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conversations from across the network.

Crucial to the roll out and success of the CECs is a business model that enables property owners to save up to 100% on business rates while temporarily giving a community space using a ‘meanwhile lease’. This allows newly established groups to acquire a free ‘home’ so they can focus on what they want to achieve, rather than on covering costs. So far, councils have also been hugely supportive and several have offered council-owned buildings for free. In addition, we are also in touch with several land-based communities and hope to build an interconnected network of land-based centres.

The wider network supports new teams to develop and move more efficiently, by building on the learnings of the network. The project has energised people. We now have approximately 40 teams at various stages of setting up their local CEC. Our vision is of autonomous community-led centres focused on meeting local needs and building local resilience, strengthened by the coordination, support and skill/resource sharing provided by a broader web of centres across the country. This vision is held in the knowledge that people hold the answers, within us and between us, of how to evolve and not just to survive, but to thrive.

The impacts of the project are already being felt. For example, the Space Generators CEC in Redbridge, East London, has a massive warehouse being put to use with an eco-solutions exhibition and a recycle/reuse market. Space has been made available for cinema nights with the local Transition Town group, and forest garden/permaculture talks. Lewes CEC opened recently and has been outreaching to the community. It has plans for Great Big Green Week supporting people to get involved, to build the conversation. Find out more through their website:

If you have anything you would like to share or contribute then please get involved: contact your local team for the CEC Network, email or donate via our crowdfunder:

Let’s use the skills and strengths we have to build a new system of empowered communities, one that recognises the value of community-led transformative adaptation.

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The Green Outreach Hub at the Bath Anti Racism Collective event in July opposite, from top

Members of the Seaford CEC

team at a local event, ready to spread the word The opening of Lewes CEC Various activities at Talking Tree

Zero – Guildford / CEC by Ben McCallan With time on our hands at the beginning of the UK’s first lockdown a group of us from various local environmental and social groups got together to discuss the problems we were encountering. How could we avoid working in silos and begin to share resources and skills? What was preventing the wider community from getting involved in the urgent work needed on the climate and ecological crisis? Why were so many activist organisations focused exclusively on mitigation, demanding change of a system that has failed and is the primary driving force of ecological collapse? And most importantly, how could we all work together to begin building adaptation and resilience into our community, local economy, and the way we live and work?

We felt that a physical space that could act as a focal point for community organising could be a game changer in engaging people from all demographics. Not only would this allow us to increase education on the climate crisis, whilst providing practical local solutions for people to reduce their emissions, but it would also help in creating greater community cohesion. We want informed, deliberative decision-making, centred on the fact that everyone in our borough shares one thing in common – we will all be faced with the same physical challenges, and therefore social impacts, of the climate and ecological crisis.

Lockdown caused us delays, but we used the time to register as a charity, gather funding and, most importantly, to build a network of groups across the borough. We now have between 40-50 organisations involved in the project in some capacity, contributing to our launch, and being part of an ongoing presence in our CEC. We’ve been amazed by the support locally, with huge assistance from many organisations including the University of Surrey, the local Business Improvement District (BID), our borough council and some county council departments. Some local businesses are backing us and we haven’t even opened yet! At the time of writing, we are hoping to exchange on our number one choice of town centre location, so watch this space!

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