Ways of Being
Commitment to anti-oppression
We celebrate the many diverse identities and backgrounds in our community. We do not believe that police or prisons will make us safer. We don’t believe we need landlords or bosses to meet our needs. Instead, we’re building programs and relationships that identify and out-organize those violent systems. We’ll work together to build and defend a radically cooperative society.
Work within our capacity
The goal of this work is to build capacity together, not burn out and resort to scarcity mentalities. We can make this happen by making shoulder-to-shoulder relationships instead of top down ones. There’s a lot of work to be done, and our first step before taking action should be to check in with ourselves.
Avoid speaking in the language of promises
It’s easy to get excited and want to help. But telling people – especially those in crisis – that we can do something when we don’t actually have the ability or attention to follow through can be damaging and break trust.
Instead, we want to build healthy boundaries and describe what we are able to do with clear timelines and expectations. We’re building a culture of informed consent!
Commit to asking for and accepting feedback
We’re all learning to become better at caring for ourselves and other people. Along the way, we’ll need to be vulnerable and ask for advice and accountability. Personal growth is a collective process.
Make decisions that will affect other people with those people
We want to maximize consent in all of our relationships. This means that when we’re building new programs, making purchases, producing content, or doing outreach, we want to make informed decisions and let others know publicly what we’re doing along the way while building consensus.
Build for the future, learn from the past
We don’t want to have food pantries forever! Liberatory work requires long term vision. We should also make time to celebrate and revive our history. We can learn from other experiments and ancestors to build upon that work!
Prioritize grassroots projects
We don’t want to repeat local efforts. There are a lot of big institutions in our area with access to resources that smaller, grassroots projects do not have. We want to create partnerships with people in Ypsi who are on the ground like us. Especially worker self-directed programs!
The Mutual Aid Network of Ypsilanti is an abolitionist organization. We believe that slavery and the oppression of Black and indigenous people continues today through police, prisons, the courts, the banks, and through housing discrimination. Attempts to reform these systems are ineffective and perpetuate injustice. Our work is to build a world in which these oppressive systems are not merely reformed, but abolished.
Abolition in Ypsilanti means dismantling our police who chew up 40% of our municipal budget and the overcrowded Huron Valley Women’s Correctional facility. It means reckoning with the historical racism of the court system. It means severing the accumulation of profit from the basic human right to shelter, and rupturing the ongoing violent cycle of displacement that attracts luxury investment properties like International Village.
Abolition in this context means both the removal of current systems of power and their replacement. We believe in the Ypsilanti community’s ability to build the skills, resources, and relationships we’ll need to make these institutions truly obsolete. The mutual aid-based programs we build are meant to support our community’s self-sufficiency and resilience. Corrupt government interferes with organizing efforts aimed at replacing them, but we know we can take care of ourselves and each other, and we demand the autonomy necessary to build out these alternative systems of care, cooperation, and health. In order to do this, we have to deconstruct and heal from the colonial, racist, patriarchal, ableist, ageist, and classist frameworks both within and outside of our organization.
We recognize the long history of organizing and resistance work that has come before us. We want to lift up the current organizations, projects, and community members in Ypsilanti who share this abolitionist vision. This work is possible through solidarity, a spirit of mutual aid, and with affection for the diversity of tactics that it will take to abolish the oppressive forces working against us.