“My Mutual Aid Project, My Ego, and Me,” by Liz Baldwin

Last night I got an email from a TV station in Tokyo. It wasn’t addressed to me, exactly, but it was sent to an email address I created for Corona Couriers, a mutual aid project that I started earlier this month as a response to the ongoing pandemic. 

For almost two weeks, I have had no purpose outside of administering this project, which continues to grow in size and scope daily, inviting media attention from around the world. The Tokyo TV crew wanted to know what we were up to. A guy from the New York Times called me last week. A TV station in the Netherlands wants to follow us around with a camera. Brian Lehrer talked about us on WNYC. It is effectively the end of the world and I am the most popular I have ever been.

I’ve ever had an experience like this before. I’ve never been in charge of people. I’m not even really in charge of anyone now, as I remind my teeming Slack channels daily. Politically, I lean towards decentralization and autonomy. Personally, I can’t stand the pressure. Instinctively, I abhor authority figures. But every day I am fielding information and funneling it to people, essentially putting them on assignments (completely voluntarily, but still). 

The worst part is that I want people to know it was my idea. Never mind that similar groups cropped up simultaneously around the country. Brian Lehrer’s producers didn’t patch me through correctly today, so the questions meant for me went to a guy who is totally unaffiliated with the project, and predictably he didn’t know how to answer them. I was so mad. I felt betrayed. I just wanted to hear my voice on the radio after having tweeted “heard you were talking shit, what’s good?” at Brian Lehrer.

The best part is that how I feel doesn’t matter at all. The project goes on. It doesn’t matter who started it. My ambivalence is a microscopic, laughably solipsistic drama compared to the magnitude of the ongoing crisis. I could tap out tomorrow and the project would go on without me, which would be fine. But I do kind of want to be on Japanese TV.

Liz Baldwin, coronacourier@protonmail.com

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