News from the Other End: February 2020

Newsletter for AnotherEndoftheWorld.org

This is the first of what I hope will be a monthly newsletter where I will introduce new friends I have met in the Deep Adaptation community, give an update on current and future projects and essay ideas, and share what I’m currently reading.


New Friends

Michael Dowd (PostDoom.com)

I had the pleasure of making a new friend in Michael Dowd. Michael is … well, where do I start? He is a progressive Christian minister and author of Thank God for Evolution. I first became aware of Michael and his wife, Connie Barlow, through Religious Naturalism circles. (Religious Naturalism is religion without the supernaturalism.) Michael and Connie tour around the country speaking about Big History/Deep Time and, more recently Post-Doom, which he defines as:

  1. What opens up when we remember who we are, accept what is inevitable, and prioritize what is pro-future and soul-nourishing.
  2. Living meaningfully and courageously in the midst of climate disruption, ecological loss, and societal decline.

When I reached out to Michael about coming to speak at my Unitarian congregation, I discovered that he was working on his Post-Doom new project. He has collected dozens of conversations with interesting people on this topic. About fifteen have been posted, but there are many more to come. And I’m honored that Michael invited me to join the list and record a conversation with him in a couple of days. I’ll be sharing it here when it becomes available.

Michael also did me an incredible service by making an audio recording of my entire book, Another End of the World is Possible, as well as my recent essay, “We Did Start the Fire: Climate Change & the Curse of Hope“. It’s a fun recording to listen to because Michael interjects his own thoughts occasionally and also repeats sections of the text that he find particularly impactful–which turns out to be more interesting to listen to than a straight read-through.

Michael has done a similar service for many other authors. Check out his resource page which includes more than 1000 hours of audio recordings of texts on the topic of Deep Adaptation, as well as his SoundCloud page with more recordings.

Erik Assadourian (Gaianism.org)

Erik first reached out to me about another website I administer, GodisChange.org, which is dedicated to Earthseed, a fictional and real religion inspired by Octavia Butler’s science fiction writing. It turned out we had a lot in common, in addition to an interest in Earthseed. Erik is working on a project called Gaianism, which is a response to the rapid shifting of the Earth’s systems. The four-part goal of the Gaian philosophy is to:

  1. Build a community of those who believe Gaia is sacred and that there is no calling higher than protecting and restoring Gaia,
  2. Provide ways to stop the horrors that we are unleashing on the planet, ourselves, and countless other species,
  3. Offer means to prepare–oneself, one’s families, and one’s communities–for the difficult and possibly terrible changes coming, and
  4. Find ways to draw others away from the Earth-consuming dominant cultures and toward a Gaian culture.

You can check it out at Gaianism.org. He has monthly calls that you can join. Just go to the site and enter your email for updates. (Incidentally, Erik’s newsletter inspired me to start my own.)

Mike Rezl (Collapse Wiki)

I met Mike though Michael Dowd (above) and I am looking forward to talking to him more soon. Mike is the curator of the Collapse Wiki. He is now looking to create a new resource addressing the individual, psychological, and existential implications of collapse, how we might live in response to this awareness, and strategies for coping with it. He’s tentatively calling this the “Post Collapse Wiki.” I’m hoping to be able to assist MIke in some way in this important work.


Current projects

Grief Groups

Later this month, I’ll be holding my first Climate Grief Groups. It is one ironies of climate activism that, in fighting for a more sustainable way of life, we often pursue our activism in a totally unsustainable way. Grief therapist Holly Truhlar writes that the environmental movement has failed to offer spaces where we can talk about our pain and loss, and until we do we are never going to be in right relationship with nature, with ourselves, or with each other. This purpose of this group is to create such a space, with the belief that facing these feelings honestly will lead to more appropriate and effective action. Here we strive to follow the ironic advice of Bayo Akomolafe who writes, “The times are urgent—Let’s slow down.”

The Climate Grief Group of Northwest Indiana is part of the Good Grief Network and is inspired by the work on Deep Adaptation by Jem Bendell. We’re meeting in real life, not online. (I’m increasingly convinced of the importance, in these times, of meeting in the flesh.) I’m holding two different groups, in different parts of the county, to increase accessibility, but the groups are limited to six people, which is (according to what I’ve read) around the maximum number you can have in a group and still have genuine intimacy.

I”ll let you know in the next newsletter how it goes.

“Not Extinction Rebellion, But Extinction Reconciliation”

If you missed my most recent essay, you can check it out here.

“Yes, we must continue to rebel against the structures of power which have brought us to the brink of near-term extinction. At the same time, we must prepare for ‘inevitable collapse, probable catastrophe and possible extinction-. We can prepare by practicing Resilience, Relinquishment, Restoration, and–above all–Reconciliation.”

