In Memory of Meg Perry, 1979-2005
Meg Perry was a dedicated activist and organizer who embodied the spirit of cooperation, mutual-aid and solidarity. Her life was tragically cut short in December 2005 when the Frida Bus, a mobile school bus-turned-community space, crashed on a New Orleans highway. Along with many other dedicated people, Meg was working in the devastated city with the Common Ground Collective and using the bus as a tool to support and sustain ongoing efforts to develop democratic and cooperative relief systems for local residents.
An energetic, passionate, kind and dedicated person, Meg filled her days working for justice, building community and bringing love and joy into people’s lives. She was always ready with a warm smile or to lend a hand. In Portland, Maine, Meg was an organizer with the People’s Free Space, a group working to build empowered communities of mutual aid and to fight social, ecological and economic injustices.
The Frida Bus was a project of this organization. For nearly three years, people came together around the brightly-painted vehicle to share ideas and information through workshops and an on-board library, to distribute food from its mobile kitchen, and to provide a living example of alternatives to fossil fuels. Meg logged many hours designing, renovating and decorating the bus in an effort to create a beautiful, safe, educational space for her community. This was truly a labor of her love.
The disaster in the Gulf Coast region, and the ensuing war on poor people and communities of color that emerged in its wake, had a tremendous impact on Meg. Heeding a call of conscience, she left Portland and traveled to the region soon after Hurricane Rita to work with Common Ground and Save Our Selves. There, Meg did roof repairs, youth mentoring and worked to restore a community garden.
The grassroots struggles against racial and economic injustice that she found in post-hurricane New Orleans inspired Meg to return home and organize a larger crew of volunteers. In November 2005, the Frida Bus along with thirteen hurricane relief volunteers and a full load of donated supplies traveled back to New Orleans to lend more hands and hearts to the work of resistance and relief. The bus crashed in an accident two months later, en route to support a neighborhood protest. Eight people survived the terrible event with minor injuries, but Meg went down with her bus.
"Meg Perry believed we must change the ways we interact with each other and the world around us to address fundamental injustices," wrote the Common Ground Collective in a press release about the accident, "Small actions can have a big impact." A Maine newspaper quoted Meg saying, in relation to her New Orleans relief efforts, "If we get enough people together, we can move a mountain." Meg demonstrated that statement through her daily actions, embodying a deep dedication to the practice of solidarity and mutual-aid in all realms of life, the welcoming of strangers into a circle of caring community, love for children, an endless supply of good hugs, and an ability to laugh and be joyful in the midst of a broken world.
The "Meg Perry Memorial Fund" has been established to provide support and educational programs for hurricane survivors and to sustain the humanitarian efforts to which Meg dedicated her life. Contributions may be mailed to the Meg Perry Memorial Fund, c/o Key Bank, 172 Maine St., Brunswick, ME 04011
In New Orleans, workers at the Common Ground Collective are carrying on the spirit of Meg's work with the "Meg Perry Community Garden and Bioremediation Project," a neighborhood project to restore the land that includes a greenhouse, vegetable beds, compost toilets and bins, rainwater collection, and a community firepit. This effort can be supported through the Common Ground Collective.
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