Promoting your Free Skool

Organic Community Networks

One way that for free skools grow the most robust is by finding pre-existing communities that are working toward liberation already and tapping into them. Chances are high you already know a pile of rad bike mechanics with skills to share, maybe there is a group that is running 'know your rights' trainings, maybe someone is doing theater of the oppressed work. It's really important that people have a community growing around their rad work and you can help them promote and cross-pollinate. In a healthy free skool the organizers aren't teaching all of the classes. Put the facilitators in charge of promoting to their friends and communities, free skools grow strongest through organic networks of affinity and friendship.

Know what your community wants

Another piece to successful class attendance is offering classes that people either need or are really interested in. Have you tried polling your freeskool community? Some did brainstorming sessions at both the Barrington Collective Free Skool and the Ann Arbor Free Skool where the organizers thought of the most exciting and useful classes to offer... then the next step is to find someone who is already doing these things. Its really important to keep the freedom in free skool, which can be tricky. Is it liberating to teach people about making their own kombucha? (probably, yes). Ballroom dancing? (not sure, what are the gender dynamics like with this particular facilitator/community), etc.

Throwing events

Having an event with bands, tables featuring local rad organizations, workshops, and food (Food Not Bombs!), is a great way to reach out to new people. At the Barrington Collective we called them DIY Fest and held them twice a year. Good organizations to reach out for tabling include: infoshops, food not bombs, anarchist book stores, copwatch, needle exchange (or other harm reduction groups), LGBTQIQ resource centers, national lawyers guild, occupy, etc. Get to know the rad organizations in your community and connect with them.

Form a publicity committe

EXCO has a publicity working group that meets separately from their three organizing chapters (and it is composed of people from each of those chapters). The publicity group meets before each session begins to make fliers to find class facilitators, and to do other publicity to find facilitators (including a newsletter, a facebook event, and sometimes a press release sent to local press). Once the publicity working group makes the fliers and gets them printed, they give them to the organizing chapters to distribute and put up around town (using a database of a couple hundred locations). After potential facilitators submit their applications (mostly through our website but some in paper), they then have a budgeting session to approve their applications and allocate budgets if the facilitators requested some money. When EXCO has a settled list of classes for the session, the publicity group then meets again and makes fliers and a brochure to publicize those classes, and they have another round of fliering and publicizing to promote those classes. This process is covered in a facilitator orientation that all new facilitators are required to attend (as well as those who requested a budget), at which we facilitate discussion about teaching approaches and ways to have successful classes, which includes publicizing one's own classes, such as through their friend and work networks.