10 steps for building Community during Corona

Yes, it is bad. Yes you should take it seriously. Yes, as activists we should be concerned about restriction of civil liberties and closure of political space – but lets talk about how we can use this time to build community, and agitate for positive change.

  1. SOLIDARITY – Make your actions speak louder than words. Stand up for people who are less well off than you, or more vulnerable.

    * Here is a petition for casual workers to be supported in this time

    * Listen to what disabled people want and learn from them (twitter thread).

    * Stand up to racism. Get chinese takaway! Follow Democracy in colour.

    * Add your voice to the call on a moratorium on evictions and resources for share houses

    * Support the rights of people seeking asylum

    * Follow Aboriginal voices on facebook and Twitter – to hear how you can help. When we hear specific call outs we will share. Read about “decolonising community care during corona

    * Petition to get people out of jail

    * Contact QANTAS on facebook and twitter calling for their workers to be paid and supported. It is unconscionable for a CEO on $20 million receiving a $750 million government handout to be treating workers in this way.

    * There will be an announcement tomorrow calling for release of some prisoners who in for minor offences, close to release, etc. This benefits the people who work in prisons and people in there, where virus can spread like wildfire. Here is an example from overseas.
    Think about the time you are saving in commuting, and some of the multi tasking that is possible when working from home.

    If you don’t have kids, then set aside 30-60 minutes of your day where you take political action. Schedule it in.

    You might want to make daily phone calls to politicians, or companies that aren’t doing right by their employees. We actually have an opportunity and time to make a real difference in our actions when done en masse from the home. Whether its on climate issues, or authoritarian government tendencies get on the phone!
    In your organisation, or as an individual – think about how we can get on the front foot. How can we use this tragic time to envision the world we want? How can we push back against capitalism taking up all the space in the media and politics.

    We need to talk about our vision. We need to lobby against what will be tendencies towards closure of political space and authoritarianism.

    Here are some collected statements from organisations and ideas from progressives.
    If you aren’t losing money at this time, then think of what you are saving – you aren’t going out, and seeing shows, using much money for transport. Allocate a weekly budget towards supporting local artists – by paying to view a livestream, or buying their music online. We will collate lists in the coming weeks. See the impact here.
  5. GET CREATIVE – if you are a big geek and think “I have an awesome idea for an app that will make XXX thing easier at this time, there is a cool handbook for “technologists” which also has other excellent resources. Think what skills you have that you might want to share with friends, through facebook live, zoom, youtube or other forums – try and make the learning two way and interactive whilst people are craving social interactivity.

    There are heaps of activists and resources for kids at home – here is one collection
  6. LIMIT YOUR DOOM TIME – There is a point when watching death counts and some of the news will really get to you. Limit yourself. Choose a few news sources you trust and use them. Don’t be part of sharing misinformation – particularly if you are participating in the next point – mutual aid networks.
  7. MUTUAL AID – we will have a very detailed post up in the near future listing all the forms of direct action and mutual aid people are taking in this time. Mutual aid is peer to peer support. It is not charity. In the absence of government leadership we are seeing brilliant inspiration and community leadership. Next time you are feeling down about the situation – scroll through one of these groups and see all the great people offering their help.

    People are exchanging goods, calling out for advice, baking food for busy nurses, doing errands and shops, asking for help for neighbours, checking in on each others mental health and more.

    Northside mutual aid – Melbourne is an example of best practice in this regard. Its been intigated by activist/organiser folks and you can tell – they are clear about what they are doing, they are building education into the process and limiting conjecture and non-expert advice. Other groups such as Community Care in Perth have built quickly – to nearly 40,000 without an ability keep on top of admin, or the spread of incorrect information – to keep it a useful, effective space.

    Its all wonderful and well intended – but if you put some thought into it first, it will be most effective – plan it like you would a work project or campaign, be reasonable in your limits, have clear objectives, and have fun!

    Go hyper-local. Get in contact with people in your suburb to see what else is happening via general community facebook pages, barter or buy nothing pages, and if nothing set up you may want a suburb based group, but the main game is YOUR OWN STREET

    Here is are some templates you can adapt
    * Westside community aid
    * A canva template (for pretty design)
    * A street wide drop off with good success – 50 out of 100 houses signed up!

    You can think also list your group on these great maps and/or offer help at:
    * Viral Kindness (a GetUp initiative)
    * Helpful neighbours (Aust Youth Climate Coalition, Seed & friends)

    * Australian Covid Mutual Aid database
    * UK Covid Mutual aid connection point & LOTS resources
    * The Commons Library collection
    * Resources for Queer crew
  8. Be careful of your language. Saying “its just like the flu” or it only impacts old people is not helpful or true. Perhaps instead of complaining about working from home, think how lucky you are to have a job that allows it and steady income -think how you can share your prosperity – in time or income. As the picture of a friend says, “your only is my everything” when people are talking about only vulnerable people being impacted.

    Think about what its like for people with disabilities and chronic illnesses that deal with this daily. Also – learn from them – and any people in organisations, embed the learnings for a more compassionate and accessible organisation in future.
  9. Find joy. Have fun. Some people just organised a dance off over zoom. Others are organising street parties in their driveways, or singing from balconies. And watch this.
  10. Join our list to hear about our exciting upcoming project, REBEL SCHOOL OF THE AIR! A project brought from the backburner to full burn – we will be sharing civil resistance and activist skills online. SIGN UP HERE.

    PS – lots of resources and ideas for community solidarity, legitimate health information as well as my first hand account of being tested for Corona.

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