Bushwick will soon be home to a large-scale community organizing center that boasts a bar and massive balconies, as Mayday Space hopes to finally open its doors after slogging through over a year of monotonous city building inspections. Ana Nogueira, one of Mayday’s co-founders, says the organization is almost ready to formally set up operations, even if city building ordinances have created a slow-going ordeal that’s hampered some potential early progress.
“It’s a new building and new buildings have to go through rigorous inspections,” she says, noting how issues with things like “the sprinklers, the mechanical engineering, or the venting,” have prompted a lot of back-and-forth planning and phone-tag between the building’s landlord, contractors and the NYC Department of Buildings.
“We’ve had our finger on the trigger for over a year,” she says.
The rocky course hasn’t swayed Nogueira’s vision for the space though, which, as per its website, promises to be “a dynamic center for social justice organizing, community empowerment and creative expression,” for basically anyone who cares to get involved.
Mayday, which hopes to share the 18,000 sq. foot building with other tenants once it receives its certificate of occupancy, promises to host an array of onsite programming and to tackle a variety of urban issues occurring right on its doorstep.
One of those issues is gentrification, and Nogueira says Mayday will be a resource for generational families displaced by things like surging rents and new condo developments. Mayday will host classes and workshops that aim to educate Bushwick residents old and new about things like lease negotiation and tenant’s rights.
“With tenant’s rights, often it’s the people moving in who have the most power to keep prices down,” Nogueira says. As Bushwick’s streets continue to change and develop, Mayday intends to bridge the divide between the neighborhood’s diverse demographic by informing all renters how to keep prices affordable in their community.
Along with the social justice issues that comprise the lion’s share of Mayday’s undertakings and ethos, the organization’s new building will play host to a variety of other lectures, talks and workshops that will focus on promoting things like public health, fitness and the arts.
“Diabetes is pretty big here [in Bushwick] and obesity is pretty big here,” Nogueira says, noting how Mayday plans to tackle public health concerns by offering “nutrition classes, cooking classes, physical fitness excercise and dance classes,” along with things like Spanish-language yoga. The idea is to be inclusive, and to foster an environment that satisfy the many needs of Bushwick’s residents through a multitude of programs.
But perhaps most important about Mayday is its intention to help different social justice and community organizations launch their own initiatives. The space will be a venue where different groups can rent rooms to strategize or produce their own events. And in a city like New York, the prospect of a cheap rental to plan a march or rally should sound like divine-intervention for the city’s activist communities. Mayday’s spaces are available at different price ranges, and sometimes at a sliding scale for individuals or groups who have little to no money.
There will also be a bar on site, the proceeds of which will fund rent for Mayday’s community space, which has already hosted events in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and seen the likes of Glenn Greenwald talk about the state of NSA surveillance.
Even though Mayday’s stagnant launch has proven “frustrating” for Nogueira, she’s hopeful of a long and pervasive impact in Bushwick and beyond.
She says she wants to create “a fun, self-sustaining model for face-to-face and cross issue organizing,” and one that can potentially be replicated in other cities.
As far as Mayday’s official launch, Nogueira says “it’s really close.”