EOT 382- Raleigh United Mutual Aid Hub

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Ennis Wells 0:00
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Hello, and welcome to WKNC public affairs program Eye on the Triangle. Eye on the Triangle is your source for local news reviews and interviews. My name is Ennis Wells, and today I'm joined by Esor, who is a coordinator for RUMAH aka Raleigh's United mutual aid hub. And they're here today to tell us about rumah, its mission, and its new location in downtown Raleigh. Welcome.

Esor 1:03
Hi, good afternoon.

Ennis Wells 1:06
Good afternoon.

Esor 1:07
And I guess Good morning, to everyone listening

Ennis Wells 1:10
True. 9am. if you're listening to live on WKNC. So, Esor, first of all, in your own words, what is Rumah?

Esor 1:21
Rumah is a place of connection for the residents of Raleigh to build community with one another. It is meant to be a social center, it is meant to be a space to find resources of all kinds, besides making connections and building friendships and relationships with others. We're seeking to have free clothes, free food, and other free supplies readily available as a mutual aid hub. And so we're kind of encompassing a lot of things through having a space.

Ennis Wells 1:59
So mutual aid, what would you say? The definition of mutual aid, I guess is for you all.

Esor 2:07
So mutual aid is coming together to help each other with shared goals, shared needs, and shared resources. There's a mutual exchange that's happening. And some people have more than others. And we find where we can meet in the middle and be there for one another and try to create a sustainable path forward, outside of the way that the current system is which in our capitalist society, there's lots of cracks that people fall through. And there is a devoid of a community connection here locally. And we're trying to fill that void. We're trying to replace it with something that is better.

Ennis Wells 2:55
So it's a mutual aid hub. But you guys specifically remote was made with the idea of having that physical space, the location, why would that having that physical space be important to you all.

Esor 3:10
So a little bit about me as an organizer, I've been organizing in Raleigh. For years, I was born and raised in North Carolina. And I grew up in Raleigh, I grew up in a small town and then moved to Raleigh, and I went to high school around here. And I've been taking part in activism since I was a teenager in high school. And I've taken part in a lot of different projects around the triangle via like, girls camps. Food and other food, not bombs back in the day, LGBTQ support groups, and just all different kinds of all different kinds of activism. And the one thing that I found that was missing was having a space for everyone to come together to meet regularly. And Food Not Bombs was attempting to sort of create that like the the entity of Food not bombs in general, just showing up at a park and trying to feed one another, and talk to each other and try to meet at the same level is kind of the very basis of what Rumah wants to do. It's just that you can't always meet at a park. And you can't necessarily always do exactly whatever you want in a park. So we saw the value and I specifically saw the value in needing a space dedicated to social change and connecting each other with what other social issues and struggles are going on here locally. So what I found was that Out of all of the spaces where social organizing was happening and the need for storage or the need for having a space just to commune with one another and connect and talk about issues and discussions. That was really important to creating change in your like, where you are immediate, like immediate change where you are and all of those groups, they would kind of either struggle with finding a space, and they might actually having to go on hiatus for a while or that was just always a reason, like a reoccurring issue was not having a place to do things. And, and that goes for everyone, especially in a city like this that is so focused on business and very capitalist driven. There isn't really a space for people to not have to deal with the city and having to constantly spend money in order to just spend time with one another or to work on change here. In your neighborhoods in your community.

Ennis Wells 6:13
You mentioned food, not bombs for the people that don't know what is food, not bombs.

