07 August 2012

Central Park Becomes Global Poverty Fight's Ground Zero

The advocacy group the Global Poverty Project just unveiled that it will host a free ticketed concert in Central Park on September 29 with mega stars Neil Young with Crazy Horse, the Foo Fighters, the Black Keys and K'Naan.

Would-be attendees are directed to the Global Citizen platform where they have to earn three points through learning, sharing and taking action against extreme poverty. That then triggers entry to win a pair of tickets to the event.

“By giving every child a chance to thrive, our generation can end extreme poverty” said Hugh Evans, CEO, The Global Poverty Project. The goal of the new platform is to "seek to impact is the global effort to end polio, cases of which have been reduced by more than 99% since 1988. By bringing together thousands of people to take action, this generation can make history and finally eradicate the disease."

The GPP hopes to do this in part by motivating people to take a total of 100,000 actions by September in a stand against poverty. “With at least 1.3 billion people living in extreme poverty on Earth today, there has never been a better time to become a Global Citizen and do whatever you can to make a difference for your fellow man,” said Neil Young.

A host of partners and sponsors join the GPP to put on the event including The Earth Institute, World Food Program USA, Pencils of Promise, The Global Partnership for Education, Half the Sky, Rotary International, World Vision, Malaria No More, Rainforest Foundation and U.S. Fund for UNICEF. It also includes funding from the Sumner M. Redstone Foundation, support from the Pratt Foundation to name a few.

What makes this interesting is that an action is needed in order to attend. Fans of Young or the Black Keys will need to participate unless they want to dish out the $300+ for VIP tickets. What it may do is reach and activate people who otherwise may not have been interested. Though that is still just a possibility.

More interesting is that it connects with people already interested, gives them the opportunity to take action in order to participate in a large event. It represents a slightly different take on activating young people than Kony 2012. Both make the final event the ultimate tangible outcome, but GPP makes it obligatory that people participate in activism prior in order to go to the concert.

Doing so may be a more effective way of engagement. Much of this is speculation at this point as it has just been announced. I plan on attending myself with the goal of chatting with attendees and performers to get a sense of how they came to learn about the event, why they are going and what they hope to accomplish next.

GPP appears to be thinking long and hard about these questions. Simon Moss writes in a blog post marking the event's announcement:
We wanted to show how fighting poverty is going to take more than just our donations, it’s going to take our voices, calling on our governments and businesses to do their bit for the world’s poor. And, in the lead up to an election, we wanted to start a conversation about the role that America should play in the world. 
We wanted to create a space for Americans to hear the voices of the world’s poor, and see their stories first hand – which we’ll increasingly be doing as we release content on Global Citizen. 
We wanted to share our conviction that we can be global citizens as well as American citizens, and that we stand united in the belief that by giving every child a chance to thrive, our generation can end extreme poverty. 
As we spoke with our partners, advisors and supporters, we decided that to do all of these things, we needed to create a moment that could unite people who shared our vision, and that would create a platform to leverage new commitments for the world’s poor. 
The Global Festival is that moment – a time for tens of thousands of global citizens to come together, having earned their tickets for the actions they’ve taken. A platform for our diverse range of NGO partners to make new commitments to help in the fight against extreme poverty – hopefully hundreds of millions of dollars worth of them. And, we hope, a moment to focus the American public and media on their role in fighting extreme poverty.
I remain every skeptical of large advocacy-based events like this, but am more than willing to give it shake. What do you think about the announcement and event?