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Worldview's Global Activism Expo: Follow the Balloon

This past Saturday was the 2010 Global Activism Expo and it was a hugely successful and memorable day. As members of the public approached the UIC Forum, they were confronted by a large object that resembled a satellite dish on a trailer or a giant searchlight.‚  It was actually a functioning Sun Oven that was being used to distill water by boiling it.‚  Entering the venue, each person was greeted by a WBEZ Volunteer in blue and grey tie-dyed shirt and handed a map that included every activist group set up in the Main Hall. To the right were five breakout rooms set up for a day of special presentations by people who have committed their lives to improving the lives of others.‚  To the left was the hallway to the Hall and included tables informing folks of the Chicago Global Donors Network, the IVCC and Chicago Fair Trade and the WBEZ Store where the public could become members or purchase WBEZ and Worldview swag. And then there was the Main Hall.‚  Once inside, a stage and tables and chairs and five amazing restaurants serving delicious food and Goose Island Brewery serving delicious beer and free water and soda donated by PepsiCo and a day-long concert of music and spoken word poetry curated by Lethal Poetry.‚  The rest of the room was filled with rows and rows of tables - activists representing 83 organizations from Chicago active in the four corners of the planet, demonstrating the need to get involved on an individual level to improve the world.‚  Below is the map of our representing groups and the global reach of their efforts.‚  I can't even name half the countries and I'm college-educated...but it was the University of Arkansas.

Over 2,500 people came to hear from these tireless do-gooders and walked away with a sense that the actions of one person can genuinely define a difference. Jerome McDonnell walked the room, chatting with activists and non-activists alike, trailed by a helium balloon that, when unfurled, soared a good twenty-five feet above his head.‚  The balloon was marked "Jerome" with an arrow pointing down so you could find him in the crowd all day long. My mother took a train from Marion, KS to come to the Expo and spent the day filling her brand new WBEZ bag with literature and stuff she bought from the activists to help their causes.‚  Her favorite presentation was entitled Picking Your Passion and was lead by Mona Purdy (Founder of Share Your Soles), Alison Bock (Founder and president of‚  Landmines Blow!), and Patsy Mertz (Founder of Ivory Coast Mothers and Children) and she talked about it endlessly the following day. Our volunteers were phenomenal.‚  Josh Rosenbluh ran interference all day long in spite of having an eye injury from the week before; Jenn Strom sat for hours processing credit cards and cash with the rest of the box office crew, selling red and yellow tickets so people could eat and drink; Pragna Shukla bounced from task to task, glowing over the good vibes in the rooms.‚  One of the best things about our GAX volunteers was a genuine sense of responsibility - with as many plates as Breeze, Sabiha and I were trying to keep spinning, having a proactive, focused staff of volunteers is the only reason the thing didn't collapse around us. Aspire. Inspire. Foundation was one of the four groups offering hands-on volunteer opportunities: collecting used backpacks to be cleaned and stuffed with school supplies for children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.‚  One Chicago-area fourth-grade student came to the Expo last year and had organized the three fourth-grade classes at his school to collect backpacks.‚  This year, in addition to inviting Aspire. Inspire. Foundation to his school to present, he organized a backpack drive school-wide.‚  If a ten-year old can do it, anyone can.‚  And this is a sight better than spending his time in front of his X-Box. All in all, this year's Expo was a truly awesome and awe-inspiring event and we can't wait for next year! Many thanks to all the staff of WBEZ, the fantastic Worldview Team, the hundreds of activists and the thousands of Chicagoans who came out to learn, celebrate and be inspired. Rock. DH Slideshow

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