Author Archives: conortomasreed

NYC Housing Justice Resource Guide — June 2015

Free University-NYC folks have just compiled a NYC Housing Justice Resource Guide for June 2015, featuring an actions/events calendar, housing justice groups, resources, readings.
(contact to suggest more material)

Context: Housing struggles are heating up in the city, with NY state rent regulation laws expiring on June 15, and De Blasio’s rezoning laws favoring the super-rich. All through June a range of public hearings, events, and actions will lead up to a June 24 Rent Guidelines Board (RBG) Final Vote at Cooper Union.

Check it out to get involved in your neighborhood!
Help us crowd-source resource guides for additional social justice efforts!


May Day Free University (May 1-2) – “How to Survive in NYC” – Full Schedule


Friday, May 1, 10:30am-2pm
Saturday, May 2, 11:30am-5pm
Washington Square Park
(west side near playground and chess tables)

RSVP/share on Facebook

FRIDAY, MAY 1, 2015

Virtual Writing Workshop
by Susan Naomi Bernstein

*10:30AM* (Prompt starting time!)
Community Welcome and Reading of Group Intentions

Activist self-care and non-oppressive discussion
by Blanche Deschênes

The dust has settled on what was the biggest student strike of Quebec’s history. In the months following the end of the movement, several sought refuge where they could: support groups for sexual assault survivors, TV series sessions with roommates, family houses in the countryside. In our wild fight against the system, did we forget to take care of ourselves? This workshop will propose diverse solutions applicable to our working groups and personal lives, as well as an open discussion on our individual experiences.

Black Women Creating a New Narrative for Self and Labor Justice
by Lorraine Currelley, Poets Network & Exchange, Inc.

This workshop will provide a historical perspective of Black Women and labor. We will seek to answer the questions. Historically what were the defining labor roles for Black women? Have they changed over time? What can we do to change the old paradigm and construct new narratives?

Lessons in how to create inclusive learning opportunities
by Jenny

This workshop will dive into how to design, deliver and sustain learning programs for specific communities.  This session is ideal for youth practitioners, educators, volunteers or those interested in community organizing, youth development work, or volunteering or working abroad in the humanitarian sector.

by Matt Hopard

How to livestream. Ins and outs. Setting up a channel. Street awareness, etc.

When the Empire Strikes Back
by Can’t Touch This NYC Anti-Repression Committee

Targeted arrests and prosecutions? Coordinated raids on activist centers? Waves of protest are often followed by state repression. But this doesn’t have to defeat us: any strong movement learns collectively how to confront repression, limit its impact, and regain energy and initiative. Join Can’t Touch This NYC to recap the repression that followed this winter’s anti-police brutality protests across the country, and discuss how we can flip such repression on its head, and keep the movement strong and in the streets.

[10 minute break]

Art as Organizing Strategy
by People’s Climate Arts
In building mass movements, images and stories are powerful tools for communicating our visions and grievances to the public and each other. The process of finding these stories and images brings communities together to collaborate and clarify their goals. Members of People’s Climate Arts (name change pending) will share case studies of how this process worked on a massive scale during the People’s Climate March, and also discuss our work since then, supporting the anti-police brutality movement, the Fight for $15 campaign, The Ayotzinapa Caravan, and the commemoration of the BP oil spill.

Demanding #JusticeforAkaiGurley
by Meejin, CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities

We will talk about our current work to demand #JusticeforAkaiGurley as Asians standing in solidarity with the family of Akai Gurley and with Black communities.

Queer Relationships – Building Across Difference
by Sarah Hartzell, Brooklyn Community Pride Center

Learn and practice skills to build strong, accountable relationships and communities. Queerly informed Inter-Group Dialogue to build relationship (romantic, friendly and beyond) across difference towards action!

The Humanity of the Future
by Beta Local, PR + Making Worlds
The workshop consists of two readings and the making of signs for the May Day march.
1- Reading of a short text in Spanish “La humanidad del futuro” from Luisa Capetillo, a historical labor organizer and feminist from Puerto Rico.
2- Reading of a short text in english about education from Iván Illich or Everett Reimer about alternatives in education or the importance of deschooling society.
3- Inspired by the readings people will be able to make their own signs for the May Day March (We will provide with materials).

