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Organization DBA --
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years Yes

Summary

Mission StatementMORE »

Medicine Wheel Productions (MWP) is a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to art as public service. We develop and implement sustainable public art projects that speak to the needs of individuals, specific communities and to the public at large. All of our projects invite people to an awareness that comes by creating together and a realization of who we are for ourselves and who we can be for one another.

Mission Statement

Medicine Wheel Productions (MWP) is a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to art as public service. We develop and implement sustainable public art projects that speak to the needs of individuals, specific communities and to the public at large. All of our projects invite people to an awareness that comes by creating together and a realization of who we are for ourselves and who we can be for one another.


FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2016 to Dec 31, 2016
Projected Income $571,008.00
Projected Expense $564,754.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Medicine Wheel; A Day Witout Art/World AIDS Day
  • No Man's Land
  • S.P.U.N.

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2013 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2012 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Overview

Mission Statement

Medicine Wheel Productions (MWP) is a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to art as public service. We develop and implement sustainable public art projects that speak to the needs of individuals, specific communities and to the public at large. All of our projects invite people to an awareness that comes by creating together and a realization of who we are for ourselves and who we can be for one another.


Background Statement

 

Medicine Wheel Productions (MWP) is a 501c3 non-profit corporation dedicated to art as public service. It develops and implements sustainable public art projects that speak to the needs of individuals, specific communities and to the public at large, primarily in the Boston area. All of our projects invite people to an awareness that comes by creating together and a realization of who we are for ourselves and who we can be for one another.


MWP has been in Boston since 1996. Our programs and our funding priorities have served to create cultural experiences which unite diverse populations. MWP has witnessed drastic changes over the last two decades in the city of Boston. MWP has been responsive to these changes through the use of public art and cultural engagements. MWP has been responsive to these changes through the use of public art and cultural engagements. Our activities invite a coming-together through the creative process with the result being a stronger, more unified community.



As MWP has evolved over these past 20 years, it has refined its mission and purpose. The objectives of MWP are now to 1) launch intimate and large-scale public art projects that respond to the needs of the community, 2) engage young people and adults in community building activities and discussions, 3) offer young people year-round employment opportunities in the creative sector, and 4) be a leader in redefining the role of art in culture. 

 


Impact Statement

Accomplishments:
1. Hand In Hand - is a new model of inclusion, created and launched by MWP in 2015, that uses a cultural action to help people move from resistance to reconciliation by creating public art together. The work explores and challenges the capacity to humanize the “the other” in our lives.
2. Medicine Wheel: World AIDS Day/A Day Without Art- The Medicine Wheel Vigil is our oldest and largest project, from which our organization takes its name. Held annually on December 1, World AIDS Day, Medicine Wheel provides sanctuary for people to gather and to reflect on the impact of HIV/AIDS The. Medicine Wheel is used as a sacred ceremonial space honoring the connections of all life through a 24- hour vigil of prayer, dance, song and ritual. 2016 will be the 25th anniversary of this public art event.
3. Opening of OUR COMMON PATH at No Man's Land which is a model project of MWP showing how artists can involve their communities directly in the creation of public art and is a perfect example of our unique way of community building. No Man’s Land provides the community with an “urban wild” and a native species garden and The invitation for the community to donate personalized bricks to Our Common Path has also involved much of the community to an extent that they truly feel like they are part of No Man’s Land.

GOALS:
Right size organization
Look at institutional marketing
Grow board
 
 

Needs Statement

Funding; general operating 
Volunteers
Staff Expansion
Facilities Expansion
Project Support (Materials, equipment, etc) 

CEO Statement

Medicine Wheel was founded out of the heartfelt desire to create safe spaces for people to gather and heal, using art as the threshold.   Our signature project, Medicine Wheel, installed each year to honor World AIDS Day/A Day without art predates the organization and and is in it's 25th year.  The lessons learned from this epic work have shaped the mission and vision of the subsequent organization.  All of our work is rooted in the deeply held belief that each spoke of the wheel is significant and that if one spoke of the wheel is broken the wheel is incomplete.  This philosophy has allowed all of our projects to honor the individual and collective gifts of our audiences.   Our work is about using the creative process and creative outcome to help  people locate themselves in their everyday lives.   We believe that there are 3 distinct ways in which this happens:   Inviting people to make the work with us;  creating ritual activity in the work;  and experiencing the finished work.  Our work is done in response to a call from community.   The call is unique because it a call for the services of art to respond to an issue that is current, troubling, celebratory or urgent to the community asking.  Over the years we have worked with;  faith communities, the HIV communities, the homeless communities, the youth communities,  the recovery communities, the LGBT communities, and the law and order communities on large scale and intimate projects.  
 
