Past Events at Kairos

Friday June 14th

Book Club: “God, Human, Animal, Machine” by Meghan O’Gieblyn​

This month we’re reading God, Human, Animal, Machine: Technology, Metaphor and the Search for Meaning by Meghan O’Gieblyn.

Publishers description: “For most of human history the world was a magical and enchanted place ruled by forces beyond our understanding. The rise of science and Descartes’s division of mind from world made materialism our ruling paradigm, in the process asking whether our own consciousness—i.e., souls—might be illusions. Now the inexorable rise of technology, with artificial intelligences that surpass our comprehension and control, and the spread of digital metaphors for self-understanding, the core questions of existence—identity, knowledge, the very nature and purpose of life itself—urgently require rethinking.

Meghan O’Gieblyn tackles this challenge with philosophical rigor, intellectual reach, essayistic verve, refreshing originality, and an ironic sense of contradiction. She draws deeply and sometimes humorously from her own personal experience as a formerly religious believer still haunted by questions of faith, and she serves as the best possible guide to navigating the territory we are all entering.”

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Tuesday June 11th

Imagining Futures with Sandra Newman

As part of our series on fiction and imagination, US-based writer Sandra Newman was in the UK and at Kairos to discuss how stories can transform the world.

Drawing on her own novels – The Men, an exploration of male power and environmental destruction, and The Heavens, a study of utopia and dystopia – Sandra talked about whether the stories we tell can determine what will happen in reality, and how we can use imagination to enable a different world.

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Saturday June 8th

Facing the Unthinkable with Stephen Markley

As part of our series on fiction and the imagination, Stephen Markley, American journalist and fiction writer, and author of The Deluge” talked about the role of fiction in helping us face the unthinkable.

Talk with discussion, tea and vegan cake.

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Thursday June 6th

Voluntary Human Extinction is Not the Answer with Ben Ware

In his latest book, On Extinction: Beginning Again at the End, philosopher and social theorist Ben Ware explores what it might mean – in our current moment of crisis and catastrophe – to re-think our sense of what it is to be human.

For this talk, Ben focused on anti-natalism: the idea that the human species is morally obligated to bring about its own extinction by refusing to procreate. In the ecological variant of this position, voluntary human extinction is considered necessary in order to protect nature.

Ben examined the rich intellectual history of the anti-natalist position, before going on to make a number of philosophical and psychoanalytic criticisms of it. He put forward an alternative vision to what he sees as the specific Western pathology of species shame, arguing that our aim should not be simply to avert the worst, but rather to collectively re-find ourselves in the midst of catastrophe itself.

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Wednesday June 5th

The Fossil States of the Earth with Mohamed Amer Meziane

Philosopher Mohamed Amer Meziane, assistant professor at Brown University, was in London and at Kairos to discuss his recently translated book The States of the Earth: An Ecological and Racial History of Secularization and his notion of the Secularocene.

By weaving unprecedented links between secularization, colonization and ecological catastrophe, Mohamed Amer Meziane lays the foundations of a work that is likely to open up radically new, and perhaps even revolutionary, horizons of thought.” Hors-série

Mohamed also discussed his latest thinking – a critique of the Western climate movement’s embrace of animism.

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Tuesday June 4th

Open Projects Night

Following the success of our first event, we held our second Open Projects Night, where we learnt about each others projects, built connections and offered each other support.

Open Projects Night is for: Anyone with a radical idea they’d like to share and workshop. Anyone setting up or running a small Kairos-aligned project who needs support. Anyone with skills and experience they’d like to share. Anyone who would like to help grow our interconnectedness.

The evening included a series of short interactive presentations and a one-pot vegan supper that we ate together.

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Thursday May 23rd

Women & the Climate Emergency with Natasha Walter & Trudi Warner

We often hear that women suffer more at times of climate disaster and that women are more active than men in environmental movements. Why is this, and how can we ensure a safer, more equal future for women and the planet?

In this small, facilitated group discussion we talked about whether being a woman in a patriarchal world influences our relationship to the environment; about women’s role in the current climate movement; our hopes for climate justice; the opportunities and challenges in building solidarity with other women; and other issues that arose.

This event was for women, trans women and nonbinary people. We limited numbers in order to encourage open and meaningful discussion.

