A Brief History

Flying Squads started in a library in Brooklyn in the fall of 2018. But the concept behind them began years earlier, when I was working to co-found the junk playground, play:groundNYC, which wonderfully gives children free choice, but still within a confined space.

At the time, I was reading Colin Ward’s gorgeous book, The Child in the City, which discusses how, to truly be free, children must be a part of the city itself. Children need to feel comfortable on their own streets and must be welcomed in public spaces– a concept that no longer exists in today’s modern culture.

And so, I spent a year running a program helping children “get lost” in the city (called Ramble the City), but that too still felt too top-down, dictating where and why children went around to various spaces in the city. Ultimately this led to Flying Squads, a program specifically designed to encourage young people to take back their city and to again be accepted in society as autonomous individuals in a communal space.

Now in our second year, we are thrilled to announce that our project has grown, with Bria and David starting a second community in Portland, Brooklyn starting a third community in Eugene, and Antonio and Jennifer starting a fourth community in Austin.

—Alexander Khost (what’s my title… Initiator? Provocateur?)


Bria BloomBria Bloom (Portland Flying Squad) grew up unschooled, and now is a passionate advocate for Self-Directed Education and children’s rights. Bria loves to work and play as an SDE facilitator, and has experience doing so from her work in free schools, alternative spaces, and her experience as a parent. She spends her time exploring questions and ideas with young people and adults, supporting young people in whatever way they need, laughing often, and marveling at all of the positive risk-taking, creative thinking, and passion that lives in self-directed communities every day. Bria is also a martial artist and a dancer, a happy Portland cyclist, and a writer. She spends a lot of her time reading and discussing education and parenting ideas with anyone who is interested.
Antonio BuehlerAntonio Buehler (Austin Flying Squad) is interested in creating a freer, healthier world. He spends most of his time working to carve out spaces where young people can practice community and freedom. Antonio is the founder and a full-time Facilitator at Abrome, a Self-Directed Education community in Austin. Antonio also helps his local library create free play opportunities for children, as well as programming for parents and educators. When he’s not working with young people, Antonio might be found copwatching with the Peaceful Streets Project or engaging in other forms of direct action. Antonio likes participating in book groups and thinking about where he would travel if he had more free time.
Jennifer CampbellJennifer Campbell (Austin Flying Squad) is a fierce advocate for autonomy, community, and reparative accountability. Jennifer is a Facilitator and adult learner at Abrome where she works to liberate her social work training from oppressive paradigms. Her deschooling process has included playing Garden Superheroes while weeding the community garden, devouring novels, and reacquainting herself with the piano. She daily feels grateful for the opportunity to critically analyze complex social issues alongside young people. Jennifer’s commitment to police and prison abolition has led her to organize around migration, mental health, and homelessness. Her spiritual practices include drawing, painting, dancing, and performing.
Amy CarriganAmy Carrigan (Brooklyn Flying Squad) is Brooklyn Apple Academy’s Crab Apple facilitator, has been caring for, educating and playing with children for 25 years. She is a singer, puppeteer, art and science experiment dabbler and mother of one spunky 5 year old. Amy believes in fostering autonomy, cooperation, independence, empathy, limitless thinking (kids help me to re-learn this), community, creativity, problem solving, divergent and convergent thinking, love, compassion, personal growth, spontaneity and curiosity as a way to help children develop their leadership skills and sense of purpose in the world. She recently designed and performed in Nooma, an opera for babies, at Carnegie Hall. She has been a puppeteer and co-artistic director of Brooklyn puppetry company, Drama of Works, for 20 plus years. She is a lover of all things experimental.
David JacoboDavid Jacobo (Portland Flying Squad) is a Self-Directed Education advocate and facilitator. He has a passion for children’s rights, Self-Directed Education, and social justice. He was born in Los Angeles and raised between Oregon and California. A second generation immigrant of Mexican and Guatemalan descent, David and his family moved constantly to find work opportunities until finally landing in Salem. He graduated with a B.S. in Sociology at Portland State University. After working for three years in public schools, David sought to find alternative education styles that focused less on conforming and authority and more on creativity and autonomy. David is an avid photographer and a working musician. He hopes to not only inspire kids but to be inspired by them as well.
Alexander KhostAlexander Khost (Brooklyn Flying Squad) is a father and children’s rights advocate. He volunteers running Friends of the Modern School, supporting the history and maintaining current models of anarchistic education. He works with young people at the homeschooling coop, Brooklyn Apple Academy; he is the Editor-in-Chief of the Alliance for Self-Directed Education’s online magazine, Tipping Points; and he is the founder of Voice of the Children, promoting and facilitating art and activism for young people.

He previously founded the Teddy McArdle Free School, a democratic free school in New Jersey, and more recently co-founded play:groundNYC, a junkyard playground for children on Governors Island in New York City.

Brooklyn WetzelBrooklyn Wetzel (Eugene Flying Squad) is an adult self-directed learner with a passion for freedom and autonomy. From a young age, she rejected institutional schooling and sought her own path in music promotion, art, and small business. Over the last 5 years, she has facilitated at a democratic school, ran a photo booth business and worked at an indigenous language game development start-up in rural Montana. After moving to Oregon in 2018 she completed the Agile Learning Facilitator training and started work on a community non-profit supporting people in end of life issues. A digital native and idea person, one of her favorite things is to connect people with new resources to explore their passions. Brooklyn has a deep trust in people of all ages to grow and learn to be their best selves without coercion judgment or hierarchical structures.