Welcome: We have a new member! We introduced ourself and checked that everybody is physically and emotionally healthy during this challenging time.
Meeting virtually using zoom: We discussed the recent reports regarding the lack of security and encryption of the video conferencing platform “zoom”. We decided that, moving forward, we will implement password protection for all meetings and all the participants will start the meeting in a waiting room and will be allowed into the meeting by the host. This is to prevent “zoombombing”. So for now, we have decided to continue using zoom but this might change into the future as the situation changes.
Climate Strike: Before the lockdown we were organizing with MIT students about the climate strike. That initiative is still underway even though it is likely to take a different form due to the restrictions on large gatherings. Some creative thinking is needed. We will follow up with the MIT organizers to see how we can help.
Covid-19 response: We spent the majority of the time discussing the ongoing local efforts to respond to the covid-19 pandemic. Many members are active in neighbor mutual aid groups. For a full list check MA Jobs with Justice and Human Network initiative. Below are a summary of the initiatives members are directly involved with:
- Allston/Brighton Mutual Aid (ABMA) is providing financial assistance to economically vulnerable people and organizing the tenants to collectively demand a suspension of rent payments during the pandemic. The organizing effort was partially successful for the month of April. The organizing effort continues to ask for a suspension of the rent scheduled for May 1st. The larger goal is to organize a national rental strike.
- Mutual Aid Medford and Somerville (MAMAS) is providing financial assistance and help with grocery. Sftp members are volunteering both as drivers and core organizers.
- JP/Roxbury Mutual Aid is providing financial help with rent and groceries from mostly low income and communities of color such as Roxbury, Dorchester and Hyde Park. They receive around 100 grocery requests/week and have distributed $18,000 in financial assistance in the last 2 weeks.
We have identified the following challenges and opportunities regarding the Mutual Aid (MA) groups:
- It seems that the MA groups are not coordinating effectively among themselves. There is an excess of resources in certain areas and a lack of resources in others. It is unclear how to redistribute the effort because we do not want to encourage volunteers to move across neighborhoods due to the danger of increasing the spread of the virus.
- Some people volunteering in MA are lifelong community organizers while others are newly “radicalized”. The later group does not have a political analysis of the systemic problems in our communities. This is both a challenge and opportunity for us. We can educate them to have a more in depth understanding of the root cause of the problem and trying to keep them engaged in community organizing after the pandemic is over.
- The financial managements of the MA is, at the moment, not transparent. It is unclear if the financial assistance is going to the most needy persons in the community and if the reimbursements are shared fairly.
- We will continue volunteering for the MA as individuals. As SFTP chapter, we are reaching out to MAMAS to offer help to build tech tools for matching resources and demands more efficiently.
The national organization has framed a list of demands and created working groups to work on specific areas. Read more here.
Occupy Pharma: We are excited about building a coalition with “Greater Boston Physicians for social responsibility” and “Union of concerned scientists” to push for a Occupy Pharma campaign in the fall. We have identified two concrete next-steps:
- educate ourself by starting a series of reading about the pharmaceutical-industrial-complex. Possible suggestions are:
- These are conditions in which revolution becomes thinkable
- An Activist’s Guide to Making Medicine Affordable for All
- public vs private drug development
- write a strong rhetorical Op-Ed of why Occupy Pharma is necessary.
CONCRETE ACTION ITEMS:
- volunteering in neighbors Mutual Aid groups
- volunteering for “skype a scientist“. This platform matches scientists with teachers and student from around the world. It might be particularly helpful during this time in which many students are forced to do remote-learning
- build tech tools to help Mutual Aid groups (-> reach out to Pydata)
- coordinate the national and local SFTP responses to the covid-19 pandemic
- advocate for the release of prisoners from all prisons which can not guarantee prisoners safety during the pandemic.
- make a list of reading suggestions for the Occupy Pharma