New York Foundation Releases: What Happens When Communities Organize Through a Crisis?

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

New York Foundation Releases: What Happens When Communities Organize Through a Crisis?

The New York Foundation has always believed in the power of New Yorkers to speak out—to identify what’s not working, to say what they need, and to problem solve. The city is at its best when its energy is fueled by our sense of purpose and collective power. We know from recent experience—September 11, 2001, and Hurricane Sandy—that neighborhoods where residents felt connected to one another, communities that were organizing around common concerns and building power, fared significantly better than those that did not.

Grassroots and neighborhood-based organizations hold connections to the pulse of their communities, and in a time of crisis, become hubs for support, care, and solidarity.

But not only are they centers of mutual aid—these organizations are mobilizing New Yorkers to advocate for systemic changes needed to address the root causes of inequity that have been multiplied by this pandemic.

The problems that made New York vulnerable to this crisis are not new—it is only that they are becoming apparent to more New Yorkers. The solutions that we will need to get through this echo demands communities have been articulating for years, including action to protect low-income workers, support to people who have lost employment, releasing people from correctional facilities and immigrant detention, reducing excessive policing and criminalization, ensuring that homeless New Yorkers are housed safely and cared for, transparency of law enforcement and government surveillance, debt and rent relief, and moratoriums on evictions, among other critical interventions.

Since the early days of the pandemic, we have heard from grantee partners about the many ways they are providing immediate relief in their communities. Mutual aid taps into our desire to be here for one another. And while mutual aid is addressing immediate needs and reinforcing a sense of community, it is also a way for organizations to build power, to name and address the root causes of widespread pain and loss, and most importantly to give expression to the kind of city we want to see...

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