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Bringing communities together by promoting more positive daily interactions between residents and essential workers

We all interact with strangers every day through a network of micro-interactions. Research suggests that these daily ‘mico-interactions’ (e.g. “hi”, “how are you”, “thank you”) with our everyday casual acquaintances, like your bus driver, neighbour or barista, result in better subjective well being, reduced loneliness and a greater sense of belonging to their community (Gunayadin et al., 2020).


Essential workers are wide reaching in our communities and as such pose an exciting opportunity for promoting widespread micro-interactions amongst residents. By essential workers we mean those people who work in the services that are vital to the smooth running of local communities. 


The Essential Mix seeks to promote more positive and more frequent
micro-interactions between essential workers and residents
by making small tweaks to the context within which they already interact. Our approach is ethnographic and evidence-led and all modifications are co-designed with essential workers. We will run trials to validate results and share ‘what works.

Scroll below to learn more about our approach

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We hypothesise that the cumulative impact of these seemingly small daily interactions has important benefits:
  • Enhancing the public realm

  • Increasing belonging & mixing

  • Regular kindness

  • Reduce isolation through regular contact

  • Greater Job satisfaction

  • Increased sense of purpose/meaning in their role

  • Connection to local community

Public Sector Organisations
  • More positive perception of service amongst users

  • Happier staff = retention and good service delivery

  • Possibility to drive policy change

Essential Workers
From “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” by Jane Jacobs (1961)

The trust of a city street is formed over time from many, many little public sidewalk contacts. It grows out of people stopping by at the bar for a beer, getting advice from the grocer and giving advice to the newsstand man, comparing opinions with other customers at the bakery and nodding hello to the two boys drinking pop on the stoop, eyeing the girls while waiting to be called for dinner, admonishing the children, hearing about a job from the hardware man and borrowing a dollar from the druggist, admiring the new babies and sympathizing over the way a coat faded. Most of it is ostensibly utterly trivial but the sum is not trivial at all. The sum of such casual public contact at a local level — most of it fortuitous, most of it associated with errands, all of it metered by the person concerned and not thrust upon him by anyone — is a feeling for the public identity of people, a web of public respect and trust, and a resource in time of personal or neighborhood need.

What do we plan to do?

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Learn more about what we've uncovered so far.

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