Day-long Exploratory Retreat

Vision Lab in residence at Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard Divinity School

Cambridge, MA, 2018

Benjamin Korta: In this time of social fracture, it is crucial to investigate the conditions of possibility for communication and mutual understanding. Circling is a practice of meditative dialogue that focuses on subtle levels of moment-to-moment connection between individuals and groups. By combining embodiment, dialogue, and subtle relational presencing, this brief workshop will inquire into the nature of attuned relationship and the potential for personal, interpersonal, and social transformation therein.

Karlene Griffiths Sekou: This workshop will explore the black radical imagination in social movements and the deployment of creative arts for justice.

Chew Lin Kay: A time travel glitch has deposited a cache of artefacts from 2070 in the CSWR garden. What objects are in there, and what do they say about our everyday lives in the future? We'll be using a simple and engaging process to explore what might be ahead for us.

Alen Agaranov: How does justice push us to both act and reflect in real time, without the time for stepping into a state of tranquility, only learning and radically teaching through practice? How does it feel to be "catching Social Reality in flight?" The Astronaut will answer these questions and more.

Kythe Heller: In what ways can our writings become sites of liberatory practice and collective evolution, sites of resistance, an array of new social and ecological relationships, by considering how to use language and public space to radically change our way of being in the world?

Annie Silverman: Join in making small hand sewn journals to record breakthroughs during the day. Relax into the spirit of paper, scissors, glue, thread and the power of your hands.

Annie Silverman--Annie Silverman is a relief printmaker and book artist who for over 20 years has been creating experimental work with print installations, dimensional objects and books. In 2008 she formed ABRAZOS PRESS with Sandra Butler and Nina Wishnok at Miller St. in Somerville, MA. ABRAZOS Press is a small teaching and professional studio where workshops are routinely given.

Alen Agaronov moved to Brooklyn, New York under refugee status at the age of four from Baku, Azerbaijan. Seeking a life of health and prosperity, the first meal he ate was at McDonald’s in John F. Kennedy International Airport. Today, Alen is interested in untangling conceptions of health, specifically in the context of food, diet, and nutrition. His goal is to better understand contemporary nutrition theory, the extent to which healthy eating is related to wealth, and how society governs conceptions of the healthy diet. Alen approaches his research topic in a multidisciplinary fashion that brings together epidemiology and ethnography between two schools – public health and medical anthropology. He is also heavily invested in the theory and practice of participatory action research and its potential in promoting citizen science. Alen hopes that one day he can bring these tools to communities of former Soviet immigrants in New York City. Alen is currently a Doctor of Science student at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences. 

Karlene Griffiths Sekou: Minister and Graduate of Harvard Divinity School. Organizer of Boston Chapter of Black Lives Matter. Thinking about how [visionary thought and practice] is a continuous conversation. Part of a group that created “Imagine,” a conversation which will happen at the end of November, as a space that brings together arts, liturgy, and social activism across borderlands. Sources include African dance, working with trauma and the body, and intellectual production as art. Interested in art as social practice. “We need spaces to see humanity in each other, in order to connect across borders of internalized class and race problems. We need to make legible human dignity.” “Pluriversality.” Interested in traditional African spirituality. Inspired by Cornel West and  Malidoma Some’s work. Not interested in discarding the past but in using the best of who we are and attending to the implicit disconnections.”

Chew Lin Kay: Futurist and Student at Harvard Divinity School. Worked together with other futurists at The Center for Strategic Futures in Singapore to develop cutting edge ideas for the city moving forward. Interested in writing science fiction to answer speculative questions about the future and as a way to have conversations that no one wants to have because “we have blind spots that are comfortable and we are caught in a particular narrative such that we don’t see possibilities for other strategies.” “What is your statement of a future you would want to live in?” “What is the bleeding edge of your field?” How to design an exhibition of a future that humans would want to live in--focus groups, mock-ups, presentations, futuring exercises like Future Wheel and Future Card Deck, quick proto-typing with legos and plasticine. Often the more counter-intuitive models are best. Futuring tells you who and what you are not paying attention to. “What things are high impact but are not things we have been focusing on?”

Kythe Heller: Poet, writer, performer & filmmaker; Doctoral student at Harvard Divinity School with a second field in Arts practice through Visual and Environmental Studies/Critical Media Practice. Convenor of Vision Lab. In what ways can our writing and art practices become sites of evolution, sites of resistance, parts of an array of realizing new spiritual, social and ecological relationships by considering how to use language and art to radically change our ways of being in the world? Her poetry and essays have been published widely, most recently in Tricycle, The American Poetry Review, and the Cambridge University Press volume White Light. She is author of the poetry collection Immolation and a recipient of writing and arts grants and fellowships from the Mellon Foundation, Harvard University, The MacDowell Colony, Vermont Studio Center, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Squaw Valley Community of Writers, and the Laurels Foundation/PSU. Recent film and multimedia work has been presented at the Harvard Film Studies Center, SEEDS Festival/ Earthdance, Sonoma State University, WAXworks (NYC), BAX (NYC), Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and in various collaborations and street performances in NYC and elsewhere. She has taught poetry, religion, literature, creative writing, arts and media courses at Harvard University, Bard College, Sarah Lawrence College, Bard Prison Initiative, and Hofstra University.

Ben Korta: Performer, Dancer. Student at Harvard Divinity School. Co-organizes The Connection Institute, a local organization that creates new practices of connection and relational competency. “What is it to experience safety?”  Interested in trauma counseling and how to train people in various spiritual technologies. Wants to explore practices of dance and yoga and embodiment with spiritual technologies to create a culture that thinks of wellness as central. Care-taking as a primary theme of investigation and orientation. Interested in working with relationality in our meetings, in doing/playing with what we are talking about. “How do we tend to a dying planet?” “How do we engage and change toxic masculinity?” “How have you come to be what you are and what have you chosen to cultivate in yourself?” The need for vulnerability and the shedding of ideologies of domination. Wants to work with healing vs. the institutional superstructure with its demands. “We don’t know what the new forms are, so doing is as important as not-doing.” “What is most exciting to us now in our interior lives?” “What are the books you most want to check out?” “What images are coming to us?” Idea of retreats to deepen relationships and brainstorming.