North Texas Daily

North Texas organizers aim to give a hand up through mutual aid

North Texas organizers aim to give a hand up through mutual aid

North Texas organizers aim to give a hand up through mutual aid
December 02
11:00 2021

A small table full of pizza, Narcan and contraceptives sit on the corner of a bustling Dallas block. Three individuals with a small child in tow chat to anyone who will listen.

They offer their supplies to every passerby they see, whether they are an aging businessman or a homeless person draped in layers preparing for a cold night.

This is a typical pop-up for the North Texas Rural Resilience.

“Giving a shit about each other, that’s all mutual aid is,” said Kirby Lynch, NTRR leader and social media manager. “Everyone deserves food and shelter and the agency to have clean shit no matter what they’ve done.”

The organization serves 9,400 square miles of North Texas, with a large amount of work focused in Denton and Dallas. NTRR started its Instagram in September 2020 but got more active in the metroplex during February’s winter storm.

“With the freeze, we were really failed in a lot of ways by institutions,” NTRR volunteer Taylor Kicamp said. “In terms of people losing access to power with people freezing to death, that’s just unacceptable, so we just helped people in an effort to look out for each other.”

The group’s main focus is providing mutual aid and harm reduction supplies to the metroplex while educating the community on social issues and what mutual aid is for, according to the NTRR website.

“A guy came out a second ago and said, ‘This isn’t a homeless thing, is it?'” Lynch said. “I said, ‘No, it’s an everyone thing.’”

Mutual aid is defined by nonprofit organization WhyHunger as “solidarity not charity.” Mutual aid focuses on communal action to provide for the need of all people, regardless of economic status.

“Of course we want our resources equitably redistributed, but we want to be inclusive and if someone is driving a Mercedes and wants a slice of pizza and some condoms then, cool,” Lynch said.

In summer 2020, mutual aid and harm reduction organizations began to take root globally to foster a sense of community, rather than a transactional exchange, according to the Nonprofit Quarterly website.

“Direct action and harm reduction is something I’ve always done before I really knew the words of verbiage for it,” Lynch said. “This is the shit that I should have had access to within my life, that could have ultimately altered where I am now.”

Lynch grew up with an intimate knowledge of what it was to be the “have nots.” Their personal experience led to the start of the organization, giving them an outlet to show others how to help those in similar situations.

“Last summer really highlighted for me the gap between more formalized charity and how that tends to distance people from the community,” Kicamp said. “It’s more focused on the separation of those who have and those who don’t, rather than everyone looking out for everyone else.”

The organization is focused on direct action rather than large sweeping legislation. Lynch said they do not believe electoralism is a productive means of change.

“I know it’s probably rude to scoff at,” Lynch said. “I’m fifth generation from D-FW, [… and] anything politically or policy-related, I don’t deal with. I have a certain amount of revolutionary optimism and feel we should all just get together and do what’s needed on the ground.”

The NTRR holds events in Denton on the first and third Friday of every month, and the table is open for anyone to take what they need and contribute how they can.

“We are still going to feed you even if you don’t like us,” volunteer and Frisco resident Lucy Sakiewicz said. “Some people don’t understand mutual aid is for everyone. Ultimately, community care is what’s going to save us, and we only have each other.”

Featured Image: Taylor Klekamp serves at the North Texas Rural resistance food stand in the late afternoon on Nov. 12, 2021. Photo by Elizabeth Bulot

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Alex Corey

Alex Corey

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