2. Levels Of Engagement

At Civil Action Network we work in a regeneratively self-organized way. This means we are actively trying to move away from hierarchies that are based on dominance and submission. However this doesn’t mean that there isn’t people with more power, or that learned patterns of hierarchical thinking just go away. Like many self-organized initiatives we face challenges around naming different roles, being explicit about power dynamics and hidden power, acknowledging who takes responsibility and who gets to take which decisions. To make these topics easier to handle we came up with 3 different levels of engagement within CAN. By naming these levels of engagement we hope to create more clarity about the following questions: 

  • How much overview should I have over what’s happening in the organization?
  • What am I expected to contribute to non-project related work that needs to get done to sustain the organization (fundraising, strategy, community building etc.)?
  • Which decisions am I expected to contribute to taking? 
  • Who can I ask for support when I get stuck? 

We don’t see one level of engagement as better or higher ranking than others. They are all different and equally important to keep CAN thriving. We encourage people who are interested in joining or supporting CAN to find a level of engagement that is a fit for their life circumstances and to freely try out other levels when their life circumstances change.  A big motivation for formulating this model is to make it easier to find the right fit.


Our Supporters are people who resonate with our values and style of approaching social change and who are part of the social web around CAN. This can mean showing up to our events and community meetings now and then, but it can also mean having relationships with a few of us outside of formal events. We lean on our Supporters for a sense of belonging, for rest and inspiration and mutual support. 


Contributors are people who resonate with the vision of CAN and are happy to contribute to specific projects or events. There is no expectation that Contributors take part in framing offerings, planning events or higher level meta work (fundraising, strategy, org development etc.), however if they are curious about these things there is openness to see what opportunities there are to get engaged more deeply. 


  • Someone who really likes facilitating Dialogue Walks and is happy to do a few walks a year once the projects are set up. 
  • A movement pedagogue who’s happy to take over the facilitation of some workshops during Meeting through Movement in the summer. 
  • Someone who’s happy to come early to a community gathering to help set up the space and prepare food.


Collaborators are willing to co-create one or more projects in the frame of CAN. They share more overview and a feeling of ownership over their projects and are committed to doing some of the organizing, planning, or admin work that comes with it. They are formal members of our Association and regularly attend the CAN Gathering, to deepen connections with other members and dream into new ideas and inspirations. The larger ecosystem of CAN is a supportive home for their project and provides the infrastructure (legal, administrative, project management, etc.) and useful resources for their realization (experience with funding, relationship with other players and institutions, outreach capacity, etc.). In turn, collaborators are willing to interface with this ecosystem in a mutually beneficial way. There is no expectation that collaborators contribute to high-level strategic work or maintenance and development of the overall structure of CAN. In the same way, they are not expected to contribute to decisions about the long-term direction of the organization. However, if there is a wish on the side of a collaborator they are welcome to get to know these processes by participating in meetings about these topics. 


Shapers are members who are the most committed to CAN as a whole. They have a deep understanding of the vision and goals of the organization and take responsibility for creating possibilities for realizing them. Shapers engage in high-level strategic work and shape the long-term direction the organization will take. They develop and maintain the structures that enable the engagement of collaborators and contributors. They support collaborators to make their projects happen in the frame of CAN and partner with contributors to find meaningful ways of contributing. They are responsible for  guiding the development of culture of the organization, including the way peoplerelate to each other and the processes and practices that sustain common work. Shapers take responsibility of supporting others’ growth while modeling a regenerative attitude.






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