10.30am – 3.30pm
The Bridge Hotel, Castle Square, NE1 1RQ
FREE | Please book here
Join Dougald Hine for a day workshop involving talk and group conversation.
What does hope look like, in times like these? When the Arctic sea ice is melting and the libraries are closing down, when Trump is in the White House and Britain is stumbling towards the exit doors of the EU?
Across the western countries, surveys show that those who believe today’s young people will have a better life than their parents are outnumbered two, three or four-to-one by those who say that they will have it harder. There are experts who argue that this is all a terrible misunderstanding: they can prove to you with graphs that everything is getting better and optimism is the only rational position. There are others who will say, yes, something has gone terribly wrong, and we need to recover the faith in the future that enabled us to go to the moon and build the welfare state.
In place of these different flavours of optimism, I want to talk about grief and loss and longing and despair. Because this is where the deep work starts – not with the power of positive thinking, which too often means turning our eyes away from the darkness. It’s about the willingness to face the darkness, to walk through it, knowing that the experience will leave us changed.
So let’s talk about the darknesses and shadows, not because this is all there is to say – but because, unless we can start here, then what we have to say will not sound real. The kind of hope worth having is the kind that lies on the far side of despair.
This is about the huge shadows that we hardly know how to think about – among them, the knowledge that we are living through the sixth mass extinction in the long life of our planet, and that this epic of loss is the consequence of ways of living which we could hardly imagine going without. It’s about the shadows cast by history, the loss of community and meaning, the kinds of cultural brokenness that we hardly have words for. And it’s about the possibilities we may catch sight of, as our eyes adjust to the darkness.
This hope is not optimism, it makes few promises, and it does not lean as heavily on the future as the architects of the modern world felt able to do. But it’s something we can experience, in the present, in places and projects where we come together and do things for our own reasons, rather than because we have been paid to or told to do them. And if we’re lucky, it may yet contain the seeds of a world worth living in for those who come after us.
Dougald Hine is a writer, teacher and culturemaker. He’s been a founder of organisations including the Dark Mountain Project, Spacemakers and – most recently – a school called HOME. He grew up in Darlington, worked as a radio journalist in South Yorkshire, got dragged to London by an internet startup and rescued by a Swedish woman he met at a festival in the middle of a forest. These days, he lives in a city called Västerås, an hour’s train ride west of Stockholm.
This event is part of Deep Adaptation. An ongoing programme of commissions, talks, events and workshops looking at how current social, civic and economic issues can be understood in relation to climate change.