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Tuesday May 21st

A State-Driven Energy Transition with Brett Christophers

In his most recent book, The Price is Wrong, Brett Christophers argues that the current reliance on capitalist markets to lead the transition out of fossil fuels is wrong-headed and destined to fail.

In this talk, Brett, Professor of Economic Geography at Uppsala University, Sweden, explored the arguments in his book and set out an alternative vision, for what immediate, large-scale government intervention could look like. He also discussed the relationship between the control of fossil fuel power and geo-political power, and the role of grassroots-led renewable energy projects.

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Thursday May 16th

What Happens Next? with George Marshall

How will we really respond as the climate breaks down?

By mid-century, climate impacts will be severe and unrelenting and we will need to cope with this trauma combined with the cultural processing of blame and responsibility. Government and business policy, IPCC scenarios and Integrated Assessment Models are predicated on the assumption that our responses to climate breakdown will be coherent and rational.

George Marshall – co-founder of Climate Outreach and author of Don’t Even Think About It: Why our Brains are Wired to Ignore Climate Change – disagrees. George shared research drawing on sociology, psychology and history, as well as work with academics from across disciplines to explore different possible responses. These range from collaboration, innovation, adaptive coping, opportunist competition, through denial, distraction, blame and scapegoating.

He also shared his own fieldwork on ways to create a cross societal mandate for climate action and explore the possibility that we may discover something entirely new about humanity and our future direction.

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Tuesday May 14th

Both/And: The Climate Majority Project & the Radical Flank

For the first in a new series exploring the common ground between two apparently differing positions, we focused on UK climate activism.

What are the points of disagreement between the moderate and radical wings of the movement and how can they be overcome or navigated in order to build solidarity?

With Rupert Read (the Climate Majority Project), Sarah Lunnon (Just Stop Oil) Clare Farrell (the Humanity Project) Jessica Townsend (MP Watch) Daze Aghaji (Hard Art), Mary Gee (XR) Laurie Laybourn and Simon Bramwell.

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Saturday May 11th

Day Walk across Knepp Wildland

The Knepp Wildland is a 3,500 acre rewilding project in Sussex, now 20 years old. Formerly conventional farmland, the Kneppe estate is now a dynamic ecosystem, home to endangered species such as nightingales, turtle doves and purple emperor butterflies as well as herds of old English longhorn cattle, Tamworth pigs, Exmoor ponies and red and fallow deer.

Join us for a walk across the Knepp estate led by Helen Locke of XR Walkers.

We’ll take a manageable 6.5 mile route along the public footpaths (a total of about three hours walking) with breaks to observe the wildlife and detours to visit the various treehouses and the bird hide, to spot stork nests and for views across the estate. We’ll also take a break for lunch.

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Thursday May 9th

Finding Existential Hope with SJ Beard

In the last two decades it has become increasingly common to hear about existential risk, the possibility that humanity may be heading for extinction or global collapse. This risk is very real and deserves to be taken seriously, but risk is only one way that we can look at future possibilities.

SJ Beard explored what happens when we shift our focus and think about the same problems in terms of ‘existential hope’, the possibility that humanity may be the first species in the history of our planet not only able to contemplate the possibility of our annihilation but to shape our own future to avoid it.

They argued that focusing on the opportunities of existential hope, rather than the anxieties of existential risk, can help us change our own relationship with the many global problems we face; calling our attention to what actually needs to change and how we can all seek our own way of making that happen.

Building existential hope is not something we can do over night, but is a long-term process, building on many generations of dreamers, engineers, and activists who have taught us how to explore speculative futures, identify and respond to complex hazards, build cooperation and consensus across boundaries, and work together to achieve our collective aims.

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Thursday May 2nd

The Joys (& Tribulations) of Being Animal with Melanie Challenger

For thousands of years, humans have pondered their nature and what follows from it. Despite all the diverse human cultures and origin myths, one idea has prevailed: humans are made of two parts, a spiritual and an animal part.

Through this idea, we have shaped a world in which being animal is often seen as threatening, even debasing, whereas being human is viewed as uniquely precious, and morally and spiritually elevating. Even today, when we face a world in which we are the agent of environmental change and destruction, the idea of being animal remains contentious or morally confounding.

In this talk, Melanie Challenger, non-fiction writer and author of How To Be Animal, asked what might a world look like in which we took a different view of our animality? How would our ideas and our democracies shift if we took seriously the possibility that we live in a world of rich beings who should be respected and included? And how would the idea of our own animal nature get us there?

