Greg Lindsay's Blog

May 30, 2021  |  permalink

Mutual Aid in the Time of COVID-19 and the Future of Hyper-Local Community Resilience

I am thrilled to announce my contribution to the new book COVID-19: Systemic Risk and Resilience has just been published. Our chapter, written with the University of Toronto Munk School’s Thea Koper, explore the ramifications of the literally uncountable number of mutual aid groups that appeared during the pandemic and where they go from here. Here’s the abstract:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired the emergence of mutual aid groups across the United States. Popularized by the philosopher Peter Kropotkin, “mutual aid” refers to the voluntary exchange of resources and services for mutual benefit. In this century, mutual aid is more commonly identified with community-led recovery efforts in the wake of natural disasters. Post-pandemic mutual aid groups are notable due to their locally-isolated nature, use of digital tools and networks as a first resort, and the possibility of building more durable organization for future crises. This chapter provides a snapshot of post-pandemic mutual aid efforts, highlights their unique features, raises questions about their use of technology, and suggests future trajectories of these groups in the face of diminished government capacity and mounting natural and economic disasters.”

Needless to say, if you would like a (free) copy of our chapter, email me.

Related, I am also excited to further explore the subject in Rafi Segal’s and Marisa Morán Jahn’s forthcoming book What is Ours: Art and Architecture Towards Mutualism, funded in part by the Graham Foundation. From the latter’s description:

In this anthology edited by architect Rafi Segal and artist Marisa Morán Jahn, What is Ours: Art and Architecture Towards Mutualism features diverse perspectives from leading thinkers, designers, entrepreneurs, and activists who each evoke a powerful vision of society led by mutualism. As a pushback against notions of private gain, this mutualism—or collectivism—shifts focus towards new ways of shaping communal self-determination, wealth, and wellbeing. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, collectives were gaining momentum as a counterforce to the crisis of late capitalism, the exploitative gig economy, and stark economic precarity. With the onset of the global pandemic and social unrest, What is Ours examines the power of design in fortifying this new, emergent space carved between the private and public—a space constructed on trust, interdependence, and economic sovereignty. Offering timely and valuable critical, historical, and cultural analyses, What is Ours translates these ideas into practical guidelines for action and design across disciplines and industries, urging its readers to recognize the resources we can offer each other.


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Greg Lindsay is a journalist, urbanist, futurist, and speaker. He is the director of applied research at NewCities and director of strategy at its mobility offshoot CoMotion.  He is also a partner at FutureMap, a geo-strategic advisory firm based in Singapore, a non-resident senior fellow of The Atlantic Council’s Foresight, Strategy, and Risks Initiative, and co-author of Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next.

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