Each of our projects has offered the participants a space to humanize each other and discover who they can be for themselves and for one another. 
 
Most recently we have been working with the Boston Police Department and youth across the city on our Hand In Hand Project, a 4 hour workshop bringing police and youth together to meditate, create and reflect. 
 
 
The Medicine Wheel experience creates a threshold that once crosssed invites awareness and change.   We recognize that people destroy things because they are not invited to create!  Our motto is "moving beyond diversity to inclusion, building community from the inside out, using art as the threshold. 
 
 
 

Board Chair Statement

--

Geographic Area Served

Greater Boston Region-All Neighborhoods
Medicine Wheel Productions considers itself a citywide organization, although much of our work is deeply rooted in the South Boston community.

Organization Categories

  1. Arts,Culture & Humanities - Arts & Culture
  2. -
  3. -

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)

No

Programs

Medicine Wheel; A Day Witout Art/World AIDS Day

Founder of Medicine Wheel Productions,Michael Dowling, created the yearly 24 hour installation known as Medicine Wheel in response to the early days of the HIV/AIDS crisis, also know as the “dying years”. It was a period in our history marked by fear, stigma, confusion and marginalization. Dowling identified the need faced by communities hit by AIDS for safe and sacred space where individuals and community could bear witness to the realities surrounding the AIDS epidemic. Medicine Wheel created the space to reflect, grieve, reconcile and create dialogue, gathering together the conditions for communities to build and healing to take place. This year with be the 25th Medicine Wheel 24 hour vigil.
Budget  $13,450.00
Category  Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Visual Arts
Population Served People/Families of People with HIV/AIDS Lesbian, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgendered Alcohol, Drug, Substance Abusers
Program Short-Term Success  People have a safe space to grieve their loved ones. That is a short and lonf term success.
Program Long-Term Success  This year will mark the 25th Medicine Wheel 24-hour World Aids Day/A Day Without Art Vigil.
Program Success Monitored By  People attend and want to participate in the vigil. That is success.
Examples of Program Success  This vigil is entering it's 25th incarnation.

No Man's Land

No Man’s Land (NML) is a model project of MWP showing how artists can involve their communities directly in the creation of public art and is a perfect example of our unique way of community building. Since 1996, Medicine Wheel founder, Michael Dowling, has led the South Boston Community in the reclamation of what was once an abandoned tract of land located between South Boston High School and the National Park at Dorchester Heights. MWP worked in collaboration with South Boston residents to clean up and reclaim this land for the community by working with residents to create a large sculpture that stands in No Man’s Land as a memorial to the victims and the survivors of drug overdoses and suicides that have happened in South Boston.
Our Common Path is the latest public art installation at No Man’s Land. Our Common Path is lined with personalized bricks donated by the community and connects No Man’s Land to the National Park.
 
 
Budget  $42,000.00
Category  Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Public Art Programs
Population Served Adults Families Adolescents Only (13-19 years)
Program Short-Term Success  Memorial bricks are being installed on Our Common Path at quick clip. There is interest in maintaining and expanding out pathways.
Program Long-Term Success  Michael Dowling reclaimed this land in 1996 and has been its caretaker along with Medicine Wheel as its steward since then. MWP has preserved and beautified an urban wild space preserving it for the community. 
Program Success Monitored By  People are using out site every day. We call that success.
Examples of Program Success  We have sold hundreds of bricks to make Our Common Path.

S.P.U.N.

Silent People Until Now (S.P.U.N.) is the youth programming of Medicine Wheel Productions (MWP). The majority of our youth participants are classified as low-income, all youth are proven at-risk, and a portion are in residential drug treatment. 

