Every Minute Mutual Aid (EMMA): The Intersections of Mutual Aid and Autonomous Social Centers | A Participatory Discussion

Presented by Dane Michael

Mutual aid is not charity. Charity is hierarchical and functions perfectly within capital and any other hierarchical economic & social system. Mutual aid is at its strongest when it is connected to everyday life and established in direct connection to autonomous spaces that are self-organized and non-hierarchical, in that they ultimately mirror the ethics of solidarity and horizontal social relationships in contrast to social spaces that reinforce hierarchy, capital, and other facets of inequity (spaces connected to the non-profit industrial complex, corporate social responsibility (charity as advertisement for corporations), hierarchical organized religion, state-based community centers, and other physical spaces that maintain the status quo.) Charity ultimately strengthens capital and related oppressive social forces.

This will be a participatory discussion with a brief introduction of the presenter’s connection to the work of mutual aid and autonomous social centers and why the two should be deeply interconnected. The discussion will be centered on people discussing their own involvement with the work of mutual aid and/or autonomous social centers and seeking how to further strengthen long-term, everyday mutual aid. 

The conceptual title of Every Minute Mutual Aid locates the connection between the spatial social dynamics of self-organized activist free spaces with mutual aid that is continuous and long-term, regardless of the particular situation at any given moment (before, during, and, hopefully, after the COVID pandemic.) Also, Every Minute Mutual Aid makes a nice acronym (EMMA) ! Ultimately, this presentation will be participatory with the need to challenge the speaker/audience binary and emphasize the mutually reciprocal ethic of non-hierarchical, anarchistic education. 

The presenter, Dane Michael, has been involved with tons of mutual aid projects and autonomous social centers (or similar spaces) over the years. They are currently a volunteer collective member of Bound Together Bookstore (San Francisco), Omni Commons (Oakland), and East Bay Food Not Bombs (Oakland/Berkeley), as well as a previous collective member of Interference Archive (Brooklyn), Wooden Shoe Books (Philadelphia), and Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center (Illinois), among other projects. Dane Michael is a zinemaker and runs Artificiality Distro, a very nomadic zine distributor project, along with being an advocate of grassroots autonomous media that function as forums for the Every Minute Mutual Aid of autonomous social centers and long-term mutual aid work.