I love to read, but I'm about 90% action and 10% theory. I'm hoping to meet others who are organizing, building dual power, doing mutual aid so we can all learn from each other. I am shy, poor, formerly homeless, socially awkward, with mental health challenges. And somehow I have found myself surrounded by hundreds of diverse, caring, like-minded people doing this with me. And the impact has been incredible, with so much more still to come.
Soon, we will be launching community-led worker cooperatives to increase self-sufficiency for the community, provide work opportunities for people, and fund our mutual aid long into the future.
We're working with sibling mutual aid groups nearby to share ideas, fundraise together to buy more groceries at wholesale prices, and support each other's unique efforts. I don't believe mutual aid projects should be scaled up beyond a very local level but we can all communicate with others to inspire and motivate and brainstorm together.
We get calls about all sorts of different issues. We've been able to either directly help, advocate for help from others, or refer to someone who can help. Our members are great sources of knowledge for each other and they inform our work because they know what they need. In addition to delivering groceries, we help with cell phone bills, medicine, clothes, books, school technology and internet access, lawyers, mediators, accountants,and more. All with donations from the greater community.
Families in the community can decide what kind of food they want to eat, and they don't need to rely on products that are donated only because they're nearing their expiry date or leftovers from restaurants. They have autonomy and dignity. They know what they need.
We have accepted some food donations from food banks because the need is urgent, but the majority of the food we deliver is purchased from local independent food markets with funds donated by regular people in the community. We don't take corporate donations or government grants. We don't want to reinforce the non-profit industrial complex. We want to end the need by organizing the community.
We are delivering fresh, culturally-relevant groceries and other essential items direct to the doors of families in need. Our volunteers are building relationships with the families we deliver groceries to. We're learning about their skills and gifts and they're learning how they can share them with other community members. As a result, many of the people we've delivered to are also now volunteers themselves, and members of a network working for long-term change.
Some say the answer to this is "jobs".
I say the answer is a strong, well-organized, self-sufficient community.
Focusing on "jobs" just perpetuates the idea that we need to earn money to give to our masters for the opportunity to survive. That we have no value outside of what we contribute to them, and that we deserve no life unless we pay for it.
COVID is deadly, but capitalism is far deadlier. The combination of the two should be the wake-up call we all respond to urgently. Our neighbors need food, they need healthcare, they need safe housing, they need phones and internet, they need community.
We started by hitting the streets and handing out oranges (for immune system boost), bars of soap, and flyers about COVID-19 and just talking to passersby.
Doing mutual aid in New Jersey.
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