The How To Fix The World Festival brings together art and activism to consider ways we can improve our communities and the larger world. The FREE event will be presented by the Somerville Arts Council (and partners) in the city’s Union Square from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 18 (raindate: July 8).
Produced with funding from The Boston Foundation's Live Art Boston (LAB) Grant, the festival will showcase music (including Tef Poe, the St. Louis rapper and current Harvard University fellow who rose to national prominence as an activist at the forefront of the 2014 Ferguson, Missouri, protests), dance, visual art, talks, sign-making, letter-writing and other participatory activities. The festival also will offer ways to engage with local activist groups and community organizations addressing racism, sexism, global warming, the flaws of capitalism and other major problems.
The How To Fix The World Festival will culminate with a 3 p.m. parade/march and 3:30pm rally, which all are invited to join. The parade will be led by the Second Line Social Aid and Pleasure Society Brass Band, Asociación Carnavalesca de Massachusetts, and the Boston Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The parade will end with a 3:30 p.m. rally in which artists, activists and community groups will lead participatory chants.
The festival is organized by a planning committee that includes Deidra Montgomery, Marissa Molinar, DiDi Delgado, Greg Cook and Nina Eichner.
The festival includes:
• A performance by Tef Poe, the St. Louis rapper and current Harvard University fellow who rose to national prominence as an activist at the forefront of the 2014 Ferguson, Missouri, protests in the wake of a police officer fatally shooting Michael Brown.
• A dance performance by Danza Orgánica, the Boston-based social justice oriented dance company, will perform “Running in Stillness,” a dance-theater piece based on the impact of mass incarceration on women and their families and inspired by the group’s work with people who’ve directly experienced incarceration.
• A dance performance by Lakaï Dance Theatre, which roots itself in stories of home in order to highlight the issues affecting our communities and neighborhoods. The brainchild of choreographer McKersin Previlus, the company takes its name from the word for home in McKersin’s native tongue of Haitian Creole. Lakaï Dance Theatre draws on the full Afro-Diaspora of dances, making work that uses the idea of home to trace the ripple effects of harm but also of healing through families and neighborhoods. The company designs and leads workshops to identify and counter the ways trauma has been built up in our cities only to then follow us home. Exploring and then telling these stories of home through the language of dance lets us see the hand each of us has in facing the issues that must be addressed together if we are to become communities that can meaningfully be called home to all who live there.
• A dance performance by Subject:Matter, a Boston based tap dance company, under the direction of choreographer Ian Berg, with the aim of presenting new, cutting-edge tap dance work primarily in the Boston area.
• The Second Line Social Aid and Pleasure Society Brass Band, a New Orleans-style street band based in Somerville and Cambridge, will lead the concluding parade. The band combines music with social action, performing at protests and peace rallies, as well as helping organize Somerville’s annual Honk festival of activist street bands.
• Dancing by Asociacion Carnavalesca de Massachusetts, a Lawrence-based group that brings the carnival traditions of the Dominican Republic to the United States. Its diablos cojuelos (limping devils) and the fabulous, ruffled attire of its other masqueraders are part of a tradition whose roots include satire of Europeans who colonized the island nation.
• Appearances by The Boston Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the Boston branch of a gay activist group founded in San Francisco in 1979. They describe themselves as a “modern order of nuns” devoted to fostering joy, eliminating guilt and serving their community. “We are the sacred clowns of our community, taking a stand on the edge of what our society defines as ‘normal.’”
• Boston artist Ife Franklin will lead her “Ancestor Slave Cabin Workshop” in which visitors are invited to craft small structures reminiscent of slave cabins to honor the ancestral spirits of Africans who were enslaved throughout the early centuries of America.
• Ben Echevarria of Somerville’s The Welcome Project will lead a discussion about immigration and race in Somerville.
• Somerville activist Katie Gradowski will lead a discssion entitle All Politics are Local about how to navigate Somerville’s local government
• A talk & discssion with Ben Echevarria from the Welcome project about race and immigration and supporting undocumented immigrants
• A talk & discussion with Katie Gradowski about how to engage in local goverment to make change
• Cambridge puppeteers Trudi Cohen and John Bell perform their toy theater show about the clash between government urban planner Robert Moses and community activist Jane Jacobs in the mid-1960s New York.
• To help us envision threats from global warming, Boston artist Jason Turgeon will construct an installation that visitors can enter that depticts an office waiting room that’s been flooded.
• Boston artist Ria Brodell will share “Butch Heroes” cards, based on icon-like paintings Brodell has made illustrating the lives of people assigned female at birth, but who presented as masculine as they grew up, and had documented relationships with women.
• Jere Pilapill, Gloria Rose and Kwasi Mensah will perform stand-up comedy about state of the world (organized by Christa Weiss).
• A dance performance by the Boston dance troupe Upasana, based on classical Indian style, about reconnecting with nature.
• Boston artist James Montford will offer visitors white circles to place in spaces and photograph where they see “Blind Spots,” problems of exclusion and other social injustices.
• Somerville makerspace Parts and Crafts (Dina Gjertsen) invites festival-goers to screenprint political patches with them.
• Songs about social change from Boston based indie folk singer songwriter Grace Givertz. With a large voice packed into a tiny body, Grace pairs her witty and honest lyrics with various instruments to bring a refreshing sound to folk.
• Boston artists Ariel DiOrio and Rebecca Hsieh explore identity and intersectionality with their participatory "Label Yourself" project.
• Write a letter to support a cause, write a letter to an old friend with your hopes and dreams. Jane Long of Somerville will lead letter writing and present steps for taking action on contacting your representatives via phone and email.
• Malden artists Kari Percival and Greg Cook will lead a workshop to make posters for the festival parade.
• A dance performance by youth from Somerville's Deborah Mason School of Dance
Additional activist, community and government groups that will be presenting at the festival:
• The Center for Teen Empowerment, Inc.
• Welcome Project
• MIRA (Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition)
• Somerville’s Office of Environment and Sustainability
• Somerville’s Housing Department
• Somerville Food Security Coalition—a partnership of Groundwork Somerville, Cambridge Health Alliance and Shape Up Somerville
• The Network/La Red
• Voter Choice MA
• MassPeace Action
We would like to thank BLM Cambridge for their support in planning and promoting the call to artists and event through their networks. Thank you to Deborah Mason for lending us their mylar dance flooring. Thank you to Masai Andrews for designing the save the date flyer and Kenji Nakayama for designing the final poster.