Cosmic Possibilities: An Intergalactic Youth Guide to Abolition

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An intergalactic youth guide to abolition


S E I T I L I B I POSS Created by AYO, NYC! 2020 Janine Soleil Abolitionist Institute

eedom. w fr no lk al


For our an ces to rs


ndants - t e c s ha de tw e r u e t Write/draw here! u m f a d

Community altars are spaces to honor our past and build for our future. What would you add to our community altar?

We know that abolitionist futures are possible. In order to create them, we begin by dreaming ourselves into those futures. This Abolitionist Workbook is a space to dream, envision, and imagine liberatory new worlds.

WHO WE ARE & WHY WE ARE HERE The Abolitionist Youth Organizing Institute (AYO, NYC!)—a collaboration between Project NIA & EFA Project Space—is an immersive training experience for young people ages 16 to 24 who are interested in and/or are already working towards social justice. The training introduces participants to the concepts of organizing, campaign development, direct action, mutual aid, creative resistance, prison industrial complex (PIC) abolition and transformative/healing justice. The institute covers the basics of organizing from an abolitionist framework, with the goal of helping participants find/define & sustain their role within movements for social justice and change. The 2020 institute is dedicated to the life and memory of Janine Soleil—mother of Dylan Gauthier, a collaborator in building this year's institute. Janine was an organizer, classicallytrained dancer, and social worker whose practice combined supporting individuals with activism and direct action pressing for systemic change. Born in New York, she lived most of her life in Los Angeles, where she helped organize the Los Angeles Women's Center ("The Woman's Building”) in the 1970s, taught in the Los Angeles Unified School District, and later became a drug and alcohol counselor for Glenn County Mental Health in Northern California. Janine passed away in May of 2020 at the age of 75, due to complications from COVID-19.

Together we form constellations - this is our compass.

Baylor Andrews (She/He/They)

Raelyn Williams (She/Her)

How Fiction & Poetry Can Help Us Shape the New World of Our Dreams

Killing the Cop in Our Head: Undoing Internal Carceral Logic

Erin (They/Them)

Sakinaa (She/They)

Addressing Harm

What Came Before: Revolution, Transnational Solidarity & Internationalism

bodhi alarcón

Sadé (She/They)

Nora Thompson (She/They)

Care as an Abolitionist Practice

Building an Alternative: Cooperatives as the Way Forward

Jadyn Fauconier-Herry (She/Her)

Miguel Ramirez (He/Him)

Making a Life Not Making a Living: Abolishing the NPIC

Healing through Expression

(They/Them) Creative Artist

Artist: Emily Simons

We are so grateful you have arrived here with us. Take a moment to settle into your space - on the bus, porch, floor, bed - wherever you are. As you move through the pages of this workbook we invite you to... ENGAGE with curiosity and wonder. Allow space for challenge, questioning, deep listening, and reflection. MOVE at your own rhythm. There is no start or finish. Flow between each of these chapters in whatever order calls you. The work of abolition is non-linear and so is this guide. SHARE with your community. Friends, mentors, family, neighbors, comrades.

Coloring pages at the beginning of each chapter offer an invitation to rest and reflect


Navigate through the pages in a non-linear way


e n l n o oC .r .etaerC



Jump from theme to theme; color and shape coding can help you find points of synergy

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Icons, Colors, & Shapes Finding Your Rhythm

For example: On the next page, you'll see that this particular icon correlates with Self Healing. If you wanted to focus on Self Healing, you would check out any chapters that have this icon on the first page.

In addition to being color-coded, each chapter has a small shape that correlates to its pages. These small shapes are at the bottom right corner of every page. (This is a similar function to page numbers, but a little different!) For example: If you wanted to find the chapter "Healing Through Expression", you would flip to the light blue section with the ⟡ symbol at the bottom of every page. If you wanted to find "Care as an Abolitionist Practice", you would flip to the yellow section with the at the bottom.

A heads up on two chapters that will have this icon!

ssion Expre h ug o hr nist Practice o i t oli b A

Hea lin g Care T as an

At the start of each chapter you will find icons that represent themes and mindsets within those pages. As you flip through, you can follow icons that align with what you want to explore.

This is the icon you will see at the beginning of the chapter.


Icon Theme: Self Healing Mindset we are Growing/Cultivating: Surrender, Openness, Abundance, Exchange, “Soak Up” (Receive and Give), Change/Death/Evolution, Emergence (New Self)

Hea lin g Care T as an

We invite you to

xpression E h g u o ist Practic hr n o i e t i l o b A

Icon Theme: Imagination, Creation Mindset we are Growing/Cultivating: Action, Release(ing) Perfectionism, Intuition, Knowledge in Our Bodies, Flow, Valuing Feelings Over “Knowledge”, Resonance

Life Not Making a aL ing k ivi a ng M p l e U H s n S : a hap C eT try e he Po


How F i c tio n a n d

We invite you to

e NPIC ◻ h t ing h lis o Of Our Drea b d l r A ms Wo O w e N

Icon Theme: Higher Mind/Embodied Transformation Mindset we are Growing/Cultivating: Emergence, Releasing Comfort, Risk, Stepping into Unknown, Making Space, Trust

△ m r a H g in s s

Ad dr e


Killing the Cop i nY ou rH e

We invite you to

: d a

Internal Carceral g Log oin d ic Un

Connect. Icon Theme: Ancestral Salve

Mindset we are Growing/Cultivating: Connection, Generosity, Gratitude and Reverence, Embrace, Healing, Wisdom

Before: Revolut e ion am C ,T t ra a h ns l t A e W r n n a a n tive g n i :C ild u oo B pe

We invite you to

ty & Internation i r a ali olid sm S l a n it o the Way Forwar a s d sa e tiv a r

With these invitations, we take the next step into action, knowing that liberatory futures require all of us to show up whole, to show up ready, and to show up together. May these pages inspire and move you. Bring your awareness into your body and remember the deepest truth in your heart, your DNA, and your soul.

Deep breath. Dive in. Enter this portal of imagination.

◇△ ○

[already there in my dreams] i want to live under a system where life listens to be known and communicates to understand where change is the truth and people take care to notice shifts not regulate anomolies where a probability is still a possibility instead of a hard & fast expectation actually i don't live under a system at all but alongside one through one within one

a system that prioritizes trust respect love and mutual appreciation i feel secure and capable here i can breathe here my fears and anxieties are complemented by patience and compassion for myself and life around me and every night we gather round the fire and every night we feast. 1Sep20-24:39

bodhi alarcón

Scan to listen

"Forget Your Fable" By Miguel Ramirez




Jade Orlando

“The quality of light by which we scrutinize our lives has direct bearing upon the product which we live, and upon the changes which we hope to bring about through those lives. It is within this light that we form those ideas by which we pursue our magic and make it realized. This is poetry as illumination, for it is through poetry that we give name to those ideas which are, until the poem, nameless and formlessabout to be birthed, but already felt. That distillation of experience from which true poetry springs births thought as dream births concept, as feeling births idea, as knowledge births (precedes) understanding. As we learn to bear the intimacy of scrutiny, and to flourish within it, as we learn to use the products of that scrutiny for power within our living, those fears which rule our lives and form our silences begin to lose their control over us... Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest external horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives. As they become known and accepted to ourselves, our feelings, and the honest exploration of them, become sanctuaries and fortresses and spawning grounds for the most radical and daring of ideas, the house of difference so necessary to change and the conceptualization of any meaningful action. Right now, I could name at least ten ideas I would have once found intolerable or incomprehensible and frightening, except as they came after dreams and poems. This is not idle fantasy, but the true meaning of "it feels right to me." We can train ourselves to respect our feelings, and to discipline (transpose) them into a language that matches those feelings so they can be shared. And where that language does not yet exist, it is our poetry which helps to fashion it. Poetry is not only dream or vision, it is the skeleton architecture of our lives.

