Welcome: We have two new members! We introduced ourselves and everyone conveyed that their reason for getting involved in SftP was their deep interest in both science and radical politics.
Report-back on climate strike: Our climate strike involvement was essentially scuttled by the coronavirus epidemic.
Report-back about national and local COVID-19 activities: We heard about three COVID-19 groups at the national level of SftP:
- Resources, which gathers and shares written resources about COVID-19 via Slack and website
- Mutual Aid, which is currently focusing on technological solutions for mutual aid organizations
- Coalitions, which is in contact with the National Homeless Union and SEIU Local 509
Regarding mutual aid, we discussed potentially getting in touch/involved with local mutual aid groups in JP-Roxbury and Medford/Somerville (MAMAS). Some expressed interest in potentially helping these groups protect requesters/volunteers’ privacy and at the same time helping them with their tech stack. The group will work to help connect JP-Roxbury group with MAMAS, which has a sophisticated tech stack.
There is a standing meeting for the mutual aid national group on Saturdays at 12 noon ET. People who are interested can find out more by joining the national SftP slack and the channel #covid19_mutual_aid.
Chapter COVID-19 response: Some of our members are working on drafting a statement on the politics of COVID-19 and its unequal effects on different sectors of the population (both health-wise and wealth-wise). We will continue to follow-up on this.
Another topic for a chapter statement could be helping orient people’s expectations about the epidemic. We discussed how the disease is likely not going away anytime soon, in spite of the impression being made by some states re-opening. There’s likely to be multiple “curves” that need to be flattened, rather than just one. We discussed potentially drafting a statement outlining this problem and the importance of making vaccines and treatments accessible to all.
Occupy Pharma: This was introduced as a movement to push for vaccine and drug development and provision to be kept in the public domain. There was some discussion of the issue of allowing private companies to own the products of research supported by public institutions. The group expressed concern about how much misinformation is being purveyed about this and generally about COVID-19 treatment. Curating and providing accurate information was identified as a useful initiative for the chapter website as well as the national COVID-19 response page.
Some ideas for readings related to this topic:
- Fran Quigley’s Prescription for the People: An Activist’s Guide to Making Medicine Affordable for All.
- Any materials on coronavirus vaccine development / trials that researchers wanted to pursue after SARS
- Materials on the issue of too many people working on rare disorders rather than vaccines due to the profit motive
The group would be interested to hear more reading suggestions.
Steering Committee and national officer elections: Our current chapter representatives are both planning on leaving their positions in the next few months. There’s a need for members to step up to become representatives. If people step up soon, they could work with our current reps to learn the ropes. On the steering committee, the positions up for election are Treasurer, Secretary, Editor and Publisher.
Reading for today: THESE ARE CONDITIONS IN WHICH REVOLUTION BECOMES THINKABLE
We found that the article may be too optimistic. The author focuses on a number of problems arising and seems to suggest that this entails some change is bound to happen. However, there’s evidence that a lot of bad policies are getting passed while people are distracted and limited by the epidemic. But on the other hand, there are these mutual aid groups that are changing the way people relate and there’s an opportunity there. The precedent set by the Black Panthers was brought up as an organization that provided services to the community, which helped build trust and better organizing. But this kind of effort definitely requires real engagement and resources
- Share knowledge/technology sharing with mutual aid groups and other local groups
- Collect more materials related to Occupy Pharma and COVID-19 response