Waltham Mutual Aid started in 2020 as a grassroots, community-led effort to support Waltham residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are volunteer-run and do our best to live by these beliefs and values:
Everyone has something to offer and everyone has things that they need.
Needing things is not a personal failure – we are living in a profoundly unequal society without safety nets. This is not our fault but we believe in taking collective responsibility for getting everyone through times of crisis. Every person deserves dignity and stability in their lives. No matter why someone is reaching out, we do our best to support them. All flourishing is mutual: individual well-being is collective well-being.
This is a dynamic effort, and we are flexible: learning from our mistakes, redesigning our systems as we go, and building our muscles of decentralized organizing. We remain committed to each other, even when we mess up.
We choose trust. If someone is reaching out for assistance, we are choosing to believe them. We do not engage in means testing. We choose to trust each other and we encourage everyone to make this choice as well.
Mutual aid will only get us so far– we are in solidarity with organizers making critical systemic demands of our community and our politicians for an equitable world. We are just one community in a long history of mutual aid committed to collective surviving and thriving.
Solidarity not charity. We believe our well-being is dependent on the well-being of others, and we engage in a politics of solidarity that, unlike charity, rejects power imbalance and embraces our shared humanity.
Keeping it simple. We will strive to use low-tech tools that keep the barrier to entry low and our resources accessible to all. We will strive to prioritize accessibility, and try to make things easy to learn and participate in.
Keeping it safe. We will strive to protect people’s information and offer community support if anyone feels threatened.
Spreading out the work. We are a horizontal organization with no formal leadership structure, but full of people who love to collaborate, organize, and solve problems. Many hands make light work!
Finishing what we start. We respond to requests and are transparent about what we can and cannot support.
Listening and reflecting. We ask and listen to what people need, and shift our actions in response.
Working towards language justice. We translate everything that we can and are building a multilingual group to support all of our neighbors.
Centering racial justice. We know that wealth and safety nets have been systematically taken apart for people of color over generations, leaving people more vulnerable in crises. We commit to mutual aid support as a form of resource redistribution and weaving of a new community-held safety net for all.
Recognizing Intersectionality. We seek to build an equitable structure that acknowledges the complex ways in which race, class, nationality, language, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, neurodiversity, age, religion, and other factors intersect, interact, and impact the experiences of our neighbors.
“Mutual aid is the radical act of caring for each other while working to change the world.”
– Dean Spade’s “Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During this Crisis and the Next”