Collaborative Innovation Networks

During the summer of 2018, SWF hosted Yash Kumbhat as its 2018 Summer Fellow. During his time at The Commons, Yash learned about the practice of Regenerative Neighborhood Development and how that practice might be implemented in other cities across the globe. Yash also shared his knowledge about solar energy in an effort to begin Lighting Up The Commons. When he returned to school, Yash brought the skills he gained at Sweet Water Foundation back to Harvard University and to the City of Boston. Read on to learn how the practice of Regenerative Neighborhood Development is spreading across the nation.


During his time as SWF’s Summer Fellow, Yash worked with SWF apprentices and mentors on a daily basis. Yash became particularly interested in learning about Fractal Seats. He studied the lesson plans and collaborated with members of SWF’s core team to learn the process of creating fractals and understand the meaning that underlies fractal design and use. When Yash returned to Harvard in the fall, he brought both a new perspective and immediately began to apply the practice of Regenerative Neighborhood Development to his life on campus and beyond via projects that include:  

  1. YouthBuild Boston: Building off of the connection with Sweet Water Foundation, Yash collaborated with Devontae Phillips, SWF Peer-to-Peer Mentor, on a YouthBuild service project on September 29. The goal of the service project was to build a youth-designed shed on the site of a farm that would be utilized as a farm stand in the future. Prior to the service day, Yash and Devontae spent time building fractals in a workshop nearby, which they brought to the farm to claim space. During the day, the SWF team worked alongside the YouthBuild team to transform the space.

  2. HUBweek Boston: Yash supported the We The Publics installation during HUBweek Boston from October 11 - 14, actively participating in conversations with the thousands of people engaged in HUBweek. The installation, developed by Emmanuel Pratt and Dan Borelli (Lecturer at Harvard Graduate School of Design), is “a manifesto to restore democracy and truth in the Republic”. It was placed inside a shipping container in front of City Hall in downtown Boston, and included fractal seats made by SWF Apprentices. Individuals who interacted with the installation were invited to add their own ideas to the list and engage in dialogue about the role of the public in nationwide transformation.

  3. Art Installation: Soon after his return to school, Yash received permission to curate an art installation on campus. The installation will integrate some of the lessons he gained during his time as SWF’s Summer Fellow. A key component of the installation will be the integration of fractals as a means to critique contemporary urban spaces and the social and economic exclusion experienced within low-income communities. Yash will integrate SWF’s fractal units into his installation with the intention that they will “represent a reclaiming of space, of land stolen by blurry, unknown alliances between corporations and governments, and a reclaiming of denied opportunities”. This exhibit will open in spring 2019.

Through these projects, Sweet Water Foundation is successfully curating connections: Mass Art, with Harvard University, with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), with the Urban Farming Institute. These relationships will be important as SWF’s practice of Regenerative Neighborhood Development spreads across the nation.

Courtney Hug