Introductory information on Citizen action networks and The Alternative UK is on our Networks UK page. This page contains a small sample of Daily Alternative articles mentioning CANs.

  • There's a "solar energy insurrection" going on in Puerto Rico, from which we can learn. (Star Trek is also helping...), The Daily Alternative (Sep 22, 2022)
  • A love letter to a regenerative community, Ecosystem restoration camps (Sep 07, 2022) — Habiba = Love
  • “We build the road, and the road builds us.” What Sarvodaya, a SriLankan 'no-poverty, no-affluence' movement, can teach the rest of us, The Daily Alternative (Jun 17, 2022)
  • Costa Rica’s Los Higuerones coop is a perfect example of what a CAN looks like - combining economy, relationship and conviviality, The Daily Alternative (Mar 21, 2022)


  • "What if the only important work left is to care for each other and care for the planet?" asks Greenwich's Care + Planet, The Daily Alternative (Dec 01, 2022)
  • Developing towns in Coalville, building houses in Grimsby, generating solar power in Bristol - these CANs are vibrant and concrete, The Daily Alternative (Jul 02, 2022) — This week, we have a cascade of what we call CANs, cosmo-local initiatives, coming into our radar. It’s great just to chart their vitality.
  • With its digital community mapping, fungus-driven mill, and reuse of coastal buildings, the Onion Collective is a vibrant CAN, The Daily Alternative (Jun 14, 2022)
  • Now Building On Planet A, Alternative Editorial (Apr 03, 2022)
  • Building Community Action Through Climate Hubs, Transition Together (Feb 27, 2022) — guide to community-led climate hubs from Zero Carbon Guildford

Foto familia huertos comunitario.JPG

2021[edit | edit source]

  • Plymouth Octopus is a cosmolocal CAN in action, combining local practicality and global perspective, The Dailty Alternative (Dec 01, 2021)
  • "The Market Hall is going to become the Souk of Stoke". Regeneration practitioner Mike Riddell says Burslem will be a showcase for "communification", Mar 15[1]
  • CANs might be place or purpose based.[2]
  • A/UK Co-creator groups have welcomed initiators of all kinds of CANs from across the UK and Europe, Mexico, South Africa, India, USA.
CANs have been springing up all over the world, often at neighbourhood level but also across towns and cities, and directly in response to the Covid crisis. The implicit connections between those living in the same place rose quickly to the surface, manifesting as organic care systems for those made vulnerable by the lock down.
The phenomenon of people coming together to ameliorate a multi-dimensional crisis, putting an emphasis on building safety and trust and coming up with practical solutions, was a narrative shared with more established CANs like Transition Towns or Ecovillages (though there's mostly no direct connection). These established CANs started in a similar way but have since become wholistic, systemic islands of activity in our otherwise flatter landscape of activism.
If protest movements were until recently our only popular option for rejecting the current socio-economic system – an action that often polarized communities – then CANs, in our understanding, aim to cross divides and bring us back to the 'more we have in common'. They emphasize connection in all its forms – to each other, the community and the planet.
But not all CANs are immediately recognisable as community care or transformation groups. In the past year we have come into contact with at least eight different ways of describing the reason for people coming together in a place-based community:
  • CAN as a sangha/church, looking at beliefs and new ways of becoming agentic
  • CAN as the place to generate a 4th sector economy built on community wealth/commoning
  • CAN as a space to explore and experience creativity
  • CAN as a democracy hub - experimenting with participation, governance
  • CAN as a learning club, upgrading ourselves for the 21st century
  • CAN as a farm – aiming for food sovereignty
  • CAN as a care-system
  • CAN as a community hub, offering interaction, identity, belonging
As such, the mnemonic has become flexible. C can mean citizen, community, creative. A can indicate action, agency or simply "and". N tends to mean network but has also meant neighbourhood or even nest!
When you add these all up, you get the essential definition of a CAN as a firelighter, drawing out of those living together in loose community their collective potential to spring into life. A CAN gives them a space in which to grow, each person a flourishing system within the bigger system of community and planet.
Of course, any particular CAN might also be a mixture of many elements in that list. But some are singularly focused.[3]
  • Cape Town's CANs movement
We're delighted to discover Cape Town's CANs movement - "community action networks" that have been keeping a city together, under Covid, Feb 19, 2021.[4] Cape Town Together,, a rapid community-led response to Covid -19. The network is made up of thousands of volunteers who are coming together to form Community Action Networks or CANs. Over a 160 Community Action Networks, and growing. added 11:59, 22 February 2021 (UTC)