The youth in the residential drug treatment program come to MWP through the Gavin Foundation’s Cushing House in South Boston. The young people are separated in the Cushing House into two programs and houses: one for girls and one for boys. Each group then spends two mornings each week at MWP (Girls Monday and Thursday; Boys Wednesday and Friday) during the first 45 days of their six-month residential treatment. After this time, the youth then reenter society either be returning to school or entering the workforce.

 
 
Budget  $108,378.00
Category  Youth Development, General/Other Youth Development, General/Other
Population Served Adolescents Only (13-19 years) Alcohol, Drug, Substance Abusers At-Risk Populations
Program Short-Term Success  Helping with out large scale public art projects. Our afterschool youth is very involved in our Hand in Hand project, for example.
Program Long-Term Success  We measure success in the Program in small steps. We hope these participants survive into adulthood. Their lives are our successes.
Program Success Monitored By  We have entrance and exit surveys that all the youth fill out to help us track our impact.
Examples of Program Success  A recent eample of how we were able to make a positive impact on the live of one of our youth participants:

Justin, a teenaged parent of a toddler, graduated from a Boston Public School this year but we having a very difficult time navigating the system to get his high school transcripts released and sent to Bunker Hill Community College where he hoped to be enrolled this fall. Without the transcripts Bunker Hill was not letting him register for classes. With the help of MWP staff, Justin was able to navigate the labyrinth that is BPS and his transcripts were released to Bunker Hill; he started classes there this fall.



CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

Mark McGonagle, Board Chair:

Interestingly the challenges we’ve faced, and how we’ve addressed them, have recreated new challenges. The success of our projects these past couple years have been great. However, the demand on our staff and board members to both logistically and monetarily support the continued growth of Medicine Wheel as a result of these successes has been challenging no doubt. “Hand in Hand” is the most pronounced example of this. This project took off rather quickly. The Boston Police Department, starting with Commissioner Evans was immediately supportive, we immediately got youth and young adults involved. However, we’ve begun to get requests from police departments from around the region to replicate Hand in Hand with their officers and community members. We’ve also had to get corporate sponsors for individual workshops as each workshop cost us about five thousand dollars.

Ultimately the issue of responding to continued growth is a good problem to have. I, as board chairman, am grateful for the work each board member and staff member put into Medicine Wheel. The work we do is inspiring and truly makes profound differences in people’s lives, particularly those most vulnerable. But the challenges to keep this momentum going are felt by all of us.

Management


CEO/Executive Director Mr. Michael Dowling
CEO Term Start Feb 2000
CEO Email [email protected]
CEO Experience
Michael Dowling holds his masters in fine arts from Boston University.  He is both founder and Artistic Director of Medicine Wheel.  He had a long and successful gallery career before starting his work public art in 1992. 
 
Dowling has been referred to as a force for unity by Adrian Walker of the Boston Globe.  
 
He has taught at Boston University, Framingham State College, Monserrat College of Art and Brandeis University He has served on graduate review panels for Lesley University and Mass College of Art. 
 
Michael has been artists in Residence at many institutions, most recently Brandeis University. 
 
He has ben 
 
 
Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
-- -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
Mr. Richard S. Dinsmore Advocacy and Public Art Coordinator --
MS Tara Doran Director of youth programs
Masters in Public Health
MS Anna White Director of Community Initiatives --

Awards

Award Awarding Organization Year
Urban Scholar/ Freedom Profject Boston National Historical Park 2016
Liberty Tree Project Rev 2050 2015
Resident Award Gavin Foundation 2010
Ruth and Nathan Perlmutter Award Brandeis University 2009

Affiliations

Affiliation Year
-- --
Member of state association of nonprofits? Yes
Name of state association Massachusetts Nonprofit Network

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --

Collaborations

Medicine Wheel partners and collaborates with many agencies and other non profits in the City including, South Boston Association of Non Profits, Boston Youth Evaluation project, Gavin Foundation, DYS, Dorchester District Court, Boston National Historical Park, Excel High School, the Fenway Alliance, Boston Public Library, Museum of African American History, Rev250, Old State House, St Francis House, South Boston Asia YES, Ostiguy High School, South Bosotn en Acio, Boston Police Department

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

Management  of our multiple projects and programs has been both rewarding and challenging for a small non profit.   We have identified the meed for more mid-level management.  Our core staff works wonderfully as a team with senior staff meetings each week.  We definitely have the need to expand staff at all levels. 

