Policy Lab

Policy Lab is a platform for brainstorming policies that affect the lives of American people. The Covid-19 pandemic is exposing and worsening the inequality in our society as the results of the decades-long policy decisions made in favor of capital owners over workers.

Many of us—teachers, nurses, small business owners, artists, bank tellers, factory workers—don’t feel that we are well-represented in our political landscape. In fact, the chances of someone from a middle to low-income household, especially for a person of color, to win a seat in Congress are much slimmer than those from affluent households. If we want our laws to reflect the needs of us, the majority, we need representatives from the same backgrounds as ours.

While this would entail changes on many levels—welfare, education, justice, etc.—the first step, to amplify the voices of the under-represented majority, is already under way in various grassroots actions. Through this Policy Lab, we hope to contribute to this global effort by providing a platform of communication among policy makers, candidates, and voters from various fields.

We begin with round table-type discussions with a different theme each week, with guests representing diverse views, in the framework of how related policies should be formed or reformed. But this project does not end at the podcast. The recordings will be categorized, tagged, and accessible to the public. They will be organized by topic so it’ll be easy to find relevant clips that can be used by candidates, policymakers, and grassroots organizers.

In this world of online communication, stories are the most valuable assets. But they are as good as the vehicles and channels they are presented through. Unfortunately, too many hardworking people are over-extended, not given the space or means to tell their stories. This project aims to provide such a space.

Our goal is to find partnering organizations throughout this country who can host their own Policy Lab Podcasts with their audio clips joining the master archive. Over time, we’ll have a library of policy ideas that will reflect local nuances, all organized and searchable in one place. 

Our first podcast will launch in spring of 2021.

Fiscal Sponsorship Assistance and Workshops

Forge Collective is an LLC (limited liability company) fiscally sponsored by Fractured Atlas. What does this mean? It means we can operate as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization without having to incorporate or tax-file as such, by using the status of the sponsoring organization. Fractured Atlas administers my grants and donations, making sure my activities stay within the boundary of non-profit. This arrangement gives us the flexibility of an LLC while enabling us to receive tax-deductible contributions and grants from public and private foundations.

Technically, any non-profit can serve as a fiscal sponsor, but there are some organizations whose sole purpose is to provide this service. Fractured Atlas is exclusively for art projects (keep in mind, the term art allows a wide array of interpretation), but there are others who focus on different areas, and there are many more that offer the service in addition to their main charity activities.interpretation) but there are others who focus on other areas. And there are many more that offer the service in addition to their main charity activities.

Used effectively, fiscal sponsorship could function as a basic income for supporting meaningful work. However, it takes some research and trial and error to build a successful project. We are here to help.

The benefits of using fiscal sponsorship are numerous. You don’t need to go through the lengthy process of forming a nonprofit, which includes selecting board members and creating by-laws (although those things are recommended if your operation requires a large budget and complex structure), and starting an LLC can be done at a fraction of the cost of starting a 501(c)(3). Furthermore, you learn the sound practice of operating a non-profit, as most sponsors provide detailed information and administrative services including consultation. No organizations would want to risk their non-profit status because their sponsored projects violated the legal guidelines.

The process of applying for a fiscal sponsorship typically involves an application with the project proposal and setting up a bank account under the project. An individual can apply as a sole proprietor, but forming an LLC is recommended. Most services charge a percentage of the money raised through their program, usually between 7% and 10%. In addition, some services may charge memberships and other fees.

Once you’re approved, you normally set up an online portal through which you manage your account. All donors who seek tax deduction must donate to your project through your sponsor’s account. For example, our donors and granters make the donations payable to Fractured Atlas. The fund is parked in the sponsor’s account until you withdraw from it, thus giving you flexibility of timing. For a large donation of $1000 or more, Fractured Atlas produces a letter receipt to the donor. At the end of the year, FA creates a 1099-Misc for your LLC which you file as a regular taxable business income..

At Forge Collective, we are planning to form our own non-profit down the line, but our partnership with Fractured Atlas allows us to take time building our organization. However, many individuals seek this service for a one-off project. It can be used for a complex, million-dollar endeavor requiring large grants, or for a small neighborhood project that can be accomplished with donations from local businesses and banks.

We offer workshops and individual consultation for finding and working with a fiscal sponsor. Contact us if you’re interested.


Intrinsic Podcast is providing a great forum to bring people together around important topics that matter to each of us. Keiko sets the stage by combining folks from different backgrounds to offer insight and exchange ideas.

–Kevin O’Connor, CEO, RUPCO (listener and guest speaker)

Intrinsic is a podcast about what makes life worth living. It is about the intrinsic value of each individual and intrinsic motivation that drives us. What if we could align these with our jobs? What if we could do what we are good at and enjoy doing as a way to live? How would that affect our society? What would such a society look like?

