Newsletter, October 2021

Pre-Texts International Weavers’ Summit
On Saturday, October 30 (9 – 11 am ET – Time), we will hold an International Weavers’ Summit to learn from master weavers of Pre-Texts around the world. We will feature trainers from Argentina, Colombia, China, Germany, Kenya, and Mexico. During the following week, October 30 to November 7, each expert weaver will host a workshop for facilitators who register. The Meetings will inspire the Pre-Texts community of facilitators to design new implementations, enhance existing ones, and generate links among facilitators for transnational and multidisciplinary projects. More information here.

Shamiri Institute raised $1 Million to Expand Character Strength Mental Health Interventions for Kenyan Youths
We congratulate our Pre-Texts Regional Director, Tom Osborn, and all our colleagues from Shamiri Institute for having raised $1 million to expand character strength mental health interventions for Kenyan youths in the next few years. Youth mental health is a global problem that accounts for 45% of the global burden of disease amongst young people. It will cost our global economy $1trillion/year by 2030. We need big ideas to solve this problem: Our hope is that our community-first youth-oriented model is a template for the rest of the world. See full article HERE


Forum Theater Session


Here’s where public health meets the arts, and the humanities by extension as interpretation and reflection on the arts.  We are planning a Forum Theater exercise on Saturday, October 30 (2:00 PM – 5:00 PM EDT) at  Adams House, with Tania Bruguera & Doris Sommer among the participants. Forum Theater is the creative partner of Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. REGISTER HERE to take part in this XXX experience.


Plenary Debate on Culture: Re-Imagining Urban Environments 
This session of the summit develops a compelling narrative that highlights the necessary steps to be taken by cities in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. Mayor will discuss the need for new mobilizing projects, including the use of arts and culture, festivals, as well as developing an environment for digital events in the post-pandemic era. With lessons learnt from the pandemic with regards to inequalities, the reconfiguration of public spaces is needed. These efforts should be shaped through participatory processes. Introductory statement by Dr. Doris Sommer, Director of the Cultural Agents initiative, Harvard University. Click here to read more about the event.


Cultural Agents & Climate Heritage Network


We are delighted to announce that Cultural Agents is now a part of the Climate Heritage Network (CHN). CHN was launched in 2019 and released a plan to help dismantle barriers to greater engagement in climate action by cultural operators, and to scale up culture-based climate solutions. To see all our CHN Network partners click here.

Canary Island on “De po si to”

With the rhythm and rhyme of Despacito, this version of the Canarian group Chirimurga del Timple called De-po-si-to vindicates the role of citizens to keep the city clean.  In the video, the song of the spanish ‘Chirimurgueros’ communicates the different ways to recycle the garbage produced in celebrations like Carnival.

A cool intervention with HUMA S131

EcoLogicStudio has designed AirBubble, a children’s play pavilion that uses algae in solar-powered bioreactors to remove carbon dioxide and pollutants from the air. The London-based studio claims the 52 bioreactors mounted around the structure’s perimeter can purify the entire volume of air inside the pavilion each day to keep pollution levels within World Health Organization guidelines. Watch the vídeo and click here to know more about this excellent initiative.

To find more notable interventions visit Renaissance Now webpage.

Teaching system-level thinking with an interdisciplinary lens
Fawwaz Habbal, Executive Dean for Education and Research and Senior Lecturer on Applied Physics, and Doris Sommer, Ira Jewell Williams, Jr. Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and of African and African American Studies, co-teach systems-level thinking. Their course, Aesthetic Pleasure and Smart Design: Janus Faces the Future, trains students to look at complex problems from the perspective of both artists and engineers. This requires the development of skills in scientific assessment and disinterested aesthetic judgment. In the spirit of Renaissance Now, an international movement to promote sustainable development, Habbal and Sommer model the combination of boldness and humility. Continue reading the full article.

Pre-Texts Summer Internship 2021
In June and July 2021, Cultural Agents launched the Pre-Texts Harvard College Summer Internship Program. Ten talented undergraduates partnered with eight organizations around the world. After training as Pre-Texts facilitators, interns pursued: film making in the Bahamas, children’s reading clubs in Mexico, English with lawyers in Paraguay, high school teaching in Germany, curriculum design in China, mental health in Kenya, and teen to tot development in Boston. Engaged by the pandemic, we riffed on Michel Foucault’s plague from Discipline & Punish. Click here to enjoy their blogs.

International Pre-Texts workshop

The International Pre-Texts workshop, led by Doris Sommer and Rebeca Brito, had 4 sessions facilitated by the participants. They proposed activities (drawing, media and collage, art of images linked by association, dadaistic mnemonic collage expressive circle, manual activity using the Mapuche poems), and thru the facilitation exercise, they could understand the time to be silent, how to propose activities, how to present their opinion, questions and recommendations, etc. We look forward to hearing about their program proposals and implementations in the last session. Click here to know what happened in each session.

Pre-Texts with college students in Aracajú, Brazil
Matheus Batalha, in his first on-campus class in one and half years, proposed an activity using elements of Pre-Texts for 14 college students. This incredible experience, called “A brand new day”, was published in his column in the city’s newspaper. Click here to enjoy the full article.

Pre-Texts Argentina & Vamos a Andar Centro Cultural


We invite you to see the video of Mochilas Culturales Launch, one of the programas developed by Centro Cultural Vamos a Andar. This organization is focused on families, children and neighbors of Villa 31 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In May 2021, we arranged a Digital Pre-Texts session in which we combined online messages with walks around the neighborhood. We read Discurso del Oso, from the Argentinian writer Julio Cortázar.


Cases for Culture Cultural Agents Department of Architecture Doris Sommer Italia Launch Videos Mental Health Opportunities Partners Pre-Texts Rennaisance Now Social Equity
October 1, 2021
by mei