History of a Global Development Community

The Sixties is long dead and buried...thousands of alternative schools (including so called free universities) that sprang up in the late 60s and early 70s are gone. Most lasted less than a year, many just a week. Our community--which includes tens of thousands of people all over America and the world...continues to grow quantitatively and even more important qualitatively. Yet, the fact of our continued existence means, in my opinion, absolutely nothing unless we are creating/and our discovering something of value for everyone. Fred Newman, Performance of a Lifetime (1996)

1960s Philosophy and Community Organizing

–1962 Newman earns his Ph.D. in analytic philosophy and foundations of mathematics from Stanford University

1962-65, Knox College, Professor of Philosophy

“At Knox I played an important role in developing cross disciplinary programs. I also became very active in campus community life. Much to the administration’s dismay I brought philosophical method out of the classroom into the world of Knox. I first began to see (although dimly) how philosophizing could help build community beyond the hundred or so students formally taking course credits with me.”

–1965-66 City College of NY (CCNY), Professor of Philosophy

“In this environment my love/hate relationship with philosophizing/Philosophy blossomed, and I more self consciously transformed my classes into communities.” Newman began to give all of his student’s As as an antiwar protest…

—1966-68 Newman’s Philosophical Communitarian Method

Over the next few years Newman approached his teaching as setting up “philosophizing communities”—and continued to give all of his students A’s. Not surprisingly, he was fired from several different universities. “By 1968 I had begun to reexamine my attitude toward the civil rights movement and the anit-war movement. My moral objections to the war and racial bigotry were intact, but I had political objections to how the movements were organized.”

1968 Newman Leaves Academia

In the Spring and Summer of 1968 (while a few other things, including the assassination of Martin Luther King and later Robert Kennedy, were going on) I set out with a handful of students and support from an even smaller handful of faculty to build (try to build) an unstructured (unsystematized) learning/development community environment. An overwhelming complicated and apparently impossible task.

–1968 If/Then

Fred and a handful of student followers rented a storefront in what was then the primarily white working-class neighborhood of Washington Heights, and invited community people to come by and have conversations about the war in Vietnam. Unlike other leftists of the time, they were not about confrontation; they were about conversation. Their modus operandi was not to organize demonstrations of like-minded people, but to organize conversations among people of different opinions and backgrounds, not to tear down, but to reorganize and build with what existed.


1968 Two NYTimes articles profile Newman organizing (find articles??)

–Encounter House established by If/Then activists

“I have a lot of misgivings about organizations like Students for a Democratic Society [the leading radical student group of the time] who are essentially elitist and protected by the university,” it quotes Newman as saying. “The thing is to work outside the establishment, to effect change from without.”

The strategic principle of financial independence was also there at the start. The reporter quotes Mickey Freedman, who is identified as the 24-year-old assistant director of the school, as saying, “We’re not taking any money from foundations. All our money must come from within. There’s got to be no strings attached.”


The 1970s 

– Centers for Change (CFC)

Opened free health clinics, therapy centers and small experimental schools (with names like the Robin Hood Re-Learning Center, and the Working Class Room) in various parts of New York City. Newman and his followers tried many tactics and started many organizations in those early years.  Some, like social therapeutics, have had a profound and lasting influence in the world. Others, like organizing independent labor unions, were useful in showing them what didn’t work.


–Search for Leadership

In the 1970s Newman was looking for a political orientation and leadership. He and his followers met with numerous progressive, radical and Marxist organizations. For the most part, their impression of the traditional Left was that it was ideologically over-determined with little or no sense of how to organize ordinary people. The two most lasting political influences on their work would prove to be Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Black Panther Party.


–1974-76 International Workers Party


– 1976 – 1981 New York City Unemployed and Welfare Council

In the mid-70s most of Newman’s followers were white and middle class in origin. They embraced King’s commitment to non-violence and mass organizing. They also saw, as King did, the need to bring Black and white Americans together to effect fundamental change in the country. From the Panthers, the only Marxist group with a mass base in the late 1960s and ‘70s, Newman and his followers embraced the understanding of and commitment to putting the needs of the poor first as well as the central role the Black community needed to play if the nation as a whole was to advance. The most important organization they built at the time was the New York City Unemployed and Welfare Council.


{C}      1979 New Alliance Party (NAP) is Founded


{C}      Year? Newman meets Dr. Lois Holzman

Lois Holzman (then Lois Hood) had just completed her PhD research and had begun her first post-doc job as a research associate at the Rockefeller University’s Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition in New York City. She was invited to hear Newman speak on the topic “Marxism and Mental Illness.” 


{C}      Year? Newman meets Dr. Lenora Fulani

Fulani was active in radical Black politics on campus, and discovered the work of Black intellectuals. In the late ’70s she took a research fellowship at Rockefeller University’s Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition, specializing in the interplay of social environment and learning with a particular focus on the Black community. While there she met Lois Holzman, currently the director of the East Side Institute for Group and Short Term Psychotherapy, already an organizer with the development community, who introduced her to Newman. In Newman, Fulani found someone who shared her rejection of mainstream psychology. He became her political mentor. Together, in 1981, they founded the nonprofit which would become the All Stars Project.



– 1977 The New York Institute for Social Therapy





– 1983 The Practice – Journal of Politics, Economics, Psychology, Sociology and Culture


– First Youth Talent Show in _______(part of city, YEAR?)


– Founding of Castillo Theater

At about the same time that the talent shows were starting, so was the Castillo Theatre. Castillo grew out of two things. The first was the belief of Newman and his fellow organizers that social change was first and foremost a cultural activity — that cultural development is a prerequisite for shifts in economic and political power. The other thing was that a number of people drawn to the community organizing that Newman was leading had theatre backgrounds. Among them were Marian Rich, Pam Lewis, Madelyn Chapman, Ellen Korner, David Nackman, Dan Friedman and Gabrielle Kurlander, all of who are still active with Castillo and the All Stars. Castillo was initially a project of the Institute for Social Therapy and Research, today known as the East Side Institute for Group and Short-Term Psychotherapy, which provided Castillo with a performance space in its loft on East 20th Street, rent free for the first six years of its existence. 


{C}      1981 Community Literacy Research Project

All Stars Talent Show Network and Castillo Theater In its earliest days, the distinction between the All Stars Talent Show Network and the Castillo Theatre was not at all clear. For example, in 1983 the first city-wide youth event produced by the development community was a two-day break dance contest organized by and held at the Castillo Theatre space on 20th Street. Also, in the early days, the talent shows were produced by Castillo, because the Castillo people knew how to stage manage and run lights and sound and so on. In 1989, Castillo, along with the Institute, moved to a much bigger loft, with a distinct theatre space that was bought by the Community Literacy Research Project, the nonprofit known today as the All Stars Project, on Greenwich Street in Soho.


–1983 Break Dance Contest

The first city-wide youth event produced by the development community was a two-day break dance contest organized by and held at the Castillo Theatre space on 20th Street.


{C}      Fundraising Street Performances


{C}      1986, Newman as Playwright and Director


{C}      1988 Newman is Campaign Manager, Lenora Fulani bid for President


The 1990s


–1994 Committee for a Unified Independent Party Founded

 More on electoral politics

–1997 Unscientific Psychology Conference



The 2000s


2001 Performing the World


–2011 UX is launched