Who created this zine and why?

I recently learned about Transformational Mutual Aid Practices (when I did an Internet search for prefigurative and mutual aid). Prefigurative being another new concept I’m learning about.

One of the first things I encountered was the zine A Call for Prefigurative Mental Health Support and Communal Care Within Radical Groups and Organizations. One section of that zine is “Who created this zine and why?” which gives interesting background about how the author came to embrace T-MAPs.

The anonymous author of the zine has given their work Creative Commons licensing, which allows remixing, prohibits commercial use or for-profit use.

We cannot remain complacent and allow white supremacist capitalist homogeneous social norms to strip away our ability to care for each other.

A Call for Prefigurative Mental Health Support and Communal Care Within Radical Groups and Organizations.

Who created this zine and why?

The creator of this zine is white. They experienced infant/early childhood abuse that altered their brain development, which resulted in psychosis when under stress; psychotic episodes can be brief or last months. They experienced childhood and adolescent abuse that altered their development, which resulted in neuroses; depression, general anxiety, social anxiety, eating disorders, CPTSD, and panic attacks are ongoing. Their family of origin rejected them when they came out as pansexual; they have been working towards accepting and embracing their gender.

After untreated mental health issues led to transience and drug addiction led to jail, they have been healing and recreating themselves for the past 20 years. In that time, they have engaged in youth/queer/union/socialist/feminist/antiracist/antifascist/ecological/anarchist/communalist work, groups, and orgs. After years of various minimum wage jobs, they became a public high school teacher for 15 years. As a reading specialist, they worked with incoming freshmen who spent their elementary and middle school years being passed from intervention program to intervention program, arriving at high school with beginning reading skills. Several years ago, they left the toxic public education system and have plans to continue engaging with community education in the future.

In 2017, they participated in a T-MAPs workshop led by Sascha Altman DuBrul and became intrigued by the concept of comrades supporting each other’s mental health as a form of mutual aid. Two attempts to engage their last org with T-MAPs were met with silence, and no comrades reached out to them during a months-long depression with suicidal and psychotic episodes. Unfortunately, this type of alienation happens in organizing circles, as folx are often too overwhelmed by surviving capitalism to counteract the patterns of prevailing society and recognize communal care as essential and others as valued. We have lost more of our humanity than we realize. We cannot remain complacent and allow white supremacist capitalist homogeneous social norms to strip away our ability to care for each other.

The creator of this zine proposes that groups and orgs that do not prefigure mental health support and communal care are not revolutionary: they will not bring about the liberatory society we seek. The need to consciously reject and deliberately rescript the toxic architecture of dominant society’s patterns is dire, and the time to prefigure radical interpersonal relations in our communities is now.

A Call for Prefigurative Mental Health Support and Communal Care Within Radical Groups and Organizations.

“Our being is becoming, not stasis” – Murray Bookchin

A Call for Prefigurative Mental Health Support and Communal Care Within Radical Groups and Organizations.

Transformative Mutual Aid Practices Part 2

This is a continuation of yesterday’s blog post, Transformative Mutual Aid Practices. I’m truly blessed to have almost three years of experience in my Mutual Aid community. It’s because of the support I’ve received from this community that I can relate to these ideas of transformative mutual aid.

[A note to people of faith. From what I’ve seen about T-MAPS so far, I don’t think faith is talked about specifically. Rather, you can include that in the parts of T-MAPS related to what gives you support. And I think T-MAPS can be helpful for faith groups, such as Quaker meetings, as another way of communal care.]

Capitalist society teaches us not to care for each other. Approaching the creation of a nurturing culture as the fundamental revolutionary praxis of your group and as a dialectical process that is ongoing will transform your org in uncommon ways, draw a diversity of individuals to join your group, and ultimately empower it to transform the world you live in and the world around you.

A Call for Prefigurative Mental Health Support and Communal Care Within Radical Groups and Organizations
Ronnie James, Des Moines Mutual Aid

A Call for Prefigurative Mental Health Support and Communal Care Within Radical Groups and Organizations is an excellent resource about prefigurative mental health support and communal care. And background for the following discussion about Transformative Mutual Aid Practices (T-MAPS).


Transformative Mutual Aid Practices (T-MAPs) are a set of tools that provide space for building a personal “map” of wellness strategies, resilience practices, unique stories, and community resources. Creating a T-MAP will inspire you to connect your struggle to collective struggles. When we make and share our T-MAPs with others they become potent tools for healing and liberation.

The acronym T-MAPs stands for Transformative Mutual Aid Practices

We understand that we’re always in a process of transformation and growth; we’re not just in a process of ‘recovery’ or going back to some state of health (that we may have never known). As our lives change, it’s helpful to leave tracks for ourselves about where we’ve been and where we want to be going. T-MAPs help facilitate this process.

Mutual Aid
We also understand that just working on our own “self-care” isn’t enough; we also need mutu aid. Most simply, mutual aid is when people help each other. Historically, mutual aid has been a way that people have self-organized to create interdependent networks of support. People might help each other with things as basic as growing food and building barns or as abstract as education and mental health support.

When we think about how personal and community change happens, it’s pretty clear to us that the only way to grow and evolve is to intentionally practice what we want to see happen in our lives. Practice might be as simple as not getting on our smart phone as soon as we wake up in the morning, or as intentional and deliberate as a daily sitting meditation practice. Practice that happens ith groups of people has the potential to change the world.

T-MAPS. Transformative Mutual Aid Practices

Your T-MAP is a guide for navigating challenging times, figuring out what you care about, and communicating with the important people in your life. We’ve developed different ways to create this document; these tools can help you generate your T-MAP through an online questionnaire or through a downloadable pdf workbook that you can print and fill out. You can complete a personalized booklet (or “T-MAP”) by yourself or with a group.

