The shorthand for our method—which is simply what has come to work for us through experimentation and practice—is Circle, Gather, Build, Transform.
Each member of Mutual Aid is part of a small group, called a Circle, which consists of 5-9 people (the best size for substantive face-to-face communication). Circles are formed through a commitment of friends or family members, and we meet at least monthly. In our Circle sessions, we check in with one another, explore some topic of discussion, and prepare for our various activity. These groups serve as action-reflection, or praxis, groups.
Each month, members Gather together for what we refer to as a “potluck with a purpose.” These consist of that most basic of human things—sharing a meal—and include laughter, music, discussion, decision-making (as needed), and preparation for our activity as a whole. We invite friends and family to join us in these Gatherings, and they are the centerpiece of our community.
Also monthly, we get together to Build community through tangible and impactful projects of some sort. These can range from building community gardens and other sharing spaces to skillshares, community resource/needs assessments, family fun days, and projects in solidarity with partnered organizations or communities. All are invited to take part.
Finally, we do the work of transformation by growing alternatives that model the world we dream about. We find it helpful to refer to this as practicing interdependence and solidarity. Interdependence refers to our capacity to support one another in life and remove obstacles to community. This consists of practices of mutual aid such as sharing food and other goods or services, cooperative childcare, transportation, assistance with health needs, teaching and learning with one another, and helping each other through times of crisis.
Solidarity refers to expanding our community by standing with and working alongside those others experiencing injustice and oppression. Some examples from what we do are: forming a Solidarity Network, supporting and participating in the Black Lives Matter movement, and working to be in community with refugee’d people. Members meet as needed to do this work, usually monthly.