For the second in a series of interviews of how mutual aid groups are doing work during COVID-19 I spoke with Ruby from Lane County Mutual Aid. You can read the first one with the Solidarity Share Fair here.
What is Lane County Mutual Aid and how was it founded?
Lane County Mutual Aid is a group of community members supporting other community members! It was founded as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as we observed how our elected officials were not showing up for the humans most impacted by the pandemic and it’s economic fallout.
Do most people working with Lane County Mutual aid have a background with mutual aid or this new to them?
Many of the people involved in LCMA have a background in organizing and have been practicing mutual aid in some ways. We are organizers from NAC, Sunrise, White Bird, the NAACP, and other organizations… but many of us are new to this, too!
What safety measures have volunteers taken to keep them and those they are serving safe?
When doing hands-on support, we always go full out on the PPE! Gloves and masks all the way! Lots of hand-sanitizer and hand-washing too.
What has been the most challenging thing of running this project during this pandemic?
The most challenging aspect of running this project during the pandemic has absolutely been that everything is online and we can’t see our fellow organizer’s faces! Doing everything online has meant that we are all getting computer fatigue, and everything just takes a lot longer. It can be frustrating!
Do you view this as short-term project or an organization that will last beyond the pandemic?
Mutual Aid forever!!!! We are hoping this project will last long past the pandemic, especially in the form of neighborhood pods. If and when another crisis occurs, it would be stellar to have the infrastructure still in place for how we can support one another!
How can community members help?
Community members can help by building their own neighborhood pods, filling out volunteer support forms, and supporting their neighbors (grocery runs, check-ins, rent striking… the possibilities for how we can show up for one another are endless!). More information on all of these aspects of the project can be found on our website, lanemutualaid.org. If fellow humans want to get more involved with the project they can contact us through the website!
What lessons can you provide to other organizers?
This time may feel really urgent (and it is) but it is important to take it slow and prioritize mental health! This is a long-term experience we all need to hunker down for… we cannot solve all of the world’s problems at once! Communicate within your organizations, and honor rest!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Love one another!