Our February 2022 KFPC Network Meeting took place via zoom on the evening of February 2. During this time we explored and imagined the topic of mutual aid together.
Lindsay Harris, one of our 4 facilitators of the evening, opened the meeting with an exciting activity that set the stage for our collaborative endeavor. Rather than using a predefined understanding of mutual aid, we sought to examine what our network believed mutual aid to be. Using an instinctual, say don’t think, style of facilitation we broke out into groups of 3 to come up with 10 description words for mutual aid as fast as our fingers could type them into the chat! We heard a number of different ideas and phrases, but a lot of overlapping thoughts such as community, collaboration and sharing as well. We described mutual aid as:
Not only did we manage to bring a better understanding to what we ourselves thought of mutual aid, but what others in our network did. We then leaned into Dean Spade’s definition: “Mutual aid work plays an immediate role in helping us get through crises, but it also has the potential to build the skills and capacities we need for an entirely new way of living at a moment when we must transform our society…”
Exploring that second caveat, building the skills and capacities of what is needed, we transitioned into hearing about mutual aid work around poverty within our community. Bonnie Klohn and Emily Pletsch presented their learnings and findings from the project, Changing the Face of Poverty. In addition to discussing the project, findings, and intentional ending in detail, the two shared their anti-stigma video with the network.
As we moved into the discussion group part of the evening, we again sought to establish a more collaborative framework. Rather than our KFPC team defining topics to explore, we asked participants to decide using an open space format. Once we opened the floor to ideas, 3 different topics were created and individuals selected the breakout room of their choice. These included:
- How to bring mutual aid to emergency food aid? (E.g., food boxes)
- How to organize mutual aid for building connections?
- How the rubber hits the road – starting, planning, action, and delivery of mutual aid
For over 25 minutes, we explored our chosen area, while building momentum and creating community. No structural questions were given to lead discussions, everything was carried on organically by participants! Breakout sessions were a buzz with ideas, thoughts, and questions.
In group 1 specific thoughts emerged, such as: “needs don’t always end when the grant funding runs out”, “mutual aid is not always a universal answer to every non-profit project”, and the need to infuse the ethos of “solidarity not charity” into food programs. In group 2 the conception and feasibility of a human library or skillshare program was explored. A concept where people could access a “resource of people” to discover their corresponding skills to share. The group also discussed ways to encourage people to get to know each other in their communities, whether through specific community initiatives or building physical spaces for informal points of connection. In group 3, examples of mutual aid participants had seen or experienced were shared.
After our lengthy and exciting discussions, Bonnie Klohn brought us back to the main group and asked us all to share in the chat something we will be taking away with us after the meeting. Some mentioned specific ideas formed, like the Human Library. Others talked about a grant they heard of they hoped to apply for. While a few mentioned specific statements such as, “I was surprised by the amount of work that’s already been done.”
Mutual aid is a topic of great interest in our city. It’s something we are seeing, it’s something we are doing! Our network meeting was intended to stir our community into action! Even just building up our understanding of mutual aid. If you’d like to explore the topic of Mutual Aid with us further, please sign-up for our March 2 Book Club here.
A big thank you to our presenters and our network for meeting and sharing space with one another. The discussions were as inspiring as they were exciting! We hope to see you all for our next network meeting – in person – at The Stir on April 6, 2022 from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm.
The KFPC is starting a Book Club!
Our book club seeks to bring those in our community together to discuss and explore topics such as local food systems work, community capacity, Indigenous Food Sovereignty, and more in a deeper and exciting way.
We will be meeting online via zoom once every 2 months (possible transition to in-person in summer) to explore relevant writings.
The first book of our Book Club will be Dean Spade’s Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During This Crisis (And the Next).
We will be meeting over zoom on March 2, 5:30-7:30 pm. Please note that registration is required.
“Mutual aid work plays an immediate role in helping us get through crises, but it also has the potential to build the skills and capacities we need for an entirely new way of living at a moment when we must transform our society . . . “
Where to get your book?
We have 20 free copies available as a personal gift from a KFPC network member. Fill out this form to pick up a copy at The Stir. (If you receive a free copy, feel free to share it with a friend once you’ve read it!)
We hope you’ll join us in continuing our conversation around Mutual Aid and exploring other topics in this capacity!
- To Register for March 2 Book Club Meeting Click Here
- To Pick-Up a Free Book on Wednesday, February 9 fill out this form
- To Purchase book via Verso, click here
- Listen to the free audio book on YouTube: Part One & Part Two