What makes mutual aid solidarity and not charity.

Here's an excerpt from the August Dispatch.

Over the course of the next couple of months the outreach goal is for the group to really dig into what the term “solidarity not charity” means. One of the best ways to do that is to first explain some differences between mutual aid groups and traditional non-profits and social service programs.

The first thing is that makes mutual aid groups unique is that we are autonomous. We take care of us. This means we aren’t “funded” by donors or government agencies but we also can’t get bogged down in trying to keep our “patrons” happy or having to jump through bureaucratic hoops to keep our funding.

There is no “us” and “them.” Members contribute aid when they can and request support when they need it. Sometime we just send things out if we hear someone has been ill or is in need just to be neighborly. Our help is not conditional.

Mutual aid groups are working towards building a sustainable system, so they are holistic in their approach rather than having a single-issue focus or focusing on one population. This may seem really haphazard to people who are used to the nonprofit approach, but it also enables us to create our own creative solutions to our problems.

Mutual aid groups don’t have any one person in charge. Anyone who has a good idea can propose it to the group and invite interested members to work to make it happen. That doesn’t mean every idea comes to fruition, but everyone’s voice is heard.