I’ve been having a crazy week. The end of last week saw Tyler and I travel down to Vancouver to help run We Day. We Day is a Free the Children event that brings together over 40,000 young people (18,000 youth at the Vancouver event alone) for a social justice rock concert filled with amazing speakers and musicians (Al Gore, the Reverand Jessie Jackson, Rick Hansen, Martin Sheen, The Barenaked Ladies, and Hedley were all at the Vancouver event). The idea is you pump up and inspire all of these youth who then go out and conduct one local and one international project over the following year with Free the Children’s support. Tyler and I have been working with Free the Children and their partner social enterprise, Me to We, for several years now and helped to run Vancouver’s first ever We Day last year. When we got called to help out this year again, we couldn’t say no, so down to Vancouver we went.
Our job this year was to wrangle the talent – in other words to hang out back stage and get the speakers and muscians where they were supposed to go – for reference Al Gore, Rick Hansen and Jessie Jackson are easy to wrangle, the Barenaked Ladies are not – they scatter and go four different directions at once. The experience also taught me that if you’re wearing a black suit with a radio attached to a head set and you’re walking fast, mobs of people will part like the Red Sea for you…keep that in mind, it’s a good trick.
The event did not disappoint (how could it really with that line up?), and I left inspired. A lot of Free the Children’s work is based in Africa, and many of We Day’s speakers touched on issues affecting Africa in their addresses. I decided I wanted to produce something that was reflective of this African focus once I returned from Whitehorse. I started playing on my computer, and as I did so the idea for a design came to me. I took the phrase “I stand with Africa” and translated it into over 90 languages, and used these phrases to create an image of the African continent. I wanted to show how a single idea could become transformative and unite people around the world in a single cause.
You can check out the design below and let me know what you think. Perhaps if I get a lot of feedback that people appreciate it I’ll submit it to Threadless or Artevist, or alternatively maybe I’ll have it printed at Spoonflower and use it in some of my clothing design work (I would appreciate your thoughts and ideas). I’m now sitting in Pinawa, Manitoba (I told you it was a crazy week – I went from Vancouver back to Whitehorse where I ran a field trip for my geography students, stage managed the final show of the play I was working on, and threw a surprise birthday party for Tyler complete with dinosaur bone cupcakes before I hopped back on a plane and flew to the Prairies). I’m here to speak to the United Church of Canada’s national gathering about youth perspectives on climate justice (I’m a bit nervous as I’ve only been to church once in my entire life and I’m not religious, but hey, there’s a first time for everything I guess). As I scramble to finish my presentation for tomorrow morning and ponder how best to talk to a diverse group of people who are united by faith about justice and climate change, it seems somehow appropriate I should be sharing my “I stand with Africa” design with all of you. It appears the week has come full circle. And now back to the power point.