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Mutual Aid

Guerilla Bus Benches Are Spurring Berkeley To Step Up For Bus Riders

By day, Mingwei Samuel works as a software developer. Also by day — together with urbanist and writer Darrell Owens — he builds and installs benches at bus stops around Berkeley and Oakland that have no seating. It’s a tale as old as social media: In November, Owens tweeted a photo of his 64-year-old neighbor sitting on the curb at a bus stop to draw attention to the lack of seating for bus riders. “Which stop?” replied Samuel. “I can put a bench there.” A month later, he had placed a wooden bench, built based on a template from the Public Bench Project, at the bus stop in downtown Berkeley.

How ‘Chamas’ And Mutual Credit Are Changing Africa

If I say that the Sarafu Network is a mutual credit network that allows trading without conventional money, that includes 50,000 households across Kenya and did $3 million worth of trade last year – how’s that for a brief description? Yeah, actually we’re up to 52,000, and last month we had 4200 new users registered. What kind of traders are they? Mostly food / agricultural produce. Food sellers and farmers. And what’s your role there? I’m the incoming director, dealing with business development and funding.

In The World’s Wealthiest Country, Housing Should Be A Human Right

Too many of us have to depend on sheer good luck to make it — especially when it comes to putting a roof over our heads. We grow up hearing that hard work alone will lift us above the hardships we’re born into. But many of us also watched as our parents worked two and three jobs, relied on extended family to watch us, and still struggled to afford stable housing. Far too many of us are living that same struggle ourselves. It’s not that we aren’t resourceful. My grandmother, who barely scraped by with factory work and countless odd jobs, pulled together with neighbors who supported each other through a mutual aid network.

Mutual Aid Groups, Asylum-Seekers Support Families Facing Eviction

On Saturday, Dec. 16, hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers gathered at the Fourth Universalist Society on the Upper West Side for the “Posada de Comadres.” Coordinated by a coalition of mutual-aid and immigrant-rights groups, the event featured a housing workshop, a resource fair, the distribution of winter clothing and a mobile health clinic that offered basic health services. Valentina (a pseudonym) and her family, asylum-seekers who fled Colombia, were one of the families present at the event. They are also among the 3,500 families that received an eviction notice from the city earlier in the month. Valentina is over eight months pregnant; her baby is due in the first week of January.

In Occupation, They Cared For The Vulnerable

When the eastern Ukrainian city of Lyman was occupied for five months last year, Valentyna Tkach and Tetiana Potapenko stayed behind. They volunteered to help their vulnerable neighbours. They cared for elderly residents, contacted the Russian occupation administration to ask for food and coal for them, and even buried dead bodies. Now, both women are in detention, having been accused by Ukraine’s Secret Service of collaboration with Russia – a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Tkach and Potapenko were volunteers long before the occupation. Since Soviet times, Lyman’s population has self-organised to better coordinate with local authorities.

The Gulf Islands Food Co-Op

The Gulf Islands Food Co-op was created in 2018 to foster inter-island co-operation and develop new resources and practical supports for food producers and consumers on Galiano, Mayne, Pender and Saturna islands (the Southern Gulf Islands SGI). The co-op’s main goals are to help sustainably increase island food production, food security and resilience by encouraging the growing and purchasing of local food. Its initiatives range from educational programs, such as “healthy soils and regenerative agriculture,” to sharing of local resilient seeds, supporting an Indigenous Venison/Deer workshop offered by The Galiano Conservancy Association, bulk buying of farm supplies, setting up free tables for producers at local markets and supporting growers donating to local food banks.

A Village Of Hope In The City – Latin Village

An urban area, or a borough, can be perceived as an organism and the communities that constitute it can be considered its active living cells. Depending on their passive or dynamic stances, communities can act as catalysts to the quality and direction of urban development in the area. A very good example lies in Tottenham, which aside from its globally known football / soccer team the Tottenham Hotspur, is also known for the Latin Village. In the borough of Haringey in north London, about half of Tottenham’s 130,000 people are white, and half of those are immigrants from Eastern Europe. A big Latin American community mostly of Colombian ancestry thrives among the very diverse other half.

D.C.’s Street Vendor Regulations Formalize The Informal

Informality often makes something beautiful. A rapper freestyling. A jazz musician improvising. A drag queen lip-syncing. Their organic, in-the-moment, uncodified nature is a huge reason they captivate and excite. Street vending is supposed to be the informal version of commerce. In this country, lawmakers and law enforcement have made attempts to codify street vending, and usually it gets pretty ugly, pretty quickly. Maybe this summer in Washington, D.C. will be the start of something different. After years of street vendor-led organizing, earlier this year D.C. Council Members unanimously passed legislation overhauling the District’s street vendor regulations.

