‘Love’ is poorly explored as an ethic and framework of practice in community work for transformational social change. This is despite the large body of work regarding love as a foundation of activism, as articulated by bell hooks, Martin Luther King Jr, Mahatma Gandhi and Thich Nhat Hanh. These and other activists promote the radical potential of love; yet, the social work, community work and international development sectors do not actively engage with love as a process for sustainable structural change. This article shares a framework of practice of love-based community work that was developed through a co-operative inquiry with ten rural community workers in Liquica, Timor-Leste. I describe our co-operative inquiry method and share the group’s design, data and analytical approaches and findings. I then discuss the group’s collaboratively developed framework of love-centred community work. I show that our egalitarian process and framework of love in community work reflects feminist, radical and Freirean theories and indigenous worldviews, demonstrating how international development donors can more openly embrace collaborative and grassroots frameworks for practice in Timor-Leste.