Past Events at Kairos

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. 

Thursday December 21st

Winter Solstice Celebration

A party to mark the passing of the longest night, with an appearance from Kairos’ own Sibyl of Cumae and other diversions.

“The Cumaean Sibyl lived in her cave near Naples. People would come to her with questions about their fate, and she would write the answers on oak leaves. There would be a pile of oak leaves at the front of her cave and people would come to get their answers. But inevitably there would be a wind which blew the leaves around – so you never knew if you were getting your fate or somebody else’s fate.”

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Thursday December 14th

The Liberal “Guardrails” Against Radical Climate Action with Chris Shaw

A majority of climate scientists agree that building an effective response to climate change requires us to abandon the obsession with economic growth. At the same time, as Mark Fisher and others have noted, it feels impossible to even imagine a coherent alternative to capitalism.

Chris Shaw, until recently Head of Research at Climate Outreach, has identified five “guardrails” within mainstream discourse that constrain our imaginations and prevent the emergence of radical political ideas that might challenge the status quo:

1. Climate change is not a challenge to individualism;
2. There is only one dangerous limit, 1.5 degrees;
3. Climate change can be resolved within existing relations of production;
4. Technology can fix it; and
5. All we need do to avert social conflict is to find new stories.

In this talk, Chris, author of Liberalism and the Challenge of Climate Change, will analyse how these five guardrails are deployed by our dominant institutions – politicians, NGOs and strategic communications experts. And how, instead of accurately representing the risks we face, they present images and narratives of life in 2050 and beyond that depict a world much the same as today, with some minor adjustments for climate impact.

Without a shared understanding of the true extent of those risks, it will not be possible for societies to organise effective responses. As a first step, we must dismantle the liberal fantasies of our 2050 future if we are to have any chance of creating credible, just, and inclusive visions of how we might cope with what is now upon us.

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Tuesday December 12th

Alternative Communities of Care with Lynne Segal

With climate breakdown set to increase the pressure on our already fragmented social networks, we need to learn how to care for one another outside the mechanisms of the state.

As we think about how to build radical, alternative communities of care, there are earlier experiments we can learn from. Long before wide-spread knowledge of global heating, or the surge in green politics, those involved in the feminist movement were already exploring ideas of mutual aid and anti-consumerism.

Lynne Segal, feminist thinker, activist and author most recently of Lean on Me: A Politics of Radical Care, will present some of the lessons from that time and how they might help us today. 

When Lynne moved to London in the early 1970s with her infant son, her Islington home became a shared living space for three single mothers, and an early feminist stronghold, where they attempted to establish new ways of living and caring for each other. As well as warding off the isolation and marginalisation of single motherhood, it also provided a focus for community activity and feminist politics. 

Drawing on that experience, Lynne will explore what a radically transformed approach to interdependence could look like in response to our everyday vulnerabilities of motherhood, disability and ageing. She will argue that education is key to creating a more caring, egalitarian world, and discuss the hope that comes from building caring collectives and radical friendships. Now more than ever, we need to learn how to share our resources and whatever joys we find in the process.

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Tuesday December 5th

Screening of “The Village of Lovers”

“Community is not just a sentimental dream of young people, but the next stage of human evolution. The people of the future will live in community.” – Dieter Duhm

“The Village of Lovers” (Re/Culture Films, 1hr 14m, 2023) is a new documentary about Tamera, a radical social experiment in Southern Portugal. The community of Tamera originated in Germany and grew out of the “free love” movements of the 1960s and 1970s. But unlike others experimenting at the time, the Tamerans realised that to create a truly alternative social model, they had to do more than simply react against the dominant system.

Based on the ideas of co-founder psychoanalyst Dieter Duhm, and other influences including physicist David Bohm, Tamera emphasised trust – especially in the most intimate areas of human life – as core to long-standing cultural and political change.

Forty years on, with 150 permanent members, Tamera is also a research and education centre. With its vision of a new planetary culture of “healing biotopes” it may provide a regenerative model for a post-capitalist society, rooted in reconnection to life.

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Friday December 1st

Kairos Book Club: “Combining” by Nora Bateson

The second collection of essays, reflections, poems and artwork by Nora Bateson, the noted research designer, film-maker, and president of the International Bateson Institute (IBI).

“Combining” is an embodiment of her recent work on Warm Data and offers a radical ecological approach to many of the key issues of our time: climate change, political upheaval, education, health, food and relationships.

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Tuesday November 28th

A Small Farm Future with Chris Smaje

Like it or not, the prospect is for a future with lower energy and therefore a less urbanized world. This will probably require more localised agricultures more closely keyed to local needs for food and fibre, within the limitations of the local ecological base.

In this talk, farmer and social scientist Chris Smaje outlined what these localised agricultures might look like, ecologically and socially. He then discussed the political issues likely to arise in getting from the present to that future – particularly conflicts over access to land and state-civil society relationships.

He argued that to make the best of this, it’s necessary to jettison most modern politics (liberal, socialist, nationalist etc) and look to more subterranean political traditions like agrarian populism, civic republicanism and distributism to inspire the emerging small farm future.

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Friday November 24th

Club Night: HSBC9 Celebration, Fundraiser & Games

Our regular drinks night at 84 Tottenham Court Road, with cocktails, pizza and vinyl on the turntable (BYOV).

We also celebrated the unanimous acquittal of the HSBC9 – and the acquittal in October of those prosecuted for XR’s Fire Engine action – with money we made on the bar going to support other climate activists, including the growing number being sent to prison.

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Tuesday November 14th

Sewing Club: Clothes Alterations

For the second meeting of our sewing club, under the expert guidance of Anouchka Grose, we looked at clothes alterations: mending, adjusting and upcycling.

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Thursday November 16th

Kairos with the Frontline Club: The Assault on Protest Rights in the Courts

Panel discussion with protest lawyer Raj Chada, Guardian journalist Sandra Laville and activist Cathy Eastburn, chaired by former environment specialist at the BBC, Roger Harrabin.

The government is taking an increasingly punitive approach to climate protesters, and so are our courts.

The Policing Act (2022) and the Public Order Act (2023) both introduced new offences and harsher punishments that significantly curtail the right to protest. Private injunctions by government agencies have been used to bypass the criminal courts and impose prison sentences on protestors for non-custodial criminal offences.

In the Crown Courts, following a pattern of surprise acquittals by juries, judges have forbidden defendants from referring to climate change to explain their motivation to jurors, and imprisoning those who defy the ban.

