kairos (kī¦räs, ancient greek): a period of transformation that is both a great challenge and a fleeting moment of opportunity
Kairos is a forum for imaginative debate about the social and cultural consequences of the climate and nature crises, an incubator of radical new ideas and an alternative members club. At Kairos, all discussion begins with the assumption that humanity is entering a period of radical transformation.
EVENTS COMING UP: WITTGENSTEIN, CO-FREEDOM & THE POLITICS OF ECOLOGY with RUPERT READ, Thursday March 30th;
REVOLUTION: INEVITABLE, JUSTIFIED AND EFFECTIVE with ROGER HALLAM, Wednesday April 5th; THE RIGHTS OF NATURE with CÉSAR RODRÍGUEZ-GARAVITO, Wednesday April 12th. More details of upcoming and past events on our events page.
About Kairos (kī¦räs)
We are about to enter a period of rapid social and cultural change as a consequence of climate and ecological breakdown. From the structure of our global food system to our political institutions, the relationship between individuals and their communities, and even the stories we tell about what it means to be human, everything is heading into flux.
Yet mainstream intellectual discourse is failing to embrace the new reality.
We need to take an imaginative leap, to step outside our long-held certainties and think again.
The ancient Greeks had a word for this time, Kairos: a period of rapid transformation which is both a great challenge and a fleeting moment of opportunity.
Kairos opened in October 2022 on Holborn Viaduct in Central London. It is a physical space in which to explore, understand, design and prepare for the transformations to come, a platform for talks and debates, seminars, arts and entertainment open to the public and an unconventional members’ club where those engaged in constructing this new world-view can find support and friendship. At all our events it is taken as given that profound change is coming whether we’re ready or not.
Kairos has a global perspective. Drawing on London’s position as an international research centre it is a hub for thinkers and doers from around the world, particularly the Global South.
“It’s time to change the course of human history.
We appear to be heading into what the ancient Greeks called Kairos,
a window of opportunity, when our capacity for change is put to the test.” (David Wengrow, Co-author ‘The Dawn Of Everything’)
What to expect at Kairos
- The level of intelligent yet accessible debate of The Frontline Club
- The charm of The Academy Club
- The subversiveness of a 17th century coffee house
- The counter-cultural energy of Nigeria’s Mbari club
- The global connectedness of the Rotary Club
Many events and activities at Kairos are open to the public. Entry is affordable. We will be expanding our schedule to include.
- Talks, panel debates and experimental formats
- Film screenings and art shows
- Book launches and discussions
- Comedy nights and other entertainment
- Short courses and other educational events
As we develop we will also be holding additional events for members and their guests.
- Regular bar nights
- A supper club
- Invited-entry workshops and seminars
- A library and book share
“The incubation of radical new ideas is a very distinct process with certain conditions:Gal Beckerman, “The Quiet Before”
a tight space, lots of heat, passionate whispering and a degree of freedom to argue
and work toward a common, focused aim.”
Some of the people we hope to platform
UK: David Wengrow, archaeologist, Professor of Comparative Archaeology at UCL; Justin Kenrick, anthropologist, Senior Policy Advisor at Forest Peoples Programme; Jason Hickel, economic anthropologist, Professor at the Autonomous University in Barcelona, and Visiting Senior Fellow at the LSE; Kate Raworth, economist, author of Doughnut Economics: Carmody Grey, theologian, Assistant Professor of Catholic Theology at Durham University; Adam Elliot-Cooper, social scientist, Researcher at Greenwich University; Peter Hetherington, journalist, Author of “Land Renewed”; Graeme Hayes, sociologist, Reader in Political Sociology at Aston University; Oliver Bullough, journalist, Author of “Butler to the World”; Danny Miller, anthropologist, Professor of Anthropology, UCL; George Monbiot, journalist, author of “Regenesis”; David Olusoga, historian, Professor of Public History, University of Manchester; Nafeez Ahmed, journalist, Special Investigations and Global Trends Reporter at Byline Times, Director of Global Research at RethinkX; Matthew Green, journalist, Global Investigations Editor at deSmog; Nika Dubrovsky, artist and author, founder of Anthropology for Kids; Brian Cathcart, journalist, and media campaigner, co-founder of Hacked Off; Carolyn Steel, architect and writer, Author of “Sitopia: How Food Can Save the World”; Nick Anim, activist, Director of Transition Town Brixton; Alex Thompson, journalist, Chief Correspondent at Channel 4 News; Tim Benton, Director, Environment and Society