On March 14, 2020, just after COVID was declared a national emergency, meditation teacher and activist Shelly Tygielski wanted to find a way to support her community in South Florida. She created two simple Google forms—one to give help and one to get help—and shared both on social media. The next morning, each form had over 500 responses from around the country, and the mutual aid organization Pandemic of Love was born. Since Pandemic of Love’s conception, the organization has connected over 2 million donors with individuals and families in need and has responded directly to global crises including hurricanes, mass shootings, and the ongoing war in Ukraine. Just this past month, Tygielski returned from the Poland-Ukraine border, where she was supporting Ukrainian refugees displaced by war.
In this episode of Life As It Is, Tricycle editor-in-chief James Shaheen and co-host Sharon Salzberg sit down with Tygielski to discuss her work in Ukraine, the history of mutual aid movements, and the radical power of just showing up.