In protest, last March 68 year-old Trudi Warner stood outside Inner London Crown Court with a sign stating that jurors have a right to acquit a defendant according to their conscience – a legal principle established over 300 years ago and enshrined in a plaque at the Old Bailey.

Trudi is now being prosecuted for contempt of court. If found guilty, she could be sentenced for up to two years. Over 200 people who displayed similar signs outside courts across the country could be prosecuted for perverting the course of justice.

Does this assault on protest rights in the courts signal a broader erosion of our political freedoms? Are ancient jury rights under threat? And what can we do about it?

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Wednesday November 15th

Lunchtime Video: Guy Standing on a new Commons Charter

For the first in a new series of recorded lunchtime lectures, we screened a talk by economist Guy Standing about his 2019 book, Plunder of the Commons: A Manifesto for Sharing Public Wealth.

In this video, Guy explores the history of the Commons (our land, air, health service, schooling, information etc) including the now-forgotten Charter of the Forest. He charts the erosion of our shared common wealth through enclosure, privitisation and financialisation by the rentier class and large corporations, and presents a vision for a new Commons Charter to restore what’s been lost.

Everyone was then invited to take part in our collective art project, Visioning the Commons, inspired by Guy‘s Kairos talk in June (and piloted at Green Gathering festival in August), and to share with us, in words or drawings, what they’d like to see returned to the Commons. Paper, pens and paint provided.

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Tuesday November 14th

Finding Words to Describe this Moment We’re In & Why it Matters with Jonathan Rowson

Does it matter which words we use to describe our global predicament? Anyone who lived through ‘Take Back Control!’ in the UK or ‘Make America Great Again!’ in the USA knows that words shape reality. Strategic language of this sort is a kind of landscape gardening of civic and cultural space, and the aesthetic changes what we see, where we can move, and what’s allowed to grow.

Many feel it’s ‘the action’ that counts, but language is arguably our primary tool in taking social action of any kind. Are terms like crisis and emergency ‘just words’ then, and interchangeable? Or might it be worth our while to reflect more deeply on what we are trying to convey and choose words accordingly?

For instance, how do we speak of climate collapse in a way that reflects the relevance of climate to almost everything, while not reducing everything to climate at a time when there are related but also separate challenges relating to technology, culture, economy, and democracy?

Jonathan Rowson, philosopher and co-founder and director of Perspectiva, argued that while it might seem ridiculous to wonder whether what we are contending with is a polycrisis, a permacrisis, a metacrisis, or not a crisis at all, this might actually be a critical part of the work we are called upon to do today.

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Thursday November 8th

Lessons from Ecuador, World Leader in Rights of Nature with Paul Powlesland

Ecuador, where the Andes meets the Amazon, is one of the most biodiverse countries on earth. It also has the most developed laws and jurisprudence on Rights of Nature anywhere in the world. This incredibly rich nature, and the advanced laws protecting it, directly conflict with an extractivist agenda seeking to raise revenue through oil drilling, mining and farming, regardless of its destruction to trees, rivers and the Amazon ecosystem.

Paul Powlesland is a barrister, founder of Lawyers for Nature and a leading campaigner for the Rights of Nature in the UK. He travelled to Ecuador to research what environmental protections and strong Rights of Nature laws mean in practice. He witnessed cause for sadness and grief, with oil spills and illegal gold mining in the Amazon. He found cause for hope in agroforestry and reforestation projects. He got to visit communities that successfully protected their forests and rivers by invoking the Rights of Nature provisions in the Ecuadorian constitution. Most importantly, he got to meet, for the first time, a river and forest that were the subject of legal rights!

In this talk, Paul showed the stunning beauty of Ecuadorian nature and the threats it faces and explained why and how we should support the work of Ecuadorian Indigenous peoples and activists doing all they can to save it. He also asked what lessons we can draw in the UK from the successful implementation of Rights of Nature in Ecuador.

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Tuesday November 7th

Imagination Activism for Systemic Shifts with Phoebe Tickell

This current moment demands an overhaul in how we see the world, decide what is important and design everything, from our organisations to our supply chains, our cities and our infrastructure. We need to grow greater courage and “Moral Imagination” to do the unthinkable and seemingly impossible, and to chart paths into unfamiliar (but not ‘new’) territories.

“Imagination Activism” is a radical and rigorous approach to practice and strengthen shifts in perception, to move from dreams to action, to create positive change and to chart bold, ambitious futures. It’s a new kind of activism powered by imagination to see the world differently and the skills to turn bold vision into action.

Rather than fighting the old, it orientates to the new. At the heart of Imagination Activism is Moral Imagination – the ability to look at things as if they could – and should – be otherwise. By changing the way we see the world, we can create new possibilities and new actions that serve all people, the planet, and the coming future generations.

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Friday November 3rd

Club Night & Launch of “Visioning the Commons”

The bar was open, serving cocktails & pizza, and it was BYOV (bring your own vinyl) to play on our new (to us) digital turntable.

We also launched our collective art project Visioning The Commons, which we piloted at Green Gathering in the Summer, inspired by Guy Standing‘s Kairos talk in June.

The Commons is our shared common wealth, they belong to everyone in society and to everyone equally. They include the natural commons – the land, rivers, sea and air – and the social, civil, cultural and knowledge commons – schooling, care, data, our dreams and desires.

And yet our commons have been systematically depleted through encroachment, enclosure, privatisation, commodification and financialisation. This erosion has accelerated in the past forty years with neo-liberalism, and ratcheted up in the period of austerity.

To have any chance of navigating the interconnected crises of climate, nature and governance, we need a shared vision for our common wealth. We need to revive our Commons.

People were invited to share, in words or drawings, what they wanted see included in the Commons.

Club Drinks was the start of a new series of Kairos members’ socials.

If you’re interested in membership please email membership@Kairos.London.

Friday October 27th

Kairos Book Club: “Everyday Utopia” by Kristen Ghodsee

The traditional ‘nuclear’ family home is a problem: it places unfair and unnecessary burdens on women (and men too), it entrenches inequalities, it entraps us financially and it hinders certain kinds of child development. Also, it doesn’t seem to make us very happy.

And yet throughout history and around the world today, forward-thinking communities have pioneered alternative ways of living – from the all-female ‘beguinages’ of medieval Belgium to the matriarchal ecovillages of contemporary Colombia; from the ancient Greek commune founded by Pythagoras, where men and women lived as equals and shared property, to present-day Connecticut, where new laws make it easier for extra ‘alloparents’ to help raise children not their own. Some of these experiments burned brightly and briefly; others are living proof of what is possible.

