What Love Looks Like in Public

Mutual Aid Makes for Sustainable Communities

illustration by Iris Gottlieb

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What Love Looks Like in Public

Mutual Aid Makes for Sustainable Communities

by Sharon P. Holland, TizGiordano
Southern Cultures, Vol. 28, No. 2: Sanctuary

"This mutual aid work is mutual. We sustain one another, we stand in intergenerational solidarity, we redistribute wealth beyond capital, and stand fully present to one another.”

Winter 2021. It is bitter cold on the edges of the holler where we live in central North Carolina. A polar vortex moves through the Piedmont and extends itself into Charlotte. The voices of loved ones ring in my ears. We need more solidarity pledges. We need a lawyer. We need more fair housing. We need cheaper meds. We need someone who can drive sleeping bags and food to the western part of the state. We need a better banking platform and a new app. We need more sleep and hours in the day. We are struggling to work, eat, and live. We are all exhausted from a deep and persistent fear of the unknown, represented in a viral organism that we cannot see, taste, or feel—at least at first—one that continues to figure out what we are and exploit the structures everywhere that are built on persistent inequalities. We also know that this is a lesson for our time because many of us keep to the old ways and could see something afloat in the distance.1

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