Deep adaptation – spiritual leadership for times of emergency

All Day
Oct 18th 2019 ~ Oct 21st 2019

This retreat takes as its starting-point the climate science that tells us that near-term ecological and societal emergency are now upon us.  How do we face this new reality?  How do we prepare, inwardly and outwardly for collapse and transition?  How do we meaningfully stand in solidarity with those who are already living the consequences?

For more information contact Tarot Couzyn on 0207 496 1613 or

Fri 18th – Mon 21st Oct 2019

Particularly seeking people under 35… bursaries available!


“When things fall apart, we find out what binds us together”

Our future

This retreat takes as its starting-point the climate science that tells us that near-term ecological and societal emergency are now upon us. Across the world, we are already seeing food shortages, flooding, extreme weather, escalating extremism and mass migration caused or exacerbated by climate breakdown.   It is clear that climate breakdown will be the greatest driver of global conflict over the coming decades.

And yet for the moment, many of our daily lives in the UK and Europe continue to look the same.

How do we face this new reality?  How do we prepare, inwardly and outwardly for collapse and transition?  How do we acknowledge the colossal damage our culture has caused and meaningfully stand in solidarity with those who are already living the consequences?

This simple but powerful retreat is for activists, peace-makers, change agents and people of faith or social conscience.  The retreat process is inspired by the ‘deep adaptation’ framework of Professor Jem Bendell.

The invitation

We invite you to join us taking time away from our ‘business as usual’ lives.  We want to interrupt our conditioned thinking and gather together with others who have the courage to face the unfaceable.

We will imagine our way into this new reality: facing our fears, griefs, denials and resistances. We’ll prepare to let go of everything, hear from those who have lived through crisis, and explore where our resilience lies. We’ll re-examine our lives – where is there meaning, and what no longer makes sense?

We will explore maps for living with meaning in the face of environmental and societal collapse.  Ask ourselves by what values do we want to live.  Explore how can we build communities across differences.  And – fundamental to our enquiry – ask what might be the opportunity lying at the heart of this crisis?

The programme

The retreat will include some or all of the following:

  • ** getting to know each other – our unique perspectives, needs and gifts – building a strong container for this shared enquiry
  • ** setting the global scene:  exploring which communities are currently experiencing the effects of climate breakdown around the world;
  • ** mapping possible scenarios that may occur in the UK over next 10 years and exploring the disproportionate affect on different communities;
  • ** exploring what we fear, what we grieve for, what it means to face the possibility of individual or mass extinction
  • ** asking what it means to stand in solidarity with cultures already in collapse
  • ** group meditation/shared silence
  • ** reflective time/solo walking
  • ** discerning our own ‘deep adaptation’ manifesto using the 4 ‘R’s of deep adaptation (reconciliation, resilience, relinquishment and restoration)
  • ** building a community of friends, forming learning pods or buddy pairs, sharing resources, self-organising for ongoing support.

The basis of the retreat is about reconciling ourselves to a future of both opportunity and serious challenge, using the threat of crisis to separate out what is essential in our lives from what is inessential.  We will be drawing on learning, research and materials from key voices in the field as well as engaging in our own discussion and enquiry.

“Even if the world will end tomorrow, still plant your apple tree” (Martin Luther King) 

Our ethos

The retreat is rooted in the assumption that we continue working for the transformation of our culture and Earth – whilst also facing the possibility that our collective efforts may be inadequate or too slow.  We therefore seek to prepare – inwardly and outwardly – for immense challenges, whilst also holding the vision of ‘the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible’.  We root ourselves in hope, not false optimism.

The focus will not be presentation of facts, science, the development of crisis solutions or debating whether or not collapse is likely.   There will be about 3 hours of preparatory reading material.

When and where

The retreat will start at 2pm on Friday 18th October.  We will finish at 11am on Monday 21st Oct.  We value the importance of beginning well and finishing together, so preference will be given to people who can attend the entire retreat.

The retreat will take place in a beautiful house close in a natural location 5 minutes’ drive from Frome station, or 20 minutes’ drive from Westbury train station. Taxis are easily available from Frome.


We will eat simple vegetarian food.  Food costs are covered by the booking price (though we invite you to bring additional fruit and snacks to share).


Justine Huxley is the CEO of St Ethelburga’s and leads on vision and strategy.  An experienced peace-builder and sacred activist, Justine is relentlessly passionate about building a world rooted in our interdependence with each other and with Earth. Her work includes advancing the next generation of leaders and peace-makers, and building resilience for an increasingly dystopian world.  Her first book, Generation Y, Spirituality and Social Change is a collection of interviews with young adults living a radical new vision of faith and action.  Justine is steering all St Ethelburga’s projects (which focus on the refugee crisis, community polarisation and spiritual ecology) around the need to prepare for what is coming.  She has a Ph.D in psychology and previously worked in research, communications and business.  Justine belongs to a Sufi tradition and has been hosting meditation and dreamwork groups for 15 years.

Tarot Couzyn is the Chief Operating Officer of St Ethelburga’s and responsible for managing our beautiful building and grounding our work in practical reality.  As well as managing venue hire and finance, she contributes to fundraising, strategy, and staff management.  Tarot played a key role in developing our sacred activist programmes which involve volunteering in refugee camps, and thrives in challenging environments.  Her original background was in collaborative arts and included co-directing her own organisation working in the fields of LGBTQ+ rights, gender based inequality, and communities rebuilding in the aftermath of conflict and displacement (in Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and South Africa). Tarot also has experience as a consultant undertaking fundraising, evaluation and creative projects. Many of her practical skills were honed whilst building her own house.

It’s an experiment!

The retreat will be led by experienced facilitators with safe space as a priority.  And it feels important to say, this is evolving work and by no means a perfected product.   It is a call out to friends and allies to join us in a shared enquiry which feels increasingly urgent.  We want to build community and draw from the shared wisdom of the group – and experience living with joy no matter how our future looks.

Building a community of practice for those working with deep adaptation

We are very keen to be connected to as many practitioners, activists, facilitators, community builders, peace-makers, academics, thinkers and social entrepreneurs who are working with these themes.  We see it as vitally important to share this work widely and are seeking other venues and collaborators to work with.  Please email if you’d like to share what you are doing or talk about possibilities.

We also recommend connecting on Professor Bendell’s various sites and platforms, including the Deep Adaptation Forum

Pricing policy

As we are keen to pilot this work and to keep it accessible, we are not charging for our facilitation or planning time.  The standard booking cost of £290 covers the venue and food only – 100% of the flat rate booking cost goes to the venue rather than St Ethelburga’s.  We welcome additional donations (from those who can afford it) to cover our time.  Total cost recovery for us is around £480 per person.


Venue costs only – 100% of ticket price goes to the venue (not St Ethelburga’s) ……….£290.00
Venue costs plus small donation towards our time ………………………… £330.00
Covering venue and some time and facilitation costs……………………………………………………………£425.00

We have bursary places at £60 for anyone who would struggle to afford these prices.  

Want to join us?   Drop an email to and tell us a little about yourself, including why you are interested.   We will reply with bank details for you to make a transfer.  If you have any questions feel free to call on 07989 545 958.

If you want to apply for a bursary please also say something about your circumstances as well as why you’d like to attend.

(In these retreats we endeavour to create a diverse and balanced group, so unfortunately we cannot take people on a first come first served basis. However, next year we are hoping to be able to offer these retreats much more widely).

Please ensure you view our Terms and Conditions and Refund Policy.

All Day
Oct 18th 2019 ~ Oct 21st 2019