For within structures defined by profit, by linear power, by institutional dehumanization, our feelings were not meant to survive. Kept around as unavoidable adjuncts or pleasant pastimes, feelings were meant to kneel to thought as we were meant to kneel to men. But women have survived. As poets. And there are no new pains. We have felt them all already. We have hidden that fact in the same place where we have hidden our power. They lie in our dreams, and it is our dreams that point the way to freedom. They are made realizable through our poems that give us the strength and courage to see, to feel, to speak, and to dare.”

POETRY AS GROUNDING Poetry is Not A Luxury by Audre Lorde

Journal about a time when you found the words and language to express a feeling you did not know how to express. Oppressed and marginalized people are not unaware of the systemic oppressions and violence that we face. We know our experiences better than anyone else. Poetry provides a space for oppressed people to write into words and create language for feelings that we know and can pinpoint. To create language where it did not exist beforehand is powerful and one of the first steps to realize liberatory new worlds.

“Poetry is Not a Luxury” it's a dictionary

a journal

and a place for transformation.

Combahee River Collective


“Poetry is Not a Luxury” was published in 1977. During a time when Black women, and particularly Black lesbians like Lorde, were trying to find their place in liberation and freedom movements. The women’s and LGBT movements at the time were both centered around white people, while Black liberation movements were centered around Black men. Black women and lesbians at the time knew they were being left out of these larger movements and out of that era came The Combahee River Collective, Alice Walker coining “womanism”, Mama’s Baby Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book by Hortense Spillers, and so much more. By Black women and lesbians creating language for how they saw themselves show up in the world, Radical Black Queer Feminism, womanism, intersectionality, and so many other politics that organizers use and rely on today were created. These politics existed far before the 70’s and 80’s but the era is credited with their conception because it provided the language. Poetry and fiction work hand in hand with our ability to create and imagine new worlds where everyone is safe and able to live a liberated and free life. Poetry, as Lorde explained it, provides us with a foundation for where we are and what we have been through. Poetry allows us to understand our reality, express our needs and desires, and ultimately tell us where we are so we can express what we need. Fiction helps us imagine the possibility of the new world we are creating. In an interview with Charlie Rose, Octavia Butler was asked what she loved about writing and she replied,

“You got to make your own worlds. You got to write yourself in.”






BY... BY... BY... BY... BY... BY... BY...

Here we are – Energy, Mass, Life, Shaping life, Mind, Shaping Mind God, Shaping God. Consider— We are born Not with purpose, But with potential. All that you touch You Change. All that you Change Changes you. The only lasting truth Is Change. God Is Change.

Octavia Butler

w ha t i s , k r o w ’s r e ta v ia B u tl c O n I : t p P ro m ng ‘God’? i n i f e d f o ca nce t h e s i g n i fi

In 1993 Parable of the Sower, written by the infamous Octavia Butler, was published. The book was followed by Parable of the Talents in 1998. This series chronicled the life of Lauren Olamina who discovered Earthseed, a belief system that centered the principle that change is life’s only constant. To grow and survive everything must change, therefore “God is change.” Earthseed is so significant because God is not a person or conscious force. God is an idea and Earthseed allows for its members to shape God. What are the possibilities in our organizing when we understand our intersecting identities? The systems that seem stagnant can be changed.

To believe in Earthseed is to believe in the transformation and change of people and the world(s) in which they live.

The Destiny of Earthseed is to take root among the stars. It is to live and to thrive on new earths. It is to become new beings And to consider new questions. It is to leap into the heavens Again and again. It is to explore the vastness Of heaven. It is to explore the vastness Of ourselves.

Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower

Where do the intersections of your identities place you within society, if anywhere?


What do you need in order to feel safe and secure in your community?

What are the needs of the people you are in community with?

Write or draw what your new world would look like. Prompt #1 Take the needs you indicated in the prompt on the previous page and create a short story or brainstorm a fictional world that has met all of the needs that you listed.

Some questions to guide you: What does pleasure look like in this new world? How is community shaped in this new world? How are problems and issues addressed? What challenges might people face in this new world? How is power viewed in this new world? What values and beliefs do the characters live by?

Prompt #2 Take the needs you indicated on the previous page and write a verse to add to The Book of the Living.

Inspired by Octavia, draw the future into existence -





The infamous Toni Morrison once said, “If there is a book that you want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.” Take the visions of your new world and sew it into the fabric of your everyday life. A new world is not necessarily a destination, but a constant set of transformations and changes that can bring forth a world where everyone is safe and has the resources they need. If you notice that there is something missing in the fight for freedom, create it and birth the language to what does not yet exist. Find ways to incorporate your new world visions into your everyday life and organizing.


Be open to change, for your visions will evolve and grow with time. Gaps that were once unknown or left blank will be filled in by the next generation with new language and ideas.


Abolition is just one step to create the world that we yearn for. Our imagination will give birth and shape the worlds of our dreams.


WHAT CAME BEFORE: REVOLUTION, TRANSNATIONAL SOLIDARITY & INTERNATIONALISM Erin *Content warning: death, anti-blackness, genocide, police brutality, transmisogynoir, slavery

Abolition calls for the deconstruction of what bell hooks frames as all "white supremacist capitalist patriarchal imperialist" systems including the prison industrial complex, slavery, policing, and ongoing genocide of Indigenous peoples around the world. Mutual aid and transformative justice are critical in creating communities of intentional care without relying on an exploitive, capitalist state. However, a true system overhaul requires revolution. Before we begin, a poem by Assata Shakur, to ground us.

Love is contraband in Hell, cause love is an acid that eats away bars. But you, me, and tomorrow hold hands and make vows that struggle will multiply. The hacksaw has two blades. The shotgun has two barrels. We are pregnant with freedom.

We are a conspiracy.

What comes to mind when you hear the word “revolution”?

How do you feel about “revolution” being a necessary tool for true abolition?

We are a part of a revolutionary lineage. What international struggles do you know of? Do any align with your own personal or community struggles? Who do you consider your comrades in the fight for abolition? Who and/or what are you working against?

“At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality.” che guevara


"I have undertaken vengeance. I want Liberty and Equality to reign in Saint Domingue. I work to bring them into existence. Unite yourselves to us, brothers and fight for the same cause."

“Our country and all the other socialist countries want peace. The only ones who crave war and do not want peace are certain monopoly capitalist groups in a handful of imperialist countries that depend on aggression for their profits.”

toussaint l’ouverture haiti

george jackson

united states

mao zedong

"Do what must be done, discover your humanity and your love in revolution. Pass on the torch. Join us, give up your life for the people."


fidel castro cuba

“A revolution is not a bed of roses. A revolution is a struggle between the future and the past.”

marsha p. johnson united states

"We want to see all gay people have a chance at equal rights. We believe in picking up a gun, and starting a revolutionary if necessary."

Toussaint L’ouverture was one of the most successful commanders during the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804), leading the liberation of enslaved Haitians and fighting for Haiti’s sovereignty from French rule. L’ouverture was a former enslaved person who was inspired by the “Night of Fire,” in which enslaved people revolted against white colonists by setting fire to plantation fields and houses, and decided to join the revolution. He fought in the Haitian Revolution for 11 years, serving as a soldier, then as a military secretary, and then as the primary military leader first against the French (before emancipation in 1794), then the British and Spanish

toussaint l’ouverture haiti

After L’ouverture called for Black sovereignty and Saint Domingue as an independent state, declaring himself governor in the process, Napoleon sent an army to call for his capture. What proceeded was Black resistance against the violent French colonial forces, who assumed Black people would submit themselves back into slavery. After strategizing and leading his forces against the French, L’ouverture was captured and died in a French prison in 1803.

george jackson

united states

At 18 years old, George Jackson was falsely imprisoned for allegedly stealing from a gas station, with an indeterminate sentence of 1 year to life. During his incarceration, Jackson became a devout student, and a Black communist revolutionary. Jackson extensively studied international struggle, and called for the unity of oppressed peoples across the world to overthrow the cop of the world, the united states. His writing made him a target of the u.s. state, leading to his assassination in the San Quentin prison. Jackson studied Marx, Lenin, Mao, Malcolm X, Kwame Nkrumah, and other revolutionaries to sharpen his analysis and practice organizing incarcerated persons across racial lines. Jackson understood the struggle to be global, and in his writing calls for the rest of the world to rise up against u.s. imperialism.

mao zedong china

Mao led the peasant masses in overthrowing the ruling class and feudal lords in the Chinese Revolution, also known as the War of Liberation. Prior to the Chinese Revolution, ten percent of the agricultural population owned 80% of the land. 80% of Chinese people lived in the countryside, where the workers were frequently subject to abuse, assault, and general disregard for human life at the hands of their feudal lords. Many of these people were tied in “feudal bondage,” working to create profits for the feudal lords for life. The Chinese Revolution saw an overthrow of feudalism by the masses. Mao, along with leaders of the DPRK (North Korea), Vietnam, and other communist countries were in active support of the Black Panther Party and Black liberation in the united states. The Black Panther Party visited various communist leaders in Asia, and were active students of Mao’s Little Red Book, which has been used as a guide for organizing around the world.

