Vanichi’s David von BERG picks 5 Unforgettable Turn On LA Awards Highlights

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On the warm Santa Monica evening of October 2, 2014, Creative Visions Foundation, or CVF, decided to Turn On LA with their second gala to honor pioneering creative activists. Inspired by the life of Reuters photojournalist Dan Eldon who was stoned to death in 1993 while on assignment in Somalia, CVF supports creative activists around the world. If you’re wondering what a creative activist is exactly, it boils down to any individual who utilizes media and the arts to tell stories that need to be told about problems that need to be solved in the modern world. Creative Visions focuses on five critical areas: human rights, women’s empowerment, youth and education, health and the environment.

Founded by Kathy Eldon and her daughter Amy Eldon Turtletaub, CVF supports 50-70 projects around the world at any given moment. The foundation’s Turn On LA Awards brought out a beautiful crowd of influencers from entertainment industry leaders to students energized for global change. The award’s honorees included: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, recipient of the Dan Eldon Courage in Journalism Award, director Sanjay Rawal, recipient of the Dan Eldon Creative Activist Award, documentarians Chris Temple and Zach Ingraci, recipients of the Dan Eldon Creative Activist Award, director, producer and fine art photographer Lekha Singh, recipient of the Dan Eldon Catalyst Award and education activist Malala Yousafzai, recipient of the Dan Eldon Young Creative Activist Award. Attendees also enjoyed a spoken word performance by poet/philosopher In-Q and music by Aloe Blacc who performed his hit songs, “I Need a Dollar,” “Wake Me Up,” and “The Man.”

Here are 5 amazing moments that came out of Turn On LA:

MORGAN FREEMAN EXPOSED HIMSELF… FIGURATIVELY SPEAKING

The night opened with a video welcome by Academy Award-winner Morgan Freeman, during which the veteran actor declared,

“I am Morgan Freeman and I am a creative activist.”

The Academy Award-winner has never hesitated to be vocal and involved in everything from environmental issues and alternative fuels to politics and human rights.

living on a dollar a day

GLOBAL POVERTY GOT PUT INTO PERSPECTIVE

In many nations we continue to see a wide gap – even a widening gap – between wealth and poverty, making it increasingly impossible for many people to even attain their basic human needs to survive. Documentarians Chris Temple and Zach Ingraci used immersive storytelling to create their documentary “Living on One Dollar” in which the two joined the 1.1 billion people in the world who live on $1 or less a day. The journey is undeniably real and exposes not only the hardships of those enduring extreme financial inequity but also explores the problems of poverty on a larger societal level. In all, The World Bank estimates that 2.4 billion people are living on less than $2 a day. To help lives get better quicker, the duo has since raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for sustainable poverty alleviation and awareness programs.

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MALALA URGED EVERYONE TO GET UP AND STAND UP

Knowing first hand the danger many face when they fight for education, youth and education activist Malala Yousafzai accepted her award via a pre-recorded video. She described the epiphany she had when she realized she should start her anonymous blog in 2009. She also spoke of Boko Haram’s atrocities and the parents of the young girls kidnapped, raped and abused by the terrorists, stating that these parents simply “want education for their daughters.” Malala urged that when you suffer and witness injustice, make haste, “Stand up for your rights. Don’t wait for someone else to do it… Do it together.”

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A PENNY HELPS END THE USE OF SLAVERY IN TOMATO FIELDS

Since 1997, the Justice Department has prosecuted seven cases of slavery in the Florida agricultural industry. Four of these seven cases involved tomato harvesters. Many tomato farms chose to use exploitation, debt bondage and slavery in lieu of raising wages and tomato costs, fearing the increase would cause buyers to purchase from cheaper foreign markets such as Mexico. Filmmaker Sanjay Rawal tackles this subject in “Food Chains”, his documentary produced by Eva Longoria and narrated by Academy Award-winner Forest Whitaker.

Consequently, Rawal helped get Walmart, Whole Foods and other brands to pledge to the Fair Food Program, which involves tomato buyers pledge to only buy tomatoes from growers that use fair practices. Additionally, the buyers agree to pay the “penny per pound” more premium to buy such tomatoes. Between January 2011 and March 2014, over $14 Million in Fair Food Premiums have been paid into the Program which has been implemented on 90% of all Florida tomato farms.

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Aloe Blacc after his performance at Creative Vision’s Turn On LA. Photo and photo effect courtesy of DIGIVIRAL.

ALOE BLACC PAID HIS OWN MONEY TO SING

Before wowing the audience with his musical performance, Interscope recording artist Aloe Blacc made everyone gasp and applaud when he generously donated $15,000 to Creative Visions during a live auction. Afterwords, the singer/songwriter told us, “Artists such as myself have a huge voice and we’re able to speak to the world at any given point in time. Putting messages in our art helps to tell the stories that are important for people to hear. It helps to reinforce the concept of compassion, of thoughtfulness, of helping to make the world a better place.

So whenever a creator is creating for the purpose of social good he or she is contributing it to the world in a way that is unparalleled and unmatched by all of the other things that are happening. It balances the negative with the positive.”

Cover Image: Creative Visions’ Kathy Eldon with Aloe Blacc at the 2014 Turn On LA. Photo courtesy of LuminaryDaily.com