Stars,activists, and leaders at the Live Below the Line Launch
"The campaign is about having empathy, not sympathy, for those living in extreme poverty."
I will admit it. I might have been waffling on whether or not to personally participate in Live Below the Line. But after attending the Live Below the Line (LBL) launch at Milk Gallery on Friday, I felt inspired to take on the five-day challenge of eating on $1.50 USD a day ($1.75 CAD/£1.00 GBP). I was even more energized after listening to Sunday afternoon's conversation between Global Poverty Project CEO, Hugh Evans and Gotham stars Erin Richards and Robin Lord Taylor on the impact of the challenge.
Yes, my weekend was filled with LBL - and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from the dedication and commitment of the LBL staff and the campaign’s great ambassadors. Erin Richards, of the hit-TV show Gotham and Live Below the Line all-star, summed up the reason for participating in LBL beautifully. “The campaign,” Erin said at the LBL launch, “is about having empathy, not sympathy for those living in extreme poverty.”
Erin spoke about the challenge of working on the set of Gotham (complete with a fight-scene) while sustaining herself on rice-and-beans. She joked that she was “hangry” (that awful feeling of being hungry AND angry), but ultimately, the LBL experience helped her to build solidarity with those living in extreme poverty. While the five-day challenge is brief, Richards explained, “at the end, you have the tiniest understanding of what it’s like to live in extreme poverty.”
Will you join the movement? Left to right Erin Richards, Hannah Bronfman, and Rachel Brosnahan| Image by Getty
Erin Richards and Rachel Brosnahan have both taken on the challenge of Live Below the Line. It was Richards’ first year completing the challenge and Brosnahan’s second! What champs! They definitely have me inspired!
Global Citizen Managing Editor Brandon Blackburn-Dwyer speaking with Rachel Brosnahan| Image by Global Citizen
How many people can say they love working with their boss? I am happy to report I can be counted in this slim minority. At Live Below the Line I filmed Brandon Brandon-Dyer interview our super smart (and incredibly lovely) brand ambassador, Rachel Brosnahan. I love Brandon’s expression, no? Super serious! When I asked about his furrowed expression, his response, “Rachel was saying true and serious stuff!”
Gabe Kennedy, celeb chef, at the Live Below the Line launch | Image by Getty
Gabe Kennedy, celebrity Chef and active supporter of Concern Worldwide, talked about truly thinking about our food consumption and how Live Below the Line can help us appreciate our food more. Said Gabe “as a chef...I want to advocate [for access to food].” Gabe spoke about approaching food with mindfulness, and looking at the story behind every ingredient. “We can support food that has a positive change in the world,” advised Kennedy. We, at Global Citizen, fully agree with Gabe Kennedy’s approach to eating - food should be something that is thoughtfully considered, always! It’s even more apparent to see the value of food when participating in Live Below the Line!
Global Citizen ambassador Erin Richards, actress and activist | Image by Getty
Erin Richards’ passion for Live Below the Line is evident in the way she speaks about her involvement as an ambassador for the campaign. Erin spoke about how during her taking on the challenge she was she was asked for food by a homeless man on the subway. She laughed as she said, “It was an agonizing moment to give away my one daily banana,” but said the experience emphasized the importance of everyone having access to nutrition and food security, and she turned over her lone piece of fruit to the hungry man.
Hunger Project team, from left to right, Katie Boltron, Bridget Barry, Erin Greenberg, and Charlene | Image by Global Citizen
Live Below the Line partner the Hunger Project talked about their excitement in participating in the campaign. With the enthusiasm of such amazing organizations in eradicating global poverty by 2030, and the support of global leaders and celebs, I feel confident the world can accomplish this goal in the next fifteen years!
Actor Marc John Jefferies | Image by Getty
Actor Marc John Jefferies said, “doing the challenge helps people experience what others go through.” He said he has yet to undertake the challenge, but is looking forward to participating from April 27th - May 1st. The down-to-earth actor joked that it would be easier to sleep through the whole challenge to avoid hunger pangs! I have to say, “good thinking!”
Greg Karelas of Health Builders | Image by Global Citizen
Greg Karelas, from LBL partner organization Health Builders, spoke about the importance of taking on the Live Below the Line challenge, saying, “the challenge brings extreme poverty to the forefront of people's consciousness, and makes it a global issue, not just a local one.”
Milk Gallery | Image by Getty
Milk Gallery | Image by Getty
The event was held at Milk Gallery in Chelsea. The famous venue showcased the photography of Danny Clinch, who is well known for his ironic work documenting musicians. Above, you can see photos of Clinch’s work, as well as attendees of the Live Below the Line launch.
DJ and model Hannah Bronfman | Image by Getty
DJ Brendan Fallis | Image by Getty
Global Poverty Project CEO Hugh Evans | Image via Global Citizen's twitter
Global Poverty Project founder Hugh Evans speaking about the importance of Live Below the Line.
Justine Lucas, one of the driving forces behind Live Below the Line and wunderkind of Global Poverty Project!
The night ended with many attendees signing-up to Live Below the Line (including this once hesitant staff member who is now fully onboard). I felt energized seeing the commitment of some many incredible people to take on the challenge to bring understanding and action to the movement to end extreme poverty!
My weekend of Live Below the Line continued as I got to hear an amazing conversation between Hugh Evans, co-founder of Global Poverty Project, and Erin Richards and Robin Lord Taylor of Gotham. In a live Q&A with fans, Erin fielded questions about her acting and humanitarian work. Erin gracefully explained her commitment to Live Below the Line, and the challenges of not getting enough nutrients simply eating rice and beans for three days.
Robin Lord Taylor, Erin Richards, and Hugh Evans take a selfie to promote the conversation! They look cute, no?
Tweets from fans asking about the challenges of Live Below the Line
Live Below the Line may seem like a big challenge, but the campaign helps to personalize hunger and get us all, global citizens, to have a deeper understanding about the plight of extreme poverty. While many of us will never be able to fully understand what it means to live in poverty, the Live Below the Line challenge allows participants to develop a sense of empathy and build their own sense of global impact. In addition it provides a great venue to raise crucial funds for some great organizations on the forefront of ending extreme poverty.
I’m looking forward to the Live Below the Line challenge (hey, I like rice and beans), having a greater awareness about my food, more understanding of what living below the line means for the 1.2 billion people in extreme poverty and raising some funds for some great organizations.
If you, global citizen, take on the challenge, rest assured, you will be in great company! Go to www.LiveBelowTheLine.com to sign up! (And heck, get your friends involved!)