Fidel Castro was a Cuban revolutionary who helped lead the overthrow of dictator Batista in Cuba. Castro implemented many popular social reforms, including the Cuban Literacy Campaign that raised national literacy to almost 100%. This was accomplished by emphasizing education of peasants, constructing new schools, hiring new teachers, and empowering women to have new opportunities in the educational workforce.

Prior to the establishment of a new communist world in China, Mao helped create a united front to fight Imperial Japan and protect Chinese sovereignty. The Soviet Union agreed to assist China, in another act of internationalism between the two.

However, while Batista (a u.s.-backed president and military dictator) was still in power, Castro and his brother Raúl gathered 69 revolutionaries to attack military installations. After struggling to overthrow Batista, Castro and Raúl fled to Mexico City where they met Argentine Marxist revolutionary, Che Guevara. Prior to meeting the Castro brothers, Guevara understood the need for a united people against the evil realities of capitalism and neocolonialism, traveling across Latin America to meet and work with the masses. After some time, Guevara ended up in Mexico City, where he met, and trained in guerilla fighting tactics with the Castro brothers. He eventually became a very prominent figure working in the Cuban revolution, and successfully helped lead the masses to oust Batista. Although Guevara and the Castros were from two different nations, they worked together in an act of internationalism to help overthrow and abolish the Cuban ruling classes.

fidel castro cuba

marsha p. johnson united states

Marsha P. Johnson was most well-known for her involvement in the Stonewall uprising, but was an activist and self-identified drag queen who strongly believed in LGBTQ+ liberation. The Stonewall Rebellion (1969) occurred when a group of drag queens, transwomen, gay men, and lesbians resisted a police raid at a gay bar called the Stonewall Tavern. Johnson led a life of radical organizing and advocacy for LGBTQ+ liberation, which was exceedingly dangerous during and postLavender Scare*. She was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front, and a founder of S.T.A.R. (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries), which provided support for gay incarcerated folks and housing for LGBTQ+ youth without housing. Johnson understood as a member of the most oppressed identities that quality of life could not be achieved without having basic material needs met.

*Lavender Scare: paralleled anti-communist hysteria and government campaigns (Executive Order 10450), specifically targeting gay and lesbian people as “communist sympathizers”, and sought to remove and out all LGBTQ+ people from their places of work (specifically government positions), housing, etc. Over 5000 people were fired and outed because of this executive order.

What controls you and your community? What must change or shift for you to be truly free?

“And it is clear that in the colonial countries the peasants alone are revolutionary, for they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The starving peasant, outside the class system is the first among the exploited to discover that only violence pays. For him there is no compromise, no possible coming to terms; colonization and decolonization is simply a question of relative strength.”

franz fanon martinique

Inhale for 8 counts. Hold breath for 8 counts. Exhale for 8 counts. Repeat 3 times or until breath is steady.

Abolition necessitates addressing and changing material conditions for the most marginalized in society. Abolition calls for not only meeting peoples’ basic needs, but also creating conditions for people to collaborate, thrive, and live full, enriched lives. If you didn’t have to worry about meeting basic needs (such as rent, food, etc.), what dreams would you actively pursue? If you don’t have to worry about meeting basic needs, why?

"the revolution and women's liberation go together. we do not talk of women's emancipation as an act of charity or out of a surge of human compassion. it is a basic necessity for the revolution to triumph. women hold up the other half of the sky."

thomas sankara burkina faso

How can solidarity help a community and people’s needs be met?

W hat is o n e act of can do solida lo c a lly rity yo in y o u u r com munit y?

Draw a web of your community in whatever way grounds you. Who is part of the web, and how are they connected to one another?

Draw another web to depict people you have and/or want to have solidarity with in another city, state, nation, continent. How do these communities intersect?

Imagine your ideal world. What does it look, smell, taste, and feel like?


Links to Reading Black Theory & Other Foundational Leftist Texts Desert Diwata Study Group Reading List Vic’s Resources Resources on colonialism/imperialism, communism, Black feminism, and more! Vietnam Resources by Bao ALL RESOURCES LINKED:




Hymnbook, carceral Sermon, carceral Curses, carceral Antidotes, carceral Mercenary, carceral Preacher, carceral Meridian, carceral Corinthians, carceral Leviathan, carceral Arteriosclerosis, carceral Scars on your lungs, carceral Breathless, carceral Silk press, carceral Syrup over eggs, carceral Soy and yoga, carceral Listening too hard, carceral March on, carceral Dave Chappelle before muscles, carceral Smoking dope, carceral Smoking tobacco, carceral Surgeon General, carceral A singer named Marion, carceral A mayor pitching candles, carceral Elton, carceral Tinder, carceral Any casual pleasure, carceral Starving, carceral Any Black leisure, carceral Took a plea, carceral Small-time dealer, carceral So full, carceral Ringleading, carceral On the ropes, carceral Amen corners, carceral

Plenty tormented, carceral Mourners of sinners, carceral Mourners of saints, carceral Same shame, carceral Any shame at all, carceral Playing tall bells on a short day, carceral Love of an inmate, carceral Love with no title, carceral Idleness/listlessness, carceral Walking home, carceral Running home, carceral Backing omens into spells, carceral Spelling Sunday in hell, carceral Hedaldo, carceral Why though, carceral Pretty shoulders, carceral Escape, carceral Scissors in the snow, carceral How we go on, carceral Biting ribbons and chains, carceral Scratching the words for ourselves, carceral Until their eyes spill barges, carceral Until they are caskets, carceral Until they are backed into the abyss and martyred As if with no theory of the cage we made out okay Transfigured by the incalculable roll of this chant We made the hours lie down new vows How power warm How exile

Carceral, Undone by Harmony Holiday How minaret windowed with my child’s eyes Which are the bright eyes that will burn through Bars to light my star What happened one night And another And an army of evenings backing into Those iron circles splitting opening the gates Of hell and high water there’s no Word for the next phase of the slave Rebellion no clinical nudge to double over Our skin We say the same thing so much Of all the new touching bars

Your testimony as you can imagine means nothing...

Carceral, Undone by Harmony Holiday Your testimony as you can imagine means nothing

Your testimony as you can imagine means nothing

Your testimony as you can imagine means nothing

Your testimony as you can imagine means nothing

Eyebrows looking like two wings flying away

The Dozens Deuteronomies

Knowing property is theft

So that in being stolen Our very presence became criminal And that is a trap of errant legendary Today can handle Maa f a

of the slick edges

Of capital punishment Empty

a clip



and three hole punch crows let



What is carceral logic? The University of Rochester’s Decarceration Research Initiative defines “carceral logics” as the variety of ways our bodies, minds, and actions have been shaped by the idea and practices of imprisonment—even for people who do not see themselves connected explicitly to prisons. Carceral logic is the way that we internalize the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) and policing. It is a punishment frame of mind or a belief in the power of punitive justice. It can manifest in the way that we respond and subsequently feel about other’s behavior that we may find undesirable. We may want others to be punished for their actions because the PIC sets us up to believe that punishment equals justice. Or the PIC does not provide us any other viable options for ways to address harm and hurt. As noted by Amanda Alexander of the Detroit Justice Center, “when you sell people police and jails as the only form of safety, that’s what they’ll say they want.” But what people really want is accountability, an end to the harm, to find healing, and to understand why harm happened.