SATURDAY, May 2, 2015

Virtual Writing Workshop
by Susan Naomi Bernstein

*11:30AM* (Prompt starting time!)
Community Welcome and Reading of Group Intentions

Affordable Housing Models to Resist Gentrification
by Mariana Bomtempo, Tait Mandler, Gamar Markarian, Drew Vanderburg, Parsons, The New School for Design
Rapid neighborhood change and rising rents are amplifying homelessness and displacement. How can we create permanent affordable housing while fostering neighborhood cohesion and a sense of ownership? This workshop will cover models for cooperative affordable co-housing and how they can help neighborhoods right the speculative real estate market. We will use a model that we developed to reclaim vacant buildings in Bushwick, Brooklyn as an example.

How to Survive (And Win) a Campus Campaign
by Alyssia Osorio, Students for Educational Rights

Members of Students for Educational Rights (City College of New York) will be skills-sharing on tactics and strategies used in past organizing campaigns. We’ve won campaigns around extended library hours, free printing, and gender neutral bathrooms.

Male Feminism Beyond Politics; Our Roles in Interpersonal Relationships
by Nicholas Powers, The Indypendent

Ever feel a frustration between your ideals and behavior? To live and breathe equity in a deeply hierarchical America begins in our intimate spaces. Come to an open discussion group on the joys and trials of male feminism. Discover that instead of endless guilt, a great strength comes when who we truly are can be the goal of our lives.

Mayday Space Info Session
by Ana Nogueira and Lucas Shapiro, Mayday Space

Mayday Space is a new community and movement space that we are building in Bushwick, Brooklyn. It will be a neighborhood resource and city-wide destination for engaging programming and workshops, a place to conspire, create, and celebrate. Mayday Bar is about to begin buildout, and Mayday Space is gathering and orientating volunteers to make it as dynamic a  resource as possible. Join us for an info session at Mayday Free University to find out more about the multi-faceted project and how you can plug in!

Peacemaking Circle to Overcome Racism and Improve Race Relations
by Boroka Ganyu and S.Y. Bowland, PRASI

Join a Peacemaking Circle to explore on a personal, interpersonal, and community level the challenges and desires to overcoming racism and improving race relations. Peacemaking Circles are methods of problem solving which involve people sitting together in a circle, facilitated by circle keepers. This draws on the Native American tradition(s) of restoring balance among the elements and among members of human communities. It is also associated with Ma’at, the ancient Egyptian concept of truth, balance, order, law, morality and justice. In our multicultural urban society, the circle process elicits collective wisdom, generates the energy of loving kindness, and creates a sense of our shared humanness. The historical practice and dignity of the circle may become a creative, healing, and spiritual space for positive outcomes, collective consciousness, and team work.

Radical Writing Workshop
by Eman Abdelhadi and Michael Gould-Wartofsky

Inspired by Audre Lorde’s call to “speak, remembering we were never meant to survive,” this workshop will open up space and time for participants to hone their writing practice through a series of prompts, participatory readings, and collective conversation. We will also talk about concrete ways we can use our words as weapons in the struggle for a better and more beautiful world. Open to all levels and languages. Facilitated by NYU instructors Eman Abdelhadi, of the Muslim Writers Collective, and Michael Gould-Wartofsky, author of The Occupiers (Oxford 2015).

[10 minute break]

The Dao of New York
by Eric Darton
Does New York have an underlying “way,” “method, “rule of life,” or “process” that would allow it to live robustly and realistically in the world, while nourishing its inhabitants.? What, in short, is the Dao of New York? Can we say that our city of extremes and social asymmetries is living in balance with the rhythms of nature? This workshop will use Daoist symbols and images to develop strategies for working in harmony with the constant process of change and transformation to defend and strengthen our communities and mobilize the dynamic forces within ourselves and the city as a whole.

Direct Action Screenprinting!
by Julie Denise, OWS Screenprinters

A crash course in everything you need to know about guerrilla screenprinting. OWS Screenprinters started out printing for donations in Zuccotti Park, and have grown into a full service custom print shop in Brooklyn! Come join us and learn the art of mobile printmaking thru hands-on demonstrations and an open Q&A. We will show you how to print your own tees, patches, posters or flags and how this can engage others in creative outreach. We will also answer questions on creating a mobile print lab, sourcing materials and tees, and how to prepare images for printing. This workshop is BYOB – Bring Your Own Blanks!

