I was honored to be selected to attend South by South Lawn: A White House Festival of Ideas, Art, and Action on October 3rd. The day-long event was both a celebration and a call to action.
After multiple security checks – it is 2016 after all – I entered through the White House to the music of several inspiring – and rocking – bands including Black Alley and Gallant.
The celebration continued onto the South Lawn where the crown of 2,000 was joined life-size Lego figures.
In a tribute to what is possible, sustainably produced food was served.
And in recognition of what is possible, a giant wall of post-its invited people to contribute their future actions.
Interactive booths invited attendees to explore Yosemite with President Obama through virtual reality, to create light-up pins in the spirit of the maker movement, to discover robotics with Sphero, and more.
By mid-afternoon, a series of panels addressed explored how leaders in art, technology, food, innovation, and social change are helping to move the country forward.
As I sit down to learn about how we can feed the future, the rapper Common took the stage. He delivered a powerful message about the incarceration of black men in the United States – it’s magnitude and it’s negative impact on America society.
The panel about how we will feed ourselves sustainably in the coming decades included Will Allen and Caleb Harper. Will Allen of Growing Power has been working for social justice through urban agriculture for four decades. Caleb Harper of the OpenAG initiative at the MIT Media Lab is pushing the boundaries of modern agriculture with the use of open-source data. The message was one of serious challenges mixed with an optimism that we have the power to address these challenges. And I had the chance to talk with Will Allen, who had just been to Maine for the Common Ground Country Fair.
The celebration and call to action continued into the evening.
The Lumineers took to the main stage followed by Leonardo DiCapro, President Obama, and Dr Katherine Hayhoe, who discussed importance of protecting the one planet we’ve got for future generations. The evening concluded with a preview of DiCaprio’s new climate documentary film Before the Flood.
It was an incredible day that touched both my head and my heart with positive innovation taking place and moving into the future.