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Thursday April 25th

Education for Culture Change with Artemis Bear

What would the education system have to look like for it to move us to a culture that is functionally able to address climate breakdown? If we accept that capitalism is the central driver of climate breakdown we cannot continue to overlook school as the backbone of global capitalism.

Artemis D Bear worked in climate change policy in a previous life but left because they found it frustratingly ineffective, given not only the scale but also the depth of the issue. They came to understand that we can’t begin to address the environmental devastation wrought by this system of governance until we create a less adversarial and hierarchical culture.

Eight years ago they started a Self-Directed Learning Community called The Garden, which was the first of its kind in the UK. They also now work for Phoenix Education running the Freedom to Learn programme, supporting a network of over thirty SDLCs.

With this talk and interactive workshop, they showed not only a roadmap to a different education system but also to a different system of governance and a society that could both mitigate and adapt to climate change.

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Thursday April 18th

The Law as a Tool for Radical Change with Jolyon Maugham

The law is fundamentally conservative. And yet, approached creatively, it can nonetheless be used to achieve radical outcomes.

Barrister Jolyon Maugham KC is founder of Good Law Project and author of Bringing Down Goliath: How Good Law Can Topple the Powerful. Since 2016, GLP has been challenging the government through the courts on Brexit, political appointments, the PPE fast track, its net zero commitments and its clampdown on protest.

Jolyon argued that rather than attempt to change the law to achieve radical social change, it’s far quicker and more effective to work within the law as it stands, and that by engaging with the legal system, citizens can begin to find their agency. He explored the difference between a legal win and victory in the broader sense, and why many within the legal profession view him as a heretic.

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Thursday April 11th

A New Media System To Heal Our Collective Trauma with Matthew Green

The limits of legacy media are well-known: News agendas framed by those with the most money and power; a failure to reckon with the depths of the climate and ecological emergency; and a focus on business as usual at the expense of solutions emerging at the margins, to name a few. Rather than helping heal our collective trauma, much of the media makes it worse.

What if there’s another way? How might we build a media system to heal our collective trauma?

Journalist Matthew Green held a collaborative session informed by his study of the principles of healing individual, collective and inter-generational trauma to imagine what a new media system might look like – one capable of rising to the demands of the moment.

How can we harness emerging insights from the marriage of psychology, neurobiology, and ancient wisdom traditions to design the newsrooms of the future – capable of both documenting the role of collective trauma in fuelling global crises, and supporting collective healing? Is there an emerging new archetype of the “journalist as healer”? And what new practices can help us come together in community to relate to the news in a way that supports connection and collective intelligence — rather than burnout and overwhelm?

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Wednesday April 10th

Book Club: “The Fifth Season” by N.K. Jemisin

“The Fifth Season” is the first novel in N. K. Jemisin‘s science fantasy trilogy series, “Broken Earth”, which won the Hugo Award in 2016.

“A bravura example of literary world-building and rich, rounded characterisation, the opening instalment of The Broken Earth trilogy conjures up an immersive post-apocalyptic dystopia for the ages.” – Waterstones

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Tuesday April 9th

Open Projects Night

At our first Open Projects Night, we learned about each others projects, built connections and offered each other support.

The evening was for: Anyone with a radical idea they wanted to share. Anyone setting up or running a small Kairos-aligned project in need of support. Anyone with skills and experience they wanted to share. Anyone wanting to help grow our interconnectedness.

The evening included a series of short interactive presentations followed by the chance to ask questions, a one-pot vegan supper and a discussion about how to follow up and build on this initial event.

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Thursday April 4th

What About China? with Songqiao Yao & Faye

How can traditional Chinese wisdom and practice help us rethink our place in the world? What role could contemporary China have in making the radical shifts we need?

Chinese activists Songqiao Yao and Faye Lu have spent the last decade working with environmental organisations, youth groups and local communities in China. They shared their reflections on the need for new narratives that take into account both China’s ancient past and recent history. They then led a conversation into the alternative perspective that the Chinese experience could offer the global environmental movement.

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Tuesday March 26th & Wednesday March 27th

Drop-In Hours Pilot

With more and more people getting in touch to request use of our space, we tested out how regular drop-in hours might work. The invitation was for groups to meet and discuss books or radical ideas or embryonic projects or for anyone who wanted to come and read in our library, play some chess or join whatever conversations developed. (This wasn’t an offer of space for co-working or work meetings, or for anything involving a laptop, phone or other device or that might fall into the category business as usual.)

