What’s the connection between sewing a tear in your pants and taking care of chickens together with your street neighbors? These two activities would be part of what the transition may look like, at the neighborhood level. If the socio-ecological transition refers to the process of profound changes in our production and consumption systems, as well as in social and political institutions and in our ways of life, the act of sewing may seem insignificant. However, if we add that this radical transformation must aim for an ecologically sustainable economic and social model, where human activities respect the limits of the planet AND where everyone has the tools and capacities to lead a dignified life in this context, then things change a bit. Indeed, under these conditions, it would seem implicit that the socio-ecological transition can only be achieved if it is shaped collectively. Which aligns with the words of the promoters of the Every One Every Day initiative, from the Participatory City Foundation in London (United Kingdom): ‘Many small things done by many people (…) make friendly, healthy and happy neighbourhoods’. Without denying the need and the role of transition oriented public policies, this project proposes local governments to invest in platforms allowing people to manage themselves the improvement of their life prospects, by giving them the tools to act and co-create with their community. These practical instruments would thus be public social infrastructures, in the same way as libraries, parks, roads and national health services, and just as essential.
The Every One Every Day initiative started in 2017 in the multicultural borough of Barking and Dagenham in East London with the ambition of building the first large scale, fully inclusive, practical Participatory Ecosystem as a long term contributor to producing healthy, happy and resilient neighbourhoods. Relying on the residents’ ideas, talents and resources, the project has displayed five physical shops around the borough and one large public makerspace called The Warehouse in Thames. With the support of Every One Every Day, that offers ‘kits’ for the deployment of transition related communal activities (such as urban gardening, repair workshops, sharing initiatives, or, indeed, tending a urban chicken coop), over 6000 local people participated in 150 neighbourhood projects in the first two years of the experience.
While the project – mainly philanthropic -funders agreed to a two-year extension to make up for the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic, it seems that 2023 will be the last year of operation of Every One Every Day, at least in its current form. Luckily, its seed has been already planted. Building on the success in East London, the McConnell and Participatory City Foundations, with the support of the Government of Canada, are bringing this approach to several Canadian cities, together with local partners such as Solon in the case of Montreal and the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre in Halifax.