The way that we internalize carceral logic and our subsequent desire to undo that logic is sometimes known as “killing the cop in your head.” Abolition is not only about what we do but who we are. We can bring principles of abolition into our relationships and our communities. Abolition is usually thought about on the macro scale, making institutions (such as prisons and jails) and cultural practices (punishment and surveillance) obsolete. However, abolition is also about what we build up.

As stated by abolitionist Mariame Kaba, abolition is not just about absence, but also presence. We need to deeply value care and empathy, and show that in the way we respond to others.


Part of killing the cop in your head is seeing people’s humanity. We must center the experience and healing of survivors or those who are struggling with either structural or personal traumas. When we begin to other others, we become desensitized and labeling them as “criminals” or “convicts” becomes easier than recognizing that we are all capable of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and we all make mistakes.

As abolitionists we recognize how the intersections of white supremacy, capitalism, and patriarchy create a system where marginalized people are more likely to be criminalized and harmed. We see these cycles of abuse. It is our role to not replicate these monstrous systems on the interpersonal level. We must strive not to bring the abusive power dynamics to our relationships with others. We instead can feel empowered to approach situations with empathy. We must question if the choices we make are rooted in true safety or rooted in control. We must reimagine not only our institutions but our relationships. How can we have difficult conversations that are rooted in principled struggle* and good faith rather than framing one another as the ‘good’ or ‘bad guy'?

*Tenants of Principled Struggle: Black feminist and LeftRoots leader NTanya Lee created a framework for principled struggle that includes a central idea that our struggle must be for the sake of deepening our collective understanding. Her guidance: 1. Be honest and direct while holding compassion. 2. Have side conversations and one-on-ones to help us get to better and build us up, not to break us down. 3. Be responsible for our own feelings and actions. 4. Seek deeper understanding. (We ask and read first). 5. Consider that this (meeting, gathering etc.) may not be the container to hold what you need to bring. Charlene Carruthers, The Three Commitments

Boal believed that we internalized social oppressions via a sort of “osmosis,” meaning these oppressive systems make their way into our bodies. Writer Andy McLaverty-Robinson, who writes of Boal, states that “The oppressed are encouraged to transform their reality into images, and then play with these images, so as eventually to transform reality. By creating an autonomous world of images, and imagining liberation in this world, it is possible to figure out how liberation can happen in reality.” One of the techniques that Boal uses to address the cops that reside within our heads is to visualize the oppressions that trap us. This could be systems like capitalism or racism. Boal transforms these constraints into “ghosts,” they are no longer unseen forces that live within our minds. Participants try out strategies to defeat the “ghosts” by creating an ally or “antibody” to use against each constraint. An ally or antibody is something that helps stop or impede the ghost. Members of the audience can suggest additional “ghosts” or “cops” that the participant may not have noticed.


The Rainbow of Desire was developed as a technique within the practice of Theatre of the Oppressed to address internalized oppression. Rainbow of Desire was created by Brazilian dramatist Augusto Boal in the 1980s. He sought to bring the internal conflict of oppression into the physical dimension so that others could undo this struggle.

Reflect: What are some ghosts that constrain us when we listen to the cop in our head? What could the antibody to these ghosts be or look like? Draw and name them if that is helpful. Try doing this exercise with someone and share back. Are there ghosts that you share?

Visioning: In the style of Harmony Holiday, create your own carceral, undone poem based on what you reflected upon and learned here. In your version the refrain “carceral” is replaced by “liberated.” Here are some example stanzas: Sipping ice cold colas in the summer’s shade, liberated Calling in, liberated Relationships as shining constellations, liberated Weeds uprooted, liberated Cops undone, liberated



Activity: Journal How do you define harm? What are effective methods to address harm?

We all cause harm. Harm is a part of human relationships. That is not to say that all harm is the same or to excuse harmdoing. It is an acknowledgement of how we live in the world and function in our relationships. If we do not acknowledge that we all cause harm, then how can we address and heal from the harm we have caused and has been done to us? There are varying degrees of harm from hurt feelings and misunderstandings to violence and abuse. On an interpersonal level, harm is something that hurts someone else, intended or unintentional. Structurally it is violence enacted by the state. The harm we inflict on one another is deeply influenced by the harm caused by the state.


In order to address all types and degrees of harm, we must develop different methods of dealing with harm. According to Mariame Kaba, a central problem with the prison industrial complex (PIC) is “’s one solution to every single problem. It’s taking a hammer and everything then is a nail.” Abolishing the prison industrial complex includes ridding ourselves of the ideas and methods used by the criminal punishment system that have seeped into our understanding of and responses to harm. There isn’t a single solution to addressing harm. In a world without prisons, policing, and surveillance, I imagine we have created many ways of addressing harm and are still imagining countless more.

Accountability Accountability is a practice of addressing harm that begins with oneself. It is a recognition of our own harm-doing, a process of reparation, and a commitment to transformation. The first step of accountability is acknowledgement and acknowledgement requires self-reflection.


The following exercise is designed to encourage self-reflection, a central part of the accountability process.

What qualities do you like most about yourself? What is the kindest/most insightful thing someone has ever said to you or about you?

onto that g in ld o h you What are ? g and growth n li a e h r u o y impedes

dress, leave d a to d e e to ou n for in order lf What do y e rs u o y e rgiv you behind, or fo ngthen the connection e heal and str rself? u have with yo

Accountability is “an internal resource for recognizing and redressing the harms we have caused to ourselves and others” (Connie Burk). It is a skill, process, and practice that requires both vulnerability and courage. Accountability is an uncomfortable process because it is meant to transform us. Accountability is completely consensual. No one can make you accountable and you cannot make anyone else accountable. Accountability is as complex as harm-doing and healing work. Accountability looks different for every situation and every harm. However, there are central components that are useful in any accountability process.

Elements of Accountability

All of these components may not be possible in every situation due to the severity of the harm. These are responses to low level harm (misunderstandings, hurt, conflicts, etc.).


mending yourself and the relationship that has been damaged; it requires consistency and may take a while depending on the severity of the harm

Self-Reflection the realization that you have done something harmful and want to address it (you should constantly return to this step throughout the accountability process)

Changed Behavior

the process of healing and transformation that comes from the practice of each component as it relates to your accountability process


Adapted from Mia Mingus’s “Four Parts of Accountability”

saying you’re sorry, explicitly naming the harm, acknowledging the impact of your harm regardless of your intentions, naming your action(s) that caused the harm, and a commitment to not repeating the harm


New Imaginings We must create many different ways to address harm. There’s no single solution. Transformative Justice is not for everyone or every situation. Some people will never be accountable for their harm-doing, on any level. In this new world we’re imagining, harm will exist and we must create countless ways to address it. @mollycostello

NEW IMAGININGS Who are you in this new world? How has accountability transformed you and how you relate to others?

What are ways of addressing harm in our new world that you’ve imagined that don’t rely on prisons, policing, or surveillance? Use any form of creative expression to describe the way(s) you’ve imagined addressing harm in our new world and how it has transformed you.

Resources on Transformative Justice, Accountability, and Abolition TJ/CA resources A google doc filled with Transformative Justice resources compiled by Cory Lira. What is/isn’t transformative justice? An essay about what Transformative Justice is and isn't created by adrienne maree brown. Transformative Justice: A Brief Description An article briefly describing transformative justice written by Mia Mingus. My Transformative Justice Workbook A Transformative Justice workbook created Nakita Mayfield, Cortney Calixte, Ha Tran, and Laura Chow Reeve of the Virginia Anti-Violence Project (VAVP) and the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. Miklat Miklat: A Transformative Justice Zine A Transformative Justice zine created by Lewis Wallace and Micah Banzant. Think, rethink An article by Connie Burk on community accountability. Justice in America Podcast, Episode 20: Mariame Kaba and Prison Abolition Justice in America podcast episode with Mariame Kaba discussing PIC abolition.

