A lot of us enter a new year with big ambitions, worthy intentions, and seemingly endless goals. But oftentimes, our resolutions morph into memories within a month or two.
Perhaps the reason we struggle with resolutions is that resolutions = tasks and none of us want more tasks! Practices, however, are rooted in values; cultivate both inward and outward change; and include sustainability, steadiness, and nuance.
If you haven’t considered it already, how about prioritizing practices over resolutions in 2023? Creating change is itself a practice, and our approach to dismantling oppressive systems and engaging in mutual aid requires the same humility, determination and time that one might invest in learning a new skill.
Reconfiguring our mindsets from the task-oriented “I need to volunteer more” to the values-focused “I’m part of an interconnected community and I’m committed to its well-being,” is liberating! It allows us to let go of perfectionism, and loosen our grips on individualism.
Beyond being rooted in values, practices and mutual aid share a lot of qualities—they can be small or large, are cultivated and grown over time, and allow space for trial and error and grace, as we figure out what works.
And, as is true of developing personal practices, there’s no correct way to “do” mutual aid. Everyone can provide, or need, aid at any time. We eventually find a pace that works for us, maybe even hitting a stride, but practicing patience when—yes, when—that stride is disrupted is key. Whether you’re able to share your time and skills or leverage your resources once a month, once a week, or daily, you’re making a positive impact and doing so with intention. And because you have participated in your community, you have more folks to turn to when—yes, when— you need help.
There are people, groups, and projects that welcome our contributions year-round. Your participation will be as valued on July 12th as it is January 1st.
So, here’s to ditching rigid goals and tasks as a means for improvement and instead normalizing values-centered circuitous paths—ones that focus on interdependence and shared humanity alongside personal wellbeing.
Written by Lauren and Sarah, who organize with MALAN
In the spring of 2020, Barnard College student Elise Logan and UCLA Student Mia Glionna were completing their junior-year coursework online in their hometown of Pasadena. At this time, data had begun to show that the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affected Black communities—something that is still a reality, nearly three years into the pandemic. Elise and Mia knew that the pandemic was another grave challenge on top of other systemic injustices that their Black neighbors faced, such as housing inequality , displacement , income and resource disparities , and police violence. They knew that it was time to take action. They also knew that they could not wait for local, county, and state governments to meet these needs. They needed to get resources right into the hands of their neighbors as soon as possible.
So, with the hope of establishing a living and lasting network of care for Black Pasadenans, Mia and Elise created the Pasadena Black Equity Project. One critical initiative on the agenda? Raise funds to help ease the educational, healthcare, living and community costs of their Black neighbors in need. PBEP established a mutual aid fund, set a goal, sought donations, leveraged social media and began to do just that. This past July, they hosted an event called Summer of Sol to benefit their mutual aid fund. Attendees could enjoy performances by Black artists, indulge in food from Black vendors, and participate in interactive educational activities that explore Black history in Pasadena and how it connects to the present day. They plan to host a third annual benefit concert again this summer. PBEP takes a joyful approach to building their mutual aid fund - one that brings folks together.
But fundraising is only one realm of PBEP’s work. While the immediate fruit of their labor is easing the material burdens of their Pasadena neighbors, PBEP’s organizers share an even deeper goal: to preserve the legacy of the Black community in Pasadena through memory and archiving work. In 2022, they began preparing for a digital archive project, collecting photos and oral histories that help tell the story of Black Pasadenans. PBEP plans to make another call for materials in 2023! Their efforts affirm that keeping local memory alive is work in which an entire community can participate. The group invites folks to engage in collective and collaborative storytelling. “This community-run initiative is important because many historical institutions with authority (e.g., schools, libraries, museums, archives, textbook manufacturers etc.) have controlled how we are represented and remembered”, Elise and Mia shared in a recent conversation, “and we wish to reclaim the agency of self-representation.”
In addition to honoring the past, PBEP also celebrates the present voices of Pasadena’s Black community. They plan to begin publishing a biannual zine in 2023! Their zine will feature the work of Black artists, writers, and activists. They hope the zine will educate readers about local community organizing and the power of mutual aid. Proceeds from zine sales will be sown back into the local community via the mutual aid fund.
The Pasadena Black Equity Project is a youth-led movement, currently run by a group of Pasadena-based organizers dedicated to both preserving the past and nourishing future generations. To date, they have released 52 stipends to bring financial relief to Black Pasadenans, and there are still people on the waiting list to receive support. With your help, PBEP’s work can go even further. If you live in or around Pasadena, this is an especially impactful way to care for the neighbors nearest you and redistribute funds to those most impacted by systemic injustice.
Written by Katie who organizes with Mutual Aid LA Network
*PLEASE clean, sort & fold all items you are donating. Items should be new or gently used. Socks, underwear and hygiene items should always be unused.
WHO: LA Street Care
YOU HAVE: TIME ITEMS MONEY
YOU NEED: ITEMS SERVICES FOOD
LA Street Care is an abolitionist mutual aid collective building community through direct outreach to unhoused neighbors in Los Feliz, Echo Park, Atwater, Historic Filipinotown, Silver Lake, and Rampart Village. We need these items for the upcoming January 15th donation drive: Tents, sleeping bags, blankets, coats/jackets, tarps, winter clothes, new socks/underwear, dog food, hygiene items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, body wash, travel size shampoo/conditioner, toilet paper, wipes, deodorant, mouthwash, face wash, new nail clippers, Tylenol, Advil, and bandaids. Outreach is every Sunday at 1pm and we’re always looking for new folks to join us. We also have additional roles to fill if you aren’t available at that time. Questions? DM @lastreetcare on Twitter or IG.
WHEN: Donation drive on January 15 from 12-2pm. Join the outreach Sundays at 1pm.
