Apologies for not being at the last meeting, but I was looking at the minutes and I wanted to make this proposal.
I think the stongest elements of the solidarity kitchen project has been proof we can handle large scale operations, logistics and that we can draw in a lot of people who want to help in some way. We can also distribute a large number of items to a large number of people, provide resources, ideas, plans, vision.
Weakest elements has been low engagement from people receiving meals, perhaps revealing a lack of understanding and clarity around the aims of the project. There is still a charity mentality in many but this is not an easy thing to change at the best of times. To me, this is always a big psychological hurdle to overcome. It happens even in unions, coop networks etc. People will use it as a service only, not as means to organise.
Another critique is we spread out across the whole city, rather than focus on a specific area where we could’ve built more localised solidarity efforts. We did this because the need was so great, because we were more central and away from more residential areas and in doing so we did manage to reach a greater number of people.
We should try to run some kitchens in a more localised fashion after lockdown easement or the Warehouse business needing to continue. We should do this because we want to create a more mutual aspect to the aid and we can do this better within a locality where people live closer to the people they aid. On a practical level this is a ‘food not bombs’ style of organisation.
To be concrete - we should try to use Stirchley Baths kitchen to instigate this in Stirchley where some of us live.
We should also create a model that can be replicated elsewhere in the city. This was something we thought of a while ago but struggled to implement due to the scale of ops in the central kitchen. This could take the form of an informational booklet, PDF, a bit like ‘how to set up a workers coop’. It would detail the ethos, practical steps, suggestions on what to do. Each new kitchen would be part of the Cooperation Birmingham network.