the beautiful aspects of humanity, and the desire to embody these qualities and fight for them.”

It therefore appears that for at least one person, the Conscious Learning Festival was an important occasion for coming to terms with their painful emotions, and finding a renewed motivation to take generative action without obliterating these emotions. As mentioned in this testimony, a sense of deep connection and fellowship with other people experiencing similar feelings, as well as occasions to learn about inspirational role models in the network, seem to have played an important role in facilitating this personal change.

3.1.11 Integrative theme: What factors seem to best enable social learning in DAF?

I will conclude this section on Effect Data with a summary of some insights that have emerged in the course of this research on the question of the factors that appear most conducive to facilitate social learning in the context of DAF. These comments were voiced by DAF participants themselves in the course of the various research conversations and webinars convened by the RT, and particularly during the concluding call of the Conscious Learning Festival.

A recurring theme was that of the importance for social learning spaces to provide a measure of psychological safety in order for social learning to take place. That is because it makes it easier for people to dare to make mistakes. In this regard, the importance of a sense of community was also mentioned as being helpful to support that sense of safety.

“It's useful to... be in such a safe space where everybody is doing their very best to meet every point of view with love. That allows us to make mistakes, because somebody else will come in and make mistakes, and when you make a mistake, and somebody else will come in and kind of back you up and fill in what needs to get filled in and has a different idea. … We learn so much more in safe spaces because we're not geared up to be frightened… An awful lot of [the learning] is just being in the presence. It takes longer sometimes, but... But yeah, it allows you to practice again, in a community where you know that if you make a mistake, and, you know, step on somebody's toes accidentally, people will forgive you, and you will learn how not to step on people's toes and when the right time to do things is and just by example.” (RC)

Several participants also commented on how the presence of mentors or elders, within DAF as a community, had benefited their learning and was an important factor in their deciding to engage in DAF.

“And there were some people who whether consciously or not then functioned as models and mentors... Actually, probably most people here [on this call]. And... I think that my, for me, that's one of the values in [DAF] is it attracts people that that I admire. There's something about this topic [of Deep Adaptation] that attracts people that have qualities that I really admire. And and then we we get to share those so maybe some people learn from me, but then I learned from them things that I might not have known how to do myself.” (SBW)

Being prompted to reflect on one’s own learning, as the Festival aimed to invite participants to do, was also regarded as a rare and useful occasion to develop more awareness and clarity on one’s learning journey. Several comments also stressed the usefulness of being able to do so in a dialogical format, by explicitly considering any participant as both a teacher and a learner able to share their experience and choices with others.

I could never have imagined what my journey would have been like. And I suspect that had you not invited ... this extended period of reflection, I never would have considered that journey, I would have just kept cutting the trees, to put the shoes on the children and the food on the table. And so that extended period of pause is really powerful to invite people to bring their attention to just what their personal learning, learning journeys have been.” (RC)

“What the Conscious Learning Festival has done, and what the conversations that David has hosted have done, is to demystify that, to decolonise that - it's not one expert imparting all of their wisdom and telling everybody the answers. It's learning through dialogue and explore and exploration with others.” (RC)

Conversations we hosted during the Festival also touched on the particular challenges that come from social learning taking place online. In this respect, several comments mentioned features of dominant social media – platforms such as Facebook or Twitter – that constitute obstacles to social learning, and to developing deeper forms of relatedness such as those encouraged in DAF.

“What we are trying to implement [with the new DAF platform] … goes against the trends of social media, which is to, right, just enable those sound bytes of information and to polarize people so that they keep, you know, being placed in this camp or placing themselves in this camp or that or that camp, not hearing the other side, and and drifting further and further apart. And I think this is how we are being trained, all of us users of social media.” (RC)

The theme that reoccurred in nearly every reflective conversation during the Festival was that of stories as powerful vehicles for personal and collective learning. This is not altogether surprising, considering that the Festival was largely structured around events during which individuals were invited to share with others what their personal experience of learning had been, around the topics of collapse-awareness and Deep Adaptation.

“I’ve become more and more convinced stories are like where it's at because people... they're graspable, but they need to be story-like, there are elements of stories that are different than other kinds of information, beginning / middle / end, progression, a challenge, a down point, meet the challenge, and move on. That's what drama is, and I think we need to use that to frame our enterprise [of Deep Adaptation].” (RC)

Besides discussing the usefulness of stories of personal experience, our conversations occasionally also broached the wider topic of developing more conscious awareness of collective narratives as encapsulating particular worldviews and values, be they counter-cultural or in service of dominant ideologies. For example, a webinar participant referred to Ursula K. Le Guin’s essay “The Carrier Bag of Fiction” (1986), which discusses the place of the (often male, and aggressive) hero in narratives, as compared to more feminist orientations.

