Category Archives: Blog Post

THANK YOU – and fill out our SURVEY!

2014 is approaching its end, and we are busy gathering, archiving and sharing documents and photos from all the events Free University NYC hosted and participated in during the last 12 months – what a year it has been! We are proud and excited to look back on a total of 10 diverse events this year, with themes ranging from the Prison Industrial Complex to Climate Justice.

THANK YOU so much for being a part of our journey, and bringing your perspectives, insights and practices to our collective educational experiences! Free University is only possible through your commitment to our community, and our shared struggle for social justice and free education.

Looking forward to 2015, we would like to crowdsource constructive feedback towards future events. Please help us out by participating in our SURVEY.
Thank you and see you soon (stay tuned for an open planning meeting in late January)!

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:

Sunday 5/25 “Remaking Justice beyond Police, Courts, and Prisons” Free U schedule + details

us prison map

​[image credit:]

“Remaking Justice beyond Police, Courts, and Prisons”
Free University
Sunday, May 25, 2014
Battery Park, Manhattan, NYC
(enter the park near the Charging Bull at Battery Place and State Street, look out for signs and red balloons)
Closest subway: 4/5 to Bowling Green

RSVP / share on Facebook.

Free University-NYC invites you to a special event on Sunday, May 25, “Remaking Justice beyond Police, Courts, and Prisons.” We’re coordinating this event in solidarity with the Justice for Cecily McMillan campaign, and more broadly with people working to end race/gender/sexuality/class violence, police brutality, Stop n’ Frisk, mass incarceration, and repression of political dissent here and around the world. We will create a safe movement space to share histories, practices, and updates on these related struggles, and envision concrete steps toward transformative justice.



Arts, Crafts, Food, Care, Info station


Free University Welcome and Statement of Intentions


Claudia Acuña and Marina Sitrin
“Activist Legal Strategies & Collectives: From Argentina to NYC and Philadelphia”
This workshop will be facilitated by Claudia Acuña from and MU from Argentina and Marina Sitrin, former legal collective activist and organizer. We will discuss the various strategies of organizing legal defense from within the movements, from the perspectives of the movements – then how one might or might not engage with lawyers and the legal system.

Iskandar Kourkjian-Mowad and Lucy Parks, Justice for Cecily McMillan Support Team
“Court Support and Technology: A practical guide to web-presence”
This “class” is going to be a short introduction to using websites and technology in activism generally and court support specifically, including the structure and methods of Cecily McMillan’s Support Team. We’ll be talking briefly about the role of websites in internet activism, as well as the effect of a cohesive web-presence in the support model for Cecily McMillan. We’ll wrap up with a brief introduction on tools and measures to set up websites quickly and without code, and provide a list of resources for those wishing to pursue the topic even further.

Fury Young
“Die Jim Crow”
The class will start as a history of mass incarceration and its effects on African American communities. This history will bleed into a discussion about a current project entitled Die Jim Crow, which is a music album written and performed by African American musicians who have been or are currently incarcerated.


Frederica-Azania Clare, Alternatives to Violence Project
“Re-Entry: Returning of Our Prisoners and Soldiers”
We are a group of men and women who meet to offer our “returning citizens” a welcoming hand, especially those with some Alternatives to Violence experience, who are going through the transition back to society. We have learned that often the most difficult bid begins upon release. We are your Brothers and Sisters. WE welcome you BACK! We are family. For more info: http://www.LandingStrip.US. Our Mission: “Making a Difference”:

Florence Johnston Collective
“Moving beyond incarceration and confinement – An open conversation on launching alternative care practices”
Institutionalizing vulnerable populations into our prisons and hospitals is a centuries long practice that has protected capitalist production from potential social unrest. The jobless are arrested for engaging in ‘illegal’ sources of income, and the employed are over-medicated to ensure continued productivity. This open conversation will explore these historical trends; highlight potential alternatives and steps necessary to move beyond institutionalizing society’s vulnerable such as commoning practices; and introduce existing groups and efforts in New York that are launching new possibilities and practices. We hope this session will allow friends to reflect on these important topics and also link into existing groups and networks that are launching inspiring alternatives.

Debbie Litsas
“Organizing Beyond Law in Greece”
This workshop will share some of the direct action organizing experiences from Thessaloniki Greece, ranging from Free Health Clinics to the recent popular referendum against water privatization – experiences that are not technically legal in many ways, but are organized anyway and are successful. It will also speak to the increase in repression of the movements and how people are organizing in defense/response.

Travis Morales, Stop Mass Incarceration Network
“October, 2014 – A Call For A Month Of Resistance To Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression And The Criminalization Of A Generation”
This workshop/teach-in will dig into how to make a major advance in resisting and stopping the horrors of mass incarceration of mainly Black and Latino people and the associated outrages of police brutality and murder of our children, the placing of a target on the backs of Black and Latino youth, the wholesale criminalization of a generation, and the detention and deportation of immigrants. We will discuss how mass incarceration is a slow genocide that must be urgently resisted and stopped. We will get into how the month of resistance can and must impact millions, change the way they look at mass incarceration and bring many of them into a movement of resistance to stop it. For more info:


“Making links between Prison Abolition and Decolonization”
This presentation and workshop is based on Bronwyn’s graduate school research about the relationship between settler colonialism and criminalization in Canada. It will be oriented toward a discussion about what it looks like/could look like to build political resistance that makes connections between those processes.

“Copwatch and Popular Justice”
Having trained people in Copwatch for a very long time, one of the early lessons was that eliminating the police from a neighborhood or block has to be complemented with a variety of forms of popular justice work, including community intervention, street mediation, restorative justice, harm reduction, and violence prevention. This workshop seeks to give a primer on copwatch as an organizing tool, and then discuss its necessarily complementary relationship with alternative models of justice.

Eric Darton
“The Dao of New York”
Do great cities have a “way,” a “method,” and, by extension, a “rule of life,” or “process” that allows them to live robustly and nourish their inhabitants. If they do, what is the Dao of New York? And can we say that our city is living in harmony with it? This workshop will use Daoist symbols and images to develop strategies for using cyclical process of change and transformation to defend and strengthen our communities, as well as to mobilize and root the energies within ourselves and the city as a whole.

Carrie McCann and Rebekah Schiller
“Current Successful Alternatives to Criminal Court”
The New York Peace Institute has a working relationship with the Brooklyn DA’s Office in which some criminal cases are referred to mediation instead of handled in the traditional manner. Participants have a say in the outcomes of their cases, which include, but are not limited to, harassment, assaults, criminal trespassing/mischief, property damage, menacing, noise, and debts. In addition, participants can address the impact the dispute has had and form plans for their future interactions including decisions about an order of protection. Restorative Justice Coordinator Carrie McCann and Mediator Rebekah Schiller will discuss the current program, how it provides concrete alternatives to the criminal court system, and how to get involved.

Save the date! Upcoming Free University-NYC event!:
“Freedom Learning Practices: From Brisbane to NYC to Oaxaca”
Saturday, May 31, 5pm-7pm
John Jay College, 540 W 59th St, NYC – meet outside by 4:50pm
FREE PANEL at Left Forum featuring members of the Brisbane Free University (Australia), Free University-NYC, and La Universidad de la Tierra (Oaxaca, Mexico)