The Baltimore Free School

The Baltimore Free School is a grassroots, collectively run and community-funded project, with a classroom inside Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse at 30 W. North Ave. Building upon a long tradition of horizontal organizing, collaborative learning and participatory education, we believe that the empowerment of people of all ages and backgrounds to share and learn is vital to the health of any community. To that end, we work toward creating a space where the exchange of ideas can occur without the exchange of money; a space where we can learn to relate to each other in new and meaningful ways. By building this infrastructure, we hope to form a microcosm of the world in which we want to live.

Click here to get started submitting a proposal. If you want to get involved with organizing the Free School, or have any questions about the project or the course process, please contact us at freeschool@redemmas.org.

Take a course

Every course offered through the Baltimore Free School is 100% free of charge to learners. Sign up online today!

Teach a course

Anyone can teach a course or organize a discussion or workshop at the Free School; propose one right now!

Support the BFS

Get involved as a volunteer organizer or make a tax-deductible donation to help us keep the doors open.

More info

Information on renting the space for private meetings, our consensus-based collective structure, our history and more.

Upcoming Courses

    • Thu, Jan 19, 2017 @ 6:30 PM
    (North Ave classroom)

    Resisting Hierarchies Across Race, Gender, and Species: Fighting Mutually Reinforcing Oppression for EcoJustice

    This course will introduce participants to the ways that unexamined cultural attitudes shape modern social and environmental problems.  Oppression is rooted in certain cultural belief systems, ways that we learn to think and hierarchies we learn to internalize. The same root cultural belief systems help to create and justify the domination of women, people of color, and other oppressed groups, and these very same belief systems create the foundation for exploitation of the environment and of other living beings.

    Drawing from her book Teaching for EcoJustice, Dr. Rita Turner will discuss these cultural roots that authorize domination and violence against humans, nonhuman animals, and the land.  She'll give examples to discuss and analyze, and she will invite the class to explore ways that all forms of exploitation and violence must be resisted together and in solidarity with one another.

    • Thu, Jan 26, 2017 @ 7:00 PM
    (North Ave classroom)

    Reparations Reading Group

    This group provides a meeting space for those interested in learning about and supporting movements for reparations to Black people within the United States.  For the initial session, suggested reading is "A Day of Reckoning": Dreams of Reparations by Robin D.G. Kelley in the collection Redress for historical Injustices in the United States: On Reparations for Slavery, Jim Crow, and Their Legacies (Michael T. Martin and Marilyn Yaquinto, editors). Study group members will select topics and readings for subsequent sessions.  Examples of possible topics include: historical bases for reparations claims on the U.S. government and corporations; reparationist organizations and platforms from the Reconstruction to the present; case studies of successful reparations campaigns; organizing for active support of current movements for reparations.  As the group progresses, we'll document recommended reading lists and other resources to share with future participants and others.    

    (North Ave classroom)

    Overcoming Political Impotence with Goodwillism

    • Sat, Dec 10 @ 2:30 PM
    • Sat, Dec 17 @ 2:30 PM
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    Radical Dharma book reading / sitting with whiteness

    Radical Dharma is a passionate text bringing the dharma* to bear on racialized issues in America today. This "course" will consist of 3 meetings including a 20 minute meditation, followed by dialogue addressing our own whiteness, excerpts from the book, and the cultivation of right and skillful action in our lives. This incarnation of the reading group wil focus on grappling with the ways we hold onto our own whiteness, but all are welcome and we'll be responsive to the needs of the group.

    • Sun, Dec 04 @ 5:00 PM
    (North Ave classroom)

    Technology, Value, and the World System

    Technology, Value, and the World System: A Reading Group at the Baltimore Free School

    Convened by John Duda and Yousuf Al-Bulushi

    Remember immaterial labor?  What ever happened to those cognitive networks of production in common that were going to usher in a new era of digital communism?  The tragic euphoria of dot-com theory is repeating itself today in farcical calls for a universal basic income, as venture capitalists and wide-eyed leftists alike sell us a vision of post-work in which the commodity manages somehow to still function just like it used to before the robots ushered in our collective era of leisure. Is the abolition of capitalism really just a few more apps and “disruptions” away?  Or could it be that the relationship between labor, technology, and the production of value is far more complicated than the latest round of digital bedtime stories would have us believe, especially when we locate this intersection in the context of truly global relations of production and exchange?

     

    Over the course of this reading group, we’ll dive deep into these issues from a perspective grounded in critical social theory.  As we explore thematic clusters of shorter articles and excerpts, we’ll also work our way through the majority of Moishe Postone’s Time, Labor, and Social Domination.  Doing so will help provide a theoretical frame of reference to help understand why, as Postone notes, “increased productivity results neither in a corresponding increase in social wealth nor in a corresponding decrease in labour time, but in the constitution of a new base level of productivity.” We believe that a rigorous theoretical approach is necessary in order to illuminate the hidden ground of this counterintuitive historical trajectory, and we think Postone offers a useful starting point to do so. (A little more on Postone.)  This is a reading group, not a class that’s mapped out in advance—so the precise effects of reading this particular theoretical counterpoint in relation to or against the more grounded thematic material is not known in advance—but we’ll figure it out together!  We will make an effort to have texts available either for purchase at a discount at Red Emma’s, or, where possible, in digital form to make this group maximally affordable.

    • Tue, Dec 06 @ 7:00 PM
    • Tue, Dec 20 @ 7:00 PM
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    Compute and Return

    The Community Computer Class | Member-led Computer Education

     

    Every Other Tuesday @ 7:00pm - 8:30pm

     

     

     

     

     

    • Thu, Dec 15 @ 6:30 PM
    (North Ave classroom)

    Remedies On a Dime - Root Medicine

    We will be exploring the value of root medicine, focusing on 3 abundant local favorites: Dandelion, Yellow Dock & Burdock.

    supported by the Heart & Soil Collective

    • Sat, Dec 03 @ 11:00 AM
    • Sat, Dec 10 @ 11:00 AM
    • Sat, Dec 24 @ 11:00 AM
    • and 1 more session
    (North Ave classroom)

    Determined December with Strvnge Encounters

    Understanding what it means to be an American Muslim and challenging mainstream media’s portrayal of Islam.

    • Wed, Dec 14 @ 10:00 AM
    (North Ave classroom)

    La Leche League: Mother-to-Mother Breastfeeding Support

    Our Mission is to help mothers in Baltimore to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother.

     

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    Baltimore DSA meeting

    • Wed, Dec 21 @ 7:00 PM
    • Wed, Dec 14 @ 7:00 PM
    • Wed, Jan 25, 2017 @ 7:00 PM
    • and 5 more sessions
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    Cooperative Study Group: Beginners Helping Beginners

    • Sat, Dec 17 @ 4:00 PM
    • Sat, Jan 14, 2017 @ 4:00 PM
    (North Ave classroom)

    Jacobin Reading Group

    Are you interested in meeting with other people in Baltimore to discuss articles from Jacobin magazine? If so, then you should join the Jacobin reading group!! We meet about once a month. The discussions are lively, non-doctrinaire, and open to everyone. For more information, send an email to baltimore.jacobin@gmail.com.