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History and background

The PlaNet Diss project is part of a broad movement that is working to build a collaborative, sustainable future, from the ground up, rather than by demanding that governments build it for us.

A general vision is becoming clearer:

  • Collaboration at the community level allows people to live lives of modest comfort, rather than wasteful consumtion, but with greatly enhanced social support: living happier, more fulfilled, more sociable lives rather than conspicuous consumption.

  • Core values are care for people and the natural world. Treating all people with respect and empathy. The goals of individuals and businesses become service to people and planet, not financial wealth, with a new economy to support that.

  • The strategy is to build from the bottom up: local self governing groups, working together at ever larger scales, rather than structure imposed by governments. Building a society that really works for people and planet, not overthrowing existing structures.

There are many groups and organisations, large and small working on this, but they rarely show up in public media. To name just a few: Transition Network, Post-Carbon Institute, ,Pachamama Alliance, Collaborative Technology Alliance.

The key distinguishing features of the PlaNet Diss vision are a) a clear social model of how a successful, resilient collaborative society works, and b) the need for a communications system to help it to happen.

The actual starting point was a talk by Gary Alexander, Our Shared Social Vision, to the Open:2018 Platform Coops conference on 27 July 2018 in Conway Hall, London which proposed that we build that vision using Holochain as the basis of the communications infrastructure. We then found that there was a €1 million prize offered by the European Union, in their Blockchains for Social Good programme. We decided to apply for that and it galvanised us to move our vision much further than it had been previously. Our application, PlaNET platform, Building sustainable communities as new ‘Commons’ where we work together for the common good gives details of all of this.

We did not win the EU prize, but because the process of applying for it moved us so far along, we decided to relaunch the project with PlaNet Diss being a first proof-of-concept. The plan is to try it out in Diss, Norfolk but with observers and related projects from a much wider area, who will build upon the results.

Background for the social vision

Building a collaborative sustainable society is undoubtedly the key challenge facing humanity, necessary to our future survival. We have developed our version of it over many years, building on many starting points: numerous historic examples of self-governing commons such as fisheries, grazing, and irrigation, as well as much experience and research in systems theory and cybernetics, especially Stafford Beer’s Viable Systems.

We don’t consider our vision to be a definitive version, but feel it is a good enough starting point for community trials, and is consistent with very many projects starting around the world. We will all learn more through these projects.

If you want to read more about some of our starting points, here are a few quick tasters and then a few books for more depth.

Partnership for People and Planet (Gary Alexander, 2018) - A 10 page pamphlet, written shortly before the current project, describing much of the same ideas.

In Transition 2.0 - A 3 minute trailer for a film by the Transition Network, showing many starting points for the vision.

After the Crash - A 10 minute video, prepared shortly after the 2008 recession, but very relevant today, describing much the same vision.


  • Alexander, Gary, eGaia, Growing a peaceful, sustainable Earth through communications, 2nd edition, FastPrint Publishing, 2014.

  • Bauwens, Michel, Kostakis, Vasilis, Pazaitis, Alex, Peer to Peer, The Commons Manifesto, University of Westminster Press, 2019.

  • Espinosa, Angela and Walker, Jon, A Complexity Approach to Sustainability, World Scientific, 2017.

  • Lewis, Michael and Conaty, Pat, The Resilience Imperative, Cooperative Transitions to a Steady-State Economy, New Society, 2012.

  • Ostrom, Elinor, Governing the Commons, The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action, Cambridge University Press, 1990.

  • Books, videos and other resources from the Transition Network, including Starting Transition, The Transition Handbook, The Transition Companion, Local Food, Local Money and more.


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