Deep Adaptation and the 4R’s Framework

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The purpose of this paper is to share my understanding of Positive Deep Adaptation, and to inspire you to reflect on your answers to the 4R questions.

Positive Deep Adaptation is an idea, a community and an agenda initially created by Professor Jem Bendell to help us to reflect on useful activities, cultural norms, values and behaviours now. People who share the PDA narrative accept that societal and economic ‘collapse’ is now likely, inevitable or already unfolding.

Mitigation is about anything we do to ‘turn things around’ so that we achieve our carbon-emissions targets and continue with business as usual. That’s important too, in that there are mitigation strategies that will at least avoid making things worse, or slowing down the worst effects.

Adaptation refers to those things we do to prepare for the conditions that we know are coming, but most people are still in denial about. Good examples are building sea-walls, changing buildings to cope with different temperatures, food and water security, and re-wilding or permaculture.

DEEP adaptation is about asking some fundamental and profound questions about who we are, what’s most important and how we choose to live now. It includes psycho-spiritual approaches that deepen our resilience. And starting now to build resilient, deeply connected local communities.

Here are the 4R questions:

It may be worth reading this blog from September 2019 to learn more about the 4R’s:

Positive Deep Adaptation in your Life

And, if all this feels rather too distressing, here’s a blog about Seven Insights that can help with Climate Distress or Eco-Anxiety:

Climate Distress – 7 Insights that can help

Some people find it helpful to see each of the 4R’s as having individual, collective and global dimensions, as visually depicted here:

What follows are some ideas (I hope you’ll think of more…) under each of the 4R’s:


  • Hygge (Danish concept for a feeling of cozy contentment and well-being through enjoying the simple things in life)
  • Three Principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought (ask me about this if it’s new to you)
  • Meditation, spiritual practices, martial arts, yoga, prayer, silence
  • Storytelling
  • Poetry and Art
  • Singing, Music and Dancing
  • Restoring old crafts
  • Local renewable energy and water
  • Growing food
  • Feeding others, eating together
  • Ownership of Local Energy
  • Community swapshops – see for example
  • Citizens’ Assemblies at community level
  • Hand-made life, eco-village style living
  • Changing how we educate children (so they learn the skills they’ll need in a different future)
  • Circles
  • Pets
  • Celebration
  • Elders, teachers, guides, mentors
  • Conflict Resolution and Non-Violent Communication
  • Finding and developing local people with talents, including facilitation and community-building


  • Hope (about mitigation or returning to ‘business as usual’)
  • Consumerist Lifestyle
  • Judgement and ‘Othering’
  • Adversarial politics
  • Delegation (somebody else will sort this out)
  • Guilt
  • Ego
  • Latest technology
  • Out of season food
  • Flying and Unsustainable Tourism
  • Meat and Animal Products
  • Shopping for non-essentials (clothes, shoes, etc.)
  • Hyper-individualism
  • Our stories about identity (e.g. my worth comes from my role, my career, my life-style, my bank account, my qualifications)
  • Instant gratification
  • Growth
  • Petrol or Diesel Car
  • Existing ‘mainstream’ social media?
  • The idea that humans have dominion over all nature
  • Traditional educational curricula
  • Secure pension


  • Hand-made Life-style
  • Connecting with Nature (seeing that we aren’t separate from it)
  • Walk, run, cycle
  • Locally grown food
  • Learn from indigenous cultures
  • Seed-saving
  • Rewilding and permaculture, regenerative agriculture
  • Shared rituals and celebrations
  • Local live music
  • Hand-made lifestyle e.g. woodworking and crafting
  • Community living, food growing, and eating
  • Gift economy
  • Healing circles
  • Wisdom traditions


  • The Work that Reconnects (Joanna Macy)
  • Consciousness Raising and Spiritual Development
  • Reconciling with our own death, including any regrets, anger, unresolved conflict. Making our own peace.
  • Reconciliation between peoples, genders, classes, generations, countries, religions and political persuasions
  • Intergenerational dialogue
  • Social cohesion in neighbourhoods
  • Making beauty
  • Gratitude
  • Curiosity and compassion for differing views and opinions
  • Meditation, Prayer, Circling

Kimberley Hare
May 2020

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