Well, after last winter’s powerful ride, it’s now just six weeks until our second Deeper Dive, this time alongside Stephen JenkinsonNate Hagens, Isabelle Frémeaux, Mark BoyleSherri MitchellTim DeChristopherRob Hopkins and Vandana Shiva, each of whom brings a unique and hard-won perspective on the challenges and joys of life well lived in these times.  Together, we’ll feed those into reflecting on our own paths.

It feels a real privilege and honour to be holding such a potent space again this winter, and inviting into it both guests for whom I have such profound respect, and old friends and new — like yourself? — to become part of the enduring community that continues to grow around the work.

 “My biggest takeaway: I am not alone in this
— and I do not have to be alone in this.”

“What an amazing journey you took us all on! Immense gratitude to each of you.”

“Your course should be a model for online learning!”

“I thought the facilitators were wonderful. Thank you all for making it more than just another course to muddle through. It feels like a great start to a community.”

“So much more than I expected it to be. Such an inspiration!”

“I feel so blessed, so enriched, so humbled and so eager for others to have the chance I had here.”

After a few overbusy years getting our various Surviving the Future: Conversations for Our Time offerings off the ground and established, our regular weekly and monthly online alumni gatherings are now a real source of succour for me and many others, and it’s a joy and an excitement to look forward to our next — now annual — 8-week adventure.  So let me share a little about a few guests who’ll be joining us for the first time…

Isabelle Frémeaux hails from the ZAD in Brittany, France, and I defy you to watch the below 7 minute video (featuring her partner JJ) and not want to talk with her about it!  It’s literally the most inspiring thing I’ve seen this year.

And then there’s Stephen Jenkinson — hailing from the palliative care world, and known as ‘the angel of death’ by some for his beautiful work holding the last days of individuals and cultures.  From the first iteration of the courses his words have featured, but this is our first direct connection, so I’m much looking forward to the collaboration and conversation:

At risk of getting carried away, perhaps the other I’ll mention here is Tim DeChristopher, who served 21 months in prison for creatively disrupting a federal auction selling oil and gas leases for national parkland that he loved.

His honest, unguarded interview with Terry Tempest Williams — ‘What Love Looks Like’ — dramatically shifted my own perspective on how I use my time, ten short years ago.  So now let’s discuss what seems worthwhile to him today, another decade into the ongoing devastation of our homeworld.

Interestingly, in a more recent interview with Wendell Berry, DeChristopher spoke too of the tensions he feels with my late mentor David Fleming’s work , so another fertile conversation should be in prospect.

3 March, 2011 – Tim DeChristopher thanks his supporters just outside the Salt Lake City federal courthouse after being found guilty of two felonies for disrupting a Utah Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease auction in 2009   photo ©2011 by Ed Kosmicki

I could say a lot more about all the invited guests — including those who’ve joined us before — but I’ll rein myself in here, and you can hit the button below if you’d like to know more!

If last winter’s experience is anything to go by though, those conversations will be only the beginning of the shared journey.  It’s one that we’ll create together but, as the reviews below betray, the sessions with our guests tend to become just the jumping off point for the community we forge over those eight weeks.

Whether through the weekly reading suggestions, materials and discussion questions, or our online forums, or the video chat rooms, or weekly seminars — selected from as suits each participant’s taste — we together venture deep into both the overarching principles and the dirty handed nitty gritty of making meaning in our days.

As I write, around half the places for the upcoming Deeper Dive (Jan 9th – Mar 5th) are taken, and I anticipate the rest going before the end of December, so if you would like to be among the 50 souls joining us this year — drawn, in previous years, from every continent on the planet — by all means click the button above and get yourself enrolled.  You will see there that we operate a trust-based pricing system designed to ensure that finances are not an obstacle to anyone’s ability to participate.

Or if time is more of an obstacle than money for you, we’ve now developed a separate self-directed course — A Path Through Tumultuous Times — available all year round to take entirely at your own pace.  It does offer live interaction with me and other members of our Surviving the Future community for those who want that, but can also be taken as a solitary venture, as and when time permits, 24/7:

Finally, for anyone reading this who might like to know more about my own journey to holding such spaces, I should mention that I had the pleasure last week to be interviewed by Kory and Kellan of the Breaking Down: Collapse podcast, about my journey to date, my community home at gift-economy bastion The Happy Pig, the Deeper Dive experience and the wider times we are living through…

In our isolated age of lonely internet research and polarised opinions I know it is all too easy to feel ‘alone with the apocalypse’ — and altogether too awful.  I remember that feeling well, and the miserable pessimism it can breed.  Kory and Kellan’s show is new to me, but already feels a real ally in the work of opening the conversations that so many people yearn to have, yet struggle to find either the time or the willing conversational partners for.

