Weaving collective care in our work and activism

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Weaving Collective Care in Activism by Mago Torres Notes:

  • Mago is a journalist with an academic background from Mexico City
  • legal security/emotional security
  • many routes to think about emotional/self care and collective care
  • self care looks different in the time of a pandemic

1. With what we have experienced, what does self-care look like for us?

Building healthy routines that focus more on passions/relationships/care than productivity, connecting more to the earth/land

  • Engaging my body / physical self
  • Taking "time for myself"
  • Not feeling bad about not constantly working/being in the streets/being on the frontlines/etc
  • I'm not really sure (which is kind of telling!) but making time for excecise, greiving, emotional processing of relationships, doing things I enjoy?
  • did not grow up in a culture of self care, more of ignoring feelings or "walking it off" OR when comfort was offered it was more as an alternative to doing something hard, like "why don't you stay home and rest" instead of doing risky thing x
  • Routine can be nice but there can be a tension between what you'd *like* self-care and your lifestyle to be and what is actually good for you

2. What is hard about that kind of self-care?

Making time to break away from productivity/"normal" culture, taking space for myself, treating myself as well as I treat others

  • setting boundaries and saying no to people (feeling guilty for rejecting a project)
  • guilt about leaving/taking breaks in the midst of what seem like constant emergencies
  • forcing myself to engage physically (such as working out) when all I want to do is snuggle in my blanket and hibernate until the winter ends
  • just remembering my body! as a cis-woman i have a tricky relationship with my body and feeling safe. also taking time, feeling not productive when i rest
  • hard to shut off my noisy brain
  • Deciding that my own 'needs' are also important when family and community are experiencing serious harm
  • "letting down" co-workers or other commitments
  • separating "real" stress from self-inflicted
  • "Time for myself" can also be isolating
  • asking for help
  • Idea having to be a superhero when you're an activist or organizer
  • Being able to take care of myself is great, but it's isolating
  • Understanding what self-care is can be painful
  • Disembodying can be an escape, feeling embodied can be painful
  • it's hard to see the results/the impact especially when you're an organizing
  • it can be a painful process to rest/calm down when you're in a flow of doing things and making progress, connects with the idea of the hero process
  • it takes time/processing, to create a balance, there's noise/ringing which times time to cope with
  • When we're doing important/emotionally challenging work, you need to take care of yourself or you will burn out

Collective: How do we communicate and work around with others for self-care?

1. With what we have experienced, what does collective self care look like for us?

  • I think giving each other space to be messy/complicated/really be honest and vulnerable, and listening
  • taking time to build deep trust relationship so we can understand eachother's needs and what we and our communities are dealing with
  • honestly it's been hard to understand collective self care because I've been in a lot of spaces that's hyperfocused on production, teamwork, building, and progression of goals (very capitalist centered) so whenever I've made an effort to self-care it's been very isolating. An ideal type of collective self care would look show a sense of reciprocity, such as cooking for one another or taking a break and enjoying a simple pleasure such as going out for a walk in community with another person
  • if there's a problem or tension at work, then I think it's okay to take a break from each other and come back later. I also surprisingly find that reading each other's astrological charts has been helpful (such as seeing each other's charts on the pattern app) can help with understanding the other person and where they're coming from
  • It's circular, mutual. I think it's to be seen and see others for their whole experience, and to see what their needs might be in that context.
  • For people who are often marginalized and are the target of discrimination, to see how that is their reality and take that into account. For example, single mothers getting a bit more time flexibility for their work, etc.
  • centering inclusivity. for white folks especially this means committing to their own work (outside of "group time") in deconstructing racism they carry -- also of course applicable w/r/t sexism, ableism, heterosexism, class, etc.
  • space for lots of different needs (sometimes conflicting needs?) - i was in the "facilitation for liberation" network gathering this year and there was some really interesting conversation about like, space for a range of needs and experiences and not shying away from conflict when it may arise (they didn't use the word conflict, but i am forgetting the much better phrasing people used then, ha)
  • not necessarily taking things personally; sometimes needs can conflict and that's ok -- creating space for that
  • taking time -- even in virtual spaces -- for silence / meditation with others
  • right now it seems like a big part is being flexible about how/when/by what methods people are able to participate/show up (or maybe that's just the starting point)

2. What is hard about that kind of collective self-care?

  • It can be easy to prescribe solutions, and expectations can get in the way, also boundaries are hard because of expectations/projections
  • Someone will inevitably bring up an argument along the lines of "the house is burning down, we don't have time for anything other than putting it out"
  • it can be hard to ask for, and easier to ask for "superficial" help than "big" problems
  • it is hard to figure out how to prioritize, and how think/feel about needs in relationships when there is little ability to participate in decision making
  • i think there's a related thing where even _asking_ what would help is also work for people to answer? we've definitely seen that it's hard for people to access help and support now just cause so overwhelmed
  • the less sad flipside of that is that we have also seen a lot of capacity to GIVE and still support one another, but the trick has been how to sort of best facilitate that capacity to actually reach what people really need right now!
  • Capitalism. Living in a world where we're all incentivized to think selfishly, to live individualistically. When you give yourself to others, sometimes others take that as an opportunity to exploit you. It's not always their fault bc of the scarcity-based society and economic system we live in, but it can make it hard to trust others
  • "right-sizing" what we collectively try to tackle
  • collective self-care isn't talked about in places like the US because eeryone is very individualist/capitalist
  • so hard right now because we can't connect in person. i agree with the above, about working in a culture of production and goals and always doing more-- it's really hard to balance that with the reality of the pandemic, people being sick and dying
  • no singular individual can know everything, collective care can be tricky to think about
  • we intersect in differnt communities, it's a challenge within different family settings/another part of a family has needs, but a coworker has other needs it can be hard across multiple communities/dynamics and finding balance
  • it's hard to find collective care within white straight people
  • mutual aid society closed due to covid, decisions that have been made from white Perspectives can be frustrating because it closes acts of collective care
  • more healing can be done in west coast events/professional networking
  • salmon events, west coast bio-region, go to british colombia events to find like-minded people for an act of collective healing
  • marginalized groups in a specific group do the most work of promoting self-care and community self care, the practice of self care falls heavily on people wit the most needs
  • marginalized people need more self care becuase they're in a system that isn't designed for them (interesting to see how startups have beer on top or happy hour to calm down/relax when it serves mainly one specific demographic
  • there's healing that needs to be done on many different levels, inject care within institutions and navigate those spaces
  • vulnerability is important/who starts this conversation/cover community differently/those who go into the community and have a connection with community are more likely to start the acts of collective self care
  • for example, people would be judgemental of collective self-care spaces and say that they're only doing it because they're women (or self-identifying as women) which ties into stereotypes

Notes from secondary pad:


  1. With what we have experienced, what does self-care look like for us?
    1. Eating well, going outside, getting exercise/feeling embodied and present, dressing up, cooking for others, reading
  2. What is hard about that kind of self-care?
    1. Making time, priori