WILLIAMSBURG — A community-based organization for women, femme, and queer folx has transformed from a pop-up into a permanent home for events and workshops in North Brooklyn.
New Women Space (NWS) originated in 2016 with founders Melissa Wong and Sandy Hong, as a volunteer-led collective in response to the election of President Donald Trump. There was fear, and a need to create a safe space, a place for like-minded folx to gather.
“We envision a world where all people — regardless of their gender identity, expression or presentation — are affirmed with dignity, respect and are given abundant access to the resources and opportunities they need to prosper and thrive,” NWS mission says.
First, as a pop-up, it was staged at 188 Woodpoint Rd, a location that has since become their permanent home.
“What [the original founders] didn’t know at the time was their simple, yet ambitious idea would soon turn into a much needed community resource: a place to find each other and build each other up,” Eva Woolridge tells Bklyner.
Eva Woolridge and Sage Youngblood originally joined NWS to host events for the Red Dot Campaign, a non-profit that works to encourage and educate folks on the process of menstruation, as well as supply menstrual health products for the homeless. After spending years working with the collective, Woolridge and Youngblood have now become the space’s new guardians.
Strong relationships and lasting change are built on education. In recognizing this crucial element, Woolridge and Youngblood have focused on and take an incredibly hands-on approach to the event line-up.
Programming ranges from comedy shows, panel discussions and marketplaces, to clothing swaps for LGBTQ+ shelters, BDSM and kink rope knotting workshops, and programming for survivors of sexual assault.
“It’s a space created by our community for our community,” Woolridge emphasized. “When clients reach out to us, we ask for a summary of what they will use the space for. We don’t have a problem saying ‘no,’ if the event doesn’t support our community guidelines.”
NWS has become a place of healing, growth, and creative expression — a much needed and beloved place for those actively fighting to change the systems of oppression at play in the world today. In a time when black trans and non-binary people are being killed, denied health care, and refused access to shelters, building community is key to both success and survival.
What sets this Williamsburg-based organization apart from similar communal spaces is the unique mission of gender equity, intersectionality, and representation.
“This isn’t your luxury, members-only club, but rather a space that’s an accessible, supportive, and safe environment to inspire and create economic opportunity,” said Woolridge. “Since 2016, the space has seen nearly 600 unique gatherings take place, all created and led by self-identified women, trans, non-binary, intersex, and gender-nonconforming individuals from NYC and beyond.”
Staying Accessible & Inclusive
Maintaining accessibility while paying New York rent is no easy feat.
“We’ll be the first to tell you that finding the happy medium between sustaining a physical space and supporting underserved communities isn’t easy. That being said, we try to remain conscious of the price points we set across the New Women Space experience,” Youngblood told Bklyner. “From rental and supportership fees to free and sliding scale event admissions, we know that times can be tough for a lot of us and always take that into account.”
The new guardians are actively working to take inclusion a step further, creating room for those with differing backgrounds and beliefs. Through education, the team engages those who have contrasting social or political perspectives — which is certainly a challenge. Yet New Women Space fiercely balances opposing objectives, making space for personal growth and self-awareness.
“Sage and I are both queer womxn of color, and as more event spaces develop in the city we want to ensure that our community is represented and supported. From the retail we sell, to our genderless restrooms, and community guidelines–we are a space for people to feel safe, supported, and to learn about others’ experiences without judgment or defensiveness,” Woolridge explained. “We believe in calling people in rather than calling them out–explaining one’s perspective with an open mind, versus attacking or criticizing. We emphasize really taking the time to get to know one another.”
The community encourages dialogue to further understand those with differing backgrounds, rather than ending conversations as soon as conflict arises. It may be uncomfortable, but these are the steps that lead to lasting change.
Jeux, the founder of Black Boi Complex, a community organization supporting Black, masculine identifying QTLGBIA folx, speaks highly of NWS.
“In our journey to grow and serve our community, New Women Space has been fundamental in uplifting Black Boi Complex and helping our platform reach its goals” Jeux says. “The environment is always welcoming and safe, the staff is always friendly and incredibly helpful.”