Chapter 1: Introduction to Community Care


  • The first chapter introduces what community care is, including how it differs from self-care. I also introduce the concept of holistic health to show the importance of holistic safety and accessibility. My hope is that the chapter prompts discussion on the importance of community care in activist spaces.
  •  Sections
    • Introduction & Importance
    • Holistic Health

Introduction and Importance


  • Intro to community care
  • Positionality 
  • Intersectionality 
  • Power 
  • Accessibility 
  • Disability Justice 

  • What is community care? Why is it important in activist work? For who? 
  • What is the difference between self-care and community care? Is practicing self-care without community care enough to sustain our wellbeing? Why or why not? 
  • What initial thoughts do you have on how your community can practice community care? 
  • In what ways does your positionality impact how you approach this topic? What makes you feel uncomfortable during these discussions and why?  
  • What does accessibility mean to you and your community? What does it mean in the context of activist work? What is Disability Justice and why is it important for our work? 


  • The Purpose of Power: How We Come Together When We Fall Apart by Alicia Garza, co-created of Black Lives Matter 💜
    • “In 2013, Alicia Garza wrote what she called “a love letter to Black people” on Facebook, in the aftermath of the acquittal of the man who murdered seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin. Garza wrote: “Black people. I love you. I love us. Our lives matter.” With the speed and networking capacities of social media, #BlackLivesMatter became the hashtag heard ’round the world. But Garza knew even then that hashtags don’t start movements—people do. Long before #BlackLivesMatter became a rallying cry for this generation, Garza had spent the better part of two decades learning and unlearning some hard lessons about organizing. The lessons she offers are different from the “rules for radicals” that animated earlier generations of activists, and diverge from the charismatic, patriarchal model of the American civil rights movement. She reflects instead on how making room amongst the woke for those who are still awakening can inspire and activate more people to fight for the world we all deserve. This is the story of one woman’s lessons through years of bringing people together to create change. Most of all, it is a new paradigm for change for a new generation of changemakers, from the mind and heart behind one of the most important movements of our time.”
    • -> “Epilogue: Take Care of Yourself” 💜
      • On the importance of addressing trauma, grief, burnout, anxiety, self and community care in activism 
      • hospice care and prenatal care 


