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New Heights at Lollapalooza

 #BestLollaEver, Mean Muggin' @GeneralMills, Starting Conversations

Our first Chicago Oxfam Action Corps Lollapalooza ever was possibly the #BestLollaEver. Preparations began months before August 2nd in order to ensure the proper number of supplies and number of volunteers covered the three-day festival. Lolla volunteers met and interacted at the July monthly meeting. An introduction to Behind the Brands campaign and the Scorecard Game boosted the energy for gaining signatures to target General Mills and transparency. Overall, the weekend representing Oxfam to music fans and the general music community ended in a huge success.

As Friday began, fellow vendors dropped music with a bass that got us going. Volunteers Emily and Jessica J. jumped at the opportunity to hand out Summer Jam Cards and Oxfam buttons as a way to attract people to stop for a moment. This began a great influx of signatures for our Behind the Brands campaign. Marlo kept the energy up by directing people to try their hand at the Scoreboard game. I asked people to take pictures with our Behind the Brands poster to Tweet the pictures online. This started off great in the morning. By midday, the connection on phones was spotty, making it difficult to send Tweets or post photos online. Through out the day we had surges of signature collection. We spent quality time with neighbors, Trurute and CocoLoco Jewelry. Greenola Style was also there selling fair trade clothing. We stopped by the table of supporters at Rock the Vote who exchanged some table swag. Not to mention, our dear friends at ONE stationed on Green Street North tabled for their current campaign, Electrify Africa. Despite the hot weather, spots of rain, and humidity, all our first-day volunteers did an amazing job. They also took advantage of some time to see Band of Horses, Flux Pavillion and Nine Inch Nails. It took most of the first day to determine the best table layout, approach to people passing by, and how we presented the Behind the Brands pitch. We were ready to tackle big numbers over Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday our volunteers possessed an atomic energy to spark the attention of everyone passing by. Jessica B created a thermometer tracker to show people our progress to getting 1000 signatures. In addition, I created and hung a poster that stated, “We Need Your Voice.” These tools peaked interest in many festival-goers who merely walked through Green Street to get from one end of the park to the other. Overall, the continued efforts of volunteers to pitch Behind the Brands proved tremendous and effective with an increase in number of signatures from Friday. Jessica focused on signatures, Simone encouraged Scoreboard game, and Laura brought people in with Summer Jam cards. We were rolling through signatures. A good handful of people won bandanas as part of the Behind the Brands Scorecard game. Many who played the game were surprised by the ranking and by the vast coverage of products the top ten largest food and beverage companies own. I continued to take pictures for Twitter with the message to @GeneralMills for increased transparency. People understood we want better as consumers, and began a crusade of "mean muggin'" in the pictures. It holds the true spirit of Behind the Brands that social responsibility is important to consumers. Most importantly, we enjoyed ourselves as a volunteer team, bonding over great food and banter in better acquainting ourselves with one another.

As a pleasant surprise, Sunday resulted in the best day for us as a team in number of signatures. The weather was perfect, people responded positively to Behind the Brands all around, and volunteers completed the daunting task of gaining signatures. Yet, we did not just gain signatures, we started conversations. Allison B, Delia D. kept energy through out the day by merely approaching people calmly, professionally, and telling them why corporate responsibility remains crucial to mending the broken food system with their personal twists. Ayet, Colin and Colm absorbed and reflected the same energy as the afternoon and evening continued. By mid-afternoon we had reached 1000 signatures. While a small gesture of celebration ensued, the volunteers rocked on to reach more people, educate about Behind the Brands, and even get more signatures.


As an organizer, I could not be more proud of all of the volunteers. Without their commitment to Behind the Brands, Oxfam Action Corps and fixing the broken food system, this whole weekend would not have been possible. By Sunday midday, I felt a overwhelming sense of change as we crossed the barrier of 1000 signatures. It was the volunteers who continued the conversations through the night all the way to the end. I continued to make new contacts and network with those potential partners and interested to-be volunteers. The continued enthusiasm and receptiveness of people even exiting Lollapalooza....astounding. Consumerism does not own this country or the international food system. I stress to all our volunteers and the Action Corps that we are advocates for the consumer voice, not just the worker we have never met in a land far away, or maybe for the cocoa farmers we heard from. We all take a place at the table, the table for 9 billion. Let's make room and share. Through the signatures and interest of many, Lollapalooza shows people need the the avenue to help fix the broken food system together. Our Behind the Brands cycle continues and World Food Day is just around the bend on October 16th. We hope to continue the energy to reach consumers, foodies, chefs, educators, politicians and all members of society.

We can fix the broken food system together.

-Megan Nakra  


#BehindtheBrands...Geared up for Lollapalooza and World Food Day!

By the end of May we had won our first Call to Action towards Mondalez, Nestle, and Mars. We campaigned for women cocoa farmers. You tweeted, updated Facebook statuses and let your voice be heard. All three companies listened to YOU, to us, a people united to demand better upstream practices. In fact, all three corporations boasted signing on to the UN Principles for Women. At the end of the day, it is about helping women, a major support system for most families across the world. They buttress a family ability to attain the basics of food, water, and education. We are now gearing up for our next campaign. Currently we are targeting General Mills to be more transparent in their business practices. If a company is family-oriented, what do they have to hide from the public? General Mills owns brands like Green Giant, Betty Crocker, and Cheerios, which may be some of your favorite brands that you grew up with and rely on. But do we know how they are made? Where the ingredients come from? How those ingredients were obtained? Actually, we are not sure. Thus, to understand the comfort foods that sustain our lives, we are asking General Mills, “What do you have to hide?”

This weekend we are featuring our General Mills and Behind the Brands campaign at Lollapalooza in Grant Park. This is the biggest three-day music festival in Chicago that everyone raves about. This year features anyone from Nine Inch Nails, Icona Pop, to Kendrick Lamar. We have a great group of awesome volunteers who will be tabling at our booth as part of Lolla Cares in the Green Street North area. Come check out our Behind the Brands Scorecard Game and try to win an Oxfam bandana! Make sure to sign the Behind the Brands Pledge. And, as an added bonus, take a picture with our General Mills sign and Tweet live from Lollapalooza. If you are not at Lolla this year, make sure to Tweet the following sample tweets:

-Who will be top of the #BehindtheBrands scorecard at the next update? Make it your favorite brand
-Hey @GeneralMills, my @Cheerios would taste better if I knew where they came from! Publish your ingredient sourcing! #BehindtheBrands
@GeneralMills, I love GreenGiant but is he hiding something? Tell us how you make our family favorites!  #BehindtheBrands

We look forward to our first Oxfam Action Corps Lollapalooza! We are even more excited to see you Tweet, Instagram, and use Facebook to let General Mills know what is important to you as a consumer! This is especially crucial as we begin more Behind the Brands campaigns. Keep up the energy as we continue on to GROW dinner season in October.We are working with our partners at Slow Food Chicago and ONE to host amazing World Food Day dinner on October 16th and a Film Festival in October. Get involved! Tweet us, email us and we would love to hear from you!

Upcoming Events Include:
Lollapalooza Tabling 2nd -4th
PreSERVE Workday 17th 10am-12pm
Pilsen Farmer’s Market Tabling 18th 9 am-3pm
August Monthly Meeting 22nd 6pm

Monthly Meeting 19th
Logan Square Farmer’s Market Tabling 29th 9am-2pm

First Person: Voices, video, and photos from Oxfam's fight against poverty