Stories can also function as means of passing down socio-cultural elements of that are deemed worthy of being carried forward. For instance, a Festival participant quoted Chief Chevez, from the Lenca people of El Salvador, according to whom stories could provide vital help to a people and culture to sustain itself and pass through periods of societal collapse103.

As regards learners’ qualities and behaviours that tend to be conducive to deeper personal and collective learning, the importance of remaining curious and open to exploring the unknown was a topic that emerged on several occasions.

“There's this liquid state… which is really the calling into something we don't know, that we don't know, we just have a feeling that this is the place to lean into. It's the place that we've been trained all our lives to avoid. It's the uncertainty, it's the mystery. It's the terrifying unknown. And each, each of you in your own way... There's a way in which each of you... its seems like you've got your own version of a liquid state that you're describing.” (CTW)

On one occasion, a Festival participant who is a university lecturer mentioned their disappointment at how few of their students were genuinely keen to learn, and even more so, how few of their colleagues in academia were ready to question the foundations of their own knowledge and worldview, and be open to unlearning.

“Teachers, academics, professors, scholars, we read all the time we learn all the time. We're not unlearning, though. We're just adding stuff on top of stuff on top of stuff. I've seen this many, many times. We, you know, we read a book together, we talk about it, we say, oh, okay, that's interesting. We invite a speaker and that speaker say something mind-boggling. And they say, ‘Oh, wow, this is so great.’ But we don't unlearn what that requires. And so we continue doing what we have always done, even after learning all that.” (LTMAD)

I will present here some value-creation stories that may clarify the extent to which the activities taking place within RT, as a social learning space, can be explicitly linked with the creation of value for certain stakeholders.

In this case, two stories (Annex 5.2, Stories #7 and #8) display clear causal links between the activities of the RT and personal changes that happened for the speakers. As the only stories that are available to us that speak to some value created thanks to this research project, and as stories originating from stakeholders beyond the social learning space, they only corroborate a very partial array of the overall value-creation that the effect data points to; however, they are still worthy of being explored.

3.2.1 Stories and effect data indicators

Examining the value-creation indicators that are referenced in these stories can help us integrate them, as contribution data, with the aforementioned effect data presented in Section 3.1.

Table 34 presents a list of all indicators that are referenced by Stories #7 and #8, sorted by decreasing degree of presence (as measured by the number of stories referring to them, and the total number of references).



Number of references per story

Total number of references

Number of referencing stories



R5 - Statements mentioning generative changes happening for others beyond the RT





R9 - New social learning spaces are convened by others as a result of our initiatives





R10 - New projects or collaborations are initiated by others as a result of our initiatives





R8 - New public learning assets are created by others as a result of our initiatives





R13 - Others engage in brokering between DAF and other learning spaces, or between existing learning spaces in DAF, as a result of our initiatives





T4 - Others report having life-changing experiences/insights thanks to our research





First of all, it is important to note that these indicators speak to value-creation taking place from the perspective of the social learning space - in this case, the RT. For example, a new insight happening for the protagonist in one of those stories (as part of a Potential value-creation cycle) corresponds to an achievement for the RT (thus, part of Realised value-creation cycle), when it happens as a result of the RT’s activities.

The indicator that is most frequently traversed by these stories is R5 - “Statements mentioning generative changes happening for others beyond the RT.” These generative changes mainly include:

  • finding a sense of community with other participants in the Conscious Learning Festival, and feeling encouraged to engage in meaningful new activities as a result (Story #7);
  • being inspired by participating in the Festival to experiment with a new meeting format, to facilitate deep conversations around the topic of Deep Adaptation – and gaining a wealth of substantive and procedural insights in the process, including a better understanding of DAF as a community (Story #8).

As a result of these generative changes, the speakers in these two stories decided to convene new social learning spaces (R9 - “New social learning spaces are convened by others as a result of our initiatives”). This includes the group and podcast conversations described in Story #8, as well as the climate cafés envisioned in Story #7.

Besides these new social learning spaces, other new initiatives were undertaken by the speakers (R10 - “New projects or collaborations are initiated by others as a result of our initiatives”) – particularly in Story #7, which points to no less than:

  • the writing of an article on Deep Adaptation for a mainstream news outlet;
  • the creation of a module on Deep Adaptation in a university course;
  • the launch of climate cafés for the students on that course;
  • the conception of an online course; and
  • the writing of a book chapter on topics related to Deep Adaptation.

In the case of Story #8, a new podcast project was born as the next step of a continuous process of inquiry that unfolded through the social learning spaces previously convened.

These social learning spaces and new projects have often led to the creation of freely available media (R8 - “New public learning assets are created by others as a result of our initiatives”) – including documents summarising insights from the conversations convened, and the publication of new podcasts, in Story #8; as well as the aforementioned newspaper article in Story #7.