Programme at Chatham House; Aled Jones, Director of the Global Sustainability Institute at Cambridge University; Tara Garnett, academic researcher, leader of the “Table” project in the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University; Clive Lewis, politician, Labour MP and Shadow Minister for Sustainable Economics; Nick Turner, teacher, co-founder Shift-Ed; Owen Sheers, author, Professor of Creativity at Swansea University and co-founder Black Mountains College; Caroline Hickman, psychotherapist, Lecturer at the University of Bath and Board Member of the Climate Psychology Alliance; Jem Bendell, social change strategist, Professor of Sustainability Leadership at the University of Cumbria and Founder of the Deep Adaptation Forum; Wolfgang Blau, former media executive, Co-Founder of Oxford Climate Journalism Network; Michael Pawlyn, architect, Author of “Biomimicry in Architecture” and “Flourish”; Caroline Lucas, politician, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion; Lucinda Rogers, illustrator, Planning Campaigner with Just Space; Roman Krznaric, public philosopher, Author of “The Good Ancestor”; Carne Ross, former diplomat, Founder of Independent Diplomat; Jamie Kelsey Fry, activist and participatory democracy advocate, Core Team Member with the Global Assembly; Farhana Yamin, international lawyer and activist, Associate Fellow at Chatham House; Jonathan Rowson, philosopher, Co-Founder and Director of Perspectiva; Tim Crosland, lawyer and legal campaigner, Director of Plan B; Jojo Mehta, legal campaigner, Director of Stop Ecocide International; Matthew Taylor, journalist, Environment Correspondent for the Guardian; Sally Weintrobe, psychoanalyst, Chair of the International Psychoanalytic Association’s Climate Committee; David King, scientist, former Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Government; Rob Hopkins, writer and activist, Founder of Transition Towns; James Thornton, lawyer, CEO of Client Earth; Sophie Howe, political advisor, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales; Vinay Gupta, technologist and entrepreneur, Founder of Mattereum; Isabella Tree, writer and conservationist, Co-creater of Knepp Wildland and Editor of “Granta 153: Second Nature”; Margaret Heffernan, writer and entrepreneur, Professor of Practice, University of Bath School of Management; Rupert Read, writer and researcher, Reader in Philosophy, University of East Anglia; Peter Sutoris, environmental anthropologist, Assistant Professor at the University of York; Paul Kingsnorth, writer, Co-Founder of Dark Mountain Project, Founder of the Wyrd School and Author of “Beast”; Elliot Higgins, investigative journalist, Founder of Bellingcat; Sandra Newman, writer, Author of “The Men”; Aaron Thierry, ecologist and activist, Graduate Student at The Cardiff School of Social Sciences; Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, chef and campaigner, Founder of the River Cottage and the Landshare scheme; Steve Westlake, social psychologist, PhD Researcher at Cardiff University; Mark Rylance, actor and campaigner; A.C. Grayling, philosopher, Master of the New College of the Humanities at Oxford and Author of “For the Good of the World’; Edward Saperia, technologist, Director of Newspeak House; Alastair McIntosh, writer, activist, land reformer, Founder of GalGael; Charlie Gardener, scientist, Researcher at the University of Kent. INTERNATIONAL: Emmanuel Cappellin, filmmaker, Director of “Once You Know”, France; Noam Chomsky, linguist, philosopher and social critic, USA; Margaret Atwood, writer, Author of “Oryx and Crake” and “Burning Questions”; Anasuya Sengupta, poet, Co-founder of Whose Knowledge?, India; Naomi Oreskes, Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University and author of “Merchants of Doubt”; Naomi Klein, writer and activist, Author of “This Changes Everything”, Canada; Amitav Ghosh, writer, Author of “The Great Derangement”, India; Arundhati Roy, writer, India; Andreas Malm, human ecologist, Associate Professor of Human Ecology at Lund University; Peter Godfrey-Smith, philosopher, writer, Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Sydney, Australia; Ian Haney-Lopez, political scientist, Professor of Public Law at the University of California, Berkeley, USA; Carsten Jenson, novelist, Denmark; Bill McKibben, writer and activist, USA; Saleemul Huq, scientist, Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development, Bangladesh; Daniel Christian Wahl, systems designer, Spain; Brendan DeMelle, writer and researcher, Executive Editor of DeSmog, USA; Adam McKay, film-maker, Director of “Don’t Look Up”, USA; Srdja Popovic, activist, co-founder of Otpor, Serbia; Kim Stanley Robinson, writer, Author of “Ministry for the Future”, USA; Vanessa Nakate, activist, Founder Youth for Future Africa, Uganda; Jonathan Franzen, writer, Author of “The End of the End of the Earth”, USA; Rutger Bergman, historian and