Foundation Comments

--

Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 4
Number of Part Time Staff 5
Number of Volunteers 7
Number of Contract Staff 3
Staff Retention Rate % 100%

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 3
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 7
Hispanic/Latino: 2
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): 0
Gender Female: 2
Male: 10
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Yes
Organization has Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers 3
Management Succession Plan Under Development
Business Continuity of Operations Plan No
Organization Policies And Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes
State Registration Exempt

Risk Management Provisions

--

Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency No N/A

Governance


Board Chair Mr. Mark McGonagle
Board Chair Company Affiliation Boston Redevelopment Authority
Board Chair Term Feb 2015 - Feb 2018
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
MS Jane Bowers McCormick Bowers Associates Voting
Mr Amit Dixit South Asian Arts Council Voting
Mr Michael Dowling Medicine Wheel Productions Voting
Mr Michael Indresano Indresano Photography Voting
Mr Mark McGonagle BRA City of Boston Voting
MS Susan Nalband 555 Gallery Voting
Mr Dennis Pellecchia Marcum Voting
Mr Roy Rider retired Voting
Mr Rick Winterson South Boston Online Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Roberto Valdez N/A Voting

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Constance Cervone Cervone Deegan Assoicaites NonVoting
Mr Thomas Johnston City of Boston NonVoting
MS Melissa Weiss Ostrow Barmarkian NonVoting
MS Ruth Raphael BNHP NonVoting
MS Janelle Woods-McNisch HPHC NonVoting
MS Karen Young HPHC NonVoting

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 1
Caucasian: 8
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 2
Other (if specified): LGTBQ
Gender Female: 2
Male: 7
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 0
Board Meeting Attendance % 75%
Written Board Selection Criteria Yes
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes

Standing Committees

  • Board Governance
  • Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
  • Finance

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

Recent Governance Issues at MWP

Recruitment challenges and opportunities:

Recent focus of the MWP Governance Committee has been on recruitment and installation of new board members as some terms are expiring and new candidates are being brought forth to round out the Boards talents and resources. The challenge is to consciously refine the board talents and grow the value of the board to the organization.

The current board has been surveyed about their own talents and interests and about their recommendations for new or sustaining skills needed on the board. There is consideration of moving some board members to an advisory board, who are interested in supporting the organization, but have served time on the board and may not desire, or be able to continue to attend meetings and be on committees. They are considered valued members of the Medicine Wheel Community and the goal is to maintain a relationship with them.

Via ongoing efforts of the board and an energized nominating committee a roster of candidates will be presented at the annual meeting in February, if approved new terms would begin on a rotating basis. The Governance Committee believes that a once-a-year installation of new members is not the best way to build a strong effective board. It is the hope that from this roster and ongoing recruitment efforts new board members will come to the table, refreshing the board throughout the year and for years to come. This will also give the board the opportunity to bring in suitable members as they become available, to be more responsive to meet the boards needs and to have ongoing board development and training.

Care and Feeding of the Board:

Keeping board meetings exciting is always a challenge and to keep it interesting and engaging the Board has requested a “Mission Moment” at each meeting from the director. He will share an anecdote about how the organization has touched someone or how the organization has been touched. This may come from a staff member, a client or the director himself.

There is an ongoing effort to bring the board together socially, to help board members work together effectively by shortening the time it takes for members to understand each other and the organization. The board is understanding that the members must be served as well as the organization to keep the board vibrant and energized, to help each other build the board as a community and to trust and respect one another.

Foundation Comments

--

Financials


Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2013 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2012 (%)

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2016 to Dec 31, 2016
Projected Income $571,008.00
Projected Expense $564,754.00
Form 990s

2014 990

2013 990

2012 990

Audit Documents

2014 Accountant Review

2013 Accountant Review

2012 Accountant Review

IRS Letter of Exemption

IRS Letter of Determination

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Total Revenue $460,829 $402,055 $531,639
Total Expenses $421,832 $482,002 $570,930

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
-- -- --
Government Contributions $0 $0 $127,445
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified $0 $0 $127,445
Individual Contributions $352,720 $240,464 $335,474
Indirect Public Support $0 $0 $0
Earned Revenue $39,458 $41,390 $39,019
Investment Income, Net of Losses $0 $0 $0
Membership Dues $0 $0 $0
Special Events $68,651 $120,201 $29,701
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other $0 $0 $0

