Surviving 2020 to 2021 and figuring out what we are.
by Matt Stannard on May 23, 2021
Exactly a year ago, we thought there was a pretty good chance Solidarity Collective would fold. I even wrote this diagnostic piece. It reads in part:
We can always re-prioritize our labor but we have no room to reprioritize our financial commitments. They have been massaged and scrutinized over and over again, and we’re at the part of that slide show which shows that we will not survive long-term.
Another important factor is that it’s hard to do what we’re doing. Material and cultural cooperation isn’t just learning the skills needed to share. It also proceeds from the same general principle as socialism: that a wide scaling of shared resources can serve everyone’s needs. “From each according to ability, to each according to need” can only really meet the diverse needs of a group of people if the gives-and-takes are sustainable. Our financial, physical, and emotional resources are stretched and often broken, week after week, month after month. There is no more “from each according to” to take.
Things actually got a little worse later in the year, but not materially. As our financial and labor situation improved, a rift occurred in a combination of new and old relationships that ended up changing the face of the group in some important ways. But after that, with a skeleton crew of people still here and a healthy number of people scheduled to move in (we should be at between 12 and 14 adults by the end of the year), things began to look up, even with the amicable departure of one of our founders (people are not expected to live here forever, although that’s an option).
In the midst of some of those personal battles, I wrote the following 7-point vision for the Collective. It’s not official, but it has become a set of aspirations that we’ve used to communicate our values to people checking us out:
1. Provide anti-capitalist, anti-oppression, and pro-cooperative education.
2. Provide collaborative organizing and creative space for members and values-aligned organizations and people.
3. Operate democratically, cooperatively, and intimately, as comrades.
4. Provide guest space for traveling activists and those in need of shelter on a case-by-case basis.
5. Operate as a repository for leftist knowledge through our library, media projects, and other materials.
6. Be able to meet our monthly expenses through a combination of enterprises, outside support and patronage, and member contributions.
7. Build, maintain and improve permaculture, sustainable and regenerative systems for farming and living, commensurate with the physical and mental well-being of our members and active supporters.
Reader’s thoughts are welcome. We’re still here, still putting out podcasts, selling eggs, hosting political forums, providing short-term and long-term living space for activists and artists, and growing an impressive library. We have a large greenhouse now. We get inquiries several times a month, and feel as if we could be bursting at the seams with members before too long–or that we may continue to fluctuate up and down stopping just short of enough. I look forward to revisiting that description in a year.
And we still need your support. The easiest way to do that is through our Patreon platform.