Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Global Citizen

Last September, I had the privilege of attending the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park, featuring Neil Young, The Black Keys, the Foo Fighters, the Band of Horses, K'naan, and many other musical and celebrity appearances.

Before my friend won free tickets to the event, I had never heard of the Global Citizen Festival. I was curious as to how he managed to win tickets to such an amazing concert, but to be honest, I was at first too ecstatic about the prospect of seeing the rock legend Neil Young to investigate the festival further. What I came to learn, however, is that while the performances may have been great, there is meaning behind the festival far beyond the music. 

In between the musical guests, speakers would present information about the extreme poverty that continues to plague our world -- educating the audience on steps that we can taken to end it. I remember feeling a bit ashamed of the audience at times, because some viewers only gave half of their attention to the presentations, while they devoted it fully to the musicians. The Global Citizen Festival has the potential to raise awareness of social issues in the same way that Live 8 did back in 2005, but it must succeed in reminding the audience of the bigger purpose of the entertainment and inspire them to carry that message to others after the concert ends. 

I took a trip up to New York City on Sunday, and I passed a poster for the second annual Global Citizen Festival to take place on Saturday, September 28 in Central Park, with headliners Stevie Wonder, Kings of Leon, Alicia Keys, and John Mayer. This time around, I decided to do some more research ahead of time, and find out what being a Global Citizen means, and how it helps solve the world's most troubling problems. 

The Global Citizen organization, according to their website, is "a learning and action tool designed to help you become a more effective for change." Through their app and their website, Global Citizen strives to educate our society on extreme poverty and works to motivate individuals to spread understanding, make changes, think globally, and develop a lasting sense of commitment to helping better this ever-connected world in which we live. 

To win tickets to the Global Citizen Festival, members of can earn points by getting involved  in the cause through such activities as watching videos, signing positions, and contacting local representatives. 
Although the festival may have struggled a bit in getting its message across to the tens of thousands of attendees during its inaugural year, I truly hope to see Global Citizen grow and expand its influence in the future, as I believe its tactics, principals, and goals have the potential for real change.

Regardless of whether or not I make it to this year's festival, I can now call myself a proud Global Citizen, and I truly encourage everyone to check out their website and their cause.

Global Citizen Festival: Saturday, September 29, 2012 in Central Park

View of the crowd

Katie Couric opening the festival

K'naan performed an incredible version of "Wavin Flag," the Official Theme Song of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses

John Legend made a surprise appearance, singing a moving rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine"

Olivia Wilde took a stand against poverty

Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys

NYC skyline over the crowd

An image captured during one of the informational videos

The Foo Fighters performed on stage as a band for potentially the last time 

And needless to say, the Foo Fighters put on an amazing show

The man, the myth, the legend: Neil Young 

The festival closing with an epic collaboration involving all of the artists present

All photos by Alison Wallach

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