Individuals can feel insignificant in the face of complex issues like racism, climate change, and depressed economies. It is in partnership with others, however, that many of us find strength. Here are a few people on the ground that have been doing collaborative work.
North Minneapolis was one of the communities impacted after George Floyd’s murder. Businesses small and large were attacked. Streets were littered. Options for people with limited mobility to get food, diapers, and medicine were gone. Ashli Henderson, a comedian by trade, put out a call in her neighborhood to help with clean-up, and then a call to generate resources. Over the next month, about 1,000 volunteers helped. So far they have served more than 7,500 families with pop-up tents that offered supplies.
“Every day was different,” she said. “At night we would have a meeting and critique what happened that day, what the next needs were. We noticed that the elderly were generally not able to come, and it was hard for new mothers, so we started offering home deliveries. We had a chain of people doing store runs, refilling inventory, loading, unloading.”
Many local churches and non-profits offered donations. About 100 volunteers came back daily for three weeks.
The network continues to offer pop-ups as needed, often focused on providing for those who are unsheltered and families affected by gun violence.
“The work takes a lot of mental strength,” Henderson says. “That first month, the days were long and exhausting, often 8am to 5pm in hot sun and sometimes rain. After I was able to delegate some of the work, it was a lot less stressful. Our vision was very clear about what we were doing and why. The intention was pure.”
As a single mom, her 12-year-old daughter joined her, and said she found the experience “inspiring. It felt good to be helping. There were a lot of kids involved, which was fun. We were being safe [because of COVID-19]. It was better than just being in the house.”
Ashli Henderson: We are assembling bags to distribute to people experiencing homelessness. We plan to distribute back-to-school supplies as well. northsideerp.org