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Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity in This Crisis (And the Next)

4.51  ·  Rating details ·  409 ratings  ·  81 reviews
Mutual aid is the radical act of caring for each other while working to change the world.

Around the globe, people are faced with a spiralling succession of crises, from the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change-induced fires, floods, and storms to the ongoing horrors of mass incarceration, racist policing, brutal immigration enforcement, endemic gender violence, and severe
Paperback, 128 pages
Published October 2020 by Verso Books
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Morgan M. Page
Nov 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Dean Spade's new book Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity in This Crisis is an essential manual for organizers, activists, and everyone invested in changing the world whether in big ways or small. This is perhaps one of the most useful, clear, and accessible books I've ever read on the practical work of organizing. Drawing on his decades of mutual aid work - including co-founding the Sylvia Rivera Law Project in NYC - Spade explains what mutual aid is, how it differs from volunteerism, non-profits, ...more
Nov 09, 2020 added it
Shelves: organizing-books
I think this is a good book for new organizers. I found the Mad Mapping section to be really helpful and feel that I will incorporate. I was a little troubled with some of the framing regarding Hong Kong organizing, but overall think this is a good book for someone who just found their organizing/mutual aid home
Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity in This Crisis (And the Next) by Dean Spade is an introduction to mutual aid. Dean Spade discusses effective ways of engaging in mutual aid, common pitfalls, and ways to manage group dynamics in order to maximize the potential for beneficial outcomes of mutual aid work. This was an interesting mix of psychology, anti-oppressive frameworks, and practical suggestions. I enjoyed it quite a lot but did skim some of the parts that covered topics I was more familiar wit ...more
Dec 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
this is a very good introduction about what mutual aid is and isn’t and how to do it well. i learned a lot about the common pitfalls that happen in organizing and how to avoid them and this book has taught me skills i will bring back to groups i’m in about how to best made decisions as a group in ways that prevent conflict and deal with it productively when it arises.
Dana DesJardins
Nov 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Comprehensive and potentially revolutionary. For anyone burned out on the nonprofit-industrial-complex, here is a way forward.
Janis Yue
Feb 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
A great primer on mutual aid. In the first half, Spade clearly and succinctly differentiates mutual aid from charity/non-profit models and explains why mutual aid is so core to building sustained social movements. In the second half, Spade offers some nice tools for appraising mutual aid efforts--on both a collective and individual level--to ensure that they do not fall into the disempowering patterns of charity/non-profit work. I was particularly interested in parts of the book where Spade shar ...more
Victoria Grace
Feb 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
I love Dean Spade! I love mutual aid! The majority of this super-short book is about navigating interpersonal challenges inside existing groups rather than starting anything up from scratch, case you're expecting something else. ...more
Natsumi Paxton
Oct 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
SO important! This text travels from an analysis of the role of mutual aid organizing within resistance to specific, practical guidance for organizing/working/being a person, basically. I recommend to anyone and everyone
Sarah Schulman
Dean Spade, a foundational organizer across movements, lays out a world view for community building based on material support. Specific and valuable, MUTUAL AID provides a way into Spade's values and how to apply them to build resistance while facing people's real needs. ...more
Jan 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
I read this with my local DSA branch. It had a lot of useful information but was rather schematic at times.
Feb 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I want everyone I know to read this book. Not only an excellent analysis of mutual aid, this books offers ways of being and working with one another that are holistic, anti-capitalist, and liberative. I recently became co-director of a small organization; I am so inspired to bring this book to my team to discuss (and hopefully introduce!) the practices of cooperative leadership and consensus decision-making.
Feb 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
VERY helpful guide on Mutual Aid.
Aug 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Mutual Aid is a great primer on what mutual aid is, and how we can use it to achieve solidarity and justice in our communities. With the COVID-19 pandemic on everyone’s minds, mutual aid has come to the forefront of conversations, people coming together to help each other out through evictions, job losses, and more. While mutual aid has existed far longer than March, it is an especially poignant topic to discuss in the age where people are losing further hope in the government and understanding ...more
Jan 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
A good primer on mutual aid. not a book that I would read through again, but more of a reference that I want to keep him in back to for best practices.
Oct 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, justice
In this current time of pandemic, wildfires, and climate change; while more of white America is waking up to the destructive effects and evils of structural racism and xenophobia, this book charts a new way of living in mutually supportive relationship with our neighbors. Spade addresses the big questions about mutual aid-- what is it, why does it make sense, how is it different from charity-- and gets into the nitty gritty of how a mutual aid group can handle interpersonal conflict, whether and ...more
Jan 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
As someone who has become more aware and involved in mutual aids in light of the pandemic, protests against police brutality, and the complete failures of our systems, I found this book as a wonderful, practical introduction.

