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2023: A Year of Stories

We come into the new year with deliberate joy and hope. It can take focus to find abundance and lightness in this moment. And yet, that is the work we do together: imagine different ways of being and doing in the midst of norms that do not serve, nurture healing where there is trauma, seek growth where there is oppression.

With gratitude, we look to the people we’ve partnered with for purpose and wisdom in this work. We are honored to share lessons from a dozen folks that we’re carrying with us for 2024.

Illustrations by Yuko Okabe

Visit 2020 stories ︎︎︎   Visit 2021 stories ︎︎︎    Visit 2022 stories ︎︎︎   


“I learned how to skate in ramps and it’s a really good feeling! When you get the tricks, you have friends that support you and you feel stronger; you feel like you can do it.”


Tati is a member of a community of rollerskaters we met at the Lynch Family Skatepark, where we observed the care, joy and growth they share with each other. Tati talked about the experience of coming into a space that’s traditionally white and male – and the ways they have made space for themselves and their friends.

Tati inspired us to push ourselves and  celebrate our progress with each other.

The project: We’re working with the Charles River Conservancy to create a strategy for art in the skatepark, considering how this public space can reflect the cultures and subcultures of the folks who find community there. Check out Tati skating at the park here.

“We have the opportunity to create a system where the work of early childhood education is equally compensated and where we value the wellness and labor of this workforce.”


Lisa Grant leads the Cambridge Office of Early Childhood, which this year launched a program to offer preschool for all 4 (and some 3) year-olds in the city. Achieving this required braiding together a disparate ecosystem and keeping people at the heart of the structures developed. Throughout, Lisa’s work has centered the families navigating this system and the educators who are nurturing the city’s children.

Lisa shows us how clear strategy can support collaboration when we stay human about the impact of the work.

The project: We worked with Lisa in 2021 to co-create the strategic plan for the Birth to 3rd Grade Partnership (now the Office), focused on the systemic work necessary to implement universal pre-k. Read about the Cambridge Preschool Program here.


“It is humbling to work alongside the entire group [of providers] who are dealing with tragedy and the life-long pain of those who live in the aftermath.”

Show up.

Chief Jim Hooley is Chief of Emergency Medical Services for the city of Boston. We saw him bring into collaborative spaces his deep experience, system insight, and commitment to showing up (sometimes from the front seat of an EMS response vehicle) in order to learn, listen and imagine different ways of working.

Chief Hooley taught us that expertise and openness can coexist without fanfare.

The project: We partnered with Chief Hooley as part of a working group tasked with designing an updated protocol for the city’s response to incidents of community violence. Read about some of the city’s supports here.
Our mission is to use design to reduce structural inequity in America. Agncy is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.  © 2020 Agncy Design Inc. 
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