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Tuesday March 26th & Wednesday March 27th

Drop-In Hours Pilot

With more and more people getting in touch to request use of our space, we tested out how regular drop-in hours might work. The invitation was for groups to meet and discuss books or radical ideas or embryonic projects or for anyone who wanted to come and read in our library, play some chess or join whatever conversations developed. (This wasn’t an offer of space for co-working or work meetings, or for anything involving a laptop, phone or other device or that might fall into the category business as usual.)

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Thursday March 21st

Preparing for Crisis: Why Communities Must Take Control

Serious times are coming down the track and yet the government’s efforts on adaptation to climate change are ramshackle and the picture across the 42 Local Resilience Forums is of dust gathering. We can see from Covid, Grenfell and other serious events that communities themselves are the first responders.

As we move into the age of climate impacts we need a truly “civil” contingencies infrastructure, which works with the local power and efficacy we saw during the pandemic. To begin debate about what this should look like and how it should be done, The New Weather Institute and The Cadence Roundtable will set out the case for communities taking control of their own contingency plans.

Join us for a presentation of the ideas in the new booklet Unprepared: The Case for Community Control of Civil Contingency Plans”, followed by a climate preparedness workshop.

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Tuesday March 19th

A Life-Ennobling Economy & How to Get There with Indy Johar

Indy Johar, architect, and co-founder of Dark Matter Labs, set out his vision for a new economy, in which life is front and centre.

Such a paradigm shift would replace control-based theories and practices of organising the world around us – whether collective or individual – and emphasize the growth of agency, a learning-driven orchestration, and relationality, all deeply anchored in systemic care.

It would see us move beyond the traditional notions of dominion, including property ownership, labour, and the dominance established through contracts and transactions – especially those involving asymmetrical power dynamics.

This fundamental transformation offers a systemic answer to climate breakdown and other catastrophic symptoms of our civilisation.

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Thursday March 14th

A Sustainable Revolution with Sophie Scott-Brown

Taking part in an activist movement can be an education in freedom. Too often, however, tensions within movements overwhelm them before they can realise their potential. Many activists expect too much from a movement and are disappointed when it falls short. There are always tensions around what it takes to organise events and how these should connect to a central programme and to the movement’s ultimate goals.

All this should be considered a valuable learning experience, and yet too often it’s labelled as failure. When this is the case, activists become despondent, they drift, perhaps even swing the other way. How do we stop this?

Sophie Scott-Brown, intellectual historian and author of Colin Ward and the Art of Everyday Anarchy (2022), argued that we need to democratise our ideas of revolution for democracy. Firstly, we should stop thinking in terms of a head-on collision with power – this only ever results in one tyrant taking over from another. Secondly, we should stop believing revolutions can be systematic – it will work in patches which will always ebb and flow. Thirdly, we must give up the notion that revolutions have a definite end – if they end, they fail. Finally, we need to accept that a democratic revolution will not agree with itself – real democracy, by definition, must argue itself into existence.

With this in mind, we can think more clearly about the kind of social education activism can give us. Drawing on the history of the Direct Action Committee (1949-1961), she showed how the committee came to see cultivating activists as its most important and transformative revolutionary act, and suggested which of its ideas have most relevance to social movements today.

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Tuesday March 12th

Climate Breakdown & Generational Justice with Kennedy Mbeva

How should we rethink our responsibility toward future generations? What effect will demographic changes have on future populations’ experience of climate breakdown?

Today, we find ourselves at a critical juncture, faced with the immediate and uneven impacts of climate breakdown alongside significant shifts in global populations. These intertwined challenges demand a new way of thinking about our responsibility to both present and future generations.

Kennedy Mbeva, researcher at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge, and author of forthcoming book, Rebirth: Demographic Change and Societal Collapse, argued it’s time to move beyond seeing future generations as a distant concern and instead recognise how climate breakdown will affect them all in diverse ways.

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Tuesday March 5th

Facing the Climate Emergency with Margaret Klein Salamon

Living through the Climate Crisis and the Anthropocene Extinction presents us with overwhelming realities to grapple with. It’s normal to feel a wide range of emotions, from anger and fear to grief and sadness. Most of us don’t focus on those feelings most of the time. We get up, wash our faces, check tasks off our to-do list, brush our teeth, and climb into bed. We answer emails and queue at the supermarket. We participate in a society that rolls forward as if everything has stayed the same.

