THE PARKDALE FREE SCHOOL (PFS)

The Communications and Community Engagement Committee (CCE) is excited to announce the launch of the Parkdale Free School, a PNLT initiative that aims to organize free, informal classes and workshops across the neighbourhood!

Parkdale is a neighbourhood rich in knowledge, valuable skills and lived experience, and CCE thinks it is high time our community find ways to share these assets with each other—in settings that are fun, engaging and accessible to all!

While all PFS programming will reflect the PNLT’s commitment to equity, community-building and social justice, we take inspiration from the global free school movement in affirming instructors full autonomy to organize classes and curricula. Learn more about the organizing team here.

Click here to read the PFS’s Vision and Values.

PFS Course Calendar

**Asterisks denote a PFS “Cross-listed” Course. For more information about Cross-listed Courses, click here. 

Want to see what you’ve been missing? Click here to read about past PFS programming! 


Upcoming PFS Classes

All PFS Classes take place at Parkdale Activity-Recreation Centre, (1499 Queen St. West, Toronto, ON M6R 1A3, Canada) unless stated otherwise.

War’s Ecological Footprint & Global Impact

Tuesday, March 19, 2019 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM (EDT)
Instructor: Tamara Lorincz, Jean Augustine
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Tamara Lorincz is a Board Member of Canadian Voice of Women for Peace and the former Executive Director of the Nova Scotia Environmental Network. Tamara has an LLB/JSD and MBA specializing in environmental law and management from Dalhousie University. She is currently a PhD student in Global Governance at the Balsillie School for International Affairs (Wilfrid Laurier University).

How can we make the best case for shifting from war to peace? What must we understand and know about the war system if we are to dismantle it? How can we become more effective advocates and activists for ending all wars, pursuing disarmament, and creating systems that maintain peace? These questions and more will be explored as we delve into the course.

War’s Ecological Footprint

“Military force is necessary to keep us secure.” How often have we heard this argument? It is time to move beyond this argument and challenge the notion that military intervention makes us safe. Current systems of collective security and global governance are built upon assumptions deeply rooted in the war system and militarized responses to conflict. International law and the UN system are furthered hampered by the assumptions of sovereignty that are implied in the nation-state global order.

Guest speaker Jean Augustine will examine the needed reforms to make international institutions more effective and democratic. She will also talk about Canada’s relationship in the international community, and its role in shaping systems of global governance to support peace. Furthermore, guest speaker Tamara Lorincz will discuss the environmental impact of war, which is a leading contributor to the growing global climate crisis. In all stages, from the production of weapons through combat, military operations pollute land, air, and water, destroy ecosystems, and drain limited natural resources.


World Beyond War: Who Needs Violence? (1/2)

Tuesday, April 2, 2019 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM (EDT)
Instructor: Lyn Adamson, LeeAnne McKenna
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How can we make the best case for shifting from war to peace? What must we understand and know about the war system if we are to dismantle it? How can we become more effective advocates and activists for ending all wars, pursuing disarmament, and creating systems that maintain peace? These questions and more will be explored as we delve into the course.

Who Needs Violence?

Unarmed civilian peacekeeping provides an effective, more sustainable, and potentially transformative alternative to militarized peacekeeping. Between 1900-2006, campaigns of nonviolent civil resistance were twice as successful as violent campaigns. In this class, we will explore the viability of nonviolence as an alternative to war and military-based defense. We will also discuss practical strategies for nonviolent communication and conflict resolution in our daily lives. With special guest speakers LeeAnne McKenna and Lyn Adamson who have extensive experience with peace-building work in war-torn communities around the world.

Lyn Adamson is an experienced trainer in conflict resolution with St. Stephen’s Conflict Resolution Service, and is a trainer with Nonviolent Peaceforce Canada. A Quaker and mother of two, Lyn is a member of the boards of: Greenspiration, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, the Canadian Department of Peace Initiative and Nonviolent Peaceforce Canada.

World Beyond War: Reforming & Building Effective International Institutions (2/2) 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM (EDT)
Instructor: Melissa Weale
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How can we make the best case for shifting from war to peace? What must we understand and know about the war system if we are to dismantle it? How can we become more effective advocates and activists for ending all wars, pursuing disarmament, and creating systems that maintain peace? These questions and more will be explored as we delve into the course.

Establishing a World of Peace

In this final class, we will recap lessons learned and brainstorm action ideas moving forward. We will discuss the nuts and bolts of grassroots organizing, with a focus on campaign development. We’ll identify effective strategies & tactics for engaging community members and influencing decision-makers. We’ll also look more broadly at movement-building.

Melissa Weale is a keen young activist working to change the system by educating and exampling. She runs her own non-profit called Shecycle that’s all about upcycling and redistributing. She hosts monthly workshops, swapping events and circle groups to bring communities together. She is a Unitarian, and part of Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, motivating all ages and all abilities to show they can make a difference!


Mobilize, Liberate and Grow: A Guide to Decolonizing Urban Farming

Thursday, March 28, 2019 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM (EDT)
Instructor: Cheyenne Sundance
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We cannot expect people of colour, namely Black and Indigenous people to join spaces and groups that are predominately white because their journey with growing food will be drastically different. Having your lands colonized, facing land based oppression, genocide, the lasting effects of slavery, enduring environmental racism and more shape one’s relationship on food and land.

Cheyenne Sundance, Urban Farmer and Community Organizer, will have an open discussion about what decolonizing farming looks like and what we can do to start our own successful movements. True liberation will come once we see us in roles of growing food for our community, managing our own green spaces and in positions where we can further our food sovereignty movement with respect and dignity.


Road to Zero Waste (Series)

  • Tuesday, April 9, 2019 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
  • Tuesday, April 23, 2019 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Instructors: Shabeeb Hasan and Laylo Atakhodjaeva

There is a worldwide epidemic of food wastage, and Canada is no exception. Every year, Canadian food waste amounts to $31 billion dollars. Not only are important resources being squandered as a result of this waste, but also it is is environmentally damaging to our planet. When wasted food is thrown into landfill and begins to decompose, methane gas is released into the atmosphere, contributing directly to global warming.

Road to Zero Waste is a local non-profit organization that works to address these problems by running workshops about food waste in various neighbourhoods and community spaces. Our goal is to change the way Canadians think about food waste, and to reduce food waste in Canada more quickly and efficiently.

At this two-part workshop, our team of educators will teach you about the reasons for the ongoing food waste epidemic, and offer some tips that will help your household reduce food waste. The workshop concludes with a game, and a prize for the winner!


Earth to Tables: A Short Film Series and Discussion on Food Justice/Sovereignty (Series)

  • Tuesday, April 16th, 7 PM – 9 PM
  • Tuesday, April 30th 7 PM – 9 PM
  • Tuesday,  May 14th 7 PM – 9 PM

Instructor: Deborah Barndt

Since 2015, the Earth to Tables intergenerational and intercultural exchange has produced short videos and photo essays based on the practices of food activists in Indigenous and settler communities in Ontario, Quebec, and Mexico. This short film series will feature three of the videos that raise important issues for discussion:

April 16 – “The Soil is Alive” – Do we understand the soil and fungal networks? Are we over-cultivating?

April 23 – “The Alchemy of Agroecology” – How can we create our own organic inputs from the natural material around us?

April 30 – “Why Farmers Markets?” -What connections do farmers markets create? Are they only for the rich?


Do you have something you want to share with your community? Want to help organize or promote a new vision of democratic education in your neighbourhood? Click here to learn more about becoming a PFS instructor!