From dance lessons for kids that teach the beauty of migration inspired by the monarch butterfly, to parties that unite Bushwick’s Arab and Latinx communities against oppression, Bushwick’s Mayday Space serves resistance and education in many forms.
The building at 176 St. Nicholas Avenue operates as a social hub, events space and art studio, where local residents can pursue justice and equality for marginalized communities. Launched in 2014, Mayday is a people-powered project that connects communities and issue across New York City, said Project Coordinator Nancy Torres.
“There are many movements in New York City that are fighting for change, for immigrant rights, against police brutality and for livable wages,” Torres explained. “The Mayday Collective founded this hub to ensure those folks have an accessible space where they can meet to do the grassroots work.”
Their motto, Torres said, is “con vivir:” to live and build together, break down silos and become a community with intersecting issues that works pre-emptively rather than reactively.
Growing up in Brooklyn, Torres would have loved a space like Mayday. It’s her goal to include young people in the space to add value and fun to their education and socialization with free classes, workshops and film screenings.
“While we’re all fighting, people need to have fun, enjoy life and enjoy their neighborhood. That’s what Mayday is all about,” she said and added that it also includes new community members like immigrants.
“I want families migrating here to Bushwick to have that, too. To have fun and not just to worry about issues like displacement and deportations, and to understand there is a community here that has networks and resources to help them.”
Part of that network is the Cuir Kitchen Brigade which on Thursday was hard at work canning food for migrants at the Mexican border. The LGBTQ group is an NYC-based food and agriculture project that was formed in response to the humanitarian crisis caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
“We step in where the government has turned a blind eye,” said Ollie Montes de Oca, a member of the group.
Next week, they will drive to Mexico to distribute the food and continue cooking in the kitchen of the local group Food Not Bombs Tijuana.
This weekend, Mayday is holding one of its big annual events, the Social Justice Holiday Market. More than 60 organizations and individuals from Bushwick will set up shop to fundraise in support of different groups and businesses.
The market receives great community support, said Torres, because people enjoy stepping back from corporate buying to support good causes. The event will also include children activities like writing letters to local seniors and the migrant children at the Mexican border.
Mayday’s Social Justice Holiday Market will take place on Saturday, December 15, from 12:00pm-5:00pm, and Sunday, December 16, from 1:00pm-6:00pm. For more information, go here.