Open Collective
Open Collective
2022 What's Update
Published on December 22, 2022 by Jacq

hi folks,

thank you for taking the time to read our update <3

As I write this, a storm is brewing that will bring high winds, snow and ice, and dropping temperatures in the next 24-72 hours. With holidays in full swing, people are bustling about, preparing, baking, cooking, cleaning, wrapping, and snuggling up with loved ones. With the exception of our unhoused, unsheltered neighbors. Multiple comrades of mine have been organizing and distributing goods, visiting camps, and warning people of the storm to come for the past two days. We are beyond worried about how folks are going to survive this weather. 

This morning I attended the 26th annual homeless person’s memorial. It was a beautiful ceremony, and a lovely way to collectively honor the lost lives of our neighbors, friends, and family who were living unhoused. The mayor spoke, talking of the importance of making homelessness rare, brief, and nonrecurring. I wondered the entire time… what will the city do to prevent more deaths from happening right now? I am struggling to identify how the city of Indianapolis’ winter contingency plan is any different than business as usual: overflowing shelters that lack humanity and dignity, barriers to entry, and nowhere for families to go to stay together or safe and gender affirming options for queer, gay, trans, and nonbinary people.

Well... the city has implemented warming shelters, but they all close when the sun goes down, the coldest part of these long and dark days. When I called the mayor’s office asking about an Emergency Temperature Plan, I heard crickets on the other end. I seemed to know more about the conditions and availability of shelters than they did.

We are frustrated, scared, and at a loss for how to best help. So folks are doing what they do best, rallying together to share and distribute resources like sleeping bags, mylar blankets, tarps, duct tape, homemade tent heaters, coats, gloves, socks, and boots. These folks give me hope and strength. They remind me that even when it seems insurmountable, we can still find ways to take care of each other.

With that, I will now present you with Circle City Mutual Aid’s 2022 What’s Update:

What did you accomplish during 2022? 
This year we accomplished building stronger connections in the community. We implemented a community activity day to create a more intentional space for building relationships and cultivating joy together. Our first community activity was BINGO, and it was such a hit! People asked for weeks after when the next activity day would be. In autumn, we painted pumpkins- all crammed under a canopy tent in the rain- we still had a blast. For these activities, we were able to utilize donations and borrow materials, so our budget remained dedicated to purchasing basic needs, hygiene, and bus passes.

How did you use money?
In our first year as a collective hosted by OCF, we distributed:

In addition to many other items we share including:
  • Lip balm
  • Lotion
  • Shower supplies
  • Household cleaning supplies
  • Deodorant
  • Disposable cleansing cloths
  • Clothes + Shoes
  • Socks + Underwear
  • Hats + Gloves
  • Hand + Feet warmers
  • Emergency Mylar Blankets
  • Ponchos
  • First Aid Kits
  • Menstrual products
  • Tents
  • Tarps
  • and Sleeping bags
None of this would be possible without both one time and recurring donations. To date, we have raised over $10,000! The majority of our donations come from our sustaining monthly donors, many of whom are our organizers- in addition to our neighbors, friends, family, and spiritual communities. Thank you for supporting us!
Shout out to our partners and sister orgs that share their skills and resources in solidarity:
Food not Bombs, Because of Adam, Mutual Aid over Everything, RATS, Overdose Lifeline,  Step-Up, Rupert's Kids, and I Support the Girls.

Circle City Mutual Aid is All of Us

What challenges did you face during 2022? What did your Collective learn? How did you change or grow
One notable challenge we experienced was organizing to oppose a City-County proposal that would effectively discourage decentralized mutual aid efforts- You can read our full update here. What we learned from this experience is that we hold more power than we feel like most of the time. We learned that rallying around an important issue can bring us closer together to build new relationships and coalitions and allow us to come up with new and creative solutions together. We also learned that it’s hard to keep momentum going, and sometimes we fall off. Energy and capacity ebbs and flows. The more we get together, the stronger relationships will become, and the easier it will be to harness and capture that energy. 

We are in constant flux, changing and adapting and contemplating always. We are very process-oriented, meaning we try something and see how it goes then use those experiences to modify the process as we go. Recently, we’ve started hosting bi-weekly donation drop off and kit packing nights. They have been more successful than I imagined. It has been our opportunity to grow and bring new people into the work. It has helped tremendously with preparing us for weekly distribution- what we call Sunday Shares- and has opened us up to hear new ideas and receive even more in-kind donations. Which helps lead us right into the last question…

What are your plans for 2023? Anything exciting coming up?
With more in-kind donations and more people participating, we are able to allocate money raised in ways that might be more impactful for folks and practice new ways of meeting each other's needs. Our goals for next year are to take a few steps back from consumerism and embrace time-banking, skill-sharing, and resource sharing. Now, we still live under capitalism y’all, so buy and pay for stuff we must. However, we’d like to spend less money buying hygiene items and dedicate funds to help people buy work clothes for their new job, access public transportation, or to receive assistance for rent or an energy bill. These are needs that have been identified and shared with us this year. We’d like to be able to focus on those areas because they could be the difference for someone keeping that new job or staying housed. As we continue to build relationships and grow a supportive network of people in solidarity with one another, I hope we can continue to dream up and transition into new ways of being and living in the world.

Mutual Aid seeks to provide for people's needs through relationships and empowerment. We believe that everyone has something to offer, and everyone has something they need. Together, we can create a community of trust, reciprocity, and abundance by tapping into each of our passions, abilities, skills, and wisdom - using our collective power to meet each other's needs. Mutual Aid is more than sharing resources, it's building relationships among our community, harnessing our collective knowledge and power, and imagining together how to create and live in a just and equitable world.

a hopeful winter solstice to you and yours ~ wishing you a joyful new year 

with love,
Jacq on behalf of circle city mutual aid


Clod McPete

Posted on December 22, 2022

Beautiful update! thank you for the write up Jacq