What is mutual aid?
In its simplest form, mutual aid is the practice of coming together as a community to take care of one another. We all have needs and we all have resources or skills to contribute; mutual aid is rooted in that collective, reciprocal action. It also moves with the understanding that current social services are not enough. When institutions cannot help, or even worse when they cause harm, we can take action right now to help each other meet our basic needs.
In Shasta County, mutual aid has looked like:
- Providing meals for neighbors after the Carr Fire; donating clothes, toys, and books to those most affected
- Checking in on one another in the aftermath
- Opening guest rooms or rental properties to those who lost housing
- Offering a supportive ear to those whose lives were drastically altered
Much of the community participated in these forms of mutual aid naturally, even if we didn’t all call it that. At its core, mutual aid is about solidarity, community, and survival. With COVID-19, that solidarity is more important than ever.
Mutual aid has a long history, with far too many examples to list here. The Black Panther Party famously ran “survival programs” to support underserved communities by providing free medical clinics, breakfast for school children, shoes and clothing, legal aid and education, and more. Funding came largely from community donations. From the 1800s to now, sociedades mutualistas (mutual societies) have provided services such as education and healthcare for community members in need in Texas.
Shasta Mutual Aid is inspired both by our local community and communities engaging in mutual aid across the world. Based on principles of solidarity, community, and support we are a small group of dedicated local volunteers. We believe everyone has something to share, just as everyone has something they need. If these values speak to you as well, reach out and see how you can take part.