22 February 2022
Author: Abi Buller and Holly Friend
Image: Yard. Photography by Thom Bartley
Community is at the heart of Abuelos. How do you think brands can sustain communities in a genuine way?
A lot of brands, by nature and design, are about the continuity of capital. It is about community for the purpose of exchange in one way or another. When brands get involved in community organising, there’s a risk of having a dominating hierarchy. But brands do have the opportunity to move some of their finances or resources in different ways to support communities. Ultimately, brands need to develop a greater understanding of the community space and not pretend to be something that they’re not.
You describe yourself as a social organiser. Do you think brands are well placed to become organisers?
Some brands are well placed to be facilitators because movements need a platform and visibility. The role of a good facilitator is to get to the right conversation in the room. Brands need to consider the kind of conversations that only certain communities can have, but I’m conscious that a facilitator must be about the people in the room themselves – as opposed to having their own agenda or intention.
Let’s look five years ahead. How do you see collective care filtering into our day-to-day lives?
When I think about mutual aid, I think about two things. One, that we need to look at people of colour and migrant communities who practise mutual aid and use organising tools every day. And secondly, how informative the pandemic has been, because we saw these mutual aid practices crop up so quickly, like neighbourhood WhatsApp groups offering all sorts of support. But recently we’ve started to lose that and forget about the simple care-driven acts that we carried out in moments of crisis. Everything is really about simplicity. For me, when I talk about simplicity, I mean that we shouldn’t have to wait for crisis to offer mutual aid, it should be filtered into our everyday. I don't think it's about us needing to create something innovative and new, but about acknowledging that these things already exist around us.
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