Everyday Utopia upends our assumptions and raises our sights by gathering these and many more inspiring examples together, arguing that many of the most important and effective ways of changing our lives and the world are to be found in the home. The result is a radically hopeful and practical vision of more connected – and contented – ways of living.

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Thursday October 26th

The Meat Paradox by Rob Percival

As the ecological emergency has escalated, the consumption of meat, dairy and animal foods has fallen under the spotlight. Should we all go vegan? Are organic and regenerative farming the answer? And why is the ‘meat debate’ so polarised and so heated?

Rob Percival, author of The Meat Paradox: Eating, Empathy and the Future of Meattalked about the evolutionary roots of our conflicted relationship with the animals we consume. Journeying from the Palaeolithic, through the Arctic and Amazon, onto modern day farms and slaughterhouses, he traced a thread of dissonant emotions, rooted in the conflict between our empathy and our eating.

Rob argued that the roots of our modern omnivorous malaise run deep. If we want to re-orient our destructive diets and relationship with the animal world, we need to understand what sort of animal we are; the events that led to our becoming the most peculiar of creatures: a predator inclined to empathise with its prey.

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Tuesday October 24th

Sewing Club: Moth Hole Repairs & Visible Mends

This was the first meeting of our new sewing club where we’ll be altering and repairing our cloths and taking on other sewing projects.

In this first session, hosted by Anouchka Grose, we learnt how to fix moth holes and explored other visible mending, including the Japanese art of Shashiko.

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Friday October 20th

Screening of “To Hell With Culture”

Ruth Kinna who was originally scheduled to speak on this date was unwell. At her suggestion, we instead screened “To Hell With Culture” (director Huw Wahl, 2014, 56mins) about the life and work of Sir Herbert Read.

Herbert Read, (1893-1968), was an influential art critic, poet and anarchist. In his 1943 essay, “To Hell With Culture”, Read laid out his ideas for a civilisation based on cooperation in which culture would no longer be a commodity, separated from society, but an integral part of everyday life.

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Thursday October 19th

Screening of “Spaceship Earth” with Michael Hrebeniak & Gessie Houghton

Documentary film Spaceship Earth (2020, 1hr 53mins) tells the story of Biosphere 2, a 1991 experiment in which eight people spent two years quarantined inside a replica of Earth’s ecosystem.

For decades ridiculed as a disaster, director Matt Wolf reframes the experiment as a modest success. The strange story is both a cautionary tale and a hopeful lesson of how a small group of dreamers might reimagine the world.

The screening was followed by supper and discussion led by Michael Hrebeniak, founder and co-convenor of the New School of the Anthropocene, and Gessie Houghton, director of the October Gallery, secretary to the Institute of Ecotechnics and authority on the Biosphere 2 project.

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Friday October 13th

David Graeber and the Pirate Enlightenment with Chris Haughton and Nika Dubrovsky

In the first of our series exploring the work of the late anthropologist David Graeber, in collaboration with the David Graeber Institute, we looked at his final posthumous book Pirate Enlightenment, or the Real Libertalia“.

Pirates have long lived in the realm of romance and fantasy, symbolising risk, lawlessness, and radical visions of freedom. But at the root of this mythology is a rich history of pirate societies—vibrant, imaginative experiments in self-governance and alternative social formations at the edges of the European empire.

In graduate school, David Graeber conducted ethnographic field research in Madagascar for his doctoral thesis on the island’s politics and history of slavery and magic. During this time, he encountered the Zana-Malata, an ethnic group of mixed descendants of the many pirates who settled on the island at the beginning of the eighteenth century.

“Pirate Enlightenment, or the Real Libertalia”, is the outgrowth of this early research and the culmination of ideas that he developed in his classic, bestselling works “Debt” and “The Dawn of Everything” (written with the archaeologist David Wengrow). In this lively, incisive exploration, Graeber considers how the protodemocratic, even libertarian practices of the Zana-Malata came to shape the Enlightenment project defined for too long as distinctly European.

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Tuesday October 10th

What Next for the Climate Movements? with Gail Bradbrook

Extinction Rebellion co-founder Gail Bradbrook set out her vision for the future of the climate movements.

In this talk she discussed:
– the nature of the problem – human beings and our anti-life systems;
– how we might move towards life-based systems and the lessons for social movements; and
– a theory of change and draft framework for organising around unified, glocally-linked people’s power.

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Thursday October 5th

Screening of “Carnage” by Simon Amstell

We screened “Carnage: Swallowing the Past”, a rare opportunity to see comedian Simon Amstell’s hilarious mockumentary (2017, 68mins).

It’s 2067 and the UK is vegan, but older generations are suffering the guilt of their carnivorous past. In the world’s first vegan comedy, writer and director Simon Amstell asks us to forgive them for the horrors of what they swallowed.

Tuesday October 3rd

New Season Launch: Before the Light Fades with Natasha Walter

These are dark and challenging times for all of us who care about our planet and our society. How do we continue to stay politically and personally active?

Writer Natasha Walter’s latest book, Before the Light Fades, takes as its starting point her time of personal and political despair after her mother’s death by suicide. In the book she draws strength from her family’s legacy of political activism, in the 1960s nuclear disarmament movement and in 1930s Germany in the anti-Nazi resistance.

Natasha launched our new season with this talk focusing on her own family stories. She also invited us to share insights on how we continue to do what we think is right, even in the knowledge that we may not succeed. Without false optimism, how can we ensure that we do not succumb to despair? What legacies from the past should we honour? How do we sustain our own communities of resistance in these dark times?

Friday September 29th

Kairos Book Club: “A Psalm for the Wild-Built” by Becky Chambers

We talked about Becky Chambers’ 2021 novel “A Psalm for the Wild-Built”

It’s been centuries since the robots of Panga gained self-awareness and laid down their tools; centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again; centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend.

One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honour the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of ‘what do people need?’ is answered. But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how. They’re going to need to ask it a lot.

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Friday August 18th

Kairos Book Club: “The Parable of the Sower” by Octavia Butler

We talked about Octavia Butler’s 1993 novel Parable of the Sower.

California in the 2020s descends into anarchy and violence but one woman has the power to transform everything in this alarmingly prescient dystopia that takes in climate change, inequality and racism.

‘If there is one thing scarier than a dystopian novel about the future, it’s one written in the past that has already begun to come true. This is what makes Parable of the Sower even more impressive than it was when first published’ – Gloria Steinem

Thursday August 3rd to Sunday August 6th

Kairos at Green Gathering

Kairos popped up at Green Gathering, the off-grid festival on a beautiful site just outside the Welsh border town Chepstow.