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Program Expense $326,024 $355,411 $433,300
Administration Expense $63,995 $45,366 $54,030
Fundraising Expense $31,813 $81,225 $83,600
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.09 0.83 0.93
Program Expense/Total Expenses 77% 74% 76%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 8% 23% 17%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Total Assets $57,943 $32,291 $110,801
Current Assets $52,063 $24,131 $100,361
Long-Term Liabilities $15,000 $15,000 $15,000
Current Liabilities $13,307 $26,652 $25,214
Total Net Assets $29,636 $-9,361 $70,587

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value --
Spending Policy Income Only
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line No
Reserve Fund Yes
How many months does reserve cover? 1.00

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? Anticipated In 3 Years
Capital Campaign Purpose Looking to create a capital campaign to secure permanent home in 4 years
Campaign Goal $600,000.00
Capital Campaign Dates Jan 2017 - May 2020
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount $0.00
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? Yes

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 3.91 0.91 3.98

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 26% 46% 14%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

One of the biggest challenges that faces Medicine Wheel is the scale and scope of our projects versus the size of our organization.  We have positioned Medicine Wheel as the Go To organization in the greater Boston area for Art and Healing and as a agent for change to the needs of  our times.  
 
While we are recognized for our outstanding work we are often under resourced.  These past tow years we have stepped back a bit to evaluate the needs of Medicine Wheel and have clearly seen that fundraising, marketing and development are crucial needs for the organization.
 
We also are looking at Board expansion and board development and training.  We have found our work with the Bloomberg Philanthropies and the DeVos institute very helpful in this process. 
 
We are in an active phase of creating a legacy organization as we develop our capacity in several ways. 
 
We have many opportunities in the upcoming years with amazing invitations to do significant work.  We know that our work is amazing, what we are not good at is the messaging.   The organizational marketing that allows us to build on and expand the Medicine Wheel family.
 
We are working diligently with a newly energized Governance committee of our Board.   We are also exploring a a fundraising and marking strategy as we scale our work so that we don't end up doing it but not telling the story! 
 
 
 
 
 

Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in charts and graphs are per the organization's IRS Form 990s. Contributions from foundations and corporations are listed under individuals when the breakout was not available.

Documents


Other Documents

No Other Documents currently available.

Impact

The Impact tab is a section on the Giving Common added in October 2013; as such the majority of nonprofits have not yet had the chance to complete this voluntary section. The purpose of the Impact section is to ask five deceptively simple questions that require reflection and promote communication about what really matters – results. The goal is to encourage strategic thinking about how a nonprofit will achieve its goals. The following Impact questions are being completed by nonprofits slowly, thoughtfully and at the right time for their respective organizations to ensure the most accurate information possible.


1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?

Medicine Wheel Productions (MWP) is a 501c3 non-profit corporation dedicated to art as public service. It develops and implements sustainable public art projects that speak to the needs of individuals, specific communities and to the public at large, primarily in the Boston area. All of our projects invite people to an awareness that comes by creating together and a realization of who we are for ourselves and who we can be for one another.


MWP has been in Boston since 1992. Our programs and our funding priorities have served to create cultural experiences which unite diverse populations. MWP has witnessed drastic changes over the last two decades in the city of Boston. MWP has been responsive to these changes through the use of public art and cultural engagements. MWP has been responsive to these changes through the use of public art and cultural engagements. Our activities invite a coming-together through the creative process with the result being a stronger, more unified community.

As MWP has evolved over these past 20 years, it has refined its mission and purpose. The objectives of MWP are now to 1) launch intimate and large-scale public art projects that respond to the needs of the community, 2) engage young people and adults in community building activities and discussions, 3) offer young people year-round employment opportunities in the creative sector, and 4) be a leader in redefining the role of art in culture.

 

Our major project now is Hand in Hand which is a new model of inclusion, created and launched by MWP in 2015, that uses a cultural action to help people move from resistance to reconciliation by creating public art together. The work explores and challenges the capacity to humanize the “the other” in our lives. The result of this model is, hopefully, an understanding of our commonalities. MWP’s current focus is bringing police officers and young adults together in three hour workshops, where they meditate, reflect through writing, cast each others hands, share a meal, and have photographic portraits of their faces taken.

