Mutual Aid During the Pandemic

September 8, 2020 by Joshua
in Leadership

On my podcast I’ve been sharing how I’m trying to find ways to work with my community to keep it safe. You may have seen the article former podcast guest James Altucher wrote, NYC Is Dead Forever. Here’s Why:

Jerry Seinfeld responded with a proud “up yours” in a piece the New York Times published, So You Think New York Is ‘Dead’:

Seinfeld remarks that the city is resilient, always has been, and always will be. I see their feud applying to many places during the pandemic, not just New York City, but let’s treat the place they’re talking about.

I agree on the city’s resilience, but I don’t think it will do well if we just believe it will and wait for it to recover. In my neighborhood, crime is up. Dealers are selling more drugs. People have died on the streets from fights and overdoses. I see more vagrancy.

If we act deliberately, with community, I expect we’ll show Jerry right. Podcast guest Geoffrey West‘s research suggests New York City will endure. Cities’ networks make them durable. Look at Rome or Hiroshima. If we don’t act, I suspect James will look right for a long time, even if not forever.

As I’ve shared on my podcast, I’ve gone to “Build The Block” meetings where police meet with residents. I’m trying to start community responses. Greenwich Village residents tending to be wealthy, many moved out, leading to empty storefronts. The police say many retired early after the riots and that this year’s Police Academy delayed its graduation, meaning fewer officers. Crime fills in gaps.

I’ve met with residents to form community to act. People love complaining and saying how the police and government should help. I agree they should, but expect they will more the more we take responsibility and act.

I’m still picking up garbage. With all the extra garbage and the rewarding feeling that comes with it, I believe even just creating a community effort to pick up garbage will help bring neighbors together to act together, which I believe will lead to bigger efforts we could only make work with experience from smaller things.

Sadly, as enthusiastic as people seem to complain, they seem more inclined to say what won’t work than to find what will, or at least might.

Mutual Aid

A friend from Astoria, a few subway stops out of Manhattan in Queens, told me about a “mutual aid” group in her neighborhood, the Astoria Mutual Aid Network. She mentioned it because I mentioned what I was trying to do here. She also mentioned a May New Yorker article on the practice, What Mutual Aid Can Do During a Pandemic.

I teach Initiative because I love seeing how taking responsibility, even if others could or you think they should, improves life, creates mutually supportive community, and leads to more results beyond what you could expect.

If you know of Mutual Aid groups we could learn from, please let me know. I’d love to learn from them. So far, we’re just starting here.

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