Esor 6:19
Food, not bombs is a social movement that started in the 80s by a man named Keith McHenry. And it has kind of blown up globally, people start Food Not Bombs all over the world. It is an autonomous collective. And their ideas are about solidarity, not charity, encouraging vegetarian and vegan food, especially at the time in the 80s like food was just, I mean, food still is always a hot topic of having access to healthy accessible food is important, especially when you can't afford it. And so that was those are some big proponents of the group in general. But as expected for food, not bombs, groups to autonomously run, how they choose to. And a big idea about food, not bombs as well is finding food resources, historically dumpster diving, or just finding free food to be able to relocate and give to others. And it historically is usually a meal like a hot meal making meals. But a lot of different mutual aid groups that go under the name of food, not bombs, or just other mutual aid groups in general. They do a lot of different things besides just hot meals for us here rally food, not bombs, we kind of go above and beyond and do more than just a hot meal. We give out free groceries and produce and non perishables, toiletries and clothes every Saturday from five sorry, from three to 5pm. And that is way more expensive than most food, not bombs. In my opinion, the old Food Not Bombs that I used to be a part of in 2011 to 2015 we didn't have the same sort of monetary resources that the Food Not Bombs has today, the food at bombs that exists today has a way to collect monetary donations, that doesn't put anyone else at Jeopardy with their bank account. What they were doing was they were using like a lot of mutual aid groups out of 2020 when the pandemic hit, kind of suddenly started and they were having people donate to like a Cash App or Venmo that kind of creates things to get a bit dicey for people financially. So we ended up finding out about open collective foundation and they host people save money they take care of the bureaucratic side of things while the grassroots organizations can go and do what they do best helping the community. And so Food Not Bombs moved over to that and so we get way more money than the old Food Not Bombs here in Raleigh are the previous food, not bombs, even to that. Whatever get it was usually a little, a little more. Just kind of creating things with whatever you had, which we still do that it's just we didn't have the aspects of toiletries and clothes and all those things where we could actually have money to go out and get the specific needs. Food Not Bombs has a grocery delivery program. We have a closed program. And both of those groups can do special requests sometimes and then they actually go out and get what is needed. Not everything is always able to get be acquired, but they try their best First, and they go and they deliver things or they come and meet them out at Moore Square Park, in that window of time that they do distribution. And then we do the distribution, as well. And we also have a gardening community. Unfortunately, it's kind of on hiatus right now, just because we need some more volunteers to help. Bottom line important tasks for it. But we're looking, we're hoping that having that connection with Rumah can help facilitate more people to joining food, not bombs, the grocery delivery team just moved into the space and the rest of food, not bombs. The way that they work is they work through consensus, and or a consent model. Those are two different things. But they are still sort of going through their decision making processes. And so we're hoping that they can make their final decision about moving in sometime soon. But rumah wanted to support them and other local mutual aid efforts or grassroots efforts that are working to change the city and help people around the Triangle.

Ennis Wells 11:15
How did the idea for RUMAH originate away from food, not bombs? Why was the need for another organization.

Esor 11:24
So I guess the idea was kind of born with me. And I had always thought that that was what was needed, even outside of food, not bombs. But as this food, not bombs kind of took off and became so big and was doing a lot of different projects. We're mostly working out of a basement, that doesn't really support everything. And so everything scattered, people are doing it out of their homes, multiple different homes, there's like a main basement, and then everyone kind of moves around, taking on different tasks of storage, which that's not ideal, you know, it's not ideal to have everything spread out. And just as before, like I said, I had, I had always saw that need for having a space where everything would be centralized. And so I, I saw a building that was for rent, and I became really inspired. And they were having issues with storage. So I recommended that we start looking around at places that maybe we could rent for storage, or maybe we could start to have some of the similar idea of like a social center at. And then that kind of evolved, where I realized that what RUMAH is trying to do is while it's related to food, not bombs, it's trying to take on a much larger task, it's trying to support them. And the rest of the community is trying to provide all sorts of resources that are kind of outside of the scope of food, not bombs. And so once that conversation kind of evolved, and started become more realized, I decided to offer it up to other people like, Hey, I think that this, this is an important need for the Raleigh community. And if anyone is interested in trying to make this happen, talk to me. And I had some people join me. And we have been hashing out things and fundraising. And we started fundraising last year, in July. And then by May of 2023, we had signed a lease on a building. That was pretty amazing. This is entirely crowdfunded. And that can tell you just how much the need is, is people were like, wow, I want that. And they gave us the money to work towards it. So that's kind of the history of it.

