We would like to thank everyone who came out to help in the garden this weekend.
It was so encouraging to see everyone in the garden today. We did help Cultivating Roots get a bed cleared and another planted. Unfortunately the weather conspired to confound our banner making efforts and although the kids sure had a good time messing around with paints, our banner remains on the TO DO list. Luckily we have a volunteer who will be stenciling out some graphics in advance of next week when we will finish our masterpiece. This will remain one of the unique challenges to our local organizing moving forward…WEATHER. While we are all generally accustomed to doing things in the wet and drizzle, it will certainly make tabling, cooking, and clearly painting much more difficult. This will need to be thought about and planned for. We will have to have a waterproof Food Not Bombs! We can and should reach out to other groups in the area to see what they do in regards to wet winter organizing as they have been doing this work years in places like Seattle and Olympia.
This brings us to the next major need that keeps arising…SPACE. Storage space, meeting space, cooking space, fridge space, etc we need it all. If anyone is interested in helping us secure access to any of these (esp a commercial kitchen space in town) that would be greatly appreciated.
Our needs list remains roughly the same, although some progress is being made regarding outreach to local businesses who may have excess to donate to our efforts. This will translate into an IMMEDIATE need for more cooks. Picking up/storing produce is super helpful, and tabling the food is where the real action is at, but the core of the workload will always be in cooking/cleaning of the food/kitchen. This is currently our greatest need in terms of volunteer roles.
We have listed a few key places to ask about making regular donations, we have started to think about where and when would be best to table/distribute the food we are cooking. We talked about the people currently in contact with unhoused people who can be an excellent resource in making connections for us in those communities of highest need. This is very exciting as it means we are making REAL progress towards building a sustainable action-oriented group of people interested in getting hungry people food without the blessings of the state or assistance of charities.
We have started to settle in on these programs as tools to help us organize, both of which are fairly straightforward, user-friendly ways to communicate with encryption without having to have much technical knowledge about how it all works (as much as we recommend you learn about encryption on your own):
- Signal – this is a encrypted text messaging app that can replace, or work in addition to, your phones regular messaging app. It is super useful for real time communications in the field as you would use texts. It is very easy to set up and use and requires no knowledge of or management of keys since that all takes place behind the scenes. You simply send a text as you normally would, if the recipient also has signal then it will be end-to-end encrypted. We have been using this to talk to others in the group as well as one on one conversations. Signal also allows for one-on-one secure video chatting.
- Element Chat – An encrypted service somewhat similar to Discord that allows for a better group chat format than Signal for large groups. You CAN set up and manage your own personal keys here but you can also let it handle this for you if you desire. The nice thing about Element is the use of Communities and Rooms (equivalent to servers and channels in Discord). A room is a digital space in which we can talk about a specific project (such as Food Not Bombs) and a community is a certain grouping of rooms. Chehalis River Mutual Aid Network has set up such a community on Element and is working with the various projects to all join the Element Community by the same name. This will allow for us to have a sense of “separate but together”, with each Room belonging to an individual project and all the projects grouped in one place as CRMAN for easy coordination. Element also incorporates Jitsi – an encrypted video conferencing protocol with many of the same features as Zoom but without all the spying and data mining. Jitsi is great because it allows for telephony connections to such video conferences, making our meetings much more accessible for those without access to internet technologies. As long as someone can call in, they can participate! This still leaves out many people who do not even have a phone, so some in person meetings are perhaps in order.
These digital tools are almost a necessity in this time of COVID-19 since many people are not able to meet in person no matter the scheduling concerns. This leaves social media which will really only be useful for posting announcements of upcoming events or drumming up more interest in our work through sharing our posts. Food Not Bombs will not be doing any organizing in those spaces as they are not safe and, despite the fact that we are only feeding hungry people, we recognize the dangers inherent in ANY mutual aid work in this…unique…moment in time.
Please reach out to join either our Signal chat, or our new Element Community. These are not public by their nature and require an invitation.
Below remains much the same as last week, with some shifting in priorities, and progress being made on all fronts.
***People handy with construction and tools are our next greatest priority.***
***Those willing and able to help build a communal kitchen, pantries, and fridge shelters***
A BANNER!! Every Chapter needs a banner to let people know we are NOT another charity.
People willing to pick up and/or store produce from local shops/farms, either in their own fridges or in community fridges (coming soon)
People willing and able to cook vegan food either at their own home or at our communal kitchen (coming soon)
People willing to deliver and/or table cooked food and political literature AS Food Not Bombs
***If you want to get involved in Food Not Bombs, you DO NOT need to join our secure comms, you can contribute by sharing your excess resources, sharing our posts, picking up food and dropping it to a community fridge, volunteering with the Community Fridge Brigade, showing up at an event to support us and eat, etc. These activities and others can be managed over social media. If you want to help organize behind the scenes, it will mean making decisions together as to when and where to pick up food, where to store it, cooking it, and coming together to table it in a visible place where the need is greatest. This will require some way to coordinate with us. Security concerns prohibit us from organizing on social media and therefore you will have to join our secure comms channels. Our hope is to make this as accessible as possible to allow for anyone with any tech skills can join. We are also looking at software that will allow those with phones only to call in to any group meetings we have. Semi-frequent in person meetings will also need to happen since we realize there are plenty of those without so much as a phone. We are working towards these goals and many more, and hope to have your help in this effort.