During the daytime our marquee was a place to drink tea, chat, dip into our library and take part in a collaborative art project. On the Friday and Saturday evenings we hosted our usual salon-style talk events.

Friday August 4th
PLANETARITY: SOME TOOLS FOR THINKING ABOUT THE EARTH with TIM WATERMAN 

How can we replace the neo-liberal idea of “globalisation” with other ways of thinking about global connectedness and our place in the world? Tim Waterman, professor of landscape at the Bartlett and author of The Landscape of Utopia, presented some new tools to help us reimagine “planetarity”: earthliness, worldliness, and globality.

His talk took in maps and Utopia, colonialism and protest, enclosure and the commons, as well as the romantic and the poetic as different ways of thinking about the planetary.

It offered fresh insights for anyone trying to find alternative ways of conceiving, working with, caring for and “commoning” our Earth, while grappling with the predicament of climate and nature breakdown.

Saturday August 5th
ANARCHISM & 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? 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 explained how anarchism offers a different way to organise, how ideas about anarchism 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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Thursday July 27th

Wilderness and Belonging with Sicelo Mbatha

South African wilderness guide Sicelo Mbatha, otherwise known as Black Lion, has devoted his life to fostering deep connections between people and the more-than-human world.

With the organisation he founded, Umkhiwane Sacred Pathways, he guides people along “healing paths” through some of South Africa’s wildest areas, including the Imfolozi Wilderness, the Simangaliso Wetland and the Drakensberg mountains.

Born into the Zulu tradition, Sicelo believes this sort of immersion in landscape and nature can be transformative: it can help us connect to our own wildness, experience the spirit of collective humanity (or ubuntu) and help heal the wounds of environmental destruction and social injustice.

In this talk, focused on two stories, Sicelo explored how we might restore humanity’s sense of belonging within the natural world, what role indigenous ways of knowing have in the regeneration of our culture and our earth, and how a sense of kinship with all life could be fundamental to our survival.

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Tuesday July 25th

The Climate Crisis: Why Aren’t We Angrier? with Josh Cohen

Psychoanalyst, writer and academic Josh Cohen asked why the climate crisis doesn’t arouse more popular anger. Drawing on the psychoanalytic distinction between aggression (what psychoanalysis calls a drive) and anger (an emotion), he wondered whether the sense of the diffuseness and obscurity of the bad actors in the crisis has the effect of obstructing our aggression and so diluting our outrage.

Drawing on Paul Schrader’s 2017 film First Reformed as well as various writers and philosophers, he explored the forking paths of violent despair and love that might lead out of climate anger.

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Thursday July 20th

Navigating Collapse, Reclaiming Freedom with Jem Bendell

Monetary systems have driven us to harm each other and nature to such an extent that the foundations of our societies are broken. So much so, that the collapse of modern societies has already begun. That is the conclusion of two years of research by the interdisciplinary team behind Jem Bendell’s new book “Breaking Together”.

In this talk with discussion, Jem argued that to soften the fall and regenerate the natural world we have to reclaim our freedoms. He warned that panicking elites will respond with moves towards authoritarianism. But that we still can, and must, advance an ecolibertarian agenda for both politics and practical action in a broken world.

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Thursday July 6th

Essex Street Leaving Party

We said goodbye to our temporary home on Essex Street and thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of the previous few months.

Tuesday July 4th

Leaders & Intellectuals: From ‘Legislators’ to Catalysts of Democracy with Sophie Scott-Brown

Philosopher and intellectual historian Sophie Scott-Brown explored how the traditional roles of the intellectual and the educator need reinventing along with our democracy.

If, as cultural critic Raymond Williams argued, democracy is not merely an outcome but a process in which we must all take part, should we stop thinking of intellectuals as ‘legislators’ of democracy and rather as ‘catalysts’ or ‘organisers’ to inspire social engagement?

Drawing on the work of historical and contemporary thinkers Raphael Samuel, founder of the History Workshop movement, Colin Ward, the everyday anarchist, GDH Cole, the pluralist pedagogue, and bell hooks, the original transgressive teacher – she proposed five principles which underpin the art of the organiser and suggested a few practical ways these principles might be applied in different situations from activist/community groups to educational settings.

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Friday June 30th

Kairos Book Club: “The Radiant Lives of Animals” by Linda Hogan

We talked about indigenous writer and environmentalist Linda Hogan’s award winning collection of essays and poems exploring our relationship with the animal world.

Concerned that human lives and the natural world are too often defined by people who are separated from the land and its inhabitants, Chickasaw writer Linda Hogan depicts her own intense relationships with animals as an example we all can follow to heal our souls and reconnect with the spirit of the world.

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Tuesday June 27th

The Family: Is There a Better Way to Live Together? with Sarah Stein Lubrano

Modern society is structured around the family. Our legal system, our housing units and our social norms all prioritise the nuclear family unit: two people and their children. While for some the family is a source of great joy and support, much has been lost and even harmed by organising our relationships this way.

Political theorist and writer Sarah Stein Lubrano looked at arguments for extending, transforming, or abolishing the concept of the family. Might there be better ways of structuring our private and emotional lives? As we navigate the escalating crises of this century, how might we build alternative communities of care that aren’t based on biological kinship?

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Thursday June 22nd

Defashion: Dismantling the Fashion Industry with Sandra Niessen

Talk and discussion with Sandra Niessen, anthropologist and member of Fashion Act Now, about the challenge of both meeting our clothing needs and restoring the ‘collateral damage’ caused by Industrial Fashion.

It’s time to re-think the relationship between our clothing and the Fashion Industry. Clearly the latter no longer serves our needs. But coming to a better alternative means getting to the heart of what we want and need from our clothing. Activists, researchers, NGOs and others, are avidly trying to construct sustainable fashion systems, but indigenous cultural systems continue to be largely ignored. It’s time to shine a light on what they can offer to us — and why they need to be cherished — as we try to shape new alternatives.

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Friday June 16th

Cocktail Night with Veteran Prankster Andrew Boyd

Friday drinks featuring New York-based Andrew Boyd – veteran prankster, inventor of memes, co-founder of “subvertising” agency  Agit-Prop Communications, author of activist manual “Beautiful Trouble” and the recently released tragi-comic ” I Want A Better Catastrophe”.

Tuesday June 13th

Kinship with All Life: A New Paradigm for Leadership with Justine Huxley

Justine Huxley, co-founder of Kincentric Leadership, explored with us how indigenous wisdom and new scientific findings are paving the way for a radical new way to lead.

