Together We Are: Compiling a World of Participatory Social Projects
It’s already happening, and I’m looking for it.
You just might be able to help. I’m in search of all manners of participatory social projects going on right now worldwide. That is, I’m trying to uncover any projects actively creating community-level (however defined) social alternatives and working toward solutions to systemic social issues. These projects can range from workers collectives to urban farms to housing cooperatives to grassroots media collectives, and so on.
By participatory, I mean people/organizations/neighborhoods/etc. actively working against disempowering, alienating, disenfranchising, exploitative and oppressive situations and social structures by building—in their place—new structures based instead on more participatory values, like solidarity, diversity, mutual aid, wise ecology, equity, justice, and peace.
I should say that I’m not so much interested in protest politics or charity work here. Simply looking for projects working toward building social alternatives. There is a growing list below of various projects illustrating more of what I’m after.
So how can you help?
Send me any contact info you have for any participatory projects you know about—project or participant names, email addresses, websites, blogs, facebook profiles or group pages , etc. And geography isn’t an issue—I’m looking for any efforts doing good work, from here in Winston-Salem, NC to projects worldwide.
A few project ideas to illustrate what I’m after:
- Urban micro-farms and rooftop farms (small-scale produce/livestock/beekeeping/aquaculture)
- Community gardens
- Community programs tapping into and stimulating relevant local university research (perhaps community-supported research programs through local grants)
- Participatory economy initiatives (e.g. time banking, alternative currencies and LETS programs, and other participatory economic efforts)
- Land trust initiatives
- Permacultural projects
- Participatory food distribution projects
- Participatory budgeting (e.g. Porto Alegre, Brazil)
- Farm-to-fork initiatives (restaurants, caterers, specialty diet food prep services, WIC/foodstamp services, etc. that source directly from local growers)
- Farm-to-city initiatives (farmers markets, community-supported agriculture programs [CSAs])
- Local, community-based, value-adding operations that create jobs (getting away from mass industrial production and distribution)
- Federated networks (bringing smaller groups together to pool resources, have a political voice, and address similar interests—US Federation of Workers Cooperatives, for instance)
- Community composting projects
- Freeschool projects (e.g. The Olympia Freeschool Community)
- Local, independent, community-generated news and grassroots media collectives
- Tool sharing/ Neighborhood tool banking
- Sustainable Energy Initiatives (alternative transport: biking initiatives, free shuttles/buses, etc.)
- Initiatives to shape dialogue (e.g. proper bike lanes, non-classist foodieism)
- Foodie projects (Slow Food and otherwise)
- Institutional integration (schools, businesses, churches, etc. that may perhaps be starting their own gardens or sourcing their menus locally, etc.)
- Conservation/preservation/rejuvenation efforts (e.g. bioremediation projects, local seed banking, botanical archiving, etc.)
- Cooperatives (food, housing, health care, service, credit unions, utilities, etc.)
- Regional landbase reclamation efforts that may, for instance, ban genetically modified crops from being cultivated in the area or establish an autonomous regional organic produce certification program.
- Projects recognizing and seeking to correct for the generally unpaid and undervalued work in producing and nurturing people (the essential fabric-of-society work traditionally carried out overwhelmingly by women)
- Campus/community kitchens
- Guerrilla dining (underground restaurants/wandering supperclubs—e.g.: Zingara Cucina, Food Not Bombs)
- Guerrilla gardening
- Reclaiming the commons (e.g. Copyleft projects, urban homesteading, etc.)