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The Shape of Cities to Come Institute (SCCI) invites organizers, activists, thinkers, cultural workers, and artists from across New York City's grassroots communities and movements to join its first STUDY. PLAY. ACT 15 month peer-to-peership program. Peers are expected to commit an average of 5 hours per week during the 10 months in which the program is at its most active. 

Each member of the cohort will receive a stipend of $10,000. The entire group of peers will also receive additional financial and operational support to implement and disseminate projects during the ACT phase. With narrative organizing and grassroots histories as core elements, group projects will be based on the peers’ interests and experiences and will be developed in collaboration with SCCI's network.



Because New York City is currently at a pivotal moment: we are confronting the growing rise of the real estate state, displacement and homelessness; record-high commercial vacancies; omnipresent policing as catchall solution; environmental injustices of racial capitalism; inhumane immigration policies; historical under-investment in the cultural landscape of people of color and working-class neighborhoods; inflation coupled with city budget cuts; and post-pandemic after-shocks of repressed mourning.

These issues and dynamics are best understood by those involved in such struggles, and through collective efforts that counter the increased alienation brought in by the pandemic. Grounded experience and cultural competence are necessary as we organize to shape the city towards a path of fairness, accountability, and individual and collective self-determination. The question is why NOT now?!

SCCI seeks to transform and reshape all of those involved in our STUDY. PLAY. ACT program — peers, mentors, facilitators, guest speakers, and communities — generating solidarities that sustain and amplify ongoing work, while facilitating access points for engagement with connected places and people.


We explore, grapple, delve, and build collective knowledge that challenges and reframes how we understand and act upon the city. The program’s three thematic pillars: urban contradictions, political ecologies, and storytelling, will guide this phase.


We co-envision and strategize collective undertakings that inspire, mobilize, and connect communities. Different modes of persuasive storytelling will be explored in small groups as methods to sketch out versatile actions-- ranging from place based cultural actions to legislative policy proposals, from the production of radical media to the development of alternative plans, from public exhibitions to thought provoking podcasts. Projects tackled in this phase will engage with important challenges in New York City and build on the existing work of peers.


We explore, grapple, study, and build collective knowledge that challenges and reframes how we understand and act upon the city. The program’s four thematic pillars: urban contradictions, political ecologies, storytelling, and public dialogues will guide this phase. Upon completion, peers will earn a Certificate in Cultures of Urban Advocacy from The New School.


We implement, amplify and disseminate the strategies co-designed and discussed during the previous phases, with support from our network of institutional partners and allied organizations. The goal of this last phase is to boldly convey to the public that other shapes of the city are possible, bring forward ideas that disrupt business as usual, open new narrative spaces, and create diverse pathways to political mobilization.

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