Wed, Oct 31, 2018

Ashley Holmes

Ashley Holmes - Marketing & Brand Coordinator

Humans of Abbott Square


"I was a MAH board member when the museum looked at how to better connect with the community. Nina and her team have since taken that up several notches by closing down Cooper Street for scheduled events, hosting GLOW, as well leading many other new festivals and public events. This work has brought in so many different organizations and resulted in creating a true and inclusive community space - a community living room. Abbott Square surpassed the idea of connecting the MAH to the downtown through art and culture activities and has transformed this space into a super charged public living room. Happy First Anniversary Abbott Square!"

  • David Terrazas, Mayor of Santa Cruz

“Areas of Abbott Square are sort of inaccessible, so I think it is important to counter that with free music shows, political actions, and art activities. On one hand, not everyone can afford the food and drinks, which is why it is important to counter that with a plethora of other accessible things. My experiences in Abbott Square have been dancing, crying from a political speech that touched my heart, seeing cute people and being too afraid to ask for their number, having meetings with people about big, queer art events - I have had a lot of memorable experiences and stories. While I think there is more growth to be had, I am excited to see the MAH try to bridge those gaps and figure out how Abbott Square can truly be for the whole community.”

  • Jamie Joy

“We needed a place to hang-out. My friends are all around the area, so this is a perfect middle ground. We love the indoor, outdoor vibe, and how safe it is when the rest of downtown doesn’t quite hit that mark. It is fun to get to meet up here. My friends and I know we don’t need to go to SF for a nice night out we can find it in our own backyard.”

  • Brooke Ence, #itmakesence

“We are doing the best we can to make the Dia de los Muertos just like it is in Mexico. It is a lot of good memories and an important tradition. I love seeing families living their traditions in this country. And our families see the MAH as a second home for them. Before they use to say “en lugar de las bolas rojas” (where the red balls are) since they never came in before and would just walk by. But now people know it. We have made it our cultural center which is so important.”

  • Nereida Robles, Scendos

"Our whole mission is to normalize family dancing. Abbott Square has been the perfect environment to explore that and be creative and get people to feel good, have fun, and interact with their kids. When we do events in the community we want everybody to be a part of it. Fostering that family connection is so important. And we just love coming here to do that. It feels like how going to the MAH doesn't have to be for a certain demographic of people, dancing isn't just this thing you do on a stage. It is for everybody."

  • Amber and Meeshi Anjali, Founders of Groovaroo Dance
Photo Teresa

“I couldn't have imagined the rally happening anywhere else. The square really showed what it meant for our community to have a dedicated space to gather and have deeper conversations -- it's super powerful. Just thinking about all the people who marched, then came over to Abbott Square after still gives me the chills. We were literally overflowing onto the streets, all along Cooper Street and around the corner back on to Pacific. I'll never forget the feeling of being surrounded by people who wanted to show their support for immigrant families, just like me. It was a little surreal. Just a month before I was sitting on my couch reading the news on my phone feeling pissed off and completely powerless. All I did was sort of raise my hand to help plan the rally with these six amazing women I met. Four weeks later there were thousands of us standing together.”

  • Teresa Ruiz Decker, lead organizer Families Belong Together rally

“I started only as a consultant as the Market was starting up. I was living in North Dakota at the time and was really just helping out a friend with this new project. Now I have been here about a year, moving out to Santa Cruz just before the opening. I had a business designing bars and spaces like this. Adding the toys everywhere was my touch. Everyone can relate to toys. They make spaces memorable for nearly everyone.”

  • Kate Gerwin, world-renowned restaurateur and mixologist

“As an artist I appreciate that spaces like the MAH & Abbott Square exist—as they have provided spaces for me to work on my creative outlets, and a venue to showcase my art with a sea of other remarkable works. It is the ideal place for me to connect with community members, to find solace within my own work, and to enjoy the minty Santa Cruz air. The square provides delectable art, a variety of eateries, and a complete selection of beverages.

As a brown immigrant queer artist, I also understand the implications of the hardships in life and use this to fuel my art.
As a Santa Cruz community member, I understand the implications of financial hardships and the oppressive power of gentrification.
As an activist, I would like for the square and resources to be more accessible especially to low-income artists and community members who have the internal tools, fire, and vision to contribute to and better the space.”

  • MK Veniegas

“My lifelong dream was to open a cafe that offered education, space, and a community. And Abbott Square is that dream realized.”

  • Akindele Bankol, Owner of Veg on the Edge

Akindele Bankole worked tirelessly for years to bring his vegan restaurant to life. Now part of the thriving community of downtown Santa Cruz, Veg on the Edge, is a must stop for some healthy bites.


“A MAH trustee, Laura, had agreed to host a party at her home to raise funds for the project. She lives up in the mountains, and it was a beautiful day, so I decided to bike to her house. I stuffed a dress in my backpack and hit the road in grungy workout clothes. 100 yards from her house, I was making a turn and I fell off my bike. My wrist hit the curb and snapped. I started screaming in the middle of the street. One of Laura’s friends saw me and ushered me into Laura’s house. My arm was broken, but I was mostly focused on how terrible I felt that I was ruining this beautiful fundraising party. That, and the fact that I couldn’t move my arm enough to put on my dress over my sweaty clothes. I sat on Laura’s couch, clutching my arm, wearing a shawl a guest offered me. I was so hyped up on adrenaline from the fall that I gave the brief pitch for Abbott Square to the party guests — and then I was whisked to the hospital. We never did another Abbott Square fundraising event at someone’s home again.”

  • Nina Simon, Santa Cruz MAH Executive Director