Dismantling the Intern Economy
by Queen Arsem-O’Malley, Anwar Batte, Aaron Braun, James Cersonsky, Intern Worker Alliance

The proliferation of internships, often unpaid, has created a shadow economy that devalues the labor of all workers and preserves an elitist status quo by limiting access to those who can afford to work for free in order to get a foot in the door—and suppressing the voices of students and entry level workers. Interns and other precarious workers have had enough! In this session, participants will share experiences, learn how interns are building power and winning, and strategize building an intern-worker movement in solidarity with contingent worker campaigns and movements for collective liberation.

Freedom Schools and Urban Rebellions
by Free University-NYC

This presentation will define and explore the role of freedom schools in urban rebellions during the 1960s-1970s, with links to our present education/movement work from Baltimore to Ferguson to NYC. Although several examples may come up in the discussion, we’ll mostly focus on the Watts Writers Workshop (1965-73), the Young Lords (1969-1972), and the Combahee River Collective (1974-80).

Improv Meets Activism: The Nuts and Bolts of Healthcare Advocacy
by Kelli Dunham

What do a successful world wrestling federation tag team match and a successful interaction with the health care have in common? No, not a sleeper hold (at least not usually) but rather team-work. In this workshop participants will share either examples they’ve had of interactions with the health care system that had a less than ideal outcome and/or situations they can anticipate being in. The gathered participants will then use equal parts improv, brainstorming, and cheerleading to role play positive and creative tactics to help people who need health care take back power in the described situations.

Marea Granate NY: tools and resources map
by Marea Granate NY

We will make a collective mural-map of tools and resources that can be useful for migrants like Marea Granate. We will introduce Marea Granate NY (The Maroon Wave NY) which is part of Marea Granate, a transnational movement formed by Spanish migrants, who fight from abroad against the causes that originated the economic and social crisis that forced us to leave our country. Our collective was born in the light of other recent social movements in Spain over the last years. We are somehow the extension of them abroad. Our “wave” is maroon like the color of our passports, the symbol of our forced migration. We analyze and denounce the destructive consequences of the current economic system: on one hand, by identifying the causes that have led us to abandon our hometowns, our families and our friends; on the other, by highlighting the hard living conditions that migrants face.

[10 minute break]

Intergenerational Organizing: How to bring kids and parents into activism
by Students for Educational Rights
It will be led by the parents of the “Save CCNY Childcare” campaign at City College. We’ll be talking about our campaign at CCNY, how the kids are the forefront of the work, and how to make organizing inclusive of parents, children and youth.

Love Spam: Sentimental Value and the Gift Economy
by Barbara Browning

A couple of years ago, I initiated an experiment in stimulating a sentimental gift economy. This involved spamming people indiscriminately with hand-made, individually crafted ukulele covers of sentimental songs. Victims ranged from an obesity doctor in Illinois to the anarchist anthropologist David Graeber. I’ll let you know what happened.

New York Comics & Picture-story Symposium
by Ben Katchor, Parsons, The New School for Design

A weekly symposium for artist/writers working in various text-image forms: comics, picture-stories, animation, etc. at which to present and critique current work. The symposium will examine new ideas for the distribution of print and electronic work that move beyond the existing models of publishing and advertising. Special guests: Ben Katchor, Ed Piskor and others.

Poetry Reading – “How to Survive in NYC”

We welcome new and seasoned poets to bring something to read for 5-10 minutes each in front of a supportive public audience. Bring poems that address the theme “How to Survive in NYC.”

Radical alternatives in healthcare
by Care Workers Collective

The sustained attack on our bodies and mental health is spiking to tragic levels of existence. However alternatives are emerging from the most marginalized as well as within traditional healthcare spaces against hierarchical and profit-driven practices. Speakers will share reflections on how participatory modes of workplace organizing, mutual aid, and other radical trajectories of care have confronted police brutality, racism, the prison-industrial complex, and deteriorating labor conditions. Participants and speakers will then form breakout groups discussing next steps that may lead to further encounters, collaborations, and potentials for scaling up existing alternative care practices.

