167: Healing and Helping with Mutual Aid with Dean Spade

In this conversation with Dean Spade we resolve a long-running challenge in my understanding: when we talked with Dr. john powell on the topic of Othering and Belonging a couple of years ago we discussed how volunteering promotes othering, because it perpetuates the idea that the volunteer is a person with resources to give, and the recipient has little in the way of useful knowledge or resources of their own.  Dr. powell agreed, but we didn’t have time to discuss what to do instead.


In this episode we finally punch out that lingering hanging chad of knowledge and talk with Dean Spade about the concept of mutual aid, which is the topic of his book: Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity in This Crisis (And The Next).  In this conversation we discuss:


  • What is mutual aid, and how it’s more effective than volunteering
  • How we heal in community with others from the effects that benign-seeming systems like capitalism have on us
  • Ways to find and get involved in mutual aid projects


As Dean and I talked, I also realized how applicable these ideas are to the work I do with parents in the Taming Your Triggers workshop.  


It’s not surprising that parents feel triggered by their child’s behavior when you consider the trauma that we’ve experienced.  Even if you had ‘good parents,’ they still raised you to succeed within a system that told you to hide unacceptable parts of yourself so you could be ‘successful’ – which means getting good grades, going to college, getting a good job, buying a house, and raising a family.  And we’re supposed to do all of this by ourselves, without relying on others – because then we’ll need to buy more stuff along the journey.


Our culture uses shame to enforce these rules and keep us in line – that’s why we feel a sense of wrong-ness when we do something that isn’t socially acceptable – like asking for help, for example.


Because these traumas happened in community, they’re most effectively healed in community as well – just as these two parents did when they built on each other’s knowledge in the workshop earlier this year (screenshot shared with permission):



If you want to jump-start your ability to actually apply that knowledge in your interactions with your children by learning in community with others, then Taming Your Triggers will help you.


Join the waitlist to be notified when doors reopen.





Dr. Dean Spade’s Book

Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During This Crisis (and the Next) – Affiliate link



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Jump to highlights

(01:30) Introduction to the episode and guest speaker Dr. Dean Spade

(03:24) Definition of Mutual Aid and how it’s different from Charity

(08:26) How the history of Social Movement was organized by Mutual Aid

(09:54) Montgomery bus boycott is one of the most famous social movement work in the history of the US

(15:35) The impacts of having problematic systems and structures in our society on parents

(17:16) The challenges that the radical social movement is facing

(18:29) How mutual Aid functions during a crisis

(23:22) Why it’s so essential to create a system of Mutual Aid in which we actually take care of each other and that doesn’t destroy people’s dignity and humanity

(25:53) Why is it important to talk about Mutual Aid now

(30:04) How capitalism worsens the condition of our society and why mutual aid is the only way to survive it

(35:44) The importance of mutual aid in our well-being and in the society

(40:09) What does Mutual Aid look like

(44:53) How being involved in Mutual Aid can bring a sense of healing

(46:43) Factors in our society that make us feel burnout

(48:51) Dr. Spade’s way of recovering from burnout and avoidance

(50:35) All powerful social movements for liberation have always been done by people who were living under the worst conditions

(51:48) Importance of having a sense of urgency

(53:13) Ways we should prepare for each coming emergency

(54:37) How to find a Mutual Aid group in your community


About the author, Jen

Jen Lumanlan (M.S., M.Ed.) hosts the Your Parenting Mojo podcast (www.YourParentingMojo.com), which examines scientific research related to child development through the lens of respectful parenting.

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