In Heat And Smoke, Workers Fight Negligent Bosses

On June 29, the air quality in Detroit was among the worst in the world. “Outside it smelled like burnt plastic, almost like trash,” said UAW member Cody Zaremba, who works at a General Motors plant in Lansing, Michigan. He and his co-workers were experiencing coughing, runny noses, watery eyes, and trouble breathing. But GM didn’t even acknowledge the smoke, Zaremba said, much less offer any protection. “Everybody just had to go about it their own way,” he said. “We can all see it and smell it. But what are we going to do about it?” As wildfires, drought, floods, and scorching heat disrupt the supply chain, the logistics industry is starting to worry about the impact of climate change…on profits.

‘Pop-Up Care Villages’ Bring Joy To Community-Led Homelessness Services

A celebration with guests, volunteers and partners sharing conversation, hugs, love and laughter isn’t what most people associate with programs for unhoused people. But joyous gatherings may be the secret to creating trusted relationships that restore dignity, rekindle optimism and fuel a sense of opportunity for community members experiencing homelessness. Local government agencies years ago recognized the need to bring services for unhoused people together in a central location. One solution in use across the country is periodic Homeless Connect events, like the Los Angeles County series organized by council members.

People Power Battery Collective

Smoke from wildfires raging up north in Canada blew down to engulf many major U.S. cities in an apocalyptic glow that left New York City with the worst air quality in the world. For those of us in California, seeing the apocalyptic images from the east coast going viral brought us back to the many times over the last decade that we experienced the same thing — wildfires raging from northern parts of the state like the Camp Fire in Butte County that completely incinerated the town of Paradise, or the fires in southern California, or Sonoma County, or the Santa Cruz Mountains — there’s too many to really keep track of. Here in California, one of the many impacts of wildfires that we know all too well has been the loss of power — of electricity.

As New York Skies Darken, Delivery Workers Help Each Other

Wildfire smoke muddled the New York City skyline on Tuesday. Many people experienced the eerie threat mainly by scrolling through social media. But others experienced it in their bodies. “My eyes were burning,” said UPS package driver Matt Leichenger, who was making deliveries in Brooklyn. “My throat was scratchy. By lunchtime, I was feeling dizzy and nauseous.” Eventually, he got himself a surgical mask, he said, pausing momentarily to cough while we spoke on the phone. “It got a little bit better, but I was still blowing snot.” News stories showed a veil of smoke stretching from Wisconsin to Alabama—but UPS didn’t say anything to its workers.

From Bayanihan To Talkoot

For all of human history, societies have depended on communal work to sustain themselves into the (often unpredictable) future. However, at a certain point, that all changed. Market forces took over, and communal projects ceased to have the same significance. The individual took precedence over the community, and large public works became the purview of burgeoning states. The classic North American example of such communal work projects is the Amish tradition of barn-raising, wherein the community gathers to help a neighbor erect their barn without remuneration or any expectation of reciprocity because, as we’ll see, these acts of generosity benefited everyone, not just the barn owner.

Puerto Ricans Occupy Land To Resist Displacement

In front of a mural that reads “Only the people save the people,” Marisel Robles Gutiérrez stood before a group of elderly adults, to make an announcement: the non-profit organization Comedores Sociales had gained ownership of the abandoned property that they occupied in 2017 by negotiating with a real estate investment company. With a slightly cracked voice and smiling, she said: “We rescued this building… we gave it life, and thanks to all these years, to all the people who have participated,” —she interrupted and placed her hands to her chest— “finally, we can announce today that it is ours.”  

Building Autonomous Mutual Aid As The Border Continues To Militarize

In this episode, we speak with someone involved with El Comedor, an autonomous mutual aid hub and organizing center in so-called Tijuana, Mexico, which was founded by anarchists and asylum seekers in 2018. From a previous report: El Comedor is currently one of the only places, if not the only place, serving hot meals everyday in Tijuana. Though “the caravan” is out of the news, thousands still pass through Tijuana on their way north hoping to escape violence. During our discussion, we speak about autonomous, mutual aid, and anarchist projects in Tijuana, Mexico as well as the rapidly militarizing borderlands. Under Biden, the US, and by extension, the Mexican and Canadian borders have continued to crack-down on refugees.
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