The Institute for Advanced Troublemaking: Anarchist Summer School

From the Institute for Advanced Troublemaking


AUGUST 1-9, 2020!

Apply Here Bub

This summer will be the fourth annual Institute for Advanced Troublemaking (IAT), a weeklong anarchist theory and action summer school for adults of all ages.

For this summer, our intention is to cultivate a stronger understanding and praxis of anarchist organizing among people who have been active in anarchistic spaces and movements —- but are looking to deepen their organizing strategies, learn theory, and skills. Our hope is that the anarchist summer school provides generative ground for imagining another world — and sticking with such visions for the long haul.

This summer will be the fourth annual Institute for Advanced Troublemaking (IAT), a weeklong anarchist theory and action summer school for adults of all ages.
IAT will take place August 1-9, 2020 in Worcester, MA.

The IAT emphasizes a prefigurative politics that explores forms of freedom as a counter to and, hopefully, increasingly replacement for forms of domination and hierarchy. We aspire to bring that sensibility to the summer school, doing our best to cultivate transformative social relations as we co-learn and create a temporary, do-it-ourselves community.

Our long-term goal for the IAT is to create a lasting anarchist education hub in the Northeast that can train new and old organizers alike beyond the basics in anarchist theory and practice, critical thinking, and collective self-organization and liberatory infrastructure. We have seen the need for our struggles and organizing to develop deeper forms of mutual aid and solidarity for the days ahead — building innovative new strategies that can present a revolutionary challenge to the state, capitalism, and other forms of systemic violence.

For this summer, our intention is to cultivate a stronger understanding and praxis of anarchist organizing among people who have been active in anarchistic spaces and movements – but are looking to deepen their organizing strategies, learn theory, and skills. Our hope is that the anarchist summer school provides generative ground for imagining another world — and sticking with such visions for the long haul.

IAT Workshops 2020

Workshops are TBA as some workshops are changing and new ones are being added. Below are descriptions of workshops that we have confirmed, though the form they may take has changed.

The Anarchist Summer School is a gathering of adult troublemakers of all ages who come together for eight days to immerse themselves in rigorous co-learning in a co-created community of care. Together, facilitators and participants, we aspire to build a vibrant space of popular education that celebrates social anarchist as well as radical feminist and queer thought, traditions, and practices; cultivating intergenerational relationships with each other and the nonhuman ecosystem; and challenges us all in generative ways to stretch ourselves and grow through critical thought and serious yet playful experimentation.

What does that look like exactly? Unlike a traditional school or academic setting, we learn, teach, think, practice, eat, feel, share, socialize, reflect, grow, and so much more together, whether in our barn-as-classroom, doing meal prep with others or offering an informal skills share, or around a campfire. Over the eight days, the Anarchist Summer School’s schedule and offerings, from workshops to social time, aspires to weave ideas, questions, and themes into an increasingly powerful, generative conversation that both challenges and nourishes everyone.


This workshop will provide opportunities for discussions on the role of art in social struggles and the multiplicity of ways in which artistic practices support radical movement building. The facilitators will share examples of diverse approaches drawn from their own experience as artist-activists (in antiracist and anticolonial struggles, Palestinian solidarity work, student activism, queer liberation, and anticapitalist cultural production), highlighting both successes and failures within specific campaigns and contexts. They will examine the affective bonds that are a central component of collective art making and the experiencing of art to show how they are essential to the building of solidarity within as well as between social movements. The workshop will also include hands-on skill-share time using both DIY creation techniques and the facilitated tech and tools at a Worcester anarchistic makerspace. The sessions hope to challenge the separation between “art” and “activism,” revealing and deconstructing the ideological frameworks that structure all artistic practice.

Facilitators are members of a network of artist/activist/designers from Montreal/Tio’tia:ke, working out of and in collaboration with LOKI design studio, Zola, and Sidetracks Screenprinting collective. LOKI, a multidisciplinary design and communications studio working at the intersection of graphic design and social change, creates images, objects, and experiences that engage, empower, and oppose. Zola is the pseudonym for a queer, settler whose work focuses on the iconic character of the masked protester as a romantic allegory for street politics while shifting its representation to embody the diversity of folks who engage in this radical tactic. Sidetracks aims to be a collective run by and for people who are trans, two-spirit, queer, indigenous, and/or people of color that makes screenprinting accessible to projects and organizations working for transformative social change.


This workshop will explore the history, structure, function, and ideologies of colonialism, anticolonialism, and decolonization from an anarchist perspective. For starters, it will offer a broad historical overview of colonialism over the past five hundred years — anarchism in anticolonial action. This requires understanding and confronting the interconnections of empire, capitalism, race, and resource extraction. It will then focus on how anarchists (in both colonizing and colonized positions) have related to anticolonial struggles, including those identified as national liberation struggles. The workshop will consider various specifically located traditions of resistance and liberation philosophy/praxis that have affinity or share some key concepts with anarchism. Finally, the workshop will center on anarchism and decolonization today, concentrating on some contemporary hot spots of empire and settler colonialism, identifying manifestations relevant to participants, and considering ethical and practical concerns for action, taking into consideration how anarchistic thought and praxis might look in different political, social, and cultural contexts.

