Ward 1 Mutual Aid - D.C. Mutual Aid Network

is creating communities

190

patrons

$6,493

per month

About Ward 1 Mutual Aid - D.C. Mutual Aid Network

What is Ward 1 Mutual Aid?

Ward 1 Mutual Aid was born in the midst of the pandemic back in spring 2020. Local government was ignoring the urgent needs of neighbors. People were in lockdown, unable to access food, cleaning supplies, or masks. Tons of folks lost their jobs and access to resources overnight. As all this tragedy and uncertainty unfolded around them, a few neighbors started coming together to make masks, do grocery deliveries to homebound neighbors, and get information and resources out to the community. Ward 1 Mutual Aid was born.

Ward 1 Mutual Aid is part of the DC Mutual Aid Network. We are a grassroots, community-led effort to take care of each other and keep our city as safe as possible. We recognize mutual aid is a universal practice that has deep roots in Black and Brown communities that have continued to be excluded from government assistance. Mutual aid is necessary because we know we can’t rely on the national or local government to meet all our needs with both urgency and dignity. We believe our struggles are collective and will need to be addressed by creating new community safety nets and networks. We know we’re not going to get free unless we tear down our current systems and build a new world in the shell of the old. That’s why the DC Mutual Aid Network exists. That’s what we mean by “we keep us safe.”

In the Ward 1 Mutual Aid network, we keep us safe by:
  • Supporting multiple weekly food and supply distribution tables in collaboration with the Woodner Tenant Union, Grupo en Acción, Arroz y Frijoles (a pod of neighbors providing rice, beans, and other food to neighbors), Food for All, Food Rescue, and others;
  • Supporting bulk buying clubs in buildings where neighbors buy and share necessities like toilet paper, paper towels, rice, and vegetables;
  • Partnering with DC Diaper Bank to distribute 20,000 diapers to our neighbors every month;
  • Running a monthly food and supply distribution table for our unhoused neighbors in the Shaw/U Street area;
  • Working on and supporting the creation of a housing cooperative called Baldwin House with the goal of creating affordable housing for working class people impacted by gentrification and developing a mutual aid hub;
  • Supporting the organizing efforts of various public housing communities in Ward 1 include Park Morton’s fight against displacement and Garfield Terrace’s work around food sovereignty and self-sufficiency;
  • Organizing “pods” (small groups of neighbors based on neighborhood) and tenant unions that stay in relationship with each other, hold clothing swaps, deliver food to homebound neighbors, pool resources to fundraise for neighbors in emergency situations, and fight for collective demands;
  • Partnering with and supporting various organizations, movements, and actions like Boycott Nellies, the Blackburn Takeover by Howard Students, and Vendedores Unidos; and
  • Educating ourselves about cooperative effort, non-hierarchical leadership, and continuing to cultivate our visions for liberation.

If you are interested in plugging into Ward 1 Mutual Aid, you can find our offerings on our Facebook page and come meet us. We do not welcome cops/law enforcement/defense contractors or active-duty military into our spaces. We do not believe the police keep us safe. #WeKeepUsSafe

How will your Ward 1 Mutual Aid contributions be used?

Mutual aid is solidarity work, and we all participate and organize voluntarily. 100% of your contributions will go directly to the work and no one profits or makes an income from this work. Many of our active organizers also contribute directly to the Ward 1 Mutual Aid fund on a recurring basis or spend out of our own pockets to cover the gaps in needs. Mutual aid is also founded in community accountability and decision-making. As such, here is a breakdown of how our funds are being spent in recent months:

  • Recurring and emergency cash assistance to community members in crisis and those who want to organize, so we can help support each other and build collective power as a community;
  • Purchasing fresh produce, nonperishable food, household supplies, PPE, and hygiene items that we distribute weekly around Ward 1;
  • Contributing to the DC Mutual Aid partnership with DC Diaper Bank to distribute 20,000 free diapers monthly to over 240 Ward 1 residents;
  • Working to remove the boundaries for participation in our organizing (for example, paying for gas if someone wants to help with diaper distribution). We find inspiration in the principle “from each according to ability and to each according to need”;
  • Fostering inclusive, language accessible organizing spaces by partnering with interpreters and translators for our meetings; and
  • Supporting collective demands and direct action in Ward 1.

