Mutual Aid in the Milestone Community
Message to the Membership about Mutual Aid
We often talk about our school as a “learning community” — this is both a reality, and also an aspiration. We rely on each other all the time to make our school work — and we can also be more intentional about creating the culture we want to pervade and surround our school.
With that in mind, we are very happy to inform you about the Mutual Aid Project with the Milestone membership. Here’s the idea…
With this Project, we aim to address two goals:
- Help members meet their self-identified, short-term needs, as an act of community-building and shared care.
- Establishing a set of practices and values around which a larger Mutual Aid Project can evolve and grow.
Here are the values we are committing to as we get this work underway:
- Solidarity, not charity
- Building relationships based on trust and common interest
- Reciprocity: “Never take the first. Never take the last. Take only what you need. Take only that which is given. Never take more than half. Leave some for others. [Take] in a way that minimizes harm. Use it respectfully. Never waste what you have taken. Share. Give thanks for what you have been given. Give a gift, in reciprocity for what you have taken. Sustain the ones who sustain you…” (borrowed from the book Braiding Sweetgrass: Kimmerer, 2013)
What does this mean for you?
- If you find yourself with more than you need at any point, you are invited to make a gift to the Mutual Aid Project. We cannot take cash, and we have limited availability to store and distribute physical goods. Gift cards are the best way to give, and small-value cards are easiest to distribute. The most requested gift cards are for gas and groceries. You can arrange to drop them at Milestone, mail them to the school, or give them directly to a staff member — just let us know first!
- If, at any time, you find yourself with less than what you need, you are invited to take what you need from the Project:
- Arrange to meet with a member of the Educators’ Co-op
- Review what is available in the Mutual Aid Project
- Take what you need, within the Values described above
Direct gifting is one small part of the Mutual Aid Project we are envisioning. As the project grows, the Educators’ Co-op will facilitate the development of a Mutual Aid workgroup from among the membership to evolve a thriving system of care and support for our community. We will all be stronger, healthier, and better cared-for the more we share and support each other.
Some details to keep the lawyers, accountants, and IRS happy:
- Contributions to the Mutual Aid Project are not donations to Milestone Democratic School, Incorporated, and are therefore not tax deductible.
- Contributions shall not be considered an asset or property of Milestone, and shall not be included in the accounts of the school.
- The Educators’ Co-op is acting solely as a trustee of all items of value in the Mutual Aid Project, and as a facilitator of gift-giving between Members. Any contribution to the Project shall be considered a gift given freely and without restriction to the Membership of Milestone Democratic School, to be accessed by any Member who complies with the Values identified above.
- All contributions will require an identification of the Member making the gift, the value of the gift, and the date contributed. Anonymous gifts cannot be accepted.
- All receipts of contributions to the Project will require an identification of the Member receiving the gift, the value of the gift, and the date received.
- Any Member may examine the records of the Mutual Aid Project at any time.
If you have any questions about the Mutual Aid Project, please contact the EC, who is facilitating the Project.
A Kick-Off Proposal
Milestone seeks to build community around and within our school — and particularly the form of “community” marked by “creating a context that nurtures an alternative future, one based on gifts, generosity, accountability, and commitment” (Block, 2009). Though this is a long-term project, immediate needs in our erstwhile community have become apparent and immediate action is needed.
The EC immediately initiates a Mutual Aid fund with the goals of:
- Meeting the self-identified, short-term needs of members of our school community, and
- Establishing a set of practices and values around which a larger Mutual Aid project can evolve and grow.
The originating values of our Mutual Aid work will be:
- Solidarity, not charity – supporting each other with the minimum of “strings attached,” and minimal “evaluation of deserving-ness” (see Spade, 2020 and Big Door Brigade)
- Building relationships based on trust and common interest (Kaba and Ocasio-Cortez, 2020)
- Reciprocity: “Never take the first. Never take the last. Take only what you need. Take only that which is given. Never take more than half. Leave some for others. [Take] in a way that minimizes harm. Use it respectfully. Never waste what you have taken. Share. Give thanks for what you have been given. Give a gift, in reciprocity for what you have taken. Sustain the ones who sustain you…” (Kimmerer, 2013)
The originating act of Mutual Aid will be a financial support fund for the holiday season. The EC will reach out to the membership to request donations, with the strong recommendation that donations take the form of small-value gift cards, delivered by mail or in person to Milestone; and will also inform the membership about the availability of these funds, and the process for accessing funding:
- Make an appointment with a member of the EC to meet at Milestone
- Review the amount of funds available in the Mutual Aid fund
- Take what is needed, within the Values above
Direct financial aid is one small part of the Mutual Aid program at Milestone. The EC will facilitate the development of a Mutual Aid workgroup from among the membership to utilize the resources listed above to evolve a thriving system of care and support for our community.