“… mobilise thousands of ambassadors for change. We’ll unite around a simple yet powerful idea: that by giving every child a chance to thrive, our generation can end extreme poverty.” - the Global Citizen website
Global citizenship is a big concept but I am going to focus on the UN Millennium Goals and the recent Global Citizens Festival in Central Park.
I probably should have made this into 3 separate posts but I just watched the festival and wrote out all my thoughts into 3 sections:
- Global festival music
- Global festival presentations
- Global Citizen poverty & education Initiative
Global citizenship is pretty self-explanatory … it is a basic premise is that people all over the world should come together as one and practice justice, equality, diversity and a mutual respect for the earth & its population. In the UN’s words:
- Development and poverty eradication – We will spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty, to which more than a billion of them are currently subjected. We are committed to making the right to development a reality for everyone and to freeing the entire human race from want. We resolve therefore to create an environment – at the national and global levels alike – which is conducive to development and to the elimination of poverty.
The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), agreed on by world leaders at a UN summit in 2000, set specific targets on poverty alleviation, education, gender equality, child and maternal health, environmental stability, HIV/AIDS reduction, and a ‘Global Partnership for Development.’
If you are not aware of the Millennium Development Goals take a minute and visit the following sites. The first outlines the specific Goals as well as does a very nice job outlining the pragmatic steps to address them and a report of performance to date <some businesses could learn a lesson with regard to how they do this> and the second link is the formal declaration itself.
UN Development Programme: http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/mdgoverview.html
United Nations Millennium Declaration: http://www.un.org/millennium/declaration/ares552e.pdf
Before I get to thoughts inspired by the festival let me say one thing.
I imagine the everyday person probably has no clue what the United Nations actually does <in a practical sense> as well as wonders about its value … and both are a shame in different ways.
If nothing else the Millennium Development Goals should explain the value of the United Nations. Please. Please take a minute and look.
I am not asking you to actually take action other than read. Because awareness of issues is half the battle. And, who knows, you may find one of their goal initiatives is something you have a passion.
The Global Citizen festival in Central Park. Beyond the fact I want one of their incredibly cool tshirts there were some things to note. Some fun things, some practical things and some inspirational/aspirational things. Here you go.
global citizen music
The concert was scheduled around the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City. I was really impressed by how the organizers used an innovative approach to ticket distribution so that many of the concert-goers had no choice but to learn about the global citizen issues/initiatives such as polio, child mortality, education and clean drinking water. The neat idea was that anyone wanting free tickets had to register at globalcitizen.org, which then required users to watch videos or read information about poverty-related issues. Each time material was clicked-on, users could earn points toward a drawing for tickets. Points were also accumulated by sharing information via Twitter or Facebook. Well done. Very well done.
It all added up to five hours this past Saturday in New York City’s Central Park with 60,000 people – and more using a web and television simulcast — in an effort to draw attention and action to the cause of eradicating extreme poverty around the world.
There were not a lot of bands at the Festival but the ones who played killed it. Just killed it. I know that bands have off nights and other nights when they are on … and all were on this night.
The acts were silent about the cause but in their short, maybe one hour, sets <or less> they just ran off a strong of really well performed songs.
Four songs from Band of Horses provided some surprisingly grunge/crunchy guitar rootsy music. Very well done. Then the Black Keys. I am not a huge Black Keys fan but when they burned their way through fourteen songs in fifty minutes they made me rethink how I felt about their music. They were tight … really tight. They were so tight I wondered whether the Foo Fighters could maintain the quality level.
Well. Now that I have seen The Foos live I know they are good. But they absolutely killed it, killed it, in their set. They had their full line up <supposedly because there are claims this was their last performance> and they kept their heads down in a no-frills straight forward alt-rock in your face guitar onslaught and just frickin’ rocked the place.
This was a nice rendition of Times like These: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abt8Z8dcPdM
The festival closed with Neil Young & Crazy Horse who gave a characteristically ornery performance basically just coming out and playing as if there were no audience. But, as he and Crazy Horse blistered their way through Powderfinger, I was reminded how much I loved Neil with Crazy Horse. While most people believe their first album together, “everybody knows this is nowhere” was their best album my favorite remains Zuma <with Cortex the Killer on it>.
And when they performed “The Needle and the Damage Done” the set became an instant classic.
Great music for a great cause.
And, most likely, because of the format with long presentations as the sets were traded out, is the reason why the artists did their thing without a lot of preaching.
Their job was to entertain and they did.
