Global Citizen announced its line-up for this year’s music festival to be held in Central Park on September 26 with heavy hitters Ed Sheeran, Beyoncé, Coldplay and Pearl Jam as its headliners. But this is no ordinary music fest with crowds of people gathering to drink their faces off and take blurry iPhone pics that they will later post to Instagram to say, “Hey, look at me, I was at a concert!” This is a festival that uses our love of live music to serve a powerful purpose: to end world poverty.
Over one billion people in the world still live in extreme poverty. That is a staggering amount. For all of us who complain that the taxi-fare increase in NYC is unjust or how dare they charge more than three dollars for an iced mocha chino when it’s 90 degrees outside, imagine you have to walk twenty-seven miles every day to a watering hole that is a breeding ground for bacterial infections, malaria, polio and countless other maladies because you have no other option. For children in India, this is a reality. And that is just one example of what this platform, founded by Ryan Gall and Riot House in 2012, hopes to eradicate. Global Citizen (by way of Global Poverty Project) is an organization that has made it their mission to eradicate the injustices of the world while cleverly leveraging the huge musical acts we all want to see. But you don’t have to throw money at this event to gain access to the lawn at Central Park. You must become a Global Citizen (for free) and sign petitions or perform charitable acts to gain points (also free) that will win you a free ticket to the event. These petitions are used to urge world leaders to make changes to policy and garner aid for poverty victims all over the world. You can be a part of major change within our lifetime all with the click of your thumb on your smart phone…for free.
I attended the Global Citizen fest three years ago when the Foo Fighters and Neil Young headlined along with the Black Keys. The most riveting parts of the three hour long event were not the staggeringly amazing performances by the bands, but the in-between moments when representatives of Global Citizen would come out on stage to share their own experiences of how they are trying to change the world. No donations were asked for, rather our presence at the event was a statement to the world. We will not stand for human beings being mistreated, exploited or left for dead any longer. Issues like Health, Education, Environment, Women and Hunger all live under the umbrella of Global Citizen and they work with powerhouse organizations like ONE, UNICEF, Save the Children and countless others to ensure their mission lives beyond a flashy once a year event in Central Park. It felt good to be there. And all I had to do was sign three petitions: one that asked the UN to allow young girls in Africa to attend school, one that asked for regulations to provide clean water in famine-struck areas of the Sudan and one that asked President Obama to pay attention to environmental regulations in the US that were not being enforced. It was free to sign-up, it was free to attend the event and it was a freeing sensation to be part of a movement that actually got things accomplished for once.
And if you are worried about being bombarded with constant email updates about the Global Citizen crusade jamming your email inbox with even more clutter, relax. Once a month you receive updates on the causes you are interested in, and even then you can opt out. But why would you? We are all citizens of the world and to allow ourselves to get bogged down in our own microcosms where the most important daily development is whether or not your subway car is actually on schedule, is petty. It’s small. Global Citizen is offering us a chance to change the world on a grander scale and in New York City, where the cost of living is so high, something that costs absolutely nothing that boasts a tremendous payoff should appeal to even the most jaded Big Apple-dweller.
Sign up to be a Global Citizen today at globalcitizen.org and join the millions who want to change the world.
Article: Hannah Soule