Some perspective; Resources for Building an Equitable Non Profit

67505318_10217536220452248_1734251555823026176_nToday at our weekly staff meeting we took a significant step in looking at specific problems within our organization and began to openly and respectfully talk about them. We are a committed board, leadership, and staff dedicated to including equity training with strategic planning as we more into the next phase of our work.

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Emmitt Till, August 28, 1955

Medgar Evers, June 12, 1963

Malcolm X, February 21, 1965

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  April 4, 1968

Rodney King, March 3, 1991

Amadou Diallo, February 4, 1999

Sean Bell, November 25, 2006

Trayvon Martin, February 26, 2012

Michael Brown, August 9, 2014

Eric Garner, December 30, 2017

Ahmaud Arbery, February 23, 2020

Breonna Taylor, March 13, 2020

George Floyd, May 25, 2020

Tony McDade,  May 27, 2020

Rem’mie Fells, June 8, 2020

Riah Milton, June 9, 2020

Rayshard Brooks, June 12, 2020

Oluwatoyin Salau, June 13, 2020

And so many more…named and unnamed

It is time for a long overdue reckoning.

The assault and murder of Black and Brown people by law enforcement, vigilantes and regular citizens, since the first African peoples were brought to this country in chains, is a haunting travesty and legacy that must be acknowledged and truly confronted.  The names George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks are the latest victims of an out of control, militarized police force.  In 1992 when officers on trial for the beating of Rodney King were acquitted, the subsequent response, almost thirty years ago, did nothing to change the racist policies of stop and frisk or the beating and murdering of Black people, particularly Black men and Black trans women.

As a nation, we revisited all this with Trayvon Martin’s murder at the hands of a civilian.  It seemed like maybe, just maybe, this time, the creation of Black Lives Matter and the response they led would have lasting impact.  Yet again, George Zimmerman, the murderer of another young black man was acquitted.

MWProductions has always and will always stand with Black Lives Matter and their mission.  Our purpose is to use art as a healing threshold to inclusion, true equity and equality.  Artist-facilitated social action that encourages difficult dialogues concerning some of the most important and consequential issues of our time will continue to be our guide forward.

Two key events that have forced the conversation are the pandemics of covid and racism. For MWP a way to embrace hope, is to keep the conversation centered on all of our experienced truths.  Touched, Alive, Hope is a new multi-media art installation that is intended to bring together many hands and many voices from around the world, fostered by a partnership between Violence Transformed and Medicine Wheel Productions.

Here are a few resources to help navigate the road to building an inclusive and equitable non profit.  Click on images for more info.

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Call to Artists for TOUCHED ALIVE HOPE

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TOUCHED ALIVE HOPE, Community Participatory Projects & Exhibition

For 29 years, Medicine Wheel Productions (MWP) has been at the intersection of art and healing. Beginning in 1992, we responded to the AIDS/HIV crisis that was ravaging communities in deadly silence and no government response. Every year, for World AIDS Day, on December 1, MWP mounts a 24 hour vigil and art installation for Day With(out) Art where people come to remember and grieve as a community while hundreds of performing artists over the course of the day present prayers, spoken word, dance, music and chanting.

Violence Transformed Violence Transformed is an annual series of visual and performing arts events that celebrate the power of art, artists and art-making to confront, challenge and mediate violence.

Now, in the midst of the duo pandemics of Covid and racism, MWP and Violence Transformed are launching our largest participatory project in our history of building community through cultural action. The TOUCHED, ALIVE, HOPE Project will engage thousands of people across the state and the world, artists and non-artists alike

samplers l-r  upper Deborah Kamy Hull, Kathy Soles  bottom, Michael  Dowling, Cushing House woman

samplers l-r
upper Deborah Kamy Hull, Kathy Soles
bottom, Michael Dowling, Cushing House woman

Lead Artists:

TOUCHED, Michael Dowling, Artistic Director, MWProductions

Touched explores how we can connect to each other in the wake of social distancing when all forms of touching from a handshake, a kiss on the cheek or a full embrace can lead to illness and possibly death.

Call for Visual Art: take a 16” x 16” piece of cloth and create a sampler reflective of how you have been TOUCHED by the corona virus. Any medium is acceptable.  The samplers will become part of a quilt large enough to cover the floor of the Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts. Again, there are no limitations on the medium used. Send the completed sampler to: MW Productions, 110 K Street, Boston, MA 02127

Join a Community Class: Technology will meld with some ancient art forms as people create work with each other via Zoom.  Even though not everyone will choose to embroider their sampler, we are calling these sessions, virtual sewing bees. Deborah Kamy Hull and other artists will host a series of short classes on Zoom. FOR WORKSHOP SCHEDULES EMAIL INFO@MWPRODUCTIONS.ORG

 ALIVE, Amir Dixon, Artist in Residence, MWProductions

Understanding that racism is systematic and denies people of color and explicitly Black People their dignity and equity, MWP is producing a Community Participatory Video Project examining the systems of racism and inequality and the artist’s job to resist and give language to the marginalized.  The system won’t be dismantled without collective commitment and action taken against racism.