Maia Ramnath is a writer, historian, teacher, activist, and performing artist living in Lenapehoking (New York City). She is the author of the books Haj to Utopia and Decolonizing Anarchism, and a contributor to several anthologies including No Gods No Masters No Peripheries, Routledge Handbook of Radical Politics, and Palgrave Handbook of Anarchism. Maia is currently working on a book about the South Asian Progressive Writers movement and its international politics from antifascism to Afro-Asian solidarity. Both in writing and action, she centers the intersection of anarchism and anticolonialism. She has been involved in organizing for many years in various capacities around intersecting manifestations of economic justice, environmental justice, racial justice, gender justice, global justice, Palestine solidarity, indigenous solidarity, antifascism (including the Hindutva variety), anticapitalism, and anti-imperialism. Maia is still (always) struggling to figure out a more effective and accountable way to be-do-practice-make-share-learn-build-contribute-support-fight based on the responsibilities, entanglements, and opportunities that her own structural location entails. She believes that understanding the past, imagining the future(s), and taking action in the present are intimately connected.


Born in the mid-Atlantic swamp region known as DC, Koala! hails from Baltimore. Their passions are in creating nonhierarchical relationships based in antioppression work that includes animals and the environment. Koala! is neurodivergent, and as a direct action trainer and participant, uses those experiences to try to cocreate safer and more accessible spaces of disruption. Currently residing on occupied Wabanaki land, they are learning boat building and carpentry to be more ready to help with disaster relief work.

Scurry has been an “anarchist” since middle school, when his friend was very into the Soviet Union and he wanted something to say that was cool too. He became an anarchist “like for real, tho” at eighteen, when he got a flat tire and wandered into an anarchist community center that had a bike repair shop in the basement. Scurry reads too much. He is scared of large groups of people, but somehow ended up as a community organizer and direct action trainer. He’s XVX, and this means that he likes board games and playing tag.


What does political repression look like today? How can it be reflected in past eras? How has it changed? And how can we learn to be more resilient in our movements, networks, and communities? These key questions will be examined in this hybrid workshop-discussion. We will begin by exploring how repression operates generally, and how to understand these strategies. How can repression be examined psychologically, legally, practically, and through the lens of language and discourse? What lessons can we take from the Red Scare, COINTELPRO, the Green Scare, and specific methods of domestic policing, including infiltration, surveillance, grand juries, and laws such as the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act? What can we learn from the increase in felony prosecutions, conspiracy charges, and antiprotest laws? Finally, how can we build on this knowledge to discuss strategies and tactics for countering repression, acting boldly, remaining free, and increasing our abilities to bounce back when knocked down?

Michael Loadenthal has been an anarchist organizer and trainer for the past two decades, and regularly writes and speaks about strategies of resistance, state repression, and political violence. He has been an organizer with a variety of local, national, and international networks helping to plan and protect direct action campaigns on four continents. He works as a precariously employed professor of sociology and social justice studies, and directs the Peace and Justice Studies Association (PJSA) and the Prosecution Project (tPP), which seeks to untangle the prosecution of political violence in the US court system.


In the best spirit of anarchism, this participatory workshop will strive to create a space of learning together, drawing from our shared understandings and experiences. It will explore anarchism as an ethical compass, which points simultaneously to an overarching critique of all forms of hierarchy and an expansive social vision of what it could mean to be free people in a free society. The workshop look at how anarchism can offer a way of thinking—a critical or dialectical theory—to find “cracks in the wall.” And crucially, it will dig into anarchism as a living, breathing, prefigurative politics, utilizing illustrations from messy-beautiful experiments in the here and now that at once gesture toward a liberatory, loving world. At its heart, this workshop will revolve around what it means to aspire toward and practice an “everyday anarchism,” where notions such as self-organization and self-governance, mutual aid and solidarity, autonomy and collectivity, dignity and care, to name a few, become commonsensical second nature as well as the basis for new social relations and social organization.

Cindy Milstein is author of Anarchism and Its Aspirations, coauthor of Paths toward Utopia: Graphic Explorations of Everyday Anarchism, and editor of the anthologies Taking Sides: Revolutionary Solidarity and the Poverty of Liberalism and Deciding for Ourselves: The Promise of Direct Democracy. Long engaged in anarchistic organizing, contemporary social movements, and collective spaces, for the past few years Cindy has focused on doing support work for the J20 defendants and others facing state repression, touring extensively with their edited anthology Rebellious Mourning: The Collective Work of Grief, and co-organizing the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair. Cindy is a core collective member of the Institute for Advanced Troublemaking, working on another edited anthology on contemporary Jewish anarchism, and is honored, when called on, to do death doula and grief care.


