Sometimes institutions fail and the community at large has to step in and make sure that its members are able to access life-saving resources, such as food, water, medical supplies, medication, etc.
Community and/or Mutual aid is not charity: rather than creating a centralized organization where one person is giving to someone else, forcing them to become dependent on yet another relationship negotiating their access to material resources, mutual aid creates a symbiotic relationship, where all people offer material goods or assistance to one another. Community and Mutual aid organizing is volunteer-run, transparent, and driven by the needs articulated by community members.
OrganizingTogether has begun to compile best practices for mutual aid into one of our online courses. The course is a place to discuss what mutual aid is and how the system lets the community choose what it needs. Our research team is currently reaching out to mutual aid projects across the globe and compiling data for anyone to use.
To actualize this, OrganizingTogether’s Founder, Charla M. Burnett, helped to co-found the Lansing Area Mutual Aid (LAMA) effort. LAMA began in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic to directly match existing community resources to those in need of those resources, as quickly as possible. We are an expanding network of individuals, businesses, and organizations that seek to ensure every resident in our area is in a place where their basic needs are accounted for, and that we as a community feel safe, empowered, and connected.
The system currently being used to coordinate is free for any community to set up. All you need is a google drive and email set up for your mutual aid. The system uses Google Forms and Spreadsheets to allow community members to request or submit resources or services. The long-term goal is to move over to a mutual aid platform that’s being developed by Freely Giving in the UK, a partner company.
Charla has since left LAMA in the hands of local community leaders to help support and build capacity in other Mutual Aid Groups in Michigan and throughout the United States.
LAMA in the News:
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