Radical Stencil Design
by Brooke McGowen, Radical Art Initiative

Stencils are one of the favorite tools of street artists, due to their fast application and durability. In the workshop we will look at radical stencils and design a stencil based on your own ideas.

[10 minute break]

Concluding Free University check-in/next steps
Come together to share reflections on this May Day Free University, and to gather ideas for events through the summer and beyond. The future directions of Free University-NYC belong to all of us!
@FreeUnivNYC  #MayDayFreeU

Schedule/infopack for *Horizontal Art and Action* / *Arte y acción horizontales* Free University

*Horizontal Art and Action* Free University / *Arte y acción horizontales* Free University
Saturday, October 11, 11:30am-4pm
Pedro Albizu Campos Plaza
East 13th St & East 14th St between Avenues B & C
East Village, Manhattan

Download complete schedule/infopack.

20 fantastic workshops scheduled for this Saturday! In case of rain, we will relocate to Campos Plaza Gym, right next door. Full schedule with course descriptions below:

11:30am – Welcome, Opening Remarks, Statement of Intentions

Ongoing: Portable Writing Center

– Visualizing Solidarity from Ferguson to Gaza to Hong Kong
– Organización y reproducción de la cultura (arte) como una forma de resistencia dentro de las comunidades indígenas migrantes en Nueva York.
– Songlines
– Anti-Gentrification Rap

– carving/sculpturing
– Exploring the Gentrification (k)NOT
– Open Source Public Space: Creating and Reclaiming
– Performative Documentary for Youth Organizing

– Free Money Movement
– I Hear You
– Drawing Towards Cairo
– Visualizing Our Network: Radical Spaces for Building Counter-Power

– B to C: Before Campos – Walking Tour
– “Acting”
– Empowering community and everyday through art practice
– Would You Like A Letter For A Rainy Day?
– Action Art and Intervention Behind the Iron Curtain

DESCRIPTIONS: Continue reading

Oct 11 *Horizontal Art and Action*/*Arte y acción horizontales* Free University

*Horizontal Art and Action* Free University
Saturday, October 11, 12-4pm

Campos Plaza
E 13th st between Avenues B and C
Lower East Side, Manhattan
Horizontal Art & Action_poster2
(Versión en español más abajo)
Free University – NYC welcomes workshops, teach-ins, dialogues, and performances by artists and community activists to learn and share power together (in Latin America, a process called horizontalidad). In the wake of losing 5 Pointz, Brecht Forum, Gathering of Tribes, Rebel Diaz Arts Collective, City College Morales/Shakur Center, 285 Kent, and soon Death by Audio, and also seeing public art become the front-lines of gentrification, we need art and actions that envision creative social change while practicing it.
Contribute an activity / volunteer here.

Potential themes: Art/mural skills-share. Tenants, workplace, & youth organizing. Radical art history 101. Street journalism. Visualizing solidarity (Ferguson, Gaza, climate justice..). Creative direct action training. Walking tours. Horizontal community justice. Spoken word & theater. DIY pamphlet design. Guerrilla media/copwatch. Peaceful parenting.

This event is part of the Art in Odd Places Festival (

*Arte y acción horizontales* Free University
Sábado 11 de octubre,
Campos Plaza
E 13th St entre las avenidas B y C
Lower East Side, Manhattan

Free University-NYC convoca a artistas y activistas de la comunidad para proponer talleres, diálogos o performances que nos ayuden a aprender y compartir modos de empoderarnos juntos–un proceso que en América Latina se llama horizontalidad. Tras la pérdida de muchos espacios, como 5 Pointz, Brech Forum, Gathering of Tribes, Rebel Díaz Arts Collective, City College Morales/Shakur Center, 285 Kent–pronto Death by Audio– y ver que el arte público se ha convertido en un frente de batalla en el proceso de gentrificación (aburguesamiento), creemos que necesitamos juntarnos para compartir un arte y acciones que imaginan el cambio social desde la práctica.

Si quieres contribuir con un taller, una performance -o ser voluntario, rellena este formulario.
RSVP y reenviar en Facebook.