If you didn’t watch you missed some excellent live music performances.
global citizen speakers
If I were a betting man I would bet I was the only one who watched all the speakers during the simulcast <excepting the guys who managed the speaker’s microphones>.
In between the roughly hour-long sets by the headliners, there were dozens of speakers from foundations, charities, and corporations. The speakers also included celebrities like Olivia Wilde, Selena Gomez, Sophia Bush and Katharine McPhee. They also used videos, highlighting the wide range of poverty-related causes from malaria and polio to education and maternal health, to introduce the speaker topics.
Really well done.
Okay. The videos were really well done <I will post when they become available>.
The speeches? Well. It was a mixed bag. And, of course it reminded me of a variety of things with regard to presenting.
But let me begin with the best presenter.
And she is only 20 years old.
Selena Gomez speaking on behalf of UNICEF was outstanding. Better than the 40something+’s speaking at other times and pretty much everyone else.
She communicated passion without ever raising her voice, was clear & succinct and delightfully mature.
<the quality is poor and I will repost when I get a better version>
Selena Gomez: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnDI0COPfC4
I seriously doubt any older speaker will ever watch this video <despite the fact they should> because a young person could never teach them anything … and that is a shame. But, having said that, please make sure if you have a tween or teen you show it to them. I know I will use her, and this speech, as an example to young people in the future.
<she is not reading this … but … well done Selena>
60000 people <not really there to listen to speeches>, in an outside environment with a global web & television simulcast and with no ‘uhms’ or colloquialisms she was herself <probably the number one defense someone uses for presentation colloquial mistakes> and delivered what she had to say in a quite understandable way.
I cannot name one song she has ever sung or any movie she has ever been in but I now know she can present.
All the presenters reminded me of how difficult it is to present to a group of people.
All presentations really can get boiled down into 2 important aspects:
- Figure out what you want to say
- Figure out how you want to say it
All the other mumbo jumbo on ‘tricks to effective presenting’ is irrelevant if you don’t figure out these two things. In fact, I would argue you could throw away all the presentation books if you figure these two things out.
What you want to say sounds simple but it is not. Because inevitably you get caught up in ALL the things you want to say, prioritizing what you want to say and getting what you want to say down on paper <or whatever format you elect to organize the presentation>.
All I can say for sure is that you need to put it in a document or a script. Without it you cannot edit. And without editing <unless you are Bill Clinton> you are screwed on the second aspect.
Figuring out how you want to say it.
Okay. Let me tell you a truth, a fact, a ‘something no one really wants to hear.’ 99% of the time what you just figured out to say will sound like crap if you just read it as a presentation. Maybe 99.9% of the time. Writing & speaking are two different skills. They may be derivatives of each other but one typically does not translate directly to the other.
There were presenters at this festival who were obviously reading their presentation script off a teleprompter <which is a skill in itself by the way> and it sounded obviously stilted and in some cases like it was the first time they had heard these words out loud. Thankfully for them most of the 60,000 were either looking for a Port-a-Pottie, seeking a beer stand or cheering for the next band to take the stage. However … I watched. It was disappointing.
And the issue wasn’t because they were reading a script <another complaint young people throw around when arguing they want to be ‘natural’ when presenting>. It was the script they were reading. They wrote something that sounded good in their head when they read it … but sounded stupid when actually saying it. By the way … that is why rehearsing is important <what happens between aspect 1 and aspect 2>.
Why does this shit happen? Well. Let me give you 4 thoughts <beyond the obvious lack of rehearsing>:
- Forced rules of behavior
All the things I am going to type drive me crazy but maybe this one the most. These are the ‘rules’ like … you cannot stand still, or you have to move, or you can’t have your hands in your pockets, or … well … just go ahead and pick up a ‘how to’ presentation book … they will list all the ‘don’t rules’.
I just say ‘nuts’ to that.
Selena Gomez has her hands in her cardigan pockets just stepping up to the microphone and delivered. No one cared she wasn’t using her hands. Why? Because they were listening to what she had to say. As a generalization all the ‘how to present’ rules are stupid. If you have something good to say, and you say it in a compelling, believable, likeable way, the rest of the stuff just gets in the way. It’s all about the message. If you know, and like, your message just deliver it in as comfortable a ‘behavior’ style you want.
Nuts to all the book rules.
- Forced passion
This one drives me nuts too. It’s kind of like speaking with exclamation points hoping the exclamation points travel through the ether between you and your audience and pricks them in the ass to make them stand up and yell “hell yeah!”
