Welcome to Adaptive Space

Building community capacity for complex social challenges

Adaptive Space


Adaptive Space is a program for the support and development of people engaged in the difficult work of social change. If your work at its highest level contributes to greater equity and sustainability, we hope you find a home here.

“…in order to create a world that works for more people, for more life, we have to collaborate on the process of dreaming and visioning and implementing that world. …The more people who co-create the future, the more people whose concerns will be addressed from the foundational level in this world.”

adrienne maree brown


Fall 2020 

 A community of practice  free to join, rooted in equity, mindfulness, and the work of shifting systemic patterns. We'll enjoy monthly events, activities, and supportive inquiry and conversation. This larger Adaptive Space network will be hosted under the auspice of Pitt u.lab hub

Spring 2021

Spring 2021 offerings will be shaped by the needs and experience of our Fall participants. We have outlined a program of...

A profound new learning group  conducted as a “space of mutual development,” emphasizing time to bring possibilities into practice through activities and conversation with people doing similar work and facing similar challenges. See the learning group site for details. 

 Support for your experiments and prototypes  for people whose experience in the Fall sparked ideas they want to explore and develop in their own organization or community, a series of labs and access to funding.

The Learning Group

January 2021: A remarkable experience in community for learning and strategic conversation: support, retreat and grappling with difficult questions and challenges together. 

 Learning together in the midst of astonishing times 

The people who gather for this course will have something in common: their work involves the complexity of relationships with and among community, difficult engagement with change-resistant social patterns, and the personal challenge of long-horizon intentions combined with often-invisible impact.

How can we better think about the impact of our programs and the relationship between our work and the communities we serve? When the change we seek — social justice, life-sustaining environmental policy, communities that engender belonging for all, the conditions of thriving for our children and young people — when those changes are so deeply human and relational, and so fundamentally complex and uncertain, what are our strategies? How do we lead? How do we work?

 Creating a caring community of learning leaders 

An explicit goal of this course is to give us all an experience of creating a place of belonging and support — a culture with care and reciprocity at the center, which is different from the culture of dominance and performance many of us may come from. This gives us a base from which we can explore new and sometimes uncomfortable ideas and practices. We aim for a group culture that supports each person in finding their balance of rest and retreat or challenge and stretch. We’ll set aside two full sessions for this work of community co-creation (an activity we hope may inspire similar efforts in your own context of work).

 Set your own pace and level of engagement 

We'll provide the building blocks, and invite you to configure your participation to suit your schedule. 

Each week has the same structure

- A curated “mix tape” of rich material to view and listen to on your own schedule, including a pre-recorded short (15–20 minute) lecture by the course guides.

- A  live session in which we work with the week’s key ideas and their application, through conversation and experiential learning (we’ll bring in reflection, we’ll bring in the body, intuition, and soul). 

- A weekly practice or challenge, optional but strongly encouraged, that invites you to apply the week’s ideas to your own life and work.


You can find information on the topics and themes, schedule, the tiered cost structure and equity scholarships, learn about the hosts and the wonderful lineup of guest experts, storytellers and conversation hosts, apply to participate and reach out with your questions. Visit adaptivespacelearninggroup.wordpress.com for details.


The Spring 2021 group has already begun, but we would love to include you in our plans for the future.  Fill out this form, and we'll be sure to let you know about the next learning group.

What are some of the benefits of joining the Adaptive Space?

It is our hope and belief that Adaptive Space will provide a setting for leaders to find rest and support, for relationships to form and strengthen, for collaborations to begin, and for useful approaches to begin their journey into fruitful application.

It's free to join the Adaptive Space Network. Members will…

  • Join a network of local leaders for support, insight and collaboration—be less alone in your work, participate in a connected network of change
  • Connect through activities like a book club, “give and ask,” conversation cafes, etc. (the possibilities are many—let’s create together)
  • Receive support for prototype development and early exposure to funders
  • Join a movement to shift from ego-awareness to eco-awareness
  • Become part of the global U.Lab community of practice for mindfulness-based social change

Those who join the  Adaptive Space Learning Group  will…

  • Learn ideas and practices you can translate into practice:
    become better able to engage with historical oppression and trauma, change-resistant patterns of relationship and belief, and develop programs of community collaboration that shift from “create for” to “create with or by”
  • Receive a weekly package of ideas and inspiration, and support one another in understanding through activities, reflection and conversation
  • Have the option of taking on a weekly challenge, supporting one another in applying new frames and practices

Have questions? Need details?

For more details and answers to frequently-asked questions, please see our FAQ article on medium.com

"[The] future is not just about firefighting and tinkering with the surface of structural change. It’s not just about replacing one mindset that no longer serves us with another. It’s a future that requires us to tap into a deeper level of our humanity, of who we really are and who we want to be as a society. ...This inner shift, from fighting the old to sensing and presencing an emerging future possibility, is at the core of all deep leadership work today."

Otto Scharmer

Our values

We value process – how we work together is where we practice embodying the world we work towards.

We value complexity and emergence – we practice not knowing, not solving, being with what is and working with what emerges.

We value the innate wisdom and possibility in each person – we practice honoring each person’s history, agency, strength, gifts and stand in service of who they are becoming. 

We value honesty and discomfort – we practice making space robust enough so that things like oppression, trauma and dissent can surface and be worked with. 

We work towards a world where everyone can succeed – we practice creating equity at every choice point and co-create outcomes with those affected by choices.

We value self-awareness and accountability – we practice mindfulness, seeing where we enact harmful patterns and shift it in ourselves as we work to shift it in the world.

We value liberation – we practice seeing and naming oppression of people and exploitation of the earth and work to shift these patterns.

We value diversity and unity – We see both our common humanity and individual experience, and make space for both.

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