The indigenous worldview has long seen the more than human world as our kin, and this principle has shaped a way of life that allows all life to thrive. Today, Western leaders are increasingly looking to these world-views as they attempt to navigate the climate and nature crises, while science has made huge leaps in understanding of the umwelts (or distinct sensory realities) of different animals and plants.

Justine took us on a whistle-stop tour of these exciting new scientific findings that demonstrate the intelligence, interconnectedness and communication skills of the more than human world, and drew parallels with indigenous world-views.

We discussed examples of kincentric leadership in action and asked: what might this look like in our own communities or contexts? 

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Friday June 9th

Forging a Commons Charter…. & Acting On It with Guy Standing

The commons belong to everybody in society and to everybody equally. They include the natural commons – the land, rivers, sea and seabed, and the air we breathe – as well as the social, civil, cultural and educational commons.

And yet our commons have been systematically depleted, through encroachment (and neglect), enclosure, privatisation, commodification and financialisation. The erosion has accelerated in the past forty years since the neo-liberal economics revolution associated with Margaret Thatcher, and ratcheted up in the period of austerity.

In this talk and discussion, economist Guy Standing, author of Plunder of the Commons and The Blue Commons, will argue that we need a new progressive politics that demands a revision of the commons and compensation for their loss. We’ll also discuss one possible objective, a Commons Charter, and how such a manifesto for reviving common wealth might be achieved.

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Wednesday June 7th

Artful Activism & the Backbone Theory of Change with Bill Moyer

For two decades, Bill Moyer, musician, change agent and co-founder of the Backbone Campaign has been providing activists and organisers with innovative techniques for creative protest. Backbone’s tools for “artful activism” include the use of puppets, light projections, human murals, supersized banners and a collection of water-based tactics known as kayaktivism

Bill, who is based in Washington State, was visiting London and at Kairos to explain Backbone’s theory of change. Love Wins! And the Art of War combines lessons from past social movements and the performing arts with grand strategic principles that Bill has borrowed from his Pentagon analyst mentor and applied to nonviolent social movements. 

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Thursday June 1st

Time Beyond Cronos with Charlotte Du Cann

We live boxed in linear time, driven by perpetual deadlines. dragged down by the ‘nightmare of history’, haunted by a future of ecological loss and social breakdown. Modern technological lives go too fast to assimilate any kinds of knowledge, or ways of being, outside the 24/7 story of ‘progress’.

Charlotte Du Cann, writer, editor and co-director of the Dark Mountain Project helped us explore the deeper cycles of time – ancestral, mythic, Indigenous time – and the non-linear perception Kairos brings, to break free from Cronos’ tyrannical clock and calendar. How can we sit with this troubled present and connect with the wider cycles of time? How can we build a practice which enables us to compost the dark legacies of the past, and allow other possibilities to reveal themselves?

Wednesday May 24th

Screening of Iain McGilchrist Documentary “The Divided Brain”

The feature-length documentary “The Divided Brain” is a fascinating introduction to the ideas of philosopher and psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist. In his groundbreaking books, Master and His Emissary (2009) and The Matter with Things (2021), Iain McGilchrist explores the imbalance between the two sides of our brains, the increasing dominance of the task-focused left hemisphere over the context-focused right hemisphere, and the devastating effect this is having on our culture and on our relationship with the rest of the world.

The documentary screening was followed by a guided discussion on McGilchrist’s theory and its implications.

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Friday May 19th

Kairos Book Club: “The Dispossessed” by Ursula Le Guin

For the third meeting of our book club, we discussed science fiction classic “The Dispossessed”, Ursula K Le Guin’s much admired 1974 anarchist utopia.

Shevek is a brilliant scientist who is attempting to find a new theory of time – but there are those who are jealous of his work, and will do anything to block him. So he leaves his homeland, hoping to find a place of more liberty and tolerance. Initially feted, Shevek soon finds himself being used as a pawn in a deadly political game.

Wednesday May 10th

Climate, Technology, Justice & Rights: Can We Get The Whole World To Agree On Any Of Them? with AC Grayling

Philosopher AC Grayling talked about what it would take for individual governments to reach global agreement on climate and other challenges, and what will happen if they don’t. Followed by discussion.
Friday April 21st – Sunday April 23rd

Comic Book Soup: A Food-themed Weekend of Collaborative Visual Story-telling

A special Kairos event that unfolded over the weekend of April 21st-23rd. Guided by designer John Fass and writer Toby Litt, and inspired by Swedish folk tale Nail Soup, we came together to make a giant comic book to tell the story of people gathering ingredients to make a meal together.

We launched our story on Friday evening with cocktails and supper and continued all day Saturday. On the Sunday we pulled it all together in a workshop with Toby Litt. Musician Jessie Maryon Davies then helped us turn our story into a song and then we cooked together.

People dropped in for a few minutes or a couple of hours, shared stories, made drawings, wrote speech bubbles, or just came to chat, meet, drink and eat.

Pictures of our comic book will be on our Instagram page soon.

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Tuesday April 18th

The New Lucas Plan: A Workers-Led Transition

In the late 1970s, a group of workers at Lucas Aerospace, threatened by corporate restructure and mass redundancy, came up with their own plan to switch production away from weapons and into socially useful products. Today, the New Lucas Plan, an alliance of trade unionists, academics, and others, is developing a bottom-up, workers-led strategy for how to transition rapidly out of fossil fuel-based technologies.

Hilary Wainwright, sociologist, activist, author and co-editor of Red Pepper magazine, talked about the history of the original Lucas Plan and what needs to happen now to spread the principles of the New Lucas Plan. Followed by discussion.

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Monday April 17th

Screening of “How To Blow Up A Pipeline” with Rowan Tilly

A special preview screening of the feature film “How to Blow Up a Pipeline” directed by Daniel Goldhaber and based on the controversial book by Andreas Malm.

After the film, activist and nonviolence advocate Rowan Tilly led a discussion on the ethics and efficacy of sabotage. Is it intrinsically violent, or could some types of property damage still sit within the principles of nonviolence?

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Friday April 14th

Kairos Book Club: “We Are Nature Defending Itself” by Isabelle Fremaux and Jay Jordan

For the second meeting of our book club, we discussed Fremeaux and Jordan’s non-fiction account of the French protest camp the Zad (Zone to Defend). The book blends rich eyewitness descriptions with theory, inspired by a diverse array of approaches, from neo-animism to revolutionary biology, insurrectionary writings and radical art history.

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Tuesday April 11th

Screening of “Accidental Anarchist” with Güney Yildiz & Carne Ross in conversation

In the documentary “Accidental Anarchist(2017, 1h) former diplomat Carne Ross goes in search of an alternative to capitalist democracy. His quest takes in pre-Franco Spain, Occupy Wall Street, and the ideas of Noam Chomsky and Murray Bookchin, eventually leading him to the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), a decentralised, non-hierarchical governance structure that emerged from the Kurdish resistance movement.

