Expressions of a response to the metacrisis

In this post, LearnJam’s Jo Sayers shares his reflections and learnings from a recent learning journey exploring his response to the metacrisis.

The predicament we are in, of climate and social chaos, often leaves me worried and full of questions:

  • In this time of converging crises, what actions make sense? 
  • How do I find joy in my activism, while acknowledging the grief of our situation? 
  • How do I talk about this with others in a way that doesn’t make them switch off?

Over the last few years, and especially the last 6 months, I have been through huge personal change alongside the organisational shifts towards purpose we have made at LearnJam. It’s sometimes hard to know where I finish and where LearnJam begins, or which actions are personal and which professional. I do know that I’m living through a significant turning point in my own life, nested inside this huge global turning point of mass extinction. This is sometimes an overwhelming and debilitating realisation, and so I was pleased to be able to join a cohort of peers late last year to co-learn our way through our collective turning points. 

The learning journey was called a Huddle, and I joined 11 others to kick off the process in October 2023. Each of us was exploring a turning point in our lives, and we each brought our own learning question to guide us through the four and a half months together, supported by our peers, and hosted by the wonderful Kate Weiler

Through LearnJam’s connections with Huddlecraft over the years I’d seen many people transformed by their Huddle experiences, and I was excited to be embarking on my own Huddle journey!

I started with this question:

What does an active and joyful response to the polycrisis look like for me, and how might I communicate this with others?

During the process, this evolved as I learned more and explored my question. Polycrisis was replaced with metacrisis, to acknowledge the problem being within me, and connected to everything. I flip-flopped between personal and professional focus, but decided that I wanted to explore what this means for me as an individual first. 

So the Huddle ended with me wondering: 

What does joyful, local, nature (re)connection look like for me over the coming year?

Last week our Huddle journey reached a comma point, the end of the official Huddlecraft process. But we all felt that our turning points were still in progress – there wasn’t a neat ending after the time together. So we agreed to start a new phase of monthly meetups over the next year, as a container to support us as we continue to turn!  

We marked this comma with an evening in a pub, each taking turns to share where we had got to, what we had learned and what we wanted to be witnessed. The format of the evening was inspired by the approach to speeches at a Canadian wedding, where anyone can speak when they feel called to! 

Here’s an edited version of what I shared with the group, in response to three set questions:

The one thing I’ve learned in this process is…

I have learned that entangling with nature and being in awe of our little tiny place in this huge universe will help me through this change, both in terms of my inner development and my outer action. I’ve increasingly come to see humans’ perceived separation from the rest of the living world as a fundamental aspect of the mess we’re in and a significant part of why we keep on behaving in such destructive ways. Connecting with the more-than-human world comes with both grief and joy, but feels like a route to more clarity.

As I write this, I am sitting on a bench by the river, the light is fading as my little place on the Earth turns away from the Sun, and a bat is swooping over my head. Magical, really.

The one question I’m left with is… 

The really big one is still “What actions make sense in these times?” – Given the scale of the predicament we are in, what kinds of action are sensible, effective, advisable? This feels like a huge question that I’ll live with forever, and impacts all aspects of my personal and professional life.

And as that is such a big question, here are some lighter questions I’m left with:

  • Which storytelling course / offering should I connect with? Storytelling feels like a powerful tool for social change
  • Could I join a choir? I’ve always believed I can’t sing, and also see singing in community as a wonderful and non-commercial activity
  • Could I help set up a community garden on my street? 

The change I’d like the world to witness is…

That I intend to make this my life’s work. I intend my work and my choices to be some form of positive contribution to future generations. It can feel overwhelming at times, and easier to pretend we weren’t where we are. I know from past experience that it can be hard to hold your nerve and not get pulled back into the dominant systems. So I’d like to have it witnessed that I intend to hold my nerve.   

I’d like it to be witnessed that I intend to acknowledge the grief of our predicament and actively seek joy in these challenging times. 

There’s much more turning still to be done, but it feels important to mark what has happened to this point. 

A huge thank you to all my fellow Huddlers, who I learned so much from and was so inspired by along the way. Some highlights: lying on the forest floor in the rain and dark, my first ever lino print, a sunrise sea swim and beach poetry, finding the connections between our learning questions, listening to stories of the mycelial network, seeing everyone shine in their own magical way.

A big thank you to Kate for bringing us all together, you’re amazing!

If you would like some nature reentanglement of your own, you can sign up to receive our free You Are Nature zine here

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