2020 Janine Soleil Abolitionist Institute Padlet Resources related to abolition compiled during the course of the institute. ALL RESOURCES LINKED:




A note from the curator of this section: I am writing this note during a global pandemic. I am writing this note at a time when my social relationships have been altered dramatically in ways that I could not have dreamed of even a year ago. I am writing this note at a time when much of my human interaction is virtual or from behind a mask. I am writing this note on a day where my mental illness made it difficult to get out of bed, to do anything but lay beneath my blankets and pet my roommate’s cat. That last part, at least, is not new. Caring for myself and caring for others has always been significant to me, not that it has always (or ever) been easy. Today it took the form of pulling that blanket all the way up to my chin and giving myself permission to just lay.

But, in the new world order that I lay in now, I have also come to understand care as the practice that I return to daily to keep myself grounded. It’s what reminds me that I am alive and part of a beautiful web of other beings who are equally as alive as I am.

Image by Nane Daye

A friend recently reached out to me and asked if I had any resources or thoughts that they could pass on to a friend who was new to abolition and struggling to enter into a praxis that so often feels like relearning everything we know. I shared the words of Saidiya Hartman “Care is the antidote to violence.” I was reminded of the words of Angela Y. Davis in Are Prisons Obsolete?:

“Thus, the prison industrial complex is much more than the sum of all jails and prisons in this country. It is a set of symbiotic relationships among correctional communities, transnational corporations, media conglomerates, guards’ unions, and legislative and court agendas. If it is true that the contemporary meaning of punishment is fashioned through these relationships, then the most effective abolitionist strategies will contest these relationships and propose alternatives that pull them apart.” Angela Davis Are Prisons Obsolete?

Care work pulls those relationships apart. Care work is a daily response to violence that chips away at the holds that capitalism and the prison industrial complex have on our lives. Care work is abolition in practice. Care work is magnificent and transformational. Care work is not easy, but it is care work that helps make new worlds possible.

Care is the Antidote to Violence.

Saidiya Hartman

Be here. Be messy. Be all over the place.

Be wrong. Be bold in your hopefulness.

"This is a generous text, created by people who imagine that a more ethical and loving world can emerge in the middle of the worst muck of racialized, ableist, ableist heterocapital. The primary offering here is a space to be. Be confused in community. Be reaching past isolation. Be part of the problem. Be hungry for after. Be helpful in the midst. Be so early in the process. Be broken by belief. Be bolstered by brave comrades. Be unbelievably unready. Be alive.”

Alexis Pauline Gumbs

Reflect: “What does it mean to be alive?” Freewrite or craft your response in the form of a poem. Begin each line with the same word or phrase, similar to Alexis Pauline Gumbs’ use of the word “Be”.

“Take Care / Care Take” by Pete Railand,


Care work is closely tied to disability justice, anti-capitalism, and feminism. Care work is central to disability justice because the state has positioned itself as the sole mechanism for disabled people to receive care, while providing that care in racist, sexist, queerphobic, and conditional ways. At the same time, disabled folks—specifically disabled folks with other marginalized identities—have created networks to care for each other outside the state for generations upon generations. Capitalism values "labor potential" and "productivity" over humanity and care; therefore, care work is inherently anti-capitalist. In “10 Principles of Disability Justice” Patty Berne wrote, “We don’t believe human worth is dependent on what and how much a person can produce. We critique a concept of ‘labor’ as defined by able-bodied supremacy, white supremacy, and gender normativity. We understand capitalism to be a system that promotes private wealth accumulation for some at the expense of others.” Capitalism has taught us, specifically sick and disabled people and people of color, that our care needs are a burden to society rather than simply being what we need to be alive and to thrive. Capitalism teaches us that there are universally applicable solutions to our pain and struggles. Care work values the uniqueness of each person, their situation, and their constellation of identities. Care work is also tied to feminism. Care has been normalized as a feminine act and therefore not considered to be labor. But when we think of care as care work, rather than simply as care, we are reminded of the labor that care requires. This labor, of course, is not labor in a capitalist sense. It is labor for ourselves and for our people, not labor for the ableist, capitalist, and heteropatriarchal state.

When considering what care work is we must interrogate care with a historical lens, considering specifically how care and disability were radically transformed by the advent of white settler colonialism. In Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha shares some of this history through the words of disabled Cherokee scholar Qwo-Li Driskill who notes how the Cherokee language included many words describing people with different bodies and abilities before contact with settler colonists. None of these words carried a connotation of bodies being “less than” or “non-normative”. Under settler colonialism, those who were unable to work for plantation or factory workers and those who needed care were killed and sold because they were considered to be unprofitable and therefore “worthless” to the capitalist system. From the 1700s to as recently as the 1970s, many states had laws on the books that were referred to as “Ugly Laws''. These legally prevented disabled people from being allowed access to public spaces because they were considered to be "too ugly", and unsurprisingly were enforced in raced, gendered, and classed ways. Throughout the history of the so-called United States, disabled people and predominantly Black, Indigenous, and other people of color have been locked in institutions in the form of hospitals, mental institutions, jails, and prisons. These institutions not only fail to provide people with health care and other support resources, but also determine which groups of people the capitalist state deems worthy of care.

Reflect on how it feels for you to ask for care. Is it difficult, easy, or somewhere in between to ask for care that you need? Do you let yourself be cared for by others?

How do your identities (race, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, immigration status, ability, age, etc.) influence your relationship to being cared for?


What does self care mean to you? How do you care for yourself?

“At its heart, self-care has always been about marginalized people affirming themselves, their right to exist and thrive. What the world needs more than escapism, is change.” – Nina Slykhuis-Landry @nina_drewww

Self care is a phrase we hear often, a phrase that has been co-opted by capitalists to sell us products that we are told will bring us joy. But what does it mean to love ourselves deeply and care for ourselves in a radical way? In order to answer that question, we must start by looking at the history of self care. The Black Panther party began emphasizing self care as a critical practice for Black people in the 1970s. They believed self care was crucial to develop resilience for those experiencing racism on a daily basis. The Panthers created “Programs of Survival” that provided free services, such as screening and treatment for diseases prevalent in Black communities, to Black and other marginalized peoples. There are many different ways to practice self care and no two people experience care in the same way. It’s right there in the name, self care is just about you. Look at the wheel on the next page. It shows how self care has many dimensions. It can be physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, personal, and professional.

Fill out your self care wheel. Ps







Self-Care Wheel





on a



i ri

Add as many examples as feel right.



c si




Use as many sections as make sense for your life.

Care work is a radical tool. Draw what your dream networks of care look like...


Adapted from the Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective

1) Write your name in the centermost circle. 2) Write the names of the people in your pod in the circles around your name. The Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective (BATJC) defines your pod as, “the people that you would call on if violence, harm or abuse happened to you; or the people that you would call on if you wanted support in taking accountability for violence, harm or abuse that you’ve done; or if you witnessed violence or if someone you care about was being violent or being abused.” It is important that the people in your pod consent to being there. It is also ok if there are people in your pod whose pods you aren’t in, and vice versa. 3) Write the names of people that could be in your pod in the dotted-line circles. These relationships need a bit more work for them to be in your pod.

4) Finally, write the names of local organizations or community resources that could assist you in the outermost circles.


Mutual aid is a concept that we hear a lot lately that has similarly been co-opted by capitalists. But just like self care, it has radical roots. According to the Big Door Brigade, “Mutual aid is when people get together to meet each other’s basic survival needs with a shared understanding that the systems we live under are not going to meet our needs and we can do it together RIGHT NOW! Mutual aid projects are a form of political participation in which people take responsibility for caring for one another and changing political conditions, not just through symbolic acts or putting pressure on their representatives in government, but by actually building new social relations that are more survivable.” Mutual aid can take many forms—from food and housing to medical care and access to community spaces. Mutual aid projects are not charity.

Image by N.O. Bonzo from

Mutual aid understands that poverty and hardship are systemic issues, are transparent, and are run by and center those most affected. The Underground Railroad is one example of mutual aid. Another example is the S.T.A.R. House created by Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, which existed as a safe space, offering housing and community for trans people of color, including space to share hormones and gender affirming medical supplies.