WHERE: In the parking lot of 1533 N Vermont Ave in Los Feliz
$$$: You can make a one-time or recurring donation at opencollective.com/lastreetcare
WHO: J-Town Action と Solidarity
YOU HAVE: ITEMS MONEY
YOU NEED: ITEMS FOOD
Grassroots collective dedicated to revolutionary organizing and building community power in Little Tokyo. Support or attend the weekly mutual aid Power Up with @WeTheUnhoused (time and location below). We are currently collecting donations of tents, sleeping bags, tarps, blankets, warm clothes (larger sizes), hygiene kits, and backpacks. If you have items to donate but cannot make the below time or location, email JtownAction.email@example.com to arrange pick-up/drop-off at another time. Find on Twitter and IG @JTOWNACTION and on the web at jtownactionandsolidarity.com
WHEN: Donation drop-off and Power-Up on Saturdays from 2-5pm
WHERE: 1st and Judge Aiso St. in Little Tokyo
$$$: Contribute funds by visiting jtownactionandsolidarity.com/DONATE
WHO: City Hall sessions Los Angeles
YOU HAVE: TIME ITEMS MONEY
YOU NEED: ITEMS FOOD
A Skid Row-based group dedicated to changing the world for the better. Operation Feed SKIDROW distributes food, clothing, and hygiene kits every Friday evening. We’re accepting donations of hygiene items, washed clothing and shoes, cosmetics, and blankets.
WHEN: Every Friday at 5:30pm
WHERE: Skid Row at 5th and San Pedro
$$$: Venmo @CHSLosAngeles or purchase items on the wishlist!
WHO: Los Angeles Student Solidarity
YOU HAVE: ITEMS MONEY
YOU NEED: ITEMS
LASS is a student-led mutual aid organization that seeks to build unity amongst students in LA and create equitable access to education by distributing educational materials and supplies. We’re currently seeking school supplies (notebooks, crayons, binders, etc.), hygiene items, and backpacks/bags in good condition. In addition to the monthly donation drop-off, donation pick-ups and drop-offs can be coordinated throughout the month by IG DM @lastudentsolidarity or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHEN: Second Saturday of every month, 12-4pm for donation drop-off at the Echo Park Branch Library
WHERE: The greater South Bay and Downtown areas with regular distributions at the Echo Park library
$$$: Donate via PRIMARY Venmo @studentsolidarity or Paypal. We’re also selling pins at All Power Books and Midnight Books!
WHO: LA Community Fridges: Moving Team
YOU HAVE: TIME
YOU NEED: ITEMS FOOD
LACF has a Fridge Moving Team that needs truck and SUV owners to help transport fridges being donated, newly setup, and swapped out. We’re seeking people across LA willing to lend a hand and/or muscle loading and unloading fridges (no truck required). There is no set commitment required, only joining a Signal channel and raising your hand when available. We’re also seeking another dispatcher to help coordinate fridge transports and sourcing. This is a 100% remote volunteer opportunity. Lastly, LACF is looking to bolster the roster of electricians/fridge repair folks. Please email email@example.com or text/call 707-789-1015 if interested in any of the above or jump right into the Fridge Movers signal and introduce yourself.
As always, the fridges are yours to use as a resource and contribute to in various ways, like donating unopened and unspoiled food, cleaning a fridge, holding a drive, etc.
WHEN: Times vary. It’s whenever YOU can do it!
WHERE: All over LA (we do our best to keep it reasonable)
WHO: Humanities for the Homies
YOU HAVE: MONEY
YOU NEED: FOOD
Humanities for the Homies is a youth-run organization dedicated to serving our community through mutual aid, political education, and youth collaboration. Food distributions are held every second Saturday of the month. DM @humanities4thehomies on IG if you have q’s.
WHEN: January 14th for next Food Distro
WHERE: North East LA
$$$: Financial contributions can be made via ko-fi.com/humanities4homies
WHO: Grass Roots Neighbors
YOU HAVE: TIME MONEY
YOU NEED: ITEMS SERVICES FOOD
Grass Roots Neighbors is a volunteer community organization that aims to fill the gaps in existing services for our neighbors experiencing food and housing insecurity by providing assistance with love and respect. We deliver groceries regularly (Mon through Fri at noon) to 50 to 60 low-income households and cook warm meals to distribute to unhoused neighbors every Sunday afternoon. Volunteers are needed to drive, bag groceries, cook, do outreach during the week at lunch or on Sunday afternoon in Playa del Rey or Westchester. Sign-up to volunteer at grassrootsneighbors.org/sign-up or send a text to (424) 209-2777.
WHEN: Lunchtime meal delivery Monday-Friday at Noon. Outreach to unhoused neighbors every Sunday afternoon.
WHERE: Operates out of Westchester and Playa del Rey and serves Westchester, Playa del Rey, Marina del Rey, Del Rey, and Venice areas.
$$$: Make a financial contribution by visiting grassrootsneighbors.org/donate.
WHO: The Resistance Coalition
YOU HAVE: TIME ITEMS
The Resistance Coalition seeks to unite individuals and groups with overlapping objectives. We’re currently working to expand the LA Community Fridge network to the San Fernando Valley by putting together a team of volunteers to help find fridge hosts by contacting organizations and businesses, then helping set up and maintain these fridges once a host is found. We’re accepting donations of food, drinks, toiletries and household essentials. Contact us via IG DM @ResistanceCoalitionLA or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ready to donate food now? You can bring unopened, safe-to-eat food to an already-up-and-running @LACommunityFridges fridge. View all of LA’s fridges currently accepting donations by visiting tinyurl.com/lacfopen.
WHERE: San Fernando Valley region
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