2020[edit | edit source]

  • Latest CAN examples
In similar spaces of intense reflection around the world, more people have connected the dots between corporate globalisation, the unchecked extraction of natural resources from the planet, the instrumentalization of human beings for mechanical work and wasteful consumption, and the pandemic.
To bring together groups of response-able citizens, willing to build the relationships with everyone in their community in order to 'wake them up in time to get out the house' is what a CAN is for. Trust the People, Local Trust, Transition Towns, Devon Convergence – all of these are CANs, trying every day to attract and serve new and more people. July 2020,[5] July 2020
  • Alternative Editorial: How To Move Forward, July 12, 2020.[6]
The second cluster—showing very similar energy and excitement—was the 3 day Regenerate Devon on-line conference. Hosted by The Social Enterprise Networks of Plymouth (PSEN), Exeter (ESSENCE) and Torbay (Local Spark Torbay) this was Devon taking charge of its own ability to 'build back better'.
  • A/UK Loomio forums are helping CANs to form
Three varied initiatives birthed from our Action Forum (you're welcome to join it, please come in through the co-creator door) which we wanted to let the wider audience that follows the Daily Alternative know about. Support them, or join us, and propose your own! May 2020[7]
  • Alter-Narratives
  • Co-create Sheppey CAN
  • Different genres of CAN that might share learning
How can we keep going our intensely personal thoughts about what is wrong and needs to be righted, as a shared conversation? So that those people who have recently begun to know their neighbours, might find some onward field of action as we move out of lock down?
To this end, over this period we have been participating – either remotely or up close – in at least 11 kinds of fast developing genre of citizen action networks (CANs). CANs do the work of developing the people power arising from new and deeper thinking about the future:
Transition Towns
Trust the People (arising from XR's Future Democracy Hub. See this week's blog)
One Small Town (an ambitious project to transform the economy through the actions of only three hours of citizens voluntary labour per week).
Participatory Cities (Dagenham)
Co-operation Jackson
Preston Model
Flatpack Democracy
Commoning initiatives
Co-operatives /Platform co-operatives
Pop Plymouth / CAN... The Alternative UK, search results for 'Plymouth'
Each have slightly different dynamics between the individual and the local collective, the wider tribe of those that share values and the state. But what they have in common is a determination to 'reclaim' their power and agency from 'business as usual' – the growth economy that has weakened our social bonds and destroyed the planet. May 2020[8]

2019[edit | edit source]

  • Citizen Spring: The new movement connecting social enterprises across Brussels and Antwerp
Connect with networks globally
A CAN is "a structure - both face-to-face and digital - that brings together civil and social enterprises in an area, along with citizens currently disengaged with politics. A CAN tries to build a combination of concrete services meeting actual needs, as well as a growing agenda about the need for decision-making power at the lowest possible level".
Citizen Spring is a network based in Brussels, Belgium that aims to connect local projects so that groups can identify ways to support each other, coordinate their activities, and promote sustainable and future-facing ideas. May 2019[9]
  • CTRLshifts into next gear
CTRLshift was initiated by members of system-change organizations including Permaculture Association, Transition Network, Shared Assets, The Alternative UK and many others (see here for partner organizations).
System change is not loosely evoked. These organizations have adopted the task that Buckminster Fuller described as building 'a new model' to replace the old, dysfunctional growth economy that has almost destroyed our planet.
Day 1 offered a number of solution sessions, from Building the Open Credit Network, Citizen Led Economic Transition, Alternative Local Food Systems, Women as a Force for Social Change, to our own How to Build a Citizens Action Network. May 2019[10]

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Notes and References[edit | edit source]

  2. Co-creators zoom meeting, Mar 8, 2021
  3. Alternative Editorial: We Are FOUR, Mar 1, 2021
  5. Alternative Editorial: Scenario Planning, July 19, 2020,
  6. Alternative Editorial
  7. Alter-Narratives, Co-create Sheppey and TinCan.TV: our Loomio Action Forums are getting active, May 29, 2020
  8. Alternative Editorial: Everyone Is Implied, May 17, 2020
  9. Citizen Spring: The new movement connecting social enterprises across Brussels and Antwerp, May 28, 2019
  10. Alternative Editorial: CTRLshifts into next gear, May 12, 2019
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