Some of these new projects also constitute clear cases of brokering between social learning spaces within DAF, and with other spaces (R13 - “Others engage in brokering between DAF and other learning spaces, or between existing learning spaces in DAF, as a result of our initiatives”). For example, the new module on Deep Adaptation in the university course, and, likely, the new online course on parenting mentioned in Story #7; and the new YouTube podcast, explicitly framed in Story #8 as featuring conversations with “interesting thinkers from the field of collapse-awareness (not just from Deep Adaptation, which is a subset of that field)”.

Finally, Story #7 appears to show an example of Transformational value-creation (T4 - “Others report having life-changing experiences/insights thanks to our research”): as a result of their participation in the Conscious Learning Festival – and in particular, after being inspired by the personal life story featured in one of the Festival events – the speaker reported feeling able to leave terror, guilt and shame in the passenger’s seat, and to give more space to cautious optimism. The story arc shows how this inner change enabled them to undertake a variety of generative new projects as a result.

3.2.1 Learning flows and loops

Stories #7 and #8 were collected from (or co-created with) the speakers at the end of the Conscious Learning Festival. Story #7 was shared with us orally in a voice message (VM), and later more details were provided by email; and Story #8 was composed from the written journaling of the activities described, from a Festival call (RC), and later in a follow-up research conversation.

Due in part to these different creative and narrative processes, and in part to more detailed sharing from one of the speakers, these two stories have different shapes:

  • Story #7 shows a much more direct and “streamlined” flow of learning from the beginning to the end (Immediate and Potential cycles lead to Applied and Realised cycles, and eventually a Transformative cycle), while covering many different endeavours;
  • Story #8, on the other hand, only focuses on two projects, described in rich detail. The first project forms a first “subplot,” which then flows into a second one, corresponding to the second project.

Both stories constitute cases of learning being “looped” back into the social learning space of the RT, as these speakers proactively shared their learning journeys with us at the end of the Festival. Importantly, such learning loops might not have fully formed had we not convened a final reflection call as part of the Festival (in which much of Story #8 was shared), or asked every participant in our events to share any feedback with us (which is how most of Story #7 was narrated).

The fact that we were only able to gather two value-creation stories from the activities of the RT may indicate that we could have devoted more attention and efforts to collecting such stories (including from ourselves). It may also be a sign that although effect data was generated, episodes of learning flow taking place as a result have been too few, or have had too little impact, to be recorded.

4 Conclusion

Over the course of this participatory action research project, the RT has taken on a dual role of systems conveners, and open learning assets creators. The first role was accomplished by convening a number of social learning spaces, through our research conversations, our learning circles, and the annual Conscious Learning Festival we hosted. As we collaborated in convening these spaces and reflected on the insights we gathered, we were able to co-create a number of open learning assets together with other participants in DAF - including research reports, videos, and other learning resources.

In carrying out these activities, we pursued three main aspirations. First, that of "amplifying and spreading learning and changes, in individuals and groups within DAF, that may be relevant to radical social change." In this regard, the Conscious Learning Festival calls appear to have been useful to several participants, who gained a deeper understanding of the community, insights into their own involvement within it, and inspiration from others' participation - as can be witnessed from the two value-creation stories we collected. We have much less information about the value participants may have drawn from the various open learning assets we co-created.

Our second goal was "to facilitate additional or improved functionality and interactions within DAF, relevant to people facing collapse, so that people choose to participate more in the forum." We aimed to fulfil this aspiration mainly through the Conscious Learning Blog that we created, and our Conscious Learning calls. Although the new Blog proved useful as a central location in which to publish the new learning assets that originated from our collaboration, little interaction has taken place through it. As for the Conscious Learning Festival, it seems to have facilitated conversations from which participants drew value. In particular, the Festival enabled one participant to innovate by inventing a new meeting format as he convened conversations on this occasion. However, there is no data indicating that these activities brought about increased participation in DAF.

Our third goal was "to foster learning citizenship in DAF, and invite people to join a ‘learning citizens’ group." A small group of such committed learners emerged in the course of the first Conscious Learning Festival, and actively reflected on their and others' learning processes, including conditions that seem to facilitate mutual learning. And several of them undertook brokering activities with other learning spaces as a result of the Festival, which is another encouraging sign. Due to enthusiasm for these activities, a second edition of the Conscious Learning Festival was planned for late 2022. Although it has not been possible to include it within our data collection due to time constraints, future research might illuminate the extent to which the group of learning citizens we identified in 2021 remained deeply involved in 2022.

In conclusion, it seems to us that we have partially achieved each of the goals we set out for ourselves as we convened the social learning space of the RT. Most importantly, the deep trust and friendship cultivated between the two of us have enabled us to actively reflect on our own learning processes and those of others, and to co-create a number of rich learning journeys (value-creation stories), which shine a light on many paths of learning and unlearning that DAF participants have followed in the network. These stories, and the reflections they gave rise to with regards to the seeds of change, the enabling soil, and the action of sowers (described in Chapter 5 of this thesis), are certainly the most precious outcomes of our social learning space.