Some people shout. Some people create sentences which they purposefully amplify the end. Some people shake a fist, or pound a table or make some ‘exclamatory’ gesture just so everyone knows they are passionate about whatever they are talking about. Sometimes they don’t really want to but someone suggests “show them you are passionate” and … well … the wheels start to fall of the good presentation wagon.
Well. It’s all forced.
And it’s a shame because most presenters are actually passionate about something related to their topic. And they don’t need to be overt to communicate it. They just need to share their passion in whatever way they exude it.
Selena Gomez? I had no doubt in my mind she was passionate. And all she did was talk. She said how she felt and what she believed. And you know what? I believed her. And I may have actually gone to my computer and done something if I wasn’t stupefied/mortified by the guy who took the microphone from her and tried to ‘infuse energy’ into the discussion <most likely because he didn’t feel like she was ‘energetic’ enough>.
Here is the bottom line. If you care, it will show. You need not tell someone you are passionate. In fact … here you go, a rule. Never say in a presentation, meeting or discussion … “I am passionate about ‘x’.” Prove it without ever saying it.
- Forced relevance <or forced theme>
I almost split this into two but they are just two sides of the same coin. In an attempt to make their topic relevant to either the audience or the environment <you can choose either> a presenter can go to some fairly absurd lengths.
They can use a joke which isn’t really relevant until you explain why.
Or you can do what an Australian presenter did by featuring a Men at Work <because she & they were Australian and she was speaking at a concert> lyric and stealing a word to thematically build energy to encourage people to act <”just like Men at Work said … they should hear our thunder!”>.
<insert an audible ‘yikes’ here>
Well, let me say this, 99% of the time if you are using a joke or come up with some forced relevance it means you are working too hard. Go back to the simple first aspect and think about what it is you want to say. If it isn’t compelling or understandable, a joke or forced metaphor or forced semi-topical linkage isn’t going to help. In fact it can hurt. How? Because it is extraneous. And extraneous things and activity tugs the audience away from what you really want them to remember and say. I don’t usually get aggravated over this one instead I just get frustrated that the speaker doesn’t trust the topic is interesting enough, and it can be presented interestingly enough, to simply present it.
At the end of the concert I guess I was just surprised how bad <overall> the speakers were. Having never spoken at an outdoor festival <but I have been on the stage itself> I cannot imagine the level of nervousness standing in front of that microphone. My guess is your first inclination is to shout to be heard <thank god musicians learn that they do not have to very early on> and get thrown a little bit by the fact 90% of the audience is obviously, noisily, doing anything but listening to you. But that is no excuse for the level of performance.
Excepting Selena. She stood out. Very well done.
global citizen education
I left this to last because of all the Millennium Goals they discussed at the festival this is the one nearest and dearest to my heart – global children’s education.
<and I will update this post with the UN video on poverty & education when it becomes available because it is very well done>.
Total number of people that live on less than $2.50 a day 3 Billion
Total percent of World Populations that live where income differentials are widening 80%
Number of Children that live in Poverty 1 billion
Total Number of children that die each day due to Poverty 22,000
Total Number of School Days lost to Water Related Illness 443 million school days
Children around the world who are presently being denied an education 67 million
Total number of Americans that live on less than $23,050 annually <family of four> 46 million
Poverty & education is not just your country’s issue but also a global issue.
If you would like to read more about Children Out of School visit my post:
I am always pleased when people recognize that education can play a crucial role in alleviating poverty. Because I believe most of the people in the West associate a ‘broken education system’ as the key issue and not poverty. When a community, in any part of the world, is living in poverty or even simply struggling economically, it is often the first thing to be overlooked.
In unstable living environments and communities education can often take a back seat as the health and safety of families takes priority, and rightly so, but this doesn’t mean that education should be ignored.
Today’s world doesn’t really have the time nor space for workers who cannot ‘read, write, and do arithmetic’ as well as find and use resources, frame and solve problems with other people and continually learn new technologies. Realistically the education challenge facing the United States is not that its schools are not as good as they once were but rather that schools must help the vast majority of young people reach levels of skill and competence once thought within the reach of only a few <and hopefully also opening minds to the ideals of a just and civil society>. When looked at his way the issue is similar everywhere globally.
But before you can even talk about teaching, or lessons, you need to discuss access and ability to attend.
Richer developed countries, where people are most able to afford to send their kids to school, provide an education at least through secondary school for free (some through university) yet poor countries that are full of people living at closer to poverty levels charge a fee for at least secondary school if not primary school as well.
