Category Archives: Field Story in North America

All aboard the Peace Boat! Guests champion the SDGs during the “Floating Festival for Sustainability”!

img_0959 img_0958On Thursday, October 20, over 600 people attended a grand exhibit aboard the Peace Boat. This “Floating Festival for Sustainability” marked the Peace Boat’s 92nd Global Voyage for Peace since the nonprofit was established in 1983, and the first time the ship has docked in New York in five years. It also marked the inauguration of the Global Goals logo on the boat.

The SDG Action Campaign has a long history of working with the Peace Boat, having launched a partnership in 2009 to promote the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The Peace Boat previously hosted the Millennium Campaign logo, gave courses on the MDGs to passengers, and participated in the Stand Up Campaign among other activities. The Peace Boat has also been an early adopter of the MY World 2030 survey, helping to translate the ballot into Japanese, and collecting ballots both from passengers and people they meet during their journey. They presented the results of their first efforts in their recent report about the ship’s visit to Latin America – showing the enormous efforts and impact the boat is able to make on supporting the implementation of the SDGs.

The event occurred aboard the Peace Boat, providing guests with an intimate glimpse of life at sea. When guests first arrived, they were greeted with a tour of Peace Boat’s impressive ship. The foyer of the ship allowed guests to engage with the mission of the Peace Boat and with an exhibition of projects the peace boat is aligned with. Peace Boat, an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations, campaigns for the Sustainable Development Goals as it tours the globe each year. The UN SDG Action Campaign was present to drum up excitement about the SDGs and give participants the ability to engage with immersive content. Participants could take the MY World survey to voice their opinion on the importance and progress of the SDGs, take selfies highlighting their favorite SDGs and watch the virtual reality films of stories from around the world.

The World We Want team was also present, inviting guests to learn about their activities and to join the Policy Strategy Group. The World We Want is looking to continue doing WWW exhibitions around the world to promote the SDGs and civil society’s participation in UN activities. Other exhibits included the presentation of the Eco Ship, an entirely sustainable ship fueled by renewable energy sources that will retrieve the mission of the Peace Boat and promote climate action world-wide when in launches in 2020.

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The main event of the evening began with live music and dance, followed by a series of speakers including H.E. Jan Eliasson (United Nations Deputy Secretary-General), H.E. Ahmed Sareer (Ambassador of the Maldives and Chairman of the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS)), Jeff Brez (Chief NGO Relations Advocacy and Special Events, Outreach Division, United Nations Department of Public Information), Yoshioka Tatsuya (Peace Boat Director) and Cora Weiss of the (President, Hague Appeal for Peace). The presentations were followed by an eco fashion show highlighting sustainable designs, and the SDGs chosen to be of highest import to each of the designers.

The presenters made appealing calls to action for all guests to get involved with the SDGs and in promoting peace. The Mr. Eliasson stressed the need to join forces and approach the SDGs in a collaborative manner, encouraging everyone to not be phased by the large task at hand, but rather to focus on small actions that add up: “nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something”. He stressed the need to empower and create space for youth and women as major actors in the fight for peace.

Mr. Tatsuya gave an energetic presentation about the new ship the Peace Boat is developing, which will soon be the most sustainable ship to ever set sail. It will include an on-board university for peace & sustainability, sport activities, and volunteer exchanges in local communities visited.

The evening also included a passionate appeal from a survivor of the Nagasaki atomic bombing as part of a special partnership with the United Nations First Committee on Disarmament and International Security (UNODA). Five victims of both Nagasaki and Hiroshima, known as Hibakusha, are traveling with the Peace Boat to campaign against nuclear weapons, hoping to see a world without them in their lifetimes.

For more information on the Peace Boat, please visit: http://www.peaceboat-us.org/  

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Next Generation, Cross-Curricular Global Learning through Immersive Technology

Blog by Neesha N. Rahim, Co-Founder Level Up Village

The Level Up Village (LUV) team joined forces with the UN SDG Action Campaign, Shared_Studios, VIF, The Qatar Foundation International & P21 at the 2016 Global Ed Forum in Philadelphia in October. With the goal of providing an immersive, perspective-building experience for some of the best and brightest educators working to build global competency skills in K-12 students,  the experience provided a unique interpretation of “cross-curricular learning” and showed how global competency could be infused in all aspects of education.

Thought leaders from around the world had the opportunity to immerse themselves virtually in the stunningly heartbreaking world of a Syrian refugee child named Sidra via Clouds Over Sidra. This set the stage to understanding what life is like in a Syrian refugee camp, adding depth and intimacy to an issue that many see only on the news.  Those who saw the film came away excited by the promises of VR, seeing the film and technology as an opportunity to effectively teach today’s digital natives about topics from the refugee crisis to the Sustainable Development Goals.

