Mutual Aid Ethics Committee

Election 2021

Tri-Cities TN/VA Mutual Aid values keeping our local community organizing scene a safe space from the various ways oppressive tendencies manifest in both our systemic and interpersonal interactions. We want to oppose racism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism and economic oppression in all of their various forms, and we want to take steps to encourage our network members to become better community members by avoiding these tendencies within ourselves.

That's why we are forming the Tri-Cities Mutual Aid Ethics Committee. This committee, consisting of three elected members at any given time with up to three runner-up members. This committee will help our network formulate a statement of values and take measured steps to ensure these value are upheld in our organizing space.

Please scroll down to learn about our candidates, and click on the link below to cast your vote.

 
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Nicole Bienfang

My world revolves around the values of collaboration, cooperation, community and compassion. I believe when people work together in solidarity amazing things can happen! That is precisely why I agreed to facilitate multiple meetings for Tri-Cities TN/VA Mutual Aid in its infancy, and created the agenda template the organization currently uses. I know when it comes to grassroots organizing, organizations that serve their communities often operate at the speed of life and sometimes things get lost in translation. I also know during those instances it’s important to stay centered and accountable to those we serve. When it comes to the type of activism TCMAN does, it's imperative that integrity is part of the equation for those who choose to rise to the occasion and volunteer as support for the cause thus, the need for this counsel. When elected for the Ethics Counsel I will make sure it starts on a firm foundation establishing fundamental organization documents like a Values Statement, Code of Ethics etc that act as the backbone for any organization and help it thrive in the future. I am a firm, but fair, heart-centered individual who will make sure I too hold myself to the standards the counsel wishes to enforce. With this counsel in place I know we can better serve our community and better reach the goals we aim to with a clear compass to guide the way.

 
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Hannah Huffines

Hi! I’m Hannah Huffines (she/her), I’m a Johnson City native, and I’ve been with TCMAN since July 2020 and have been a primary pantry coordinator since August 2020. In many ways mutual aid, particularly our weekly grocery + household goods distributions, have become part of the rhythm of my life; I can’t imagine what better I could be doing with my time and energy. Something that I think is so incredibly special about TCMAN is our relative longevity; mutual aid relies so much on people who have so much going on, usually with so few resources individually, yet our community has continued to show up for the past 20 months in so many ways.


With that longevity in mind, and creating practices that will make TCMAN sustainable so we can continue to foster solidarity in the region, the ethics committee is of utmost importance. Mutual aid relies on the mutual agreement to all act on the same principles of respect and dignity, based on anti-capitalist, anti-racist, anti-oppressive values that we all believe in. But of course, we are all people navigating our own personal issues and unlearning harmful beliefs and habits; and when harm is committed, I want our network to be able to thoughtfully respond according to our shared principles. I think I would be a good person to have on the ethics committee for a few reasons:


1. I’ve been active in the network for almost 1.5 years now and understand many dynamics of the folks involved, so I have a stake in TCMAN and its longterm health; 2. I have a background from my undergrad philosophy studies in both ethical theories and applied ethics, so I’m well-versed in translating stated values and ideas into practical, actionable decisions; and 3. I love our community and want to see it protected and nourished. I want our people to be able to work through harms, to feel safe and protected from abuse, and for those who have harmed to grapple with their actions and learn better ways in the future. I hope I can be part of this important work as our ethics committee takes shape!

 
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Celete Gonzalez

My name is Celeste Gonzalez. My pronouns are she/her. I was raised in the Tri-Cities to immigrant parents. I have been volunteering with Tri-Cities Mutual Aid for a while now. I believe everyone should feel safe in their community and deserve to have support. I want to run so I can provide our community with assurance of safety and a peace of mind.

 
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Angelia Birdsong

It has been my pleasure to participate in the worthy cause and service of Mutual Aid. I have had many varied life experiences as a single parent, nurse and veteran, being exposed to different environments and cultures. I have experienced being on the receiving end of community and federal support and have many stories to tell My intent is to be a positive contribution knowing the encouraging impacts that are made.

 
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Emaline Davis

Hi, y'all! My name is Emaline, pronouns she/they. I grew up in East Tennessee and have lived in Johnson City for approximately 5 years. Since leaving my conservative hometown, I have dedicated those years to educating myself on the nuances of identity and intersectionality. While in college, I worked as a resident advisor and regularly played the roles of advocate & mediator during conflict resulting from homophobia, mental health crisis, and racism. I am not a long-term member of the Tri-Cities/VA Mutual Aid, but have involved myself where able while connecting with many of its members to ensure a better understanding of the outreach goals and needs of the community.


Beyond mutual aid, I work as a behavioral case manager connecting psychiatric patients throughout the Tennessee and Virginia areas with resources for mental health, housing, and financial assistance.


It is both my honor and pleasure to work with others to ensure a fair and safe environment which promotes compassion, comradery, and healing. Regardless of the outcome, I look forward to working with the mutual aid in any capacity to ensure the physical, emotional, and mental needs of others are met.