  • Organizing our way through mental illness: Lots of activists live with mental illness – so why is social justice organizing still so ableist?” by Saima Desai 💜
    • Content warning: mental illness (depression, anxiety, suicide, eating disorders, self-harm, bipolar disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD]), rape, police and gun violence, Islamophobia and anti-Blackness
    • “I explain to myself and others over and over that depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. I’ve been told that I’m just “too sensitive,” that I should “snap out of it,” that my depression can be cured by doing yoga or eating kale or smiling more. Those messages are dangerous and invalidating, tossed out casually by well-intentioned people who insinuate that I’m just “weak” or even making it up for attention. I cling to that chemical imbalance, to tell myself that I’m not just delicate, or self-centered, but that my mental illness is as valid and real and deserving of medication as any physical illness. And yet, I’ve begun to wonder if that’s the whole story.”
    • Articles’s sections
      • Mental illness is political
        • “Maybe the high prevalence of mental illness is caused – or at least contributed to – by the nature of our work. Our work is to stare straight at injustice, to document violence, to analyze both the political and the personal through a lens of unequal distributions of power.”
      • Trauma, psychosis, healing, and exhaustion
      • On identity and interconnectedness
      • “Bodies in the streets” and the ableism in organizing 
      • Staying sane in the time of Trump
  • “Beyond Self-Care: Understanding Community Care and Why It’s Important” 💜
    • The article defines and differentiates between self-care vs community care, explains why community care is important, and provides examples of how to practice community care in the workplace. 
  • “Laziness Doesn’t Exist” by Prof Devon Price 💜
    • Dr. Price shares key insights from their book Laziness Does Not Exist. The insights include (1) the laziness lie, (2) when you feel lazy, it’s actually because you’re doing too much, (3) you’re not wasting time. Your time is already fully accounted for, (4) fighting the laziness lie means embracing consent, (5) action is not morally superior to inaction”
  • The truth about women and burnout: Self-care is a crock” by Daina Lawrence
    • “When we look at the root causes of chronic stress and actually try to mitigate it, self-care cannot solve it. [...] We’re talking about systemic discrimination, lack of fairness, lack of community, lack of agency, overwork – these types of root causes cannot be cured with listening to the rain for 30 seconds or subsidized gym memberships or doing more yoga.”- Jennifer Moss, author of the book The Burnout Epidemic: The Rise of Chronic Stress and How We Can Fix It
    • “The solutions should be more robust paid family leave within organizations, equitable maternity leave and paternity leave, more support for caregivers and more support and encouragement for men to take time to take care of the family without it being disproportionately placed on women.”
  • “‘Self-care’: How a Radical Feminist Idea was Stripped of Politics for the Mass Market” by André Spicer 
    • “Audre Lorde proposed a series of calming activities as a way to survive adversity. Now it’s just another form of ‘me time’”
    • “What do professional golfers, radical queer feminists and Instagram lifestyle influences have in common? They are all devotees of “self-care”. While the earlier self-help movement focused on improving yourself, the relatively new self-care movement focuses on preserving yourself. It’s lifestyle advice for an age of diminished expectations, where most people have given up on getting to the top and the best they can hope for is to get through the day. Self-care is self-help for a time when about a third of the population will suffer from some kind of anxiety disorder during their lives.”
  • 10 Principles of Disability Justice by Sins Invalid 
    • Principles: intersectionality, leadership of those most impacted, anti-capitalist politic, commitment to cross-movement organizing, recognizing wholeness, sustainability, commitment to cross-disability solidarity, interdependence, collective access, collective liberation 
  • Disability Justice by Project LETS
    • This source explains the history of the term “disability justice” as being coined from conversations between disabbled queer women of color activists. It also includes introductory readings, videos, and curricula on disability justice. 


  • The urgency of intersectionality by Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw (18:40 min)
    • “Now more than ever, it's important to look boldly at the reality of race and gender bias -- and understand how the two can combine to create even more harm. Kimberlé Crenshaw uses the term "intersectionality" to describe this phenomenon; as she says, if you're standing in the path of multiple forms of exclusion, you're likely to get hit by both. In this moving talk, she calls on us to bear witness to this reality and speak up for victims of prejudice.”
  • Youtube interview of Alicia Garza discussing The Purpose of Power: How We Come Together When We Fall Apart (co-creator of Black Lives Matter)  💜  (58:54 min)
    • Content warning: racial violence, police brutality, racial profiling
    • Topics covered: Role of social media in social movements, what brings her hope, on power, police brutality, racial violence, respectability politics and the notion of deserving, internalizing systems of oppression, narratives, belonging, fear, anxiety, mindfulness, perception, role of research/data, Black Futures Lab, role of the government, intentionality, healing and reconciliation, trauma, hospice care and prenatal care, truth, gaslighting, building sustainability 
    • Reflection questions based on the interview:
      • What power dynamics does Garza discuss? What is the role of power in our societies?
      • What role do narratives play in perpetuating systems of oppression but also in activism?
      • What is the role of research/data collection in perpetuating systems of oppression but also in activism? According to Garza, is data collection ever really neutral/objective and why?
      • What does Garza mean when she talks about hospice care and prenatal care? Why are they important? 
      • What are the roles of truth telling and activism in healing and reconciliation?
  • TEDx Talk- “Self Care to Community Care” by Dr. Travis Heath, Associate Professor of Psychology at Metropolitan State University of Denver and licensed psychologist
    • Content warning: discussion of school shootings and other distressing content
    • “Whether it be a young man who is threatening to engage in a mass shooting or a new mother who is diagnosed as having postpartum depression, how is it that we’ve come to think of distress as existing inside of a person? Why do we think we can simply label a person as disordered and ignore the ways in which society is disordered? What might be the possibilities of moving away from locating distress almost exclusively inside of people and instead begin interrogating neoliberal systems that put pressure on who people believe they are allowed to be? If people in relative positions of power routinely engaged in this practice, might this move us towards a model of community care where people don’t have to self-care their way out of social inequities? Travis Heath discusses the use of narrative therapy and the ways in which it pursues these very goals.”
    • “We are asking a woman to self-care her way out of inequity