 

“Watching Clouds over Sidra in VR was an incredibly impactful experience,” said Connor Seidenschwarz of the Qatar Foundation International.  “Last summer I worked in a refugee camp in Lebanon, and the VR experience made me feel like I was right back there again.  I think this type of medium, along with the Shared_Studios portal and Level Up Village programs, will have a huge impact on anyone learning about refugee experience, especially in terms of what it can do to create humanize refugees.”

“I’ve worked in many countries, including in the developing world.  Yet this film drove home what life is really like for refugee children and made me see the differences and similarities between children here and there in a different light,” David Ross, Chief Strategy Officer at P21 said of the experience.

“Global education is the lens through which all teaching and learning should occur. Virtual exchanges, collaborative projects, and immersive VR experiences like Clouds over Sidra are critical elements for delivering quality education to all,” said David Young CEO of VIF, an organization that works districts and schools to develop global-ready teachers and students.

After watching the film, participants walked into a gold colored, sparkling Shared_Studios Portal tent where they connected in real time through full-body video conference with groups in Iraq, Pakistan and Nicaragua.  These live interactions pulled the world of each of these groups even closer, breaking down the wall of self consciousness that we often see via modes like Skype.  Through this opportunity, educators explored how students might be able to play and engage meaningfully with peers from around the world.    

Boys who fled the ISIS takeover of Mosul two years ago and are living in Harsham Camp for internally displaced Iraqis in the city of Erbil spoke directly to conference participants via the Erbil Portal, curated by UNICEF Iraq.  Amidst more serious conversations, one US educator spontaneously played a game of rock, paper, scissors with the children who taught her the Arabic words for the game.  The young Iraqi boys then taught a group of three women in the US a local dance.

Lindsay Mackenzie, communications specialist with UNICEF Iraq, explained that connecting with people around the world serves to build perspective and open the world for children in the camp, while giving voice to those who do not feel heard. Moreover, these opportunities represent hope and a moment of respite from otherwise harrowing situations.

Participants also connected in real time with educators and students from Level Up Village’s Global Partner programs in Pakistan and Nicaragua. iEarn Pakistan, led by Farah Kamal, has done incredible work in building global competency and tech skills in Pakistani students, often against seemingly insurmountable odds.  

“It was thrilling to stand right in front of my counterparts at the GEF 2016 and talk. We have the same hopes and aspirations – to have our students grow and thrive in a peaceful world,”  said Farah Kamal, Executive Director of iEarn Pakistan.   

Global Ed Forum participants interacted in real time with Level Up Village global partners NicaPhoto Nicaragua and iEARN Pakistan

At NicaPhoto in Nicaragua, Ronnie Maher has provided quality education, nutrition and other social services to hundreds of students who live in homes that were only recently wired for electricity.  Via Level Up Village programs, students in each location have engaged in one-to-one STEAM (STEM + arts) collaborations with students at schools in the US.

“The impact of Level Up Village programs on our kids is great, beginning with learning to use a computer, learning to form their own ideas, and to ask questions,” said Ronnie Maher, Founder & Executive Director of NicaPhoto. “The video letters and one-to-one connections help them to be less shy as they learn to express themselves. The project-based, small class environment is a unique opportunity that can have a big impact on learning here in Nicaragua.”

At the conference, we also demonstrated how Level Up Village’s social media-inspired platform facilitates the exchange of asynchronous video letters and project collaboration across the globe. In our courses, students in the US are paired one-on-one with partner students from around the world to learn cutting-edge STEAM skills and apply them to real-world problems, In addition, they collaborate on shared project files and exchange information about about each other’s daily lives and cultures through a guided exchange of video letters. The result is meaningful global collaboration and an enhanced understanding of the world – at a personal level.

Students in 20+ countries connect and collaborate using Level Up Village’s mobile-friendly Global Communications Platform in courses such as Global Inventors (3D printing). This type of innovative global STEAM collaboration with real-world applications teaches important 21st Century skills and creates meaningful personal connections

Participants at the Global Ed Forum experienced firsthand how a variety of exciting new technologies are proving to be game-changers in the field of global education. We look forward to further opportunities to collaborate with VIF, P21, The Qatar Foundation International, Shared_Studios and the UN SDG Action Campaign to move global education forward. In the next few years, we expect many more schools in the US and around the world will access the tools they need to bring the world into their classroom and the impact will be profound. Students will be able to develop social awareness, empathy and global competency in unprecedented ways, providing them with the framework they need to become compassionate leaders of tomorrow.

