Our weeks, like our hearts, have been so full lately. As the phases of relief and recovery transition rapidly, we are reminded how much work is still in front of us. We ask ourselves, how can we create this new world when we are all so damaged by the old one? And the answer(s), not found in any theory, come back to us – through walking, through action, autonomous, but together.
Click here to read a report on our relief trip to the Florida Keys. Instead of continuing the chain of organization to organization donations, we looked up where projects and other affordable housing facilities were, showed up and opened the doors, literally and figuratively. Here is an excerpt of the reportback:
“Rather than rationing out any items, we would climb into the truck and start passing out cases of bottled water and asking people what they wanted. Canned soup, diapers, baby wipes, paper towels, MREs, fruit snacks, bread and anything else we could dig to find in the packed truck. There was never a moment of the supposed “chaos” we were warned against, as we let people take whatever they needed and they were always the first to insist on leaving more for others.”
Another trip down to the Keys is in the works. Interested in helping make it happen? Let us know.
Click here to read an interview with Dezeray Lyn, one of the many co-founders of Mutual Aid Disaster Relief.
We know Florida did not bear the brunt of hurricanes Irma, Maria, and other recent disasters. And geography shouldn’t dictate our humanity. Here is an overview of self-organization efforts in Mexico following the earthquake.
We have continued our solidarity with Florida farmworker communities, funneling supplies, assisting with mobile kitchen operations and clean-up efforts.
In the words of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers:
“Today, we are happy to report that – thanks to the tremendous generosity of people across the state and across the country – we have been able to stabilize the Immokalee community’s immediate needs through a remarkable collaboration among the CIW and several other local and national organizations… That is not to say that all is well in Immokalee – far from it. There remains much to be done to truly recover from the storm and rebuild our town in a way that can withstand the stronger and more frequent storms that are sure to come. But relief is well underway, and our thoughts can now begin to turn to the longer-term recovery process.”
In Tampa, anti-capitalists, united with people of many persuasions have maintained a liberated zone where people can freely acquire food, water, diapers, over the counter medication, acupuncture, peer mental health support, psychological first aid, massage, first aid, herbal medics, and other items and services to make survival just a little easier. All without i.d. checks, sign ins, quantity limits or other paternalistic measures.
In Houston and surrounding areas, groups like West Street Recovery, Black Lives Matter Houston, Black Women’s Defense League and others have been quietly, slowly doing the paintstaking work of communal recovery despite the city’s appearance of normality. Click here to hear about West Street Recovery and one of their partners in Houston. And click here to read a reportback from Houston.
Are you interested in growing the movement for mutual aid and decentralized, liberatory disaster relief? A speaking and training tour is in the works for the spring. We are locking in dates and locations now, so if your community is willing and able to host us, please email as soon as possible at firstname.lastname@example.org
As always, you can donate to keep our work going here. We are an all-volunteer based network. No six-figure salaries. No salaries at all, in fact. Any funds donated goes towards large trucks and gas to transport supplies and similar expenses, as well as giving us the flexibility to respond to people’s self-determined needs at a moment’s notice. How this plays out in practice is we get a call to deliver food and water. When we arrive we realize that the individual does not have their life-saving diabetes medication due to loss of power and no refrigeration. Other organizations may give a referral or have a series of forms and hoops to jump through to get people what they need. But because one of our core values is autonomous direct action, we immediately connect with the local pharmacy, buy ice and the medication, deliver it, and clean up debris in the yard as well as the rotten items in the fridge. Another key core value is mutual aid. This person, despite their precarious financial situation, had boxes of medical supplies that they were very eager to donate for our free clinic.
This is what solidarity and mutual aid looks like. And this is a window to what a future world could look like. People with wealth are daily dropping off their surplus. People without, are picking it up. There is no bureaucratic state apparatus administering it, no reliance on the violence of the state to defend it. When one strikes a chord on one violin in a room, another violin in the same room sounds a note.
Through resonance, through affinity, we spread an alternative vision of a revolution of everyday life. And we can do so from below.
As the Zapatistas taught us, “Don’t seize power, exercise it.”
– Mutual Aid Disaster Relief