About The Underground Center

Our Purpose

The Underground Center (UGC) is a space to explore viable alternative ways of living and define the work required to realize it. The alternatives are diverse, but share a common goal: creating community that does not depend on exploitation, but instead nourishes the systems that sustain it. In this time of environmental, economic, and social crises we believe the ideas and systems we investigate should be shared for free. At the UGC, we are fostering a movement for social change from the bottom up by empowering marginalized peoples to create economic and social power through mutual aid and interconnectedness with the land.

Located in Saugerties, New York our educational gardens function as a laboratory for the development and application of strategies toward just and resilient living. Through this modeling, we work to instill a sense of responsibility in young people, teaching them hands on skills and empowering them to be leaders in fostering a more just society. We also work to model, encourage and pressure those with power to use their resources in more nourishing ways. Our goal is to transition our town (or networks within it) into a viable model of a sustainable and just society.

Example workshops include: soil building and food growing techniques, no fossil fuel forestry and off-grid building.

Alongside these practical skills the UGC models social systems that challenge systemic racism, privilege, and power.We work to identify and dismantle the economic and cultural barriers to sustainable living.This ensures that people of diverse ages, races, classes, and abilities can play a part in shaping the culture and work of our center. We provide skills that help people survive in an unjust economic system, while creating alternative models that work to meet everyone’s needs in our communities without destroying the natural systems that sustain us. By being grounded in simplicity, self-sufficiency, and mutual aid, the UGC avoids the need to commodify  knowledge, opening opportunities and ultimately creating a diverse movement.

We believe an important tool for change is the development of theoretical unity: a shared understanding of why things are the way they are and how we can move forward to make them better. A primary function of the UGC is to provide a space to facilitate programming to this end. Through classes, reading groups, talks, symposiums, and other forms of collaborative work, participants at the UGC develop a unique critical lens that will guide them in becoming stewards of the natural and social environment.

The UGC is committed to transforming ideas into action. Our classes and workshops always ask “what should we do?” in concrete terms. Strategy is an ongoing practice and product of our work. The techniques and body of knowledge we develop at our center can be used to catalyze grassroots organizations that can fill gaps left by local governments and businesses in creating sustainable and just infrastructure. To make these strategies accessible we document and publish what we learn together so others can apply, critique, and expand upon it in their own lives and communities.

We are driven by the hope that the ideas, strategies, systems we develop and the people we empower at the UGC will be the foundation that feeds and supports movements that foster a more vibrant, just, and resilient world.