Craig and Marc Kielburger, founders of Free The Children and Me to We, check in with some of their favourite actors, singers and activists to find out how they are changing the world.
OneRepublic, the pop-rock quintet from Denver, Colorado, has been together since 2002, since they were in high school, or in the band's words, "since forever." They finish each other's sentences like siblings and cite each other as role models.
We caught up with Drew Brown, Eddie Fisher and Brent Kutzle at We Day Vancouver last month. Even though they're only three-fifths of the band OneRepublic (with Ryan Tedder and Zach Filkins), it was still tough to keep up with them. These guys have a back-and-forth banter cultivated after ten years of touring together.
Their 2007 collaboration with Timbaland, "Apologize," was the song of the year. That song in every radio station's hourly rotation. The one you couldn't escape.
Instead of dwelling on apologies, the band is living more in line with their recent single, "Good Life." We don't mean the stereotypically cavalier lifestyle associated with celebrity. The band is partnering with charities and performing at We Day, Free The Children's cross-Canada youth empowerment event for volunteers.
That's the good life.
On any given day, we know that girls' education, world hunger and global warming are some of the social issues facing our world today. What's the biggest issue to you?
Drew: Education in general is at the root of what I think the biggest concerns are in the world today. It's where it all starts and ends. Everything starts with people being better educated, whether that be social change or lifestyle or health change. Everything that's happening in the world economically and politically and socially -- world hunger, global warming and girls' education, all of those end up an issue of education, [meaning] a lack of awareness [perpetuates these problems].
You have legions of fans who look to you as role models; who is your hero?
Eddie: As I've grown older, my heroes have changed. Right now I don't necessarily have a hero, but I have people that inspire me, and not to sound cheesy, but it is my band. They're my brothers, they're my best friends. I look up to them.
I'm 38. My heroes when I was younger stemmed from Fonzie to Hulk Hogan to Evel Knievel. [But my band] have trekked the world with me. These guys motivate me and inspire me to love what I do, to make better decisions in life . . .
Brent: . . .Seeing each other day-in and day-out, you know, is the true test of one's character. Whereas you don't really know Fonzie.
Drew: Yeah we don't know Fonzie. We can't attest to his integrity.
If you could have a socially conscious superpower and change one thing about the world, what would it be?
Brent: Water. It's such a simple thing, and to not have that -- it's so fundamental. Humans are made of around 75 per cent water. I'd have hoses for arms...
Drew: Or you could raise taxes -- like the smallest percentage -- for every person in the world who pays taxes. We didn't realize, before we got involved with We Day, that you can provide a sustainable source of clean water for someone for 25 bucks. I mean, living in the city you could blow 25 bucks on bottled water in one week.
[At this point, we collectively decide that Drew is the practical one, as his superpower would be a levy on income to put toward fresh water funds and Brent would have hoses for arms].
We're all about living me to we: making choices that positively impact the world, instead of just ourselves. Describe the moment you decided you wanted to give back.
Eddie: I don't know if there was a moment. I think there's always been something in us that wanted to give back to communities.
Brent: We recently started a fund called the Good Life Foundation. We all give to different charities individually, but this is a collective pot and we decide how to distribute that [money].
Drew: It's an organization that feeds into a number of food banks, homeless shelters, like SafeHouse Denver, which helps battered women in Denver.
If people from the future were talking about you, what would you want them to say? What kind of legacy do you want to leave?
Eddie: That I inspired and influenced people to make a change. It's not about me, it's about us: the modern day golden rule. That I motivated and inspired people through music like other bands have done for me -- U2, The Verve -- that inspired me both musically and just in general to do good.
We work with so many young people. Looking back, what advice would you give your high-school self?
Brent: To attend more of these [We Days]. I had never been to anything like this until today [We Day Vancouver on October 18]. And we don't have anything like this in the U.S. I think We Day Seattle in 2013 will be the first U.S. city.
Eddie: An awareness assembly, like -- wow -- what a concept.
Drew: It would have been inspiring, as a kid, with all of the senselessness of growing up and feeling like you have no power [...] to see what that kind of power adds up to, that as a nation you can save hundreds of lives. It's important that kids see that even though they can't vote they can still affect change.
Bonus question. What is the most memorable thing you learned from your parents about changing the world/helping others?
Drew: The golden rule. A system of giving what you would ideally like to get back is sort of the best way to teach young people that there is a value in selflessness. Everything else peripherally in the world will make you want to think selfishly. I think the best thing my parents ever taught me is that there's a lot of stuff that's way more important than [just] what's going on with you.
Craig and Marc Kielburger are founders of international charity and educational partner, Free The Children. Its youth empowerment event, We Day, is in eight cities across Canada this year, inspiring more than 100,000 attendees. For more information, visit www.weday.com or follow
Craig on Twitter at @craigkielburger
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