— John Halstead, “Not Extinction Rebellion, But Extinction Reconciliation”

Deep Adaptation Forum

I just was accepted into the Deep Adaptation Forum–Professions Network. But I haven’t figured out the best way to participate yet.


Forthcoming Writing

I have several essays in the works. They’ll all be shared here if/when I finish them.

“Why I Quit Protesting and Started a Garden”

This one is coming out in a couple of days (if I finish it) at ABeautifulResistance.org. It’s about why I left 350.org and XR and started looking for smaller, more concrete projects to dedicate myself to, like the Grief Groups (above) and … my garden. And I try to make the case that “some gardens are really attacks”.

“Post-Doom for Pre-Doomers”

This will be a short piece about how folks with a post-doom/deep adaptation awareness can approach people in the various stages of denial/grief.

“We Are Not Rational–And That’s OK: The Gnostic Temptation in Climate Activism”

That’s a working title. I’m playing around with the idea of the “gnostic temptation” in religion, my own personal history with a kind of gnosticism, the non-rational nature of the human psyche (elucidated by Paul Kingsnorth), and the over-emphasis on left-brain cognition in climate activism.

“What Pirates Taught Me About Anarchism”

This will be an introduction to anarchism for non-anarchists. It will be informed by Gabriel Kuhn’s Life Under the Jolly Roger: Reflections on Golden Age Piracy and (because I get so much inspiration from popular culture) the semi-historical TV series Black Sails. It will probably also rely heavily on James Scott’s Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States, which helped me understand what civilization really means. (I don’t think you can understand anarchism without understanding civilization.)

“Why Our Legal System Will Not Save the Planet”

This will be spin off from an online course I taught recently about the legal system and systems thinking. It will also build on my essay, “Do Trees Have Rights? Toward an Ecological Politics”. Our legal system is grounded in certain assumptions about individual rights and property, which make addressing the environmental problems almost impossible. What is needed is a legal model informed by systems thinking. A good introduction to this idea (and the text I used for my class) is The Ecology of Law: Toward a Legal System in Tune with Nature and Community by Fritjof Capra and Ugo Mattei. In light of the recent demise of the Youth Climate Case, I think I may move this essay up the order of priority.

“Virgin Earth: Purity Culture in Mainstream Environmentalism”

Another working title. I’ve also been kicking some ideas about the intersection of patriarchal purity culture and the popular notion of nature being “untouched” by humans.


What I’m Reading

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C. A. Fletcher

A friend turned me on to this novel. The blurb says that fans of The Girl With All the Gifts will enjoy this. I loved that books and I’m enjoying this one too. The plot is just what the title suggests. The world has come to an end because of some unknown factor which reduces human fertility rates to almost zero. There’s apparently a big reveal at some point … so, please, no spoilers.

Savage Gods by Paul Kingsnorth

Paul Kingsnorth was the co-founder of the Dark Mountain Project. He withdrew from mainstream environmental activism and retreated to a plot of land in Ireland. His book of essays, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist, has been keeping me sane for the last six months. Savage Gods is something else. It’s very different from his other non-fiction. (I haven’t read his fiction yet.) In this book, he wrestles with the limitations of language in a way that only a lover of words (like me) can really appreciate. I keep having to put the book down every few pages to process it.

Other Books on My Pile

I’ve still got bookmarks in several other books that I started, before getting distracted by something else, including A Language Older Than Words by Derrick Jensen and The Ecotechnic Future: Envisioning a Post-Peak World by John Michael Greer.


If you’d like to connect with me or send me recommendations for websites, articles, or books to check out, just email me at anotherendispossible@gmail.org.

Published by John Halstead

John Halstead is the author of Another End of the World is Possible, in which he explores what it would really mean for our relationship with the natural world if we were to admit that we are doomed. John is a native of the southern Laurentian bioregion and lives in Northwest Indiana, near Chicago. He is a co-founder of 350 Indiana-Calumet, which (until recently) worked to organize resistance to the fossil fuel industry in the Region. John was the principal facilitator of “A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment.” He strives to live up to the challenge posed by the Statement through his writing and activism. John has written for numerous online platforms, including Patheos, Huffington Post, PrayWithYourFeet.org, and Gods & Radicals. He is Editor-at-Large of HumanisticPaganism.com. John also edited the anthology, Godless Paganism: Voices of Non-Theistic Pagans and authored Neo-Paganism: Historical Inspiration & Contemporary Creativity. He is also a Shaper of the Earthseed community, more about which can be found at GodisChange.org.

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