These are the questions we ask in Intrinsic. In a small roundtable-style discussion, we hear stories from all types of creators who make many sacrifices in order to pursue their passions. We sit down with small business owners and non-profit directors, community organizers and volunteers, who go to great lengths to serve the community. We explore transformational policies like Universal Basic Income that would help people follow their natural motivation.

We focus on the communities in the Hudson Valley and the Catskills of New York State, but our topics are relevant everywhere. Take a listen and be a part of the Intrinsic Movement!

Episodes and Guests

The Persuasion of the Queen’s Gambit. William Horberg, Executive Producer of the Queen’s Gambit, Milk, the Kite Runner, Talented Mr. Ripley, and more.

Hudson Valley and UBI: Is It Our Future? Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan, Hudson Mayor Kamal Johnson, Sparks of Hudson Co-founder Susan Danziger, and Hudson Pilot Director Joan Hunt.

Hudson Valley Performing Arts Now. Chris Silva (Executive Director, Bardavon Presents), John Barry (former Poughkeepsie Journal music reporter), and Brian Mahoney (Editorial Director, Chronogram) share their thoughts on how the performing arts and cultural scenes are, as we slowly emerge out of the pandemic.

Lifting the Community in Dark Times. Christine Hein, Executive Director of People’s Place, and Michael Berg, Executive Director of Family of Woodstock.

UBI and Housing. March Gallagher, Ulster County Comptroller, Kevin O’Connor, CEO, RUPCO, and Scott Santens, UBI advocate

Universal Basic Income Now.  Jim Pugh and Owen Poindexter, hosts of the Basic Income Podcast

Local Business for a Better Future. Jen Metzger, former State Senator in NY District 40 and Nels Leader, CEO Bread Alone Bakery

Seeds and Chocolates. Lagusta Yearwood, owner, Lagusta’s Luscious and Ken Greene, founder, Hudson Valley Seed Company

Culinary Giants of New York. David Waltuck (Chanterelle), John Novi, Depuy Canal House), and Ric Orlando (New World Home Cooking)

Beyond Political Hobbyism. Kelleigh McKenzie, Chair, Ulster County Democratic Committee; Lin Sakai, Chapter President, Indivisible Ulster; Amy Fradon, Neighbor to Neighbor Program Coordinator, Woodstock Democratic Committee

Beats and Leaps: Power of Performative Arts. Livia Vanaver, Director, Vanaver Caravan; Jason Bowman, Director, Rock Academy; Drew Bryant, Director, Center for Creative Education, Kingston

All About Fiscal Sponsorship:Access the funds behind the nonprofit barrier. Colleen Hughes, Program Operations Coordinator, Fractured Atlas; Susan Ragusa, non-profit consultant; Lilia Perez, Grants and Programs Manager, Arts Mid-Hudson

Podcasters talk Pods. Theresa Widmann, host, I Want What She Has (Radio Kingston) and Brett Barry, host, Kaatscast, and owner, Silver Hollow Audio

Artist as Cultural Worker: Public School Teachers on Art, Music, and Education. Dan Shaut, Band Director and Teacher, Highland High School, NY, and Director, Bridge Arts Education; Lara Giordano, retired art teacher, Kingston High School, and Director, D.R.A.W., Kingston

Cautionary Tale to the Hudson Valley from Lacoste, Provence. Cyril Montana and Thomas Bornot, Filmmakers, Cyril contre Goliath,

Politics, Power, and Passion. Eitan Hersh, author, Politics is for Power

Power Duo: Running Two Non-Profits and Raising a Family. Chris Hewitt, Founder, Hudson Valley Current, and Nicole Fenichel-Hewitt, Founder, The Art Effect


Panels and Lectures

Our panel discussions and lectures center around the themes of deep communication, a new social contract including UBI and human-centered economy, and intrinsic motivation and emotional intelligence. We invite guest panelists and speakers mostly from our community, often representing different viewpoints but with equal dedication.

Our most recent panel happened in January where our director Keiko Sono, then a delegate in the 19th Congressional district in New York for Andrew Yang, a Democratic Presidential candidate, was joined by other delegates Rebecca Rojer (Sanders) and Dan Flores (Warren). They presented their candidates’ policies in terms of how they would affect our own community, followed by Q&A and signature collection for petitions to place them on the ballot.

The event was well-received and many requests were made for more. People were hungry for the message of unity, open communication, and collective problem-solving. That’s exactly what Forge Collective will provide.

UBI-Specific Deep Canvassing

With a majority of American citizens set to receive stimulus checks, there is no better time to reach out to voters about Universal Basic Income.