So if you could use a little Dark Optimism in your life, may the conversation below and the invitation to the Deeper Dive offer doorways to connection and meaning.

I for one deeply looking forward to making new friends — and exploring again with some old ones — as we face our fears and some truly dark realities together, while deciding in which direction we shall place our next step.

Until the time…

Breaking Down: Collapse

Episode 114 – Interview with Shaun Chamberlin


Portraits of guest teachers on Surviving the Future: The Deeper Dive 2023

What an achievement to creatively juggle so many HIGHLY-individualistic people, technical issues, course material, time zones, differing cultures, accents, moods, and even the weather! GREAT WORK! I am profoundly grateful to have been part of the course.

Very very well done. The times weren’t always convenient to my personal schedule, but you did a great job of navigating the needs of a worldwide community of students, teachers, and support staff.

It was one of the most important experiences I’ve had the privilege of participating in ever. I found that what I learned was relevant to understanding the obstacles and options towards shaping a viable future and useful to share with the growing number of people realizing our predicament.

Huge gratitude

My life is transformed, now I know my purpose in life

The content of this course will reverberate within my being nourishing the seeds it has planted. Thank you.

This course has vastly improved my understanding of the world we currently live in and our predicament. It has also given me inspiration for my future life and lots of further resources to engage with to keep me on this new path.

The space and respect you gave to all participants was fundamental, I imagine it might have taken a lot of energy but it was really important for participants to feel heard and acknowledged, you could see it in our faces, they would many times just light up because of the feeling that we were being taking seriously. So I cannot emphasise this enough, the way in which you guys listened and allowed us to be, really brought this course to another level. This ability is something I strongly encourage you keep and take to all courses, thanks so much.

I loved this course. I get less out of break out groups and posting thoughts but others like that and that’s fine. I felt that there was lots of room to engage in whatever style suited the student.

If I could dance on a tabletop to prove my appreciation for the course, I would do it (and I can’t dance a lick!)

I loved the breakout rooms, getting to know the other participants. It was great to have more than one opportunity per week to get together. Loved the Carnival at the end, the weekly quotes, the additional readings and videos… all of it. Such an inspiring course!

First, the online format of the course was excellent! It flowed very smoothly and was user friendly. Always supporting us in whatever we needed. I also appreciated the flexibility of the team. Thank you!

There is a path forward, and there is hope.

Very well done. I’m also glad you’ll be helping us stay connected and to continue to build this community, going forward. I’m definitely missing the course and community, this week, in spite of staying connected with some individuals from the course. The gestalt of the group was so much of the community. Thanks again!

Sterling College should be very proud of this course.

A sense of expectation and wonder. An important reminder of how lovely humans can be. The nudge to keep searching for my tribe The need to do the inner work as a means to serve better. Thanks so so so much

This is much more than just a course; it brings together a community of people who want to explore how we got where we are on a global level and how to respond to it with courage, positivity, wisdom and humour in an ongoing and unforgettable conversation.

It was soon apparent to me how much work and love Shaun puts into this course. I would enthusiastically recommend this course to anyone wishing to engage with the challenges and opportunities our civilization will be faced with in the coming times.

Months after finishing the course, I am thinking and talking about it weekly.

Participating had a profound impact on me. In the meantime the course of my life has changed because of it. Being in the last stages of writing a book (fiction) with my perspective on what is happening in the world, i feel like coming up from a very deep dive of my own.

This was my first experience of online learning, and I didn’t leave with a single disappointment. The course curates an extraordinary line-up of thinkers, writers and do-ers, interweaving them all into a compelling journey of deep thought and bonanza of possibility.

What a privilege! I am inspired, and in awe, and eternally grateful to all that contributed. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this course.

Just brilliant. I was able to meet people from across the globe I ordinarily wouldn’t have had the chance to talk with.

I LOVED the Deeper Dive and thought the design and implementation of the class was brilliant — the lectures, on-line forum questions, the weekly bundle of rich resources, and the social gatherings. I’ve never seen such a multi-layered design that touches all our modalities.

Shaun did a beautiful, artful job convening a community and shepherding us along, and the guest teachers each brought a facet of the complex question of finding purpose and meaning in a culture that is so off track.

I wouldn’t be able to speak enough to how much this is precisely where I need to be right now.

This work is dearly needed and will be more so in the near future.

What I’ve gotten from the course goes beyond the mind-expanding exposure to activists and thinkers who are ahead of me on this journey.  It’s the profound sense of being on the same journey.

I joined, and left, this course knowing there are most certainly dark times ahead, but I have never felt so equipped to deal with them.