Move the U.S. military budget ($700 billion annually) from war to peace
This musical performance will be held during United Nations Disarmament Week (the last week in October, 2018), in support of UN advocacy of world peace. The performance will begin with 700 youth tightly gathered in a group at the center of UN Plaza in San Francisco. Each of them wears a gold t-shirt that has the words “ONE BILLION $” on it, and so the 700 young people together represent the entire 700 billion dollars spent annually on preparing for and waging war. (Veteran benefits are not included in this military budget.)
They begin this action “tied up” in one big group, encircled by a long rope or ribbon. A rap singer begins a song, especially written for this occasion, by singing a verse about what would be possible if that money were to be used for peaceful purposes – moving our nation from war to peace.
The ribbon or rope is cut, permitting the 700 to move out from the circle. Each verse of the song focuses on one civilian purpose the money could serve. Alternatives include schools, healthcare/hospitals, affordable housing, employment/job creation, support for war veterans, public transportation, the arts, alternative energy, and global goodwill and peacekeeping. The aim of this performance is to show vividly what a war-to-peace conversion would look like.
As each verse of the song is being sung, a group of youth representing a certain amount of amount of money (for example, 100 students equals 100 billion dollars) leaves the core group, moves to a different area of the plaza, and builds a “tableau” representing a civilian use of the money – for education, medical care, affordable housing, public transportation, etc. (A tableau is a scene built up by a group of people, in which they all form and hold a shape.)
By the end of the song, the entire group of 700 will have moved from being “tied up” to creating a beautiful and complex vista across the entire plaza representing a world where funds are dedicated to peace instead of war.
Preparation and Follow-up. This event will be carefully scripted and choreographed. In the months leading up to the performance, we will visit local high schools to gather volunteers, create and rehearse the material, and educate the school community about what we’re doing. The individual tableaus done by each group of students at a school would be designed and created with guidance given by local theater folks volunteering their time.
We expect that most of the youth who participate in this event will come from the San Francisco Bay Area. But we will invite young people from across the country to visit the Bay Area and participate too. We will provide free lodging over the weekend for these visitors.
Getting one or several celebrity singers/songwriters interested early on is key to making this idea work. If we are able to find one or several persons whom young folks would be really jazzed to work with, and locally companies interested in working alongside, then everything else becomes much easier.
Other tie-in activities are limited only by the imagination. Video will be made of the entire event and posted on the Web. Accompanying music videos can made also. The whole event can be shot with a drone camera showing the youth participating in the action.