I’ve started doing monthly shoutouts to organizations engaging in advocacy, mutual aid, and other work, as both a resource to call on and for those looking for organizations to $upport. I hope to faithfully represent their goals and work, using social media to share examples of what real-world change and advocacy look like.
This month I’d like to highlight the Mutual Aid Hub, an online resource compiled by the Town Hall Project. This site features a map and list database of different mutual aid groups around the U.S., specifying their scopes and linking to websites when possible. Many of the groups specified work in food and resource distribution, especially during the current pandemic. If you are in need or want to get involved, this is a great place to start! This list is by no means exhaustive, though, and if you are in one of the states where nothing has been submitted it may take some extra digging. If you have the means to do so, recurring donations, such as monthly, are especially helpful to these efforts, who are community-based and often rely entirely on donations and volunteer efforts.
This is because mutual aid work is pretty much by definition outside government or large nonprofit organizations. Credit for popularizing the term usually goes to a compilation of essays published by naturalist and philosopher Peter Kropotkin in 1902, where he argued that cooperation serves an evolutionary and social purpose with both humans and animals, in contrast to applications of Darwin and competition. Today mutual aid takes many forms, such as members of a community coming together to collect and distribute food and supplies among their most vulnerable. These efforts are generally composed of volunteers and run on donations, and are often non-hierarchical as well, as the emphasis is on everyone helping each other. This is especially in contrast to government organizations or nonprofits, who may have conditions or restrictions on their aid, and whose financial support and priorities may not necessarily align with the interests of the communities in which they operate. Many other efforts can be considered mutual aid, and I encourage you to do your own research as this post is simply my own understanding of it. However I can say with certainty that mutual aid is a powerful tool to help ourselves and each other directly, and is becoming increasingly popular in the mainstream.