The State of Massachusetts


Vision and Strategies

By the final gathering of the Massachusetts Assembly at the end of 2019 a clear vision emerged for how to utilize their pool of $1.45M. “By engaging with each other in this process, we collectively understand that in order to further strengthen creative placemaking in the state of Massachusetts, we must change the frame, pay respect, and honor the people and the place.


“It’s actually about Creative Place-Tending.”


That is to say it’s about centering the people, projects, and organizations who nourish and steward thor places through arts, creativity, and cultural expression...The most dynamic way to strengthen this practice is through a lens of care and recognition; therefore each of our strategies embody those things.” 

Working within a values framework, the Assembly imagined and cultivated 3 strategies that would ultimately, uplift and recognized Black, Indigenous, and People of Color who have been doing the work of tending without enough financial resources; support those who have been traditionally denied or limited by oppressive systems, including philanthropy; and continue to support and share networks, resources, and opportunities to all creative place-tenders throughout Massachusetts.

  1. Native Reparations: The first distribution strategy for this Assembly was to dedicate 40% of their funds towards Native Reparations. They recognized that the only way to do place based work with arts, culture, and creative expression, is to first acknowledge the first peoples of Turtle Island, past, present and future. The Native Youth Empowerment Foundation are the primary decision-makers and stewards of this work. 
  2. Ripple Gifting: While imagining alternative ways to do philanthropy, the group noted that far too often decision-makers make decisions from a perspective disconnected or removed from those and that for which they are considering funding. In that knowing, the group’s second strategy, fully implemented in 2020, was to acknowledge and uplift as many Massachusetts based practitioners as possible with an expansive ripple gifting economy. In practice, this meant inviting each Assembly member to identify up to 3 generations of ripples, both nominating giftees and then giving those gift recipients the opportunity to nominate as well. 
  3. Assembly 2.0: This 3rd strategy will result in a larger and final gift offering connected to the first 2 strategies. Assembly 2.0 is about convening and building power with this newly formed network of Assembly members and Ripple Gift Recipients, shifting visibility of a wider range of practitioners across the state. 

In 2020 the Assembly moved over $1.14M of it’s pool of funds, completing their first two strategies. It’s 3rd strategy, Assembly 2.0 will launch in 2021.

The Assembly

Co-Tending Subcommittees: 
Native Reparations: Rhonda Anderson and Larry Spotted Crow Mann
Ripple Gifting: bashezo boyd, Cariel Klein, Ngoc-Tran Vu
Assembly 2.0: Susan Chinsen, Ramona Lisa Alexander


Assembly Members
Ramona Lisa Alexander, Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative
Barbara Schaffer Bacon, Animating Democracy, Americans for the Arts
Blair Benjamin, Assets for Artists, MASS MoCA
bashezo boyd, Artist Unbound Bodies Collective
Maria Cartagena, Holyoke Bound
Susan Chinsen, Boston Asian American Film Festival & ArtsEmerson
Luis Cotto, Mass Cultural Council
Cynthia Espinosa, City of Holyoke
Nia Evans, Boston Ujima Project
Jasmine Rochelle Goodspeed, Double Edge Theater
Priya Green, Artist
Andrae Green, Artist
Cariel Klein, Double Edge Theatre
Jennifer Lin-Weinheimer, CreateWell Fund
Lori Lobenstine, Design Studio for Social Intervention
Jess Martinez, TDI Fellow, MassDevelopment
Allentza Michel, Powerful Pathways
Alyssa Saunders, Mt. Auburn Associates
Kim Szeto, New England Foundation for the Arts
Francisco Torres, TDI Fellow, MassDevelopment
Jessica Vilas Novas, Lawrence Public Library
Ngoc-Tran Vu, Artist
David Weeden, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe -Tribal Historic Preservation Officer
Berta Welch, Aquinnah Cultural Center


Facilitation Team
Saskia Epstein, Power Launch Philanthropy

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