Journal articles

  • Hallum-Montes, R. (2012) ‘Para El Bien Común’ Indigenous Women’s Environmental Activism and Community Care Work in Guatemala. Race, Gender & Class (Towson, Md.), 19(1/2), 104-130.
    • This article adopts an "eco-intersectional" perspective to examine the motivations and strategies that guide indigenous women's environmental activism in Guatemala. A total of 33 indigenous Kaqchikel women who work with a transnational environmental organization were interviewed in 2006 and 2009. The interviews reveal that gender, race, and class figured prominently in women's decisions to become environmental activists. Women mobilized around their identities as mothers and caregivers, and viewed their environmental activism as a way of caring for both their families and the indigenous community. Women also linked their local activism to larger social movements-including the indigenous, women's, and environmental movements. The article concludes by discussing recommendations for academic, activist, and policy work.”
  • Edelman, E. A. (2020). Beyond resilience: Trans coalitional activism as radical self-care. Social Text, 38(1), 109-130.
    • Studies of queer and trans suffering, resilience, care, and vitalities are invariably also investigations into the difficult and painful articulations of lives that feel worth living and deaths that feel okay dying. The notion of resiliency, referring to a conditional state of overcoming difficult situations, neglects to fully encompass our understandings of risk, vulnerability, and life. This article explores the ways in which Washington, DC–based trans activists discuss shared coalitional labor as constituting that which renders viable life—or, in some cases, what they describe as deaths worth dying—in a contemporary moment that is distinctly violent. While health researchers have long noted the beneficial role that a coalition serves in better representing needs in research, this article focuses on how individuals meet their needs not through solitary and normative resilience strategies but within and through spaces of coalitional action. This approach to radical care and viable life encourages us to rethink how a necropolitics of trans life—lives marked as morally suspect and intrinsically disposable—coexists with a notion of trans vitalities that this article develops. Ultimately, embracing the concept of trans vitalities is not simply a refusal or disavowal of projects of normalization or the commodifiability of trans rights but, rather, a vigilance toward the violently homogenizing expectations of the heterogeneity of lived experience.”
  • Powers, M. C. F., & Engstrom, S. (2020;2019;). Radical self-care for social workers in the global climate crisis. Social Work (New York), 65(1), 29-37.
    • “Gradual environmental degradation, more extreme climate change events, and related environmental injustices affect individuals and communities every day. Social work entities around the world are increasingly highlighting professional responsibilities for addressing the global climate crisis. Often, social workers experience vicarious trauma from work with those immediately affected. Working within the context of the global climate crisis brings further risk. Social workers may be personally affected, or experiencing their own challenges, such as climate anxiety and eco-grief. Thus, radical self-care is a dire need as social workers promote sustainable communities and environments and seek ecological justice for all. This article discusses the health and mental health impacts of the compounding factors of the climate crisis, modern technology, and current political contexts. Activism for change and ecotherapeutic strategies are presented as radical self-care for social workers, in both academic and practice-based settings. These strategies are essential for recognizing, legitimizing, and addressing the need for radical self-care practices in the global climate crisis.”
  • Barnes, M. (2020). Community care: The ethics of care in a residential community. Ethics and Social Welfare, 14(2), 140-155.
    • “This article explores the relationship between ‘care’ and ‘community’ in the context of a residential community established to offer hospitality and support to people with addictions, mental health problems and other troubles. The community is located in a rural part of England and was established as a Christian community offering hospitality to people of all faiths or none. The source of data is oral history interviews conducted at the time of the community’s 60th anniversary. Feminist care ethics is used to offer an analysis of what constitutes care in this setting, as well as to explore insights into caregiver/care receiver relationships and the specific nature of responsibility in this context. The significance of both place and the non-human elements of the community (animals, cultivated land) are considered, as well as the importance of time in relation to daily and seasonal rhythms of community life. The article suggests that care for the community is necessary to sustain care for members of the community and that this offers a valuable different perspective from an emphasis on individualised care.”

