More than 6 years ago, founder of The Community.com Mary Wald, put together a salon to host Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos-Horta. At the time, Ramos-Horta was the president of East Timor and he was in Los Angeles to speak with several of Hollywood’s finest. The host of the salon and board member of TheCommunity.com, Bonnie Abaunza, hosted the event and decided along with Hans Zimmer to have a “pre-salon” where the children of the attendees would also get a chance to sit down with Ramos-Horta around a few pizzas and have the opportunity to speak with him about his work and his country.
The impact that little roundtable discussion had on the kids inspired Abaunza and Zimmer to put together a web series called “Pizza With An Icon” in which kids get to sit down with their heroes to ask questions and get inspired. By posting these episodes online, Abaunza knows that the impact will spread far beyond the group of kids in the room.
The first episode features John Prendergast, most well known for co-founding the Enough Project, a nonprofit human rights organization affiliated with the Center for American Progress.
Last year, the Enough Project and Invisible Children
spearheaded a campaign to call attention to the atrocities that continue to happen in Uganda. Specifically, the outreach sought to shine a light on the war crimes
perpetrated by Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda. Through a massively successful YouTube video and coordinated demonstrations all over the world, Kony’s name was again in the news and a new movement to capture him ensued.
Through Hans Zimmer and Bonnie Abaunza’s efforts, Prendergast now sits before several teenagers in the episode who had been inspired by the Kony campaign. Along with the kids sat Quinto, a Ugandan man who had escaped to the United States after living in refugee camps and watching most of the people
he knew die. The discussion that follows in this first episode is equal parts harrowing and thought
provoking, frustrating and hopeful. In the end though, hope rules the day. “There is nothing so broken that it can’t be fixed,” Pendergrast says toward the end of the conversation. For those seeking a little push to go out and change the world, this is all that is needed.
Prendergast sums up both his inspiration for the work he does and, potentially, the goal of the web series, when he says, “A small but committed segment of citizens can organize properly and utilize their voices collectively in a strategic way and they can move the needle. They can actually make the difference they are seeking.” The Pizza With An Icon series aims to do just that – bring together small groups of people at a time and give them the information and the motivation they need to go out and make a difference.
The first episode can be seen here.