The exercises and resources throughout are applicable in of course mutual aid settings, but can also serve as a framework for unlearning, deprogramming what capitalism has internalized in us (I found the section on burnout and mad mapping specifically poignant in these sens
Nov 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
So much brilliance in this book. Spade talks about the oppressive frameworks of social services and why mutual aid offers a model that addresses root causes, is better for personal passion and wellbeing, and better meets peoples immediate needs. He provides examples of ways mutual aid work can fall apart or be hindered and tangible and introspective ways that people can do the work in sustainable and effective ways. Feel like every social worker and non-profit person in particular should read th ...more
Dec 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful little primer for people in movement spaces or really any politically conscious community or social justice driven operation that wants to operate in decolonized, non hierarchical, anticapitalist ways. I found this was less of a primer about mutual aid per se and more of a primer about how to run and participate in community-based and other organizations- formal and informal. It is actually very practical and applicable to many contexts.
Nov 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Just enough history and theory to get you inspired, and lots of practical tips. A great book for anyone working for a better world.
Dec 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
A lot of useful information on running non-hierarchical groups and managing burnout and overwork—unexpected, but needed. Now I need a good book about the Black Panthers.
Dec 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
The chapter on "No Masters No Flakes" and leadership styles/models is really excellent. ...more
Nov 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book does a fantastic job of reaching across what is often an activism-academia divide, and bridges it with a look at the threads of community needs that transcend spaces we occupy in our searches for connection, support and belonging. Having been in both activist and academic worlds, I know how isolating they can be so this bridging is important to me. My only wish is that I read this while writing my Master's thesis earlier this year because there is so much here that would've enlivened m ...more
David Bjelland
Feb 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
Given that my reading-brain operates in the nitpicky "citation needed!" / "but what about [...]?" mode by default, there are a lot of ways in which Mutual Aid wasn't totally satisfying.

* What kinds of resources and necessities can realistically be delivered through Mutual Aid models?
* How are consensus decision making processes supposed to scale to the level of even a mid-sized town when the likelihood of blocking conflicts asymptotically approaches 100% certainty with increasing membership?
* I
Feb 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing
this book is a mini-crash course on organizing with a bout of therapy mixed in. lots of tips, techniques, advice on addressing behaviors, thought patterns, feelings of one's badness, etc stemming from life histories and unaddressed wounds. this focus on sustaining healthy and compassionate relationships with one's self and others is very appreciated. ...more
For good reason, many people feel scared right now. We face terrifying unknowns about the worsening economic crisis, climate change-induced disasters, rising COVID-19 infections and long-term health problems facing people who survive being infected, ongoing racism and violence at the hands of law enforcement of all kinds, and increasing mobilization of armed white supremacist right-wing people and organizations.
It is difficult to have any faith that, no matter who is in the White House, we will
Kiki Tapiero
Feb 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"Activism and mutual aid shouldn't feel like volunteering or like a hobby - it should feel like living in alignment with our hopes for the world and with our passions. It should enliven us."

I DEVOURED this book. The feeling I got while reading this was the same feeling back in college when I read The New Jim Crow for the first time - something clicked for me. This for me was the connection between ideals/narratives and concrete asks. It made me think about how my job can be more like mutual aid,
Rachie Weisberg
Feb 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
crucial read for anyone looking to do mutual aid work!
Dylan Vorass
Feb 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Everyone interested in mutual aid and radical organizing in general should read this! Dean Spade writes about the necessity for a mutual aid, not charity, model, and all the complications of that in a very accessible way.
Feb 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
Great primer on what mutual aid is, why it's important to social justice work moving forward, and how to get started/tips to avoid common problems. I'm just grateful 5 years out from working with organizing groups that texts like this (that avoid condescension or reliance on the "usual" problematic tips for organizing work that are very top-down) now exist. ...more
Jan 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021-books
This is a book I'm glad to have in my leadership library. Whether you are participating in mutual aid groups or any type of social justice work, it's an incredibly practical guide to effective facilitation and leadership. In particular, I love the charts (dog-eared those pages so I can frequently return to them!) and the amount of examples given. I'd recommend this to anyone and everyone.

I felt the biggest downside to this book was that critiques of the nonprofit sector were not nuanced. The aut
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Dean Spade is an Associate Professor at Seattle University School of Law. He teaches Administrative Law, Poverty Law, and Law and Social Movements. Prior to joining the faculty of Seattle University, Dean was a Williams Institute Law Teaching Fellow at UCLA Law School and Harvard Law School, teaching classes related to sexual orientation and gender identity law and law and social movements.

In 2002

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