Now, get together with one (or more) of the people in your pod. Ph

Reflect together. Fill out your community care wheel.














i ri





on a



How can you work together as a pod to care for each other and help each other be accountable when harm happens?


Share with them how you like to be cared for.


Ask them—How do you like to be cared for?

Remember to breathe. Remember to love. Remember that you are loved. Remember to care. Remember that you deserve care.

Resources for further exploration:

hen w g n i eth m o s you g g n i n i o t s d e e ile r h You ar W . g estin r e r a you are: in to a r b r g you ion. t n i a w m o r l info 1. Al w e n d oa ma. u downl a r t lism. g from a n i t l i a p e a ic c 2. H x o t g n upti dy. o b 3. Disr r u ing yo r o tual i n r i o p H s . 4 ng in i t a p i c i 5. Part e. practic istry n i M p The Na

Berne, Patty. “Disability Justice - a Working Draft by Patty Berne.” Sins Invalid, Dancers Group, 9 June 2015, Big Door Brigade. “What Is Mutual Aid?” Big Door Brigade Chasman, Deborah and Joshua Cohen, editors. The Politics of Care: From COVID-19 to Black Lives Matter. Boston Review and Verso Books, 2020. Davis, Angela Y. Are Prisons Obsolete? Seven Stories Press, 2003. (Specifically the chapter “Abolitionist Alternatives pg. 105-115) Dixon, Ejeris, and Leah Lakshmi PiepznaSamarasinha, editors. Beyond Survival: Strategies and Stories from the Transformative Justice Movement. AK Press, 2020. Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Leah. Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice. Arsenal Pulp Press, 2018. (Specifically the essay “Care Webs: Experiments in Creating Collective Access pg. 32-68) Lee Boggs, Grace. The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century. University of California Press, 2012. Mingus, Mia. “Pods and Pod Mapping Worksheet.” Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective, June 2016 Radical Access Mapping Project The Icarus Project NYC, (Specifically the “Mapping Our Madness Zine” under the “Publications” tab)





ABOLISHING THE NPIC Jadyn Fauconier-Herry

In our old world there existed systems designed to make us forget that we are each radically powerful. These systems used control, abuse of power, division, and hierarchy to stand in the way of community building and liberation. These systems were based in the violences of capitalism, racism, cissexism, ableism, heteropatriarchy and colonialism. One of the largest and most well known of these systems was the Prison Industrial Complex or PIC. Yet, there existed another, subtler system in our old world that was created to maintain the old world status quo of capitalism and white supremacy. This system was known as the NonProfit Industrial Complex. In our old world, the NonProfit Industrial Complex or NPIC used the same carceral logics of control and division as the PIC. Like the PIC the NPIC was rooted in and committed to protecting capitalism, white supremacy, and the interests of the State. Yet the NPIC was a tricky system. Unlike the PIC which often utilized overt forms of violence (cops, cages, courtrooms) to carry out state repression, the NPIC instead allowed the state to employ covert displays of control (careerism*, capitalism, cooptation)—often disguising itself as a positive force in our old world. Through foundations and grants, think tanks and nonprofits, the NPIC diverted our revolutionary energy, exploited our labor, and stifled our imagination. But don’t fear! By abolishing the PIC we also starved the NPIC of the things that made its existence possible. HOWEVER...abolishing the NPIC required vigilance and a commitment to working outside a system that often attempted to win our support through $$$ and resources. It required that we kept capitalism out of our movements and out of our minds (this made it easier to keep capitalism out of our relationships and our families and our futures). It required us to discover our own radical power that did not rely on old world norms of exploitation and domination, but instead allowed our collective imagination to flourish and thrive. The following workbook pages are dedicated to that history and that hard work. You can use these pages to learn more about the NPIC and how it impacted our old world. Challenge yourself to reflect on your own position within systems like the NPIC. Most importantly, practice the kind of critical thinking and radical imagining that abolishing the NPIC required. * "careerism" is a term used to describe a person’s devotion to their career and professional advancement at the expense of their wellbeing and integrity and/or at the expense of the wellbeing of others.

The “non-profit industrial complex” (or the NPIC) was a system of relationships between:

the owning classes

(or the smallest and wealthiest portion of society, “the 1%”)

the State (or local and federal governments)

non-profit/NGO social service & social justice organizations


(often established with the owning classes’ wealth)

This relationship results in the surveillance, control, derailment, and everyday management of political movement. The State uses non-profits to: Monitor and control social justice movements; Divert public monies into private hands through foundations; Manage and control dissent in order to make the world safe for capitalism; Redirect activist energies into career-based modes of organizing instead of mass-based organizing capable of actually transforming society; Allow corporations to mask their exploitative and colonial work practices through “philanthropic” work; Encourage social movements to model themselves after capitalist structures rather than to challenge them.* *Text drawn from “Introduction,” The Revolution Will Not Be Funded by INCITE!

Inspired by Non-Profit Industrial Complex zine, zeeninginlaos


What is your connection to the NPIC? What connections do you see between nonprofits, social justice foundations, and the State? What overlaps and interactions do you see between the nonprofit industrial complex and the prison industrial complex? Taking inspiration from the map above, draw your own map of the NPIC, making sure to include yourself and your community in your map.

Reflection: THE NPIC and ME What work do you do inside the NPIC? What work do you do outside and against the NPIC? Who would you like to support in the work that you do? Who benefits from the work that you do?

e family role, or role in th k, or w ur yo h ug ro th , Are there ways in which atus quo of the NPIC or st e th e rc fo en to e m co community, you have ? eir role in it? If so, how th r fo le op pe g un yo n trai the NPIC’s influences? ed st si re u yo ve ha w If not, ho

Shadow State: The PIC and the NPIC The prison industrial complex and the nonprofit industrial complex went hand in hand. As Dylan Rodriquez (professor, author, critical theorist) and Ruth Wilson Gilmore (geographer, scholar, abolitionist) explain...

“The NPIC is the natural corollary to the prison industrial complex (PIC). While the PIC overtly represses dissent the NPIC manages and controls dissent by incorporating it into the state apparatus, functioning as a ‘shadow state."


ACTIVITY: “THIS IS NOT A ___________" Look around you and find a random object. Maybe it’s a pencil or an apple or even this workbook itself. Got it? Good. Now abolish it in your mind. What is it now? The pencil could be a magic wand that teleports you though time. The apple is really a ball that can bounce so high it touches the moon. This workbook? A portal in time and space that you can enter and leave as you please. Draw a diagram of your object below and describe it using the format: “This is not a _____, this is a __________.”

Abolishing the NPIC took lots of effort and imagination. The kind of imagination that allowed you to create an entirely new object using only your mind and what you have around you. Being able to envision new ways of living and living together was an important first step to creating our new world. Whenever you feel stuck, return to this exercise and affirm your powers of imagination. And as always remember that you are abundant! I learned this exercise from neta bomani at Survived and Punished NY’s Sept 2020 general meeting.


Systems of domination produce routes for channeling dissatisfaction that are non threatening to those systems. We are encouraged to bring our complaints in ways that are the least disruptive and the most beneficial to existing conditions. ” - Dean Spade This quote from Dean Spade (lawyer, writer, trans activist) points to one of the main obstacles we faced in dismantling the NPIC— moving our fight for liberation outside the pre-established structures (or “routes”) created by our oppressors. In our old world, the nonprofit industrial complex encouraged us to appeal to capitalists in our fight against capitalism, receive resources from white supremacists in our fight against white supremacy, and ultimately sustain the powers and systems that harmed us and those we loved. So, what changed? While it required many different tactics, the NPIC was ultimately abolished through our embracing of and mobilizing around BOTTOM UP STRATEGIES FOR CHANGE!

To get a better understanding of what a “bottom up” strategy for change is, read the following excerpts from “Solidarity Not Charity: Mutual Aid for Mobilization and Survival” by Dean Spade. As you read, make sure to reflect on what you’ve learned thus far about the NPIC, ways you believe it was dismantled, and what you’ve seen come in its wake.


What other examples of these three types of “resistance work” can you think of? How would this work challenge the NPIC? Share below.