In the future, we hope to dream bigger about how mutual aid can create a DMV that is better than before this crisis. We hope to use funds for the following:

  • Acquiring space to house people who are currently unhoused;
  • Acquiring land to farm fresh produce;
  • Acquiring physical space to continue this work beyond COVID-19;
  • Commissioning local BIPOC artists to create new work in support of Ward 1 residents;
  • Uplifting stories of mutual aid today and historically in Washington D.C. and globally; and
  • And more! If you want to join us in dreaming bigger, check out our Facebook page and come meet us at one of our events.

Your contributions will help us power our community offerings through building a robust foundation of funds. That means we need as many people as possible giving monthly at the highest sustainable amount for them- whether that’s $5 or $200. The more people who contribute consistently, the more secure our organizing will be if someone decides to pause their support.

While a donation of $5 a month can help maintain our day-to-day work, larger donations can help us vision how we can sustain a mutual aid network beyond the pandemic. Please give as much as you are able to.

Minimum Donation: $5 a month

Are my contributions to Ward 1 Mutual Aid tax-deductible?

Ward 1 Mutual Aid is a 501(c)(4), and as such, contributions to Ward 1 Mutual Aid are not tax-deductible. Ward 1 Mutual Aid organizers decided in late 2020 that seeking and maintaining 501(c)(3) status would limit our ability to be as flexible as possible with how we fundraise, distribute, or spend funds in the community and would require legal capacity beyond the means of our volunteers. We do operate as an autonomous, not-for-profit organizing-driven volunteer collective, and we regularly track our finances with transparency for our organizing neighbors.

Where We’ve Been & Where We’re Going

We believe that strong movement organizations are those that are ever evolving to the needs of the community, so we have constantly changed to adapt to the current moment. In the past, you may have seen us:

  • Purchasing and delivering groceries and cleaning supplies door-to-door to over 150 Ward 1 families weekly, picking up medications, and providing direct cash assistance upon request;
  • Organizing groups of mask makers to get hundreds of masks out to the community;
  • Staffing an intake phone line for residents with unmet needs;
    • At one point, local government was even referring people to us instead of providing direct assistance to residents themselves; and
  • Working directly with local farmers to deliver fresh produce to Ward 1 residents.

However, as the pandemic stretched on through 2020 and 2021, it became clear that we needed to change the way we did things. In late 2020, we stopped doing ward-wide door-to-door deliveries. We shifted to focus more on relational organizing within Ward 1, to be more responsive to direct needs of our neighbors, including getting financial resources to people more directly and to be sustainable in our organizing with the reduced capacity and funding we had available. Many of our communities were in survival mode before the pandemic. Now that the initial lockdown is over and we are forced to live with COVID, we are continuing to not only address this public health crisis but also fight for what our communities needed before the pandemic. This looks like demanding Mayor Bowser and DC Council ease the financial burden of the pandemic by canceling rent and halting the acceleration of gentrification on residents; give our unhoused neighbors both shelter and autonomy; release people from jails and detention centers; and much more. We are in an ongoing process of learning and growing from our experiences to be accountable to our community and to adapt to the needs of the current moment.

Beyond this pandemic, we are building a future that we want to see. We see mutual aid as a means of building that better world: a marathon, not a sprint. We are non-hierarchical and decentralized, as we believe that the people closest to the problem are best positioned to design a response. We focus on organizing ourselves and our neighbors towards collective self-determination instead of relying on the wealthy and powerful to come save us. With that, we also believe that we all have a role to play in creating an economy that serves all of us, an economy based in solidarity where excess wealth is redistributed from our personal savings to our collective wellbeing, and we all have what we need. We believe that we can collectively meet our needs as we work to dismantle capitalism, white supremacy, and all oppressive forces.

“The major job was getting people to understand that they had something within their power that they could use, and it could only be used if they understood what was happening and how group action could counter violence…”
— Ella Jo Baker

JOIN WARD 1 MUTUAL AID

On our Facebook page, we regularly post our weekly and monthly offerings, often food distribution pop-ups, community listening sessions, or events where we will have a presence to meet neighbors or distribute supplies. Come find us out in the community and let one of our organizers know you’re interested in getting more involved.

FOLLOW WARD 1 MUTUAL AID

We try to post updates on our public offerings or activities on our social media accounts, where we also boost news about other happenings in Ward 1 and within the DC mutual aid network. Follow us on Instagram or Twitter @DCW1MutualAid.

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