This is the life we’re all living, while we read reports about 2023 smashing records as the hottest year on record and how 33% of species currently classified as “non-threatened” on the IUCN Red List are actually spiraling toward extinction. Living with this awareness can feel isolating and confusing, but this experience is more communal than we realise.

Dr. Margaret Klein Salamon, US-based clinical psychologist turned climate activist, founder of Climate Awakening and Executive Director of Climate Emergency Fund, was visiting the UK and at Kairos to present the second edition of her book, Facing the Climate Emergency: How to Transform Yourself with Climate Truth.  A powerful resource for processing climate emotions, Facing the Climate Emergency offers psychological guidance and inspiring historical context to help readers process climate grief and move into action.

During the first half of the evening, Margaret talked us through, and answered questions about, the five steps explored in the book: 1. Facing Climate Truth; 2. Welcoming Fear, Grief, and Other Painful Feelings; 3 Reimagining Your Life Story; 4. Entering Emergency Mode; and 5. Joining the Movement and Disrupting Normalcy. We then had a break for a one-pot vegan supper that we all ate together, followed by facilitated grief circles.

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Friday March 1st

Club Drinks

Our regular drinks evening. BYOB, pizza and games.

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Thursday February 29th

Leap Year Storytelling with Toby Litt

The celebrate 2024 being a leap year and the extra day we held a Leap Year Storytelling Evening.

We shared stories about time – warped time, time travel, lost moments, parallel time, missed opportunities and second chances. People brought stories and poems to share, their own and other peoples, or just come and listen.

Writer Toby Litt, Associate Professor in Creative Writing at the University of Southampton, member of Writers Rebel and author of A Writer’s DiaryPatience and Adventures in Capitalism, read from his own work, including a poem he wrote for the event.

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Tuesday February 27th

Sewing Club: Machine Skills

We held the regular monthly meeting of our sewing club, under the expert guidance of Anouchka Grose. Anouchka demonstrated sewing machine skills, as well as giving general advice on whatever people were working on. No previous sewing experience is required to join sewing club. Expert sewers working on your own projects also extremely welcome.

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Friday February 23rd

Book Club: “The Overstory” by Richard Powers

At February’s Book Club we talked about Richard Powers’ novel The Overstory, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2019.

(Publisher’s description): “Richard Powers’ twelfth novel is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of—and paean to—the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, The Overstory unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. There is a world alongside ours—vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us.

“This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.”

Thursday February 15th

Effective Resistance and the Role of Sabotage with Simon Bramwell

How might sabotage fit within an effective strategy of resistance built on solidarity?

Simon Bramwell, co-founder of the Rising Up Network and Extinction Rebellion, talked about the history of ecotage, Andreas Malm’s recent advocation of sabotage in his book “How to Blow up a Pipeline”, other approaches to the role of sabotage in strategies for civil resistance today, and the ethical questions surrounding it.

Long-time Greenpeace activist Frank Hewetson also contributed to the discussion with reference to a number of actions including Brent Spar in the 1990s, the Sizewell B actions of the early 2000s and the Boulder campaigns of the last few years.

This event ran along side Queen Mary University’s conference How (Not) to Blow Up an Observatory

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Tuesday February 13th

Screening of “Night Moves”

Ahead of our discussion on Thursday February 15th, Effective Resistance & The Role of Sabotage, we screened Night Moves (1hr 52mins).

Kelly Reichardt’s 2013 feature tells the story of three activists who blow up a dam and the devastating fallout from their action. Starring Jessie Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard.

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Thursday February 8th

Rethinking “Survival of the Fittest”: From Competition to Cooperation with Buzz Baum

Conventional wisdom holds that much of nature’s beauty has arisen as the result of relentless competition between selfish actors through a process we call Darwinian evolution. In this view of things, “selection” weeds out the ugly, weak and the inefficient. This idea has long been used to justify untrammelled free-market capitalism as a route to progress. While the spread of this type of economic model yielded enormous benefits for society in the 20th century, lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, our planet has been profoundly changed in the process in ways that threaten the natural world and our way of life. Furthermore, it has recently become clear that this is also a poor way of describing the mechanism of biological evolution itself.

