NEW YORK — Leaders from the arts, politics and academia gathered in Mexico City this month to discuss pressing global concerns at the fifth annual Interdependence Day Celebration. The three-day forum convenes annually to correspond with the 9/11 anniversary, focusing on "creating positive interdependence" through trans-national work to find political, social and business solutions to crime, war, financial crises, environmental hazards and public health concerns.
Convened by Interdependence Day founder, political theorist and author, Benjamin R. Barber, and former Mexican Foreign Minister, Luis Ernesto Derbez, this year's forum was hosted by Tecnologicol de Monterrey University and by celebrated artist Sebastian at his Mexico City studio and theater. The 2007 Interdependence Day curriculum focused on Migration, Human Dignity, and Interdependence and featured panels on virtual immigration, the politics and economics of immigration and cultural migration.
Interdependence Day also featured several special events, including a forum held by the University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Communication devoted to the civic and cultural potential of virtual games such as Second Life to cross frontiers. Celebrated cellist Yo Yo Ma joined the session by video, offering a performance and commentary on interdependence. Belgium dancer and choreographer Anna Teresa de Keersmaaker, represented by Guy Gypens, the manager of her famous Brussels Company ROSAS, also joined by video.
Two new projects were also presented at the three-day event. The first, organized by Dean Joshua Fouts of the University of Southern California's Center on Public Diplomacy and funded by the MacArthur Foundation, examines how constructive civic and cultural uses of new digital technologies can build virtual and physical bridges across borders. The second, The Art of Common Space, is dedicated to seeking architectural, artistic and engineering techniques for forging common spaces and civic places appropriate to an interdependent world. Among the contributors to this second project are Tony Beckwith and Eileen Woods of Gunpowder Park in the United Kingdom, Mexican architect and Designer Ezequiel Farca, Ron Sher, the developer and civic philanthropist from Seattle, and the architect and President of the Pomegranate Center Milenko Matanovic.
Other special events of this year's Interdependence Day were a presentation by Sophie Stenbeck of her Remedee Foundation's new L.A. based video project Reel Lives, teaching disempowered young people around the world to use video equipment to document their lives and thereby find their voices; and the 9/11 Memorial Concert in which artists and performers including Pam Rose, Vicki Brown, Jon Langford, Hanz Araki and Megan Haas improvised and performed together.
Also this year, the third Interdependence Day Prize was awarded to the Polish dissident Adam Michnik, who helped bring down the Berlin Wall and founded the leading Polish democratic daily newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza. The prize — an original sculpture by artist Sebastian — was presented to Michnik with the inscription "freedom fighter and freedom writer." Previous Interdependence Day Prize recipients include Harry Belafonte and Lord Bhikhu Parekh.
A partial list of participants of Interdepence Day 2007 includes:
* Polish Solidarity Founder Adam Michnik, who won the Third Interdependence Prize.
* American television anchor Tavis Smiley
* Remin University professor Jin Canrong (China)
* celebrated Mexican sculptor Sebastian
* Independent Sector President Diana Aviv
* the Hungarian parliamentarian and scholar Ivan Vitanyi
* Princeton Professor Cornel West
* Nashville singer and composer Pam Rose
* Belgium Theater and Dance director Guy Gypens
* playwright and filmmaker Josh Fox, distinguished Columbia University globalization scholar Saskia Sassen
* Vatican scholar and chancellor of the Pontificial Academy of Social Sciences Monsignor Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo
* former U.N. Undersecretary Olara Otunnu
* New York Public Library of the Performing Arts Director Jackie Davis,
* Mexican writers union (SOGOM) president Victor Hugo Rascon Banda
* Anglo-Afghani writer and filmmaker Tahir Shah
* Former Vivendi Chief Technology Officer Peter Marx
* Fes Festival of World Sacred Music Director General Faouzi Skali (Morocco)
* Metro Newspaper publisher and Remedee Foundation President Sophie Stenbeck
* New York N.G.O. Demos president Miles Rapoport
Previous Interdependence Day Celebrations have been held in Philadelphia, Rome, Paris and Casablanca. Planning is already underway for Interdependence Day VI, which is provisionally scheduled to launch in Brussels, Belgium, September 10-12, 2008.
For more information about Interdependence Day, or for printed material or multimedia related to this year's Interdependence Day, or to interview Dr. Barber or a participant, please contact Holly Lane, CivWorld ([email protected];212.247.5433) or Timothy Rusch, Demos ([email protected]; 212.633.1405).