Following the film, Carne was in conversation with specialist researcher, Güney Yildiz, who explained more about the theory behind AANES and what’s happening on the ground today.

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Monday April 10th

The Rights of Nature with César Rodríguez-Garavito

Colombian lawyer and New York University professor, César Rodríguez-Garavito, was passing through London and at Kairos to discuss his More Than Human Rights (MOTH) project, a global, interdisciplinary collaboration between prominent scientists, philosophers, lawyers, Indigenous leaders, advocates and journalists.

Questions he raised for discussion included: How do findings from the natural sciences, Indigenous knowledge, and other fields shed new light on the idea of the rights of nature? What types of non-human entities should be protected and what types of rights should they hold? How are social movements, policymakers, judges, and other actors challenging the current anthropocentric view of rights.

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Wednesday April 5th

Revolution: Inevitable, Justified and Effective with Roger Hallam

Extinction Rebellion co-founder and social movement theorist Roger Hallam was at Kairos to share his latest thinking. In this interactive talk, he argued that Revolution is 1. Inevitable (collapse is locked in), 2. Justified (the elites are to blame) and 3. Effective (only regime change will save what can still be saved).

Roger also described what nonviolent democratic revolution would look like as an alternative to the descent into various forms of fascism. 

Thursday March 30th

Wittgenstein, Co-freedom & The Politics of Ecology with Rupert Read

LISTEN TO THE TALK

Rupert Read, philosopher, environmental movement strategist and author of ‘Wittgenstein’s Liberatory Philosophy’’, argued that Wittgenstein is above all a philosopher of freedom – but that he sees freedom as utterly inextricable from our being together. Freedom is co-freedom, co-liberation. And all of this depends entirely upon a functioning ecosystem. Which in turns depends upon dispensing with fantasies of endless material and technological ‘progress’. Which takes us back to Wittgenstein, who, at root, was a critic of ‘progress’ much more than he was a philosopher of language.

Rupert explained how, as he sees things, Wittgenstein’s philosophy and an authentic politics/ethics of ecology and enlightenment are two sides of the same coin, providing valuable insights for activists, philosophers, devotees of Wittgenstein and those with only the vaguest idea of what he stood for.

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Wednesday March 22nd

Box Of Darkness: The Transformative Power Of Grief with Liz Jensen

“Someone I know once gave me a box of darkness.
It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.”
From The Uses of Sorrow, Mary Oliver

It’s human instinct to turn away from the things we fear most. But to shut out the pain of grief – past, present or anticipatory – is to miss an opportunity for radical growth and healing. Drawing parallels between personal grief and ecological grief, Liz Jensen – novelist, founder-member of XR Writers Rebel, and mother of the young activist Iggy Fox, who died suddenly in February 2020 – reflected on the importance of honouring our rawest and most disturbing feelings in order to find resilience, empowerment, and imaginative new ways to inhabit this unprecedented era. 

Tuesday March 21st

Protest Rights: A Benchmark For Political Freedom with Raj Chada

Solicitor Raj Chada, who has defended 100s of protestors (Extinction Rebellion’s Shell 7, the Colston 4, Insulate Britain, Just Stop Oil, among others) explored what the increasingly punitive approach being taken by the courts says about our broader political moment. He cited recent judgements preventing mention of the climate crisis as mitigation in jury trials, and the subsequent imprisonment of those who defy the ban, as well as the use of private injunctions by the government’s Highways Agency to bypass the criminal courts and impose prison sentences for non-custodial criminal offences. Does the tougher stance being taken by the courts reflect a wider intolerance of criticism by our current government, and how worried should we be? What can it reveal about the hidden values underpinning our criminal justice system? And what would it take for the judiciary to refocus its attention away from the mass prosecution of peaceful protestors, and instead, towards the corporations and institutions driving the climate and nature crises.

Friday March 17th

Kairos Book Club: “Venomous Lumpsucker” by Ned Beauman

“The venomous lumpsucker is the most intelligent fish on the planet. Or maybe it was the most intelligent fish on the planet. Because it might already be extinct. Nobody knows. And nobody cares. Except for two people…Gripping and singular, Venomous Lumpsucker is a comedy about environmental devastation that asks: do we have it in us to avert the tragedy of mass extinction?”

For the first meeting of our new book club we talked about Ned Beauman’s darkly satirical novel Venomous Lumpsucker, an incredibly smart, brilliantly plotted satire about human beings’ destruction of the natural world, set in the not-too-distant future. Despite the tragic subject matter it’s still a compelling (even fun) read and packed full of interesting ideas (political, philosophical, psychological, ecological). Reviewed in the London Review of Books, the Observer, the Guardian and the Financial Times. Read the first chapter.

Email us to join the book club.

Tuesday March 14th

Screening of “An Ecology of Mind” by Nora Bateson

WATCH THE FILM ON VIMEO

“The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think.” – Gregory Bateson.

An Ecology of Mind” is a portrait of anthropologist, biologist, and psychotherapist Gregory Bateson, directed by his daughter Nora Bateson. This award-winning documentary (2010, 1hr), seen through the relationship between father and daughter, is an examination of how Bateson thought, and an introduction to ‘systems thinking’ as a way of understanding the interrelationships within the natural world.

“Looking at what holds systems together is a radical step toward sewing the world back together, from the inside,” Bateson said.

In the post-screening discussion we asked: if we only look at the climate and nature crises through the usual reductionist scientific framing, what might we be missing? How does our perspective of the world influence the actions we take, and how can that understanding help us at this current moment? For the discussion we were joined by Kairos member Jonathan Nylander and Dawn Plimmer, both graduates of the International Bateson Institute’s Warm Data Lab training. The Warm Data Lab is a discursive process developed by Nora Bateson and based on her father’s approach to systems thinking.

You can read reviews of “An Ecology of Mind” here, including one by the Huffington Post.

You can watch the full-length film on Vimeo.

Thursday March 9th

Doughnut Economics Workshop

Doughnut Economics offers an alternative economic goal ‘to meet the needs of all people within the means of the living planet’. It provides ways to achieve this goal, including the regenerative and the distributive. Rob Shorter from The Doughnut Economics Action Lab (DEAL), led a workshop into how the ideas of Doughnut Economics can be applied at the neighbourhood, business, educational and local government level. 