Temas posibles: Herramientas para hacer arte o murales.
Organización de vecinos, laboral, o grupos juveniles. Historia básica de arte radical. Periodismo callejero. Visualización de solidaridad (Ferguson, Gaza, justicia climática). Entrenamiento de acción directa creativa. Tours. Justicia comunitaria horizontal. Palabra y teatro. Diseño de panfletos. Guerrilla media – Copwatch. Enseñanza pacífica.

Este evento será parte del festival “ART IN ODD PLACES” / “ARTE EN LUGARES EXTRAÑOS” (

Sept 20: *Decolonize Climate Justice* Free University!!

*Decolonize Climate Justice*
Free University
Saturday, September 20
El Jardín del Paraíso
Spans E4th to E5th st between Ave C & D
Lower East Side, Manhattan

PCMposter finals1_web

(Versión en español más abajo)

Download the event schedule:
Free University NYC_Decolonize Climate Justice_Schedule

To volunteer, fill out this form.
RSVP/share on Facebook.

Decolonize Climate Justice is a call to transform our ideas, practices, and organizing to protect the earth and its inhabitants from ecological, economic, and political devastation. One day before the People’s Climate March, as part of NYC Climate Convergence, Free University-NYC will host teach-ins, workshops, indigenous performances, direct action trainings, and more.

Those most affected by the first symptoms of climate change­­ such as extreme weather and environmental disasters brought on by capitalist exploitation ­­are indigenous people worldwide, marginalized majorities of the Global South and poor people of color in the Global North. These connections are not coincidental: the same systems of thought and action that devalue and deaden the world around us also function to devalue human lives and cultures.

Continue reading

“Subtleties of Resistance” a huge success!

Profound gratitude to all who co-created the “Subtleties of Resistance” Free University yesterday. If you’re on Facebook, post and see photos, share reflections, announce future events – keep these dialogues and actions moving:

Here’s the event’s infopack, which contains readings, writing prompts, further contact info:

If you missed last night’s films screening, check out an expanded bill tonight at UnionDocs, 7:30pm, $9:

All are invited to join Free University – NYC‘s ongoing creations. Come envision next steps at a community picnic next Saturday, July 12, at Prospect Park. Meet at 12pm outside Brooklyn Public Library to walk over together.

– the Free U crew

July 5 “Subtleties of Resistance” Free U schedule & infopack!


Our Saturday, July 5, “Subtleties of Resistance” final schedule and infopack are here!

12pm – Free U group meets at corner of Kent Ave and Grand St in Williamsburg to get in line together at *12:15pm SHARP* with flag/sign to identify our presence. Only 100 people are allowed inside the exhibition at a time, but we’ll do our best to get everyone in!

*1pm-1:30pm – Performances inside exhibition*
– Brian Jones – reading of Frederick Douglass’s July 5, 1852 speech “What to the slave is the Fourth of July?”
– Sofía Gallisá – reading in Spanish of Abelardo Díaz Alfaro’s 1947 story “Bagazo”
– Tracie Morris – original sound poetry

*2pm-3pm – Free U community picnic at Grand Ferry Park (BYOgoodies)*

*3pm-5pm – Workshops/dialogues/teach-ins at Grand Ferry Park*
— 3pm —
– Arts & Labor Alternative Economies Working Group and Tidal Magazine – dialogue on 1960s-70s artists of color protests; art and gentrification; and current campaigns, boycotts, and creative actions to change museums and cultural institutions.
– Coalition Moratorium to Protect Prospect Park, Crown Heights Tenant Union, NYC Anti-Eviction Network, and Reclaim Bushwick – roundtable discussion on resisting evictions and gentrification across the city.
– Lorraine Currelley – presentation on “The Failure to Address the Authenticity of Kara Walker’s Historical, Psychological, Socio-political, Spiritual, Never Subtle Subtlety.”
– Nicole Fleetwood and Sable Smith – dialogue on the #WeAreHere project, Black visual arts, and education.
— 4pm —
– Theater of the Oppressed NYC – introductory workshop to play essential games from the arsenal of TO, participate in a forum theatre demonstration, and engage in theatrical dialogue to investigate racism, sexism, and classism as they affect our communities.
– Ricardo Waldron – presentation on “Jamaica: The History of the Maroons and their relationship to the Haitian Revolution.”