writer, Author of “Human Kind: A Hopeful History”, Netherlands; Pablo Servigne, writer and collapsologist, Author of “How Everything Can Collapse” and “Another End of the World is Possible”, France; David Wallace Wells, writer, Author of “The Uninhabitable Earth”, USA; Mark and Paul Engler, writers, Co-Authors of “This is an Uprising”; Mary Robinson, politician, Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Founder of the Mary Robinson Foundation, Ireland; Richard R Wilk, anthropologist, Professor Emeritus at Indiana University, USA; Timothy Snyder, historian, Professor of History at Yale University and Author of “On Tyranny”, USA; Charles Eisenstein, writer, Author of “Climate – A New Story”, USA; Yuval Noah Harari, historian, Professor at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Paccha Turner Chuji, artists and activist, Ecuadorian Amazon; Julia Steinberger, scientist, Professor of Ecological Economics at the University of Lausanne.
Some of the questions we’ll be asking
Human societies have been through periods of rapid change before – what can we learn from them about how to navigate the transformations to come?; What would an alternative economic system look like that was based on human values and put people and planet first?; With the effects of climate change set to disproportionately affect those nations who have done least to cause it, what would be fair compensation for the low lying island nations and other states in the Global South?; How can we understand the epic failure of the media to communicate the crises? How are the “rules” of journalism failing us? Can we get vested interests out of our press, or do we need to start again?; Is the drive towards authoritarianism across the globe a response to imminent climate breakdown and the start of civilisation collapse?; How can neurology and psychology explain our collective failure to act? Do we believe we aren’t worth saving? Or does blame lie with the hard-wiring of our brains?; As resources (land, energy, food, commodities) become scarcer, can the notion of the commons help us rethink how to share?; How can we drive a shift away from seeing ourselves as consumers towards understanding ourselves as citizens?; How can we halt and reverse the increasing concentration of power in the agricultural system? How do we re-introduce complexity into a dangerously simplified system? How can we reduce the land we use for agriculture and still feed everyone?; Why do we allow 0.01% of the population to cause 2000 times more pollution than the average world citizen? Is it possible to act on climate without first putting a cap on wealth and solving the corrupt money problem?; How does intentional social change come about? What tools are there to help us map the levers of influence and learn how to apply pressure?; How can we build an anti-racist climate coalition to counter the forces that divide us?; As we seek to build more resilient communities, do we need to rethink the relationship between individual freedom and social responsibility? What would we lose and what would we stand to gain?; Which technologies are exacerbating the problem, which are simply distracting fantasies and which offer vital solutions for the future?; Have we created a political system in which only psychopaths can rise to the top? How can we find and nurture better leaders?; How will future generations identify and hold accountable those impeding action today? What do we need to put in place now to record culpability and ensure justice is done?; What are the particular risks for women of social breakdown and how to reduce them? Women are also key to mitigation and adaptation, so how to empower them?; How do we identify and counter the disinformation that is corrupting debate? How do we discover and expose who is behind it? What lessons can we learn from our adversaries about messaging and how can we apply them for the good?; Would a rapid retreat from the fossil fuel economy worsen the cost of living crisis or help to alleviate it? How can we support the most vulnerable through the transition?; Why as individuals do we find it so hard to break the rules of our system, even though we know it is killing us?; How can the Global South mitigate and adapt while still shackled by debt to the North? Do we need a debt jubilee and how would it work?; Is the short term thinking that got us into this mess a human problem or a male one? How might things change from here on in if women took control?; What questions should we be asking about what constitutes a good life and how might they help us respond to the crisis? How do we start reflecting again on what it means to be human?; How different would mainstream analysis of the shifting global order look if it took into account imminent climate breakdown and the threat of social collapse? With the military in the business of risk assessment, what do their predictions tell us about the dangers ahead and