Holistic Health

“It’s not easy to live with an impairment. There are times when it’s not convenient to have a body. But that’s not what oppresses us. What oppresses us is living in a system that disregards us, is violent towards us, essentially wants to subjugate our bodies or kill us -- that’s oppressive. My body doesn’t oppress me.” - Patty Berne, Co-Founder, Executive and Artistic Director of Sins Invalid, My Body Doesn't Oppress Me, Society Does


  • Holistic health: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual
    • interconnectedness of our health
  • Mental health pandemic
  • Holistic safety (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual) 
  • Accessibility 
  • Disability Justice and the social construction of disability 
  • Barriers: ableism, white supremacy, patriarchy, etc. 
  • Whole systems healing 

  • What is holistic health? Why is it important?
  • Which aspects of health do we commonly talk about and which are stigmatized/not talked about and why? What/who is being taken for granted? Who decides what aspects of health are important and why? 
    • For example, do we talk about spiritual health as much as physical health? Why or why not? Who does it serve and who doesn’t it serve?
  • Who gets to look after their health/who has the resources to sustain their health? Who doesn’t? Why? What implications does this have for activist work?
    • Consider power dynamics and the intersections of race, gender, class, ability, sexuality, etc. 
    • Example: Who has access to counseling? Who doesn’t? Why?
  • How do we look after our collective, holistic (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual) wellness? 
  • How do we prioritize and create holistic (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual)  safety for everyone here?
  • What barriers may we encounter and how can we address them?


  • My Body Doesn’t Oppress Me, Society Does: Barnard Center for Research on Women 💜(5:08 min)
    • “Patty Berne, Director of Sins Invalid, and Stacey Milbern, Organizer of Sins Invalid, present a social model of disability, explaining how universal design, adaptive devices, and meeting people’s access needs can limit the social, economic, and physical barriers that render physical impairments disabling in an ableist society. Milbern notes that focusing on individual impairments ‘lets society off the hook’ for the structural oppression that renders some bodies and lives more valuable than others. Berne says ‘we are seen as disposable,’  noting that the oppression that society ascribes to the individual body and disability is in fact a violent social construction.”
    • “This video is part of the series No Body is Disposable, produced by Sins Invalid and the Barnard Center for Research on Women. Video by Dean Spade and Hope Dector. Learn more about the series at


