The #1400challenge

How to turn stimulus checks into collective power

The last year has demonstrated just how razor thin our margin of survival is—from the brutality of the police to the viciousness of the virus, from the absurd ups-and-downs of the economy to the glaring incompetence of the government.

Now that they've been forced to send some cash our way, we'd like to propose a little something they maybe didn't expect. The idea is simple: what if we took our stimulus checks and put them towards collective use?

In recent weeks Inhabit has been collaborating with groups around the country to put together a series of kits called the #1400challenge. The result is a handful of introductory guides for a variety of collective projects—from soundsystems and meshnets to pop-up dwellings and community gyms.

Each project is based on a proven and replicable idea, a working model that has already seen action in the streets and in neighborhoods. And each could be a jumping off point for new designs, new skillsets, new encounters, and newly expanded frontlines in the battle for the future.

No doubt many of us will have to spend our checks on necessities like groceries, rent, medical bills—all the bullshit it takes to stay alive in this bullshit world. But for those who can, and especially for those who want to pool resources, the opportunity is clear: invest in collective infrastructure that increases our shared capabilities, that augments our ability to live and to fight.

Here's our wager. We have to translate isolated, temporary solutions to individual problems into the material and ethical basis for building collective power. We need autonomous solutions that scale at the level of neighborhoods, cities, and regions. Our power together unlocks more potential than we have alone.

It'll take more than a stuck container ship to break the hold of the economy over our lives. Design and build new ways of living together, that lessen our dependence on their system at the same time that we cultivate trust in one another. Leverage all the means at our disposal—including their cold hard cash—to bring out the beauty, dignity, and creativity of our shared existence.

Portland Sound Bloc has the specs on a portable soundsystem ready for protests, parties, and more.

Inhabit.Body—creator of our insurgent fitness guide—offers a run-down on starting a community gym.

The folks at Lobelia Commons run a decentralized nursery, as described in our recent “Grow” issue.

Our friends at DeepMay—self-described “autonomous polytekne”—can help you finally get your meshnet up and running.

Sawhorse Revolution takes the ubiquitous pallet and puts it to new use, whether for emergency shelter, easy storage, or life on the barricades.

Four Thieves Vinegar Collective has been prototyping DIY medicine for years—scope this thread for an intro to their EpiPencil.

Check the hashtag #1400challenge for more ideas floating around out there—and add your own. Here’s one we love from New World Growers.

Got a proposal for using the stimulus to build collective power? Get in touch at Let’s share tools, tips, & techniques.

You’re on Path B,