** Special thanks to GEF 2016 organizer Brandon Wiley & Dave Potter of VIF for making this experience possible.

About Level Up Village: A social enterprise based in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, Level Up Village (LUV) delivers pioneering Global STEAM (STEM + Arts) enrichment courses that promote design thinking and one-to-one collaboration on real-world problems between K-9 students in the U.S. and partner students in developing countries. Launched in 2012, LUV runs courses during school, after-school and in the summer at more than 150 U.S. schools, with 30+ Global Partner organizations in more than 20 countries.  For more information, visit at levelupvillage.com or find us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter @LevelUpVillage.

SDG Action Campaign at Columbia University School of Social Work: Linking Academia and the Most Marginalized for the SDGs

Written by Di Cao

Academia and the most marginalized groups are two crucial stakeholders for implementing the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). But how can the two be connected and collaborate on achieving the SDGs? On March 28th, during the Annual Community Day of Columbia University School of Social Work (CUSSW), the UN SDG Action Campaign came to Morningside Heights and found the answer by meeting with great minds from the social work profession, who are dedicated to reducing poverty and changing lives.

Alice Chen from the Campaign carried out in-depth discussions with faculty members of CUSSW on how to bring SDGs to the most marginalized groups. Professors shared their groundbreaking intervention research on poverty, health, refugee, immigrants, and many other topics that are directly linked to the SDGs. Alice introduced our innovative works on using big data and new technology to include people’s voices in the SDGs implementation, which excited our audiences.

“The work of SDG action campaign brings awareness of SDGs and build empathy through new technology…this is the new approach to development.”

– Natasha Dachos, Director of the Office of Professional Excellence, CUSSW

“I expect that the MY World data and Virtual Reality films become the most exciting experience of my International Social Development class.”

-Mashkhura Akilova, Professor of CUSSW

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The CUSSW Community Day is an annual event organized by a coalition of student caucuses at the school. This year over 50 workshops on cultural topics were held for students, faculty, staff and community members to explore cultural diversity and cultural competence. The UN SDG Action Campaign brought our VR films “Clouds over Sidra” and “Waves of Grace” to the audience in the cultural showcase session. Participants were transported to the Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan or the streets of Liberia by way of VR goggles. Many students experienced this new technology for the very first time and they were profoundly moved by both the story and the way the story is told. Gulnara Zhakupova, a second year Master student of CUSSW, said  that “Clouds over Sidra” prepared her better for her future works with the refugee population.

“(The VR) hit me hard emotionally, but I was also focusing on what we can do over here and how we can help this (refugee) crisis.”

– Candice, First year Master student of CUSSW

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SDG Action Campaign at the CTAUN Conference 2016: How to tie Education & Action for Achieving the SDGs

Written by Di Cao

On January 22nd, over 500 educators and students from around the world participated in the Committee on Teaching About the United Nations (CTAUN) 2016 annual conference to learn more about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDG Action Campaign was invited to showcase Humans of MY World data and stories, the World We Want platform, and the UNVR series.

In September 2015, delegates from 190 countries met at the UN headquarters in New York to agree on the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets to guide global development over the 15 years. The SDGs are the most inclusive and transparent goals for the world ever because the consultation process was truly human-centered: 10 million people all over the world have voted for their most passionate goals through the MY World 2015 Global Survey. In this world’s largest survey, “A Good Education” has been identified as the most popular priority among voters across region, gender, and age (See data: http://data.myworld2015.org/). With that said, worldwide educators and administrator are key partners of the SDGs.

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The conference acknowledged the significance of taking immediate actions. Anne-Marie Carlson, Chair of CTAUN 2016, said at the beginning of the conference:

“Knowledge and good intentions are not enough. It is vitally important that we act now to bring these issues to the fore in every school’s curriculum, so that, to our children, behaving responsibly and living sustainably will become simple common sense. ”

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The mission of the SDG Action Campaign is to empower people from various backgrounds with knowledge and tools to become actively involved in supporting the SDG implementation. At the CTAUN 2016 InfoFair, we brought a comprehensive yet easy-to-start SDG Implementation “manual” for 500 educators, administrators, and students around the world to inspire and help them to plan and make their own SDG actions. (click here to download) The one-page “manual” was welcomed by many of our guests:

We really want to know that as college students, what we can do for the SDGs, where can we get resources and how can we start?— Eayne Castillo, student of Pace University

I believed that many of my colleagues working in schools would find this very helpful.Ruth Nielsen, CTAUN

Ruth later shared with the SDG Action Campaign that we “certainly had the most innovative displays” – thanks Ruth! The SDG Action Campaign also showcased the well-known Virtual Reality films “Clouds Over Sidra” and “Waves of Grace” to the InfoFair. The strong emotions that brought by the films as well as the cutting edge VR technology enhanced people’s understanding of the most marginalized groups. Teachers and professors were eager to use this powerful empathy tool in their future class of SDGs; Students were inspired to organize VR screening events on campus to bring awareness of SDGs among youth.

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“This film brings in the truth and reality of Syrian refugees, which is all we need right now.”
— Aliya Bultrikova, Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan to the UN

“I plan to add SDG contents to my curriculum, and this (VR) will be an amazing experience that enriches the learning process.”
— Chris Rhodenbagh, teacher of Democracy Prep Public Schools

“I’m thrilled. I want all my students to watch this!”
—Dr. Kathryn Lawter, Advisory Council Chair of CTAUN

On the same day of CTAUN 2016, we welcomed a group of young delegates from University of International Business and Economics of China discussing SDGs and education with the Campaign. Tim Scott, policy advisor on Environment of UNDP, and Antje Watermann from UNDP Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific kindly joined the meeting and introduced the 17 global goals as well as the implementation process in China to the young delegates. The audiences were passionate about the MY World 2030 survey and highly interested in the innovative waste project initiated by UNDP China and Baidu.

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Alice Chen presents results of MY World 2015 survey and introduces MY World 2030 to young delegates from China.

In 2016 when the SDGs officially came into force, there really has been no better time than now for global educators to think deeply about how to take actions and to inspire the action of students, to ensure the successful implementation of the 17 goals in the next 15 years. To that end, CTAUN, which has been enthusiastically advocated for the SDGs, passionately addressed the 2030 global agenda in its 2016 annual conference with hundreds of educators and students. The all-day conference gave an explicit overview of the SDGs, discussed topics such as global food security, sustainable food production and consumption. It also addressed environment issues surrounding water, energy use and climate change. From the Campaign’s perspective, we are delighted by this opportunity to speak directly with educators in the field who are inspiring young minds on a daily basis. These young minds will one day become the leaders of tomorrow and the ones to transform the SDGs into reality over the next 15 years.

UNMC screens sneak preview of new Virtual Reality film: Waves of Grace

The United Nations Millennium Campaign screened a sneak preview of their latest Virtual Reality film, Waves of Grace on Friday 10 July at the United Nations. Its premier was planned in conjunction with the United Nations Secretary-General’s International Ebola Recovery Conference, hosted to ensure affected countries receive the support they need to end the epidemic and continue countries on the path to recovery. Wavesofgrace promoWaves of Grace follows a young woman’s struggle for life amid the Ebola epidemic. The movie is the result of collaboration between the UN Millennium Campaign, Vrse.works and Vice Media, and was created to call attention to the obstacles faced by Ebola survivors. The movie transports viewers to West Point, Liberia and follows the experience of Decontee Davis, an Ebola survivor who uses her immunity to help others affected by the disease.  The VR experience captures the Liberian tragedy from illness to recovery, mourning to perseverance.  It is part of a larger initiative of the United Nations Millennium Campaign to fight donor fatigue on the world’s most pressing challenges.

UNMC Colleagues Kristin & Alice with actor Jeffrey Wright
UNMC Colleagues Kristin & Alice with actor Jeffrey Wright

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“Development achievements can be quickly reversed due to crises such as the Ebola epidemic” said Mitchell Toomey, Director of the UN Millennium Campaign. “If the world does not focus on helping the most vulnerable and building resiliency in recovering communities, development goals and targets will not be met. Thus it is hoped that this film may aid the United Nations’ efforts to draw attention to the lasting impact of the Ebola crisis, as well as the need for continued support for those affected by the disease.”

“The Ebola crisis has captivated the world in its devastating effects over the last year and a half. However, the individual stories behind the numbers are often not told.  Decontee’s story captures the strife and spirit of the communities across West Africa in the wake of the Ebola epidemic. It is hoped that this second VR experience will promote greater understanding of the socio-economic impact of the disease and empathy for those who continue to overcome it.” said Gabo Arora, co-creator of the film and Senior Advisor for the UN Millennium Campaign.

The film will be formally launched soon on the VRSE App. To sign up for more information on the Virtual Reality please visit: www.vr4dev.org. Stay tuned! Continue reading UNMC screens sneak preview of new Virtual Reality film: Waves of Grace

AIESEC US launches partnership with 25000 vote commitment

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Charlotte, NC (August 7 2014)

AIESEC is the world’s largest student led organization, with the determination to achieve peace and fulfillment of humankind’s potential.  AIESEC has representation in 124 countries. AIESEC United States works for the purpose of providing a platform to students through leadership opportunities, international internships, and provides a global learning environment. It is a space that allows young entrepreneurs to interact and engage with business leaders to open the discussion on the issues today’s youth face on a regional, national, and global scale.

On the 7 August, 2014,  the national chapter of AIESEC United States hosted the Youth to Business Forum: Inspire (#Y2BInspire). The theme for the Youth to Business Forum was Youth Empowerment in Local Communities, igniting conversation about how students can not only impact the world, but have a similar impact in their own backyards.

AIESEC US members were introduced to the AIESEC – MY World 2015 partnership and their aim to help boost youth engagement in MY World 2015 and World We Want 2015, further empowering youth voices in their communities. Presently in 33 universities around the country, AIESEC US aims to involve each of these local chapters. From Washington, to Missouri, to New York, and down to Georgia, the goal is not just to collect the voices of the students at these universities, but also to do outreach in the communities that surround their campuses and get the best representation of youth in the United States.

Together, AIESEC US has pledged to collect nearly 25,000 votes in the upcoming semester, encapsulating the American voice for MY World 2015 and The World We Want 2015.

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To learn more, visit us at http://aiesecus.org/ or contact Martha Correa-Jamison, AIESEC US, marthac@aiesecus.org

JCI Members Commit 2,522,500 votes at 2014 JCI Global Partnership Summit

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By Carlos Suarez, JCI External Relations Manager, with edits by Bonnie Stack, JCI Communications Manager
23-25 July, 2015 – New York

Nearly 500 young active citizens from over 50 nationalities united inside the United Nations at the annual Junior Chambers International 2014 Global Partnership Summit. JCI seized this significant, timely opportunity to discuss the final push for the advancement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and explore opportunities on shaping the post-2015 development agenda. With young people joining together to increase cultural understanding and create positive change, the event was an essential gathering to engaging active citizens from all sectors of society to formulate strategic partnerships for sustainable impact. “The Millennium Development Goals represent the greatest single anti-poverty campaign in human history,” UN Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General Kim won-soo said.

With the MDGs as a global framework to fight poverty, it will take the combined effort of governments, the private sector and civil society to develop a successful strategy and create measurable results.  The 2014 JCI Global Partnership Summit united leaders and representatives from all sectors to address and formulate sustainable approaches to development. The UN Millennium Campaign plays an integral role in engaging young active citizens by listening to their voices and providing the platform for taking targeted action, advocating for the MDGs and the post-2015 global development agenda. As young people around the world focus on the MDGs as a targeted approach to addressing challenges, strategic JCI partners recognized the importance of long-lasting collaboration.

Continue reading JCI Members Commit 2,522,500 votes at 2014 JCI Global Partnership Summit

The Afrolatin@ Project announces regional partnership with UN MY World 2015 campaign

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Press release and photos by The Afrolatin@ Project, courtesy of Amilcar Priestley, Director.

Friday, July 25th,  2014 – Today which marks the Día de la Mujer Afro (Afrodescendant Women’s Day), the Afrolatin@ Project is pleased to announce the launch of  “CONTAMOS AFRO 2015”, our regional partnership with the United Nations MY World 2015/ World We Want 2015/ Beijing +20 (www.myworld2015.org) campaign.

Between today and December 31, 2014, the CONTAMOS AFRO 2015 initiative will be collecting and facilitating the collection of MY World ballots, using the voting widget embedded at www.afrolatinoproject.org, or via the MY World 2015 app for Android phones, text (SMS) message, the WhatsApp mobile app, email or paper ballot. The MY World campaign uses an innovative set of open source tools to empower global citizens to vote on the post-2015 sustainable development goals, by anonymously selecting 6 out of 16 possible issues of importance to them and their communities. People who want to elaborate on their choices can also record an audio message via our website, WhatsApp, Skype or video message via Youtube.

At the conclusion of the campaign, the information will be given to United Nations member-states to consider in setting national policy. The data will also be accessible and useful for the public as well as activists, journalists and educators. Here is a sample of the data we have collected as part of our soft launch: http://data.myworld2015.org/?partner=AFROLA

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Given, 1) the end of the period to achieve the Millennium Development Goals established in 2000, 2) the 20th anniversary of the last U.N. International Women’s conference held in Beijing, China and 3) the start of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024), the MY World 2015 campaign and platform is timely.

Continue reading The Afrolatin@ Project announces regional partnership with UN MY World 2015 campaign

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.

Continue reading UNA Boulder County Collects Votes at Boulder Creek Festival