We have commitment from the Boston Police Department (BPD) to participate in these workshops, at a rate of eight officers per workshop. This dedication to the project from the BPD is a great sign of commitment and support. We will recruit the “civilians” through our relationship with Boston youth and with the help of our community partners.


This Project helps to mend the divisions in our communities and seeks to improve the health and safety of our communities by creating a common experience together.



 

2. What are your strategies for making this happen?

We make our strategies happen by being visible in the community. Our public art happens by invitation and we keep being invited to create and to participate.


By offering young people employment and the opportunity to participate in our projects, like Hand in Hand, we are putting our beliefs into practice. Art heals. We invite community to participate in our projects, as long as they continue to do so, then we are successful.


3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?

Medicine Wheel, under the leadership of founder Michael Dowling, has been doing this work in Boston since the year 2000. He has put together a strong team of Medicine employees who understand the community and the populations we serve. MWP has a small, but talented staff that is dedicated to achieving its mission. With a diverse range of experiences and backgrounds, the staff has an ideal blend of skills and perspectives that helps move the organization towards its vision. Medicine Wheel has a board made up of committee members and professionals that believe in MWP's mission.


Our main focus now is on our Hand in Hand Project and that is a good example of how capable our organization is. Hand in Hand is a new model of inclusion, created by MWP, that uses a cultural action to help people move from resistance to reconciliation by creating public art together. The work explores and challenges the capacity to humanize the “the other” in our lives. The result of this model is an understanding of our commonalities. MWP’s current focus is bringing police officers and community members together in half-day workshops, where they meditate, reflect through writing, cast each others hands, share a meal, and have photographic portraits of their faces taken.


We do not know of another project like this one and neither do the Boston Police. According to Deputy Superintendent Nora Baston, this project is unlike any the BPD has ever participated in. The small size of the workshops and the invitation to meditate and create together is an experience that the police officers have never gone through with the community and especially not with young people.


The target population to be served by the workshops are Boston Police Officers and young residents (ages 16-22) of Boston who have been negatively impacted by violence.


We are inviting community youth to partner with Boston Police officers in order to discover their commonalities in hopes that it will lead to greater understanding and less violence. This project has applications that are far reaching in scope and will be applied to populations in South Boston, the Greater Boston area, and beyond. Hand in Hand will lay the foundation for reconciliation and community-building.
 

Each Hand in Hand workshop is comprised of eight Boston Police Officers and eight young people. These police officers and young people are volunteers and willing participants of the program. The BPD is responsible for finding the eight officers for each workshop while MWP is identifying the young people. We are locating the young people from within our own programming and from our community partners.


Hand in Hand will lay the foundation for reconciliation and community-building between groups of people who view each other as suspicious or as “the other.” We will hold one workshop a month bringing together police officers from throughout Boston and youth from throughout the city to create, share and breathe together. This will allow for the humanization of the other and hopefully greater understanding and peace. By holding these workshop we hope to decrease violence in the City of Boston.

 
 

4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?

In terms of Hand in Hand, we hope to achieve an understanding, at a human level, between members of the Boston Police Force and the young people of Boston when we invite them to create together. We will know that we are successful if people want to participate in the workshops and if those participants view “the other” in a more favorable light.


There are thousands of Boston Police Department officers and the Boston Police Commissioner would like them all to participate in a Hand In Hand Workshop. According to the mission statement of the Boston Police Department, they are dedicated to working in partnership with the community to fight crime, reduce fear and improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods. The goals of Hand In Hand mesh with that mission statement.


Other law enforcement agencies have also expressed interest in participating in Hand in Hand workshops. As long as our society is not perfectly harmonious there will be a need for these workshops.


5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?

We have been holding one Hand in Hand workshop a month since the end of 2015. These workshops help us to meet our goals by 1) being a large public art project that respond to the needs of the community, 2) engages young people and adults in community building activities and discussions, 3) offers young people year-round employment opportunities in the creative sector (our employees staff the workshops), and 4) help us to redefining the role of art in culture.


Our obstacle, as with all of our work, is lack of funding.