Ennis Wells 14:00
Is it all volunteer as well?

Esor 14:03
Yes, yeah. So this is entirely volunteer. Food not bombs is also entirely volunteer. So we have some volunteer interest meetings coming up, because we obviously need more people to help us make the ideas and possibilities come to more fruition and realization. We have volunteer interest meetings that are coming up, and we are definitely looking for more people to take part and be involved in creating this beautiful social center for the community. Having it grow. The interest meetings are Sunday, August 28, at 2pm it is at Rumah which is 415 Hillsborough Street, and Wednesday, August 23 at 7pm. And then we have a virtual meeting. That is Monday, August 28 at 7pm. Yeah, so if anyone is interested, please come check us out on those days. We're very active on social media, on our Instagram, which is Raleigh, United mutual aid hub, we have Twitter and we have Facebook, as well.

Ennis Wells 15:17
So back to I had one more question about food, not bombs. That organization, a lot of people say is maybe an anarchist leaning organization. Is that true? And then does that philosophy carry on into rumah?

Esor 15:34
It absolutely does. So we identify as leftists, we identify with anarchism, we think of it as a we think of food, not bombs, and like what we do in food, not bombs. And what we do with rumah, being a social center being a mutual aid hub, as a way of Praxis of actually like putting things into reality, and not just be the arm chair. Sort of theory, theory is a theory serious, that's not a word. But like they, the armchair philosophers about theory, you know what I mean? We're trying to figure out how to apply it to real life, and to apply it in the wake of capitalism. And we see that the the cracks are here, we see that people are struggling. And we all want to help one another. So let's create a space where we can do it. And I think that that's why so many people have donated to us and to food, not bombs over the past couple of years, I've tried to join, because they feel that need to want to connect with other people, even though they might be helping one another. There is a mutual exchange of camaraderie and learning about each other other perspectives on the world. It's kind of helping break that isolation that is brought on through the capitalist means. Like I've said capitalist way to, but I mean, we are we are we're leftist organization. And I kind of found it surprising that you asked to interview us because this is not the first time that I've been interviewed for food bombs, or, you know, just a leftist organization. Every time that I am interviewed, or we answer questions, I, they never see the light of day, because once they get to the point where they realize we're anarchists, they don't want to give leftist like positive publicity. Like it's just not. That's just not what is what people do. But I, I, I was actually going to be pretty surprised if you did actually air this, but you actually asked me if we were an anarchist organization. So it's like, oh, yeah, yes. Yes, we are.

Ennis Wells 18:00
Yeah, so they just they don't air it?

Esor 18:02
No, no, they don't air it. They don't even post about it, you know. But this is public radio. So you can do whatever you want, I guess. Well,

Ennis Wells 18:11
yeah, we're college. We can air what we want.

Esor 18:15
Yeah, so I really appreciate you reaching out and actually asking questions, and so probably be like, the first full legitimate, defining about food not bombs or Rumah. That gets more publicity here and shared with the public. So I appreciate that.

Ennis Wells 18:38
We're happy to do that. I know you said that food not bombs has been using that space to like store the groceries now. I saw you guys had a kitchen there too. Have you started like cooking stuff.

Esor 18:55
So it's a kitchenette. We have some Insta pots and some hot plates. We have a dishwasher, but we don't have an oven or anything. And the thing about this building is we don't want to alter it too much because it's going to be torn down in a couple years. Getting this space and renting it is kind of a is our is just our first step. It's our first blog up to kind of get things going and get momentum. And we're hoping is like a five year plan to be able to apply for grants or just see where we as a community can continue ourselves to be able to maybe buy space and to be a little more permanent instead of temporary with a rental space. So we don't want to invest too much money into editing this space. At this time. Just because we want to try to save money we want to put money towards programs And, and hopefully towards applying for grants and looking for a place to buy in Raleigh.

