EUGENE, OR – This morning, many Eugene residents awoke to find a package on their doorstep. Hours earlier, just before dawn, several gloved-and-masked locals had made the deliveries around their neighborhoods, with a clear message attached: “In the midst of this crisis, we must take care of each other.” The brown paper bags contained two rolls of bread and a single rose.
Echoing the Bread & Roses strike of Lawrence, Massachusetts over 100 years earlier, the volunteer-created Lane County Mutual Aid (LCMA) network, along with organizers of the Eugene Rent Strike, decided to highlight the demand for dignity and living wages in light of the crisis state that the coronavirus pandemic has inflicted on working class people nationwide.
One severe consequence of the pandemic-induced economic meltdown is the inability of many individuals and families to afford their rent or mortgage payments. Thus, part of the purpose of the Eugene Bread & Roses action is to encourage neighbors to form tenants’ unions, showing solidarity with frontline communities who are being hit the hardest and supported the least by the government. This is part of a national rent strike movement, in which millions of Americans are withholding rent payments until government officials respond with a rent and mortgage freeze.
We hope these gifts will prompt folks to reassess who has the power to force the changes we need to keep ourselves and our families safe and secure… These once radical ideas are not all that radical given the circumstances. We have the potential to turn this crisis on its head, forcing hardship onto those with the wealth and asset capacity to survive it. A first step toward that transformation is connecting with our neighbors in a deeper way.Sarah Pishioneri, one of the community organizers primarily responsible for this action
This call to action is a shining example of the creativity and kindness that is inherent in humanity. Capitalism isn’t working for the vast majority of people…in this crisis, we are actively shaping the world that we want to live in: a new society built on peace, community, and liberation. Distributing bread and roses is a symbolic gesture of us embarking on this journey together.Avery Temple, a student at the University of Oregon and an active organizer with LCMA
LCMA has encouraged the formation of neighborhood “pods”, or localized support systems, to encourage community members to build the relationships needed to stave off isolation and ensure that those in need are able to reach out for help.
Lane County Mutual Aid is a community collective dedicated to supporting communities impacted by COVID-19, and other crises. LCMA advocates collective liberation through class solidarity, disability justice, anti-racism, abolition, and horizontal mutual aid. Learn more at https://lanemutualaid.org/