Tools for mutual aid networks
March 12, 2020 1:38 PM   Subscribe

I'm thinking about the need to mobilize networks of support, because yes social distancing, and also isolation kills people as sure as pneumonia. I'm wanting a way to capture contact info and organize it into a tree, where each person in the first row checks in every day or so on someone on their row, plus another person in the next row out. How would you go about designing and implementing something like this? Do you know of existing tools that do this?

Basically it's a phone tree, plus a social component where people in the network can share requests for support.

Clearly we want to use existing tools and platforms as much as possible for the sake of expedience. The idea is to quickly come up with a simple, robust solution, then package it with templates and content for implementation, and get it up on a website and on social media and into the hands of organizers, churches, friendship networks, etc.

How could we make this as simple and bombproof as possible?
posted by ottereroticist to Society & Culture (2 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
It's an interesting idea but needs a lot of brainstorming to find the right implementation. For instance, check on them how? For what purpose? Would participants be ok with texting or would communication happen inside the application?

Something I thought about was that I built a thing using google sheets for a secret Santa gift exchange that paired people up and gave them an anonymous way to pass messages. I'm mostly thinking about it having a mechanism for taking a big list of people, giving each one someone to send a thing to and receive a thing from, and whatever contact info they need. This could be done in conjunction with an existing communication platform like slack.
posted by bleep at 2:39 PM on March 12, 2020

I think this is a sweet idea. I don't really know that text based interaction will save any one from isolation, though ... so maybe just an old fashioned phone tree, with old fashioned directions on a shared document of some kind. Here's a community organizing guide to phone tree-ing -

it was the first hit of a google search for "community organizing how to phone tree" (sans quotation marks)..
posted by elgee at 5:08 PM on March 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

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