*8:30pm – Free outdoor community film screening at Kent Ave and Grand St*
– UnionDocs will feature “Domino Sugar–1989” and “Third Shift

Important details:
– Free University-NYC events are family-friendly, but we can’t provide childcare for this event. However, we will have an info/care/creation station at the park that welcomes kids.
– This event is wheelchair accessible. For wheelchair accessible transit, take the 2/3 to Court St., then take the B62 bus and either get out at S. 2nd and Bedford and travel awhile on the sidewalk, or transfer at Broadway for the B32.
– Participants with nasal sensitivities should bring a handkerchief. The Domino Sugar Factory has a fairly strong smell of the remnants of sugar, work, and industrial dissolution.

Any questions, don’t hesitate to email us at

July 5 – “Subtleties of Resistance” Free University at Kara Walker’s exhibition

“Subtleties of Resistance”
Free University at Kara Walker’s
A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby

Saturday, July 5, 2014
12pm-4pm (arrive early in line)
Domino Sugar Factory
310 Kent Avenue at South 1st st.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Although Kara Walker’s A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby exhibition has been well-attended and widely reviewed, the exhibition has also been fraught with a lack of on-site critical engagement. Some visitors have even responded to the work in ways that are racist, sexist, classist–adding insult to historical and present injuries.

On June 22, a mass gathering coordinated by and for people of color will work to reverse this trend ( Continuing in this spirit, Free University-NYC aims to crowd-source artists, historians, critics, anti-gentrification actors, spoken word performers, and more (from both inside and outside “professional” circles) to host on July 5 an interactive “pop-up” series of dialogues and performances inside the exhibition across the afternoon. As this will be the day after a highly illusory national holiday and a day before the exhibition closes, we aim for these interactions to be reflective, concrete, and forward-moving.

RSVP/share on Facebook.

Contribute an activity.

We especially seek contributions on the following themes:
– histories and current examples of enslavement and resistance
– the rise of sugar and other commodities under capitalism
– women of color’s participation in social, economic, and cultural life
– minstrelsy and appropriation in art
– counter-histories of the Fourth of July
– intersectional/anti-oppression art and activism
– resisting gentrification, displacement, and apartheid
– creating safe spaces in museums and communities

Confirmed participants:
Brian Jones – performance from Frederick Douglass’s July 5, 1852 speech “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro” (


Sat 5/31 @5pm: “Freedom Learning Practices from Brisbane to NYC to Oaxaca”


“Freedom Learning Practices: From Brisbane to NYC to Oaxaca”
Saturday, May 31, 5pm-7pm
Balsley Park (W 57th st & 9th ave), Manhattan

This panel gathers Fern Thompsett from the Brisbane Free University in Australia, Conor Tomás Reed from the Free University of NYC, and Lindsey Shilleh from Unitierra in Oaxaca, Mexico, to explore alternatives to education, in a move beyond alternative education. We situate learning at the core of our capacity to collectively imagine and develop the sort of society in which we wish to live. However, we recognize that current educational structures can submerge us further in the capitalist system, and convert education into a commodity to be bought and sold, which threatens autonomous learning. We also see that radical pedagogies, student/teacher uprisings (ex: Chicago, Chile, Quebec), and the long tradition of freedom schools can frame a people’s history of learning inside/outside institutions to reverse the demise of education as a commons.

We therefore ask: How can we create alternatives beyond educational institutions that also transform these institutions and societies in the process? How can we reclaim learning as a form of resistance and liberation? Our three projects have taken such forms as cooperatives, documentaries, militant research, radio programs, seminars, and workshops in such spaces as museums, parking lots, parks, street corners, and subway stations. We will share from our experiences of collective, free, non-institutional learning to suggest (and ask) how to re-imagine what it is to learn as a crucial part of social movement life.

“Remaking Justice” Free U a vibrant success!

Tremendous gratitude and respect for the 100+ people and 11 workshop presenters who came out to the Free University yesterday. Such power and life in rad community education!

–>Our next event will a FREE panel at the Left Forum on Saturday, May 31, @5pm on “Freedom Learning Practices from Brisbane to NYC to Oaxaca.” Meet outside by 4:50pm at John Jay College, 540 W 59th St, Manhattan.
— Featuring members of the Brisbane Free University (Australia), Free University – NYC, and Unitierra de Oaxaca (Mexico). Spread the word, and come through!

Stay connected: