UNA Boulder County Collects Votes at Boulder Creek Festival

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This post was written by Pravin Nair, and Zuza Bohley, United Nations Association of Boulder County: http://unaboulder.org . Please be sure to follow them on Twitter, @unaboulder and also @unausa, and to follow the MY World data Results.

The United Nations Association of Boulder County participated in the Boulder Creek Festival 2014 during Memorial Day weekend, May 24-26. 2014. For over a quarter century, the Boulder Creek Festival has been the unofficial kickoff to summer in Boulder. Widely considered Boulder County’s favorite event, the Festival attracts an anticipated half a million people for three days of festivities, featuring a large variety of events, activities, food and entertainment unique to the Boulder community. The concluding day of the festival, Memorial Day at Boulder begins with America’s all time best 10K race “BolderBOULDER”.

The Festival is free to the public and features something for everyone: 9 separate event
areas with 500 vendors showcase everything from community arts and crafts to health
alternatives and technology while 4 performance stages feature a spectrum of music and dance. The Festival also features carnival rides, food and beverage vendors, and the signature event: a rubber duck race down the creek!

The City of Boulder requires all events within city limits to be Zero Waste events. The
goal at a Zero Waste event is to plan ahead and only distribute materials that are
recyclable, compostable or reusable (i.e. no materials that have to be landfilled).
United Nations Association of Boulder County reserved a booth at the Boulder Creek
Festival; our volunteers included members from Model United Nations club at Boulder
High School & University of Colorado and members from the UNICEF Campus
Initiative at University of Colorado.

UNA-USA chapters have been organizing post-2015 consultations with community
members all over the United States. Representatives from UNA Boulder County chapter had participated in the My World 2015 campaign organized by UNA Denver Chapter in December 2013 and engaged in the post-2015 development goals discussion organized by UNA Northern Colorado chapter in May 2014. Inspired by the My World 2015 campaign, we decided to focus on creating awareness & collecting My World 2015 votes at the festival. We collected surveys from a total of 234 people in 26 hours, which averages to engaging with 9 people per hour. The statistics for our partner ID is available at http://data.myworld2015.org/?partner=unabc.

We  recently learned that 3.4 million people die annually from water, sanitation and hygeine-related diseases and around 780 million people lack access to clean water. Over 1 million people had voted for “Access to clean water and sanitation” in the My World 2015 Global Survey. Hence we decided to have “Access to clean water” as our theme. Our exhibits included information on the global water crisis, water usage & scarcity. The City of Boulder’s Water conservation department, EPA & Grace Communication Foundation supported our efforts by providing display boards, brochures, coloring books, activity/comic books, water tattoos and key chains.

BCF2014-3As part of collecting My World 2015 survey, our team members Zuza Bohley and Shalia
Skjong reached out to a large group of homeless people outside the festival area, thus
ensuring My World 2015 campaign was inclusive of this highly marginalized group.
While discussing with them about the UN & My World 2015, our team learned couple of
these homeless people were veterans; one of them was a Navajo code talker! They were hesitant to vote but long conversations & sincere engagement resulted in their
participation. One of the major attractions at our booth was the display of flags from 22 countries (which had been most recently in the news), passersby looking at these flags were invited to participate in the Identify Flags game. Our volunteers made this game interactive by providing helpful hints. People with interest in International affairs & geography enjoyed the game.

Student volunteers enjoyed their time at the booth as it provided them a platform to share their interest in International affairs with the community while supporting post-2015 development topics. UNA of Boulder County will continue to support the My World 2015 Campaign. We do have plans to collaborate with various local NGO’s & students organizations for having a post-2015 development goals discussion at the University campus this fall.

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Here’s the experiences shared by our student team members:

“The UNA’s booth at the Boulder Creek Festival provided me with a fun and relaxed
experience to talk to other fair goers about the United Nations and my own Model UN
group on campus. The well stocked and organized booth ran like clock work making it
easy to draw in passersby and play a flag game. There was actually little to no actual
work involved since talking to people already happy and enjoying the warm weather and easy going atmosphere was no chore at all.” — (Aaron Chesler, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder Model UN)

“As my first year volunteering for the BCF for the UNA of Boulder County, I would say it
was such a great experience. Everyone I met had such great enthusiasm while
volunteering and the visitors of the booth were very interested and engaged. I noticed a lot of people really enjoyed challenging themselves with the flag game of writing down what country belonged to the displayed flags. This display was what drew in more than half of the visitors of the booth, which we then asked if they would fill out the My World survey after their game and it was a great success. I suggest in the future keeping this game and maybe have a grand prize for the person who can identify the most flags by emailing the winner at the end of the festival. I think this would bring more people to the booth and allow their family to interact more with the game and have time to fill out the surveys while their family plays. Other than that I felt the surveys were very understandable and straight to the point for the visitors.” — (Shalia Skjong, UNICEF Campus Initiative, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder & International Affairs Major)

“Greetings from Boulder, CO – USA. From 24th May to 26th May, we volunteered with
UNA-Boulder County to set up a booth themed “Access to Clean Water” at the Boulder
Creek Festival. The booth also served as a voting center for the ‘MY WORLD 2015’
campaign. Being widely popular and considered the best annual event in Boulder County, this festival provided a perfect opportunity to collect votes. To improve participation among youth, the booth also included games like identifying the flags of various countries. Our youngest voter was as young as 13 years old. To emphasize the
importance of all the 16 available options, we had personnel with various backgrounds
and experience at the booth talking to the voters. This was my first time participating in something this huge on a global level. While I was volunteering at the booth, comments from the voters ranged from “How does my vote change things?” to “It is tough to pick six” to “This is democracy at its best”. One interesting thing I noticed was, every voter took time to understand all the 16 options and to choose the six that mattered most to them. At the end of the festival, after working with so many partner organizations and talking to so many voters, I wonder if I would choose the same six. I hope my generation gets many such opportunities to have a say in global decision making.” — (Prasanta, President of UNICEF Campus Initiative, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder).

In closing, we would like to thank our team members for coming together & hope
more people will join us in promoting the My World 2015 Campaign: Aaron Chesler, Attilio Catazano, Bill Kellogg, Brenn Anderson-Gregson, David Copley, Erik Nesse, Helen Coffey, Hunter Schoech, Katarina Niparko, Kenny Nguyen, Lester Lurie, Lillian Waters, Margi Ness, Mehreen Ahmed, Pat Shannon, Prasanta Achanta, Pravin Nair, Shalia Skjong, Travis Parker, Zuza Bohley.