Ennis Wells 20:08
However other community organizations use this space so far.

Esor 20:12
So they've we've had people come in just meet with one another. We've had people hold movie nights and discussion panels. We've had artists come and use the space for an open mic tonight is actually a punk show. I know this is airing, like a Monday. But there was a punk show happening tonight. It was through bunker pomson Sorry, state. So I'm very excited for that. Because I'll be I'll be at the that show tonight. And in we at this time are accepting people to come and hold events here we have a event booking form on our link tree that is on all of our social media. And anyone can book an event here it there's there's different like we do sliding scale. We prioritize mutual aid, the LGBT Center is hosting all of their programs here until further notice until they get a new space because they don't have a space right now. And so they've already started hosting their own programs here. They have a nonbinary tee time, they have a believe a gender discussion, like a generalized gender discussion group that comes here. They have like family, friends and family of LGBTQ people that come and meet and meet as well. They are setting up times to have those dates locked in over the next couple of months. So we've started having some of those groups here. Not all of them just yet, but they are on our calendar. So I'm really looking forward to seeing how everything evolves. We've had a, some community dinners here. We have a union A unionizing discussion. Yeah. So it's, it's an array. It's an array of things. We're trying to support artists, we're trying to bring artists into the social justice realm, environmental realm as well. So we're, we're excited how things are starting to grow. We are looking to be open to the public, from Thursday to Sunday. But we still need more volunteers before we can do that. So we're not open to the public just yet. But we are open to having events, and people can book online.

Ennis Wells 22:52
Is there a group discussion on like, what types of groups can be in this space?

Esor 22:59
So we don't discriminate. While I know we identify as a leftist organization or anarchist, we want to create an open space for people to use to talk to to share this, like share ideas, and learn from each other. So this space is free to anyone to use. We don't really hold any sort of bias against anyone, except, obviously, fascist people, or just bad vibes. If someone's got bad vibes, and you don't get to use the space, whatever encompasses that pretty much, but it's open to the public.

Ennis Wells 23:43
Right. So what's next for our I know talk about some events upcoming, or their larger goals you guys are hoping to reach.

Esor 23:53
So like I mentioned before, I think like the largest goal is in a few years to hopefully build up this community and, and making those connections to apply to get a more permanent space for the Raleigh area. I would say that we're always looking for volunteer help. We don't have any immediate events that we have specifically planned. Earlier this year, we had our Earth to Raleigh event, which was to get the word out about us how to become monthly sustainers and to also uplift other local grassroots organizations and nonprofits and we had music, we had artists vendors, it was a very good time. We're looking to do that again, eventually, probably around the same time next year. But we're also hoping to do something this fall. So just follow us on our social media and keep up to date. We also have a newsletter that people can sign up for as well. And we will be updating that about any events that we will be specifically throwing.

Ennis Wells 25:07
So what specifically would be the Instagram handle? Or where should people go to learn more get involved or donate to you all.

Esor 25:14
So we have Raleigh united mutual aid hub, a page on Facebook. And our link tree is link tree slash Raleigh United mutual aid hub. And then our Twitter is at Raleigh aid. And our Instagram is at Raleigh, United mutual aid hub, as well. Please feel free to email us. If you have any questions about using the space, you can find our event form on our link tree. And our email is contact.rumah@gmail.com. And if you're interested in reading more about us, and or potentially supporting us collective.com/rumah is where you can go as well.

Ennis Wells 26:05
Thank you so much for taking the time and joining me today, sharing all this and we will actually air this. So that's, that'll be cool. Is there anything else you'd like to add or share?

