Citizens for Global Solutions in Planet Roo: The Idea of Connectedness
Citizens for Global Solutions’ banner, alongside a United Nations (UN) flag and photos of UN peacekeepers adorned the CGS booth in Planet Roo at the 2011 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. Representatives from different organizations canvassed in Planet Roo, speaking with festival-goers on a variety of topics related to increasing awareness of environmental and political issues that threaten the well-being and life of people and the Earth. We shared Planet Roo with many other important NGOs that do good work and, similar to CGS, depend on a large supporter base to effectively operate and reach campaign goals.
One may assume that developing a hook to intrigue festival-goers in Planet Roo to come to the CGS booth amidst all the other distractions would prove difficult. We were the folks talking about genocide prevention, International Organizations funding, congressional legislation and humanitarian obligations over a weekend where great music and art was the constant and joyful centerpiece.
Our four days of canvassing, however, proved wildly successful. We gathered the contact information of over 2500 people. For every person’s contact information we received, we relied on the critical first fifteen seconds of interaction between us and the person, as she or he meandered through Planet Roo. The fifteen seconds encapsulates the moment where our one-liners had to be the trick to make people walking by turn their heads and pause. In the pause, we gave our second follow-up line. By that second line, we either had the person’s attention – an attention span that on average lasted no more than three minutes – or not.
So what were our lines? How did we grasp the attention of Bonnaroo festival-goers and lure them into a talk about human rights and the importance of international organizations?
We simply appealed to their understanding of our connectedness. Connectedness is a highly nuanced idea. For example, as American people we are connected to other Americans through the nature of our shared nationhood, as well as to people of other nations by virtue of our globalized—amazingly mobile and technological—world. Developing this idea into a tag-line, the one liner, “we need other nations and they need us,” proved amazingly effective at Bonnaroo. Also, using the phrase, “the United States has a responsibility to engage with other nations cooperatively to help solve global problems like mass atrocities of war” caught the interest of festival-goers. People can personally relate to the idea that one can’t live wholly isolated from people and institutions. As one understands this concept to apply to herself, she can easily transfer it to nation states. As we have reached a level of economic and political interdependence among nations, cooperation is absolutely necessary if we seek a world where basic human rights are recognized, respected and protected, genocide is prevented, and international organizations can be effective in bringing about these things.
These one-liners were able to reel in well over two thousand Bonnaroo festival-goers. This example serves as an indisputable indication of the power of ideas about connectedness. Next time you hear someone saying that the United States doesn’t need the United Nations, or that the United States doesn’t need to work with other nations to tackle global problems, stop that person in his or her tracks and share the principle of connectedness. Remind yourself and others you may confront that the United States needs other nations as they need the United States. This idea serves as a central tenet of CGS’ mission that underlies our campaign on genocide prevention, and belief in the US’ obligation to work with and provide funding for international organizations that foster cooperation and global solutions among member states. We hope that you, like CGS, believe it to be true.
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