Interview for Mad In America

Journalist and activist Leah Harris recently interviewed me (the founder of Reimagining Recovery) for an article about mutual aid projects during the COVID-19 pandemic. Check out the link below!

“Not Fragile”: Survivor-Led Mutual Aid Projects Flourish in a Time of Crisis

From the article:

Mutual Aid in “Every Sense of the Word”

In Portland, Oregon, Molly Indrelie had already been organizing meetings for the last 18 months as part of the independent mutual-aid group and neurodiversity club Reimagining Recovery. Indrelie began organizing the groups around the city in 2018 and runs a Facebook group of the same name with over 168,000 followers.

Before the pandemic, Reimagining Recovery had been discussing mutual aid topics such as “Coping with Climate Grief” and “Beyond the Rehab-Industrial Complex.” Indrelie had initially tried to offer online groups but found the in-person events to be more well attended. Now, Indrelie says, the online groups are attended by about 50 percent locals, with the rest being new national and international participants. Like Cypher, Indrelie sees the creeping impacts of social distancing measures: “There’s a lot of people in isolation, struggling.”

An unsmiling white woman with a half shaved head wears an argyle sweater.
Molly Indrelie

Indrelie says that the daily groups are mutual aid “in every sense of the word.” A self-described autodidact who dropped out of high school, she added, “It would be easy to see what I’m doing as just ‘volunteering,’ but I get so much out of it. A lot of the planning that I do for the meetings is the kind of stuff that I’d be researching and learning about anyways.”

Among a host of subjects, the groups have discussed the impact of ageism and ableism in the current climate. Narratives stating that the coronavirus is only likely to kill “the elderly and the immunocompromised,” as well as conversations about rationing of life-saving supplies, cause disabled communities to feel disposable and threatened. Indrelie told Mad in America: “There’s eugenics sentiment rearing up, and that’s fucking scary. And, Trump wanting to make it easier to forcibly treat folks is also very scary and worrisome.” These stressful realities weigh on Indrelie and group participants.

In recent days, Indrelie has had to take the occasional break from facilitating to tend to her own needs. She recognizes the need for skill-sharing and sustainability over what may be a lengthy period of crisis and uncertainty. To that end, Indrelie plans to host a workshop on April 2 for Reimagining Recovery community members who’d like to grow their skills in online group facilitation.

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