1) Work to dismantle existing systems:

2) Work to directly provide for people targeted by such systems:

3) Work to build alternative infrastructures through which people can get their needs met:

Acknowledging the necessity of immediate care and defense work + work to get at the root causes of harmful conditions + work to build alternative structures were all integral pieces of the network we built in our old world to starve systems like the NPIC (and the PIC and capitalism).

These bottom up strategies were not easy, nor were they quick. But they were necessary and they were radically powerful. Unlike the NPIC, which protected the power and wealth of the smallest portion of society, bottom up strategies tap into the power and wealth of the masses. In rejecting the logics of hierarchy, control, and division that the NPIC thrived on, we instead used bottom up strategies for change to create a world rooted in our need, responsive to our communities, and invested in our abundant future.


march 29, 2022

August 18, 2403 August 44, 2600

November 4th, 1972

July18, 2120

September 19, 2058 Dec 8, 1996

April 16, 2023

February 28, 1968

January 1, 3010




What is a cooperative?

Cooperatives are people-centered enterprises owned, controlled and run by and for their members to realise their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations. Cooperatives bring people together in a democratic and equal way. Whether the members are the customers, employees, users or residents, cooperatives are democratically managed by the 'one member, one vote' rule. Members share equal voting rights regardless of the amount of capital they put into the enterprise. As businesses driven by values, not just profit, cooperatives share internationally agreed principles and act together to build a better world through cooperation. Putting fairness, equity and social justice at the heart of the enterprise, cooperatives around the world are allowing people to work together to create sustainable enterprises that generate long-term jobs and prosperity. Cooperatives allow people to take control of their economic future and, because they are not owned by shareholders, the economic and social benefits of their activity stay in the communities where they are established. Profits generated are either reinvested in the enterprise or returned to the members. Historically, cooperatives have been a space for imagination and creating alternative systems and have been used as a tool to organize community, create true democracy, build power from the ground out and fight back!

Types of Cooperatives: Consumer: owned by consumers who buy goods or services from their cooperative. Producer: owned by producers of commodities or crafts who have joined forces to process and market their products. Worker: owned and democratically governed by employees who become co-op members. Purchasing: owned by independent businesses or municipalities to improve their purchasing power. Hybrid: a combination of co-op types, where people with common interests band together. Housing: allow homeowners the opportunity to share costs of home ownership (or building). They are formed by people who wish to provide and jointly own their housing. The units in a housing co-op are owned by the cooperatives and cannot be sold for profit. Cooperative Banks and Credit Unions: owned and managed by its members, all of whom have accounts in the bank.

Open and Voluntary Membership

Concern for Community

Democratic Member Control

Education, Training & Information

Members' Economic Participation

Cooperation Among Cooperatives

Autonomy and Independence

Cooperative Principles


Here are some incredible ancestors that built the cooperative movement. Grounded in building Black power in Black communities, they created, generated, and spread knowledge through collective ownership and the solidarity economy. Ella Jo Baker was born on December 13, 1903, in Norfolk, Virginia. Growing up in North Carolina, she developed a sense for social justice early on, due in part to her grandmother’s stories about life under slavery. As an enslaved person, her grandmother had been whipped for refusing to marry a man chosen for her by the slave owner. Her grandmother’s pride and resilience in the face of racism and injustice continued to inspire Baker throughout her life.


Baker studied at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. As a student she challenged school policies that she thought were unfair. After graduating in 1927 as class valedictorian, she moved to New York City and began joining social activist organizations. In 1930, she joined the Young Negroes Cooperative League, whose purpose was to develop Black economic power through collective planning. She also involved herself with several women’s organizations. She was committed to economic justice for all people and once said, “People cannot be free until there is enough work in this land to give everybody a job.” In the 1930s, The Young Negroes Cooperative League held conferences and training in their attempt to create a small, interlocking system of cooperative economic societies throughout the US. Baker dedicated her life to building Black power and resilience and continues to guide the cooperative movement towards liberation with her light!

Fannie Lou Hamer was born on October 6, 1917 in Montgomery County, Mississippi, the 20th and last child of sharecroppers Lou Ella and James Townsend. She grew up in poverty, and at age six Hamer joined her family picking cotton. By age 12, she left school to work. In 1944, she married Perry Hamer and the couple toiled on the Mississippi plantation owned by B.D. Marlowe until 1962. Because Hamer was the only worker who could read and write, she also served as plantation timekeeper. In 1964 Hamer helped organize Freedom Summer, which brought hundreds of college students, Black and white, to help with Black voter registration in the segregated South. That same year, she announced her candidacy for the Mississippi House of Representatives but was barred from the ballot.


A year later, Hamer, Victoria Gray, and Annie Devine became the first Black women to stand in the US Congress when they unsuccessfully protested the Mississippi House election of 1964. She traveled extensively, giving powerful speeches on behalf of civil rights and in 1971, Hamer helped to found the National Women’s Political Caucus. Frustrated by the political process, Hamer turned to economics as a strategy for greater racial equity. In 1968, she began a “pig bank,” to provide free pigs for Black farmers to breed, raise, and slaughter. A year later she launched the Freedom Farm Cooperative (FFC), buying up land that Black people could own and farm collectively. With the assistance of donors (including famed singer Harry Belafonte), she purchased 640 acres and launched a coop store, boutique, and sewing enterprise. She single-handedly ensured that 200 units of low-income housing were built— many still exist in Ruleville today. The FFC lasted until the mid-1970s, at its height it was among the largest employers in Sunflower County.

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, better known as W.E.B. Du Bois, was born on February 23, 1868, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. He grew up in an integrated community, attended school with white people and was supported in his academic studies by his white teachers. In 1885, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee to attend Fisk University. It was there that he first encountered Jim Crow laws. For the first time, he began analyzing the deep troubles of American racism. In 1907, W.E.B. Du Bois wrote a paper as part of his Atlanta University series entitled, “Economic Cooperation among Negro Americans”. Du Bois explained that Black people had pooled resources through churches, mutual aid societies, fraternal organizations, and jointly owned businesses. Mutual aid societies and beneficial societies provided joint purchasing and marketing, revolving loan funds, health care, support for widows and orphans, and death benefits. Many were founded and headed by Black women. These mutual aid societies were the precursors to Black owned cooperatives. Often white landlords, insurance agents, banks, and even the federal government created barriers to the success of these businesses by raising the rent, refusing a line of credit, withdrawing an insurance policy, or even accusing the company of fraud. This also happened with Black coop businesses.

S I O B U .D B . E . W

At the time, Du Bois documented 154 African American-owned cooperative businesses: 14 “producer cooperatives,” 3 “transportation cooperatives”, 103 “distribution or consumer cooperatives'' and 34 “real estate and credit cooperatives”. Du Bois’ work provided cooperative economics education, and inspired Black leaders to start consumer cooperatives in their own communities. During this time, he truly provided the container to support folks in understanding the importance of cooperative economics and collective ownership and provided an analysis on how this could and would lead to Black liberation. These three incredible cooperators are just a few that paved the way for us to see, understand and live in a world where Black folks can continue to create and co-own businesses that are rooted in resilience, liberation and building a world that works for all of us that truly puts people and planet over profit!

Abolition x Cooperatives Growing a Movement

“E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G— is connected. The soil needs rain, organic matter, air, worms and life in order to do what it needs to do to give and receive life. Each element is an essential component. “Organizing takes humility and selflessness and patience and rhythm while our ultimate goal of liberation will take many expert components. Some of us build and fight for land, healthy bodies, healthy relationships, clean air, water, homes, safety, dignity, and humanizing education. Others of us fight for food and political prisoners and abolition and environmental justice. Our work is intersectional and multifaceted. Nature teaches us that our work has to be nuanced and steadfast. And more than anything, that we need each other—at our highest natural glory—in order to get free.” ― adrienne maree brown Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds

Abolition calls us to not just create new systems and ways of being that exude and practice liberation, but to create the systems, structures, spaces and organisms that work for us and provide a container to get us to be the people that we want to be, living in the world that we want to be living in. Abolition is a call to action to dream and build alternative structures. To dream and build anew and truly do things we’ve never done to get to places we’ve never been. Cooperatives provide a pathway to owning our time, owning our laboring, creating generational wealth and truly understanding collective power and collective wisdom. They provide us with a container to seek and implement community in all aspects of our work and ground us in the value of being led by what the community needs. Cooperatives build community power and when we center community, when we center those currently at the margins, when we remind ourselves that folks are the experts in their own lives and in their own experiences and that those are the things that should guide our work, the closer and closer we’ll get to being a liberated society and liberated people. It starts within us and can grow to all aspects of our lives. Cooperation is a choice, it's a way of being, it's saying yes to community and yes to collective wisdom and collective power!

