Beacon to the Dream

Beacon to the Dream! August 28, 2013

50th Anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King’s I have a Dream Speech










































IMGP0205Download  Beacon Flyer


Beacon to the Dream.grouptabloid.cwk (DR) copy shane tabloid.cwk (DR) copygrouptabloid.cwk (DR)

Proposed initiative:

On August 28, 2013, we invite the South Boston and Greater Boston Communities to take cultural action by carrying  lanterns to Castle Island in South Boston,  a symbolic gesture ,  moving beyond diversity to inclusion, honoring the  50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.   Our hope is to have several thousand lanterns encircle Pleasure Bay.  We anticipate that to go this distance will take thousands of lanterns and will necessarily be a result of an effort made by that many or more Boston residents in honoring King’s legacy of inclusion. The event, which we are calling “Beacon to the Dream,” will also be an invitation for artists from all over Boston to become part of an evening long program that will further articulate our mission.


Beginning October 21, 2012, we will be running three free workshops weekly – two either on site at our K Street studios or at as yet determined locations throughout the Greater Boston area (depending on factors of mobility, access and populations to be included in the project). The third, in collaboration with Beacon Communities,  will be run at the Tierney Center at Old Colony as an ongoing weekly series of project-based ‘mixers’ whereby residents of Old Colony will host other populations from South Boston and/or the Greater Boston area. Our hope is to have emissaries from the Old Colony housing area, “Ambassadors,” be present at all events, working alongside MWP’s youth employees, our Daniel Morrison Fellows, many of whom come to us from social service agencies such as DYS and PACT. Together these young Medicine Wheel employees will be challenged to engage workshop participants that may include everyone from residents of the immediate neighborhood to parishioners from a church in Lynn, children from the Boys and Girls Club, women from the Mother’s Group, members of a synagogue in Newton, corporate groups from Gillette or Eastern Bank or Harvard Pilgrim Health, small businesses from South Boston or Chelsea or Lexington, medical staff from Spaulding or Massachusetts General Hospital ,etc. The workshop leaders will be well versed in initiating discussion of King’s vision and in encouraging entire groups to expound, engage and elaborate on their own experience of that vision. All workshops will have one professional staff artist teacher present to further oversee and direct the discussion and lantern making.

Lantern Pick Up Stations:

  • Farmers’s Market West Broadway South Boston, Mondays, 2-5:30 pm
  •  South Boston Public Library, Mondays,  2-5:30  pm
  • Castle Island, South Boston, Mondays, 2-5:30 pm
  • Medicine Wheel Studios, 110 K Street, South Boston, Mon-Fri. 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • Joseph M Tierney Learning Center, Mercer Street South Boston, Mon- Fri., 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Cambridge College, Mass av Cambridge MA, Mon.- Fri, 9:00 am-5:00 pm
  • No Man’s Land, directly  behind South Boston High School, Wed. 5:00 pm- 10:00 pm


South Boston is in many ways a microcosm of Greater Boston socially, economically, racially and economically. There continues to be a need to engage residents from Old Colony in larger community programs and for the Tierney, in keeping with Beacon Communities initiatives, to be used for events that have relevance to the existing population. In the past six months, several violent incidents have occurred in the older section of Old Colony that only emphasize the need for further community intervention and redirection, and for a larger awareness in the Greater Boston area.  The South Boston population is currently one of the most diverse in the entire Commonwealth; the potential for encouraging inclusion is therefore greater than it has ever been. The need for inclusion in Greater Boston is immediate and overdue.


1. Partners – the following visionaries have expressed keen interest in this project to date (the list continues to grow daily).