MWP is inviting all folks to join the movement: We are asking folks to record a video up to 60 sec answering:

Why are you committed to the dismantlement of racism (systemic racism)?

These videos will be a part of the Day With(OUT) Art exhibit and guide us through action planning as an organization and community against racism.  Submit a Video: Make a video/recording of yourself on speaking to how Covid-19 has TOUCHED you. Visit & Upload to LINK or Send to: digitalstories@mwproductions.org

HOPE SCROLLS, L’Merchie Frazier, Director of Creative Engagement, Violence Transformed

BRING TO THE WORKSHOP YOUR HOPEFUL THOUGHTS AND ITEMS TO RECYCLE THAT YOU MAY HAVE: A pair of scissors, 2 inch to 3 inch tape, old or new newspaper clippings, old or new magazines, fabric or cloth from clothes to be discarded. Recycle these items, learn the art of collage and tell your story of hope and survival. Join, L’Merchie Frazier, Director of Creative Engagement in the Hope Scrolls Workshop on the 4 recurring Wednesdays.

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us04web.zoom.us/j/9912164011?pwd=OGwxelBVUWNnUmdGZWJvZjVNcGw1UT09
Meeting ID: 991 216 4011
Password: 9TZ5zu

Angel Danilo Esturban named 2020 Valdez Scholar!

Roberto Valdez, Poet, Youth Advocate, and Board Member of Medicine Wheel was a strong voice for the untold stories of the countless young men and women who have worked at Medicine Wheel.  In 2011 he set up the Scholarship fund to help other young people tell their untold stories.  He had the brilliant idea to ask 300 donors to make a simple donation of just $10.00. allowing us to take one of these young people on our annual artistic retreat to Italy. 

Roberto met many obstacles along the road, poverty, addiction, sexuality, self-esteem, and homelessness among them.   We are all so “delicately balanced” as he says.  On November 29, 2016 one day after his 27th birthday Roberto passed away, claimed by his addiction. His story is not finished however.  

Please consider making a $10.00 or more donation, to the Valdez Scholarship Fund. Checks can be made payable to Medicine Wheel Productions, 100 K Street, South Boston, MA 02127. Or donate online at:




angelAngel Danilo Esturban            I am just a Guatemalan Dominican kid from Boston who was shy.  Growing up was hard. I’m talking about: not knowing my mother for the first 6 years of my life; being lead poisoned and having brain damage. It was always a challenge for me.  I was always afraid of being who I am and to just live free.  I grew up in Jamaica plain, Franklin Field and South Boston’s  D Street projects.  Moving was always difficult.  You know the feeling of meeting new people and leaving your friends behind for a new life. I never understood the reasons why my mother was not around so much but it was because she was poor and couldn’t afford rent.   That’s where the system, I call the DSS, came into our lives.  Being separated never crossed my mind, it was more like a break from my mother and brother and sisters but I knew something wasn’t right.   Why we couldn’t go back after that first week and switching schools was just confusing and something new. Until I reach the age of 8 and figured out the meaning behind not being home with mom and siblings. I understood I was in a foster home, but it didn’t see much as a foster home since it was my aunt that took me in instead of some random non family member strangers taking me in,  so I was comfortable with the idea but still didn’t know why I couldn’t go that easy. Later I find out my mother couldn’t pay rent because my father basically ran off, and made his own new family. Plus she couldn’t speak English so it was hard for her to get a job.  In September 2002 my dad passed away.  I was only 6 years old 2 weeks away from my birthday. We had things planned but I guess life is just full of mysteries.  After that I always had a black cloud over my head knowing my dad was gone and a fat kid and not living with my mom messed me up made me want to always be on my own.

My godparents used too buy a lot clothes instead of toys so that’s when I knew I had a thing for styles and clothing.  To me it was fun l getting my first polo shirt and Levi jeans also Fubu and Hilfiger tracksuits.  It was like opening a new power ranger toy on Christmas. My passion for fashion was there from the start watching rap music videos and pop videos trying to mix the styles together all in one but I was afraid of showing my ideas because I was already getting bullied and didn’t want to make myself look more like a freak than I already was …plus I  didn’t have the money to get the clothes I wanted but that all changed.

When I was 13 years old I was back in Southie selling drugs and getting high so,  I had an advantage to buy new clothes which I did.  At  the same  time I was in middle school. That’s  when my love for fashion opened up even more I was more free and was able to get the clothes I needed .. I was wearing skinny jeans and got backlash for it ppl used to call me gay and other bad names I will not say. It was painful and made depressed but made me anger as well so I continued to wear more skinny jeans and show off my amazing outfits to the world I was finally free! I started to get in trouble and wanted to stay out of trouble so my second oldest sister had told me about a program more like my sanctuary the medicine wheel brought me to a world I never thought I would imagine coming across such as amazing people who filled my heart  with love and warmth. The energy was already there at MWP. Michael made me realize there is so much to life then just living it. He taught me how to be me how to be free how to be the person I always hid. After leaving MWP I Continued with my fashion end up making clothes and also art. I feel like I need to reach out to others and talk more about myself in person so people can understand where I’m coming from and basically there is a lot of stuff missing but I want to tell my story on my clothing and art

Peace and love is what we need

from one Angel to another