Chika Okoye (she/her) is motivated by the study and practice of freedom. She will (maybe?) someday finish her master’s degree in ethnic studies by writing a thesis on freedom, liberation, utopian political projects, and black freedom struggles. Chika is never happier than when engaged with radical learning within community, and so is constantly involved in political education, reading groups, and attending talks and workshops in the Bay Area. Committed to shaping revolutionary culture, Chika co-organizes Oakland Summer School, a space to share radical study, art, and community; helps facilitate an annual class on Marxism 101 for organizers with the Center for Political Education; and cofounded Black Life, a monthly event series highlighting cultural and intellectual production of the African diaspora. Chika has been practicing as well as teaching yoga and meditation for a decade, and attention to body and spirit informs everything she does. Chika is also grateful to her father, a fiery professor of African and African American studies, for instilling early an oppositional consciousness that has matured into a deep commitment to struggle for a more just and beautiful world.

Libertie has never not been an anarchist, but became one for sure in 1999 when she saw troublemakers getting teargassed in Seattle. The realization that there were alternatives to a boring, fascist life proved irresistible, and they dropped out of school and ran off to a big city—which happened to be New York—just in time to catch the tail end of the antiglobalization movement before it was ruined by endless war. Over the next few years while everyone was depressed about this, Libertie became increasingly interested in dual power, economics, technology, and cooperatives. Returning home to Southern Appalachia, they cofounded a pretty good bookstore that is collectively run (and somehow still exists after eleven years, even though no one reads anymore). As a gender-nonconforming white southern queer, Libertie would love to talk with you about dismantling white supremacy, smashing patriarchy, and cooking grits—which should properly be understood as a sophisticated and versatile dish appropriate for inclusion in any meal, not just breakfast.

Mariella Mendoza is an undocumented immigrant whose roots trace back to the Andes and Amazonia, but whose current walk is in the four-corners region, as an action trainer, teaching artist, facilitator, and moderator. Currently engaged with a medley of organizations across the country, Mendoza’s work makes space for conversations about a world without borders, both in practice and theory; not only do they believe that this world already exists, but that in order to keep this world safe, we must keep our community and each other safe. They love having long rant-y conversations about abolition, transformative justice, land defense, and typography. If we’re gonna heal, let it be messy!

Xela de la X has done boot-to-pavement organizing, involving projects such as OVAS (One Very Angry Squad, or formerly Ovarian Psycos, an anarcho-feminist of color cycling collective based in Boyle Heights), and currently focuses on interconnecting hyperlocal autonomous networks for the purpose of cementing community relations and reclaiming space while ultimately negating the state. FTP! RIDE OR DIE! ❤

Sayyida and Madeleine are members of AKA Autonomous Social Centre. AKA is a collectively owned and operated anarchist social space founded in 2008 in the small city of Kingston in occupied Indigenous lands known as Ontario, Canada. AKA is a space dedicated to anti-state, anti-capitalist, anti-colonial and anti-oppression politics and practices. We value community, mutual aid and solidarity and seek to promote anarchist viewpoints and analyses while building meaningful radical relationships with each other as members and with others who interact with the space.

Here’s what some participants from the first two summers had to say about it:

“Bright and beautiful space, … imagined with intention, love, and care.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a time in my life where I’ve felt so nurtured in mind, body, and spirit at the same time.”

“[The Anarchist Summer School] was complete immersion into a consistently supportive and experimental anarchist mind-set that left me feeling transformed. … This immersion changed my heart and my resolve.”

“There was a culture of care. … There was a large amount of warmth and acceptance. I could see anarchist ideals realize themselves in the ways that we were treating each other, which is rare.”

“Everyone was willing to listen, learn, and grow.”

“I think a running theme I took home was to always be thinking prefiguratively. I think I often fail to strategize more tangibly about creating the world we want because I’m so caught up in responding to the world we don’t want.”

“There was a lot of invitation to be open and vulnerable; that we can be generous with each other.”

“I felt there was a really great balance between orderliness and organization and fluidity, and I liked that the learning processes were collaborative.”

“I liked the arc of what we built together.”

Apply Here Bub

We have limited space! Not everyone who fills out this application will be accepted as a participant. So please fill out this application with care!

We prioritize people of often-marginalized identities, including but not limited to people of color, young or older adults, working-class folks, queer, trans, or gender-nonconforming people, those with dis/abilities, parents, and women, but recognize that many of these may not be visibly apparent.

Overall, we are looking for participants who can commit to the whole time. The days will be full — but fun and thought-provoking — so we also want participants who are eager to dive into learning with their head, heart, and hands in a supportive, yet intensive environment.

