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What does it take...

What does it take to change the world? Where do you start?

For organizers of the Social Concerns Fair and benefit concert held at Providence College on Friday, Mar. 12, it begins with awareness.

First, students were given the chance to browse a variety of booths focusing on different real social issues that impact their world from substance abuse, fair trade, literacy and sweatshops. Later, the evening featured a concert called Let it Roast2, and proceeds from the concert went to support Haiti relief efforts.

Headliner of the benefit concert, Del Barber, shares in the struggle to bring awareness. “Music has always been a way to make people question, to help people feel certain things they can’t feel on their own,” Barber said, “I am trying to point at some of the bigger questions life brings to our plate, without asking or answering them directly.”

Barber explained that music can be a great tool to create space for people to ask better questions and take stock of who we are. “I want people to take action. But I don’t want it to be my version of what’s right or where to act,” Barber said, “I want people to participate in what their community is doing.”

For organizer Jeff Wheeldon, it was about talking with students on-one-on and engaging tough issues. “I could tell that [the students] were really concerned about the effect their own actions or inaction have on our society,” Wheeldon said. “They felt a level of responsibility for the world they live in.”

Wheeldon hopes that each student received greater awareness of the issues presented, but more importantly, that they left with a greater awareness of how little they know and how great of an impact they can have.

“That’s exactly what we were hoping for with the fair,” Wheeldon said, “and it was really satisfying to see the wheels turning in the minds about how to respond to this new information.”

Unfortunately too often we are uncomfortable with difficult problems. Wheeldon said, “You can only watch so many tragic news stories before you either do something about it or just start to tune it out,” he said, “we forget that God is at work in this world, changing lives, and we have the privilege of participating in that work with Him.”

“One of the biggest challenges in living responsibly is awareness of the issues at hand, specifically because they’re extremely easy to ignore or forget,” Wheeldon noted.

For a first time event, Wheeldon was pleased with the results, though he hopes to try again next year with an expanded focus to cover more issues and give the event a larger presence to continue bringing awareness.

“Because we can’t ignore them forever,” Wheeldon said, adding, “What we can do is partner with God to address them and allow him to change us.”

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