About Us

The Proteus Initiative works holistically, following an organic approach first developed by JW von Goethe. More depends on the way we think, on the way we see, and on our ability to open our own selves, than we may imagine. Our own stories are entwined in every movement of shift or reversal that is manifested in the world. We bring this understanding and method to the sphere of social and environmental change, activism and stewardship. Our work is an attempt to realise the consequences of true participation, of socio-ecological complexity, and of an emerging consciousness that holds freedom and responsibility as a generative polarity in the quest for wholeness.

Our 'Proactive' Work

... involves offering programmes which address themselves to social issues, concerns and possibilities which shape our current and future context and realities.

We offer active space for engagement in creative and generative ways, in environments which lend themselves to an encounter with the unboundedness of the outer wild, and hence with inner stretching towards a deepened and renewed sense of self, as well as an experience and understanding of a larger perspective; always towards the connection between our inner nature and outer circumstance.

These programmes take many forms, but always engage participants actively, encourage them to intimately encounter other (both human and nature), help them to develop their capacity to pay attention and to work with living ways of seeing, and invite an immersion of self. Enlivened, dynamic conversation weaves through all our work.

Our 'Responsive' Work

... aims to increase the ability to observe and to understand – with greater breadth and depth – the realities of people's situations and contexts.

To reveal the animating energies that may empower, or the dynamics and patterns that limit and hold a situation (and ourselves) captive. And to gain the courage and imagination to move beyond.

We work as consultants to social organisations, social formations, communities, leaders and practitioners who are concerned with questions of social renewal. We seek to help clients develop the insights which may enable their efforts to cohere in more meaningful ways, to work beyond their lists of issues into a realm of reflective learning and renewed meaning. To find the sources of their possibilities and constraints and to move into the arena of social creativity once more.

With these parameters in mind, we undertake organisational interventions, leadership and management, mentoring and coaching, community development facilitation, evaluations and research, development of strategies and systems, relationship facilitation and learning/reflection processes.

We school practitioners in the requisite understanding and faculties required by this new approach.


Allan Kaplan and Sue Davidoff


Allan was the founder and former director of the Community Development Resource Association, and is the author, amongst other works, of The Development Practitioner's Handbook and Artists of the Invisible.

Sue was founder and former director of the Teacher Inservice Project, and is the author, amongst other works, of The Learning School, The Courage to Lead, and Changing your Teaching.
We are facilitators, teachers and writers.

We work in close collaboration with various individuals and organisations:
In South Africa:
Liz Smith, social eurythmist, Quella, Cape Town, South Africa
Sue Soal, social practitioner, South Africa
Keith Struthers, design through the dynamics of space and form, Natural Architecture, Cape Town, South Africa

In New Zealand and Australia:
Gael Surgenor, social practitioner and community development leader, New Zealand
Peter Westoby, community development practitioner, lecturer and writer, Brisbane, Australia

In Brazil and Argentina:
Ana Biglione, social practitioner, Noetá, Brazil
Flora Lovato, Instituto Fonte, Brazil
Tiao Guerra, social practitioner, Instituto Fonte, Brazil
Martin Bunge, consultant and social practitioner, Buhar, Argentina
Noetá - www.noeta.com.br
Instituto Fonte - www.institutofonte.org.br
Buhar - www.buhar.com.ar

In the United Kingdom:
David Harding, social development practitioner, teacher, writer, Oxford, United Kingdom

In the USA:
Craig Holdrege and Henrike Holdrege, Goethean researchers, writers and teachers, The Nature Institute, USA
Nature Institute - www.natureinstitute.org & www.netfuture.org