what difference geopolitical arrangement will make? Have our existing international organisations proved they can’t solve the crisis and if so what needs to take their place?; What lessons can we learn from the English revolution about our present moment and the role of grassroots social movements in bringing about lasting change?; What is the art world for and why is it failing to speak to us at a time of existential crisis? Has art ever tried to communicate the essence of human life or has it always been in service to the privileged few?; How is democracy falling short and how to reboot or redesign it? Anarchism, citizens’ assemblies, neighbourhood parliaments – how can we rethink our politics?; What kinds of social re-organisation could help us live better together and how does our current physical infrastructure help and hinder? How should architecture and planning be responding, both in terms of mitigation and adaptation? How can we radically up the ante so buildings are not just sustainable but regenerative?; If human civilisation is heading for collapse, what do we want to keep and what are we happy to let go?; Is the obsession with celebrity in our culture inherently problematic, or a useful tool to accelerate change?; How is speciesism causing the nature crisis? Where did our sense of superiority over the rest of nature come from and how do we challenge it? How do we stop viewing other species as commodities to be used, and start treating them as fellow sentient beings to be respected?; What skills should we be teaching today’s children to prepare them for the years ahead? What will they need to know in order to navigate the future? What jobs will be needed and how can we create them?; How can we redefine our relationship to the future? How do we build long-term thinking into our politics? Should we give children the right to vote?; What new forms of climate activism might emerge as the crisis worsens? Are we likely to see an escalation into sabotage, violence and even terrorism?; Why have modern western societies fetishized the material expression of status to such an extent that it threatens our existence? Is consumption inherently wrong or are commodities as much about love as hedonism?; How can we use the legal system to remove the social licence from companies damaging the planet, as well as exert legal pressure?; If the climate crisis is as much a failure of imagination as a failure of leadership, how can we tell new stories that help us to think differently?; With the many competing demands on our land set to increase drastically, how do we balance them? Do we need to rethink land ownership?
Membership is open to anyone living with the understanding that we are entering a period of rapid social change who wants to explore what that might look like in the presence of others similarly aware. Membership is affordable, with people under 30 and from the Global South able to join for free. To enquire about membership, email email@example.com
We have a start-up grant from Open Society Foundations, but in order to keep events affordable, and to develop the project, we need to raise some additional funds. If you’d like to support us you can donate via our Chuffed crowdfunder or email zoe@Kairos.London.
Who we are
Zoë Blackler is Kairos’s founder and director. She is a journalist, editor and climate activist. Her journalism has been published by The London Review of Books, The Guardian and The New York Times among others. She has an MSc in Social Anthropology from University College London.
Olivia Lacey is our administrator. She is an events organiser and cook, and has worked on numerous events and festivals including Port Elliot, IMS Prussia Cove, Curious Arts and the Realisation Festival. She also runs the supper club The Feast of Reason.
Charlie Waterhouse, our designer, is the founder and creative director of award-winning identity specialists This Ain’t Rock’n’Roll, a director of The Brixton Project, and a director of the Brixton Pound, the world’s first local currency in a major city.
Kairos Counter-Club CIC (company number 14215769) is a not-for profit community interest company registered with the UK’s Companies House.
Our advisory panel
Lisa Appignanesi, former Deputy Director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts and visiting director at King’s College London
Tom Brookes, CEO of Global Strategic Climate Communications
Madeleine Bunting, writer and former Guardian columnist
Margaret Heffernan, entrepreneur, CEO and business writer
Vivek Kumar, Executive Director of legal charity Justice Base and consultant with the Department for Culture Media and Sport
Joy Lo Dico, journalist with the Financial Times and founder of Trouble Club
Andrew Riddington, Independent financial and commercial advisor, specialising in community interest companies
Ed Saperia, Director of Newspeak House
Get in touch
For all general enquiries email hello@Kairos.London