Home Depot

Beacon Communities Development, LLC, Pam Goodman, President

Eastern Bank, Carolyn Crowley, Senior VP, Private Banking

Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare, Eric H. Schultz, President and Chief Executive Officer; Karen Young, Diversity Officer

The Gavin Foundation, John McGahan, President

Central Square Theater, Maggie Moore Abdow, Education Director

2. Participants – the intention is to have South Boston,  all of South Boston, host this event for all of Greater Boston. We want to challenge longstanding perceptions of the racial inequity and bias typically attributed to this area. Our mission is to reawaken all participants to the possibility of King’s dream of inclusion. We also see this as an opportunity for our Daniel Morrison Fellows and the Old Colony Ambassadors, both part of our youth employment program, to make this their initiative and be responsible for relaying their vision of King’s dream to workshop participants. Our Program Manager will be training them to present publicly in a way that is articulate and impassioned. This is truly, as young people who represent Boston’s future, their message to impart.


Michael Dowling, our Artistic Director and founder, has a penchant for staging events around public art installations that, because they are born in answer to a community need, become self- sustaining. His initiatives at No Man’s Land in South Boston, with MLK Day in January (in collaboration with Harvard Pilgrim Health) and with the annual Medicine Wheel installation each December 1st have taken on a life of their own. Our budget has increased by a third in the past three years alone. We are seeing a rise in foundation support this year also by a third (and that’s without having yet reached the end of our fiscal year).  Our annual fundraiser in June, Turning the Wheel, raised almost twice that of what has been made in past years.

This next year, we will also be using our K Street studios to host corporations interested in using art as threshold to increase team work and improve work culture . We have been in touch with Linda Naiman of Vancouver, B.C., whose art-based corporate programs very much mimic our own conception of this new MWP agenda. We have also been in touch with local Boston companies that do this sort of work and have been assured that a need exists. Project Adventure we are not, but ask any art phobic you know and they will tell you that being asked to draw something inspires a fear in many of us that is easily equal to being asked to walk across a 20 foot beam, 30 feet above the earth. That fear becomes the threshold for encouraging enriched communication. Indeed, confronting fear, especially fear born of ignorance and bias, is what MWP is about as an organization.

Other revenue that contributes to the overall fiscal viability of the organization comes from grants, individual donors, the adult education program, the annual fundraiser and project based fundraising campaigns, such as the current Brick Campaign to sell engraved bricks to the general public that will then be used to create wheelchair accessible paths throughout No Man’s Land, the public park Dowling has created out of an abandoned and neglected piece of land up behind South Boston High School.

Medicine Wheel Productions is in the business of confidence and community building, whether you are a CEO navigating fiscal mine fields during an economic downturn that has greater staying power than anyone might have predicted, a teenage boy with a record as long as your leg, or a seventy something retiree looking for an excuse to get out from behind the television set of an evening. We are a service organization that has the great fortune of using our facility to inspire social change by using art as threshold that is long lasting and life altering. Fiscally and programmatically, we have never before been so well poised to take this organization to a new level.


We hope that August 28th, 2013 will become the first of many celebrations to be held in commemoration of Martin Luther King’s dream of inclusion at Castle Island/Pleasure Bay. We envision  (quite literally) a beam of hope that will send a clear message to the rest of Boston, not only in the spectacular light display created by thousands of lanterns set ablaze (with LED lights), but in the broad array of performance artists that will come to South Boston that day to perform for us as dancers, actors, singers, poets, etc. As important to us is the possibility of giving the residents of Old Colony and other disadvantaged populations an opportunity to feel less like an island. Beyond that essential mission is the simple truth that communities need art, need the community engendered by the making of art more today than ever before; we live in a techno-frenzied environment that diminishes our opportunity to create with our hands and to interact directly with our neighbors. Medicine Wheel Productions is increasing inclusion in this city daily. Our authenticity and reputation as artists and humanitarians with the help from our avid and equally compassionate sponsors positions us to lead this initiative in a way that will have lasting impact on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for many years to come.

For more information, contact:

Michel Dowling 

Medicine Wheel Productions
110 K Street
South Boston, MA  02127
Phone: 617.268.6700
Mobile: 978-502-4990


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