  • “The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Use” 
    •  “The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic recession have negatively affected many people’s mental health and created new barriers for people already suffering from mental illness and substance use disorders. During the pandemic, about 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, a share that has been largely consistent, up from one in ten adults who reported these symptoms from January to June 2019 (Figure 1). A KFF Health Tracking Poll from July 2020 also found that many adults are reporting specific negative impacts on their mental health and well-being, such as difficulty sleeping (36%) or eating (32%), increases in alcohol consumption or substance use (12%), and worsening chronic conditions (12%), due to worry and stress over the coronavirus. As the pandemic wears on, ongoing and necessary public health measures expose many people to experiencing situations linked to poor mental health outcomes, such as isolation and job loss.”
  • “First Nations Perspective on Health and Wellness” by First Nations Health Authority 💜
    • This Visual Depiction of the Perspective on Health and Wellness was created from researching other models and gathering feedback from traditional teachings and shared approaches by First nations elders and healers.
  • Where Mental Health and Social Justice Meet: A Leader Committed to the Mental Health and Healing of Black Communities Shares His Insights” by Dwayne Proctor in conversation with Yolo Akili Robinson 💜
    • Interview with Yolo Akili Robinson, director of Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective that “trains health care providers and community activists to be sensitive to the issues that plague black communities.”
  • “Why Discrimination is a Health Issue” by Dr. David R. Williams 💜
    • Content warning: links racism to health issues/illnesses and death, provides statistics 
    • What does the pervasiveness of discrimination mean for health? Social scientist David Williams explains the physiological response to stress and why a good education or high-paying job doesn't necessarily protect from its effects. 
  • Our Approach to Mental Health Isn’t Working” by Ailbhe Finn
    • The article discusses the biomedical approach to mental health (diagnosed, drugged, and discarded” by the health care system) that “pathologize normal human responses to suffering” vs the psychosocial approach that “acknowledges the profound impact of lived experience and social environment in shaping mental health.”


  • Creating a Healthier Life: A Step-by-step Guide to Wellness” by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 
    • “This guide offers a broad approach for things we can do—at our own pace, in our own time, and within our own abilities—that can help us feel better and live longer.” The guide discusses holistic wellness, creating balance, embracing support from others, and valuing routines and habits.

Journal articles

  • The Rejected Body. Chapter 2 “The Social Construction of Disability” by Wendell, Susan (1996) 💜
    • Wendell argues that disability is socially constructed. She states, “I see disability as socially constructed in ways ranging from social conditions that straightforwardly create illnesses, injuries, and poor physical functioning, to subtle cultural factors that determine standards of normality and exclude those who do not meet them from full participation in their societies.” 
  • Sheppard, M. (2002). Mental health and social justice: Gender, race and psychological consequences of unfairness. The British Journal of Social Work, 32(6), 779-797.
    • “It is not immediately obvious how social justice might relate to mental health. Mental health or ill health is, by some, thought to be inherent within the individual, whereas social justice, as its name indicates, resides within the realm of the social. However, where we understand social justice as, on the one hand, an issue involving equality and fairness, and on the other as having both material and symbolic dimensions it becomes clear that there is an important link. In particular groups which suffer disadvantage and discrimination may be expected to suffer higher rates of mental ill health. However, the key to understanding this is by identifying the mechanisms by which this can happen. In order to do this it is necessary that we do not look at mental health (or illness) in an undifferentiated way, since there are different processes involved for different forms of mental ill health. We shall, therefore, look at this by focusing on the issue of social justice through two significant relationships: gender and depression, and race and schizophrenia. We shall examine the mechanisms which link these together, and show how they are significant psychological consequences of social injustice arising in both material and symbolic form.”
  • Kreitzer, M. J. (2009). Environmental leadership and advocacy: A call for whole systems healing. Creative Nursing, 15(4), 196-198.
    • The article advocates for whole systems healing. “Whole systems healing draws on the principles of wholeness and complexity in addressing problems and issues that require more than simple cause-and-effect analysis-in reality, most problems today. It is based on the understanding that the health of individuals, communities, and the environment are inextricably linked.”


  • Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha 💜
    • “In this collection of essays, Lambda Literary Award–winning writer and longtime activist and performance artist Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha explores the politics and realities of disability justice, a movement that centers the lives and leadership of sick and disabled queer, trans, Black, and brown people, with knowledge and gifts for all.”
    • “Care Work is a mapping of access as radical love, a celebration of the work that sick and disabled queer/people of color are doing to find each other and to build power and community, and a tool kit for everyone who wants to build radically resilient, sustainable communities of liberation where no one is left behind. Powerful and passionate, Care Work is a crucial and necessary call to arms.”

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Please use this citationMozolevych, Anastasiya. (2021). Community Care Module. Vancouver, BC.