By any measure, reaching 25 years of constant, continuous service to a community is a real milestone, in the best sense of that metaphorical word. Well, South Boston’s Medicine Wheel Productions, which started up in 1991, has done just that. Medicine Wheel was always a team effort, of course, but as you know, its founder and “Chief Energizer” was (and is) Michael Dowling.
Just consider a few Medicine Wheel accomplishments. There’s an annual observance of AIDS Day on December 1, which attracts citywide attention. The next time you walk through the national Park on Dorchester Heights, take a brief tour through the nearby, one-acre, crescent shaped mini-park known locally as No Man’s Land. Think about emplacing an engraved brick along the path to commemorate someone you loved. Drop in to Medicine Wheel’s Spoke Gallery at 110 K Street, second floor, to see what local artists can do. And possibly you have heard about Medicine Wheel’s “Hand in Hand” partnership with the Boston Police Department. According to BPD Commissioner William Evans, his own officers are even more enthusiastic than Medicine Wheel’s young participants about “Hand in Hand”.
Anyhow, last Wednesday, June 15, it was time for a “Major” anniversary party. And a “Major”, big-time party it was – combining fundraising, a superb venue at TAJ by the Public Garden, and a chance to honor Michael Dowling for all that he has done (and still intends to do) for our community.
Around two hundred guests took part. The all-around views of Boston from TAJ’s 17th story top floor were magnificent; TAJ certainly lived up to its reputation for being among the finest host locations in all of Boston. The hard-working Board of Medicine Wheel certainly outdid themselves. And not so incidentally, the fundraising end of the evening was quite, quite successful.
Naturally, the high point of the event was the tribute paid to Michael Dowling. He became one of his own Medicine Men. The program, emceed by Board Chair Mark McGonagle, was mercifully brief and to the point. Speakers all praised Michael’s efforts in bringing art to the community, an effort that he has expended beyond the borders of South Boston on numerous occasions. Chief among the speakers was Mary Dowling, Michael’s mother, who still puts in a lot of time at Medicine Wheel.
As the sun set on Medicine Wheel’s party, Eugene Kelly, one of guests, summed it up well: “I’ve been friends with Michael for 38 years. We have a bond – a steady friendship that would always stay special. He’s my brother.”
Adrian Walker in last Friday’s Globe wrote about Michael and Medicine Wheel in a column he called “The Power of Art”. Among the facts Walker pointed out were, “Primarily, (Medicine Wheel) uses art to bring together young people …” “Medicine Wheel’s alumni/ae now number in the thousands.” “Much of Boston … was represented at the gathering … “ And that kind of dedication will still mark Medicine Wheel’s efforts 25 years from now.
See you at the 50th.