What cooperatives should exist in the worlds of our dreams?

How c an a c oopera create tive fra d to su mewo pport rk be these needs ?

in eeds n e e som r a t Wha

nity? u m om my c

The spaces where I am dreaming up and creating alternative systems through cooperatives: Cards by Dé - | @cardsbyde Cards by Dé is a worker-owned cooperative that creates handmade stationery. We provide crafting spaces and services that are grounded in racial, healing and social justice. We envision a world where everyone puts their relationship to people and planet over profit. Where people have the opportunity to express themselves vulnerably and authentically. Rebellious Root - | @rebelliousroot Rebellious Root is a New York City-based, worker-owned cooperative dedicated to equity, social justice and collective liberation. As multi-racial feminist facilitators and creatives, we work towards justice and social change through trainings, curriculum design and intentional conversations. With an emphasis on action, our work is grounded in: 1. Experiential learning 2. Eclectic truths 3. Emergent strategy and innovation 4. Empathy. We believe that each conversation is a seed and that the seeds we plant today have the ability to cultivate new, just and rebellious futures.

LET'S BUILD COOPS! Additional resources: Collective Courage by Jessica Gordon Nembhard




Miguel Ramirez

Beyond what you think I rise with grace free at last Far from your thoughts chain

As the Haiku on the previous page suggests, think of words or phrases which are meant to enchain you. Words that are meant to confine you. Take those words and describe how they make you feel. When you envision being told that, what do you imagine? Are you rising above or do you feel cornered? List all those feelings and confining words below:

______________ ______________ ______________ ______________ ____5 ______________ ______________ ______________ ______________ ____7 ______________ ______________ ______________ ______________ ____5

Now, although it may be difficult, I know you can rise above those words. Empower yourself in the form of a Haiku and rise above. {Haiku: Contains 3 lines, the first having 5 syllables total, the second 7 and the third 5.}


By Miguel Ramirez

What is freedom? Is it as we've perceived? The right to be who we wish. If so, where do I sign for such gift? Does the fine print include me? When you speak on freedom, Is the thought of mine too spooky? When you speak on freedom, Is it only for those that are ruling? For those deemed "perfect" or controlling? Is it a right, is it a gift - a myth? When I signed this contract what did I miss? When you speak on freedom... What is freedom?

Support Your People Feeling alone and unsupported is no easy task. Write a letter to someone you identify with or fight alongside, whether that be for freedom, to be heard, etc. Reassure them that you have their back and always will.

Read this letter to the person you wrote it for or to whoever it can apply to. You fight whatever battles you must take on as activists, family or friends, together.


I fight with a burning passion The passion to be happy, to be free The passion to be me unapologetically

WHAT IS FREE TO YOU? Clear your mind of all thoughts and concerns. Take a deep breath and close your eyes. Envision a society in which you can confidently say you are free. A society in which you can be who you want to, without question or concern. Create this world. Below you are given the freedom to write a Free Verse poem. There does not need to be a specific structure, line count, stanza count or format. You are free to describe all that you feel about this utopia and bring it to life however you want. _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________

Protest Through Poetry

Poetry can be used in many ways. Not only as a speech, but as a chant in the line of protest. Below lies a sample poem titled...

“Unapologetically Me” by me, Miguel Ramirez Unapologetically Me I am not yours to change Nor am I yours to mold Beyond your hurtful hold I’m me with no restraint You refute change and neglect me Without doubt I feel your envy Do you see a soul within we Know you owe to us respecting Finally free I'm bound by no chains Enchained by no hands which follow with demand Within the heart is where a beautiful soul resides So please accept that your soul is as gracious as mine

Create Your Own Chant

Your chant is unique to you and what you fight for.

Raise up your voice!

Use this last page to design, draw, doodle...

What does healing look like for you? For your people?

[ode to olamina (or, how i'm tryna cope)] All that you touch you change And all that you change changes you The one lasting truth is change My body and spirit know this is true. All that you touch you change And all that you change changes you The one lasting truth is change What will you change into? Shape change shape change Tell me what does that mean to you? Change shape change shape Can you explore a new Point of view? 21Sep20-25:53 bodhi alarcón

bodhi alarcón

Support Team Butterflies

Hannah Arroyo (She/Her) visionary star guide Bianca Rose Dominguez (She/Her)

visionary star guide

Naira Luke-Aleman (She/Her) community design doula Alison Reba (They/Them) visionary star guide

mickey ferrara (She/Her) community design doula

Gratitude Blooms

All of our amazing facilitators and supporters during the institute--Donnay Edmund, Benji Hart, Kelly Hayes, Crystal Vance Guerra, Nelini Stamp, Adaku Utah, Jazmin Catasus, Essye Klempner, Justin Sanz, Bilphena Yahwon, Santera Matthews, Pamela Quintana, veronica bohanan, Ebonée Green, Mirabai Knight, Laura Chow Reeve, Emily Simons, Constanza Segovia, Jayda Shuavarnnasari, Dylan Gauthier, Kristi Riley, Emma Collery, Hannah Arroyo, Bianca Dominguez, Lucia Roldan, Saadia Khan, Krystal Butler, Billy Sanders, Carllee James, Mariame Kaba, Alison Reba The brotherhood & mentor Anthony Chin Kee Hee aka “Big Homie,” in addition to Francheska Hosang or “Sister Locs” for always inspiring me and pushing me forward into plenty of opportunities such as this one. Southerners on New Ground, Project South, and all of my amazing comrades in the Dirty South who aid both directly and indirectly in my growth as an organizer and that have shaped my politic. The radical Black abolitionists who have come before me and those who are organizing now + my beautiful best friends + everyone that made the AYO Institute possible. Friends, family, and community members, specifically Black and Indigenous internationalist revolutionaries and abolitionists, and Korean independence and reunification freedom fighters.

Project Nia, Survived & Punished, my partner Jon, and my friend Laura. Mariame Kaba, Alison, Bianca, and Hannah for all of the labor, time, and energy they put in to make the institute a safe space and generative experience. I would also like to thank my mother, sister, niblings, and my best friend Danya for all of their support, encouragement, and love that has made the process of imagining irresistible. Finally, I want to thank my cohort for their brilliance, imagination, creativity, hope, and courage. I‘m truly honored to have shared space with them. Mariame Kaba, Alison, Project NIA, EFA Project Space, all the facilitators, everyone in the AYO cohort, and everyone else who made the Institute as moving, magical, and inspirational as it was. I would also like to extend my gratitude to Alison, Hannah, Bianca, Mickey, and Naira for all the support, guidance, and brilliance they brought to the workbook creation process. I would like to give my deepest gratitude to all abolitionists that came before me for their wisdom and direction, and to those who already know liberation for keeping me grounded in the struggle. Finally, I want to show gratitude to our disabled, BIPOC, and queer and trans ancestors who have been radically caring for each other for generations and to everyone who has ever cared for me. Project NIA and EFA Project Space Flux Factory and Barnard Center for Research on Women Everyone who donated to our crowdfunding campaign that made the institute and this workbook possible!

Abolition NOW - 2020 Padlet Resource

Resources & Citations We believe in honoring the labor of all who have come before us - and all those who are beside us as comrades. Scan this code or go to to see all the resources and work that allowed "Cosmic Possibilities" to be birthed. We hope this resource will continue to raise up generations of abolitionists.


AYO, NYC! 2020 Janine Soleil Abolitionist Institute