In this talk, Buzz Baum, a group leader at the MRC’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, put this right. He showed that evolution involves more than “selfish genes”. In fact, just as the Capitalist market-place strips systems bare, relentless selection in nature can have the same effect – by paring down the bodies of parasites so that they can feed more efficiently on their hosts. Conversely, much of the complexity and beauty we admire in nature arises when selection fails. Meanwhile many of the key transitions in the history of life on earth, including innovations that led to our own evolution, depended on the cooperation of organisms rather than their competition.

As became clear in images taken by the crew of the Apollo 8 mission as they encircled the Moon, the Earth has a fragile beauty of its own that emerges from the complex webs of interactions that bind organisms together into ecosystems that span the globe. Now that human activity is threatening to up-end this balance, a fuller understanding of the evolutionary history of life on Earth can inspire new ways of thinking about our interactions with one another and with other organisms, so that we can find ways to survive and thrive on this beautiful living planet, together.

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Friday February 2nd

Club Drinks

We got together at 84 Tottenham Court Road for our regular drinks evening – with BYOB and pizza.

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Wednesday January 31st

Lunchtime Video: Jack Halberstam on An Aesthetics of Collapse

In this talk (delivered at the University of Nebraska in October 2021) Jack Halberstam, Professor of Gender Studies and English at Columbia University, argues that before we can begin to imagine any sort of utopian future, we must first go through a process of “unworlding” to dismantle the current power structures.

He explores works of art that embrace collapse rather than fight against it – Ursula Le Guin’s anarchist novel The Dispossessed, Rachel Whiteread’s sculpture House and NK Jemisin’s science fiction trilogy Broken EarthThe Piers, African American photographer Alvin Baltrop’s study of the ruined piers of 1970s New York and the erotic encounters that took place there, created an aesthetic of collapse and a challenge to mainstream, heteronormative, capitalist culture.

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Tuesday January 30th

Anarchism and its Lessons for Now with Ruth Kinna

If our current form of government is incapable of acting on the many challenges we face, what can anarchism teach us about how to self-organise and take the reins?

Ruth Kinna, professor of political theory at Loughborough University and author of The Government of No One: The Theory and Practice of Anarchism, set out the basic principles of anarchism. She discussed anarchy as “order” and why, according to anarchists, our existing political arrangements are fatally ‘disordered’ and perpetuate exploitation – of humans, non-humans and the planet.

She explained how anarchism offers a different way to organise, how ideas about anarchy could translate into practice, and what organisations designed to support non-dominating relationships without permanent fixed authority (a key principle of anarchism), need to do to survive and thrive.

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Friday January 26th

Kairos Book Club: “The Madonna Secret” by Sophie Strand

Sophie Strand is an American poet and writer with a focus on the history of religion and the intersection of spirituality, storytelling, and ecology. In The Madonna Secret, she retells the story of Jesus through the eyes of Mary Magdalene.

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Thursday January 25th

Ending the Jobs Fetish: Work, Commoning and Leisure with Guy Standing

For thousands of years, most people did their utmost to be out of labour, out of jobs. But for the past two centuries, being in jobs has been put on a pedestal. Karl Marx described jobs as “alienated activity”. In reality, for most people a job means being in a position of subordination. The tragedy is that labourists have reduced work to labour.

We now have a wonderful opportunity to rescue work from labour and to revive the idea of commoning and the related idea of leisure as distinct from recreation and consumption. In the process, we need to escape from the fetish of GDP growth, with its ecological neglect, and boost the work, commoning and leisure that most people value and want. This is the desirable “future of work”

Guy Standing is Professorial Research Associate at SOAS University of London, a founding member and honorary co-president of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), and author of The Precariat, Plunder of the Commons and The Blue Commons. In this talk, his second at Kairos, he drew on the ideas in his latest book The Politics of Time: Gaining Control in an Age of Uncertainty.

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Wednesday January 24th

Lunchtime Video: Amitav Ghosh on The Nutmeg’s Curse

As part of our Wednesday lunchtime video series we screened a talk by writer Amitav Ghosh. In this lecture, delivered at Georgetown University in 2023, he presents the geopolitics of the 17th century nutmeg trade as an example of Western colonialism’s violent exploitation of human life and the natural environment. It is also a parable for our contemporary crisis, with its roots in a mechanistic view of the earth, where nature exists only as a resource for humans to use for our own ends, rather than a force of its own, full of agency and meaning.

