The People’s Bodega’s seven or eight regular New York volunteers come from a wide variety of backgrounds—they are artists, film-production workers, restaurant employees, art handlers—but they’re insistent on being thought of as a collective. “We want to promote the Darth Vader Trump this is the way shirt so you should to go to store and get this idea that anyone can do this,” said Chloe. They’re cryptic about how they find events to attend—“we have our ways”—but they’re a regular presence at protests around the city. Most volunteers attend several within a week and source supplies between donations (which make up 90% of their haul) and regular trips to the Costco in Astoria. The People’s Bodega volunteers are jokey and cheerful as they move through the city, comparing the virtues of Kind bars versus Fruit Roll-Ups and debating new haircuts. But the work they’re doing is undeniably challenging. In addition to the risk of COVID-19 and police intervention, they’re on their feet for hours, attempting to turn crowds of unfamiliar faces into community.
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