"In Spring of 2017, the UMass Amherst History Department’s Feinberg Series had the good fortune of working with The STOKE Collective(uact leaders who formed stoke). They worked with us and a range of community partners to plan, host and facilitate the capstone event, which was titled “Plug In! A Gathering to Change the Things We Cannot Accept.” This local action forum consisted of a series of simultaneous participatory workshops with eight local grassroots organizations that are working to build the collective power of communities affected by mass incarceration. There were over 100 people in attendance, an even mix of students and community members, and throughout the evening I witnessed so many people making so many meaningful connections: connections with each other, connections into organizing work, and connections between academic ideas and on-the-ground activism. Many attendees came up to me at the event to let me know how appreciative they were. It was "like nothing I've ever been a part of" said one local resident, who stayed later than she intended to and was late to a board meeting as a result, because she found the experience so valuable and life-giving. In short, it was incredible, as has been our whole experience working with STOKE.
STOKE does transformative work. I’ve learned so much by working with Jen, Jishava and the other members of STOKE. Their relational practices and values change the spaces they enter and the groups they work with. They do so not in a top-down way, but by thoughtfully and intentionally equipping groups with tools, capacities and experiences that enable us to shift our own cultures from within."
-Jessica Johnson, Community Engagement Director, UMass Amherst History Department