The talk is based on the ideas in his 2021 book The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis – a sharp critique of Western society and an exploration of the ways in which human history is shaped by non-human forces. His previous non-fiction book The Great Derangement charts the cultural depictions, history and politics of climate change and its relationship to colonialism.

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Thursday January 18th

The Meaning of Revolution in the 21st Century with Roger Hallam

In Roger Hallam’s first talk for Kairos in April 2023, he argued that whatever you think about revolutions they are now inevitable, given the overwhelming evidence that existing political regimes are unable to reduce emissions quickly enough to prevent climate breakdown.

This breakdown will create a “fiscal crisis of the state” – it will run out of money – and regimes will fall. The key question then is whether these developments lead to fascism or some form of progressive revolutionary change in politics and society.

In this second talk, Roger took a step back to ask what are we actually aiming to do. What does it mean to create a successful nonviolent and progressive revolution today? Based on his last decade of research into how to create social change, and his practical experience of initiating many of the biggest civil resistance projects around the western world, he came up with a surprising answer.

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Wednesday January 17th

Lunchtime Video: Jenny Odell on A Life Beyond the Clock

Every Wednesday in January, we’ll be showing recorded lectures at lunchtime in our ground floor space. Kairos will then be open all afternoon for anyone who would like to stay on and read in our library. (Please no laptops or other devices.)

In this talk (delivered in March 2023 for the Long Now Foundation), Jenny Odell, artist, writer and author of ‘Saving Time’, explores the different types of time we inhabit – including industrial, ecological and geological time and the time of one’s own mortality – and shows the irreconcilability between modern artificially-constructed time pressures and engagement with planetary-scale crisis.

Citing examples found on a route around the San Francisco Bay area, she shows how time and history have made the material and cultural world we live in, and that by extension what we do now is historical. Of ‘Saving Time’ she says: “This book is my sincere attempt to recover an appetite for the future, as someone who lives squeezed between daily time scarcity, climate despair and the knowledge of their own mortality. It’s my panoramic assault on Nihilism.”

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Monday January 15th

Screening of “The Troublemaker”

Ahead of Roger Hallam’s talk on Thursday January 18th, we screened documentary profile “The Troublemaker” (2020, 57mins) directed by Sasha Snow.

The film follows Roger’s journey from organic farmer to academic expert on radical protest movements and co-founder of Extinction Rebellion. Since November 2018, his ideas and strategic thinking have helped to inspire thousands of ordinary people to non-violent civil disobedience and mass arrest. It also features Sylvia Dell, a retired IT worker and mother of four from Totnes in South Devon who says she is not a ‘climate activist’ just an ‘ordinary’, sensible, peace loving citizen, doing what she thinks is right.

The Troublemaker includes an extended section on the 2019 Heathrow Pause action for which both Roger and Sylvia were recently convicted of conspiracy to create public nuisance. They are awaiting sentencing in February.

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Thursday January 11th

Screening of “The Seeds of Vandana Shiva”

“All of us who care about the future of Planet Earth must be grateful to Vandana Shiva. Her voice is powerful, and she is not afraid to tackle those corporate giants that are polluting, degrading and ultimately destroying the natural world.” – Jane Goodall, UN Messenger of Peace

“The Seeds of Vandana Shiva” (2021, 1hr 22) tells the story of Indian activist Vandana Shiva and her battle against agricultural giant Monsanto. The documentary charts her life story from disillusioned atomic scientist to international figure, and her fight to prevent the commercialisation of life and reestablish seed as part of humanity’s shared common wealth.

The screening was followed by supper and discussion guided by Ella Thorold, a writer and communicator specialising in food systems and policy.

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Wednesday January 10th

Lunchtime Video: James Bridle on Planetary Intelligence

For this first video lecture of the new year we screened a talk by James Bridle, writer, artist, technologist and author of Ways of Being.

In this talk (delivered as part of Media Evolution’s 2022 Conference), James argues that understanding forms of intelligence that are different to our own – from the “Artificial Intelligence” of super-computers, to the subtle differences we see in some primates, and the alien intelligence possessed by octopuses, plants and slime mould – can challenge our own limited world-view and help us to rethink our place in the world.

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Friday January 5th

Club Drinks

We had our first drinks evening of the new year at 84 Tottenham Court Road – with BYOB, pizza and darts.

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Kairos, 84 Tottenham Court Road, London W1T 4TG