Deep canvassing is a technique that is quietly gaining momentum. Although it has been in practice for centuries, the term was coined by David Fleischer, who leads the Leadership LAB of the Los Angeles LGBT Center, after the passage of Proposition 8 in the 2008 California ballot measure, banning same-sex marriage in the state. This devastating loss propelled Fleischer to go to the heart of those who voted for the measure, coming up with an initiative that resulted in a 1 in 10 success rate in changing the voter’s mind.

Unlike conventional canvassing which involves scripted questions and targets voters who already agree with the viewpoint of the canvassers (as in Get Out the Vote campaigns), deep canvassing reaches out to voters who may disagree with the canvassers’ position.

The essence of deep canvassing is to build trust of the voters so that they become more open to ideas they are opposed to. For this reason, it is more suited for issue advocacy than for political candidacy.

Instead of firing off bullet points of questions, deep canvassing starts with listening. Typical sessions last 15 to 20 minutes and it is not uncommon to revisit the same voter multiple times over several months or years. It is a slow, long-term process, and therefore not a good tool for an election season. Rather, it is a powerful foundation-building process that leads to winning an election or a ballot measure if conducted a year or two in advance.

Moreover, it is proven to produce long lasting results and provide valuable information, the kind that is not easily conveyed in numbers and check marks. It is a way to build a meaningful network that gives power to organizations and candidates who are willing to put in the time and work.

But perhaps the most valuable aspect of deep canvassing might be that it builds empathy on both sides. People who volunteer to deep-canvas already have a high level of empathy, but they don’t often find opportunities in social situations to speak to people who hold opposite views. With adequate support and training, deep canvassers develop a high level of emotional intelligence and become valuable assets to the community.

We are currently in research and development for deep canvassing specifically designed for UBI advocacy. Our first step is pandemic UBI phone banking, in which volunteers will be calling their friends and family to find out how they feel about UBI, now that its concept has become familiar to many Americans. Make sure to sign up for our newsletter to receive updates.

Photo:Jeffrey Fountain/Courtesy of Los Angeles LGBT Center

Community Media Lab

Between Saugerties and Woodstock, a solitary barn stands at a junction where three roads meet. On one side stretches a rolling field of hay along a low mountain ridge. There is a sense of timelessness here, away from any of the events that overflow in the news.

This is the future home of the Forge Collective Community Media Lab.

The idea originated from Flick Book Studio, a stop-motion animation studio operated by Keiko Sono, Founder/Director of Forge Collective. She loves how stop-motion animation marries hands-on experience with digital technology and platforms. For nine years, she provided classes, workshops, summer camps, and screening events for artists of all ages.

She also learned many things. She found out that all kids have stories inside them, ready to burst if given the right environment and incentive. She observed that the right equipment and space were more important than instruction. She also witnessed how the social aspect—collaborating and sharing—was an integral part of creative development.

A 20 minute compilation of animation clips made by FBS students from the fall of 2012 through April 2013 (except for the first two clips which were made earlier). It was screened at Reel Voices, a joint event with FiberFlame, on May 11, 2013.

One of the unexpected benefits was that her studio attracted a large number of students on the Autism Spectrum. The process of animation—telling a story frame by frame—is widely adaptable yet methodical, rendering itself as a perfect creative outlet for children on the spectrum. Keiko developed a flexible workflow in partnership with other institutions such as SUNY New Paltz, giving students a choice in the degree of interaction with other students, from a large classroom where they could mingle as much as they wished to an isolated studio where they could deeply focus on the process. Either way, the pure joy Keiko saw in all students exhorted her to find a permanent home for her animation studio.

While operating Flick Book Studio, she also directed a public outreach project called Catskill Waters, sponsored by stream programs with grants from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. A large part of the project was story collection—she interviewed more than 50 residents in the NYC watersheds located in the Catskill Mountains 100 miles north of the city  and recorded their conversations.

Even in small communities, people can go for years or decades without talking to their neighbors. Keiko was told by more than a few people that her interviews revealed new things about the storytellers they had known all their lives, changing their views of them positively. She saw potential in using community-based podcasts and other digital story-sharing methods as a way to resolve conflicts or achieve common goals.

These two paths led Keiko to dream up the idea of a community media studio where people can access the tools, space, and knowledge needed to tell their stories in a wide array of styles and expressions.

Our office currently occupies one of two small studio spaces inside this historic barn. Our plan is to convert the entire structure into a media studio that includes facilities for stop-motion animation, podcast and YouTube recording and streaming, photo-shoots, digital animation, and post-production.

Front Side of the Barn

Our focus is to provide high quality equipment and applications, often out of reach for non-professionals, in an open, inclusive, and collaborative environment.

In today’s world of division, misinformation, and chaos, honest and deep communication is the glue that builds the foundation for trust that is needed to not only avert calamity, but to build a better society.

We hope to contribute in our small way to this endeavor.

Contact us if you wish to be involved in this project. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay tuned.