The mental health of all members (of your group) should be supported in an ongoing way. Go around the circle so that comrades can indicate to the group if:

▪ they would like others to reach out to them for a period of time or in an ongoing way, and how
▪ they would be willing to reach out to others who ask for that support
▪ they are currently unable to provide support to others
▪ they would like people to hang out with when they are not feeling well
▪ they are available to hang out with others to decrease their isolation during difficult times
▪ etc

A Call for Prefigurative Mental Health Support and Communal Care Within Radical Groups and Organizations

Now I’m off to Des Moines for our Mutual Aid’s weekly food giveaway project.


Creative Commons License

 T-MAPs is licensed by Jacks McNamara and Sascha DuBrul under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Transformative Mutual Aid Practices

This was a morning when I didn’t seem to be led to write anything. Then, as I was searching using the keywords prefigurative and mutual aid I found references to Transformative Mutual Aid Practices.

I’ve just recently become aware of traumas I hadn’t known I was suffering from. My Des Moines Mutual Aid community practices many of the things listed below. This awareness of healing comes from experiencing our care for each other, including those who come for the food.

I’ve heard Indigenous friends speak of the intergeneration traumas in their communities.

My Quaker meeting has recently discussed healing.

So, I was interested to see this zine, A Call for Prefigurative Mental Health Support and Communal Care Within Radical Groups and Organizations. Creative Commons licensing allows sharing material from this zine.


This zine has a lengthy list of things related to mental health and communal care. Here are a few.

  • Many of us experienced childhood and adolescent traumas and continue to experience traumas based on our individual intersectionalities
  • We understand the mechanics of the harms and traumas inflicted by the prevailing social order’s oppressive and exploitative systems
  • We must recondition ourselves towards caring for each other; communal care is ongoing radical action
  • Alone we are vulnerable, but together we are strong; therefore, genuine community is paramount
  • We acknowledge that the architecture of capitalist society is colonizing white supremacy culture; it is an architecture of domination, abuse and exclusion
  • We focus intensely on the concept and practice of mutual aid
  • We endeavor to decolonize our thinking, group interactions, and architecture of group processes
  • We center acting in solidarity across groups in ways that build unity through diversity
  • We emphasize prefiguration within our organizations as necessary to counteract the abuses of prevailing society and manifest community and liberatory ways of being and living
  • When we do not prefigure communal care into our group structures and routines, we unconsciously recreate the alienation, racism, homophobia and transphobia, hierarchical ableisms, and neuro-homogeneities of capitalist society, along with their negative effects
  • If we don’t practice solidarity with our own comrades, we cannot expect to practice solidarity with others
  • Knowing what we know about how prevailing society operates to oppress, exploit, and traumatize vulnerable people, a group or org that does not actively engage and support the mental and emotional wellbeing of its members is not revolutionary
  • Many folx who show up to our groups do not stay because they sense the group is non-supportive or unsafe for their being

A Call for Prefigurative Mental Health Support and Communal Care Within Radical Groups and Organizations

What can prefigurative community care that supports the mental health and wellbeing of all members look like?

1. Create space for an in-depth group discussion focused on the concept of your collective as an organism with a life of its own. Talk about your group as an organism that can flourish with everyone’s nurturance or get sick and die from everyone’s lack of care. The objective is to create group consciousness and ownership, and to arrive at and agree to incorporating new features that will consistently support the mental and emotional health of members.

    2. In addition to your regular monthly meeting, commit to a regular monthly restorative gathering for wellbeing. This is for members only. It could potentially serve as a welcoming way for prospective members to dip their toe in, as opposed to their first engagement being a meeting or an action. In organizing circles, more often than not the more powerful, demonstrative, or vocal members guide their groups, narrowing opportunities for other modes of expression, communication, and consciousness to emerge. Monthly nurturance counterbalances that tendency. The focus here is on creating a predictable format for restorative connection, communal care, and wellbeing among comrades.

    Based on years of creating group cohesion and deep trust among vulnerable students from disparate backgrounds, the author recommends a specific format: a regular relaxed gathering where individuals enjoy solo projects alongside each other (when two or more people work on one project, it tends to disrupt the group dynamic). Each member brings a relatively quiet activity that they will work on, such as creative writing, drawing, crafting, reading, planning or visioning, designing, etc. At the start, folx will want to greet each other and it’s interesting to get to know each other through hearing what everyone else is going to work on. Once y’all get started, talking will become secondary to the texture or feel of the group-as-relaxed, meaning that talk should not be allowed to take over the ability of everyone to generally stay focused on their activity. This container fosters individual and collective nervous system soothing, group nurturance, authentic group communication, divergent group thinking, and organic group relations. Relaxing, restoring, and recreating together is very powerful medicine.

    Many of us only experience each other in supercharged situations like intense meetings, protests, street outreach, and community work. Our groups attempt to balance those experiences out by having social gatherings such as potlucks, bar karaoke, and game nights, which have their own place. However, social containers do not foster egalitarian ommunity-building or the types of experiences required to build the trust comrades need in order to open up and be vulnerable with each other. In addition, social gatherings often reenact the ableisms and other -isms present in dominant society. This monthly gathering allows members to relax and encourages other parts of their beings to emerge within the safety of the calm group in ways that round out both the individual and the group experience. It fosters care of the self via meaningful recreation; it cultivates group consciousness and group heart via the commitment to be more patient, open, and authentic with each other; it provides an antidote to alienation and isolation, restoring the communal bonds that dominant capitalist society strips away.

    A Call for Prefigurative Mental Health Support and Communal Care Within Radical Groups and Organizations