Breakdown and Breakthrough

with Daniel Christian Wahl

We are undergoing a species level right of passage – the generations alive today are challenged to come together in unprecedented levels of cooperation to fundamentally redesign the human impact and presence on Earth. Our species is called to step into mature membership of the community of life and to become a regenerative rather than destructive influence on the ecosystems we inhabit. The window of opportunity is closing! It is “all hands on deck” and too few of us – but rapidly growing numbers – are responding.


In this talk and the subsequent conversation, we explore what pathways of “deep adaptation” will simultaneously prepare us for the inevitable breakdown of systems that no longer serve us, while building local and regional resilience to weather the turbulent decades ahead and putting us on a path towards a transformative response. If we do make it, by the end of this century we will have reduced GHG concentrations in the atmosphere to preindustrial levels and diverse regenerative cultures everywhere – carefully adapted to the biocultural uniqueness of place – will be contributing to a thriving future for all.


Part of the effective transformative power of rites of passage is to face uncertainty and possible death. There are no guarantees. Let us explore together how we can face the trauma that the collapse of the old will bring with it, and still show up to the potential that lies within our still young species to turn breakdown into breakthrough. Death and collapse are critical phases in life’s regenerative patterns that created conditions conducive to life. In Joanna Macy’s words, let us explore how we can be both hospice workers of a dying system that no longer serves us, and midwives of a regenerative future.


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