A photo of our two facilitators leading our workshop outside under a tent on the grass with many people seated and standing around them listening.

Community Self-Defense – February 2023

Nobody was prepared for the Covid pandemic, including us.

Though there was also an outbreak of greed, paranoia, racism, denialism, and wilful ignorance, we kept hope because we saw firsthand the natural human tendency to care and want to help shine through everywhere we looked. The love and support of hundreds of regular people like you are what allowed us to be able to help thousands of families across our county. And everything we were able to do came from trial and error, making it up as we went along and learning from what did and didn’t work.

There are always more emergencies and crises ahead, especially with worsening economic systems, weakening safety nets, rising fascism, rapidly increasing climate change, and loss of habitats and biodiversity. We must be as prepared as possible to face each one and not wait until it’s too late.

Our Community Self-Defense working group has created a workshop on the basics of these ideas and we shared it with great success at the NJ Solidarity Network Conference in May of last year. We plan to hold this workshop on Zoom and in-person periodically and we will have many projects and learning opportunities throughout the year that you can participate in.

A graphic promoting an event. With a peach background and on the top is an illustration of a group of people standing side-by-side, just in silhouette and colored green and holding a green banner with peach hearts. Beneath this is the text "Mutual Morris presents Keeping Us Safe: Mutual Aid and Community Self-Defense at the NJ Solidarity Conference, May 14th, 2022"

Currently, we are learning amateur radio together so that some of us can get licensed and prepare emergency communications plans. If cell phone and internet networks go down or become overloaded, we will still be able to coordinate getting help and information to our community. In addition, we are having fun learning together instead of individually. We have people from around the United States and even from overseas who have joined us in this journey and it is always great to make these connections.

In the future, we will host educational opportunities on many other related topics and we are seeking volunteers from across Morris County to help us plan for any crisis.

We say community self-defense instead of community defense because we can’t rely on outside agencies to defend us. There aren’t enough public resources. Communities haven’t been able to shape existing emergency planning processes and don’t know enough about their governments’ plans. Many people can’t call the police if something happens. We must learn how to defend ourselves and each other, while planning responses that work for us and our particular needs. Fundamental to mutual aid is the phrase “We keep each other safe” and we are committing to learning how to do that during major disasters and everyday dangers too.

We invite you to consider joining our working group and being part of the preparation and planning before the next crisis, to help strengthen our response. And join us for our “Mutual Aid and Climate Change” presentations to learn more about how communities prepare for and respond to extreme weather events and other emergencies that are already impacting all of us.