 

Wednesday March 8th

Lunchtime Recorded Lecture: “What Do We Want To Sustain?” by Carmody Grey

For the first in our new series of recorded lunchtime lectures, we showed philosopher and theologian Carmody Grey‘s 2021 Hook Lecture on faith and climate change, in which she explores how we’ve got to this point of crisis, why we aren’t saving ourselves and what it is we actually want to sustain. Carmody, a unique and inspiring voice, was our first ever speaker at Kairos when we launched last October. If you missed the event you can watch the lecture here.

If you have suggestions for recorded lectures you’ll like us to show as part of our lunchtime series, please email events@Kairos.London

Tuesday February 28th

Justice For The Global South with Asad Rehman

Since our current crisis is really the intersection of multiple global crises stemming from capitalism, colonialism and inequality, our response needs to be similarly intersectional. In this presentation and discussion, Asad Rehman, director of War on Want, proposed that the only way to achieve the necessary, far-reaching transformation of our global power structures, is through alliances between diverse, people-led, grass-roots movements. He outlined an alternative vision for North/South power relations: a Global Green New Deal. He also described how this transformation is already beginning, with new power arrangements starting to emerge in South America, Asia and Africa.

Tuesday February 21st

The Feministation Of The Public Realm – & How To Take It Further with Indra Adnan

Psycho-social therapist Indra Adnan led a discussion on the power of the female experience in urgent efforts to reconnect with nature, transform our cities and institutions and find a more holistic way of life. As humanity faces a crossroads, so too does feminism. It’s time to build on past successes, including the growing feminisation of the public realm, and to push them further. 

Friday February 17th

Educating For The Anthropocene with Peter Sutoris

Education has never played as critical a role in determining humanity’s future as it does in the Anthropocene, an era marked by humankind’s unprecedented control over the natural environment. Interdisciplinary thinker Peter Sutoris, drawing on his research in India and South Africa, outlined an alternative educational model, one that bridges schooling and activism and prepares today’s young people for a radically transformed world.

Wednesday February 15th

Kairos Film Club: “Synecdoche, New York” with a talk by Sarah Stein Lubrano

Read Sarah’s talk here.

Do you suspect the world you inhabit is a fabrication in place of the real thing? “Synecdoche New York” (2008, 2h4m), directed by Charlie Kaufman and starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, is a film about what happens to our perception when we live through layers and layers of representations of ourselves and others. Drawing on philosopher Jean Baudrillard’s ideas about simulacra and simulation, it is a prophetic meditation on modern society in which all meaning has been replaced by symbols and signifiers. After the screening, academic and writer Sarah Stein Lubrano gave an overview of the film’s themes and led a discussion of its significance for our current moment.

Synopsis: “Theatre director Caden Cotard is mounting a new play. Fresh off of a successful production of Death of a Salesman, he has traded in the suburban blue-hairs and regional theater of Schenectady for the cultured audiences and bright footlights of Broadway. Armed with a MacArthur grant and determined to create a piece of brutal realism and honesty, something into which he can put his whole self, he gathers an ensemble cast into a warehouse in Manhattan’s theater district. He directs them in a celebration of the mundane, instructing each to live out their constructed lives in a small mock-up of the city outside. As the city inside the warehouse grows, Caden’s own life veers wildly off the tracks.” 

Wednesday February 8th

Debunking Economics

Economist Steve Keen, who predicted the 2008 crash, guided us through everything that’s wrong with conventional economics, explained how it’s driving the climate and nature crises, and offered an alternative vision for our global financial system.

Wednesday February 1st

Bruno Latour: A Politics Of The Earth with Noortje Marres

Sociologist Noortje Marres, who studied under the late Bruno Latour, explored his work on ecological politics – in particular his vision for a politics of the earth and his call for a new ecological class to seize the political reins and guide us through the polycrisis. Noortje also advocated for “ecology” as the best frame through which to re-imagine human society’s relationship with the natural world.

Wednesday January 25th

Kicking Off The New Year with Vanessa Chamberlin and Baby Sol

An evening of inspiration, entertainment, food and wine to celebrate the start of our 2023 calendar, at arts club Vout-O-Reenee’s.

Artist and theologian Vanessa Chamberlin led a discussion about hope as the antidote to optimism. Hope as a way of walking through the world, in contrast to hope as directed towards outcome.

In times of despair and dullness, the ancient Jewish prophets would energise people to new hope. But in times of enforced hope and anxious denial, they would stand their ground and name what was death-like in their cultures and communities. Both were hopeful practices.

Vanessa helped us reflect on what the ‘way of hope’ might look like for each of us this year. We then explored whether the Jewish-Christian tradition might have anything helpful to offer us as we continue to reimagine our place in the world.

After a break for a vegan dinner, rising star and Paloma Faith backing singer, Baby Sol sang a few songs for us.

Wednesday December 21st

Winter Solstice Story-Telling with Ruth Padel and more

As an alternative winter celebration, we held an evening of story-telling on the longest night of the year. We shared stories about darkness and renewal, loss and hope, collapse and re-emergence in a beautiful candle-lit venue. Poet Ruth Padel read from Watershed, her forthcoming collection about water and climate, and Kairos director Zoë Blackler shared a Hungarian folk tale. There was a story of peace and reconciliation in Columbia. a fable by William Morris, a poem by Toni Spencer, the Hanukka story, and a reflection on grief and kairos by Liz Jensen. We also discussed the power of the imagination and the need to find new stories to help us through the challenges ahead. 

Thursday December 1st

Party: Farewell Holborn Viaduct

CELEBRATION of an amazing first two months for Kairos, a THANK YOU to everyone who helped made it such a success and a FAREWELL to our temporary first home. We weren’t together long, Holborn Viaduct, but you have a special place in our hearts and we’ll miss you. The evening featured Zander mixing the cocktailsBen and Jo spinning the vinyl, and the Sibyl waiting in her cave to answer people’s questions about their fate.

Monday November 28th

Screening of ‘Once You Know’ with director Emmanuel Cappellin

A second screening of Once You Know by Emmanuel Cappellin (2020, 105mins)  – a personal exploration of what it means to emotionally accept the truth about climate change, which received glowing reviews. Emmanuel, who was visiting London, was with us in person to lead a post-screening discussion.

SYNOPSIS: Today, like a ship entering the storm, industrial civilisation faces the first symptoms of energy depletion and climate change induced collapse. Once You Know asks the disturbing questions: Are there better ways of collapsing than others? What is meaningful work on the way down? 
Director Emmanuel Cappellin is obsessed with how to best respond personally and collectively. His quest leads him around the world to meet five of the world’s leading climate scientists and energy experts. They share with him the truth, chaos, and hope in their work. They allow him to challenge everything he took for granted – from growth-based democracies to personal freedoms.
This odyssey brings him back to himself and to Saillans, his small mountain village. In this life-size, open sky laboratory, everything becomes once again possible: having a child, redefining questions of social justice, implementing participatory democracy, starting an energy transition…The first steps, perhaps, towards some kind of collective resilience.

