This month, the phrase “mutual aid” entered the lexicon of the American mainstream. The term, which refers to the sharing of resources among communities of people, wasn’t a new one for Twin Cities DSA – our Mutual Aid/Solidarity Economy (MASE) working group has been around for three years, and while for the most part we’ve only had the capacity to do small occasional projects in that time, one project that’s been running for almost two years has recently become a jewel in MASE’s horizontalist crown: the Solidarity Fund.
The process is simple: any Twin Cities-area local who is short on cash for immediate material needs can fill out a short form requesting up to $200 from the fund. The form administrator copies the information into a private space for a small committee mostly consisting of MASE members to review, and once a majority of the committee agrees that the request satisfies a short list of conditions, the chapter treasurer gets in touch with the requester to arrange payment. The form asks for a name (which doesn’t have to be an official government name), some basic information we need in order to send the payment, and one open-ended question: “I am requesting money because…” We get all kinds of answers to this question – somebody might need the money to cover bills while between jobs, or to fill a prescription, or to pay a lawyer.
In the last three weeks, though, the theme emerging from nearly all requests is income loss due to COVID-19. People have been laid off from their jobs or otherwise had their sources of income taken away, and the first of the month looms as the moratorium on rent and mortgage payments that Minnesotans are agitating for remains yet to be enacted. Until March 12, the Solidarity Fund had averaged about one request every four weeks. From March 12 through the present, the average has been about one request every four hours.
In short: as of this writing, once all current outstanding requests have been fulfilled, the Twin Cities DSA Solidarity Fund will have redistributed over $19,000 to over 100 people in under three weeks.
If you would like more information on setting up a similar fund in your area or community, please reach out to us either through the chapter email or @tcdsamase – we’d love to help! If you’d like to contribute to the solidarity fund or request money from the fund, you can do so at https://twincitiesdsa.org/solidarity/.