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Maple-Ash-Farmer-Wilson (MAFW) Project: A 21st Century Anarchist Initiative

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The Maple-Ash-Farmer-Wilson (MAFW) project in Tempe, Arizona, is a prime example of contemporary anarchist community organizing. This initiative, named after the streets Maple Avenue, Ash Avenue, Farmer Avenue, and Wilson Street, focused on resisting gentrification, promoting community autonomy, and fostering mutual aid among residents.

Overview of MAFW

The MAFW project emerged as a grassroots response to urban development projects that threatened the character and affordability of the neighborhood. It was particularly vocal against the city’s “Safe and Sober” initiative, which was perceived as intrusive policing of underage drinking. Through persistent advocacy, MAFW succeeded in getting this initiative terminated and even led to the firing of the police chief.

Size and Impact

The MAFW project had a robust online presence, particularly through its Facebook group, which included hundreds of members actively engaging in discussions, organizing events, and sharing resources. The group’s impact extended beyond online activities, manifesting in numerous community actions and events.

Noteworthy Events

  1. Opposition to “Safe and Sober” Initiative: Successfully campaigned against the city’s intrusive policing program.
  2. Community Clean-Ups and Festivals: Organized regular clean-ups and festivals to strengthen local bonds.
  3. Skill-Sharing Workshops: Included practical skills such as gardening, bicycle repair, and crafts.
  4. Advocacy Against Gentrification: Actively opposed development projects threatening the neighborhood’s character.
  5. Pet Fostering and Fundraising: Fostered pets and raised funds for residents in need.
  6. Food and Clothing Drives: Held drives to support the community.
  7. Self-Defense Classes: Provided classes to enhance personal safety.
  8. Storytelling Nights, DJ Events, and Potlucks: Hosted social and cultural events to build community spirit.
  9. Support for Residents After Incidents: Offered support after incidents like peeping toms and flashing.
  10. Rallies and Protests Against Racism and Police Misconduct: Organized rallies and protests.
  11. Neighborhood Gardening Projects: Promoted community gardening to enhance local sustainability.
  12. Neighborhood Watch Programs: Established programs to enhance community safety.
  13. Educational Workshops and Panels: Conducted workshops and panels on various topics.

Example of 21st Century Anarchist Activity

MAFW exemplifies 21st-century anarchist activity through its focus on direct action, mutual aid, and horizontal organization. The group’s efforts to resist gentrification, enhance community resilience, and promote self-management resonate with contemporary anarchist principles.


The Maple-Ash-Farmer-Wilson project stands as a testament to the effectiveness of anarchist organizing in urban environments. By emphasizing community autonomy, direct action, and mutual aid, MAFW not only improved the lives of local residents but also set a precedent for similar initiatives elsewhere.