Friday November 25th

Supper Club with Mark Vernon

With Mark Vernon on William Blake, London’s greatest poet and prophet, also a tremendous thinker with a keen diagnosis of what was unfolding in his time, which is also our time. Blake understood the human yearning for more, the multifaceted inner life of places and ages, the mixture of ecologies within which, and with which, we live.

This talk and discussion included an introduction to some of Blake’s most punchy intuitions, thoughts on how his insights matter, and time to explore and question what he might be saying to us now.

Food was provided by Super Nature, an experimental kitchen based in Hackney with a strong environmental agenda. Their team of chefs, foragers, artists, activists and cultivators work in collaboration to address problems with our global food system and the way we eat. Every creation is a celebration of hyper-seasonal produce using an innovative ‘root to fruit’ zero waste approach, using plant based whole and raw foods sourced from local farmers practicing minimal intervention and regenerative agriculture methods.

Wednesday November 23rd

Entrapment and Escape with Anoushka Grace

Writer and psychoanalyst Anouchka Grose explored the psychological complexity of mourning capitalism while still living inside it, through a series of YouTube videos about shopping.

Followed by a talk and guided discussion chaired by Josh Appignanesi.

Wednesday November 16th

Navigating The Global Phase Shift with Nafeez Ahmed

The world is going through an extraordinary convergence of ecological, energy, economic, geopolitical and social crises. But at their root, this is a single global systemic crisis that at worst threatens the destruction of planetary life support systems. Simultaneously, we are seeing the emergence of exponential technologies, some of which might offer new ways of solving our biggest challenges, but some of which may even worsen them. How do these different crises interact? Why are they worsening at the same time? 

In this talk, systems theorist and investigative journalist Nafeez Ahmed used the concept of a “global phase shift” – among other systems lenses and tools – to aid understanding of how to navigate a unique moment in human and planetary history, the transformation of the global system in which the old industrial paradigm is collapsing, as a new system is emerging. What lies ahead could encompass collapse, dystopia or renewal: but to breakthrough to renewal, we must be able to see both risks and possibilities, so that we can make better choices.

Tuesday November 1st

Despair, Acceptance, Transformation: “Once You Know” & Caroline Hickman

Screening of “Once You Know” by Emmanuel Cappellin (2020, 105mins)  – a personal exploration of what it means to emotionally accept the truth about climate change, which received glowing reviews

Followed by a presentation by climate psychologist and psychotherapist Caroline Hickman who explored how depression, rage and despair are our strongest allies in transformative, resilient action. 

Saturday October 29th

Introducing the Kairos Supper Club with Carne Ross

For our first ever SUPPER CLUB, we were delighted to have as our guest speaker Carne Ross, writer and founder of Independent Diplomat, the world’s first non-profit diplomatic advisory group.

Carne talked about the ideas in his new book, What is to be done? which propose answers to the ‘polycrisis’ in the environment, democracy and society, and offered a radical but practical alternative to the current model of liberal democracy and capitalism.

Supper was cooked by Super Nature, an experimental kitchen based in Hackney with a strong environmental agenda. Their team of chefs, foragers, artists, activists and cultivators work in collaboration to address problems with our global food system and the way we eat. Every creation is a celebration of hyper-seasonal produce using an innovative ‘root to fruit’ zero waste approach, using plant-based whole and raw foods sourced from local farmers practicing minimal intervention and regenerative agriculture methods. 

Tuesday October 25th

In Conversation: Activism

Author and campaigner Anthea Lawson and reader in political sociology Graeme Hayes discussed why everyone isn’t in the streets, and what history and a deeper understanding of the dynamics of activism can teach us about how people mobilise. With reference to soup-throwing.

There was also be a rare chance to see New York-based guerrilla theatre group Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping, accompanied by the UK Stop Shopping Choir

Sunday October 23rd

Sunday Film Salon

For our first film salon we screened L’Argent (Money) by Robert Bresson (1983) in the Kairos cinema room. It was followed by a presentation written by Professor Nicky Marsh from University of Southhampton whose work examines the ways that economic ideas – like money, risk, credit and debt – become represented in the culture at large, to form part of our imaginary and our fantasy. Nicky couldn’t attend in person due to illness, so her talked was delivered by Devorah Baum and was followed by an animated discussion on the power of money as our controlling metaphor.
The Kairos Film Salon is a monthly series curated by Josh Appignanesi, pairing provocative and life-changing films with special guest speakers, drawing all participants into guided conversation around that month’s theme.

Tuesday October 18th

Kairos Cinema Preview

We opened the Kairos Cinema, with two short talks and a mini-screening.
As Amitav Ghosh said, “the climate crisis is a crisis of the imagination”. So how can the stories we tell help us to think again?

Film-maker Josh Appignanesi spoke about that elusive thing we call change and what role the arts have to play in it. He also explained the thinking behind our monthly Sunday afternoon Film Salon.

Kairos’s director Zoë Blackler talked about how sci-fi can help us reimagine the world and why she’s proud to be a Trekkie.
Followed by an episode from a classic sci-fi series (45mins)

Tuesday October 11th

Introduction to Kairos

With short talks and complimentary drinks and vegetarian food.

Nick Anim, researcher of contemporary movements at UCL and social justice activist spoke about how to build cross-movement coalitions to counter the forces that divide us.

 Jonathan Rowson, philosopher and founding director of Perspectiva talked about how Western society has turned consumption, a basic human act, into consumerism, a prevailing cultural ideology, and asked us to imagine a world
beyond consumerism.

Thursday October 6th

Members’ BYOB Drinks Night

With a performance by singers Sam Lee and Jessie Lloyd, including a new song by Sam inspired by Carmody Grey’s talk at Kairos two nights before.

Thursday October 4th

Introduction to Kairos

With short talks and complimentary drinks and vegetarian food.

Carmody Grey philosopher from Durham University spoke about how we can start asking questions again about what it means to be human and to live a good life.

Paul Powlesland, barrister, Lawyers for Nature spoke about why we need a new relationship between the law, nature and the earth and why this needs to be an ecosystem of legal interventions. Paul explained Rights of Nature and why they
are a crucial part of any such eco-system.

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Kairos, 84 Tottenham Court Road, London W1T 4TG