“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there “is” such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”Martin Luther King, Jr
I feel blessed that a seemingly chance meeting a year ago connected me to Mutual Aid. Des Moines Mutual Aid (DMMA). I know it wasn’t by chance, but a path I was led to by the Spirit.
[see “mutual aid” | Search Results | Quakers, social justice and revolution (jeffkisling.com) for posts I’ve written about Mutual Aid]
One of the many gifts of Mutual Aid is the ability to quickly and effectively respond to survival crises. Providing shelter during this time of incredible cold from a prolonged polar vortex is yet another example.
February 11 at 2:05 PM · 50+ folks are set to sleep inside, away from the extreme cold for the next week because the community responded. There’s still more that need shelter. Please keep sharing your resources. This is mutual aid!
As my friend Ronnie James wrote today,
“The work the Des Moines radical community has put in these last few years has been nothing short than amazing. Time and time again they prove the immense power of The People.Ronnie James
We all have a list of how the ruling authorities have failed us.
The people here are creating solutions.
All Power To The People.
Our lives depend on it.
The scope and depth of the failure of the ruling authorities will continue in the face of collapsing economic and political systems. In the face of rapidly accelerating environmental chaos. The work and success of Mutual Aid will grow.
You know living at the Standing Rock camps. For as long as I did. Experiencing, and seeing the things I did while there was tough. But it made it easier when at night you look over camp and see fires and people talking, music, and sharing ideas. That we where all in it together. People from all over the world sitting in an open prairie in North Dakota checking on each other. Making sure they where warm, if they where hungry, or needed help. People where fed no money exchanged. It really opened your eyes to what colonization has brought to these lands. People where taking Ls in life leaving school, family lives, jobs… but it is an experience none of us would ever forget.
For better or worse. I miss that energy that filled that prairie. What a ride to experience that then 4 years of racist crap and injustices. Where a country can hide its history and suppress proper justice by forming commissions and invoking grand juries where they can form their own narrative and lose truths in courts. Corruption gets a pass and off the hook. Next day business as usual.
It was in those fields I first learned of MMIW from native relatives north of the Canadian border. When Olivia went missing I felt a sense of emergency to fire off on all cylinders to get as much done as possible and to not let up. Oiy I don’t stop to think of where I have been often. But since 2016 life has been an unforgiving ride.
January 5 · One year ago today Des Moines Mutual Aid participated in a march protesting the potential for war or increased hostilities with Iran that followed the fallout of the assassination of Qassem Soleimani by drone strike in Baghdad.
This was our first “public” event since adopting the name Des Moines Mutual Aid, a name we gave our crew during our growing work with our relatives at the houseless camps throughout the city and our help with coordinating a weekly free grocery store that has a 50 year history, founded by the Des Moines Chapter of The Black Panther Party For Self Defense.
A year ago we started laying the foundation for work we had no idea what was coming. As we were adjusting our work with the camps and grocery re-distribution in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, both that continued to grow in need and importance, the police continued their jobs and legacy of brutality and murder. This nation exploded in righteous rage in response to the pig murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. DMMA realized we were in a position to organize a bail fund to keep our fighters out of jail, both to keep the streets alive as a new phase of The Movement was being born, and because jails are a hotspot of Covid-19 spread. Not to mention the racial and economic oppression that is the cash bail system.
In the past year DMMA has expanded its work in multiple directions and gained many partners and allies. We partnered with the Des Moines Black Liberation Movement to create the DSM BLM Rent Relief initiative to help keep families in their homes in the midst of a pandemic and the winter.
The camp work has grown exponentially, but is being managed with our collaboration with Edna Griffin Mutual Aid, DSM Black Liberation Movement, and The Great Plains Action Society.
The bail fund remains successful because of desire from the public and a partnership with Prairielands Freedom Fund (formerly The Eastern Iowa Community Bond Project).
The weekly free food store has maintained itself, carrying on the legacy it inherited.
Every one of our accomplishments are directly tied to the support of so many people donating time, talent, and funds to the work. We are overwhelmed with all of your support and hope you feel we are honoring what we promised. All of these Mutual Aid projects are just a few of many that this city has created in the last year in response to the many crises we face, not only confronting the problems and fulfilling the needs directly in front of us, but creating a sustainable movement that will be capable of responding to what’s next and shaping our collective futures as we replace the systems that fail us.
These last 12 months have been wild and a real test of all of our capabilities to collectively organize. But it is clear that we as a city have what it takes to do what is needed in 2021, no matter what crisis is next.
Much gratitude to you all. In love and rage,