With the onset of the Corona virus pandemic, thousands of people around the country have begun to organize or join mutual aid networks. These types of self-organized networks have a long history in the US. They are popping up now as digital neighborhood list serves, Google docs and social media groups to foster support between neighbors and provide help to those most impacted by Covid-19.
The concept of small groups of people coming together with the intention of helping the larger community is at the heart of Ben Franklin Circles.
In Franklin’s original Junto–the inspiration for Ben Franklin Circles–members would regularly ask one another, “Do you think of any thing at present, in which the Junto may be serviceable to mankind?”
It was one of 24 Junto questions asked at each meeting.
In that spirit, we have created a new toolkit specifically designed for Circle members to identify ways they can help one another and those in their community. Although still infused with the spirit of the civic virtues, this guide centers not on one specific virtue per meeting but rather on a standing list of questions about how to offer mutual support and aid. One of our Ben Franklin Circle members, reflecting on what being a part of a Circle means to him right now, replied “[it] has reinforced the idea that we are all interconnected and interdependent.”