For those of us in places like the US or UK going to school is a normal part of life, yet, for kids growing up in many developing countries, going to school is a luxury reserved primarily for those living above the poverty line. For instance in Pakistan, almost half of children from poor households are not in school, compared to only 5% of children from the richest households (UNESCO).
For those families living in poverty whose kids are in school, further barriers continue to stand in their way. Many rural villages lack access to schools. This leaves communities to either create makeshift schools in their homes, old buildings or in open spaces with unqualified community members stepping in as teachers, or to send their children to walk long distances to and from the nearest school each day, or to simply not send them anywhere at all.
These are just two factors that contribute to the 67 million children around the world who are presently being denied their basic human right of receiving an education, 95% of whom live in developing countries.
For those lucky children who manage to make it into a classroom, many of them are still leaving without a good education. The 2011 Education For All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report reveals that millions of children in low-income countries are leaving primary school with reading, writing, and numeracy levels far below what is expected for their age group. Overcrowded classrooms, lack of teachers, high teacher absences, and lack of teaching materials are a few of the circumstances that contribute to problems we see in places like Pakistan where nearly two in three rural school children (aged 6-16) cannot read a basic story (March for Education).
Without providing a good education for these kids in developing countries to equip them with the skills and qualifications they need to be able to get a decent paying job, we risk the chance of trapping them in a never-ending cycle of poverty.
In addition it deprives the global community of a rich intellectual entrepreneurial/innovation opportunity.
While I don’t necessarily agree with HOW they are going about addressing this issue I absolutely 100% agree it is a key issue that needs to be addressed. Therefore in this case I believe any action is better than none.
Speaking of ‘good actions’, I am not sure this is part of the UN initiative, but I really like his program Credit Suisse is doing. It is extremely pragmatic but in its pragmatism it ‘drags’ the basics <reading, comprehension, critical thinking, and arithmetic … even ‘working well with others’ values> through the process. I may steal it <use it> as an example of what I envisioned as the ‘on-the-ground’ aspect of Project Global Generation.
Regardless. Here is a short video of the Credit Suisse Global Citizenship Education program: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_potMotM9M
There is a great paper written by some professor <I am not good at sourcing> who pointed out some things about the education system relevant to any education system but particularly relevant as we think about poverty-stricken areas:
In the united states <and most western countries I would assume> our public schools have evolved historically as organizations serving two potentially conflicting purposes: to educate citizens and to process them into roles for economic production. To accomplish the first, schools have the role of supplying students with information and with learning skills. The results can be unpredictable because children’s intellects and skills develop in ways that we cannot predetermine. For the second goal, schools process students through stratified steps leading to predictable, marketable credentials for the workplace. The steps, and some of the outcomes, can be managed, controlled. Thus the school is organized to be in conflict with itself.
In the context of global social responsibility, the issues of livelihood and work need to be examined. We in the industrial world associate survival with employment. This association is being forced on other cultures as the global economy establishes dominance. But we must not forget that employment for survival is a relatively recent concept. It has not always been this way, and there are still parts of the world where survival is not based on working for someone seeking a profit from the labor of others. The conflicting educational purposes of jobs vs. citizenship can be alleviated if we encourage students to consider the social and environmental impact of the work they do. Jobs need not be about extraction, devastation, pollution, over-consumption or exploitation. It is important to remember that for thousands of years humans lived with sustainable relationships to nature and only spent a few hours of every day for their own subsistence. One of the purposes of technology was to save labor. By doing so, technology has been used to eliminate people’s livelihood, i.e. their jobs. Instead, it could be used to simply reduce the amount of time people have to work to support themselves and their families.
I admit I partially included this because I do believe the use of technology in education inherently can reduce to the amount of time to educate <thereby increasing the amount of time needed to survive> and ultimately reduce the amount of time people have to work to support themselves <and increases the amount of time to family>.
Poverty is a tough issue for people to practically grasp <easy in concept>. Mainly because, to many, it is so far beyond the simple “have” versus ‘have not.” Unless you actually understand what life in poverty truly is it becomes very easy to misconstrue the true issues with regard to education.
<I have an upcoming post called “living below the line” so you can think about that more>
What I do not believe is difficult to grasp is that education is a strong weapon to kill the poverty cycle many families get stuck in. and, once out of poverty, these young minds become productive global citizens.
Selfishly … I hope we solve this poverty problem so these young minds can save us older people from what we have currently wrought.
Sorry for the long post … I probably should have broken it up but hopefully you found something in here worthwhile.