Esor 26:19
Yeah, don't forget to check out our volunteer interest. You can go to our event, go to our link tree and fill out a form if you're interested in becoming a volunteer. So even though I mentioned those dates earlier, those dates Sunday, August 20 at 2pm Wednesday, August 23. At 7pm you would go to our link tree fill out the volunteer interest form and then you show up!

Ennis Wells 27:02
you just heard Eye on the Triangle's interview with Rumah aka Raleigh's United mutual aid hub. Huge thanks to them for sharing the time with us here WKNC And as said before you can find out more information about Rumah and their upcoming events and opportunities on their link tree link tree.com/raleigh United mutual aid hub. And if you're listening to this episode online that will be linked in this episode's description.

Next up on this episode of Eye on the Triangle, I've got some more short news stories from around the triangle. First, whether your NC State or UNC classes start back on the 21st. I've been here at NC State over the summer and I can say that campus is finally starting to feel a little busy again. There are a ton of upcoming events to look forward to here at NC State, including of course Packapaloza, packapaloza will be happening Saturday, August 26, and Hillsborough Street will once again be filled with tons of booths, music, entertainment, and activities. Other upcoming events include rec Fest on August 20, and the student organization fair on Wednesday, August 23. Those are great events to check out if you're looking to join any club over the school year. Also for first years, the LGBT Pride symposium is happening on Friday, August 18. And you can find out more information about all of these events and a ton more on calendar.ncsu.edu. Some less exciting student news, unless anything changes with the ongoing court cases student loans are coming back on September 1 with payments due again in October. You can find out more information on that at student aid.gov And look out for the loan forgiveness options that are still available. Soil testing in Durham Parks found that three of them mall town park, East Durham and East End Park had elevated levels of lead. The city has now fenced off parts of these parks and put up warning signs. Apparently this parks used to be used as incinerator sites. So that might explain why this is happening. But it was a shock to many residents who didn't expect the parks to maybe be a dangerous place to be. So a final report will come back on August 15. and clarify what's happening exactly and what actions the city might take. There is no update yet on NC Senate Bill 90, which we discussed in the last episode of Eye on the Triangle, which was one of those parental rights and education bills. But wait county schools have updated their policy on book challenges. So now instead of just sending in a letter to the school and challenging the book, individuals must now meet with the principal in order to discuss it. They also now have a longer time to file the paperwork and then once it is filed, they I have to discuss it at a public meeting and an outside committee of teachers, parents and counselors will decide what if any actions are going to be taken. There's a good indie Week article on this if anyone would like to learn more. Next, the theater paper hand puppet intervention, I wanted to let everyone know that their new show where our spirits reside is taking place at the NC Museum of Art in Raleigh, on the weekends up until September 24. It's a show for all ages, and it's said to be about, quote, love, memory loss, transformation, grief, celebration, and ultimately the strength and resilience we build together to heal. So you can find out more information about this at paper handout org, or their Instagram page at paper hand puppet. And the last story for today, PNC arena is expected to receive 300 million in funds to use for renovations and updates. If passed, the money will come from tourism taxes, and the stadium says that they aim to ramp up the space in order to get quote, bigger and better shows. The ABC 11 article on this mentioned how the last NHL Stadium Series was a big inspiration for this goal, as it showed what was possible as it brought in a ton more revenue to the area. This funding proposal will be voted on by the Wake County Commission on August 21. So watch out for that

Thanks for listening to this episode of Eye on the Triangle WKNC 8.1 FM HD one Raleigh's public affairs program. You can listen back to this episode or past episodes on wknc.org/music for this episode is titled Noah's stark, and it was made available by the artist Krakatoa through a Creative Commons. Check wknc.org/scheduled to catch the next episode of Eye on the Triangle live. And this may be my last episode, so get excited to meet the new public affairs director during our next episode. Thank you

Creators and Guests

Ennis Wells
Ennis Wells
Public Affairs Director (summer 2023)
EOT 382- Raleigh United Mutual Aid Hub
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