When the California wildfires destroyed the town of Paradise and displaced more than 50,000 people, it was no surprise that around 100 evacuees came to the Walmart parking lot to find somewhere to stay. Before the fire, the Walmart parking lot was already a place for people to seek refuge if they didn’t have somewhere else to go, as Walmart parking lots have become across the country.
As the evacuees in the parking lot worked to adjust to the devastation in their lives, they were helped by a loose organization called North Valley Mutual Aid.
Anarchists, communists, Democratic Socialists, “Bernie liberals,” and others who wanted to help organized themselves into the North Valley Mutual Aid network.
Based on the principle of mutual aid they began to provide assistance to the small community gathered in the parking lot. By working with and supporting them based on their needs.
They set up a volunteer kitchen to prepare food and deliver it to people in need, at the Walmart parking lot and elsewhere.
That camp has since been disbanded, but the cleanup and rebuild working group is currently organizing to push for self-managed camps, where people can help one another.
Image adapted from: “mutual aid” by Jason Taellious is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 and “Double fire” by Annie Roi is licensed under CC BY 2.0