What: 2009 Global Action Forum
Where: Herbst Theatre, San Francisco, Calif.
When: September 13, 2009
Why: Empowering People to Create Solutions to Poverty, according to the festival's tagline.
The Scoop: Tuesday's Power to the Peaceful Press Pass focused on fun times—a review of the Saturday concert in Golden Gate Park. On Sunday, the PTTP people and CARE, the poverty-fighting NGO, extended the gathering to a second day for the first time, with the inaugural Global Action Forum and Celebration, a full-day conference with a bit more of a serious bent.
Musician and humanitarian Michael Franti is the spark behind both. After attending CARE's national conference in Washington, DC this past May, Franti was empowered to do even more, so he created the Global Action Forum to bring the work of CARE closer to his audience.
The forum consisted of daylong yoga and Brazilian arts workshops, with proceeds donated to CARE. Celeb yogis Seane Corn and Les Leventhal led intense 90-minutes classes, the latter including a special performance by Franti, also a serious yoga practitioner (instant karma: the day before Franti had pulled Leventhal onstage during his finale).
The morning exercise was followed by three moderated "action workshops" on climate change, defending girls' rights, and global hunger. While every panelist was an expert, the hunger workshop in particular left me, well, hungry. Nothing was mentioned about the inefficiency of food (meat) production, nothing about the excess of the Western diet (other than how much food is thrown away—250 pounds per second in Europe alone), nothing about eating lower on the food chain, and nothing about genetically modified foods (until an audience member brought it up during Q&A). Ari Derfel, co-owner of Back to Earth, did make one passing "vegan" remark, though it might have had something to do with the T-shirt I was wearing. We did learn that Derfel is opening Terrain, "an all-organic restaurant in Berkeley's David Brower Center, "this fall.
The event concluded with a reception (not veg, unfortunately), followed by an energetic performance by the talented Brazilian percussion band Tambores Remelexo, and, finally, an acoustic performance by Franti. Prior to taking the stage Namkha Rinpoche, an 18th generation Tibetan monk, presented Franti with a ceremonial scarf in honor of his work, which he proudly wore while he closed out the intense yet overwhelmingly successful two days of music, education, and peace. Mark your calendars—we're already looking forward to next year.
An acoustic close to an electric two days