A Call to Imagine (freedom dreaming)


“In order to enact radical change we must first imagine the world we hope to build…We need to firmly anchor our journey towards this world with deeply rooted community values. We need to stretch the limits of our imagination beyond what we have been told to accept as true. And to do this, we need spaces of empowerment created by us for us.”

– Downtown Brooklyn Arts Management Fellows cohort of  2018


How do we transcend cynicism to embrace hope and love in our politics during these tough times? How do we help a new generation of organizers consider not only what they are fighting against, but what they are fighting for?

The Freedom Dreaming project aims to serve as an online space for reflection and conception; a place where people can imagine the future without structural oppression and find the tools to take actionable steps toward that future. The project will have two main components; a website that serves as a resource library and platform offering a public, supportive and creative environment that envisions the concept of “Freedom Dreaming” and a social media campaign (primarily using Twitter and Instagram) that will serve as a tool to engage wider audiences and generate content surrounding the concept of “Freedom Dreaming” in the most efficient and accessible way.  The website will host a resource library offering a selection of texts written by radical thinkers, links to New York City based organizations, and other online resources pertinent to the concept of Freedom Dreaming. A data input interface will play a central role on the website inviting people to submit their responses surrounding the concept of “Freedom Dreaming”, in form of text, image, sound or video (more media formats will be discussed as the project progresses). We envision that the interface will collect, sort, and archive data in meaningful and helpful ways. The online resource portion of the website will provide the tools necessary for the journey towards dreams of the future without oppression, including websites for further self-exploration, tools, and additional information. Through creating a social media campaign, the Freedom Dreaming project will invite users to share personal dreams of freedom and consider what their future would look like without structural oppression. We plan to collect, display and sort the data in a comprehensive manner, help elevate voices, and help create awareness by making the data easily accessible to all.


Project Collaborator Roles:

Kiana: website design, social media, outreach

Raven: research, student outreach, blog writing, narrative/branding, moderating

Anthony: research, student outreach, writing, (very) basic development

Andrea: web, digital, print design and research

Brittany: project manager, research, and social media data collection


Environmental Scan

Making a Case for the Black Digital Humanities. In her essay Kim Gallon defines the black digital humanities as, “the intersection between Black studies and digital humanities”. Many Black DH projects archive writings for scholarship or map texts that we thought were lost. These projects tend to serve the purpose of exposition, telling stories that have been silenced or forgotten over time. Another key concept of Gallon’s argument for the Black Digital Humanities is the “technology of recovery”. The technology of recovery according to Gallon, underpins black digital scholarship and fills the gap between Black Studies and Digital Humanities. The technology of recovery serves as a space for black academic and non academic work, a space where Black studies scholars and black public approach technology. Instagram pages like @thefreeblackwomenslibrary and @mediablack are examples of technology of recovery sites that retell black narratives that are often silenced or forgotten with the passage of time. With the “Freedom Dreaming” project we aim to follow Gallon’s lead of integrating Black Studies with Digital Humanities through elevating the voices of marginalized individuals using digital technologies as a means of awareness and education.

What technologies will be used?

Adobe Creative Suite, WordPress, Instagram

Within our group there is a good amount of experience with the platforms above. Online tutorials and Digital Fellows will be sought out for added support.


How will the project be managed?

We have created a group chat for this project and will be working collaboratively through Google docs.


  • Weeks 3-6 (February 12-March 5):
      • Create boilerplate language for website and instagram
      • Research NYC organizations, online toolkits etc. for resource guide
      • Gather sample freedom dreams to serve as examples for visitors to our instagram and/or webpage
  • Week 6 (March 5 ):  Launch Instagram page and website
  • Week 7-12 : Maintain pages and collect data
  • Week 12-14: Analyze data from submissions, reflect on best practices throughout the life of the project this semester
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One Comment

  1. Posted February 20, 2019 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Thanks for this update, team! I am very much looking forward to seeing how this progresses. Here are some elements in the narrative I’d like to see clarified further:

    1) How do we define “Freedom Dreaming” Who gets to decide what follows into this category? For example, is this a “positive vibes only” space, or can one be angry and still be freedom dreaming? I think you’re already having some of these conversations, and I’d like to know more.

    2) What makes this the most “accessible way” to present such information? It’s useful to have a clear definition of what the team means by “accessible” and the specific ways the project attends to this. For instance, consider whether image captions/descriptions on Instagram are required for all submissions.

    3) Have you looked into what tool/platform allows for sound and video submissions if you’re accepting these through your website? Will be this linked to an email address, or through a specially designed and encoded form? Or both? How will you protect against spam? You might want to reach out to similar user-generated projects like Queering the Map to see how they handle this.

    4) You state that “we envision that the interface will collect, sort, and archive data in meaningful and helpful ways.” I’d like to know more about this. What is particularly meaningful and helpful about the structure, design, and dataset your project will be generating. I think we all know this implicitly, but it’s helpful to clearly articulate this, especially if/when the project needs funding down the line. Same here: “we plan to collect, display and sort the data in a comprehensive manner”–what makes it comprehensive? That it will represent folks across the country/the world? Include several genres, ages, styles, identities? Something else?

    5) I love the idea of having texts and resources on the site. Consider whether your workplan needs to allow time for seeking permissions, OCR-ing or transcribing text, and making it ready for digital publication.

    6) If you haven’t already, it might it be worth reaching out to #transformDH and #blackDH folks and see if you can’t get a class or group of people involved. With regards to contacts for important resources, you might also reach out to specific places to get direct phone lines and emails to make these resources more personal. For instance, the NYC Anti-Violence Project has folks who give workshops and Safe Zone training, same goes for the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault, which offers sensitivity training and workshops on Title IX. Not sure if this is a direction you want to go with your resources, but reaching out to contacts can be useful.

    7) How and where will the project be archived? Will you save the submissions to create a database or online exhibit? — if so, what kinds of information will you record about each?

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