The Elma Lewis Center piloted a Community-Centered Grant for students, staff, faculty and off-campus community members working to support partnerships rooted in authentic relationships and trust—especially those that seek to provide material relief while also working to dismantle systems of oppression, leading to sustainable liberatory practices. Among the fourteen applications, the Community-Centered Grant committee awarded $850 each to the following four projects. Members of these projects, the Elma Lewis Center and the Social Justice Collaborative will also periodically come together as thought and listening partners.

Headshot of Johnette Marie Ellis

Mother Mercy’s Call to Create

Mother Mercy’s Call to Create (C2C) is a 10-month immersion pilot project to develop and document the creative process of a small cohort of creatives of color. The goal is to both observe and influence the creative process; capture the alignment of spirit, of sociopolitical & personal power at play when we create. C2C is influenced by Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by Adrienne Maree Brown. The vision is to create space rooted in reimagining the purpose, pillars, and processes of our creativity—establishing new direction for its expansion. Awardee: Johnette Marie Ellis, founder of Mother Mercy and Emerson MFA alum.

Image of a student reading a poem

Generational Narratives

Generational Narratives is a project between EmersonWRITES high school students and their chosen elders exploring social justice issues and legacies of both oppression and strength. This project will publish, display and perform, at various Boston locations and the EmersonWRITES showcase. It seeks to build increased communication about issues, concerns, and questions of our times between students, teachers, families and community members. Awardee: Mary Kovaleski Byrnes, Emerson faculty and EmersonWRITES curriculum director.

Two women dancing

Listening Tour of Community Leaders

Listening Tour of Community Leaders holds space for the construction of peace in present-day Colombia using Theater of the Oppressed approaches and interviews with arts organizers in collaboration with Reconectando, La Familia Ayara, and Otra Escuela, based in Bogotá. It centers on storytelling as a grassroots tool of resistance, empowerment, and solidarity. Awardee: Kate Wand, Emerson MFA graduate student.

Headshot of Michelle Falcón Fontánez

Reclaim Puerto Rico

Reclaim Puerto Rico is showcasing their first theater play, “Las 5 Mujeres de Caguax,” a multigenerational Boricua herstory of patriarchy and colonization survival, which gives a personal look into colonialism and how it has impacted Puerto Rican families on a generational level. The project also includes an art installation in the summer called La casa de abuela, an interactive multimedia piece that consists of a traditional Puerto Rican grandmother’s home in the countryside displaying the belongings that the family had to leave behind. The project is inspired by the short documentary “PROMESA” made about the economic crisis in Puerto Rico before Hurricane Maria. Awardee: Michelle Falcón Fontánez, Emerson MFA graduate student and documentary filmmaker.