Unfortunately our space is not compliant with ADA standards, and only parts of our facilities are wheelchair accessible, but as a collective we care about making our space usable for folks with mobility needs. We’re interested in discussing ways we can accommodate physical needs in the meantime as well as planning for greater accessibility in the future.

Applications will be decided in two batches: for applications received on or before February 1, 2020, we’ll get back to you by March 15, 2020. For applications received on or before April 1, 2020, we’ll let you know by May 15. 2020.

Our Anarchist Summer School runs from dinner on August 1st through lunch on August 9th, and we are looking for participants who can commit to the whole time. The days will be full — but fun and thought-provoking — so we also want participants who are eager to dive into learning with their head, heart, and hands in a supportive yet intensive environment.


The Institute for Advanced Troublemaking (IAT) is composed of a small collective of longtime anarchist organizers seeking to create a lasting movement education hub in the Northeast of the so-called United States to train new and old organizers alike. In this way, we hope to raise our collective capacity to both challenge all forms of hierarchy and domination while prefiguring egalitarian alternatives premised on anarchist ethics, such as mutual aid, freedom, solidarity, self-organization, and care.

Our Anarchist Summer School, now in its fourth year, brings together new and experienced anarchists and like-minded others for eight days of co-learning and serious play. Through participatory workshops, hands-on practice and skill shares, pitching in to tasks around our shared “summer camp” space, and circling around the campfire, we intentionally co-create a community even as we cultivate a deeper understanding of theory and praxis. That understanding, which is more like a rich and growing conversation over the course of the Anarchist Summer School, critically and constructively touches on what we face today as well as what we envision instead, grassroots/community organizing, building do-it-ourselves infrastructures, engaging in various forms of direct action both to shut down what we don’t like and open up space for what we want, and so much more.

In part we are inspired by long-lasting radical education projects such as the IWW-associated Work People’s College (1907–41), Movement for New Society’s “Life Centers” (1971–88), the Highlander Folk School (1932–present), the National Conference on Organized Resistance (1994–2004), and the Institute for Social Ecology’s monthlong “anarchist summer school” (1974–2004), among others. These examples are notable largely for drawing organizers together in order to innovate theories, strategies, and tactics for their context—tools that were intentionally injected broadly into radical movement work. These longer-form education projects are also remarkable in that their alums often remained lifelong radicals.

While informal education spaces, campaign-based action camps, and bookfairs are important elements of our struggle, they have serious limitations as well, precisely because they are short lived. By creating longer-form popular education, the IAT and its Anarchist Summer School hopes to give space and time to go in-depth on contemporary anarchist analysis, theory, and concrete skills and practices. The IAT is a move toward creating a more rigorous exploration of anarchism that is:

1. Outside the purity of radical internet culture
2. Contemporary to our context
3. Rooted in social anarchist principles
4. Directly linked to on-the-ground organizing and movement struggle
5. Rooted in caring community and long-haul strategy

Help us provide financial aid to attendees, travel funds for facilitators, and to help our kitchen crew operate!
Donate Here!
The IAT is a humble project, co-created by a crew of volunteers who believe deeply in the transformative power of popular education. Indeed, our Anarchist Summer School emphasizes a prefigurative politics that explores forms of freedom as a counter to and, hopefully, increasingly replacement for forms of domination and hierarchy.

Such multigenerational mentorship, almost by definition, is far slower than the urgent types of organizing that are necessitated by the many types of systemic violence we face, whether from settler colonialism or capitalism, the state or patriarchy, to name a few. But we believe that such longer-term vision is crucial for imagining as well as implementing a world premised on such ethics as dignity and mutual aid, collective freedom and solidarity.

In the first three years of our Anarchist Summer School, some 90 participants from across Turtle Island have been able to cultivate a stronger understanding and praxis of anarchist organizing, critical theory and imaginative thinking, and hands-on skills. They’ve also done so in a way, together with facilitators, that practices the types of caring do-it-ourselves community that’s necessary to sustain anarchistic spaces and movements for the long haul. They’ve then taken that co-learning back to their own communities, as generative inspiration for other egalitarian infrastructure, organizing, and prefigurative projects. And they’ve crafted solid bonds with each other, now collaborating with past “alums” on various additional educational and political efforts.

The IAT’s Anarchist Summer School and other popular education projects are done on a shoestring, mostly through our sliding-scale fees for programming. In order for the IAT to itself be sustainable, we need the firm ground of some additional financial aid, whether in the form of a onetime donation or, better yet, a monthly contribution. Help us continue to co-create what one IAT alum called a “bright and beautiful space, … imagined with intention, love, and care,” or as another alum put it, “I don’t think I’ve ever had a time in my life where I’ve felt so nurtured in mind, body, and spirit at the same time”!


Add new comment